Seven Woes
1 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, 2 “The#tn Grk “saying.” The participle λέγων (legwn) is redundant in contemporary English and has not been translated. experts in the law#tn Or “The scribes.” See the note on the phrase “experts in the law” in 2:4. and the Pharisees#sn See the note on Pharisees in 3:7. sit on Moses’ seat. 3 Therefore pay attention to what they tell you and do it. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they teach.#tn Grk “for they say and do not do.” 4 They#tn Here δέ (de) has not been translated. tie up heavy loads, hard to carry, and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing even to lift a finger to move them. 5 They#tn Here δέ (de) has not been translated. do all their deeds to be seen by people, for they make their phylacteries#sn Phylacteries were small leather cases containing OT scripture verses, worn on the arm and forehead by Jews, especially when praying. The custom was derived from such OT passages as Exod 13:9; 16; Deut 6:8; 11:18. wide and their tassels#tn The term κράσπεδον (kraspedon) in some contexts could refer to the outer fringe of the garment (possibly in Mark 6:56). This edge could have been plain or decorated. L&N 6.180 states, “In Mt 23:5 κράσπεδον denotes the tassels worn at the four corners of the outer garment (see 6.194).”sn Tassels refer to the tassels that a male Israelite was obligated to wear on the four corners of his outer garment according to the Mosaic law (Num 15:38; Deut 22:12). long. 6 They#tn Here δέ (de) has not been translated. love the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues#sn See the note on synagogues in 4:23. 7 and elaborate greetings#sn There is later Jewish material in the Talmud that spells out such greetings in detail. See H. Windisch, TDNT 1:498. in the marketplaces, and to have people call them ‘Rabbi.’ 8 But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher and you are all brothers. 9 And call no one your ‘father’ on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. 10 Nor are you to be called ‘teacher,’ for you have one teacher, the Christ.#tn Or “Messiah”; both “Christ” (Greek) and “Messiah” (Hebrew and Aramaic) mean “one who has been anointed.”sn See the note on Christ in 1:16. 11 The#tn Here δέ (de) has not been translated. greatest among you will be your servant. 12 And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
13 “But woe to you, experts in the law#tn Or “scribes.” See the note on the phrase “experts in the law” in 2:4. and you Pharisees, hypocrites!#tn Grk “Woe to you…because you…” The causal particle ὅτι (Joti) has not been translated here for rhetorical effect (and so throughout this chapter). You keep locking people out of the kingdom of heaven!#tn Grk “because you are closing the kingdom of heaven before people.” For you neither enter nor permit those trying to enter to go in.#tc The most important mss (א B D L Z Θ Ë1 33 892* pc and several versional witnesses) do not have 23:14 “Woe to you experts in the law and you Pharisees, hypocrites! You devour widows’ property, and as a show you pray long prayers! Therefore you will receive a more severe punishment.” Part or all of the verse is contained (either after v. 12 or after v. 13) in W 0102 0107 Ë13 Ï and several versions, but it is almost certainly not original. The present translation follows NA27 in omitting the verse number as well, a procedure also followed by a number of other modern translations. Note also that Mark 12:40 and Luke 20:47 are very similar in wording and are not disputed textually.
15 “Woe to you, experts in the law#tn Or “scribes.” See the note on the phrase “experts in the law” in 2:4. and you Pharisees, hypocrites! You cross land and sea to make one convert,#tn Or “one proselyte.” and when you get one,#tn Grk “when he becomes [one].” you make him twice as much a child of hell#tn Grk “a son of Gehenna.” Expressions constructed with υἱός (Juios) followed by a genitive of class or kind denote a person belonging to the class or kind specified by the following genitive (L&N 9.4). Thus the phrase here means “a person who belongs to hell.”sn See the note on the word hell in 5:22. as yourselves!
16 “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple is bound by nothing.#tn Grk “Whoever swears by the temple, it is nothing.” But whoever swears by the gold of the temple is bound by the oath.’ 17 Blind fools! Which is greater, the gold or the temple that makes the gold sacred? 18 And, ‘Whoever swears by the altar is bound by nothing.#tn Grk “Whoever swears by the altar, it is nothing.” But if anyone swears by the gift on it he is bound by the oath.’ 19 You are blind! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20 So whoever swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. 21 And whoever swears by the temple swears by it and the one who dwells in it. 22 And whoever swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and the one who sits on it.
23 “Woe to you, experts in the law#tn Or “scribes.” See the note on the phrase “experts in the law” in 2:4. and you Pharisees, hypocrites! You give a tenth#tn Or “you tithe mint.” of mint, dill, and cumin,#sn Cumin (alternately spelled cummin) was an aromatic herb native to the Mediterranean region. Its seeds were used for seasoning. yet you neglect what is more important in the law – justice, mercy, and faithfulness! You#tc ‡ Many witnesses (B C K L W Δ 0102 33 565 892 pm) have δέ (de, “but”) after ταῦτα (tauta, “these things”), while many others lack it (א D Γ Θ Ë1,13 579 700 1241 1424 pm). Since asyndeton was relatively rare in Koine Greek, the conjunction may be an intentional alteration, and is thus omitted from the present translation. NA27 includes the word in brackets, indicating doubts as to its authenticity. should have done these things without neglecting the others. 24 Blind guides! You strain out a gnat yet swallow a camel!#tn Grk “Blind guides who strain out a gnat yet who swallow a camel!”
