13 And he went out again along side of the sea1, and the whole crowd came to him, and he was teaching them. 14 And while passing by, he saw Levi, the son of Alphaeus, sitting at the tax office2, and says to him, “Follow me!” And getting up, he followed him.
15 And it came to pass3, that he was dining4 in his house, and many tax-collectors and sinners5 were dining6 with Jesus and his disciples: For there were many and they were following him. 16 And the Scribes of the Pharisees, seeing that he was eating7 with sinners and tax-collectors, said to his disciples, “Why is he eating with tax-collectors and sinners?” 17 And hearing this, Jesus says to them, “Those8 who are strong do not have need for a doctor, but those who are sick9 do. I did not come to call righteous, but sinners.” Mark 2:13-17
This is a two-fold story about Jesus calling Levi (Matthew) to be a disciple. One thing that is interesting to note happens in verses 15 and 16. Mark puts "tax-collectors" before "sinners" in the sentence of verse 15. Remember, in Greek, if the author wants to show some emphasis on someone or something, he will put it at the beginning of the sentence or clause. Notice that in the beginning of verse 16 he places "sinners" before "tax-collectors" when referring to what the Scribes are seeing. When the Scribes question the disciples about it at the end of verse 16, Mark switches the word order again. Why do you think Mark keeps changing the order? What does that really tell us about the Scribes?
1 Sea of Galilee
2 ἐπὶ τὸ τελώνιον (at the tax office)
Greek: “on the tax office or booth”. The booth was probably some type of platform.
3 Καὶ γίνεται (And it came to pass)
Greek: “And it became”.
4 κατακεῖσθαι (was dining)
Greek: “laid down” or “reclined”. In the 1st century, the custom was to recline on pillows at short tables to have meals. Since that concept is a little foreign today, I’ve translated it it “was dining”.
5 Sinners: People who were not keeping the law of Moses.
6 συνανέκειντο (were dining)
Greek: “to recline together”. See note 5.
7 ἐσθίει (was eating)
Greek: “is eating”. A historical present. The construction is common in the New Testament. In this case, Mark has written this book to be read aloud, so keeping things in the present, aid the readers in the delivery of the content of the message.
8 Greek: “The ones” 9 οἱ κακῶς ἔχοντες (those who are sick)
Greek: “the ones who are having badly”. An idiom for sick.
Μάρκον 2·13 Καὶ ἐξῆλθεν πάλιν παρὰ τὴν θάλασσαν· καὶ πᾶς ὁ ὄχλος ἤρχετο πρὸς αὐτόν, καὶ ἐδίδασκεν αὐτούς. 14 Καὶ παράγων εἶδεν Λευὶν τὸν τοῦ Ἁλφαίου καθήμενον ἐπὶ τὸ τελώνιον, καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ· ἀκολούθει μοι. καὶ ἀναστὰς ἠκολούθησεν αὐτῷ.
Μάρκον 2·15 Καὶ γίνεται κατακεῖσθαι αὐτὸν ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ αὐτοῦ, καὶ πολλοὶ τελῶναι καὶ ἁμαρτωλοὶ συνανέκειντο τῷ Ἰησοῦ καὶ τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ· ἦσαν γὰρ πολλοὶ καὶ ἠκολούθουν αὐτῷ. 16 καὶ οἱ γραμματεῖς τῶν Φαρισαίων ἰδόντες ὅτι ἐσθίει μετὰ τῶν ἁμαρτωλῶν καὶ τελωνῶν ἔλεγον τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ· ὅτι μετὰ τῶν τελωνῶν καὶ ἁμαρτωλῶν ἐσθίει; 17 καὶ ἀκούσας ὁ Ἰησοῦς λέγει αὐτοῖς [ὅτι] οὐ χρείαν ἔχουσιν οἱ ἰσχύοντες ἰατροῦ ἀλλ ̓ οἱ κακῶς ἔχοντες· οὐκ ἦλθον καλέσαι δικαίους ἀλλὰ ἁμαρτωλούς.