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Matthew 11:29 DRB;

29 Take up my yoke upon you, and learn of me, because I am meek, and humble of heart: and you shall find rest to your souls.

Mark 11:15 DRB;

15 And they came to Jerusalem. And when he was entered into the temple, he began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the chairs of them that sold doves.

How is it be Jesus is meek and in the same time overthrew the tables of the moneychangers and the chairs of them that sold doves?

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    "Meek" probably isn't the best translation of the Greek word πραΰς. Meek is defined as "easily imposed on, submissive". Jesus was not easily imposed on nor submissive. A better translation is "gentle". Someone who is gentle is "kind, mild, and tender", not "harsh or severe". Jesus was certainly not being harsh or severe when He overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and I'd say He was pretty mild. It isn't recorded that He actually hurt anyone.
    – Rajesh
    Apr 26, 2022 at 20:54
  • @Rajesh could you please, write an answer post including your ideas?
    – salah
    Apr 26, 2022 at 21:17
  • A related question can be found here: hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/69826/…
    – Jess
    Apr 26, 2022 at 21:37

3 Answers 3

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The operative word translated (by some) "meek" in Matt 11:29 is πραΰς and occurs just four times in the NT (Matt 5:5, 11:29, 21:5, 1 Peter 3:4). BDAG provides this definition:

pertaining to not being overly impressed by a sense of one's self-importance, gentle, humble, considerate, meek in the older favorable sense (cp. OED s.v. 1b; Pind. P. 3, 71) ...

Thus, being "meek/gentle" is the opposite of narcissistic. According to Matt 5:5, Jesus' disciples were to imitate Him in this characteristic.

There is nothing is this meaning that precludes being forthright and decisive as Jesus often was when:

  • Jesus cleared the temple of commercial activity, Mark 11:15, etc
  • Jesus declared Herod to be a "fox", Luke 13:32
  • Jesus condemned to scribes and pharisees as hypocrites, Matt 23 (seven times)
  • Jesus exercised considerable bravery in the face of murderous crowds such as in John 8:59, 10:31, etc.

Thus, while Jesus was meek and gentle, He was not shy; indeed, he was steadfast, loyal, brave, decisive and determined; but still compassionate.

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Biblically, "meek" does not mean "weak", nor is it merely a synonym of "humble".

The Greek word πραΰς has been defined, in a religious sense, as:

exercising God's strength under His control – i.e. demonstrating power without undue harshness (source).

Other useful descriptors I have encountered are:

  • Poised under pressure
  • Doesn't lose control

Jesus may well have exercised Divine wrath against those who desecrated the temple, but He didn't "lose control" the way we flawed individuals do when we become angry.

Just as He exercises love in a more perfect, godly way than we do, so too He exercises anger in a more perfect, godly way as well. His love never fails and He does not lose His temper.

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    Perfect answer. My thoughts exactly. +1 :)
    – Rajesh
    Apr 26, 2022 at 21:28
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    If someone thinks what Jesus did to the Temple in AD 33 was bad, wait till they find out what He did to the Temple in AD 70 ... ;) Apr 26, 2022 at 21:46
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    @OneGodtheFather a very good point! I can't help but wonder when people raise concerns about Divine judgement--and they point to the cleansing of the temple, or more often, the conquest of the Canaanites--they seem un-phased by the flood or by Sodom & Gomorrah...those are pretty severe judgements. Apr 27, 2022 at 2:44
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    @HoldToTheRod "when people raise concerns about Divine judgement--and they point to the cleansing of the temple, or more often, the conquest of the Canaanites--they seem un-phased by the flood or by Sodom & Gomorrah" I can only surmise that it's because the cleansing of the temple and the conquest of the Canaanites were committed directly by humans at the providence and will of God, while the flood and destruction of S&G were committed directly by God Himself. What do you think?
    – Rajesh
    Apr 27, 2022 at 3:33
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    @Rajesh yes I suspect that is one of the main reasons it makes people uncomfortable. Apr 27, 2022 at 4:12
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while the precise meaning of the word praus, generally translated as meek or gentle, is difficult to narrow down, consider this perspective cited in another discussion from this site:

Matthew 5:5, notes (sermononthemount.org.uk)

Whilst the use of עָנָו (`anav) provides relatively few clues as to its precise meaning, the rending of it as πραεῖς (praus) in the LXX is helpful. Translations vary in their approach to praus variously rendering it “meek” (KJV), “gentle” (NASB95) or “those who are humble” (ISV), yet none of these quite capture the full sense of the Greek. The Greeks used this word to describe a horse that had been broken-in.

Matt 11:28-30, clearly keys into the image of a beast of burden as raw power, tamed so that it can be used. (Kirby, R. I. 2009)

In Mt 11:29, the word “yoke” brings to mind the image of a beast of burden:

Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. (KJV)

The idea of a yoke lends to the word praus the sense of being tamed or submissive. In the context of Jesus’ life, praus is most fitting when applied to Jesus’ complete submission to the Father’s will (cf Mt 26:39, Jn 5:30, Phil 2:8, et al.). His humility and submission to the will of the Father is the yoke that he invites his listeners to take upon themselves, with the promise that they will find rest for their souls.

In overturning the tables at the temple, Jesus was not acting out of prideful anger, but in obedience to the will of the Father, which was that His house be undefiled by human commerce and greed.

And He began to teach and say to them, “Is it not written: ‘MY HOUSE WILL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER FOR ALL THE NATIONS’? But you have made it a DEN OF ROBBERS.” – Mk 11:17 NASB

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