Matthew 23:15
Parallel Verses
New International Version
"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.

New Living Translation
"What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you cross land and sea to make one convert, and then you turn that person into twice the child of hell you yourselves are!

English Standard Version
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.

New American Standard Bible
"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.

King James Bible
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to make one proselyte, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as fit for hell as you are!

International Standard Version
"How terrible it will be for you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to make a single convert, and when this happens you make him twice as fit for hell as you are.

NET Bible
"Woe to you, experts in the law and you Pharisees, hypocrites! You cross land and sea to make one convert, and when you get one, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves!

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
Woe to you Scribes and Pharisees, phonies! For you travel around sea and land to make one convert, and when it has happened, you make him doubly the son of Gehenna that you are!

GOD'S WORD® Translation
"How horrible it will be for you, scribes and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You cross land and sea to recruit a single follower, and when you do, you make that person twice as fit for hell as you are.

Jubilee Bible 2000
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more a son of hell than yourselves.

King James 2000 Bible
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you travel on sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, you make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.

American King James Version
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, you make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.

American Standard Version
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he is become so, ye make him twofold more a son of hell than yourselves.

Douay-Rheims Bible
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.

Darby Bible Translation
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, for ye compass the sea and the dry [land] to make one proselyte, and when he is become [such], ye make him twofold more [the] son of hell than yourselves.

English Revised Version
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he is become so, ye make him twofold more a son of hell than yourselves.

Webster's Bible Translation
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him two-fold more the child of hell than yourselves.

Weymouth New Testament
"Alas for you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, for you scour sea and land in order to win one convert--and when he is gained, you make him twice as much a son of Gehenna as yourselves.

World English Bible
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel around by sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much of a son of Gehenna as yourselves.

Young's Literal Translation
'Woe to you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye go round the sea and the dry land to make one proselyte, and whenever it may happen -- ye make him a son of gehenna twofold more than yourselves.
Parallel Commentaries
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

23:13-33 The scribes and Pharisees were enemies to the gospel of Christ, and therefore to the salvation of the souls of men. It is bad to keep away from Christ ourselves, but worse also to keep others from him. Yet it is no new thing for the show and form of godliness to be made a cloak to the greatest enormities. But dissembled piety will be reckoned double iniquity. They were very busy to turn souls to be of their party. Not for the glory of God and the good of souls, but that they might have the credit and advantage of making converts. Gain being their godliness, by a thousand devices they made religion give way to their worldly interests. They were very strict and precise in smaller matters of the law, but careless and loose in weightier matters. It is not the scrupling a little sin that Christ here reproves; if it be a sin, though but a gnat, it must be strained out; but the doing that, and then swallowing a camel, or, committing a greater sin. While they would seem to be godly, they were neither sober nor righteous. We are really, what we are inwardly. Outward motives may keep the outside clean, while the inside is filthy; but if the heart and spirit be made new, there will be newness of life; here we must begin with ourselves. The righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees was like the ornaments of a grave, or dressing up a dead body, only for show. The deceitfulness of sinners' hearts appears in that they go down the streams of the sins of their own day, while they fancy that they should have opposed the sins of former days. We sometimes think, if we had lived when Christ was upon earth, that we should not have despised and rejected him, as men then did; yet Christ in his Spirit, in his word, in his ministers, is still no better treated. And it is just with God to give those up to their hearts' lusts, who obstinately persist in gratifying them. Christ gives men their true characters.

