Matthew, Chapter 23
23:1 "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 ye
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 ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye
are brethren. 9 And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is
your Father, which is in heaven. 10 Neither be ye called masters: for
one is your Master, even Christ."
spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples." Often times we see
the Lord deliver messages to the disciples and other times we see him
deliver messages specificially to the multitude. On this occasion, the
message was both to the multitude and to the disciples. Also, the
message pertained to the Old Testament service as he spoke of the
scribes and the Pharisees sitting in Moses' seat. The authority of the
scribes and the Pharisees was the authority of the Old Testament law as
delivered unto Moses and subsequently to the children of Israel.
the scribes and the Pharisees had polluted the law, they had no
authority to do so. The Lord told the disciples and the multitude to
"whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do." Of course, this
was talking about what they bid you observe under the law, in the Old
Testament worship and service, they were to observe and do.
not ye after their works: for they say, and do not." Notice the
hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees. They wanted to be known for
their knowledge of the law and to be honored for their knowledge of the
law. Yet they were not willing to keep the law, but wanted others to
keep the law and to judge others by whether they kept the law or not.
The scribes and Pharisees are still around today in this New Testament
day. They declare to others what they should do, and yet they are not
willing to do what they tell others they should do.
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." Some of the heavy burdens the Pharisaical preachers law on
their congregations today include:
1. They tell the congregation that they must
work their way to obtain salvation and to be born of the Spirit. Of
course, it is impossible for depraved man to even understand spiritual
things. Thus, only those already saved and born of the Spirit can hear
and respond to the gospel.
2. They tell their congregations that it is up
to the efforts of men to get the gospel to the lost in order to give
them a chance to be saved. They say that if you do not give your money,
then millions and billions will be lost and spend an eternity in hell.
What a guilt trip that lays on the members of the congregation.
3. They tell their congregations that they must
pay tithes in order for the gospel to go forth in other countries. This
tithe is laid on the widows and orphans and poor and becomes a grevious
burden to the helpless. Yet most of the Pharisaical preachers do not
pay tithes themselves, but receives large salaries to preach their form
of gospel. Often their income from preaching is far greater than the
majority to whom they portend to serve.
4. They tell their congregations that the
church and its gospel must be attractive to those outside the
congregation and thus they encourage the people to build huge,
elaborate, and extremely expensive buildings in which to worship,
otherwise, they say that people will not come and will be lost and spend
eternity in hell, because the congregation did not give.
5. They tell their congregations that they must
send missionaries into foreign fields and pay all the expenses of
sending them, otherwise, the inhabitants of those foreign countries will
be lost and go to hell.
6. They set up complicated structures in their
worship system and have the church to salary many who occupy positions
in those structures. Thus they salary youth ministers, Sunday school
teachers, secretaries, as well as the pastors. They also insist that
the church provide for their houses in which they live and to pay for
their insurance and vehicles in which they drive.
be seen, they continue to bind heavy burdens upon the people and
grievous to be borne and lay them on men's shoulders. Furthermore, they
lay this burden on others and make no effort to help bear the burden
themselves. All of this is unscriptural.
their works they do for to be seen of men." As in the Old Testament day
and in our day, these scribes and Pharisees are constantly calling
attention to themselves and to what they are doing. They want the
recognition of men. The true ministry of Jesus Christ does not do so.
They want to call attention to Christ and give him all the glory, honor,
and praise. The Pharisees are quick to tell you how many souls they
have saved for Christ (the truth is they haven't saved any) and where
all they have preached and to how many they have preached to and all
about the great works they are doing.
make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their
garments." In this age in which we are living, we see men who wear
articles of clothing in order to make it known that they are preachers.
