The Pharisees

Justin Martyr 

Then what is next said in the Psalm – ‘For trouble is near, for there is none to help me. Many calves have compassed me; fat bulls have beset me round. They opened their mouth upon me as a ravening and roaring lion…’ For on that night when some of your nation, who had been sent by the Pharisees and Scribes, and teachers, came upon Him from the Mount of Olives, those whom Scripture called butting and prematurely destructive calves surrounded Him. And the expression, ‘Fat bulls have beset me round,’ He spoke beforehand of those who acted similarly to the calves, when He was led before your teachers. And the Scripture described them as bulls, since we know that bulls are authors of calves’ existence. As therefore the bulls are the begetters of the calves, so your teachers were the cause why their children went out to the Mount of Olives to take Him and bring Him to them. And the expression, ‘For there is none to help,’ is also indicative of what took place. For there was not even a single man to assist Him as an innocent person.

…As I have learned also from the memoirs. For He exhorted His disciples to surpass the pharisaic way of living, with the warning, that if they did not, they might be sure they could not be saved; and these words are recorded in the memoirs: ‘Unless your righteousness exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.’ – ibid

But if your teachers… never venture either to speak of or to expound the points which are great and worthy of investigation, or command you to give no audience to us while we expound them, and to come not into conversation with us; will they not deserve to hear what our Lord Jesus Christ said to them: ‘Whitened sepulchers, which appear beautiful outward, and within are full of dead men’s bones; which pay tithe of mint, and swallow a camel: you blind guides!’ If, then, you will not despise the doctrines of those who exalt themselves and wish to be called Rabbi, Rabbi, and come with such earnestness and intelligence to the words of prophecy as to suffer the same inflictions from your own people which the prophets themselves did, you cannot receive any advantage whatsoever from the prophetic writings. – ibid

Assent, therefore, and pour no ridicule on the Son of God; obey not the Pharisaic teachers, and scoff not at the King of Israel, as the rulers of your synagogues teach you to do after your prayers: for if he that touches those who are not pleasing to God, is as one that touches the apple of God’s eye, how much more so is he that touches His beloved! – ibid

Irenaeus

For He who uttered them was Truth, and did truly vindicate His own house, by driving out of it the changers of money, who were buying and selling, saying unto them: “It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but you have made it a den of thieves.”… But [He did so], that He might point out the transgressors of His Father’s law; for neither did He bring any accusation against the house, nor did He blame the law, which He had come to fulfill; but He reproved those who were putting His house to an improper use, and those who were transgressing the law. And therefore the scribes and Pharisees, too, who from the times of the law had begun to despise God, did not receive His Word, that is, they did not believe on Christ. Of these Isaiah says: “Your princes are rebellious, companions of thieves, loving gifts, following after rewards, not judging the fatherless, and negligent of the cause of the widows.” And Jeremiah, in like manner: “They,” he says, “who rule my people did not know me; they are senseless and imprudent children; they are wise to do evil, but to do well they have no knowledge.”

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