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The Pharisees

THE PHARISEES jesus00000019.gif

Closely linked with the scribes were the Pharisees. The name of the Pharisees literally means 'separated ones'. Their roots go back to the movement of 'the pious' (Hebrew Hasidim) who with the Maccabees, opposed attempts to introduce Greek elements into Jewish culture in the second century BC. Later they opposed the Maccabees when they combined secular and religious offices. They becamea group of laymen who had chosen to live in strictest adherence to scribal tradition and law. Although there were many scribes among the Pharisees who were leaders in their communities, the majority of Pharisees were simple, uneducated men. It was their extreme piety rather than their wisdom that set them apart from others, and they often went to great lengths to demonstrate that piety.


In Jerusalem the Pharisees lived in several communities. Membership was limited to men who had showed an ability to follow scribal teachings. Each community had a leader and followed a stringent set of rules. Members were required to fast twice a week, to observe fixed daily hours of prayer and to take part in a weekly communal meal. The Pharisees saw themselves as practicing the ideal way of life and were convinced that their communities would form the core of the community of the righteous in the Messiah's kingdom. They were often very critical of the people who did not live as they did. The people, on the other hand, looked up to them as models of perfect religious devotion.

The Pharisees are first mentioned as a distinct group under the high priest Jonathan. Unlike the Essenes, who looked for a kingdom of the new age, the Pharisees were willing to make compromises in order to survive as a distinct group. For this they were branded 'hypocrites' by the Essenes. On the other hand, as the Pharisees firmly believed in the resurrection, they clashed with the Sadducees. They held that 'he that says there is no resurrection of the dead has no share in the world to come'. The Sadducees were mainly priests, concerned with the temple worship practices; the Pharisees were primarily scribes, who interpreted the scriptures according to the oral law, which they held was as ancient as the written Law.

Their concern in interpreting the Law (the Torah) was first of all to apply the eternal Law to the changing circumstances of their day, by means of elaborate arguments. Secondly, they sought to 'make a hedge about the Law', that is, to take added precautions to prevent the breaking of the Law. For example, if the Law said that a task must be completed by morning, the rabbis went a step further and said that it should be completed by the previous midnight. A tailor should not place a needle in his clothes on Friday for fear he carry it with him and break the Sabbath law. It was this punctilious zeal for the letter of the Law which was condemned by Jesus as hypocrisy.

Not all Pharisees were hypocrites, however. In the generation before Jesus, Hillel, a famous rabbi who was originally from Babylonia, said: 'Do not do to others that which is hateful to you.' Hillel's grandson, Gamaliel, was the most famous rabbi of his day. The apostle Paul studied under him, and was until his conversion to Christianity a zealously sincere Pharisee. The Pharisees were also opposed to the revolutionary policy of the Zealots. The Pharisee leader Johanan ben Zakkai secured permission from the Emperor Vespasian to open a rabbinical school at Jamnia (Jabneh) near Jaffa, which enabled Pharisaism to survive the Jewish-Roman War.

THE PHARISEES according to Josephus

The Pharisees were of more recent origin and were really the popular party. The term Pharisee means "separated,'' probably because they believed that one should separate himself from whatever contaminates religious purity before God. They originally appeared in the time of John Hyrcanus who was High Priest (134-104 BC), and were probably very encouraged by his great faithfulness to the Law. A feud broke out when they began to suspect him of temporal ambitions at the cost of his religion.

The Pharisees were regarded as exemplifying the religious ideal, and therefore were accepted as spiritual leaders, and as patriots par excellence. You can be sure that they represented as a whole the highest conceptions of religion to be found in the world at that time. A letter written in that time period declares:

"Regarding discussions and explanations of the Law they possessed great aptitude. They struck just the right balance, for they discarded the hard literalness of the letter, and were modest with regard to their own wisdom, and were ready to hold argument, to listen to the opinions of others, and to consider thoroughly every question that might be raised."

