Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadduccees—then understood they how he bade them not beware of the leaven of the bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadduccees. Matthew 16: 6-12
The Pharisees were an ancient Jewish sect that bear many resemblances to today’s compassionate, conservative, right wing, fundamentalist, evangelical Christians. Pharisee means separate, and describes one who keeps away from impure people and things, to be more righteous, better to commune with holy God. They were obsessed with the law, moral purity, and outward shows of faith, but were so strict they made hypocrites of themselves, and were used for examples by Christ.
The very first mention of the Pharisees in the Bible is in Matthew (3:7-9), when they are watching John baptize in the Jordan, who...when he saw many of the Pharisees and the Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O brood of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.
Viper describes false ‘Christians’ who lie, and are not what they call themselves, and many more who expect to come to reward, and will not. And just as the Pharisees thought that being in the bloodline of Abraham guaranteed their salvation, so do they say of being Christian today.
The Pharisees were a political force, and respected as authorities of Jewish law. The Sanhedrin was a council of 71 sages mostly comprised of Sadducees and Pharisees, before whom Caiaphas conducted the trial of Jesus. The Sadducees were concerned with matters of the temple while the Pharisees with obedience to the Torah (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, also known as the Pentateuch); and while they were sworn enemies on account of these differences, they were able to put those aside for a moment and come together in condemning Christ to death.
Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: all therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.
Such are the self-righteous moral authorities who preach the very Bible they disregard and disobey. Some boast the sanctity of marriage while committing adultery; some rail against homosexuality and get caught in the act, and some decry pornography while the thoughts of their hearts, minds and souls are pornographic.
But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments.
And strut their faith, which should be private, and wear it proudly upon their sleeves.
And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues.
And crave celebrity, and seek the spotlight on their faces, and to be approved and beloved by men.
And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.
And other titles, like doctor, or pastor, or Phd.
But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.
And woe to you evangelicals, who give the wrong example of what it is to be in Christ, and who lead anyone that follows you astray into oblivion.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.
And woe to you fundamentalists, whose voting blocs empower the lawmakers that enable the banks to ravenously consume homes, and who publicly proclaim yourselves to be Christian over and over, and invoke God in earshot of everyone. You will get yours.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.
Woe to you evangelicals, who rejoice in finding and claiming converts, thinking it diminishes sin while increasing reward, when in truth all you’ve really done is find others to share in your ultimate misery.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have omitted weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.
And woe to you fundamentalists, who wage passionate fights for the right to pray in school, yet neglect the schools themselves; who tithe to the penny, and raise vast sums of money and campaign vigorously for changes in marriage laws instead of domestic violence and the needs of children who are victims thereof. Who indignantly fight for the right to display the ten commandments in public, while in private are thieves and adulterers and blasphemers.
No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him.
Tell that to someone who uses Christianity to try and prosper themselves, and they will deride you too.
The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
Sanctimony testifies unto itself.
For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
They’re not going in, neither anyone who is no better.
Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner.
Like fundamentalists who point out the faults and measure the sins of others.
`And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.
And hold at fault they who associate with them.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.
So do they call on Christ, and are seen coming and going in church, while their hearts are prideful, gluttonous, greedy and violent.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are as graves which appear not, and the men that walk over them are not aware of them.
And if they live not in Christ, they are already dead.
The Pharisees believed strongly in the resurrection of the dead even before Christ; they are alive and thriving in America today. And since it is repeated in the gospels, it bears repeating here: beware the leaven of the pharisees, which is hypocrisy.