Bible Study Lesson – Matthew 23:13-36

Jesus Condemns Religious LeadersThis passage for Scripture study gives us the 8 woes Jesus presented to the Pharisees and scribes.

He called them “blind guides” because of their greed and pretentious lifestyle.

In the Book of Matthew, as in other books of the New Testament, Jesus once again exposes the leaders of religion for who they really are.

Jesus Condemns Religious Leaders & Grieves for Jerusalem

Were the Pharisees the worst people on earth?

Maybe not, but their practices showed that they were really after wealth and power. Sound familiar in today’s politics?

Jesus to the Leaders (8 Woes) ..

“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.

[Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive greater condemnation.]

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.

“Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple, that is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple is obligated.’

You fools and blind men! Which is more important, the gold or the temple that sanctified the gold?

And, ‘Whoever swears by the altar, that is nothing, but whoever swears by the offering on it, he is obligated.’

You blind men, which is more important, the offering, or the altar that sanctifies the offering?

Therefore, whoever swears by the altar, swears both by the altar and by everything on it.

And whoever swears by the temple, swears both by the temple and by Him who dwells within it.

And whoever swears by heaven, swears both by the throne of God and by Him who sits upon it.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.

You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence.

You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.

So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say, ‘If we had been living in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’

So you testify against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets.

Fill up, then, the measure of the guilt of your fathers.

You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell?

“Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city, so that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.

Truly I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation. – Matthew 23:13-36 NASB

8 Woes to the Scribes and Pharisees

In a nutshell, it’s all about power, money and a lust for status.

Jesus’ words sound harsh here and they were meant to be.

Who Were the Pharisees?

The Pharisees and scribes were not just local pastors as we know them today although there are ministers who are in the profession for the wrong reasons. These were the leaders of the cities The Pharisees were leaders people looked to for spiritual guidance.

A funny thing about power — the more you have of it the more you seem to want. This was the case with many of the religious leaders of Jesus’ day so He called them on it with His “8 woes“.

Jesus knew that the Pharisees were totally missing the point. They were focusing on laws and interpretations of the laws instead of putting their focus on God, where it should be.

Christ knew that, if the teacher is a hypocrite then the student becomes one also… Maybe even more as they (the students) are taught hypocritical values.

Snake in the Grass?

Corruption is also a main player in these verses. The leaders were posing as saints on the outside and corrupt on the inside as Jesus explained in verse 25 by saying;

For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence.

This could go on and on but the point is for us to “walk the walk” of a Christian, not just on the outside but on the inside too.

A very difficult thing to do sometimes but all God asks is that we try. He will help us.

Love in Christ

– Bob

To learn more about the love and life-changing experience of Jesus Christ, please take a moment to go here.

Filed under: Matthew