The Pharisees

Who isn't aware of the sins of the Pharisees? (Especially the Accuser of the Brethren?). But does that mean the truths they teach, even if they don't live them, are no longer true? It reminds me of James 1:22 encouraging Christians to be doers of the Word and not hearers only; of Ezekiel 33:31 where it shows "God's People" hearing the Word but not implementing it; and of Romans 2:17-23 where the Jews are proud of knowing God's Word but miserably fail to put it into perfect practice, although demanding it of others!

You could substitute "God's Church" for Jews and get the same message! How many of us know God's truth and yet aren't exactly paragons of virtue? Do our personal failing somehow negate God's truth? As a general rule, despite ourselves, doesn't God's Church still have more truth than any other religion? And Jesus did state that "salvation is of the Jews" (Jn. 4:22).

Could this be WHY while Jesus acknowledged (and God's Church should too!) that the Pharisees are the chosen ones that GOD has ordained to sit in Moses' seat of authority (to execute judgments and make binding NATIONAL decisions), that He said to follow their teachings but not their bad examples? (Mat. 23:1-3). In other words, Do as they say and not as they do. However, some are so overwhelmed with real and imagined sins of the Pharisees they're blind to God's Purpose being worked out through them! We must be extremely careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater!

Paul, like Rabbi Yahshua, also recognized that God has chosen the Pharisees out of all the Jewish groups, and called himself a Pharisee "blameless in the law" (Philip. 3:5-6). Paul, under divine inspiration, declared that God has ordained the Jews to preserve "the oracles of God" (Rom. 3:1-4).

What if the Jews, specifically the Pharisees whom God has chosen, are less than perfect? Does it make God's purpose for them null and void? Paul answers: "GOD FORBID!" Read and believe Romans 3:1-4. There's no need for any controversy. The Scriptures are quite clear!

What about Jesus' giving authority to His disciples? There's no contradiction. They're to base their CHURCH decisions UPON the foundational NATIONAL LAW that is preserved by the Jewish Pharisees - not apart from them! Otherwise they would be among those who "think to change the times and the seasons." God's Church is built upon the Law and the Prophets and isn't out to overturn or destroy either (Ephes. 2:20).

The biblical tradtions of the Pharisees continue to this day among the Jews as Rabbinic Judaism. The Sadducees and Samaritans are history! If and whenever the Pharisees or God's Church would attempt to enforce doctrines contrary to Scripture, then we must obey God and not man. God's government - as revealed in His Word, His Consitution - takes precedent over any Church or State law. And note well this important fact: Paul wrote that God has given it to the Jews to preserve "the oracles of God" (God's Word, sacred calendar, holy days) even AFTER Jesus had given authority to His disciples. He didn't say, "Now God's Church has seized control of everything!" That's a Catholic doctrine of demons!

As far as the Pharisees go, we should be careful to remember that Paul called himself a Pharisee (Acts 23:6) and would've taught the traditions of the Pharisees such as the BIBLICAL dates for Passover and Pentecost (2 Thes. 2:15) that were at odds with the Sadducees; that wise Gamaliel was a Pharisee (Acts 5:34); that many of the brethren remained Pharisees, even though they had to grow and learn that Gentiles didn't have to first become Jews and then become Christians (Acts 15:5); and that Nicodemus who originally met Jesus by night, later went with Joseph of Arimathea, in broad daylight, to give Jesus a proper Jewish burial with spices (Jn. 3:1,19:39-42), was a Pharisee! Not every Pharisee was evil or rejected Christ!

In conclusion: the issue isn't whether the Jewish group whom GOD has ordained to preserve the Bible and determine and proclaim the Sabbath and holy days are without sin (Lev. 23:2), but whether or not we accept the biblical record that God has only authorized the Pharisees to chair "Moses' seat" and judge with his authority. Those who would attempt to usurp their God-given position would do well to remember Gamaliel's advice about fighting against God! God has clearly given certain responsibilities to His Jewish servants to fulfill and that's what they'll continue to do until the King of the Jews reigns in Jerusalem with these honors! (Gen. 49:10).

About the Author

David Ben-Ariel, an American author who has travelled widely and who has lived throughout Israel, shares a special focus on the Middle East and great interest in Jerusalem, reflected in hard-hitting articles that help others improve their understanding of that troubled region. Check out