Who Is In Charge of the Temple?

Fred R. CoulterMay 19, 1990

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Let's go to Matt. 23 first because this becomes a very important thing for us to understand exactly what it's saying. When you read Matt. 23 and then you read some of the writings of William F. Dankenbring you wonder where the conflict is. He did a paper called, Getting It Right: Pentecost, the Final Answer. I want to read to you part of it here.

Getting It Right: Pentecost, the Final Answer by William F. Dankenbring:

Were the Pharisees wrong?….

We saw with our calendar thing that the Pharisaical way of calculating Pentecost normally occurs three to four times out of ten years anyway. Please remember that.

…The Pharisees, whom Jesus described as the guardians of the Law of God…

I want you to notice how this is flavored. I want you to remember the last sermon we did on the historians and the writers:

  • emphasizing facts
  • easing off of facts
  • bearing down on facts
  • ignoring facts
  • slanting what they want to say to fit what they want to prove

That's precisely what is being done here. Nowhere did Jesus use the words, 'the guardians of the Law are the Pharisees.' As a matter of fact, let's go to John 7 for a minute and let's see what Jesus said. We'll just add a couple of things in here. Here is what Jesus said concerning the Law of Moses:

John 7:19: "'Did not Moses give you the law, and not one of you is practicing the Law?….'" Does that sound like they are 'guardians of the Law'? We'll see a little later that their traditions rejected the Law of God (Mark 7 and Matt. 15); 'Full well you reject the Law of God that you may keep your traditions.' That's what Jesus said.

The Pharisees whom Jesus described as the guardians of the Law of God (Matt. 23:2-3) understood the Sabbath of Lev. 23:11 to refer to the first day of Passover or the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

As we saw on the calendars we had, how the Jews no longer even recognized the 14th as part of the Passover. Instead of going from the 14th through the 21st for eight days, they go from the 15th through the 22nd for eight days.

The first day of Unleavened Bread, the 15th of Nisan, which was a High Sabbath Day of rest (Encyclopedia Judaica, Vol 14, p 1319)

Whenever you read any reference that is of the Jews, you have to remember that the only things we have written by the Jews today were from the Pharisees—period! They had absolutely no love for the Sadducees. You can't depend on their writings for it.

The Apostle Paul…

Notice what we're doing. We're coming from the Pharisees, who Christ endorsed, down to the Apostle Paul who was the apostle to the Gentiles. See in three sentences what we've come to.

…who was also a Pharisee before his conversion, still acknowledged that he was a Pharisee years after his conversion. When he cried out to a council of religious leaders approximately 60A.D.—26 years after his conversion in 34A.D.—"I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee" (Acts 23:6).

Again, taking it out of context. He only did that so that he could split the Pharisees against the Sadducees, because he knew how much they hated each other. He didn't do it because he was a practicing Pharisee.

Paul also said that as a Pharisee, he was, "As touching the Law, a Pharisee" and "As touching the righteousness which is in the Law, blameless" (Phil. 3). Does this sound as if the Pharisees were wrong the way they counted Pentecost?

The human logic follows along, but does it stand up under the investigation of Scripture?

If the Pharisees were wrong in the way they counted Pentecost, since they counted from the first day after the annual Sabbath, as Josephus the famous Jewish historian of the First Century shows beyond any doubt…

All he was doing was writing how the Pharisees did it. We know that 30% to 40% of the time, that is correct.

…then Jesus, the Messiah our Savior, would not have told His disciples, "The scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. All, therefore, whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do."

All of that sounds very good. However, let's put some of it to the test. Were we to follow the authority of the Pharisees? It would seem a little ridiculous to say they sat in authority and for Jesus to tell them to follow them in whatever they said!

  • Does that mean that He's endorsing their traditions? No, because we know that they rejected Him! and We know that Jesus rejected the traditions!
  • Does that mean that they were to believe them [the Pharisees] in relationship to what they said about Jesus Christ?
  • Didn't they say that Jesus Christ cast out demons by the 'prince of the demons, Beelzebub?'

