Matthew 23:27
Parallel Verses
New International Version
"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.

New Living Translation
"What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs--beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people's bones and all sorts of impurity.

English Standard Version
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness.

New American Standard Bible
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness.

King James Bible
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men's bones and every impurity.

International Standard Version
"How terrible it will be for you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs that look beautiful on the outside but inside are full of dead people's bones and every kind of impurity.

NET Bible
"Woe to you, experts in the law and you Pharisees, hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs that look beautiful on the outside but inside are full of the bones of the dead and of everything unclean.

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
Woe to you Scribes and Pharisees, pretenders, who are like white tombs, which from the outside appear lovely, but from within are full of the bones of the dead and all corruption!

GOD'S WORD® Translation
"How horrible it will be for you, scribes and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You are like whitewashed graves that look beautiful on the outside but inside are full of dead people's bones and every kind of impurity.

Jubilee Bible 2000
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whitewashed sepulchres, who indeed appear beautiful outside, but inside are full of dead men's bones and of all uncleanness.

King James 2000 Bible
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you are like unto whitewashed sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outwardly but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.

American King James Version
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you are like to white washed sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.

American Standard Version
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which outwardly appear beautiful, but inwardly are full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.

Douay-Rheims Bible
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.

Darby Bible Translation
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, for ye are like whited sepulchres, which appear beautiful outwardly, but within are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness.

English Revised Version
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which outwardly appear beautiful, but inwardly are full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.

Webster's Bible Translation
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like whitened sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.

Weymouth New Testament
"Alas for you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, for you are just like whitewashed sepulchres, the outside of which pleases the eye, though inside they are full of dead men's bones and of all that is unclean.

World English Bible
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitened tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but inwardly are full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.

Young's Literal Translation
'Woe to you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye are like to whitewashed sepulchres, which outwardly indeed do appear beautiful, and within are full of bones of dead men, and of all uncleanness;
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

Verses 27, 28. - Seventh woe - against another form of the same hypocrisy (Luke 11:44). Whited (κεκονιαμένοις) sepulchres. Once a year, about the fifteenth of the month Adar, the Jews used to whitewash the tombs and the places where corpses were buried, partly out of respect for the dead, but chiefly in order to make them conspicuous, and thus to obviate the risk of persons incautiously contracting ceremonial defilement by touching or walking over them (Numbers 19:16). To such sepulchres our Lord compares these Pharisees, because their outwardly fair show concealed rottenness within (comp. Acts 23:3). Indeed, it might be said that their seeming exceptional purity was a warning of internal corruption, a sign post to point to hidden defilement. Obtrusive religiousness, emphatic scrupulosity, are marks of pride and self-righteousness, utterly alien from real devotion and holiness.

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

Woe unto you Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites,.... It is much these men could bear to hear themselves so often called by this name; and it shows great courage in our Lord, so freely to reprove them, and expose their wickedness, who were men of so much credit and influence with the people:

for ye are like unto whited sepulchres; or "covered with lime", as the Syriac, Arabic, and Persic versions, render it. For the Jews used to mark their graves with white lime, that they might be known: that so priests, Nazarites, and travellers, might avoid them, and not be polluted with them. This appears from various passages in their writings:

"The vineyard of the fourth year, they marked with clods of earth, and an uncircumcised one with dust, , "and graves with chalk", mixed (with water) and poured (on them (x).)

Of this marking of the graves, the reason of it, the time and manner of doing it, Maimonides (y) gives us this account:

"Whoever finds a grave, or a dead carcass, or anything for the dead that defiles, by the tent he is obliged to put a mark upon it, that it may not be a stumbling to others; and on the intermediate days of a feast, they go out from the sanhedrim, to mark the graves.--With what do they mark? , "with chalk infused" in water, and poured upon the unclean place: they do not put the mark upon the top of the unclean place, (or exactly in it,) but so that it may stand out here and there, at the sides of it, that what is pure may not be corrupted; and they do not put the mark far from the place of the uncleanness, that they may not waste the land of Israel; and they do not set marks on those that are manifest, for they are known to all; but upon those that are doubtful, as a field in which a grave is lost, and places that are open, and want a covering.

Now because when the rains fell, these marks were washed away, hence on the first of Adar (February) when they used to repair the highways, they also marked the graves with white lime, that they might be seen and known, and avoided; and so on their intermediate feast days (z): the reason why they made use of chalk, or lime, and with these marked their graves, was because it looked white like bones (a); so that upon first sight, it might be thought and known what it was for, and that a grave was there: hence this phrase, "whited sepulchres":

which indeed appear beautiful outward; especially at a distance, and when new marked:

but within are full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness; worms and rottenness, which arise from the putrefied carcasses, and are very nauseous and defiling,

(x) Misn. Maaser Sheni, c. 5. sect. 1.((y) Hilch. Tumath Meth, c. 8. sect. 9. (z) Misn. Shekalim, c. 1. sect. 1. & Moed Katon, c. 1. sect. 2. Maimon. & Bartenora in lb. (a) Jarchi in Misu. Moed Katan, c. 1. sect. 2. & Bartenora in Misn. Maaser Sheni, c. 5. sect. 1.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

27. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like whited sepulchres—or, whitewashed sepulchres. (Compare Ac 23:3). The process of whitewashing the sepulchres, as Lightfoot says, was performed on a certain day every year, not for ceremonial cleansing, but, as the following words seem rather to imply, to beautify them.

which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness—What a powerful way of conveying the charge, that with all their fair show their hearts were full of corruption! (Compare Ps 5:9; Ro 3:13). But our Lord, stripping off the figure, next holds up their iniquity in naked colors.

Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets—that is, "ye be witnesses that ye have inherited, and voluntarily served yourselves heirs to, the truth-hating, prophet-killing, spirit of your fathers." Out of pretended respect and honor, they repaired and beautified the sepulchres of the prophets, and with whining hypocrisy said, "If we had been in their days, how differently should we have treated these prophets?" While all the time they were witnesses to themselves that they were the children of them that killed the prophets, convicting themselves daily of as exact a resemblance in spirit and character to the very classes over whose deeds they pretended to mourn, as child to parent. In Lu 11:44 our Lord gives another turn to this figure of a grave: "Ye are as graves which appear not, and the men that walk over them are not aware of them." As one might unconsciously walk over a grave concealed from view, and thus contract ceremonial defilement, so the plausible exterior of the Pharisees kept people from perceiving the pollution they contracted from coming in contact with such corrupt characters.

Matthew 23:27 Additional Commentaries
Context
Woes to Scribes and Pharisees
26"You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also. 27"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. 28"So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.…
Cross References
Proverbs 26:23
Like a coating of silver dross on earthenware are fervent lips with an evil heart.

Matthew 23:28
In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.

Luke 11:44
"Woe to you, because you are like unmarked graves, which people walk over without knowing it."

Acts 23:3
Then Paul said to him, "God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! You sit there to judge me according to the law, yet you yourself violate the law by commanding that I be struck!"

Galatians 6:12
Those who want to impress people by means of the flesh are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ.
Treasury of Scripture

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you are like to white washed sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.

like.

Isaiah 58:1,2 Cry aloud, spare not, lift up your voice like a trumpet, and show …

Luke 11:44 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you are as graves …

Acts 23:3 Then said Paul to him, God shall smite you, you white washed wall: …

sepulchres.

Numbers 19:16 And whoever touches one that is slain with a sword in the open fields, …

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