The Teachings of Christ and Paul On the Religion of the Pharisees
In Philippians 3: 2-9 Paul tells us “Beware of dogs, beware of
evil workers, beware of the concision. 3. For we are the
circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ
Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.
4. Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other
man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more:
5. Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe
of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a
6. Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the
righteousness which is in the law, blameless.
7. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
8. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency
of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the
loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
9. And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is
of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the
righteousness which is of God by faith:”
In saying “beware of the concision” he means beware of the Jews.
Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance says concision is from
katatome, number 2699, a cutting down, to mutilate. This is a strong
statement about the physical Israelites of his time and place. In other texts
he talks about “the circumcision” in referring to the physical Israelites.
I quoted more than verse 5-8, where Paul says he was a Pharisee but he
counts this as garbage, though he uses a more explicit word for his
attitude toward being a Pharisee – following his dramatic conversion
in his encounter with the risen Christ on the road to Domascus. He
teaches a lot more in these verses than that he counts his being a
Pharisee as manure.
Jesus Christ teaches in Matthew 16: 6, “Take heed and beware of the leaven
of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.” In Matthew 9: 11 the Phrisees
complained that Christ ate with publicans and sinners. They, however, did not
ineract with non-religious people. Christ didn’t avoid sinners, he knew he had
to interact with them in order to give them the truth.
Matthew 9: 11 applies to being on Facebook and interacting there with some who do not claim to be Christians and with others who do profess to be Christians, but are in false doctrines. Though Facebook is not as learned with worldly “wisdom” as the Areopagus of Athens in Acts 17, where Paul preached, it is an Internet site that offers an opportunity to interact with people one would not usually interact with.
In John 8: 44 where Jesus says to the Pharisses “Ye are of your father the devil” and then says the devil is a liar and the father of lies, he is saying the Pharisees follow their spiritual father in being liars. In fact, many
who follow false doctrines are liars.
Christ says directly to the Pharisees in John 8: 44 “Ye are of your
father the devil…” The dispensationalists, some groups in Messianic
Judaism, the Hebrew Roots people and the Sacred Namers may say they
believe what Christ taught about the Pharisees (and their religion) in John 8: 44,
and believe other New Testament texts that do not
support their beliefs such as Romans 9: 8, but then they will not apply these verses
to their own doctrines, which would perhaps show their doctrines to be in conflict
with scripture. In doing this they are double minded (James 1:8)
The religion of the Pharisees didn’t end at the Cross. It has
continued on to the present time.
they say “the missing link in Christian understanding on the subject
of “Pharisees” is best supplied by the Universal Jewish Encyclopedia
(1943): The Jewish religion as it is today traces its descent, without
a break, through all the centuries, from the Pharisees. Their leading
ideas and methods found expression in a literature of enormous extent,
of which a very great deal is still in existence. The Talmud is the
largest and most important single piece of that literature … and the
study of it is essential for any real understanding of Pharisaism.
Concerning the Pharisees, the 1905 Jewish Encyclopedia says: With the
destruction of the Temple (70 A.D.) the Sadducees disappeared
altogether, leaving the regulation of all Jewish affairs in the hands
of the Pharisees. Henceforth, Jewish life was regulated by the
Pharisees; the whole history of Judaism was reconstructed from the
Pharisaic point of view, and a new aspect was given to the Sanhedrin
of the past. A new chain of tradition supplanted the older priestly
tradition (Abot 1:1). Pharisaism shaped the character of Judaism and
the life and thought of the Jew for all the future.”
“Rabbi Louis Finklestein was chosen in 1937 by the Kehillas (Jewish
communities) of the World as one of the top 120 Jews best representing
“a lamp of Judaism” to the World…In his two-volume work “The
Pharisees.” Rabbi Finklestein writes: Pharasaism became Talmudism …
But the spirit of the ancient Pharisee survives unaltered. When the
Jew … studies the Talmud, he is actually repeating the arguments used
in the Palestinian academies. From Palestine to Babylonia; from
Babylonia to North Africa, Italy. Spain, France and Germany; from
these to Poland. Russia and Eastern Europe generally, ancient
Pharasaism has wandered.”
“In Rabbi Finklestein’s history of the Jews, he states: The Talmud
derives its authority from the position held by the ancient academies.
