Are we really “Pharisees”?

We here at DefCon (as well as our brothers and sisters at other sites, such as Ken Silva and Ingrid Schlueter) use the written Word of God as the rule and basis for everything we believe about God and how one is to worship Him. For that, we are constantly accused of being “Pharisees” by those who would lead the Body of Christ away from the clear teachings of Scripture, and into areas which are questionable (at best) and/or heretical (at worst).

Well, here’s my question–what exactly does it mean to be a “Pharisee”? Are we justly accused as Pharisees by the Seeker-Driven™/Purpose-Driven™, “Let’s all just get along in unity” church-goer who does not dare speak for fear that it may offend someone? Or is there a more accurate description of a Pharisee? Let us examine the issue.


Objection #1:
The Pharisees were outraged at being called sinners.

Luke 18:9-12Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.'”

If you deny that you are a sinner, and you think that your “good works” are enough to make you righteous in God’s eyes–YOU ARE A PHARISEE!

Romans 5:12Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.


Objection #2:
The Pharisees placed man-made traditions, rabbinical writings, and extrabiblical oral teachings (e.g., the Mishnah) at the level of (and often times above) the importance of God’s written word.

Matthew 15:1-9Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying, “Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.” He answered and said to them, Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? For God commanded, saying, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’ But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God”—then he need not honor his father or mother.’ Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: ‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'”

If you give equal or greater value to man-made oral traditions, extrabiblical writings, and other sources as you do to the Bible–YOU ARE A PHARISEE!

2nd Timothy 3:15From childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

Objection #3:
The Pharisees taught that good health and material abundance indicated God’s blessing on that person, and that the rich were more likely to go to Heaven than the poor. On the other hand, illness and poverty were signs that the person was under God’s curse.

Luke 18:18-26Now a certain ruler asked Him, saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother.'” And he said, “All these things I have kept from my youth.” So when Jesus heard these things, He said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when he heard this, he became very sorrowful, for he was very rich. And when Jesus saw that he became very sorrowful, He said, How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” And those who heard it said, “Who then can be saved?”

John 9:1-2Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

Matthew 23:13-15“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.”

If you teach that health, wealth, and prosperity are given to all who follow Christ, and you walk around in fancy clothes while living off of the last crumbs of the poor, and teach that if people are sick or poor because they are under some kind of curse, and you travel all around the world spreading these cancerous teachings, leading millions into Hell because of your blasphemous beliefs–YOU ARE A PHARISEE!

John 16:33In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

Objection #4:
The Pharisees denied the Deity of Christ.

John 8:58-59Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” Then they took up stones to throw at Him

John 10:30-33“I and My Father are one.” Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, “Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?” The Jews answered Him, saying, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.”

If you deny the Deity of Christ–YOU ARE A PHARISEE!

John 1:1In the beginning was the Word; and the Word was with God and the Word was God.

Objection #5:
The Pharisees taught that a person was saved by keeping the Law of Moses.

John 5:39-45“You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life…Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; there is one who accuses you—Moses, in whom you trust.”

John 9:16Therefore some of the Pharisees said, “This Man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath.”

Acts 15:5But some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, “It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.”

If you believe that a person is made righteous by keeping, on their own, every jot and tittle of the Law of Moses–YOU ARE A PHARISEE!

Galatians 2:16Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.

Objection # 6:
The Pharisees demanded that Jesus give them “signs and wonders” to prove that He was Messiah

Matthew 12:38-40Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.” But He answered and said to them, An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”

Matthew 16:1-4Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven. He answered and said to them, “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’; and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times. A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” And He left them and departed.

If you need signs and wonders to believe that Jesus is Messiah–YOU ARE A PHARISEE!

Matthew 24:43-44“But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

Now let’s render a verdict, shall we? The Pharisees taught the following:

  • They denied that they were sinners by birth (We believe that we are sinners by birth)
  • They placed man-made traditions, extra-biblical writings, and oral traditions above the written word of God (an idea we do not believe or teach)
  • They believed that health, wealth and prosperity indicated God’s blessing on a person, and that the rich were more likely to go to Heaven. They also taught that illness and poverty were signs that the person was under God’s curse. (ideas we do not believe or teach)
  • They denied the Deity of Christ (we, in fact, affirm the Deity of Christ)
  • They taught that one earned salvation by works (an idea we do not believe or teach)
  • They needed “signs and wonders” in order to believe that Christ was the Son of God (an idea we do not believe or teach)

Hmmmmmm……………So, how is it exactly that WE are “Pharisees” if we don’t believe or teach anything that the Pharisees believed or taught? It seems like the ones who are calling us “Pharisees” are, in fact, Pharisees themselves.

18 thoughts on “Are we really “Pharisees”?

