A series of articles born out of critically thinking on the works of several Catholic Apologists and comparing their work with Scripture.


Authority and the Old Testament Church

Matthew 23:2-3 is often cited as a "proof text" that Jesus taught Church Authority through Tradition.

Matthew 23:1 Then Jesus spoke to the multitude, and to his disciples,
Matthew 23:2 Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat:
Matthew 23:3 Therefore observe and do all they ask you to; but don't follow after their works: for they say, and don't do.

10 commandments

Do all they ask?
What Jesus is telling the people to do is to listen to the Pharisees because they are the ones that had and read the Word of God to them. Common people typically could not read in those days, so they had to depend on the Scribes and Pharisees to read the Word of God to them which included the 10 commandments, the Law, and the whole of the Old Testament. The reference to Moses's seat seems to emphasize that the authority being spoken of is the Law that was given (by God) through Moses. This seat of Moses is nothing more than parabolic language that Jesus used to describe that the scribes and Pharisees were the keepers of the Law. They were to be listened to concerning their laws, not their works nor their traditions. We are blessed by further Scripture to clarify exactly what Jesus meant so that we don't have to guess. We have three recordings in the Gospels where Jesus told the disciples to beware of the leaven (teaching) of the Pharisees (Matthew 16, Mark 8, Luke 12). How can we justify Jesus' beware statement in the referenced verses if we are to listen to everything (all things) that the Pharisees say? We cannot. Which things should we listen to and which things shouldn't we listen to? We need to define what Jesus meant by "all they ask you to do" in Mt23:3. Since much of the teachings of the Pharisees was mixed with their tradition (which Jesus clearly and plainly blasted them for in Mark 7 as well as in Matthew 15), we need to conclude that Jesus was referring to listening to everything they spoke of when they read from the Word of God: Not what they taught in reference to their tradition when it conflicted with God's revealed commands.

Where is the real Authority?
As seen on other pages on this site, the true Authority is God. Jesus is God and therefore, He is Authority. God has made Himself known to man by His Word - the Bible. Therefore, the Bible is Authoritative. This is plainly emphasised in the following passage:
John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

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