Saturday 17 September 2016

Did Jesus label all the Pharisees and Jews as evil?

I had written a response 2 years ago to an article that Yisroel Blumenthal had written. You can find my response here:

The article Yisroel wrote can be found:

Did Jesus himself dismiss the Pharisees as evil overall? No he didn't.

The Pharisees that were condemned were only the ones who actually were hypocritical. Jesus doesn't present his charges in Matthew 23 and elsewhere against all the Pharisees, there are exceptions.that exist, possibly including Joseph of Arimathea.

Any charge that Jesus and others in the New Testament made against the Jews or the Pharisees was only directed at the unbelieving Jews.

An example of believers from the Pharisees can be found in the book of Acts in chapter 15:
"15 But some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” 2 And after Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders about this question. 3 So, being sent on their way by the church, they passed through both Phoenicia and Samaria, describing in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and brought great joy to all the brothers.[a] 4 When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they declared all that God had done with them. 5 But some believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees rose up and said, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to order them to keep the law of Moses.”"

The Acts 15 council housed those who had Pharisaic believers in Jesus who did contend that Gentiles were to keep the Mosaic law but eventually the council came to a decision that the Gentiles were not under the Mosaic Law. I have no time to talk about that at this juncture but you nevertheless get what I am saying.

Nicodemus, who visited Jesus earlier in John 3 speaks with his fellow Pharisees in John 7:
"45 The officers then came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, “Why did you not bring him?” 46 The officers answered, “No one ever spoke like this man!” 47 The Pharisees answered them, “Have you also been deceived? 48 Have any of the authorities or the Pharisees believed in him? 49 But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed.” 50 Nicodemus, who had gone to him before, and who was one of them, said to them, 51 “Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?” 52 They replied, “Are you from Galilee too? Search and see that no prophet arises from Galilee.”"

While it is not explicitly stated he repented and believed, it is quite possible that Nicodemus was in a worse case scenario, at least open to the prospect of Jesus being who he said he was. Whether he believed or not it isn't stated, but it's interesting to see his reaction, that Jesus should be given a chance to speak and explain himself.

Many Jews also came to follow Jesus and were the first believers to make up the church itself, The Gentiles themselves were brought in later. Paul even mentions fellow Jews as well as Gentiles who helped him in his ministry:

"3 Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, 4 who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks but all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks as well. 5 Greet also the church in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who was the first convert[b] to Christ in Asia. 6 Greet Mary, who has worked hard for you. 7 Greet Andronicus and Junia,[c] my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners. They are well known to the apostles,[d] and they were in Christ before me. 8 Greet Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord. 9 Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and my beloved Stachys. 10 Greet Apelles, who is approved in Christ. Greet those who belong to the family of Aristobulus. 11 Greet my kinsman Herodion. Greet those in the Lord who belong to the family of Narcissus. 12 Greet those workers in the Lord, Tryphaena and Tryphosa. Greet the beloved Persis, who has worked hard in the Lord. 13 Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord; also his mother, who has been a mother to me as well. 14 Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and the brothers[e] who are with them. 15 Greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them. 16 Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you."

Some translations say Jews but the meaning is the same, his fellow race of people, his kinsmen:

The New Testament NEVER approves of anti-semiticism of any kind and the condemnation of unbelieving Jews (and Gentiles) for refusing to bow the feet of Jesus is not to be seen or taken as hate speech of any kind. Nor should the New Testament be seen as a polemic against all the Pharisees or the Jewish people they ruled over.

Read also my articles responding to Uri Yosef on his claims of Anti Semitism in the New Testament if you want more information on whether the New Testament is Anti-Semitic:

Answering Judaism. (Lord Willing this article may be subject to updates).

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