*Scripture verses covered in this section's commentary are noted in italics

Matthew 23:1 meaning

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

The parallel accounts of Matthew 23:1 are found in Mark 12:37b and Luke 20:45.

After Jesus’s series of confrontations with the religious authorities where He spoke parables against them, Matthew notes a new section of material with the simple phrase Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples (v 1).

What immediately followed was:

  • a series of warnings and woes against the Pharisees (Matthew 23:2-36);
  • a lament of Jerusalem (Matthew 23:37);
  • teachings about Christ’s return, the perilous times His return will take place in, and how to prepare for it (Matthew 24:1-51); and
  • three extended parables about His return and the judgment (Matthew 25:1-46).

The later two of these chapters, chapters 24 and 25 are often referred to as the “Olivet Discourse.”

Jesus said these things, not specifically to the Pharisees and Sadducees, but to His disciples and to the listening crowds. Luke 20:45 indicates that His message was directed to His disciples, “while all the people were listening.” Mark says that “the large crowd enjoyed listening to Him” Mark 12:37). In any case, what Jesus said in Matthew 23-25 was said to a friendly or neutral audience rather than a hostile one which was the case for much of the previous two chapters.

Biblical Text

1 Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples,

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