Furthermore, the anti-Pharisee virulence of Mt 23 must be seen in the context of the apocalyptic discourse of Mt 24-25

Jesus many times confronts the opposition of the scribes and Pharisees, and finally responds by a vigorous counter-offensive (23:2-7,13-36) where the phrase “Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” occurs six times. The redactional context is that of two groups living in close contact with one another: Jewish Christians, convinced that they belong to authentic Judaism, and those Jews who do not believe in Christ Jesus, considered by Christians to be unfaithful to their Jewish vocation in their docility to blind and hypocritical guides.

It should be noted that Matthew’s polemic does not include Jews in general. These are not named apart from the expression “the King of the Jews”, applied to Jesus (2:2; ,29,37) and in the final chapter (), a phrase of minor importance. The polemic is for the most part internal, between two groups both belonging to Judaism. On the other hand, only the leaders are in view. Although in Isaiah’s message the whole vine is reprimanded (Is 5:1-7), in Matthew’s parable it is only the tenants who are accused (Mt -41). Read more