In which there are a “silent” daisy – and a green one I thought was yellow

by Craig on June 13, 2011


Now for the daisies in this section of Scripture, Matthew 23:1-28.

For anyone just joining in on this study, and wondering why I’m studying daisies – the answer is here. It would be truly helpful to read that first.

I originally thought this section of Scripture spoke of one daisy and it was obviously yellow. But this part of the daisy field is complicated. There’s an unspoken daisy here to go along with the two “written” ones – and the written ones may be disguised.


Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying, “The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice. (MT 23:1-3)

Even though the “works of the law of Moses” aren’t mentioned by name here – they are by context. The Pharisees are teaching about yellow daisies – and that, at least for the people of the time, before the Cross, seems okay to our Lord.

What are wrong, are the green daisies of the Pharisees…


so wrong that they may even be black.

There are two mentions of ἔργον (pronounced air-gone – meaning “works”), one in verse 3 and one in verse 5 and depending upon your translation of the Bible – ἔργον (works) may be disguised – or better yet – interpreted.

In my favorite translation (NAB) it’s translated as their “example”.

In the NIV, ISV, and ESV it’s translated as what they “do”.

The NASB translates it as their “deeds”.

Looks like these translations used the context to make distinctions between daisies and they all decided that these daisies were green.

Only the older translations, the KJV, ASV, and Douay-Rheims translate this literally as their “works”.

If you have a different translation, please let me know.

I think this is part of the problem of the whole “works” thing. From the day of the Reformers – all the way to the “newer” (1980ish and later) translations of the Bible, there was no distinction made between daisies.

And in some Protestant circles they were all considered yellow – and bad.

In verse 5 is the other daisy, or actually the second mention of the first daisy.

“All their works are performed to be seen.” (MT 23:5)

Most of the newer translations interpret this daisy as green:

In the NIV it’s translated as what the Pharisees “do”.
The ISV, ESV, and NASB, have it as their “deeds”.

This time my favorite translation, the NAB, joins the older ones and sticks with the literal translation “works”.

Anyway here’s Our Lord’s list of problems with the daisies of the Pharisees and Scribes of the time.


The daisies are green – or black. I’d say maybe gray – except there seem to be no gray daisies – shades of black maybe – but no gray ones.


Anyway – the daisies of the Pharisees…

•    they laid out impossible rules with absolutely no Grace (v4, 25-28)
•    their “works” were only for show (v5)
•    their “works” had an underlying heart of pride (vv 6,7, 11, 12)
•    their “works” prevented people from the Kingdom of God (v 13)
•    they majored on the minors and minored on the majors (15-24)

Know any people whose daisies are like that?

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Debbie June 14, 2011 at 12:30 am

This is getting complicated, no? :) So glad we have you to help sort it out! I can’t say that I know someone like that. And if I do, I don’t think I should think about it too much. ha! Better to apply it to myself. God bless you as you help us work through works!


Craig June 14, 2011 at 12:33 pm

originally I was just going to focus on the “works of the law” versus the “works of love” “works” – then I decided I was just going to look at the people usages – works, plural –but now I just want to look at all of them – every ἔργον – every work– except for the miraculous ones – I don’t plan on doing too many miracles in the near future :-) God bless you Debbie.


Michelle June 14, 2011 at 4:54 am

“Know any people whose daisies are like that?” Ummmm…..probably, possibly, but I don’t wish to judge…..I think I’ll just be like Debbie and work on my own daisy garden! :)


Craig June 14, 2011 at 12:35 pm

Michelle, there was this cute little cartoon that I was going to throw in with this post that has four different groups of people all pointing at the other ones – all saying “there’s the Pharisees!” I put this last line in mostly for a specific group of readers – the kind that have these kind of Pharisees weighing down on them and judging them harshly when there isn’t reason to judge. But I’m with you – I need to work on my own daisy garden – Amen – and God bless you Michelle.


A. June 14, 2011 at 9:49 am

I live with daisies like that and it is very, very hard to put one foot in front of the other many days, but I am making baby step progress… I am learning that it has to do with ‘heart’ as you say, learning to understand and to heart those daisies despite themselves. And learning to heart myself or to see myself through the heart of the Father. Therein lies the rub-the ‘filter’ (as a wise one I recently met refers to it) is clogged with the scent of many daisies of the wrong color. I am asking His help as I try to unclog my filters. It is hard. I am not all the way there yet.


Craig June 14, 2011 at 12:37 pm

a difficult place A. – A difficult place – I’ve been there – loving the unlovable. It’s a place of pain – and if we work our way through it with our Lord – a place of growth. God bless you A. as you work on your filters.


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