Matthew 23

Matthew 23


Then JesusI said to the crowds and to his disciples,II 2 “The scribesIII and the PhariseesIV

Notes on verses 1-2a

I “Jesus” = Iesous. From Hebrew Yehoshua (Joshua, the Lord is salvation); {from YHVH (proper name of the God of Israel; the self-existent and eternal one); {from havah (to become) or from hayah (to come to pass, become, be)} + yasha (to deliver, defend, help, preserve, rescue; properly, to be open, wide or free, which implies being safe. So, in a causative sense, this is to free someone). This is Jesus or Joshua in Greek – the Lord saves or the Lord is salvation.
II “disciples” = mathetes. From matheteuo (to make a disciple of); from manthano (to learn key facts, gain knowledge from experience; generally implies reflection as part of the learning process); from math– (thinking things through). This is a disciple, learner, or student. It is where we get “mathematics” from.
III “scribes” = grammateus. From gramma (what is drawn or written so a letter of the alphabet, correspondence, literature, learning); from grapho (to write). This is a writer, scribe, or secretary. Within Judaism, it was someone learned in the Law, a teacher. Also used in the Bible of the town-clerk of Ephesus. See Sirach 38:24-39:11 for a lengthier, positive passage about who scribes were and what they meant in society.
IV “Pharisees” = Pharisaios. From Aramaic peras (to divide, separate) and from Hebrew parash (to make distinct, separate, scatter). This is a Pharisee, a member of a Jewish sect active in the 1st century. Their name meant separate in the sense of wanting to live a life separated from sin. Whereas the Sadducees were part of the priestly line and inherited their religious position and responsibilities, Pharisees were regular people who studied the scriptures and offered guidance to regular folk. Sadducees were often wealthier and willing to sacrifice their identity to rub elbows with Roman society. Pharisees were often more concerned with what it meant to follow God without compromising what made them different as followers of God. Sadducees primarily believed in that which was written down (the first five books of the Bible) and Pharisees believed in the Bible and the traditions of the elders. Pharisees had a very wide range of interpretations and diversity of opinion. Their standard mode of religious engagement was lively debate with one another. To argue religion with another teacher was to recognize that they had something of value to offer.

sitV on Moses’VI seat;VII 

Notes on verse 2b

V “sit” = kathizo. Related to “seat” in v2. See note VII below. From kathezomai (to sit down, be seated); {from kata (down, against, according to, among) + hezomai (to sit); {from aphedron (a seat, a base)}}. This is to sit, set, appoint, stay, rest.
VI “Moses’” = Mouses. From Hebrew Mosheh (Moses); from mashah (to pull out in a literal or figurative sense, to draw out) OR from Egyptian mes or mesu (child, son i.e. child of…). This is Moses – the one drawn out from the water, which is to say, rescued. If derived from the Egyptian, his name would share a root with Rameses and Thutmose.
VII “seat” = kathedra. 3x in NT. From kata (down, against, according to, among) + the same as hedraios (sitting, well-seated, immovable; figuratively, steadfast, firm, morally fixed); {from hedra (seat)}. This a seat or bench in a literal or figurative sense. This is the root of “cathedral.”

therefore, do whatever they teach you and followVIII it; but do not do as they do,IX for they do not practice what they teach.X 

Notes on verse 3

VIII “follow” = tereo. From teros (a guard or a watch that guards keep); perhaps related to theoreo (gazing, beholding, experiencing, discerning; looking at something to analyze it and concentrate on what it means; the root of the word “theatre” in that people concentrate on the action of the play to understand its meaning); from theaomai (to behold, look upon, see, contemplate, visit); from thaomai (to gaze at a spectacle; to look at or contemplate as a spectator; to interpret something in efforts to grasp its significance); from theoros (a spectator or envoy). This is to guard, observe, keep, maintain, or preserve. It can also be used figuratively for spiritual watchfulness. It is guarding something from being lost or harmed – keeping an eye on it. Contrast the Greek phulasso, which is to guard something so that it doesn’t escape. Also contrast koustodia, which generally denotes a fortress or military presence. This word can mean fulfilling commands, keeping in custody, or maintaining. It can also figuratively mean to remain unmarried.
IX “do” = ergon. From ergo (to work, accomplish, do). This is work, task, deed, labor, effort.
X Literally “therefore all things, as many as they tell you, keep and observe. But according to their works do not do for they speak and do not act.”

They tie upXI heavyXII burdens,XIII hard to bear,XIV 

Notes on verse 4a

XI “tie up” = desmeuo. 3x in NT. From desmos (a bond, chain, infirmity, impediment, ligament); from deo (to tie, bind, fasten, impel, compel; to declare something against the law or prohibited) OR from desmeo (bind, confine, tie); from desmeuo (see above). This is to put in chains, bind together, chain a prisoner, tie a load.
XII “heavy” = barus. 6x in NT. Perhaps from the same as baros (weight, burden in a literal or figurative sense; authority); from the same as basis (foot, step, pace) {from baino (to walk to go). This is heavy, burdensome, oppressive, serious. It is weighty in a literal or figurative sense.
XIII “burdens” = phortion. 6x in NT. From phortos (load, cargo); from phero (to bear, bring, lead, make known publicly; to carry in a literal or figurative sense). This is burden, cargo, ship freight. It is an individual’s burden. It can also be the invoice of freight.
XIV “hard to bear” = dusbastaktos. Perhaps related to “heavy” in v4. 2x in NT. From dus (un- or mis-; with difficulty) + bastaktos (borne); {from bastazo (to lift in a literal of figurative sense; to take up, carry, bear, or remove; figuratively, to declare, endure, or sustain); probably from basis (see note XII above)}. This is oppressive, grievous, doubly heavy. It describes something that is difficult or burdensome to carry.

and layXV them on the shouldersXVI of others;XVII but they themselves are unwillingXVIII to lift a finger to moveXIX them. 

