Pharisees, who were they?

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by drfuss, Jan 13, 2006.

  1. drfuss

    drfuss
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    There is much in the Gospels about the Pharisees. What role did they play in society? What was their connection to the Temple and the Synagogues? Who are their counterparts today?
     
  2. Charles Meadows

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    Their counterparts today are the legalists!!!!!
     
  3. Gold Dragon

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    They were the spiritual teachers of the day.
    They memorized and had great respect for God's scriptures.
    They were well respected members of the society.
    They wanted to ensure the holiness of the people of Israel by making sure they kept God's law.
    They loved sinners enough to condemn their unGodly behaviour and point them in the right direction.
    They were appalled at the blasphemy of those who challenged the traditional understandings of the Holy Scripures.
     
  4. Ransom

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    drfuss asked:

    There is much in the Gospels about the Pharisees. What role did they play in society? What was their connection to the Temple and the Synagogues?

    In Jesus' day, Jewish society was basically divided into three groups. There were the Essenes, who were extreme separatists and don't figure into the New Testament narratives. (They were, however, the group who owned the Dead Sea Scrolls and hid them in the caves of Qumran.)

    The Sadducees were the most liberal group of the three, tending toward a more "spiritual" interpretation of the Scriptures. You might recall how both Jesus and Paul got caught in the middle of controversy between the Sadducees and the Pharisees over the resurrection of the dead, which the Sadducees denied. In Jesus' day, the Sadducees controlled the Temple and the Sanhedrin.

    The third party was the Pharisees. The term probably comes from a Hebrew word meaning "separated," and they probably came into being as a reaction to the Hellenization attempts of Antiochus Epiphanes in the fourth century BC. The Pharisees believed in the literal interpretation of the Scriptures, and also that there was an oral tradition that had been translated from Moses alongside the written Law. In Jesus' day, they were the popular party - though you certainly wouldn't know it from the picture you get of them from the Gospels!

    Who are their counterparts today?

    Because of their view of Scripture and Tradition, I'm inclined to say the Roman Catholics. [​IMG] However, we generally term "Pharisees" anyone who elevates their personal traditions or preferences to the level of divine authority.
     
  5. tinytim

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    Separatists that went too far.
     
  6. mountainrun

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    Here's what MacArthur says, loosely paraphrased.

    The Pharisees likely developed out of a group that came into being in the second century BC, called the Hasidim, meaning "pious ones" or "saints."

    The Hasidim were among the strongest supporters of the revolt against Antiochus Epiphanes and his attempts at Hellenization until they began to become wordly and politized. Sounds like the Pharisees.
    {This is almost in agreement with what Ransom said.}

    The word Pharisee means "separated ones."
    As tinytim noted.

    By the time of Jesus they had no regard or respect for anyone outside their sect, even other Jews.


    The considered themselves superspiritual and followed a long list of superficial rules and regulations created by themselves and other religious leaders over the years.

    Old Jewish writings indicate that their leaders seemed to feel that they could allow or forbid entrance into Heaven.

    I once read a reference to a Pharisee who allegedly promised Mary entrance to Heaven if she would confess that Jesus had been fathered by a Roman soldier. She agreed and he told her she would go to Heaven.

    For this story to have been disseminated, it must have been commonly accepted that they actually had this authority.

    The Pharisees after the destruction of the second temple evolved into the Rabbinic Judaism of today with the "traditions of the elders" and "the teachings of men" mentioned in scripture becoming the Talmud.

    An interesting point about the Pharisees is that you had to be married to become one.

    Paul having been a Pharisee, and being single as an apostle must have either been widowed or divorced.

    As you know, divorce was common among the Pharisees.

    I think you can still see their counterparts in the Christian church today.

    I was astonished to find that the Bible mentions
    "believers among the party of the Pharisees."

    They believed one had to follow the Law of Moses and be circumcised or they could not be saved.
    ===============
    Act 15:5 But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees who believed, saying, It is needful to circumcise them, and to charge them to keep the law of Moses.
    ===============

    That certainly made me back off a bit on what you could believe and still be a Christian.

    MR
     
  7. Ben W

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    Super Spiritual is a good description, yet it was not spiritual in the way that God wanted leading to Legalism.

    The Pharisees took the purity laws that God had given to the Levitical priesthood nad attempted to convince the people of Israel to keep them in the belief that if all of Israel kept these laws for just one day, then that would cause the comming of the Messiah to take place.

