Matthew 9:14 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Matthew 9:14, NIV: "Then John's disciples came and asked him, 'How is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?'"

Matthew 9:14, ESV: "Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?”"

Matthew 9:14, KJV: "Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not?"

Matthew 9:14, NASB: "Then the disciples of John came to Him, asking, 'Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?'"

Matthew 9:14, NLT: "One day the disciples of John the Baptist came to Jesus and asked him, 'Why don't your disciples fast like we do and the Pharisees do?'"

Matthew 9:14, CSB: "Then John's disciples came to him, saying, "Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?""

What does Matthew 9:14 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Pharisees have challenged Jesus' disciples about His behavior of eating with tax collectors and sinners (Matthew 9:9–12). Now some of John the Baptist's disciples ask Jesus a question about His own followers. Luke's gospel puts this question to Jesus from the Pharisees (Luke 5:33–39), while Mark says that both the Pharisees and the disciples of John the Baptist were asking (Mark 2:18–22). It's possible some from both groups were there together questioning Jesus.

Many rabbis—Jewish teachers—had disciples. In this context, this refers to dedicated, selected students. It was common for a teacher to accept a few disciples at a time to live with and study under him. They would serve their master while learning through a kind of apprenticeship. John the Baptist was now in prison (Matthew 4:12), but some of his disciples remained loyal to him and, perhaps, to his restrictive lifestyle (Matthew 3:4). Jesus' disciple Andrew had been one of John the Baptist's disciples before Jesus called him (John 1:40). Many commentators suggest the apostle John had been the Baptist's disciple, as well.

John the Baptist's mission was to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah. That mission was mostly accomplished when Jesus launched into his public ministry and gained His own enormous following (John 3:25–30). Still, some of the Baptist's disciples wanted to carry on his work. Now they wanted to know why Jesus' disciples did not follow as strict of a lifestyle as they did. Specifically, why did they not participate in the fasts?

Fasting, abstaining from food for a set period, was required by the law of Moses only once a year on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 23:26–32). Over time, the Pharisees and other religious leaders had added many more days of fasting. Fasting was intended to be an act of worship before God, a time set aside for honoring Him, bringing special requests, or focusing on prayer. Pharisees are said to have fasted two days each week. Perhaps John the Baptist's disciples were following the same schedule.

Jesus explains in the following verses why His disciples did not fast, at least not yet.