Atlanta Bible Students

The Book of Matthew

Chapter 23
Go To Verse 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39

[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 you 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. [8] But be not you called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all you are brethren. [9] And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. [10] Neither be you called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. [11] But he that is greatest among you will be your servant. [12] And whosoever will exalt himself will be abased; and he that will humble himself will be exalted.

Verses 1-3  Expanded Bible Comments

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 you after their works: for they say, and do not.
QuestionAnswer
To whom is Jesus speaking? Both his disciples and also the multitude.
What is meant by "the scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses' seat?" E351:1
What attitude did Jesus advise the disciples to take toward the Scribes and Pharisees? To observe what they told them to (concerning the law.)
What did He tell them to avoid, and why? "Don't do as they do. After all, they say one thing and do something else." (CEV)

Verses 4-7  Expanded Bible Comments

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.
QuestionAnswer
What kind of "heavy burdens" did they bind, and on whom did these burdens fall? R1540; Q725
What burdens did the Scribes and Pharisees remove or lighten? Not one of them. "They themselves will not move them with one of their fingers."
What was the motive behind these actions? "All their works they do for to be seen of men."
What are phylacteries?
phylacteries.jpg
What was meant by "the border" of their garments? This would be the area at the bottom of the garment.
Is there any manner in which the border of their garment was to be worn? Num. 15:37-41
What was the intended purpose of wearing their garment in this fashion? Num. 15:39
Who was supposed to wear their garment this way? Num. 15:38
What does it mean to "enlarge the border" of a garment? To make it larger than normal.
What did the Scribes and Pharisees love? Upper most rooms at feasts, chief seats in synagogues, greetings (of respect) in the market place and to be called "rabbi." In other words, the praise of men.
What does "Rabbi" mean? Teacher.

Verse 8  Expanded Bible Comments

But be not you called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all you are brethren.
QuestionAnswer
What did Jesus advise regarding His disciples being called Rabbi? Don't do it..
Who is our Rabbi? Christ.
Who are our brethren? The consecrated followers of Christ.

Verse 9  Expanded Bible Comments

And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.
QuestionAnswer
What is meant by the admonition "Call no man Father?" Does this include our natural fathers? Why or why not? "Honor thy Father.." This shows respect. The idea here is while that kind of respect should be given to our natural parents, it should not be given to others.
Who is our Father, and what should be our relationship with Him? God is our Father and our relationship with Him should be that of a loving, obedient and respectful child.

Verse 10  Expanded Bible Comments

Neither be you called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.
QuestionAnswer
Should disciples be called "Master?" No.
Who is our Master, and why? Jesus Christ. We recognize him as the one and only Head of true church.

Verse 11  Expanded Bible Comments

But he that is greatest among you will be your servant.
QuestionAnswer
What principle is Jesus teaching in this verse? Humility.
Did the Scribes and Pharisees follow this principle? They did the opposite.
What is the meaning for the Greek word for "servant?"
Strong's G1249
διάκονος
diakonos
dee-ak'-on-os
Probably from διάκω diakō (obsolete, to run on errands; compare G1377); an attendant, that is, (generally) a waiter (at table or in other menial duties); specifically a Christian teacher and pastor (technically a deacon or deaconess): - deacon, minister, servant.
Deacon (servant). Every elder should also be a Deacon.

Verse 12  Expanded Bible Comments

And whosoever will exalt himself will be abased; and he that will humble himself will be exalted.
QuestionAnswer
Of what trait is Jesus speaking in this verse? Pride vs Humility.
What is the result of one exalting himself? They shall be abased.
What is the result of one humbling himself? They shall be exalted.
How did Jesus demonstrate these principles in His life? Jesus always gave credit to God. "Of mine own self I can do nothing."

[13] But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for you neither go in yourselves, neither permit you them that are entering to go in. [14] Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore you will receive the greater condemnation. [15] Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, you make him twofold more the child of Gehenna than yourselves.

Verse 13  Expanded Bible Comments

But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for you neither go in yourselves, neither permit you them that are entering to go in.
QuestionAnswer
What is the meaning of the word "woe" in this context?
Strong's G3759
οὐαί
ouai
oo-ah'ee
A primary exclamation of grief; woe: - alas, woe.
What is a hypocrite?
Strong's G5273
ὑποκριτής
hupokritēs
hoop-ok-ree-tace'
From G5271; an actor under an assumed character (stage player), that is, (figuratively) a dissembler (hypocrite): - hypocrite.
Hypocrite

noun

1. A person who pretends to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs, principles, etc., that he or she does not actually possess, especially a person whose actions belie stated beliefs.

