What comes to your mind when you hear the word Pharisee? A self-righteous person? A religious hypocrite? A haughty and arrogant legalist?
Most people have a negative view of Pharisees. The Pharisees are mostly remembered as the chief antagonists against Jesus. Yet, in all fairness, they had a noble beginning long before the days of Jesus’ earthly life.
The Pharisees (in early formation) had great zeal for the things of God. Believing that God’s people had been punished through the Babylonian captivity for neglecting God’s law and compromising with pagan culture, these men became zealots for the Law and extreme separatists from the world. From the intensity of their devotion to the Law, they progressively established detailed oral traditions to hedge up the actual laws of God. They did this to insure against any possible infringement of God’s Law.
By the time of Jesus, the Jewish leaders were divided…
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