The Pharisees - Part 2

Posted in: 2011
By Tom L. Ballinger
Jun 27, 2011 - 10:14:25 AM

June 27, 2011
The Pharisees’ hold on the Jewish people was the result of the Pharisees’ insistence that they were the “lawyers” and the “teachers” of Israel. As such, they knew the true meaning and interpretation of the Law of Moses. The true meaning and interpretation of the Law was given “Orally by Moses to Joshua, Joshua to the prophets, and the prophets to the elders of the Great Synagogue.” The Pharisees claimed to be the ones who were “called by God” to be the expounders of the “Tradition.” Keep in mind; “Tradition” was that which had not been written down. During the New Testament times, it was apparent that the Pharisees’ Law was “the Tradition.”  Moses’ Law was the Word of God. The Pharisees placed more emphasis on “their law” than they did God’s Law.
The Four Gospels do not explain, in detail, what the Pharisees had developed as the “Oral Law.”  The New Testament writers were aware that those, to whom they wrote, understood the Traditionary Law of the Pharisees.  Because of this, the Traditions (Oral Law) are explained in the Gospels.
The “Oral Law” was not committed to writing until about 200 A.D. This was done by one, Jehuda ha-Kadhosh, a Rabbi. When the “Oral Law” was reduced to writing, it was called “The Talmud,” and it consisted of two parts ─ the Mishna and the Gemara.
THE MISHNA – “Was a compendium of the ritual.”  It treated men like children. (This brings to mind a parenthetical event that my parents told me about. Before they were enlightened to the Truth of Right Divison, they were attending a Southern Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, where they lived. They were beginning to “see the Light” by listening to my fifteen minute daily radio broadcast—The Present Truth Broadcast—which aired on a Dallas Radio Station [KSKY]. They told me of how, for years, the Adult Sunday School Classes would march to the auditorium for special occasions. Then, they would march back to their classes as the piano played marching hymns. The incident that proved to be the “straw breaking the camel’s back” was on a July 4th when each of the adult Sunday School classes were given small American Flags on a little stick. They were to march to the auditorium, waving their flags in front of their faces to the tune the pianist was playing. This was the same thing the children did, marching in single file to the special function in the auditorium. Dad said, “We are of tired of being treated like children.” They left the Church - World and started a Bible Class in their home. They were in their 60’s, as I recall.)
The Mishna formalized and defined the minutest detail of ritual observance. Hence, the expressions arose in ridicule of the observance; “weak and beggarly elements,” “bondage,” and “burdens too heavy to bear.” The Mishna was so
concisely written that it required notes.
            THE GEMARA – is a collection of commentaries on the Mishna.
In Luke 10 is an example of the fact that the Jew, during the earthly life of Christ, knew the teachings of the Pharisees in a manner that we do not.
Verse 25: “And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted Him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
The lawyer (not a lawyer as we know lawyers) was a Pharisee. He studied and taught the “Oral Law.” While he knew the Written Law (the Law of Moses), his zeal was for the Traditional (Oral) Law of the Pharisees. Notice what the Lord’s reply was:
Verse 26: “He [Christ] said unto him, What is WRITTEN IN THE LAW?  HOW READEST THOU?
The Lord Jesus was making an emphasis upon the written Law of Moses by asking, “What is written in the Law of Moses?” and “How readest thou?” This was in contrast to the “Oral Law.” The Lord answered the Lawyer’s question with a question. The Lawyer fell into the trap. He answered by saying:
Verse 27: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.”
The Lawyer’s answer was not really accurate according to Moses’ witness. The Lawyer quoted Scripture but mixed two verses together: Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18. The former dealt with loving God with your whole being while the latter referred to loving your neighbor as yourself.
Knowing the Lawyer was tempting Him, the Lord did not waste time correcting him but allowed the Lawyer to condemn himself out of his own mouth. This was one of the Lord’s favorite ways of condemning a person—out of thine own mouth, as evidenced by what He told the “wicked servant” in the Parable of the Wicked Servant (Luke 19:11-27).
“And He saith unto him [the wicked servant], Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant…” (Luke 19:22).
Verses 28-29: “And He [Christ] said unto him [the Lawyer], Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. But he [the Lawyer], willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?
The Lawyer was not asking,“Who is my neighbor?,” in order to learn who was his neighbor. He already knew! Or, so he thought. He knew, thoroughly, the Law of the Pharisees, to wit, the “Oral Law.” In fact, he was a teacher of it.
The Pharisees restricted the term, “neighbors,” to those like themselves. A “neighbor” was another Pharisee. In plainer words, their doctrine taught that the only ones they were required to love as “thyself” were one of their own. Remember, Pharisees referred to members of the brotherhood as “neighbors.” Another example of their traditional teaching is found in Matthew 5 where the Lord Jesus is speaking to the multitude; He said: “Ye have heard that IT HATH BEEN SAID.” He referred to that which had been said, not that which had been WRITTEN. That which had been “said” by the Pharisees, in this case, was from their “Oral Law.”
“ Ye have heard that it hath been said [in the Oral Law], Thou shall love thy neighbour, and HATE THINE ENEMY” (Matt. 5:43).
Moses never wrote to “hate thine enemy.” The Doctrine of the Pharisees was that you were to love your neighbor, who was a member of the Pharisaic society, and hate your enemies. The Lord corrected this false teaching by saying:
“But I say unto you [the Lawyer], Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;” (Matt. 5:44).
The Pharisees were under no obligation to love anyone who was not a member of their society.
What the Lord Jesus commanded in Matthew 5:44 is not Truth for Today. It was Truth set forth for the time when the Kingdom was “at hand.”
Before continuing, let’s consider who were the Samaritans. They consisted of remnants of the North Kingdom of Israel and the foreign colonists introduced in the place of the captives who were carried away into Babylon. They were of mixed origin and were despised by the Jews, especially, by the Pharisees.
Now, we note that the Lord Jesus Christ continued His answer to the Lawyer in the Parable of the Good Samaritan.
“ … A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? And he [the Lawyer] said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise”        (Luke 10:30-37).
The Lord structured His reply so that the Lawyer condemned himself with his own words. For the Lawyer taught that “neighbors” were other Pharisees. But, in the Parable, the Lawyer had to admit that the despised Samaritan who showed mercy on the “certain man” was, indeed, the “neighbor.”
In order to understand and appreciate much of what the Lord Jesus Christ said in the Four Gospels, we must not be ignorant of the situations and conditions that caused Him to speak as He did.
(When quoting the King James Version, we do not change the spelling of “neighbour” as it is in “the King’s English.” However, when we are not quoting, we spell the word in American English—“neighbor”).
No Subscription Price
We endeavor to put in print and in plainer words, Bible Studies which we recommend to students and teachers alike. This is our 43rd year of publishing Plainer Words. Plainer Words is emailed to anyone upon their personal request.