11. Old is out; new is in, 21:1-23:39

xi] Seven woes on the teachers of the law


Matthew continues his record of Jesus' critique on the hypocrisy, and thus eternal loss, of old Israel, with particular reference to the teachers of the law. In the passage before us Jesus pronounces seven "woes" on old Israel, seven statements of pity, sadness, for the spiritual loss now facing his own people.


Woe to those who think that the promised blessings of the covenant are their's by their attention to the law, rather than by a gift of God's grace appropriated through faith.


i] Context: See 23:1-12.


ii] Structure: Seven woes on the teachers of the Laws:

Woe #1, v13;

Woe #2, v15;

Woe #3, v16-22:

o}V an + subj., "whoever [swears by the temple]", v16;

tiV gar, "for which ....?", v17;

o}V an + subj., "whoever [swears by the altar]", v18;

ti gar, "for which ....?", v19;

Conclusion - oun, "therefore ...", v20-21:

"whoever swears by the altar ...."

"whoever swears by the temple ..."

Supplementary conclusion, v22:

"whoever swears by heaven ..."

Woe #4, v23-24;

Woe #5, v25-26;

Woe #6, v27-28;

Woe #7, v29-33.

Woe, v29-31;

Concluding condemnation, v32-33.


A chiastic structure has been observed by some, but it is far more likely that we have three pairs of woes with each pair linked thematically, and a final climactic woe on the subject of judgment.


iii] Interpretation:

This part of Jesus' critique against old Israel consists of seven "woes" - seven statements of pity, sadness, for the spiritual loss now facing old Israel, a kind of "Alas for you." Manson calls them "highly emotional statements of fact." In the Seven Woes Jesus unmasks the emptiness and hypocrisy, of the nit-picking religion of the scribes and the Pharisees. ..... They have robbed the Law of its divine and all-inclusive demands. They have made exact rules for everything, but they have neglected what really matters - the weightier matters of the Law (v23), righteousness and mercy and faith. So it is that in their zeal for the worship of God they have become his opponents, murderers of his prophets. They can neither hear nor endure the real commands of God; so Ridderbos.


The first and second "woe": Israel's religious elite are infested with a heresy which not only excludes them from the kingdom of heaven, but also excludes those they teach and evangelize.

The third and fourth "woe": In these woes Jesus reveals that the heresy infesting old Israel is nomism, the idea that a detailed attention to the law facilitates the promised blessings of the covenant. As is typical of a law-obedience approach for divine blessing, a person's inability to obey the weightier matters of the law forces attention on the lesser matters of law, "gnat / insect" law. For the teachers of the law, this produced the perverted casuistry which developed into what was known at the time as the tradition of the elders. "Justice and mercy", and their essential prerequisite, "faith", is then hidden behind a pile of dead gnats.

The fifth and sixth "woe": When the weightier matters of the law cannot serve their prime purpose of exposing sin to the light of God's forgiveness, then the child of God is left looking like a beautifully plastered sepulcher, but inside infested with a rotten corpse of greed and self-indulgence.

The seventh "woe": It is for this reason that the old religious Israel stands condemned. Although convinced of their own righteousness, believing that they would not have participated in the evil actions of past generations, they are of the same stock and thus, "judgment, now imminent, will come and the blood of the martyrs, from the first to the last, will be avenged", Cox. Let the new Israel learn from the corrupted condition of the old.


iv] Synoptics:

Matthew's seven woes are not found in Mark, but a similar set of woes is found in Luke 11. It is very unlikely that either Matthew or Luke have used each other as a source, given the significant differences between the two. The consensus is that Luke has used Q, often viewed as an early Aramaic document containing gospel material, and that Matthew has used his own M source, probably also Aramaic, with a nod to Q. Of course, again, both Matthew and Luke may well be independently using the extant oral tradition available to them, originally Aramaic, but translated into Koine Greek with the passing of time.

