The Scribes - Jewish Leaders in the New Testament

Jesus and the Scribes


Hasmonaean Coin

The Scribes were Condemned by Jesus

Throughout the whole life of Christ the Scribes were among his most watchful and determined opponents. Their many accusations were continually recorded in the gospel accounts.

They complained that he ate with publicans and sinners (Mark 2:16; Luke 5:30, 15:2). When Jesus said to the one sick of the palsy , "Son, thy sins be forgiven thee," (Mark 2:6) the Scribes charged Him with blasphemy. When he cast out demons they said that He cast them out by "Beelzebub, the prince of the devils" (Mark 3:22). They would sit and watch Jesus to see if He would heal on the Sabbath day, that they might find an accusation against him (Luke 6:7). They also were among the Pharisees when they brought to him the woman caught in adultery, "tempting him, that they might have reason to accuse him" (John 8:3, 6). They were filled with indignation when Jesus performed any miracles (Luke 6:11). They took counsel with the chief priests as to how they might destroy him (Mark 11:18), and when Jesus was brought before Herod , they stood and vehemently accused him (Luke 23:10).

Jesus finally utters a series of woes (curses) upon the Scribes in Matt. 23.

Jesus did not condemn all Scribes and in fact they were not all bad. Nicodemus and Gamaliel were scribes and Hillel also for that matter. The young ruler who came to Jesus asking questions was no doubt a Scribe and Jesus said to him, "Thou art not far from the kingdom of God," (Mark 12:32-34) and He referred to some of His followers who would go to proclaim His truth as "scribes" (Matt 23:34).

For the most part, however, they were considered to be cursed and the spirit of their instructions and teaching, as seen by all the records of them in the Talmud, are the very antithesis of that of the gospel of Christ.

The determined hatred of the Scribes and their opposition to Jesus were no doubt a part of every event that led to the death of Jesus.


The Scribes - Jewish Leaders in the First Century AD.

The Scribes of New Testament Times The Scribes - Introduction The Scribes - Overview The Scribes - Ancient History The Scribes - Background The Scribes - A Fence Around the Law The Scribes - Teaching The Scribes - Authority The Scribes - New Testament The Scribes - Teachers of the Law The Scribes - Jurists The Scribes - Judges The Scribes - Jesus The Scribes - Halachah and Haggadah The Scribes - Scriptures The Scribes - Historical Quotes The Scribes - Dictionaries The Scribes - Encyclopedias The Scribes - Conclusion

During the time of Jesus Christ there were Jewish teachers who explained the Torah, the law of God, by translating it (The Targums arise from this group), and giving commentary in the form of Haggadah (parables and various sayings) and would carefully show how the instructions of the law, for example, laws relating to the Sabbath and food, were to be lived out in everyday life (Halachah).

At this time, in addition to the written law, volumes of explanations were given, believed to have been handed down orally by men of God. These oral commandments carried with them great authority. It is exactly these oral traditions which is referred to in the New Testament. (Mark 7:9; Matthew 15; Galatians 1:14).

Most of the time the Scribes earned their living by copying and interpreting the law. They were not in absolute agreement as to their explanations of Scripture, which were usually given in the Beth-hamidrash (House of study).

In the New Testament the Scribes are mentioned as the "teachers" of the law, the rabbis and the official leaders of the people, along with the Pharisees, and the Gospels referred to them as "doctors of the Law". According to the New Testament they sat in the Sanhedrin (Matt 16:21).

Jesus came into conflict with the Scribes often because He and His disciples did not observe their traditions. Mark 7 describes an example of Jesus and His followers not observing traditional rules in relation to the Sabbath and cleanness. In Matt. 23, where Jesus pronounces his woes upon the Scribes and Pharisees, He repeated His prophetic curse upon them, "Woe to you" eight times because of their arrogance, hypocrisy, self-seeking ambition and scrupulous observances.




Early History


Fence Around the Law

Their Teaching

Their Authority

NT Scribes




Jesus and the Scribes

Halachah and Haggadah


Bible Dictionaries

Bible Encyclopedias

Historical Quotes