What are “teraphim?”


by Shawn Brasseaux

The Authorized Version features the word on six occasions:

  • Judges 17:5: “And the man Micah had an house of gods, and made an ephod, and teraphim, and consecrated one of his sons, who became his priest.”
  • Judges 18:14: “Then answered the five men that went to spy out the country of Laish, and said unto their brethren, Do ye know that there is in these houses an ephod, and teraphim, and a graven image, and a molten image? now therefore consider what ye have to do.”
  • Judges 18:17: “And the five men that went to spy out the land went up, and came in thither, and took the graven image, and the ephod, and the teraphim, and the molten image: and the priest stood in the entering of the gate with the six hundred men that were appointed with weapons of war.”
  • Judges 18:18: “And these went into Micah’s house, and fetched the carved image, the ephod, and the teraphim, and the molten image. Then said the priest unto them, What do ye?”
  • Judges 18:20: “And the priest’s heart was glad, and he took the ephod, and the teraphim, and the graven image, and went in the midst of the people.”
  • Hosea 3:4: “For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim:….”

As a cursory examination of the above verses reveals, “teraphim” are heathen or pagan aids to worship. They were statues that resembled people, connected to “magical rites.” Often translated in the King James Bible as “image/s” (Genesis 31:19,34-35; 1 Samuel 19:13,16; 2 Kings 23:24; Ezekiel 21:21), it is also once rendered “idols” (Zechariah 10:2). In the verses with which we began, the Hebrew word (“teraphim”) was simply transliterated. The teraphim Rachel stole from her father in Genesis were small and portable, whereas the image Michal placed in the bed was the size of a man (a dummy to fool David’s assassins)! As in the case of the Zechariah quote, such “household gods” or “family idols” were thought to speak and reveal “divine oracles.” Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar appealed to teraphim for guidance (see the Ezekiel quote above, and our “consulted with images” study linked below).

Also see:
» “Made his arrows bright…consulted with images…looked in the liver?”
» “Thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege?”
» What is “peeping” and “muttering?”

» What are “groves?”

Does “touch not mine anointed” forbid us from correcting erring church leaders?


by Shawn Brasseaux

In an effort to “lord over God’s heritage” unopposed (1 Peter 5:3), pompous and tyrannical ministers and teachers through the years have fled to the Scriptures for refuge. Their favorite passages in this regard, of course, can be summarized with the following maxim: “Touch not God’s anointed!” In other words, “Do not challenge me, for I am a leader and not a peon such as yourself!” Does God’s Word actually forbid us from correcting erring church leaders? Have they been authorized to do as they please, without any resistance?

Pay attention to the two verses a pastor or teacher may employ when being opposed:

  • 1 Chronicles 16:22: “Saying, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.”
  • Psalm 105:15: “Saying, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.”

Based on these passages, it is thus argued: “God Himself selected me to be over you! I am His anointed and His appointed! You have no right to defy me, questioning what I teach and/or believe, telling me how I should run this assembly!” It is sad to say it, but this is just another classic example of ripping verses out of context to prove a denominational position.

Read the Chronicles passage in context, King David composing and singing a psalm (song) as they bring the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem: “[15] Be ye mindful always of his covenant; the word which he commanded to a thousand generations; [16] Even of the covenant which he made with Abraham, and of his oath unto Isaac; [17] And hath confirmed the same to Jacob for a law, and to Israel for an everlasting covenant, [18] Saying, Unto thee will I give the land of Canaan, the lot of your inheritance; [19] When ye were but few, even a few, and strangers in it. [20] And when they went from nation to nation, and from one kingdom to another people; [21] He suffered no man to do them wrong: yea, he reproved kings for their sakes, [22] Saying, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.” As previously noted, this song of David is also preserved for us in Psalm 105.

The LORD’S “anointed” in these passages is certainly not some church leader in this the Dispensation of Grace. If we let the context speak (will we?), it is JEHOVAH God ordering the Gentiles not to harm Israel’s patriarchs as they migrated during the nation’s infancy. Two prime occasions of this are Genesis 20:1-18 (Abraham and Sarah) and Genesis 26:1-16 (Isaac and Rebekah). These verses have absolutely nothing to do with us!

On the contrary, 1 Timothy 5:19 certainly does apply to church leaders in this the Dispensation of the Grace of God: “Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses.” The “elder” or church leader is certainly not immune to personal sins or false teaching. We would do well to note: if there are two or three independent witnesses to corroborate his misbehavior, he should be the subject of an investigation (done meekly in Christian love and within the assembly, of course). This is not done to shame him, but rather protect the congregation from any contamination. If his dismissal from the assembly is the only viable solution, that God’s ministry not suffer, then so be it. The local church should seek out a man who will be faithful to sound Bible doctrine.

“Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified” (Acts 20:28-32).

Also see:
» What about modern-day apostles and prophets?
» Should ministers study Scripture to prepare for teaching?
» Is the “Divine right of kings” a Scriptural concept?

» How do we identify false teachers?

Should ministers study Scripture to prepare for teaching?


by Shawn Brasseaux

Yes, indeed, ministers should study Scripture to prepare for teaching. However, opponents of this practice cite four Bible passages allegedly supporting an alternate view: they argue it is totally unnecessary to prepare for sermons, for “the Spirit will lead us” (?). We will examine and assess their position, especially those verses they use as their proof-texts.

Here they are:

  • Matthew 10:17-20: “[17] But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; [18] And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. [19] But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. [20] For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.
  • Luke 12:11-12: “[11] And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say: [12] For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.”
  • Luke 21:12-15: “[12] But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name’s sake. [13] And it shall turn to you for a testimony. [14] Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer: [15] For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist.
  • 1 John 2:20,27: “[20] But ye have an unction [“anointing,” verse 27] from the Holy One, and ye know all things…. [27] But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.”

If these verses actually indicated preachers today need not prepare for their sermons by studying—for they supposedly “know all things” and “it has been given them what they shall speak”—then it would be equally true all the Christians in their congregations needed no man (those preachers!) to teach them either. The human teacher’s job would be totally unnecessary. Those who claim they need not be taught, for God has given them a “special word,” have placed themselves into a bind. The very verses that endorse their non-studying before services also support their congregation’s nonattendance to said services!

The above passages, of course, refer to God’s intervention during times of persecution—not just Sunday mornings, Sunday evenings, and Wednesday evenings. When the members of the Little Flock (Luke 12:32), Israel’s believing remnant, are dragged in to participate in sham trials before unbelievers (Jew or Gentile rulers), the Lord Jesus Christ encourages His people. He will definitely take care of them, as the Holy Spirit will empower their hearts and minds to speak the truth. In Acts chapter 2, just as the Lord promised, He poured out the Holy Ghost on the Messianic Jews; when they were persecuted during the early Acts period, the indwelling Holy Spirit led them to preach God’s Word in the courtroom! Check Acts 4:1-22, Acts 5:27-32, Acts 6:5, and Acts 6:9–7:60. Similar events will precede Christ’s Second Coming, yet future from us.

