5) John 8:37–44: In approximately 150 BC, the Pharisees created a lay movement which developed the view that members of God’s covenant people could be identified by their adherence to the Mishnah. This commentary on the five books attributed to Moses formed a hedge around the Mosaic Law (m. Avot 1:1),[1] in violation of Deut 4:1–2 and Deut 12:32.

For example, the Mishnah contains twenty-four chapters dedicated to Sabbath regulations alone (m. Shabbat).[2]

Although the Pharisees did not descend from a priestly lineage, the members of this sect strictly maintained the Mishnah’s tradition of oral laws regarding purity, tithing, and the Sabbath intended for those serving in the temple. They took great care to separate from the impure “people of the land” who failed to avoid contaminating themselves (Matt 9:10–11; Luke 7:36–39).[3]

However, Pharisees intended to practice Judaism in every area of life where they lived, rather than form a community which withdrew into the desert, as the Essenes did.[4]

Furthermore, Pharisees believed that the messiah would come to usher in the kingdom of God only when every Israelite fully obeyed all of the Mishnah’s interpretation of the Law of Moses.[5]

Consequently, Jesus’s teachings and behavior enraged them (Cf. Matt 12:1–8; Mark 7:1–15).[6]

They concluded that Christ not only prevented Israel’s messiah from coming to rescue them, his popularity would result in more oppressive Roman domination (John 11:38–53).

John also wrote, “The one who continually practices sin is from the devil, because from the beginning the devil sins” (1 John 3:8).

As Jesus testified, a person’s behavior and values attest to one’s spiritual sonship.[7]

John the Baptist held a similar view, for he called Israel’s religious leaders “offspring of vipers” (Matt 3:7).

Image via Wikimedia Commons

 

Read John 8:37–44. Why did the Pharisees hate Jesus? What makes their conclusion about him ironic? How do the verses cited here relate to the declaration of Gen 3:15?

 

 

 

Go to Betrayed

 

[Related posts include Serpents in the Ancient Near East (Gen 3:1); A World-Altering Conversation (Gen 3:2–5); Succumbing to Temptation (Gen 3:6); God Curses the Serpent (Gen 3:14); The First Good News (Gen 3:15); The Accuser (Job 1:6–11 and Job 2:1–7); Satan Addresses the Heavenly Council (Zech 3:1–5); God’s Servant, the Branch (Zech 3:6–10);  Satan Tempts Christ (Matt 4:1–4); A Second Temptation (Matt 4:5–7); The Third Temptation (Matt 4:8–11); Lord of the Sabbath (Matt 12:1–8); Falling for Deception (2 Cor 11:3–4); An Angel of Light (2 Cor 11:13–15); Children of the Devil (1 John 3:10‒12); Love or Death (1 John 3:13‒15); and Guilty of Misconduct (Jude 8)]

 

[Click here to go to Chapter 7: The Seed of the Serpent and the Seed of the Woman (Genesis 3:14–15)]

 

[1] Stephen Westerholm, “Pharisees,” DJG 609–14, 609.

[2] m. Shabbat.

[3] Anthony J. Saldarini “Pharisees.” ABD 5:300–3, 300.

[4]Roland Deines, “The Pharisees Between ‘Judaisms’ and ‘Common Judaism’,” in Justification and Variegated Nomism, Volume 1: The Complexities of Second Temple Judaism (ed. D. A. Carson, P. T. O’Brien, and Mark Seifrid; Tübingen; Grand Rapids: Mohr Siebeck; Baker Academic, 2001), 498.

[5]Philip S. Alexander, “Torah and Salvation in Tannaitic Literature,” in Justification and Variegated Nomism, Volume 1: The Complexities of Second Temple Judaism (ed. D. A. Carson, P. T. O’Brien, and Mark Seifrid; Tübingen; Grand Rapids: Mohr Siebeck; Baker Academic, 2001), 275.

[6] Marinus De Jonge, “Messiah,” ABD 783–8, 783.

[7]Carson, The Gospel According to John, 352–3.