Text - 23:13

The Seven Woes, v13-36: i] The first Woe, v13. The scribes and the Pharisees are infested with a heresy that blinds them to the gospel and, because of their religious zeal, blinds others as well.

de "-" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step in the dialogue.

ouai "Woe" - alas, horror, woe. "An expression of pity for those who stand under divine judgment", Marshall. "I see nothing but misery and pain in the future", Junkins.

uJmin dat. "to you" - Dative of interest, disadvantage; "for you."

grammateiV (euV ewV) voc. "teachers of the law" - scribes [and pharisees]. The scribes were generally Pharisees, "experts in the law." The fact that they were usually Pharisees has prompted translations like "you experts in the law who are Pharisees", or "you experts in the law, you Pharisees", ie., the kai is taken as epexegetic.

uJpokritai (hV ou) voc. "you hypocrites" - hypocrites. Referring to someone who pretends, is insincere, an actor.

oJti "-" - for. Introducing a causal clause explaining why the scribes and Pharisees are hypocrites.

twn ouranwn (oV) gen. "[the kingdom] of heaven" - [you shut the kingdom] of the heavens. See 3:2.

emprosqen + gen. "in [people's faces]" - in the face of, before [men]. Spacial.

gar "-" - for. Here more explanatory than causal and so not translated. The scribes and Pharisees are hypocrites because they shut people out of the kingdom, not entering themselves nor allowing those who would enter to go in.

uJmeiV pro. "you yourselves" - you [do not enter]. Nominative subject of the verb "to enter", emphatic by use and position, as expressed by NIV.

ouk ... oude "[do] not [enter] nor" - Negated coordinate construction; "neither ...... nor ......"

eiselqein (eisercomai) aor. inf. "[let] those enter" - [do you allow] to enter. The infinitive is complementary, completing the verb "to allow, permit."

touV eisercomenouV (eisercomai) pres. mid. part. "who are trying to enter" - the ones entering. The participle serves as a substantive, accusative subject of the infinitive "to enter into." The action is probably tendential / attempted action, as NIV.


An inclusion taken from Mark 12:40 or Luke 20:47 found in the AV.


ii] The second Woe, in sync with the first.

oJti "-" - [woe to you scribes and pharisees, hypocrites] for. Introducing a causal clause explaining why it is "woe" to them.

poihsai (poiew) aor. inf. "to win" - [you travel over sea and dry = land] to make [one proselyte]. The infinitive is adverbial, final, expressing purpose, "in order to make"; "you roam the sea and land to make one convert", Barclay.

oJtan + subj. "[and] when [you have succeeded]" - [and] when [he may become]. This construction, ote + an + subj., introduces a temporal clause indefinite future time, expressed definitely, "when you succeed", Moffatt.

diploteron adv. "twice as much" - [you make him a son of gehenna] twice as much as, double [you]. Comparative adverb, "twice as much as, twice worse than; "you make him a son of perdition twice worse than yourselves", Berkeley. A convert is often more zealous than the one who converted them; "a person belonging to, worthy of, and bound for hell", Hendriksen.

uiJon (oV) "a child" - Accusative complement of the direct object auton, "him".

geennhV (a hV) "of hell" - of gehenna, hell (the place of the dead). The genitive is adjectival, relational. The idiomatic sense of "son of" something is "one worthy of / fit for", Zerwick.

uJmwn gen. pro. "as you are" - of you. The genitive is ablative, of comparison.


