“WOE to you hypocritical Scribes and Pharisees, because right in front of people1 you are closing the door to the Realm of Heaven.2 You do not enter and you prevent those who might from entering.”3
|1||Right in front of people: [Or, you slam the door in men’s faces] Or, GDSP: you lock the doors of the Kingdom of Heaven in men’s faces.|
|2||Closing the door to the Realm of Heaven: We have seen elsewhere in Matthew that the Realm of Heaven is the domain over which Christ rules; that is, Christendom – the Church. The Jewish religious hierarchy opposed the Jesus movement and acted as a restraint in preventing many persons from gaining membership in the congregation Jesus was building. There are modern movements who teach that lesser persons do not attain heaven, but live on earth forever. These actually teach that opportunity to enter heaven closed.|
|3||You do not enter and you prevent those who might from entering: Or, BECK: you won’t come into it yourself, and when others try to come in, you won’t let them. They do not follow the Nazarene and any who try they threaten with excommunication (See John 9:22; 16:2).|
Dear Friends of the Nazarene,
We choose Matthew 23:13 as the theme verse of chapter twenty-three – Woe to a Generation of Vipers. Jesus was no mushy push-over who only exercised the attribute of love. In this chapter Matthew has the Nazarene Master lashing out against the Jewish religious hierarchy. [1-12] He tells his disciples to do what they preach but not what they do. The Jewish clergy – like some modern clergy – see prominence. The disciples are never to accept such titles as Rabbi, Father or Leader.
Jesus begins an eight-fold pronouncement of woe against the Jewish leadership, similar to the way Moses did against Israel at large. [13, 14] They ‘shut off heaven’ to the flock. They are really evangelists of Gehenna.  They are ‘blind morons’ who swear falsely. [16-22] They disregard justice and mercy. [23, 24] They are greedy and spiritually ‘unclean’. [25, 26] They appear righteous like well-groomed graves, but inside they are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness. [27, 28]
They, by thought and action, demonstrate that they really believe ‘the only good prophet is a dead prophet’. [29-32] Christ predicts the future treatment of his disciples and Jewish persecution against the Christians. [33-36] The Master cries out that Jerusalem’s Temple will be abandoned. [37-39]
Abba our Father bless those lead unhypocritical lives.
[14 November 2002]
Eight woes are given. They have been contrasted with the nine Beatitudes of Mt 5:3-11. By false teaching that prevents men from accepting Christ. Both their example and false teaching shut the door.