Matthew 23

#Mt 23:1| CX. JESUS' LAST DISCOURSE. DENUNCIATION OF SCRIBES AND PHARISEES. (In the court of the Temple. Tuesday, April 4, A.D. 30.) #Mt 23:1-39 Mr 12:38-40 Lu 20:45-47| Then spake Jesus to the multitudes and to his disciples. He spoke in the most public manner. (TFG 606) #Mt 23:2,3| The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat. As teachers of the law of Moses the scribes and Pharisees were the only religious guides whom the people had, so they were obliged to follow them as expounders of that law, but they were no means to look to them as living exemplification of that law. (TFG 606) #Mt 23:4| Yea, they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, etc. The law itself was a heavy yoke (#Ac 15:10|), but these teachers added to the burden of it a vast volume of traditions, but they themselves did not keep these traditions, excusing themselves by inventing subtle distinctions like those in reference to the Corban (#Mt 15:4-6 Mr 7:11|) and to oaths (#Mt 15:16-22|). See TFG "#Lu 11:46|". (TFG 606) #Mt 23:5| All their works they do to be seen of men. What laws and traditions they did keep were not kept privately and sincerely, but publicly that they might secure to themselves a reputation for sanctity. For they make broad their phylacteries. Literally, "preservatives" or "remembrances." They were probably so called because they were designed to aid the wearer in remembering his obligations to the law. They were strips of parchment on which were written four passages of the law, namely: #Ex 13:3-10 11-16 De 6:4-9 11:13-21|. These were enclosed in a leather case and were fastened to the forehead and left arm. The authority for wearing them was purely traditional, and the practice seems to have arisen from a literal interpretation of #Ex 13:9,16 De 6:8 11:18|. The Pharisees made the leather case large, that their righteousness might be more conspicuous. And enlarge the borders of their garments. These were the fringes mentioned in #Nu 15:38,39|. But the Pharisees offended again, even in their obedience, by wearing broader fringes than other people, that they might appear more religious. (TFG 606-607) #Mt 23:6| And love the chief place at feasts. See TFG "#Lu 14:7|". And the chief seats in the synagogues. See TFG "#Lu 11:43|". On the synagogue, see TFG "Mr 1:39". #Mt 23:7| And the salutations in the marketplaces. See TFG "#Lu 11:43|". And to be called of men, Rabbi. The term "Rabbi" means "master" or "teacher." (TFG 607) #Mt 23:8| For one is your teacher. Christ. (TFG 607) Mt 23:11 But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. See TFG "#Mr 10:43|". #Mt 23:12| And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be humbled. See notes at #Mt 18:4 Lu 14:11 18:14|. Thus Jesus reproves those who make religion a matter of praise-seeking ostentation, whether they do so by seeking position, or by peculiarity of dress, or by assuming or accepting titles of honor or distinction. This sin of ostentation was the first enumerated sin of the Pharisees. (TFG 608) #Mt 23:13| Because ye shut the kingdom of heaven against men, etc. Our Lord's language is figurative and presents the kingdom of God as a house around the door of which the Pharisees have gathered, not entering in themselves, and blocking the way against those who would enter. This they did by their opposition to Jesus. For a similar charge see TFG "Lu 11:52". (TFG 608) #Mt 23:14| For ye devour widows' houses, etc. See TFG "#Mr 12:40|". #Mt 23:15| For ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, etc. Proselytes here meant are not those converted from heathenism to worship God, but Jews converted to Phariseeism. These become worse than their instructors, because each generation drifted farther from the law and became more zealously and completely devoted to the traditions. (TFG 608) #Mt 23:16| Woe unto you, ye blind guides. Jesus above denounced them for their hypocrisy, but this woe is pronounced upon them for their ignorance and folly. See TFG "#Mt 15:14|". Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor. The word "debtor" is here meant to describe one who owes it to himself and to God to keep his oath. The Pharisees graduated oaths according to their own foolish conceptions of the sanctity of the object invoked, so that if the object by which a man swore was not sacred enough, he was not forsworn if he did not keep his oath. Esteeming the gold of the temple more sacred than the temple itself, they held that an oath by the former was binding while an oath by the latter was not. The gold meant is probably the golden ornaments on the temple. (TFG 609) #Mt 23:22| And he that sweareth by the heaven, etc. Our Lord designed to teach that all oaths were binding. See TFG "#Mt 5:34|". #Mt 23:23| For ye tithe mint and anise and cummin, etc. See TFG "#Lu 11:42|". Anise. The anise was used for medical purposes and also for culinary seasoning, so that Pliny says "the kitchen can not be without it." Cummin. Cummin also was a condiment and a medicine, the bruised seed mixed with wine being used as a styptic, especially after circumcision. It was also used as an ingredient for salves and plasters such as were applied to the ulcers of cattle produced from the bites, grubs, etc., of insects. (TFG 609) #Mt 23:24| Strain out the gnat, and swallow the camel! A proverbial expression, indicating care for little faults and a corresponding unconcern for big ones. (TFG 610) #Mt 23:25| For ye cleanse the outside of the cup and of the platter, etc. Jesus here compares the Pharisees to a woman who washes the outside of her dishes and leaves the inside unclean. But in describing that inner uncleanness he passes from the figure to the reality, and specifies that it consists of extortion and self-indulgence. They made their outside clean by traditionary ablutions. See TFG "#Mr 7:3|". (TFG 610) #Mt 23:26| Cleanse first the inside of the cup and of the platter. Here again the literal peeps through the figurative: a pure inner life makes clean outward conduct. (TFG 610) #Mt 23:27,28| For ye are like unto whited sepulchres, etc. Luke records Jesus as having taught this lesson by an exactly opposite figure. See TFG "#Lu 11:44|". There men were contaminated by the touch of a grave because there was nothing outside to notify them of its presence. Here men are contaminated by the same thing because the outside is rendered so white and beautiful that men are deceived into thinking that the inside is harmless. (TFG 610) #Mt 23:29-32| For ye build the sepulchres of the prophets, etc. See notes at #Lu 11:47,48|. #Mt 23:33| Ye serpents, ye offspring of vipers, etc. See TFG "#Lu 3:7|". #Mt 23:34-36| Therefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes. See TFG "#Lu 11:49|". In your synagogues. See TFG "#Mr 1:39|". #Mt 23:35| From the blood of Abel the righteous unto the blood of Zachariah, etc. See TFG "#Lu 11:51|". #Mt 23:37| O Jerusalem, Jerusalem. See TFG "#Lu 13:34|". #Mt 23:38| Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. See TFG "#Lu 13:35|". #Mt 23:39| Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. See TFG "#Lu 13:35|".
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