And he said unto them,
Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill?
But they held their peace.
Read Chapter 3
Athanasius the Apostolic
In the synagogue of the Jews was a man who had a withered hand. If he was withered in his hand, the ones who stood by were withered in their minds. And they were not looking at the crippled man nor were they expecting the miraculous deed of the one who was about to work. But before doing the work, the Savior ploughed up their minds with words. For knowing the evil of the mind and its bitter depth, he first softened them up in advance with words so as to tame the wildness of their understanding, asking: “Is it permitted to do good on the sabbath or to do evil; to save a life or to destroy one?” For if he had said to them, “Is it permitted to work?” immediately they would have said, “You are speaking contrary to the law.” Then he told them what was intended by the law, for he spoke as the One who established the laws concerning the sabbath, adding, “except this: that which will be done for the sake of a life.” Again if a person falls into a hole on a sabbath, Jews are permitted to pull t...
And He saith to them, Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath-days, or to do evil? to save life, or to destroy? But they held their peace. The translator reads Î¬Ï€Î¿Î»ÎÏƒÎ±Î¹, that Isaiah , to destroy. We now read Î±Ì‰Ï€Î¿ÎºÏ„ÎµÎ¹ÌƒÎ½Î±Î¹, i.e, to kill. But to destroy is better. For the Gospel is speaking of a maimed person, who had a withered hand, not of one who was dead. With reference to healing this maimed person, the Scribes had proposed a doubt or scruple, Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath-days? Christ resolved this doubt by means of another question, not dubious, but plain, Is it lawful to do well on the Sabbath, or to do evil; to save a soul, or to destroy it? (Vulg.). A soul, i.e, a Prayer of Manasseh , says S. Augustine. The meaning Isaiah , if any one should not succour or do a kindness to one who is sick or heavily afflicted, like this maimed Prayer of Manasseh , on the Sabbath, when he is able to do it, as I, Christ, am able, he does him an injury; for he refuses him t...
A difficulty here arises, how to reconcile St. Mark with St. Matthew. St. Mark puts the words into the mouth of Jesus Christ: Is it lawful? When St. Matthew says, that they interrogated him: Is it lawful? To cut the knot of this apparent difficulty, we must understand that they first put the question to our Lord, whether it was lawful to heal on the sabbath-day or not: and that Jesus understanding their secret thoughts, that they wished to have some grounds of accusation against him, placed the sick man in the midst of them, and said what St. Mark here relates of him: Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath-day, or to do evil? (St. Augustine)
Jesus said to the man with the withered hand, “Come here.” Then he challenged the Pharisees as to whether it would be lawful to do good on the sabbath. Note the tender compassion of the Lord when he deliberately brought the man with the withered hand right into their presence. He hoped that the mere sight of the misfortune might soften them, that they might become a little less spiteful by seeing the affliction, and perhaps out of sorrow mend their own ways. But they remained callous and unfeeling. They preferred to do harm to the name of Christ than to see this poor man made whole. They betrayed their wickedness not only by their hostility to Christ, but also by their doing so with such contentiousness that they treated with disdain his mercies to others. Gospel of St. Matthew, Homily