Matthew 23:27 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Matthew 23:27, NIV: "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean."

Matthew 23:27, ESV: "“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness."

Matthew 23:27, KJV: "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness."

Matthew 23:27, NASB: "'Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness."

Matthew 23:27, NLT: "'What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs--beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people's bones and all sorts of impurity."

Matthew 23:27, CSB: ""Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of the bones of the dead and every kind of impurity."

What does Matthew 23:27 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Jesus continues to pronounce judgment on Israel's religious leaders: the scribes and the Pharisees. In this next "woe" statement, He describes them as tombs that have been painted over. Under Old Testament law, anyone who came into contact with a dead body became ceremonially unclean (Numbers 19:11). The Pharisees avoided this at all costs.

Despite outward appearances, these hypocrites (Matthew 23:13, 15, 23, 25) have hearts which are disgusting. In this era, the caves or rock piles used for tombs were regularly painted or washed white with lime. Some had artful memorials built over the graves. Outwardly, they look clean and neat. And yet, beneath those clean, attractive exteriors were rotting corpses. Beautiful though they may have been, they were full of death and as unclean as anything a faithful Jew could imagine.

In the same way, the Pharisees appeared to be the most unstained of all the Israelites. Inwardly, though, Jesus describes them as full of death. In this way, they are like the cups Jesus described in the previous "woe"--clean on the outside and filthy inside (Mathew 23:26).