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Wesley's Notes on Matthew 23:1-12

Wesley's Notes on the Bible

Matthew 23

1. Then - Leaving all converse with his adversaries, whom he now left to the hardness of their hearts.

2. The scribes sit in the chair of Moses - That is, read and expound the law of Moses, and are their appointed teachers.

3. All things therefore - Which they read out of the law, and enforce therefrom.

4. Luke xi, 46.

5. Their phylacteries - The Jews, understanding those words literally, It shall be as a token upon thy hand, and as frontlets between thine eyes, Exod. xiii, 16. And thou shalt bind these words for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes, Deut. vi, 8; used to wear little scrolls of paper or parchment, bound on their wrist and foreheads, on which several texts of Scripture were writ. These they supposed, as a kind of charm, would preserve them from danger. And hence they seem to have been called phylacteries, or preservatives. The fringes of their garments - Which God had enjoined them to wear, to remind them of doing all the commandments, Num. xv, 38. These, as well as their phylacteries, the Pharisees affected to wear broader and larger than other men. Mark xii, 38.

8, 9, 10. The Jewish rabbis were also called father and master, by their several disciples, whom they required,

1. To believe implicitly what they affirmed, without asking any farther reason;

2. To obey implicitly what they enjoined, without seeking farther authority. Our Lord, therefore, by forbidding us either to give or receive the title of rabbi, master, or father, forbids us either to receive any such reverence, or to pay any such to any but God.

11. Matt. xx, 26.

12. Whosoever shall exalt himself shall be humbled, and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted - It is observable that no one sentence of our Lord's is so often repeated as this: it occurs, with scarce any variation, at least ten times in the evangelists. Luke xiv, 11; xviii, 14.

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