Paul’s Pastoral Epistles—1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon—make no reference whatsoever to such phrases as “God will give you wisdom” and “think not what you shall say.” If there was a good opportunity to set the record straight, it would have been here in these Bible Books. Would not the Holy Spirit have told us such information in these four handbooks for founding and maintain local assemblies? Evidently, whatever Jesus was saying in Matthew chapter 10, Luke chapter 12, Luke chapter 21, and 1 John chapter 2; He was referring to something other than governing local churches and performing ministry duties in this the Dispensation of the Grace of God!

Anyone who claims to be preaching or teaching without any prior personal study will make it evident. The poor quality of their messages will be proof enough they have indeed come unprepared! We should come out and say it without any hesitation: such souls are lazy, and completely unfit for ministry. They are pitiful examples of Christian behavior, and will do more harm than good among God’s people. By expressing the fact they have not studied their Bible, they are freely confessing, “I do not love the Lord.” To value and esteem the Scriptures is to study and believe them; it is wholly impossible to love the Lord and not love His words. In light of eternity, it will have been far better had they kept their Bibles open in their study and their mouths shut in their pulpit!

Also see:
» How do we identify false teachers?
» What about modern-day apostles and prophets?
» How does one know if he or she is maturing in the Word of God?
» What are some tips for faster spiritual growth?
» Does “touch not mine anointed” forbid us from correcting erring church leaders?

What does “sottish” mean?


by Shawn Brasseaux

Jeremiah 4:22 employs the word: “For my people is foolish, they have not known me; they are sottish children, and they have none understanding: they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.” It is such strong language, but it is warranted. The Prophet Jeremiah conducted his ministry in Judah 600 years before Christ, during a time of great apostasy—a falling away from the truth. He preached before and during the Babylonian Captivity, God’s judgment on the Southern Kingdom for its persistent idolatry.

“And I will utter my judgments against them touching all their wickedness, who have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, and worshipped the works of their own hands (Jeremiah 1:16). “For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water…. For of old time I have broken thy yoke, and burst thy bands; and thou saidst, I will not transgress; when upon every high hill and under every green tree thou wanderest, playing the harlot(Jeremiah 2:13,20).

“As the thief is ashamed when he is found, so is the house of Israel ashamed; they, their kings, their princes, and their priests, and their prophets. Saying to a stock [wooden idol], Thou art my father; and to a stone [stone idol], Thou hast brought me forth: for they have turned their back unto me, and not their face: but in the time of their trouble they will say, Arise, and save us. But where are thy gods that thou hast made thee? let them arise, if they can save thee in the time of thy trouble: for according to the number of thy cities are thy gods, O Judah. Wherefore will ye plead with me? ye all have transgressed against me, saith the LORD. In vain have I smitten your children; they received no correction: your own sword hath devoured your prophets, like a destroying lion. O generation, see ye the word of the LORD. Have I been a wilderness unto Israel? a land of darkness? wherefore say my people, We are lords; we will come no more unto thee? Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? yet my people have forgotten me days without number (Jeremiah 2:26-32).

“If thou wilt return, O Israel, saith the LORD, return unto me: and if thou wilt put away thine abominations out of my sight, then shalt thou not remove. And thou shalt swear, The LORD liveth, in truth, in judgment, and in righteousness; and the nations shall bless themselves in him, and in him shall they glory. For thus saith the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns. Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings” (Jeremiah 4:1-4).

Back to verse 22 of Jeremiah chapter 4. “For my people is foolish, they have not known me; they are sottish children, and they have none understanding: they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.” The Jews are spiritually senseless, insane, lunatic. Instead of heeding sound Bible doctrine—especially the Law of Moses—they are thinking like idolatrous heathen. Rather than being spiritual adults, they are mere children; immaturity has so crippled them, and their religious silliness shows throughout the Book of Jeremiah as well as much of the Old Testament Scriptures! It is in this context that the adjective “sottish” appears. The word simply means foolish, with the Hebrew term (“sakal”) translated “fool” or “foolish” in Ecclesiastes (2:19; 7:17; 10:3,14) and Jeremiah (5:21). It is therefore no coincidence “sottish” is from the Middle English word indicating “fool.”

Rejecting God’s wisdom for her (Deuteronomy 4:1-10), Israel did not guard herself from the foolishness of the evil world system around her. What was true of the Gentiles at the Tower of Babel ultimately became applicable to Israel as well! “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen” (Romans 1:20-25).

Thankfully, in the Millennium, Israel will be given new spiritual leaders, people who will teach her sound Bible doctrine so she can think as the LORD God designed them to think. Pay close attention to verse 15 below (contrasted with Jeremiah 4:22).

Jeremiah 3:13-21: “[13] Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against the LORD thy God, and hast scattered thy ways to the strangers under every green tree, and ye have not obeyed my voice, saith the LORD. [14] Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion: [15] And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding. [16] And it shall come to pass, when ye be multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, saith the LORD, they shall say no more, The ark of the covenant of the LORD: neither shall it come to mind: neither shall they remember it; neither shall they visit it; neither shall that be done any more. [17] At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the LORD; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the LORD, to Jerusalem: neither shall they walk any more after the imagination of their evil heart. [18] In those days the house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel, and they shall come together out of the land of the north to the land that I have given for an inheritance unto your fathers. [19] But I said, How shall I put thee among the children, and give thee a pleasant land, a goodly heritage of the hosts of nations? and I said, Thou shalt call me, My father; and shalt not turn away from me. [20] Surely as a wife treacherously departeth from her husband, so have ye dealt treacherously with me, O house of Israel, saith the LORD. [21] A voice was heard upon the high places, weeping and supplications of the children of Israel: for they have perverted their way, and they have forgotten the LORD their God.

“Sottish” can also mean “stupefied with or as if with drink; drunken.” This is another key to explaining Israel’s lack of mental acuity in the spiritual realm. Revelation chapter 17, descriptive of the Antichrist’s (future) false religious system, relays the following: “[1] And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: [2] With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication. [3] So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. [4] And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: [5] And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.”

The “wine” that will make the world and Israel drunken in the future under the Antichrist is false religion, Baal worship, pagan idolatry. Here is exactly what polluted the world and Israel during Old Testament times (especially throughout Jeremiah’s ministry). The Whore of Babylon is the culmination of the pagan idolatry that began at the Tower of Babel some 4,000 years ago. Even today, we believers in Christ are told not only to avoid inebriation with physical wine, but also not be drunk with figurative wine (mind-altering false teaching).

