Matthew 23:27-39

Wednesday, August 30th, 2017

JESUS’ COMMENTS REGARDING THE

7TH AND 8TH WOES ON THE PHARISEES

AND JESUS’ LAMENT OVER JERUSALEM

INTRODUCTION:

 

The narrative about Jesus in chapter 23 includes His comments regarding the marks of a Pharisee (23:1-12), His pronouncing of eight woes upon the Pharisees (23:13-36), and His lament over Jerusalem (23:37-39).

 

We have already considered the marks of a Pharisee and the first six woes pronounced on the Pharisees.

We move on to –

    I.     THE SEVENTH WOE – 23:27-28

 

Matthew 23:27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.

 

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! is repeated from verses 13, 14, 15, 23, and 25.

 

For ye are like unto whited sepulchres is because you are like whitewashed tombs.

 

Which indeed appear beautiful outward suggests which to be sure appear to be beautiful (or lovely) (on the) outside.

 

But are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness is inside are full of bones of dead ones and of all uncleanness.

 

The reality is that the scribes and Pharisees were wicked though they put on a good outward appearance.

 

Matthew 23:28 Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.

 

Even so suggests just like (whitewashed tombs).

 

Ye also is you also and refers to the scribes and Pharisees.

 

Outwardly appear righteous unto men suggests on the outside appear to people (to be) righteous and indicates what they are pretending to be.

 

But within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity is but on the inside you (scribes and Pharisees) are filled with pretense (or outward show) and lawlessness.

Next, we see –

  II.     THE EIGHTH WOE – 23:29-36

 

Matthew 23:29 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous.

 

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! is repeated. It is the seventh time Jesus said this in this chapter.

 

For ye build the tombs of the prophets is because you (plural) are building (or erecting) the tombs (or sepulchers) of the prophets.

 

Tombs is the same word translated sepulchers in verse 27.

 

And garnish the sepulchres of the righteous is and you are decorating the monuments (or graves) of the righteous.

 

What they are doing makes them look good in the eyes of others.

 

Matthew 23:30 And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.

 

And say is and you (scribes and Pharisees) are saying.

 

If we had been in the days of our fathers is a condition which, for sake of discussion, is assumed to be false. It is contrary to fact. They had not lived in the days of their fathers.

 

Our fathers suggests our ancestors (or forefathers).

 

The conclusion of this conditional statement is we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets means we would not have joined them in shedding the blood of the prophets.

 

Since the condition is false, the conclusion is also false. It means that they would have been partakers with their ancestors in the blood of the prophets.

 

Partakers is partners, companions, or sharers.

 

In the blood of the prophets is in the shed blood (or killing) of the prophets. The Jewish people had murdered a number of prophets God had sent to them.

 

Matthew 23:31 Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets.

 

Wherefore is therefore, for this reason, or so.

 

Ye be witnesses unto yourselves is you are testifying against yourselves; and what they are testifying is that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets, i.e. that you (scribes and Pharisees) are sons of the ones who killed (or murdered) the prophets (i.e. the spokesmen for God in Old Testament times).

 

By the scribes and Pharisees referring to those who murdered the prophets in the Old Testament as their fathers in verse 30, they were acknowledging that they were the children or sons of these murderers, which implies that they themselves were murderers. In Hebrew thinking, saying that someone is a son of someone or something indicates a chief attribute of the person. Thus, some were referred to as sons of Belial (which means that they were worthless perverts), and James and John were referred to as sons of thunder (which means that they were thunderous individuals). Jesus was the Son of God (which means that He was God), and He was also the Son of man (which means that He was a human being).

 

Matthew 23:32 Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.

 

Fill ye up then suggests so fill full.

 

What they are to fill up is the measure of your fathers.

 

It suggests that the scribes and Pharisees are to fill up the measure that their forefathers had already partially filled. It will result in God’s judging the nation as a whole when He judges this generation.

 

Matthew 23:33 Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?

 

Ye serpents is (you) snakes.

 

Ye generation of vipers is (you) children (or offspring) of vipers.

 

Vipers is ordinarily used of venomous snakes.

 

How can ye escape the damnation of hell? pictures Jesus asking how the scribes and Pharisees will avoid spending eternity in the lake of fire.

 

How? suggests in what way?

 

Can ye escape suggests might you (plural) escape or will you escape.

 

The damnation of hell is from the punishment (or condemnation) of Gehenna and implies from being punished in Gehenna, the lake of fire.

 

Matthew 23:34 Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city.

 

Wherefore is because of this or on account of this and refers to the things Jesus has said to the scribes and Pharisees in verses 31-33.

 

Behold is you see and is used to gain the listeners’ attention.

 

I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes is I (Jesus) am sending to you prophets, wise men and scribes.

 

Prophets are those who receive revelation directly from God and pass it on to others.

 

Wise men are learned men who are possessed with insight given to them by God.

 

Scribes are experts in matters of divine revelation.

 

And some of them ye shall kill and crucify indicates that the scribes and Pharisees, representing the Jewish people, will murder and crucify some of the prophets, wise men, and scribes.

 

And some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues indicates that others of the prophets, wise men, and scribes will be whipped or flogged in the synagogues, the place where punishment would be administered by the Jews.

 

And persecute them from city to city indicates what will also happen to the prophets, wise men, and scribes Jesus will send to the Jewish people. It is how the scribes and Pharisees will fill up the measure of their fathers.

 

And persecute them means that the Jewish people will harass the prophets, wise men, and scribes because they represent Jesus and carry His message.

