Jesus Characterizes the Pharisees

Matthew 23:1–12  also Mark 12:38–40; Luke 20:45–47

Jesus Characterizes the Pharisees

1 Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, saying: The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments. They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, ‘Rabbi, Rabbi.’ 8 But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. 10 And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ. 11 But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.


Bible Knowledge Commentary – Matthew 23:1-12

23:1–12. The hypocrisy and unbelief of the nation’s religious leaders, evidenced in chapter 22, prompted a strong message from Jesus. He turned to the crowds and to His disciples, who were in the temple listening to His debates with the various religious leaders. He warned them about their teachings saying that their authority was to be recognized (they sit in Moses’ seat, i.e., they teach the Law), but their practices, being hypocritical, should not be followed. They placed heavy burdens on people but were not righteous themselves (23:4). All their works were performed to be observed by men. Their phylacteries, small leather pouches containing strips of parchment with Old Testament verses (Ex. 13:9, 16; Deut. 6:8; 11:18), tied to their left arms and foreheads, were wide and thus conspicuous. And the tassels of their prayer shawls (Num. 15:38) were long and noticeable. They loved places of honor and to be called Rabbi, implying they were scholars. Such was not to be the attitude of Jesus’ followers. Titles (such as Rabbi … father … teacher) and position were not to be sought; instead there should be a brotherly relationship among the disciples (Matt. 23:8).

Jesus was not saying there would be no lines of authority among them. But He was emphasizing that service for Him—the one Master (didaskalos, lit., “teacher”) and one Teacher (kathēgētēs, “an authoritative guide,” used only here in the NT)—was more important than human positions of honor. Leadership positions should never be a goal in and of themselves, but should always be viewed as opportunities to serve others. The Pharisees, who exalted themselves, would be humbled, and Jesus’ followers, by humbling themselves in service, would someday be exalted.


God through Jesus blesses mankind such as the gentle and the lowly. God leads and supports the humble and teaches them His way. Love is not proud but suffers long and is kind, it does not envy, it does not parade itself and it is not puffed up. The humble will be filled with fresh joy. God’s will is sovereign. God Expects His People to Bear Spiritual Fruit.

God is testing us every day and has given us the right to make our own choices. Do you know which ones are the right choices in Gods mind?

Fear God, love God, honor God, and trust God with all your heart, mind and soul and you will receive and experience the joy of the promises of God’s blessings in His time. And always remember to ask the Father for His help and guidance in all things.


Prayer:   Father, blessed is your Holy name. We praise you for your Son and the Holy Spirit. Human words cannot describe how grateful we are for Your Son and our risen Christ. We praise You for the opportunity to be able to choose Jesus as our Lord and Savior and to be elect children of Yours. We praise you for the laws You have set down to teach us and keep our life in harmony, safe, how to treat others as well as how to live within you boundaries. Please bless those who have read this article for they too are seeking Your righteous truth, love, wisdom and understanding. I pray these brothers and sisters have or will come to realize that Your existence is a treasure of grace and love that You have for all Your elect children.

May God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and Christianity be our guiding lights for eternity. Let it be Your will Lord not mine. Please come Lord Jesus.

I pray in Jesus sweet name and to His glory through the power of The Holy Spirit,



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