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Bible Commentaries

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

Matthew 23

 

 

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Verse 2

Sit in Moses’ seat; they are the expounders and teachers of the law of Moses. Men may hold their first place as rulers and teachers in the visible church, and yet have no true religion, and they may show this by their conduct. But wicked examples, whoever may set them, should not be followed.


Verse 3

Observe and do; so far as they teach according to the laws of God; but beyond that, Do not ye after their works; do not imitate their example.


Verse 4

Heavy burdens; grievous and troublesome ceremonies and observances which they required. They rigidly expounded certain parts of the divine law as binding on the people, while they themselves, secretly or openly, claimed a release from them.


Verse 5

Phylacteries; slips of parchment worn about their persons, on which were written some divine precepts. The Pharisees made them broader than others, to intimate that they were more holy. For the same purpose they enlarged the borders or fringes which Moses had commanded them to wear on their garments. Numbers 15:38.


Verse 6

Uppermost rooms; most honorable places at the table. The Jews of our Lord’s day took their meals reclining on couches, which were arranged on three sides of a central table. In assigning the guests to their "rooms," or places, strict attention was paid to rank. Compare Luke 14:7-11.


Verse 7

Rabbi; master.


Verse 8

Brethren; equally children of God, and fellow-heirs of Christ; no one of you having authority to control the faith and practice of the rest.


Verse 9

Call no man your father; as having authority over your faith and practice. In matters of religion and conscience, ministers of the gospel cannot bow to mere human authority without giving to men what belongs only to God; and men who, on the ground of such authority, claim to be fathers and masters to their brethren, directing them what to believe and do, are antichrists, denying in practice the prerogatives of both the Father and the Son.


Verse 10

Masters; as leaders and controllers of Christ’s ministers and people.


Verse 11

Servant; greatness in Christ’s kingdom consists not in outward authority over others, but in the abundance of our labors and sacrifices for the welfare of our brethren. The greatest in the kingdom of Christ are those who most love him and their fellow-men, and are most ready to honor the one and do good to the other.


Verse 13

Shut up the kingdom of heaven; by your false interpretations of the law, and your opposition to me, its true expounder.

Neither go in; they would not embrace Christ themselves, nor, if they could prevent it, would they suffer others to do it. The wickedness of the heart is so great, that it may lead men not only to reject Christ, but to make great efforts to induce others to reject him, and thus shut both themselves and others out of heaven.


Verse 14

Devour widows’ houses; rob them of their estates.

Therefore; on account of their hypocrisy.

Greater damnation; more awful punishment.


Verse 15

Compass sea and land; make all sorts of efforts.

Proselyte; convert to their religion.

More the child of hell; more wicked.


Verse 16

Debtor; under obligation to keep his oath. Blind guides tamper with the conscience, make imaginary and futile distinctions between the guilt of different sins, passing over some lightly as if they were venial, or granting indulgences to commit them, and treating others no more wicked as deadly, while in all, self and sin are at the bottom; and those who lead, and those who follow, if they continue, will perish.


Verse 18

Guilty; if he does not fulfill his oath.


Verse 23

Pay tithe; devote a tenth part to the service of the temple.

Mint and anise and cummin; herbs of small value.

Weightier; more important.

Judgment, mercy, and faith; justice to all, compassion to the needy, and piety towards God. To do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God, is a better evidence of true religion than all merely external observances; and scrupulous attention to little things, with neglect of great ones, is an indication that men are deceivers, or deceived.


Verse 24

Strain at a gnat; strain the liquid which you drink at the presence of a gnat in it, lest you should be made unclean by swallowing it. They reckoned the gnat among the unclean creeping things. Leviticus 11:20; Leviticus 11:23 The reader will notice that the camel was also an unclean animal. The meaning therefore is, that they were very scrupulous about little things, while, without scruple, they committed great sins.


Verse 27

Whited sepulchres; sepulchres newly whitewashed, according to the custom of the country at certain periods.


Verse 29

Garnish; beautify; adorn; as if they had great regard for good men.


Verse 31

Witness-children of them which killed the prophets; by calling the murderers of the prophets "our fathers," they acknowledged themselves to be their literal children; and by imitating them in their deeds, they proved themselves their children in character.


Verse 32

Measure; the measure of their sins till wrath should come upon them.


Verse 34

Prophets; his apostles and other teachers of his religion. Acts 5:17; Acts 5:40; Acts 7:59. The most awful denunciations of divine wrath against the wicked are perfectly consistent with the greatest kindness, the most tender compassions, and the most earnest desire that they should turn from their sins and live.


Verse 35

All the righteous blood shed upon the earth; they were about to murder the Son of God, and in so doing, to set as it were their seal and sanction to all the murders of good men before them. They would therefore be treated accordingly.

Zacharias, son of Barachias; it is not certainly known to whom the Saviour refers. A probable opinion is, that Zechariah the son of Jehoiada is meant. See 2 Chronicles 24:20-22. According to the arrangement of the Jewish canon, which puts the two books of Chronicles last, Abel is the first righteous man whose murder is recorded, and this Zechariah the last. Some think that Barachiah was another name borne by Jehoiada; others, that the reading should be Jehoiada instead of Barachias.


Verse 36

These things; the punishments due to their sins.


Verse 37

The reason why men are not saved is not that Christ is not able and willing to save them, nor that they are not under obligation to be saved, but that they will not come to him, or comply with the needful terms of salvation. Of course, if they perish, they will be their own destroyers, and the guilt will rest for ever on themselves.


Verse 38

Your house; their temple, which was soon after burned by the Romans, and remains desolate to this day.


Verse 39

Shall not see me hence forth; our Lord was now closing his personal ministry on earth. After his resurrection he showed himself not to all the people, but to chosen witnesses. Acts 10:41. They should never again enjoy his presence, till they were ready to receive him as their Messiah.

 


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Bibliography Information
Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on Matthew 23:4". "Family Bible New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/fam/matthew-23.html. American Tract Society. 1851.

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