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Jesus Denounces Scribes and Pharisees


Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, 2“The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; 3therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach. 4They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them. 5They do all their deeds to be seen by others; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long. 6They love to have the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues, 7and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have people call them rabbi. 8But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all students. 9And call no one your father on earth, for you have one Father—the one in heaven. 10Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Messiah. 11The greatest among you will be your servant. 12All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.

13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you lock people out of the kingdom of heaven. For you do not go in yourselves, and when others are going in, you stop them. 15Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cross sea and land to make a single convert, and you make the new convert twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.

16 “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the sanctuary is bound by nothing, but whoever swears by the gold of the sanctuary is bound by the oath.’ 17You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the sanctuary that has made the gold sacred? 18And you say, ‘Whoever swears by the altar is bound by nothing, but whoever swears by the gift that is on the altar is bound by the oath.’ 19How blind you are! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20So whoever swears by the altar, swears by it and by everything on it; 21and whoever swears by the sanctuary, swears by it and by the one who dwells in it; 22and whoever swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God and by the one who is seated upon it.

23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. It is these you ought to have practiced without neglecting the others. 24You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel!

25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may become clean.

27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which on the outside look beautiful, but inside they are full of the bones of the dead and of all kinds of filth. 28So you also on the outside look righteous to others, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous, 30and you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31Thus you testify against yourselves that you are descendants of those who murdered the prophets. 32Fill up, then, the measure of your ancestors. 33You snakes, you brood of vipers! How can you escape being sentenced to hell? 34Therefore I send you prophets, sages, and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town, 35so that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. 36Truly I tell you, all this will come upon this generation.

The Lament over Jerusalem

37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 38See, your house is left to you, desolate. 39For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.’ ”


14. For you devour widows’ houses. He now proceeds farther, for he not only accuses them of open crimes which demand hatred and detestation, but even tears away the disguises of virtues, by which they deceived the common people. If it be objected, that there was no need of reproving those things which could do no harm by their example, we ought to recollect that it was impossible to promote the salvation of those who were held bound by the errors of the scribes, unless they turned away entirely from such persons. This reason, therefore, constrained Christ to expose the vain appearance of virtues, which nourishes superstitions.

And that under the pretense of a long prayer. He says in general that, even when they appear to do what is right, they wickedly abuse the pretense of religion. Long prayers contained some evidence of remarkable piety; for the more holy a man is, the more eminently is he devoted to prayer. But Christ says that the Pharisees and scribes were so impure, that even the chief part of the worship of God was not used by them without committing sin, because constancy in prayer was with them, trap for base gain. For they sold their prayers in exactly the same manner as hirelings dispose of their daily labor. 9797     “Que les mercenaires et ouvriers ont accoustumé de vendre leur labeur, et se loer à la journee;” — “as hirelings and laborers are wont to sell their labor, and to hire themselves out for the day.” Hence also we infer that our Lord does not exactly reprove long prayers, as if in itself it were an impropriety—particularly since pastors ought to be eminently devoted to prayer—but to condemn this abuse, because a thing laudable in itself was turned to a wicked purpose. For when men aim at gain by means of hired prayers, the more fervent the appearance of what they call devotion becomes, the more is the name of God profaned. And as this false conviction had been long and deeply seated in the minds of the common people, on this account Christ employs harsher threatenings; for the pollution of so sacred a thing was no light offense. That it was chiefly widows that were imposed on need not excite surprise, because silly women are more prone to superstition, and therefore it has always been customary for base men to make gain of. them. Thus Paul brings a charge against the false teachers of his age, that they

lead captive silly women laden with sins, (2 Timothy 3:6.)

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