Jesus did not have an easy relationship with the teachers of the Law. It had to do with what they taught and how it might lead people astray.
- On occasion Jesus said, ’Woe to you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the Kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.’ 1
- On another occasion Jesus said, ‘I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.’ 2
That brings us to two questions:
- Do all ‘teachers of the law’ (theologians in our times) fall into the category of Matthew 23:13?
- Did Jesus mean we don’t need teachers of the Law, or theologians? No!
# Some theologians (‘Bible teachers’) do ‘shut the Kingdom of heaven in men’s faces.’
They always criticise and find so-called mistakes in the Bible. For example,
- The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary discusses the book of Ezekiel. The unity and authenticity of this Bible book was not seriously attacked until comparatively recent times.
- Gustav Hoelscher dissected the book of Ezekiel. He stated that not much more that one-tenth of it is authentic – only the few rhythmical sections. He assumed that the prose parts were added by fifth-century authors.
- Unger mentions more critics and concludes, ‘Criticism of Ezekiel illustrates the wearisome story of negative criticism.’ 3 Criticism is not limited only to the book of Ezekiel, but to all the 66 books of the Bible.
# We need Holy Spirit filled theologians.
If a theologian is filled with the Holy Spirit, he or she loves the Lord and the Word. Their enthusiasm for the Kingdom inspires us to study Scripture and to love the Lord. Teachers of the law who love the Lord are a boon to the Church.
Listen to these wonderful words, ‘For the lips of a priest ought to preserve knowledge, and from his mouth men should seek instruction, for he is the messenger of the Lord Almighty.’ 4 Jesus made us aware of the enemies of the cross, who masquerade as apostles of the Lord. The Bible calls them ‘false apostles, deceitful workmen.’ 5 We will do well to be aware of them in 2017.
- Matthew 23:13
- Matthew 11:25
- MF Unger, The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary (RK Harrison, editor), Moody Press, Chicago, 1988, p 390-391
- Malachi 2:7
- 2 Corinthians 11:13