Matthew 23:15
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You traverse land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.
The Peril of Making ProselytesR. Tuck Matthew 23:15
Pharisees and SadduceesMarcus Dods Matthew 23:2-33
Folly of HypocrisyColton.Matthew 23:13-15
In the Description of the Scribes and Pharisees in This Chapter We have a Full-Length Portrait of the HypocriteA. Barnes, D. D.Matthew 23:13-15
The Credit of the ChurchJ.A. Macdonald Matthew 23:13-15
The Sins of the Scribes and PhariseesW. Wilson.Matthew 23:13-15
The WoesJ. P. Lange, D. D.Matthew 23:13-15

The term "proselytes" is used, and not "converts" or "disciples." it is employed when the idea to be conveyed is "persuasion" to accept some particular opinion or hobby, or to join some particular system or party. "Conversion" suggests an inward change and renewal; "proselyting" suggests outward association with a party. "Conversion" is full of hope; "proselyting" is full of peril. The word was used by the Jews for persons who had been heathen, but had accepted Judaism, and they distinguished between

(1) proselytes of the gate, who received the teachings of the Old Testament, but not the ceremonial Law; and

(2) proselytes of righteousness, who conformed to the whole Law. Our modern term "pervert" conveys something of the idea our Lord attached to "proselyte." Dean Plumptre gives an historical reference, which skilfully brings out the point of our Lord's reproof. "The zeal of the earlier Pharisees had shown itself in a propagandism which reminds us rather of the spread of the religion of Mahomet than of that of Christ. John Hyrcanus, the last of the Maccabean priest rulers, had offered the Idumaeans the alternative of death, exile, or circumcision. When the government of Rome rendered such measures impossible, they resorted to all the arts of persuasion, and exulted when they succeeded in enrolling a heathen convert as a member of their party. but the proselytes thus made were too often a scandal and proverb of reproach. There was no real conversion, and those who were most active in the work of proselytizing were for the most part blind leaders of the blind. The vices of the Jew were engrafted on the vices of the heathen. The ties of duty and natural affection were ruthlessly snapped asunder. The popular Jewish feeling about them was like that of the popular Christian feeling about a converted Jew."


1. A man must exaggerate sectarian differences before he can try to win proselytes to an opinion.

2. A man must make more of the outward form than the inward spirit.

3. A man is only too likely to use bad means in gaining such an end.

4. A man who makes proselytes honours himself rather than God.

5. And such a man is only too likely to be deceived in the result he attains.


1. Men may be overpressed to accept opinions on which they have really formed no judgment.

2. Perverts notoriously exaggerate the formalities of the new creed they adopt, and become bitterest partisans. - R.T.

But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites.
I. THAT THEY SHUT UP THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN AGAINST MEN. "Neither suffer ye them that are entering in."

1. They did this by their extraordinary strictness and outward purity. By such austerities they made religion repulsive. This accusation has often been preferred against the pure ministers of a pure religion. Compare this text with the parallel passage in Luke 11:52. They shut the kingdom of heaven against themselves and others by taking away the key of knowledge. The same sin is committed by any church that imposes the traditions of men in that province in which only the commandment of God is of authority. The kingdom of heaven is opened by knowledge. It is important to recognize this. Ministers of the Church have in a certain sense the power of shutting up the kingdom of heaven against men.(1) Let us learn to read the Bible and listen to its truths, in the assurance that our eternal destiny depends upon the knowledge of them.(2) Let ministers learn their proper vocation as porters to the kingdom of heaven, and let them beware of handling the Word of God deceitfully.

2. The second charge against the scribes and Pharisees. They devoured the houses of widows. They were robbers of the defenceless. Those who lie under this woe are:(1) Those ministers who enter upon and continue in their office for a piece of bread.

3. The third charge against the scribes and Pharisees — "Ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte." The apostles of deceit and falsehood have often manifested a zeal in the propagation of their principles which is fitted to minister a severe reproof to those who know and believe the truth. It is not the fact of making proselytes against which the woe is directed; this is the duty of the Church. But they did not care to make their councils holier.(1) They made proselytes by reviling and scorn;(2) by misrepresentation and calumny;(3) by force.

(W. Wilson.)

I. They shut up the kingdom of heaven against others (ver. 13).

II. They committed the grossest iniquity under a cloak of religion (ver. 14).

III. They showed great zeal in making proselytes, yet did it only for gain, and made them more wicked (ver. 15).

IV. They taught false doctrine, artful contrivances to destroy the force of oaths, and shut out the Creator from their view (vers. 16-22).

