Matthew 23:6

The chief place at feasts (thn prwtoklisian en toi deipnoi). Literally, the first reclining place on the divan at the meal. The Persians, Greeks, Romans, Jews differed in their customs, but all cared for the post of honour at formal functions as is true of us today. Hostesses often solve the point by putting the name of each guest at the table. At the last passover meal the apostles had an ugly snarl over this very point of precedence ( Luke 22:24 ; John 13:2-11 ), just two days after this exposure of the Pharisees in the presence of the apostles. The chief seats in the synagogues (ta prwtokaqedria en tai sunagwgai). "An insatiable hunger for prominence" (Bruce). These chief seats (Zuchermandel) were on the platform looking to the audience and with the back to the chest in which were kept the rolls of scripture. The Essenes had a different arrangement. People today pay high prices for front seats at the theatre, but at church prefer the rear seats out of a curious mock-humility. In the time of Jesus the hypocrites boldly sat up in front. Now, if they come to church at all, they take the rear seats.

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