Matthew 11:30 Commentary

Matthew 11:30 "For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: Deute (imperative) pros me pantes hoi kopiontes (2PPAP) kai pephortismenoi, (2PRPP) kago anapauso (1SFAI) humas. 29 arate (2PAAM) ton zugon mou eph humas kai mathete (2PPAAM) ap' hemou, hoti praus eimi (1SPAI) kai tapeinos te kardia, kai heuresete (2PFAI) anapausin tais psuchais humon; 30 ho gar zugos mou chrestos kai to phortion mou elaphron estin. (3SPAI)

Amplified: For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good—not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)

Barclay: for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Westminster Press)

ESV: For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

NLT: For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (NLT - Tyndale House)

Phillips: For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Phillips: Touchstone)

Wuest: for my yoke is mild and pleasant, and my load is light in weight. (Eerdmans)

Young's Literal: for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.'

Matthew 11:30 FOR MY YOKE IS EASY AND MY BURDEN IS LIGHT: ho gar zugos mou chrestos kai to phortion mou elaphron estin (3SPAI):

  • Yoke: Pr 3:17 Micah 6:8 Acts 15:10,28 Gal 5:1,18 1Jn 5:3
  • Burden : Jn 16:33 2Co 1:4,5 4:17 12:9,10 Php 4:13)

'Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus
Midi with all lyrics
Sung by Casting Crowns
Sung by Alan Jackson
Yes, 'tis sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just from sin and self to cease;
Just from Jesus simply taking
Life and REST and joy and peace.

— Stead

For (gar) is a term of explanation and should always prompt a response, an interaction with the living and active Word of God. Too often we read the text passively and miss the joy and exhilaration of interacting with God's Word, which is the Father's love letter to us, a letter meant not so much to make us more "educated" but to draw us to Himself and make us more intimate with Him. As C H Spurgeon once said "If you wish to know God you must know his Word." Dear student of God's Holy Word, let me encourage you to make great use of these opportunities to pause, reflect and in essence learn the blessed practice of meditating on the Scriptures as you interrogate words like "for" (there are over 7000 "for's" in the Scripture providing abundant "opportunity" for interaction, practice, edification and blessing - see Ps 1:1-note, Ps 1:2-note, Ps 1:3-note, cp Joshua 1:8-note) asking simple questions like "What is the 'for' there for?", "Why is it here?". etc. The more you practice the art of asking the Scripture questions, the more you will find yourself experiencing the joy of self discovery, as your Teacher the Spirit interacts with you and illuminates the passage. Then, when you read the commentary (including the one you are reading now), you can be a good Berean (Acts 17:11-note) and discern truth from error (cp Hebrews 5:14-note). A shrinking of your study time of the Holy Word may result in "shrinking power" from Holy Spirit in your life for He uses the Word to sanctify you by grace through faith!

The church needs more men like John Wesley, the powerful eighteenth-century preacher who wrote...

I am a creature of a day, passing through life as an arrow through the air. I am a spirit, coming from God, and returning to God; just hovering over the great gulf; a few months hence I am no more seen; I drop into an unchangeable eternity! I want to know one thing—the way to heaven … God Himself has condescended to teach the way. He hath written it down in a book.

O give me that Book!
At any price, give me the book of God.

(May Wesley's tribe increase Lord. Amen!)

My yoke is easy and My load is light - What a striking contrast between Jesus and the oppresive Pharisees (See Mt 23:4).

William MacDonald's - Jesus’ yoke is easy; it does not chafe. Someone has suggested that if Jesus had had a sign outside His carpenter’s shop, it would have read, “My yokes fit well.” (MacDonald, W & Farstad, A. Believer's Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson)

Yoke (pair of scales)(2218) (zugos/zygos related to verb zeúgnuni = to join especially by a yoke, to bind) literally described a beam of balance that connected scales (see translation as scales or balances in Rev 6:5;Lev 19:36; Hos 12:7).

