A certain teaching is going about from those who have an axe to
grind for their particular religious life style and/or feast
I feel it is time to stop their mouths from leading people astray
and into confusion.
The false teaching that is being preached is that JESUS WAS AN
ORTHODOX JEW who taught that we should follow and obey the
religious instructions of the PHARISEES. This teaching includes
the idea that Paul the apostle was a good practicing Pharisee who
would have then observed the Passover on the 15th of Abib or
Nisan and Pentecost on Sivan the 6th.
I have been sent an article which title reads "YESHUA WAS AN
ORTHODOX JEW" and immediately quotes Mat.23:1-3. The article
starts out this way:
"Most people today, when they read this scripture, they fail
to realize the full impact of what is written. Yeshua was
actually preaching to his disciples that he wanted them to
obey the religious instructions and laws which the Pharisees
taught. Just because there were SOME Pharisees who abused
their positions as leaders does not mean that the Pharisees
as a sect were wrong in their teachings. Nor does it dismiss
that Yeshua clearly said to OBSERVE AND DO WHATEVER THEY
SAY. Yeshua was not giving a bad piece of advice here when
he said to follow the Pharisees' teaching: he was giving the
conditions that each person must meet in order to keep his
words and be his disciples."(Emphasis theirs).
A few sentences later the article says:
"Neither were the Pharisees unrighteous people. They were as
Yeshua said, the ones who sat in Moses' seat. They had the
right teaching on the law of Moses, and were biblically
correct in their religious beliefs, practices, and
teachings. In fact, even Yeshua HIMSELF WAS A PHARISEE..."
If at this point if you should shout "NO WAY WAS JESUS A
PHARISEE" - the article quickly calls you anti-Semitic and a
person who hates the Jews:
"What people have done down through time is misunderstood
and thought that Yeshua did not like the Pharisees or their
religion. This attitude, however, is merely another form of
anti-Semitism. People who go around putting down the
Pharisees and hide behind Yeshua to do it are only doing so
because they hate the Jews."
To try to prove that Jesus was a Pharisee the article eliminates
Jesus as a Sadducee, Essene, or a Zealot by the things they
taught and did. And because Jesus agreed with certain things that
the Pharisees taught(like a resurrection) they conclude "....we
see that Yeshua was PERFECTLY in unity with them" (emphasis
They quote Luke 13:31 to try and prove Jesus was a Pharisee
because certain Pharisees warned Him that Herod was out to kill
Him. They say, "This shows that Yeshua was a Pharisee Himself,
for when we understand how the Pharisees thought and lived their
lives, it becomes evident that Yeshua was a Pharisee." They try
to give you other verses to prove that Jesus was a Pharisee WHILE
completely ignoring OTHER verses that would contradict their
theory. The article is full of "tunnel vision" - reading the
Bible with blinkers over the eyes as some horses must do while
racing so they will not see all around them. Because they THINK
that Pharisee were "separated ones" who would not be seen dead
with a non Pharisee, and as they did talk to Jesus, so Jesus must
have been a Pharisee. With this reasoning I guess we must believe
that John the Baptist was a Pharisee also because many of the
Pharisees came to his baptisms (Mat.3:1-7). And I guess by the
same reasoning the Sadducees who came with the Pharisees to
John's baptisms were not really Sadducees at all but Pharisees in
pretence as Sadducees.
In another bit of poor research or no research at all they claim,
"The Pharisees continued to exist after the destruction of the
Temple and Jerusalem in 70 C.E. and were eventually the ONLY
surviving Jewish sect." (emphasis theirs). I guess they have
never heard of the Karite Jewish sect still in full existence.
They are correct when they show that Pharisaism evolved into
"what is known today as Orthodox Judaism."
Now listen to this from their so called NT deductions, "The
Orthodox of today even still call themselves Hasidim, as did the
Pharisees, just before the Maccabees. So, to say that Yeshua was
a Pharisee, is the same as saying that he was a Hasidic Jew, or
Orthodox Jew. He lived an Orthodox Jewish life. He commanded his
disciples to live an Orthodox Jewish life, and that command still
holds for us today."
