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Series Theme: FRAMEWORKS: Matthew's Gospel

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Frameworks: Matthew's Gospel, chapter 23

 

(The objective of these ‘Frameworks' is to provide an easy-to-read layout of the text in order then to use these individual verses for verse-by-verse study or meditation. To focus each verse we have also added in italic a description of what is happening)

      

FRAMEWORKS: Matthew, chapter 23

v.1-12 A Warning Against Hypocrisy

v.13-35 Seven Woes on the Teachers of the Law and the Pharisees

v.35-39 The Judgment that will come

  

   

v.1-12 A Warning Against Hypocrisy

 

v.1 (Jesus addresses all in the vicinity) Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples:

v.2 (these religious leaders purport to represent Moses) “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat.

v.3 (so do what they say, not what they do) So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.

v.4 (they dump loads on people and don't help them) They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.

v.5-7 (everything they do is for show) “Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honour at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi' by others.

v.8 (they like being called teacher but you have only one teacher [God – implied]) “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,' for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers.

v.9 (similarly father) And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,' for you have one Father, and he is in heaven.

v.10 (similarly instructor) Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah.

v.11 (the greatest here will be your servant The greatest among you will be your servant.

v.12 (those who exalt themselves will be brought down, and those who humble themselves lifted up) For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

   

  

v.13-35 Seven Woes on the Teachers of the Law and the Pharisees

 

[Woe 1]

v.13 (Oh misery on you religious leaders, you stop people entering the kingdom and won't go in yourselves) “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 yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.

[Woe 2]

v.15 (similarly, you go to great efforts to make a convert and then make life a misery for them) “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.

[Woe 3]

v.16-22 (similarly, you split hairs about oaths making them meaningless) “Woe to you, blind guides! You say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gold of the temple is bound by that oath.' You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred? You also say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gift on the altar is bound by that oath.' You blind men! Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? Therefore, anyone who swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. And anyone who swears by the temple swears by it and by the one who dwells in it. And anyone who swears by heaven swears by God's throne and by the one who sits on it.

[Woe 4]

v.23,24 (similarly you worry about religious minutiae but miss the main points) “ Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.

[Woe 5]

v.25 (similarly, you worry about outer cleanliness but inside are filthy) “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.

v.26 (worry about the inside and then the outside won't matter) Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.

[Woe 6]

v.27 (similarly, you look great on the outside but are putrid on the inside) “ Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.

v.28 (outwardly you look righteous but on the inside, yuck!) In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.

[Woe 7]

v.29 (likewise you build monuments to the prophets) “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous.

v.30 (and declaim ever harming them) And you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.'

v.31 (but your hypocrisy shows that's untrue) So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets.

v.32 (go on then, keep doing what they did) Go ahead, then, and complete what your ancestors started!

v.33 (you will be condemned to destruction) “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?

v.34 (but as I send more, you'll keep doing the same thing) Therefore I am sending you prophets and sages and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town.

   

  

v.35-39 The Judgment that will come

 

v.35 (the blood is on your head for all those righteous ones killed from beginning to end of the Old Testament) And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.

v.36 (this will fall on your generation) Truly I tell you, all this will come on this generation.

v.37 (oh Jerusalem, how I have often wanted to draw you to myself) “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.

v.38 (but you are left desolate [in the hands of these people]) Look, your house is left to you desolate.

v.39 (you won't see me until I come a second time) For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.' [Psa 118:26]”