BDAG and Liddell-Scott summary of zugos/zygos...

(1) Anything which joins two bodies; and so, the yoke or cross-bar tied by the yoke-band to the end of the pole, and having collars or loops at each end, by which two horses, mules or oxen drew the plough or carriage, Homer, etc.:-metaphorically, the yoke of slavery (as mentioned in the Greek classics like Herodotus, etc) A frame used to control working animals or, in the case of humans, to expedite the bearing of burdens. Yoke in our literature only figuratively of any burden.

Zugos was the name of the cross-bar joining the horns of the lyre, along which the strings were fastened.

Zugos in plural described the thwarts (structural crosspiece forming a seat for a rower in a boat) joining the opposite sides of a ship or boat, the benches.

Zugos was used for the middle of the three banks in a trireme (an ancient galley having three banks of oars).

Zugos described a a rank (a single line of soldiers or police officers drawn up abreast) or line of soldiers, opposite to a file (a row of soldiers arranged one behind the other)

(2) An instrument for determining weight = a scale, the beam of balance, the balance itself. (Rev 6:5)

What is the yoke in context of Mt 11:29? Is it not His teaching, His teaching which is calculated to make disciples? As discussed in the notes on the previous passage, to “take a yoke” in Jesus' day meant to become a disciple. When we submit ourselves voluntarily and willingly and wholly to Jesus Christ, we are yoked to Him. And this is a "forever" yoking! Hallelujah!

Zugos/zygos - 6x in 6v in the NAS - pair of scales(1), yoke(5).

Matthew 11:29 "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.

Matthew 11:30 "For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."

Acts 15:10 See notes below

Galatians 5:1 See notes below

1 Timothy 6:1 All who are under the yoke as slaves are to regard their own masters as worthy of all honor so that the name of God and our doctrine will not be spoken against.

Revelation 6:5 When He broke the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying, "Come." I looked, and behold, a black horse; and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand.

Zugos/zygos - 62v in the non-apocryphal Septuagint - Gen 27:40; Lev 19:35; 26:13 (" I broke the bars of your yoke and made you walk erect"); Num 19:2; Deut 21:3; 2Chr 10:4, 9ff ("Your father made our yoke hard"), 2Chr 10:14; Job 6:2; 31:6; 39:10; Ps 2:3; 62:9; Pr 11:1 ("A false balance is an abomination to the LORD"); Pr 16:11; 20:23; Isa 5:18; 9:4; 10:27; 14:5, 25, 29; 40:12, 15; 46:6; 47:6; Jer 2:20 ("“For long ago I broke your yoke And tore off your bonds; But you said, ‘I will not serve!’"); Jer 5:5; 27:8, 11; 28:2, 4, 11, 14; 30:8; 32:10; Lam 3:27; Ezek 5:1; 34:27; 45:10; Dan 5:27; 8:25; Hos 12:7; Amos 8:5; Mic 6:11; Zeph 3:9;

My yoke - Not the yoke of the legalists of Jesus day, but His yoke of grace. Jesus' yoke is diametrically different from the yoke that men cruelly place upon other men! His grace laden yoke brings liberty, releasing the captive and setting free the downtrodden (Lk 4:18, 19). The legalistic yoke of men brings bondage, which steals the joy of our salvation (cp Neh 8:10, Ps 51:12, Ps 51:14-note). Every morning, we need to arise and make the prayerful choice to take up and put on Jesus' light, easy, grace-filled yoke and experience His liberating joy and peace throughout the day as His Spirit enables us to live as those who know the truth and are free indeed (Ps 95:1-note, Ps 118:15-note, Isaiah 12:3-note, Jn 8:31, 32, 36)!

Here are passages that speak of the placing of men's yokes upon other men...

