Matthew 23:28 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Matthew 23:28, NIV: "In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness."

Matthew 23:28, ESV: "So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness."

Matthew 23:28, KJV: "Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity."

Matthew 23:28, NASB: "So you too, outwardly appear righteous to people, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness."

Matthew 23:28, NLT: "Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness."

Matthew 23:28, CSB: "In the same way, on the outside you seem righteous to people, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness."

What does Matthew 23:28 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Burial sites that are painted or covered in artwork are only beautiful on the outside. Under the surface, they're literally full of death. This is the analogy Jesus is using for the religious leaders of Israel: the scribes and Pharisees. Their legalism and reputation give the appearance of life, but underneath it all is spiritual death (Matthew 23:13–27). Now the Lord drives His point home.

Outwardly, the Pharisees and scribes appear righteous. They seem to be keeping all the commands of Scripture, and the added rules and regulations they have imposed on the people. Inwardly, though, they are liars and rebels (Luke 12:1). Jesus again brings up the idea of "hypocrisy," which is derived from the Greek word for stage actors. No matter the scribes' and Pharisees' commitment to the public-facing rules of the law, their hearts remain unchanged. The most seemingly lawful of Israel's people are deeply unlawful in the place that matters most, their inner lives.

Jesus has called them hypocrites repeatedly (Matthew 23:13, 15, 23, 25, 27). He now emphasizes they are full of this hypocrisy. It's coming from the inside out (Matthew 15:11, 18).