Matthew 23:5

ESV They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long,
NIV "Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long;
NASB And they do all their deeds to be noticed by other people; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments.
CSB They do everything to be seen by others: They enlarge their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels.
NLT Everything they do is for show. On their arms they wear extra wide prayer boxes with Scripture verses inside, and they wear robes with extra long tassels.
KJV But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,
NKJV But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments.

What does Matthew 23:5 mean?

The scribes and Pharisees, Israel's religious leaders, fail to practice what they preach. Jesus is describing the hypocrisy behind their very religious public appearance (Matthew 23:1–4).

Here, Jesus addresses their motives. They may do what is right or religious, according to their own interpretations, but they do so to be seen by others. They want approval and recognition of the people: to be heralded as good and religious men. One way they exhibit this is by their outward appearance. These included religious emblems such as phylacteries and fringes.

Phylacteries are known today as "tefillin." They are small leather boxes containing pieces of parchment with Scripture written on them. The phylactery boxes were strapped to the left arm or forehead in literal obedience to Deuteronomy 11:18. The Scriptures inside were from Exodus 13 and Deuteronomy 6.

Fringes, or tassels, are dangling bits of thread, with a blue cord, attached to the four corners of a Jewish man's garment in obedience to Numbers 15:38–39: "Tell them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a cord of blue on the tassel of each corner. And it shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the Lord, to do them."

It's important to note that Jesus does not condemn the wearing of phylacteries or fringes. The objects are not wrong, and neither is their use. Rather, He calls out religious leaders for making an excessive show of those objects: wearing large, broad phylacteries and extended fringes so everyone will notice them. Their intent is not primarily to honor God; it's to get credit from other men for being extra religious and good. They had lost sight of the proper motive for these religious objects: a reminder of the law.
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