In a discussion, a family member said that the Pharisees often quoted Scripture. Do we have any record of this in the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John)? I don't mean just referring to Biblical concepts or Jewish tradition; I'm looking specifically for direct quotes of the Old Testament. I can't think of any such case, but I also can't think of a good way to search for such a passage.

  • Does John 7:52 count?
    – user
    Nov 11 '14 at 20:20
  • Well, it's something. Probably not what I'd call a quote for purposes of dialog with family, but good to know about.
    – adv12
    Nov 11 '14 at 20:23
  • @adv12 Start here: BibleGateway-Quick search: Pharisees?
    – user13992
    Nov 12 '14 at 3:33
  • 1
    @FMS: thanks. I know that's the "hard" way; I will probably resort to checking every instance of "Pharisee" in the NT if no one comes up with anything. Just thought I'd see if someone could quickly spare me the hard work.
    – adv12
    Nov 12 '14 at 3:37
  • 3
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's a verse search question. Sep 4 '15 at 15:36

Sometimes the Scriptures identify Pharisees specifically, but other times they merely reference chief priests, who may have been Pharisees. There are a few passages of note:

The Chief Priests and Scribes cite Micah 5:2 in reference to the birth of the Messiah

Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet:

6 ‘And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, Are by no means least among the leaders of Judah; For out of you shall come forth a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.’” Matthew 2:4-6 NASB

The Scribes and Pharisees reference Moses' Teaching on Adultery

The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the center of the court, 4 they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. 5 Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?” John 8:3-5 NASB

  • Do you have a reference to support the idea that the chief priests might have included Pharisees?
    – Flimzy
    Nov 12 '14 at 14:20
  • Just that in the Matthew passage, it references "chief priests and scribes" without distinguishing whether they were Pharisees or Sadduccees, so that may very well have included both.
    – Narnian
    Nov 12 '14 at 14:23
  • ... or neither.
    – Flimzy
    Nov 12 '14 at 14:23
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    My understanding of the Pharisees is not extensive, but their M.O. would almost suggest that they disavowed the literal/historical priesthood.
    – Flimzy
    Nov 12 '14 at 14:24

Thanks to everyone for the comments and to @Narnian and @Flimzy for their answers. @Narnian, I don't consider the Moses reference a quote, so I was left with the "hard way" suggested by @FMS, which was to individually check every instance of the word "Pharisee" (or "Pharisees") in the Bible. This turned up 93 hits, which I investigated one at a time. I viewed each hit verse in context, identified the full passage to which it belonged, and made a table of conversations, speakers, words spoken, and Scripture quoted. The final result is here:


I didn't identify a single quote of OT Scripture by the Pharisees, while Jesus quoted the following OT Scriptures, some more than once, all in conversation with Pharisees:

  • Hosea 6:6
  • Exodus 20:12
  • Exodus 21:17
  • Isaiah 29:13
  • Genesis 1:27
  • Genesis 2:24
  • Deuteronomy 6:5
  • Leviticus 19:18
  • Psalm 110:1

Paul was a Pharisee, and he quoted scripture extensively in his epistles, but that's not in the Gospels.

I find no other examples of Pharisees directly quoting scripture recorded in the New Testament, based on my search at Bible Gateway. But it would be very surprising to think they didn't, as well as they knew the law, which was based on (but not exclusively) scripture.

  • After brief review, there are scant enough direct quotes directly attributed to the "Pharisees". The focus of the Gospels is the "Words in Red", not the words in blue. While it seems an interesting point, I doubt you could build much doctrine from the point.
    – user16825
    Nov 12 '14 at 5:04
  • An expert in the law/lawyer quotes scripture in Luke 10:27 and the lawyers were insulted alongside the Pharisees in Luke 11:42-48 (which parallels the seven woes against the scribes and the Pharisees in Matthew 23). Nov 12 '14 at 11:40
  • @PaulA.Clayton: I'm not sure what point you're trying to make.
    – Flimzy
    Nov 12 '14 at 14:22
  • Not much of a point, just that the lawyers were lumped together with the Pharisees and that reference has a lawyer quoting scriptures. Nov 12 '14 at 14:34
  • @PaulA.Clayton: Usually the Pharisees and "experts in the law" are mentioned separately, which would suggest to me that they are not lumped together.
    – Flimzy
    Nov 12 '14 at 14:45

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