Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):

The Apostles and the Pharisees

The Early Christian Church observed the same holy days as Pharisaic Judaism. Did you know that the apostle Peter wrote a number of the synagogal hymns, including a prayer recited on the Sabbath in Jewish synagogues today!

by David C. Whitaker

With the Day of Pentecost approaching, I believe it is appropriate and necessary to once again confirm our position regarding the affinity between the teachings of Yeshua and Pharisaic Judaism. It is a well known historical fact within Judaism that the Galilean Hasidim among whom Yeshua and his original apostles were reared functioned within the sphere of the Jewish Calendar and the calculations for the annual Holydays as practiced by Pharisaic Judaism. Among many other events, the simple fact that the early Christians worshipped in the synagogues, and James directed Gentile converts to the synagogues located in Gentile lands, serves to help validate the apostle's positive association with the Pharisaic Judaism during their lifetime. What is largely not known are the many references which can be easily found demonstrating support for this historical scenario.

The authorative Encyclopaedia Judaica written from the Jewish Orthodox perspective, whose authors have absolutely no ulterior motive for supporting the Apostolic Church, states: "Since many Christian doctrines have more in common with those of the Pharisees than with those of the Sadducees, it is clear why the Apostolic Church, in the first years of its existence, had most to fear from the Sadducees (Acts 4 and 5)" (Encyclopaedia Judaica, vol. 14, p. 622; c1971, Keter Publishing House, Ltd., Jerusalem, Israel).

We are all familiar with the account in Luke 2:46 of how Yeshua at age 12 desired to mingle and interact with the Pharisaic doctors of the Torah in the Temple during Passover week: "And it came to pass, that after three days they found Him in the Temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions." The intent of the Greek text means Yeshua was "hearing" to learn and understand what they were teaching. To this regard, the Jewish scholar Hyam Maccoby asserts: "Jesus was not only educated as a Pharisee; he remained a Pharisee all his life...As a rabbi, Jesus was a typical Pharisee teacher. Both in style and content, his religious teachings show an unmistakable affinity to Pharisaism, and especially to the teachings of the great apostle of Pharisaism, Hillel" (Revolution in Judaea: Jesus and the Jewish Resistance, by Hyam Maccoby, pp. 106-107; London: Orbach and Chambers, 1973. Reprint edition, New York: Taplinger, 1981).

The original apostles did not teach against any of the customs or traditions of the Pharisees. The apostle Paul said to the Jews at Rome, who came to his house, "Men and brethren, though I HAVE COMMITTED NOTHING AGAINST THE PEOPLE, OR CUSTOMS (TRADITIONS) OF OUR FATHERS, yet was I delivered prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans" (Acts 28:17). No, historical studies reveal that the disciples of the Messiah, and the apostles, lived like the Pharisees, to a large degree, they ate like them, they dressed similar to them, and they had many common beliefs and understood the Law of YEHOVAH God as the Pharisees taught it. They recognized the authority of the Pharisees as to being the custodians of the Law and Calendar and the Scriptures of YEHOVAH God.

In fact, the apostle Kepha (Peter) was known for writing some of the prayers in the Jewish prayer book that is used in every Jewish Synagogue today. Says one authority,

"It is a fact of Jewish tradition, that the apostle Kepha, called Peter by the Gentiles, was vested with rabbinical sanctity, ascribing to him the authorship of a number of synagogal hymns, including the 'Nishmath Kol Chay,' the Metrical prayer recited on the Sabbath in the synagogues today" (see Jellinek's Beth-Ha-Midrash, vols. 5-6, Vienna, 1973, and Eisenstein's Ozar Midrashim, New York, 1915, vol 2, pp. 557, 559).


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