Notes on verse 4b

XV “lay” = epitithemi. From epi (on, upon, what is fitting) + tithemi (to put, place, set, fix, establish in a literal or figurative sense; properly, this is placing something in a passive or horizontal position). This is to lay on or place on, whether in a friendly or aggressive way.
XVI “shoulders” = omos. Perhaps related to “burdens” in v4. 2x in NT. Perhaps from phero (see note XIII above). This is the shoulder as a place where one carries a heavy load.
XVII “others” = anthropos. Probably from aner (man, male, husband) + ops (eye, face). This is human, humankind. Used for all genders.
XVIII “are unwilling” = ou + thelo. Literally “not willing.” Thelo is to wish, desire, will, or intend. It is to choose or prefer in a literal or figurative sense. It can also mean inclined toward or take delight in. It can have a sense of being ready to act on the impulse in question.
XIX “move” = kineo. 8x in NT. This is to move, excite, or provoke. It is to stir in a literal or figurative sense. This is where the word “kinetic” comes from.

They do all their deedsXX to be seenXXI by others; for they make their phylacteriesXXII broadXXIII and their fringesXXIV long.XXV 

Notes on verse 5

XX “deeds” = ergon. Same as “do” in v3. See note IX above.
XXI “seen” = theaomai. Related to “follow” in v3. See note VIII above.
XXII “phylacteries” = phulakterion. 1x in NT. From the same as phulasso (to guard something so that it doesn’t escape – to watch over it vigilantly; being on guard in a literal or figurative sense); {related to phulaks (military guard, sentry, watcher)} + –terion (suffix of a place). This is phylactery, amulet, or a fortification. A phylactery is small cases that have scripture verses inside (Ex 13:1-10, 11-16; Dt 6:4-9, 13-21) bound to the forehead, arm, and wrist.
XXIII “make…broad” = platuno. 3x in NT. From platus (wide, spread flat, broad); perhaps from plasso (to form, mold; to create like a potter shapes clay). This is to enlarge, open wide. It can be widen in a figurative sense – to open one’s heart wide.
XXIV “fringes” = kraspedon. 5x in NT. This is a border – a fringe, edge, or tassel.
XXV “long” = megaluno. 8x in NT. From megas (big in a literal or figurative sense – great, large, exceeding, abundant, high, mighty, perfect, strong, etc). This is the same word used in Mary’s song of praise in Luke 1:46 “my soul magnifies the Lord.” This is to make great, increase, extoll, magnify. It is increase in a literal or figurative sense.

They loveXXVI to have the place of honorXXVII at banquetsXXVIII and the best seatsXXIX in the synagogues,XXX 

Notes on verse 6

XXVI “love” = phileo. From philos (dear, beloved, a friend, an associate; friendship with personal affection, a trusted confidante; love from personal experience with another person). This is friendship love and fondness with personal attachment.
XXVII “place of honor” = protoklisia. 5x in NT. From protos (what is first, which could be the most important, the first in order, the main one, the chief); {from pro (before, first, in front of, earlier)} + klisia (a place where one reclines; a dining couch or a group of people eating together); {from klino (to slant, rest, recline, approach an end, wear; to bend in a literal or figurative sense – to lay down, a day ending, causing an opposing army to flee)}. This is literally reclining first. It can refer to the chief place or the place with the most honor – highest, preeminent.
XXVIII “banquets” = deipnon. 16x in NT. From the same as dapane (cost or expense); from dapto (to devour). This is a dinner or a feast – a meal in the afternoon or, more commonly, the evening.
XXIX “best seats” = protokathedria. Related to “seat” and “sit” in v2 & “place of honor” in v6. 4x in NT – all in parallels of Jesus denouncing scribes and Pharisees. From protos (see note XXVII above) + kathedra (see note VII above). This is sitting first, perhaps in the front row as a chief or most honorable place to sit.
XXX “synagogues” = sunagoge. From sun (with, together with, closely associated) + ago (to lead, bring, carry, guide, go, drive). Literally, this is a bringing together, a place of assembly. The term can be used for the people or for the place where they assemble. It is also sometimes used of Christian churches in the New Testament. So, this is synagogue, assembly, congregation, or church. This is where the word “synagogue” comes from.

and to be greetedXXXI with respect in the marketplaces,XXXII and to have peopleXXXIII callXXXIV them rabbi.XXXV 

Notes on verse 7

XXXI “greeted” = aspasmos. 10x in NT. From aspazomai (to welcome, salute, or greet. It can also be to embrace or acclaim); {perhaps from a (with, together with) + a form of spao (to draw, draw out, pull)}. This is a greeting whether face to face or in a letter.
XXXII “marketplaces” = agora. 11x in NT. From ageiro (to gather). This is assembly, forum, marketplace, town square, thoroughfare. This is where “agoraphobia” comes from.
XXXIII “people” = anthropos. Same as “others” in v4. See note XVII above.
XXXIV “call” = kaleo. Related to keleuo (to command, order, direct); from kelomai (to urge on). This is to call by name, invite, to name, bid, summon, call aloud.
XXXV “rabbi” = rhabbi. 15x in NT– 8x in the Gospel of John. From Hebrew rab (chief); from rabab (to be many, increase, multiply). This is a title of respect for a teacher-scholar. Literally, it means great one or honorable sir. It can also be understood as my master or my teacher.

