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Matthew 23English Standard Version (ESV)

Seven Woes to the Scribes and Pharisees

23 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat, so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear,[a] and lay them on people's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi[b] by others. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers.[c] And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. 10 Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. 11 The greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people's faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in.[d] 15 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell[e] as yourselves.

16 “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ 17 You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred? 18 And you say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gift that is on the altar, he is bound by his oath.’ 19 You blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20 So whoever swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. 21 And whoever swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it. 22 And whoever 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 tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 24 You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!

25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.

27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, 30 saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. 33 You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? 34 Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, 35 so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah,[f] whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. 36 Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.

Lament over Jerusalem

37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 38 See, your house is left to you desolate. 39 For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”

Footnotes:

  1. Matthew 23:4 Some manuscripts omit hard to bear
  2. Matthew 23:7 Rabbi means my teacher, or my master; also verse 8
  3. Matthew 23:8 Or brothers and sisters
  4. Matthew 23:13 Some manuscripts add here (or after verse 12) verse 14: Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows' houses and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive the greater condemnation
  5. Matthew 23:15 Greek Gehenna; also verse 33
  6. Matthew 23:35 Some manuscripts omit the son of Barachiah
English Standard Version (ESV)

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Matthew 23The Voice (VOICE)

23 Jesus spoke to His disciples and to the crowds that had gathered around.

Jesus with the Pharisees listening uses them as an example of the pious but truly unrighteous. He calls the people to mind the Pharisees’ words, not their examples, because they talk about righteousness and faithfulness, but they are a faithless and unrighteous crew.

Jesus: The Pharisees and the scribes occupy the seat of Moses. So you should do the things they tell you to do—but don’t do the things they do. They heap heavy burdens upon their neighbors’ backs, and they prove unwilling to do anything to help shoulder the load. They are interested, above all, in presentation: they wrap their heads and arms in the accoutrements of prayer, they cloak themselves with flowing tasseled prayer garments, they covet the seats of honor at fine banquets and in the synagogue, and they love it when people recognize them in the marketplace, call them “Teacher,” and beam at them.

But you: do not let anyone call you “Rabbi,” that is, “Teacher.” For you are all brothers, and you have only one teacher, the Anointed One. Indeed, do not call anyone on earth “Father,” for you have only one father, and He is in heaven. 10 Neither let anyone call you “leader,” for you have one leader—the Anointed One. 11 If you are recognized at all, let it be for your service. Delight in the one who calls you servant. 12 For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

13 Woe to you, you teachers of the law and Pharisees. There is such a gulf between what you say and what you do. You will stand before a crowd and lock the door of the kingdom of heaven right in front of everyone; you won’t enter the Kingdom yourselves, and you prevent others from doing so.

[14 Woe to you, you teachers of the law and Pharisees. What you say is not what you do. You steal the homes from under the widows while you pretend to pray for them. You will suffer great condemnation for this.][a]

15 Woe to you Pharisees, woe to you who teach the law, hypocrites! You traverse hills and mountains and seas to make one convert, and then when he does convert, you make him much more a son of hell than you are.

16 Woe to you who are blind but deign to lead others. You say, “Swearing by the temple means nothing, but he who swears by the gold in the temple is bound by his oath.” 17 Are you fools? You must be blind! For which is greater: the gold or the temple that makes the gold sacred? 18 You also say, “Swearing by the altar means nothing, but he who swears by the sacrifice on the altar is bound by his oath.” 19 You must be blind! Which is greater: the sacrifice or the altar that makes it sacred? 20 So anyone who swears by the altar swears by it and by the sacrifices and gifts laid upon it. 21 And anyone who swears by the temple swears by it and by the God who sanctifies it. 22 And when you swear by heaven, you are swearing by God’s throne and by Him who sits upon it.

23 So woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees. You hypocrites! You tithe from your luxuries and your spices, giving away a tenth of your mint, your dill, and your cumin. But you have ignored the essentials of the law: justice, mercy, faithfulness. It is practice of the latter that makes sense of the former. 24 You hypocritical, blind leaders. You spoon a fly from your soup and swallow a camel.

25 Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You remove fine layers of film and dust from the outside of a cup or bowl, but you leave the inside full of greed and covetousness and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee—can’t you see that if you clean the inside of the cup, the outside will be clean too?

27 Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like a grave that has been whitewashed. You look beautiful on the outside, but on the inside you are full of moldering bones and decaying rot. 28 You appear, at first blush, to be righteous, selfless, and pure; but on the inside you are polluted, sunk in hypocrisy and confusion and lawlessness.

29 Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build monuments to your dead, you mouth pieties over the bodies of prophets, you decorate the graves of your righteous ancestors. 30 And you say, “If we had lived when our forefathers lived, we would have known better—we would not have joined them when they rose up against the prophets.” 31 Even when you are preening, you make plain that you descended from those who murdered our prophets. 32 So why don’t you finish what your forefathers started? 33 You are children of vipers, you belly-dragging snakes. You won’t escape the judgment of hell.

34 That is why I am sending you prophets and wise men, teachers of breadth and depth and substance. You will kill some of them and crucify others. You will flog others in your synagogues. You will pursue them from town to town. 35 And on your heads, stained through your hands and drenching your clothes, my friends, will be all the righteous blood ever shed on this earth, from the blood of innocent Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berechiah whom you murdered in the house of the Lord between the sanctuary and the altar. 36 I tell you: this generation will bear the blood of all that has gone before.

37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem. You kill the prophets whom God gives you; you stone those God sends you. I have longed to gather your children the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you refuse to be gathered. 38 Surely you can see that God has already removed His blessing from the house of Israel. 39 I tell you this: you will not see Me again until you say, with the psalmist, “Anyone who comes in the name of the Eternal One will be blessed.”[b]

Footnotes:

  1. 23:14 The earliest manuscripts omit verse 14.
  2. 23:39 Psalm 118:26
The Voice (VOICE)

The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.

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