Some wear their collars backward. Others wear robes that no one in the
congregation normally wears. They do about everything in their power to
let it be known that they are preaches or priests and to receive honor
and praise of men.
love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the
synagogues." Again, we see the desire for fame and honor that the
Pharisees and scribes have. They want the recognition and honor of
their so-called office. They want to be in a position of honor at
community gatherings and to be recognized and have a leadership role in
political events and other government events.
greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi." These
Pharisaical preachers want to be greeted in the markets and to be
recognized of men. Often, however, they know the names of very few in
their own congregations and recognize even fewer out in the market
place. Furthermore, they want to be recognized as great teachers and be
called "Rabbi, Rabbi," or more so, in our day, "Reverend, reverend."
not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are
brethren." We have only one Master and that is Christ. To assume
positions of honor, dishonors and disrespects our Master, Jesus Christ.
We are not to allow others to call us Rabbi or Master or Reverend. In
the church, we are all brethren. We call one another brethren or
sisters. Also, the term elder is biblical and refers in the New
Testament to those who preach the gospel. Nowhere are we to assume man
honoring titles. Our purpose is to honor and glorify the Lord Jesus
Christ and not man.
call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is
in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even
Christ." While it is appropriate for our natural children to refer to
their fathers as Father, we are not spiritual fathers, thus we should
not allow anyone to call us Father. We have only one Spiritual Father
and that is God. For someone to allow himself to be called Father in a
spiritual setting is dishonoring to God and should not be done.
Matt. 23:11, 12
"But he that is greatest among you shall be your
servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that
shall humble himself shall be exalted." (Matthew 23:11-12)
These two verses kindy puts us in our right
place when we want to be the greatest, when we want to be noticed, when
we exalt ourselves far and beyond our brethren, and when we desire the
praises of men better than the praises of God. This tells me that we
were put here to serve, to wait upon, to help, to teach, to be servants
and not to be waited upon. The Lord has a way of bursting our bubble
when we begin to exalt ourselves. Yet if we will humble ourselves in
the sense of these two verses there are blessings beyond measure. If we
can keep the mindset that all the brethren and sisters in Christ are
better than ourselves, that we are willing to take a backseat, the Lord
will exalt us in due time.
The above was written by Elder George Walker
and he said it so well that I will not comment further.
Matt. 23:13 "But woe
unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom
of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer
ye them that are entering to go in. 14 Woe unto you, scribes and
Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence
make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation. 15
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and
land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold
more the child of hell than yourselves."
"But woe unto you,
scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven
against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them
that are entering to go in." In this section of Matt. Chapter 23 we
have several woes that the Lord pronounced against the scribes,
Pharisees, and hypocrites. He began by telling them that they shut up
the kingdom of heaven against men. The scribes, Pharisees and
hypocrites were very much in opposition to the kingdom of heaven.
Because of their pride they had no desire to enter the kingdom of heaven
The kingdom of heaven
requires men to humble themselves, whereas the scribes, Pharisees, and
hypocrites were full of pride and sought honor from men rather than to
give all honor, praise, and glory to God. Furthermore, the kingdom of
heaven declares God's grace in salvation, and the scribes Pharisees, and
hypocrites had established a works system of salvation and convinced
many of this false worship system. By proclaiming a false or perverted
gospel, establishing a false works system for salvation, and promoting
the works of fleshly pride, they had turned many away from the kingdom
of God who would have without their efforts have humbled themselves and
sought entry into God's church kingdom.
"Woe unto you, scribes
and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a
pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater
damnation." To illustrate as to what great wickedness that the scribes,
Pharisees, and hypocrites would stoop, the Lord said they devoured
widows' houses and for a pretence made long prayer. These wicked men
appeal to the emotion of the poor widows and give them to give up even
their own homes to pay for the wicked religious schemes these men
invented. It apparently does not matter to these scribes, Pharisees,
and hypocrites what hardships they bring upon such as the poor widows,
so long as they receive their large salaries and honored positions.
