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Devoted more to the Scriptures than to the God of the Scriptures?

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#1
nebula

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Jesus Came to Save Us from the Bible

March 5, 2014 By michaboyett

 

Following the Bible’s teachings on the Sabbath can be exhausting.

 

Seeking the freedom of scripture can lead to bondage.

 

Drawing near to the teachings of scripture can lead us further from God.

 

This is the paradox Jesus faced in the Gospels. It’s a tension that runs throughout the many stories where ordinary people, experts in the law, and religious/political leaders rejected the allegedly “heretical” teachings of Jesus in favor of their take on the Law.

 

They had an air-tight systematic theology that was supposed to keep them from error. They never thought that their greatest barrier between themselves and God would be their reading of Scripture itself.

 

<snip>

 

The short answer is that they were devoted more to the Scriptures than to the God of the Scriptures.

 

The Jewish leaders had systems for interpreting and obeying Scripture, and as they tried to be faithful to the commands of God, their focus shifted from, “How can I become a devoted follower of God?” to “How can I become a devoted follower of scripture?”

 

The shift is subtle but unmistakable with the results it produces.

 

The Sabbath itself wasn’t used to find God. Following the Sabbath itself in a particular way became the means AND the end. Never mind one’s spiritual condition during the Sabbath. Never mind the healing that should take place. Never mind God’s concern for those who are broken and hurting. So long as you were resting properly, you were considered faithful.

 

The people existed to fulfill the Sabbath rather than the Sabbath existing to fulfill people.

 

<snip>

 

In and of itself, the Sabbath did them no good if they simply obeyed the teachings of Scripture that governed it.

 

The Sabbath only benefits us if we use it to draw near to God. That’s the larger lesson that looms over the Gospel stories.

 

So many people preferred to make obeying the Bible an end in and of itself without actually seeing it as a means to find God. They weren’t able to rest in God because they were too busy arguing over what you could carry, how far you could travel, and how to prepare a meal.

 

They wore themselves out trying to rest “biblically.”

 

I don’t see Jesus telling us to slack off in our scripture reading or to make up our own rules. Rather, he’s calling us to keep the purpose of Scripture in mind. Is our reading of Scripture leading us closer to love of God and love of neighbor? Is our reading of Scripture leading to spiritual restoration or exhaustion on the Sabbath?

 

I like knowing that I’m right about the Bible. I want to know that I’m taking the right course of action in my life, that I’m living “biblically.” I’m the one asking, “Am I doing this right?” More times than not, Jesus pointed people away from questions like that.

 

Jesus wanted the former cripple and the Jewish leaders to see the work of God around them. He challenged them to move beyond their “insider/outsider” categories and their obsession with getting every detail of the Bible right.

 

Read the whole message here

 

(emphasis mine)



#2
nebula

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I think of how often we debate over the details of Scripture and miss the big picture as well.

 

Obedience for the sake of obedience is never something Jesus seemed to advocate, did He?

 

We worry about "being right", but after the debate, what does your position do to draw you nearer to God? (That question is rarely addressed in our debates.)

 

Granted, I'm not referring to clear heresies, but our debates as brothers and sisters over doctrine and Scriptural interpretations.

 

 

And I'm pointing to myself as much as anyone.



#3
Littlelambseativy

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But the debate comes and so does learning. I see something my way and by listening or 'discussing' it with another I may see it differently or the other person may see it my way. That is how we learn. If the Holy Spirit is guiding the discussion the right will be understood and accepted. On the other hand I may be right and not want to hear it any other way if in my heart I have a different understanding of the Bible. Our own experience and that of those we respect regarding their knowledge of the word means a great deal in shaping our understanding.

Throwing out the baby with the bathwater is not always what happens. Discussion is good for learning.

The pharisees saw the letter of the law and showed it. The sadducees saw the law only. Christ came to break that law.



#4
other one

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most interesting....



#5
Qnts2

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Jesus Came to Save Us from the Bible

March 5, 2014 By michaboyett

 

Following the Bible’s teachings on the Sabbath can be exhausting.

