Angelic Conflict part 199: Human history (Sanhedrin) – Ezr 7:6-10; Mat 23:6-12; 2Co 11:1-15; 1Co 11:17-20; Phi 4:8.
length: 64:38 - taught on Nov, 19 2013
The origin of the scribes as a professional class of Torah scholars is to be found in the exilic experience of Israel. During the Exile it was important to know specifically how the Law should be obeyed in a foreign context, and thus the initial elaborations of the Torah, later known as scribal tradition, came into existence. This scribal tradition, together with the synagogue ["assembly"], which developed under the same circumstances, came eventually to dominate Judaism after the destruction of Jerusalem.
Ezra was a scribe as well as a priest. This meant that Ezra was a recorder of scripture when need be as well as an interpreter.
EZR 7:6 This Ezra went up from Babylon, and he was a scribe skilled in the law of Moses, which the Lord God of Israel had given; and the king granted him all he requested because the hand of the Lord his God was upon him.
EZR 7:7 And some of the sons of Israel and some of the priests, the Levites, the singers, the gatekeepers, and the temple servants went up to Jerusalem in the seventh year of King Artaxerxes.
EZR 7:8 And he came to Jerusalem in the fifth month, which was in the seventh year of the king.
EZR 7:9 For on the first of the first month he began to go up from Babylon; and on the first of the fifth month he came to Jerusalem, because the good hand of his God was upon him.
EZR 7:10 For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the Lord, and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel.
One could be a scribe and also join the ranks of the Pharisees or Sadducees. And since the scribes are often mentioned as distinct from the Pharisees in the gospels, we would assume that a scribe could remain independent as an interpreter of the Mosaic Law.
In their role of scholar-teachers the scribes, especially those of the Pharisees, gained enormous prestige among the people.
They possessed considerable power, being described as "a new upper class", since they formed a significant portion of the seventy-one-member Sanhedrin in Jerusalem, the main governing body of Judaism. They were also members of the lesser judiciaries in their respective localities and frequently held office in the synagogue and civil affairs.
Scribes wore special, long robes like those of the nobility, were given seats of honor, and enjoyed reverential salutations, MAT 23:5-7. Christ denounced them directly.
MAT 23:1 Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples,
MAT 23:2 saying, "The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses;
MAT 23:3 therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things, and do not do them.
Talking about doing something and actually doing it are two different matters.
In this section, Jesus explained the basic flaws of pharisaical religion.
They had a false concept of righteousness (vv. 2-3). To the Pharisee, righteousness meant outward conformity to the Law of God. They ignored the inward condition of the heart.
To begin with, they had assumed an authority not their own. "The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in Moses' seat" is the literal translation. There is no record in the Scriptures that God assigned any authority to this group. Their only authority was the Word of God. Therefore, the people were to obey whatever the Pharisees taught from the Word. But the people were not to obey the traditions and the man-made rules of the Pharisees.
Religion consisted in obeying numerous rules that governed every detail of life, including what you did with the spices in your cupboard (Matt 23:23-24). The Pharisees were careful to say the right words and follow the right ceremonies, but they did not inwardly obey the Law. God desired truth in the inward parts (PSA 51:6). To preach one thing and practice another is only hypocrisy.
Behold, Thou dost desire truth in the innermost being,
And in the hidden part Thou wilt make me know wisdom.
MAT 23:4 "And they tie up heavy loads, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger.
They had a false concept of ministry (v. 4). To them, ministry meant handing down laws to the people and adding to their burdens.
In other words, the Pharisees were harder on others than they were on themselves.
Jesus came to lighten men's burdens (MAT 11:28-30), but legalistic religion always seeks to make burdens heavier.
Jesus never asks us to do anything that He has not first done. We should all be in the business of lightening burdens if we can and not adding them to others in the Royal Family.
Bear one another's burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ.
The Pharisees commanded, but they did not participate. They were hypocritical religious dictators, not spiritual leaders.
MAT 23:5 "But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries, and lengthen the tassels of their garments.
This reveals how dumb legalism makes people. There was a time when the Pharisees and scribes were wise.
And you shall bind them as a sign on your hand [doing] and they shall be as frontals on your forehead [thinking].
Later in the post-exilic age the religious Jews interpreted this literally, and whether that was correct or not is still debated. The Lord is condemning the practice of comparing the size of both the phylactery and the tassels of their garments.
And it shall be a tassel [cord of blue] for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the Lord, so as to do them and not follow after your own heart and your own eyes, after which you played the harlot, in order that you may remember to do all My commandments, and be holy to your God.
MAT 23:6 "And they love the place of honor at banquets, and the chief seats in the synagogues,
MAT 23:7 and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called by men, Rabbi.
MAT 23:8 "But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers.
MAT 23:9 "And do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.
MAT 23:10 "And do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ.
