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Luke Chapter Five


I. Content of the Chapter


The Son of Man the Savior Called the Disciples and Continued His Work

I. He called the first disciples by the Lake of Genesaret (v.1-11).

II. He cleansed the leper (v.12-16).

III. He healed the man who was paralyzed (v.17-26).

IV. He called Levi the tax collector (v.27-32).

V. Concerning the fasting and the parable of the contradiction between the newness and the oldness (v.33-39).


II. Verse by Verse commentary


Luke. 5:1 “So it was, as the multitude pressed about Him to hear the word of God, that He stood by the Lake of Gennesaret,

   YLT: “And it came to pass, in the multitude pressing on him to hear the word of God, that he was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret,”

   Literal Meaning: “He stood by the Lake of Gennesaret” “the Lake of Genesaret” is the Sea of Galilee (Matt. 4:18) and it was also called the Sea of Tiberias (John. 6:1; 21:1). In the ancient times, it was called the Sea of Chinnereth (Num. 34:11).


Luke. 5:2 “and saw two boats standing by the lake; but the fishermen had gone from them and were washing their nets.

   YLT: “and he saw two boats standing beside the lake, and the fishers, having gone away from them, were washing the nets,”

   Literal Meaning: “were washing their nets” every time when the fishermen have finished their work, they would wash the nets and make them smooth for the use of the next time.


Luke. 5:3 “Then He got into one of the boats, which was Simon's, and asked him to put out a little from the land. And He sat down and taught the multitudes from the boat.

   YLT: “and having entered into one of the boats, that was Simon’s, he asked him to put back a little from the land, and having sat down, was teaching the multitudes out of the boat.”

   Literal Meaning: “one of the boats, which was Simon’s” before this time, Simon (Peter) was brought to the Lord by his brother Andrew (John. 1:40-42) and afterward he returned to fish.

  “Sat down” It was the common posture for teachers to teach men at that time (See 4:20).

  “He taught the multitudes from the boat.” There weren’t sails on the boats in the Sea of Galilee and the boats were seven to ten feet long. The Lord taught in the boat and by this way He could avoid the squash of the multitudes and make more people hear.


Luke. 5:4 “When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.’”

   YLT: “And when he left off speaking, he said unto Simon, ‘Put back to the deep, and let down your nets for a draught;’”

   Spiritual Meaning: “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” This symbolizes that one receives to be dealt with more deeply by the death of the cross and in this way one will see and experience the fullness of Christ (See v.6).

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) This verse tells us a spiritual principle: concerning the spiritual pursuit (e.g. prayer, reading the Bible), we have to make the great effort and then we could gain abundantly.

2) Only when we are in the dept of the spirit we will gain and experience the presence of the Lord and therefore we will know more about His fullness.


Luke. 5:5 “But Simon answered and said to Him, Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.’”

   YLT: “and Simon answering said to him, ‘Master, through the whole night, having laboured, we have taken nothing, but at thy saying I will let down the net.’”

Literal Meaning: “nevertheless at Your word” he still         doubted about this and     reluctantly obeyed the word of the Lord Jesus with the attitude of having a try.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) Men have to depart from their old experience------“we have toiled all night and caught nothing” and base on the fresh revelation of the Lord------“nevertheless at Your words” and then we will see and experience the fullness of Christ.

2) While we are in difficulties, we should also rely on the word of the Lord and walk by faith and then we will see the Lord make room for us. 

3) If we serve the Lord by our own wisdom and strength, it will be in vain. The key to serve the Lord effectively lines in trusting and obeying the word of the Lord.


Luke. 5:6 “And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking.

   YLT: “And having done this, they enclosed a great multitude of fishes, and their net was breaking,”

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) The Lord’s blessing is more than sufficient. His blessing is so abundant that we do not have enough capacity to hold, however, we never work in vain.

2) Believers should wash the nets (See v.2) and mend the nets (Matt. 4:21), lest we could not hold the Lord’s blessing.


Luke. 5:7 “So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink.

   YLT: “and they beckoned to the partners, who [are] in the other boat, having come, to help them; and they came, and filled both the boats, so that they were sinking.”

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) We gain more fishes by net than by fishhook------spreading the glad tidings corporately is more effective than spreading the glad tidings individually. And the most important thing in spreading the glad tidings corporately is the help to each other among companions.

2) The Lord does exceeding abundantly above all that we ask (See Eph. 3:20).


Luke. 5:8 “When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!’”

   YLT: “And Simon Peter having seen, fell down at the knees of Jesus, saying, ‘Depart from me, because I am a sinful man, O lord;’”

   Literal Meaning: “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” Peter called Him “master” before he let down the net (See v.5) and now he knew that He was the Lord because he had saw the sign and then he corrected himself and called Jesus “O Lord”. Anyone who knows that Jesus is the Lord must feel that he himself is a sinful man.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) Under the enlightenment of God, men will see their sins, dirtiness and unworthiness (See Is. 6:5).

2) If men see the fullness of Christ, they will certainly see their own corruption. Therefore it is not the negative dealing with oneself but the positive knowledge of Christ that helps men to depart from sins.

3) The more we know the Lord, the more corruptive we will find that we are. If we fell that we are pretty good, it proves that we lack in the knowledge of the Lord.


Luke. 5:9 “For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken;

   YLT: “for astonishment seized him, and all those with him, at the draught of the fishes that they took,”

   Meaning of Words: “astonished”: wonder.


Luke. 5:10 “and so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.’”

   YLT: “and in like manner also James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon; and Jesus said unto Simon, `Fear not, henceforth thou shalt be catching men;’”

   Literal Meaning: “who were partners with Simon” indicate partakers in business.

  Peter had already followed the Lord Jesus (See John. 1:40-42) and he returned to make a living by fishing. Now the Lord called them for the second time and asked them to drop their careers and do the ministry to “catch men”. “Catching men” indicates to bring men into the kingdom of God.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) What men want is to “catch fish”------earthly wealth, however, what God wants is to “catch men”------those to whom God shows His grace. Those who follow the Lord have to give up fishes in order to catch men for the Lord and let themselves first be caught by the Lord.