The writer/s of this article sees that many believing Jews were
ZEALOUS OF THE LAW(Acts 21:20) and so conclude "....these were
Pharisees, as were all the followers of Yeshua and the apostles
throughout their entire generations - Orthodox Jews."
Because they correctly understand that it was the Pharisees who
established and controlled synagogue worship during Jesus' time
leads them to dogmatically claim, "The fact that Yeshua, Paul,
and the apostles attended Synagogue services shows that they were
Pharisees, or Orthodox."
As we get to the end of this article we really begin to see the
CULTIC teaching of this particular group of Jews. They state:
"This brings us to development of Orthodox Judaism. As time went
on, the Pharisees became known as Orthodox Jews. Orthodox Judaism
was the only sect of Judaism until more recent centuries, when
Reform and Conservative Judaism came about .... The apostles were
those who had the full truth of Yahweh in their day, but even
they did not cease to call themselves Pharisees."
Now I can only find the apostle Paul calling himself a Pharisee,
yet they claim the apostleS called themselveS Pharisees.
The article ends with these words: "The Apostles were ORTHODOX
MESSIANIC JEWS, and likewise must Yeshua's true followers still
be today: ORTHODOX MESSIANIC JEWS'" (emphasis mine and theirs).
There you have it all summed up - if you are not an ORTHODOX
Messianic Jew - one of them, a part of their group - you are not
a true follower of Jesus.
Most scholars and editors of religious magazines would never GIVE
THE TIME OF DAY to such articles from obvious religious fanatical
cults and sects who believe they and they alone are the true
followers of Jesus. There are many such groups out there who
claim to be the "only ones" of Christ. I'm sure Jim Jones and his
elite thought the same about 15 years ago and the recent Wacko
group in Waco Texas believed that they and their followers were
the special "unique" ones of God, the true followers of Jesus.
Well I am giving the time of day to answer these deceivers
BECAUSE a man that many of you are familiar with and that many of
you receive literature from, is in MANY WAYS saying the same
thing as these Orthodox Messianic Jews are saying.
His name - WILLIAM F. DANKENBRING!!
William D. has written an article called "WAS THE APOSTLE PAUL A
LIAR:" He tries to show his readers that because Paul at one time
did say "I am Pharisee" while being a Christian, this gives proof
that Paul observed a Passover and a Sivan 6th Pentecost, which
the Pharisees practiced.
I shall go through the whole two page article later, dissecting
it bit by bit and so showing you the clever deceitfulness of this
man's writings, but at this time I will give you some of his
"The apostle Paul, of course, was a Pharisee. Did the
apostle Paul deliberately 'lie,'and bear false witness
..... As a strict Pharisee, all his life he observed
Pentecost on the same day as all the Pharisees did - Sivan
6... Paul, who himself was a Pharisee, and who was brought
up and taught at the feet of the leading Pharisee of his
day, Gamaliel. Paul says, 'I am verily a man which am a
Jew, born in Tarsus, a city of Cilicia, yet brought up in
this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and TAUGHT according to
the PERFECT MANNER OF THE LAW of the fathers'(Acts 22:3). Do
we dare believe that the apostle Paul was a LIAR?"
Dankenbring quotes Paul's words in Philippians 3:4-6 and
emphasizes the last part this way: "....AS TOUCHING THE LAW, A
PHARISEE; concerning zeal persecuting the church; TOUCHING THE
RIGHTEOUSNESS WHICH IS IN THE LAW, BLAMELESS."
Then he goes on to say, "But how could this be? If the Pharisees
were IN ERROR on Pentecost and its calculation, then Paul could
not have been 'blameless' as concerns the Law of God, the divine
instructions for Pentecost!"
The last paragraph of W.F.D. contains these words: "Jesus Christ
himself stated plainly, 'the scribes and Pharisees SIT IN MOSES'
SEAT: All therefore whatsoever THEY(not the Sadducees) bid you
observe, that observe and do! (Mat 23:2-3). The Pharisees were
the true authorities for interpreting the laws of God....."
It is now time to answer this subject in full detail. I shall
begin with giving the reader a detailed expose concerning the
basic beliefs and practices of the Sadducees and Pharisees.
