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Scripture Reading: Matthew 16:5-12

The Leaven of Pharisees and Sadducees



1.  Matt. 16:5-12: Warned of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees (Herod, Mk. 8:15).

2.  Leaven: Yeast (fungi that converts sugar to carbon dioxide and water /ethanol); an influencing agent, 1 Cor. 5:6; Gal. 5:9.

3.  The doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees has influences we are warned against, Matt. 16:12.

  a.  Leaven is used in an evil sense; its unseen, penetrating power illustrates the corrupting power of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees (Lenski, Mark 8:15)

  b.  Warning: Do not look upon their teachings with favor; look away from them, with abhorrence. (Ibid)

4.  Jesus warns of two extremes, and turns our attention to the influence of His teachings – its truth, purity and balance.



  -Who were the Pharisees? Primarily a religious party; The name means “separatists” from…pārash’ “to separate”—those who carefully kept themselves from any legal contamination, distinguishing themselves by their care in such matters from the common people…who had fewer scruples. (I.S.B.E., 5-Vol., 2361)

  A.  The Pharisees Disputed, Denied and Challenged (tested) Jesus, Mk. 8:11-12.

    1.  They rejected His miracles, while demanding a sign, Mk. 8:1-9.

    2.  These are the marks of a closed heart that refuses to believe the evidence, Matt. 16:1-4.

    3.  They considered themselves faithful to Jehovah, and the possessors and defenders of orthodoxy. Hypocrisy (Lk. 12:1).

  B.  The Pharisees Bound Human (Rabbinical) Traditions as if they were the Commands of God, Mk. 7:1-13.

    1.  Binding where the Lord has not bound (personal opinions, personal conscience, etc.) is a doctrine of the Pharisees.

    2.  Demanded compliance to the rabbinical traditions, or cast out of favor, Jno. 9:14-16, 29-34.

    3.  Their eyes were closed to reality; Hypocrisy (Lk. 12:1).

    4.  We can be influenced by this same doctrine:

       -We are warned against binding conscientious liberties on each other, Rom. 14:13, 14-15, 19-21.

  C.  The Pharisees were:

    1.  Hypocrites, who gave lip service to God’s law, but exempted themselves from duty, Matt. 23:1-4. (Luke 12:1)

    2.  Self-righteous, seeking the praise of men, Matt. 23:5-12.

    3.  Condemned in their sin, Matt. 23:33.



  -“The Sadducees rejected the rabbinical traditions, also the doctrine of the resurrection, of the angels and of spirits, of immortality and the judgment to come. They were freethinkers and skeptics, with a corresponding laxness in morals, yet included in their number many of the richest and most influential Jews such as the family of the high priest.” (Lenski, Matt. 3:7)

  A.  Sadducees were Materialists, Denied the Spirit World, Acts 23:8.

    1.  Did not know the Scriptures, nor the power of God, Matt. 22:29.

    2.  They loosed where God had not loosed.

    3.  cf. Secularism: Does same thing (no binding moral standard).

      a.  Secular humanists: Deny God and His moral standard; man is the measure of all things.

      b.  Leads to all kinds of irreverence and immorality. Rom. 1:21-25

  B.  Sadducees were the Great Compromisers with the World (Herod), Jno. 11:48-50; Acts 4:1-2.

    1.  We cannot compromise with sin, Eph. 5:7; 2 Cor. 6:17-18.

    2.  There is no commonality, no fellowship, 2 Jno. 10-11.



1.  Jesus warns of two extremes: binding (hypocrisy), and loosing (compromise).

2.  Who do you say Jesus is? Matt. 16:13-16

  a.  Pharisees: Deluded blasphemer, worthy of death.

  b.  Sadducees: Threat to their power.

  c.  Peter: “The Christ, the Son of the living God.”

3.  When the truth is set before us, it is our condition of heart that leads us to understand it, or reject it, Matt. 16:9, 11 (3-4).



By: Joe R. Price

Posted: December 6, 2017