Chair of Moses


#1

Jesus says in Matthew to listen to those who sit in the chair of Moses, which we as Catholics use to bolster our belief in the structure of the Church and the authority of the Holy Father…however, I was just thinking that Jesus instructions to do this are kind of counter-intuitive and don’t make much sense seeing as those who were in positions of authority in Judaism didn’t want anyone to believe Jesus was the Messiah and to think of Him as a blasphemer, so which is it? And how does it parallel to the laity’s relationship to the contemporary Church today?

Thoughts?

God bless.

-Paul


#2

Jesus is our High Priest and King. He was the fulfillment of the prophecy of the Jews. As such he can call on this position of power. Also he is God and as such is the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings all seats of power on Earth are his.

God bless


#3

Yes, but he also told the Jews to listen to those who sit in the Chair of Moses…


#4

Its called an allusion to history


#5

[quote="IesuMariaIoseph, post:4, topic:310679"]
Its called an allusion to history

[/quote]

...ok


#6

He also told them not to do as they do.

Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying, “The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice. (Matthew 23:1-3)

Their authority was legitimate, given by God and so their instruction was not to be disregarded. The word “Hypocrite” in Greek means literally “Actor.” They were hypocrites.
Their personal behavior was not to be emulated.

Nothing has changed today. We are to follow the teaching of the Church when it comes from legitimate authority, but not to emulae corrupt practices when they are apparent.

-Tim-


#7

I don't know if I made myself clear the first time, I might have confused the issue, but what I am trying to get at, is that He told them to listen to what they say...and what they were saying is that Jesus was a blasphemer and not the Messiah and should not be followed. There seems to be a contradiction in His instructions that does not really make sense to me...

And then secondarily was the issue of how it relates to the Church today in that how much weight should we give to this particular defense of "the Chair of St. Peter" given the contradiction inherent in the first issue...

I hope that clears it up, maybe lol

Thanks for the responses!

God bless

-Paul


#8

[quote="PJD1987, post:7, topic:310679"]
I don't know if I made myself clear the first time, I might have confused the issue, but what I am trying to get at, is that He told them to listen to what they say...and what they were saying is that Jesus was a blasphemer and not the Messiah and should not be followed. There seems to be a contradiction in His instructions that does not really make sense to me...

And then secondarily was the issue of how it relates to the Church today in that how much weight should we give to this particular defense of "the Chair of St. Peter" given the contradiction inherent in the first issue...

I hope that clears it up, maybe lol

Thanks for the responses!

God bless

-Paul

[/quote]

You are not reading the verse in context. You can't pull a verse and examine it by itself, apart from the rest of the Bible, apart from the surrounding verses and apart from the overall theme of what the author was trying to convey.

Who was Jesus speaking to? Gentiles? Jews? A Roman? A Samaritan? Crowds? The Disciples? The Twelve?

Where was he? Capernaum? Jerusalem? The Temple? On a high mountain?

What was Jesus' role at that moment? Teacher? Prophet? Ruler? King? God?

Etc.

In the previous chapter, Matthew has Pharisees, Sadducees, Scribes and scholars of the law testing Jesus, to see if he knows God's teching, to see if he knows God's commandments, and to see if he can successfully interpret those teachings and commandments and apply them to the everyday life of an ordinary Jew. That's the context. The context is the quesioning put to Jesus by the authorities in the previous chapter.

And the whole rest of the Bible is the context. Over and over and over in the Old Testament, the priests, scribes, kings and people who held positions of authority went off to worship false gods, married foreigners, refused to release slaves, charged interest, refused to welcome strangers, held back the best of their goods instead of offering it to God, stole from widows, sacrificed their children, and even had operations to reverse their circumcision! Over and over they did this.

That's the context. Read Chapter 22 and then let the words flow into Chapter 23, and you will get a clearer picture.

-Tim-


#9

[quote="PJD1987, post:1, topic:310679"]
Jesus says in Matthew to listen to those who sit in the chair of Moses, which we as Catholics use to bolster our belief in the structure of the Church and the authority of the Holy Father...however, I was just thinking that Jesus instructions to do this are kind of counter-intuitive and don't make much sense seeing as those who were in positions of authority in Judaism didn't want anyone to believe Jesus was the Messiah and to think of Him as a blasphemer, so which is it? And how does it parallel to the laity's relationship to the contemporary Church today?

Thoughts?

God bless.

-Paul

[/quote]

Up until Christ's death, the Pharisees were the lawful religious authorities, and he was simply telling his followers to accept their lawful authority. After Christ's death, their reign ended, and Saint Peter's began.


