Matthew 23:24

You blind guides, who strain out a gnat, and swallow a camel.
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Hilary of Poitiers

AD 368
And because it was much less guilt to omit the tithing of herbs than a duty of benevolence, the Lord derides them, “Ye blind guides, which strain out a gnat, and swallow a camel.”


AD 420
The Lord had commanded, that for the maintenance of the Priests and Levites, whose portion was the Lord, tithes of every thing should be offered in the temple. Accordingly, the Pharisees (to dismiss mystical expositions) concerned themselves about this alone, that these trifling things should be paid in, but lightly esteemed other things which were weighty. He charges them then with covetousness in exacting carefully the tithes of worthless herbs, while they neglected justice in their transactions of business, mercy to the poor, and faith toward God, which are weighty things. The camel I suppose to mean the weighty precepts, judgment, mercy, and faith; the gnat, the tithing of mint, anise, and cummin, and other valueless herbs. The greater of God’s commands we “swallow” and overlook, but show our carelessness by a religious scrupulousness in little things which bring profit with them.

John Chrysostom

AD 407
Then, to show that there is no harm arising from despising bodily cleansings, but very great vengeance from not regarding the purifications of the soul, which is virtue, He called these a gnat, for they are small and nothing, but those other a camel, for they were beyond what men could bear. Wherefore also He says, Straining at the gnat, and swallowing the camel. For indeed the one were enacted for the sake of the other, I mean of mercy and judgment; so that not even then did they profit being done alone. For whereas the little things were mentioned for the sake of the great, and after that these last were neglected, and labor was spent on those alone, nothing was gained even then by this. For the greater followed not the lesser, but the lesser were sure to follow these greater. But these things He says to show, that even before grace had come, these were not among the principal things, or among those upon which men should spend their labor, but the matters required were different. ...

John Chrysostom

AD 407
The Lord had said above that they bound heavy burdens upon others, which they themselves would not touch; He now again shows how they aimed at being correctin little things, but neglected weighty matters. Or, because these covetous Priests, when any one did not bring his tithes of the smallest thing, made it a matter of grave reprehension; but when one injured his neighbour or sinned against God, they were at no pains to reprove him, careful only of their own profit, neglecting the glory of God, and the salvation of men. For to observe righteousness, to do mercy, and to have faith, these things God commanded for His own glory; but the payment of tithes He established for the support of the Priests, so that the Priests should minister to the people in spiritual things, and the people supply the Priests with carnal things. Thus is it at this time, when all are careful of their own honour, none of God’s honour; they jealously protect their own rights, but will not bestow any pains in the ...

Remigius of Rheims

AD 533
In these words the Lord shows that all the commandments of the Law, greatest and least, are to be fulfilled. They also are refuted who give alms of the fruits of the earth, supposing that thus they cannot sin, whereas their alms profit them nothing unless they are careful to keep themselves from sin.

Theophylact of Ochrid

AD 1107
Again He reproaches them as foolish for disdaining the greater commandments while demanding strict observance of the lesser; nor do they overlook a tenth part of the cumin, but tithe that as well. And if anyone accused the Pharisees of nitpicking, they would cite the law in their defense. It would have been better and more God-pleasing if they had required discernment and mercy and faith from the people. What is discernment? To do nothing unjust or unreasonable, but rather to do everything with good judgement and with reason. Mercy follows immediately upon discernment. For he who does all things with discernment knows to whom one ought to give alms. And faith follows mercy, for he who is merciful and gives alms, has faith that he will lose nothing but will receive everything. Or, in another sense, one must show mercy but also believe in the true God. For there were many pagan Greeks who gave alms, but did not believe in the living God and did not have that faith that follows mercy. Eve...

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

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