 

Seeking the freedom of scripture can lead to bondage.

 

Drawing near to the teachings of scripture can lead us further from God.

 

This is the paradox Jesus faced in the Gospels. It’s a tension that runs throughout the many stories where ordinary people, experts in the law, and religious/political leaders rejected the allegedly “heretical” teachings of Jesus in favor of their take on the Law.

 

They had an air-tight systematic theology that was supposed to keep them from error. They never thought that their greatest barrier between themselves and God would be their reading of Scripture itself.

 

<snip>

 

The short answer is that they were devoted more to the Scriptures than to the God of the Scriptures.

 

The Jewish leaders had systems for interpreting and obeying Scripture, and as they tried to be faithful to the commands of God, their focus shifted from, “How can I become a devoted follower of God?” to “How can I become a devoted follower of scripture?”

 

The shift is subtle but unmistakable with the results it produces.

 

The Sabbath itself wasn’t used to find God. Following the Sabbath itself in a particular way became the means AND the end. Never mind one’s spiritual condition during the Sabbath. Never mind the healing that should take place. Never mind God’s concern for those who are broken and hurting. So long as you were resting properly, you were considered faithful.

 

The people existed to fulfill the Sabbath rather than the Sabbath existing to fulfill people.

 

<snip>

 

In and of itself, the Sabbath did them no good if they simply obeyed the teachings of Scripture that governed it.

 

The Sabbath only benefits us if we use it to draw near to God. That’s the larger lesson that looms over the Gospel stories.

 

So many people preferred to make obeying the Bible an end in and of itself without actually seeing it as a means to find God. They weren’t able to rest in God because they were too busy arguing over what you could carry, how far you could travel, and how to prepare a meal.

 

They wore themselves out trying to rest “biblically.”

 

 

When I read what people write, criticizing the various Jewish leadership, or discussing the Sabbath, I often realize that the person doing the writing does not have a good grasp of the law, and what it was to live under the Mosaic covenant.

 

In the Mosaic covenant, the children of Israel are treated as a group, not as individuals. If the group called Israel as a nation of people, failed to keep the Mosaic law, then the entire group would experience a punishment meant to correct. That punishment might be a drought for the entire land. Now in any large group, some would obey the law, and some would not. If the leadership did not obey the law, then everyone was punished. Those who had been obedient were punished along with those who were not obedient.  A drought meant crops would fail so no food, and the group would experience starvation.  

 

Now imagine you are a member of a group of only 1000 people, all living in a small town. If the entire town followed the rules/laws, then every week a delivery truck would bring in food for the week. But, if 200 people or 300 people violated the law, and say the law was twice a day, everyone had to go for a 3 mile walk, the food would not be delivered. If no food is available for a week, people are going to be looking for a way to encourage the 200 - 300 people to remember to walk their 3 miles twice a day.  

 

So, the Pharisees looked to find what God wanted and commanded, and how to fulfill the laws. And they looked to train the people. Not by force, because you can't make someone do something, but by encouraging, teaching etc. The Pharisees went out to every village, and made themselves available to teach. 

 

On the Sabbath, the basic command was to stay home and rest. While it is good to pray and seek God, there is no command that one should do that on the Sabbath. There is a command to do that every day. So, to relate prayer, worship, etc, to the Sabbath, is not really biblical, as that is a daily activity, not just a Sabbath activity.

 

The Sabbath command is to rest. But, in a land with no cars, no buses, planes etc, the only way to get around is by foot, or by riding an animal. The number of miles one can travel in a day is limited so a person can be traveling for days or weeks. Well, if the Sabbath is a day of rest, can a person travel without breaking the Sabbath law? If the entire nation/people are dependent on rain for crops on your keeping the Sabbath, and how far you walk today could mean your family gets to go hungry for a time, I think care for people would cause you to consider the law from God.

 

The major issue with the article so far is a lack of understanding of the Mosaic covenant, and attempting to superimpose the New Covenant into the Mosaic covenant.   

