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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 condemns the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law of Moses
(Mark 12.38-40; Luke 11.37-52; 20.45-47)
1Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples:
2The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law are experts in the Law of Moses. 3So obey everything they teach you, but don't do as they do. After all, they say one thing and do something else.
4They pile heavy burdens on people's shoulders and won't lift a finger to help. 5Everything they do is just to show off in front of others. They even make a big show of wearing Scripture verses on their foreheads and arms, and they wear big tassels#23.5 wearing Scripture verses on their foreheads and arms…tassels: As a sign of their love for the Lord and his teachings, the Jewish people had started wearing Scripture verses in small leather boxes. But the Pharisees tried to show off by making the boxes bigger than necessary. The Jewish people were also taught to wear tassels on the four corners of their robes to show their love for God. for everyone to see.#Mt 6.1; Dt 6.8; Nu 15.38. 6They love the best seats at banquets and the front seats in the meeting places. 7And when they are in the market, they like to have people greet them as their teachers.
8But none of you should be called a teacher. You have only one teacher, and all of you are like brothers and sisters. 9Don't call anyone on earth your father. All of you have the same Father in heaven. 10None of you should be called the leader. The Messiah is your only leader. 11Whoever is the greatest should be the servant of the others.#Mt 20.26,27; Mk 9.35; 10.43,44; Lk 22.26. 12If you put yourself above others, you will be put down. But if you humble yourself, you will be honoured.#Lk 14.11; 18.14.
13-14You Pharisees and teachers of the Law of Moses are in for trouble! You're nothing but show-offs. You lock people out of the kingdom of heaven. You won't go in yourselves, and you keep others from going in.#23.13,14 from going in: Some manuscripts add, “You Pharisees and teachers are in for trouble! And you're nothing but show-offs! You cheat widows out of their homes and then pray long prayers just to show off. So you will be punished most of all.”
15You Pharisees and teachers of the Law of Moses are in for trouble! You're nothing but show-offs. You travel over land and sea to win one follower. And when you have done so, you make that person twice as fit for hell as you are.
16You are in for trouble! You are supposed to lead others, but you are blind. You teach that it doesn't matter if a person swears by the temple. But you say that it does matter if someone swears by the gold in the temple. 17You blind fools! Which is greater, the gold or the temple that makes the gold sacred?
18You also teach that it doesn't matter if a person swears by the altar. But you say that it does matter if someone swears by the gift on the altar. 19Are you blind? Which is more important, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20Anyone who swears by the altar also swears by everything on it. 21And anyone who swears by the temple also swears by God, who lives there. 22To swear by heaven is the same as swearing by God's throne and by the one who sits on that throne.#Is 66.1; Mt 5.34.
Jesus continued:
23You Pharisees and teachers are show-offs, and you're in for trouble! You give God a tenth of the spices from your garden, such as mint, dill, and cumin. Yet you neglect the more important matters of the Law, such as justice, mercy, and faithfulness. These are the important things you should have done, though you should not have left the others undone either.#Lv 27.30. 24You blind leaders! You strain out a small fly but swallow a camel.
25You Pharisees and teachers are show-offs, and you're in for trouble! You wash the outside of your cups and dishes, while inside there is nothing but greed and selfishness. 26You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of a cup, and then the outside will also be clean.
27You Pharisees and teachers are in for trouble! You're nothing but show-offs. You're like tombs that have been whitewashed.#23.27 whitewashed: Tombs were whitewashed to keep anyone from accidentally touching them. A person who touched a dead body or a tomb was considered unclean and could not worship with the rest of the Jewish people. On the outside they are beautiful, but inside they are full of bones and filth.#Ac 23.3. 28That's what you are like. Outside you look good, but inside you are evil and only pretend to be good.
29You Pharisees and teachers are nothing but show-offs, and you're in for trouble! You build monuments for the prophets and decorate the tombs of good people. 30And you claim that you would not have taken part with your ancestors in killing the prophets. 31But you prove that you really are the relatives of the ones who killed the prophets. 32So keep on doing everything they did. 33You are nothing but snakes and the children of snakes! How can you escape going to hell?#Mt 3.7; 12.34; Lk 3.7.
34I will send prophets and wise people and experts in the Law of Moses to you. But you will kill them or nail them to a cross or beat them in your meeting places or chase them from town to town. 35That's why you will be held guilty for the murder of every good person, beginning with the good man Abel. This also includes Barachiah's son Zechariah,#23.35 Zechariah: Genesis is the first book in the Jewish Scriptures, and it tells that Abel was the first person to be murdered. The Second Book of Chronicles is the last book in the Jewish Scriptures, and the last murder that it tells about is that of Zechariah. the man you murdered between the temple and the altar.#Gn 4.8; 2 Ch 24.20,21. 36I can promise that you people living today will be punished for all these things!
Jesus loves Jerusalem
(Luke 13.34,35)
Jesus continued:
37Jerusalem, Jerusalem! Your people have killed the prophets and have stoned the messengers who were sent to you. I have often wanted to gather your people, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings. But you wouldn't let me. 38And now your temple will be deserted.#Jr 22.5. 39You won't see me again until you say,#Ps 118.26.
“Blessed is the one who comes
in the name of the Lord.”