Tax CollectorAid to Bible Understanding
subcontractors the right to collect taxes in certain portions of their territory. The subcontractors, in turn, were in charge of other men who personally collected the taxes. Zacchaeus, for example, appears to have been the chief over the tax collectors in and around Jericho. (Luke 19:1, 2) And Matthew, whom Jesus called to be an apostle, was one who did the actual work of collecting taxes, apparently having his tax office in or near Capernaum.—Matt. 10:3; Mark 2:1, 14.
Thus, in Palestine many Jewish tax collectors were active. They were held in low esteem by their fellow countrymen, since they often exacted more than the tax rate. (Matt. 5:46; Luke 3:12, 13; 19:7, 8) The other Jews generally avoided voluntary association with tax collectors and classified them with persons known to be sinners, including harlots. (Matt. 9:11; 11:19; 21:32; Mark 2:15; Luke 5:30; 7:34) They also resented tax collectors because of their being in the service of a foreign power, Rome, and in close contact with “unclean” Gentiles. Hence, to treat a “brother” like a “tax collector” meant having no voluntay association with him.—Matt. 18:15-17.
Christ Jesus did not condone the corruption prevalent among tax collectors. Though criticized for doing so, he was willing to help them spiritually. (Matt. 9:9-13; Luke 15:1-7) In one of his illustrations, Jesus showed that the tax collector who humbly recognized himself as a sinner and repented was more righteous than the Pharisee who proudly viewed himself as righteous. (Luke 18:9-14) And humble, repentant tax collectors (like Matthew and Zacchaeus) came in line for membership in the kingdom of the heavens.—Matt. 21:31, 32.
Teacher, TeachingAid to Bible Understanding
Jehovah God, the Creator, is the Grand Instructor or Teacher of his servants. (1 Ki. 8:36; Ps. 27:11; 86:11; 119:102; Isa. 30:20; 54:13) The creative works themselves teach that an all-wise God exists and they provide a field for investigation and observation that to the present day has only been partially tapped. (Job 12:7-9) Additionally, by means of special revelations, Jehovah God has taught humans his name, purposes and laws. (Compare Exodus 4:12, 15; 24:12; 34:5-7.) Such revelations are found in God’s Word, the Bible, and serve as a basis for correct teaching regarding his will. (Rom. 15:4; 2 Tim. 3:14-17) God’s spirit also functions as a teacher.—John 14:26.
TEACHING AMONG THE ISRAELITES
In Israel, parents had the God-given responsibility of teaching their children. (Deut. 4:9; 6:7, 20, 21; 11:19-21; Ps. 78:1-4) For the nation as a whole, prophets, Levites, especially the priests, and other wise men served as teachers.—Compare 2 Chronicles 35:3; Jeremiah 18:18; see EDUCATION.
The prophets taught the people about Jehovah’s attributes and purposes, exposed the wrongdoing of the Israelites and outlined the right course for them to take. Often prophets imparted their teaching orally, later committing it to writing. (Compare 1 Samuel 12:23-25; Isaiah 7:3, 4; 22:15, 16; Jeremiah 2:2.) Their teaching methods included the use of questions (Jer. 18:13, 14; Amos 3:3-8; Hag. 2:11-14), illustrations (2 Sam. 12:1-7; Isa. 10:15; Jer. 18:3-10), riddles (Ezek. 17:2) and symbolic acts.—1 Ki. 11:30-32; Jer. 13:4-11; 19:1-12; 27:2; 28:10-14; Ezek. 4:1–5:4.
Priests and Levites
It was the responsibility of the priests and Levites to teach God’s law to the nation of Israel. (Lev. 10:11; 14:57; 2 Chron. 15:3; 35:3) This was accomplished in various ways. Every sabbath year, during the Festival of Booths, the entire Law was read to all the people—men, women, children and alien residents. (Deut. 31:9-13) At times, by getting responses from the people, the Levites would impress the divine laws upon the listeners. (Compare Deuteronomy 27:14-26.) Besides reading the Law, the priests and Levites doubtless explained its significance. (Compare Nehemiah 8:8.) And the judicial decisions rendered by them taught principles of divine justice.—Deut. 17:8-13; 1 Chron. 26:29; 2 Chron. 19:8-11.