V. They were superstitious (ver. 23).

VI. They were openly hypocritical (vers. 25-28).

VII. They professed great veneration for the memory of the pious dead, while at the same time they were conscious that they really approved the conduct of those who killed them (vers. 29-31). Never, perhaps, was there a combination of more wicked feelings and hypocritical actions than among them; and never was there more profound knowledge of the human heart and more faithfulness than in Him who tore off the mask, and showed them what they were.

(A. Barnes, D. D.)

I. Spiritual ambition; petitioners changed into beggars. The long prayers of the hypocrites, and the long sentence of judgment.

II. Those who shut the kingdom of heaven.

III. Proselytism. Soul-winners and soul-ruiners.

IV. The work of man up, the work of God down; the inward nothing, the outward everything. The true oath always by the living and true God. The blindest ignorance connected with a conceit of keenest insight into the laws of the kingdom of God.

V. Legality in little things; lawlessness in great.

VI. The outside and the inside of the cup and the platter, or the feast of the religious and moral hypocrite.

1. In the outward form, consecrated or adorned.

2. In the inner character, abominable and reprobate.

VII. The whited sepulchres: like pleasant abodes outwardly; caves of bones, diffusing death, within — spiritual death, in the guise of spiritual bloom.

VIII. The murderers of the prophets. To persecute Christ in His saints is to persecute Christ himself.

(J. P. Lange, D. D.)

If the devil ever laughs, it must be at hypocrites; they are the greatest dupes he has. They serve him better than any others, and receive no wages; nay, what is still more extraordinary, they submit to greater mortifications to go to hell, than the sincerest Christian to go to heaven.


Abel, Barachias, Berechiah, Hen, Jesus, Zachariah, Zacharias, Zechariah
FALSE, Becomes, Child, Compass, Convert, Curse, Disciple, Dry, Gained, Gehenna, Hell, Hypocrites, Law, Ones, Order, Pharisees, Proselyte, Round, Scour, Scribes, Single, Teachers, Travel, Traverse, Twice, Twofold, Two-fold, Whenever, Win, Wo, Woe, Yourselves
1. Jesus admonishes the people to follow good doctrine, not bad examples
5. His disciples must beware of their ambition.
13. He denounces eight woes against their hypocrisy and blindness,
34. and prophesies of the destruction of Jerusalem.

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Matthew 23:15

     5310   exploitation
     5590   travel
     5738   sons
     7551   Pharisees, beliefs
     7949   mission, of Israel
     8739   evil, examples of

Matthew 23:1-32

     8767   hypocrisy

Matthew 23:1-33

     5381   law, letter and spirit
     8749   false teachers

Matthew 23:1-36

     5379   law, Christ's attitude
     7552   Pharisees, attitudes to Christ

Matthew 23:2-33

     7464   teachers of the law

Matthew 23:4-15

     7734   leaders, spiritual

Matthew 23:13-15

     5345   influence
     8774   legalism

Matthew 23:13-33

     9250   woe

Matthew 23:13-39

     2318   Christ, as prophet

Matthew 23:15-16

     2009   Christ, anger of

Matthew 23:15-18

     7540   Judaism

The Morality of the Gospel.
Is stating the morality of the Gospel as an argument of its truth, I am willing to admit two points; first, that the teaching of morality was not the primary design of the mission; secondly, that morality, neither in the Gospel, nor in any other book, can be a subject, properly speaking, of discovery. If I were to describe in a very few words the scope of Christianity as a revelation, [49] I should say that it was to influence the conduct of human life, by establishing the proof of a future state
William Paley—Evidences of Christianity

Jesus' Last Public Discourse. Denunciation of Scribes and Pharisees.
(in the Court of the Temple. Tuesday, April 4, a.d. 30.) ^A Matt. XXIII. 1-39; ^B Mark XII. 38-40; ^C Luke XX. 45-47. ^a 1 Then spake Jesus ^b 38 And in his teaching ^c in the hearing of all the people he said unto ^a the multitudes, and to his disciples [he spoke in the most public manner], 2 saying, ^c 46 Beware of the scribes, ^a The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat: 3 all things whatsoever they bid you, these do and observe: but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

Christianity Misunderstood by Believers.
Meaning of Christian Doctrine, Understood by a Minority, has Become Completely Incomprehensible for the Majority of Men-- Reason of this to be Found in Misinterpretation of Christianity and Mistaken Conviction of Believers and Unbelievers Alike that they Understand it--The Meaning of Christianity Obscured for Believers by the Church--The First Appearance of Christ's Teaching--Its Essence and Difference from Heathen Religions-- Christianity not Fully Comprehended at the Beginning, Became More and
Leo Tolstoy—The Kingdom of God is within you

