The Pharisees and Jesus
The Stone Lectures for 1915-1916

A. T. Robertson



The peril of Pharisaism in Christianity is the emphasis on the letter as opposed to the spirit. The letter killeth while the spirit quickeneth. It is sometimes charged that the words of Jesus to the Pharisees are unduly harsh, and not in accord with His own teaching on the subject of captious criticism (Matt 7:1f; Luke 6:37f). But is the criticism of Jesus captious? It is plain and pointed beyond a doubt and not without a sting at times. But one must consider the provocation that elicited such words from our Lord, and the prolonged restraint on His part under the severe taunts of His enemies. Those who should have welcomed Jesus and His message were the chief opponents in His path. It became necessary for Jesus to reveal these religious leaders in their true character in order that the people might understand both them and Jesus, and the reason for the conflict between them. Religious controversy is a calamity, but it is often unavoidable, unless one is willing to give error a clear road to victory. Loyalty to truth demands that one speak the truth in love for those in error. It must not be forgotten that Jesus is the one under attack, and that his descriptions of the Pharisees are in the nature of self-defence. I am not seeking to mitigate the severity of the language or to soften it of its true import. The hot hatred of the Pharisees for Jesus did not beget hate in the heart of Jesus. He prayed for them as He died for them. And yet Jesus did not cover up the truth about them. His words about them are a judgment upon them for their spiritual and moral shortcomings. 'And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their works were evil' (John 3:19). If these are not the words of Jesus, they are at least the Evangelist's estimate of the reason why the Jerusalem leaders rejected Jesus. At bottom, the reason that men refuse Christ is always the love of sin. The presence of Jesus sharpened the sense of spiritual reality. The issue is drawn and the tug of war is on. Sin pulls hard upon even the respectable religious classes, though often in the guise of piety, selfish religiosity. At any rate, there is nothing to conceal in what Jesus has said to the Pharisees, but much to enlighten us and all who are in like peril with them. One's very virtues may become vices to deaden spiritual life.


1. Spiritual Blindness (John 3:1-21; Matt 9:13; Mark 3:5; Matt 13:13-17; Mark 4:11-12; John 6:44, 64f; Matt 15:12-20; Matt 16:1-4; John 9:40f; Luke 11:37-54)

It is remarkable that the first formal interview between Jesus and a friendly Pharisee reveals such a gulf between them. The difficulty that Nicodemus had in understanding Jesus' teaching about the kingdom of God, argues strongly against the view that Jesus had only the theological outlook of the Pharisees and the apocalyptists of His day. Dr. Kirsopp Lake(1) sees clearly that to hold this view robs Jesus of His place as infallible guide, not to say Lord and Saviour. 'It is impossible to find its fulfilment in Jesus, if He conditioned His teaching by Jewish apocalypticism, and believed in what was, after all, an illusory expectation of the coming of the kingdom of God.' Dr. Lake(2) gives up Jesus, because he simply fell in with Jewish apocalypticism. 'We are driven back to a living religion of communion with God, without the intervention of any other guide claiming to be an infallible substitute for personal effort.' Dr. Lake, like Dr. Case,(3) offers by way of consolation the personal religion of Jesus rather than Jesus as religion. Jesus did make use of apocalyptic terminology in some of His teaching in order to be understood, but it is lamentable narrowness of view to see only this aspect of His teaching. Nicodemus is a cultured Pharisee and member of the Sanhedrin, who is drawn to Jesus by the nobility of His teaching and by the seal of God in the miracles of Jesus, as 'a teacher come from God' (John 3:2). Jesus saw the fundamental trouble at once, and proceeded to explain to Nicodemus how one must be born again to enter the kingdom of God. Nicodemus probably looked for a political kingdom and a political Messiah, who would usher in the kingdom with catastrophic signs from heaven, but he was helpless to grasp the idea of a spiritual birth in a spiritual realm. The repeated effort of Jesus to make it plain to Nicodemus by means of the symbol of water and the necessity affirmed without the symbol, left Nicodemus in a state of scientific and theological scepticism. 'How can these things be?' (John 3:9). There was probably no Pharisee in Jerusalem more enlightened than Nicodemus, but he was in the grip of Torah, and felt that there was an incompatibility somewhere, though he could not explain it. 'Torah and Jesus could not remain in harmony The two were fundamentally incompatible.'(4) As a result of this impasse with Nicodemus, Jesus exclaimed, 'Art thou the teacher of Israel, and understandest not these things?' (John 3:10). The Greek article (ho) with teacher is to be noted. Nicodemus was one of the authorised exponents of current Pharisaism, the accepted teacher of religion, one supposed to know by experience (ginoskeis) the difficult points of theology, and certainly the more elementary. And yet he has shown ignorance of one of the fundamental matters, 'the earthly' (ta epigeia, taking place on earth). How can he be trusted to expound 'the heavenly' (ta epourania, belonging to heaven as a sphere) like the plan of God in the Cross (the atonement) and the gift of His Son? There is no further comment by Nicodemus, and the incident apparently closes with Nicodemus unsaved. Later he did find his way to espouse the cause of Jesus, but he had to shake off much of the preconceived Pharisaic theology before he could understand or trust Jesus as the Revealer of God. Nicodemus thus stands as the representative Pharisee who is kindly disposed toward Jesus, and yet is hindered by the wealth of his own theology from finding a place for Him. He is the teacher who is blinded by his own knowledge. The light that is in him is darkness. Nicodemus was a sincere seeker after the truth, and Jesus treated him with consideration, as He does all scholars who make their way to Him. There is to-day many a scholar who has lost his way, and is unable to find God. I often think of Geo. J. Romanes as a modern Nicodemus, who fought his way out of doubt and darkness into light, truth, and peace.

It is probably nearly a year later that in Capernaum, at the feast of Levi, Jesus said to the Pharisees who criticised His affiliation with publicans and sinners: 'But go ye and learn what this meaneth, I desire mercy and not sacrifice; for I came not to call the righteous, but sinners' (Matt 9:13). Here Jesus charges the rabbis with ignorance of Hosea 6:6, a keen rebuke for the recognised preachers of the day. The 'go ye and learn' (poreuthentes mathete) was a common formula with the rabbis (Plummer on Matt. ix. 13), and the use of it by Jesus as a rabbi to rabbis has additional force and even sting. The Pharisees had built up this system of ceremonial ritualism, because of ignorance of the inner spiritual teaching of the Old Testament itself. Lake(5) declines to see any irony in Christ's description of the Pharisees as the righteous, but, as we have already seen, Lake limits the horizon of Jesus to His theological environment.

In Luke 5:39 Jesus gives a parable that helps to explain the obscurantism of the Pharisees, and their reluctance to accept the new theology of Jesus: 'And no man having drunk old wine desireth new: for he saith, The old is good.'(6) Wetstein curiously misunderstood the parable and took the Pharisaic austerity to be the new wine, and the teaching of Jesus the old wine,(7) just the reverse of the fact. As Plummer (in loco) clearly shows, it is not here the relative merits of the old wine and the new, but the taste for them that is under discussion. From the Pharisaic standpoint theirs is the old wine and the teaching of Jesus is the new wine. They not only prefer the old or 'good' (chrestos, tried and known), but they will not even investigate the merits of the new, which has no attraction for them at all. Jesus thus clearly understands the Pharisaic attitude toward His revolutionary teaching of a spiritual religion free from the bondage of rite and ceremony. Their minds are closed to His teaching, and they will not even investigate the matter as Nicodemus did. They refuse to consider the proposition that Jesus may be right and the Pharisees wrong. The case is prejudiced and closed to argument.

In Mark 3:5 we have a vivid picture of the emotion of Jesus over the growing hostility of the Pharisees toward Him: 'And when He had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved at the hardening of their hearts.' Mark has five instances of this 'quick, searching glance' of Jesus round the circle (peri- of His friends or His enemies (Swete in loco), due probably to Peter's memory of the scenes. One of the looks at Peter cut him to the heart, and he went out and wept bitterly. The countenance of Jesus spoke volumes to those who saw Him.(8) The look of Jesus here was with anger, but it was not vindictive (Gould in loco), but anger tempered with grief (Swete). The sorrow (sunlupoumenos) here is Christ's own misery over the hardness of heart of the Pharisees. 'The look was momentary, the sorrow habitual' (Swete). The Pharisees are now grown callous (porosis. Cf. the state of the heathen in Eph 4:18) as is shown directly by the plot with the Herodians to kill Him. Jesus did not express His look in words, nor did the Pharisees accept His challenge about the relative value of a man and a sheep. Instead, Jesus made the man stretch forth his withered hand. But the atmosphere of hostility was electric, and the tension was all the greater because no debate came. The Pharisees had looked their hate (pareterounto, were watching Him, Luke 6:7) and Jesus in return had looked His anger

