Matthew 15:2

Why do your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.
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Chromatius of Aquileia

AD 407
Among other observations, some of the Jewish elders ruled that a person should not take or eat food unless he first washed his hands. This observation, however, reveals a particular custom that is human and produces no beneficial effect. Therefore this tradition of the elders is practically useless, for it does not benefit a person’s health. No justification is gained from this tradition, and no harm is done in disregarding it. For God is not concerned whether a man washes his hands before eating but whether he has kept his heart washed and his conscience clean from the filth of sin. Truly, what good is it to wash your hands and to have a defiled conscience? The Lord’s disciples were clean of heart and were guided by an untainted conscience. Hence they were not overly concerned with washing their hands. They had washed them once in baptism with their whole body, in accord with our Lord’s words to Peter: “He who has bathed needs only to wash, and he is clean all over, as you are clean.”...

George Leo Haydock

AD 1849
Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition. The Pharisees had various traditions delivered down from their ancestors, called deuterseis, of which some were works of supererogation, others were contrary to the law. (Estius) It is a great proof of malice in the Pharisees, and of irreproachable character in our Lord, that they should be reduce to notice triffles, no ways connected with either piety or religion. They moreover betrayed their superstition, by insisting on the observance of these outward ceremonies, as essential parts of piety, which were not commanded by any law, (were certainly of no divine origin) and which, at most, were duties of civility, or emblems of interior purity. (Jansenius) The tradition of the ancients? They do not say the written law, which did not prescribe these washings of hands, cups, pots, beds These traditions came only from the doctors of their law, who are called elders, which is a name of dignity, as was that of senator among the Romans, and so, i...

John Chrysostom

AD 407
Now consider with me how they are convicted even by the very act of asking the question. For they do not say, “Why do they transgress the law of Moses?” Instead they say, “Why do they transgress the tradition of the elders?” From this it is clear that the priests were instituting many new practices, even though Moses with great fear and with dreadful words had commanded that one should neither add nor take away anything. For he says, “Do not add to this word that I am commanding you today, and do not take away from it.” But this did not at all stop them from instituting new practices. The issue here provides an example: eating with unwashed hands, which they thought unlawful. They focused inordinately on the outward rites of washing cups and things made of bronze and the rules for washing themselves. By this time they should have been released from needless observances. God’s timing had moved forward to that point. But just at that point they bound people up with many more observances....

Theophylact of Ochrid

AD 1107
Although there were scribes and Pharisees in every place, those in Jerusalem were the most honored. Hence they envied Christ all the more as they were the most vainglorious. As a custom from ancient tradition, the Jews did not eat with unwashed hands. Seeing the disciples disdain this tradition, they thought that the disciples held the elders in contempt. What then does the Saviour do? He says nothing in defense of this, but accuses them in return. ...

Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. - 2 Peter 1:20

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