Matthew's final discourse (chaps. 23-25) approximately balances the first discourse (chaps. 5-7) in length and concludes with the same summary statement as the other discourses: "When Jesus had finished saying all these things" (26:1). But whereas Jesus' first sermon in Matthew opens with blessings for the meek (5:3-12), his last opens with woes against the religious elite. Jesus here condemns much of the religious leadership of his and Matthew's day. Judgment against both the religious teachers (scribes and Pharisees) and the temple blend together with the final judgment in this final sermon of the Gospel. Matthew's audience, probably facing increasing pressure from the religious elite of their own day (very possibly successors of the Pharisaic scribes), would have heard in these warnings cause for hope.
At the same time, scribes and Pharisees are hardly the address's main audience; these words function instead to warn Christians. The explicit audience, as in the first discourse section (5:1-2; 7:28), consists of both disciples and crowds (23:1). Sometimes Christian preachers have caricatured Pharisaic piety to avoid the demands that Jesus' condemnations otherwise would make on Christians today (see Odeberg 1964). Just as judgment separated true from false religion at Jesus' first coming, it would do the same at his second, laying bare the hearts of church leaders (24:45-25:30).
IVP New Testament Commentaries are made available by the generosity of InterVarsity Press.
Step 1 - Create an account or log in to start your free trial.
Starting your free trial of Bible Gateway Plus is easy. You’re already logged in with your Bible Gateway account. The next step is to enter your payment information. Your credit card won’t be charged until the trial period is over. You can cancel anytime during the trial period.
Click the button below to continue.
Step 1 - Create an account or log in to start your subscription.
You’ve already claimed your free trial of Bible Gateway Plus. To subscribe at our regular subscription rate of $3.99/month, click the button below.
For the best Bible Gateway experience, upgrade to Bible Gateway Plus. For less than the cost of a latte each month, you'll gain access to a vast digital Bible study library and reduced banner ads to minimize distractions from God's Word. Try it free for 30 days!