See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God” (Ephesians 5:15-21).

Read Jeremiah 4:22 again: “For my people is foolish, they have not known me; they are sottish children, and they have none understanding: they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.” This stands in contrast to the Holy Spirit’s will for the Body of Christ in Romans 16:19: “For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise [skilled] unto that which is good, and simple [uninformed, ignorant] concerning evil.Have we been faithful in following Romans here? Nay! Have we grasped even the basics of the Dispensation of Grace as found in Romans? Nay!

Throughout the 20 centuries of its existence, the professing Body of Christ has been skillful in reciting denominational creeds and prayers, knowledgeable of the writings of the church fathers, and mindful of intellectual gymnastics and conspiracy theories, but—after 2,000 years of having a completed Holy Bible—can it identify what Father God is doing today and what He would have us do today? Nay! Beloved, we are following in the footsteps of ancient “sottish” Israel! If we are to grow up in grace, we had better listen to the Lord Jesus Christ speaking through the Apostle Paul, the Bible Books of Romans through Philemon!

Also see:
» What is a “lunatick?”
» What is the “madness” of Luke 6:11?
» What are some tips for faster spiritual growth?
» How do I know if I am maturing in the Word of God?

Was Jesus born in Jerusalem?


by Shawn Brasseaux

No! To say Christ was born in Jerusalem is to misread Luke chapter 2.

Observe the following: “[1] And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. [2] (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) [3] And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. [4] And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David: ) [5] To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. [6] And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. [7] And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.”

Submitting to the Roman Emperor, Joseph and pregnant Mary left Nazareth of Galilee (northern Israel, cf. Luke 1:26) and traveled to southern Israel for a taxation or census. Being of David’s family (Matthew 1:1,6,17,20; Luke 1:27,32,69; Luke 3:31), they went to David’s hometown, Bethlehem of Judaea (1 Samuel 16:1-18). Genealogical or family records were kept in ancestral birthplaces. While Joseph and Mary are living in Bethlehem of Judaea, Mary gives birth to Jesus. The angel of the Lord appears to shepherds out in the field, informing them of Messiah’s arrival. He says, in part: “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). What is this “city of David” here?

It is true the Old Testament applies the title “city of David” to Jerusalem, and this was because it was King David’s capital city (2 Kings 9:28; 2 Kings 14:20). Here in Luke chapter 2, however, the “city of David” can only mean Bethlehem of Judaea, for it was David’s hometown. Luke already restricted the meaning in verse 4: “the city of David, which is called Bethlehem.” Only if we are careless will we insert Jerusalem into Luke 2, verses 4 and 11. Moreover, the shepherds correctly interpret “city of David” (verse 11) as Bethlehem of Judaea, for that is precisely where they intend to go! Read verse 15: “And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.”

At this point, we must expose the fact the Book of Mormon differs significantly from the Holy Bible. In Alma 7:10 of the Book of Mormon, we read: “And, behold, he shall be born of Mary, at Jerusalem which is the land of our forefathers, she being a virgin, a precious and chosen vessel, who shall be overshadowed and conceive by the power of the Holy Ghost, and bring forth a son, yea, even the Son of God.” The Book of Mormon is wrong. Jesus was born in Bethlehem, not Jerusalem. Joseph Smith, while writing the Book of Mormon, evidently misread Luke!

This by no means should be considered “splitting hairs,” “nitpicky,” or “making something out of nothing.” If we do not specify Christ was born in Bethlehem, or Bethlehem Judah/Judaea/Ephratah, we are failing to make the connection of prophecy being fulfilled. He would be born in Bethlehem, not Jerusalem, so to say Jerusalem is to deny fulfilled prophecy (or make it harder to realize prophecy was fulfilled). Over 700 years prior, Micah 5:2 had foretold: “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”

Go over to Matthew chapter 2: “[1] Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, [2] Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. [3] When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. [4] And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. [5] And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, [6] And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.” The name “Bethlehem” in Hebrew means “house of bread,” so it is only fitting the “Bread of Life” (John chapter 6) be born here!

Bethlehem Judah (also known as Bethlehem Ephratah and Bethlehem of Judaea) is approximately 5 or 6 miles (8 to 10 kilometers) almost due south of Jerusalem. It is not to be confused with another Bethlehem, northern Israel, near Galilee in the territory of the tribe of Zebulon (Joshua 19:15)—and Bethlehem Judah/Ephratah/Judaea is not to be confused with Jerusalem either!

Also see:
» Was Jesus born on the 25th of December?
» How can Luke 2:1 report “all the world” was subject to Caesar Augustus?
» Is there an historical mistake in Luke 2:1-2?

Was Jesus a gluttonous drunkard?


by Shawn Brasseaux

Matthew 11:16-19: “[16] But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows, [17] And saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented. [18] For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil. [19] The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children.”

Luke 7:31-35: “[31] And the Lord said, Whereunto then shall I liken the men of this generation? and to what are they like? [32] They are like unto children sitting in the marketplace, and calling one to another, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned to you, and ye have not wept. [33] For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and ye say, He hath a devil. [34] The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners! [35] But wisdom is justified of all her children.”

On the basis of Matthew 11:19 and Luke 7:34, it has been argued Jesus was a sinner. Indeed, strangely, some “Christian” (!) people who use the Bible have gone so far as to say the Lord was actually a glutton and a drunkard! Are they correctly interpreting these passages? We have three reasons to believe the Lord Jesus Christ was neither a glutton nor a drunkard.


Firstly, if we are willing to accept as factual that Christ was a glutton (one who excessively greedily eats) and a drunkard (one who is habitually intoxicated with alcoholic beverages), then the Saviour Himself had a sin problem. If the Saviour is also guilty of wrongdoing, then He Himself needs saving. Therefore, where is His Saviour? In fact, can a sinning Saviour even adequately pay for others’ sins? If Jesus Christ were a sinner, then He was really no different from the rest of us, and the entire premise for Christianity is reduced to nothing. Could we then even call ourselves “Christians?!”


Secondly, if we are willing to accept as factual that Christ was a glutton and a drunkard, then the Bible record is not true in several verses when it speaks of Christ’s impeccability or faultlessness.

“And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased (Matthew 3:17). “Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles” (Matthew 12:18). “While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him” (Matthew 17:5). “And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased(Mark 1:11). “And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased (Luke 3:22). “And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him (John 8:29). How can Jesus—a supposed glutton and drunkard—be so highly praised here? If we cannot trust these verses, then what in the Bible can we trust? Why do we use the Scriptures at all?

The Bible speaks of drunkenness and gluttony (greediness of food) in a negative light. For instance, Deuteronomy 21:18-23: “[18] If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: [19] Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; [20] And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. [21] And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear. [22] And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree: [23] His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God; ) that thy land be not defiled, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.”

