The Misuse of the Term "Pharisee"


Jesus said, "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.’ ” Matthew 15:7-9 (NKJV)

Note in the context that the Pharisees were disobedient to God's Word and developed traditions and practices that actually gave them justification not to obey God's Word. In that context, Jesus rebuked them as those who drew near with their mouths but their hearts were far from God. In verse 14, they were called blind leaders of the blind
who made their followers twice the children of hell that they were (Mt. 23:15). They were condemned by Jesus as those who neither go into the kingdom of heaven nor allow others to go in (Mt. 23:13).

Does that sound like a believer with mixed up priorities to you or an unrepentant sinner needing salvation?

The Pharisees were unrepentant sinners, not mistaken and misguided believers. How often the word "Pharisee" is misapplied to the faithful who still struggle with the sin nature. Remember, only three, I believe, of the Pharisees/religious leaders were recorded as becoming true followers of Jesus. They were Joseph of Arimathea, Saul of Tarsus (who became Paul the Apostle) and Nicodemus.

As always, I welcome your comments.

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