Mathew 23 Lesson

Hypocrisy and speaking the truth in love

In this emotional chapter, Jesus admonishes the scribes and Pharisees strongly. He tells the crowds to listen to what the scribes and Pharisees say, but to not follow their deeds. He refers to them as hypocrites who say one thing and then do another. Jesus rebukes them for caring more about being noticed then about following God’s commandments. He calls the scribes and Pharisees fools, blind men, and hypocrites. He talks of their lack of caring and compassion for other people and points out how they clean their appearance, but their core remains dirty.

On eight different occasions, Jesus makes a statement beginning with, “Woe to you scribes and Pharisees.”

  1. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.” – Mathew 23:13.
  2. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive greater condemnation.” – Mathew 23:14. 
  3. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.” – Mathew 23:15.
  4. “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple, that is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple is obligated.’ You fools and blind men! Which is more important, the gold or the temple that sanctified the gold?  And, ‘Whoever swears by the altar, that is nothing, but whoever swears by the offering on it, he is obligated.’ You blind men, which is more important, the offering, or the altar that sanctifies the offering?  Therefore, whoever swears by the altar, swears both by the altar and by everything on it.  And whoever swears by the temple, swears both by the temple and by Him who dwells within it.  And whoever swears by heaven, swears both by the throne of God and by Him who sits upon it.” – Mathew 23:16-22.
  5. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.  You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!” – Mathew 23:23-24.
  6. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence.  You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also.” – Mathew 23:25-26.
  7. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.  So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” – Mathew 23:27-28.
  8. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous,  and say, ‘If we had been living in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ So you testify against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets.  Fill up, then, the measure of the guilt of your fathers.  You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell?” – Mathew 23:29-33.

Jesus speaks out strongly against hypocrisy. He wants us to speak the truth, with a pure heart and righteous intentions. He wants people to be able to trust us and to have reason to believe what we say. In Mathew 5:37 Jesus says, “But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.” As Christians, we should speak the truth and not be hypocritical.

Every word in Mathew 23, except for a 10-word introduction, is spoken directly by Jesus. In verses 37 through the end of the chapter Jesus laments over Jerusalem. He laments because they, “Kill the prophets and stone those who are sent to her.” He ends the chapter showing His deep love for Jerusalem and also His deep sorrow and disappointment, “Behold, your house is being left to you desolate!  For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’”

We need to listen carefully to the words of our Savior and obey the command found in John 4:24:

“God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

Thank you for joining us today. Please join us again tomorrow as we look at Mathew 24 and the second coming of Jesus. May God’s blessings be upon you until then! Amen


James A Guillory

Why do you think that Jesus took such a strong stance against hypocrisy? Hypocrisy is totally opposite of the character of God let's look at the definition of hypocrisy in the Bible.Hypocrisy is "a
person who pretends to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs, principles, etc., that he or she does not actually possess, especially a person whose actions belie stated beliefs."We as Christians are to reflect the character of God and we are here on this Earth as ambassadors for Christ leading all people to Christ that they may believe and be saved. If we lead a life that is contrary to the character of God we will be just like the Pharisees leading people away from God instead of a life-changing relationship with Christ!


Hypocrisy is lying to God. People may not know but God does, for He knows the heart.