23 Woe to you Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, for you tithe mint and dill and cumin, but you have neglected the more important things of the Law: justice and mercy and faith; but these things you should have done without neglecting the others. Matthew 23:23 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

A simple definition of mercy is “the withholding of deserved punishment and relieving distress.” The Greek ἔλεος (eleos) speaks of “compassion, pity.” One Greek lexicon tells us, “Kindness or good will towards the miserable and afflicted joined with a desire to relieve them.” Even the pagans of Greece felt pity. Aristotle wrote that tragedy aroused pity and even fear that the same tragedy might befall them.

This word, ἔλεος (eleos), appears in the passage I placed at the top of this post, Matthew 23:23. In it our Lord calls the Pharisees hypocrites because while they fastidiously counted out a tenth of the seeds of herbs to give as tithes, they ignored the more important matters of mercy and faith. In a graphic example of mercy, after the Lord told the disciples the parable of how the Good Samaritan showed mercy (Luke 10:25-37), He told them to “Go and do likewise.”  View article →