Matthew 23:1[transcriber's correction]: "Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, saying, 'The scribes…'" (vs 1-2). All the way through Dankenbring's writings, he leaves out the scribes.

Who were the scribes? The scribes were the doctors of the Law! They were the ones who knew what we would call the Bible. The scribes, in the main, not all, were Sadducees, because most of the scribes were lower-level priests. It puts the scribes in first authoritative position, not the Pharisees. The Pharisees are in the second authoritative position, in charge of the synagogues and had virtually no power at the temple, which we'll prove today from Scriptures.

"…and the Pharisees have sat down on Moses' seat as judges…" (v 2). The original has this as meaning, and is so translated in the New American translation of the Bible, which is: "The scribes and Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses." In other words, they usurped the authority of Moses. When He's saying, 'all they bid you observe' that could only—as we've covered before, this in kind of a way in review, just to nail it down—refer to when they were reading the Scriptures. It could not possibly refer to anything else.

Let's carry this just one step further. If you, as a Christian Jew, who is called of the sect a Nazarene, because you were following Jesus of Nazareth, went into a synagogue and you participated in the synagogue ceremony, would you have obeyed the Pharisees when the command came to 'curse the minim': cursing the Christians and cursing Christ. Now you're stuck with something, because a Pharisee would command that. This is only limited. Because they 'seated themselves' in Moses' seat, Jesus is saying, 'Whatsoever they bid you—it's got to be with what the Scriptures say—that do.' Otherwise, the whole rest of the chapter in His condemnation of them makes absolutely no sense. It was the most voracious attack that Jesus gave on any of them. I'm not going to go through the whole thing; you can all read the rest of Matt. 23.

Let's cover the next question in Phil. 3 concerning that Paul was a Pharisee. Paul is saying that since he was a Pharisee he did what the law said. Let's see all of it. Let's look at all of it. What is one of the rules of Bible study?

  • you start with the easy to understand
  • you look at the Scripture
  • you read the verses before
  • you read the verses after

if that doesn't give you the answer

  • you read the chapter before the chapter after

if that doesn't give you the answer

  • you get out your concordance
  • you look up every place in the Bible where that same instance is used so you can find out how it's used in the Bible, rather than make a guess on what to do

Philippians 3:2: "Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision." That's the circumcision party of the Pharisees. Acts 15 covers the whole problem of circumcision. 'Concision' means the cut off ones, instead of the circumcised ones. That's what Paul thought of their theological stance in relationship to salvation.

Acts 15:1: "Now, certain men who had come down from Judea were teaching the brethren, saying, 'Unless you are circumcised after the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.'"

Verse 5: "But there stood up certain of those who believed… [in Jesus] …who were of the sect of the Pharisees, saying, 'It is obligatory to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the Law of Moses.'" That's their interpretation of the Law of Moses; please understand.

Who was causing problems within the Church? Pharisees! You read all of Acts 15. Does it sound like that the disciples followed the Pharisees? or Did they ignore them? If we are to follow the Pharisees and their teachings within the Church, why did not the Church at that point follow the Pharisees and make circumcision mandatory? You've got to answer all those questions. You can't take part of it and build your case on part of it.

Philippians 3:3: "For we are the circumcision, who serve God in the spirit and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and do not trust in the flesh; though I might also have reason to trust in the flesh. If any other thinks he has cause to trust in the flesh, I have much more: Circumcised on the eighth day; of the race of Israel, from the tribe of Benjamin…" (vs 3-5).
What was the difference between the Pharisees and the scribes and the priests? A Pharisee could be of any tribe! Most of the Pharisees were Jews or Benjamites, some were Levites, but the Levites were the priests. That's why Jesus said, 'They seated themselves in Moses' seat.' Really they were lay preachers. They were not priests. The Pharisees were in charge of the synagogue system. That's why, when we come to our survey in the book of Matthew, you will see that Jesus encountered the Pharisees in Galilee, west of the Jordan, or what is called also the West Bank today. As Paul got closer to Jerusalem, and right in the temple area, the Pharisees did not have that much power.