One of the severest indictments of the Pharisees for spiritual blindness occurs in the defence of Jesus for the extended use of parables (Matt 13:13-17; Mark 4:12; Luke 8:10). It is after the blasphemous accusations and the disciples question Jesus about it: 'Why speakest thou unto them in parables?' (Matt 13:10). Jesus says: 'Therefore speak I to them in parables; because seeing they see not, and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.' He had just said that it was given to the believers to understand the mystery of the kindgom (Mark 4:11), but His enemies no longer deserved the plain presentation of the message. The use of parables was for them a just penalty for their intellectual dullness and hardness of heart. In Mark and Luke the use of 'that' (ina) rather than 'because' (oti) has been urged as proof that Jesus purposely concealed the knowledge that He was the Messiah,(9) but the Greek particle (ina) is sometimes used in the Koine for result. Still, the language of Isaiah quoted in Matthew 13:15 is negative purpose, 'lest haply they should perceive with their eyes, and understand with their hearts.' At any rate, in Matthew 13:14 Jesus interprets Isaiah 6:9, 10, as fulfilled (anapleroutai autois, filling up full for them) in the case of the Pharisees. They were undergoing spiritual atrophy, so that they could not hear or see or understand. They were losing connection with the spiritual world. One of the new discoveries in optics is that the eye may function properly enough, but no image may be conveyed to the brain, because the special brain cell which keeps the record of like impressions has suddenly given way. One may be perfectly normal and rational about all else, and yet not be able to read at all, though seeing everything clearly enough except the letters of the alphabet, which are blurred into vacancy. In such cases, one has to begin all over again and learn his alphabet. This is the charge that Jesus here makes against the Pharisees. They have lost the gift of spiritual sight or insight into spiritual things. Jesus speaks to them in an unknown tongue. They have lost the use of the ear, eye and heart. This is the law of nature and of grace. The failure to use an organ leads to the loss of the organ. The proper use of the organ develops the organ and enriches the user. The Pharisees were the heirs of the past, and had the privilege of witnessing the Messianic times which prophets of old (Moses, Isaiah, Micah) had desired to see (Matt 13:17). And now, alas! the Pharisees stare at the wondrous sight with wide-open blind eyes, and the message of Jesus the Messiah falls upon ears deadened and dulled to the sweetest of all sounds. Their hearts are tough like the tanned hide of an animal no longer sensitive to life and truth. What a pitiful description! The Psalms of Solomon (a Pharisaic book) had said: 'Blessed are they that shall be born in those days, to behold the blessings of Israel' (17:50). If the words of Jesus sound hard and pitiless, it must be noted that He is speaking as an interpreter of facts. The Pharisees had made their choice, and Jesus must go on with His task.

When Jesus denounced the Pharisees for making void the word of God by their tradition, the disciples, after they had gone into the house (Mark 7:17), said: 'Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended (caused to stumble, eskandalisthesan) when they heard this saying?' (Matt 15:12). Evidently the Pharisees winced under the burning words of Jesus, and the disciples felt that Jesus had gone too far on this occasion. But Jesus justified His conduct by saying: 'Let them alone: they are blind guides. And if the blind guide the blind, both shall fall into the pit' (Matt 15:14). It is probably a proverb (cf. Romans 2:19) and paints the Pharisees in an unforgettable picture. A peasant of Galilee once said to Rabbi Chasda(10): 'When the Shepherd is angry with the sheep, he blinds their leaders.' It is well known that sheep will follow the leader blindly over the cliff to death.

The Pharisees are pictured by Jesus as blindly leading the blind into the pit. No sadder word can be spoken of those who pose as guides of light and truth. I once met two blind men in Cincinnati. One was a citizen there, and said that he was taking the other one around, to show him the city. It was more sad than humorous. On another occasion Jesus sadly said: 'For judgment came I into this world, that they that see may not see; and that they that see may become blind' (John 9:39). This almost bitter word is recorded after the feast of tabernacles, only six months before the end, when the man born blind, healed by Jesus and cast out of the synagogue by the Pharisees, had his spiritual eyes opened also. 'Those of the Pharisees who were with him heard these things, and said unto him, Are we also blind?' (John 9:40). They saw the point in the piercing words of Jesus, and understood that He meant to portray their spiritual blindness. There is a difference between having eyes and not using them, and having no eyes to use (Westcott in loco). The Pharisees were the shining example of wasted spiritual privilege. They had become blind by the non-use of their eyes. Jesus sorrowfully added: 'If ye were blind' (blind to start with, without responsible gifts of mind and heart), 'ye would have no sin, but now ye say, We see: your sin remaineth.' The Pharisees claimed to have superior spiritual perceptions, and could not claim immunity on the score of lack of eyes and minds.

The Pharisees asserted the right to dictate to Jesus how He should make good His claim to be the Messiah by giving them a sign from heaven (Matt 16:1; Mark 8:11). The answer of Jesus is partly ironical, but at bottom very sad, for 'he sighed deeply in his spirit' (Mark 8:12). People usually profess wisdom about the weather in their section of the country. Some of the weather-wise gain respect because of the number of signs for the weather which they have. The one mentioned by Jesus is well-nigh universal and is a true sign, the difference between the redness of the sky in the evening and in the morning. Jesus finds no fault with this knowledge of the weather, but with the dullness of the Pharisees about the Messianic era. 'Ye know how to discern the face of the heaven; but ye cannot discern the signs of the times' (Matt 16:3). The Pharisees failed as interpreters of religion and life. They were helpless to understand what went on before their very eyes because it did not correspond with their preconceptions. To-day the blight of medievalism rests like mildew upon some ministers' minds, who cannot read the Word of God in the light of the present. On the other hand, some Modernists brush Jesus aside, as Himself out of touch with reality, and claim to have the vital spark of spiritual truth independent of Christ and the gospel message. It has always been difficult to read the signs of the times. The prophet sees beyond his age, and lashes his age into action to come up to his ideal of the future. His age slays him and the coming age builds him a monument. Jesus is here the prophet, and the Pharisees do not understand His dialect.

In Luke 11:52-54 we have a dramatic picture of the conduct of the lawyers (nomikoi) who took up the cudgels in defence of the Pharisees: 'Master, in saying this thou reproachest us also' (kai emas ubrizeis, thou insultest even us), for the lawyers were the better instructed among the Pharisees (Plummer in loco). The last of the three woes for the lawyers (perfectly impartial as to number) is this: 'Woe unto you lawyers! for ye took away the key of knowledge; ye entered not in yourselves, and those that were entering in ye hindered.' This is a fearful indictment of the scribes, who were the interpreters of Scripture and of the way of salvation, but who themselves were on the outside of the house of spiritual knowledge, had lost the key to open it, and would not let others find it. The picture of Jesus drawn in the Talmud justifies this charge. Not simply are the scribes blind themselves, but they endeavour to keep others blind also. 'For ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burden with one of your fingers' (Luke 2:46). The lawyers had made the ceremonial and moral law far more burdensome than it was intended to be by their 'intolerably burdensome interpretations' (Plummer). The record in the Talmud more than proves this indictment. Some modern lawyers are in the employ of men who pay the lawyers to show them how to evade the law. These lawyers were skilful both in addition of burdens for others, and in evasion for themselves. The best instructed of the Pharisees in Jewish legal lore show the utmost density of spiritual insight. So exasperated are this group of scribes and Pharisees, that outside the house they 'began to press upon him vehemently, and to provoke him to speak of many things; laying wait for him (like a wild animal) to catch something out of his mouth' (Luke 11:64).


2. Formalism (Matt 5:17-6:18; Luke 11:37-54, Luke 18:1-14)

One of the purposes of the Sermon on the Mount was precisely to show the difference between Christ's idea of righteousness, and that of the scribes and Pharisees, the religious teachers of the Jews. Many books have been written on this sermon, which has not always been understood. It is not a complete statement of all that Jesus preached, but it does set forth in clear outline the fundamental differences between Jesus and the rabbis. Jesus placed the emphasis on the inward reality; the rabbis on the outward form. With Jesus spirit is the determining factor; with the Pharisees it is the letter of the law, or rather their interpretation of the law, which is more binding than the law itself. Jesus puts God's kingdom before righteousness (Matt 6:33); the rabbis place righteousness before the kingdom. The Beatitudes depict the spiritual state of those who with a new heart are endeavouring to live the life of goodness with divine help and with inward joy. The 'woes' in Luke 6:24-26 describe the self-satisfied Pharisees who love money and praise and power, the very opposite traits. Both Jesus and the rabbis appeal to the Old Testament, but Jesus seizes the moral content and intent, and lifts the ethical standard higher by going into the purposes of the heart, while the rabbis were busy with innuendoes and petty punctilios of the fringes of morality. Jesus reaffirms the moral force of the law and the prophets as interpreted by Him; but scouts the flimsy peccadillos of the Pharisees: 'For I say unto you, that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and the Pharisees, ye shall in no wise enter the kingdom of heaven' (Matt 5:20). Did Jesus prove this daring arraignment? He pointedly states that the Pharisees' standard of righteousness falls short of that required for the kingdom of heaven. He does not say that the rabbis taught no true things. This they did, as can be easily seen from the Pharisaic apocalypses and the Talmud and the Midrash. There are grains of wheat in this chaff in varying quantities. The best of the Jewish non-canonical books, The Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs, was neglected by the Pharisees. If the Pharisaic conception of righteousness can be properly judged by the Talmud, the charge of Jesus is amply proven. Jesus gives the proof Himself in detail as reported by Matthew. I may say at once that I hold to the essential unity of this sermon. The proof given by Jesus applies both to the ideal and the life. Plummer is clearly correct in saying that Jesus is not referring to 'the hypocritical professions of the scribes and Pharisees; nor to their sophistical evasions of the Law.' He is challenging the inadequacy of the best that the Pharisees offered to men, even those who kept closest to the Old Testament itself. For even here they were content with scrupulous observances of the letter of the law. The six illustrations (Matt 5:21-48) used by Jesus to show the superiority of His ideal over that of the Pharisees all get their point from the fact that Jesus is not satisfied with the mere external obedience to the Old Testament requirement about murder, adultery, divorce, oaths, retaliation, neighbours and enemies. Indeed, the ideal of Jesus on these points is considered too high and even impracticable by some modern reformers. Perhaps in the nonresistance argument Jesus has the Zealots in mind, and is opposing violence toward Rome; but even so one needs clear spiritual conceptions to be able to apply this loftiest of all ethical standards to avoid the absurdities of Tolstoi. The conscience of the world approves what Jesus said, but the world hesitates on the brink of the application, or, alas! flings it all to the wind in the mad whirl of war. But Jesus warned His hearers against the Pharisaic practice, as well as against their teaching about righteousness. Jesus is not ridiculing righteousness (dikaiosune). Far from it. The rather He uses it as the synonym for the highest good (summum bonum) of the ancients.(11) The phrase 'do righteousness' is common enough (Psa 106:3; Isa 58:2) and is used by Jesus, in the sense of practical goodness (cf. the Epistle of James). But the Pharisees vitiate the whole matter, not merely by wrong teaching and evasive subtleties, but by doing righteous acts to be seen of men, to have glory of men. They not merely did these things to gain favour with God as opera operata, but to increase their reputation for piety with men. Jesus selects alms, prayer and fasting as typical instances of this hollow mockery and formalism. It is a bit curious that far back in Tobit xii. 8 we read: 'Prayer is good with fasting and alms and righteousness.' The Pharisees as a class have come to be mere formalists in religious life, as they were sticklers for the letter of the law. The picture here drawn by Jesus is in a way the most severe because it applies to the great mass of the scribes and Pharisees, and is drawn on a large canvas. The insinuation in John 8:32, that the Pharisees are spiritual slaves and need to be set free by the truth that Jesus preaches, angers them very much. They are not merely the slaves of their own rules, but they are in the bondage of sin. Jesus insisted that even the Pharisees, the so-called righteous class, were the bondservants of sin. 'If therefore the Son shall make you free ye shall be free indeed' (John 8:36).