LIFE AND TIMES OF JESUS THE MESSIAH - by Alfred Edersheim
FROM JORDAN TO THE MOUNT OF TRANSFIGURATION. (Starting on page
The fundamental dogmatic differences between the Pharisees and
Sadducces concerned: the rule of faith and practice; the 'after
death; the existence of angels and spirits; and free will and
In regard to the first of these points, it has already been
stated that the Sadducces did not lay down the principle of
absolute rejection of all traditions as such, but that they were
opposed to traditionalism as represented and carried out by the
Pharisees. When put down by sheer weight of authority, they would
probably carry the controversy further, and retort on their
opponents by an appeal to Scripture as against their traditions,
perhaps ultimately even by an attack of traditionalism; but
always as represented by the Pharisees.
A careful examination of the statements of Josephus on this
subject will show that they convey no more than this. The
Pharisaic view of this aspect of the controversy appears,
perhaps, most satisfactorily, because indirectly, in certain
sayings of the Mishnah, which attribute all national calamities
to those persons, whom they adjudge to eternal perdition, who
interpret Scripture 'not as does the Halakhah,' or established
Pharisaic rule. In this respect, then, the commonly received idea
concerning the Pharisees and Sadducces will require to be
As regards the practice of the Pharisees as distinguished from
that of the Sadducees, we may safely treat the statements of
Josephus as the exaggerated representations of a partisan, who
wishes to place his party in the best light. It is, indeed, true
that the Pharisees, 'interpreting the legal ordinances with
rigour,' imposed on themselves the necessity of much self-denial,
especially in regard to food, but that their practice was under
the guidance of 'reason' as Josephus asserts; is one of those
bold mis-statements with which he has too often to be credited.
His vindication of their special reverence for age and authority
must refer to the honours paid by the party to 'the Elders,' not
to the old. And that there was sufficient ground for Sudducean
opposition to Pharisaic traditionalism, alike ill principle and
in practice, will appear from the following quotation, to which
we add, by way of explanation, that the wearing of phylacteries
was deemed by that party of Scriptural obligation, and that the
phylactery for the head was to consist (according to tradition)
of four compartments. 'Against the words of the Scribes is more
punishable than against the words of Scripture. He who says, No
phylacteries, so as to transgress the words of Scripture, is not
guilty(free); five compartments - to add to the words of the
Scribes - he is guilty.'
The second doctrinal difference between Pharisees and Sadducces
concerned the 'after death.' According to the New Testament,
the Sadducces denied the resurrection of the dead, while
Josephus, going further, imputes to them denial of reward or
punishment after death, and even the doctrine that the soul
perishes with the body.
The latter statement may be dismissed as among those inferences
which theological controversialists are too fond of imputing to
their opponents. This is fully borne out by the account of a
later work, to the effect, that by successive misunderstandings
of the saying of Antigonus of Socho, that men were to serve God
without regard to reward, his later pupils had arrived at the
inference that there was no outer world - which, however, might
only refer to the Pharisaic ideal of 'the world to come,' not to
the denial of the immortality of the soul - and no resurrection
of the dead.
We may therefore credit Josephus with merely reporting the common
inference of his party. But it is otherwise in regard to their
denial of the resurrection of the dead. Not only Josephus, but
the New Testament and Rabbinic writings attest this.
The Mishnah expressly states that the formula 'from age to age,'
or rather 'from world to world,' had been introduced as a protest
against the opposite theory; while the Talmud, which records
disputations between Gamaliel and the Sadducces on the subject of
the resurrection, expressly imputes the denial of this doctrine
to the 'Scribes of the Sadducees.'
In fairness it is perhaps only right to add that, in the
discussion, the Sadducees seem only to have actually denied that
there was proof for this doctrine in the Pentateuch, and that
they ultimately professed themselves convinced by the reasoning
of Gamaliel. Still the concurrent testimony of the New Testament
and of Josephus leaves no doubt, that in this instance their
views had not been misrepresented. Whether or not their
opposition to the doctrine of the Resurrection arose in the first
instance from, or was prompted by, Rationalistic views, which
they endeavoured to support by an appeal to the letter of the
Pentateuch, as the source of traditionalism, it deserves notice
that, in His controversy with the Sadducees Christ appealed to
the Pentateuch in proof of His teaching.
