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The same fundamental emphasis on spiritual religion dominates His attitudetowards the Jewish authorities. It is true that He is kindled to a holyindignation by the hypocrites and blind guides among the Scribes and Pharisees,who tithed mint and cummin, but neglected what was more important in the Law:justice and mercy and faith (Mt. xxiii, 23). Yet the very preface to thisvehement attack makes it plain that His protest is directed, not against thechair of Moses itself, but against the blind guides who sit in it. Here Jesusdistinguishes expressly between the teaching and the teacher, or, as we shouldsay, between the office and the person. "All things therefore, whatsoeverthey shall say to you, observe and do; but according to their works do yenot" (Mt. xxiii, 3). Therefore Jesus intends to preserve the principle of ateaching authority as such, and attacks only the perverse manner in which theScribes and Pharisees realized this principle. To be sure, so far as thisperversity was rooted in the nature of pharisaism, His attack on the blindguides becomes an attack on the institution itself, but it is not an attack onthe principle of a teaching authority as such. On the contrary He expresslyadopts and commends this principle in the same context: "Let one only beyour Master, Christ" (Mt. xxiii, 10). And in so far as the disciples haveto spread the teaching of Jesus, they, and St. Peter especially, are theappointed teachers of the kingdom of heaven.

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On the contrary it is to His disciples that we must attribute the attempt tofix dates. The age was inclined to apocalyptic speculation, and the disciples,influenced by its curious anticipations, were especially interested in the"when," that is to say, in the external and chronological aspect ofour Lord's eschatology. And so, when they heard Jesus talking of the Last Day,they were disposed to conceive the main elements of His announcement, notaccording to the inner and essential connection in which He regarded them, butfrom a purely chronological standpoint, and so to weaken the whole force of Hisprophecy. And the evangelists manifest the simple fidelity of their record innothing more plainly than in this, that in their manner of correlating ourLord's eschatological pronouncements with one another and with His otherdiscourses, they represent the special interpretation, influenced as it was bytraditional conceptions, which many of His disciples originally gave to theteaching of Jesus. Our Lord Himself expressly and finally refused to make anypronouncement regarding the day and hour of the Last Day. When the disciplesasked Him when the sign of His coming and of the end of the world would appear(Mk. xiii, 4), Jesus declared without qualification: "Of that day or hourno man knoweth, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Fatheralone" (Mk. xiii, 32). This is one of the most certain of all the sayingsof our Lord and can come only from Him. For after His resurrection, when theglory of God had been manifested in His countenance, His disciples wouldscarcely have originated a statement so liable to misconstruction, as that eventhe Son did not know the day of the Judgment. We should therefore interpret allother sayings of Jesus in the light of this certain utterance. Jesus does not,as He might have done, answer His disciples with a pure distinction. He does notsay that the Son of Man will assuredly come soon, but that the exact hour of Hiscoming depends on the Father. His answer is rather an unqualified and plain"I know not." And therefore that statement of His which immediatelyprecedes these words, that "this generation shall not pass until all thesethings be done," cannot refer to the definite day and hour of the GeneralJudgment, but only to the events mentioned in His discourse, to those eventsintroductory to the Judgment which were to occur in His own generation, andespecially to the destruction of Jerusalem. Had Jesus contemplated an immediatecoming of the Last Judgment, He would not have mentioned in the same discourseanother series of signs which could not possibly be fulfilled in His owngeneration, such as fierce international wars, famines, earthquakes, universalhostility to Christians, the appearance of many false prophets, the preaching ofthe Gospel in the whole world (Mt. xxiv, 5 ff.). A very short time before Hisdeath, when the sinner of Bethania anointed Him, He returned to the last ofthese prophecies: "Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the wholeworld, that also which she hath done shall be told for a memory of her"(Mt. xxvi, 13). So Jesus contemplates a universal crisis which will last a verylong time and include a very large number of events. As to when these shallreach their end, that is a matter which depends upon the Father alone.


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And if we consider the passage more broadly, in the light of the specialtendency of St. Matthew's Gospel, its authenticity becomes manifest. It is theplain purpose of his Gospel to set forth Jesus as the Messiah foretold by theOld Testament, and in particular as the divine Law-giver and Teacher who revealsthe deepest meaning of the Old Testament and brings it to fulfillment. His newand perfect doctrine corrects and amends the false doctrine of the Scribes andPharisees, who strain out the gnat and swallow the camel (Mt. xxiii, 24).Therefore the special tendency of St. Matthew, though not anti-Jewish, iscertainly antipharisaic. The true Teacher of the Kingdom of Heaven is Jesusalone. And in so far as His chosen disciples have to propagate His teaching of ajustice superior to the justice of the Pharisees, they become a new teachingbody and supplant the blind Scribes and Pharisees. And so we see that the widerpurpose of St. Matthew's Gospel is the institution of a new religious authority,a new teaching body, and consequently the establishment of a new Church whichshould replace the Synagogue. And that disciple who grasped the mystery of theKingdom of God beyond all the rest, and confessed it at Caesarea Philippi, isappointed to be the foundation stone of the new Church, to be its steward andinstructor in the Kingdom, and is given the power of binding and loosing, thatis of forbidding and permitting, not according to the manner of the Pharisees,but according to the mind of Jesus. Thus the anti- pharisaic tendency of theGospel of St. Matthew culminates precisely at this point, in the foundation of anew Church and in the new authority granted to St. Peter. Our Lord's promise toSt. Peter is undiluted anti-pharisaism. And for that reason the passage may notbe expunged from the Gospel; it belongs to the evangelist's original plan.