But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have oneXXXVI teacher,XXXVII and you are all students.XXXVIII And call no one your father on earth, for you have one Father—the one in heaven.XXXIX 

Notes on verses 8-9

XXXVI “for you have one” = heis + gar + eimi + su. Literally “for one is your.”  
XXXVII “teacher” = didaskalos. From didasko (to teach, direct, instruct, or impart knowledge; in the New Testament, almost always used for teaching scripture); from dao (to learn). This is teacher or master.
XXXVIII “students” = adelphos. From a (with, community, fellowship) + delphus (womb). This is a brother in a literal or figurative sense. It is also used of another member of the Church.
XXXIX “in heaven” = ouranios. 9x in NT. From ouranos (air, sky, the atmosphere, heaven; the sky that is visible; the spiritual heaven where God dwells; implies happiness, power, and eternity); {perhaps from oros (mountain, hill)}. This is heavenly or celestial. It can mean in, belonging to, or coming from heaven or the sky.

10 Nor are you to be called instructors,XL for you have one instructor, the Messiah.XLI 11 The greatestXLII among you will be your servant.XLIII 12 All who exaltXLIV themselves will be humbled,XLV and all who humble themselves will be exalted.

Notes on verses 10-12

XL “instructors” = kathegetes. Related to “synagogues” in v6. 2x in NT. From kata (down, against, according to, throughout) + hegeomai (to think, suppose, have an opinion; to lead the way, what comes in front or first, initial thought, high esteem or authority; one who commands in an official capacity); {from ago (see note XXX above)}. This is a leader, teacher, or guide. It is a master-teacher as in Plato. This same word is presently used in Greek to mean professor.
XLI Literally, “since your instructor is one, the Christ.” “Christ” = christos. From chrio (consecrate by anointing with oil; often done for prophets, priests, or kings). Literally, the anointed one, Christ. The Greek word for Messiah.
XLII “greatest” = megas. Related to “long” in v5. See note XXV above.
XLIII “servant” = diakonos. Perhaps from dia (through, across to the other side, thoroughly) + konis (dust) OR from dioko (to chase after, put to flight; by implication, to persecute or to purse like a hunter after its prey; this can be earnestly pursue or zealously persecute) {related to dio (put to flight)}. This is a servant, minister, waiter, or attendant. It is used for a person who performs a service, including religious service. This is the root of the word “deacon.”
XLIV “exalt” = hupsoo. From hupsos (height, high position, heaven, dignity, eminence; elevation, altitude; to be exalted); from hupsi (on high, aloft); from huper (over, above, beyond). This is to elevate in a literal or figurative sense. So it could be to raise up or set something in a high place or to exalt or make something great.
XLV “be humbled” = tapeinoo. 14x in NT. From tapeinos (low in position, depressed, low in circumstance; fig humiliated, low in spirit). This is bringing someone or something low. Figuratively to humble or humiliate – to depress or abase.

13 “But woeXLVI to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!XLVII For you lock people outXLVIII of the kingdomXLIX of heaven.L For you do not go in yourselves, and when others are going in, you stopLI them. 

Notes on verse 13

XLVI “woe” = ouai. This is alas or woe to show grief or to denounce something.
XLVII “hypocrites” = hupokrites. 18x in NT. From hupokrinomai (to answer, pretend, respond as an actor on stage; figuratively, to lie) {from hupo (by, under, about) + krino (to judge, decide, think good, condemn, determine, pass judgment, stand trial, sue; judging whether in court or in a private setting; properly, mentally separating or distinguishing an issue – to come to a choice or decision, to judge positively or negatively in seeking what is right or wrong, who is innocent or guilty; can imply trying, condemning, punishing, or avenging.)}. This is literally an actor. Figuratively, it is someone playing out a role, which is to say, lying, pretending, or being a hypocrite. This is where the word “hypocrite” comes from.
XLVIII “lock…out” = kleio. 16x in NT. This is to close, shut, or lock in a literal of figurative sense. Figuratively used for shutting out of the kingdom of heaven or the wedding banquet, the heavens shutting as in there is no rain, and also for heartlessness.
XLIX “kingdom” = basileia. Perhaps related to “heavy” and “hard to bear” in v4. From basileus (king, emperor, sovereign); probably from basis (see note XII above). This is kingdom, rule, authority, sovereignty, royalty, a realm.
L “heaven” = ouranos. Related to “in heaven” in v9. See note XXXIX above.
LI “stop” = aphiemi. From apo (from, away from) + hiemi (to send). This is send away, release, permit, forgive, allow to depart, discharge, or send forth.

14 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devourLII widows’LIII housesLIV and for the sake of appearanceLV you make longLVI prayers;LVII

Notes on verse 14a

LII “devour” = katesthio. 15x in NT. From kata (down, against, throughout, among) + esthio (to eat or figuratively to devour or consume like rust). This is to eat up, to consume totally so that there is nothing left. It can also be to annoy, injure, or squander.
LIII “widows’” = chera. Perhaps from the base of chasma (chasm, gap, gulf); from chasko (to yawn). This is widow literally or figuratively.
LIV “houses” = oikia. From oikos (house – the building, the household, the family, descendants; the temple). This is a house, household, goods, property, family, or means.
LV “for the sake of appearance” = prophasis. 7x in NT. From pro (before, ahead, earlier than, above) + phaino (to bring light, cause to appear, shine, become visible or clear). This is outward appearance, pretense, excuse, pretext.
LVI “long” = makros. 6x in NT. This is long, far away, lasting a long time.
LVII “make…prayers” = proseuchomai. From pros (advantageous for, at, toward) + euchomai (to wish, make a request, pray). This is to pray or pray for, to worship or supplicate. It is more literally exchanging one’s own wishes for God’s.

therefore you will receiveLVIII the greaterLIX condemnation.LX  

Notes on verse 14b

LVIII “receive” = lambano. It does not refer to passive receiving of something, but active acceptance or taking of something whether it is offered or simply nearby. It focuses on individual decision and action.
LIX “greater” = perissos.  From peri (all-around, encompassing, excess). This is abundant, more, excessive, advantage, vehemently.
LX “condemnation” = krima. Related to “hypocrites” in v13. From krino (see note XLVII above). This is judgment, sentence, verdict. Sometimes, this can have a negative sense – condemnation. It is the decision and the full force of its effect negative and positive.