“For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags” (Proverbs 23:21). “Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying” (Romans 13:13). “Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:10). “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these:… Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19,21). “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;…” (Ephesians 5:18).

How could Father God endorse a “gluttonous, drunkard” Jesus? Evidently, Jesus was neither a glutton nor a drunkard, for the Scriptures report: “For he [Father God] hath made him [Christ] to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). First Peter 2:22 alleges Jesus “did no sin.” Also, Hebrews 7:26: “For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;….” The only way Christ could be “separate from sinners” is if He Himself were not a sinner! Of course, that is if we believe the Bible and apply a bit of common sense. If we do not believe the Bible, then we need to say it instead of pretending like we do.


Thirdly, if we are willing to accept as factual that Christ was a glutton and a drunkard, then we are also forced to conclude John the Baptist was devil-possessed. After all, the same parties who accused Jesus of evildoing similarly faulted John for being under Satan’s control!

“For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil. The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners” (Matthew 11:18-19). “For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and ye say, He hath a devil. The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners!” (Luke 7:33-34).

Read from Luke chapter 1: “[13] But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. [14] And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. [15] For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb. [16] And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. [17] And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” This is hardly the description of a man possessed with a devil! As opposed to John the Baptist being filled with an unclean spirit, he was controlled by the Holy Spirit. He was devil-possessed to the extent Jesus was a gluttonous drunkard. Both instances are a resounding to no extent whatsoever.


Re-read Matthew 11:16-19 and Luke 7:31-35. John and Jesus’ critics cannot be pleased. They are mocking both John and Jesus, exaggerating and slandering to scorn. No matter the preacher, Israel is totally unresponsive, refusing to convert to JEHOVAH God. The Jews do not want John’s ministry, and they do not want Jesus’ ministry. John lived out in the wilderness and had a meager or simple diet of locusts and wild honey (Matthew 3:1-4; Mark 1:4-6), but they falsely accused him of devil possession. This is an extreme charge. Now, look at the contrast, the other extreme. Jesus ate and drank with the public, but they erroneously charged Him with gluttony and drunkenness. Both allegations are patently false. John and Jesus are both misrepresented, distorted, and defamed. These are unsubstantiated or baseless charges. To say it more bluntly, they are flat-out lies!

It is not that the Lord Jesus condoned sin, or joined people in their commission of sin. Rather, He understood these were the very souls He had come to save (cf. Matthew 9:10-13 and Mark 2:15-17). Moreover, they were willing to acknowledge their sin problem and value Him as Saviour, whereas the religious snobs (Pharisees, Sadducees, scribes) believed they were “good enough” and had no need for a Saviour. Religious elitists belittled Jesus simply to alienate people from Him, that they (the leaders) keep their position in the nation. The Bible is indeed true. However, it does quote sinners when they lie. The Scriptures are a factual representation of what was said, whether or not the statement itself was true. People made fun of the Lord then, and they do it now. They lied about Him then, just like people do today. These passages are a case-in-point that we should be very careful before grabbing verses out of context and distorting them unto our own destruction (2 Peter 3:16).

By contending this point, people may very well be sneakily attempting to justify their own sin. Namely, “If Jesus was a glutton and drunkard, I can be those things too!” Whatever their reason for appealing to Matthew 11:19 and Luke 7:34, they falsely malign Him, and we would hate to be in their position if they die as lost people and face Father God. They are guilty of blasphemy, and we remember those solemn words of Christ as found in Matthew chapter 12: “[34] O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. [35] A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. [36] But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. [37] For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.”

Friends, let us choose our words wisely—especially when speaking about the Lord Jesus Christ!

Also see:
» How was there healing in touching Jesus’ garment hem?
» Why did John the Baptist behave so strangely?
» Are denominationalists deliberately lying?

Who were the “scribes?”


by Shawn Brasseaux

Anyone familiar with the Scriptures has heard of the characters known as the “scribes.” Exactly who were they? Why do they appear in the Bible?


As their title implies, scribes were literate men—able to read and write. They were copyists of the Old Testament Scriptures in the nation Israel. Also, they were teachers of the same. Scribes were of the tribe of Levi, the priestly tribe.

“And Shemaiah the son of Nethaneel the scribe, one of the Levites, wrote them before the king, and the princes, and Zadok the priest, and Ahimelech the son of Abiathar, and before the chief of the fathers of the priests and Levites: one principal household being taken for Eleazar, and one taken for Ithamar” (1 Chronicles 24:6). “Also they were over the bearers of burdens, and were overseers of all that wrought the work in any manner of service: and of the Levites there were scribes, and officers, and porters” (2 Chronicles 34:13). Shaphan the Scribe appears in this chapter.

Living circa 500 B.C., Ezra was another Levitical priest and scribe. These verses from Ezra chapter 7 describe his job: “[6] This Ezra went up from Babylon; and he was a ready scribe in the law of Moses, which the LORD God of Israel had given: and the king granted him all his request, according to the hand of the LORD his God upon him…. [11] Now this is the copy of the letter that the king Artaxerxes gave unto Ezra the priest, the scribe, even a scribe of the words of the commandments of the LORD, and of his statutes to Israel. [12] Artaxerxes, king of kings, unto Ezra the priest, a scribe of the law of the God of heaven, perfect peace, and at such a time…. [21] And I, even I Artaxerxes the king, do make a decree to all the treasurers which are beyond the river, that whatsoever Ezra the priest, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven, shall require of you, it be done speedily,….” Ezra faithfully copied the words of God, and was influential in getting the Old Testament Scriptures to us to read even now!

Ezra also taught the Hebrew Old Testament, as we see in Nehemiah chapter 8: “[1] And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the street that was before the water gate; and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded to Israel…. [4] And Ezra the scribe stood upon a pulpit of wood, which they had made for the purpose; and beside him stood Mattithiah, and Shema, and Anaiah, and Urijah, and Hilkiah, and Maaseiah, on his right hand; and on his left hand, Pedaiah, and Mishael, and Malchiah, and Hashum, and Hashbadana, Zechariah, and Meshullam…. [9] And Nehemiah, which is the Tirshatha, and Ezra the priest the scribe, and the Levites that taught the people, said unto all the people, This day is holy unto the LORD your God; mourn not, nor weep. For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law…. [13] And on the second day were gathered together the chief of the fathers of all the people, the priests, and the Levites, unto Ezra the scribe, even to understand the words of the law” (cf. Nehemiah 12:26,36).

Baruch was the Prophet Jeremiah’s scribe, writing the words of the LORD as He spoke through Jeremiah. See Jeremiah chapter 36. Another scribe, Elishama, is mentioned here as well. Verse 4: “Then Jeremiah called Baruch the son of Neriah: and Baruch wrote from the mouth of Jeremiah all the words of the LORD, which he had spoken unto him, upon a roll of a book.”