A long time after this Jesus bluntly said to the Pharisees who marvelled that he had not washed before dinner: 'Now do ye Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the platter; but your inward part is full of extortion and wickednes' (Luke 11:39). It is well to have the outside of the cup clean. Certainly a cup dirty outside is not attractive. The language is difficult and is variously interpreted, but the most natural way is to take the second part of the sentence as the direct application of the figure of the cup or platter. The Pharisee cared much that Jesus had not bathed His hands before the breakfast, but he was unconcerned about the condition of his own heart. Proper form and etiquette are not to be despised, but the Pharisees 'pass over (parerchesthe) judgment and the love of God.' The anxiety for scrubbing the pot clean on the outside has led to absolute neglect of the inside, where the food is which is eaten and which does the real harm. This food is full of deadly germs (extortion and wickedness). One result of this stickling for the formalities is the immediate vanity that insists on 'the chief seats in the synagogue, and the salutations in the market-places' (Luke 11:43), a point in social etiquette which is strong in those anxious to have their place and prestige recognised.(12) At another breakfast with a Pharisee Jesus 'marked how they chose out the chief seats' (Luke 14:7). It was so noticeable that Jesus fixed (epechon) His attention on it, and spoke a parable about the embarrassment of such a custom. If three reclined on a couch, the worthiest had the centre, the next the left, and the third the right (Edersheim, Life and Times, vol. ii. pp. 207, 494). This emptiness of reality makes the Pharisees like 'the tombs which appear not, and the men that walk over them know it not.' Certainly this 'woe' is pronounced with the utmost sadness of heart on the part of Jesus.

At another time 'The Pharisees who were lovers of money' 'scoffed at' Jesus (exemukterizon, turned the nose out at, Luke 16:14), because of the parable of the unjust steward. Jesus noticed the scoffing and said: 'Ye are they that justify yourselves in the sight of men; but God knoweth your heart: for that which is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God' (16:15). This justification (dikaiountes; cf. dikaiosune) 'in the sight of men' (enopion ton anthropon) is what the Pharisees cared most about. In a word, they prefer reputation to character. They had rather stand well in the eye of men than in the eye of God. But God knows (ginoskei, as if by experience) the hearts of men, and reads beneath the formalism the facts of the case concerning the inner life. What is 'high' (upselon) with men may be 'abomination' (bdelugma) with God. We know that money counts more than morals with the average man. Even in business men act on the principle that might makes right. Politics is a realm from which preachers and pious people are often excluded. They do not know how to be practical politicians.

The formalism of the Pharisee is graphically presented in the immortal parable of the Pharisee and the publican engaged in prayer in the temple. The Pharisees trusted in themselves that they were righteous (Luke 18:9). They were the standard of righteousness in theory and conduct, and even the judges of their own community. This complacency of some Pharisees is commented on in the Talmud, on the part of those 'who implore you to mention some more duties which they might perform.' So far as they are aware they have 'done' all the performances required by the Pharisaic rules. They stand ready to do more if they can be pointed out. This Pharisee 'stood and prayed thus with himself' (pros eauton) as Jesus almost facetiously pictures him. He addresses God, to be sure, but his gratitude is not concerning the goodness of God, but concerning his own superiority to 'the rest of men,' as, for instance, 'this publican.' He not simply had an exorbitant estimate of his own righteousness, but he 'set at naught' (exouthenountas tous loipous), treated the rest as nothing. The inevitable result of mere formalism is spiritual pride. The constant effort to reach the low standard of outward observance easily ministers to pride of performance. Hence vanity and conceit, constant demons in the path of preachers, beset the Pharisees with great success. They acquired an ecclesiastical pose, not to say tone, and expected to be greeted with due formality as 'rabbi' (Matt 23:18). And yet it must be said in defence of this rabbi that his claim to be moral was probably correct. Some of the rabbis described in the Talmud were men of unclean life. But, alas! the Christian ministry is not able to throw stones on this subject, when the long centuries are counted. Thackeray in The Virginians dares to say: 'A hundred years ago the Abbe Parson, the clergyman who frequented the theatre, the tavern, the race course, the world of fashion, was no uncommon character in English society.' The Pharisees at any rate pretended to a holy life, and often attained it in externals. They had their spiritual fashions for phylacteries and for fringes on their garments (Matt 23:5), and were punctilious to appear at street corners, market-places, synagogues, feasts, and other public places 'to be seen of men.' They found joy in this constant appearance before the public eye. They had no daily papers or press agencies to keep them before the public, but they managed to be their own publicity bureau.


3. Prejudice (John 5:40; Matt 11:16-19; Luke 7:29-35)

The charge of prejudice against Jesus is implied all through the long conflict with the Pharisees. They have prejudiced the case against Him. This attitude of the Pharisees has been specifically proven in the preceding chapter. Here it is only necessary to mention two or three words of Jesus on the subject. In John 5:39, Jesus commends the Pharisees for searching the Scriptures (eraunate, indicative), but adds: 'and ye will not come to me, that ye may have life' (kai ou thelete elthein pros me). They are not willing to obtain life at the hands of Jesus. He is to the Pharisees persona non grata and Jesus knows it. The will is set against Him and His message. It is a closed circuit. One may compare John 7:17: 'If any man willeth to do his will, he shall know of the teaching.' The Pharisees were prejudiced against both John the Baptist and Jesus. It is not absolutely certain that in Luke 7:29-30 we have the commandment of Jesus rather than a parenthetical note of the Evangelist. Certainly it is very unusual to have such an interpolation right in the midst of the discourse of Jesus. We do have appended notes of the Evangelists added at the close of Christ's addresses. I agree therefore with Plummer, that here we have the contrast of the effect of John's preaching upon the people and upon the hierarchy, the contrast drawn by Jesus Himself. 'All the people when they heard, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John.' They 'admitted the righteousness of God' (Plummer, edikaiosan ton theon) in making this demand upon them, in treating them practically as heathen. The baptism was accepted in this spirit. 'But the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected for themselves the counsel of God, being not baptized of him.' They set aside as null and void so far as they were concerned (ethetesan eis eautous), as not applying to them, since they were the recognised righteous class in the nation (hoi dikaioi as opposed to hoi amartoloi). Hence they refused baptism at John's hands, and were denounced by John for coming to his baptism in that spirit (Matt 3:7). As it was with John, so it is with Jesus, who now draws the parallel between the conduct of the Pharisees toward John and Himself. The point of the parallel is the bitter spirit of the Pharisees and lawyers (scribes) toward both John and Jesus, although these two preachers are so different in the very points of the criticism. The Pharisees found fault with John for being too abstemious He fasted, it is true, but he was too abnormal about it, and did not conform to the regulated fast days of the Pharisees, though some of his disciples did (Mark 2:18). Hence the Pharisees ascribed John's ascetic mode of life in the desert to the influence of a demon (M'Neile, on Matt 11:18). John was too peculiar for any use, and did not eat the ordinary food of the Pharisees. But Jesus was not a denizen of the desert. He moved in the common life of the people and ate their food. Therefore Jesus is 'a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners' (Matt 11:19; Luke 7:34). Jesus is thus too much like folks as John is too unlike them. So to-day the preacher is between the upper and the nether millstone of criticism. He is criticised if he does; he is criticised if he does not. The charge that Jesus was a friend of publicans and sinners is true, and Jesus took it as a compliment and justified His conduct in that regard, as we know. The point about being a winebibber and glutton is a gross exaggeration, and is mentioned by Jesus as showing the spirit of His enemies toward Him. 'They doubt whether John is a prophet, and they are convinced that Jesus is not the Messiah, because neither conforms to their preconceived ideas' (Plummer, on Matt. xi. 16-19). They are not willing for either John or Jesus to be himself and let his own individuality count for what it is worth. Rather they wish John to play at dancing, and Jesus to play at mourning at a funeral. Like sullen children in a game they pout when they cannot have their way with each detail of the game. Later the Pharisees will charge Jesus with having a demon (John 7:20, 8:48, 10:20). There is nothing quite so hard to overcome as this prejudice due to fixed preconceptions. As the Pharisees saw it, Jesus was weighed in the balances and found wanting. But Jesus rejoices in the fact that wisdom is justified by her works (erga, Matt) or by her children (tekna, Luke). After all, that is what matters, and Jesus shows His independence of Pharisaic criticism, and His determination to pursue His road to the end. He is not deaf to what they say, but He discounts it. They have become like common scolds, and it is impossible to conform to their whims and foibles, which vary with the days. The thing that does not change is their settled antipathy to any doctrine or rule of life that does not square in every petty detail with their own. It is possible for a modern church to fall into this Pharisaic groove in dealing with different pastors. Certainly the minister who sets out to please the world will find the world fickle as a flirt. The picture of the Pharisees as the elder brother (Luke 15:25-32) who is angry at the reception given the returning prodigal is not a caricature. They not only limited the love and the grace of God to the Jews (or proselytes from the Gentiles), but to those among the Jews who followed the narrow path marked out for them by the rabbis in the oral law. This attitude amounts to a 'legalistic perversion of religion in Judaism' (Scott, Hastings' D.C.G). They were jealous and angry at Jesus for preaching to the poor and outcast. They are in a petty pout of prejudice because He does not confine His message to their social and religious castes.


