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| Author: Dele Oke

People in the Gospels and Acts

In order to understand the New Testament properly it helps to have an understanding of the different people groups that keep turning up. Below is a selection of characters from the gospels and Acts.

1. Pharisees (John 8:3; Mark 7:6-13)

Their doctrine was based on the Pentateuch (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy) Plus the rest of the OT and the tradition of the elders. They believed in the resurrection, angels and demons, this is in contrast to the Sadducees who did not believe in any of the latter (Acts 23:1-11). The Pharisees were very active during Jesus time (Luke 7:36,40 Luke 11:37,Luke 14:1,Luke 18:10-14,John 3:1-20, Acts 5:34-40). Paul was also a Pharisee (Acts 23:6; Phil 3:5)

2. Sadducees

They viewed only the Pentateuch as the word of God. Anything not found here was not accepted. They did not believe in - future life after death, final judgement, angels or demons (Mark 12:18; Luke 20:27; Matthew 22:23).

3. Scribes

Sometimes called scribes of the Pharisees (Mark 2:16). Originated in David and Solomon?s time. From Ezra?s time there were responsible for teaching the law. They were advisors to the Pharisees and teachers of the law (Mark 1:22) They considered the law higher than anything else (Luke 6:6 - 11)

4. Zealots

A militant group whose desire was to be free from Roman occupation. Jesus chooses a disciple from this group (Mark 3:18, Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13). They refused to pay taxes. Their roots are in the Maccabean period.

5. Herodians

Influential Jews who supported the Herodian family. Their hostility for Jesus enabled them to join with their natural enemies to plot against Jesus (Mark 3:16, 12:13).

6. Samaritans

John 4 gives a good insight into these people. You can trace them from 2 Kings 17:41. The fall of Northern Israel to the Assyria resulted in the Israelites there married foreigners. Samaria was the Capital of Northern Israel and the people of mixed race were called Samaritans. Now you can understand Jesus parable about Samaritans (Luke 10:30) in a new light.

7. Synagogue

The fall of Judah to Babylon was probably the origin of the Synagogue. Deprived of worship in the Temple in Jerusalem, which had been destroyed. The Jews resulted to building Synagogues as alternative places of worship (Matt 12:9; Luke 4:28; Acts 26:11)

8. Sanhedrin

The Jewish governing body (Mark 14:55; Matt 26:59; Acts 23:15). Sometimes called the council.

Dele Oke
Living Word Library