Use of the word Pharisee

I constantly encounter the word Pharisee by Christians, mostly Evangelicals. Recently, I encountered a hyper-grace believer on this blog, who was quick to try to subtly worm her way in by asking questions, subtly finding a way to slam Fundamentalists, and seized on that as a chance to argue with me that I was a Pharisee, full of works, because I wrote about… repentance and prayer.

Okay, Let me translate the word Pharisee for my Gentile readers, and let’s see if you understand how that word sits in my ears.

“Fundamentalist narrow minded Pharisee!”

In my ears means, “You Bible believing Jew!”


You know, It’s been many years since I was called “Jew Boy” in school. Anti-Semitism still reigns in today’s society. Obama’s America in the last years of the reign of his regime had institutionalized Jew Hating. Schools of higher education were encouraged to be racist – against Jews. They used phrases to disguise it – “Divestiture”, “Censure”, “Israel”.

What it amounted to is that America has become increasingly intolerant, in the name of tolerance.

It’s bad enough I have to endure that from the unsaved, but to have my Christian brothers and sisters routinely engage in antisemitism is too much.

When you call someone Pharisee, understand this – you are being a racist. You are being a bigot. You are being an anti-Semite. You’re being a Jew Hater.

in 2008, one night late at night, while reading a book by John MacArthur and searching for the truth, I broke under the weight of my guilt over sin, and I cried out to God to save me from Hell. I called upon Jesus Christ in desperate need, and He answered. At that moment, my heritage ceased to be of importance. yet it’s thrown in my face over and over again.

We as Christians should not be racist. You should not say hurtful words. Don’t you think, if you call someone a Pharisee, you might have to explain that to Jesus Christ? When God says Israel is the apple of His eye, don’t you think you might want to be cautious about that?

When God says those who bless the seed of Abraham shall be blessed and those who curse Abraham’s seed will be cursed… you might want to be more careful?

You Gentiles reading this, understand this – you are a wild olive branch, grafted onto the vine of Israel. You’re joined into the vine along with me. We’re together. You have to live in the same place I do – forever, and ever, and ever.

Christians as a whole have examined their racism, realized its a sin, and repented of it. Except where the Jew is concerned. You look at someone who embraces the Bible as God’s instructions, and you snarl, “Jew!”

You say “Pharisee”, but I hear “Jew.” And it’s right back to 6th grade, and people shouting Jew Boy, and doing the Sieg Heil salute in my face, and shouting “Heil Hitler” as they spit on me.

I’ve gotten over that – certainly 6th Grade was a long time ago. But that feeling comes back when I hear Christians say, “Pharisee”.

To explain it, the Sadducee party disappeared in AD 70 with the destruction of the Temple. The only group to survive was the Pharisees. Jews today are the heirs of the Pharisees, and certainly it took a long time to break free of the mindset of the Chassidic teachings I’d learned, the Orthodox lifestyle. Seriously, it took a long time for me to be able to cut my fingernails without water nearby (if you don’t understand that, it’ll take too long to explain).

If you want to call me Fundamentalist, that’s fine. If you want to call me a literalist, someone who believes the Bible literally, that’s great! If you think I’m self-righteous, say that!

But anti-Semitism should NEVER be in the mouths of Christians. NEVER. If you harbor any anti-Semitic thoughts, pray about them. It’s like all sins we struggle with.

Don’t ever call anyone a Pharisee ever again.


Author: philipdean2013

Seminary graduate with a Ba. in Theology/Pastoral Studies, Happily married, Independent Baptist. I can't keep silent about what I see going on in Christianity any longer! Apostasy reigns around us, churches are sliding into worldiness, a whitewashed Gospel is preached everywhere... "Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein. Jeremiah 6:16 (KJV) So, I'm speaking out. ...Why aren't you???

7 thoughts on “Use of the word Pharisee”

  1. I’ve never known any Evangelical Christian to use Pharisee as an insult to the Jewish people. They only know the Bible describes Pharisees as people who believe in God and in adding extra commandments (hundreds of them.) They only know of Jesus’ warning in Matthew 23 to avoid the yeast of the Pharisees (hypocrisy). They only get a picture of the Pharisees of Jesus’ days that were all show and no substance – the Pharisees who are trapped in timeless pages of the inerrant and infallible Bible that never, ever learned to evolve past the Chassidic teachings or Orthodox traditions. So were they to call somebody a Pharisee, the last thing they would be doing is insulting Jews just because they’re Jews; they would be saying that somebody is a legalist, one who cares more for the text of the law rather than the spirit of the law, they would be saying that somebody is self-righteous and they lack a word that encapsulates that concept other than Pharisee; they think they don’t need one because the Bible is sufficient and gives them that word to use to describe just such a person. Many describe themselves as recovering Pharisees because they recognize themselves as legalistic and literalist about the Word of God, turning it into an idol above their savior. To them, Pharisees need not be Jewish; non-Jews can be (and are) Pharisees all the same. After all, a great many evangelical Christians have profound respect for the Jewish population as those chosen by God; they side with Israel even when Israel is on the wrong side / has done the wrong thing because they believe that anyone who blesses Israel receives a blessing from God. That said, most Evangelical Christians live in this bubble that rarely interacts with Messianic Jews or most Jews in general; they co-opt Bible words and phrases to mean things unto themselves that outsiders might not understand or might take differently because they are unfamiliar with how the word is used in Christianese. They don’t get how they sound to people outside of that bubble and things they think are perfectly fine might in reality not be; they don’t mean to be insulting or even racist – but it’s just how they interpret the Bible, it’s how they stand on the Word of God that differs from others that makes them so isolated in that way.


    1. my point is, it’s an emotionally charged word that has anti-semitic overtones. Christians really should not use it. If you want to say someone is legalistic, say that. To call someone pharisee to Jewish ears is saying “you observant Jew!”


      1. There is no Biblical justification for calling anyone a Pharisee except for an observant Jew. That’s how it was used in the Bible. To call someone a Pharisee as a synonym for legalist or for hypocrite is to be anti-semitic. I stand by that statement, and I ask for every reader to study that out and pray about it. Christians should not offend anyone.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Brother,
    I posted a comment on this, but I don’t think it went through. You are in a unique position to explain these things as you’re seeing through Jewish eyes. But if you grew up Gentile you would most likely see it as calling someone a legalist, someone who is “religious” but doesn’t know or love God.

    In fact, many Gentiles have been called Pharisees – I would interpret that as more anti-bible than anti-Semitic as it seems to be thrown around a lot today by those in the “new apostolic reformation” to describe those who won’t go outside scripture.

    You can use your knowledge & experience to explain to Christians how this could come across to Jews – it would be of great value

    And I actually thought of this post today when I watched this FANTASTIC short film that everyone should see & ask themselves/ourselves – could you become a nazi??? Amazing – this teacher opened their eyes and it reminded me of this post where you explained something to open people’s eyes. True story!


    1. I appreciate what everyone is saying -my point is, if someone’s being a legalist or a hypocrite, call them that. The Bible does. But the word Pharisee is used exclusively in the Bible for “Orthodox Jew.” So, if you’re calling a Gentile “Pharisee” when Biblically you’re trying to call them a legalist, it is still no less offensive.
      Thank you for your support on this. I pray that my readers can help spread the word on this and help prevent one more stumbling block to my people getting saved.


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