iii] The third Woe, v16-22. It is an absurdity to establish detailed casuistry for the swearing of oaths, as if God is associated with one thing, and so an oath relating to that is binding, but not to another, and so the oath relating to that is not binding. Given the extent of God's presence in creation, an oath by anything is binding. And in any case, as far as God is concerned, a promise is a promise, 5:33-37. The strange logic on oaths evident in this passage was developed by the Pharisees in an attempt to regulate disputes over whether an oath was an oath, or just an over exuberant sales pitch. They determined that an oath was an oath when it contained one or more of the following elements: a) The word "oath"; b) The divine name was present; c) The word "gift", or an equivalent, was present. The examples provided by Matthew cover (c), "gift". The gold in the sanctuary would obviously be a gift and so to swear an oath by the gold of the sanctuary is binding, but to swear by the sanctuary itself is not binding, v16. Yet, Jesus asks, what is more important, the gifted gold, or the sanctuary that has made the gold special, v17. So also with the "gift" on the altar, and the altar itself, v18; the gift becomes special only because it sits on the altar, v19, so logically an oath by the altar is binding, v20. The final two verses, v21-22, demolish the Pharisees' casuistry by making the point that "all the things we might swear by have their significance in relation to God and so really involve swearing by God", Nolland.

oiJ legonteV (legw) "you say" - [woe to you blind leaders] the ones saying. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "blind leaders", and serving to introduce a relative clause; "who say ....."

oJV an + subj. "if anyone" - whoever. Introducing an indefinite relative clause which in this context is conditional; "whoever, as the case may be, swears by the temple, then it is worthless." So also the following indefinite relative clause, "whoever, as the case may be, swears by the gold of the temple, then he is obligated."

omosh/ (omnuw) aor. subj. "swears" - This verb, "to swear by something", would usually take an accusative rather than en + dat. This probably indicates an Aramaic source.

en dat. "by [the temple]" - in [the temple it is worthless, but whoever swears by]. The use of the preposition would be classified as adverbial, instrumental, expressing means, but it reflects a particular Semitic usage which serves to express that by which / on which a person might swear an oath. The usage is common in the LXX, cf., BDAG, 328.5.

tou naou (oV) gen. "[the gold] of the temple" - The genitive is adjectival, possessive, or attributive / idiomatic, "the gold which is in the temple."

oqeilei (oqeilw) pres. "is bound by that oath" - he is obligated. As rendered from the Aramaic


mwpoi voc adj. "you [blind] fools" - fools [and blind]. "How foolish and how blind you are", Cassirer.

gar "-" - for [what is greater]. Here more explanatory than causal.

oJ aJgiasaV (aJgiazw) aor. part. "that makes [the gold] sacred" - [the gold or the temple, sanctuary] having sanctified, made holy [the gold]? The participle serves as an adjective, attributive, limiting "temple, sanctuary."


kai "you also say" - also. Adjunctive.

o}V an "if anyone" - whoever. Introducing an indefinite relative clause, conditional, as in v16. "Whoever, as the case may be, swears by the altar, then it is nothing." So also the following clause, "whoever, as the case may be, swears by the gift upon it, then he is obligated."

en + dat. "by [the altar]" - [swears] by [the altar, it is worthless]. Instrumental, but note v16.

d (de) "but" - but [whoever swears by the gift]. Usually treated as adversative, as NIV, although primarily indicating a step in the argument.

tw/ "-" - the [upon it]. The article serves as an adjectivizer, turning the prepositional phrase "upon it" into an attributive modifier limiting "gift"; "by the gift which is on the altar."

autou gen. "the altar" - it [he is obligated]. Genitive after the preposition epanw, "on, upon."


Syntax as per v17.


oun "therefore" - Inferential, drawing a logical conclusion.

oJ ... omosaV (omnuw) aor. part. "anyone who swears" - the one having sworn. The participle serves as a substantive.

en + dat. "by" - by [the altar swears by it and by all]. Instrumental, but note en in v16.

toiV "-" - the [upon it]. The article serves as an adjectivizer, turning the prepositional phrase "upon it" into an attributive modifier limiting the substantive adjective "everything". "The person who swears by the altar swears at the same time by everything that lies on it", Cassirer.


kai "and" - Virtually wJste kai, inferential conclusion, "so then, accordingly"; "So, to swear by the temple is to swear by it and by everything in it; to swear by heaven is to swear by God's throne and by the one who sits upon it"

oJ omosaV (omnuw) aor. part. "anyone who swears" - the one having sworn. The participle serves as a substantive. See v16 for this verb "to swear by something."

en + dat. "by [the temple]" - Instrumental, but note en in v16.

tw/ katoikounti (katoikew) dat. pres. part. "[by] the one who dwells in [it]" - [swears on/by it and on/by] the one dwelling in, inhabiting [it]. The participle serves as a substantive; "and by God who lives there", TEV.


