Jewish Authority


The Catholic Church claims a teaching authority derived from Christ (cf. Matthew 16:18-9, 18:18 &c) as existed in the Priesthood of Judaism (cf. Matthew 23:1-3). This document "stub" will briefly examine this concept in relation to Judaism of Jesus' time.

Scriptural Considerations

Matthew 23:1-3

Matthew 23:1

Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to his disciples,

Matthew 23:2
Saying: The scribes and the Pharisees have sitten on the chair of Moses.

Matthew 23:3
All things therefore whatsoever they shall say to you, observe and do: but according to their works do ye not. For they say, and do not.

Common Objections Addressed

Objection: Christ is telling people not to do as the Pharisees do. Doesn't that parallel the Church with all the scandals throughout the centuries?

Response: Indeed it may, in that regardless of the sins of the leaders God has chosen (cf. Romans 3:23), still He confirms the authority given them to teach, in obvious contrast to their sins. It is a common misunderstanding that authority to teach means sinlessness. That however is clearly not the Biblical portrait of authority delegated by God. Indeed all those who God "works together for good with" (cf. Romans 8:28, Mark 16:20, 2 Corinthians 6:1) are sinners.

In my experience, the protestant inclination regarding interpretation of Matthew 23:1-3 is to focus exclusively on Jesus Christ's condemnation of the Pharisees as Hypocrites, yet never to concede "All things therefore whatsoever they shall say to you, observe and do..." (cf. Matthew 23:3). The reason for this, in my opinion, is that, if they were to accept and teach that a man's sinful nature does not usurp his God given authority to teach, many stock attacks on concepts such as the Papacy (more specifically Papal Infallibility) would be moot. So too, take note of Peter's Infallible penning of two Epistles of inerrant Sacred Scripture under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, even after he had been called a "Satan" by Christ Himself (cf. Matthew 16:23).

The Seat of Moses and Sola Scriptura

Outside of Matthew 23:2, there is no mention of the Seat of Moses in the Bible, either int he Old Testament or the New Testament, thus it is a sound point to mention that a Jew or Apostle using the so called Praxis of Sola Scriptura could not have known what this refers to, merely looking at the Old Testament, yet it is undeniable that Jesus Christ and the Apostles were aware of the concept.