The Gospel according to Matthew

23:1Then Jesus spoke to the crowd and to his disciples:23:2“The scripture scholars and Pharisees teach authoritatively on behalf of Moses,23:3but you must do what they say, not what they do! They don’t practice what they preach.23:4They place unbearably heavy loads on people’s shoulders, but they are not willing to lift a finger to help.

23:5“Everything they do is for show. They wear oversized amulets1 and put extra-wide hems on their cloaks to hold them.23:6They love the seats of honor at banquets and the most prominent seats in the synagogues,23:7and to be greeted in the marketplace by people calling them ‘Rabbi’.23:8But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi’, for you have only one Teacher and you are all brothers and sisters.23:9And you are not to call anyone on earth ‘Father’, because you have only one Father in heaven.23:10Don’t even be called ‘Leader’, since you have only one Leader, the Anointed.223:11Instead, whoever wants to be great among you must be the servant;23:12whoever promotes themselves will be humiliated; whoever humbles themselves will be promoted.

23:13“Woe to you, scripture scholars and Pharisees, you pedants! You lock up the kingdom of the heavens to keep people from entering, and you won’t even go in yourselves!23:14

23:15“Woe to you, scripture scholars and Pharisees, you pedants! You travel over land and sea to win one convert, but when you succeed, you turn that person into twice as much a citizen of Gehenna as you are!

23:16“Woe to you, blind guides! You say that whoever swears an oath by the temple is not bound to it, but if they swear by the gold in the temple they are bound.23:17Blind fools! Which is greater, the gold or the temple that consecrates the gold?23:18And the same with the altar and the gift on it:23:19which is greater? How can you be so blind?23:20Whoever swears an oath by the altar also swears by everything on it;23:21whoever swears by the temple also swears by everything in it, including God who lives there;23:22whoever swears by heaven also swears by the throne of God and the God who sits there.

23:23“Woe to you, scripture scholars and Pharisees, you pedants! You are careful to tithe your little herbs: mint, dill, and cumin, yet you abandon the weightier matters of the law: discernment, compassion, and faith. You must do both!23:24Blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel!

23:25“Woe to you, scripture scholars and Pharisees, you pedants! You clean the outside of the cup and plate, but inside they are saturated with robbery and lack of self-control.23:26Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup before you clean the outside.

23:27“Woe to you, scripture scholars and Pharisees, you pedants! You are like decorated graves that look beautiful on the outside, but the inside is filled with the bones of the dead and everything unclean.23:28In the same way, you appear to people as righteous, but on the inside you are saturated with pedantry and lawlessness.

23:29“Woe to you, scripture scholars and Pharisees, you pedants! You build up the graves of the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous,23:30and you say, ‘If we had lived in those days, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’23:31So you testify against yourselves, because you admit that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets.23:32Then finish what they started!23:33Snakes! Pits of vipers! How will you escape the judgment of Gehenna?

23:34“So now, look! I am sending you prophets and wise people and scripture scholars. But you will kill and crucify some of them, and you will flog others in your synagogues and chase them from city to city.23:35For this reason, the blood of all the righteous will be on your hands, from righteous Abel to Zechariah son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.23:36I can assure you that all of these things will fall upon this generation!

23:37“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you! How many times have I wanted to gather your children as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you wouldn’t have it!23:38Now look, your temple is abandoned and deserted.23:39For I tell you that you will never see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Master.’ ”

  1. 1The amulets were strips of parchment having scriptures written on them.
  2. 2Jesus is not saying we cannot refer to our teachers as such, or our parents as such, but to not use formal titles for spiritual leaders. He is thus dispensing with human hierarchy among his followers, as he also made clear in his rebuke of James and John for seeking positions of prominence in the coming kingdom.