The introduction of swearing by heaven serves as another example of "something" to swear by which is viewed by the teachers of the law as not binding. Yet again, as Jesus points out, this is mere casuistry because it is just not credible to suggest that God has nothing to do with heaven. For the syntax, see above.


iv] The fourth Woe, v23-24. This "woe", directed to the teachers of the law, is in sync with the third. It, like the third, focuses on the symptoms of their heresy. This form of religious casuistry is usually the product of nomism (the heresy of sanctification by obedience - the belief that the law serves to restrain sin and progress holiness, and therefore it is through obedience to the law that a child of God appropriates the promised blessings of the covenant). To make this work it is necessary to reshape the law in order to make it doable. Thus gnat / insect law becomes dominant, while the weightier matters of the law are depreciated. Given the danger of pharisaism, this and the other Woes serve as a warning to the new Israel / the Christian community. Standard Christian teaching on holiness tends to add obedience to faith, eg., "trust and obey, for there's no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey." Given that "justice and mercy" are beyond the doing, the "obey" is often of the gnat / insect sort (remember ladies when you had to wear your hat to church, and pity help you if you didn't!). A child of God can only stand in the obedience of Christ, by grace through faith, the fruit of which is obedience - grace makes us gracious!

ouai uJmin "Woe to you" - woe to you [scribes and pharisees, hypocrites]. As above.

oJti "-" - for. Causal, as above.

ta barutera adj. "the more important matter" - [you tithe the mint and the dill and the cumin / caraway and you have neglected / abandoned / left aside] the heavier = more important (not "harder things"). The comparative adjective of baruV, "heavy", serves as a substantive, accusative direct object of the verb "to neglect"; "the more important things", "the weightier matters", ESV.

tou nomou (oV) gen. "of the law" - The genitive is adjectival, partitive; "the more important duties found in / revealed in the law."

thn krisin kai to eleoV kai thn pistin "justice, mercy and faithfulness" - Standing in apposition to "the more important things." Micah 6:8 probably serves as the basis for this triad of weightier matters: "What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness and to walk humbly before your God." So: "justice" in the sense of respecting the rights of others; mercy, hesed, capturing issues such as kindness, love, forgiveness, ...; and "faith". The sense of pistiV is often taken here to mean "faithfulness", but Matthew tends to use the word to mean "faith", namely, ones relationship with God / dependence on / reliance upon him. "Faith" best reflects the sense of "to walk humbly before your God." Note how Luke has "neglect justice and the love of God", 11:42 - love toward God is manifest when we believe in his Son.

poihsai (poiew) aor. inf. "you should have practiced [the latter]" - [but/and] to do [these things was necessary]. The infinitive serves as the subject of the imperf. verb "was necessary." The tauta, "these", as a substantive, "these things", serves as the accusative subject of the infinitive.

mh afienai (afihmi) pres. inf. "without neglecting" - [and those things] not to neglect, abandon. The infinitive serves as the coordinate subject with the infinitive "to do" of the imperfect verb edei, "was necessary"; things to do and those things not to neglect is necessary."

kakeina "the former" - and those things. Accusative direct object of the negated infinitive "to neglect." This conjunction is formed by kai + ekeina, "and those" = substantive "and those things", so also Luke 11:42, kakeina mh pareinai, "and those things not to disregard." As with tauta, "these" = "these things", the referent is not overly clear; "[but/ and] these things to do and those things not to abandon was necessary." The adjective touta indicates a closer referent, ie., "justice, mercy and faith", while kakeina, "and those things" the more remote referent, the scribal minutiae, thus the translation: "These (justice, mercy and faith) are the important things you should have done, though you should not have left the other (scribal minutiae) undone either", CEV. There is some debate as to whether Jesus would suggest that tithing mint and cumin was a worthy activity. It is possible that too much weight has been put on kakeina indicating a more remote referent, given that it can refer to what immediately preceded, namely "justice, mercy and faith", thus giving the translation "you should have done these (the weightier matters of the law) and not neglected them."