2) This was the second time that the Lord called them. The Lord called them for the first time to save them (John. 1:35-42). The Lord called them for the second time to make them catch men. One is saved first and then he could catch men.

3) One has to know the fullness of Christ first and then he may be enstructed by the Lord------to “catch men”; and what one has been enstructed is the knowledge that he has gained------“fishers of men” (See Matt. 4:19).

4) Peter asked the Lord to depart from him because he saw his own dirtiness (See v.8). However, the Lord called him to follow Him. This shows that those who are truly called by the Lord all fell that they are unworthy to follow the Lord.

5) When Peter was called to be a fisher of men, he was doing the daily work as a fisherman. When we are waiting for the specific guidance of the Lord, we should not be slothful or idle. We should work as usual and spare no effort and then we will be acceptable to the Lord. 


Luke. 5:11 “So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him.

   YLT: “and they, having brought the boats upon the land, having left all, did follow him.”

   Literal Meaning: “followed Him” means to become His disciples. In the ancient times, the rabbi received disciples and taught them doctrines. Wherever the rabbi went, his disciples would follow him and live with him to learn from his words and deeds.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) If men see the full Christ, they will certainly forsake all and follow Him. The reason why men forsook all and followed the Lord immediately does not lie in anyone’s advocacy but the attraction of the glory of the Lord (John. 12:32).

2) Draw me, we will run after Him (Song. 1:4).

3) One has to forsake something to follow the Lord. Everyone that is unwilling to forsake something for the Lord is unworthy of the Lord’s disciples. Everyone that is willing to follow the Lord has to pay “the price as a disciple” for the Lord willingly.

4) A Christian should have absolute attitude to follow the Lord at any price. But only when the Lord calls us personally could we follow Him at any price.

5) If the Lord indeed calls us, we won’t keep the status (boat) and relation (family members) in the past any more.

6) Those who do not know the Lord reject Him and those who know the Lord are unable to reject Him------if we truly know the preciousness of the Lord, everything in the world will lose its thriving color.

7) Peter and his partners forsook all and followed the Lord when they caught the most fishes in their life and were most successful. We should not wait until we are defeated and frustrated to turn to the Lord.


Luke. 5:12 “And it happened when He was in a certain city, that behold, a man who was full of leprosy saw Jesus; and he fell on his face and implored Him, saying, Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.’”

   YLT: “And it came to pass, in his being in one of the cities, that lo, a man full of leprosy, and having seen Jesus, having fallen on [his] face, he besought him, saying, `Sir, if thou mayest will, thou art able to cleanse me;’”

   Literal Meaning: “a man who was full of leprosy” “full of leprosy” is the medical term and it indicates the degree of the spreading of the disease. Only Luke described this in the four Gospels.

  “And he fell on his face” This humble action shows that he knew the authority of the Lord.

“Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” This sentence shows that on one hand he knew his corruption and he needed healing, on the other he knew the power of the Lord who was able to heal him.

   Spiritual Meaning: “a man who was full of leprosy” According to the cases recorded in the Old Testament of the Bible, “leperosy” is related to the disobedience of the authority and commandments (see Num. 12:1-10, 2Kings. 5:9-14), therefore a leper is the type of the disobedient people, i.e. the people of Israel (Rom. 10:21).

  In the Bible, “leprosy” is the type of men’s unclean sins: 1) Leprosy starts from the inner part, symbolizing that sin is of men’s nature. 2) Leprosy is difficult to be healed, symbolizing that sin is difficult to be removed. 3) Leprosy is contagious, symbolizing that sin is contagious. 4) Leprosy makes men rot and stink to death, symbolizing the dirtiness of sin and the dreadful and miserable end of sin.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) Men’s flesh and nature, full of dirties of sins, always offend God. We are “lepers” in God’s eyes.

2) The conditions for sinners to be healed are: a) One has to admit his corruption and helplessness. b) One has to come and worship the Lord and confess his sins. c) One has to trust in the Lord’s power of healing. d) One has to implore the Lord.

3) We have to come down from our own thrones and come to the Lord with humble hearts (“fell on his face and implored Him”) and then we will experience His power.

4) Many times we trust the Lord’s almightiness and we dare not trust His willingness. Believers should trust both His power and love.

5) The Lord’s “can” is the matter of His power. The Lord’s “willingness” is the matter of His will. The Lord’s power is dominated by His will.    


Luke. 5:13 “Then He put out His hand and touched him, saying, I am willing; be cleansed. Immediately the leprosy left him.

   YLT: “and having stretched forth [his] hand, he touched him, having said, ‘I will; be thou cleansed;’ and immediately the leprosy went away from him.”

Literal Meaning: “He put out His hand and touched him.” Usually, men do not touch lepers lest they may be infected with uncleanness. However the Lord Jesus acted in a diametrically opposite way and brought cleanness to the one who was touched.

“I am willing” This sentence shows that not only the Lord has the power to heal the wicked but also His heart was “willing”.

   Spiritual Meaning: “He put out His hand and touched him.” The Lord’s touching him was the physical contact. It symbolizes that the Lord came into the Jews by incarnation. He was the one that the Jews had heard, had seen with their eyes, contemplated and their hands handled (1John. 1:1).

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) The Lord could use a word to heal the leper originally, however, He “put out His hand and touched him”. This expresses the love of the Lord. The Lord is able to sympathize with our infirmities (Heb. 4:15). He likes to feel our feelings and sympathize with us.

2) “Touch” symbolizes the union in the Bible. The Lord, the heavenly doctor, heals us from our inner parts through the unification with us.

3) The Lord Jesus not only “can” (See Mark. 9:23) heal the wicked but also “was willing to” heal the wicked. If He is unwilling to heal us, His “power” is of no benefit to us. However, He has “the power” and “the willingness of heart”.

4) The Lord said “I am willing”. Sinners are in the heart of the Lord. He feels the feelings of sinners and feels sinners’ sufferings as if it were received in person.

