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Then[a] some of the experts in the law[b] said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming!”[c] When Jesus perceived their thoughts he said, “Why do you respond with evil in your hearts? Which is easier,[d] to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven’ or to say, ‘Stand up and walk’?

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  1. Matthew 9:3 tn Grk “And behold.” The Greek word ἰδού (idou) has not been translated because it has no exact English equivalent here, but adds interest and emphasis (BDAG 468 s.v. 1). Here καί (kai) has been translated as “then” to indicate the implied sequence of events in the narrative.
  2. Matthew 9:3 tn Or “some of the scribes.” See the note on the phrase “experts in the law” in 2:4.
  3. Matthew 9:3 sn Blaspheming in the NT has a somewhat broader meaning than mere utterances. It could mean to say something that dishonored God, but it could also involve claims to divine prerogatives (in this case, to forgive sins on God’s behalf). Such claims were viewed as usurping God’s majesty or honor. The remark here raised directly the issue of the nature of Jesus’ ministry, and even more importantly, the identity of Jesus himself as God’s representative.
  4. Matthew 9:5 sn Which is easier is a reflective kind of question. On the one hand to declare that sins are forgiven is easier, since the forgiveness is unseen, unlike telling a paralyzed person to walk. On the other hand, to declare sins forgiven is harder, because for it to be true one must possess the authority to forgive the sin. Jesus is implicitly claiming that authority here.

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