However much they are to be held responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus, it is only fair to say that they acted not from mere perversity, but from genuine conviction and with a good conscience. In their view, the State should be ruled by a priestly ruler who was prepared to enforce the ful1 observance of the Mosaic Law.

The "tradition of the elders" was simply the whole system of explanations, and these were examined on each case with the aid of an extraordinary method of reasoning. The question at issue when the disciples walked through the cornfield and plucked and ate the ears on the Sabbath (Mk 2:23-) was not that of stealing corn, but that rubbing the grain to remove the chaff constituted a case of threshing the corn, threshing being prohibited on the Sabbath. If the disciples had plucked the corn and eaten it without rubbing it between their hands, there would have been no reason for a dispute.

Josephus says that the Pharisees differed from the Sadducees and the Essenes on the question of the freedom of the will. As the Essenes were fatalists, and the Sadducees skeptics, the Pharisees declared that God foresaw everything, and yet that man could choose between good and evil. In the same passage (" The Jewish Wars " 2:8, 14), Josephus says that the Pharisees believed that the souls of good men come back to life again but in other bodies, whereas the bad are subject to eternal punishment under the earth. In regard to their customs, we learn that they lived simply without indulging in delicacies of diet, but tried to follow the direction of reason. They respected old people and their opinions. They offered prayers, performed sacrifices, and observed divine worship as prescribed in the Law, and Josephus does not hesitate to describe their conduct as entirely virtuous. Much can be said in their favor, and the more one reads of them the harder it is to be so condemning as is the norm. But the one obvious thing is that they lacked a sense of the inwardness of religion. With all the stress which they placed on externals, they missed the living heart, their religion was too much tradition and conformity to rules

An Outline of The Life of Jesus in Harmony


"I marvel that whereas the ambitious dreams of myself, Caesar, and Alexander should have vanished into thin air, a Judean peasant - Jesus should be able to stretch his hands across the centuries and control the destinies of men and nations."  - Napoleon I Bonaparte (1809)

The Life of Jesus Map

The Birth of John the Baptist


Gabriel Announces John's Birth (Lk 1:5-25)

The History of the Birth of Jesus

The Genealogy of Jesus (Mat 1:1-17; Lk 3:23-38).


Gabriel Announces to Mary (Lk 1:26-38).

Mary Visits Elizabeth (Lk 1:39-56).

An Angel Comes to Joseph (Mat 1:18-25)


The Decree of Augustus Caesar and the Birth of Christ (Lk 2:1-7). jesus00000019.gif

The First Visitors - Shepherds (Lk 2:8-20).

The Second Visitors - Magi (Mat 2:1-12).


Jesus is Circumcised and Presented in the Temple (Lk 2:21-38). jesus00000019.gif


Out of Egypt (Mat 2:13-23).



Jesus' Early Years


The Boy Jesus at the Temple (Lk 2:41-52). jesus00000019.gif

The Beginning of His Ministry

The Jordan

Jesus is Baptized in the Jordan (Mat 3:13-17; Mk 1:9-11; Lk 3:21-23).

The Wilderness

The Temptation in the Wilderness (Mat 4:1-11; Mk 1:12, 13; Lk 4:1-13).

The Eternal Word (Jn 1:1-18).

The Testimony of John (Jn 1:19-34). jesus00000019.gif

The First Disciples (Jn 1:35-51).


Turning Water to Wine (Jn 2:1-12).

Jesus Visits Jerusalem jesus00000019.gif

The First Passover



A House of Merchandise (Jn 2:13-25).

Unless One is Born Again (Jn 3:1-21).

Jesus Baptizes (Jn 3:22, with 4:2).


He Departed Again to Galilee  (Mat 4:12; Mk 1:14; Lk 4:14; Jn 4:1-3).


The Woman at the Well (Jn 4:4-42).

Jesus' Ministry in Galilee jesus00000019.gif


He Taught in Their Synagogues (Mt 4:17; Mk 1:14,15; Lk 4:14,15; Jn 4:43-45).