Pulpit Commentary

Verse 15. - Third woe - against evil proselytizing. Ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte. The word προσήλυτος is used in the Septuagint to signify "a stranger" or "sojourner" (Exodus 12:48, 49, etc.), and at this time was applied to a convert to Judaism (Acts 2:10; Acts 6:5), whether circumcised, "a proselyte of righteousness;" or uncircumcised, "a proselyte of the gate." To compass sea and land is a proverbial expression, denoting the employment of every means, the exercise of the utmost effort. One might have thought that, in its proud isolation and exclusiveness, Judaism would not have exposed itself to this reproach. But what says Josephus? In more than one passage of his histories he testifies to the zealous propagation of the Jewish religion, and in some cases the enforcement of circumcision on vanquished enemies (see 'Ant.,' 18:03. 5; 20:2. 4; 'Bell. Jud.,' 2:17. 10; 'Vita,' § 23). Tacitus ('Hist.,' 5:5) gives a most unfavourable account of the numerous converts which Hebrews made throughout the Roman provinces; and St. Augustine ('De Civit.,' 6:11) quotes Seneca saying, "Cum interim usque eo sceleratissimae gentis consuetudo convaluit, ut per omnes jam terras recepta sit, victi victoribus leges dederunt" (Edersheim). For similar testimony, we may refer to Horace, 'Sat.,' 1:4. 142, 143; and Juvenal, 'Sat.,' 6:541, etc. But it was not proselytizing in itself that the Lord censured. As possessing revelation and the only true religion in the world, the Jews might well have deemed it their business to enlighten the gross darkness of heathenism, and to endeavour to shed abroad the pure light which was confided to their care to tend and cherish. That they were not expressly commanded to do this, and that little blessing attended their efforts in this direction, was dependent upon the transitory and imperfect character of the old covenant, and the many evils which would be consequent upon association with alien peoples. In making converts, the Pharisees sought rather to secure outward conformity than inward piety, change of external religion than change of heart. There was no love of souls, no burning zeal for the honour of God, in their proselytism. They were prompted only by selfish and base motives - vain glory, party spirit, covetousness; and if they converted men to their own opinions, with their false tenets, gross externalism, and practical immorality, they had far better have left them in their irresponsible ignorance. When he is made; when he is become a proselyte. Twofold more the child of hell; a son of Gehenna; i.e. worthy of hell fire. So we have 2 Samuel 12:5, "a son of death;" John 17:12, "the son of perdition" (comp. 2 Thessalonians 2:3). The converts became doubly the children of hell because, seeing the iniquities of their teachers, they learned an evil lesson from them, "engrafted the vices of the Jews on the vices of the heathen," distrusted all goodness, discarded their old religion and disbelieved the new, making utter shipwreck of their moral life. "Ita natura comparati sumus," says an old commentator, "ut vitia potius quam virtutes imitemur, et in rebus malis a discipulis magistri facile superentur."

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

Woe unto you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites,.... The same character, and woe, are still continued, and a new reason added, confirming the justness of them, in order to awaken and convince them, or, however, to caution the people against them:

for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte; that is, to the Jewish religion, and their particular sect. There were two sorts of proselytes among them; one was called , "a proselyte of the gate", one that might dwell in any of their towns, and cities, and who is thus described (a);

"Who is a proselyte of the gate? whosoever takes upon him, before three neighbours, that he will not commit idolatry. R. Meir and the wise men say, whosoever takes upon him the seven precepts which the sons of Noah took upon them: others say, these do not come into the general rule of a proselyte of the gate: who is then a proselyte of the gate? this is a proselyte, that eats what dies of itself, but takes upon him to fulfil all the commandments said in the law, except that which forbids the eating of things that die of themselves.''

But the usual account of such an one is, who agrees to the seven precepts commanded the children of Noah (b), which were these (c); the first forbad idolatry, the second blasphemy, the third murder, the fourth uncleanness, the fifth theft, the sixth required judgment, or punishment on malefactors, the seventh forbad eating the member of any creature alive. The other proselyte was called , "a proselyte of righteousness"; and he was one that submitted to circumcision (d), and the rest of the ceremonies of the law; and was in all respects as an Israelite himself; and of this sort is the text to be understood. The Ethiopic version reads the words, "baptize one proselyte, and when he is baptized"; referring to a custom among the Jews, who baptized; or dipped their proselytes in water, as well as circumcised them; about which there are great disputes in their writings; some alleging, that the dipping of them was necessary to the making them proselytes; others affirming, that it was not:

"a proselyte that is circumcised, and not dipped, dipped, and not circumcised, the whole follows after, or depends on circumcision, says R. Eliezer.''

R. Joshua says, even dipping delays it; (i.e. the want of it, hinders a man from being a proselyte;) but R. Joshua ben Levi says, it should go according to the tradition of Bar Kaphra; for the tradition of Bar Kaphra is,

"that he that is circumcised, and not dipped, lo! he is right; for there is no proselyte but what is dipped, because of the pollutions that happen to him (e).''

