Matthew 23-24 Common English Bible (CEB)
Ways of the legal experts and the Pharisees
23 Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and his disciples, 2 “The legal experts and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat. 3 Therefore, you must take care to do everything they say. But don’t do what they do. 4 For they tie together heavy packs that are impossible to carry. They put them on the shoulders of others, but are unwilling to lift a finger to move them. 5 Everything they do, they do to be noticed by others. They make extra-wide prayer bands for their arms and long tassels for their clothes. 6 They love to sit in places of honor at banquets and in the synagogues. 7 They love to be greeted with honor in the markets and to be addressed as ‘Rabbi.’
8 “But you shouldn’t be called Rabbi, because you have one teacher, and all of you are brothers and sisters. 9 Don’t call anybody on earth your father, because you have one Father, who is heavenly. 10 Don’t be called teacher, because Christ is your one teacher. 11 But the one who is greatest among you will be your servant. 12 All who lift themselves up will be brought low. But all who make themselves low will be lifted up.
Condemnation of the legal experts and the Pharisees
13 “How terrible it will be for you legal experts and Pharisees! Hypocrites! You shut people out of the kingdom of heaven. You don’t enter yourselves, and you won’t allow those who want to enter to do so.[a]
15 “How terrible it will be for you, legal experts and Pharisees! Hypocrites! You travel over sea and land to make one convert. But when they’ve been converted, they become twice the child of hell you are.
16 “How terrible it will be for you blind guides who say, ‘If people swear by the temple, it’s nothing. But if people swear by the gold in the temple, they are obligated to do what they swore.’ 17 You foolish and blind people! Which is greater, the gold or the temple that makes the gold holy? 18 You say, ‘If people swear by the altar, it’s nothing. But if they swear by the gift on the altar, they are obligated to do what they swore.’ 19 You blind people! Which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift holy? 20 Therefore, those who swear by the altar swear by it and by everything that’s on it. 21 Those who swear by the temple swear by it and by everything that’s part of it. 22 Those who swear by heaven swear by God’s throne and by the one who sits on it.
23 “How terrible it will be for you legal experts and Pharisees! Hypocrites! You give to God a tenth of mint, dill, and cumin, but you forget about the more important matters of the Law: justice, peace, and faith. You ought to give a tenth but without forgetting about those more important matters. 24 You blind guides! You filter out an ant but swallow a camel.
25 “How terrible it will be for you legal experts and Pharisees! Hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and plate, but inside they are full of violence and pleasure seeking. 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup so that the outside of the cup will be clean too.
27 “How terrible it will be for you legal experts and Pharisees! Hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs. They look beautiful on the outside. But inside they are full of dead bones and all kinds of filth. 28 In the same way you look righteous to people. But inside you are full of pretense and rebellion.
29 “How terrible it will be for you legal experts and Pharisees! Hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. 30 You say, ‘If we had lived in our ancestors’ days, we wouldn’t have joined them in killing the prophets.’ 31 You testify against yourselves that you are children of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Go ahead, complete what your ancestors did. 33 You snakes! You children of snakes! How will you be able to escape the judgment of hell? 34 Therefore, look, I’m sending you prophets, wise people, and legal experts. Some of them you will kill and crucify. And some you will beat in your synagogues and chase from city to city. 35 Therefore, upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been poured out on the earth, from the blood of that righteous man Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you killed between the temple and the altar. 36 I assure you that all these things will come upon this generation.
Crying over Jerusalem
37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem! You who kill the prophets and stone those who were sent to you. How often I wanted to gather your people together, just as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings. But you didn’t want that. 38 Look, your house is left to you deserted. 39 I tell you, you won’t see me until you say, Blessings on the one who comes in the Lord’s name.”[b]
The temple’s fate
24 Now Jesus left the temple and was going away. His disciples came to point out to him the temple buildings. 2 He responded, “Do you see all these things? I assure that no stone will be left on another. Everything will be demolished.”