Acts 15:10 (Peter speaks boldly Acts 15:7 [a clear sign he is filled with/controlled by the Spirit - cp Acts 4:8, Eph 5:18-note, notice the first "indicator" of being Spirit filled - Eph 5:19-note - He controls our tongue!]) "Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples (specifically the Gentiles - notice what believers are called most often in Acts! Disciples [see study of the word Mathetes]! Why have we veered away from this pattern presented by the early church? Do we think Jesus' requirements for a genuine disciple are too burdensome?! See 1Jn 5:3) a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? (Answer? Only Jesus could bear the yoke of the law [Mt 5:17-note, cp the Messianic Ps 42:6,7,8], a burden He willingly bore for all who would believe on Him.)

Galatians 5:1 It was for freedom (eleutheria - not the right to do as you please but the power to do as you should!) that Christ set us free (eleutheroo); therefore keep standing firm (present imperative - Make this your daily practice. Remember though...don't try to do it alone, but each and every morning make a conscious, volitional surrender to the Spirit of Christ, Who will be your continual Encourager and Enabler throughout the day!) and do not be subject again (present imperative with the negative particle = Stop allowing yourselves to be entangled by the cords of legalism, including subtle lists [whether on paper or in your mind] of "do's and don'ts") to a yoke of slavery (bondage to the law, to works "righteousness", to trying to gain God's approval by being good [Only God is good enough! Lk 18:19], by performing "good deeds " [You can't without reliance on the Spirit! cp 2Cor 3:5,6-note, Jn 6:63]). Galatians 5:2 Behold (ide = imperative of eido = to know by perception, by sight) I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision (or try to keep your list of do's and don'ts, etc), Christ will be of no benefit to you.

Easy (5543) (chrestos from chraomai = furnish what is needed) conveys the basic meaning of being well adapted to fulfill a purpose and thus describes that which is useful, suitable, excellent, serviceable. The idea is goodness combined with a nuance of ‘serviceableness.' (as in Luke 5:39 where the old wine is "good enough" - fine for use). Chrestos refers to that which is fit for use, able to be used and hence is good, kind, benevolent, worthy, useful, virtuous, and pleasant (in contrast to what is hard, harsh, bad or unprofitable). Chrestos expresses the material usefulness of things with regard to their goodness, pleasantness and softness.

And so we see that Jesus' yoke is chrestos, well-fitting and tailor-made for each believer and their every need. Christ's yoke furnishes what is useful, easy to bear, having nothing galling or harsh, but, to the contrary, it provides us all that we need, what we really need! Do you truly believe that statement? Do you believe that Jesus is enough? ...That His grace is sufficient for all of your needs, your weaknesses [2Cor 12:9-note] ...enough for your victory over the besetting sin that so easily entangles you, impeding your walk of faith [Heb 12:1-note]? Then fix your eyes upon Jesus [Heb 12:2-note], take up His easy yoke, and walk forth in confidence and conviction that He has already won the battle for you dear saint! (See this principle throughout Scripture - 1Sa 2:9, 17:47, 2Chr 20:15, 17, 32:8, Ps 46:11, Zech 4:6, Dt 20:1, 4, Josh 10:42 - see below for Charles Haddon Spurgeon's exhortation and Martin Luther's encouraging hymn)

Marvin Vincent Easy is not a satisfactory rendering. Christ's yoke is not easy in the ordinary sense of that word. The word means originally, good, serviceable. The kindred noun, χρηστότης, occurring only in Paul's writings, is rendered kindness in 2 Corinthians 6:6; Titus 3:4; Galatians 5:22; Ephesians 2:7 (Rev.), and goodness, Romans 2:4 (Rev.). At Luke 5:39, it is used of old wine, where the true reading, instead of better, is good (chrestos), mellowed with age. Plato ("Republic," 424) applies the word to education. "Good nurture and education (trophe gar kai paideusis chreste) implant good (agathas) constitutions; and these good (χρησταὶ) constitutions improve more and more;" thus evidently using χρηστός and ἀγαθός as synonymous. The three meanings combine in the word, though it is impossible to find an English word which combines them all. Christ's yoke is wholesome, serviceable, kindly. "Christ's yoke is like feathers to a bird; not loads, but helps to motion" (Jeremy Taylor). (Word Studies in the New Testament)

Spurgeon - Unless the Spirit of God (Spirit of Christ, our "Fellow Yoke Bearer" Ro 8:9-note) be upon us, we have no might from within and no means from without to rely upon. Wait upon the Lord, beloved (Isa 40:31-note), and seek strength from Him alone. There cannot come out of you what has not been put into you. You must receive and then give out.