    Yet there were several sects, and many many Jews were not in any of them, it is important to bear that in mind.

    The Pharisees are mentioned, yet we also have the Sadducees, the Essenes, the Zealots and the Hellenistic Jews.

    The Sadducees were largely political, and really did not care less for the comming of the Messiah as their group was wealthy and had the control over the temple. Jesus debated the Pharisees for at least three years, but when He took on the Sadducees by turning over their money changers tables He was then crucified a short time later.

    The Zealots believed in taking what they wanted by force, and it was a Zealot group that led the people against the Romans in 70ad causing the destruction of the temple.

    The Essenes were not happy that the Levites no longer served in the Temple after the Maccabean revolution - Hannukah. They saw the temple as polluted and not recognised by God, so they kept to their own community and had their own rituals to God outside of the Temple.

    The Hellenistic Jews were Jews who had embraced parts of Grecian religion and reapplied it to their own in their philosophy and in practice, a number of these would eat pork for example.

    There were some smaller groups, yet these are the main groups.

    I am surprised that the Essenes are not mentioned in Scripture, although a good case can be made for John the Baptist being from an Essene group in that he to preached out in the wilderness, and Baptised outside of the temple.

    I would say that the Essenes likely had the most truth, and I think that it resulted in their conversion to Christianity over time and the recording of the Scriptures which were doen by them and preserved for us today.
     
  8. Mark Osgatharp

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    Contrary to popular rhetoric, the Pharisees were never condemned for being too strict in their doctrines. To the contrary, Jesus condemned them for setting aside the commandments of God.

    Errors of the Pharisees as explicitly stated in the Bible:

    1. Hypocricy

    2. Self-righteousness

    3. Exalting human traditions to the level of divine commandemnts.

    4. Rejecting the commandments of God.

    5. Twisting the Scriptures to justify their rejection of God's commandments.

    6. Coveteousness

    7. Outward display of religiousity.

    The Roman Catholic and liberal Protestant clergy of our era give us one of the best examples modern day Pharisaism. These men feign an outward show of piety, sporting their clerical collars and vestments, and yet twist the Scriptures to promote their amoral and warped doctrines. They are intrenched in a vast network of "educational" and "charitable" institutions whereby they rape the masses just as the Pharisees of old devoured widows houses.

    Mark Osgatharp
     
  9. StraightAndNarrow

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    Let's sees;

    1) Only had fellowship with those in their own group,

    2) Hypocrites,

    3) Legalistic,

    These aren't characteristics of liber Protestant clergy. Generally they believe in ecumentalism and are against inerrancy of the Bible. They aren't legalistic but rather tend towards a social gospel obeying Christ's command to feed, clothe, and house the poor.

    These are characteristics of hyper-fundamentalists.
     
  10. tinytim

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    AMEN! Straightandnarrow.
     
  11. Ransom

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    mountainrun said:

    {This is almost in agreement with what Ransom said.}

    Ransom agrees with MacArthur in the main. [​IMG] (Only I was off by a couple of centuries regarding the reign of Antiochus IV, which was 2nd century, not 4th as I said.)
     
  12. Charles Meadows

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    The Roman Catholic and liberal Protestant clergy of our era give us one of the best examples modern day Pharisaism.

    I strongly disagree.

    The commandments that the Pharisees set aside were those to love others.

    Jesus said they were whited sepulchres. They went through the external motions but they had no Godliness inside at all.

    I think that the Pharisees today are the hyperfundamentalists.

    He is a Pharisee who cares more about whether a woman wears a long skirt to church than about what her spiritual needs are.

    He is a Pharisee who cares more about what version of the English Bible a child uses than whether or not the child reads and understands that Bible.

    He is a Pharisee who shows rudeness and contempt to anyone different than he is, forgetting that Jesus died to save all of us.
     
  13. HankD

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    Their descendants are the rabbis/rebbes of Talmudic Judaism (that is not to say that today these men would want to murder Jesus but they certainly do oppose who He claims to be).

    IMO, (as Mark O. alluded to) their counterparts ("Christianity" assumed) are best described by Jesus in these 2 verses:

    Matthew 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.
    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.

    And IMO, that is not by any means a blanket condemnation of real missions and true Gospel preaching in the spirit of obedience to the Great Commission.