15 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you crossLXI seaLXII and landLXIII to make a single convert,LXIV and you make the new convert twice as much a childLXV of hellLXVI as yourselves.

Notes on verse 15

LXI “cross” = periago. Related to “synagogues” in v6 & “instructors” in v10. 6x in NT. From peri (about, concerning, all around, encompassing) + ago (see note XXX above). This is to lead around, compass, go about.
LXII “sea” = thalassa. Perhaps from hals (sea, salt, a boy of saltwater) or halas (salt; can be figurative for prudence). This is the sea, a lake, or seashore.
LXIII “land” = xeros. 8x in NT. This is dry, arid, withered. It can also refer to dry land or imply something that is shrunken.
LXIV “convert” = proselutos. 4x in NT. From proserchomai (to approach, draw near, come up to; figuratively to worship); {from pros (for, at, towards) + erchomai (to come, go)}. This is a proselyte as a newcomer to Judaism. A convert to Judaism would have been circumcised and begun to follow the Law. It could also be a foreigner.
LXV “child” = huios. This is son, descendant – a son whether natural born or adopted. It can be used figuratively for other forms of kinship.
LXVI “hell” = geenna. 12x in NT. From Hebrew Gehinnom (valley of Hinnom); from gay (valley; a gorge that is not a winter torrent) + Hinnom (most likely of foreign origin, perhaps from the Jebusites). This is Gehenna or hell, referring to a valley outside of Jerusalem and used figuratively for hell.

16 “Woe to you, blindLXVII guides,LXVIII who say, ‘Whoever swears by the sanctuaryLXIX is bound by nothing, but whoever swears by the goldLXX of the sanctuary is bound by the oath.’LXXI 

Notes on verse 16

LXVII “blind” = tuphlos. Derivation unclear. Perhaps from tuphoo (to be conceited, foolish, puffed up, haughty; properly, to blow smoke; figuratively being muddled or cloudy in mind; poor judgment that harms spiritual clarity; also, being covered with smoke – so filled with pride); from tuphos (smoke, vanity, arrogance); from tupho (to raise smoke, smolder, slowly consume without flame). This is blind or a blind person – perhaps in the sense of smoke making things opaque and impossible to see. This is blind literally or figuratively.
LXVIII “guides” = hodegos. Related to “synagogues” in v6 & “instructors” in v10 & “cross” in v15. 5x in NT. From hodos (way, road, path, or journey; can imply progress along a route) + hegeomai (see note XL above). This is leader or guide. It can be used figuratively for a teacher.
LXIX “sanctuary” = naos. From naio (to dwell, inhabit). This is a place for God (or a god) to live – a sanctuary, shrine, or temple. It is a place for God or a god to manifest. For the Jewish Temple, it is used of the Temple itself and the two inner chambers.
LXX “gold” = chrusos. 10x in NT. Perhaps from chraomai (to use, make use of, give what is needed, act in a specific way, request). This is gold or something made of gold. It is symbolic of purchasing power.
LXXI “is bound by the oath” = opheilo. Perhaps from the base of ophelos (advantage, gain, profit); from ophello (heaped together, accumulate, increase). This is to be indebted morally or legally – having an obligation one must meet. This term came from the legal world, but was then adopted in reference to morality. In the New Testament it is used for humanity’s ethical responsibility.

17 You blind fools!LXXII For which is greater, the gold or the sanctuary that has made the gold sacred?LXXIII 18 And you say, ‘Whoever swears by the altarLXXIV is bound by nothing, but whoever swears by the giftLXXV that is on the altar is bound by the oath.’ 19 How blind you are! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 

Notes on verses 17-19

LXXII “fools” = moros. 12x in NT. This is foolish, dull, stupid. It is something lacking an edge so figuratively it refers to someone who has a loose grasp of reality or whose understanding is dull. It is someone who acts as though they have not brain.
LXXIII “made…sacred” = hagiazo. From hagios (sacred, holy, set apart, different other; physically pure, morally blameless, or ceremonially set apart); from hagnos (holy, sacred, pure ethically, ritually, or ceremonially; prepared for worship, chaste, unadulterated, pure to the core; undefiled by sin; figurative for innocent, modest, perfect). This is to make holy, consecrate, sanctify, set apart as holy, purify, venerate.
LXXIV “altar” = thusiasterion. From thusia (a sacrifice or offering; the act of sacrifice or the thig being sacrificed; a sacrifice in a literal or figurative sense.); from thuo (to breathe violently, seethe, rage; properly, to rush as breathing heavy; so smoke as in offering an animal sacrifice by fire; by extension, killing or slaying in general). This is altar that is used for sacrifice.
LXXV “gift” = doron. 19x in NT. From didomi (to give in a literal or figurative sense). This is gift, offering, sacrifice; emphasizes that the gift is given freely, voluntarily

20 So whoever swears by the altar, swears by it and by everything on it; 21 and whoever swears by the sanctuary, swears by it and by the one who dwellsLXXVI in it; 22 and whoever swears by heaven, swears by the throneLXXVII of GodLXXVIII and by the one who is seatedLXXIX upon it.