4. Traditionalism (Matt 15:1-20; Mark 7:1-23)

This criticism of the Pharisees by Jesus is involved in many of the incidents already discussed under the sections on spiritual blindness and formalism. But on one occasion this specific charge comes to the front in Christ's reply to the attack of the Pharisees for allowing the disciples to eat with unwashed hands. This attack was discussed in the preceding chapter, but the defence of Jesus takes the turn of a sharp counter attack, and it is just this phase of the matter with which we are here concerned. The Pharisees demand of Jesus: 'Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders?' (Mark 7:5). Thus the whole question of the Midrash or oral law is raised for discussion. Jesus does not evade it. On the contrary, He seems to welcome the opportunity to show how the scribes and Pharisees actually set their oral law above the written law of the Old Testament. This is precisely the position of the rabbis in the Talmud, as we have shown. The charge of Jesus therefore is not an exaggeration. 'Ye leave the commandment of God and hold fast the tradition of men' (Mark 7:8). They are tenacious (krateite) of tradition and careless of God's word. Jesus accuses the rabbis of placing the Halachah above the Torah, as the Talmud plainly does. 'To be against the word of the scribes is more punishable than to be against the word of the Bible.'(13) 'The voice of the rabbi is as the voice of God.'(14) 'He who transgresses the word of the scribes throws away his life.'(15) Swete (on Mark vii. 8) doubts if the rabbis made this claim openly in Christ's time. We have no means of knowing how soon they put this contention into words. Clearly they were guilty of doing the thing in reality, for later it is an accepted doctrine with them. Matthew (15:6) reports Jesus as saying: 'And ye have made void the word of God because of your tradition.' Some of the MSS. read 'law' (nomos) here rather than 'word' (logos), but the point is not material, since the antithesis is clearly between the oral teaching and the written law (Torah). The word for 'make void' (ekurosate) is the usual one for annulling a legal enactment. So we have it in Psalm 118 (119) 126: 'They annulled thy law.' The Pharisees are charged with deliberate defiance of the law of God, because they prefer the traditions of men, as Isaiah 29:13 has well said (kalos, a beautiful illustration of what Isaiah prophesied). It is with the keenest irony that Jesus continues: 'Full well do ye reject the commandment of God that ye may keep your traditions' (Mark 7:9). Swete (on Mark in loco) makes 'full well' (kalos) 'in part ironical.' To me it is wholly so here. Irony is a dangerous weapon, for the delicate edge is easily turned on a dull surface. Surely even the Pharisees on this occasion felt its keen point. At any rate the illustration of 'corban' used by Jesus makes it perfectly plain. This is a Marcan Aramaism.(16) Corban (קׇרְבׇּן)=gift (doron). It is a consecrated gift. 'The scribes held that the mere act of declaring any property to be corban, alienated it from the service of the person addressed' (Swete, in loco). It is not perfectly clear whether, in the instance cited by Jesus, the son actually dedicated his property to God in haste, and was not allowed by the scribes to use it for the support of his needy parents, or whether he merely pretended to dedicate it while really keeping it for his own use (a more flagrant act, to be sure). But in either case, the point in the illustration is, that the Pharisees and scribes justified the son in his evasion of responsibility for the support of his parents, because he had taken advantage of one of the technicalities of the oral law. They cared more for the strict observance of their rules about 'corban' than they did about the support and welfare of the son's father and mother. So now the Pharisees had criticised the disciples for eating with unwashed hands. 'Rigid scrupulosity about things of little moment may be accompanied with utterly unscrupulous conduct in matters that are vital' (Plummer, Matt. in loco). This is merely one illustration. 'Many such like things ye do' (Mark 7:13). The tautology (paromoia toiauta is effective. Jesus considered the matter so vital that He called the multitude to Him (Matt 15:10; Mark 7:14), probably as the Pharisees withdrew in utter defeat and inability to reply to this exposure of the inherent defect in their teaching. Jesus makes an appeal for attention: 'Hear me all of you and understand' (Mark 7:14). He announces what seems to us almost a platitude, so used have we become to the conception of Jesus, but to the Pharisees it was absolutely revolutionary. The startling statement is to the effect that defilement is what comes out of the heart, not what goes into the mouth. Jesus means, of course, moral and spiritual defilement, not sanitary rules of health. The Pharisees had made their ceremonial rules of diet a matter of spiritual life and death. The disciples themselves are astounded at this amazing and un-Jewish doctrine from the Master, and question Him about it privately in the house (Matt 15:12; Mark 7:17). Jesus expresses amazement at their dullness of comprehension, and explains the parable in plain language (Matt 15:16-19). The power of tradition over men is tremendous in all ages. Jesus went up against the most immovable mass of it in human history. We use the terms 'schoolman' and 'medievalism' for the hair-splitting perversions of Christianity in the Middle Ages. But these men at least had glimpses of the spirit of Christ, a thing that cannot be said of the Pharisaic contention for tradition.


5. Hypocrisy (Matt 6:2-7, Matt 5:15-22; Luke 7:39-45; Matt 15:7-9; Matt 16:5-12; Luke 13:15-17; Matt 23:13-39)

There is no dispute as to the hypocrisy of some of the Pharisees. We have already seen that six of the seven varieties of Pharisees portrayed in the Talmud by the rabbis are described as hypocrites. John the Baptist used the term 'offspring of vipers' (Matt 3:7; Luke 3:7) afterwards employed by Jesus also (Matt 12:34). These severe terms may be subject to some qualifications. In the Talmud the six varieties are caricatures of the true Pharisees. In the Gospels the Pharisees as a class are arraigned as hypocrites, though we are not to understand that Jesus admits no exceptions. There were exceptions beyond a doubt, but we cannot soften down the words of Jesus to mean that only a few Pharisees were hypocrites, and that the great mass of Pharisees were acceptable to God. Jesus cannot be made to say that Pharisaism was the true exponent of the Old Testament or the adequate manifestation of the will of God for holy living. To be sure, the term hypocrite (hypokrites) does not necessarily always carry the worst meaning of the word. Matthew is fondest of the word and has it fifteen times, while in Mark it occurs once, and in Luke four times. It was used originally of an interpreter of riddles or dreams, the reply of the oracle. The Attic usage applied the term to actors on the stage, who merely acted a part and recited the piece. It was but a step from this to one not on the stage, who pretended to be what he was not. The actors sometimes wore masks (cf. Mardi Gras to-day). Demosthenes (Cor. 321, 18) uses the verb for 'pretend' and Polybius (xxxv. 2) has the same sinister force. In the Septuagint text of Job we have it also (xxxiv. 30; xxxvi. 13). In Psalm of Solomon iv. 7, the Sadducees are accused of hypocrisy because of their Hellenising tendencies. It is open to us to say that the Pharisees who are designated hypocrites by Jesus were not always conscious that they were acting a part or were purposely pretending to be what they knew to be untrue about themselves. This distinction would inevitably exist. Jesus apparently applied the word to the Pharisees in both senses. In some instances it was all a hollow mockery, an empty shell; in others, the Pharisees are pointedly pictured as posing for the purpose of creating a false impression about themselves. This is the obvious implication of the words 'to be seen' (pros to theathenai, purpose, not result) the first time that we meet the charge in the Gospels (Matt 6:1, 2). The ostentatious piety of the Pharisees about giving alms, prayer, and fasting, is ridiculed by Jesus, with a touch of humour that bites like sarcasm. The picture of the Pharisee blowing a trumpet to attract attention to his gifts may be drawn from life or not. We do not know, though Cyril of Alexandria states that it was a Jewish custom to summon the poor by trumpet to receive alms, much as hogs on the farm are 'called' by the farmer to the trough, or children by the housewife. M'Neile (in loco) thinks that the trumpet was used in times of drought for public prayer and fasting. But the whole picture is comical in the extreme when we see the pious rabbi taking a stand at the street corner and praying with long and vain repetitions, so that the passers-by may see him praying. It is positively grotesque when we think of the disfigurement of the face(17) and the assumption of a sad countenance (skuthropoi 'that they may be seen of men to fast' (Matt 6:16). One is entitled to think that Jesus said these words with something of a twinkle in his own eyes, and that the people saw the palpable justice of the humour. To be sure, in a way many people were imposed upon by this procedure, and rated their rabbis high for their pretentious and punctilious piety. 'They have their reward' in full here (apechousin ton misthon).