Connected with this was the equally Rationalistic opposition to
belief in Angels and Spirits. It is only mentioned in the New
Testament, but seems almost to follow as a corollary.
Remembering what the Jewish Angelology was, one can scarcely
wonder that, in controversy the Sadducees should have been led to
the opposite extreme.
The last dogmatic difference between the two 'sects' concerned
that problem which has at all times engaged religious thinkers:
man's free will and God's pre-ordination or rather their
Josephus - or the reviser whom he employed - indeed, uses the
purely heathen expression 'fate' ..... to designate the Jewish
idea of the pre-ordination of God. But, properly understood, the
real difference between the Pharisees and Sadducees seems to have
amounted to this: that the former accentuated God's
pre-ordination, the latter man's free will; and that, while the
Pharisees admitted only a partial influence of the human element
on what happened, or the co-operation of the human with the
Divine, the Sadducces denied all absolute pre-ordination, and
made man's choice of evil or good, with its consequences of
misery or happiness, to depend entirely on the exercise of free
will and self-determination. And in this, like many opponents of
'Predestinarianism,' they seem to have started from the
principle, that it was impossible for God 'either to commit or to
foresee [in the sense of fore-ordaining] anythingevil.'
The mutual misunderstanding here was that common in all such
controversies. Although Josephus writes as if, according to the
Pharisees, the chief part in every good action depended upon fate
[pre-ordination] rather than on man's doing, yet in another place
he disclaims for them the notion that the will of man destitute
of spontaneous activity, and speaks somewhat confusedly - for he
is by no means a good reasoner - of 'a mixture' of the Divine and
human elements, in which the human will, with its sequence of
virtue or wickedness, is subject to the will of fate.....
But something more will have to be said as illustrative of
Pharisaic teaching on this subject. No one who has entered into
the spirit of the Old Testament can doubt that its outcome was
faith, in its twofold aspect of acknowledgment of the absolute
rule, and simple submission to the will of God. What
distinguished this so widely from fatalism was what may be termed
Jehorahism - that is, the moral element in its thoughts of God,
and that He was ever presented as in paternal relationship to
men. But the Pharisees carried their accentuation of the Divine
to the verge of fatalism. Even the idea that God had created man
with two impulses, the one to good, the other to evil; and that
the latter was absolutely necessary for the continuance of this
world, would in some measure trace the causation of moral evil to
the Divine Being. The absolute and unalterable pre-ordination of
every event, to its minutest details, is frequently insisted
upon. Adam had been shown all the generations that were to spring
from him. Every incident in the history of Israel had been
foreordained, and the actors in it - for good or for evil - were
only instruments for carrying out the Divine Will.....
Similarly was it in regard to Solomon, to Esther, to
Nebuchadnezzar, and others. Nay, it was because man was
predestined to die that the serpent came to seduce our first
parents. And as regarded the history or each individual: all that
concerned his mental and physical capacity, or that would betide
him; was prearranged. His name, place, position, circumstances,
the very name or her whom he was to wed, were proclaimed in
heaven, just as the hour of his death was foreordered. There
might be seven years of pestilence in the land, and yet no one
died before leis time. Even if man inflicted a cut on his finger,
he might be sure that this also had been preordered.....
We can well understand how the Sadducees would oppose notions
like these, and all such coarse expressions or fatalism. And it
is significant of the exaggeration of Josephus, that neither the
New Testament, nor Rabbinic writings, bring the charge of the
denial or God's provision against the Sadducees.
But there is another aspect of this question also. While the
Pharisees thus held the doctrine of absolute preordination, side
by side with it they were anxious to insist on man's freedom of
choice, his personal responsibility, and moral obligation.
Although every event depended upon God, whether a man served God
or not was entirely in his own choice. As a logical sequence or
this, fate had no influence as regarded Israel, since all
depended on prayer, repentance, and good works. Indeed, otherwise
that repentance, on which Rabbinism so largely insists, would
have had no meaning. Moreover, it seems as if it had been
intended to convey that, while our evil actions were entirely our
own choice, if a man sought to amend his ways, he would be helped
The other differences between the Pharisees and Sadducees can be
easily and briefly summed up. They concern ceremonial, ritual,
and juridical questions. In regard to the first, the opposition
of the Sadducces to the excessive scruples of the Pharisees on
the subject of Levitical defilements led to frequent controversy.
