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Scripture Reading: Matthew 16:5-12

What Was Wrong With the Pharisees?



1.  The Pharisees are portrayed in an evil light in the NT.

2.  Jesus rebuked and exposed their sins, and warned against their teachings and influence.

3.  We do not want to be like the Pharisees.

4.  Matt. 16:6: “Then Jesus said to them, ‘Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.’”


Luke 12:1; Matt. 16:1; 23:1-36: Hypocrisy

  1.  Luke 12:1: Leaven (influence that permeates) of hypocrisy

  2.  Luke 12:2-3: Hypocrisy exposed, and truth will spread.

  3.  Matt. 16:1: Claimed faith in God yet rejected evidences of truth.

  4.  Matt. 23:1-36: Corrupt motives nullified claims of following law of God (23:1-5); Condemned by Jesus.

  5.  Application: We must not pretend to be righteous (Eph. 4:24).


Luke 18:9-14: Self-Righteousness

  1.  Born of pride and conceit of superiority.

  2.  Projects disdain and contempt for others.

  3.  Application: Our righteousness must conform with divine truth, Matt. 5:19-20.


Luke 16:14: Loved money

  1.  Highly esteemed wealth and justified themselves with it (oppressed others because of wealth), Matt. 23:14, 16-17.

  2.  Cannot serve God and riches, Luke 16:13.

  3.  Application: What are our riches?


Matthew 15:1-9; Mark 7:5-13: Created additions to the word of God

  1.  Matt. 15:1-2, 3-9: Held traditions above God’s law.

  2.  Mark 7:2-4: Condemned violations of their traditions.

  3.  Application: Do not go beyond the doctrine of Christ (by adding to His word) or fall short of it (by taking from His word); Doing so forfeits God’s fellowship and approval, 2 John 9.


Matthew 19:3-9: Rejected truth on divorce and remarriage

  1.  The Jewish controversy over the CAUSE for DIVORCE:

    a.  School of Hillel: Broadened “uncleanness” (Deut. 24:1) to include anything the man considered displeasing. (cf. TEV: “because he finds something about her that he doesn’t like”)

    b.  School of Shammai: Explained “uncleanness” as adultery (but remember, adulterers put to death under Law of Moses, Deut. 22:22; cf. John 8:3-5).

    c.  BOTH schools taught the one put away could remarry.

      1)  Hillel nullified the restraints of Deut. 24:1-4.

      2)  Shammai nullified death penalty of Deut. 22:22; Lev. 20:10.

  2.  Jesus said neither school understood God’s original design of “one man for one woman for life,” Matt. 19:4-6.

    a.  19:8: Moses (God) did not institute their easy divorces; He regulated their stubborn abuses.

    b.  God’s ideal and intention for marriage has never changed from the beginning until now (“it was not so” is present perfect tense: Something in the past continuing through to the present time of speaking).

  3.  Application: Hear and receive this truth, Matt. 19:10-12 (6).


Matthew 3:7-8: Would not repent before baptism

  1.  They did not bring forth fruit worthy of repentance.

  2.  Luke 7:29-30: Pharisees rejected the will of God.

     -John did not baptize them and then teach them later.

  3.  Application: Repentance is essential before baptism.



1.  Christ’s warning is still relevant: The leaven of the Pharisees is still at work.

2.  Are you a Pharisee?



By: Joe R. Price

Posted January 6, 2022