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Matthew 23

23
A Warning Against Hypocrisy
1Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, 2“The teachers of the law and the Pharisees base what they tell you on the teachings of Moses. 3So you must be careful to do everything they say. But don’t do what they do, because they’re all talk and no action. 4They tie up heavy, bulky loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they aren’t willing to lift a finger themselves to help.
5“Everything they do is for others to see. People sometimes wear little boxes on their foreheads and arms that hold Scripture quotes. But they make their boxes big and obvious. People put tassels on the four corners of their clothes to remind them to obey God’s commands. But they make their tassels extra long. 6They love to sit in the places of honor at dinners and have the most important seats in the synagogues. 7They love to be greeted with respect in the markets and to be called ‘Rabbi.’
8“But you shouldn’t be called ‘Rabbi,’ because you have only one Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9And don’t give anyone on earth the title ‘father,’ because you have only one Father, who is in heaven. 10And you shouldn’t be called ‘master,’ because you have only one Master, and he’s the Messiah. 11The greatest among you has to be your servant. 12People who lift themselves up will be humbled, but people who humble themselves will be lifted up.
Woe to the Teachers of the Law and the Pharisees
13-14“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You don’t enter yourselves, but you won’t let in other people who are trying to enter.
15“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You travel by land and sea to win one person to your way of living, but then you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.
16“Woe to you, blind guides! You say, ‘If anyone makes a promise in the name of the temple, it means nothing. But if anyone makes a promise in the name of the gold in the temple, they have to keep that promise.’ 17Blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold holy? 18You also say, ‘If anyone makes a promise in the name of the altar, it means nothing. But if anyone makes a promise in the name of the gift on the altar, they have to keep that promise.’ 19You’re blind! Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift holy? 20Any promise that’s made in the name of the altar includes everything that’s on it! 21In the same way, any promise that’s made in the name of the temple includes the one who lives in it, 22and any promise made in the name of heaven includes God’s throne and the one who sits on it.
23“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You give God a tenth of your spices like mint, dill, and cumin. But you’ve neglected the more important things in the law, which are justice, mercy, and faithfulness. You should have done those things and not neglected the first ones either. 24You blind guides! You strain a gnat out of your food, but then you swallow a whole camel!
25“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but the inside is full of greed and selfishness. 26Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside will also be clean.
27“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You’re like tombs that have been painted white. They look beautiful on the outside, but on the inside they’re full of dead people’s bones and other things that aren’t pure and clean. 28You’re just like that. On the outside you appear to be doing what’s right, but on the inside you’re full of hypocrisy and crime.
29“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the godly. 30And you say, ‘If we’d lived back in those days, we wouldn’t have helped kill the prophets.’ 31But you’re being witnesses against yourselves. You’re admitting that you’re descended from the people who murdered the prophets. 32They killed them, and you finish the job by building their tombs!
33“You nest of poisonous snakes! How will you escape being sentenced to hell? 34I’m sending you prophets, wise people, and teachers. You’ll kill some of them by nailing them to a cross. You’ll whip others in your synagogues and chase them from town to town. 35So you’ll have to pay for all the blood of godly people that has been spilled on the earth. I mean from the blood of godly Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berekiah, who was murdered between the temple and the altar. 36Truly I tell you, this generation will be held responsible for all of it.
37“Jerusalem! Jerusalem! You kill the prophets and throw stones at those who are sent to you. Many times I’ve wanted to gather your people together the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you wouldn’t let me! 38And now it’s too late: Your house is going to be deserted. 39I tell you, you won’t see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.’ ”
23
Jesus Accuses Some Leaders
1Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his followers, 2“The teachers of the law and the Pharisees have the authority to tell you what the law of Moses says. 3So you should obey and follow whatever they tell you, but their lives are not good examples for you to follow. They tell you to do things, but they themselves don’t do them. 4They make strict rules and try to force people to obey them, but they are unwilling to help those who struggle under the weight of their rules.