  1. Well done! Thank you! Pharisees divided FROM biblical truth, while we divide from error TO Biblical Truth. That’s a huge difference. Pharisees used themselves as the standard of who’s “in” or “out”, ignoring Scripture; we use Scripture to determine who is of God and who is not. And Jesus warned:

    Mar 8:15 And he cautioned them, saying, “Watch out; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.”

    Mat 16:12 Then they understood that he did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

    Gal 5:9 A little leaven leavens the whole lump.

    I’ll be linking to this post!


  2. The true Pharisees, of course, cannot comprehend what you brought forth from the Word of God. As with those who charge, “Judge not!” while knowing nothing of the context of what they quote, so Pharisees are too eager to show others where and how they transgress their law that they do not see nor understand God’s Law.

    Truly, they are blind guides leading the blind.


  3. Well, you might put a little bit to much dependence on Calvin and his teachings, but other then that I think the word pharisee would much more fit them…but only on their best days…typically hireling and wolf fit much better for them.


  4. Thank you for this FourPointer. I am going to share this with all the people who have called me a Pharisee over the last couple years because I dared live by Christ and His Scriptures instead of following the ways of the Purpose Driven Movement or the Prosperity Gospel Movement.


  5. What an excellent post.

    Now when we receive those “you’re all a bunch of Pharisees” comments (if we allow them) we can link them directly to your post instead of wasting time answering their baseless accusations.

    Bravo, dear FP, bravo!


  6. Pharisees write their own “laws” and claim to be authorized by God regardless that they blaspheme the Lord, and have clung to their self righteous positions of power as long and hard as they can. They have not only broken the basic commandments of God, they have approved numerous criminal acts and frauds. Modern Pharisees are no less than organized criminals and only fools would attempt to label true Christians as such.

    Hopefully, God will restore some sanity in the near future. It is becoming a terrible world for children to have to inherit.


  7. I think when people use the term “Pharisee” to describe us, they are referring to our attitude rather than our beliefs and teachings.

    What about the fact that many of us to “Godly” things, like tithing and worship, just to be noticed by the people around us? I’ve been guilty of that. Or what about the fact that we only half-heartedly accept Jesus’ gift to us, just as the Pharisees half-heartedly accepted God’s gift to them, his offer of allowing a sacrifice to atone for our sins? They only used the sacrifices to keep on sinning while still thinking they were following God, just as many of us do now. Or what about our hypocritical view points, our lack of love towards sinners, us turning our nose down on anyone who doesn’t follow the exact same doctrine we do. How about us arrogantly believing that the Beatitudes still describe us, when really they are directed to those sinners that we look down on?

    What if Jesus came back in a way different than we expect, like he did to the Pharisees, and pointed out all this? Would we kill our God again?

    We are so far from what he wanted us to be, and we, just like the Pharisees, refuse to see this.


  8. I’m not one to refer to another as a Pharisee very often, since the term is usually used as a blanket condemnation toward whoever desires to hold to the straight and narrow way, rather than used in it’s true and biblical context. But due to recent reader comments on another thread, I see some glaring similarities. Closely related to #2 above, is that the Pharisees were known for tunnel vision. They “saw”, and interpreted the Scriptures through the glasses of their preconceived, humanly engineered and constructed doctrinal position, thus surgically using the Scriptures to support and teach their own traditions. Being a legend in their own minds, they considered themselves the preeminent defenders of orthodoxy, the doctors of God’s laws, and no one could dare tell them different without risking thunderous anathemas. They claimed to hold the keys to heaven, and unless you came to God through their instructions, you couldn’t come to God at all. Thus when God Himself came down, they didn’t recognize Him for Who He is because being so wrapped up in the mechanics of their laws, they never knew the Lawgiver. His rebuke (one of many) to them was very descriptive of their error:

    ““Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.” (Matt.23:23)

    “Justice” ( κρίσις: Right judgment according to God’s truth), “Mercy” (ἔλεος: Compassion and pity for others), and “Faithfulness” ( πίστις: That “divine persuasion” faith and trust in God that comes from the God) were all sorely lacking, and which Jesus said is of more weight than merely teaching His law and doing the externals.

    There are many today who claim to preach “the Gospel in it’s fullness”, who would exclude all from God’s Kingdom who do not share their “higher level” of understanding, but who simply believe the Gospel that was preached at Pentecost. .


  9. THis is my first visit to your web page. I like what I have seen so far.

    I was wondering if I could get a print of the material on Pharisees and I was wondering if I could get a picture of the “wolf in sheep´s clothing”

    Now, back to looking at the web site.


    Fishing and feeding,

    Jim Childress
    Missionary in Panama since 1976


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