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The Four-fold Gospel by J. W. McGarvey

XXIII. Jesus' First Residence at Capernaum.

^D John II.12.

^d 12 After this he went down to Capernaum [The site of Capernaum is generally conceded to be marked by the ruins now called Tel-Hum. Jesus is said to have gone |down| because Cana is among the hills, and Capernaum was by the Lake of Galilee, about six hundred feet below sea level], he, and his mother, and his brethren, and his disciples [There is much dispute as to what the New Testament writers mean by the phrase the |brethren of the Lord.| This phrase, found in any other than a Jewish book, would be taken to mean either the full or half brothers of Jesus, and it has probably that meaning here. The Catholic Church, contending for the perpetual virginity of our Lord's mother, has argued that his brethren were either the sons of Joseph by a former marriage, or that they were sons of Alphæus (also called Clopas) and a sister of our Lord's mother, who, like her, was also called Mary (John xix.25). This latter view is based upon the fact that two of the sons of Alphæus bear the same names as those borne by two of our Lord's brethren, which is far more conclusive, since the names James and Judas were extremely common. Moreover, we learn from John vii.5, that the Lord's brethren did not believe on him, and harmonists place the time of this unbelief late in our Lord's ministry, when the sons of Alphæus were not only believers, but some of them even apostles. Our Lord's brethren are mentioned nine times in the New Testament, and a study of these references will give us some light. Three of them, viz.: John vii.3, 5, 10; I. Cor. ix.5; Gal. i.19, are rather noncommittal. The other six (Matt. xii.46; xiii.55; Mark iii.32; vi.3; Luke viii.19, 20; John ii.12) speak of his brethren in connection with his mother, and strongly indicate that Jesus was the first-born son of Mary, and that she had at least four other sons, besides daughters. These brethren of Jesus are constantly represented as attending his mother, without a hint that they were not her children. Against this conclusion there is but one argument which has any force; namely, that our Lord committed his mother into the keeping of the apostle John, rather than to his brethren (John xix.25-27), but this fact may be easily accounted for. Many mothers are but scantily and grudgingly supported by their sons]; and there they abode not many days. [Because the passover was at hand, and he went up to Jerusalem. This notice of the brief sojourn of Jesus at Capernaum throws light on several things: 1. It shows where Jesus spent most of his time between his baptism and the first passover.2. It helps to explain how the nobleman, who afterwards sought him at Cana, became acquainted with him.3. It prepares us to look for his first visit to Nazareth at a later period.4. It also explains why Jesus sought Capernaum as his place of residence after leaving Nazareth. Moreover, it shows that the natural ties of kindred were not immediately snapped by Christ. Until he went up to the first passover, he abode with his mother and his brethren.]

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