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Matthew 23:1-12 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Prominence and Humility

Matthew 23:1-12 – Prominence and Humility

|| Mark 12:38, 39; Luke 20:45, 46

MT23:1 Then Jesus spoke to the crowds as well as his disciples, saying: MT23:2 “The Scribes and Pharisees sat down on the seat of Moses.[1] MT23:3 So, everything they preach to you, do and observe;[2] but do not imitate their actions,[3] for they do not practice what they preach.[4] MT23:4 They tie on heavy burdens[5] and impose these on the shoulders of humankind while they are unwilling to budge [these loads] with a single finger.[6] MT23:5 All their [religious] works they do to be viewed by humans.[7] They broaden their phylacteries[8] and they enlarge the fringes of their garments.[9] MT23:6 They prefer the prominent place at suppers[10] and the front seats in the synagogues.[11] MT23:7 [They enjoy] greetings in the market square[12] and to be called ‘Rabbi’[13] by people. MT23:8 But, you [disciples] should not be addressed as ‘Rabbi’ for only One is your teacher.[14] All of you [disciples] are brothers.[15] MT23:9 Nor should [you disciples permit others] on earth to address you as ‘Father’[16] for One is your Father – the Heavenly One. MT23:10 Nor should you disciples be addressed as ‘Leaders’[17] because your Leader is only the Messiah. MT23:11 But the ‘greatest’ among you will be your servant. MT23:12 For whoever will exalt self will be humiliated;[18] and whoever humbles self will be exalted.

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[1] Sat down on the seat of Moses: Or, KNX: the place from which Moses used to teach; TCNT: now occupy the chair of Moses; PME: speak with the authority of Moses. Compare Exodus 18:13.

[2] Do and observe: Or, RSV: so practice and observe whatever they tell you. Jesus does not undermine their teaching of the Law of Moses.

[3] Do not imitate their actions: Or, BER: do not behave as they do; TCNT: do not follow their example.

[4] They do not practice what they preach: Or, KJV: they say, and do not; RSV: they preach, but do not practice; KNX: for they tell you one thing and do another.

[5] They tie on heavy burdens: Or, KJV: they bind heavy burdens; KNX: they fasten up packs too heavy; PME: they pile up back-breaking burdens.

[6] They are unwilling to budge [these loads] with a single finger: Or, TCNT: they decline themselves to lift a finger to move them.

[7] To be viewed by humans: Or, NEB: whatever they do is done for show.

[8] They broaden their phylacteries: The Greek is PHYLACTERIA. The Jewish Encyclopedia (1976, Vol. X, p. 21) states: “The laws governing the wearing of phylacteries were derived by the Rabbis from four Biblical passages (Deuteronomy 6:8; 11:18; Exodus 13:9). While these passages were interpreted literally by most commentators,… the Rabbis held that the general law only was expressed in the Bible, the application and elaboration of it being entirely matters of tradition and inference.” These were small boxes containing Bible verses strapped around the forehead and wrist. These Jewish clergy made them large for show of their extreme religiosity. Or, KNX: boldly written are the texts they carry; GDSP: they wear wide Scripture texts as charms; TAY: they act holy by wearing on their arms large prayer boxes with Scripture verses inside.

[9] They enlarge the fringes of their garments: See Numbers 15:38; Deuteronomy 22:12. Or, KNX: deep is the hem of their garments; GDSP: they wear large tassels; TAY: by lengthening the memorial fringes of their robes.

[10] They prefer the prominent place at suppers: Or, KJV: they love the uppermost rooms at feasts; RHM: the first couch in the chief meals; RSV: place of honor; RIEU: the best places at banquets; PME: seats of honor at dinner parties. Compare the counsel of the Nazarene at Luke 14:7, 10.

[11] The front seats in the synagogues: Note this was still a problem among Christians (James 2:2-4).

[12] [They enjoy] greetings in the market square: Or, NASB: respectful greetings; WMS: to be greeting with honor in public places. We can see these self-righteous, condescending clergy bestowing their weak smiles and blessings upon those who raise their voices in praise.