In the papyri and ostraca this word (apoche) is used of a receipt in full(18) for a debt. The Pharisees do get glory from men by the exercise of their hypocrisy, but they do not deceive God, who knows the motive in the gift, the prayer, the fasting. Hence Jesus urged secrecy in prayer. We need public gifts, public prayer, and public fasting at times, but these exercises easily become perfunctory and meaningless, and even evil in motive. Plummer (Matt. in loco) warns Christians against the easy peril of hypocrisy to-day when the papers and magazines give ready publicity to the gifts of church members, and easily stimulate false pride and love of praise. The Christian gets his recompense, but not necessarily in public. After all, the chief reward for being good is just goodness and the privilege of becoming better.

Jesus does not apply the term hypocrite to the 'evil eye' (ophthalmos ponoros) as opposed to the 'single eye' (aplous ophthalmos). Here avarice is the Pharisaic vice that is condemned, but it is entirely possible that this logion has a backward look at the treasure laid up on earth (mammon), which is diligently watched with one eye, while the other is piously rolled up to God in heaven. 'Ye cannot serve God and mammon' (Matt 6:25), whether one is cross-eyed or cock-eyed. M'Neile separates these logia, but Jesus seems to blend them in Matthew's report. At any rate, Jesus does say 'thou hypocrite' to the captious critic who is quick to see the mote or splinter or speck (to karphos) in the eye of his brother while he has a long stick or beam (dokon) in his own eye, of which he seems blissfully unconscious (Matt 7:3-5; Luke 6:41f). This oriental hyperbole is meant to be a reductio ad absurdum of the censorious spirit, whether in Pharisee or in others. The Pharisees had acted toward Jesus in precisely this spirit. The saying is probably a proverb which Jesus has seized and used for his purpose. It is like our 'People in glass houses ought not to throw stones.' Rabbi Tarphon is quoted as using this proverb to prove that men of his day (about 100 A.D.) could not take reproof. If one said: 'Cast the mote out of thine eye,' the one addressed would answer: 'Cast the beam out of thine eye' (Erach., 16b). But M'Neile (Matt 7:3) thinks that 'this was probably an attack on the N. T. words.'

Toward the close of the Sermon on the Mount Jesus warns His hearers against 'false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves' (Matt 7:15). These 'false prophets' (pseudoprophetai) 'can hardly refer to anything but scribes and Pharisees' (Plummer in loco), though the saying is true in a much wider application. False Christian prophets did appear at a later time, false teachers (2 Peter), even false apostles (2 Cor 11:13), and false Christs. There had been false prophets in the Old Testament times (Zech 13:2). These hypocrites look like sheep and pass as sheep till they turn and rend the sheep, 'ravening wolves' (lukoi arpages) as they really are. The use of wolf for the enemy of the flock is common in the Old Testament (Eze 22:27; Zeph 3:3). At a later time in the allegory of the Good Shepherd (John 10:1-21), Jesus will term the Pharisees thieves and robbers, because they steal and kill and destroy and do not defend the sheep against the wolves. The Pharisees winced under these words, and some of them said that He had a demon and was mad.

In the retort of Jesus against the charge of the Pharisees that the disciples had sinned because they ate with unwashed hands, Jesus branded the Pharisees as hypocrites at the very outset: 'Ye hypocrites' (Matt 15:7); 'you the hypocrites' (Mark 7:6). Jesus proved the charge of hypocrisy in this instance by applying to the Pharisees the words of Isaiah 29:13: 'This people honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain do they worship me, teaching as their doctrines the precepts of men.' The tortuous use of corban, already explained, illustrated well the Pharisaic hypocrisy. The scribes and Pharisees were guilty of placing ablutions before love, technicalities before equity, the ceremonial before the moral, law before life.

When Jesus warned the disciples against 'the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees' (Matt 16:6), 'the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod' (Mark 8:15), they exhibited a surprising obtuseness of intellectual apprehension. Accustomed as Jesus was to the dullness of these gifted men in spiritual matters because of their difficulty in shaking themselves free from the Pharisaic environment and outlook, he yet expressed repeated amazement that they could not perceive this elementary parabolic turn till he explained that He meant 'the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees' (Matt 16:12). On this occasion the disciples might have been confused by the inclusion of Sadducees and Herod with the Pharisees. For the first time Jesus warns the disciples against the Sadducees. Here a political atmosphere (M'Neile) seems apparent. But in truth the puzzle of the disciples was over the simple use of leaven and literal bread. They rose to no metaphor at all. At a much later time Luke (12:1) quotes Jesus as saying to the disciples: 'Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.' Perhaps Jesus did not mean to say that the leaven of the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Herod was precisely the same kind of leaven. At any rate in Luke 12 He proceeds to show how useless hypocrisy is, for everything that is covered up shall be uncovered and made known. 'Whatsoever ye have said in the darkness shall be heard in the light' (Luke 12:3). Hypocrisy is folly and is unmasked at last (Plummer).

One has little difficulty in sharing the indignation of Jesus against the ruler of the synagogue, who pretended to rebuke the people while in reality censuring Jesus for healing the poor old hunch-backed woman on the Sabbath day in the synagogue (Luke 13:10-17). Under profession of zeal for the law he showed his real animus against Jesus the Healer (Plummer). Jesus turns upon this contemptible ecclesiastical cad(19) who had rather keep his little rules than save the poor old woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan had bound these eighteen years. The Master denounces all who shared the narrow view of the synagogue leader as 'ye hypocrites.' The rebuke was so effective that 'all his adversaries were put to shame' (kateschunonto), hung their heads down for very shame and could not say a word. They had at least a sense of shame left.

There are probably Christians who wish that Jesus had been more temperate in His language about the Pharisees, as He is reported in Matthew 23, or who even hope that the Evangelist has exaggerated, for dramatic reasons, the words of the meek and lowly Nazarene on this occasion. At least they will say that Jesus laboured under undue excitement and is not to be held to strict account for language uttered under such a nervous strain and in response to such severe criticism as He had undergone. We must face the facts of the case as they are. The extent of the discourse makes it impossible to say that we have only a momentary and unexpected outburst. We must seek a deeper justification for the violence and severity of this language if we accept it as a credible report of the words of Jesus. It is true that it is reported only by Matthew, but one suspects that it belonged to Q. At any rate, we have had already various terms used by Jesus about the Pharisees, quite on a par with those employed by Him here. It is rather the cumulative effect of the rolling thunder of Christ's wrath that makes one tremble, as if in the presence of a mighty storm of wind, thunder, and lightning. The storm has burst beyond a doubt. Let us first seek the reasons for its violence as seen in these seven woes upon the Pharisees. The psychology of this denunciation is simply the long strain of the attacks of the Pharisees upon Jesus, probably for three years, culminating in the series of assaults on this last Tuesday in the temple. Jesus had heretofore exposed the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, but after all His indignation was like a pent-up volcano that had to burst at last. The time had come for a full and final arraignment of the Pharisees, who far more than the Sadducees (with all due respect to Montefiore and others who have sought to push the odium upon the Sadducees) are responsible for the tragic culmination in Jerusalem. The Pharisees have hounded Jesus in Judea, Galilee, Perea, and now in Jerusalem. They are the wolves in sheep's clothing who must be exposed once for all. With the Gospel in one's hands, I do not see how it is possible to criticise Jesus for this fierce philippic against Pharisaism. It needed to be said.

We have various woes from Jesus already, as the four woes in connection with the four Beatitudes in Luke 6:24-26; the woes upon Bethsaida, Chorazin, and Capernanim (Matt 11:21-24); the three upon the Pharisees (Luke 11:42-44), and the three likewise upon the lawyers (Luke 11:46-52); and the woe upon the world because of occasions of stumbling (Matt 18:7). M'Neile is by no means sure that these seven woes in Matthew 23 were spoken on this occasion. Allen notes that the sayings in Luke 11 'are incorporated hi Matthew 23, but without distinction of audience, in a different order, and in different language,' proof, he holds, of a different written source for Matthew and Luke. One may ask if Jesus never repeated His sayings? Is it strange that He should describe Pharisees at different times and places in different language, but with the same substantial idea? Plummer suggests that, since the author of Matthew is so fond of the number seven, he has here made an artificial grouping of the seven woes for dramatic effect, like the sevenfold woe in Isaiah 5. Perhaps so, but one surely will not be considered uncritical if he holds that the discourse in Matthew 23 is too sedate and powerful for mere artificial compilation. Plummer admits: 'These seven woes are like thunder in their unanswerable severity, and like lightning in their unsparing exposure. They go direct to the mark, and they illuminate while they strike. And yet there is an undertone of sorrow, which makes itself heard when the storm is over.' The signs of life are here if anywhere in the Gospel of Matthew. The reporter may, to be sure, have balanced the various parts of the denunciation in literary fashion. Allen terms verses 13-32 'seven illustrations of Pharisaic "saying" and "not doing," under the charge in verse 3: "For they say and do not."' M'Neile holds that the first three woes deal with the teaching of the scribes (14-22, verse 13 spurious), the second three treat the life of the Pharisees (23-28), while the seventh and last is directed against the nation as a whole (29-33). With this Plummer agrees save that with him the seventh is transitional, treating somewhat both of the Pharisaic teaching and the Pharisaic character. One may note also that in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus arraigns the teaching of the scribes in chapter 5 and the conduct of the Pharisees in chapters 6-7. We have seen what the Pharisaic outlook was on doctrine and life. Here in burning words Jesus lays bare the fatal defects in both.