(i.e. Pharisee) The teachers of those academies, both of Babylonia and
of Palestine. were considered the rightful successors of the older
Sanhedrin . . . At the present time, the Jewish people have no living
central authority comparable in status to the ancient Sanhedrins or
the later academies. Therefore, any decision regarding the Jewish
religion must be based on the Talmud as the final resumé of the
teaching of those authorities when they existed. [page 2] (The Jews —
Their History, Culture, and Religion , Vol. 4, p. 1332, Jewish
Publication Society of America, 1949). ”
“Note the Foreword to the first English translation of the Babylonian
Talmud by the late Chief Rabbi of Great Britain, J.H. Hertz, who, like
Rabbi Finklestein, was one of the 120 Jews chosen in 1937 by the
Kehillas of the World as best holding up the “lamp of Judaism:” The
beginnings of Talmudic literature date back to the time of the
Babylonian Exile in the Sixth pre-Christian Century … When a thousand
years later, the Babylonian Talmud assumed final codified form in the
year 500 after the Christian era, the Roman Western Empire had ceased
In Christ’s time the Pharisees were the leaders of most of the Jews.
There were a small number of Jews who were faithful to the Lord, such
as the two mentioned in
Luke 2: 25 and 2: 36, Simeon and Anna, and others. In modern times, as
the sources quoted above say,
Talmudic Judaism is derived from the religion of the Pharisees of the
The religion of Judaism presents the Old Covenant moral and ceremonial
laws as its own – but sees these through its theology derived from the
Talmudic Judaism is fundamentally based upon the bloodline. This is
an interpretation of Genesis 13: 16, Exodus 32: 13, and Numbers 23:
10. Genesis 17 presents the promises of God to Abraham that he and
Sarah will have a child, Isaac, even though she was too old to have
children. “And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and
thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant,
to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.” Paul says in
Romans 9:8 “They which are the children of the flesh, these are not
the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for
Now wait a minute Paul, I thought God promised Abraham he would be the
God of all of Abraham’s seed. Yes God did promise he would be a God
to the seed of Abraham. Paul is subtle in explaining that Abraham’s
seed became his spiritual seed after the Cross. Paul says in
Galatians 4; 28-29, “Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children
of promise. But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted
him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.”
We, born again Christians are the spiritual children of the promise to
Abraham, and as Paul says the physical seed of Abraham, those born
after the flesh, persecute the spiritual seed. That happened in the
First Century when the persecution of Christians was first carried out
by physical Israelites, before the secular authorities began to
In Galatians 3: 28-29 Paul teaches “There is neither Jew nor Greek,
there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for
ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
29. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs
according to the promise.”
Those who are in Christ Jesus, Jew or Gentile, are Abraham’s seed,
though after the Cross being a physical descendant of Abraham no
longer made a person a child of God. One had to be reborn again,
whether Jew of Gentile (John 3: 3), to become a child of God.
Nicodemus was a physical descendant of Abraham, a physical Israelite,
yet Christ told him he had to be born again (of the Spirit) to enter
the kingdom of God (John 3: 5).
Even Pope Pius X is said to have told Theodore Herzl, the father of
Zionism, that “As the head of the Church, I cannot answer you
otherwise: the Jews have not recognized the Lord; therefore we cannot
recognize the Jewish people.” (Sergio I.Minerbi, The Vatican and
Zionism, 1990, p.100).
Christians recognize the Jewish people as people who have a right to
the same things as non-Jews; but Christians do not recognize them as
the chosen people of God.
It is false to equate Talmudic Judaism with that Old Testament Israel
who were faithful to God, and Christians should not let for contemporary
followers of movements like some groups in Messianic Judaism, Hebrew Roots, and
Sacred Name theology to teach Christians to embrace aspects of
the Old Covenant in order to please God.
Matthew 15: 1-2, 9 says “Then came to Jesus scribes and
Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, Why do thy disciples
transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands
when they eat bread….But in vain they do worship me, teaching for
doctrines the commandments of men.”
Many of the “commandments of men” came out of the Babylonian Talmud,
which was oral tradition at the time of Christ, though the tradition
was written down later.
In John 5: 46-47 Jesus tells the Pharisees who claimed to sit in the
seat of Moses, and that their Talmudic oral traditions came from
Moses, that “For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for
he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye
believe my words?”