 

So, I have to ask, if God gave the scriptures, would it be caring about what God wants, loving Him, obeying Him, to ignore what He commanded in the scriptures?

 

Luke 11:42 “But woe to you Pharisees! For you pay tithe of mint and rue and every kind of garden herb, and yet disregard justice and the love of God; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.

 

Jesus never said not to tithe mint, rue, and every little herb. He said to do that, but don't neglect justice and loving God. Justice is the way to treat people and loving God is the way of treating God. The greatest commandment is Loving God and the second is similar, treating neighbors how you would want to be treated. In Judaism, there are books written about the physical laws which are considered easier to keep and the laws concerning love, and how to treat others, are considered the most difficult laws to keep.

 

Yes, some people have a check off list and can perform their list without loving God and treating people well. Lists are easier and heart is harder. Obedience for the sake of obedience is demanded in scripture in the Mosaic covenant. If God commanded it, it was to be done, no matter how silly it seemed. Why wash in the Jordan river, rather then a better, and bigger river? Because Jesus said to wash in the Jordan river.

 

Finally, following the scriptures teaching for the Sabbath is not exhausting. It is a very relaxing day, and a wonderful break from the rest of the week of work.



#6
Qnts2

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But the debate comes and so does learning. I see something my way and by listening or 'discussing' it with another I may see it differently or the other person may see it my way. That is how we learn. If the Holy Spirit is guiding the discussion the right will be understood and accepted. On the other hand I may be right and not want to hear it any other way if in my heart I have a different understanding of the Bible. Our own experience and that of those we respect regarding their knowledge of the word means a great deal in shaping our understanding.

Throwing out the baby with the bathwater is not always what happens. Discussion is good for learning.

The pharisees saw the letter of the law and showed it. The sadducees saw the law only. Christ came to break that law.

 

If Jesus came to break the law given by God, then Jesus sinned. Jesus did not come to break the law, but to offer a New Covenant.



#7
gdemoss

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Jesus has to come back in order to get this issue set straight according to what I read. It appears that we love our opinion more than God.

#8
fire-heart

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the law and the sabbath were given for a reason even though many suggest jesus did away the law and the sabbath not understandin what the law and the sabbath was about. true the law shows us our sins and how in desperate need we are of grace but is that really such a bad thing? if we are not able to look inside ourselves and desire a change how will god be able to humble us and make us like him? as for the sabbath i do not really have a full understandin of it so i cannot debate a  whole lot about it but honestly why not relax and do good on the seventh day? you know just get away from earthly matters and worries at least once a day.



#9
nebula

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Just for clarity -

 

There is a difference between what the Torah stated about Sabbath and what the religious teaching had done to it by then.

 

They taught the letter of the Law; Jesus showed the spirit of the Law - so to speak,

 

How many of our religious traditions and doctrines are the same? Have we left the heart of Scripture for the letter of it?



#10
shiloh357

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Jesus Came to Save Us from the Bible

March 5, 2014 By michaboyett

 

Following the Bible’s teachings on the Sabbath can be exhausting.

 

Seeking the freedom of scripture can lead to bondage.

 

Drawing near to the teachings of scripture can lead us further from God.

 

This is the paradox Jesus faced in the Gospels. It’s a tension that runs throughout the many stories where ordinary people, experts in the law, and religious/political leaders rejected the allegedly “heretical” teachings of Jesus in favor of their take on the Law.

 

They had an air-tight systematic theology that was supposed to keep them from error. They never thought that their greatest barrier between themselves and God would be their reading of Scripture itself.

 

<snip>

 

The short answer is that they were devoted more to the Scriptures than to the God of the Scriptures.

 

 

The author  fails to understand the pharisaical/rabbinic paradigm that was in play during the first century.   People tend to see the Pharisees as people who had a legalistic approach to the Scriptures, but that is not the case.  