Let us examine the charge of hypocrisy in each woe. The first woe is the most severe of all, for the scribes and Pharisees are the religious teachers of the people who look to them for light and leading. They are charged with keeping the people out of the kingdom of heaven who are trying to enter in (tous eiserchomenous, conative participle). It is like sailors in a lifeboat who club away the drowning passengers in the sea who clamber up the sides of the boat. Only in this instance the scribes and Pharisees are not in the lifeboat, but drag down with them those who are trying to swim to shore. It is the travesty of ecclesiastical obscurantism. Luke (11:52) spoke of the key of knowledge that opened to the kingdom. Here it is the kingdom of heaven that is shut against men. A fragment of a Lost Gospel (Grenfell and Hunt, lines 41-46) has it: 'the key of the kingdom they hid,' and the marginal reading in Luke 11:52 is 'ye hid.' These so-called religious leaders 'hid' the key in order to keep the people in ignorance and death, the pefople who had shown a desire to find light and life in their enthusiasm for John the Baptist and for Jesus. The parallel is complete between this attitude and that of ecclesiastics in later ages who seek to keep the Bible away from the people in order to control the people by the priests. But other exponents of the kingdom are in peril of the same sin, when by their misinterpretations they hide the true meaning of the Scriptures from themselves and from the people.(20) It is obscurantism, not illumination. Their Light is darkness. The saddest part of it all is that for most people the door that is thus closed is finally shut.

The second woe grows out of the first and carries it a step further, but draws a sharp distinction between the kingdom of heaven and Pharisaism. The Pharisees claimed a monopoly of the kingdom of heaven, but Jesus has already described them as outside with the doors shut by themselves. One must not confuse Pharisaism with Judaism. There were many proselytes to Judaism, but few to Pharisaism. The Gentiles would not be able to respond easily to the refinements of Pharisaism. But the zeal of the Pharisees was 'to make one proselyte' to Pharisaism, not to Judaism.(21) They had poor success at it, but when they did win a Gentile, the result was lamentable. The zeal of new converts was seen in the double (diploteron) emphasis of the new Pharisee on all the externalities of Pharisaism. 'The more perverted,' alas! Jesus uses very harsh language here, 'twofold more a son of hell than yourselves.' It is Gehenna (uion geennes), not Hades. These preachers with their converts are pictured as heirs of hell, not of heaven.(22)

In the third woe (16-22) we miss the sonorous triplet, 'scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites.' M'Neile therefore argues for an independent group of sayings. The 'blind guides' (odegoi tuphloi) reminds us of Matthew 15:14. Plummer sees a more direct assault on the Pharisaic teaching, because of the specific charge of casuistry in the use of oaths (16-19), not legal oaths, but the use of common language in conversation. The Talmud (Kidd, 71a) speaks of oaths 'by the temple' and (Taanith 24a) 'by the temple service,' though this precise hair-splitting oath is not given. But it is of a piece with Pharisaism and is hardly mere caricature, to split a hair between the temple and the gold of the temple. In verses 20-22 the careless use of oaths is condemned. The temple is God's temple and God's throne is in heaven.

The fourth woe turns to Pharisaic scrupulosity in legal details of which the Talmud gives so many illustrations. The Pharisee had an abnormal sensitiveness about details in everyday life. These verses about legalism in daily (23-28) life correspond closely with the three woes to the Pharisees in Luke 11:39-44. The law of tithing was scriptural and explicit. All 'the seed of the land' and 'the fruit of the tree' was subject to tithes (Lev 27:30; Deut 14:22f), in particular the regular staple crops like wheat, wine, and oil. But the rabbis carried it to the minutest item. In the Talmud (Maaser i. 1) we read: 'Everything which is eatable, and is preserved, and has its nourishment from the soil, is liable to be tithed.' So also (Maaser iv. 5): 'Rabbi Eliezer said, Of dill must one tithe the seed, and the leaves, and the stalks.' These three herbs (mint, dill, cummin) were used for cooking, for flavouring, and for medicine. In Luke 11:42 Jesus says that the Pharisees tithe every herb. But Jesus does not complain at this scrupulosity with herbs. It was literalism, but not necessarily wrong. It is in the contrast that Jesus finds the hypocrisy. Coupled with this anxiety over legal niceties is a laxity about the weightier matters of the law (ta barutera tou nomou) like judgment (krisis, justice), mercy (eleos), and faith (pistis, fidelity), a noble triplet to offset the triplet of herbs. It is a common enough peril for lawyers, both civil and ecclesiastical, to cavil over technicalities. It is openly charged that American legal procedure more frequently goes astray here than the British, which cuts to the heart of the matter. Cases with us are sometimes remanded for another trial because the article 'the' is omitted. The Pharisees thus have no monopoly in this travesty of justice. These blind guides are ridiculed by Jesus in an oriental hyperbole. Both insects and camels were unclean, and so forbidden as food (Lev 11:4, 42f). No one enjoys swallowing gnats either in his water or alone. It is perfectly proper to strain them out (diulizontes, used of straining wine in Amos 6:6, 'through' or 'out,' not 'at,' a misprint in the A. V. for 'strain out' of Tyndale, Coverdale, Geneva), but the absurdity appears when these blind hypocrites are seen to gulp down (katapinontes) the camel (hump and all)! To be sure, no one supposes that a Pharisee actually performed this culinary feat, voracious as some of them were. The whole point lies in the grotesqueness of the illustration. Camel is simply used for anything large, as in Matthew 19:4, about the camel going through the eye of a needle. In the Klosterman-Gressman Commentary, it is suggested that we have a play on the word gamla (camel) and kamla for mosquito. But more to the point is the Talmudic saying (Jer. Shabb. 107): 'He that killed a flea on the Sabbath is as guilty as if he killed a camel.' The camel was the most familiar large animal. Surely the people would be unable to restrain their laughter at this palpable hit at Pharisaic inconsistencies which were plain to everybody else.

The fifth woe (23:25-26) is merely another form of the same rebuke, according to M'Neile, viz., that externals are valueless if important internal matters are neglected. But Plummer rightly sees a much more serious charge, since the tithing was legal, while the cleansing of the cups was mere tradition. This matter has been touched upon already, and need detain us only for a moment more. A certain amount of concern for clean cups and plates is certainly praiseworthy, but not if it is accompanied by heedlessness as to the way the contents of the cup and platter were obtained. 'But within they are full from extortion and excess.'(23) The meaning is that they use the immoral methods (Allen) of rapacity (harpages) and greed (akrasias). This unrestrained desire for gain on the part of the 'pious' Pharisees is strangely like the ruthless 'will to power' at any cost, so the super-man has his way, attributed to Nietzsche, and curiously illustrated in modern business methods as well as in war. There is tainted food as well as tainted money, and tainted money can taint the food as effectually for the eye of God as the putrefying germs or ceremonial contaminations. It is an amazingly keen criticism of Pharisaic ritualistic legalism that is pertinent for modern men who seek to carry religion into business and politics, not to say war. Jesus advocates a thorough cleansing of the inside of the cup, in order that the outside may be clean also. No doubt such a wholesale washing would be of value in pulpit and pew to-day. But let us learn the lesson of Jesus, that the place to begin is on the inside. We shall care all the more about the outside, but the inside is what matters. This philosophy of life is revolutionary even to-day, with all our boasted progress and civilisation. The shell is still of more value than the kernel in many circles (social, political, commercial, religious). One may note in Edmund's Buddhistic and Christian Gospels (p. 84): 'What use to thee is matted hair, O fool? What use the goat-skin garment? Within thee there is ravening; the outside thou makest clean.'

The sixth woe (23:27-28) is 'against external propriety which conceals internal wickedness' (M'Neile). In Luke 11:44 the peril is from stepping on unseen graves, unconscious contamination. Here it is the white-washed tombs with which the Pharisees are compared. On the fifteenth of the month Adar the Jews white-washed the tombs in order that people might not touch them and be defiled (B. Moed. Qat.). In either case there is defilement in the graves themselves (the decaying bodies), whether concealed or unconcealed. It is not clear whether in this charge Jesus means to say that the Pharisees are conscious or unconscious hypocrites. But Plummer notes that our use of the term white-washing moral evil is more like the passage in Matthew than the one in Luke. The phrase 'whited sepulchre' (taphos kekoniamenois) is one of those things that stick like a burr. It is much stronger than Paul's 'thou whited wall' (toiche kekoniamene) applied to the high priest Ananias in Acts 23:3. When Jesus spoke, the white-washing of the tombs was quite recent (done for the passover) and the illustration would be all the more pertinent.

