You blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.
Read Chapter 23
George Leo Haydock
Thou blind Pharisee. The vices of the Scribes and Pharisees are not unfrequently to be found in Christians. The genuine characters of the pharisaical and hypocritical spirit, are: 1. to be punctiliously exact in trifles; 2. to be fond of distinction and esteem; 3. to be content with external piety; 4. to entertain a high opinion of ourselves, and to be impatient of reproof; 5. to be harsh to others, and ready to impose on them what we do not observe ourselves. Sins abundantly sufficient to rob us of every good, and to leave our house quite desolate! not less so than the temple and city of Jerusalem!
He therefore is reproving those who, pursuing an ostentation of useless scrupulosity, neglected the discharge of useful morality. For it is the inside of the cup that is used; if that be foul, what profit is it to cleanse the outside? And therefore what is needed is purity of the inner conscience, that those things which are of the body may be clean without.
In different words, but to the same purport as before, He reproves the hypocrisy and dissimulation of the Pharisees, that they showed one face to men abroad, but wore another at home. He means not here, that their scrupulousness respecting the cup and the platter was of any importance, but that they affected it to pass off their sanctity upon men; which is clear from His adding, “but inwardly ye are full of ravening and uncleanness.”
But neither when He says, These ought ye to have done, and not to leave the others undone, does He say it as introducing a legal observance; away with the thought; neither with regard to the platter and the cup, when He said, Cleanse that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also, does He bring us unto the old regard for little things, but on the contrary indeed, He does all things to show it to be superfluous. For He said not, Cleanse the outside of them also, but that which is within, and the outside is sure to follow.
And besides, neither is it concerning a cup and platter he is speaking, but of soul and body, by the outside meaning the body, by the inside the soul. But if with regard to the platter there be need of that which is within much more with regard to you.
But ye do the contrary, says He, observing things trifling and external, you neglect what are great and inward: whence very great mischief arises, for that thinking you have du...
Or, He means that the Jews whenever they were to enter the temple or to offer sacrifice, or on any festivals, used to wash themselves, their clothes, and their vessels, but none cleansed himself from his sins; but God neither commends bodily cleanliness, nor condemns the contrary. But suppose foulness of person or of vessels were offensive to God, which must become foul by being used, how much more does He not abhor foulness of conscience, which we may, if we will, keep ever pure?.
Note, that speaking of tithes He said, “These things ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone:” for tithes are a kind of alms, and what wrongis it to give alms? Yet said He it not to enforce a legal superstition. But here, discoursing of things clean and unclean, He does not add this, but distinguishes and shows that external purity of necessity follows internal; "the outside of the cup and platter” signifying the body, the inside the soul.
Preserving the traditions of the elders, the Pharisees would wash the cups and the plates in which their food and drink were to be placed. But they drank wine and ate food gained by extortion, so they were all the more polluted. Therefore Christ says, do not obtain wine from injustice and the inside of the cup will be clean. Or, in another sense, He is speaking not of cups and plates, but of the bodily and external condition in contrast to the inner and spiritual. For, He says, you assume a most comely appearance on the outside of the cup, that is, in your external condition, while you are full of filth within, extorting and practicing injustice. But you must cleanse the inside, that is, the soul. For the radiance of a purified soul illumines the outward appearance of a man.