And elsewhere (f) this is debated in the following manner:

"a proselyte that is circumcised, and not dipped, R. Eliezer says, lo! this is a proselyte; for so we find concerning our fathers, that they were circumcised, but not dipped. One that is dipped, and not circumcised, R. Joshua says, lo! this is a proselyte; for so we find concerning our mothers, that they were dipped, but not circumcised. The wise men say, one that is dipped, and not circumcised, or circumcised, and not dipped, is no proselyte, until he is both circumcised and dipped.''

So the dispute ended, and it became a settled point, that one should never be reckoned a proselyte, unless he was both circumcised and dipped. And after this it became customary to receive proselytes by circumcision, dipping, and sacrifice; and the manner was this (g):

"a stranger that comes to be made a proselyte at this time, they say unto him, what dost thou see, that thou comest to be made a proselyte? dost thou not know that the Israelites at this time are miserable, banished, drove about, and plundered, and chastisements come upon them? If he says, I know this, but it does not satisfy me, they receive him immediately, and make known some of the light commands, and some of the heavy commands to him; and they acquaint him with the business gleanings, the forgotten sheaf, the corner of the field left standing, and the poor's tithe: they also inform him of the penalties of the commands, and say unto him, know thou, that before thou camest into this way, thou didst eat fat, and was not punished with cutting off; thou didst profane the sabbath, and was not punished with stoning? but now if thou eatest fat, thou wilt be punished with cutting off; and if thou profanest the sabbath, thou wilt be punished with stoning: and as they inform him of the penalties of the precepts, so they acquaint him with the giving of the rewards of them; saying to him, know thou that the world to come is not made but for the righteous; and the Israelites at this time cannot receive neither much good, nor much punishment? but they do not multiply words, nor critically inquire of him; if he receives these things, they immediately circumcise him; and if there remain in him obstructions, hindering circumcision, they circumcise him a second time; and when he is healed they immediately dip him; and two disciples of the wise men stand over him, and acquaint him with some of the light commands, and some of the heavy commands; then he dips, and comes up, and is as an Israelite in all respects: if a woman, the women set her in water up to her neck, and two disciples of the wise men stand by her without, and inform her of some of the light commands, and some of the heavy commands.''

And, as Maimonides (h) adds, who gives a larger account of this matter,

"she sits in the water, and after that dips herself before them; and they turn away their faces, and go out, so that they do not see her, when she comes out of the water.''

From all which it appears, that this affair was moved after our Lord's time; was not a settled point till a good while after; and is a custom that has obtained since the Jews were drove out of their own land; though they pretend to say it was an ancient practice of their fathers, of which they can give no sufficient proof; wherefore there could be no regard had to it in this text, and consequently the Ethiopic version of it is not a right one; nor can the dipping of proselytes by the Jews be what Christian baptism takes its rise from, or in any respect be modelled according to it, between which, in many things, there is a wide difference. Now the Jews were very diligent and industrious, which is meant by compassing of sea and land: they used all kinds of methods, ways and means, to gain such a point, and sometimes very wicked ones.

continued...

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

15. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte—from heathenism. We have evidence of this in Josephus.

and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves—condemned, for the hypocrisy he would learn to practice, both by the religion he left and that he embraced.

Matthew 23:15 Additional Commentaries
Context
Woes to Scribes and Pharisees
14"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. 15"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. 16"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.'…
Cross References
Matthew 3:7
But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?

Matthew 5:22
But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, 'Raca,' is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell.

Matthew 23:13
"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people's faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.

Acts 2:10
Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome

Acts 6:5
This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism.

Acts 13:43
When the congregation was dismissed, many of the Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who talked with them and urged them to continue in the grace of God.
Treasury of Scripture

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, you make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.

for.

Galatians 4:17 They zealously affect you, but not well; yes, they would exclude …

Galatians 6:12 As many as desire to make a fair show in the flesh, they constrain …

proselyte.

Esther 8:17 And in every province, and in every city, wherever the king's commandment …

Acts 2:10 Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about …

Acts 13:43 Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious …

ye make.

John 8:44 You are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you …

Acts 13:10 And said, O full of all subtlety and all mischief, you child of the …

Acts 14:2,19 But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles, and made their …

Acts 17:5,6,13 But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took to them certain …

Ephesians 2:3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the …

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