The seventh and last woe (23:29-33) may be compared with Luke 11:47. Montefiore (in loco, Comm. on the Synoptic Gospels) says that this woe is 'ironical, but also rather absurd.' But the absurdity lies rather in the inability of a cultured Jew to see the point of the hypocrisy of these Pharisees, who were at this very moment plotting with the Sadducees for the death of Jesus, the greatest of all Jewish prophets, while posing as superior to their fathers. They professed to be greatly distressed at the narrowness of their fathers who murdered the prophets. To atone for it they built beautiful monuments over their tombs. But by that very act 'you bear witness to the murder-taint in your blood' (Allen). These very Pharisees will soon shout, 'Crucify him,' when Pilate was seeking to release Jesus (Mark 15:13). It is true that the charge of building the tombs for the prophets slain by their fathers applied to the Jewish people as a nation (M'Neile), but the Pharisees were the religious teachers and instigators of moral ideals, and could justly be held responsible for this hypocrisy. The justice of the charge of Jesus is shown by the conduct of the Pharisees toward Stephen. He pointedly charged them with being betrayers and murderers of Jesus the Righteous One, of whose coming the prophets spoke who were slain by their fathers (Acts 7:52). The proof is complete, for as Stephen spoke these very Pharisees who had clamoured for the blood of Jesus gnashed their teeth and stoned Stephen to death (elithoboloun, repeated action, Acts 7:59). The murder-taint was in the blood of these men who put on airs of superiority to their fathers. There is no doubt of the irony of Jesus, but it is tremendously pertinent and in earnest. 'Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers' (plerosate). One may compare John 13:27: 'That thou doest, do quickly.' 'In spite of all your hypocritical professions, you are sure to prove yourselves worthy descendants of Prophet-slayers' (Plummer). 'Ye serpents, ye offspring of vipers, how shall ye escape the judgment of hell?' The words cut like a whip and stung like a serpent's bite. Jesus poured out a vial of the wrath of the Lamb. There is a strange likeness to the curse in the Talmud on the house of Annas: 'Woe to the house of Annas! Woe to their serpent-like hissings!' (cf . Edersheim, Life and Times, vol. i. p. 263). One draws the veil over this sad and terrible scene, but there is no need to apologise for Jesus. One is reminded of the words of Paul about the cutting off of the Jews and the grafting in of the Gentiles: 'Behold the goodness and the severity of God' (Rom 11:22). Listen also to the words in Hebrews 12:29: 'For our God is a consuming fire.' On this occasion Jesus spoke not merely as a man indignant over affectation, insincerity, and wrong in the guise of goodness, but as a prophet raging with a holy rhapsody of righteousness and jealousy for God, as the Son of God standing in mortal combat with the foes that had crossed His every path since He had left the devil defeated in the wilderness, these veritable angels of the devil, wearing the livery of heaven, and now engaged in the act of crucifying the Son of God under the pretext of defence of God's laws and God's righteousness. The very shock precipitated in this moment of destiny the acid of truth that has eaten its way through hypocrisy through all the ages. The hypocrites flinched and slunk away like maddened serpents before the blasting words of Jesus. But this immortal picture can never be destroyed, and no modern whitewash can cover up the rottenness of this hypocrisy. Jesus stands alone at the end of the controversy, but He has the eternal hatred of all hypocrites, and the undying love of all who love reality and hate sham.


6. Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (Matt 12:31-32; Mark 3:28-30; Luke 12:10)

Luke gives this charge at a later time, but Matthew and Mark give it just before the first great group of parables. Matthew uses 'therefore' and connects the charge with that of the Pharisees. It is almost like the tu quoque argument. When the Pharisees accused Jesus of being in league with Beelzebub as the explanation of His miracles, Jesus retorts that they are guilty of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. The Pharisees had already accused Jesus of blasphemy in claiming the right to forgive sins (Mark 2:7). Later the Pharisees and Sadducees will condemn Jesus to death, on the charge of blasphemy, because of His Messianic claims They will not have it that Jesus is the Son of God. The Pharisees place Jesus on the side of the devil. Jesus definitely accuses them of taking their stand with Satan against Him. It is easy to bandy words and charges, and after all the test of time reveals who is right. Jesus is waging war against Satan. Jesus appeals to the facts in the case. It stands to reason that Satan will not tear down his own work as Jesus is doing. The combination of the language in Matthew, Mark, and Luke raises some difficulty. Allen and M'Neile take 'Son of Man' as here a mistranslation for the Aramaic barnasha, man, and appeal to 'men' in Matthew and 'sons of men' in Mark as proof. It is possible, but by no means necessary in this context, since Mark has 'all' 'sins' and 'blasphemy' except blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. This will include blasphemy against Jesus in the 'all.' We cannot say therefore that the contrast is simply between blasphemy against men and the Holy Spirit. The passage as it stands admits that it was less heinous to blaspheme Jesus than the Holy Spirit. Jesus, though Divine, was also human, and His deity was approached from the human side. Men could repent of carelessness or failure about Jesus, bad as it was. M'Neile notes that in Jewish phraseology many sins were called unpardonable. He mentions deliberate sins (Num 15:30f), the iniquity of Eli's house (1 Sam 3:14). There are also Rabbinic parallels like: 'There is no forgiveness for him forever' (Dalman, Words of Jesus, p. 147). But these instances do not detract from the solemn majesty of the doom pronounced on the Pharisees by Jesus. Mark puts it in the strongest possible form: 'But is guilty of an eternal sin' (enochos estin aioniou amartematos). The act reaches into the next age and is final. But it is not the state of hardness usually expressed by 'sinning away one's day of grace' or saying: 'Evil, be thou my good.' It is very definitely explained as attributing the work of the Holy Spirit to the devil. Jesus specifically claimed that He cast out demons by the Spirit of God. He was engaged in the work of blessing men, and the Pharisees turned and branded His whole work as that of the devil. It is not possible to conceive of a more terrible sin than this. It is like high treason, the highest of all crimes against the State. This unpardonable sin is not necessarily a spoken word as here, but rests upon the resentment against God in the heart. Philo (De Profugis on Ex. xxi. 17) is quoted by M'Neile as saying: 'And what evil speaking could be more shameful than to say, not concerning us but concerning God, that He is the source of evil?' Dalman (Words of Jesus, pp. 148-154) doubts if Jesus used the words prohibiting forgiveness in this age or in that which is to come. This 'emphatic periphrasis' (Plummer) for 'never' is indeed eschatological, and is common in the apocalyptic literature of the first century A.D. (2 Ezra vii. 50; Apoc. Baruch xv. 7, 8) and in the Talmud (Aboth ii. 8; Ber. R. 44). This age and the coming age are often used side by side. Westcott (Historic Faith, pp. 150 f.) holds out the hope that in the end even these who commit the unpardonable sin will be summed up in Christ. Certainly there is no pleasure in contemplating the eternal damnation of any man. But the words 'eternal sin' in Mark throws some light on this very dark subject. The state of heart that keeps on sinning seems to compel eternal punishment. No forgiveness before confession. Confession is in this case inconceivable. One has gone to the limit of a depraved heart who will deliberately attribute the manifest work of God's Spirit to the devil. To be sure, the natural meaning of 'eternal sin' here is an act of sin (hamartema) with eternal consequences, but even so the point remains true that no one will commit this sin save as an irrevocable culmination. It is quite possible for men to come perilously near to this same sin to-day when the work of grace in the heart of man is by some ridiculed as a superstition and a delusion, if not worse.


7. Rejection of God in Rejecting Jesus (John 5:42-44, 6:52; Matt 17:12; John 7:48, John 8:21-59, John 10:25-38)

Lake a Miserere there runs a deep undertone of disappointment through the teaching of Jesus that He has to carry on His work with the active opposition of the religious leaders of the time. Votaw (Biblical World, Dec. 1915, p. 397) says that Jesus 'elevated Jewish ethics so distinctly, He reformed Judaism so thoroughly, that the scribes and Pharisees—the official moral and religious teachers of His nation—rejected Him; and the Gentiles of the Mediterranean world, whom Jewish ethics had failed to win, became converts to His gospel. Jesus is conscious of the opposition all the time, and endeavours to open the eyes of these hopelessly blind leaders. But He consistently warns the Pharisees of their doom, and tries to make them understand that in rejecting Him they were also rejecting God the Father who sent Him. This point comes out more sharply in the Fourth Gospel, but it is present in the Synoptic Gospels also. Finally, the warning becomes doom, but the Pharisees turned a deaf ear, and thought that with the death of Jesus they had achieved final victory over the Messianic Pretender. The words of Jesus fall like those of a judge upon those who have wasted their opportunity.

The Pharisees have just made a formal effort to kill Jesus (John 5:18), when He explains why they will not come to Him that they may have life: 'But I know you that ye have not the love of God in yourselves. I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not; if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive' (John 5:41-43). This irony was literally true, as the case of Bar-Cochba proved. But note that here Jesus accuses the Pharisees of being without love for God. Jesus says expressly: 'I know you' by experience. 'I have come to know you' (egnoka umas) to my sorrow.

When the Jews in the synagogue in Capernaum 'strove one with another' (emachonto pros allelous, John 6:52) because Jesus claimed to be the bread of life, better than the manna in the wilderness, He made appropriation of His flesh and blood essential to life. The Pharisees led the people away then and have led them away since. Jesus early foresaw the miserable outcome of the spiritual deadlock between Him and the Pharisees. He predicted His death on the occasion of His first visit to Jerusalem (John 2:19). Toward the close of His ministry He repeatedly predicted His death (finally crucifixion) at the hands of the Sanhedrin ('the elders and chief priests and scribes,' Matt 16:21). He saw clearly that, as they had done to John the Baptist what they listed, so they will do to the Son of man (Matt 17:12). The vague connection of the Pharisees with the death of John is noted in John 4:1-4. The rejection of both John and Jesus by the Pharisees (Matt 11:16-19) would lead to the same result in both cases.

