Matthew 23:5

But all their works they do to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,
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George Leo Haydock

AD 1849
Phylacteries. These were pieces or scrolls of parchment, on which were written the ten commandments, or some sentences of the law, which the Jews were accustomed to fasten to their foreheads, or their arms, to put them in mind of their duty. Thus they interpreted those words. (Deuteronomy vi. 8.) Thou shalt tie them as a sign on thy hand: and they shall be, and move before thy eyes. Perhaps all the Jews, and even our Saviour himself, wore them; and that he only blames the hypocrisy and vanity of the Scribes and Pharisees, who affected to have them larger than others; and they did the like as to the fringes which the Jews wore on their garments. (Witham) That is, parchments, on which they wrote the ten commandments, and carried on their foreheads before their eyes: which the Pharisees affected to wear broader than other men: so to seem more zealous for the law. (Challoner) The word Phylacterion, which is found both in the Greek and Latin Vulgate, properly signifies a preservation. It ...


AD 420
They called those phylacteries “little pictures” of the Decalogue, because whoever had them had his own fortification and defense. But the knowledgeable Pharisees did not have them, because these things must be carried in the heart, not the body. They may have children and treasure boxes and granaries, but they do not have knowledge of God. Even today there are those superstitious ladies who have their “little Gospels.” In the absence of the true cross and other such things, they indeed have the zeal of God but no true knowledge of him. Even today, they too do these same kinds of things in front of us by liquefying gnats for drinking and gulping down honey. This is what some see as the small, short fringe mandated by the law. But a better case is the woman with the bloody flow who touched the fringe of the Lord’s garment. She was not motivated by the superstitious sentiments of the Pharisees. And what is more, she was healed at his touch. And so when they widened their phylacteries and...

John Chrysostom

AD 407
He then accused them of vanity, from which came their ruin. His previous charges concerned signs of harshness and laziness, but these charges accuse them of a mad desire for glory. This desire drew them away from God. It caused them to make a show in front of others who were watching and corrupted them. Now that it has become the priest’s special interest to please those who are watching, he exhibits whatever they want. If they are noble, he makes a spectacle of confronting conflicts. If they are lacking in enthusiasm and lazy, he also becomes more lackadaisical. If they delight in ridicule, he delights in ridicule, in order to please those watching. If they are earnest and practice selfrestraint, he tries to be the same way, since this is the disposition of the one from whom he seeks praise. It is not that he does some things one way and some things in another way. No, he is far more predictable. He always acts with the spectator in mind, in all things absolutely. Then, having laid ba...

John Chrysostom

AD 407
But wherein are they earnest, and vigorous? In the things forbidden. For, all their works they do, He says, to be seen of men. Matthew 23:5 These things He says, accusing them in respect of vainglory, which kind of thing was their ruin. For the things before were signs of harshness and remissness, but these of the mad desire of glory. This drew them off from God, this caused them to strive before other spectators, and ruined them. For whatever kind of spectators any one may have, since it has become his study to please these, such also are the contests he exhibits. And he that wrestles among the noble, such also are the conflicts he takes in hand, but he among the cold and supine, himself also becomes more remiss. For instance, has any one a beholder that delights in ridicule? He himself too becomes a mover of ridicule, that he may delight the spectator: has another one who is earnest minded, and practises self-government? He endeavors himself to be such as he is, since such is the dis...

Theophylact of Ochrid

AD 1107
The Pharisees laid heavy burdens on men, forcing them to fulfill the commandments of the law which were detailed and difficult to observe. Indeed, they weighed them down with more than the commandments of the law by handing down certain traditions that went beyond the law; these traditions they did not move with even one of their fingers, that is, they themselves did not practice them, nor even dare to undertake such burdens. For whenever a teacher not only teaches but practices what he teaches, then he is seen to carry the burden and to labor along with those who are taught. But when he gives me a load to carry, but himself practices nothing, then indeed he weighs me down, showing by what he himself neglects to do that it is impossible to accomplish what he says. The Lord, therefore, is accusing the Pharisees of themselves not wanting to carry the weight of the commandments and to practice them. Not only do they not do anything good, but they pretend that they do good. Even if they ha...

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

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