The Man of St Matthew

THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW

SCRIBES AND PHARISEES: Chapter 23

The beginning of the chapter, 23,1-12, sets the scene before the woes begin in 23,13. We will consider the internal arrangment of this first scene when we come to our reading.

The Woes: 23,13-36

The middle section of the chapter, 23,13-36, is formed of seven woes against the scribes and Pharisees. There seems to be nothing special about the fourth middle woe as might be expected from what we have seen of circular arrangemnts. It's the third and seventh woes which are the longest.

I suggested looking for key words as a way of seeing the arrangement of these woes. Thus the third and fourth woes both refer to blind guides (23,16.24). The fifth woe (23,25) begins an inside-outside contrast which is taken further by the reference to tombs in the sixth woe. This is followed by the seventh and longest woe (23,27.29). Tombs may be mentioned again but in a different context to the preceeding woe. This seventh woe is the longest. Here the prophets are the key word.
As we will see, the first and second woe also form a pair. Thus the woes are made up of three pairs followed by the seventh as a climax. The three pairs we can read together.

What happens after the seventh woe leading to the lament over Jerusalem at the end of the chapter needs to be read as a whole, 29-39. Where exactly the woe ends and the internal arrangement of these verses we will consider in due course.

Yet we must remain aware of the overall unity of this sequence. Seven is the number of completeness, wholeness.

Reading Plan

We will therefore read this chapter in three pages.

On the third page we will also read 24,1-2, Jesus' departure from the Temple.

Return now to the main page so as to begin our reading.