"…a Hebrew of Hebrews; with respect to law, a Pharisee" (v 5). That means he observed the law according to the Pharisaical tradition. Could the Pharisees contradict a teaching from the temple and get away with it? Not concerning the Holy Days! This is the whole scope of the Law. This is not just Pentecost. You can't go to this Scripture and say that it's talking about Pentecost.

Verse 6: "With respect to zeal, persecuting the Church; with respect to righteousness that is in law, blameless." That means having right standing with the temple. That means that he would have to have followed whatever the edicts of the temple were concerning the Holy Days, otherwise he wouldn't be in right standing or 'blameless' concerning righteousness.

Verse 7: "Yet, the things that were gain to me, these things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ….. [all of this over here is over and done] …But then truly, I count all things to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord; for Whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as dung; that I may gain Christ and may be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is derived from law, but that righteousness which is by the faith of Christ—the righteousness of God that is based on faith" (vs 8-9).

There's nothing here that inherently or intrinsically endorses any Day of Pentecost. For people to follow and just read that in a sentence and say, 'Oh, yeah! I remember where that was in Phil. 3' and not turn there and check it out, it could appear that Dankenbring was right.

Survey of Matthew:

What I'm going to do is basically do a survey through Matt. I've gone through all of Matthew, Luke, Mark, John and Acts for every one of the places where it said: Pharisees, priests and Sadducees. And the sum of it is this: At the temple and in Jerusalem, the priests were in charge! Guess who had responsibility for setting the calendar dates? The Sunedrion, which was a subdivision of the Sanhedrin was responsible for establishing the calendar dates for Pentecost, Passover and for all the Holy Days!

Matthew 2:1: "Now, after Jesus had been born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of Herod the king, behold, Magi from the east arrived at Jerusalem, saying, 'Where is the One Who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the east, and have come to worship Him.' But when Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And after gathering together all the chief priests and scribes…" (vs 1-4).

It doesn't say Pharisees. There were some scribes who were Pharisees, but they were a minority of the scribes because they were differentiated from the scribes.

"…of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ should be born" (vs 4). We see that Herod did not confer with the Pharisees.

Here's John the Baptist preaching, Matthew 3:1: "Now, in those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea… [he's down by the Jordan, but still in Judea] …and saying, 'Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.' For this is he who was spoken of by Isaiah the prophet, saying, 'The voice of one crying in the wilderness, "Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight His paths."' Now, John himself wore a garment of camel's hair, and a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then went out to him those from Jerusalem, and all Judea, and all the country around the Jordan" (vs 1-5).

That goes to the East Bank, a little bit to the north, it doesn't say from Galilee, but all the area around there.

"…and were being baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins. But after seeing many of the Pharisees and Sadducees…" (vs 6-7)—together. In this case there are more Pharisees than Sadducees, because they are away from Jerusalem.

"…coming to his baptism, he said to them, 'You brood of vipers…'" (vs 7). Remember how we read that we were told that the Pharisees were better than the Sadducees? They're both 'snakes in the grass'!

Jesus was at the Sea of Galilee, Matthew 9:1: "And after going into the ship, He passed over and came to His own city"—which was Nazareth. Then they brought a sick man, and He called Matthew.

Verse 10: "Then it came to pass, when Jesus sat down to eat in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. And after seeing this, the Pharisees said…" (vs 10-11). Why would the Pharisees object to this? Because 'Pharisee' means separatists, separated from the people! They were the Stoics as it were.

"…to His disciples, 'Why does your Master eat with tax collectors and sinners?'" (vs 11). The encounter with the Pharisees was in Nazareth.

Verse 14: "Then the disciples of John came to Him, saying, 'Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but Your disciples do not fast?'"

We have a little bit of self-righteousness here; our fasting is good, and all this sort of thing, but what did Jesus say about public fasting a little later on? 'When you fast don't be like the Pharisees who contort their faces and go around moaning and groaning!' He says, 'You don't do that.'

