Jesus and the Pharisees: from Matthew 23:1-7

This is our fifteenth study. Please click HERE for an intro to this study. Today we will listen to what Jesus said to His disciples about how to regard the Pharisees’ teaching.

Matthew 23:1-7

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 obey them and 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 loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. 5 “But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries, and lengthen the tassels of their garments. 6 “And they love the place of honor at banquets, and the chief seats in the synagogues, 7 and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called by men, Rabbi.


Jesus taught here that because the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat and have authority as a teacher, they must be obeyed. But Jesus also warned the people not to follow their example, because they were hypocrites. Then Jesus showed them how to spot a hypocrite: 1) they are not willing to do the work they demand of others; 2) any deed they do they do to be noticed by others; 3) they try to make themselves appear spiritual; 4) they love places of honor; and 5) they love respectful greetings and being called Rabbi.


First, we must respect anyone in authority, like a teacher or professor. Second, we are not obligated to follow anyone’s example. Jesus is the one we should follow. Third, be careful to do all things for the glory of God, not to be noticed by others, to appear spiritual or to get the respect of others.

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