Around 600 B.C., Israel really did not care to read the scribes’ work, the Hebrew Bible. “How do ye say, We are wise, and the law of the LORD is with us? Lo, certainly in vain made he it; the pen of the scribes is in vain” (Jeremiah 8:8) By the time of Christ’s arrival, even the scribes were in unbelief… some of Jesus’ greatest critics. They knew the Old Testament prophecies of Messiah, including His birthplace (Bethlehem of Judaea), but they did not visit Him when He was born (Matthew 2:4-6). Possessing the Word of God, and yet not believing it, profited them nothing (Hebrews 4:2; 1 Thessalonians 2:13).

Jesus paired the scribes with the Pharisees—self-righteous, conceited people who were not right in God’s sight (Matthew 5:20). Both scribes and Pharisees considered others to be “sinners,” but they viewed themselves as sinless (Luke 5:29-32; Luke 15:1-10).  Jesus said of scribes in Luke 11:44: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are as graves which appear not, and the men that walk over them are not aware of them.” They were hypocrites—appearing to good and righteous, but really as defiled and disgusting as corpses! “Beware of the scribes, which desire to walk in long robes, and love greetings in the markets, and the highest seats in the synagogues, and the chief rooms at feasts; Which devour widows’ houses, and for a shew make long prayers: the same shall receive greater damnation” (Luke 20:46-47).

When teaching their Jewish people the Old Testament Scriptures, the scribes relied on others’ interpretations of the Bible. However, Jesus was His own authority, never quoting rabbis, which impressed the crowds (Matthew 7:28-29). Some of the scribes manifested themselves as unbelievers in that they accused Jesus of blasphemy when He forgave a man of his sins (Matthew 9:3; Luke 5:21). Like the Pharisees, scribes were strict Sabbath observers. They watched Jesus closely to see if He would heal the man with the withered hand on the Sabbath—a violation of rabbinical tradition (Luke 6:6-11). Right here, they are “filled with madness [insanity]; and communed one with another what they might do to Jesus.” The scribes will reject Him to the point of His death (Luke 9:22).

In Luke 11:53-54, the scribes partnered with the Pharisees to try to cause Jesus to stumble in His words: “And as he said these things unto them, the scribes and the Pharisees began to urge him vehemently, and to provoke him to speak of many things: Laying wait for him, and seeking to catch something out of his mouth, that they might accuse him.” Some scribes and Pharisees even took an adulteress and brought her before Jesus for condemnation—another unsuccessful attempt to embarrass Him (John 8:1-11).

“And he taught daily in the temple. But the chief priests and the scribes and the chief of the people sought to destroy him, And they could not find what they might do: for all the people were very attentive to hear him” (Luke 19:47-48). The scribes united with the chief priests and deliberately challenged Jesus’ authority in Luke 20:1-8. “And the chief priests and the scribes the same hour sought to lay hands on him; and they feared the people: for they perceived that he had spoken this parable against them” (Luke 20:19). Also, Luke 22:2: “And the chief priests and scribes sought how they might kill him; for they feared the people.” The scribes assembled with Israel’s other religious leaders in trying and condemning Christ (Luke 22:66-71). During His Gentile trial before King Herod Antipas: “And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused him [Jesus]” (Luke 23:10).

The scribes gathered with Israel’s other religious leaders in opposing the Apostles in early Acts (chapter 4, verses 1-22). Scribes were some of those who were convinced to be antagonistic against Stephen, the Holy Spirit’s preacher to Israel at the time of Acts chapters 6 and 7 (cf. Acts 6:12). A portion of the scribes of the Pharisees “somewhat” came to the Apostle Paul’s defense during his trial many years later (Acts 23:9). While not clear in Scripture, some scribes (likely few) seem to have some spiritual receptivity, though we cannot ascertain to what degree. See Matthew 8:19 and Luke 20:39.

In closing, the scribes copied and taught the Old Testament Scriptures in Israel. If anyone in the nation should have been familiar with the writings of the ancient Jewish prophets, these were the men. They were the educated, literate crowd—alas, they could not care less about God’s Word or God’s Son. A good many such “scholars” today exist in Christendom. They do not believe the Bible, and, using their vast influence, they encourage others not to believe it either. Remember, the scribes possessed and copied the Scripture… but did not actually trust the Scripture. Let us learn this lesson. It is not enough for us to have the Bible: we must also read, study, and (most importantly!) believe it in the heart!

Also see:
» Who are “lawyers” in Scripture?
» Who were the “Pharisees?”
» Who were the “Sadducees?”

Who were the “Sadducees?”


by Shawn Brasseaux

Anyone familiar with the Scriptures has heard of the characters known as the “Sadducees.” Exactly who were they? Why do they appear in the Bible?


While the Pharisees numbered around 6,000, the Sadducees were an even smaller group during Christ’s earthly ministry. Sadducees were the second most influential group in Judaism (Jewish religion) in the nation Israel, but were equally corrupt. The origin of the name “Sadducee” is debated. It may be related to Zadok (Greek, “Sadok”), the priest who served under Kings David and Solomon (2 Samuel 8:17; 2 Samuel 15:24-29; 1 Kings 1:32; 1 Kings 2:35). Sadducees disappeared in A.D. 70, the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple, about four decades after Christ’s earthly ministry.

Now, we can move on to God’s Word.


The Sadducees—along with the Pharisees—are first found in God’s Word in Matthew 3:7. John the Baptist addresses them as “vipers,” for they resemble their spiritual father Satan (John 8:44; Revelation 12:9; Revelation 20:2). According to the Bible study principle of “the law of first mention,” this first instance of the word sets the tone of the Scriptures as touching them. They are some of the bitterest opponents of the Lord Jesus Christ and God’s will for the nation Israel, especially in the Four Gospel Records (Matthew through John) and the Acts period.

Sadducees appear by name a mere 14 times in the King James Bible. However, many Jewish priests, including the high priest, were Sadducees. Thus, Scripture may indirectly refer to them when it mentions priests, chief priests, high priests, and so on. Sadducees were aristocratic, wealthy and exclusive. Hence, they are rarely seen mixing with the common Jewish people: this explains their few verses in Scripture. In contrast, the Pharisees involved men of all social statuses, as Pharisees engaged in proselytizing.

Jesus warned His disciples of the doctrine (teaching) of the Sadducees (verses 11-12). The Sadducees were noteworthy for two positions. Firstly, they did not believe in bodily resurrection (they were “sad, you see!” hahaha). Secondly, they did not believe in angels or spirits.

