Contemporary English Version
Jesus Condemns the Pharisees and the Teachers of the Law of Moses
23 Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples:
2 The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law are experts in the Law of Moses. 3 So obey everything they teach you, but don’t do as they do. After all, they say one thing and do something else.
4 They pile heavy burdens on people’s shoulders and won’t lift a finger to help. 5 Everything 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[a] for everyone to see. 6 They love the best seats at banquets and the front seats in the meeting places. 7 And when they are in the market, they like to have people greet them as their teachers.
8 But none of you should be called a teacher. You have only one teacher, and all of you are like brothers and sisters. 9 Don’t call anyone on earth your father. All of you have the same Father in heaven. 10 None of you should be called the leader. The Messiah is your only leader. 11 Whoever is the greatest should be the servant of the others. 12 If you put yourself above others, you will be put down. But if you humble yourself, you will be honored.
13-14 You 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.[b]
15 You 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.
16 You 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. 17 You blind fools! Which is greater, the gold or the temple that makes the gold sacred?
18 You 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. 19 Are you blind? Which is more important, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20 Anyone who swears by the altar also swears by everything on it. 21 And anyone who swears by the temple also swears by God, who lives there. 22 To swear by heaven is the same as swearing by God’s throne and by the one who sits on that throne.
23 You 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. 24 You blind leaders! You strain out a small fly but swallow a camel.
25 You 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. 26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of a cup, and then the outside will also be clean.
27 You Pharisees and teachers are in for trouble! You’re nothing but show-offs. You’re like tombs that have been whitewashed.[c] On the outside they are beautiful, but inside they are full of bones and filth. 28 That’s what you are like. Outside you look good, but inside you are evil and only pretend to be good.
29 You 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. 30 And you claim that you would not have taken part with your ancestors in killing the prophets. 31 But you prove that you really are the relatives of the ones who killed the prophets. 32 So keep on doing everything they did. 33 You are nothing but snakes and the children of snakes! How can you escape going to hell?
34 I 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. 35 That’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,[d] the man you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36 I can promise that you people living today will be punished for all these things!
Jesus Loves Jerusalem
37 Jerusalem, 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. 38 And now your temple will be deserted. 39 You won’t see me again until you say,
“Blessed is the one who comes
in the name of the Lord.”
- 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.
- 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.”
- 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.
- 23.35 Zechariah: Genesis is the first book in the Jewish Scriptures, and it tells that Abel was the first person to be murdered. Second Chronicles is the last book in the Jewish Scriptures, and the last murder that it tells about is that of Zechariah.