#10

[quote="PJD1987, post:7, topic:310679"]
I don't know if I made myself clear the first time, I might have confused the issue, but what I am trying to get at, is that He told them to listen to what they say...and what they were saying is that Jesus was a blasphemer and not the Messiah and should not be followed. There seems to be a contradiction in His instructions that does not really make sense to me...

And then secondarily was the issue of how it relates to the Church today in that how much weight should we give to this particular defense of "the Chair of St. Peter" given the contradiction inherent in the first issue...

I hope that clears it up, maybe lol

Thanks for the responses!

God bless

-Paul

[/quote]

I think you have presented an interesting inquiry. How were the disciples to listen to the Sanhedrin and not do what they do?

One possible understanding is that the disciples were instructed to listen to what the Sanhedrin teach as it applies to the Tanakh, and not to traditions which made the word of God of no effect.

Another possible understanding involves the instance when the Sanhedrin commanded St. Peter and the apostles not to preach in the name of Jesus. They replied that it was more important to obey God, rather than men.

There is also the occasion when St. Paul inadvertantly said something disrespectful to the President, or the High Priest of the Sanhedrin and was admonished for his disrespect.
St. Paul apologizes by quoting from the Torah, 'you shall not speak evil of your rulers, or judges'.

So it seems that when Jesus says to his disciples that they were to 'listen to those who sit in the seat of Moses', he was saying that either they should listen to them when their teachings did not disavow the written scriptures, or the will of God, and/or they were to be respectful of their authority within those boundaries.

God's peace

micah


#11

The Haydock Commentary has it that the passage about obeying the scribes and the Pharisees (St. Matthew 23:3) means obedience in things not against the Mosaic Law. All ministers should be given the due obedience, while Christ is not giving His Disciples a license to sin.

Christ does not tell them to observe every thing, without exception, that the Pharisees should say to them; for, (as it was observed in a previous chapter) many superstitions and false ordinances had obtained amongst them, corrupting the Scriptures by their traditions; but only such as were not contrary to the law of Moses. We are taught to obey bad no less than good ministers, in those things that are not expressly contrary to the law of God. Hence appears how unfounded and unreasonable is the excuse so often adduced by persons in justification of their misdeeds, viz. that they saw their pastors do the same. Such must attend to the rule here given by Jesus Christ. What they say, do: but according to their works, do ye not. Dion. Carthus. — The words, all whatsoever, shew that nothing must be excepted, but what the supreme law orders to be excepted. E.


#12

CaptFun responds in RED

Good answer. In formal teaching “from the Chair of Moses” the people were to listen to and obey their authority (Jesus was not being a rebellious Jew - He was fulfilling his office as the Son of Man by being obedient to human authority where it was legitimate).

Regarding the “Chair of Moses” (not elsewhere mentioned in scriptures OT or NT) and the Church having authority even unto “infallibility” as far as being able to teach truly in important matters – another incident in Jesus’ life comes to mind.

Matthew 19:3 Some Pharisees approached him, and tested him, saying, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause whatever?”

4 He said in reply, "Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’

5 and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?

6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate."

7 They said to him, "Then why did** Moses command**

that the man give the woman a bill of divorce and dismiss (her)?"

8 He said to them, "Because of the hardness of your hearts Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but*** from the beginning it was not so.


9 I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) and marries another commits adultery."

In this episode Moses’ teaching is invoked by the Pharisees to “prove” the legitimacy of divorce (rather like Moses speaking from “his chair”). The seem to have guilded the lily by adding the word “commanded”.

Jesus, who knew Moses and the situation leaves that legality in place but teaches the people (not excluding the Pharisees) that what was allowed was not according to the promptings of God but an expedience Moses used, possibly to keep law and order.

Pondering infallibility … it would seem that the Pope’s have a similar authority to Moses’.
A Church member who follows a papal teaching … or does not exceed what is allowed …
has functioned within the realm of obedience.

Infallibility in that sense might not mean “perfect teaching” or “complete teaching” or “the highest possible ideals on the subject can be found here”. It means that it is a teaching that one can follow and know they are not committing sin.*

** However a Jewish person of that time who followed the teachings from the chair of Moses and availed himself of the liberal divorce laws allowed … WOULD be sinning if his conscience told him it was wrong to do so. Jesus was acting as a conscience here and
enlightened the crowd as to a holier way.
*
Even the apostles seemed to have been more comfortable with the liberal divorce laws (from the Chair of Moses?). Jesus did not directly call for these laws to change … but he was in the process of founding “His Church” and simultaneously teaching IT (and the apostles) what God desired regarding marriage. Soon He would commission them to “teach the nations” with powers at LEAST equal to teaching from the chair of Moses.

