What does Matthew 12:1 mean?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
NKJV: At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. And His disciples were hungry, and began to pluck heads of grain and to eat.
Verse Commentary:
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).
Verse Context:
Matthew 12:1–8 finds Jesus' hungry disciples breaking the heads off grain and eating as they walk through a field with Him on the way to the synagogue. Some Pharisees tell Jesus this is unlawful. In their interpretation, this is a violation of the command not to work on the Sabbath. Jesus counters the accusation with a series of questions, showing their manmade restriction cannot stand. Their legalistic, expanded view doesn't reflect God's intended meaning of the Sabbath. The Pharisees must learn that God desires mercy, not sacrifice. He declares Himself greater than the temple, and Lord of the Sabbath.
Chapter Summary:
Matthew 12 features confrontations between the Pharisees and Jesus over several issues. Among these are working on the Sabbath, healing on the Sabbath, and the source of His power to cast out demons. Jesus counters each argument and rebukes the Pharisees sharply for their obstinate unbelief. He even notes that those who maliciously ascribe His miracles to demons are unforgivable. He warns them, and the rest of their current generation, about the judgment to come. Jesus calls the Pharisees a brood of vipers and rejects their demand for another miracle. All they'll be promised is the sign of Jonah. The Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth for three days. Jesus also states that all who do His Father's will are His family.
Chapter Context:
Matthew 11 depicted Jesus preaching and teaching after sending out His chosen disciples in pairs in chapter 10. Chapter 12 immediately picks up with more confrontation with the Pharisees. Jesus responds to those criticisms and rebukes their evil hearts as the source of their evil words. In the following chapter, Matthew will shift His focus onto Jesus' parables.
Book Summary:
The Gospel of Matthew clearly shows the influence of its writer's background, and his effort to reach a specific audience. Matthew was one of Jesus' twelve disciples, a Jewish man, and a former tax collector. This profession would have required literacy, and Matthew may have transcribed some of Jesus' words as they were spoken. This book is filled with references to the Old Testament, demonstrating to Israel that Jesus is the Promised One. Matthew also includes many references to coins, likely due to his former profession. Matthew records extensive accounts of Jesus' teaching, more than the other three Gospels.
Accessed 5/25/2024 1:13:31 AM
© Copyright 2002-2024 Got Questions Ministries. All rights reserved.
Text from ESV, NIV, NASB, CSB, NLT, KJV, NKJV © Copyright respective owners, used by permission.
www.BibleRef.com