    HankD
     
  14. Salamander

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    Not exactly. The Pharisees were one of two sects. One believed in the ressurection of the dead, the other hated them for believing it.

    To equate the Pharisees with "legalists" is a misnomer. A legalist only portrays a systematic form of obeying the law to attain righteousness while failing in many points. The Pharisee dogmatically held to certain manmade laws and lived a life of "perfection" according to the particular sect's code, else they would be made a public example and thereby shamed before the public. They neither believed in grace, neither did they ever show grace towards a lawbreaker.

    Only the very hatemongers will use the term "Pharisee" and "legalist" in the same breath to defame their brethren in the Lord, admit it, fellows, you have a vehement disdain that cannot be explained any other way but that you hate your brethren you accuse of those terms, else you would refrain from such vulgar activity and learn that some brethren are more easily offended.

    Then we have to consider the one from whom the offenses come? "Woe" sound familiar?

    We are all "little children" in the eyes of the Lord.

    Standing firm on what one believes to be offensive to the Holy Ghost is never to be labeled "legalism" just because the brother making that accustaion has a more loose and lascivious lifestyle in regard to activities proven questionable.

    When one slams another brother by using those names/ "Pharisee", "legalist", they are talking to the very seed of God as dear children.

    The only thing one must consider is we deal with many immature Christians still in need of milk, but to speak it to their shame, so many should have grown to partake of strong meat.

    If one notices, much isn't really said in reply to who the Pharisees are, but much is said in a negative connotation aimed directly to other believers in the Lord.

    One sect is the Hillel. If any of you actually do want to discuss the Pharisees without making slurrs then we will see that by some one telling us all who the other sect was because, they do not exactly exist anymore, except in the figment of a deluded imagination that thinks evil of your brethren in Christ.
     
  15. Ransom

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    Charles Meadows said:

    Jesus said they were whited sepulchres. They went through the external motions but they had no Godliness inside at all.

    I dunno, Charles, that sure sounds like the empty formalism you see amongst "cultural Catholics" and many mainline Protestants, to me.
     
  16. Ransom

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    Salamander said:

    To equate the Pharisees with "legalists" is a misnomer. A legalist only portrays a systematic form of obeying the law to attain righteousness while failing in many points.

    Sounds like your definition of legalism to me.
     
  17. Salamander

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    Sounds like your definition of legalism to me. </font>[/QUOTE]So by your quoting that, are you saying the Pharisees weren't faithful to their belief system?

    Legalism is defined in the Christian realm as the method one attempts to merit salvation or maintain salvation. I see nowhere any of the Pharisees did either, though they did attempt to attain unto righteousness, something only God can impute.

    Might you stay on topic and not continue to slam is my question to you?
     
  18. Charles Meadows

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    Salamander,

    Nice try to spin that one!

    :D

    We all know who the Pharisees WERE.

    But the second part of the question asked WHO the Pharisees are today.

    One has only to look at Jesus' interaction with the Pharisees to see what He had against them. They were hypocrites who had outward piety.

    Judaism as a whole at that time was a somewhat "works righteousness" religion. Jesus would not have singled out the Pharisees for a misconception which everyone had. The Pharisees got it right on paper. They made long prayers. They tithed. They kept food laws. Good for them - so did many Godly men of the day! But they were hypocrites!! They performed the law not because a love of God but out of an arrogant superiority.

    Now I myself am quite conservative. I attend an IFB church and have no problem with holding to high standards.

    But holding to high standards does not make one a legalist.

    Rather holding standards higher than people makes one a legalist and a hypocrite.

    Jesus died for us all. Those of us who have the gospel are justified because of God's mercy and not because of our inherent worth or superiority.

    A man (or woman) who loves God will have compassion on the lost and want to see others saved.

    As I said...

    If a "believer" cares more about whether or not a woman is wearing a long skirt than whether she is saved or if she is in dire spiritual need - then he/she is no disciple of Christ.

    So my statement stands.

    Today's Pharisees are the legalists and hyperfundamentalists.

    The Catholics and liberals are in grave error, no doubt. But they do not fit the mild of the biblical "Pharisees". Perhaps Samaritans...

    :D
     
  19. Salamander

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  20. Ransom

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    Salamander said:

    So by your quoting that, are you saying the Pharisees weren't faithful to their belief system?

    Uh, yes, that's why Jesus called them hypocrites (not me, I'm just repeating what he told me). :rolleyes:
     

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