Furthermore for a
pretence they make long prayer. The Lord spoke of such in chapter 6
verse 5, "And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites
are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners
of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you,
They have their reward." Thus their prayers are not sincere and are
designed to call attention to themselves and gain them recognition as
"Woe unto you, scribes
and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one
proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of
hell than yourselves." To make one proselyte means to convert them to
their false doctrines and practices. The Lord said that they make the
proselyte twofold more the child of hell than themselves. This
certainly teaches us that both the scribes, Pharisees, and hypocrites
along with the proselyte are all children of hell.
Matt. 23:16 "Woe unto
you, ye blind guides, which say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it
is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is a
debtor! 17 Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the
temple that sanctifieth the gold? 18 And, Whosoever shall swear by the
altar, it is nothing; but whosoever sweareth by the gift that is upon
it, he is guilty. 19 Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the
gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift? 20 Whoso therefore shall
swear by the altar, sweareth by it, and by all things thereon. 21 And
whoso shall swear by the temple, sweareth by it, and by him that
dwelleth therein. 22 And he that shall swear by heaven, sweareth by the
throne of God, and by him that sitteth thereon."
scribes, and hypocrites had developed a great scheme whereby someone
could either disannul or affirm their oaths. This scheme was contrary
to the law given by Moses: Num 30:2 "If a man vow a vow unto the LORD,
or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond; he shall not break his
word, he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth." A
woman's oath could be disavowed by her husband or established by her
husband, but a man's oath was established and he was not to break his
word, but to do according to all that proceeded out of his mouth.
The Pharisees scheme
took away the bond of a man's word, and put in his place the perceived
value of that which was sworn by. For instance, if a man swore by the
temple he was not obligated to keep his bond. His word was of no effect
because he had sworn by the temple. On the other hand, if he swore by
the gold of the temple, then he was bound by their law to keep the oath
and if he failed to keep it he came under the penalty of their law.
The Lord said in the
Old Testament that a man's oath was binding. The Pharisees said that a
man's oath was binding only if he swore by certain things.
The Lord pointed out
to the Pharisees that even in the things they had valued or had placed
no value upon, they were wrong. The Pharisees had valued the gold of
the temple, but had not valued the temple. As the Lord pointed out, the
temple sanctified the gold, but the gold did not sanctify the temple.
Similarly, the Lord
pointed out to them that they had valued the gift upon the altar, but
had placed no value upon the altar. Again, the Lord told them that the
altar was what sanctified the gift.
Next, the Lord told
them that if they sware altar, they swore by everything thereon. Also,
if they swore by the temple, they swore by him that dwelleth therein.
The bottom line is that whatever a man swears by he is obligated to
perform his oaths and this obligation comes from God and not by the
whims of men.
Matt. 23:23, 24
Matt. 23:23 "Woe unto
you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and
anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law,
judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to
leave the other undone. 24 Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and
swallow a camel."
The purpose of the
tithe as God gave to the children of Israel was to provide for the
priests and Levites who were not given an inheritance in the land of
Canaan, but were to occupy themselves with the service of God on behalf
of the rest of the children of Israel. Also, the tithe was used to
provide for the poor, the widows and orphans, and the strangers in the
Among all the cattle
and crops that the children of Israel raised, some of the least
significant would be the mint, anise, and cumin. These are spices used
to add flavor to the foods that they cooked. A little bit of spice
would go a long way and therefore, not much would be raised. Yet the
Pharisees wishing to observe the letter of the law and insisting that
others observe the letter of the law made sure that they paid tithe of
these spices and that others paid tithe of these spices.
However, the Pharisees
complete omitted the weightier matter of the law, judgment, mercy, and
faith. Surely these matters were multiple times more important than
paying a tithe of mint, anise, and cumin. The Lord told them that they
should have done the weightier matters of the law first and then done
the much less significant.
"Ye blind guides,
which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel." This statement points to
the fact that the Pharisees placed great emphasis on the very most
minute points of the law and then completely ignored the weightier
matters of the law.