Matthew 12:1: "At that time Jesus went through the grain fields on the Sabbath Days…" That's not the corn like we have in Iowa where you're walking through eight-foot corn. That's pretty good corn to pluck and eat right off the cob. It just means the grain field.

"…and His disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck the heads of grain… [that's the tops of them] …and to eat them. But after seeing this, the Pharisees said to Him, 'Behold, Your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath'" (vs 1-2).

You know the rest of the account. Christ said what David and his men did; they even ate the showbread. Here again, we have in hinterlands an encounter with the Pharisees.

Verse 9: "And after leaving there, He went into their synagogue. And, behold, a man was there who had a withered hand. And they asked Him, saying, 'Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbaths?' so that they might accuse Him…. [the Pharisees] …But He said to them, 'What man is there among you who, if he has one sheep that falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out? And how much better is a man than a sheep? So then, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbaths.' And He said to the man, 'Stretch out your hand.' And he stretched it out, and it was restored as sound as the other. Then the Pharisees went out of the synagogue and held a council against Him to discuss how they might destroy Him" (vs 9-14).

They went out and held council with the Herodians (Mark 3:6). Still, where did they have this power and this authority? It was not at the temple, but in the synagogue! That becomes very important to remember.

Verse 22: "Then was brought to Him one who was possessed by a demon, blind and dumb; and He healed him, so that the one who had been blind and dumb both spoke and saw. And the multitudes were all amazed, and said, 'Is this the Son of David?' But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, 'This Man does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, prince of the demons'" (vs 22-24). Again, the encounter with the Pharisees.

Verse 38: "Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, 'Master, we desire to see a sign from You.' And He answered and said to them, 'A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, but no sign shall be given to it except the sign of Jonah the prophet'" (vs 38-39).

Matthew 15:1: "Then the scribes and Pharisees from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying." So, there were some Pharisees in Jerusalem and that's important to note, but it's also important to note that when we get into the time of the conflict of Jesus at the temple, it was the chief priest and it was the scribes.

Then we have here concerning, v 2: "'Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition…'"—etc.

Matthew 16:1: "Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came to Him, tempting Him and asking Him to show them a sign from heaven."

Verse 6. "And Jesus said to them, 'Watch out, and be on guard against the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.'"

Verse 11: "'How is it that you do not understand that I was not speaking of bread when I told you to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees?' Then they understood that He did not say to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees" (vs 11-12).

Therefore, He's saying very clearly, any teaching of the Pharisees or the Sadducees that is not according to Scripture is not what you're to follow. We'll just have to summarize what we have seen here, all the way through. This is a summary. This is going through and taking a cursory view just to emphasize certain points.

It's interesting when you get to John, he calls all the religious leaders, most of the time, the Jews. However, you go back to John 9, and you find that the Pharisees were after the mother and father of the man that was born blind that was healed and when they came into the synagogue and they were fearful that the Pharisees could cast them out of the synagogue. Again, showing the authority of the Pharisees was in the synagogue and not at the temple.

John 11:46—after the resurrection of Lazarus from the dead: "But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. Then the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered a council…" (vs 46-47).

Notice that the ones who were in charge were the chief priests. There were Pharisees there, but they were put in a secondary position. Isn't it interesting that all the way through it is the chief priests, the scribes, the elders and the Pharisees. The Pharisees were always in a subordinate position—period. The Pharisees were the ones who caused problems within the Church.

"…and said, 'What shall we do? For this Man does many miracles. If we allow Him to continue in this manner, all will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away from us both this place and the nation.' But a certain one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said to them, 'You have no understanding'" (vs 47-49). This is the prophecy of the death of Jesus where they consulted from that day forward to do Him in.

Matthew 19:1: "And it came to pass that when Jesus had finished these sayings, He departed from Galilee and came to the borders of Judea beyond the Jordan…. [He's on the east side of Jordan] …And great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them there. Then the Pharisees…" (vs 1-3).

