1. Mark 2:1–12 (ESV)
  2. Structure and outline

Introduction to Mark 2:1-12

Mark 2:1–12 (ESV)

1 And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home.

The story about the healing of the paralytic brings us back to Capernaum, the place that served as the point of departure for a journey to many cities (Mark 1:21, Mark 1:35, Mark 1:39).

Many modern commentaries explain Mark 2:1–12 in two parts that were presumably only later joined together: a story of healing (Mark 2:1–5a, Mark 2:11–12) and a discussion about the forgiveness of sins (Mark 2:5–10). Through this merger, the pericope supposedly turned into an argument.1 However the tradition of the text does not at all support such a separation. And the exegesis can confirm that Mark 2:1–12 is a coherent unit (for example, Mark 2:12 covers too much ground for a simple story of healing). The splitting theory negatively processes what is special about this passage: Jesus turns a healing into a sign that he came to bring the promised forgiveness of sins on behalf of God.

The customary title of the pericope (Jesus heals a paralytic) fails to let its special nature become apparent and obstructs the view of the actual meaning of this event in the history of Jesus’ revelation. In what follows it will become apparent that the theme of forgiveness comes into the foreground more and more, after the power over the demons was first demonstrated.2