Section 1, Chapter 24
Christ admonishes the people to follow the good doctrine, not the bad example of the scribes and Pharisees. He warns his disciples not to imitate their ambition and denounces divers woes against them for their hypocrisy and blindness.
23:1. Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to his disciples,
23:2. Saying: The scribes and the Pharisees have sitten on the chair of Moses.
23:3. All things therefore whatsoever they shall say to you, observe and do: but according to their works do ye not. For they say, and do not.
23:4. For they bind heavy and insupportable burdens and lay them on men's shoulders: but with a finger of their own they will not move them.
23:5. And all their works they do for to be seen of men. For they make their phylacteries broad and enlarge their fringes.
Phylacteries. . .that is, parchments, on which they wrote the ten commandments, and carried them on their foreheads before their eyes: which the Pharisees affected to wear broader than other men; so to seem more zealous for the law.
23:6. And they love the first places at feasts and the first chairs in the synagogues,
23:7. And salutations in the market place, and to be called by men, Rabbi.
23:8. But be not you called Rabbi. For one is your master: and all you are brethren.
23:9. And call none your father upon earth; for one is your father, who is in heaven.
Call none your father—Neither be ye called masters, etc. . .The meaning is that our Father in heaven is incomparably more to be regarded, than any father upon earth: and no master to be followed, who would lead us away from Christ. But this does not hinder but that we are by the law of God to have a due respect both for our parents and spiritual fathers, (1 Cor. 4. 23:15,) and for our masters and teachers.
23:10. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your master, Christ.
23:11. He that is the greatest among you shall be your servant.
23:12. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be humbled: and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.
23:13. But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut the kingdom of heaven against men: for you yourselves do not enter in and those that are going in, you suffer not to enter.
23:14. Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour the houses of widows, praying long prayers. For this you shall receive the greater judgment.
23:15. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you go round about the sea and the land to make one proselyte. And when he is made, you make him the child of hell twofold more than yourselves.
23:16. Woe to you, blind guides, that say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but he that shall swear by the gold of the temple is a debtor.
23:17. Ye foolish and blind: for whether is greater, the gold or the temple that sanctifieth the gold?
23:18. And whosoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gift that is upon it is a debtor.
23:19. Ye foolish and blind: for whether is greater, the gift or the altar that sanctifieth the gift?
23:20. He therefore that sweareth by the altar sweareth by it and by all things that are upon it.
23:21. And whosoever shall swear by the temple sweareth by it and by him that dwelleth in it.
23:22. And he that sweareth by heaven sweareth by the throne of God and by him that sitteth thereon.
23:23. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; because you tithe mint and anise and cummin and have left the weightier things of the law: judgment and mercy and faith. These things you ought to have done and not to leave those undone.
23:24. Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel.
23:25. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; because you make clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but within you are full of rapine and uncleanness.
23:26. Thou blind Pharisee, first make clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, that the outside may become clean.
23:27. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; because you are like to whited sepulchres, which outwardly appear to men beautiful but within are full of dead men's bones and of all filthiness.
23:28. So you also outwardly indeed appear to men just: but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
23:29. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, that build the sepulchres of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the just,
Build the sepulchres, etc. . .This is not blamed, as if it were in itself evil to build or adorn the monuments of the prophets: but the hypocrisy of the Pharisees is here taxed; who, whilst they pretended to honour the memory of the prophets, were persecuting even unto death the Lord of the prophets.
23:30. And say: If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.
23:31. Wherefore you are witnesses against yourselves, that you are the sons of them that killed the prophets.
23:32. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.
23:33. You serpents, generation of vipers, how will you flee from the judgment of hell?
23:34. Therefore behold I send to you prophets and wise men and scribes: and some of them you will put to death and crucify: and some you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city.
23:35. That upon you may come all the just blood that hath been shed upon the earth, from the blood of Abel the just, even unto the blood of Zacharias the son of Barachias, whom you killed between the temple and the altar.
That upon you may come, etc. . .Not that they should suffer more than their own sins justly deserved; but that the justice of God should now fall upon them with such a final vengeance, once for all, as might comprise all the different kinds of judgments and punishments, that had at any time before been inflicted for the shedding of just blood.
23:36. Amen I say to you, all these things shall come upon this generation.
23:37. Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets and stonest them that are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered together thy children, as the hen doth gather her chickens under her wings, and thou wouldst not?
23:38. Behold, your house shall be left to you, desolate.
23:39. For I say to you, you shall not see me henceforth till you say: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.