The Pharisees were a religious sect within Judaism who believed in the deity of Yahovah and in the Torah (which is found in the first five books of the Bible) and the prophetic books. They also adhered to a strict set of laws that were not a part of the Mosaic law, referred to as the “Oral Law”, just for classification purposes. The term “oral law” is not found in the Bible, but it is the term believers use to refer to the strict customs and rituals that the Pharisees believed were essential to a righteous life.
Therein lies one difference between the apostles and the Pharisees: their respective adherence (or lack thereof!) to the Torah and/or the traditions of men. The Pharisees were Jews who did not believe in the salvation though Jesus. The apostles were Jews who did believe in salvation through Jesus! Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for their traditions, not because traditions are bad, but because the religious leaders required others to keep them as well; thus, adding to the law.
“And he continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!” Mark 7:9, NIV
“Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the LORD your God that I give you.” Deuteronomy 4:2, NIV
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” Mathew 5:17-20, NIV
This brings me to my second point, which is regarding the deity of Jesus. When one makes the decision to live their life for Jesus, it is changed forever. Those changes include acknowledging Jesus as Savior and the only way to be saved from eternal death.
The changes also include a free personal decision to obey Him, as he desires us to obey Him. One of the ways we obey Him is by following the Law He commanded us to obey, but remembering not to add to or take away from those Words of the Law (Mathew 5.)
One of the main differences between this essay and the one on Yeshua and Pharisees, is that Yeshua claimed to be the Messiah, but he claimed it quietly. As far as we can read in the gospels of Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John, Yeshua wanted with everything in Him to share His message, but only with those who would receive it.
“He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. Mathew 10:40, NKJV
“He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” Mathew 11:15, NKJV
However, not only did the disciples and apostles believe in the deity of Yeshua, they preached it! Repeatedly! To everyone! Although Yeshua was a public figure in His time, his apostles were 12 times the punch with a lot more disclosure.
“being greatly disturbed that they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.” Acts 4:2, NKJV
The first point of argument between Yeshua and the Pharisees was the law; whether to add to and take away from it, or to obey it as it was commanded in the Bible. Yeshua’s opinion was the right opinion.
The second point of argument between Yeshua and the Pharisees was the deity of Yeshua. Yeshua said He was the Son of God, and the Pharisees said it was untrue and that Yeshua was a heretic. The Pharisees were wrong and Yeshua was right.
Modern Christians will tell you that all you need to do to be in right standing with God is to have faith in Jesus. They may tell you that you don’t need to even try to obey the Law, since you couldn’t do it perfectly anyway, and they may tell you “grace paid it all.” I tell you – show me where it says that “grace” is an offering you can hand back to God as a thank-you-note for saving you, instead of repenting and turning from the sin in your life that made Christ have to die in the first place.
My point is, you cannot have faith in Yeshua and say that you love Him without showing Him that you love him. In the end times, it won’t matter how many times you’ve taken advantage of the “free gift of grace”, but how you choose to act in accordance with the terms of the covenant. You need faith – and you need obedience too.
“And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Revelations 12:17, NKJV
Thanks for reading!