Matthew Chapter 9, Verse 1 And Matthew Chapter 9, Verse
"And He entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into His
own city. And, behold, they brought to Him a man sick of the palsy, lying
on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy;
Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee."1
By His own city here he means Capernaum. For that which gave Him birth
was Bethlehem; that which brought Him up, Nazareth; that which had Him
continually inhabiting it, Capernaum.
This paralytic, however, was different from that one who is set forth
in John.2 For he lay at the pool, but this at Capernaum; and that man had
his infirmity thirty and eight years, but concerning this, no such thing
is mentioned; and the other was in a state destitute of protectors, but
this had some to take care of him, who also took him up, and carried him.
And to this He saith, "Son, thy sins be forgiven thee,"3 but to that He
saith, "Wilt thou be made whole?"4 And the other He healed on a sabbath
day, but this not on a sabbath, for else the Jews would have laid this
also to His charge; and in the case of this man they were silent, but in
that of the other they were instant in persecuting him.
And this I have said, not without purpose, lest any one should think
there is a discrepancy from suspecting it to be one and the same paralytic.
But do thou, I pray thee, mark the humility and meekness of our Lord.
For He had also before this put away the multitudes from Him, and moreover
when sent away by them at Gadara, He withstood not, but retired, not however
to any great distance.
And again He entered into the ship and passed over, when He might have
gone over afoot. For it was His will not to be always doing miracles, that
He might not injure the doctrine of His humanity.5
Now Matthew indeed saith, that "they brought him," but the others, that
they also broke up the roof, and let him down.6 And they put the sick man
before Christ, saying nothing, but committing the whole to Him. For though
in the beginning He Himself went about, and did not require so much faith
of them that came unto Him; yet in this case they both approached Him,
and had faith required on their part. For, "Seeing," it is said, "their
faith;" that is, the faith of them that had let the man down. For He cloth
not on all occasions require faith on the part of the sick only: as for
instance, when they are insane, or in any other way, through their disease,
are out of their own control. Or rather, in this case the sick man too
had part in the faith; for he would not have suffered himself to be let
down, unless he had believed.
Forasmuch then as they had evinced so great faith, He also evinces His
own power, with all authority absolving his sins, and signifying in all
ways that He is equal in honor with Him that begat Him. And mark; He implied
it from the beginning, by His teaching, when He taught them as one having
authority; by the leper, when He said, "I will, be thou clean," by the
centurion, when upon his saying, "Speak the word only, and my servant shall
be healed, He marvelled at him"7 and celebrated him above all men; by the
sea, when He curbed it with a mere word; by the devils, when they acknowledged
Him as their judge, and He cast them out with great authority.
Here again in another and a greater way He constrains His very enemies
to confess His equality in honor, and by their own mouth He makes it manifest.
For He, to signify His indifference to honor (for there stood a great company
of spectators shutting up the entrance, wherefore also they let him down
from above), did not straightway hasten to heal the visible body, but He
takes His occasion from them; and He healed first that which is invisible,
the soul, by forgiving his sins; which indeed saved the other, but brought
no great glory to Himself. They themselves rather, troubled by their malice,
and wishing to assail Him, caused even against their will what was done
to be conspicuous. He, in fact, in His abundance of counsel, made use of
their envy for the manifestation of the miracle.
Upon their murmuring,8 then, and saying, "This man blasphemeth; who
can forgive sins but God only?"9 let us see what He saith. Did He indeed
take away the suspicion? And yet if He were not equal, He should have said,
"Why fix upon me a notion which is not convenient? I am far from this power."
But now hath He said none of these things, but quite the contrary He hath
both affirmed and ratified, as well by His own voice, as by the performance
of the miracle. Thus, it appearing that His saying certain things of himself
gave disgust to his hearers, He affirms what He had to say concerning Himself
by the others; and what is truly marvellous, not by His friends only, but
also by His enemies; for this is the excellency of His wisdom. By His friends
on the one hand, when He said, "I will, be thou clean,"10 and when He said,
"I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel;"11 but by His enemies,
now. For because they had said, "No man can forgive sins but God only,"
"But that ye may know that the Son of Man hath power to forgive sins
upon the earth (then saith He to the sick of the palsy), Arise, and take
up thy bed, and go unto thine house."12
And not here only, but also in another case again, when they were saying,
"For a good work we stone thee not, but for blasphemy, and because that
thou, being a man, makest thyself God."13 neither in that instance did
He put down this opinion, but again confirmed it, saying, "If I do not
the works of my Father, believe me not; but if I do, though ye believe
not me, believe the works."14
2. In this case indeed He discloses also another sign, and that no small
one, of His own Godhead, and of His equality in honor with the Father.
For whereas they said, "To unbind sins pertains to God only," He not only
unbinds sins, but also before this He makes another kind of display in
a thing which pertained to God only; the publishing the secrets in the
heart. For neither had they uttered what they were thinking.