5) The Lord not only said that He was willing, He but also put out His hand and touched Him, showing His complete willingness. If a man has not received the salvation of the Lord, it is not due to the unwillingness of the Lord. It is that he, who is of little faith, is unwilling to come to the Lord.

6) “Be cleansed” The word of the Lord is with authority. Once the word is spoken by the Lord, it will take effect.

7) Most of works of the Lord are done by His words. If we want to work with the Lord, at first we have to have His words.


Luke. 5:14 “And He charged him to tell no one, But go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as a testimony to them, just as Moses commanded.’”

   YLT: “And he charged him to tell no one, `But, having gone away, shew thyself to the priest, and bring near for thy cleansing according as Moses directed, for a testimony to them;’”

   The Background: according to the law of the Old Testament, when a leper was healed, he would be looked by the priest. After the priest had pronounced him clean, he would be able to make an offering to the Lord. After he had made an offering to the Lord and borne witness before the folk, this would become a fact which was unable to be overthrown (Lev. 14:2-20).

Literal Meaning: “He charged him to tell no one” Because the Lord knew what was in men (John. 2:25) and He did not want men to follow Him with evil motives.

“But go and show yourself to the priest…, and make an offering for your cleansing, just as Moses commanded” Because that time was a transitional period and they had not entered into the time of grace (the Lord had not been crucified to fulfill the redemption). Therefore the Jewish believers still walked according to the regulations of the law of the Old Testament.

“As a testimony to them” It proves that the leper was completely healed and he was able to contact with others normally.

   Spiritual Meaning: “make an offering for your cleansing” The gift was the type of Christ. He Himself is the proof for a sinner to be acceptable to God (See Heb. 9:9, 14, 24-28).

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) A heavenly man does not like to show off (“He charged him to tell no one”) and likes to cover himself.

2) The Lord did not disregard the righteousness of the law at all (Matt. 3:15). Believers should not disregard to give just and lawful testimony before men (“as a testimony to them”) in excuse of being of spirit.

3) After we were saved, we have to continually offer Christ and manifest Christ as to please God.

4) After an infamous sinner has been saved, if he did not show his testimony of repentance before all, his testimony is of no effect.


Luke. 5:15 “However, the report went around concerning Him all the more; and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by Him of their infirmities.

   YLT: “but the more was the report going abroad concerning him, and great multitudes were coming together to hear, and to be healed by him of their infirmities,”

   Meaning of Words: “went around”: spread; “come together”: accompany, travel together.


Luke. 5:16 “So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed.

   YLT: “and he was withdrawing himself in the desert places and was praying.”

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) When many people gathered together to hear the word of the Lord and hoped to be healed by Him, the Lord withdrew into the wilderness and prayed. This shows that the Lord’s life was well-balanced: on one hand He lived before men to help others and on the other He lived before God with prayer.

2) In our life, on one hand we should also learn to take care of others and serve others and on the other we should pray frequently and have communion with the Lord.


Luke. 5:17 “Now it happened on a certain day, as He was teaching, that there were Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting by, who had come out of every town of Galilee, Judea, and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was present to heal them.

   YLT: “And it came to pass, on one of the days, that he was teaching, and there were sitting by Pharisees and teachers of the Law, who were come out of every village of Galilee, and Judea, and Jerusalem, and the power of the Lord was to heal them.”

   The Background: “Pharisees and teachers of the law” “the Pharisees” were of the strictest sect in Judaism. They boasted that they lived a holy life, feared God and had the abundant knowledge of the Bible. “Teachers of the law” was another name of the scribes (See v.21) and they were those who had the authority to explain the Bible and teach men according to the Bible. Most of the scribes were the Pharisees, however, not all the scribes were the Pharisees.


Luke. 5:18 “Then behold, men brought on a bed a man who was paralyzed, whom they sought to bring in and lay before Him.

   YLT: “And lo, men bearing upon a couch a man, who hath been struck with palsy, and they were seeking to bring him in, and to place before him,”

   Meaning of Words: “bring”: carry, bear and move.

Literal Meaning: “a man who was paralyzed” indicates a man whose four limbs were paralyzed and therefore he could not walk freely.

   Spiritual Meaning: “a man who was paralyzed” knew how to walk and he was unable to walk. Therefore this symbolizes men’s state in religion that “they are unable to do what they hope to do”.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) We should always pray for weak believers (“a man who was paralyzed”) and bring them to the Lord through intercessions. Intercessions of faith will be assuredly answered by Him.

2) What men value is the healing of body and what the Lord values is the healing of soul. We should look at souls more than bodies and look at the things that are eternal more than the things that are temporal (2Cor. 4:16-18).

3) When preaching glad tidings, we may use various kinds of vehicles (such as taxis and private cars) to bring friends who would like to hear the glad tidings to the Lord (they brought a man who was paralyzed) so that they could enjoy the benefit of the glad tidings.

4) Men are taught to do that what is good in religion. The religion is full of doctrines and it lacks the motive power to put them into practice (what the paralytic one stands for). In religion everything is paralytic and everyone is unable to walk because religion lacks life and energy.


Luke. 5:19 “And when they could not find how they might bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the housetop and let him down with his bed through the tiling into the midst before Jesus.

   YLT: “and not having found by what way they may bring him in because of the multitude, having gone up on the house-top, through the tiles they let him down, with the little couch, into the midst before Jesus,”

   Meaning of Words: “bed”: stretcher, mattress;

The Background: “they went up on the housetop and let him down with his bed through the tiling into the midst before Jesus.” This is the typical Palestinian house. Its housetop was flat, and men could climb it up there from the outside stairs. Mats braided by branches sustained the flat in rows on the wooden beams. And there was a thick layer of clay covering upon the flat and the layer of clay was rolled over by stone wheels. Such kind of housetop could be uncovered easily.