A Mighty Fortress
Martin Luther

Did we in our own strength confide,
Our striving would be losing;

Were not the right Man on our side,
The Man of God’s own choosing;
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His name,
From age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.
A Mighty Fortress by Steve Green

Adam Clarke comments on "My yoke is easy".- My Gospel imposes nothing that is difficult; on the contrary, it provides for the complete removal of all that which oppresses and renders man miserable, viz. sin. The commandments of Christ are not grievous. Hear the whole: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and thy neighbor as thyself. (Mk 12:29, 30) Can any thing be more congenial to the nature of man than love? Such a love as is inspired by God (and empowered by God-Ro 5:5-note, Gal 5:22-note), and in which the soul rests supremely satisfied and infinitely happy? Taste, and know, by experience, how good the Lord is (Ps 34:8-note), and how worthy His yoke is to be taken, borne, and loved. This most tender invitation of the compassionate Jesus is sufficient to inspire the most DIFFIDENT (doubting of another's power, disposition, sincerity or intention!) soul with CONFIDENCE (A trusting or reliance. An assurance of mind or firm belief in the integrity, stability or veracity of Jesus and His precious Word promising His personal presence and power!)

Clarke's comments beg the question dear child of the Living God...are you...


Burden (cargo, load) (5413) (phortion from phortos = something carried, used of the freight of a ship Acts 27:10) is literally that which is carried. It is an old word used for a ship's cargo (Acts 27:10). A load or burden.

Liddell Scott says a secular use of phortion was of a child in a womb (Xenophon). Phortion is the pack a soldier is expected to carry.

Phortion is used figuratively in a positive sense to describe the commands of Christ (three commands here in Mt 11:30 = come...take...learn), but in a negative sense to describe the ceremonial observances of human traditions and stipulations (Mt 23:4, Lk 11:46).

Phortion can also describe the burden of one’s own responsibilities and failures (Gal 6:5).

Baker's Evangelical Dictionary - In the New Testament phortion [ φορτίον ], the Greek word used for burden, denotes the troubles of this life. In Matthew 23:4 Jesus describes the heavy burdens the Pharisees laid upon the people "but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them." Obviously this is a burden of legalism. This same Greek word is used to describe a man's load of imperfections and sins in Galatians 6:5 . Jesus uses the same word to describe his burden in Matthew 11:30 : "My yoke is easy and my burden is light." The reason for having a light burden is described in the previous verse: "I am gentle and humble in heart." Burdens will come in this life but they will be light if we have Jesus' approach to life. (Burden - Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology)

TDNT - 1. This word has such senses as “freight,” “lading,” “burden,” “goods,” and a child in the womb. “Burdening” with cares, sickness, etc. is another sense. 2. The OT equivalent šd has such senses as “bearing,” “burden,” “tribute,” “toll,” or “trouble.” 3. The LXX uses phortíon for “burden” (Is. 46:1), “burden of sin” (Ps. 38:4), the “burden” one person is for another (Job 7:20), and “load” (of wood) (Jdg. 9:48-49). 4. The rabbis use the Hebrew in various ways for “bearing,” “business,” “occupation,” “burden,” “obligation,” or “duty.”

Burden (Webster) = something that is carried (a load); That which is borne with labor or difficulty; that which is grievous, wearisome, worrisome or oppressive. Something that is exacting, oppressive, or difficult to bear: the burden of responsibility. A cause of hardship, worry, or grief.