A Certain Nobleman (Jn 4:46-54)

Physician, Heal Yourself! (Mat 4:13-16; Lk 4:16-31).

Sea of Galilee

Peter, Andrew, James, and John (Mat 4:18-22; Mk 1:16-20; Lk 5:1-11).


And Jesus Went About All Galilee . . Teaching (Mat 4:23-25; Mk 1:35-39, Lk 4:42-44).

A Man With an Unclean Spirit (Mk 1:21-28; Lk 4:31-37).


Simon's Wife's Mother Lay Sick (Mat 8:14-17; Mk 1:29-34; Lk 4:38-41).

Then a Leper Came to Him (Mat 8:2-4; Mk 1:40-45; Lk 5:12- 16).

They Brought to Him a Paralytic (Mat 9:2-8; Mk 2:1-12; Lk 5:17-26).


Matthew the Tax Collector (Mat 9:9; Mk 2:13, 14; Lk 5:27, 28).

The Second Passover


Healing at the Pool of Bethesda on the Sabbath Day (Jn 5:1-47). jesus00000019.gif

Healing in the Synagogue on the Sabbath Day (Mat 12:9-14; Mk 3:1-6, Lk 6:6-11).

And in His Name Gentiles Will Trust (Mat 12:15-21; Mk 3:7-12)

Then He Appointed Twelve (Mat 10:2-4; Mk 3:13-19; Lk 6: 12-19).

The Sermon on the Mount (Mat 5-7; Lk 6:20-49).

A Certain Centurion's Servant (Mat 8:5-13; Lk 7:1-10).


Jesus Raises the Dead Son at Nain (Lk 7:11-17).


Are You the Coming One? (Mat 11:2-19; Lk 7:18-35).

My Yoke is Easy and My Burden is Light (Mat 11:20-30).


The Woman With the Alabaster Flask (Lk 7:36-50).

Mary Called Magdalene (Lk 8:1-3).

The Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit (Mat 12:22-37; Mk 3: 19-30; Lk 11:14-20).

Teacher, We Want to See a Sign From You (Mat 12:38-45; Lk 11:16-36).

Woe to You, Scribes and Pharisees, Hypocrites (Lk 11:37-54).

He Began to Say to His Disciples (Lk 12:1-59).

Parable of the Fig Tree (Lk 13:6-9).

Parable of the Sower (Mat 13:1-23; Mk 4:1-25; Lk 8:4-18).

Many Such Parables (Mat 13:24-53; Mk 4:26-34).

Sea of Galilee

Jesus Rebukes the Storm (Mat 8:18-27; Mk 4:35-41; Lk 8:22-25).


The Herd of Many Swine (Mat 8:28-33; Mk 5:1-21; Lk 8:26-40).


He Came Again to His Own City (Mat 9:1; Mk 5:21 Lk 8:40).

The Parable of the Wineskins (Mat 9:10-17; Mk 2:15-22; Lk 5:29-39).

Jairus' Daughter and the Woman With the Flow of Blood (Mat 9:18-26; Mk 5:22-43; Lk 8:41-56).

The Blind and the Mute (Mat 9:27-34).

A Prophet is Not Without Honor Except in His Own Country (Mat 13:53-58; Mk 6:1-6).

He Was Moved With Compassion For Them (Mat 9:35-38)

Sent His Disciples Out With Power and Authority (Mat 10; Mk 6:6-13, Lk 9:1-6).


John the Baptist is Beheaded (Mat 14:1, 2, 6-12, Mk 6:14-16, 21-29; Lk 9:7-9).

Near Bethsaida

The Disciples Return, Feeding Five Thousand (Mat 14:13-21; Mk 6:30-44; Lk 9:10-17, Jn 6:1-14).

Sea of Galilee

They Saw Him Walking on the Sea (Mat 14:22-36; Mk 6:45-56; Jn 6:15-21).



I Am the Bread of Life (Jn 6:22-65).

Do you also want to go away? (Jn 6:66-71).

Unwashed Hands (Mat 15:1-20; Mk 7:1-23).