   Spiritual Meaning: “bed” is used to have rest for the man who was paralyzed and it symbolizes rest. This shows that people in religion only have the appearance of rest but lack the reality of rest.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) When a man feels that he needs the Lord Jesus and draws near to the Lord, he may be blocked by those who seem to be close to the Lord. However, we shall not be frustrated because of men’s obstruction and we should have the determination which surpasses obstacles and rises above all difficulties.

2) If we want to receive the grace of the Lord, we shall not fear hardships but pursue so that we will be remembered by the Lord.

3) They surpassed the encirclement of the crowd and let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying from the flat, indicating that they had transcended the large crowd around the Lord------men’s organization, natural thoughts, traditional explanations for the Holy Scriptures, rigid doings in ministry and etc.------in order to seek the Lord and walked in the way “above”, namely, the transcending way and the heavenly way. Therefore, they would surely obtain the grace.

4) Our prayer should break through the roof and reach the throne in the heavens. Many believers’ prayers seem to be dispensable and can not pass through the roof. It is no wander that such prayers have no effect.


Luke. 5:20 “When He saw their faith, He said to him, Man, your sins are forgiven you.’”

   YLT: “and he having seen their faith, said to him, ‘Man, thy sins have been forgiven thee.’”

Literal Meaning: “their faith”, it referred to the faith of those who carried the paralytic and these may include the faith of the paralytic himself. It also indicates that the faith of intercession was rather efficacious.

“Your sins are forgiven you.” ---- It was the outward symptom that the paralytic could not walk, but the sins in him were actually the real cause of disease. The Lord here pointed out the matter of sins and exposed the real cause of men’s disease with a single remark.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    He saw their faith”. It shows that faith is visible.

2) “Their faith”, the faith of those who brought the man who was paralyzed was on one hand the “corporate faithand on the other the “practical faith.

3) When we are confronted with difficulties, it is the exact time that our faith is demanded. The living faith can be seen by the Lord and be praised by Him.

4) Sin is men’s essential difficulty. Although one who is bound by sins has the will to do right, he has no strength to perform right (See Rom. 7:18). Therefore the removal of sins is the very condition for men to be healed.

5) Not all the disease is the consequence of sins (John. 9: 1-3), but it has such possibility. Therefore when we are sick, we should come to the Lord and ask Him whether we have done something against Him.

6) They prayed for “being healed”, but the Lord’s answer was “forgiving the sins” as well as “healing the disease” (See v.25). Although the Lord has not directly answered our prayer, He knows what we really need.

7) The Lord firstly forgave his sins and healed his disease afterwards. If we seek our disease to be healed, we shall deal with our sins first (See Jam. 5:16).


Luke. 5:21 “And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?’”

   YLT: “And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, ‘Who is this that doth speak evil words? who is able to forgive sins, except God only?’”

Literal Meaning: “Who is this who speaks blasphemies?” The Jews held that nobody had the power of forgiving sins except God Himself. “Blasphemies” means that someone speaks beyond his own role and usurps God’s unique authority of forgiving sins.

Spiritual Meaning: “the scribes and the Pharisees” They stand for those who have knowledge and status in the circle of religion. They only condemn others but they are ignorant that they themselves are in sins.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) We shall hear in humble and meek spirit. If a man hears in the spirit of resisting, opposing and carping at others, even though he hears the sermon of the Lord Jesus, he will still benefit nothing and suffer losses.

2) The scribes could not receive the words of the Lord for the sake of the old conceptions in their hearts. Every time we come to the Lord, only if we empty ourselves could we receive the new words of the Lord (See 1:53).


Luke. 5:22 “But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, He answered and said to them, Why are you reasoning in your hearts?

   YLT: “And Jesus having known their reasonings, answering, said unto them, `What reason ye in your hearts?”

Literal Meaning: “when Jesus perceived their thoughts” The Lord is the one who searches reins and hearts (Rev. 2:23) and He knows men’s thoughts in their hearts.

“Why are you reasoning in your hearts?” means that “it should not be so that they are reasoning”. In the eyes of the Lord, they should not hold the thoughts of unbelief and criticism towards the Lord.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) The spiritual discerns all things (1Cor.2:15). May the Lord grant the spiritual insight.

2) The Lord does not look down upon our thoughts and therefore we should ask the Lord to keep our thoughts be acceptable to Him (Ps. 19:14).


Luke. 5:23 “Which is easier, to say, Your sins are forgiven you,' or to say, Rise up and walk'?

   YLT: “which is easier to say, Thy sins have been forgiven thee? or to say, Arise, and walk?”

   Literal Meaning: the Lord here did not say that, “which is more difficult?” because there is nothing too hard for Him (Jer. 32:17). “Forgiveness of sins” refers to the matter of authority. “Rising up and walking” speaks of the matter of power. The authority and power are both of Him (Rev. 12:10).

  In the sight of men, “your sins are forgiven you” was only a word out of mouth and nobody could see the effect of this word. However, the effect of asking one to rise up and walk could be seen at once. Therefore the former seems easier than the latter.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) Men look at the outward result------“rising up and walking”. The Lord looks at the spiritual reality------“your sins are forgiven you”. We have to seek spiritual reality first and then seek the outward result so that we will avoid the artificiality and hypocrisy. Moreover, we shall also prove the inside reality by outward result, otherwise it will be empty word only.

2) Rising up and walking are the matter of power, and forgiveness of sins is a matter of authority. The authority is empty without power. The power is lawless without authority.

3) Men’s difficulty is not how to “say” but according to what to “say”. Words without spiritual authority will have no spiritual power.


Luke. 5:24 “But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins--He said to the man who was paralyzed, I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.’”

   YLT: “`And that ye may know that the Son of Man hath authority upon the earth to forgive sins (he said to the one struck with palsy) I say to thee, Arise, and having taken up thy little couch, be going on to thy house.’”

   Literal Meaning: “but that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins” It means that the Lord used the visible thing to let them understand the invisible thing.

“The Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”, “the Son of Man”: the Lord Jesus, who called Himself the Son of Man, which carried two meanings: a) He has the perfect humanity. b) He is the Messiah that was predicted by Daniel the prophet (See Dan.7:13-14).