Load (Webster) = something that weighs down the mind or spirits (took a load off her mind) b : a burdensome or laborious responsibility. Any heavy burden; a large quantity borne or sustained. A tree may be said to have a load of fruit upon it.. That which is borne with pain or difficulty; a grievous weight; encumbrance.

John MacArthur - Baros in Gal 6:2 is a strong word, which means “a heavy weight”; whereas phortion in Gal 6:5 refers to anything that is easily carried. It was often used of the general obligations of life that a person is responsible to bear on his own. One of those obligations is to help others with their crushing burdens, a kindness that will reap eternal rewards. (The Master's plan for the church).

W E Vine - Phortion which, with the exception of Acts 27:10, is used only in a metaphorical sense in the New Testament; of discipleship, whether of the scribes, Pharisees, and lawyers, Matthew 23:4; Luke 11:46, or of the Lord Jesus, Matthew 11:30. The difference between baros, Gal 6:2, and phortion is that phortion, as its derivation from phero, “to carry,” shows, is something borne; be the load light or heavy, its weight is not the point. With baros, on the other hand, weight is the essential thing. Thus phortion is used in Matthew 11:30, “My burden is light,” where baros would be unsuitable. The burden of the transgressor is of necessity a heavy one, hence baros appears in Gal 6:2; but the burdens that all must bear are some lighter, some heavier, the point is that, heavy or light, each must bear his own; hence in Gal 6:5 phortion is used. (Vine, W. Collected writings of W. E. Vine. Nashville: Thomas Nelson)

Wuest - The word burden in Gal 6:2 is baros, and in this verse, phortion. While these words have their distinctive meaning in the secular usage of the early centuries, and while synonyms in juxtaposition should usually be carefully distinguished, yet we cannot draw a fine distinction between these two words in this passage. There is no use burdening the English reader with the various meanings of the two words, since they would have no bearing upon our study. In Gal 6:2 the apostle exhorts the Galatian saints to bear the burdens of their fellow saints, namely, to assume the responsibility of giving that saint spiritual aid in case he has allowed sin to come into his experience. Here he exhorts the saints to bear their own burdens. This is doubtless an intentional paradoxical antithesis on the part of the apostle. It is the Christian who knows that he has a burden of his own, namely, a susceptibility to certain sins, and who has fallen himself, who is willing to bear his neighbor’s burden. Again, when each man’s self-examination reveals infirmities of his own, even though they may not be the same as those of his neighbors, he will not claim moral and spiritual superiority to others. Furthermore, each saint should bear his own burden in the sense that he must recognize his personal responsibilities towards God and man. He is responsible for the kind of life he lives. Again, when he sees his own failings, he will have no inclination to compare himself with others. The word own is from idios, which means “pertaining to one’s self, one’s own as compared to that which is another’s.” It speaks of personal, private, unique possession. (Wuest's word studies from the Greek New Testament)

Phortion - 6x in 5v. NAS = burden(1), burdens(3), cargo(1), load(1).

Matthew 11:30 "For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."

Matthew 23:4 "They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men's shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger.

Luke 11:46 But He said, "Woe to you lawyers as well! For you weigh men down with burdens hard to bear, while you yourselves will not even touch the burdens with one of your fingers.

Acts 27:10 and said to them, "Men, I perceive that the voyage will certainly be with damage and great loss, not only of the cargo and the ship, but also of our lives."

Galatians 6:5 For each one will bear his own load.

Phortion - in the non-apocryphal Septuagint (Lxx)- 2Sa 19:35; Job 7:20; Ps 38:4; Isa 46:1. For example David records...

Psalm 38:4 For my iniquities are gone over my head; As a heavy burden (Hebrew = massa; Lxx = phortion) they weigh too much for me.

Comment: Indeed Jesus says to all with the unbearable "heavy burden" of iniquity to "Come to Me". (Jesus bore the "burden" of our iniquity - Isaiah 53:4).