2. A person who feigns some desirable or publicly approved attitude, especially one whose private life, opinions, or statements belie his or her public statements.
Why does Jesus repeat the phrase "Woe unto you Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites" multiple times in this passage? It has been said that the 3 "R's" of learning are: "Repetition, Repetition and Repetition." In this case our Lord is giving a complete and perfect condemnation of the Scribes and Pharisees, for He repeats this phrase 7 times!
What is Jesus' emotion in this passage? Righteous indignation. R5678, R438.
Did Jesus call out the Scribes and Pharisees individually? Why or why not? No. Our Lord needed to let the people know what was going so that they would not be deceived. Remember he said (vs. 3) "All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do."
Did Jesus "revile" the Scribes and Pharisees?
Why or why not, and how can we be sure?
No he did not.
There was no need to vilify them but rather it was a matter of protecting the people from their hypocrisy that he spoke in the manner he did.
Strong's G3058
λοιδορέω
loidoreō
loy-dor-eh'-o
From G3060; to reproach, that is, vilify: - revile.
1 Pet. 2:23.
How did the Scribes and Pharisees "shut up the Kingdom of Heaven against men?" They did so by binding heavy burdens (of obeying both the Law and also those traditions which they added to the Law) which burdens prevented them from finding the liberty in Christ. Gal. 5:1; Luke 11:52

Verse 14  Expanded Bible Comments

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore you will receive the greater condemnation.
QuestionAnswer
How did the Scribes and Pharisees "devour widows' houses?" R5094.
In what way did the Scribes and Pharisees "for a pretense make long prayer?" R5470.
Is it appropriate for us to make long prayers? Why or why not, and under what circumstances? It is appropriate for us to make any length of prayer that is sincere. If, however, we were to make long prayers in public then it would likely be inappropriate because others are acquainted with this scripture and would assume that we were acting just like the Scribes and Pharisees.
What is meant by "greater condemnation?" Luke 12:48; R5470; R5390.

Verse 15  Expanded Bible Comments

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, you make him twofold more the child of Gehenna than yourselves.
QuestionAnswer
What did the Scribes and Pharisees put great effort in doing? Finding a proselyte.
When they find one, what happens to that one? "You make him twofold more the child of Gehenna than yourselves."
What was "Gehenna?" The garbage dump which burned condinually outside the city of Jerusalem.
What is "Gehenna" a picture of? The Second Death. F640:2; R2602; R2601; R1071.
What does it mean to be a "child of Gehenna?" It indicates the ones being spoken of are in danger of going into Second Death.

[16] Woe unto you, you blind guides, which say, Whosoever will swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever will swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor! [17] You fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifies the gold? [18] And, Whosoever will swear by the altar, it is nothing; but whosoever swears by the gift that is upon it, he is guilty. [19] You fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifies the gift? [20] Whoso therefore will swear by the altar, swears by it, and by all things thereon. [21] And whoso will swear by the temple, swears by it, and by him that dwells therein. [22] And he that will swear by heaven, swears by the throne of God, and by him that sits thereon.

Verse 16  Expanded Bible Comments

Woe unto you, you blind guides, which say, Whosoever will swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever will swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor!
QuestionAnswer
What is a "blind guide?" One who is attempting to teach others that which he himself does know. Matt. 15:14
Why did the Scribes and Pharisees say that swearing by the temple was "nothing," but swearing by the gold of the temple made one a debtor? Because they still desired worldly wealth (gold) and did not realize that the temple represented the presence of God with them. Therefore the temple is greater.

Verse 17  Expanded Bible Comments

You fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifies the gold?
QuestionAnswer
What is the answer to our Lord's question in this verse? The temple because it sanctified the gold.
How did the temple sanctify the gold? Exo. 30:29

Verse 18  Expanded Bible Comments

And, Whosoever will swear by the altar, it is nothing; but whosoever swears by the gift that is upon it, he is guilty.
QuestionAnswer
Why did the Scribes and Pharisees say that swearing by the altar is "nothing," but one who swears by the gift on the altar is guilty? Because they did not have any true understanding.
Of What is he guilty? He is guilty of breaking his oath.
What does the altar represent? T22
What does the gift on the altar represent? A free-will offering. In the case of the church it represents our covenant of sacrifice.

Verse 19  Expanded Bible Comments

You fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifies the gift?
QuestionAnswer
How does the altar sanctify the gift? Heb. 7:7
What is the answer to our Lord's question in this verse? "The altar which sanctifies the gift."

Verse 20  Expanded Bible Comments

Whoso therefore will swear by the altar, swears by it, and by all things thereon.
QuestionAnswer
What is the result of swearing by the altar? You are swearing by the altar "and by all things thereon."

Verse 21  Expanded Bible Comments

And whoso will swear by the temple, swears by it, and by him that dwells therein.
QuestionAnswer
What is the result of swearing by the temple? The one so swearing is swearing by God.

Verse 22  Expanded Bible Comments

And he that will swear by heaven, swears by the throne of God, and by him that sits thereon.
QuestionAnswer
What is included when one "swears by Heaven?" That one "swears by the throne of God, and by him tht sits thereon."
Should we swear? Why or why not? Matt. 5:33-37; James 5:12

[23] Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought you to have done, and not to leave the other undone. [24] You blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. [25] Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. [26] You blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. [27] Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you 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 you also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. [29] Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you 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 you witness unto yourselves, that you are the children of them which killed the prophets. [32] Fill you up then the measure of your fathers. [33] You serpents, you generation of vipers, how can you escape the judgment of Gehenna? [34] Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them you will kill and crucify; and some of them will you 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 you slew between the temple and the altar. [36] Truly I say unto you, All these things will come upon this generation. [37] O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you that kill the prophets, and stone them which are sent unto you, how often would I have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and you would not! [38] Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. [39] For I say unto you, You will not see me henceforth, till you will say, Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord.