 

They will pursue, run after, or chase them from city to city, i.e. from one city to another, wherever they might attempt to flee.

 

Matthew 23:35 That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.

 

That suggests so that and introduces the reason the scribes and Pharisees will kill, crucify, scourge, and persecute prophets, wise men, and scribes Jesus will send to them.

 

Upon you refers to the Jewish nation as represented by the scribes and Pharisees.

 

All the righteous blood shed upon the earth refers to the blood of all the righteous people who have been murdered since the creation.

 

From the blood of righteous Abel names the first righteous person murdered in Scripture. His murder occurred in Genesis 4:8 .

 

Unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias is Zechariah the prophet who prophesied after the return from the Babylonian captivity. He is mentioned in Ezra and wrote the book of Zechariah. According to II Chronicles 24:20-21 , Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada (not the son of Barachias), was martyred in the court of the house of the Lord.

 

II Chronicles 24:20-21 – And the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, which stood above the people, and said unto them, Thus saith God, Why transgress ye the commandments of the LORD, that ye cannot prosper? because ye have forsaken the LORD, he hath also forsaken you. 21 And they conspired against him, and stoned him with stones at the commandment of the king in the court of the house of the LORD.

 

Although it is not clear, Zechariah the son of Barachias and Zechariah the son of Jehoiada appear to be two different individuals, both named Zechariah, both of whom were martyred in close proximity to the temple. It is possible, however, to understand the son of Jehoiada as meaning the grandson of Jehoiada, i.e. that Jehoiada was the father of Barachias and that Zechariah was his grandson. If so, both references to Zechariah refer to Zechariah the prophet.

 

Jesus, referring to Zechariah the son of Barachias, states, Whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.

 

Ye slew is you (Jewish leaders) killed or murdered. By this statement Jesus is grouping the scribes and Pharisees in Matthew with the Jewish leaders who killed Zechariah more than four hundred years earlier.

 

Between the temple and the altar suggests in between the sanctuary and the altar, the altar of burnt offering located in the forefront of the temple at Jerusalem.

 

Zechariah was murdered at the end of the period covered by the Old Testament; whereas, Abel was murdered at the beginning of the Old Testament.

 

By making this statement, Jesus is indicating His approval of the entire Old Testament.

 

Matthew 23:36 Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.

 

Verily is truly. It is used of a strong affirmation of what Jesus is stating in this verse.

 

I say unto you is I (Jesus) am saying to you (scribes and Pharisees).

 

All these things refers to the punishment which will fall on the Jewish nation as a result of the murders of righteous people.

 

Shall come upon this generation is will come upon this generation.

 

It pictures an accumulation of sin on the nation of Israel resulting in an eventual judgment of the nation, which will occur during the generation living at the time Jesus said this.

 

This judgment will fall on this generation. Their rejection of Jesus as their Messiah will ultimately result in the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in A.D. 70.

Finally, we see –

 III.     JESUS’ LAMENT OVER JERUSALEM – 23:37-39

 

Matthew 23:37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!

 

Jesus expresses His grief to Jerusalem which was responsible for killing God’s prophets and stoning God’s messengers. He has desired to gather them together, but they were unwilling. Jesus addresses Jerusalem, demonstrating His affection as well as His disappointment for them.

 

He describes Jerusalem as thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, i.e. the one who murders the prophets and stones the ones sent to it.

 

The people of Jerusalem have been guilty of murdering God’s representatives whom He has sent to turn them from the errors of their way.

 

How often would I have gathered thy children together expresses Jesus’ desire for Jerusalem to have a right relation to Him.

 

How often? is how many times? It indicates that He repeatedly sent prophets and others to turn them back to Him spiritually.

 

Would I have gathered thy children together is I wished to gather your children together.

 

Thy children are Jerusalem’s children and refers to the people living in Jerusalem.

 

Even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings is in the manner in which (or just as) a hen gathers her own young together under her wings.

 

She does this in order to protect them.

 

And ye would not is and you (people of Jerusalem) were not willing (to have Me gather your children together). It indicates that God’s grace is not irresistible, i.e. that God’s grace can be resisted.

 

Matthew 23:38 Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.

 

As a result of Jerusalem’s unwillingness for Jesus to gather them together, it will be left alone, abandoned by God.

 

Behold is look or you see and is used to gain the listeners’ or readers’ attention.

 

Your house refers to Jerusalem itself.

 

Is left unto you suggests is abandoned to you.

 

Desolate is deserted. It means that Jesus has abandoned them to experience the logical result of their rejecting Him. They did not want Him; so, He will abandon them to their enemy.

 

Matthew 23:39 For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.

 

Following His crucifixion, unbelieving Israel will not see Jesus again until His second coming to establish His millennial kingdom when the Jewish people will receive Him as their King.

 

For I say unto you is for I (Jesus) am saying to you (inhabitants of Jerusalem).

 

What He says is the rest of this verse.

 

Ye shall not see me is you (unbelieving Israelites) will absolutely not (or will in no wise) see Me.

 

Not is the strongest negative possible in Greek.

 

Following the crucifixion, unbelieving Israel would never again see Jesus.

 

They did not see His resurrection appearances.

 

Till ye shall say is until you say.

 

Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord will be said by the Jewish people at the second coming of Christ. Believing Jews will at that time accept Jesus as their Messiah.

 

Coming in the name of the Lord indicates that He is sent by God the Father and represents God the Father.

 

Zechariah 12:10 And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.

 

Revelation of Jesus Christ 1:7 Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.

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