Matthew 23:21-25

Mat 23:21 (KJB)
And whoso shall swear by the temple, sweareth by it, and by him that dwelleth therein.

Jesus then furthers the seriousness of swearing by the temple, and that a person swears by the temple is also swearing by Him that dwelleth therein. Jesus states that the temple is indwelled by God Himself and those who are swearing or making vows by the temple are actually swearing in the name of God since the temple has been indwelled by God since the time of Solomon. However, the days for God indwelling a physical building were rapidly coming to an end. Once Jesus died on the cross, the veil of the temple was rent in two and that means God was no longer dwelling there but now God was dwelling among and in His people. (2 Cor 6:16 KJV) And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. To invoke Godís name was a very serious matter.

Mat 23:22 (KJB)
And he that shall swear by heaven, sweareth by the throne of God, and by him that sitteth thereon.

Jesus went beyond the concepts the Pharisees had concerning valid and invalid oaths. Since a person would swear by the temple and that temple was indwelled by God, the oath was actually witnessed by Heaven. The throne of God represents His ruling authority and that He is the silent witness for every oath which is taken. So when a person made an oath, whether by the altar or the gift on the altar, the oath was witnessed by God Himself. Godís omniscience allows Him to be aware of every promise or oath a person makes.

Mat 23:23 (KJB)
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

Weightier - Heavy or burdensome

Under the law tithes were to be paid on the produce of the land and also on livestock. (Lev 27:30 KJV) And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD'S: it is holy unto the LORD. The Pharisees had widened the list of things which were to be tithed on so they included mint, anise, and cummin. Anise was an herb which has the taste of licorice. Cummin is a dried seed in the parsley family. Mint was a spearmint flavor. It was much easier to tithe a few seeds than to become heavily involved with the weightier matters of the law. Judgment may have been justice administered according to the law of God. Mercy is related to all acts of compassion and faith would not only be a faithfulness in applying oneís duties in the law but would also have to be faith toward God. They left the weightier matters undone because they had focused on the tithing of the herbs. Jesus is telling them that they are to do both if they feel they have to tithe the herbs. One should not be sacrificed in lieu of the other. The faithfulness needs to be the carrying out of the law of God before any of the created embellishments.

Mat 23:24 (KJB)
Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.

(Lev 11:41 KJV) And every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth shall be an abomination; it shall not be eaten. The gnat was considered an unclean insect. What the Pharisees did was before they drank wine, they would strain it through a cloth to make sure no gnats were ingested because the gnat is a very small insect. The camel was also considered an unclean animal. (Lev 11:4 KJV) Nevertheless these shall ye not eat of them that chew the cud, or of them that divide the hoof: as the camel, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you. Of course it was absolutely impossible to swallow a camel but Jesus is pointing out that they would focus more heavily on the most minute areas of the law and would neglect the more serious aspects of the law. Their inconsistency was ludicrous. It would be like a judge in a court of law who was more concerned with parking tickets than murder or robbery.

Mat 23:25 (KJB)
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.

The title of hypocrite fits them because their outward appearance and behavior did not match their inward character. It was like a person who washed only the outside of a cup but allowed the inside of the cup to remain dirty. The inside of the cup would have residue from each use and eventually it would be so disgusting, one would not be able to use the cup. Jesus was attacking their tradition of washing of the pots and cups. (Mark 7:4 KJV) And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brazen vessels, and of tables. Just like an extremely dirty cup, the Pharisees were filed with extortion and excess. The extortion is what was gained unlawfully by the Pharisees and through extortion. The excess was ďlack of self-control or indulgence.Ē It could refer to anything like food, material goods, or the lust for them. The Pharisees were so concerned with the outward rituals that they had totally forgotten that the real uncleanness lied inside them.

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