"Whited Sepulchres"

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Last Updated on May 24, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 147

Context: Jesus, in the temple in Jerusalem, is considered to be a prophet of God by many people, but a false teacher by the Pharisees and Sadducees, strict followers of the law. By asking various questions, His enemies hope to force Him to give heretical or treasonous answers. Provoked finally by their disbelief, their corruption, and their hindrance to the believer, He denounces them with a series of specific failures, which begin with the stern words "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!" In the sixth denunciation, He calls attention to their outward purity, but their inward rottenness:

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, 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.

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