Translating 'Christ' Matthew 23:1-12

Who's The Boss?

by Edward Langenback

© 03/04/05

Have you ever walked into a room, started talking with no introduction or lead in say something like "And then I told so and so this. . . . " Of course not, a statement like that is clearly in the middle of a thought.

Matthew 23:1starts out with "Then spake Jesus. . ." If we read this by going straight to that verse and starting, it is obvious that when a sentence starts with a word or thought like "Then" that the statement in question is continuing a previous thought.

This is something important that must be taken into account when reading the Bible. The chapter and verse numbers were not in the original text. They were added as time went on simply as reference points to make it easier to find any given part of the text. Just because one chapter ends and another begins does NOT nesscesarily mean that there is a separation or change in the subject or chain of thought. If you think about it this is actually pretty easy to see.

Therefore when reading and studying the Bible, ingnore the chapter and verse numbers except for using them to locate parts of the text. Don't let the end of a chapter or verse fool you into thinking that a particular topic, thought, or statement is completed because more often that not, it isn't.

Given the realization about chapter and verse numbers, this text is clearly a continued thought. Look back at the text preceding it at the end of chapter 22. Reviewing that chapter quickly shows that there were several exchanges between Jesus and the religious leadership.

First the scribes and then the pharisees attempt to trap Jesus into saying something that they can use against Him. Knowing what they are trying to do, Jesus gives simple answers that leave them powerless. While the pharisees were still gathered together He asked them about whose descendent The Anointed One ("Christ") would be. When they answer "David", He shows what David was led by the Spirit of God to write. This leaves them furious at what He implies and very unwilling to ask Him anything else. After this, Jesus turns from speaking to the scribes and pharisees and speaks to the crowd of people about them and about authority.

Something important about translating Christ wherever we find it, is that doing so continuously clarifies what Jesus preached and taught, Who Jesus is, and what the Apostles preached and taught after Jesus ascended into heaven. One of the most important basics that Jesus and all of the apostles taught is precisely what the core of the final authority is in the life of the believer. Jesus started by laying down some basic rules.

Matthew 23:1-3, "Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not."

By saying that the scribes and pharisees 'sit in Moses'seat' He makes it clear that they had the authority in that society that God originally gave to Moses. He confirms that authority when He says that when they told the people to do something, they should be obeyed. However at that point Jesus moves from their authority and tells people that they should not follow the example of the scribes and pharisees because they did not practice what they preached that others should do.

Matthew 23:4, "For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers."

These authorities had no trouble at all in creating cumbersome laws and requirements that people were required to fulfill even though they themselves didn't do anything except be sure that they looked good and were respected and feared.

Matthew 23:5-7, "But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi."

They were hypocrites that made a big show of looking like they were oh so holy and righteous, requiring respect, honor, and special privileges while performing only a token obedience of the law.

Matthew 23:8-12, "But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted."

Jesus makes it clear that we are not to follow the example of scribes and the Pharisees and call ourselves something more than we are or somehow better or more superior to others. and then He tells us why by saying "for one is your Master, even Christ". This is so important that He says it twice in a short space of time.

Translating Christ gives us: "for one is your Master, even The Anointed One and His Anointing." He is saying that we need to remember that there is one authority that is above any that humanity may set up and that authority is the one whom God caused to be covered in His own spirit. We have to remember that all our self importance concerning who we are and who must or should obey us is all secondary to the one fact. We owe our obedience to The Anointed One and His Anointing which gives us strength and freed us from being slaves to sin and from the punishment of sin.

The ones among us that heaven will consider great are the ones who place themselves not in authority, but in service. He reminds us that if we make ourselves our to be more than we are, then when we run up against God's will we will find ourselves cut down to size. On the other hand, if we humble ourselves by being in service rather than authority, He will lift us up as leaders in the kingdom of heaven.

The question that we each have to ask ourselves is "Have I put myself in authority or have I put myself in service?" A similar question concering any authority we seem to have, "Was this authority granted to me or did I simply take it up on my own?" If we have authority simply because we have taken it upon ourseves, then we are not putting ourselves in service. Instead, we're simply doing things our way, which means that what anyone else, including God wants is second place to what we want.

An important thing to realize about being in service is that because it means being under the authority of the one we are in service to, then what WE want is NOT the most important thing. When you are in service to God, the important thing is what HE wants because after all, He IS "The Boss".

We all need to ask ourselves often, "Who's the boss?". If we are truely honest with outselves, we'll have to admit to how many times we are putting ourselves in authority over this or that when we should instead submit to God.

James 4:10, "Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up."

1 Peter 5:6, "Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:"