Matthew 12:1 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Matthew 12:1, NIV: At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them.

Matthew 12:1, ESV: At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat.

Matthew 12:1, KJV: At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn, and to eat.

Matthew 12:1, NASB: At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath, and His disciples became hungry and began to pick the heads of grain and eat.

Matthew 12:1, NLT: At about that time Jesus was walking through some grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, so they began breaking off some heads of grain and eating them.

Matthew 12:1, CSB: At that time Jesus passed through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick and eat some heads of grain.

What does Matthew 12:1 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

In the previous verses, Jesus offered rest for the souls of those who were weary and burdened if they would take His yoke on them (Matthew 11:28–30). His meaning was not about physical work, but the spiritual condition of the people. Jesus' faithful Jewish listeners were weary and burdened due to the excessive legalism and restrictions placed on them by their religious leaders. Most prominent among these were the Pharisees: an extremely legalistic sect who added many layers to the laws given to Moses.

This verse begins a confrontation between the Pharisees and Jesus about one of these difficult restrictions.

Jesus and His disciples are walking through a planted field of grain. They begin to pluck off the heads of grain and eat them. This is not theft; the law allowed people to pluck grain or grapes by hand from a neighbor's field or vineyard, so long as one did not harvest the grain with a sickle or put the grapes in a bag (Deuteronomy 23:24–25). This allowed those who were poor to find food in the harvest season without taking too much from the profits of their neighbors.

However, the Pharisees will still pounce on Christ and His followers. This event takes place on the Jewish Sabbath. The Sabbath began at sundown on Friday evening and continued through sundown on Saturday evening. According to Pharisees traditional interpretation of—and addition to—the law, this is "work." That, in their view, violates the fourth commandment (Exodus 20:8–11).