Matthew 23:14

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you devour widows' houses, and for a pretense make long prayer: therefore you shall receive the greater condemnation.
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Cornelius a Lapide

AD 1637
Woe unto you, &c. Because ye devour, that Isaiah , exhaust, the substance of widows, in extracting money from them by selling them under a feigned appearance of sanctity your long public prayers. This is why He adds in explanation, making long prayers. Gr. προφάσει μακζα̃ πζοσεχόμενοι, praying at length as a pretext. Wherefore ye shall receive greater damnation. The Syriac translates, ye are about to receive the extremest judgment; both because ye rob from widows, and because, as Chrysostom says, ye paint avarice the colour of religion, that iniquity may be loved, being esteemed as piety. Ye also imbue widows with your own errors and wickedness. Wherefore ye ought to receive the punishment of your own sin and the guilt of their ignorance, as S. Hilary says. Woe unto you . . . hypocrites, &c. Instead of hypocrites, the Syriac has here and in the verses which follow, acceptors of persons. Proselyte means the same in Greek as advena, or stranger, in Latin. A pr...

George Leo Haydock

AD 1849
You devour the houses of widows. Here our blessed Saviour severely reprehends the hypocrisy and other vices of the Scribes and Pharisees, a little before his death, to make them enter into themselves, and to hinder them from seducing others. (Witham) The Pharisees, by every means in their power, endeavoured to persuade the widows of the poor to make vows or offerings for the temple, by which they themselves became rich, and thus they devoured the houses of widows. (Nicholas of Lyra.) Whoever is a perpetrator of evil, deserves heavy chastisements; but the man who commits wickedness under the cloak of religion, is deserving of still more severe punishment. (Origen) The same is said of fasting, alms, prayers. (Matthew vi.) As above our Lord had inculcated eight beatitudes, so here he denounces eight woes or threats of impending judgment, to the Scribes and Pharisees, for their vile hypocrisy. (Jansenius)

Glossa Ordinaria

AD 1480
Interlin.: “Devour widows’ houses,” that is, your superstitions have this only aim, namely, to make a gain of the people that are put under you. interlin.: Or, because “the servant that knew his Lords will and did it not, shall be beaten with many stripes.”

Hilary of Poitiers

AD 368
These are the poisoners of truth. They are reluctant to undertake the salvation of others. They bolt shut the kingdom of heaven. In their ambition they “devour widows’ houses and for pretense make long prayers.” By this acquaintance with heaven (achieved with those long prayers), they expect they will persevere in the merits of grace quietly, just as a rich person expects to receive the treasure stored up for him. However, they will receive ample judgment and punishment for their particular sins. They will be called to account for their strange and ignorant practices.

John Chrysostom

AD 407
Hom. lxxiii: Next the Lord rebukes them for their g1uttony, and what was the worst, that not from the rich but from widows they took wherewith to fill their bellies, thus burdening the poverty of those whom they should have relieved. The female sex is imprudent, as not contemplating with reason all that it seesor hears; and weak, as being easily turned either from bad to good, or from good to bad. The male sex is more prudent and hardy. And therefore pretenders to holiness practise most upon women, who are unable to see their hypocrisy, and are easily inclined to love them on the ground of religion. But widows they chiefly choose to attempt; first, because a woman who has her husband to advise her is not so readily deceived; and secondly, she has not the means of giving, being in the power ofher husband. The Lord then, whilst He confounds the Jewish Priests, instructs the Christian that they should not frequent widows rather than others, for though their purpose may not be bad, it give...

John Chrysostom

AD 407
After this, he admonishes them for their gluttony. And it is most grievous that they indulged their own bellies not from rich men’s houses but from the poor. Thereby they aggravated the poverty of the poor, which they should have relieved. They did not merely eat. They “devoured.” The manner of their false piety in overreaching was even yet more grievous: “for a pretense you make long prayers.”It is just for anyone who does evil to receive just retribution. But in this case we have one who is using prayers as a cloak for his own wickedness. And he is deriving even the reason for his avarice as godliness. Sure he is justly liable to a far more grievous punishment. So why did God not stop this and depose them? Because the time had not yet come. He leaves them time for repentance for a while. But by his sayings he tries to avert his own disciples being similarly deceived or to be drawn to emulate these men because of the dignity of their positions. Earlier he said, “Observe whatever they ...

John Chrysostom

AD 407
After this, next He derides them for gluttony: and the grievous thing was, that not from rich men's goods, but from the poor they indulged their own belly, and aggravated their poverty, which they should have relieved. For neither did they merely eat, but devoured. Moreover also the manner of their overreaching was yet more grievous, for a pretense making long prayers. For every one is worthy of vengeance who does any evil thing; but he that is deriving even the reason for so doing from godliness, and is using this cloke for his wickedness, is justly liable to a far more grievous punishment. And wherefore did He not depose them? Because the time suffered it not as yet. So therefore He lets them alone for a time, but by His sayings, He secures that the people be not deceived, lest, through the dignity of those men, they be drawn on to the same emulation. For as He had said, Whatsoever they bid you do, that do; He shows how many things they do amiss, lest from thence He should b...

Theophylact of Ochrid

AD 1107
He calls them hypocrites for professing piety and doing nothing worthy of what they profess, but instead, they would make pretence of long prayer and would devour the widows’ means. Indeed they were mockers who deceived the simple and like leeches sucked them dry. "Therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation" because you have devoured everything the widows have, when instead you should have provided for them and relieved their poverty. There is yet another reason why their condemnation will be greater: they prayed pretending to do good while they were in fact doing something evil, that is, devouring the widows’ means. For he who lures another into harm by pretending to be good deserves the greatest punishment.

Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation - 2 Peter 1:20

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