[13] Rabbi: The term occurs 18 times in three Gospels and is absent from the Gospel of Luke. The title is a surrogate for “teacher.” (John 1:38) In time the title was elevated to “my great one; my excellent one.” Research the word Rabbi.

[14] Only One is your teacher: While all Christians should be teachers (Hebrews 5:12; Titus 2:3), and while there are among them those recognized as “teachers” (1 Corinthians 12:28; Ephesians 4:11; James 3:1-3) the entire Body of Christ understands who the real Teacher is: Jesus of Nazareth.

[15] Brothers: Jesus speaks to his male disciples. See notes on Matthew 12:50. Despite gifts and offices the general atmosphere in the church must be a brotherhood.

[16] Address you as ‘Father’: Unfortunately later in the history of the Church clergy accepted the title “Father” despite the command of their Lord. They will have to bear this responsibility. Often it is a matter of a teacher or leader refusing certain titles. Job 32:21 declares, “And on an earthling man I shall not bestow a title.” (NWT)

[17] Leaders: Or, KJV: neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master. In Spanish such a man is called Maestro and this is not fitting for a shepherd of the flock. There is a different between a “Leader” and one who takes the lead. Compare Hebrews 13:7, 17.

[18] Whoever will exalt self will be humiliated: Or, KJV: whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased.

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Preceding

Matthew 22:41-46 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Jesus Asks a Trump Question

Matthew 23 – A Jeremiad against the religious hypocrites

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Related articles

  1. Matthew Chapter A Day – 23
  2. Read Matt 23 before saying anything
  3. Hypocrisy & Judgmentalism – Two Unmistakable Marks Of Narcissism – Part 1
  4. “Do you want to stand out? Then step down. Be a servant.” ~Jesus
  5. Who were the pharisees?
  6. The Good & Bad of the Pharisees
  7. Pharisees and Scribes
  8. “Stay Humble – God Will Expose”

Matthew 18:15-17 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Three Steps to Gaining a Brother

Matthew 18:15-17 – Three Steps to Gaining a Brother

|| Luke 17:3

MT18:15 “However, if your brother[1] should sin[2] go to him privately and offer reproof.[3] You gain your brother if he listens to you. MT18:16 But, if he does not listen to you,[4] return with one or two others[5] so that at the mouth of two or three witnesses[6] [Deuteronomy 19:15] anything said may be confirmed.[7] MT18:17 Now if he refuses to respond[8] to the witnesses, speak to the congregation.[9] But, if he refuses to listen to the congregation,[10] let him become to you as a foreigner or a tax-collector.[11]

*

[1] Your brother: The “your” is singular. The word “brother” indicates a spiritual or religious relationship. The subject or theme is still that of stumbling a little one. Jesus now deals with how to handle such a matter personally.

[2] Should sin: What the “sin” is we are not told. We do not know whether this is a personal offense or one observed by another. If the theme and subject continue this may be something scandalous or offensive done to a little one so as to cause stumbling. Such a person – in danger of Gehenna – needs to be cautioned and corrected so that no further harm come to others. The KJV adds the words “sin against thee” but it is now recognized they are not adequately supported by older manuscripts. Note the responsibility under the Law to reprove a fellow worshipper (Leviticus 19:17; Proverbs 25:9).

[3] Go to him privately and offer reproof: Or, ASV: show him his fault; RIEU: go and have it out with him in private; RHM: withdraw, convince him betwixt thee and him alone; BAS: make clear to him his error between you and him in private. The original question from the disciples was, “Who is greatest?” This is a subject that has been discussed among the disciples. Is it possible this kind of thinking which is called a sin here? Is there a need among the disciples for one of them to go to another and offer reproof regarding this political ambition? We suspect Judas Iscariot right in the middle of such a concern. The Greek for “reprove” here is ELEGZON. Strong’s provides the following: “AV – reprove 6, rebuke 5, convince 4, tell (one’s) fault 1, convict 1; 17 1) to convict, refute, confute 1a) generally with a suggestion of shame of the person convicted 1b) by conviction to bring to the light, to expose 2) to find fault with, correct 2a) by word 2a1) to reprehend severely, chide, admonish, reprove 2a2) to call to account, show one his fault, demand an explanation 2b) by deed 2b1) to chasten, to punish.”

