Matthew 23:1-22 World English Bible

Jesus Denounces the Scribes and Pharisees

23 1  Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to his disciples, 2  saying, “The scribes and the Pharisees sat on Moses’ seat. 3  All things therefore whatever they tell you to observe, observe and do, but don’t do their works; for they say, and don’t do. 4  For they bind heavy burdens that are grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not lift a finger to help them. 5  But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries [1] broad, enlarge the fringes [2] of their garments, 6  and love the place of honor at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, 7  the salutations in the marketplaces, and to be called ‘Rabbi, Rabbi’ by men. 8  But don’t you be called ‘Rabbi,’ for one is your teacher, the Christ, and all of you are brothers. 9  Call no man on the earth your father, for one is your Father, he who is in heaven. 10  Neither be called masters, for one is your master, the Christ. 11  But he who is greatest among you will be your servant. 12  Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

13  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and as a pretense you make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation. 14  “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you shut up the Kingdom of Heaven against men; for you don’t enter in yourselves, neither do you allow those who are entering in to enter. [3] 15  Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel around by sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much of a son of Gehenna [4] as yourselves. 16  “Woe to you, you blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple, he is obligated.’ 17  You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifies the gold? 18  ‘Whoever swears by the altar, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gift that is on it, he is obligated?’ 19  You blind fools! For which is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifies the gift? 20  He therefore who swears by the altar, swears by it, and by everything on it. 21  He who swears by the temple, swears by it, and by him who was living in it. 22  He who swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God, and by him who sits on it.


[1] 23:5 phylacteries (tefillin in Hebrew) are small leather pouches that some Jewish men wear on their forehead and arm in prayer. They are used to carry a small scroll with some Scripture in it. See Deuteronomy 6:8.

[2] 23:5 or, tassels

[3] 23:14 Some Greek manuscripts reverse the order of verses 13 and 14, and some omit verse 13, numbering verse 14 as 13.

[4] 23:15 or, Hell

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