Matt 19:10 [His] disciples said to him, “If that is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.”

11 He answered, "Not all can accept [this] word, but only those to whom that is granted.

12 Some are incapable of marriage because they were born so; some, because they were made so by others; some, because they have renounced marriage 9 for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Whoever can accept this ought to accept it."

It’s worth noting that the Church never did allow divorce like what was allowed in first century Judea - but followed Christ’s teaching (difficult though they initially found it).

Easy divorce might have kept England Catholic I suppose - but though the Church heard the case of Henry VIII (which did involve some unique circumstances regarding the marriage) it did not rule in his favor. Even when he threatened it (not idle threats either).
Catherine was not guilty of anything, and her not being able to give Henry a son was not considered good enough proof to show that maybe God didn’t join them together.

I included Jesus’ teaching about celibacy dedicated “for the sake of the kingdom” here, as it is a counsel of the Church that became later a requirement for entering the priesthood. After all, it is Christ’s prriesthood one is being deputized unto - and He Himself was such a celibate man. A servant is not greater than his Master.

What was once allowed was changed. The Church has been given “keys” by Jesus. And keys change things when they are used … be it opening or locking things.

Moses’ ruling on divorce was a change. And lawful. It was an imperfect change though.

And when we consider “Moses’ Chair” and Peter’s … we are grateful for the guidance, but of course follow whatever rulings are given in the Holy Spirit. And do not pit one against the other. Nor surmise that the Holy Spirit always agrees with our licentious whims. :wink:


#13

[quote="CaptFun, post:12, topic:310679"]

and He Himself was such a celibate man.

[/quote]

How do we know for sure that Jesus was a celibate man?


#14

Gracious God,
We pray for peace in our communities this day.
We commit to you all who work for peace and an end to tensions,
And those who work to uphold law and justice.
We pray for an end to fear,
For comfort and support to those who suffer.
For calm in our streets and cities,
That people may go about their lives in safety and peace.
In your mercy, hear our prayers,
now and always. Amen

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Prayer for help to you, child of God, with your help to continue the mission the Lord.
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Be blessed.


#15

[quote="ajecphotos, post:13, topic:310679"]
How do we know for sure that Jesus was a celibate man?

[/quote]

Short answer:
He was not married.
He did not sin.
Sex outside of marriage = sinful.

Longer answer:

Not married? Yes. This is not so surprising for a man who only lived 'til age 33 (humanly). And some men you may have met in your own life have managed celibacy that long. Certainly the Son of God could manage it too.

SURE he was not married? To whom then? And was He then neglecting her as he traveled about for three years without " ... a place to lay his head?"

Some say Mary Magdalen* ... but they are being creative, and with less deductive evidence for this than that Jesus was celibate and unmarried.

Jesus praised those who "gave up home and family" for the sake of the Kingdom. His living what he preached is also quite logical.

The idea that Jesus had pre-marital sex, would have him sinning. And thus not keeping the commandments perfectly, part of his Messianic mission.

2 Corinthiians 5:20 ... We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

21 For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.

It's almost another thread to continue this ... and there is no perfect "proof text" from the Bible ... but like His heroic fasts, Jesus gave up sex (celibacy) for the sake of the kingdom.

Celibacy is a word that provokes an almost visceral Pavlovian anger response in our time.
It is an "alternate lifestyle" that socially can be ridiculed without being called "mean spirited". But Jesus commended it. And so did St. Paul (recommending it forcefully, while allowing marriage and recommending IT as well, especially to those who might sin without being married).

Neither Jesus' example and teaching, or Paul's, were pronouncements "from the Chair of Moses" in their formality. But aspects of the teaching are recorded in inspired scripture for all time.

On a serendipidous note ... Jesus awaits "His Bride" at the end of the Bible .. not his second wife. ;)

  • A Mormon friend of mine and some of the Dan Brown novels propose this - but never the Catholic Church (whose origin goes back to people who knew them both).

#16

That’s a good question…Jesus was telling them in Matthew 23, that the Jewish teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.

This was the old covenant, and it signified the place of authority that the Scribes and Pharisees had vis-a-vis the interpretation of the law and their right to exercise their authority over the Jewish people. The new covenant put an end to that i.e. it was for the whole world as opposed to just the Jewish nation.


#17

Re: celibacy, I seem to recall that there were also several Messianic prophetic traditions that the Messiah would not be married, because he would marry “the Torah” or “the Sabbath.”

A fair number of prophets didn’t marry, either. For example: Samuel, Elijah, John the Baptist.

Obviously a fair number of prophets also married and had kids (and even used their wives and kids as signs, which was sometimes hard on them), but it wasn’t everybody.


#18

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