When Jesus came to earth in the first century, the Pharisees had already become an influential sect of Judaism some 150 years earlier. What sort of persons were the Pharisees? The gospels give a clear description of what the Pharisees were like.
They prided themselves on being righteous (self-righteous) and looked down on the common people. (Luke 18:11, 12; John 7:47-49) They went to certain lengths to impress others with their righteousness. (Matthew 23:5). The Pharisees were so biased in their application of the Law that they made it burdensome for the people, insisting that it be observed according to their concepts and traditions. (Matthew 23:4) They completely lost sight of the important matters: justice, mercy, faithfulness, and the love of God. (Matthew 23:23; Luke 11:41-44) The Pharisees went to great lengths in making proselytes. (Matthew 23:15).
Most Christian denominations do their best to avoid becoming like the Pharisees. After all, Jesus regularly showed up their hypocrisy in his preaching work. So, is there a modern day version of the Pharisees within Christian religions today? Let’s look more closely at the above descriptions of the Pharisees to determine if there is.
Jehovah’s Witnesses pride themselves on being righteous, self-righteous. They think that unless all others are Jehovah’s Witnesses, they will not be saved. They look down on all who are not Jehovah’s Witnesses as “worldly people” who will not be saved from the ever-impending destruction of humanity by God when he brings about Armageddon.
They went to certain lengths to impress others with their righteousness. Matthew 23:5
Jehovah’s Witnesses go to great lengths to show “the world” their righteousness. They insist that male members wear suits and female members wear dresses or skirts to their congregation meetings. They insist that male members remain clean shaven. At conventions and assemblies, all of these requirements are doubly important. However, none of these requirements are scripturally mandated.
The Pharisees were so biased in their application of the Law that they made it burdensome for the people, insisting that it be observed according to their concepts and traditions. Matthew 23:4
Jehovah’s Witnesses have more laws than any other Christian religion on earth, many of which are not found in scripture. Yet, they insist that they be observed. These include, but are not limited to:
- You must not celebrate your birthday, Christmas, Easter or Halloween.
- Men must wear suits and women must wear dresses or skirts to meetings, conventions and while preaching.
- You must shun disfellowshipped persons, including family and friends.
- You must not question authority.
- You must not accept a blood transfusion.
- You must not work for a religious organization except Jehovah’s Witnesses.
- You must not attend another church.
- You must not gamble.
- You must not get involved in military service of any kind.
- You must not smoke or sell tobacco related products.
Compare Acts 15:28-29.
Jehovah’s Witnesses have a strict, unscriptural method for dealing with wrong-doers. They claim that their use of disfellowshipping is performed with justice and mercy. This is a lie. The systematic use of shunning to “help” wrongdoers has driven many Jehovah’s Witnesses to lose their faith and love of God. See also Is Disfellowshipping a Biblical Teaching.
The Pharisees went to great lengths in making proselytes. (Matthew 23:15).
Jehovah’s Witnesses claim that they proselytize more than any other Christian religion on earth. Admittedly, they do go to great lengths to make a proselyte. Just like the Pharisees. However, they do manage to offer many up as a “Child of hell”.
Today, the New Pharisees are Jehovah’s Witnesses. There is no doubt about it. Just like many admired the Pharisees in the First Century for their outward showy displays of what looks like righteousness, many today admire Jehovah’s Witness for the same reasons.