That the Lord forgave the paralytic was the matter between Him and the person involved (the paralytic). However the Lord here meant to show His authority of forgiving sins through the more difficult thing in men’s eyes------the paralytic’s being healed.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) Men’s diseases are usually caused by disease in their spirit. Many people get ill for they have sinned against God. Therefore the problem of sins should be solved first and then the disease will be healed.

2) The man who was paralyzed was healed because his sins were forgiven. And the sins are forgiven because of faith (v.20) instead of works. It indicates that religion which stresses on works has no good before God.


Luke. 5:25 “Immediately he rose up before them, took up what he had been lying on, and departed to his own house, glorifying God.

   YLT: “And presently having risen before them, having taken up [that] on which he was lying, he went away to his house, glorifying God,”

     Literal Meaning: “immediately he rose up before them” That he rose up showed that he had been healed. His being healed also proved that his sins were forgiven. Obviously, the Lord Jesus has the authority to forgive sins (Acts. 5:31).

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) The most important principle of the glad tidings is that remission of sins is first and then the rising up and walking. It is not sinners come to the Lord but the sinners walk out from the Lord. The Old Testament is to work and then live, and the New Testament is to live and then work. The former is works and the latter is grace.

2) The man was carried by others before and now arose and walked by himself. When we serve the young believers in the assembly, we should serve them until they are able to walk by themselves.

3) All that are saved by the Lord have the power of controlling their desire (bed) and they will have the experience of reigning in life instead of being slaves of flesh (Rom. 5: 17).

4) It was the bed that “held” him, and now he “carried” the bed. The Lord’s salvation of life enables those who believe have the power out of them to do what they can not do before.

5) The Lord asked the paralytic to rise up and walk. Obviously, the Lord’s word is reliable. If the seen is dependable, the unseen is dependable too.

6) The spiritual thing on one hand seemed to be invisible by men’s eyes and be hard to touch by men’s hands. However, it seems to be real in those who believe.

7) They had never seen such things, for they had never seen God. If we often see God in our life, we will always see what we have never seen.


Luke. 5:26 “And they were all amazed, and they glorified God and were filled with fear, saying, We have seen strange things today!’”

   YLT: “and astonishment took all, and they were glorifying God, and were filled with fear, saying ‘We saw strange things to-day.’”

   Meaning of Words: “were amazed”: fear and astonish.


Luke. 5:27 “After these things He went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, Follow Me.

   YLT: “And after these things he went forth, and beheld a tax-gatherer, by name Levi, sitting at the tax-office, and said to him, ‘Be following me;’”

Literal Meaning: “named Levi” He was also called Matthew (See Matt. 9:9) and he used to collect taxes for the Roman Government. The tax collectors as Matthew at that time on one hand pressed their neighbors and on the other embezzled levies. Therefore the Jews loathed them extremely and regarded them as sinners.

“Sitting at the tax office” “tax office” referred to the office in the street where the taxes were collected. Tax collectors usually sat there and waited men to pay taxes.

“Follow Me”. The Lord did not say “trust me”, but “follow me”, for “trusting the Lord is included in following the Lord. Christian’s life is a life that follows the Lord.

Spiritual Meaning: “Sitting at the tax office” it symbolizes the time when he is committing sins or doing iniquities.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) It is not that we look for the Lord, but the Lord comes to look for us. The Lord’s calling enables us to forsake sins and follow Him.

2) The Lord even came to call a tax collector “who was sitting at the tax office” ------the sinner who was committing sins, indicating that the grace out of the fullness of Christ was not restricted by men’s states.

3) If a man has not heard the Lord’s calling, he cannot follow the Lord. The moment the Lord’s calling comes, men will obey certainly. Levi did neither reason for himself and nor said that the account had not been settled, but followed the Lord immediately. It was inconceivable in the eyes of unbelievers.

4) If the Lord draws us, we will run after Him (Song. 1:4).

5) The Lord asks us not only to trust Him but also to follow Him. Following the Lord is to keep the will of God in the way of the cross. Those who believe the Lord only but not follow the Lord do no good for God.

6) Christians’ life is to “follow the Lord”. Following the Lord is to partake in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of the Lord (Rev. 1:9).

7) Levi gave up his leisurely career but found his reliance. He gave up the respectable income but found honor. He gave up comfortable security but received unexpected experience.


Luke. 5:28 “So he left all, rose up, and followed Him.

   YLT: “and he, having left all, having arisen, did follow him.”

   Literal Meaning: this is the second time in this chapter that Luke recorded the cases that “one forsook all and followed the Lord” (See v.11). In the former time, Peter and others forsook all because they saw the marvelous work. However, here Levi only heard the calling of the Lord and left all and followed the Lord. This shows that his “leaving all” was even greater than that of Peter and others.


Luke. 5:29 “Then Levi gave Him a great feast in his own house. And there were a great number of tax collectors and others who sat down with them.

   YLT: “And Levi made a great entertainment to him in his house, and there was a great multitude of tax-gatherers and others who were with them reclining (at meat),”

   Literal Meaning: “Levi gave Him a great feast” It shows that when Levi began to follow the Lord, he followed Him openly instead of secretly.

“Who sat down with them” “sat down” shows that they ate and were merry. To have dinner with others is the indication of friendship.

This feast was held by Levi, through which he showed his homage towards the Lord. However other guests that he could invite at that time, except for the Lord and His disciples, were all sinners and tax collectors who used to keep in touch with him and were also despised by the Jews.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) The Lord is so close to us that we can sit with Him together and share joy with each other (Song.1:12).

2) After we have believed the Lord, we should also invite our relatives and friends to share our joy from the Lord with them.

3) Levi followed the Lord first (See v.28), and then his friends and workmates “sat down with them”. As long as the one who has believed the Lord has testimony in life, those who are around him will also be influenced.

