23:2 1 Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees a sit in Moses' seat:
(1) We ought to listen to whatever we are truly
taught from the word of God, even by wicked teachers, but in a way so that we
abstain from their evil behaviour.
(a) Because God appointed the order, the Lord
would therefore have his word to be heard even from the mouth of hypocrites
23:3 b All
therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, [that] observe and do; but do not ye
after their works: for they say, and do not.
(b) Provided always that they deliver the
doctrine of Moses which they profess, which thing the metaphor of the seat
shows, which they occupied as teachers of Moses' teaching.
23:4 2 For
they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay [them] on men's
shoulders; but they [themselves] will not move them with one of their fingers.
(2) For the most part hypocrites most severely
exact those things which they themselves chiefly neglect.
23:5 3 But
all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their c
phylacteries, and enlarge d the borders
of their garments,
(3) Hypocrites are ambitious.
(c) It was a thread or ribband of blue silk in
the fringe of a corner, the beholding of which made them remember the laws and
ordinances of God: and therefore it was called a phylactery, or as you would
say, a container. See (Numbers
6:8), a commandment which the Jews abused afterwards, as those do today
who hang the gospel of John around their necks, which was condemned many years
ago in the Council of Antioch.
(d) Literally, "Twisted tassels of thread
which hung at the outermost hems of their garments."
23:6 And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the
chief seats in the e synagogues,
(e) When assemblies and councils are gathered
23:7 And greetings in the markets, and to be called
of men, Rabbi, f Rabbi.
(f) This word "Rabbi" signifies one
that is above his fellows, and is as good as any of them: and we may see by
the repeating of it how proud a title it was. Now they were called Rabbi who,
by the laying on of hands, were uttered and declared to the world to be wise
23:8 4 But
be not ye g called Rabbi: for h
one is your Master, [even] Christ; and all ye are brethren.
(4) Modesty is a singular ornament of God's
(g) Seek not ambitiously after it: for our Lord
does not forbid us to give the magistrate and our masters the honour that is
due to them; Augustine in a sermon on the words of God from (Matthew
(h) He seems to allude to references in (Isaiah
54:13) and (Jeremiah
23:9 And call no [man] your i
father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.
(i) He attacks a custom of the Jews, for they
called the rabbis "our fathers".
23:10 Neither be ye called k
masters: for one is your Master, [even] Christ.
(k) It seems that the scribes hunted very greatly
after such titles, these scribes being the ones whom he called blind guides in
23:12 And whosoever l
shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be
(l) He seems to allude to the position of the
rabbis, for rabbi signifies one that is in a high position.
23:13 5 But
woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, m
hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go
in [yourselves], neither suffer ye them that are n
entering to go in.
(5) Hypocrites cannot endure others to be better
(m) Christ, when he reproves any man sharply,
uses this word to show us that there is nothing more detestable than hypocrisy
and falsehood in religion.
(n) Who are even at the door.
23:14 6 Woe
unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and
o for a pretence make long prayer:
therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.
(6) It is a common thing among hypocrites to
abuse the pretence of zeal when in reality they are exercising covetousness
(o) Literally, "under a colour of long
praying"; and the word "and" signifies a double wickedness in
them: the one, that they devoured widows goods: the other that they did it
under a pretence of godliness.
23:15 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees,
hypocrites! for ye compass sea and p
land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the
child of hell than yourselves.
(p) The dry part: now that part of the earth is
called dry which the Lord has given to us to live upon.
23:16 Woe unto you, [ye] blind guides, which say,
Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by
the gold of the temple, he q is a
(q) Is a debtor. In the Syrian language, sins are
called "Debts", and it is certain that Christ spoke in Syrian.
23:17 [Ye] fools and blind: for whether is greater,
the gold, or the temple that r
sanctifieth the gold?
(r) Causes the gold which is dedicated to a holy
use to be considered holy.
And he that shall swear by heaven, sweareth by the s
throne of God, and by him that sitteth thereon.
(s) If heaven is God's throne, than he is
without doubt above this entire world.
23:23 7 Woe
unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise
and cummin, and have omitted the weightier [matters] of the law, judgment,
mercy, and t faith: these ought ye to
have done, and not to leave the other undone.
(7) Hypocrites take special care in small
matters, and neglect the things which matter the very most.
(t) Faithfulness in the keeping of promises.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside
of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.
(8) Hypocrites pay too much attention to outward
things, and the inward things they utterly condemn.
9 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees,
hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the
sepulchres of the righteous,
(9) Hypocrites, when they try the most to cover
up their wickedness, it is then by the just judgment of God that they shame
Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.
(u) A proverb used by the Jews, which has this
meaning: You go on also, and follow your ancestors, that at length your
wickedness may come to its fulness.
Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and
[some] of them ye shall kill and crucify; and [some] of them shall ye scourge in
your synagogues, and persecute [them] from city to city:
(10) Hypocrites are cruel.
That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the
blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of y
Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.
(11) The punishment of those who persecute the
gospel, under the pretence of zeal.
(y) Of Joiada, who was also called Barach-jah,
that is, blessed of the Lord.
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, [thou] that killest the prophets, and stonest them which
are sent unto thee, how often would I have z
gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under [her]
wings, and ye would not!
(12) Where the mercy of God was greatest, it was
there that there was the greatest wickedness and rebellion, and at length the
sharpest judgments of God. z He speaks
of the outward ministry, and as he was promised for the saving of this people,
he was making sure that it would happen, even from the time that the promise
was made to Abraham.