In the Christian world today, the term “Pharisee” is thrown around concerning those who would hold fast to the truth (1 Corinthians 15:2), and it is used rather loosely. Is the church truly full of Pharisees?
The Pharisees were a sect of the Jews beginning around 135 BCE under John Hyrcanus. They were experts in the Oral Law, and gained much prestige and power by the time of Christ. They were very zealous for their faith, yet as Christ showed, it was misplaced.
In Matthew 23, we see the errors of the Pharisees, and why the term is used so negatively:
- Matthew 23:3: hypocrites, saying yet not doing
- Matthew 23:13: rejecting the truth in Christ
- Matthew 23:16-20: binding what was not bound; loosing what was not loosed
- Matthew 23:23-24: holding to only a portion of the Law
- Matthew 23:25-28: doing the physical exercises of faith, but not the internal
Therefore, a modern day Pharisee would say things yet not do them, reject the truth of Christ, holding to only a portion of the Law, invalidating the Word of God for their traditions, and only go through the motions of religion.
Ironically, we see much Phariseeism coming from those who condemn us for the same! The Pharisees added their traditions (of the Sabbath, Matthew 12, among others) to their faith, and held fast to them, although God had never authorized such things. People today do so with instrumental music and other things: they invalidate the word of God for the sake of their traditions!
If we are to be called Pharisees, those who would accuse us must provide evidence of how we neglect portions of the law of Christ, or how we say and yet not do, or how we have bound where Christ did not bind, or loose where He did not loose. As long as we “study to show ourselves approved” (2 Timothy 2:15), and “worship in Spirit and in truth” (John 4:24), there can be no evidence of Phariseeism.
Christ never condemned anyone for holding to the whole Law as given to the Jews by Moses, and so He shall not condemn any of His children who hold fast to the Word and the Word alone. Phariseeism is kept at bay as long as one is as a Berean, constantly searching the Scriptures to see if things are so (Acts 17:11), in Spirit and in truth. We exhort you to study the Word of God and to see what things are true.