Four points in dispute are mentioned, of which, however, three
read more like ironical comments than serious divergences. Thus,
the Sadducees taunted their opponents with their many
lustrations, including that of the Golden Candlestick in the
Temple. Two other similar instances are mentioned. By way of
guarding against the possibility of profanation, the Pharisees
enacted, that the touch of any thing sacred 'defiled' the hands.
The Sadducees, on the other hand, ridiculed the idea that the
Holy Scriptures 'defile' the hands, but not such a book as Homer.
In the same spirit, the Sadducees would ask the Pharisees how it
came, that water pouring from a clean into an unclean vessel did
not lose its purity and purifying power. If these represent no
serious controversies, on another ceremonial question there was
real difference, though its existence shows how far party-spirit
could lead the Pharisees. No ceremony was surrounded with greater
care to prevent defilement than that of preparing the ashes of
the Red Heifer.
What seen the original ordinance, directed that, for seven days
previous to the burning of the Red Heifer, the priest was to be
kept in separation in the Temple, sprinkled with the ashes of all
sin-offerings, and kept from the touch of his brother-priests,
with even greater rigour than the High-Priest in his preparation
for the Day of Atonement.
The Sadducees insisted that, as 'till sundown' was the rule in
all purification, the priest must be in cleanliness still then,
before burning the Red Heifer, But, apparently for the sake of
opposition, and in contravention to their own principles, the
Pharisees would naturally ' defile' the priest on his way to the
place of burning, and then immediately make him take a bath of
purification which had been prepared, so as to show that the
Sadducees were in error. In the same spirit, the Sadducees seem
to have prohibited the use of anything made from animals which
were either interdicted as food, or by reason of their not having
been properly slaughtered, while the Pharisees allowed it, and,
in the case of Levitically clean animals which had died or been
torn, even made their skin into parchment, which might be used
for sacred purposes.
These may seem trifling distinctions, but they sufficed to kindle
the passions. Even greater importance attached to differences on
ritual questions, although the controversy here was purely
theoretical. For,the Sadducees, when in office, always conformed
to the prevailing Pharisaic practices. Thus the Sadducees would
have interpreted Lev.xxiii. 11, 15, 16, as meaning that the
wave-sheaf (or, rather, the 'Omer') was to be offered on 'the
morrow after the weekly Sabbath' that is, on the Sunday in Easter
week - which would have brought the Feast of Pentecost always on
a Sunday; while the Pharisees understood the term 'Sabbath' of
the festive Paschal day.
Connected with this were disputes about the examination of the
witnesses who testified to the appearance of the new moon, and
whom the Pharisees accused of having been suborned by their
The Sadducean objection to pouring the water of libation upon
the altar on the Feast of Tabernacles, led to riot and bloody
reprisals on the only occasion on which it seems to have been
carried into practice. Similarly, the Sadducees objected to the
beating off the willow-branches after the procession round the
altar on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles, if it were a
In Jewish and other writings we also discover that the Pharisees
not only believed in the IMMORTAL SOUL teaching but also in the
MIGRATION of SOULS. They also believed that fallen angels in
Genesis 6 had sex with physical women.
The Pharisees had TWO main Theological teaching schools, one the
school of HILLEL AND THE OTHER OF SHAMMAI.
Concerning the matter of DIVORCE and Deuteronomy 24;1-2, the
school SHAMMAI maintained that a man could not legally put away
his wife,except for WHOREDOM. The school of HILLEL taught that a
man might put away his wife for a multitude of other causes.
We shall for interest, record here the case of JOSEPHUS (the
Jewish Pharisee historian of the first century A.D.) as given by
Adam Clarke in his Bible commentary: " Josephus.... in HIS LIFE,
tells us, with the utmost: coolness and indifference, 'About this
time I put away my wife, WHO HAD BORNE ME THREE CHILDREN, not
being pleased with her manners."'(Emphasis is Clarke's).