  • Matthew 22:23: “The same day came to him the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection, and asked him,….”
  • Mark 12:18: “Then come unto him the Sadducees, which say there is no resurrection; and they asked him, saying,….”
  • Luke 20:27: “Then came to him certain of the Sadducees, which deny that there is any resurrection; and they asked him,….”
  • Acts 4:1-2: “[1] And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them, [2] Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead.”
  • Acts 23:8: “For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both.”

If you read Matthew 22:23-33, Mark 12:18-27, and Luke 20:27-38; you will see the Sadducees posing a complex and ridiculous question about resurrection so as to make Jesus look foolish. (They did not believe in resurrection, so they were not interested in learning the truth. It was nothing but a pointless argument to embarrass Christ. He answered them—and put them to silence!)

Unlike the Pharisees, the Sadducees rejected oral tradition, contending that the written Law of Moses (Scripture) alone was the source of Divine revelation. Sadducees accepted only Moses’ writings, however; Jesus skillfully used Moses to answer the “resurrection dilemma” they posed to Him. They were materialistic, far more involved in politics than religion. Yet, they agreed with the Pharisees challenging and murdering Jesus Christ, and opposing Him and His followers as much as possible. “The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would shew them a sign from heaven” (Matthew 16:1). They persecuted the Little Flock of believers in Acts 4:1-3 because they preached Jesus’ resurrection. Notice Acts 5:17-18: “Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the sect of the Sadducees,) and were filled with indignation, And laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison.”

In closing, the Sadducees are modern rationalists, skeptics, and liberals in that they outright questioned, denied, and refuted Bible truth. They do not believe in the supernatural, only the material or physical world.


How could the Sadducees not believe in resurrection, when their Old Testament clearly taught it (Exodus 3:6; Job 19:25-27; Daniel 12:2; et cetera)? How could they not believe in angels and spirits, when their Old Testament abounds with these creatures (Genesis 19:1,15; Genesis 32:1; Job 4:18; Psalm 68:17; et al.)(Leviticus 19:31; Leviticus 20:6,27; Deuteronomy 18:11; et al.)?

Remember, the Sadducees only accepted Moses’ five Books—Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Now, why did they not listen to Moses concerning resurrection, spirits, and angels? The most likely answer is they developed their anti-spirit, anti-angel, and anti-resurrection attitude during the time between Malachi and John the Baptist. For 400 years—between the writing of Malachi and the beginning of the ministry of John the Baptist—God was not speaking to Israel. The Jews had rejected His words for centuries, so now He was being quiet (Amos 8:11-12). He would send no angels or prophets to talk to them, perform no miracles in their midst, and so on. Once Malachi’s ministry terminated, Israel did not hear from God until John the Baptist four centuries later (cf. Malachi 4:5-6; Luke 1:13-17). That interim of God’s silence probably led to the surfacing of the Sadducees.

Also see:
» Who were the “Pharisees?”
» Who were the “scribes?”
» Who were the “Herodians?”

Who were the “Pharisees?”


by Shawn Brasseaux

Anyone familiar with the Scriptures has heard of the characters known as the “Pharisees.” Exactly who were they? Why do they appear in the Bible?


The Pharisees numbered only about 6,000 during Christ’s earthly ministry. Although a relatively small sect of Judaism (Jewish religion), they were the most influential group in the nation Israel. The name “Pharisee” is from the Hebrew word “parash,” meaning “separated ones.” However, they preferred the title “chasidim,” or “pious ones.”

Josephus, the famed Jewish historian who lived A.D. 37–100, reports they arose in Israel during the 400-year-long intertestamental period (between the ministries of Malachi and John the Baptist), roughly 150 B.C. They were they successors of the Hasidim, religious Jews who allied with the Maccabees during the fight to be liberated from Syrian oppression (166–142 B.C.). Some sources claim the Pharisees first appeared during the reign of Jewish leader and high priest John Hyrcanus (ruled circa 135–105 B.C.).

Now, we can move on to God’s Word.


The Pharisees—along with the Sadducees—are first found in God’s Word in Matthew 3:7. John the Baptist addresses them as “vipers,” for they resemble their spiritual father Satan (John 8:44; Revelation 12:9; Revelation 20:2). According to the Bible study principle of “the law of first mention,” this first instance of the word sets the tone of the Scriptures as touching them. They are some of the bitterest opponents of the Lord Jesus Christ and God’s will for the nation Israel, especially in the Four Gospel Records (Matthew through John) and the Acts period.

Pharisees appear by name nearly 100 times in the King James Bible. One particular fault of theirs is religious hypocrisy: they pretend to be God’s people and servants but are anything but. Jesus warned, “In the mean time, when there were gathered together an innumerable multitude of people, insomuch that they trode one upon another, he began to say unto his disciples first of all, Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy (Luke 12:1). “Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, Saying The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not (Matthew 23:1-3).

Saul of Tarsus, later the Apostle Paul, was a Pharisee. Alluding to his former life, he shares: “[All the Jews] Which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee” (Acts 26:5). Pharisees were strict in their observance of religious rules and regulations, to the point they underscored outward performance (“going through the motions”) instead of inward faith (believing in and relying on God’s Word).

Pharisees refused to be water baptized of John the Baptist, demonstrating their unbelief, their rejection of Jesus as Messiah: “And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him” (Luke 7:29-30). The Pharisees asked silly questions to challenge John the Baptist in John 1:19-25. According to Luke 5:17-21, Pharisees doubted Jesus was God: they accused Him of blasphemy because He forgave sins. Pharisees were also known for their dedication to frequent fasting and prayers (Matthew 9:14; Mark 2:18; Luke 5:53). Some would pray for as long as three hours at a time—just for the public to notice and praise them!

In modern English, the adjective “Pharisaism” is applied to a self-righteous person. This is rooted in Scripture, as the Pharisees considered others as “sinners” but they themselves as sinless (Matthew 9:10-13; Mark 2:15-17; Luke 5:29-32; Luke 7:36-43; Luke 15:1-2). It was feigned (pretend) righteousness—self-righteousness—and certainly not enough to please God (Matthew 5:20). They did not seem themselves in need of a Saviour, and they did not desire to have Jesus Christ reign over them as the rightful King of Israel. Hence, they rebelled against Him at every possible opportunity.

Jesus describes a Pharisee most graphically in Luke 18:9-14: “[9] And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: [10] Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. [11] The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. [12] I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. [13] And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. [14] I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”

The Pharisees stressed outward performance, particularly washing hands to make them ceremonially clean according to rabbinical tradition (Matthew 15:1-20; Mark 7:1-23). Ignoring their sin problem, they overlooked their need for internal cleansing. They took the Word of God—the Hebrew Bible, our Old Testament, at the time—and set it aside so they could retain their religious tradition. Their authority was not the Scriptures alone, but rather the interpretations of men (oral tradition). The Lord Jesus Christ thus warned His disciples of the dangerous doctrine (teaching) of the Pharisees (Matthew 16:6-11; Mark 8:15).

