Summary: An Exposition on Romans
More than Religion
From the Inside Out
Religion Vs Relationship
God had made a covenant with Abraham - Genesis 17:13
His people would be “set apart” and “marked” with circumcision “my covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant”
20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
2 "The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat.
3 So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.
4 They tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.
5 "Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long;
Shall exceed (perisseush pleion). Overflow like a river out of its banks and then Jesus adds "more" followed by an unexpressed ablative (thß dikaiosunhß), brachylogy. A daring statement on Christ’s part that they had to be better than the rabbis. They must excel the scribes, the small number of regular teachers (Matthew 5:21-48), and the Pharisees in the Pharisaic life (Matthew 6:1-18) who were the separated ones, the orthodox pietists.
But all their works they do for to be seen of men…
All their prayers, alms deeds, and fastings, were all done in a public manner, that men might behold them, and they might have applause and glory from them: they sought neither the glory of God, nor the good of their fellow creatures, nor any spiritual advantage and pleasure to themselves, in their performances; they neither attended to moral duties, nor ceremonious rites, nor the traditions of their fathers, any further than they could be seen by men in them, and keep up their credit and esteem among them.
To be seen of men Ostentation regulates the conduct of the rabbis. Phylacteries (to guard). So a fortified place, station for garrison, then a safeguard, protecting charm or amulet. The rabbis wore tepillin or prayer-fillets, small leather cases with four strips of parchment on which were written the words of Exodus 13:1-10,11-16; Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Deuteronomy 11:13-21. They took literally the words about "a sign unto thy hand," "a memorial between thine eyes," and "frontlets." "That for the head was to consist of a box with four compartments, each containing a slip of parchment inscribed with one of the four passages. Each of these strips was to be tied up with a well-washed hair from a calf’s tail; lest, if tied with wool or thread, any fungoid growth should ever pollute them. The phylactery of the arm was to contain a single slip, with the same four passages written in four columns of seven lines each. The black leather straps by which they were fastened were wound seven times round the arm and three times round the hand. They were reverenced by the rabbis as highly as the scriptures, and, like them, might be rescued from the flames on a sabbath. They profanely imagined that God wore the tephillin" (Vincent). It is small wonder that Jesus ridiculed such minute concern for pretentious externalism and literalism. These tephillin "are still worn at the present day on the forehead and left arm by Jews at the daily Morning Prayer" (McNeile) . "The size of the phylacteries indexed the measure of zeal, and the wearing of large ones was apt to take the place of obedience" (Bruce). Hence they made them "broad." The superstitious would wear them as mere charms to ward off evil. Enlarge the borders In Matthew 9:20 we see that Jesus, like the Jews generally, wore a tassel or tuft, hem or border, a fringe on the outer garment according to Numbers 15:38. Here again the Jewish rabbi had minute rules about the number of the fringes and the knots. They made a virtue of the size of the fringes also. "Such things were useful as reminders; they were fatal when they were regarded as charms" (Plummer).
These were the fringes which they put upon the borders of their garments, and on them a ribbon of blue, to put them in mind of the commandments, to obey them, (Numbers 15:38) (Deuteronomy 22:12) . think themselves much the better for the wearing them; and the Pharisees, because they would appear with a greater air of sanctity and devotion than others, made theirs larger.
We read of one Ben Tzitzith Hacceseth, a man of this complexion, who was so called, because his Tzitzith, or “fringes, were drawn upon, a pillow; and there are some that say, that the pillow was bore between the great men of Rome: it was drawn after him, not upon the ground, but upon a cloth or tapestry, and the train supported by noblemen, as is pretended. This was one of those, that enlarged the Tzitzith, or fringes, beyond the ordinary size; hence Mark calls it, "long clothing."