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Chapter 23

Matthew 23 Commentary

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Matthew 23:1 meaning

After the religious leaders stop debating with Jesus, He begins to address His disciples, as the crowds listen on.

Matthew 23:2-3 meaning

Jesus tells His disciples to listen to and obey what the scribes and Pharisees say, because they sit in the seat of Moses. But He warns them not to emulate their behavior and lived example. They practice Bad Religion.

Matthew 23:4 meaning

Jesus teaches that Bad Religion puts others down in a moral game. He exposes how the Pharisees impose suffocating rules upon people to watch them suffer and bask in their own moral superiority without showing an ounce of pity.

Matthew 23:5 meaning

Jesus teaches that Bad Religion is a performance to be noticed by men. He illustrates that the scribes and Pharisees display their (fake) righteousness with what they wear. Their morality is merely a show.

Matthew 23:6-7 meaning

Jesus teaches that the heart of Bad Religion craves honor from men and power to lord over others. This is what motivates the scribes and Pharisees to act as they do. (Do not be like them).

Matthew 23:8-10 meaning

Jesus forbids His disciples from challenging God’s position as Rabbi and Leader. And He forbids them to follow anyone other than God the Father. He does these things while alluding to the Trinity.

Matthew 23:11-12 meaning

Jesus teaches that the remedies for Bad Religion is humility before God and others, as well as contentment in serving regardless of earthly recognition. These are the practices that will make one great in His kingdom.

Matthew 23:13 meaning

Jesus speaks the first of eight woes to the scribes and Pharisees. It is issued because they refuse to enter God’s kingdom or to allow anyone else to enter it.

Matthew 23:14 meaning

Jesus speaks the second of eight woes to the scribes and Pharisees. It is issued because they pretend to take care of widows, but actually seek to take great advantage of them.

Matthew 23:15 meaning

In His third woe, Jesus rebukes the scribes and Pharisees for seeking to make converts to enhance their personal following and status.

Matthew 23:16-22 meaning

In His fourth woe, Jesus condemns blind guides who wrongly teach others a legally justified way to lie. Using their own rationale, Jesus demonstrates how their entire thinking is backwards and wrong.

Matthew 23:23-24 meaning

In His fifth woe to the scribes and Pharisees, Jesus chastises the Pharisees for paying attention to tiny aspects of their rules even as they ignored the larger principles that God’s law pointed toward.

Matthew 23:25-26 meaning

In His sixth woe, Jesus compares the scribes and Pharisees to a cup that is spotlessly clean on the outside but filthy and unfit for use on the inside. He admonishes them to clean the inside first so that the outside may become clean also.

Matthew 23:27-28 meaning

In His seventh woe, Jesus compared the scribes and Pharisees to whitewashed tombs which appear clean on the outside but are full of rotting corpses.

Matthew 23:29-36 meaning

Jesus's final woe of warning to the scribes and Pharisees was condemning. In it He demonstrated how they were just like their fathers who murdered God's prophets when they killed John the Baptist. He also said they would get their fill of even more prophet's blood—so much so that they would become as guilty as though they killed every righteous person from Abel to Zechariah.

Matthew 23:37-39 meaning

Jesus’s final public teaching before His arrest was a lament and acknowledgment of His people’s rejection of Him as the Messiah. It was coupled with a prophetic promise that He would be received by His people upon His return to earth at His second coming.