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23. Seven Woes

1Then spake Jesus to the multitudes and to his disciples, 2saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses seat: 3all things therefore whatsoever they bid you, these do and observe: but do not ye after their works; for they say, and do not. 4Yea, they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with their finger. 5But all their works they do to be seen of men: for they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, 6and love the chief place at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, 7and the salutations in the marketplaces, and to be called of men, Rabbi. 8But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your teacher, and all ye are brethren. 9And call no man your father on the earth: for one is your Father, even he who is in heaven. 10Neither be ye called masters: for one is your master, even the Christ. 11But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. 12And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be humbled; and whosoever shall humble himself shall be exalted.

13But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye shut the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye enter not in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering in to enter 14Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, even while for a pretence ye make long prayers: therefore ye shall receive greater condemnation.

15Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he is become so, ye make him twofold more a son of hell than yourselves.

16Woe unto you, ye blind guides, that say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor. 17Ye fools and blind: for which is greater, the gold, or the temple that hath sanctified the gold? 18And, Whosoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gift that is upon it, he is a debtor. 19Ye blind: for which is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift? 20He therefore that sweareth by the altar, sweareth by it, and by all things thereon. 21And he that sweareth by the temple, sweareth by it, and by him that dwelleth therein. 22And he that sweareth by the heaven, sweareth by the throne of God, and by him that sitteth thereon.

23Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye tithe mint and anise and cummin, and have left undone the weightier matters of the law, justice, and mercy, and faith: but these ye ought to have done, and not to have left the other undone. 24Ye blind guides, that strain out the gnat, and swallow the camel!

25Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye cleanse the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full from extortion and excess. 26Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup and of the platter, that the outside thereof may become clean also.

27Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which outwardly appear beautiful, but inwardly are full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. 28Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but inwardly ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.

29Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye build the sepulchres of the prophets, and garnish the tombs of the righteous, 30and say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we should not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. 31Wherefore ye witness to yourselves, that ye are sons of them that slew the prophets. 32Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. 33Ye serpents, ye offspring of vipers, how shall ye escape the judgment of hell? 34Therefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: some of them shall ye kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city: 35that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of Abel the righteous unto the blood of Zachariah son of Barachiah, whom ye slew between the sanctuary and the altar. 36Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.

37O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, that killeth the prophets, and stoneth them that are sent unto her! how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! 38Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. 39For 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.

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33. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?—In thus, at the end of His ministry, recalling the words of the Baptist at the outset of his, our Lord would seem to intimate that the only difference between their condemnation now and then was, that now they were ripe for their doom, which they were not then.

34. Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes—The I here is emphatic: "I am sending," that is, "am about to send." In Lu 11:49 the variation is remarkable: "Therefore also, said the wisdom of God, I will send them," &c. What precisely is meant by "the wisdom of God" here, is somewhat difficult to determine. To us it appears to be simply an announcement of a purpose of the Divine Wisdom, in the high style of ancient prophecy, to send a last set of messengers whom the people would reject, and rejecting, would fill up the cup of their iniquity. But, whereas in Luke it is "I, the Wisdom of God, will send them," in Matthew it is "I, Jesus, am sending them"; language only befitting the one sender of all the prophets, the Lord God of Israel now in the flesh. They are evidently evangelical messengers, but called by the familiar Jewish names of "prophets, wise men, and scribes," whose counterparts were the inspired and gifted servants of the Lord Jesus; for in Luke (Lu 11:49) it is "prophets and apostles."

unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar—As there is no record of any fresh murder answering to this description, probably the allusion is not to any recent murder, but to 2Ch 24:20-22, as the last recorded and most suitable case for illustration. And as Zacharias' last words were, "The Lord require it," so they are here warned that of that generation it should be required.

36. Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation—As it was only in the last generation of them that "the iniquity of the Amorites was full" (Ge 15:16), and then the abominations of ages were at once completely and awfully avenged, so the iniquity of Israel was allowed to accumulate from age to age till in that generation it came to the full, and the whole collected vengeance of heaven broke at once over its devoted head. In the first French Revolution the same awful principle was exemplified, and Christendom has not done with it yet.




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