Nomists will tend to accentuate insect law (because it is doable), but camouflage camel law (because it is not doable). The camouflage is usually enabled by guilt transference, speck removal, cf., Matt.7:3-5. "You are like someone who eats only organic vegetables but then smokes a pack of cigarettes a day."

oiJ diulizonteV (diulizw) pres. part. "you strain out [gnats]" - [blind leaders / guides] the one straining out [the gnat]. The nominative participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "guides", even though "blind guides" is vocative. The prefix dia is intensive; "to strain thoroughly."

de "but" - but/and. Here adversative, as NIV.

katapinonteV (katapinw) pres. part. "swallow [a camel]" - [but] the ones swallowing [camel]. The participle as for "the ones straining out."


v] The fifth Woe, v25-26. This "woe" is in sync with the sixth, v27-28. When it comes to the requirements of the covenant, what matters is moral purity, not superficial purity. The problem faced by these teachers of the law is the impurity that lies within, greed and self-indulgence, etc., and it is this impurity which needs to be washed away. It is this condition which places old Israel under the judgment of God.

uJmin dat. pro. "[woe] to you" - [woe] to you [scribes and pharisees, hypocrites]. Dative of interest, disadvantage.

oJti "-" - for. Causal, as above.

to "the [outside]" - [you cleanse] the [outside]. The article serves as a nominalizer turning the adverb exwqen, "outside", into a substantive, "the outside."

tou pothriou (on) gen. "of the cup" - of the cup [and the dish]. As with parayidoV, "plate", originally the food on the plate, but later the plate itself, the genitive is adjectival, partitive.

de "but" - but/and. Here usually treated as adversative, as NIV.

ex (ek) + gen. "[full] of [greed]" - [inside they are full of] of [the loot gained from robbery / extortion / plunder and lack of self control / dissipation / self-indulgence]. After the verb "to be full of" the preposition ek serves to identify the product involved in the filling; "to be full of ek something", here "full of greed." A causal sense has been suggested, "full because of greed .....", cf., MHT III, p260. "Full of what you have obtained by violence and selfishness", TEV, although better, "inside there is nothing but greed and selfishness", CEV.


This metaphorical saying has lost something in transmission and it seems that both Matthew and Luke have attempted a repair job, cf., Luke 11:41: "Give for alms those things which are within; and behold, everything is clean for you." One can guess at Matthew's intended sense: "Scour the insides and then the gleaming surface will mean something", Peterson. The saying gives precedence to ethical purity, but what part does ritual purity play? Does Jesus, like the prophets, hold in unity both ethical purity and ritual purity, while giving priority to ethical purity, or does he take the line that for those purified / washed clean by God "everything is pure", Rom.14:20? The saying can be handled both ways, but the latter seems best. The purity of a cup is established by its internal condition, free from contamination. The only imperative on polishing the outside is if by not polishing it you offend a brother and lead them astray. See, 17:24-27, on the issue of ritual compliance so as to not cause offense. "In the metaphor, cleaning the inside is basic and guarantees cleanliness of the outside", Carson.

to "the [inside]" - [blind pharisee, first cleanse] the [inside]. The article serves as a nominalizer turning the spacial preposition entoV, "inside, within", into a substantive.

tou pothriou (on) gen. "of the cup and dish" - The genitive is adjectival, partitive.

