Matthew 23:13

Hypocrites (upokritai). This terrible word of Jesus appears first from him in the Sermon on the Mount ( Matthew 6:2 Matthew 6:5 Matthew 6:16 ; Matthew 7:5 ), then in Matthew 15:7 and Matthew 22:18 . Here it appears "with terrific iteration" (Bruce) save in the third of the seven woes ( Matthew 23:13 Matthew 23:15 Matthew 23:23 Matthew 23:25 Matthew 23:27 Matthew 23:29 ). The verb in the active (upokrinw) meant to separate slowly or slightly subject to gradual inquiry. Then the middle was to make answer, to take up a part on the stage, to act a part. It was an easy step to mean to feign, to pretend, to wear a masque, to act the hypocrite, to play a part. This hardest word from the lips of Jesus falls on those who were the religious leaders of the Jews (Scribes and Pharisees), who had justified this thunderbolt of wrath by their conduct toward Jesus and their treatment of things high and holy. The _Textus Receptus has eight woes, adding verse Matthew 14 which the Revised Version places in the margin (called verse Matthew 13 by Westcott and Hort and rejected on the authority of Aleph B D as a manifest gloss from Mark 12:40 and Luke 20:47 ). The MSS. that insert it put it either before 13 or after 13. Plummer cites these seven woes as another example of Matthew's fondness for the number seven, more fancy than fact for Matthew's Gospel is not the Apocalypse of John. These are all illustrations of Pharisaic saying and not doing (Allen). Ye shut the kingdom of heaven (kleiete thn basileian twn ouranwn). In Luke 11:52 the lawyers are accused of keeping the door to the house of knowledge locked and with flinging away the keys so as to keep themselves and the people in ignorance. These custodians of the kingdom by their teaching obscured the way to life. It is a tragedy to think how preachers and teachers of the kingdom of God may block the door for those who try to enter in (tou eisercomenou, conative present middle participle). Against (emprosqen). Literally, before. These door-keepers of the kingdom slam it shut in men's faces and they themselves are on the outside where they will remain. They hide the key to keep others from going in.

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