Pharisees were fanatics as touching the observance of other rabbinical traditions. For example, they complained when Jesus’ poverty-stricken, hungry disciples plucked corn (grain) to eat on the Sabbath Day. Oral tradition forbade such a practice, although the Word of God had taught them to be merciful (and not cold-hearted religious extremists)! See Matthew 12:2, Mark 2:24, and Luke 6:2. Regarding Jesus healing a man on the Sabbath, the Pharisees were outraged that He did not observe their rabbinical rule (Matthew 12:9-14; Mark 3:1-6; Luke 6:6-11). According to Jewish religious tradition, no medical aid was to be rendered on the Sabbath unless it was a life-threatening condition.

The Pharisees operated with the desire to attract the attention and praise of others. Read this excerpt from Matthew chapter 23: “[4] For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. [5] But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, [6] And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues,…. [13] But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. [14] Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation. [15] Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.”

“[23] Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. [24] Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. [25] Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. [26] Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. [27] Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. [28] Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.” (Read all of Matthew chapter 23 in your own time. Also, see the companion passage, Luke chapter 11, verses 37-52.)

Matthew 9:34 shows us the Pharisees were bitter enemies of Jesus, falsely accusing Him with: “He casteth out devils through the prince of the devils.” That is, they publicly labeled Christ as a partner of Satan! It is no mystery why they wanted Jesus out of the way. He was “competition,” and they desired the attention for themselves. “And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples” (Luke 19:39). Read this context. They did not like Jesus being praised because the crowds were ignoring them!

The Pharisees frequently questioned—yes, opposed—Jesus. As touching the issue of divorce, for instance, they used a captious question to make Him look foolish (Matthew 19:3-9; Mark 10:2-9). Moreover, they mentioned numerous other topics, hoping to trip Him up in His words so He would discredit Himself (Luke 11:53-54). In Matthew 22:34-40, a Mosaic Law “scholar” of the Pharisees asks Jesus a trick question as concerning what is the great commandment. Pharisees constantly sought signs (miraculous demonstrations), outright ignoring the numerous others Jesus had already performed (Matthew 12:38; Matthew 16:1; Mark 8:11)! They were also materialistic, ridiculing Jesus after He spoke out against their greediness: “And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him” (Luke 16:14).

While the Pharisees and Sadducees were diametrically opposed in doctrine (see our companion “Sadducees” study linked at the end of this article), they united with each other in their absolute hatred for the Lord Jesus Christ. In Matthew 16:1, both sects challenge Him to perform a special kind of miracle. He refused, for they were not willing to believe anyway.

The Pharisees despised Christ so much they actually conspired to put Him to death! “Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him” (Matthew 12:14). “And the Pharisees went forth, and straightway took counsel with the Herodians against him, how they might destroy him” (Mark 3:6). As we can see, the Pharisees also allied with the “Herodians” (a political group instead of a religious group—see our related study linked at the end of this article). Later, the Pharisees sent some of their students with the Herodians to ask Jesus a trick question regarding paying taxes to the Roman government (Matthew 22:15-22; Mark 12:13-17).

Jesus was aware the Pharisees were scheming to put Him to death, and He informed them of it in a parable—which convicted and angered them (see Matthew 21:33-46). On another occasion, the Pharisees sent officers to arrest Jesus in the Temple, but failed (John 7:32-44). Later, in chapter 8 of John, they dare Jesus by bringing an adulteress to Him for her to be condemned. Also, He has some more harsh words for them throughout the rest of the chapter! They manifest their unbelief again in verse 13: “The Pharisees therefore said unto him, Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true.”

In chapter 9 of John, Pharisees persecute the blind man whom Jesus just healed. They do not believe the man was actually cured of anything, and they refuse to believe on Christ too! When the Lord Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead, the Pharisees respond by wanting to capture and kill Jesus once again (John 11:46-53,57). In chapter 12, we see more of the Pharisees’ complaints: “The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? behold, the world is gone after him.” Verses 42-43 now, and notice how they tyrannically suppress Jews in the synagogues from sharing their testimonies of faith in Jesus as Christ: “Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.”

The Pharisees assembled a mob to accompany Judas Iscariot at Christ’s arrest, as John 18:3 reveals. Even after His death, the Pharisees challenged Jesus in denying He would really rise from the dead. Joined with the chief priests, they called Him a “deceiver” (Matthew 27:62-63; cf. John 7:45-47).

As far as Scripture is concerned, some Pharisees became believers in Jesus Christ. One was named Nicodemus (John chapter 3; cf. John 7:47-50), and another was Joseph of Arimathaea (Matthew 27:57; Mark 15:43; Luke 23:51; John 19:38). As we mentioned near the beginning of this study, the Apostle Paul was a former Pharisee, trained under Gamaliel, a rabbi of the Pharisees (see Acts 26:5; Philippians 3:5; cf. Acts 5:34). However, it is unclear whether Gamaliel ever trusted Jesus Christ. Acts 15:5 speaks of some of “the sect of the Pharisees which believed.” Their names are not revealed though.

The Apostle Paul, in the late Acts period, stood on trial before Pharisees and Sadducees (Acts chapter 23). From verse 8, we learn the Pharisees believed in resurrection, angels, and spirits (the Sadducees did not). Verse 9 indicates some Pharisees were “scribes”—copyists and teachers of the Old Testament Scripture. (See our related “scribes” study linked at the end of this article.)

In closing, there are many such “Pharisees” in Christendom today. They value oral tradition, so much so that they gave it equal authority to the Scriptures—and even discard Scripture for sake of keeping their tradition. Also, they place emphasis on meticulously observing religious rules and rituals as opposed to faith in God’s Word. In these two senses, they are the modern Roman Catholics. As formalism corrupted ancient Judaism, so it perverts the Church the Body of Christ today. Incidentally, modern Orthodox Judaism is based on the doctrines and rules of the ancient Pharisees.

Also see:
» Who were the “Sadducees?”
» Who were the “scribes?”
» Who were the “Herodians?”

Are denominationalists deliberately lying?


by Shawn Brasseaux

One of the first questions that enters the mind of someone new to dispensational Bible study is, “Have denominationalists intentionally misled me?” Well, what about it? “For what saith the Scriptures?”


The prime example of someone in the Bible inadvertently teaching bad doctrine is Apollos. We find him at the close of Acts chapter 18: “[24] And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus. [25] This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. [26] And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly. [27] And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace: [28] For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publicly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ.”

