CAN YOU EXPLAIN, “YE MAKE HIM TWOFOLD MORE THE CHILD OF HELL THAN YOURSELVES?”
by Shawn Brasseaux
Indeed! This is quoting Matthew 23:15: “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.” We want to focus on those final 11 words.
Christ is condemning Israel’s apostate religious leaders. These men—although educated and “pious”—are not what they appear. Matthew chapter 23 could not be more explicit. Religious works and learning have been used to substitute God’s righteousness and God’s words. These men are thus rightly termed “hypocrites” seven times in this chapter. It is all pretend, empty, and worthless religion. As touching verse 15, Christ finds fault with them for traveling “land and sea”—scouting all inhabitable places—looking to make a “proselyte,” a Gentile who converts from paganism to Judaism. There were two types of proselytes: (1) those who underwent water baptism and physical circumcision, and adhered to the Mosaic Law; and (2) those who renounced pagan superstitions and embraced Judaism to some degree but refused water baptism and physical circumcision.
Knowing what we know about Judaism being so watered down in Christ’s earthly ministry, we understand proselytes were being indoctrinated in works-religion but really had no faith in God’s Word. There is more emphasis here on works, rituals, and church membership, rather than trust in Divine revelation. They stress performance and ignore God’s pure Word.
Now, to address the principal point: “Ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.” It was bad enough for a Gentile to be weighed down by pagan idolatry and false religion. See Acts 14:8-18, Acts 17:16-31, Romans 1:18-32, and Ephesians 4:17-18. However, a proselyte to Judaism was given no truth with which to replace his error. As hard as it is to believe, he was even more spiritually worse off than the religious Jews who had converted him!
Even now, Christendom will emphasize ad nauseum church attendance, water baptism, and so on, but never give a clear Gospel message in which faith can be placed: “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Those who switch from multiple false religions and die without Christ, will be more damned than they would have been had they remained in one group! Likewise, far better had the Gentiles stayed in their pagan superstitions than embrace the corrupt Judaism of Christ’s day!