A Woman of Canaan (Mat 15:21-28; Mk 7:24-30). jesus00000019.gif

Then Great Multitudes Came to Him (Mat 15:29-31, Mk 7:31-37).

Feeding Four Thousand (Mat 15:32-39; Mk 8:1-9).

Seeking From Him a Sign From Heaven (Mat 16:1-4; Mk 8:10-12).

jesus00000042.gif jesus00000019.gif

The Leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees (Mat 16:4-12; Mk 8:13-21).


Heals a Blind Man at Bethsaida (Mk 8:22-26).

Caesarea Philippi

Jesus Reveals Who He is at Caesarea Philippi (Mat 16:13-20; Mk 8:27-30; Lk 9:18-21).

He Must Go to Jerusalem and Be Killed (Mat 16:21-28; Mk 8:31-38; 9:1; Lk 9:21-27).

And He Was Transfigured (Mat 17:1-13; Mk 9:2-13; Lk 9:28-36).

And Jesus Rebuked the Demon (Mat 17:14-21; Mk 9:14-29; Lk 9:37-43).

Speaks Again of His Death (Mat 17:22, 23; Mk 9:30-32; Lk 9:43-45).


Miracle of the Coin in the Fish's Mouth (Mat 17:24-27).

Which One is the Greatest? (Mat 18:1-35; Mk 9:33-50; Lk 9:46-50).

He Who is Not Against Us is On Our Side (Mk 9:38, 39; Lk 9:49, 50).

The Feast of Tabernacles


Set His Face to Go to Jerusalem (Lk 9:51-62; Jn 7:2-11).

The Lord Appointed Seventy Others (Lk 10:1-16).

The Ten Lepers (Lk 17:11-19).

Teaches in the Temple at the Feast of Tabernacles (Jn 7:14-53; 8:1-59).

The Parable of the Good Samaritan (Lk 10:25-37). jesus00000019.gif

The Report of the Seventy (Lk 10:17-24).


The House of Mary and Martha (Lk 10:38-42).

Jesus Teaches His Disciples to Pray (Lk 11:1-13).

The Feast of Dedication


I Was Blind, Now I See (Jn 9:1-41).

My Sheep Hear My Voice (Jn 9:39-41; 10:1-21).

They Picked Up Stones To Stone Him (Jn 10:22-39).


Beyond the Jordan (Jn 10:40-42; 11:3-16).


Jesus Raises Lazarus from the Dead (Jn 11:1-46).


The Declaration of Caiaphas (Jn 11:47-54). jesus00000019.gif


The Woman Who Was Bent Over (Mat 19:1, 2; Mk 10:1; Lk 13:10-35).

Take the Lowest Seat (Lk 14:1-24).

Count the Cost (Lk 14:25-35).

More Parables, Prodigal Son (Lk 15:1-32; 16:1-13).

Exposes the Hypocrisy of the Pharisees (Lk 16:14-18).

The Rich Man and Lazarus (Lk 16:19-31).

Increase Our Faith (Lk 17:1-10).

Teaches the Pharisees About the Coming of the Kingdom (Lk 17:20-37).


The Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Lk 18:1-14).

Marriage and Divorce (Mat 19:3-12; Mk 10:2-12).

Let the Little Children Come to Me (Mat 19:13-15; Mk 10:13-16; Lk 18:15-17).

Rich Young Ruler (Mat 19:16-22; Mk 10:17-22; Lk 18:18-24).

The Parable of the Vineyard (Mat 20:1-16).

Again Foretelling His Death (Mat 20:17-19; Mk 10:32-34; Lk 18:31-34).

Can I Sit at Your Right Hand? (Mat 20:20-28; Mk 10:35-45).


Blind Bartimaeus (Mat 20:29-34; Mk 10:46-50; Lk 18:35-43).

Zacchaeus who was a Chief Tax Collector (Lk 19:1-10).

The Parable of the Minas (Lk 19:11-28).


Mary Anoints the Feet of Jesus (Jn 12:1-9).


Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem (Mat 21:1-11; Mk 11:1-11; Lk 19:29-44; Jn 12:12-19).

Jesus Enters the Temple (Mat 21:12, Mk 11:11; Lk 19:45).

Drives the Vendors Out of the Temple (Mat 21:12, 13; Lk 19:45, 46).

The Blind and Lame Came to Him (Mat 21:14).

He Was Teaching Daily in the Temple (Lk 19:47, 48).

The Withered Fig Tree (Mat 21:17-22; Mk 11:12-14, 20-22).

The Parable of the Two Sons (Mat 21:28-31);

The Parable of the Vinedressers (Mat 21:33-46; Mk 12:1-12; Lk 20:9-19);


The Parable of the Great Supper (Mat 22:1-14; Lk 14:16-24).

Tested By the Pharisees (Mat 22:15-22; Mk 12:13-17; Lk 20:20-26). jesus00000019.gif

Tested By the Sadducees (Mat 22:23-33; Mk 12:18-27; Lk 20:27-40);

Tested By a Lawyer (Mat 22:34-40; Mk 12:28-34).

Beware of the Scribes and the Pharisees (Mat 23; Mk 12:38-40; Lk 20:45-47).

A Certain Poor Widow (Mk 12:41-44; Lk 21:1-4).

The Prophecy of Isaiah About their Blindness (Jn 12:37-50).

Foretells the Destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem (Mat 24; Mk 13; Lk 21:5-36).

He Saw the City and Wept Over It (Mat 23:37; Lk 19:41-44).

The Parables of the Ten Virgins and The Talents (Mat 25:1-30).

The Sheep and the Goats (Mat 25:31-46).

Anointed with the Flask of Spikenard (Mat 26:6-13; Mk 14:3-9; Jn 12:1-8).

The Last Passover


The Last Passover (Mat 26:17-30; Mk 14:12-25; Lk 22:7-20).

Began to Wash the Disciples' Feet (Jn 13:1-17).

The Hand of My Betrayer is With Me (Mat 26:23; Mk 14:18-21; Lk 22:21; Jn 13:18).


What You Do . . Do Quickly (Mat 26:21-25; Mk 14:18-21; Lk 22:21-23; Jn 13:21-30).

Teaches About the Holy Spirit (Jn 14; 15; 16).

Jesus' Intercession (Jn 17).

The Prayer in Gethsemane (Mat 26:30, 36-46; Mk 14:26, 32-42; Lk 22:39-46; Jn 18:1).

Betrayed and Taken (Mat 26:47-56; Mk 14:43-54, 66-72; Lk 22:47-53; Jn 18:2-12).

The Trial (Mat 26:57, 58, 69-75; Mk 14:53, 54, 66-72; Lk 22:54-62; Jn 18:13-18, 25-27).


Delivered to Pilate (Mat 27:1, 2, 11-14; Mk 15:1-5; Lk 23:1-5; Jn 18:28-38).

He Sent Him to Herod (Lk 23:6-12).

Tried Before Pilate (Mat 27:15-26; Mk 15:6-15; Lk 23:13-25; Jn 18:39, 40; 19:1-16).


Mocked by the Soldiers (Mat 27:27-31; Mk 15:16-20).


Led Him Away to be Crucified (Mat 27:31-34; Mk 15:20-23; Lk 23:26-32; Jn 19:16, 17).


Crucified (Mat 27:35-56; Mk 15:24-41; Lk 23:33-49; Jn 19:18-30). jesus00000019.gif

Joseph of Arimathea (Mat 27:57-66; Mk 15:42-47; Lk 23:50-56; Jn 19:31-42).

The Resurrection

He is Risen (Mat 28:2-15, Mk 16:1-11 Lk 24:1-12; Jn 20:1-18).

Has Appeared to Simon (Lk 24:34; 1Cor 15:5).

Road to Emmaus

Appears to Two Disciples on the Road to Emmaus (Mk 16:12, 13: Lk 24:13-35).




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