5“They do good things so that other people will see them. They enlarge the little boxes holding Scriptures that they wear, and they make their special prayer clothes very long. 6Those Pharisees and teachers of the law love to have the most important seats at feasts and in the synagogues. 7They love people to greet them with respect in the marketplaces, and they love to have people call them ‘Teacher.’
8“But you must not be called ‘Teacher,’ because you have only one Teacher, and you are all brothers and sisters together. 9And don’t call any person on earth ‘Father,’ because you have one Father, who is in heaven. 10And you should not be called ‘Master,’ because you have only one Master, the Christ. 11Whoever is your servant is the greatest among you. 12Whoever makes himself great will be made humble. Whoever makes himself humble will be made great.
13“How terrible for you, teachers of the law and Pharisees! You are hypocrites! You close the door for people to enter the kingdom of heaven. You yourselves don’t enter, and you stop others who are trying to enter. [14How terrible for you, teachers of the law and Pharisees. You are hypocrites. You take away widows’ houses, and you say long prayers so that people will notice you. So you will have a worse punishment.]
15“How terrible for you, teachers of the law and Pharisees! You are hypocrites! You travel across land and sea to find one person who will change to your ways. When you find that person, you make him more fit for hell than you are.
16“How terrible for you! You guide the people, but you are blind. You say, ‘If people swear by the Temple when they make a promise, that means nothing. But if they swear by the gold that is in the Temple, they must keep that promise.’ 17You are blind fools! Which is greater: the gold or the Temple that makes that gold holy? 18And you say, ‘If people swear by the altar when they make a promise, that means nothing. But if they swear by the gift on the altar, they must keep that promise.’ 19You are blind! Which is greater: the gift or the altar that makes the gift holy? 20The person who swears by the altar is really using the altar and also everything on the altar. 21And the person who swears by the Temple is really using the Temple and also everything in the Temple. 22The person who swears by heaven is also using God’s throne and the One who sits on that throne.
23“How terrible for you, teachers of the law and Pharisees! You are hypocrites! You give to God one-tenth of everything you earn—even your mint, dill, and cumin. But you don’t obey the really important teachings of the law—justice, mercy, and being loyal. These are the things you should do, as well as those other things. 24You guide the people, but you are blind! You are like a person who picks a fly out of a drink and then swallows a camel!
25“How terrible for you, teachers of the law and Pharisees! You are hypocrites! You wash the outside of your cups and dishes, but inside they are full of things you got by cheating others and by pleasing only yourselves. 26Pharisees, you are blind! First make the inside of the cup clean, and then the outside of the cup can be truly clean.
27“How terrible for you, teachers of the law and Pharisees! You are hypocrites! You are like tombs that are painted white. Outside, those tombs look fine, but inside, they are full of the bones of dead people and all kinds of unclean things. 28It is the same with you. People look at you and think you are good, but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and evil.
29“How terrible for you, teachers of the law and Pharisees! You are hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets, and you show honor to the graves of those who lived good lives. 30You say, ‘If we had lived during the time of our ancestors, we would not have helped them kill the prophets.’ 31But you give proof that you are descendants of those who murdered the prophets. 32And you will complete the sin that your ancestors started.
33“You are snakes! A family of poisonous snakes! How are you going to escape God’s judgment? 34So I tell you this: I am sending to you prophets and wise men and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify. Some of them you will beat in your synagogues and chase from town to town. 35So you will be guilty for the death of all the good people who have been killed on earth—from the murder of that good man Abel to the murder of Zechariah son of Berakiah, whom you murdered between the Temple and the altar. 36I tell you the truth, all of these things will happen to you people who are living now.
Jesus Feels Sorry for Jerusalem
37“Jerusalem, Jerusalem! You kill the prophets and stone to death those who are sent to you. Many times I wanted to gather your people as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you did not let me.38Now your house will be left completely empty. 39I tell you, you will not see me again until that time when you will say, ‘God bless the One who comes in the name of the Lord.’ ”