25 “Woe to you, experts in the law#tn Or “scribes.” See the note on the phrase “experts in the law” in 2:4. and you Pharisees, hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup,#tc A very difficult textual problem is found here. The most important Alexandrian and Byzantine, as well as significant Western, witnesses (א B C L W 0102 0281 Ë13 33 Ï lat co) have “and the dish” (καὶ τῆς παροψίδος, kai th" paroyido") after “cup,” while few important witnesses (D Θ Ë1 700 and some versional and patristic authorities) omit the phrase. On the one hand, scribes sometimes tended to eliminate redundancy; since “and the dish” is already present in v. 25, it may have been deleted in v. 26 by well-meaning scribes. On the other hand, as B. M. Metzger notes, the singular pronoun αὐτοῦ (autou, “its”) with τὸ ἐκτός (to ekto", “the outside”) in some of the same witnesses that have the longer reading (viz., B* Ë13 al) hints that their archetype lacked the words (TCGNT 50). Further, scribes would be motivated both to add the phrase from v. 25 and to change αὐτοῦ to the plural pronoun αὐτῶν (aujtwn, “their”). Although the external evidence for the shorter reading is not compelling in itself, combined with these two prongs of internal evidence, it is to be slightly preferred. so that the outside may become clean too!
27 “Woe to you, experts in the law#tn Or “scribes.” See the note on the phrase “experts in the law” in 2:4. 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.#sn This was an idiom for hypocrisy – just as the wall was painted on the outside but something different on the inside, so this person was not what he appeared or pretended to be (for discussion of a similar metaphor, see L&N 88.234; BDAG 1010 s.v. τοῖχος). See Deut 28:22; Ezek 13:10-16; Acts 23:3. 28 In the same way, on the outside you look righteous to people, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
29 “Woe to you, experts in the law#tn Or “scribes.” See the note on the phrase “experts in the law” in 2:4. and you Pharisees, hypocrites! You#tn Grk “Because you.” Here ὅτι (Joti) has not been translated. build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves#tn Or perhaps “the monuments” (see L&N 7.75-76). of the righteous. 30 And you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors,#tn Grk “fathers” (so also in v. 32). we would not have participated with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 By saying this you testify against yourselves that you are descendants of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up then the measure of your ancestors! 33 You snakes, you offspring of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?#tn Grk “the judgment of Gehenna.”sn See the note on the word hell in 5:22.
34 “For this reason I#tn Grk “behold I am sending.” The Greek word ἰδού (idou) has not been translated because it has no exact English equivalent here, but adds interest and emphasis (BDAG 468 s.v. 1). am sending you prophets and wise men and experts in the law,#tn Or “scribes.” See the note on the phrase “experts in the law” in 2:4. some of whom you will kill and crucify,#sn See the note on crucified in 20:19. and some you will flog#tn BDAG 620 s.v. μαστιγόω 1.a states, “of flogging as a punishment decreed by the synagogue (Dt 25:2f; s. the Mishna Tractate Sanhedrin-Makkoth, edited w. notes by SKrauss ’33) w. acc. of pers. Mt 10:17; 23:34.” in your synagogues#sn See the note on synagogues in 4:23. and pursue from town to town, 35 so that on you will come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Barachiah,#sn Spelling of this name (Βαραχίου, Baraciou) varies among the English versions: “Barachiah” (RSV, NRSV); “Berechiah” (NASB); “Berachiah” (NIV). whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36 I tell you the truth,#tn Grk “Truly (ἀμήν, amhn), I say to you.” this generation will be held responsible for all these things!#tn Grk “all these things will come on this generation.”
Judgment on Israel
37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem,#sn The double use of the city’s name betrays intense emotion.map For location see Map5-B1; Map6-F3; Map7-E2; Map8-F2; Map10-B3; JP1-F4; JP2-F4; JP3-F4; JP4-F4. you who kill the prophets and stone those who are sent to you!#tn Although the opening address (“Jerusalem, Jerusalem”) is direct (second person), the remainder of this sentence in the Greek text is third person (“who kills the prophets and stones those sent to her”). The following sentences then revert to second person (“your… you”), so to keep all this consistent in English, the third person pronouns in the present verse were translated as second person (“you who kill… sent to you”). How often I have longed#sn How often I have longed to gather your children. Jesus, like a lamenting prophet, speaks for God here, who longed to care tenderly for Israel and protect her. to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but#tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “but” to indicate the contrast present in this context. you would have none of it!#tn Grk “you were not willing.” 38 Look, your house is left to you desolate! 39 For I tell you, you will not see me from now until you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!’”#sn A quotation from Ps 118:26.
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