Matthew 23:25

25 1"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For 2you clean the outside of 3the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of 4greed and self-indulgence.

Matthew 23:25 Meaning and Commentary

Matthew 23:25

Woe unto you Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites
Our Lord cannot be thought to bear too hard upon these men, nor does he continue this character of them, and denunciations of woe against them, without a reason:

for ye make clean the outside of the cup and platter, but within they
are full of extortion and excess.
The allusion is to their traditions about washing their cups and pots, and brazen vessels; see ( Mark 7:4 ) which they strictly observed. In their oral law is a whole tract, called "Mikvaot", which gives rules about the places where they washed, the things to be washed, and the manner of washing them; about which they were very nice, pretending to much outward cleanness, but had no regard to inward purity. Christ's sense is, that they took much pains, and were very careful, that the cup they drank out of, and the platter, or dish they ate out of, should be very clean; when at the same time, the food and drink that were within them, were got by oppression and rapine; by devouring widows' houses, by making undue claims upon, and extorting unjust sums from the fatherless, the poor, and the needy; and were abused by them, to luxury and intemperance. In like manner the Jews themselves say of hypocrites F23;

``They make show of a pure and clean soul, but under it lies hid a leprosy: they are like to "vessels full of uncleanness"; they are outwardly washed with the water of fraud and craftiness; but whatsoever is within, in the midst or them, is unclean.''

The Vulgate Latin version of the text, instead of "excess", reads "uncleanness", and so does Munster's Hebrew Gospel: many copies read "unrighteousness". Excess is thought to be a sin the Pharisees were not guilty of, though they were of extortion, injustice, and uncleanness.


F23 R. Sol Gabirol in Cether Malcuth apud L. Capell in loc.

Matthew 23:25 In-Context

23 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.
24 You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!
25 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.
26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.
27 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness.

Cross References 4

  • 1. For ver. 25-28, [Matthew 15:11-20]
  • 2. Luke 11:39, 40
  • 3. Mark 7:4
  • 4. Luke 16:14; Luke 20:47
The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.