|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.
Verse 25. - The sixth woe - against merely external purification (Mark 7:4; Luke 11:39). Ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter. Thus the Lord typically denotes the Pharisees' external ceremonialism, their legal purity. They looked, so to speak, to the cleanliness of the outside of the cup that contained their drink, and the platter that held their food. Such cleansing would, of course, have no effect on the drink or meat itself. They are full of (γέμουσιν ἐξ, are full from) extortion and excess (ἀκρασίας). For this last word the manuscripts offer many variations, arising, probably, from its uucommoness. It seems, however, to be genuine. But we find it altered into "unrighteousness," "impurity," Vulgate, immunditia, "intemperance," "covetousness," "wickedness." The vessels are conceived as filled with contents acquired by violence and used without self-control.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Woe unto you Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites,.... Our Lord cannot be thought to bear too hard upon these men, nor does he continue this character of them, and denunciations of woe against them, without a reason:
for ye make clean the outside of the cup and platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. The allusion is to their traditions about washing their cups and pots, and brazen vessels; see Mark 7:4 which they strictly observed. In their oral law is a whole tract, called "Mikvaot", which gives rules about the places where they washed, the things to be washed, and the manner of washing them; about which they were very nice, pretending to much outward cleanness, but had no regard to inward purity. Christ's sense is, that they took much pains, and were very careful, that the cup they drank out of, and the platter, or dish they ate out of, should be very clean; when at the same time, the food and drink that were within them, were got by oppression and rapine; by devouring widows' houses, by making undue claims upon, and extorting unjust sums from the fatherless, the poor, and the needy; and were abused by them, to luxury and intemperance. In like manner the Jews themselves say of hypocrites (w),
"They make show of a pure and clean soul, but under it lies hid a leprosy: they are like to "vessels full of uncleanness"; they are outwardly washed with the water of fraud and craftiness; but whatsoever is within, in the midst or them, is unclean.
The Vulgate Latin version of the text, instead of "excess", reads "uncleanness", and so does Munster's Hebrew Gospel: many copies read "unrighteousness". Excess is thought to be a sin the Pharisees were not guilty of, though they were of extortion, injustice, and uncleanness,
(w) R. Sol Gabirol in Cether Malcuth apud L. Capell in loc.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
25. within they are full of extortion—In Luke (Lu 11:39) the same word is rendered "ravening," that is, "rapacity."
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