4) It is easy for a tax collector to bring other tax collectors unto the Lord. Likewise, it is also easy for a sinner to bring other sinners unto the Lord. When preaching the gospel, we should firstly start from our friends and partners.

5) Many people followed the Lord with pain and unavoidably and many followed the Lord in tears and with sign. However, Levi not only followed the Lord willingly but also “gave Him a great feast” joyfully.


Luke. 5:30 “And their scribes and the Pharisees complained against His disciples, saying, Why do You eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?’”

   YLT: “and the scribes and the Pharisees among them were murmuring at his disciples, saying, ‘Wherefore with tax-gatherers and sinners do ye eat and drink?’”

Literal Meaning: “Why do You eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” “Sinners” were the special appellation used by the Pharisees to call those who lived a life that was against the rituals and regulations of the Pharisees. The Pharisees”, with their traditional and religious conceptions, held that God treated men with His righteousness so that all those who were of God had to keep themselves clean and should not contact with sinners. However, the actions of the Lord Jesus were opposite to their religious conceptions.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1) The Pharisees measured the Lord with traditional religious conceptions and could not keep up with the Lord’s actions. If we always adhere obstinately to old conceptions of the Bible, we can not keep up with the Lord’s new guidance.

2) Though men are unrighteous themselves, they like God to treat others with righteousness. Men blame God to show grace to men for they do not know God’s grace. Therefore the attitude of grace is criticized and blamed by men.

3) “He ate and drunk with tax collectors and sinners”, it indicated on one hand how humble the Lord was, and on the other how full His salvation was! We are all sinners who have been bestowed grace.

4) Though the Lord contacted with sinners, the Bible told us that He was separated from sinners (Heb. 7:26). Only He who has been separated from sins is able to draw near to sinners.


Luke. 5:31 “Jesus answered and said to them, Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.

   YLT: “And Jesus answering said unto them, ‘They who are well have no need of a physician, but they that are ill:”

   Literal Meaning: “Those who are well have no need of a physician” In this sentence He did not agree that the Pharisees were “well”, but He said that they did not think that they were sick.

The Lord reveals that He Himself is a physician, showing that He treats the world with an attitude of a physician to sick person rather than that of a judge to sinners. In other words, He treats the world according to compassion and grace instead of righteousness (Rom. 9:15).

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) The Lord is our physician and He shall restore our life to normal. 

2) Unless the sick person admits that he is sick, he will not receive the help of a physician. Unless a sinner confesses that he is a sinner, he will not receive the Lord’s salvation. Those who think they are “healthy” and “righteous” may not partake in the Lord’s salvation contrarily.

3) The common difficulty of the world lies in the ignorance of their own conditions rather than the knowledge of the Lord------those who do not know themselves believe that it is not essential that whether they have the Lord or not. And those who know themselves hold that the Lord is very precious.

4) If a man wants to be Christians, he shall firstly confess he is a sick person and then may help others as a nurse.

5) In the sight of God, there is no difference between those who have pious appearance but are full of selfishness and jealousness inside as well as sinners and tax collectors.

6) The way that God saves men is to bring in the law at first which makes men know that they themselves are sick (sinners) and then bring in grace (the physician, i.e. the Lord Jesus) who makes men be healed. 


Luke. 5:32 “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.’”

   YLT: “I came not to call righteous men, but sinners, to reformation.’”

Literal Meaning: “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” In this sentence the Lord did not agree that the Pharisees were “righteous” but that they held that they were righteous. In fact, there is not a righteous one in the world, not even one (Rom. 3:10). Therefore, if one sticks to the traditional conceptions of religion and thinks himself righteous, he will lose the chance to obtain grace, for God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble (1Pet. 5:5).

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) Those who are self-righteous have never realized that they need salvation, so such men can never be called by God, for it is vain.

2) God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence (1Cor. 1:28-29).

3) There is a “purpose” that the Lord Jesus came to the world to be a man. Therefore He did not speak or act casually. All His life and deeds in His life are for the purpose to call sinners to repentance.


Luke. 5:33 “Then they said to Him, Why do the disciples of John fast often and make prayers, and likewise those of the Pharisees, but Yours eat and drink?’”

   YLT: “And they said unto him, ‘Wherefore do the disciples of John fast often, and make supplications in like manner also those of the Pharisees but thine do eat and drink?’”

   Literal Meaning: “fast often and make prayers” This shows that they regarded “fasting and prayer” as the behavior that the pious should do. The Pharisees showed off their fasting and prayers to others (Matt. 6:5, 16).

  Spiritual Meaning: “the disciples of John” symbolize junior religionists.

“The Pharisees” symbolize senior religionists.

Religion means “teaching according to certain principles”. It intended to teach men to fear God, but turned out to be a mere formality and even disregarded God and His son. The fasting is one of the letters and laws that the religious believers keep.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) The fasting used to be a manifestation of true piety and true repentance. However, if it turns to be a regulation, it will lose its real meaning. The fasting itself is not the aim and it should only be done under proper conditions.

2) Both those who keep the regulations and do the letters (“the disciples of the Pharisees”) and those who do not enjoy the Lord’s grace completely (“the disciples of John”) need fast. Those who depart from Christ cannot be satisfied in their hearts.


Luke. 5:34 “And He said to them, Can you make the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them?

   YLT: “And he said unto them, ‘Are ye able to make the sons of the bride-chamber in the bridegroom being with them to fast?”

The Background: in the Middle East regions during the old times, there were young relatives who companied the bridegroom to drink and celebrate for several days (sometimes it lasted a weak) before the marriage. After that, the bridegroom would leave to take his wife. Then, those who were with the bridegroom would feel lonely.

   Spiritual Meaning: “the bridegroom” indicates the Lord Himself.

  “The friends” indicate His disciples.

“Is with them”, it indicated the time when the Lord was with His disciples in the flesh.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) Only those who walk with the Lord (the friends of the bridegroom) can often enjoy the rich feast. There will be abundant enjoyment in the Lord’s presence. Once the presence of the Lord is lost, the spirit will suffer hunger.

