Matthew 23:13-39

Talks for Growing Christians

The Lord Pronounced Woes Against the Self Righteous Scribes and Pharisees and Lamented over Jerusalem

Matthew 23:13-39

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Lesson Number 63

Background Notes

Doctrinal Point(s)

  1. The Lord is required to pronounce woe on sinful people.
  2. The Lord is reluctant to pronounce woe on sinful people.

Practical Application

  1. Don’t get the idea that there is a second chance after death.


  1. Did the Pharisees end their persecutions after they succeeded in having the Lord Jesus put to death?
  2. What was the fate of these self righteous Pharisees?
  3. List the woes the Lord pronounced on the Scribes and Pharisees.
  4. Did the Lord enjoy pronouncing these woes on Israel? Why did He pronounce them?
  5. Explain Matthew 23:39.


  1. No, they persecuted the early Jewish Christian leaders, including Stephen.
  2. They are condemned in hell (Matthew 23:33).
  3. They purposefully hinder others from entering the kingdom (v. 13). The Lord sees behind the mask of religious involvement (v. 14). Their misguided zeal would not save them from hell (v. 16). There are no double standards or levels of truth with God (vv. 16-22). There are bigger issues than the legalistic details (vv. 23-24). They were concerned about external cleanliness, but not internal character (vv. 25-26). The Lord hates the sin of hypocrisy (vv. 27-28). Their hearts of unbelief were no different than their forefathers’ (vv. 29-30).
  4. The Lord was reluctant to pronounce woe on sinful people. He desired to care for and protect them. But because Israel was unwilling to receive her Messiah, and rejected and crucified Him, the Lord had to pronounce woe on them.
  5. There will be a change of heart for a remnant of Jewish people in the future. These believing Jews will look on their Messiah, whom they pierced, and say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!”


  1. The Lord is required to pronounce woe on sinful people. Because of God’s holiness, He cannot ignore sin. Think of a time when you sinned and wished God would ignore it. Think of a time when someone sinned against you and you were glad God does not ignore sin. We should always be thankful that God does not ignore His holiness, and although He pronounces woe on sin, He always pronounces forgiveness because of the Lord Jesus’ sacrifice.
  2. Review the woes the Lord pronounced on the Scribes and Pharisees. How do many people today fall into these same pitfalls? How can you, as a believer, protect yourself from deserving these woes?


  1. The Lord does not enjoy pronouncing woe upon people. He desires for sinners to come to Him and receive salvation. He is always ready to forgive. Our Lord’s example should affect your dealings with sinners in everyday life. Be ready and willing to graciously forgive.

Key Verses

  • “Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!” Matthew 23:24
  • “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem…How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” Matthew 23:37

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