Yoke – Matthew 11:30 “For My Yoke Is Easy”

For my yoke is easyMatthew11:30


The word for yoke here is zugós, which is directly related to very ancient words for ‘yoke’ and from which we, in turn, get our word ‘yoke’ in a direct line of relation.

It is the word we translate ‘easy’ which grabs the attention here. It is “chrēstós”, from the verb “chrāomai” I use, and occurs six times in the New Testament, translated slightly differently each time. In Luke 5:39, referring to the “old wine”, it means “better”; in Luke 6:35 it means God is “kind” to the ungrateful. In Romans 2:4 it refers to God’s “goodness”; in 1 Corinthians 15:33 it stands for that “good character” which bad company destroys. In Ephesians 4:32 it is “kind” as in the kindness we are to show to each other, and finally in 1 Peter 2:3 it means “gracious”, referring to the graciousness of the Lord.

Despite appearances, chrēstós is not related to the word chrīstós “Christ”; the words are derived from different roots, although they were confused even in antiquity, so we have Pliny the Younger mis-reporting the early Christians worshipping someone called “Chrestus”.

Clearly chrēstós has many meanings, revolving around “kind”, “good”, “gracious”. It is this word which Jesus uses to describe his yoke as “easy”. A yoke is something that fits around your neck to enable you to carry a burden, and God’s yoke is said to be “chrēstós”, “kind”, “good”, “gracious”, so: “easy”. It is a yoke that fits perfectly and is not burdensome to wear; indeed the word Jesus uses to describe it is most often used to describe God himself as kind, gracious and good.

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