Pharisees and Sadducees


In the gospels Jesus frequently has disagreements with the Pharisees, and less frequently the Sadducees.  In many cases, people lump the two groups into one category without understanding that these two ruling groups in the time of Jesus were very, very different from each other.

When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees,
they gathered together, and one of them,
a scholar of the law, tested him by asking,
“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”
He said to him,
“You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart,
with all your soul, and with all your mind.
This is the greatest and the first commandment.
The second is like it:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”

The chart below contrasts the beliefs of these groups.  As you can see, the Sadducees were very interested in political power and influence.  To be a Sadducee a person had to belong to the wealthy class.  Not surprisingly, the Sadducees were primarily interested in the status quo.

The Pharisees, by contrast, were much more religious.  To them, there was a purity and leadership that flowed from strict adherence to the letter of the law of Moses.

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Jesus rejected the Sadducees because of their love of wealth and position and their failure to see that God’s plan encompasses the present life and the life to come.  The Pharisees were rejected, despite their piety, because they contented themselves with rituals and failed to see the God that was living among them.

Unfortunately, sometimes we encounter Sadducees and Pharisees among our Christian brothers and sisters. Beware of any person who claims that God’s love can either be bought or conjured through unapproved rituals.  The Catholic Church exists to glorify Jesus Christ. A belief in anyone or anything else inevitably will take you away from the faith that the Church professes, belief in the Risen Lord.

Let everything we do and say be done to glorify Christ Jesus.

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