Where? I want you to understand the emphasis of the Pharisees. When they are alone is when they are in the outer reaches, away from Jerusalem. At Jerusalem they have to consult with the priests, because the Pharisees were not in charge.

This was just before, on their way up to Jerusalem. Just before the end; Matthew 20:17: "And while they were going up to Jerusalem, Jesus took the twelve disciples aside in the way and said to them, 'Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of man shall be betrayed to the chief priests and scribes, and they shall condemn Him to death'" (vs 17-18).

Let's go on. Matthew 21:12: "And Jesus went into the temple of God and cast out all those who were buying and selling in the temple; and He overthrew the tables of the money exchangers, and the seats of those who were selling doves. Then He said to them, 'It is written, "My house shall be called a house of prayer"; but you have made it a den of thieves.' And the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them. But when the chief priests and the… [not a mention of the Pharisees] …scribes, saw the wonderful things that He did, and the children shouting in the temple and saying, 'Hosanna to the Son of David,' they were indignant" (vs 12-15).

Then He went out and He went to Bethany. He came back in the morning, v 23: "Now, when He entered the temple and was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people…" That is, the rulers of the people.

Verse 43: "Because of this, I say to you, the Kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and it shall be given to a nation that produces the fruits of it. And the one who falls on this Stone shall be broken; but on whomever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.' Now, after hearing His parables, the chief priests and the Pharisees…" (vs 43-45).

Here's the first mention of Pharisees. After all this publicity going on, a few Pharisees came around and we have the chief priests and the Pharisees who:

"…after hearing His parables, the chief priests and the Pharisees knew that He was speaking about them. And they sought to arrest Him, but they were afraid of the multitudes, because they held Him as a prophet." (vs 45-46).

Matthew 22:15: "Then the Pharisees went… [from where Jesus was teaching] …and took counsel as to how they might entrap Him in His speech. And they sent their disciples along with the Herodians to Him, saying…" (vs 15-16). You can read the rest of what they were saying.

Verse 23: "On that same day, the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Him…" Here you have these political parties, almost like a political caucus. You've got the chief priests roaming around in bands trying to catch Jesus and understand what He's doing. Then you have the Pharisees coming around and joining them, and the Pharisees are put to shame so they went over here to the Herodians and they say, 'Herodians, go over here and try and catch Him.' After that is done and they can't catch Him, then the Sadducees come around.

"…and questioned Him, saying, 'Master'" (vs 23-24). Then, you go through the seven husbands, brothers and wives and saying, 'Which one will it be in the resurrection?'

Verse 41: "While the Pharisees were assembled together…" There were some Pharisees there. It's important to notice that the Pharisees at the temple are there. We will see in a little bit that they had no authority at the temple. Some of them may have sat on the Sanhedrin, some of them may have been some of the doctors of law, but they did not have the authority.

"…Jesus questioned them, saying, 'What do you think concerning the Christ? Whose son is He?' They said to Him, 'The Son of David.' He said to them, 'How then does David in spirit call Him Lord, saying, "The LORD said to my Lord, 'Sit at My right hand, until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet'"? Therefore, if David calls Him Lord, how is He his Son?' And no one was able to answer Him a word, neither dared anyone from that day to question Him anymore" (vs 41-46). Now that He put them to shame. Then, He excoriated them (Matt. 23).

Matthew 26:3—before Jesus was arrested: "Then the chief priests and the scribes and the elders of the people assembled together in the court of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas; and they took counsel together for the purpose of seizing Jesus by treachery, and killing Him. But they said, 'Not during the Feast…'" (vs 3-5). Then, we know that Judas Iscariot came and offered to betray Jesus.

The reason I'm staying in Matt. is that I could jump back and forth to Matt., Mark, Luke, and John, but this gives us a straight, easy flow to do a survey. You can look up the other Scriptures.

Verse 47: "And while He [Jesus] was yet speaking, Judas one of the twelve, suddenly appeared, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and elders of the people." Who were in authority? The chief priests, the elders and the scribes!

