ANSWER: The exegetes are about equally divided, some saying, "By acts directly contrary to rapine and wickedness, show that your hearts are cleansed, and these outward washings are needless" (Wesley); and others assert that Jesus ironically describes the error of the Pharisees, "Give alms, forsooth, and make compensation for your extortions and cleanse of all your guilt." Jesus does not often use irony, but I think he uses it with good effect here. He casts no slur on almsgiving, but upon using, it as a cover for sin.
— Steele's Answers p. 106.
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