Thirdmill Study Bible

Notes on Matthew 23:1-25:46

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Judgment Now and in the Future - Matthew 23:1–25:46

These three chapters contain Matthew's fifth and final block of teaching, focusing on judgment now and in the future. This section contains woes, predictions, warning, and parables all designed to challenge hearers to faithfulness and vigilance until God brings his heavenly kingdom fully on the earth.

Matthew 23:2

Sit in Moses' seat. This expression refers to those who teach the Law and thus have authority over God's people. 23:3 explains that the bad teachers opposed to Jesus aren't always wrong in what they say but that they are bad models because they do not obey God from a heart of love for God and others (Matt. 22:37-40). See WLC 130.

Matthew 23:4

They bind heavy burdens. The Pharisees put onto God's people unrealistic expectations of piety followed by judgment for not being able to do them perfectly.

Matthew 23:5

To be seen by people. As in the Sermon on the Mount, the Pharisees are condemned not for external immoral behavior but for doing good things with the motive of receiving praise from other people rather than from God (see Matt. 6:1-21).

Matthew 23:9-10

call no man on earth your fatherteacher. This command is not a general prohibition regarding biological fathers, but instead is teaching Christians that they should not recreate the rabbinic system of hierarchy where some Christian brothers and sisters are exalted above others. Instead, humility and servanthood are Jesus' ways (Matt. 20:26-28). See WLC 105.

Seven Woes upon the Pharisees - Matthew 23:13-36

Jesus' primary opponents were the conservative religious leaders, the Pharisees. He pronounced seven woes or statements of warning about the foolishness of living with an external piety but without a heart that loves God. This is called "hypocrisy." These woes serve as the counterpoint to the macarisms of Matt. 5:3-12.

Matthew 23:33

offspring of vipers. This language of judgment is the same that John the Baptist used against the religious leaders (3:7). See BC 37.

Matthew 23:25

You clean the outside of the cup and of the plate. There were many traditional Jewish practices regarding ritual purity that focused on washing. Jesus again pointed out that this focus on external matters is not as important as the heart (summed up in Matt. 23:27-28). See WLC 142.

Matthew 23:35

blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah. There were many people named Zechariah in the Bible and we do not know which one Jesus is referring to here. It is possible that this Zechariah was the prophet who was killed in the courtyard of the temple (2 Chr. 24:20-22). Thus, the reference to Abel and Zechariah refers to righteous people being killed across the whole span of human history from the beginning of the Bible (Genesis) to the end of the OT (Chronicles).

Jesus' Teaching on the Future Judgment – Matthew 24:1–25:46

As the second part of the Judgment Discourse, Jesus focused on God's judgment that is coming upon faithless Israel and its leaders. The main point for Christians is the call to live faithfully to God as they await the kingdom.

Matthew 24:1

The Temple. The Temple in Jerusalem was the most important part of Jewish worship, culture, and identity. It was first built by King Solomon but had been destroyed and then rebuilt in the 5th century BC. It was finally destroyed by the Romans in AD70.

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