Matthew 23

A heart appeal to the people
Woes for the Pharisees and scribes. Luke 20:45-57; Matt. 23; Mark 12:38-40.
.1 Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples,
 2  Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat:
 3  All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.
.4  For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.
.5  But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,
 6  And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues,
.7  And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.
   2 - Sit in Moses' seat Moses was given special rules in addition to the ten commandments. A large portion, if not most, of the rules were planned to teach about the coming Messiah. Here the scribes and Pharisees were acting like Moses but the exactions they demanded were not from heaven.
   3 - Observe Jesus appealed for cooperation where conscience permitted. The massive end-time religious power, according to Revelation 13, will demand that the beast be worshipped. In these closing times of earth's history, we will be given rules that are not drawn from God's Book. We should cooperate until we are asked to violate God's plain requirements.
   4 - heavy burdens They had taught the people  that salvation was a matter of law keeping, then they had added many rules making life oppressive especially on the Sabbath mr02, is5806.
   5 - Phylacteries Small pouches containing scripture portions thought to bring good luck. See de1309.
   7 - Rabbi See on jn0138.
.8  But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.
.9  And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.
 10  Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.
.11  But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.
 12  And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.
   8-10 - Call no man father Reference is to a spiritual father. Obviously it is not wrong for children to use the term when addressing their physical father. Is this command ignored today? From the terms "earth" and "heaven" we may see the point as to avoid diverting worship due our heavenly Father. The Jews wrongly called Abraham their father lu1624. Also see on ge4508. For other appropriate references to "father" see 2ki0212, 1th0211.
   10-12 - [How to be a leader] A beautiful plan modeled by Christ Himself.
.13 ¶ But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.
.14  Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.
.15  Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.
.16  Woe unto you, ye blind guides, which say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor!
 17  Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold? 

  13 - Woe unto you This begins a condemnation or judgment of the Jewish leaders who had rejected their Messiah. It may be seen as the first of a series of apostasies to be resolved by the coming of Christ. See table at the end of comments on mt24-T2.
  16 - Guides which say These were rash statements not intended to be kept. Could a person withdraw gold from the temple in case he wasn't able to keep the vow? Or was the promise as good as the gold of the temple?
  17 - Which is greater The trend was apparently to avoid the sin of swearing by the temple by saying "the gold of the temple." They were remembering je0704. Jesus' explanation continues through v22.
 Image from Hurlbut's Life of Christ, 1915
 18  And, Whosoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing; but whosoever sweareth by the gift that is upon it, he is guilty.
 19  Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift?
 20  Whoso therefore shall swear by the altar, sweareth by it, and by all things thereon.
 21  And whoso shall swear by the temple, sweareth by it, and by him that dwelleth therein.
 22  And he that shall swear by heaven, sweareth by the throne of God, and by him that sitteth thereon.
.23  Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
.24  Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.
.25  Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.
 26  Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.
  18 - Swear by the altar "The priests interpreted God's requirements according to their own false and narrow standard. They presumed to make nice distinctions as to the comparative guilt of various sins, passing over some lightly, and treating others of perhaps less consequence as unpardonable. For a money consideration they excused persons from their vows. And for large sums of money they sometimes passed over aggravated crimes. At the same time these priests and rulers would in other cases pronounce severe judgment for trivial offenses. (Desire of Ages, p. 616.)
  23 - Tithe ... weightier matters - See on lu1142. The system of tithe had been given at the time of Abraham and was very simple , ge1420, ge2822. So should it be for us today. The tithe is for the support of the ministry mal0310. Taken into the storehouse, it supported the Levites.
  26 - Cleanse first Jesus spoke in metaphor. This obviously sensible command had been violated on the spiritual level. 
.27  Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.
 28  Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
.29  Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous,
 30  And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.
.31 Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets.
 32  Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.
.33  Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?
.34 ¶ Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city:
 35  That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.
 36  Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.
   27 - Woe This is the first of four waves of apostasy described in chapters 23 and 24. The chart is near the end of the chapter 24 page.
   30 - We would not have. . . . Here is a lesson for all of us. Peter said he would never deny Christ. How can we be sure of not falling? By total submission each day and constant connection with heaven.
   34 - I send you prophets The Holy Spirit inspires the prophets. ". . .  holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." (2 Peter 1:21). How then could Jesus Christ send the prophets? Through the agency of the Spirit. "Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you." (John 16:13, 14).


.37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!
.38  Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.
.39  For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.
 1 ¶ And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple. . . .
   37 - O Jerusalem Our Lord's heart cry for His people. John said, "He came unto his own, and his own received him not." jn0110f. He would have blessed His people applying the grace of the blood He would soon shed for all humanity.
   The promises would be for a new Israel re0704b.
   38 - Your house It had been His Father's house jo0216.
   38 - Desolate The Jews continued their worship ceremonies but the One whose house it had been would never return mr1117. Notice that Jesus said "your house." cf. jn0216. See Luke's statement lu1335.
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