Notes on verses 20-22

LXXVI “dwells” = katoikeo. Related to “houses” in v14. From kata (down, against, throughout, among) + oikeo (to settle or be established somewhere in a permanent way, to make a home or live at home);{from oikos (see note LIV above)}. This is to live or settle on a permanent basis.
LXXVII “throne” = thronos. Probably from thanos (bench); from thrao (to sit). This is throne or seat – the place where the king sits. So, it is used figuratively to mean power, dominion, or a potentate. This is where the word “throne” comes form.
LXXVIII “God” = theos. From Proto-Indo-European origins, meaning do, put, place. This is God or a god in general.
LXXIX “seated” = kathemai. From kata (down, against, throughout, among) + hemai (to sit). This is to sit, be enthroned, or reside.

23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you titheLXXX mint,LXXXI dill,LXXXII and cumin,LXXXIII and have neglectedLXXXIV the weightierLXXXV matters of the law:LXXXVI

Notes on verse 23a

LXXX “tithe” = apodekatoo. 4x in NT. From apo (from, away from) + dekatoo (to tithe or gather tithes); {from dekate (a tenth or tithe); from deka (ten or -teen)}. This is to give or take a tithe – a tenth part.
LXXXI “mint” = heduosmon. 2x in NT. From the same as hedeos (sweetly, gladly, enjoyable; with pleasure); {from hedus (sweet) or from hedone (pleasure, passion – particularly of physical senses); {from hedomai (to enjoy oneself); from handano (to please)}} + osme (smell, aroma, fragrance – literal or figurative); {from ozo (to stink, emit a scent)}. This is a plant with a sweet fragrance like mint or peppermint.
LXXXII “dill” = anethon. 1x in NT. This is anise or dill. Related to the word that “anise” comes from.
LXXXIII “cumin” = kuminon. 1x in NT. From Akkadian gamun (cumin); related to Hebrew kammon (cumin). The root may mean to preserve or store. This is cumin or fennel. It shares a root with the word “cumin.” See
LXXXIV “neglected” = aphiemi. Same as “stop” in v13. See note LI above.
LXXXV “weightier” = barus. Same as “heavy” in v4. See note XII above.
LXXXVI “law” = nomos. From nemo (to parcel out). Literally, this is that which is assigned. It can be usage, custom, or law. This word can be used for human or divine law. It can be used specifically for the law of Moses or as a name for the Torah (the first five books of the Bible). Sometimes it is used for scripture as a whole, used of the Gospel, or of any theology. It is also used for the “tradition of the elders,” which would be the oral Torah – the tradition of the laws plus their interpretations as they were passed down over time. We must carefully consider which meaning of “law” is meant when we interpret passages the word is found in.

justiceLXXXVII and mercyLXXXVIII and faith.LXXXIX It is these you oughtXC to have practiced without neglecting the others. 

Notes on verse 23b

LXXXVII “justice” = krisis. Related to “hypocrites” in v13 & “condemnation” in v14. From krino (see note XLVII above). This is a judging or a sentence. It is often used of God’s judgment, but can also be any accusation or condemnation. This is where the word “crisis” comes from.
LXXXVIII “mercy” = eleos. This is mercy, pity, tender mercy, or compassion, whether from humans or from God. This is mercy, generally understood in action by word or deed. When we sing or say “kyrie eleison” (Lord, have mercy), it is related to this word.
LXXXIX “faith” = pistis. From peitho (to have confidence, urge, be persuaded, agree, assure, believe, have confidence, trust). This is less about knowing, believing, and repeating a list of doctrines then it is about trusting God. Faith means listening to God and seeking to live a holy life even (and especially) when we don’t understand how everything works or fits together. Faith is about being faithful (trusting and doing) rather than being all knowing.
XC “ought” = dei. Related to “tie up” in v4. From deo (see note XI above). This is what is necessary or proper. It is what is needed or what one should do – a duty or something inevitable. This refers to something absolutely necessary.

24 You blind guides! You strain outXCI a gnatXCII but swallowXCIII a camel!

Notes on verse 24

XCI “strain out” = diulizo. 1x in NT. From dia (through, because of, across, thoroughly) + hulizo (to strain or filter). This is to strain as when using a sieve.
XCII “gnat” = konops. 1x in NT. Probably from konos (cone-shaped) + ops (eye, face) OR from kentron (point, goad, sting; figurative for poison, death, or divine impulse); {from kenteo (to prick)} + optanomai (to appear, be seen); perhaps from horao (become, seem, appear)}.This is a gnat or mosquito as something that is very small.
XCIII “swallow” = katapino. 7x in NT. From kata (down, against, throughout, among) + pino (to drink literally or figuratively). This is literally to drink down – to gulp something down whole, devour, destroy, consume, or overwhelm. It is to drink down in a literal or figurative sense.

25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanXCIV the outside of the cupXCV and of the plate,XCVI

Notes on verse 25a

XCIV “clean” = katharizo. From katharos (clean, clear, pure, unstained; clean in a literal, ritual, or spiritual sense; so, also guiltless, innocent or upright; something that is pure because it has been separated from the negative substance or aspect; spiritually clean because of God’s act of purifying). This is to cleanse, make clean, purify, purge, or declare to be clean. Like its roots, it includes cleansing in a literal, ritual, or spiritual sense. Being pure or purified is not something that is only available to the rare few or the innocent. Anyone can be purified.
XCV “cup” = poterion. Related to “swallow” in v24. From pino (see note XCIII above). This is a drinking vessel. Figuratively, it can refer to one’s lot, to fate, or to what God has in store for you.
XCVI “plate” = paropsis. 2x in NT. From para (beside, by, in the presence of) + the same as opsarion (fish or little fish. It can also refer to a cooked sauce or salted fish served as a condiment); from opson (cooked food) OR from optos (roasted, cooked); {related to hepso (to steep)}. This is a dish, platter, or side dish. It can be a plate of delicacies.

