Q. What is “greater damnation” in Mt 23:14? It makes sense to me that sins comes in different sizes or severities, which then deserve different degrees of punishments. Some articles have commented that in hell, Satan does aggravate punishments commensurate with the sins.
A. Mt 23:14 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. (KJV)
Although Mt 23:14 is not found in early manuscripts, some manuscripts include wording similar to:
• Mk 12:40 who devour widows’ houses, and for appearance’s sake offer long prayers; these will receive greater condemnation.
• Lk 20:47 who devour widows’ houses, and for appearance’s sake offer long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation.
so we will analyze it as is. According to Mt 23:14 & its parallels, there are degrees of condemnation proportional to the sin i.e. greater condemnation for greater sin. Is this supported elsewhere in Scripture?
Yes. First, some sins are greater than others:
• Lam 4:6a For the iniquity of the daughter of my people Is greater than the sin of Sodom, …
• Jn 19:11 Jesus answered, “You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.”
Second, there are degrees of punishment:
• Lk 12:47-48 And that slave who knew his master’s will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, will receive many lashes, but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few. From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.
The one who knew will be punished more than the one who did wrong but did not know, because the former did it willfully. The scribes & Pharisees are hypocrites who knew but pretended to be holy. Therefore they are guilty of greater condemnation. I do not believe Satan control the degree of punishment, as he is not the judge.