Matthew 23:1
Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples,
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(1) To the multitude.—Now, as in Matthew 15:10, but here more fully and emphatically, our Lord not only reproves the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, but warns the multitude against them. He appeals, as it were, to the unperverted conscience of the people, as against the perversions of their guides. In some points, as, e.g., in Matthew 23:16-21, it presents a striking parallel to the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:33-37). Our Lord closes His public teaching, as He began, by a protest against that false casuistry which had substituted the traditions of men for the commandments of God.

Matthew 23:1-3. Then spake Jesus to the multitude — Leaving all converse with his adversaries; whom he now gave up to the hardness of their hearts. The scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses’s seat — Or, chair — That is, read and expound the law of Moses, and are the appointed teachers of the people. The Jewish doctors, as is well known, always taught sitting. The name Pharisees being the appellation of a sect, it cannot be supposed that our Lord meant to say of all the party that they sat in Moses’s chair. Such a character was applicable to none but the doctors of the sect; for which reason we must suppose that the name scribes and Pharisees is a Hebraism for the Pharisean scribes. All therefore they bid you observe, &c. — That is, all that they read out of the law, and enforce on the manifest authority thereof, that observe and do — Readily and cheerfully: “All,” says Theophylact, “that they require, εκ των Μοσεως βιβλων, απο του

Θεου νομοου, from the law of God out of the books of Moses.” An interpretation which must be allowed of. Because Christ elsewhere requires his disciples to beware of the leaven, that is, the doctrine, of the scribes and Pharisees; because they taught for doctrines the commandments of men, and by their traditions made void the law of God; and were blind leaders of the blind. But do not ye after their works — By no means imitate their practices; for they say and do not — They give many precepts to their disciples, which they do not perform themselves. As we must not receive corrupt doctrines for the sake of any laudable practices of those that teach them; so we must not imitate bad examples for the sake of the plausible doctrines of those that give them.

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.If David ... - If he was then David's lord if he was his superior - if he had an existence at that time how could he be descended from him? They could not answer him.

Nor is there any way of answering the question but by the admission that the Messiah was divine as well as human; that he had an existence at the time of David, and was his lord and master, his God I and king, and that as man he was descended from him.

Remarks On Matthew 22

1. Multitudes of people, who are invited to be saved, reject the gospel and perish in their sins, Matthew 22:3.

2. If they perish, they only will be to blame. The offer was freely made, the salvation was provided, and the only reason why they were not saved was that they would not come, Matthew 22:3.

3. Attention to the affairs of this life, the love of the world, will shut many out of the kingdom of heaven, Matthew 22:5. Some attention to those things is necessary; but such a devotion to these things as to lead to the loss of the soul never can be right.

4. It is treating God ungratefully to reject his gospel, Matthew 22:3-5. He has sent his Son to die for us; he has entreated us to be saved; he has followed us with mercies; and to reject all these, and refuse to be saved, is to treat him with contempt, as well as to overwhelm ourselves in condemnation. "Man has no right to be damned." He is under the most solemn obligations to be "saved;" and after what God has done for us, deep and dreadful woe will await us if we are so foolish and wicked as to be lost.

5. Many of the poor and needy will be saved, while the haughty and rich will perish forever, Matthew 22:9-10.

6. Let those who make a profession of religion look often to the great day when Christ will search them, Matthew 22:11. There is a day coming that will try us. His eye will be upon us. He will read our hearts, and see whether we are clothed in his righteousness, or only the filthy rags of our own.

7. A profession of religion will not save us, Matthew 22:11-13. It is foolish to deceive ourselves. Nothing but genuine piety, true faith in Jesus, and a holy life, will save us. God asks not profession merely, but the heart. He asks not mockery, but sincerity; not pretension, but reality.

8. The hypocrite must perish, Matthew 22:13. It is right that he should perish. He knew his Master's will and would not do it. He must perish with an awful condemnation. No man sins amid so much light, none with so high a hand. No sin is so awful as to attempt to deceive God, and to palm pretensions on him for reality.

9. Pretended friends are sometimes more dangerous than avowed enemies, Matthew 22:16. Pretended friendship is often for the purpose of decoying us into evil. It throws us off our guard, and we are more easily taken.

10. The truth is often admitted by wicked people from mere hypocrisy, Matthew 22:16. It is only for the purpose of deceiving others and leading them into sin.

11. Wicked people can decide correctly on the character of a public preacher, Matthew 22:16. They often admit his claim in words, but for an evil purpose.



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."Matthew 23:1-12 Christ exhorteth to observe the doctrine, but not to

follow the evil examples, of the scribes and Pharisees;

and particularly not to imitate their ambition.

Matthew 23:13-33 He pronounces divers woes against them for their blindness

and hypocrisy,

Matthew 23:34-39 and prophesieth the destruction of Jerusalem.

See Poole on "Matthew 23:3".

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.

Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples,
Matthew 23:1. After the Pharisees have been thus silenced, there now follows the decisive and direct attack upon the hierarchs, in a series of overwhelming denunciations extending to Matthew 23:39, and which, uttered as they are on the eve of His death, form a kind of Messianic σημεῖον through which Jesus seeks to testify against them. Luke has inserted at ch. 11 portions of this discourse in an order different from the original; but he has given in the present connection, like Mark 12, only a few fragments, so that, keeping in view that a collection of our Lord’s sayings was made by Matthew, and considering the originality in respect of matter and arrangement which characterizes the grand utterances now before us, the preference must be accorded to the report furnished by this apostle (in answer to Schleiermacher, Schulz, Schneckenburger, Olshausen, Volkmar). The entire discourse has so much the character of a living whole, that, although much that was spoken on other occasions may perhaps be mixed up with it, it is scarcely possible to disjoin such passages from those that are essentially original. Ewald thinks that the discourse is made up of passages that were probably original, though uttered on very different occasions; Holtzmann has recourse to the hypothesis that the evangelist has derived his account from a supposed special source, the same as that on which ch. 5 is based; in answer to the latter, see Weiss, 1864, p. 114. Observe that the ὄχλοι are mentioned first, because the first part of the discourse on to Matthew 23:7 is directed to them, then the μαθηταί are addressed in Matthew 23:8-12, whereupon in Matthew 23:13 ff. we have the withering apostrophe to the Pharisees who were present, and that for the purpose of warning the ὄχλοι and the μαθηταί to beware of them; and finally, the concluding passage, Matthew 23:37 ff., containing the pathetic exclamation over Jerusalem. The glance, the gesture, the attitude, the matter and the language, were such that there could be no doubt who were immediately aimed at in the various sections of the discourse. We may imagine the scene in the temple to have been as follows: in the foreground, Jesus with His disciples; a little farther off, the ὄχλοι; more in the background, the Pharisees, who in Matthew 22:46 are spoken of as having withdrawn.

Matthew 23:1-12. Introduction to the discourse.

Matthew 23:1. Τότε, then) Having left His adversaries to themselves.

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. Matthew 23:1
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