Matthew 23:25
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.
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(25) The outside of the cup and of the platter.—The latter word in the Greek indicates what we should call a “side-dish,” as distinct from the “charger” of Matthew 14:11. The “outside” includes the inner surface. (Comp., as regards the practice, Mark 7:4.)

Are full of extortion and excess.—The two words point (1) to the source from which the viands and the wine came—the cup and the platter were filled with, or out of the proceeds of, extortion; (2) that to which they tended—they overflowed with unrestrained self-indulgence.

Matthew 23:25-26. Wo unto you, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup, &c. — This is the sixth wo. They were at great pains to appear virtuous, and to have a decent external conduct, while they neglected to beautify their inward man with true holiness, and a conformity to the divine goodness, or with the graces of God’s Holy Spirit, which in the sight of God are ornaments of great price, and render men dear and valuable to all who know what true religion and virtue are. But within they — Namely, the cup and platter; are full of extortion and excess — Which ye swallow down without the least scruple. Gr. αρπαγης και ακρασιας, rapine and intemperance. The censure is double, (taking intemperance in the vulgar sense.) These miserable men procured unjustly what they used intemperately. No wonder tables so furnished prove a snare, as many find by sad experience. Thus luxury punishes fraud, while it feeds disease with the fruits of injustice. But intemperance, in the full sense, takes in not only all kinds of outward intemperance, particularly in eating and drinking, but all intemperate or immoderate desires, whether of honour, gain, or sensual pleasure. It must be observed, however that instead of ακρασιας, intemperance, very many manuscripts and ancient versions have the word αδικιας, which, says Dr. Campbell, “suits much better with all the accounts we have in other places of the character of the Pharisees, who are never accused of intemperance, though often of injustice. The former vice is rarely found with those who, like the Pharisees, make great pretensions to religion.” Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup, &c. — And is not so much exposed to view. Cleanse first thy mind, thy inward man, from evil dispositions and affections, and of course thy outward behaviour will be righteous and good.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.The cup and the platter - The drinking-cup and the dish containing food. The Pharisees were diligent in observing all the washings and obligations required by their traditions. See the notes at Mark 7:4.

Full of extortion and excess - The outside appeared well; the inside was filled with the fruit of extortion, oppression, and wickedness. The meaning is, that though they took much pains to appear well, yet they obtained a living by extortion and crime. Their cups, neat as they appeared outward, were filled, not with the fruits of honest industry, but with that which had been extorted from the poor by wicked arts. Instead of "excess," many manuscripts and editions of the Greek Testament read "wickedness."

25. within they are full of extortion—In Luke (Lu 11:39) the same word is rendered "ravening," that is, "rapacity." See Poole on "Matthew 23:26". 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.

{8} Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.

(8) Hypocrites pay too much attention to outward things, and the inward things they utterly condemn.

Matthew 23:25. But inwardly they (the cup and the plate) are filled from extortion and excess (ἀκρασίας, see critical notes). That with which they are filled, viz. the wine and the meat, has been obtained through extortion and excess. Plunder (Hebrews 10:34, common in classical writers) and exorbitance have contributed to fill them. On γέμειν ἐκ, see on John 7:3. The simple genitive (Matthew 23:27) would only be equivalent to: they are full of plunder, etc.

ἀκρασίας] a later form of ἀκρατείας. See on 1 Corinthians 7:5.Matthew 23:25-26. Fifth woe, directed against externalism (Luke 11:39-41).—τῆς παροψίδος, the dish, on which viands were served. In classics it meant the meat, not the dish (τὸ ὄψον οὐχὶ δὲ τὸ ἀγγεῖον, Phryn., p. 176). Rutherford (New Phryn., p. 265) remarks that our word “dish” has the same ambiguity.—ἔσωθεν δὲ γέμουσιν ἐξ: within both cup and plate are full of, or from. ἐκ is either redundant or it points to the fulness as resulting from the things following: filled with wine and meat purchased by the wages of unrighteousness: luxuries acquired by plunder and licence. The verb γέμουσι occurs again in Matthew 23:27 without ἐκ, and this is in favour of the second view. But on the other hand in Matthew 23:26 the vessels are conceived of as defiled by ἁρπαγή and ἀκρασία, therefore presumably as filled with them. Here as in Matthew 6:22-23, the physical and ethical are mixed in the figure.25. are full] Observe how swiftly and naturally Eastern speech passes from the figurative to the literal. The outside of the cup and platter is the external behaviour and conduct of the Pharisee, the inside of the cup is his heart and real life.

extortion] The same Greek word is translated “ravening,” Luke 11:39. Instances of this sin are alluded to Matthew 23:14-15. See notes.

excess] Opposed to sobriety and self-control. Luke in the parallel passage has “wickedness.”Matthew 23:25. Τὸ ἔξωθεν, that which is without) sc. the external surface.—ἔσωθεν δἑ, but within) where the meat and drink are.—Υέμουσιν, they are full) sc. the cup and dish.—ἁρπργῆς, of rapacity, extortion) see Matthew 23:14.—καἰ ἀκρασίας, and excess) Excess,ἀκρασία, is opposed to abstinence, not only in meat and drink, but also in money and gain. With this idea, Aristotle (Eth. Nicom. vii. 6) says that the particular thing should be mentioned in regard to which any one is remarkable for excess or the opposite; as gain, honour, anger, etc. And this is evident in the present passage, from the use of the synonymous term, ἁρπαγη. Gregory Nazianzen says, ἀκρασία ἐμοι πᾶν τὸ περιττὺν καὶ ὑπὲρ τὴν χρείαν, everything which is superfluous and more than necessary, is, in my opinion, ἀκρασία.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. Platter (παροψίδος)

παρά, beside, ὄψον, meat. A side-dish, with the accompanying sense of something dainty; later, as here, the dish itself as distinguished from its contents.

Excess (ἀκρασίας)

ἀ, not, κράτος, power. Hence conduct which shows a want of power over one's self' incontinence or intemperance.

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