 

Jesus, in the Gospels, is not criticizing the Pharisees as legalists, but as hypocrites.   Jesus' charge is not that they are following the Bible too rigidly.   His accusation is that they had forsaken the Bible altogether in defference to their man-made traditions and that they applied those traditions hypocritically. The Rabbis, by that time, had created a sytem of fence rules and those fence rules, we would call "traditions" had been granted the mantle of having equal authority to the Scriptures.   Furthermore, the Oral Law or Mishnah was the rule of law and not so much the Scriptures.

 

So the notion that modern Christians are making the same legalisitic mistakes the Pharisees made because they are sticklers for proper biblical interpretation really doesn't hold any water.   Jesus spent a good portion of the Sermon on the Mount correcting rabbinical excesses, not complaining about how strictly someone was interpreting the Bible.  The Pharisees were not obeying the Bible.   If they were, much of what Jesus had said would not have been needed to be said.

 

The author's notion that focusing on a proper interpretation of Scripture leads people away from God simply isn't true.   Perhaps it cramps some people's style and puts a wrinkle in their theology and makes them mad, but it doesn't lead them away from the Lord.  

 

The New Testament connects the knowlege of God through the Scriptures to loviing God (Eph. 5:17; Phil. 1:9; Col. 1:9, 3:10; II Pet. 1:5-6, 3:18).

 Someone once said,  "He would be strange God indeed, who is loved more by being known less."  The more are devoted to the study of the Scriptures, the more we bathe ourselves in the Word of God the more we will love God.   This because everything new that we learn about God from the Scriptures is another reason to love Him.  The Scripturs are God's self-disclosure.  He gave us the Scriptures to increase our knowledge of Him and thereby deepen our relationship with Him.

 

I’m the one asking, “Am I doing this right?” More times than not, Jesus pointed people away from questions like that.

 

Yeah, not buying that at all.   That is not at all true.

 

 

They wore themselves out trying to rest “biblically.”

 

 

No, they didn't.  They were trying rest "rabbinically."   That was the problem.  The irony is that they were not keeping the Sabbath and Jesus made that point more than once.  They had missed the Sabbath altogether because they weren't resting "biblically."

 

I find it ironic that the author who appears to be criticizing people for trying too hard to be "biblcial"  is incapable of correctly framing the Bible when it comes to understanding the dynamics of the conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees.  If he spent more time trying to be biblical he would not make that mistake.



#11
Littlelambseativy

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OH!! let me correct myself - Jesus came to fulfill the law!!  That's what happens when I have my mind on 2 things at the same time. How wrong I was.



#12
shiloh357

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Just for clarity -

 

There is a difference between what the Torah stated about Sabbath and what the religious teaching had done to it by then.

 

They taught the letter of the Law; Jesus showed the spirit of the Law - so to speak,

 

How many of our religious traditions and doctrines are the same? Have we left the heart of Scripture for the letter of it?

Actually, they were not teaching the letter of the law, at all; at least, not according to Jesus.   He said that they had left the law and were teaching their traditions, which had nothing to do with the letter of the law.  In fact, many of their traditions allowed them to skirt the letter of the law, such as their immoral approach to divorce.  

 

Keeping the "letter of the law" wasn't the problem.  Jesus used the letter of the law to to condemn them for violating it.



#13
nebula

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No, they didn't.  They were trying rest "rabbinically."   That was the problem.  The irony is that they were not keeping the Sabbath and Jesus made that point more than once.  They had missed the Sabbath altogether because they weren't resting "biblically."

 

I find it ironic that the author who appears to be criticizing people for trying too hard to be "biblcial"  is incapable of correctly framing the Bible when it comes to understanding the dynamics of the conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees.  If he spent more time trying to be biblical he would not make that mistake.

 

I think rather he may have argued his point differently.

 

Consider this:

 

When I engage in debate against Replacement Theology, it is because those who stand for that doctrine would quite likely treat Jews differently (particularly more negatively than others) than if they believed that God's covenant still stands.

 

However, when it comes to the Predestination - Free-will debate, I discovered that neither theology changes how anyone acts. After everyone beats each other up verbally trying to drive home their interpretation of Scripture (for both sides have tons of Scripture to support their side and refute the other), what does it change? For example, if a person has a heart for God, would they be lax about sin because they believe in eternal security? (If they were lax, I'd be questioning if they had the Spirit in them to begin with, you know?) Does either position change how one witnesses to others?