First Attempts on Jerusalem.
Jesus, almost every year, went to Jerusalem for the feast of the passover. The details of these journeys are little known, for the synoptics do not speak of them,[1] and the notes of the fourth Gospel are very confused on this point.[2] It was, it appears, in the year 31, and certainly after the death of John, that the most important of the visits of Jesus to Jerusalem took place. Many of the disciples followed him. Although Jesus attached from that time little value to the pilgrimage, he conformed
Ernest Renan—The Life of Jesus

For which Cause Our Lord Himself Also with his Own Mouth Saith...
4. For which cause our Lord Himself also with His own mouth saith, "Cleanse what are within, and what are without will be clean." [1813] And, also, in another place, when He was refuting the foolish speeches of the Jews, in that they spake evil against His disciples, eating with unwashen hands; "Not what entereth into the mouth," said He, "defileth the man: but what cometh forth out of the mouth, that defileth the man." [1814] Which sentence, if the whole of it be taken of the mouth of the body,
St. Augustine—On Continence

Relation of the Pharisees to the Sadducees and Essenes, and to the Gospel of Christ
On taking a retrospective view of Pharisaism, as we have described it, there is a saying of our Lord which at first sight seems almost unaccountable. Yet it is clear and emphatic. "All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do" (Matt 23:3). But if the early disciples were not to break at once and for ever with the Jewish community, such a direction was absolutely needful. For, though the Pharisees were only "an order," Pharisaism, like modern Ultramontanism, had not only become
Alfred Edersheim—Sketches of Jewish Social Life

Among the People, and with the Pharisees
It would have been difficult to proceed far either in Galilee or in Judaea without coming into contact with an altogether peculiar and striking individuality, differing from all around, and which would at once arrest attention. This was the Pharisee. Courted or feared, shunned or flattered, reverently looked up to or laughed at, he was equally a power everywhere, both ecclesiastically and politically, as belonging to the most influential, the most zealous, and the most closely-connected religions
Alfred Edersheim—Sketches of Jewish Social Life

The General Service to a Prophet.
At the Vespers, for O Lord, I have cried, the Stichera, Tone 4. Similar to: Called from above... Thou that hast in the purity of thy mind received the reflex of the God-emitted light and wast the herald of the divine words and seer and divine prophet, thou appearedst as the God-moved mouth of the Spirit, conveying that which was shewn by Him unto thee, O all-honoured (mentioned by name), and declaring unto all the peoples the salvation that was being granted and the Kingdom of Christ; do entreat
Anonymous—The General Menaion

Of the Power of Making Laws. The Cruelty of the Pope and his Adherents, in this Respect, in Tyrannically Oppressing and Destroying Souls.
1. The power of the Church in enacting laws. This made a source of human traditions. Impiety of these traditions. 2. Many of the Papistical traditions not only difficult, but impossible to be observed. 3. That the question may be more conveniently explained, nature of conscience must be defined. 4. Definition of conscience explained. Examples in illustration of the definition. 5. Paul's doctrine of submission to magistrates for conscience sake, gives no countenance to the Popish doctrine of the obligation
John Calvin—The Institutes of the Christian Religion

Hints to Teachers and Questions for Pupils
Teacher's Apparatus.--English theology has no juster cause for pride than the books it has produced on the Life of Paul. Perhaps there is no other subject in which it has so outdistanced all rivals. Conybeare and Howson's Life and Epistles of St. Paul will probably always keep the foremost place; in many respects it is nearly perfect; and a teacher who has mastered it will be sufficiently equipped for his work and require no other help. The works of Lewin and Farrar are written on the same lines;
James Stalker et al—The Life of St. Paul

On Attending the Church Service
"The sin of the young men was very great." 1 Sam. 2:17. 1. The corruption, not only of the heathen world, but likewise of them that were called Christians, has been matter of sorrow and lamentation to pious men, almost from the time of the apostles. And hence, as early as the second century, within a hundred years of St. John's removal from the earth, men who were afraid of being partakers of other men's sins, thought it their duty to separate from them. Hence, in every age many have retired from
John Wesley—Sermons on Several Occasions

Machinations of the Enemies of Jesus.
Jesus passed the autumn and a part of the winter at Jerusalem. This season is there rather cold. The portico of Solomon, with its covered aisles, was the place where he habitually walked.[1] This portico consisted of two galleries, formed by three rows of columns, and covered by a ceiling of carved wood.[2] It commanded the valley of Kedron, which was doubtless less covered with debris than it is at the present time. The depth of the ravine could not be measured, from the height of the portico; and
Ernest Renan—The Life of Jesus