iJna subj. "and then [the outside]" - that. Introducing either a final clause expressing purpose, or a consecutive clause expressing result, with result being the more likely; "as a result the outside of it will also be clean."

to "the [outside]" - the [outside of it may also be clean]. The article serves as a nominalizer turning the adverb of place "outside" into a substantive, nominative subject of the verb "to become."

kai "also" - Adjunctive, as NIV.


vi] The sixth Woe, v27-28. This "woe" is in sync with the fifth and makes much the same point. The teachers of the law effectively address the issue of ritual purity, religious minutia, but ineffectively address the issue of inner purity. Human beings are like fallen angels; there is something beautiful and majestic about us, but we are corrupted from within, constantly struggling with our inner demons. Only by a divine act of grace can we be purified, and that is in Christ alone. "You're like manicured grave plots, grass clipped and the flowers bright, but six feet down it's all rotting bones and worm-eaten flesh. People look at you and think you're saints, but beneath the skin you're total frauds", Peterson.

Ouai uJmin, grammateiV kai Farisaioi uJpkritai, oJti "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites" - See v13.

kekoniamenoiV (kokiaw) dat. perf. pas. part. "[you are like] whitewashed [tombs]" - [you are like graves, tombs] having been whitewashed, plastered. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "tombs", dative of the thing compared after the verb "to be like." Given that whitewash was painted around a grave to warn of possible infection, it is more likely that decorative plaster-work is what is in mind. The teachers of the law are like fancy tombs, beautifully decorated, hiding an ugly reality within.

men .... de "...... but ...." - [which] on the one hand [appear beautiful from the outside] but on the other hand [are full of bones of dead persons and every kind of impurity on the inside]. An adversative comparative construction.

ostewn (on) gen. "[are full of] the bones" - The genitive may be classified as adjectival, of content, or better, genitive of direct object after the verb gemw, "to be full of something".

nekrwn gen. adj. "of the dead" - of dead. The genitive is adjectival, possessive, or attributive, "dead bones", Olmstead.


ouJtwV "in the same way" - thus. Here referencing what precedes and drawing a comparison, as NIV.

kai "-" - and [you]. Adjunctive, "also";"so you also", ESV.

men ...... de "....... but ......" - on the one hand [righteous you appear to men from the outside] but [you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness within, inside]. An adversative comparative construction.

exwqen ...... anomiaV "on the outside .... on the inside" - outside ..... inside. Adverbs of place.

toiV anqrwpoiV (oV) dat. "to men / people" - to men. Dative of direct object after the verb "to appear to."

dikaioi (oV) "as righteous" - righteous [you appear to men]. Predicate adjective. "You look like people who do what God requires", TH.

uJpokrisewV kai anomiaV gen. "[full] of hypocrisy and wickedness" - [full] of pretense and lawlessness. The genitive is adjectival, of content. "lawlessness" is somewhat "ironic", D&A - the ones who love the law are actually lawless.


vii] The final Woe, v29-33. A concluding condemnation. Jesus notes that these teachers of the law build monuments over the graves of the prophets of old and claim that they would not have acted as their forefathers did in shedding the blood of the prophets. The trouble is that the sin of their forefathers, namely covenantal nomism (salvation is gained, as an act of grace, by being born into the covenant and is maintained though law-obedience, which obedience restrains sin), is the very sin which infests them (and is potentially the sin / heresy which can infest the new Israel / Christian community). In planting the headstones over the prophets they complete the actions of their forefathers, and so symbolically align themselves with their sin. How then will they escape being condemned to hell?