[4] Does not listen to you: Or, KJV: if he will not hear thee; RIEU: if he refuses to listen. The reproof has not worked in the first instance. Perhaps the person insists he does not have this problem despite the rebuke.

[5] Return with one or two others: Or, RIEU: call in one or two other people. Ideally these would have been witnesses to the “sin.” As observers they can confirm to the erring one that he is indeed guilty. Also, they become witnesses to the whole conversation and the effort to gain the brother. This would be the first time the correcting brother discussed the matter with others.

[6] Mouth of two or three witnesses: This is a reference to Deuteronomy 19:15. Jesus also quotes it at John 8:17 and Paul alludes to it at 2 Corinthians 13:1.

[7] Anything said may be confirmed: Or, KJV: every word may be established; RSV: every word may be confirmed. The two or three witnesses confirm the attitude and the denial of sin.

[8] Now if he refuses to respond: Or, KJV: if he shall neglect to hear them; RHM: hear them amiss; RIEU: if he pays no attention to these.

[9] Speak to the congregation: There are a variety of views here. To these Jews the “congregation” would be the members of the synagogue. The “congregation” may also be that one Jesus said he would build (see notes at Matthew 16:18). Also, some hold “congregation” here means the elders who represent it; others, see the entire congregation. There are good reasons for the later. Paul indicates that the sinner in the Corinthian congregation was judged so by “the majority.” (2 Corinthians 2:6 NW, CON) This would indicate a vote of some kind. Paul also counsels that elders who sin should be rebuked before the entire congregation (1 Timothy 5:20). Others render this phrase: KJV: tell it unto the church; RHM: tell it to the assembly; RIEU: report the matter to the church.

[10] If he refuses to listen to the congregation: This is his last chance. He was reproved by a single brother, then two more tried, and now the congregation has tried, but he still refuses to recognize his sin, repent and turn around. Every opportunity has been given the sinner.

[11] Let him become to you as a foreigner or a tax-collector: Again there are a variety of views on the meaning. Others render this: KJV: as an heathen man and a publican; RSV: as a Gentile and a tax-collector; NEB: a pagan or a tax-gatherer. If the “you” be viewed as a Jew then the sinning brother is no longer welcome in social association though business dealings may continue. If the “you” is a disciple of the Nazarene then the commands of Jesus must be considered. Jesus taught his disciples to “love their enemies” by praying for them, doing good to them, and even giving them money without interest (See notes on Matthew 5:43-48; Luke 6:30-35).

Three times Paul uses the word SYNANAMIGNYSTHAI (quit mixing yourselves with) (1 Corinthians 5:9, 11; 2 Thessalonians 3:14, 15). The later verse clarifies the whole matter when it says: “But if anyone is not obedient to our word through this letter, keep this one marked, stop associating with him, that he may become ashamed. And yet do not be considering him as an enemy, but continue admonishing him as a brother.”

We may also ask how our Lord treated Non-Jews and tax-collectors? See notes on Matthew 9:10, 11; 11:19; 15:21-27.

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Preceding

Matthew 18:1-6 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Children and Stumbling

Matthew 18:1-6 Reborn and pliable as a child

Matthew 18:7-11 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Danger of Stumbling-blocks

Matthew 18:12-14 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Searching for Lost Sheep

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Related

  1. His Compassion
  2. Great Verses of the Bible: Matt 18:15
  3. “Why is your Teacher eating with the tax collectors and sinners?” ~Religious elites to Jesus disciples
  4. Correction And Discipline Of Other Believers
  5. When Christians Foolishly Speak For Others
  6. About organized religion
  7. The Spiritual Warfare Error
  8. The Error of Not Confronting Error
  9. Be Reconciled

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