 

 

Or consider debates on legalism. (Oh no - I said "the L word"!) Are rules to be followed for rules' sake, or for the sake of how they lead you to love God and love others?



#14
Butero

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Jesus Came to Save Us from the Bible

March 5, 2014 By michaboyett

 

Following the Bible’s teachings on the Sabbath can be exhausting.

 

Seeking the freedom of scripture can lead to bondage.

 

Drawing near to the teachings of scripture can lead us further from God.

 

This is the paradox Jesus faced in the Gospels. It’s a tension that runs throughout the many stories where ordinary people, experts in the law, and religious/political leaders rejected the allegedly “heretical” teachings of Jesus in favor of their take on the Law.

 

They had an air-tight systematic theology that was supposed to keep them from error. They never thought that their greatest barrier between themselves and God would be their reading of Scripture itself.

 

<snip>

 

The short answer is that they were devoted more to the Scriptures than to the God of the Scriptures.

 

 

The author  fails to understand the pharisaical/rabbinic paradigm that was in play during the first century.   People tend to see the Pharisees as people who had a legalistic approach to the Scriptures, but that is not the case.  

 

Jesus, in the Gospels, is not criticizing the Pharisees as legalists, but as hypocrites.   Jesus' charge is not that they are following the Bible too rigidly.   His accusation is that they had forsaken the Bible altogether in defference to their man-made traditions and that they applied those traditions hypocritically. The Rabbis, by that time, had created a sytem of fence rules and those fence rules, we would call "traditions" had been granted the mantle of having equal authority to the Scriptures.   Furthermore, the Oral Law or Mishnah was the rule of law and not so much the Scriptures.

 

So the notion that modern Christians are making the same legalisitic mistakes the Pharisees made because they are sticklers for proper biblical interpretation really doesn't hold any water.   Jesus spent a good portion of the Sermon on the Mount correcting rabbinical excesses, not complaining about how strictly someone was interpreting the Bible.  The Pharisees were not obeying the Bible.   If they were, much of what Jesus had said would not have been needed to be said.

 

The author's notion that focusing on a proper interpretation of Scripture leads people away from God simply isn't true.   Perhaps it cramps some people's style and puts a wrinkle in their theology and makes them mad, but it doesn't lead them away from the Lord.  

 

The New Testament connects the knowlege of God through the Scriptures to loviing God (Eph. 5:17; Phil. 1:9; Col. 1:9, 3:10; II Pet. 1:5-6, 3:18).

 Someone once said,  "He would be strange God indeed, who is loved more by being known less."  The more are devoted to the study of the Scriptures, the more we bathe ourselves in the Word of God the more we will love God.   This because everything new that we learn about God from the Scriptures is another reason to love Him.  The Scripturs are God's self-disclosure.  He gave us the Scriptures to increase our knowledge of Him and thereby deepen our relationship with Him.

 

I’m the one asking, “Am I doing this right?” More times than not, Jesus pointed people away from questions like that.

 

Yeah, not buying that at all.   That is not at all true.

 

 

They wore themselves out trying to rest “biblically.”

 

 

No, they didn't.  They were trying rest "rabbinically."   That was the problem.  The irony is that they were not keeping the Sabbath and Jesus made that point more than once.  They had missed the Sabbath altogether because they weren't resting "biblically."

 

I find it ironic that the author who appears to be criticizing people for trying too hard to be "biblcial"  is incapable of correctly framing the Bible when it comes to understanding the dynamics of the conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees.  If he spent more time trying to be biblical he would not make that mistake.

 

Shiloh, those are all excellent points.  Well said. 



#15
Butero

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Just for clarity -

 

There is a difference between what the Torah stated about Sabbath and what the religious teaching had done to it by then.

 

They taught the letter of the Law; Jesus showed the spirit of the Law - so to speak,

 

How many of our religious traditions and doctrines are the same? Have we left the heart of Scripture for the letter of it?