Obviously Josephus was of the school of Hillel, as was Rabbi
Akiba when he stated:
"If any man saw a woman handsomer than his
wife, he might: put her away; because it is said in the law,
IF SHE FIND NOT FAVOR IN HIS EYES."
The school of Shammai would vigorously disagree with the school
of Hillel on the topic of Divorce. The school of Hillel was the
most LIBERAL and so the most popular with those who followed the
What I want you to remember is that the Pharisees DID NOT AGREE
AMONG THEMSELVES ON ALL POINTS OF BIBLICAL DOCTRINE. And if this
was the case as it indeed was, surely it is a LIE for anyone to
tell you that they, the Pharisees, were the teachers of the
PERFECT LAW of God, when they OFTEN DISAGREED among themselves on
certain points of the law.
As you read through the writings of Josephus(the Jewish Pharisee
of the first century A.D.) you come across other teachings of at
least some of the Pharisees, teachings that are somewhat
"strange" to say the least, such as who the "sons of God" were
that married the daughters of men mentioned in Genesis 6, as I've
already mentioned. According to Josephus the Pharisee, these sons
of God were ANGELS that co-habited with women and produced
I knew that the Jehovah Witnesses of the 20th century taught
this bazaar idea of Angels marrying women, but I did not
know(until I read it in Josephus) the same idea was taught by
many of the Pharisees.
As I have previously said, Dankenbring has become a master at
TUNNEL vision. He zeros in on a particular verse, ignores the
context, ignores other verses of the Bible that would shed light
on a particular statement of Paul, and then tells you what Paul
is saying(supposedly) even if it CONTRADICTS other statements by
Paul or another verse of God's word.
William D. has forgotten(conveniently it would seem) a number of
Bible study rules that are important if you want to find the
truth of the matter on any Scriptural topic. One rule is that
when studying Paul's writings remember, as Peter was inspired to
say, some things of Paul are HARD to UNDERSTAND, and those who
are unlearned TWIST to their own destruction. Another rule to
correctly divide the word of truth, is to get all the verses on
any particular matter BEFORE coming to a conclusion.
Later we shall look at the many NT verses that talk about the
PHARISEES and see if they were truly the Jewish sect of religion
that understood and practiced the PERFECT law OF GOD.
I suggest you have a little study yourself some time and with a
Bible concordance look up all the Scriptures in the NT where the
word Pharisee appears. Read the context of each and see if you
come to the conclusion that the Pharisee sect was the true Church
of God at the time of Christ and during the days of the Apostles.
Here is Dankenbring, a Sabbath and Feasts of God observer, yet
ministers of the Catholic and Protestant faith understood the
truth of these statements of Paul better than he does. Maybe it
is because they have no particular PET DOCTRINE (like a 15th
Passover, Sivan the 6th for Pentecost) of the Pharisees to try
In passing let me say this.
It is a fact of history and knowledge that the Pharisees not only
believed in the RESURRECTION (as opposed to the Sadducees who did
not) but they also believed in the doctrine of the IMMORTALITY OF
THE SOUL and SOUL MIGRATION.
So if Paul was a practicing, believing Pharisee, if he had been
taught the perfect law OF GOD by the Pharisees, then Paul would
have believed and taught the "Immortal Soul" idea. And of course
many of the Catholic and Protestant ministers would say Paul DID
teach that the soul was immortal and went to heaven or hell at
Maybe Dankenbring will come out with a paper showing the
Pharisees were correct in teaching the immortal soul idea. He
could take the many verses of the Bible and words of Paul and do
exactly what the Protestant minister Finis Dake did.. prove to
his readers that the soul is naturally immortal and goes to
heaven or hell at death.
Finis Dake(and others before and after) broke all the rules of
Bible study on the "immortal soul" teaching and also had TUNNEL
VISION just like Mr.D. He ignored the context many times and
NEVER once quoted to his readers the plain simple, easy to
understand verses about DEATH being a SLEEP and a person neither
acting, thinking, remembering, praising God in death. They are
there, and MANY of them, IF you are willing to read the WHOLE
It's now time to see what some of the Protestant ministers had to
say about ACTS 22:3.
TO BE CONTINUED