Matthew 23:1-22

A Warning Against Hypocrisy

1 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples:
2 “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat.
3 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.
4 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.
5 “Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries[a] wide and the tassels on their garments long;
6 they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues;
7 they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others.
8 “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers.
9 And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven.
10 Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah.
11 The greatest among you will be your servant.
12 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

Seven Woes on the Teachers of the Law and the Pharisees

13 “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.[b]
15 “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.
16 “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.’
17 You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred?
18 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.’
19 You blind men! Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred?
20 Therefore, anyone who swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it.
21 And anyone who swears by the temple swears by it and by the one who dwells in it.
22 And anyone who swears by heaven swears by God’s throne and by the one who sits on it.

Matthew 23:1-22 In-Context

1 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples:
2 “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat.
3 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.
4 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.
5 “Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacterieswide and the tassels on their garments long;
6 they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues;
7 they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others.
8 “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers.
9 And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven.
10 Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah.
11 The greatest among you will be your servant.
12 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
13 “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.
15 “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.
16 “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.’
17 You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred?
18 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.’
19 You blind men! Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred?
20 Therefore, anyone who swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it.
21 And anyone who swears by the temple swears by it and by the one who dwells in it.
22 And anyone who swears by heaven swears by God’s throne and by the one who sits on it.
23 “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.
24 You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.
25 “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.

Cross References 20

  • 1. Ezra 7:6,25; Nehemiah 8:4
  • 2. Luke 11:46; Acts 15:10; Galatians 6:13
  • 3. Mt 6:1,2,5,16
  • 4. Exodus 13:9; Deuteronomy 6:8
  • 5. Numbers 15:38; Deuteronomy 22:12
  • 6. Luke 11:43; Luke 14:7; Luke 20:46
  • 7. ver 8; Matthew 26:25,49; Mark 9:5; Mark 10:51; John 1:38,49; John 3:2,26; John 20:16
  • 8. Malachi 1:6; Matthew 6:9; Matthew 7:11
  • 9. Matthew 20:26; S Mark 9:35
  • 10. 1 Samuel 2:8; Psalms 18:27; Proverbs 3:34; Isaiah 57:15; Ezekiel 21:26; Luke 1:52; Luke 14:11
  • 11. ver 15,23,25,27,29
  • 12. Luke 11:52
  • 13. Acts 2:11; Acts 6:5; Acts 13:43
  • 14. S Matthew 5:22
  • 15. ver 24; Isaiah 9:16; Matthew 15:14
  • 16. Matthew 5:33-35
  • 17. Exodus 30:29
  • 18. Exodus 29:37
  • 19. 1 Kings 8:13; Psalms 26:8
  • 20. Psalms 11:4; Matthew 5:34

Footnotes 2

  • [a]. That is, boxes containing Scripture verses, worn on forehead and arm
  • [b]. Some manuscripts include here words similar to Mark 12:40 and Luke 20:47.