but inside they are fullXCVII of greedXCVIII and self-indulgence.XCIX 26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup,C so that the outside also may become clean.CI

Notes on verses 25b-26

XCVII “are full” = gemo. 11x in NT. This is to be full, swell, at capacity, actions taken to fulfill a goal.
XCVIII “greed” = harpage. 3x in NT. From harpazo (to seize by force, snatch away); from haireo (to choose, take). This is plunder, extortion, seizure – taking from violent greed.
XCIX “self-indulgence” = akrasia. 2x in NT. From akrates (powerless, given to excess, not having self-control or self-discipline); {from a (not, without) + kratos (strength, power, dominion; vigor in a literal or figurative sense; power that is exercised)}. This is intemperance, self-indulgence, lacking restraint. It is not maintaining self-control – being ruled by urges.
C Some manuscripts add “and of the dish.”
CI “clean” = katharos. Related to “clean” in v25. See note XCIV above.

27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashedCII tombs,CIII which on the outsideCIV lookCV beautiful,CVI but inside they are full of the bones of the deadCVII and of all kinds of filth.CVIII 

Notes on verse 27

CII “whitewashed” = koniao. 2x in NT. From konia (dust or figuratively lime). This is to plaster or whitewash.
CIII “tombs” = taphos. 7x in NT. From thapto (to bury, hold a funeral). This is a burial place such as a grave, sepulcher, or tomb.
CIV {untranslated} = men. This is truly, indeed, even, in fact. Often, it is not translated, but used to emphasize affirmation.
CV “look” = phaino. Related to “For the sake of appearance” in v14. See note LV above.
CVI “beautiful” = horaios. 4x in NT. From hora (a set time or period, an hour, instant, or season). This is timely, seasonable, blooming, beautiful. It is fruitful, having the right timing, in season, flourishing.
CVII “dead” = nekros. Perhaps from nekus (corpse). This is dead of lifeless, mortal, corpse. It can also be used figuratively for powerless or ineffective. It is where the word “necrotic” comes from.
CVIII “filth” = akatharsia. Related to “clean” in v25 & “clean” in v26. 10x in NT. From akathartos (unclean or impure, whether a thing or a person; something that is not mixed with something that would taint; unclean in a ritual or moral sense; also demonic or foul); {from a (not, without) + kathairo (to cleanse or purify by purging out unwanted elements); {from katharos (see note XCIV above)}. This is uncleanness or impurity. It can be physical, ritual, or moral.

28 So you also on the outsideCIX look righteousCX to others, but inside you are full of hypocrisyCXI and lawlessness.CXII

Notes on verse 28

CIX {untranslated} = men. Same as {untranslated} in v27. See note CIV above.
CX “righteous” = dikaios. From dike (the principle of justice; that which is right in a way that is very clear; a decision or the execution of that decision; originally, this word was for custom or usage; evolved to include the process of law, judicial hearing, execution of sentence, penalty, and even vengeance; more commonly, it refers to what is right); may be from deiknumi (to show, point out, exhibit; figurative for teach, demonstrate, make known). This is correct, righteous, just, or a righteous person. It implies innocent or conforming to God’s standard of justice.
CXI “hypocrisy” = hupokrisis. Related to “hypocrites” in v13 & “condemnation” in v14 & “justice” in v23. 6x in NT. 6x in NT. From hupokrinomai (see note XLVII above). This is answer, play-acting, or hypocrisy. It is one who acts beneath a mask, i.e. lies or is a hypocrite.
CXII “lawlessness” = anomia. Related to “law” in v23. 15x in NT. From anomos (literally without law; could refer to someone who disregards authority or one who is not under the law (i.e. a Gentile); lawless, wicked, or a transgressor); {from a (not, without) + nomos (see note LXXXVI above}}. This is lawlessness, disobedience, without law, violation. It is disregarding the law whether human or God’s law, including the harmful impact.

29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you buildCXIII the tombs of the prophetsCXIV and decorateCXV the gravesCXVI of the righteous,

Notes on verse 29

CXIII “build” = oikodomeo. Related to “houses” in v14 & “dwells” in v21.  From oikos (see note LIV above) + domeo (to build). This is to build a house or be a house builder. Figuratively, it can mean to edify or encourage, be strong or embolden.
CXIV “prophets” = prophetes. Related to “for the sake of appearance” in v14 & “look” in v27. From pro (before, in front of, earlier than) + phemi (to declare, say, use contrasts in speaking to shed light on one point of view); {from phao (to shine) or phaino (see note LV above)}. This is a prophet or poet – one who speaks with inspiration from God.
CXV “decorate” = kosmeo. 10x in NT. From kosmos (order, the world, the universe, including its inhabitants; literally, something that is ordered; can refer to all creation or decoration in the sense that something is better ordered and so more beautiful); perhaps from the base of komizo (to carry, convey, recover); from komeo (to take care of). This is to order, arrange, beautify. It is more beautiful because it is properly arranged in a literal or figurative sense. It can also be used to mean trim a wick.
CXVI “graves” = mnemeion. From mousikos (to remember); from mneme (memory or mention); from mnaomai (to remember; by implication give reward or consequence); perhaps from meno (to stay, abide, wait, endure). This is properly a memorial – a tomb, grave, monument.

30 and you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors,CXVII we would not have taken partCXVIII with them in shedding the bloodCXIX of the prophets.’ 

