Woe to You, Scribes and Pharisees
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people's faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you allow in those who wish to enter.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel the land and sea to win a single convert, and when they become one, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.
“Woe to you, blind guides! You say, ‘If anyone swears an oath by the temple, it means nothing; but if anyone swears an oath by the gold of the temple, they are bound by their oath.’ You blind fools! Which is more important: the gold, or the temple that sanctified the gold? And you say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it means nothing; but if anyone swears by the gift on the altar, they are bound by their oath.’ You blind men! Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? So then, whoever swears an oath by the altar swears by the altar and by everything on it. And whoever swears an oath by the temple swears by it and by the One who dwells in it. And whoever swears an oath by heaven swears by God’s throne and by the One who sits on it.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You pay tithes on your mint, dill, and cumin. But you have disregarded the weightier matters of the law: justice, mercy, and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but the inside of the cup and dish are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, so that the outside may become clean as well.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside, but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything that is unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to be righteous, but on the inside, you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous. And you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ So, you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. Then go ahead and fill up the measure of your ancestors’ guilt by finishing what they started. You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape the sentence of hell?
“Because of this, I am sending you prophets and wise men, and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify, and others you will flog in your synagogues and persecute in town after town. And so, upon you will come the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Truly I tell you, the judgment for all these things will come upon this generation.”
See Matthew 23:13-36
1. “...nor will you allow in those who wish to enter.”: For the Gospel of Matthew, two of the sources—the Byzantine text-type (BYZ) and Textus Receptus (TR)—record the follow-on statements: “You defraud widows of their of their houses, and for a show make lengthy prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation.” These statements are similar to Mark 12:40 and Luke 20:47.
2. “hell”: in verses 43, 45, and 47 is the Greek word Gehenna. We first learn about Gehenna in the Old Testament. The word is derived from the Hebrew 'ge Hinnom,' or the “valley of Hinnom,” a valley that marked the western and southern borders of Jerusalem. The valley may have become a metaphor for hell because of the evil things that King Ahaz of Judah did in that valley, as described in 2 Chronicles 28.
3. “You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.”: Both gnats (Leviticus 11:23) and camels (Leviticus 11:4) were forbidden as food. Jesus’ statement stressed that the scribes and Pharisees were consumed by the very small matters of the law, but they ignored and violated God’s larger precepts.
4. “Abel…to… Zechariah”: From the first victim of murder (Abel of Genesis 4:8) to the last martyr (Zechariah of 2 Chronicles 24:20-22). But there is some confusion of identity in that the Zechariah that was martyred was the son of Jehoiada. The Zechariah that Jesus named was the one referenced in the Book of Zechariah, who was the son of Berekiah (Berechiah).