For "behold, certain of the scribes," it saith," said within themselves.
This man blasphemeth. And Jesus knowing their thoughts, said,Wherefore
think ye evil in your hearts?"15
But that it belongs to God only to know men's secrets, hear what saith
the prophet, "Thou most entirely alone16 knowest the hearts;"17 and again,
"God trieth the hearts and reins;18 " and Jeremiah too saith, "The heart
is deep above all things, and it is man, and who shall know him?"19 and,
"Man shall look on the face, but God on the heart."20 And by many things
one may see, that to know what is in the mind belongs to God alone.
Implying therefore that He is God, equal to Him that begat Him; what
things they were reasoning in themselves (for through fear of the multitude,
they durst not utter their mind), this their opinion He unveils and makes
manifest, evincing herein also His great gentleness.21
"For wherefore," saith He, "think ye evil in your hearts?"22
And yet if there were cause for displeasure, it was the sick man who
should have been displeased, as being altogether deceived, and should have
said "One thing I came to, have healed, and amendest Thou another? Why,
whence is it manifest that my sins are forgiven?"
But now he for his part utters nO such word, but gives himself up to
the power of the healer; but these being curious and envious, plot against
the good deeds of others. Wherefore He rebukes them indeed, but with all
gentleness. "Why, if ye disbelieve," saith He, "what went before, and account
my saying a boast; behold I add to it also another, the uncovering of your
secrets; and after that again another." What then is this? The giving tone
to the body of the paralyzed.
And whereas, when He spake unto the sick of the palsy, He spake without
clearly manifesting His own authority: for He said not, "I forgive thee
thy sins," but, "thy sins be forgiven thee:" upon their constraining, He
discloses His authority more clearly, saying, "But that ye may know that
the Son of Man hath power23 on earth to forgive sins."
Seest thou, how far He was from unwillingness to be thought equal to
the Father? For He said not at all, "The Son of Man hath need of another;"
or, "He hath given Him authority," but, "He hath authority." Neither doth
He say it for love of honor, but "to Convince you," so He speaks, "that
I do not blaspheme in making myself equal with God."
Thus everywhere His will is to offer proofs clear and indisputable;
as when He saith, "Go thy way, show thyself to the priest;"24 and when
He points to Peter's wife's mother ministering, and permits the swine to
cast themselves down headlong. And in the same manner here also; first,
for a certain token of the forgiveness of his sins, He provides the giving
tone to his body: and of that again, his carrying his bed; to hinder the
fact from being thought a mere fancy. And He doeth not this, before He
had asked them a question. "For whether is easier," saith He, "to say,
Thy sins be forgiven thee? or to say, Take up thy bed, and go unto thine
house?"25 Now what He saith is like this, "Which seems to you easier, to
bind up a disorganized26 body, or to undo27 the sins of a soul? It is quite
manifest; to bind up a body. For by how much a soul is better than a body,
by so much is the doing away sins a greater work than this; but because
the one is unseen, the other in sight, I throw in that, which although
an inferior thing, is yet more open to sense; that the greater also and
the unseen may thereby receive its proof;" thus by His works anticipating
even now the revelation of what had been said by John, that "He taketh
away the sins of the world."
Well then, having raised him up, He sends him to His house; here again
signifying His unboastfulness,28 and that the event was not a mere imagination;
for He makes the same persons witnesses of his infirmity, and also of his
health. For I indeed had desired, saith He, through thy calamity to heal
those also, that seem to be in health, but are diseased in mind; but since
they will not, depart thou home, to heal them that are there.
Seest thou how He indicates Him29 to be Creator both of souls and bodies?
He heals therefore the palsy in each of the two substances, and makes the
invisible evident by that which is in sight. But nevertheless they still
creep upon the earth.
"For when the multitudes saw it, they marvelled, and glorified God,
which" (it is said) "had given such power unto men:"30 for the flesh was
an offense unto them.31 But He did not rebuke them, but proceeds by His
works to arouse them, and exalt their thoughts. Since for the time it was
no small thing for Him to be thought greater than all men, as having come
from God. For had they well established these things in their own minds,
going on orderly they would have known, that He was even the Son of God.
But they did not retain these things clearly, wherefore neither were they
able to approach Him. For they said again, "This man is not of God;"32
"how is this man of God?" And they were continually harping on these things,
putting them forward as cloaks for their own passions.
3. Which thing many now also do; and thinking to avenge God, fulfill
their own passions, when they ought to go about all with moderation. For
even the God of all, having power to launch His thunderbolt against them
that blaspheme Him, makes the sun to rise, and sends forth the showers,
and affords them all other things in abundance; whom we ought to imitate,
and so to entreat, advise, admonish, with meekness, not angry, not making
ourselves wild beasts.
