Woes in The New Testament

Woes in The New Testament

The Bible is the only source to find out what God expects of us, how He will judge unbelieving sinners and what the future holds. When God says “woe” unto someone, we can be sure that person will be in great trouble sometime in the future. The “woes” are opposite to the beatitudes in some sense.

Woes in the Four Gospels
 

• There are 4 woes and 4 beatitudes in Luke’s Sermon on the Mount, which apply to people who are rich—poor, full—hunger, laugh—weep, well spoken of—hated by men.

“But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation.
Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger.
Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep.
Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.” (Luke 6:24–26)
• Most of the woes are pronounced against Pharisees, scribes and lawyers. Jesus Christ repeatedly called the Pharisees and scribes hypocrites. The Pharisees were Jewish religious leaders. They formed a sect and considered themselves better than the “unclean” ordinary people.

“But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.
Woe unto you, ye blind guides, which say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor! Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold? And, Whosoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing; but whosoever sweareth by the gift that is upon it, he is guilty. Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift? Whoso therefore shall swear by the altar, sweareth by it, and by all things thereon. And whoso shall swear by the temple, sweareth by it, and by him that dwelleth therein. And he that shall swear by heaven, sweareth by the throne of God, and by him that sitteth thereon.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchers of the righteous, And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.” (Matt. 23:13–29)
• The Pharisees, scribes and lawyers are also denounced by Jesus in the Gospel of Luke:

“But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
Woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye love the uppermost seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are as graves which appear not, and the men that walk over them are not aware of them.” (Luke 11:42–44)
“And he said, Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! for ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers.
Woe unto you! for ye build the sepulchers of the prophets, and your fathers killed them.” (Luke 11:46–47)
“Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered.” (Luke 11:52)
• The following two verses indicate that offences in the world are a necessity and it is impossible to avoid them.

“Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!” (Matt. 18:7)
Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come!” (Luke 17:1)
• Jesus Christ was betrayed by Judas Iscariot for 30 pieces of silver, as it had been prophesied in Zechariah 11:12. It was necessary for this to happen, but woe unto Judas Iscariot through whom it took place. This is mentioned in all 3 Gospels.

“The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born.” (Matt. 26:24, see also Mark 14:21 and Luke 22:22)
• One woe is repeated in 3 Gospels regarding the end times and the Tribulation:

“But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people.” (Luke 21:23, see also Matt. 24:19 and Mark 13:17)
• Chorazin is a city by the Sea of Galilee, where Jesus performed many miracles. Bethsaida is also a city by the Sea of Galilee, where Jesus healed a blind man (Mark 8:22-26), and Philip, Andrew and Simon were born. (Matt. 11:21; Luke 9:10; Mark 6:45)

“Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you.” (Matt. 11:21–22, see also Luke 10:13–14)

Woes in the Book of Revelation
There are 3 woes in the Book of Revelation. These are the last 3 of the seven trumpets sounded by seven angels.

• “And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!” (Rev. 8:13)

The first 2 woes are described in chapters 9–11, the third one in chapter 12. We are told here, that after a war in heaven between Michael and his angels and Satan and his angels, Satan and his host will be cast out from heaven and onto the earth. Satan’s presence on earth is naturally a great calamity to men:

• “Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.” (Rev. 12:12)

Woes in Other books of the New Testament
 

• Paul:

“For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!” (1 Cor. 9:16)
• Jude talks about false teachers accepted into the churches of his day, when he says:

“Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.” (Jude 1:11)