Verse 23  Expanded Bible Comments

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought you to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
QuestionAnswer
What did the scribes and Pharisees do correct? They paid tithes of mint, anise and cummin.
What did they do wrong? They "omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith."
As a result, how did Jesus address them? As hypocrites.

Verse 24  Expanded Bible Comments

You blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.
QuestionAnswer
What is a "blind guide?" Matt. 15:14.
To what was our Lord referring to when he said they "strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel?" R5389.

Verses 25-26  Expanded Bible Comments

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. [26] You blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.
QuestionAnswer
Was Jesus really berating them about dirty dishes? No.
What was the point he was making? That if they cleaned up their minds and hearts, they would not have to be nearly so concerned about appearing outwardly to be pure.

Verses 27-28  Expanded Bible Comments

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you 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 you also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
QuestionAnswer
In what way were the Pharisees hypocrites? Their outward actions and appearance was designed to make the people think that the Pharisees were holy men of God, but within they were filled with a self-righteous and mean spirit. These were familiar with God's laws but were completely unfamiliar with His Spirit.

Verses 29-30  Expanded Bible Comments

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you 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.
QuestionAnswer
What (if anything) was wrong with the scribes and Pharisees building the tombs of the prophets or garnishing the sepulchres of the righteous? Aside from the temptation to turn these into objects of worship, there was nothing wrong with this.
Why did Jesus, based upon their claims (and actions,) call them hypoctires? Because they had proven themselves to be liars. The evidence of this was in the way they treated Jesus (the prophet "like unto Moses," as well as their treatment of his disciples.)Deut. 18:15; Acts 3:22

Verses 31-33  Expanded Bible Comments

Wherefore you witness unto yourselves, that you are the children of them which killed the prophets. [32] Fill you up then the measure of your fathers. [33] You serpents, you generation of vipers, how can you escape the judgment of Gehenna?
QuestionAnswer
In what manner were they (scribes and Pharisees) witnessing to themselves that they were the children of those who persecuted the prophets of God? By calling them their fathers and then saying that "we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets."
Why did Jesus then say "Fill you up the measure of your fathers?" Jesus is NOT telling them that it is acceptable to do the same thing as those who spilled the blood of the prophets. Rather he is showing that he knows, based on the actions they have already taken, that they are about to do the same thing. That they are about to take his life.
To what was Jesus likely referring when he called them "serpents" and a "generation of vipers?"
Strong's G1081
γέννημα
gennēma
ghen'-nay-mah
From G1080; offspring; by analogy produce (literally or figuratively): - fruit, generation.
A likely reference to the serpent in the garden of Eden. Gen. 3:1-19,22
What did our Lord mean by "How can you escape the judgment of Gehenna?" R521; R1585.

Begin Here April 29, 2018

Verse 34  Expanded Bible Comments

Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them you will kill and crucify; and some of them will you scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city:
QuestionAnswer
Why did Jesus begin this verse with the word "Wherefore?"
How did He "send prophets, wise men, and Scribes?" Acts 6:8-10
Did the Jews He was addressing personally kill or persecute the prophets? Please explain your answer.
Did they really scourge those whom the Lord sent "in their synagogues?"

Verse 35  Expanded Bible Comments

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 you slew between the temple and the altar.
QuestionAnswer
What is the importance of the word "that" at the beginning of this passage?
How did "all the righteous blood from Abel to Zacharias" fall on the Jews to whom Jesus was speaking? R5462; R1701 "Upon this Generation"

Verse 36  Expanded Bible Comments

Truly I say unto you, All these things will come upon this generation.
QuestionAnswer
What is meant by "generation" in this context? D603:1.
Why did "all these things" come upon this particular generation?

Verse 37  Expanded Bible Comments

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you that kill the prophets, and stone them which are sent unto you, how often would I have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and you would not!
QuestionAnswer
What were some of the emotions expressed by Jesus in this passage?
How did Jesus describe Jerusalem?
What was Jesusí desire concerning the Nation of Israel?
What was Israelís response to His efforts toward them? John 1:11,12; R4669; R3537.

Verse 38  Expanded Bible Comments

Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.
QuestionAnswer
What is meant by the term "your house?" Dan. 9:24; C107:1.
What is meant by the phrase "left unto you desolate?"
Strong's G2048
ἔρημος
erēmos
er'-ay-mos
Of uncertain affinity; lonesome, that is, (by implication) waste (usually as a noun, G5561 being implied): - desert, desolate, solitary, wilderness.
Do these verses have a Gospel Age application? James 1:18 Rev. 3:16

Verse 39  Expanded Bible Comments

For I say unto you, You will not see me henceforth, till you will say, Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord.
QuestionAnswer
What is the importance of the word "henceforth" at the start of this verse?
Who will say, "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord," and when will they say it?
By whom were these words originally said? Psa. 118:26, Matt. 21:9
What other important phrase is found in this prophetic Psalm, and what does it mean? Psa. 118:22.