In the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry the scribes were prominent as teachers of the Law. But they did not come to grips with the real problems and needs of the people. Like the Pharisees, the scribes placed greater emphasis on technical regulations and traditions than on mercy, justice and faithfulness. They made the Law burdensome to the people. (Matt. 23:2-4, 23, 24; Luke 11:45, 46) Their teaching was not as effective as it could have been, for they assumed a superior attitude toward the common people and did not prove themselves to be examples worthy of imitation.—Compare Matthew 23:3, 6, 7; John 7:48, 49; see SCRIBE.
THE MASTER TEACHER JESUS CHRIST
Although the religious leaders of Judaism evidently were not sincere in addressing him as “Teacher [Gr., Di·daʹska·los],” Jesus Christ was recognized as such by both believers and unbelievers. (Matt. 8:19; 9:11; 12:38; 19:16; 22:16, 24, 36; John 3:2) Officers sent to arrest him were so impressed with his teaching that they returned empty-handed, saying: “Never has another man spoken like this.” (John 7:46) Jesus taught “as a person having authority, and not as [the] scribes.” (Matt. 7:29) The Source of his teaching was God (John 7:16; 8:28), and Jesus conveyed information with simplicity, irrefutable logic, thought-provoking questions, striking figures of speech and meaningful illustrations drawn from things familiar to his listeners. (Matt. 6:25-30; 7:3-5, 24-27; see ILLUSTRATIONS.) Jesus also used object lessons, on one occasion washing the feet of his disciples in order to teach them that they should serve one another.—John 13:2-16.
The knowledge of Jesus Christ was enhanced by his having had an intimate relationship with his Father and God before coming to the earth. Therefore he knew God as no other man did and this enabled him to provide authoritative teaching concerning his Father. As Jesus himself said: “No one fully knows the Son but the Father, neither does anyone fully know the Father but the Son and anyone to whom the Son is willing to reveal him.”—Matt. 11:27; John 1:18.
Jesus was also thoroughly acquainted with God’s written Word. When asked which commandment was the greatest in the Law, without hesitation he summed up the entire Law in two commandments, quoting from Deuteronomy (6:5) and Leviticus (19:18). (Matt. 22:36-40) During the course of his ministry he is known to have referred to or expressed thoughts that parallel passages from about one-half of the books of the Hebrew Scriptures—Genesis (2:24; Matt. 19:5; Mark 10:7, 8), Exodus (3:6; Matt. 22:32; Luke 20:37), Leviticus (14:2-32; Matt. 8:4), Numbers (30:2; Matt. 5:33), Deuteronomy (5:16; Matt. 15:4; Mark 7:10), First Samuel (21:4-6; Matt. 12:3, 4), First Kings (17:9; Luke 4:26), Job (42:2; Matt. 19:26), Psalms (8:2; 110:1; Matt. 21:16; 22:44), Proverbs (24:12; Matt. 16:27), Isaiah (6:9, 10; Matt. 13:14, 15; John 12:40), Jeremiah (7:11; Matt. 21:13; Mark 11:17; Luke 19:45, 46), Lamentations (2:1; Matt. 5:35), Daniel (9:27; Matt. 24:15), Hosea (6:6; Matt. 9:13), Jonah (1:17; Matt. 12:40), Micah (7:6; Matt. 10:21, 35, 36), Zechariah (13:7; Matt. 26:31) and Malachi.—3:1; Matt. 11:10.
Additionally, Jesus’ perfect example lent real force to what he taught. (John 13:15) He was not like the scribes and Pharisees, concerning whom Jesus said: “All the things they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds, for they say but do not perform.”—Matt. 23:3.
Other aspects that made Jesus’ teaching authoritative and effective were his understanding of man and