The Gospel According to Matthew

Chapter 23

Christ admonishes the people to follow the good doctrine, not the evil examples, of the scribes and Pharisees, 1-4. His disciples must be aware of their ambition, 5-12. He denounces eight woes against their hypocrisy and blindness, 13-33, and prophesies of the destruction of Jerusalem, 34-39.

1 Then Jesus spoke to the multitude and to his disciples, 2 Saying, "The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses's seat. 3 Therefore, all that they bid you to observe, observe and do it, but do not do according to their works, for they say and do not do. 4 For they bind heavy burdens that are grievous to be borne and lay them on men's shoulders, but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. 5 But they do all their works to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments. 6 They love the uppermost rooms at feasts, the chief seats in the synagogues, 7 Greetings in the markets, and to be called by men, 'Rabbi, Rabbi.' 8 But do not be called Rabbi, for One is your Teacher, even Christ, and all of you are brothers. 9 And call no man your father upon the earth, for One is your Father who is in heaven. 10 Do not be called masters, for One is your Master, even Christ. 11 But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 Whoever exalts himself shall be abased, and he who humbles himself shall be exalted.

13 "But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees! Hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men. For you neither go in yourselves, neither do you allow those who are entering to go in. 14 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees! Hypocrites! For you devour widows' houses and for a pretense make long prayer; therefore, you shall receive the greater condemnation.

15 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees! Hypocrites! For you compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, you make him two-fold more the child of hell than yourselves.

16 "Woe to you, you blind guides who say, 'Whoever swears by the temple, it is nothing, but whoever swears by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor.' 17 You fools and blind men. For which is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifies the gold? 18 And you also say, 'Whoever swears by the altar, it is nothing, but whoever swears by the gift that is upon it, he is guilty.' 19 You fools and blind men. For which is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifies the gift? 20 Whoever therefore swears by the altar, swears by it and by all things upon it. 21 And whoever swears by the temple, swears by it and by him who dwells in it. 22 And he who swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God and by him who sits upon it.

23 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees! Hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint, anise, and cumin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law: judgment, mercy, and faith. These you ought to have done, and not to leave the others undone. 24 You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel.

25 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees! Hypocrites! For you make the outside of the cup and of the platter clean, but inside they are full of extortion and excess. 26 You blind Pharisee, first cleanse that which is inside the cup and platter so that the outside of them may be clean also.

27 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees! Hypocrites! For you are like whitened sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. 28 Thus you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but within you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.

29 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees! Hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and garnish the sepulchers of the righteous, 30 And say, 'If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.' 31 Therefore, you are witnesses to yourselves that you are the children of those who killed the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. 33 You serpents, you generation of vipers, how can you escape the condemnation of hell?

34 "Therefore, behold, I send to you prophets, wise men, and scribes. Some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute them from city to city, 35 So that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel, to the blood of Zechariah son of Barachiah, whom you slew between the temple and the altar. 36 Truly I say to you, all these things shall come upon this generation.

37 "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to you, how often would I have gathered your children, even as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you would not! 38 Behold, your house is left to you desolate. 39 For I say to you, that you shall not see me from now on until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'"


Matthew Henry Commentary - Matthew, Chapter 23[➚]


[v.3] - "for they say and do not do" - In other words, they don't practice what they preach.

[v.4] - Gospel Link: Luke 11:46.

[v.5-7] - Gospel Link: Mark 12:38-39; Luke 11:43, 20:46.

[v.13] - Gospel Link: Luke 11:52.

[v.14] - Gospel Link: Mark 12:40; Luke 20:47.

[v.27-28] - Reference, Luke 11:44.

[v.29-31] - Gospel Link: Luke 11:47-48.

[v.34-36] - Gospel Link: Luke 11:49-51.

[v.34] - Reference, Jeremiah 7:25; Luke 11:49.

[v.35a] - "the blood of righteous Abel" - Reference, Genesis 4:8.

[v.35b] - "the blood of Zechariah" - Reference, 2nd Chronicles 24:20-21.

[v.35c] - An interesting thing to note about this verse is that Jesus mentions two specific people in this verse: Abel and Zechariah. What's interesting about these two people is that the story of Abel takes place in the first book of the Tanach (i.e., the Jewish canon of the Scriptures), Genesis, and the story of Zechariah takes place in the last book of the Tanach, 2nd Chronicles. I take that as a possibility that Jesus was referring to these two people as the events of their deaths take place in the order of the Tanach, rather than the typical arrangement of the books of the Old Testament in modern Bibles.

[v.37-39] - Gospel Link: Luke 13:34-35.

[v.39] - Quoting Psalm 118:26 (LXX).