Additional Perspectives on The Pharisees


Since the Pharisees are one of the key Biblical case studies on Narcissists and how to deal with them (see How We Know The Pharisees Were Narcissists), it is important that we understand the entire picture.  For some additional background:


Who were the Pharisees?


Surprisingly, Jesus did not condemn the Pharisees for taking a position of power or their basic teaching

Matthew 23:1-3

23 Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them.


But Jesus did condemn them for putting their self-created rules as equal to God’s Law….

Matthew 15:7-9

You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you:

This people honors Me with their lips,
But their heart is far away from Me.
But in vain do they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’”


And for their self-indulgent and rebellious hearts even as they acted very religiously

Matthew 23:25-28

25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also.

27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.


Not all Jewish rulers of the day were like this

John 12:42

42 Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue;


And not all Pharisees were necessarily this way

Gamaliel – Acts 5:34-39

Nicodemus – John 3:1-21 and John 19:39

Joseph of Arimethea (Sanhedrin, unclear regarding being a Pharisee) –


But even the Pharisees recognized the hypocrisy among their ranks

From Robert Stein via Rick Hogaboom

“Jesus was neither condemning all Pharisees nor the Pharisaic movement in toto. Condemnation of hypocritical Pharisees can be found even within the Talmudic literature. In Ṣota 22b seven types of Pharisees are described. The first five are hypocritical: (1) the “shoulder” Pharisee, who wears his good actions on his shoulder for all to see; (2) the “wait-a-little” Pharisee, who finds excuses for putting off a good deed; (3) the “bruised” Pharisee, who to avoid looking at a woman runs into walls; (4) the “pestle” or hunched-over Pharisee, who walks bent over in pretended humility; and (5) the “ever-reckoning” Pharisee, who is always weighing his good deeds against his bad. But also mentioned are (6) the “God-fearing” Pharisee, who lives in holy awe and the fear of God, and (7) the “God-loving” Pharisee, who loves God from his heart. The kind of commitment that leads to the finest piety is also frequently accompanied by hypocrisy. Neither Pharisaism nor Christianity is exempt from this unfortunate tendency.[1]

see for the source material


Therefore, even though not all of the Pharisees were “proud, haughty, scoffers who acted with insolent pride”, enough were that way that Jesus could refer to them as a group.