Matthew 23:23 (The Weightier Provisions of the Law 1: Justice and Mercy)

Recall that Jesus in Mat 23:23 is pronouncing woe upon the scribes and Pharisees for their show of religion in keeping the lesser requirements of the law that were less costly to their flesh while neglecting the greater provisions of the law.  What did He say in Mat 23:23 were the weightier provisions of the law?  What is meant by justice, or judgment as the Greek word is usually translated and as it is rendered in the KJV?  See Gen 18:19, Isa 5:7, 56:1, 59:8, Mat 12:18-20 and note[1].

What is the significance to the Pharisees of mercy as one of the weightier provisions of the law?  See Mat 9:13 and 12:7 with their contexts where the same Greek word is translated by the NAS as compassion; see also Mat 18:33, Jam 2:13.  What is the importance of mercy as one of the foremost attributes of God that those who would enter His kingdom must also display?  See Luk 1:77-78, Eph 2:4-5, Tit 3:5 and Luk 6:36, 10:37.

What is the relationship between mercy and a covenant relationship—such as that which the Jews had entered into with God through Moses, or that we enter into with God through the Lord Jesus—that makes mercy such a weighty provision of the law?  Note that the Greek word for mercy (eleos) is used throughout the LXX for the Hebrew chesed.  This word is used to describe the primary aspect and responsibility of a covenant relationship, and its meaning encompasses not only mercy, but grace, love and a longsuffering faithfulness to the covenant; it is translated most frequently by the NAS as lovingkindness or kindness, and by the KJV as mercy.  See 1Sa 20:8,14-15, 2Sa 9:3,7, Jer 2:2, Mic 6:8, Zec 7:9.  In what way is this quality demonstrated by God to His people who enter into covenant with Him?  See Num 14:19, Deut 7:9,12, 1Ki 3:6, 8:23, Neh 1:5, Psa 23:6, 25:10, 32:10, 51:1, Isa 54:8,10, Jer 9:24, Dan 9:4, Hos 2:19, Luk 1:50,54,58,72.  In what way is this quality the key to a successful marriage covenant?  What does the incidence of divorce among Christians indicate about the lack of this important quality among God’s people today, even as it was lacking among the scribes and Pharisees then?

 


1. The standard by which judgments and evaluations are to be made right; (Friberg Greek Lexicon).

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