Beginning of troubles
3 Now while Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately and said, “Tell us, when will these things happen? What will be the sign of your coming and the end of the age?”
4 Jesus replied, “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I’m the Christ.’ They will deceive many people. 6 You will hear about wars and reports of wars. Don’t be alarmed. These things must happen, but this isn’t the end yet. 7 Nations and kingdoms will fight against each other, and there will be famines and earthquakes in all sorts of places. 8 But all these things are just the beginning of the sufferings associated with the end. 9 They will arrest you, abuse you, and they will kill you. All nations will hate you on account of my name. 10 At that time many will fall away. They will betray each other and hate each other. 11 Many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because disobedience will expand, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be delivered. 14 This gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the world as a testimony to all the nations. Then the end will come.
The great suffering
15 “When you see the disgusting and destructive thing that Daniel talked about standing in the holy place (the reader should understand this), 16 then those in Judea must escape to the mountains. 17 Those on the roof shouldn’t come down to grab things from their houses. 18 Those in the field shouldn’t come back to grab their clothes. 19 How terrible it will be at that time for women who are pregnant and for women who are nursing their children. 20 Pray that it doesn’t happen in winter or on the Sabbath day. 21 There will be great suffering such as the world has never before seen and will never again see. 22 If that time weren’t shortened, nobody would be rescued. But for the sake of the ones whom God chose, that time will be cut short.
23 “Then if somebody says to you, ‘Look, here’s the Christ,’ or ‘He’s over here,’ don’t believe it. 24 False christs and false prophets will appear, and they will offer great signs and wonders in order to deceive, if possible, even those whom God has chosen. 25 Look, I’ve told you ahead of time. 26 So if they say to you, ‘Look, he’s in the desert,’ don’t go out. And if they say, ‘Look, he’s in the rooms deep inside the house,’ don’t believe it. 27 Just as the lightning flashes from the east to the west, so it will be with the coming of the Human One.[c] 28 The vultures gather wherever there’s a dead body.
Coming of the Human One
29 “Now immediately after the suffering of that time the sun will become dark, and the moon won’t give its light. The stars will fall from the sky and the planets and other heavenly bodies will be shaken. 30 Then the sign of the Human One[d] will appear in the sky. At that time all the tribes of the earth will be full of sadness, and they will see the Human One[e] coming in the heavenly clouds[f] with power and great splendor. 31 He will send his angels with the sound of a great trumpet, and they will gather his chosen ones from the four corners of the earth, from one end of the sky to the other.
A lesson from the fig tree
32 “Learn this parable from the fig tree. After its branch becomes tender and it sprouts new leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 In the same way, when you see all these things, you know that the Human One[g] is near, at the door. 34 I assure you that this generation won’t pass away until all these things happen. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will certainly not pass away.
Day and hour
36 “But nobody knows when that day or hour will come, not the heavenly angels and not the Son. Only the Father knows. 37 As it was in the time of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Human One.[h] 38 In those days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark. 39 They didn’t know what was happening until the flood came and swept them all away. The coming of the Human One[i] will be like that. 40 At that time there will be two men in the field. One will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill. One will be taken and the other left. 42 Therefore, stay alert! You don’t know what day the Lord is coming. 43 But you understand that if the head of the house knew at what time the thief would come, he would keep alert and wouldn’t allow the thief to break into his house. 44 Therefore, you also should be prepared, because the Human One[j] will come at a time you don’t know.
Faithful and unfaithful servants
45 “Who then are the faithful and wise servants whom their master puts in charge of giving food at the right time to those who live in his house? 46 Happy are those servants whom the master finds fulfilling their responsibilities when he comes. 47 I assure you that he will put them in charge of all his possessions. 48 But suppose those bad servants should say to themselves, My master won’t come until later. 49 And suppose they began to beat their fellow servants and to eat and drink with the drunks? 50 The master of those servants will come on a day when they are not expecting him, at a time they couldn’t predict. 51 He will cut them in pieces and put them in a place with the hypocrites. People there will be weeping and grinding their teeth.