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Chapter Summary

Chapter 23 is not Matthew's attack upon Israel but an attempt to provide a solution for the Christian problem of Israel's rejection of the Jewish Messiah and the increasing takeover of the kingdom of heaven by Gentiles, in addition to the problem of explaining the recent destruction of the Temple and city of David. Matthew recalled and spliced together earlier traditions of Jesus' encounters with these contentious leaders in order to form the montage we have in chap. 23. This served to illustrate how the Jewish leaders, here represented by the scribes and Pharisees, had failed in vital matters, most notably in their interpretation of the Law, so that they stood in direct opposition to God's will and ultimately shut men out of the kingdom of heaven. The woes are, therefore, not essentially polemically motivated, but they outline the grounds for the unconditional judgment that is specified in 23: 29-39.

Keywords: God's will; Israel; Jesus; Jewish Messiah; kingdom of heaven; Matthew; Pharisees; woes



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