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Beware of the Scribes

John Collins10/19/2012

At the end of Luke 21, Jesus gives a simple statement with a foundation-shaking power:  Beware of the scribes.

Jesus said that "they walk around in long robes, love greetings in the marketplaces and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at the feasts, yet they devour widow's houses and for a pretense make long prayers.  They will receive a the greater condemnation."

In the New Testament, the Scribes had two simple tasks:  study the Law of Moses to know it intimately, and then teach it to the people.

Their title came from the days of the Old Testament when Ezra was called to be "a scribe in the law of Moses," (Ezra 7:6) and when Ezra used the title "the scribe of the Law of the God of heaven."  (Ezra 7:21)

Ezra was the ideal type for the scribes in the New Testament, because of his devotion to Yahweh to both learn and teach Israel the statutes and judgements of the Law of Moses.

The scribes of the New Testament fall very short of Ezra's example.  Though they were respected by the Jews, Jesus saw the harm in their methods and often reprimanded them.  They had turned the Law of Moses into a legal issue with loopholes instead of a holy and respected way of life.  It was not the position of "scribe" that was evil, but their misuse and abuse of that position and title.

Jesus warned that the scribes had love for themselves.  He said that they would receive a "greater damnation."   (Mark 12:38-40)

The scribes, though then knew the Law of Moses by the letter, were directly involved in the condemnation and crucifixion of Jesus Christ.  Their pride led others to destruction and brought damnation upon themselves through their love of themselves.

As Christians, we should ask ourselves:  Are we like Ezra, who studied the Word because of the Love of God?  Or are we like the scribes, who study the Word in a twisted manner to lift ourselves among our peers?