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Matthew 23 Expanded Bible (EXB)

Jesus Accuses Some Leaders

23 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his ·followers [disciples], “The ·teachers of the law [scribes] and the Pharisees ·have the authority to interpret what the law of Moses says [L sit in Moses’ seat/chair]. So you should ·obey [do; practice] and ·follow [keep; observe] whatever they tell you, but ·their lives are not good examples for you to follow [L do not follow their actions]. ·They tell you to do things, but they themselves don’t do them [L For they say but do not do]. They ·make strict rules [L tie up heavy loads/burdens that are hard to carry] and ·try to force people to obey them [L put them on people’s shoulders], but they are unwilling to ·help those who struggle under the weight of their rules [lift a finger to move them; L move them with their finger].

“They do good things so that other people will see them. They enlarge ·the little boxes holding Scriptures that they wear [L their phylacteries; C leather cases worn on the left arm and forehead to literally fulfill Deut. 6:8; 11:18], and they ·make their special prayer clothes very long [L lengthen their tassels; C Jewish males were to wear tassels on the four corners of their garment; Num. 15:38; Deut. 22:12]. Those Pharisees and teachers of the law love to have the ·most important seats [places of greatest honor] at ·feasts [banquets] and [L the best seats] in the synagogues. They love people to greet them with respect in the marketplaces, and they love to have people call them ·‘Teacher [L Rabbi].’

“But you must not be called ‘·Teacher [Rabbi],’ because you have only one Teacher, and you are all brothers and sisters together. And don’t call any person on earth ‘Father,’ because you have one Father, who is in heaven. 10 And you should not be called ‘·Master [Leader; Teacher; Instructor]’ because you have only one ·Master [Leader; Teacher; Instructor], the ·Christ [Messiah]. 11 ·Whoever is your servant is the greatest among you [L The greatest among you will be your servant]. 12 Whoever ·makes himself great [lifts up/exalts himself] will be made humble. Whoever makes himself humble will be ·made great [exalted; lifted up].

13 “·How terrible for [L Woe to] you, ·teachers of the law [scribes] and Pharisees! You are hypocrites! [L Because] You ·close [shut; lock] the door for people to enter the kingdom of heaven. You yourselves don’t enter, and you ·stop [don’t allow] others who are trying to enter. |14 ·How terrible for [L Woe to] you, ·teachers of the law [scribes] and Pharisees. You are hypocrites. You ·take away [L devour] widows’ houses, and you say long prayers ·so that people will notice you [as a pretense]. So you will have a worse ·punishment [condemnation].|[a]

15 “·How terrible for [L Woe to] you, ·teachers of the law [scribes] and Pharisees! You are hypocrites! You travel across land and sea to ·find one person who will change to your ways [L make one convert/proseltye]. When you ·find that person [make that convert], you make him ·more fit for hell than [L twice the son of hell/Gehenna that; 5:22] you are.

16 “·How terrible for [L Woe to] you! ·You guide the people, but you are blind [L Blind guides!]. You say, ‘If people ·swear [make an oath/vow] by the Temple when they make a promise, that means nothing. But if they swear by the gold that is in the Temple, they ·must keep that promise [are obligated/bound].’ 17 You are blind fools! Which is greater: the gold or the Temple that makes that gold ·holy [sacred; sanctified]? 18 And you say, ‘If people ·swear [make an oath/vow] by the altar when they make a promise, that means nothing. But if they ·swear [make an oath/vow] by the ·gift [offering] on the altar, they ·must keep that promise [are obligated/bound].’ 19 You are blind! Which is greater: the ·gift [offering] or the altar that makes the gift ·holy [sacred; sanctified]? 20 [L So; Therefore] The person who swears by the altar is really swearing by the altar and also everything on the altar. 21 And the person who swears by the Temple is really swearing by the Temple and the One who ·lives [dwells] in the Temple. 22 The person who swears by heaven is also swearing by God’s throne and the One who sits on that throne.

