Matthew 23 New International Reader's Version (NIRV)
A Warning Against Doing Things for the Wrong Reasons
23 Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples. 2 “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat,” he said. 3 “So you must be careful to do everything they say. But don’t do what they do. They don’t practice what they preach. 4 They tie up heavy loads that are hard to carry. Then they put them on other people’s shoulders. But they themselves aren’t willing to lift a finger to move them.
5 “Everything they do is done for others to see. On their foreheads and arms they wear little boxes that hold Scripture verses. They make the boxes very wide. And they make the tassels on their coats very long. 6 They love to sit down in the place of honor at dinners. They also love to have the most important seats in the synagogues. 7 They love to be greeted with respect in the markets. They love it when people call them ‘Rabbi.’
8 “But you shouldn’t be called ‘Rabbi.’ You have only one Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 Do not call anyone on earth ‘father.’ You have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10 You shouldn’t be called ‘teacher.’ You have one Teacher, and he is the Messiah. 11 The most important person among you will be your servant. 12 People who lift themselves up will be made humble. And people who make themselves humble will be lifted up.
How Terrible for the Teachers of the Law and the Pharisees
13-14 “How terrible it will be for you, teachers of the law and Pharisees! You pretenders! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter. And you will not let those enter who are trying to.
15 “How terrible for you, teachers of the law and Pharisees! You pretenders! You travel everywhere to win one person to your faith. Then you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.
16 “How terrible for you, blind guides! You say, ‘If anyone makes a promise in the name of the temple, it means nothing. But anyone who makes a promise in the name of the gold of the temple must keep that promise.’ 17 You are blind and foolish! Which is more important? Is it the gold? Or is it the temple that makes the gold holy? 18 You also say, ‘If anyone makes a promise in the name of the altar, it means nothing. But anyone who makes a promise in the name of the gift on the altar must keep that promise.’ 19 You are blind! Which is more important? Is it the gift? Or is it the altar that makes the gift holy? 20 So anyone making a promise in the name of the altar makes a promise in the name of it and everything on it. 21 And anyone making a promise in the name of the temple makes a promise in the name of it and the one who lives in it. 22 And anyone making a promise in the name of heaven makes a promise in the name of God’s throne and the one who sits on it.
23 “How terrible for you, teachers of the law and Pharisees! You pretenders! You give God a tenth of your spices, like mint, dill and cumin. But you have not practiced the more important things of the law, which are fairness, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the last things without failing to do the first. 24 You blind guides! You remove the smallest insect from your food. But you swallow a whole camel!
25 “How terrible for you, teachers of the law and Pharisees! You pretenders! You clean the outside of a cup and dish. But on the inside you are full of greed. You only want to satisfy yourselves. 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish. Then the outside will also be clean.
27 “How terrible for you, teachers of the law and Pharisees! You pretenders! You are like tombs that are painted white. They look beautiful on the outside. But on the inside they are full of the bones of the dead. They are also full of other things that are not pure and ‘clean.’ 28 It is the same with you. On the outside you seem to be doing what is right. But on the inside you are full of what is wrong. You pretend to be what you are not.
29 “How terrible for you, teachers of the law and Pharisees! You pretenders! You build tombs for the prophets. You decorate the graves of the godly. 30 And you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of those who lived before us, we wouldn’t have done what they did. We wouldn’t have helped to kill the prophets.’ 31 So you are witnesses against yourselves. You admit that you are the children of those who murdered the prophets. 32 So go ahead and finish the sins that those who lived before you started!
33 “You nest of poisonous snakes! How will you escape from being sentenced to hell? 34 So I am sending you prophets, wise people, and teachers. You will kill some of them. You will nail some to a cross. Others you will whip in your synagogues. You will chase them from town to town. 35 So you will pay for all the godly people’s blood spilled on earth. I mean from the blood of godly Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berekiah. Zechariah was the one you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36 What I’m about to tell you is true. All this will happen to those who are now living.
37 “Jerusalem! Jerusalem! You kill the prophets and throw stones in order to kill those who are sent to you. Many times I have wanted to gather your people together. I have wanted to be like a hen who gathers her chicks under her wings. And you would not let me! 38 Look, your house is left empty. 39 I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.’ ” (Psalm 118:26)
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