Actually, they were not teaching the letter of the law, at all; at least, not according to Jesus.   He said that they had left the law and were teaching their traditions, which had nothing to do with the letter of the law.  In fact, many of their traditions allowed them to skirt the letter of the law, such as their immoral approach to divorce.  

 

Keeping the "letter of the law" wasn't the problem.  Jesus used the letter of the law to to condemn them for violating it.

 

:thumbsup:  Once again Shiloh, I completely agree with you.  There is nothing more I could add to what you said. 



#16
EnochBethany

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Well, it is possible to be a legalist, straining at gnats, arguing theological & biblical tiddlywinks. 

 

But devotion to a person's words is devotion to the person -- so this is basically a false dichotomy.  Ps 119 is appropriate here -- my, what bibliolatry!



#17
Qnts2

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OH!! let me correct myself - Jesus came to fulfill the law!!  That's what happens when I have my mind on 2 things at the same time. How wrong I was.

 

Ahhh, good.

 

I was a little concerned with your initial statement, but this is dead on in my opinion. I have met Christians who claim Jesus broke the law. I've never understood their thought process.



#18
Qnts2

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Just for clarity -

 

There is a difference between what the Torah stated about Sabbath and what the religious teaching had done to it by then.

 

They taught the letter of the Law; Jesus showed the spirit of the Law - so to speak,

 

How many of our religious traditions and doctrines are the same? Have we left the heart of Scripture for the letter of it?

Actually, they were not teaching the letter of the law, at all; at least, not according to Jesus.   He said that they had left the law and were teaching their traditions, which had nothing to do with the letter of the law.  In fact, many of their traditions allowed them to skirt the letter of the law, such as their immoral approach to divorce.  

 

Keeping the "letter of the law" wasn't the problem.  Jesus used the letter of the law to to condemn them for violating it.

 

 

What Jesus objected to was the traditions which were considered obligations. But to generalize that the Pharisees were not teaching the letter of the law is incorrect and too generalized. The traditions were setup, not to allow them to skirt the letter of the law, but the main purpose was so that people would not accidently violate the letter of the law.

 

In reading Jesus position and explanation, the Pharisees actually taught the same as Jesus in many differing areas. The disagreements are what Jesus came after, but I suspect Jesus came after the Pharisees for a several reasons. 1. They were the popular teachers of that day, and held in high esteem by the people. 2. They were the closer to the truth then the other sects of Judaism. 3. Most of the Jewish people were very familiar with the teaching of the Pharisees, and practiced that teaching.   4. The Pharisees rejected Jesus as the Messiah using mainly Jesus claim to be equal to God. And taught the people to reject Jesus.    



#19
nebula

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In reading Jesus position and explanation, the Pharisees actually taught the same as Jesus in many differing areas. The disagreements are what Jesus came after, but I suspect Jesus came after the Pharisees for a several reasons. 1. They were the popular teachers of that day, and held in high esteem by the people. 2. They were the closer to the truth then the other sects of Judaism. 3. Most of the Jewish people were very familiar with the teaching of the Pharisees, and practiced that teaching.   4. The Pharisees rejected Jesus as the Messiah using mainly Jesus claim to be equal to God. And taught the people to reject Jesus.    

 

 

I have heard, too, that Jesus was a Pharisee.

 

The explanation has to do with Jesus being a rabbi, and to be a rabbi one had to discipled under a rabbi, and within the system one had to belong to one of the different groups (Pharisee, Sadducee, etc.).

 

Something like that.

 

But in any event, that would make sense for why Jesus' teaching were more in-line with pharisitical thought (as opposed to sadduceacal thought).

 

What do you think?



#20
nebula

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So guys, what do you see in error about this"

 

"I don’t see Jesus telling us to slack off in our scripture reading or to make up our own rules. Rather, he’s calling us to keep the purpose of Scripture in mind. Is our reading of Scripture leading us closer to love of God and love of neighbor? Is our reading of Scripture leading to spiritual restoration or exhaustion on the Sabbath?"






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