2) The Lord is our bridegroom and He keeps fresh all the time. The moment we meet Him, we will be filled with sweetness, freshness and joy.

3) The life and actions of those who follow the Lord should be guided by the Lord Himself and His presence only instead of the driving of the knowledge or reasons.

4) The spiritual life of the saints in the New Testament is neither abstinence nor penance, but it is characterized by the joy in the Holy Spirit (See Rom. 14:17).


Luke. 5:35 “But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them; then they will fast in those days.’”

   YLT: “but days will come, and, when the bridegroom may be taken away from them, then they shall fast in those days.’”

Literal Meaning: “the bridegroom will be taken away from them” be taken away”: be taken away by men forcedly;

Spiritual Meaning: “But the days will come”, it showed that the day of His crucifixion was impending.

“The bridegroom will be taken away from them” When the Lord departed out of this world to the Father (See John. 13:1), He would leave His disciples.

     Enlightenment in the Word:

1) In order to be yokefellows with the Lord, believers sometimes need to fast and pray.

2) To those who wait for the second coming of the Lord the bridegroom, waiting with fasting is the proper exercise.


Luke. 5:36 “Then He spoke a parable to them: No one puts a piece from a new garment on an old one; otherwise the new makes a tear, and also the piece that was taken out of the new does not match the old.

   YLT: “And he spake also a simile unto them ‘No one a patch of new clothing doth put on old clothing, and if otherwise, the new also doth make a rent, and with the old the patch doth not agree, that [is] from the new.”

   Meaning of Words: “new” new sample, new product (the newness of the texture).

Literal Meaning: “No one puts a piece from a new garment on an old one.” If the cloth that was taken from a new garment was “put on an old one”, after the cloth is washed and dried up, the piece of the new garment will pull away the garment and the tear is worse and irreparable because the new cloth has not been shrunk and it will shrink.

   Spiritual Meaning: “Putting a piece from a new garment” “a new garment” symbolizes the great redemption that the Lord Jesus has finished for the world by coming into the world. “Putting a piece” means that one is unwilling to receive it wholly and he receives it partly, especially the Lord’s teachings concerning the morality and he imitates the good behavior of the Lord.

   “Putting…on an old one” “an old one” symbolizes the works done by our old natural life and it is always full of flaws and holes. “Putting” shows that we perceive that our works are incomplete. Therefore we want to repair and improve our works through imitating the example of the life of the Lord Jesus, however, we are unwilling to receive the complete salvation of the Lord Jesus on the cross.   “Otherwise the new makes a tear” It indicates that we misunderstand the salvation of the Lord and debase the value of the salvation.

  “Also the piece that was taken out of the new does not match the old” It indicates that if we are only willing to receive the teachings and example from the Lord Jesus instead of His salvation, it is of no effect because these two do no match.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) Nobody could use God’s grace to make up the weak points of our old deeds.

2) We should not mix grace and the law together. Once they are mixed together, grace loses its sweetness and the law loses its fearfulness. It becomes neither grace nor the Law.

3) In Christianity, the New Testament is not used to make up the Old Testament, but to replace the Old Testament. Keeping the law of the Old Testament may contrarily corrupt the faith of the New Testament.

4) In the New Testament, there is not any regulation about the outside deeds, for we believers need only completely follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit in us. We should serve the Lord in the newness of spirit instead of the oldness of letters (Rom. 7:6).

5) If we want to be acceptable to God, we shall receive the great redemption that has been done by Christ and put on Christ as our garment of righteousness instead of imitating the works and deeds of Christ on earth.

6) The garment that the Lord has made for the assembly is new and His work is “the new creation”. He had completely ended all the things of the old creation. Therefore we should not bring natural things and works of the world into the assembly.

7) The Lord never uses the new grace to make up and maintain the old patch. When our works fall into the state of oldness, we do not need to do the repairing work and we should ask the Lord to give us the new cloth additionally.


Luke. 5:37 “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine will burst the wineskins and be spilled, and the wineskins will be ruined.

  YLT: “`And no one doth put new wine into old skins, and if otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins, and itself will be poured out, and the skins will be destroyed;”

   Meaning of Words: “new”: fresh, young (the newness of time).

  Literal Meaning: “wineskins” were sheepskins used by the Jews to carry drink.

  “Old wineskins” were sheepskins that lack stretchability because of the oldness.

  “New wine” has strong power of fermentation. The old wineskins cannot bear the force produced by the fermentation of wine and therefore the old wineskins could be ruined easily.

   Spiritual Meaning: “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins.” The “new wine” symbolizes the risen and fresh life of Christ that makes men joyful, be exalted and powerful. The “old wineskins” symbolize the old men of us as well as the religious ways. “Putting new wine into old wineskins” means that one only receives Christ into his thoughts, will and feeling of old men (soul). Religionists research Christ with their natural intelligence, treat Christ with natural emotion and decide to serve the Lord with their natural will. That is to say, they receive Christ totally with their natural men.

“Or else the new wine will burst the wineskins and be spilled, and the wineskins will be ruined.” Christ can not be fully understood by our mind. Many times, our emotion may be broken down in some so-called spiritual things because of exceeding excitement. In addition, those who follow the Lord with their will shall be immediately offended by persecutions and tribulations (See Matt. 13:21).

Enlightenment in the Word:

1) The “a new garment” (v. 36) refers to the outward conversation. The “new wine” speaks of the inner life. Garment is shown outwardly and wine is fermented inside. The former is conversation and the latter is life. The life given by the gospel in the New Testament to men is the new wine and the conversation given to men is the new cloth.

2) The “wineskins” symbolize the individual Christian as well as the corporate Christians------the assembly. Men’s organization is the “old wineskins”. If it is used to put the “new wine”, it will be broken sooner or later and the wine will be spilt and the presence of Christ will also be lost.


Luke. 5:38 “But new wine must be put into new wineskins, and both are preserved.

   YLT: “but new wine into new skins is to be put, and both are preserved together;”

   Meaning of Words: “new wineskins”: the wineskins that have not been used before.

