Different Jewish Sects
Old Testament does not mention the number of Jewish sects that we read about in
the New Testament. During the 400 years of silence between the books of Malachi
and Matthew, the Jews developed a number of sects in reaction to the political
forces. A small remnant returned to
adopted parts of the Greek culture, they were known as Hellenist. “Jews throughout the Hellenistic world, adopted Greek names,
subscribed to Greek philosophies, and looked to Greek institutions as the
harbingers of cultural progress” Between the Testaments ,
page 111 The “Hellenists” are mentioned three times in the Book of
Acts. “Now in those days, when the
number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a murmuring against the
Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily
distribution.” (Acts 6.1) As one can surmise from this passage the Jews in
group of Jews were the Essenes. The Hellenists were the radical liberals among
the Jews, the Essenes were the radical conservatives. They wanted to isolate
themselves from the influences of the world. “They seemed to have lived for the most part in monastic communities,
such as that with headquarters at Qumran, from which the
third Jewish sect, were the Sadducees. They were the elite Jews that controlled
final group mentioned in the New Testament was the Pharisees. First appearing
around 134 B.C. the name “Pharisee” means separated ones. . They were strict
legalist. Keep in mind legalism is not wrong as long as it seeks to understand
the letter and meaning of the law. The problem with the Pharisees was their
hypocrisy. They taught one thing and did another and did not
consider the meaning of
the law. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!
For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have neglected the weightier
matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done,
without leaving the others undone.” (Matthew 23.23)
The Pharisee’s were held in high esteem, Acts 5.34. The Apostle Paul
referred to being a Pharisee as a sign of his devotion to God, Philippians 3.
was not born a Pharisee or a Sadducee, each recruited new members. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!
For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make
him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.” (Matthew 23.15) D.T.