The Scribes and Pharisees

The Scribes and Pharisees


Jesus said "Woe to the Pharisees, for they are like a dog in a manger of oxen, for neither does he eat nor does he (let) the oxen". 

The meaning of this hard statement by Jesus is that the Pharisees (the dog) would not let the people (the oxeneat of His wordswhich is the true food! 

The following are other of the utterances by John the Baptist and Jesus against the Scribes and Pharisees of their day: 

Matt. 3:7, 12:34, 23:33, Luke 3:7, Matt. 23:13-29, Luke 11:42-44 & Matt. 23:16. 

"You snakes!  You brood of vipers!  How will you escape being condemned to Hell"? 

"Woe to you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!  You shut the Kingdom of Heaven in men's faces.  You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to".  

"Woe to you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!  You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of Hell as you are".  

"Woe to you, blind guides!  You say, 'If anyone swears by the Temple, it means nothing; but if anyone swears by the gold of the Temple, he is bound by his oath'.  You blind fools!  Which is greater: the gold, or the Temple that makes the gold sacred?  You also say, 'If anyone swears by the altar, it means nothing; but if anyone swears by the gift on it, he is bound by his oath'.  You blind men!  Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred?  Therefore, he who swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it.  And he who swears by the Temple swears by it and by the one who dwells in it.  And he who swears by Heaven swears by God's throne and by the one who sits on it". 

"Woe to you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!  You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin.  But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness.  You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.  You blind guides!  You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel".  

"Woe to you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!  You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.  Blind Pharisee!  First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean".  

"Woe to you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!  You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean.  In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness". 

"Woe to you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!  You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. And you say, 'If we had lived in the days of our forefathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets'.  So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets.  Fill up, then, the measure of the sin of your forefathers"!  

As showed Our Lord spoke very hard against the Scribes and the Pharisees, witness all His pronouncements in the Gospels.  Many have questioned why He did so, considering that they were the Authorities of the day.  When all of the Old Testament is taken into consideration, the reason becomes clear.

The priesthood was given the task of teaching God's Word (The truth of Jehovah) to all, particularly the younger generation, and that responsibility started with Abraham, but particularly to the Nation after the Exodus from Egypt. 

The Nation was tasked also to evangelise the surrounding Nations about "The One True God".  They failed badly in this task especially after Joshua, because of their own sinful lack of diligence, and not honouring their word to Jehovah, and also because of the priesthood's corruption.

After the return from the Babylonian exile, Ezra tried to reintroduce purity and proper form, but after his death, the old ways returned.  By the time of our Lord's ministry, the Jewish priestly system was highly developed, into ritual, observance of the writings of the elders, (which is still the case today). 

John the Baptist, Jesus and the Apostle Paul berated the Jewish Hierarchy of the day for adhering to the Pharisaic writings, instead of the Originals given to Moses, known as "Biblical Judaism".  It is recorded and well known by the Jews, that the Pharisees in particular were "very flexible" in their interpretations of Torah, and this is confirmed by the Qumran Scrolls.  Of the main 'schools', or Groups of the day, the Pharisees, the Sadducees and the Essens; the Pharisees became dominant, and at the time of the destruction of the Temple in AD 69/70, only the "Judaism of the Pharisees", known as "Rabbinic Judaism" prevailed!  This grew, and by at the latest AD 300, all the Pharisaic Interpretations had been tabulated in the "Mishnah".  This is the basis of "Modern Judaism". 

This is why the Truths of the Messiah of Almighty God, as depicted and prophesied in the "Biblical Judaism" of the Old Testament (OT), are not accepted by the Jews who adhere to the current "Rabbinical Judaism" derived from the Pharisees of Jesus' day! 

Our Lord's sarcastic and scathing comments regarding them, and their system, were, and are intended to show the absolute disapproval of Jehovah God!

The priestly system is referred to in Ezek. 34 and Jer. 25:34, and elsewhere, and the priests are referred to as "Shepherds".  As such their responsibility was to the people; not to themselves!

The condemnation is great on the Shepherds of Israel, as also will be their future judgement.

This should also be a warning to present day "Shepherds", those that seek responsible positions in Churches and groups, that they are properly discharged, that correct teaching from Scripture is given to the people, rather than a mixture of Truth and Church teaching, which often has the object of binding people to the group; rather than to the Lord in Truth.  The Gross Neglect by Church Teachers of Coming Events:  

The parables that Jesus spoke, were frequently against the Scribes and Pharisees.  The Lord was making a sharp point against the Pharisees, in the case of "the rich man and Lazarus".  This particular Pharisaic teaching goes to the heart of the perversity of their teaching!  The Lord explained His parabolic teaching to His disciples afterwards, as frequently they were puzzled, but knew that The Lord's teaching was from His Father, and that they as Disciples were to have the teachings explained to them, as a Special Group. 

John the Baptist was in the vanguard of this attack on the Jewish Hierarchy and their later writings (called by some "Wisdom"); which was confirmed by Jesus.  After his Commission, Paul, who was the most appropriate "chosen vessel", confirmed and furthered all that John and Jesus had instigated with the Jews, and for a short time was effective with the Gentiles especially in Anatolia. 

At  Acts 28:28 (approx. AD 61-63), the Jewish hierarchy in Rome rejected the Messiahship of Jesus, and was the last one to do so, and shortly afterwards the Nation was made "Lo-Ammi" (not My people) by Jehovah God.  They were dispersed worldwide; because they had rejected His Christ; and the New Covenant offered, (Jer. 31:31).  Thus was fulfilled the comment made in John 1:11, "He came to His own and His own received Him not". 

The "Lo-Ammi condition" is still in place, but may well be close to its termination, when viewing world events!

The position of the Jews in Scripture and history, see: 

The position of the Jews in Scripture, Old and New Testaments. 

Changes Made To The Old Testament  

Lazarus And The Rich Man 

 "Israel; My Firstborn son"  


If you have questions or comments, please click here.

Or go to Chapters 1 to 22  or

Subjectindex  or