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The Oxford Study Bible Study Bible supplemented with commentary from scholars of various religions.

Chapter 23

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1 JESUS then addressed the crowds and his disciples 2in these words: ‘The scribes and the Pharisees occupy Moses’ seat; 3so be careful to do whatever they tell you. But do not follow their practice; for they say one thing and do another. 4They make up heavy loads and pile them on the shoulders of others, but will not themselves lift a finger to ease the burden. 5Whatever they do is done for show. They go about wearing broad phylacteries and with large tassels on their robes; 6they love to have the place of honour at feasts and the chief seats in synagogues, 7to be greeted respectfully in the street, and to be addressed as “rabbi”.

8‘But you must not be called “rabbi”, for you have one Rabbi, and you are all brothers. 9Do not call any man on earth “father”, for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10Nor must you be called “teacher”; you have one Teacher, the Messiah. 11The greatest among you must be your servant. 12Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

13‘Alas for you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of Heaven in people's faces; you do not enter yourselves, and when others try to enter, you stop them a 23:13 you stop them: some witnesses add 14Alas for you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You eat up the property of widows, while for appearance’ sake you say long prayers. You will receive the severest sentence. .

15‘Alas for you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You travel over sea and land to win one convert; and when you have succeeded you make him twice as fit for hell as you are yourselves.

16‘Alas for you, blind guides! You say, “If someone swears by the sanctuary, that is nothing; but if he swears by the gold in the sanctuary, he is bound by his oath.” 17Blind fools! Which is the more important, the gold, or the sanctuary which sanctifies the gold? 18Or you say, “If someone swears by the altar, that is nothing; but if he swears by the offering that lies on the altar, he is bound by his oath.” 19What blindness! Which is the more important, the offering, or the altar which sanctifies it? 20To swear by the altar, then, is to swear both by the altar and by whatever lies on it; 21to swear by the sanctuary is to swear both by the sanctuary and by him who dwells there; 22and to swear by Heaven is to swear both by the throne of God and by him who sits upon it.

23‘Alas for you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You pay tithes of mint and dill and cummin; but you have overlooked the weightier demands of the law—justice, mercy, and good faith. It is these you should have practised, without neglecting the others. 24Blind guides! You strain off a midge, yet gulp down a camel!

25‘Alas for you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You clean the outside of a cup or a dish, and leave the inside full of greed and self-indulgence! 26Blind Pharisee! Clean the inside of the cup first; then the outside will be clean also.

27‘Alas for you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You are like tombs covered with whitewash; they look fine on the outside, but inside they are full of dead men's bones and of corruption. 28So it is with you: outwardly you look like honest men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

29‘Alas for you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You build up the tombs of the prophets and embellish the monuments of the saints, 30and you say, “If we had been living in the time of our forefathers, we should never have taken part with them in the murder of the prophets.” 31So you acknowledge that you are the sons of those who killed the prophets. 32Go on then, finish off what your fathers began b 23:32 Go on … began: or You too must come up to your fathers' standards. ! 33Snakes! Vipers' brood! How can you escape being condemned to hell?

34‘I am sending you therefore prophets and wise men and teachers of the law; some of them you will kill and crucify, others you will flog in your synagogues and hound from city to city. 35So on you will fall the guilt of all the innocent blood spilt on the ground, from the blood of innocent Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. 36Truly I tell you: this generation will bear the guilt of it all.

37‘O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, city that murders the prophets and stones the messengers sent to her! How often have I longed to gather your children, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings; but you would not let me. 38 c 23:38 Some witnesses omit and laid waste. Look! There is your temple, forsaken by God and laid waste. 39I tell you, you will not see me until the time when you say, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” ’

Notes:

a 23:13 you stop them: some witnesses add 14Alas for you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You eat up the property of widows, while for appearance’ sake you say long prayers. You will receive the severest sentence.

b 23:32 Go on … began: or You too must come up to your fathers' standards.

c 23:38 Some witnesses omit and laid waste.

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