Matthew 23:13 (Woe to You, Hypocrites!)

In light of the religious pretense of the scribes and Pharisees—saying and not doing, placing heavy burdens on others that they were unwilling to lift so much as a finger to help move, and doing their religious deeds only to be seen and recognized by men—what does Jesus call them in Mat 23:13?  How many times does Jesus ascribe this name to them in this verse and the passage that follows?  See Mat 23:13,14,15,23, 25, 27,29.  What is the original meaning of a hypocrite, and how does that name fit religious pretenders?  Note: the Greek word refers literally to an actor on a stage, i.e., one who pretends to be someone other than he really is.  What three words of condemnation does Jesus pronounce upon the scribes and Pharisees in Mat 23:13, and by extension to all religious hypocrites?  What does the term “woe” indicate about the consequences of such divine condemnation?  What pattern do you notice from those upon whom such woes are pronounced throughout Scripture?  See Isa 3:8-11, 5:18-21, 31:1, Jer 13:27, 23:1, Eze 13:3, 16:15,23-26, 34:2, Amo 6:1, Mat 11:21, 18:7, 26:24, Jud 1:11.

How many times does Jesus repeat His woes upon the scribes and Pharisees in this and the following verses?  See Mat 23:13,14,15,16,23,25,27,29.  Considering that Mat 23:14 is not found in the earliest manuscripts and appears to have been interpolated later from Luk 20:47, what is the significance of Jesus’ sevenfold-plus condemnation of these religious leaders?  Cf. Rev 8:13, 9:12, 11:14, 18:10,16,19 and think:  In light of the three-fold woe of judgment pronounced upon the earth as God’s wrath is poured out in the final judgment, and the two-fold woe pronounced upon the harlot Babylon that represents the world system of Satan, the god of this age, that has been in opposition to God’s kingdom throughout the history of mankind (cf. again Eze 16:23), what does Jesus’ sevenfold-plus condemnation of the scribes and Pharisees teach us about those for whom God’s greatest condemnation and judgment is reserved?  See also Mat 24:51.  Although the religious leaders whom Jesus denounces in these verses thought they were the greatest in God’s kingdom, what does Jesus’ severe condemnation of them indicate otherwise?  Why is that?  See Mat 23:11 and cf. Mat 23:4.  Although they sought to deceive others about their true nature, who were they really deceiving?  Cf. Mat 7:21-23, 22:11-13.  How is this just like Satan?  See 2Co 11:13-15.  What does this remind us about what it takes to be most like Satan: to commit vile, abominable deeds of wickedness, or to love the world while pretending to be righteous?

What is the terrifying significance that it was Jesus who pronounced all these woes upon the scribes and Pharisees?  See 1Sa 2:25, Act 4:12 and consider: to whom may one look for salvation if He who alone can save pronounces woes that plead against him?  Is Jesus just a meek and humble lamb who came to seek and to save the lost?  See Hos 5:14, Rev 5:5-6; cf. Heb 9:27-28, 10:26-31, Isa 63:1-6.  What might this portend for many today who like the scribes and Pharisees suppose they are saved and like them are even longing for the day of the Lord, looking for a Messiah of their own design to fulfill their unsanctified desires?  See Amos 5:18-20.  How does this help us understand God’s mercy and patience in delaying that day?  See 2Pe 3:3-9.

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