Notes on verse 30

CXVII “ancestors” = pater. This is father in a literal or figurative sense. Could be elder, senior, ancestor, originator, or patriarch.
CXVIII “taken part” = koinonos. 10x in NT. From koinonoia (sharing in common so it is fellowship, participation, communion, and aid that comes from the community); from koinos (common, shared, unclean, ritually profane); probably from sun (with, together with). This is partner, companion, partaker, sharer.
CXIX “blood” = haima. This is blood in a literal sense as bloodshed. Figuratively, it can also be used to refer to wine or to kinship (being related).

31 Thus you testifyCXX against yourselves that you are descendantsCXXI of those who murderedCXXII the prophets. 32 Fill up,CXXIII then, the measureCXXIV of your ancestors. 

Notes on verses 31-32

CXX “testify” = martureo. From martus (a witness whether having heard or seen something; witness literally, judicially, or figuratively; by analogy, a martyr). This is to bear witness, testify, give evidence. It is to testify in a literal or figurative sense
CXXI “descendants” = huios. Same as “child” in v15. See note LXV above.
CXXII “murdered” = phoneuo. 12x in NT. From phoneus (a murderer); from phonos (killing, murder, or slaughter; one of the crimes that Barabbas and Saul are accused of); from pheno (to slay). This is to kill or murder. It is killing on purpose without justification.
CXXIII “fill up” = pleroo. From pleres (to be full, complete, abounding in, occupied with). This is to fill, make full or complete. Properly, this is filling something up to the maximum extent that it can be filled – an appropriate amount for its individual capacity. So, this is used figuratively for furnish, influence, satisfy, finish, preach, perfect, and fulfill.
CXXIV “measure” = metron. 14x in NT. This is a measure, whether of distance or volume. It can be a tool for measuring or the measure itself. Figuratively, it is that which determines what is sufficient. This is where the words “meter” and “metric” come from.

33 You snakes,CXXV you broodCXXVI of vipers!CXXVII How can you escapeCXXVIII being sentencedCXXIX to hell? 

Notes on verse 33

CXXV “snakes” = ophis. Related to “gnat” in v24. 14x in NT. Perhaps from optanomai (see note XCII above). This is snake or serpent, often used of the devil. It is the snake as a type that is sly or cunning – someone malicious.
CXXVI “brood” = gennema .8x in NT. From gennao (to beget, give birth to, or bring forth; properly, procreation by the father, but used of the mother by extension; figuratively, to regenerate); from genna (descent, birth); from genos (family, offspring, kin – in a literal or figurative sense); from ginomai (to come into being, to happen, become, be born; to emerge from one state or condition to another; this is coming into being with the sense of movement or growth). This is offspring, child, fruit, brood, or produce in a literal or figurative sense.
CXXVII “vipers” = echidna. 5x in NT. From echis (viper, adder). This is some kind of poisonous snake or figuratively poisonous words.
CXXVIII “escape” = pheugo. This is to run away in a literal or figurative sense. It can also be to flee, escape, shun, or vanish.
CXXIX “sentenced” = krisis. Same as “justice” in v23. See note LXXXVII above.

34 ThereforeCXXX I sendCXXXI you prophets, sages,CXXXII and scribes, some of whom you will killCXXXIII and crucify,CXXXIV

Notes on verse 34a

CXXX {untranslated} = idou. From eido (to be aware, see, know, remember, appreciate). This is see! Lo! Behold! Look! Used to express surprise and or draw attention to the statement.
CXXXI “send” = apostello. From apo (from, away from) + stello (to send, set, arrange, prepare, gather up); {probably from histemi (to make to stand, stand, place, set up, establish, appoint, stand firm, be steadfast)}. This is to send forth, send away, dismiss, send as a messenger. It implies one that is sent for a particular mission or purpose rather than a quick errand. This is where “apostle” comes from.
CXXXII “sages” = sophos. Related to saphes (clear). This is wise, clever, skilled, learned, cultivated. This is wisdom as expressed through a practical skill or ability as opposed to thoughtfulness, or intelligence.
CXXXIII “kill” = apokteino. From apo (from, away from) + kteino (to kill). To put to death, kill, slay. Figuratively, this word can mean abolish, destroy, or extinguish.
CXXXIV “crucify” = stauroo. Related to “send” in v34. From stauros (upright stake, cross; literally the horizontal beam of a Roman cross, generally carried by the one convicted to die); from the same as histemi (see note CXXXI above). This can be to attach someone to a cross or fencing with stakes. In a figurative sense, it could be to destroy, mortify, or subdue passions/selfishness.

and some you will flogCXXXV in your synagogues and pursueCXXXVI from townCXXXVII to town, 

Notes on verse 34b

CXXXV “flog” = mastigoo. 7x in NT. From mastix (a whip that had leather straps with metal bits sewn onto them; figurative for great pain, suffering, disease, or plague; a Roman whip used on criminals, the flagellum); probably from massaomai (to chew, gnaw, consume); from masso (to handle, squeeze). This is to flog or whip someone – the victim being strapped to a pole. Used figuratively for being chastised.
CXXXVI “pursue” = dioko. Related to “servant” in v11. See note XLIII above.
CXXXVII “town” = polis. This is a city or its inhabitants. It is a town of variable size, but one that has walls. This is where “metropolis” and “police” come from.

35 so that upon you may come all the righteous blood shedCXXXVIII on earth, from the blood of righteous AbelCXXXIX to the blood of ZechariahCXL son of Barachiah,CXLI whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar.