Jesus contrasts "heavy-laden", burdened (phortizo) men with His light burden (phortion). Did you notice the seemingly paradoxical call of Jesus to an already weary and burdened man or woman to take on a new load, and that in order that they might receive rest! Only Jesus can orchestrate such a supernatural feat. Praise His Holy Name!

The burden of doing His will is not a heavy one as John explains "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome (oppressive, worrisome). (1Jn 5:3).

Beloved, is not Jesus' call to come similar to Jehovah's call to cast our burden in Psalm 55:22. May we all be quick to humble ourselves and willingly cast our burden on Jehovah. What are the promises Jehovah gives us when we cast our burden on Him?

Cast your burden (Lxx translates with merimna = anxiety) upon the LORD,
and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.

(Psalm 55:22-note)

Are you trying to carry the burden by yourself dear Christian? Hear and heed Jesus' call to you to release it to Him and to walk yoked to Him so that you might enter His perfect rest for your soul.

William MacDonald commenting on Jesus' light burden clarifies that "This does not mean that there are no problems, trials, labor, or heartaches in the Christian life. But it does mean that we do not have to bear them alone. We are yoked with One Who gives sufficient grace for every time of need. To serve Him is not bondage but perfect freedom."


J. H. Jowett says: The fatal mistake for the believer is to seek to bear life’s load in a single collar. God never intended a man to carry his burden alone. Christ therefore deals only in yokes! A yoke is a neck harness for two, and the Lord himself pleads to be One of the two. He wants to share the labor of any galling task. The secret of peace and victory in the Christian life is found in putting off the taxing collar of “self” and accepting the Master’s relaxing “yoke.”

Light (1645) (elaphros) means not heavy, easy to bear, not burdensome, not difficult to bear, having little weight, easy to be lifted, borne or carried by physical strength. In the present passage the idea of "light" is that which is not oppressive and thus is easy to be endured. Other synonyms: lightweight, slight, easy, trifling, trivial (albeit when we are experiencing them, they are not "trivial" to us!), manageable, small, featherweight, "light as a feather"

The only other NT use is by Paul in his description of affliction, writing that...

momentary, light (elaphros) affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison (2Cor 4:17-note)

Observe the striking contrast of sinful man's futile attempt to keep the law in his own strength...

And they (Scribes and Pharisees Mt 23:2 - masters of the art of legalism not liberty) tie up heavy loads, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger. But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries, and lengthen the tassels of their garments. (Mt 23:4, 5)

William Barclay writes: To the Jew religion was a thing of endless rules. A man lived his life in a forest of regulations which dictated every action of his life. He must listen forever to a voice which said, “Thou shalt not.”

Beloved, perhaps that is the way you are trying to live your Christian life, by the repeated cry in your head of "Thou shalt not!" Jesus came to set us free from the bondage by the law. As Paul asked the Galatians...

This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? (Galatians 3:2,3)

Comment: The clear implication is that we are born again by the Spirit (Jn 3:3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8) by grace through faith. As believers now we are to continue relying on the Spirit's power to live this supernatural life (see Gal 5:16).

Guzik comments that in this passage...

Jesus summarizes this wonderful call with this. The yoke is light and the burden is easy because He bears it with us. When training a new animal (such as an ox) to plow, ancient farmers would often yoke it to an older, stronger, more experienced animal who would bear the burden and guide the young animal through his learning. If your yoke is hard and your burden is heavy, then it isn't His yoke or burden, and you aren't letting Him bear it with you. Jesus said it plainly: My yoke is easy and My burden is light.

To the lawyers Jesus declared...

Woe (Interjection announcing disaster, misery, grief or indignation) to you lawyers as well! For (Why? Always stop and interrogate each term of explanation) you weigh men down with burdens hard to bear, while you yourselves will not even touch the burdens with one of your fingers. (Luke 11:46)