Finally, Jesus defies the Pharisees openly as His enemies at the last feast of tabernacles: 'Why seek ye to kill me?' (John 7:19). 'Where I am ye cannot come' (8:34), he added. The Pharisees took this condemnatory sentence as a confession of defeat on the part of Jesus, and ridiculed His apparent decision to go to the Dispersion, and give up His work in Palestine (John 7:35f). A few days later Jesus again said to the Pharisees, that whither He went they could not come (John 8:21). This time they sneered that He probably meant to commit suicide. But Jesus left no room for cavil in His reply: 'Ye are from beneath; I am from above,' and this: 'Ye shall die in your sins: for except ye shall believe that I am He, ye shall die in your sins.' These cutting words reveal the depth of the cleavage between Jesus and the Pharisees. They are on different sides of the chasm, with different origin, spirit, purpose, destiny. There is no 'he' after the 'I am' (eimi) in the Greek. Westcott (in loco) takes this absolute use of the verb to be a direct claim to be 'the invisible majesty of God; that I unite in virtue of My essential Being the seen and the unseen, the finite and the infinite.' If so, Jesus means to tell the Pharisees plainly that their rejection of Him involves the rejection of God. This is not a popular doctrine to-day with Jews, Unitarians, and others who take a lower view of the nature and mission of Jesus. But unacceptable as it may seem to many modern minds, I see no escape from it as the conception that Jesus Himself placed upon His person and mission as the Revealer of God to men. The Pharisees were quick to see the tremendous claim made by Jesus, and replied eagerly: 'Who art thou?' (8:25, su tis ei), hoping to catch Him with a formal Messianic claim, in order to make a charge of blasphemy against Him. Jesus evaded their trap, but stood His ground. The talk grew more direct and personal between Jesus and the Pharisees. Finally Jesus flatly said that they were not the children of God, but children of the devil (John 8:40-44). Of course, in one sense all men are children of God the Creator, and in another we are all born with the taint of sin in our natures and have to be born again into the family of God. But here Jesus seems to mean something worse if possible than an unregenerate state of heart, though that was undoubtedly true of these men. He accuses them of deliberately trying to murder Him, with doing the work of the devil for the devil, with utter inability to recognise the Son of God, and hence with being aliens to the family of God. They do not know either the Father or the Son, and hence do not belong to the family of God. The indictment is scathing in the extreme. Jesus is the test of love for God. He reveals God to men and also reveals men to themselves. We know whether we belong to the spiritual family by our attitude to Jesus the Son of God and the Elder Brother of the redeemed. So Jesus drives the wedge into the hearts of the Pharisees: 'Which of you convicteth me of sin? If I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? He that is of God heareth the words of God: for this cause ye hear them not, because ye are not of God' (8:46f). The only answer of the Pharisees was that Jesus was a Samaritan, and had a demon, and then in speechless rage they tried to kill him.

Three months later, at the feast of dedication, the Pharisees again flock around Jesus to get Him to say plainly if He is the Messiah, but Jesus answers: 'Ye believe not, because ye are not my sheep. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me' (John 10:26f). He insists that the Pharisees must believe His works, if not His words, 'that ye may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father' (John 10:38). The issue is always there, the irrepressible conflict. Jesus is the Revealer of the Father, and without Him they cannot understand the Father. A good while before Jesus had spoken that peculiarly Johannine saying preserved in Matthew 11:27 and Luke 10:22: 'Neither doth any one know the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son willeth to reveal him.' Thus the key to knowledge of the Father is in the hands of the Son. On this point Q reinforces the Johannine type of teaching very strongly. After the raising of Lazarus John (11:47f) notes that 'the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered a council' concerning the problem of Jesus. The end was near at hand.

It was not merely to harry the Pharisees after their defeat in the great temple debate, that Jesus asked them the question: 'What think ye of the Christ? Whose son is he?' (Matt 22:41f). He argues with them in their Halachah method (Briggs, Psalms, i. liv.), but with no quibble. Apart from the current view that David was the author of Psalm 110 which the Pharisees accepted, Jesus shows the Messianic interpretation of the Psalm, which may have been new to them (M'Neile). But it shows clearly that the Pharisees are poor interpreters of Scripture, when they reject Jesus and wish to kill Him for claiming to be the Son of God as well as the Son of man. The mystery of the nature of Jesus remains, to be sure, but mystery is in everything at bottom as science shows. Jesus here uncovers the incapacity and insincerity of His enemies in their attitude toward Him. They are speechless.

Jesus made the Pharisees convict themselves concerning the justice of God in punishing them for their conduct toward Him. He caught them unawares by the story of the husbandman and the vineyard. When the husbandmen kept mistreating and killing the messengers sent by the householder, finally he sent to them his beloved son, whom they likewise killed. 'When therefore the lord of the vineyard shall come, what will he do unto those husbandmen? They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those miserable men, and will let out the vineyard unto other husbandmen, who shall render unto him the fruits in their season' (Matt 21:40f). The Pharisees and Sadducees are the ones who answer thus. Jesus did not leave the application doubtful, but added: 'Therefore I say unto you, the kingdom of God shall be taken away from you, and shall be given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof' (Matt 21:43). Then Jesus added these solemn words: 'And he that falleth on this stone shall be broken to pieces; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will scatter him as dust' (21:44). Matthew further adds this conclusion: 'And when the chief priests and Pharisees heard his parable, they perceived that He spake of them.'

The case is made out and the verdict of Jesus has become history. The leaders in Jerusalem brought upon the city the doom that Jesus foresaw. The Pharisees with the Sadducees invoked the blood of Jesus upon their heads and upon their children (Matt 27:25). Pilate knew that for envy the chief priests had delivered Jesus up (Mark 15:10). His wife's message about her dream aroused his superstition, and that intensified his sense of elemental Roman justice. Pilate had supreme contempt for the Jews, and in particular for the Pharisaic refinements as did Gallio in Corinth. But the public washing of Pilate's hands as if that could wash away the blood of this righteous man is a childish performance and thoroughly Pharisaic in principle. The blood of Jesus is still on the hands of Judas, Caiaphas, Sadducees and Pharisees, and Pilate. The dramatic washing of the hands is a common enough symbol for freedom from guilt and suits the oriental atmosphere and Pilate s embarrassment.(24) So Lady Macbeth sought in vain to wash out the damned spot from her hands. Both M'Neile and Plummer regard the disclaimer by Pilate as a later note added to the Gospel and as unhistorical. I confess that I fail to see the cogency of this argument. Pilate was more noted for inconsistency than for consistency, and this nervous conduct is thoroughly in harmony with the rest of his behaviour about Jesus. The so-called Gospel of Peter says: 'But of the Jews no one washed his hands, nor yet Herod, nor even one of his judges (Sanhedrists), and since they did not choose to wash, Pilate stood up.' That puts Pilate in a more favourable light, too favourable, I think. But the sad fact remains, that the stain of the blood of Jesus does rest upon the Pharisees along with the rest.

Later the Sanhedrin will show the utmost sensitiveness about being charged with the death of Jesus: 'Ye have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us' (Acts 5:28). So the Sanhedrin said to Peter after their passion had cooled, and they faced the peril of a revived Christianity, if not also of a Risen and Triumphant Jesus. This apologetic attitude towards the death of Jesus is characteristic of modern Judaism, and at least reveals a kindlier spirit toward Jesus on the part of the modern successors of the Pharisees. Every Christian welcomes this new temper heartily, and does not wish to preserve a spirit of prejudice or of resentment. Certainly Christians should be free from prejudice toward modern Jews, and should not hold them responsible for the conduct of the Pharisees toward Jesus. We cannot build monuments to the Pharisees, but we can be kindly in word and deed toward those who still follow the rabbinic traditions. After all, Jesus was a Jew, the apostles were all Jews, Paul was a Jew. If modern Judaism is able to glory a bit in these great Jewish names, who will say them nay? If they wish to build monuments to these prophets whom their fathers rejected, we shall only rejoice, provided the monument is not erected on condition that we Christians disclaim the things for which they died. Let there be no mistake about that. We are not disposed to quibble unduly about metaphysical distinctions or to turn Pharisee ourselves in modern contention for tradition. But let us not forget that Jesus stands out in clear outline as the result of modern criticism as the one hope of the ages in whom both Jew and Gentile may unite, who alone has broken down the middle wall of partition between Jew and Gentile, and between both and God; but He has done this by the Cross, which is not to be set aside as antiquated, but to be lifted up as Jesus was lifted upon it. It is by the uplifting on the Cross that Jesus is able to draw all classes of men to Him. Modern Hellenisers still find the Cross foolishness and modern Pharisees still find the Cross a stumblingblock, but Paul, who was Pharisee and then Christian, found it the wisdom of God and the power of God. Montefiore (Judaism and St. Paul) finds it worth while to devote a whole book to Paul to prove how unable Paul was to understand current Pharisaism. But the effort is an anachronism. The best Pharisees of his day placed Paul forward as their champion and exponent against Jesus. If Paul knew anything, he knew Pharisaism. In many things Paul remained a Pharisee and boasted of it, though he flung behind him as worthless refuse the husks of Pharisaism when he found Jesus, the flying goal toward which he ever pressed. But the greatest of the young Pharisees of his day became the greatest Christian preacher of the ages. The man who knew Pharisaism best came to know Jesus best. He was able to relate the spiritual Pharisee or Israelite to Jesus. So then the breach between Pharisee and Christ is not unalterably fixed. The chasm can be crossed on the Cross, to which the Pharisees had Jesus nailed. It broke Paul's heart to see the Pharisees turn away from Jesus. He had to fight Pharisaism in the person of the Judaisers within Christianity itself. But Paul loved his Jewish brethren too well to let their zeal for tradition cover up the gospel as they had the law with Halachah and Haggadah. Jesus resisted the Pharisees to the death to set the human spirit free indeed. Paul took up the same fight and urged the Galatians to stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ had set them free. Freedom in Christ was purchased with a great price, the blood of Christ. 'He has given us new ideals. And He has given us something even above that. He has given us the power to realise these ideals' (Warfield, 'Jesus' Mission,' Princeton Theol. Review, Oct. 1915, p. 586). Let us preserve this ideal for progress and power. Jesus still prays for His enemies, for Pharisees of to-day as of old. Let us not make it hard for any who hear the voice of Jesus to come to Him. It was love that brought the cry from the heart of Jesus over the fate of Jerusalem: 'How often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not' (Matt 23:37). It was with utter sadness of heart that Paul said: 'But unto this day, whensoever Moses is read, a veil lieth upon their heart' (2 Cor 3:15). It is our task to lift that veil, if we may, so that modern Jews may recognise in Jesus the eternal Messiah of promise and hope.


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