Matthew 23 GOD’S WORD Translation (GW)
Jesus Disapproves of the Example Set by the Jewish Leaders
23 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, 2 “The experts in Moses’ Teachings and the Pharisees teach with Moses’ authority. 3 So be careful to do everything they tell you. But don’t follow their example, because they don’t practice what they preach. 4 They make loads that are hard to carry and lay them on the shoulders of the people. However, they are not willing to lift a finger to move them.
5 “They do everything to attract people’s attention. They make their headbands large and the tassels on their shawls long. 6 They love the place of honor at dinners and the front seats in synagogues. 7 They love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have people call them Rabbi. 8 But don’t make others call you Rabbi, because you have only one teacher, and you are all followers. 9 And don’t call anyone on earth your father, because you have only one Father, and he is in heaven. 10 Don’t make others call you a leader, because you have only one leader, the Messiah. 11 The person who is greatest among you will be your servant. 12 Whoever honors himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be honored.
The Hypocrisy of the Jewish Leaders
13 “How horrible it will be for you, experts in Moses’ Teachings and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You lock people out of the kingdom of heaven. You don’t enter it yourselves, and you don’t permit others to enter when they try.[a]
15 “How horrible it will be for you, experts in Moses’ Teachings and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You cross land and sea to recruit a single follower, and when you do, you make that person twice as fit for hell as you are.
16 “How horrible it will be for you, you blind guides! You say, ‘To swear an oath by the temple doesn’t mean a thing. But to swear an oath by the gold in the temple means a person must keep his oath.’ 17 You blind fools! What is more important, the gold or the temple that made the gold holy? 18 Again you say, ‘To swear an oath by the altar doesn’t mean a thing. But to swear an oath by the gift on the altar means a person must keep his oath.’ 19 You blind men! What is more important, the gift or the altar that makes the gift holy? 20 To swear an oath by the altar is to swear by it and by everything on it. 21 To swear an oath by the temple is to swear by it and by the one who lives there. 22 And to swear an oath by heaven is to swear by God’s throne and the one who sits on it.
23 “How horrible it will be for you, experts in Moses’ Teachings and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You give God one-tenth of your mint, dill, and cumin. But you have neglected justice, mercy, and faithfulness. These are the most important things in Moses’ Teachings. You should have done these things without neglecting the others. 24 You blind guides! You strain gnats out of your wine, but you swallow camels.
25 “How horrible it will be for you, experts in Moses’ Teachings and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You clean the outside of cups and dishes. But inside they are full of greed and uncontrolled desires. 26 You blind Pharisees! First clean the inside of the cups and dishes so that the outside may also be clean.
27 “How horrible it will be for you, experts in Moses’ Teachings 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. 28 So on the outside you look as though you have God’s approval, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
29 “How horrible it will be for you, experts in Moses’ Teachings and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the monuments of those who had God’s approval. 30 Then you say, ‘If we had lived at the time of our ancestors, we would not have helped to murder the prophets.’ 31 So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Go ahead, finish what your ancestors started!
33 “You snakes! You poisonous snakes! How can you escape being condemned to hell? 34 I’m sending you prophets, wise men, and teachers of the Scriptures. You will kill and crucify some of them. Others you will whip in your synagogues and persecute from city to city. 35 As a result, you will be held accountable for all the innocent blood of those murdered on earth. This includes the murder of Abel, who had God’s approval to that of Zechariah, son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36 I can guarantee this truth: The people living now will be held accountable for all these things.
37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you kill the prophets and stone to death those sent to you! How often I wanted to gather your children together the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings! But you were not willing! 38 Your house will be abandoned, deserted. 39 I can guarantee that you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!’”