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Who were the Pharisees and Sadducees?

A Video Supplement for
Come, Follow Me Lesson 5:
“Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord”




In order to understand the New Testament it helps to have some idea of the identity of the people and groups with whom Jesus is interacting. Two important ones are the Pharisees and the Sadducees. The questions I will address in this video are, mainly, who are these two groups and how can you remember them effectively? First, however, I will give some general information about them. They are both group of Jews that were prominent during the Second Temple period, when the New Testament takes place.

The Pharisees prided themselves on their strict adherence to the Law of Moses. The apostle Paul was a Pharisee in his younger years, which is likely part of how he got to know the scriptures so well. He quotes from the scriptures frequently in his writings.

The Sadducees were elites who took charge of maintaining the temple. They seem to have seen themselves as descendants of Zadok and this seems to be where the name Sadducees comes from. Two Sadducaic beliefs that become important in the New Testament are their rejection of Angles and Spirits and their rejection of the Resurrection of the Dead.

In Acts 23:6-10, Paul uses this difference between the Pharisees and the Sadducees to start a dispute between the two groups by pointing out that he was being picked on for his belief in the resurrection.

So how do you keep these two groups straight? Well, the Pharisees stress the law, a very fair way to run things as some see it, so you could say that they want everything fair, you see (Pharisee), and the Sadducees don’t believe in angels, spirits or the resurrection and that is what they are sad…you see (Sadducee).

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