For no harm at all ensues unto God by their blasphemy, that thou shouldest
be angered, but he who blasphemed hath himself also received the wound.
Wherefore groan, bewail, for the calamity indeed deserves tears. And the
wounded man, again,-nothing can so heal him as gentleness: gentleness,
I say, which is mightier than any force.
See, for example, how He Himself, the insulted one, discourses with
us, both in the Old Testament, and in the New; in the one saying, "O my
people, what have I done unto thee?"33 in the other, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest
thou me."34 And Paul too bids, "In meekness instruct those that oppose
themselves."35 And Christ again, when His disciples had come to Him, requiring
fire to come down from heaven, strongly rebuked them. saying, "Ye know
not what manner of spirit ye are of."36
And here again He said not, "O accursed, and sorcerers as ye are; O
ye envious, and enemies of men's salvation;" but, "Wherefore think ye evil
in your hearts?"
We must, you see, use gentleness to eradicate the disease. Since he
who is become better through the fear of man, will quickly return to wickedness
again. For this cause He commanded also the tares to be left, giving an
appointed day of repentance. Yea, and many of them in fact repented, and
became good, who before were bad; as for instance, Paul, the Publican,
the Thief; for these being really tares turned into kindly wheat. Because,
although in the seeds this cannot be, yet in the human will it is both
manageable and easy; for our will is bound by no limits of nature, but
hath freedom of choice for its privilege.
Accordingly, when thou seest an enemy of the truth, wait on him, take
care of him, lead him back into virtue, by showing forth an excellent life,
by applying "speech that cannot be condemned,"37 by bestowing attention
and tender care, by trying every means of amendment, in imitation of the
best physicians. For neither do they cure in one manner only, but when
they see the wound not yield to the first remedy, they add another, and
after that again another; and now they use the knife, and now bind up.
And do thou accordingly, having become a physician of souls, put in practice
every mode of cure according to Christ's laws; that thou mayest receive
the reward both of saving thyself and of profiting others, doing all to
the glory of God, and so being glorified also thyself. "For them that glorify
me," saith He, "I will glorify; and they that despise me, shall be lightly
Let us, I say, do all things unto His glory; that we may attain unto
that blessed portion, unto which God grant we may all attain, by the grace
and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and might
forever and ever. Amen.
1 [R. V., accepting the same Greek text with Chrysostom,
"thy sins are forglven."-R.]
2 John v. 1.
3 John v.6.
4 tw=| t=j oi/konomi/aj lo/hw|. [ "Incarnation" expresses
better the technical sense of the Greek term, as here used. Comp. Homily
XIII. 2, .81, note.-R.]
5 Mark ii. 4.; Luke v.19.
6 Matt. viii. 3.
7 Matt. viii. 8.
8 [e0qorubou=nto; a stronger word than the Gospel narratives
suggest. The translator tones it down, as above.-R.]
9 Matt. viii. 3. Comp. Mark ii. 7 [from which the latter
part of the citation is taken.-R.]
10 Matt. viii. 3.
11 Matt. viii. 10.
12 Matt. viii. 6. [ "Upon the earth" is placed in this
peculiar position by Chrysostom here. In the next reference to the passage
the correct order is followed.-R.]
13 John x. 33.
14 John x. 37,38.
15 Matt. ix. 3, 4.
17 2 Chron. vi. 30.
18 Ps. vii. 9.
19 Jer. xvii. 9, LXX.
20 1 Sam. xvi. 7.
21 to\ a0nepaxqe/j.
22 Matt. ix. 4.
23 [R. V., margin, "authority;" compare the next paragraph.
On the order, see note 7, p. 196.-R ]
24 Matt. viii. 4.
25 Matt. ix. 5, 6.
26 diw|kisme/non, literally, "distributed into different
habitations;" as when the population of Mantinea was broken up by the Laced'monians,
diw|ki/sqh n9 Mantinei/a: see Xen Hellenic, v. 2, 7; comp. Dem. de Pace,
i. 59, ed. Reiske; de Fals. Leg. i. 366.
28 [ to a!tufon.]
29 [ The reference here seems to be to God, but a reflexive
sense is not improbable ; "indicates that He Himself is," ete.-R.]
30 Matt. ix. 8. [R. V., "they were afraid," for "they
marvelled" (A. V.) But Chrysostom's text agrees with that of the received,
followed by the A. V.]
31 prosi/sato au0toi=j.
32 John ix. 16.
33 Micah vi. 3.
34 Acts ix. 4.
35 2 Tim. ii. 25.
36 Luke ix. 55. [This clause is not found in the oldest
Greek Mss. of the New Testament. Comp. R. V. text and margin.-R.]
37 Tit. ii. 8.
38 1 Sam. ii. 30. ["Shall be despised," according to the
form given in the text. But in the LXX. the last verb is not the same as
the preceding one.-R.]