23:21 Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees a sit in Moses'
(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 and hirelings.
23:3b 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
23:42 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.
23:53 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 (Nu 15:38 De 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 together.
23:7 And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, 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 men.
23:84 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 minsters.
(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 (Mt 11:1-30).
(h) He seems to allude to references in (Isa 54:13) and
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,
(k) It seems that the scribes hunted very greatly after
such titles, these scribes being the ones whom he
called blind guides in (Mt 23:16).
23:12 And whosoever l shall exalt himself shall be abased; and
he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.
(l) He seems to allude to the position of the rabbis, for
rabbi signifies one that is in a high position.
23:135 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 than
(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.
23:146 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
(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 debtor!
(q) Is a debtor. In the Syrian language, sins are called
"Debts", and it is certain that Christ spoke in
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
23:22 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.
23:237 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.
23:258 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.
23:299 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 themselves.
23:32u 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.
23:3410 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.
23:3511 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.
23:3712 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.