Matt. 23:25 "Woe unto
you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of
the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and
excess. 26 Thou 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 ye 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 ye also
outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy
The above description
the Lord gives of the scribes, Pharisees, and hypocrites is that they
have an outward form of righteousness, but inwardly they are wicked.
Some people go to great lengths to appear to be righteous, to appear to
be religious, and to appear to be holy. They put on an outward show of
religion. However, when their lives are examined, no change is evident
in their fleshly behavior to indicate a work of grace in their heart.
Similarly, they build
great costly beautiful buildings in which to give an impression that
they are very pious and holy as a group. All of the outward trappings
are beautiful and righteous appearing. However, the Lord looks on the
heart and he knows what is in the heart of all men. The Pharisees may
convince others that they are righteous, but the Lord knows they are
full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
Matt. 23:29 "Woe unto
you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye 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 ye be
witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed
the prophets. 32 Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. 33 Ye
serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of
hell? 34 Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and
scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them
shall ye 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 ye slew between the temple and the altar."
Even though the
scribes, Pharisees, and hypocrites had built the tombs of the prophets
and garnished the sepulchers of the righteous and piously proclaimed
that they would not have done as the fathers in shedding the blood of
the prophets, yet their heart was to do the very thing that they
proclaimed they would not do. They had been so careful to appear
righteous and yet the Lord knew what they were about to do in destroying
the prophets, wise men and scribes. He declared to them that some of
them they would kill and crucify and some of them they would scourge in
their synagogues, and all of them they would persecute from city to
city. The Lord knew what was in the hearts of these self-righteous
hypocrites. He knew they would not obey the truth and that they would
not seek the kingdom of heaven and would seek to crucify him and seek to
destroy all of the followers of the Lord.
Furthermore, the Lord
laid the foundation at the close of this 23rd chapter for
what he would say in the 24th chapter when he proclaimed
judgment that would befall the scribes, Pharisees, and hypocrites with
the coming destruction of Jerusalem beginning in 70 A.D.
The time of vengeance
was soon coming upon the scribes, Pharisees, and hypocrites of Judah.
They would be called into account in judgment for their own wicked deeds
and for the wicked deeds of their fathers before them: "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 ye
slew between the temple and the altar."
In addition, the Lord
told these scribes, Pharisees, and hypocrites: "Fill ye up then the
measure of your fathers. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can
ye escape the damnation of hell." He called them serpents and a
generation of vipers. Certainly, the Lord presented a different picture
of them than they had of themselves. They thought themselves to be
righteous and went to great lengths to appear righteous. The Lord said
they were serpents and vipers. He asked, "How can ye escape the
damnation of hell?" If the Lord did not have a way for them to escape
the damnation of hell, then we certainly do not have a way that they
could escape the damnation of hell.
Matt. 23:36 "Verily I
say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation. 37 O
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them
which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children
together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye
would not! 38 Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. 39 For I say
unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is
he that cometh in the name of the Lord."
The Lord is here
proclaiming that the time of the Jewish economy was over and the day of
vengeance was at hand. He proclaimed them to be guilty of killing the
prophets and stoning them which he had sent unto them. Furthermore,
many times he would have gathered them together as a hen gathers her
chickens under her wings, yet the Jews would have none of it. Their
stubborn rebellion against the Lord over a substantial period of time
had led to the Lord's proclaiming their sentence of destruction that was
to come upon that generation. Their house is now desolate. The old law
economy is over and they have rejected the Lord Jesus Christ and have
rejected the true gospel of Jesus Christ and brought great persecutions
against the Lord's servants and against his church.
Is there any remedy
for them to be grafted back in to the service and true worship of God?
Yes there is: "For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till
ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord." Will
they ever do it? I do not find that the scriptures ever give us a
definitive answer to that question. I am certain that if the Jews ever
did come back into the true worship and service of God it would only be
by those who have been born of the Spirit of God for "the natural man
receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God."