   Spiritual Meaning: “New wineskins” symbolizes new men. It means that we obtain the spirit that is born from above and the renewing soul (Tit. 3:5, Eph. 4:23-24, Col. 3:10, Rom. 12:2). Only if we exercise our spirit and use our thoughts, feelings and wills that have been dealt with by cross to hold Christ will it be effective.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) The Liberal Christians receive Christ as “a piece from a new garment” (v.36). The fundamental Christians receive Christ as the “new garment”. The real Christians receive Christ as the “new wine”, however, the wine is usually put in “the old wineskins” (v.37). Only the normal Christians use the “new wineskins” to put the “new wine”.

2) The Holy Spirit in us (the new wine) will get rid of the old conversation, deeds and habits (old wineskins). One should have the new life and new walking and new habits so that he can be a Christian.


Luke. 5:39 “And no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, The old is better.’”

   YLT: “and no one having drunk old [wine], doth immediately wish new, for he saith, The old is better.’”

   Literal Meaning: “for he says, ‘The old is better’” Wines improve with age and the old wine is better than the new wine and this is the principle of the world. However, the Lord here reminded us that the spiritual principle is totally different from this and we should turn over a new leaf (See Eph. 4:20-24; Col. 3:9-10).

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) The old conceptions always become our veils that will block us from having the renewal of revelation (See 2Cor. 3:15-18).

2) It is dangerous in spiritual things to stick to convention. Therefore we should not recall the past spiritual experiences all along because these old experiences would block men from receiving new grace.


III. Outlines of the Spiritual Lessons


The Requirements to “Catch Men” (v.10)

I. One has to know that Jesus is the Lord and he himself is a sinner (v.8).

II. One has to let down the net at the Lord’s words (v.5).

III. One has to cooperate with partners (v.7).

IV. One has to forsake all and follow the Lord (v.11).


Men’s Original States and the Results after They Have Met the Lord

I. Men’s original states:

  A. Men toiled and were unsatisfied------we have toiled all night and caught nothing (v.5).

  B. Men were unclean completely------a man who was full of leprosy (v.12).

  C. Men were paralyzed and unable to walk------a man who was paralyzed (v.18).

  D. Men were fully steeped in the daze of the world------Levi was sitting at the tax office (v.27).

II. The results after they have met the Lord:

  A. They saw the fullness of the Lord and they themselves are sinners (v.8).

  B. Their dirtiness of sins was cleansed by the Lord (v.13).

  C. They were called to be delivered from sin by the Lord------the bed (v.24-25).

  D. They were called to be delivered from the world by the Lord------the tax office (v.27-28).

  E. They rose up and followed the Lord (v.11, 28).

  F. They ate and be merry, sitting with the Lord (v.29-30).


An Example of Prayer (v.12-13)

I. A prayer of the knowledge of the Lord------he “saw Him”.

II. A humble prayer------he “fell on his face”.

III. An urgent prayer------he “implored Him”.

IV. An obedient prayer------“If you are willing…”

V. A prayer with the great faith------“you can”.

VI. A prayer with the single-minded purpose------“you can make me clean.”

VII. A prayer of great effect------“immediately the leprosy left him”.


Four Kinds of Men Who Heard the Word of the Lord

I. Those who looked on coldly and murmured in their hearts------the scribes and the Pharisees (v.17, 21).

II. Those who were concerned about others and had faith in the Lord------those who carried the man who was paralyzed (v.18-20).

III. Those who were forgiven by the Lord and had experienced the mighty power of the Lord’s life------the man who was paralyzed (v.24-25).

IV. Those who witnessed the grace of the Lord and glorified God------all the people (v.26).


The Features of Tax Collector Levi

I. He was in sins-----he was sitting at the tax office------he met the Lord (v.27).

II. He immediately repented the moment he heard the word of the Lord------so he rose up and followed Him (v.28).

III. Once he had repented, he received the Lord------Levi gave Jesus a great feast (v.29a).

IV. He invited his friends and workmates to hear the glad tidings------there were a great number of tax collectors and others who sat together with them (v.29b). 


The Heart of the Lord and the Hearts of the Scribes and the Pharisees

I. The Lord sympathized with the sufferings of the paralytic------the scribes and the Pharisees did not care for the sufferings of the paralytic, but condemned that the Lord spoke blasphemies (v.17-26).

II. The Lord felt the need of sinners------ the Pharisees and the scribes did not care for the need of sinners, but condemned that the Lord sat with sinners (v.27-32).

III. The Lord was willing to have enjoyment with His disciples together------the Pharisees did not care for the fact of the bridegroom’s presence, but condemned that the Lord’s disciples did not fast (v.33-35).


The Service of the Bondservant the Savior Was Going to Deliver Men from Religion

I. Who delivered men from the incapability of religion (v.17-26):

A. Religion can not help the man who was paralyzed------who has no power to walk in the way of life.

B. Religion respects God apparently, but does not know the Son of God actually.

C. Only by believing the Lord can one’s sins be forgiven and can he obtain the power of life.

II. Who delivered men from the self-righteousness of religion (v.27-32):

A. Religion can only condemn others------despise the tax collectors and sinners.

B. Religious believers can not understand the merciful bowel of the Lord.

C. Only through confessing his disease (sins) can one be healed by the Lord (the remission of sins).

III. Who delivered men from the traditional conceptions of religion (v.33-35):

A. Religion makes one afflict his soul.

B. Religious believers can not understand the joy in the presence of the Lord.

C. Only through the new idea and new works (the new garment and the new wineskins) can one enjoy the salvation in the New Testament (the new wine).


The Old Religion is Unworthy of the New Christ

I. He is the bridegroom. While He is with them, there is no need of the fasting of religion (v.33-35).

II. He is the new garment and we should not unite Him to the religion that is like the old garment (v.36).

III. He is the new wine and the new wine should be put in the new wineskins (v.37-39).


── Caleb HuangChristian Digest Bible Commentary Series

   Translated by Sharon Ren