Explanation of Scripture read by Orthodox Christians on the 11th Monday after Pentecost - Matthew 23:13-22 2 Corinthians 2:4-15

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The Pharisees "devoured widows houses" by cheating people because of their greed, by taking advantage of their position and the trust given to them by the people.


They committed crimes in the name of religion - on top of their crime, they were hypocrites.

"The manner of this plundering is grievous for they make long prayers. Every one who does evil deserves punishment; but he who takes occasion for his offense from religion, deserves more severe punishment; Therefore you shall receive the greater damnation." (St John Chrysostom)


The Apostle Paul


"That they compass sea and land signifies that throughout the whole world they shall be enemies of Christ's Gospel, and shall bring men under the yoke of the Law against the justification of faith. There were proselytes made into the Synagogue from among the Gentiles, the small number of whom is here denoted by what is said one proselyte. For after the preaching of Christ there was no faith left in their doctrine, but whoever was gained to the faith of the Jews became a child of hell." (St Hilary of Potiers)


"As by making broad phylacteries and fringes they sought after the reputation of sanctity, and made this again a means of gain, so now He charges them with being teachers of wickedness by their fraudulent presence of tradition. For when in any dispute or quarrel, or ambiguous cause, one swore by the temple, and was afterwards convicted of falsehood, he was not held guilty. This is what is meant by that, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing, that is, he owes nothing, But if he had sworn by the gold, or by the money which was offered to the Priests in the temple, he was immediately compelled to pay down that by which he had sworn." (St Jerome)

The reason the Pharisees so twisted the law is their greed.


Christ is our sacrifice, and we in turn must be a sacrifice. In days of sacrifice, the Jews believed that the sacrifice of animals brought up a "sweet savor" to God.

"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. {2} And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. {3} For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith." (Rom 12:1-3)

"And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. {21} And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done." (Gen 8:20-21)

"And thou shalt burn the whole ram upon the altar: it is a burnt offering unto the LORD: it is a sweet savour, an offering made by fire unto the LORD." (Exo 29:18)

"By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament. {23} And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death: {24} But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. {25} Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. {26} For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; {27} Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people's: for this he did once, when he offered up himself." (Heb 7:22-27)

"For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself." (Heb 9:26)

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