Matthew 23:1-12

1 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples:

2 “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat.

3 So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.

4 They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.

5 “Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long;

6 they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues;

7 they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others.

8 “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers.

9 And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven.

10 Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah.

11 The greatest among you will be your servant.

12 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

Portions of this account also appear in Mark 12:38-40 and Luke 20:45-47.

This was Christ’s last public discourse.

Moses’ seat (v.2) — the seat of authority, custodians of the Scriptures. Some commentaries think that Christ was saying that the Pharisees “sat themselves” in the seat of authority. Either way, the people were to listen to and obey them as far as, and only as far as, the teaching of the actual law was concerned.

phylacteries (v.5) — an amulet consisting of a strip of parchment on which was inscribed certain portions of the Pentateuch and which was rolled and placed in a small metal cylinder inside a square leather case. The cases were attached by the Jews with straps to their foreheads and to the back of their right hands, following a strictly literal interpretation of Deuteronomy 6:8-9. They were normally worn only during prayer, but the Pharisees appear to have worn them always and to have made them especially conspicuous. The borders of the garments were the fringes worn in obedience to Numbers 15:38-39. — KJV Commentary, page 1220.

Rabbi (v.7) = my teacher

His disciples were not to seek to be called rabbi and were forbidden to use the word “father” indiscriminately, even though Paul used “father” correctly in 1 Corinthians 4:15, and John addressed fathers in 1 John 2:13-14. The general teaching is clear. They were not to seek man-exalting titles such as rabbi, father, or minister to gain the recognition of men. Disciples of Christ should not exalt themselves but should seek to serve others and leave the exalting to God Himself. — Walvoord, page 171.

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