Religious Hypocrites Denounced

Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples: “The scribes and the Pharisees are seated in the chair of Moses.[a] Therefore do whatever they tell you, and observe it. But don’t do what they do,[b] because they don’t practice what they teach. They tie up heavy loads that are hard to carry[c] and put them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves aren’t willing to lift a finger[d] to move them. They do everything[e] to be observed by others: They enlarge their phylacteries[f] and lengthen their tassels.[g] They love the place of honor at banquets, the front seats in the synagogues, greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by people.

“But as for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi,’ because you have one Teacher,[h] and you are all brothers. Do not call anyone on earth your father, because you have one Father, who is in heaven. 10 And do not be called masters either, because you have one Master,[i] the Messiah. 11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You lock up the kingdom of heaven from people. For you don’t go in, and you don’t allow those entering to go in.

[14 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You devour widows’ houses and make long prayers just for show.[j] This is why you will receive a harsher punishment.][k]

15 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to make one proselyte, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as fit for hell[l] as you are!

16 “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever takes an oath by the sanctuary, it means nothing. But whoever takes an oath by the gold of the sanctuary is bound by his oath.’[m] 17 Blind fools![n] For which is greater, the gold or the sanctuary that sanctified the gold? 18 Also, ‘Whoever takes an oath by the altar, it means nothing. But whoever takes an oath by the gift that is on it is bound by his oath.’[o] 19 Blind people![p] For which is greater, the gift or the altar that sanctifies the gift? 20 Therefore, the one who takes an oath by the altar takes an oath by it and by everything on it. 21 The one who takes an oath by the sanctuary takes an oath by it and by Him who dwells in it. 22 And the one who takes an oath by heaven takes an oath by God’s throne and by Him who sits on it.

23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You pay a tenth of[q] mint, dill, and cumin,[r] yet you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. These things should have been done without neglecting the others. 24 Blind guides! You strain out a gnat, yet gulp down a camel!

25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed[s] and self-indulgence! 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup,[t] so the outside of it[u] may also become clean.

27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every impurity. 28 In the same way, on the outside you seem righteous to people, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, 30 and you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we wouldn’t have taken part with them in shedding the prophets’ blood.’[v] 31 You, therefore, testify against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers’ sins![w]

33 “Snakes! Brood of vipers! How can you escape being condemned to hell?[x] 34 This is why I am sending you prophets, sages, and scribes. Some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will flog in your synagogues and hound from town to town. 35 So all the righteous blood shed on the earth will be charged to you,[y] from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. 36 I assure you: All these things will come on this generation!

Jesus’ Lamentation over Jerusalem

37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem! She who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her. How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks[z] under her wings, yet you were not willing! 38 See, your house is left to you desolate. 39 For I tell you, you will never see Me again until you say, ‘He who comes in the name of the Lord is the blessed One’!”[aa]


  1. Matthew 23:2 Perhaps a special chair for teaching in synagogues, or a metaphorical phrase for teaching with Moses’ authority
  2. Matthew 23:3 Lit do according to their works
  3. Matthew 23:4 Other mss omit that are hard to carry
  4. Matthew 23:4 Lit lift with their finger
  5. Matthew 23:5 Lit do all their works
  6. Matthew 23:5 Small leather boxes containing OT texts, worn by Jews on their arms and foreheads
  7. Matthew 23:5 Other mss add on their robes
  8. Matthew 23:8 Other mss add the Messiah
  9. Matthew 23:10 Or Teacher
  10. Matthew 23:14 Or prayers with false motivation
  11. Matthew 23:14 Other mss omit bracketed text
  12. Matthew 23:15 Lit twice the son of gehenna
  13. Matthew 23:16 Lit is obligated
  14. Matthew 23:17 Lit Fools and blind
  15. Matthew 23:18 Lit is obligated
  16. Matthew 23:19 Other mss read Fools and blind
  17. Matthew 23:23 Or You tithe
  18. Matthew 23:23 A plant whose seeds are used as a seasoning
  19. Matthew 23:25 Or full of violence
  20. Matthew 23:26 Other mss add and dish
  21. Matthew 23:26 Other mss read of them
  22. Matthew 23:30 Lit have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets
  23. Matthew 23:32 Lit the measure of your fathers
  24. Matthew 23:33 Lit escape from the judgment of gehenna
  25. Matthew 23:35 Lit will come on you
  26. Matthew 23:37 Or as a mother bird gathers her young
  27. Matthew 23:39 Ps 118:26