Matthew 12:7 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Matthew 12:7, NIV: If you had known what these words mean, 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the innocent.

Matthew 12:7, ESV: And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless.

Matthew 12:7, KJV: But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless.

Matthew 12:7, NASB: But if you had known what thismeans: ‘I DESIRECOMPASSION,RATHER THAN SACRIFICE,’ you would not have condemnedthe innocent.

Matthew 12:7, NLT: But you would not have condemned my innocent disciples if you knew the meaning of this Scripture: 'I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.'

Matthew 12:7, CSB: If you had known what this means, I desire mercy and not sacrifice, you would not have condemned the innocent.

What does Matthew 12:7 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Matthew has quoted Jesus referring to this Old Testament passage once before. In that case, the Pharisees were asking Jesus' disciples why He ate with tax collectors and sinners. Then, as here, Jesus referred to the distinction between mercy and sacrifice (Matthew 9:9–13). This citation comes from Hosea 6:6.

Again, Christ seeks to hold the Pharisees accountable for failing to do their job. They should have been providing spiritual care and leadership to the people of Israel. Jesus applies the quote from Hosea to their leadership. He insists their job is to show mercy to the people of God instead of weighing them down with burdensome rules and regulations that went far beyond a clear reading of God's requirements in the Law.

Jesus tells these Pharisees their accusation of lawbreaking against His disciples for plucking and eating grain on the Sabbath is more evidence they don't grasp God's will. They don't understand the heart of God for His people. They still hold religious rule-following, a wooden and thoughtless adherence to tradition and literalism, as a higher value than showing mercy to the people under their care.