Concentrate on verse 24 first. Apollos was “eloquent”—an articulate, persuasive, powerful speaker. He was also “mighty in the scriptures.” In other words, he was experienced in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament). Verse 25 describes him as “fervent in spirit” (passionate, zealous). “He spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord.” Apollos was hardworking, dedicated to the ministry, “boldly” speaking in the synagogue of Ephesus (verse 26). However, there was one major flaw: he was operating “knowing only the baptism of John” (verse 25). Unfortunately, Apollos was preaching a message that was over 20 years old—and had since been superseded with additional Divine revelation! John the Baptist’s ministry had already run its course, Christ Jesus had already conducted His earthly ministry and died and resurrected, the Holy Spirit had already come in Acts chapter 2, and Saul of Tarsus had already been saved and commissioned as the Apostle Paul in Acts chapter 9. Apollos needed to update his understanding! Watch how this played out.

Back at the beginning of chapter 18—prior to Apollos visiting Ephesus—the Apostle Paul had met a Jewish man (Aquila) and his wife (Priscilla). Read verses 1-3: “[1] After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth; [2] And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome: ) and came unto them. [3] And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers. [4] And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.”

Aquila and Priscilla learned grace doctrine from Paul. Now, fast-forward to our first Bible passage. Upon hearing Apollos’ poor understanding of God’s dealings with man, Aquila and Priscilla teach him what Paul had shared with them earlier! “[26] And he [Apollos] began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly. [27] And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace: [28] For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publicly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ.”

Having drastically improved his doctrine, Apollos takes that new spiritual insight out to the masses! Be sure to reread verses 27 and 28. In fact, after Paul visited and converted Corinth from paganism in chapter 18, Apollos entered Corinth and further instructed those saints in chapter 19 (verse 1). Thus, Apollos’ ministry appears several times in the Book of 1 Corinthians. As late as Titus 3:13, many years after Acts ended, Apollos is still a vital ministry coworker of Paul. See, Apollos simply needed to be taught a proper view of the Bible. Once saints informed him of sound Bible doctrine, he gladly passed it on to others. Apollos was not deliberate in his doctrinal errors.

This author can testify to the fact there are some sincere church leaders and members who desire to teach others the Holy Bible as best they can. While they do not “rightly divide the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15), they are not consciously deceiving others with their false teaching. Like Apollos, they simply must be taught dispensational truths, and then they will joyfully communicate those verses to others. How does this author know such people exist even now? Long ago, he and his family were in the same position! He had trusted Jesus Christ alone as his personal Saviour, but spent the first 12 years of his Christian life confused, unable to understand and enjoy the Bible. Legalism—religious rules and regulations to be observed to merit God’s favor—dominated his thinking. In his ignorance, early in his ministry, he faithfully spread his denominational doctrine. However, when two faithful brothers in Christ introduced him to dispensational Bible study, he searched the Scriptures for himself and trusted them dispensationally. Even since, he has been growing in the Word of God’s Grace and teaching others that same doctrine. He simply needed to be taught: he was not intentionally misleading anyone. Unfortunately, that is not always the case.


Let us look now at people in Scripture who consciously deceive in the name of religion. The nation Israel had apostate religious leaders. They knew the truth but rebelled against it. See Matthew 28:11-15: “[11] Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done. [12] And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers, [13] Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. [14] And if this come to the governor’s ears, we will persuade him, and secure you. [15] So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.”

Having learned of the guards what happened at Jesus’ tomb—the angel appearing, the stone being rolled back, the Lord Jesus’ body absent—the chief priests and elders of Israel conspired and offered those guards an enormous monetary bribe. The soldiers who had been stationed to protect the tomb from robbers were now urged to claim Jesus’ followers indeed had stolen the body! Just in case Pontius Pilate the Governor of Judaea threatened to take the lives of the irresponsible soldiers, Israel’s religious leaders promised to come to their defense with the same lie. According to them, Jesus’ “resurrection” was nothing more than a body-snatching, a corpse relocation! Even when they discovered the truth, Israel’s unbelieving leaders wanted nothing to do with it.

During his last decade-plus of grace ministry among denominationalists, this author has met equally dishonest people. They simply refuse to hear the Scriptures taught dispensationally. Outright rejecting right division, they continue in their denominational doctrine as if they had never heard the truth. For example, one of his former denominational pastors told him, “Do not tell my people they are not under the tithe. They do not give enough as it is!” In fact, frankly, this author has met teachers and preachers who already knew dispensational truth and had outright rejected it. To wit, before he even told them about sound Bible doctrine, they were already aware of it and had refused it previously. Such individuals are particularly spiritually dangerous.


It bears mentioning—and stressing—we should never look for ways to excuse false teaching and errant spiritual behavior. In order to defend favorite preachers and pet theological systems, some will attempt to lessen the severity of the situation. “Dr. So-and-So is not intentionally lying to anyone,” for example. While that may be true (only God ultimately knows!), that condition in no way diminishes the fact he or she is still lying. Almighty God does not allow for any falsehoods. Lies do not automatically become truth simply because the people telling the lies are sincere.

Let it also be clearly understood we do not endeavor to determine who is deliberately lying and who is inadvertently deceiving. All we need to realize is whether or not they are lying. We take their doctrine (teachings) and compare it to the Word of God rightly divided, especially Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon. This is how we acquire the discernment to differentiate between truth and error in this the Dispensation of Grace. Please note these Scriptural admonitions, and how “sincerity” or “knowledge” or “kindness” are not licenses to continue sitting under false teachers and peddling their errors! We are to “avoid” them, “withdraw from” them, and “turn away from” them.

Romans 16:17-18: “[17] Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. [18] For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.”

1 Timothy 6:3-5: “[3] If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; [4] He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, [5] Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.

2 Timothy 3:1-5: “[1] This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. [2] For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, [3] Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, [4] Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; [5] Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.”

Finally, 1 Corinthians 14:37-38: “[37] If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. [38] But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.(Verse 38 presupposes people who do not want to hear and acknowledge the Apostle Paul’s special ministry. Once they take that position, Scripture commands us to leave them alone in their spiritual darkness!)


Are denominational people deliberately misleading? Unfortunately, they sometimes are. However, others are unintentionally spreading lies, and simply have not been taught dispensational truth. They are merely repeating what they have heard others say. As Berean Bible students, we should make every effort to reach out to aid people in understanding and enjoying the Word of God rightly divided.

“And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will” (2 Timothy 2:24-26).

“But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain. A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself” (Titus 3:9-11). Yet, if they refuse to hear the second time around, leave them in their ignorance and move on to those who are interested!

Also see:
» “If any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant?”
» Are we merely interested in breaking up churches?

» Should we hate the denominationalists who misled us?
» Are we immune to heresy and apostasy?

» If dispensational Bible study is true, how come so few believe it?
» “I believed the Gospel, so why do they not believe?”