Hypocrisy (Matthew 23)

by Rev. Sean Finnegan on July 22, 2018
Subscribe to our podcast to automatically download the weekly Bible teaching.


Matthew 23:1-3 The scribes were paid scholars who could at least write, but often also were experts on what the Bible said. Pharisees were laymen who joined a strict sect, dedicated to scrupulous observance of God’s laws. Jesus says to obey these people, but don’t imitate them. Their words are good, but their actions are bad.

Hypocrisy: the behavior of people who do things that they tell other people not to do (Merriam-Webster)

Matthew 23:4
We should not only tell our fellow brothers and sisters what is right and wrong, but should also have compassion on their struggles and offer to help them carry the burden.

Matthew 23:5-12
They were motivated by honor. Honor is appropriate for elders, leaders, and everyone (1 Timothy 5:17; 1 Peter 2:17). Honor is good, but self-focus and aggrandizement are not. Jesus taught much on how to practice righteousness properly (Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18).

Matthew 23:13-39
Jesus knew what was to come (Matthew 24:1-2). The Jewish War with Rome lasted from a.d. 66 to 73. It was devastating in every way imaginable.

Matthew 23:34-37
How they responded to Jesus determined the fate of the city and the nation. The stakes were incredibly high. Don’t mistake Jesus’ tone for a petty, angry outburst. How would you speak to leaders whose self-delusion was dooming their nation?

Seven Thunderous Woes

  1. v13 Shut the Kingdom in people’s faces

  2. v15 Great effort to make converts twice a child of hell

  3. v16 Blind guides who use technicalities to invalidate oaths

  4. v23 Precision in tithing, but miss weightier matters (justice, mercy, faithfulness)

  5. v25 Clean outside, but inside are filthy (greed, self-indulgence)

  6. v27 Outwardly righteous, but inwardly hypocritical and lawless

  7. v29 Memorialize prophets of old, but persecute prophets before them

Hypocrisy is not a Christian problem; it’s a human problem.

Honestly evaluate yourself. God has made a way to be forgiven (John 3:16; 1 John 1:8-10).

« back to sermon archive