The Early Ministry in Judea
113. We owe to the fourth gospel our knowledge of the fact that Jesus began his general ministry in Jerusalem. The silence of the other records concerning this beginning cannot discredit the testimony of John. For these other records themselves indicate in various ways that Jesus had repeatedly sought to win Jerusalem before his final visit at the end of his life (compare Luke xiii. 34; Matt. xxiii. 37). Moreover, the fourth gospel is confirmed by the probability, rising almost to necessity, that
Rush Rhees—The Life of Jesus of Nazareth

The Crossing of the Jordan
THE CROSSING OF THE JORDAN Just how did you feel at the time you were sanctified? I have heard some tell of how the holy fire of the Spirit seemed to go all through them. Others have told of a deeper, more complete peace. Some have shouted for joy. Others have wept for joy. And I am wondering how one ought to feel. Can you tell me? And how can I know that I am consecrated? Every teacher of entire sanctification that I ever heard says that the consecration must be complete; but how am I to know when
Robert Lee Berry—Adventures in the Land of Canaan

Subjects of Study. Home Education in Israel; Female Education. Elementary Schools, Schoolmasters, and School Arrangements.
If a faithful picture of society in ancient Greece or Rome were to be presented to view, it is not easy to believe that even they who now most oppose the Bible could wish their aims success. For this, at any rate, may be asserted, without fear of gainsaying, that no other religion than that of the Bible has proved competent to control an advanced, or even an advancing, state of civilisation. Every other bound has been successively passed and submerged by the rising tide; how deep only the student
Alfred Edersheim—Sketches of Jewish Social Life

Letter Xliv Concerning the Maccabees but to whom Written is Unknown.
Concerning the Maccabees But to Whom Written is Unknown. [69] He relies to the question why the Church has decreed a festival to the Maccabees alone of all the righteous under the ancient law. 1. Fulk, Abbot of Epernay, had already written to ask me the same question as your charity has addressed to your humble servant by Brother Hescelin. I have put off replying to him, being desirous to find, if possible, some statement in the Fathers about this which was asked, which I might send to him, rather
Saint Bernard of Clairvaux—Some Letters of Saint Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux

Number and Order of the Separate Books.
The number of the books was variously estimated. Josephus gives twenty-two, which was the usual number among Christian writers in the second, third, and fourth centuries, having been derived perhaps from the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Origen, Jerome, and others have it. It continued longest among the teachers of the Greek Church, and is even in Nicephorus's stichometry.(83) The enumeration in question has Ruth with Judges, and Lamentations with Jeremiah. In Epiphanius(84) the number twenty-seven
Samuel Davidson—The Canon of the Bible

I. (Who first propounded these heresies, p. 11.) Hippolytus seems to me to have felt the perils to the pure Gospel of many admissions made by Clement and other Alexandrian doctors as to the merits of some of the philosophers of the Gentiles. Very gently, but with prescient genius, he adopts this plan of tracing the origin and all the force of heresies to "philosophy falsely so called." The existence of this "cloud of locusts" is (1) evidence of the antagonism of Satan; (2) of the prophetic spirit
Hippolytus.—The Refutation of All Heresies

"The Carnal Mind is Enmity against God for it is not Subject to the Law of God, Neither Indeed Can Be. So Then they that Are
Rom. viii. s 7, 8.--"The carnal mind is enmity against God for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God." It is not the least of man's evils, that he knows not how evil he is, therefore the Searcher of the heart of man gives the most perfect account of it, Jer. xvii. 12. "The heart is deceitful above all things," as well as "desperately wicked," two things superlative and excessive in it, bordering upon an infiniteness, such
Hugh Binning—The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning

We are not Binding Heavy Burdens and Laying them Upon Your Shoulders...
37. We are not binding heavy burdens and laying them upon your shoulders, while we with a finger will not touch them. Seek out, and acknowledge the labor of our occupations, and in some of us the infirmities of our bodies also, and in the Churches which we serve, that custom now grown up, that they do not suffer us to have time ourselves for those works to which we exhort you. For though we might say, "Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? Who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the
St. Augustine—Of the Work of Monks.

Repentance and Impenitence.
In the discussion of this subject I shall show,-- I. What repentance is not. 1. The Bible everywhere represents repentance as a virtue, and as constituting a change of moral character; consequently, it cannot be a phenomenon of the intelligence: that is, it cannot consist in conviction of sin, nor in any intellectual apprehension of our guilt or ill-desert. All the states or phenomena of the intelligence are purely passive states of mind, and of course moral character, strictly speaking, cannot be
Charles Grandison Finney—Systematic Theology

Second Sunday after Trinity Exhortation to Brotherly Love.
Text: 1 John 3, 13-18. 13 Marvel not, brethren, if the world hateth you. 14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not abideth in death. 15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. 16 Hereby know we love, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoso hath the world's goods, and beholdeth his brother in need, and shutteth
Martin Luther—Epistle Sermons, Vol. III

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