Matthew 23 – Jesus Called Them Hypocrites – The Gospels

Read Gospel of Matthew TextThen Jesus speaking to the crowds and to his disciples, said: 2 “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees now occupy the chair of Moses. 3 Therefore practice and lay to heart everything that they preach but do not copy their works, for they do not follow what they preach. 4 While they make up heavy loads and pile them on other men’s shoulder’s they decline, themselves, to lift a finger to move them. 5 All their actions are done to attract attention. They widen their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, and like to have the place of honor at dinner, and the best seats in the synagogues, 7 and to be greeted in the markets with respect, and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by everybody.”

8 “But do not allow yourselves to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one Master, Christ, and all you are brothers and sisters. 9 And do not call anyone on earth your father, for one is your Father, which is in heaven. 10 Nor must you allow yourselves to be called ‘leaders,’ for you have only one leader, the Christ. 11 Those who would be the greatest among you must be your servant. 12 Whoever shall exalt themselves will be humbled, and whoever shall humble themselves will be exalted.”

13 “But woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, hypocrites that you are! You turn the key of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you do not go in yourselves, nor yet allow those who try to go in to do so. 14 Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, hypocrites that you are! You destroy widow’s houses, even while pretending to make long prayers; therefore you shall receive greater condemnation.”1

15 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, hypocrites that you are! You scour land and sea to make a single convert, and, when he or she is gained, you make them twice as deserving of the pit as you are yourselves. 16 Woe to you, you blind guides! You say, ‘if any swear by the temple, it counts for nothing; but, if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, their oaths are binding’! 17 Fools that you are and blind! Which is the more important? The gold? Or the temple which has given sacredness to the gold?”

18 “You say, too, ‘If any swear by the altar, their oaths count for nothing, but, if anyone swears by the offering placed on it, their oaths are binding’! 19 Blind indeed! Which is the more important? The offering? Or the altar which gives sacredness to the offering? 20 Therefore anyone, swearing by the altar, swears by it and by all that is on it, 21 And anyone, swearing by the temple, swears by it and by him who dwells in it, 22 While anyone, swearing by heaven, swears by the throne of God, and by him who sits upon it.”

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23 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, hypocrites that you are! You pay tithes on mint, fennel, and caraway seed, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice, mercy, and good faith. These last you ought to have put into practice, without neglecting the first. 24 You blind guides, to strain out a gnat and to swallow a camel! 25 Woe to you, teachers of law and Pharisees, hypocrites that you are! You clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside they are filled with the results of greed and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the dish, so that the outside may become clean as well.”

27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, hypocrites that you are! You are like whitewashed tombs, which indeed look fair outside, while inside they are filled with dead men’s bones and all kinds of filth. 28 It is the same with you. Outwardly, and to others, you have the look of religious men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and sin.”

29 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, hypocrites that you are! You build the tombs of the prophets, and decorate the monuments of religious men, 30 and say: ‘Had we been living in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part in their murder of the prophets! 31 By doing this you are furnishing evidence against yourselves that you are true children of the men who murdered the prophets. 32 Thus you fill up the measure of your ancestor’s guilt.”

33 “You serpents and brood of vipers! How can you escape being sentenced to the pit? 34 That is why I send you prophets, wise men, and teachers of the law, some of whom you will crucify and kill, and some of whom you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from town to town; 35 In order that upon your heads may fall every drop of innocent ‘blood split on earth,’ from the blood of innocent Abel down to that of Zechariah, Barachiah’s son, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36 All this, I tell you, will come home to the present generation.”

37 “Jerusalem! Jerusalem! She who slays the prophets and stones the messengers sent to her—oh how often have I wished to gather your children round me, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not come! 38 Verily, your house is left to you desolate! 39 For nevermore, I tell you, shall you see me, until you say: ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!'”

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To read Chapter 24 of the Gospel of Matthew, please go to False Christs and False Prophets.

  1. Go to the introduction to The Lord’s Prayer for Daily Life to discover who might be considered modern day hypocrites in the eyes of Christ for the manner in which mislead Christians and claim false piety. []