Lock people out of heaven (Mt 23:13-23:13)

“Woe to you!


Woe to you!



You lock people out

Of the kingdom of heaven!

You do not go in yourselves.

But when other people

Are going in,

You stop them!”


Οὐαὶ δὲ ὑμῖν, γραμματεῖς καὶ Φαρισαῖοι ὑποκριταί, ὅτι κλείετε τὴν βασιλείαν τῶν οὐρανῶν ἔμπροσθεν τῶν ἀνθρώπων· ὑμεῖς γὰρ οὐκ εἰσέρχεσθε, οὐδὲ τοὺς εἰσερχομένους ἀφίετε εἰσελθεῖν.


This “Woe to you (Οὐαὶ δὲ ὑμῖν)!” was a famous Israelite prophetic saying or curse that Matthew had used earlier in chapter 11:21.  Here, there are a series of these curses against the Scribes and the Pharisees.  Were these some scribes that did the work for the Pharisees or a separate Scribe group, since this phraseology continued throughout this series of curses.  In Luke, chapter 11:42-44, Jesus cursed just the Pharisees, without any mention of the Scribes.  However, the content here was unique to Matthew.  There is no doubt that here Jesus was cursing the Scribes and the Pharisees (γραμματεῖς καὶ Φαρισαῖοι), who he also called hypocrites (ὑποκριταί).  Jesus said that they locked people out of the kingdom of heaven (ὅτι κλείετε τὴν βασιλείαν τῶν οὐρανῶν ἔμπροσθεν τῶν ἀνθρώπων).  Although they could not get into or enter heaven themselves (ὑμεῖς γὰρ οὐκ εἰσέρχεσθε), they were stopping or not allowing others to enter (οὐδὲ τοὺς εἰσερχομένους ἀφίετε εἰσελθεῖν) the kingdom of heaven.  Not only were they not going to heaven, they were stopping others from going to heaven, a serious charge.