The Paralytic Had Faith
When Jesus said, “friend”, the word He used is the singular ANTHROPE, as in “man, your sins are forgiven.” He did not address the friends, plural, but He spoke directly to the man. Jesus saw the faith of all of the men, but He spoke directly to the paralytic. He said, “Man, YOUR sins are forgiven.” What does this mean? It means that the paralytic was not a passive vegetable. He had his own faith and Jesus saw it.
The Paralytic Had a Repentant Faith
Jesus said to the man, “your sins are forgiven.” According to Scripture, what is required for being saved? When people came to John the Baptist to find forgiveness, to be baptized they must first repent (Lk. 3). When thousands of people asked Peter what they must do to be saved, he told them they must repent along with being baptized. God does not save the unrepentant: never did, never will. Since we know the man had saving faith, and saving faith requires repentance, it is apparent that the man was repentant. The man had a broken and contrite spirit and was a willing participant, full of faith and confidence in the Lord. However he expressed his repentant faith, whether in words or just by a look, a saving faith was visibly evident to Jesus.
The cleansing of the man’s soul was a separate and distinct matter from his being physically healed: “he was still a paralytic when Jesus forgave his sins.”1 The physical healing only occurred after the Pharisees challenged His authority to forgive.
The Friends’ Faith Did Not Save the Paralytic
The pictorial representation above shows the paralytic passed out and nothing more than a passive participant. But we don’t decide our doctrine on what pictures and paintings show. The text reveals all that we need to know. Some might believe that one person can be saved without faith and repentance, or by the faith of his friends, but this passage does not support such a teaching. Friends can be helpful, but their faith cannot be credited to our debt of sin.