Understanding the Scriptures
|Bid you observe (v. 3)||Invite you to obey|
|Grievous to be borne (v. 4)||Tasks difficult to achieve|
|Exalt (v. 12)||Lift up above others|
|Abased (v. 12)||Brought down|
|Suffer (v. 13)||Allow|
|Devour widows’ houses (v. 14)||Take away the homes of widows|
|Pretence (v. 14)||Outward show|
|Compass (v. 15)||Travel|
|Proselyte (v. 15)||Convert|
|Twofold more (v. 15)||Twice as much|
|Sanctifieth (v. 17)||Makes holy|
|Mint, anise, cummin (v. 23)||Spices|
|Garnish (v. 29)||Decorate|
|Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers (v. 32)||Finish the works begun by your ancestors|
|Desolate (v. 38)||Empty|
|Henceforth (v. 39)||Anymore|
Matthew 23:5—What Are “Phylacteries,” and What Does It Mean to “Enlarge the Borders of Their Garments”?
Phylacteries are small boxes containing written verses from the scriptures, which some Jews wore on their arms or forehead. This tradition was based on counsel given to the prophet Moses in Deuteronomy 6:6–8. The reference to “borders” of their clothing was a tradition of putting tassels on the hem or corners of clothes in remembrance of God’s laws (see Numbers 15:38–40). Those who wanted to be seen as especially righteous “enlarged” the part of the clothing that had the tassels so they were very noticeable or they wore very noticeable phylacteries.
Matthew 23:24—“Strain at a Gnat, and Swallow a Camel”
Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, LC-DIG-matpc-05922
Both gnats and camels were forbidden as food under the law of Moses. In order to prevent swallowing a gnat by accident, some Pharisees would strain all liquids before drinking them. Jesus used the exaggeration of swallowing a camel to say that the Pharisees were very careful about some little things while bigger and more important things were ignored (such as mercy, faith, and the spirit of the law).
Studying the Scriptures
Do either activity A or B as you study Matthew 23.
Make a Comparison
Divide your notebook page in half. From what you read in Matthew 23:1–12, list on one side of the paper what the Pharisees thought made them great. On the other side, list what Jesus said made a person great.
Stepping Stones of Woe
Woe is a word that refers to sorrow and suffering. Jesus said eight times in Matthew 23:13–16, 23–32 that woe would come to the scribes, Pharisees, and hypocrites. Each time, he described why they would experience this woe.
Make two “paths” in your notebook, such as in the accompanying illustration. One path leads to sadness and damnation (see v. 33) and the other leads to happiness and glory. First, fill in the path of woe by describing in your own words the eight things Jesus said the scribes, Pharisees, and hypocrites did. (The first is already written on the chart.) Then fill in the “Pathway to Happiness” by writing what a person who follows Christ would do instead.
Although Jesus chastised the Pharisees, He gave them many chances to listen to Him, and many witnesses were given to help them believe His gospel. Read Matthew 23:37 and explain what Jesus hoped He could do for those Jewish leaders.