Notes on verse 35

CXXXVIII “shed” = ekcheo. From ek (from, from out of) + cheo (to pour). This is something poured out in a liberal fashion. So, it is gushing, spilling, or shedding.
CXXXIX “Abel” = Habel. 4x in NT. From Hebrew Hebel (Abel); perhaps from hebel (emptiness, vapor, breath; something that is fleeting or futile, worthless or a delusion; something that is passing and does not satisfy); related to habal (to be vain, behave in an empty way). This is Abel, meaning “vanity” or “breath.”
CXL “Zechariah” = Zacharias. Related to “Jesus” in v1. 11x in NT. From Hebrew Zekaryah (Zechariah, meaning “the Lord has remembered); {from zakar (to remember, to mark something so that it can be recalled, to be mindful of, to mention) + Yah (the shortened form of the name of the God of Israel; God, Lord); {from YHVH (see note I above)}}.  This is Zacharias or Zechariah, meaning “the Lord has remembered.”
CXLI “Barachiah” = Barachias. Related to “Jesus” in v1 & “Zechariah” in v35. 1x in NT. From Hebrew Berekyah (Berechiah, meaning “the Lord blesses”); {from barak (to kneel, bless; blessing God as part of worship and adoration; blessing humans to help them; can be used as a euphemism to say curse God) + Yah (see note CXL above)}. This is Barachiah or Barachias, meaning “the Lord blesses.”

36 TrulyCXLII I tell you, all this will comeCXLIII upon this generation.CXLIV

Notes on verse 36

CXLII “truly” = amen. From Hebrew amen (verily, truly, amen, truth, so be it, faithfulness); from aman (to believe, endure, fulfill, confirm, support, be faithful, put one’s trust in, be steadfast. Figuratively, this is to be firm, steadfast, or faithful, trusting, believing, being permanent, morally solid). This word is literally firmness, but figuratively fidelity, faithfulness, honesty, responsibility, trust, truth, steadfastness. Properly, it is to be sure, certain, or firm. This is a word of emphasis indicating that something crucial follows.
CXLIII “come” = heko. This is to come or arrive as at a final destination or goal. It can also mean being present in a literal or figurative sense.
CXLIV “generation” = genea. Related to “brood” in v33. From genos (see note CXXVI above). This is family, generation, kind, or nation. As generation, it implies an age as a period of time. It can also mean infinity. This is the root of the word “generation.

37 “Jerusalem,CXLV Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stonesCXLVI those who are sent to it! How often have I desiredCXLVII to gather your childrenCXLVIII togetherCXLIX

Notes on verse 37a

CXLV “Jerusalem” = Ierousalem. From Hebrew yerushalaim (probably foundation of peace); {from yarah (to throw, shoot, be stunned; to flow as water so figuratively to instruct or teach) + shalem (to make amends, to be complete or sound)}. This is Jerusalem, dwelling of peace.
CXLVI “stones” = lithoboleo. 7x in NT. From lithos (stone literal of figurative) + ballo (to throw, cast, place, put, drop). This is to stone as in kill by throwing stones at.
CXLVII “desired” = thelo. Same as “unwilling” in v4. See note XVIII above.
CXLVIII “children” = teknon. From tikto (to beget, bring forth, produce). This is a child, descendant, or inhabitant.
CXLIX “gather…together” = episunago. Related to “synagogues” in v6 & “instructors” in v10 & “cross” in v15 & “guides” in v16. 8x in NT. From epi (on, upon, what is fitting) + sunago (to lead together and so to assemble, bring together, welcome with hospitality, or entertain); {from sun (with, together with) + ago (see note XXX above)}. This is to gather together, group together, assemble.

asCL a henCLI gathers her broodCLII under her wings, and you were not willing! 

Notes on verse 37b

CL “as” = tropos. 13x in NT. From the same as trope (turning, change, shifting); from trepo (to turn). This is turning and taking on a new direction or manner. It can refer to way, fashion, style, or character. This is where the word “trope” comes from.
CLI “hen” = ornis. Related to “heaven” in v9 & “heaven” in v13. 2x in NT. Perhaps from oros (see note XXXIX above). This a bird particularly a rooster or hen.
CLII “brood” = nossion. 1x in NT. From neossos (young bird, young one); from nossos (young bird); from neos (young, new, youth). This is a birdling, young bird.

38 See,CLIII your houseCLIV is leftCLV to you, desolate.CLVI 

Notes on verse 38

CLIII “see” = idou. Same as {untranslated} in v34. See note CXXX above.
CLIV “house” = oikos. Related to “houses” in v14 & “dwells” in v21 & “build” in v29.  See note LIV above.
CLV “is left” = aphiemi. Same as “stop” in v13. See note LI above.
CLVI “desolate” = eremos. Properly, a place that is not settled or farmed, not populated. It could be a deserted area or a desert place. It could be seen as secluded, solitary, or lonesome. Any kind of vegetation is sparse, but so are people generally.

39 For I tell you, you will not seeCLVII me again until you say, ‘Blessed isCLVIII the one who comes in the nameCLIX of the Lord.’”CLX

Notes on verse 39

CLVII “see” = horao. Related to “gnat” in v24. See note XCII above.
CLVIII “blessed is” = eulogeo. From eu (good, well, well done, rightly) + logos (word, statement, speech, analogy; a word that carries an idea or expresses a thought, a saying; a person with a message or reasoning laid out in words; by implication, a topic, line of reasoning, or a motive; can be used for a divine utterance or as Word – Christ); {from lego (to speak, tell, mention)}. Properly, this is speaking well of – speaking so that the other is benefited. It can mean praise, bless, thank, or call for a blessing. This is where “eulogy” comes from.
CLIX “name” = onoma. May be from ginosko (know, recognize, learn from firsthand experience). This is a name, authority, cause, character, fame, reputation. The name was thought to include something of the essence of the person so it was not thought to be separate from the person.
CLX “Lord” = kurios. From kuros (authority, supremacy). This is a respectful address meaning master or sir. It refers to one who has control or power greater than one’s own. So, it was also applied to God and Jesus as Master or Lord.

Image credit: “Past Glories” by Thomas Thomopoulos, 1910.

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