MAT 23:11 "But the greatest among you shall be your servant.
MAT 23:12 "And whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.
They had a false concept of greatness (vv. 5-12). To them, success meant recognition by men and praise from men. They were not concerned about the approval of God.
They used their religion to attract attention, not to glorify God. (MAT 5:16 Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven). This even meant using religious ornaments to display their piety like phylacteries and arm wraps and super long tassles.
The Pharisees also thought that position was a mark of greatness, so they sought the best seats in the synagogue and at the public dinners. Where a man sits bears no relationship to what a man is.
They also thought that titles of honor were a mark of greatness. The title "rabbi" means "my great one" and was coveted by the religious leaders. (Today religious leaders covet honorary doctor's degrees.) Jesus forbad His disciples to use the title rabbi because all of them were brothers, and Jesus alone was their Teacher ("Master" in Matt 23:8). There is a spiritual equality among the children of God, under the lordship of Jesus Christ.
Jesus also forbad them to use the title father with reference to spiritual things. Certainly it is not wrong to call one's biological father by that name, but it is wrong to use it when addressing a spiritual leader. Paul referred to himself as a "spiritual father" because he had begotten people through the Gospel (1CO 4:15). But he did not ask them to use that term when addressing him.
I do not write these things to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For if you were to have countless tutors in Christ, yet you would not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel.
This again displays a complete lack of common sense amongst people today. The application is clear. Paul was not admonishing anyone to call him father, but was the giver of the gospel that gave them new birth.
A third title that was forbidden was master [KJV] (MAT 23:10), which means "guide, instructor, leader."
"leaders" - kaqhghth,j[kathegetes] = a guide, master, or teacher.
He doesn't use kurios, His own title, but also a title commonly used for a slave owner or king or governor, and rightly so. His reference here is to the religious who wanted to be recognized by the title for their so-called awesome teaching, which was far from it and in fact hurting other.
This word means "teacher," while this one means "one who goes before and guides." In our day there are some who have gained lofty titles such as reverend or father. If you want to call me pastor that is fine as a title to my job, but I am not anyone's spiritual leader. A pastor is a communicator of doctrine, that is all. God is your spiritual leader. God has placed authority in the church in order to prevent chaos, but they must not replace God in any believer's life. A true spiritual leader directs his people into freedom and a closer fellowship with Christ, not into bondage to his personal ideas and beliefs or his personal empire.
True greatness is found in serving others, not in forcing others to serve us.
True greatness is not manufactured; it can only come from God as we walk in fellowship with Him. If we exalt ourselves, God will humble us. But if we humble ourselves, in due time God will exalt us (1 Peter 5:6).
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you.
As in Phi 2 it is stated here that humility as a servant unto your Lord and Master leaves no room for the arrogant self promotional attitude of the Pharisees, Sadducees or Scribes.
So we have a Jewish people, in Judea, the prodigy of returned exiles who were faithful, who are ruled by the Roman Empire, but are able to administer their internal affairs, which satan has so postured to be full of arrogant and religious men who care nothing for God and everything for personal gain in prestige, power, and wealth. Does satan know the time of the Messiah? Did satan discern the year of His coming? Yes! All was ready and prepared for him to defeat this one who was promised to crush his head from the beginning in the Adamic Covenant. He had already tried to devour the woman who gave birth to Him 33 years ago, and as prophesied, there was enmity between him and the woman and he was unsuccessful. Now all Jerusalem are abuzz with the arrival of Jesus of Nazareth. The players are in place and the plan is hatched in order to make Him sin, quit, or as last solution, final solution - kill Him before He gets to Cavalry.
Before we get to the ultimate victory, we must ask ourselves some questions so that we find ourselves on the side of victory, which is set and done as no one can change the purpose of God and not find ourselves on the side of defeat through stupid deception.
So we fast forward to the Church age to ask a vital question.
Does the Bible get its authority from the church or the church from the Bible?
As the state church gained supremacy and power it held itself, and really its ecclesiastical structure, as on level with the authority of the Bible and in many cases above the Bible.
[Catholic Encyclopedia] Now, truths formally and explicitly revealed by God are certainly dogmas in the strict sense when they are proposed or defined by the Church. Such are the articles of the Apostles' Creed [tradition had this being made by the apostles on the day of Pentecost, however, there are only 11 of them- Matthias excluded]. Similarly, truths revealed by God formally, but only implicitly, are dogmas in the strict sense when proposed or defined by the Church. Such, for example, are the doctrines of Transubstantiation, papal infallibility, the Immaculate Conception, some of the Church's teaching about the Savior, the sacraments, etc. All doctrines defined by the Church as being contained in revelation are understood to be formally revealed, explicitly or implicitly. It is a dogma of faith that the Church is infallible in defining these two classes of revealed truths; and the deliberate denial of one of these dogmas certainly involves the sin of heresy.