A Prayer of Jesus
I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will.


By Edgar Jones

Here we list twenty-two criteria from Jesus by which to examine any religious institution -- including its ministry, laity, doctrines and practices -- to discern its true character.  In each case we invite a comparison with the churches of Christendom.  After listing them, we revisit each one and quote Jesus' relevant utterance.  You should keep in mind that in many cases Jesus was addressing representatives of the established religion of his native land and cullture, which is Judaism with its temple, synagogues, scriptures, traditions, sectarians and ministry.  By observing how these comparisons readily apply (or in the case of the last one, do not apply) to the churches, both today and through the centuries, we understand why I have characterized the Church as "The Synagogue of the Gentiles."   The list is not exhaustive, but surely this is enough!

We recognize that all comparisons do not apply to all churches of all denominations, but enough of them apply to any denomination among the churches of Christendom to fully justify the comparisons and their implications.

The Criteria

Do they:

  1. Like to go about in long robes?
  2. Make their fringes long?
  3. Like to have salutations in the market places?
  4. Like to have the best seats in the synagogues (churches)?
  5. Like to have the places of honor at feasts?
  6. Devour widows' houses (take their money)?
  7. Make long prayers?
  8. Pray in public (to be seen of men)?
  9. Love to be called "teacher" (Doctor)?
10. Love to be called "leader?"
11. Love to be called "pastor" by men?
12. Call men on earth "father?"
13. Traverse sea and land to make a single proselyte?
14. Swear by the Bible (take oaths)?
15. Tithe and neglect the weightier matters of the law?
16. Recognize and validate divorce?
17. Resist one who is evil?
18. Belong to the world?
19. Consist of many flocks?
20. Include many persons?
21. Hire out their services?
22. Love one another?

The Points of Comparison

1. They Like to Go About In Long Robes.

And in his teaching he said, "Beware of the scribes, who like to go about in long robes . . . " (Mark 12:38)
2. They Make Their Fringes Long.
They do all their deeds to be seen by men; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long. (Matthew 23:5)
3. They Like to Have Salutations in the Market Places.
And in his teaching he said, "Beware of the scribes, who like to . . . have
salutations in the market places. . .." (Mark 12:38)
4. They Like The Best Seats in the Synagogues (churches).
And in his teaching he said, "Beware of the scribes, who like to . . . have . . . the best seats in the synagogues . . .." (Mark 12:38,39)
5. They Like The Places of Honor at Feasts.
And in his teaching he said,"Beware of the scribes, who like to . . . have . . . the places of honor at feasts . . .." (Mark 12:38,39)
6. They Devour Widows Houses.
And in his teaching he said, "Beware of the scribes,  . . . who devour widows' houses . . .." (Mark 12:38, 40)
7. They Make Long Prayers.
And in his teaching he said, "Beware of the scribes, who . . . for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation." (Mark12:38,40)
8. They Pray in Public.
"And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. (Matthew 6:5)
9. They Love to be Called "Teacher" (Doctor).
They love . . . being called rabbi by men. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brethren. (Matthew 23:6-8)
10. They Love to be Called "Leader."
Neither be called leaders, for you have one leader, the Christ. (Matthew 23:10)
11. They Love to be Called "Pastor" (Shepherd) by Men.
So there shall be . . .  one shepherd. (John 10:16)
12. They Love to Call Men "Father" (or be called "Father").
And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. (Matthew 23:9)
13. They Go Into All the World to Win Converts.
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you traverse sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves. (Matthew 23:15)
14. They Swear by the Bible (take oaths).
Again you have heard that it was said to the men of old, 'You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.' But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply 'Yes' or 'No'; anything more than this comes from evil. (Matthew 5:33-37)
15. They Practice Tithing and Neglect Weightier Matters.
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law, justice and mercy and faith; these you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. (Matthew 23:23)
16. They Honor Divorce.
But I say to you that . . . whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. (Matthew 5:32)
17. They Go to War and Resist One Who is Evil.
You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also; and if any one would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well; and if any one forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. (Matthew 5:38-41)
18. They Are Citizens of the World.
 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. (John 17:16)
19. They Consists of Many Flocks.
And I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock. . . (John 10:16)
20. They Include Many Persons (Now About 2,000,000,000).
Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few. (Matthew 7:13,14)
21. They Are Hirelings and Not Shepherds.
He who is a hireling and not a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. (John 10:12
22. They Do Not Love One Another.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:34,35)

If they love one another, would they not all be in one fellowship?
If they love one another, would they not be at peace with one another?


Had the churchmen deliberately set about founding an institution -- with its ministers, laymen, practices, services and doctrines -- that possesses the many features Jesus was careful to condemn in an institution of religion, they would have done exactly what they have done and be exactly what they are.

Had they deliberately set about disobeying Jesus' "new commandment," their conduct would have been exactly what it has been.

Read more: Jesus inaugarated the only valid religious institution in the world.  He spoke of it as his little flock and his ecclesia.  For discussions of this institution, I refer you to the following papers recently published on this site:

The Sheep     The Ecclesia According to Jesus      The Hard and the Narrow
One Flock, One Shepherd

There is also much critical material on the Church in the on line book on this site.

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