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The Pharisees in the Bible

A Jewish religious sect in Jesus' day. (Mt.23:13-29) They were a sect that seems to have started after the Jewish exile. In addition to OT books, the Pharisees recognised in oral tradition a standard of belief and life. They sought for distinction and praise by outward observance of external rites and by outward forms of piety *, and such ceremonial washings, fastings, prayers, and alms giving; and, comparatively negligent of genuine piety, they prided themselves on their fancied good works. They held strenously to a belief in the existence of good and evil angels, and to the expectation od a Messiah; and, they cherished the hope that the dead, after a preliminary experience either of reward or of penalty in Hades, would be recalled to life by him, and be requited each according to his individual deeds. In opposition to the usurped* dominion of the Herods and the rule of the Romans, they stoutly upheld the theocracy and their country's cause, and possessed great influence with the common people. According to Josephus, they numbered more than 6000. They were bitter enemies of Jesus, and his cause; and were in turn severly rebuked by him for their avarice, ambition, hollow reliance on outward works, and affection of piety in order to gain popularity. They were instrumental in his death. (Mt. 27:62) Many today label those who maintain high standards of Christian standards as "Pharisees".

* piety: the quality of being pious; reverence for, and duty toward God; reverence to parents.

* usurped: to take possession of by force, or without right.

Mattheu 23 ; Mark 7:1-23 ; Luke 11:37-54 ;
Mattheu 16:1-4 and 22:15-45 ; Luke 18:9-14 ;
Acts 23:6-11 ; Philippians 3:2-7

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Last modified on Sunday, October 04, 1998