Matthew 23:1-12

Sunday, August 27th, 2017

JESUS’ COMMENTS REGARDING

THE MARKS OF A PHARISEE

INTRODUCTION:

 

The narrative about Jesus in chapter 23 includes His comments regarding the marks of a Pharisee (23:1-12), His pronouncing of eight woes upon the Pharisees (23:13-36), and His lament over Jerusalem (23:37-39).

 

Matthew 23:1 Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples.

 

Then suggests at that time.

 

Spake Jesus to the multitude is Jesus spoke to the crowds or to the people.

 

And to his disciples is and to His disciples. It indicates that the 12 apostles were part of the group.

 

Matthew 23:2 Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat.

 

Saying suggests and was saying and introduces what Jesus was saying to the crowds and to His disciples, which extends through the end of this chapter.

 

The scribes are experts in the law or scholars versed in the law.

 

The Pharisees were the followers of these experts in interpreting the law, i.e. followers of the scribes. They sought to put into practice the teaching of the scribes as nearly as possible.

 

Sit in Moses’ seat suggests sit on Moses’ chair, which suggests that the scribes and Pharisees have authority to interpret the Mosaic law.

 

Matthew 23:3 All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.

 

All is all things or everything.

 

Therefore introduces an inference drawn from the fact that the scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat and is understood in the sense of consequently or accordingly.

 

Whatsoever they bid you observe is whatever they say to you (or tell you) to observe or to keep.

 

That observe and do suggests (that) be keeping and be doing.

 

But do not ye after their works suggests but do not be doing (or but stop doing) according to their works, i.e. what they are doing.

 

For they say, and do not, i.e. because they are saying but are not doing. They are not practicing what they are teaching; so, although their teaching should be followed, their practice should not be followed.

 

Matthew 23:4 For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.

 

For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne pictures the scribes and Pharisees tying up heavy burdens as if they were bundles or loads and placing them on people’s shoulders for the people to carry.

 

Heavy burdens suggests oppressive loads from the law.

 

And grievous to be borne suggests and hard to bear.

 

And lay them on men’s shoulders suggests and put (or place) these heavy burdens (or bundles) on people’s shoulders.

 

It is in contrast to what Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-30 ,

 

Matthew 11:28-3028 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

 

But introduces a statement in mild contrast to the practice of the scribes and Pharisees placing heavy loads on the shoulders of people.

 

But they themselves will not move them means that the scribes and Pharisees are not willing to move the burdens they lay on others.

 

With one of their fingers is with their finger.

 

Matthew 23:5 But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments.

 

But all their works they do includes everything the scribes and Pharisees are doing.

 

For to be seen of men is in order that (or so that) they might be noticed by people or to attract (the) attention of people. Everything they do is for show.

 

They make broad their phylacteries indicates that the scribes and Pharisees enlarge their prayer-bands (or prayer-cases) in which Scripture passages were contained. They were usually worn on the left arm or head.

 

And enlarge the borders of their garments means that they lengthen the tassels on their outer garments.

 

In Numbers 15:38-40 God had commanded Moses to instruct the Israelites,

 

Numbers 15:38-40 – (38) Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue: (39) And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the LORD, and do them; and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring: (40) That ye may remember, and do all my commandments, and be holy unto your God.

 

What the scribes and Pharisees were doing was abusing God’s intent in instructing the Israelites to put tassels on the corners of their outer garments. Rather than using the tassels to be a reminder to do all God’s commandments and to be holy, the scribes and Pharisees were lengthening their tassels in order to convey the impression that they were holy, but they weren’t holy.

 

Matthew 23:6 And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues.

 

And love the uppermost rooms at feasts is and the scribes and Pharisees like the places of honor at dinners (or banquets).

 

They also like the chief seats in the synagogues, which suggests they like the best seats (or seats of honor) in the synagogues.

 

They like to be prominent so that they might be admired.

 

Matthew 23:7 And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.

 

And greetings in the markets indicates that the scribes and Pharisees also love (or like) the greetings (or personal salutations) in the market places. It suggests that they are fond of being greeted in public places where they are able to be seen by many people.

 

And to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi means that they also love (or like) to be called by the title Rabbi, Rabbi by people.

 

Rabbi means my teacher or my master and has been doubled for emphasis.

 

Matthew 23:8 But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.

 

But be not ye called Rabbi forbids an action in its very beginning. It implies do not begin to be called Rabbi or never be addressed as (or designated) as Rabbi.

 

In Judaism, a rabbi is a teacher of the law. Rabbi means My Master. It is the way a student would address a master of the law. It literally means great one.

 

Jesus means that you are never to have people call you Rabbi as a distinct title. It suggests that you are not to have people treat you as if you are someone special who is greater than the rest.

 

For introduces the reason you are not to have people address you by the title Rabbi and is understood in the sense of because.

 

For one is your Master, even Christ means because Jesus is your one and only Teacher. Master is not the term Rabbi. It means that no one else should be afforded the same status as Christ, and you should not seek this status which belongs to Christ for yourselves.

 

And all ye are brethren is and you are all brothers. It refers to the multitudes and the disciples Jesus was addressing. They are all equal in status. None are better than or superior to the others.

 

Matthew 23:9 And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.

 

And call no man your father upon the earth forbids this action in its very beginning in the sense of and do not begin to address or designate (someone) your father upon the earth or and never address or designate (someone) your father upon the earth.

 

Your father is not referring to your earthly father who begat you; rather, it is referring to a title. The Bible teaches that an individual is to honor his father.

 

This title of father gives special status to a man such as a Roman Catholic priest whom the Roman Catholics refer to as Father So and So.

 

For (i.e. because) one is your Father indicates that only One Person is entitled to this title as a status. He is your Father, which is in heaven, i.e. your Father, the One (Who is) in heaven, also known as your heavenly Father.

 

Matthew 23:10 Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.

 

Neither be ye called masters forbids this action in its very beginning in the sense of and do not begin to be called masters or and never be called masters.

 

It is speaking of the individuals Jesus is addressing being referred to by the title master or teacher.

 

For one is your Master, even Christ means because Christ is your one and only Master (or Teacher). The identical phrase is found in verse 8.

 

Matthew 23:11 But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.

 

But he that is greatest among you is but the one who is greatest among you or but the one of you who is greatest.

 

Shall be your servant suggests will be your minister.

 

It indicates that the path to greatness is serving others rather than seeking to elevate himself above others.

 

Matthew 23:12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.

 

And whosoever shall exalt himself suggests and whoever (or and everyone who) will seek to enhance himself above others (or considers himself better than others).

 

Shall be abased means will be humbled or will be brought low.

 

And (or but) he that shall humble himself is and (or but) whoever (or every one who) will abase himself or will bring himself low.

 

Shall be exalted suggests will be enhanced (above others). It is another way of stating the path to greatness. It is not by exalting self above others; rather, greatness is achieved by humbly serving others.

 

Do you want to be important in God’s sight? Serve others, and you will be important in God’s sight.

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