|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
23:1-12 The scribes and Pharisees explained the law of Moses, and enforced obedience to it. They are charged with hypocrisy in religion. We can only judge according to outward appearance; but God searches the heart. They made phylacteries. These were scrolls of paper or parchment, wherein were written four paragraphs of the law, to be worn on their foreheads and left arms, Ex 13:2-10; 13:11-16; De 6:4-9; 11:13-21. They made these phylacteries broad, that they might be thought more zealous for the law than others. God appointed the Jews to make fringes upon their garments, Nu 15:38, to remind them of their being a peculiar people; but the Pharisees made them larger than common, as if they were thereby more religious than others. Pride was the darling, reigning sin of the Pharisees, the sin that most easily beset them, and which our Lord Jesus takes all occasions to speak against. For him that is taught in the word to give respect to him that teaches, is commendable; but for him that teaches, to demand it, to be puffed up with it, is sinful. How much is all this against the spirit of Christianity! The consistent disciple of Christ is pained by being put into chief places. But who that looks around on the visible church, would think this was the spirit required? It is plain that some measure of this antichristian spirit prevails in every religious society, and in every one of our hearts.
Verses 1-39. - Denunciation of the scribes and Pharisees, and lamentation over Jerusalem which followed their guidance to her own destruction. (Peculiar to St. Matthew.) Verse 1. - Then spake Jesus. Some small portion of this discourse, the close of our Lord's public teaching, is found in Mark 12:38-40 and Luke 20:45-47 (comp. also Luke 11, 13.). It is here addressed to the multitude, and to his disciples, and seems to have been designed to comfort the former under the difficulty of having accredited teachers who were proved to have misunderstood Scripture, and were incapable of interpreting it aright. He willed to show how far they were to follow these instructors, and where it was necessary to draw a line beyond which they were not to be obeyed. Some modern critics have suggested that this discourse was not spoken at this time, but that St. Matthew has here collected into one body certain sayings of our Lord uttered at different times and places. It is far more natural to suppose that St. Matthew's statement of the occasion of this discourse is historically true, and that Christ here repeated some parts of the censure he had already, in the course of his ministry, found it necessary to pronounce. The unity of this utterance in form and essence, its logical sequence and climactic character, prove that it was delivered at one time, and was intended to form the Lord's farewell address to the wayward people who would not come unto him that they might have life. The discourse may be divided into three parts.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Then spake Jesus to the multitude,.... To the common people that were about him in the temple; the high priests and elders, Scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees, having left him, being all nonplussed and silenced by him: and now, lest on the one hand, the people seeing the ignorance and errors of these men detected by Christ, should be tempted to conclude there was nothing in religion, and to neglect the word and worship of God, on account of the concern these men had in it; and on the other hand, because of their great authority and influence, being in Moses's chair, lest the people should be led into bad principles and practices by them, he directs them in what they should observe them, and in what not: that they were not altogether to be rejected, nor in everything to be attended to; and warns them against their ostentation, pride, hypocrisy, covetousness, and cruelty; and, at the same time, removes an objection against himself, proving that he was no enemy to Moses, and the law, rightly explained and practised:
and to his disciples; not only the twelve, but to all that believed in him, and were followers of him.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Mt 23:1-39. Denunciation of the Scribes and Pharisees—Lamentation over Jerusalem, and Farewell to the Temple. ( = Mr 12:38-40; Lu 20:45-47).
For this long and terrible discourse we are indebted, with the exception of a few verses in Mark and Luke, to Matthew alone. But as it is only an extended repetition of denunciations uttered not long before at the table of a Pharisee, and recorded by Luke (Lu 11:37-54), we may take both together in the exposition.
Denunciation of the Scribes and Pharisees (Mt 23:1-36).
The first twelve verses were addressed more immediately to the disciples, the rest to the scribes and Pharisees.
1. Then spake Jesus to the multitude—to the multitudes, "and to his disciples."
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