scribes and Pharisees appear to be two separate groups who just happened to be lumped together, the scribes were likely a subset of the Pharisees (see Acts 23:9). The Pharisees became a visible group during the time of the Grecian Empire. They are believed to be the remnants of a pious Jewish sect, known as the Hasidim, who helped to fight in the Maccabean revolution against Greece.
The name Pharisees is derived from the Hebrew paras, which means
to separate. In an age when many Jews had become greatly influenced by pagan cultures, the Pharisees saw it as their duty to ensure that every Jewish male was taught the law. To accomplish this task, they established the position of rabbi, which literally means
my great one or
In saying that the
scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat,
Read Matthew 23:1-7. From these verses, what was one of Jesus’ biggest problems with the scribes and Pharisees?
Most of the references to the scribes and Pharisees in the Gospels are negative, and considering the complicity that many (but not all) had in the death of Jesus and the persecution of His followers, that negativity was well deserved. Members of these groups seemed to be lurking around corners and hiding behind trees just waiting for people to make mistakes so they could enforce the law against them. This image of the Pharisee is so frequent in Scripture that the word is often used as a synonym for legalist. As we look closely at this text, we find that Jesus’ big problem with the Pharisees was not so much that they wanted others to keep the law of Moses but that they themselves were not keeping it. They were hypocritical-they said one thing, but did another-and even when they did the right thing, they did it for wrong reasons.
Read again what Jesus said about the scribes and Pharisees. How can we make sure that we also don’t become guilty of similar attitudes?