Ouai uJmin, grammateiV kai Farisaioi uJpkritai, oJti "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites" - See v13.

twn profhtwn (hV ou) gen. "for the prophets" - [you build the graves] of the prophets. The genitive is adjectival, possessive / idiomatic, limiting "graves"; "the graves within which the deceased prophets are laid to rest."

twn dikaiwn gen. adj. "of the righteous" - [you decorate the tombs] of the righteous ones. The adjective serves as a substantive, the genitive being adjectival, possessive / idiomatic, limiting "tombs, monuments"; "the tombs within which the deceased righteous ones who followed the prophets are laid to rest." The "righteous" are ancestors known for their devotion to God.


ei + ind .... ouk a]n + imperf. "if [we had ..... we would] not ..." - [and you say] if, as is not the case, [we were in the days of the fathers of us], then not [we would have been companions of them in the blood of the prophets]. Second class conditional clause, contrary to fact, where the proposed condition in the protasis is assumed to be untrue; ""

en + dat. "in [the days]" - Adverbial use of the preposition, temporal; "had we lived during the era of our forefathers."

twn paterwn (hr roV) gen. "of [our] ancestors" - of the forefathers [of us]. The genitive is adjectival, attributive / idiomatic / temporal, limiting "days"; "the days when our ancestors were alive."

autwn gen. pro. "[we would not have taken part with] them" - [we would not have been companions] of them. Genitive of direct object after the verb "to partner, join with"; "we would not have joined them."

en + dat. "in [shedding the blood]" - in [the blood]. Adverbial use of the preposition, reference / respect; "with respect to blood" = "with respect to the murder / killing of the prophets."

twn profhtwn (hV ou) gen. "of the prophets" - The genitive here is usually taken as verbal, objective in that the genitive receives the action of the verbal noun "the blood" = "shedding the blood / murder"; "the killing of the prophets", Olmstead.


wJste "so" - Either inferential, "therefore", or consecutive expressing result, "so that, with the result that."

eJautoiV reflective pro. "against yourselves" - [you testify] to yourselves. Dative of indirect object / interest, disadvantage. The dative designating to whom the testimony, witness is made.

oJti + ind. "that" - Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of indirect speech expressing the content of the testimony revealed by their actions; "you prove that you really are the relatives of the ones who killed the prophets", CEV.

uiJoi (oV) "the descendants" - [you are] sons. Predicate nominative. The Semitic "sons of" = "one who shares in this thing, or who is worthy of it, or who stands in some close relation to it", BAGD.

twn foneusantwn (foneuw) gen. aor. part. "of those who murdered [the prophets]" - of the ones having murdered [the prophets]. The participle serves as a substantive, the genitive being relational.


Concluding condemnation, v32-33.

plhrwsate (plhrow) aor. imp. "Go ahead, [then], and complete" - [and you] fulfill, fill. The imperative is not intended to be taken literally since Jesus is being ironic. "Finish up what your ancestors started", TEV.

kai "then" - and. Here as wJste kai, "so then", introducing an inferential concluding thought; "So then, go on, finish the task commenced by your ancestors."

twn paterwn (hr roV) gen. "[what your] ancestors [started]" - [the measure of sins] of the fathers [of you]. The genitive is usually taken as adjectival, verbal, subjective; "finish the work your forefathers began", Cassirer. Olmstead classifies the genitive as adjectival, of identification (idiomatic), "the measure that your fathers (partly) filled." Usually taken in the sense of the measure of evil which these teachers of the law are ironically invited to top up. Nolland suggests that they are being invited "to live up to what their fathers have done, that is, to continue the family tradition of killing the prophets."


ecidnwn (a hV) gen. "[you brood] of vipers" - [snakes, offspring] of vipers, asps, cobras (poisonous snakes). The genitive is adjectival, relational, with "offspring of vipers" standing in apposition to "snakes".

pwV + subj. "how" - how [are you able to escape]. The interrogative particle + the deliberative subjunctive serves to introduce a rhetorical question; "How can you escape going to hell", CEV.

apo + gen. "-" - from. Expressing separation, "away from."

thV geennhV (a hV) gen. "[being condemned to] hell" - [the judgment] of gehenna. The genitive is adjectival, idiomatic, "the judgment whose verdict will be Gehenna", D&A.


Matthew Introduction


[Pumpkin Cottage]