The 23rd chapter of Matthew is often called “the Chapter of the 8 Woes.” Jesus pronounced these woes upon the religious scribes and Pharisees, and they are found in verses 13, 14, 15, 16, 23, 25, 27, and 29. Seven times Jesus said, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” The eighth woe was “Woe unto you, ye blind guides.”
There was such a deceptive spirit upon the scribes and Pharisees that they were not even aware they were hypocrites and blind guides. They thought they were serving God, and that it was Jesus who was deceived and motivated by the devil (Matthew 12:24). They had become so deceived they were unable to know the truth. They were the religious leaders of that day and thought they were leading the people according to the will of God. Do you believe there are scribes and Pharisees today – religious leaders with the same characteristics as the scribes and Pharisees in the Bible? Do you think real Christians can become deceived scribes and Pharisees? They are more dangerous than those who are openly opposed to Christianity. They are more dangerous because they appear righteous, and many people are deceived by them.
The fact that Jesus pronounced eight woes is significant. Seven is a number of completeness and eight is a number of new order. For example, seven days complete one week but the eighth day begins a new order. The number eight in Scripture can refer to a person of new order either in a good or bad sense.
A Christian passes through many stages before being created in the likeness and image of the Lord. Christians, in general, are like the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The process of the Christ nature has begun in them but they still have the sinful adamic nature of their flesh life. If they continue to partake of the divine nature (II Peter 1:4), their sinful nature will be overcome by the divine life of the Lord coming forth in them. Thus, they become a new order, sons of God – old things have passed away and all things have become new (II Corinthians 5:17).
The same thing can happen in a negative sense. People can become a new order by taking on the satanic nature. Jesus calls them tares, sons of the wicked one, in Matthew chapter thirteen. So, Jesus pronouncing eight woes upon the scribes and Pharisees declared them a satanic new order. In Revelation 12:9 the devil is called a serpent, and after pronouncing the eight woes upon the scribes and Pharisees, He said to them, “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?” (Matthew 23:33).
Matthew 23:36 Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.
The scribes and Pharisees were not a religious group apart from the Jewish religion; they were the very core of it. They were considered the religious elite, those who led the people in the ways of God. In like manner the scribes and Pharisees of today are in the midst of Christianity. They are found among the leaders of Christianity. That is Satan’s way of trying to defeat and destroy the Kingdom of God. He will not be successful, but in his efforts he will deceive (and has deceived) many Christians. Because of this the Lord says, “All these things shall come unto this generation.” The judgments of God will come upon this generation through the woes Jesus prophesied upon the scribes and Pharisees.
The woes Jesus pronounced become the channel for the judgments of God to come upon the characteristics of the scribes and Pharisees of every age. When Jesus spoke, He spoke a living Word (John 6:63). That means His words are as living and active today as they were at the time He spoke them. So, not only will the scribes and Pharisees of that day not be able to escape the damnation of hell, but all who have the same nature in this day won’t be able to escape the damnation of hell, either.
Copyright © 2005 by Henry DuBose