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For I say to you, that if your righteousness is not in excess above that of the Scribes

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and Pharisees,

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you shall no not

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enter into the kingdom of the heavens.

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Listen to what I am about to say: if your righteous living is not greater than that of

those know-it-alls who interpret and teach the Law in light of the writings of many Jewish scholars, and those arrogant, pompous, self-important peacocks who focus on outward demonstrations of how well they follow every little rule or tradition, you will definitely not be allowed to enter the kingdom of God.



Originally the scribes were only copyists who reproduced copies of scrolls. Later they became interpreters of the text who taught people what the text meant. They began to also study and teach many of the writings of various Hebrew scholars, thus going well beyond what was taught in the Torah itself.


The name “Pharisees” comes from a Hebrew word meaning “to separate” because they stood out from the rest of the people by how strictly they observed the requirements of many traditions created by men. Jesus came down hard on them because they had added so much to the Law, and they judged others for not being as careful as they were about these additional rules.


Double negatives are not allowed in English, but they are in some other languages, including Greek. Here the double negative serves to provide greater emphasis.


The phrase “kingdom of Heaven” was synonymous of “kingdom of God.” Why would one make such a substitution? The Jews had (and still have) such high regard for the name of God that they would not pronounce the most revered name of God but would always substitute the name Adonai. There were other ways that they used to show high respect for the name of God. This is another example of the same. Therefore by substituting something like heaven in place of one of the names of God they were actually showing greater honor to that name than if they had just used the name itself.

“Heavens” is plural because the writer was a Hebrew who happened to be writing in Greek but thinking in Hebrew. There are some nouns in Hebrew that only appear in a plural form and heaven is one of them.