23 “·How terrible for [L Woe to] you, ·teachers of the law [scribes] and Pharisees! You are hypocrites! You ·give to God one-tenth of [pay tithe on] everything you have—even your mint, dill, and cumin. But you ·don’t obey [ignore; neglect] the ·really important teachings [L weightier matters] of the law—justice, mercy, and ·being loyal [faith; faithfulness]. These are the things you should do, ·as well as [without neglecting] those other things. 24 ·You guide the people, but you are blind! [L Blind guides!] You ·are like a person who picks a fly out of a drink and then swallows a camel [L strain out a gnat, but swallow a camel; C worrying about the smallest mistakes while committing the biggest sins]!

25 “·How terrible for [L Woe to] you, ·teachers of the law [scribes] and Pharisees! You are hypocrites! You ·wash [clean] the outside of your cups and dishes [C for ceremonial purity], but inside they are full of ·things you got by cheating others and by pleasing only yourselves [L greed/robbery and self-indulgence]. 26 Pharisees, you are blind! First make the inside of the cup[b] clean, and then the outside ·can be truly [or will also be] clean.

27 “·How terrible for [L Woe to] you, ·teachers of the law [scribes] and Pharisees! You are hypocrites! You are like ·tombs that are painted white [whitewashed tombs]. Outside, those tombs ·look fine [appear beautiful], but inside, they are full of the bones of dead people and all kinds of ·unclean things [filth; corruption; impurity]. 28 It is the same with you. ·People look at you and think you are good [or On the outside you look like righteous people], but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and ·evil [lawlessness].

29 “·How terrible for [L Woe to] you, ·teachers of the law [scribes] and Pharisees! You are hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets, and you ·show honor to [decorate; adorn] the graves of ·those who lived good lives [L the righteous]. 30 You say, ‘If we had lived during the time of our ancestors, we would not have ·helped them kill [L been partners in the blood of] the prophets.’ 31 But you ·give proof [L testify against yourselves] that you are ·descendants [sons; children] of those who murdered the prophets. 32 ·And you will complete the sin that your ancestors started [or Go ahead and finish what your fathers started!; L Fill up the measure of your fathers].

33 “You ·are snakes [serpents]! A ·family of poisonous snakes [T brood/offspring of vipers]! How are you going to escape ·God’s judgment [the sentence/judgment/damnation of hell/Gehenna; 5:22]? 34 ·So I tell you this [For this reason]: I am sending to you prophets and wise men and ·teachers [scribes; experts in the law]. Some of them you will kill and crucify. Some of them you will ·beat [scourge; flog] in your synagogues and ·chase [hunt; persecute] from town to town. 35 So ·you will be guilty for [L upon you will come] ·the death of all the good people who have been killed on earth [L all the righteous blood shed on the earth]—from the ·murder [L blood] of that ·good [righteous] man Abel to the murder of Zechariah son of Berakiah, whom you murdered between the ·Temple [sanctuary] and the altar [C in the book order of the Hebrew Old Testament, Abel (Gen. 4:8) and Zechariah (2 Chr. 24:21) were the first and last men to be murdered]. 36 I tell you the truth, all of these things will happen to ·you people who are living now [L this generation].

Jesus Grieves for Jerusalem

37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem! You kill the prophets and stone to death those who are sent to you. ·Many times [How often] I wanted to gather your ·people [L children] as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you ·did not let me [refused]. 38 ·Now [L Look; T Behold] your house ·will be [L is] left ·completely empty [abandoned; deserted; desolate; Jer. 22:5]. 39 [L For] I tell you, you will not see me again until that time when you will say, ‘·God bless [L Blessed is] the One who comes in the name of the Lord [Ps. 118:26].’”


  1. Matthew 23:14 How … punishment. Some Greek copies do not contain the bracketed text.
  2. Matthew 23:26 cup Some Greek copies add “and dish.”
Expanded Bible (EXB)

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