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We're going to see from here on, that the Pharisees are completely left out of the picture because they were not in charge of the temple. They were not in charge of the government. They were in charge of basically the synagogues, and there were some schools of Pharisees there being taught under Gamaliel, as we'll see a little later in Acts.

Verse 57: "But those who had arrested Jesus led Him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled." Again, note the absence of Pharisees. The reason this is important is because everyone knows that the Sadducees counted Pentecost beginning on the first day of the week after the regular Sabbath during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Therefore, that made Pentecost always come out on a Sunday. Always!

Verse 59: "Now, the chief priests and the elders and the whole Sanhedrin…" Again, Pharisees are not mentioned.

Verse 62: "And the high priest rose up and said to Him, 'Have You no answer for what these are testifying against You?' But Jesus was silent. And the high priest answered and said to Him, 'I adjure You by the living God that You tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God.' Jesus said to him, 'You have said it. Moreover, I say to you, in the future you shall see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.' Then the high priest ripped his own garments, saying, 'He has blasphemed!'" (vs 62-65).

Do you think that with the priest and the elders in charge—they were the ones who determined the Holy Days—that the Pharisees could have gotten any of their traditions approved for the universal thing for all the Jews to do? The answer would be no!

  • Where do you suppose that the Wave Sheaf Offering was waved?
  • In the synagogues or at the temple?
  • What was the instruction? 'You shall bring to the priest!'
  • Where was the priest to function? At the temple!

That's where the wave sheaf was to be offered, at the temple. The evidence becomes absolutely overwhelming beyond any question that the chief priests, the scribes and the elders were in charge of the temple.

Matthew 27:1: "Now, when morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people took counsel against Jesus, so that they might put Him to death." Notice that it doesn't say Pharisees. There were some Pharisee there, but apparently, in order for a Pharisee to sit on a council, he had to also be one of the elders or one of the rulers.

Then Judas came and "…returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders…" (v 3).

Verse 6: "But the chief priests took the pieces of silver and said, 'It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since it is the price of blood.'" Then they brought Jesus to the Governor.

Verse 12: "And when He was accused by the chief priests and the elders, He answered nothing. Then Pilate said to Him, 'Don't You hear how many things they testify against You?'" (vs 12-13).

It's overwhelming! When Pilate wanted to release Him, v 20: "But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the multitudes to demand Barabbas, and to destroy Jesus." So, it was the chief priests. True enough, all the Sadducees were killed when the temple was destroyed.

Verse 41: "And in the same way also the chief priests were mocking, with the scribes and elders, saying… [after He was on the cross] …'He saved others, but He does not have the power to save Himself. If He is the King of Israel, let Him come down now from the cross, and we will believe Him'" (vs 41-42). No they wouldn't, because if He did that they would find something else in which not to believe Him.

Verse 62: "Now, on the next day, which followed the preparation day, the chief priests and the Pharisees came together to Pilate."

So, whenever it was the chief priest and the Pharisees, then it's recorded.

Survey of Acts:

What do we find the overwhelming evidence indicating? It was:

  • the chief priests
  • the scribes
  • the elders

and the Pharisees at the temple held a very low status! Let's see this confirmed in the book of Acts.

  • Acts 2—Day of Pentecost
  • Acts 3—they healed the man at the Gate Beautiful, and all the people were praising God when they saw him walking and going into the temple

Acts 3:19—Peter told him: "Therefore, repent and be converted…"

Acts 4:1: "Now, as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, being dismayed because they were teaching the people, and preaching through Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they arrested them and put them in the hold… [the little prison they had there] …until the morning; for it was already evening" (vs 1-3). They were brought before them the next day.

Verse 5: "Now, it came to pass in the morning that their rulers and elders and scribes were assembled together in Jerusalem, and Annas, the high priest, and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and as many as were of the high priest's lineage" (vs 5-6). Again notice, no Pharisees. Then they said, 'by power do you do this' and they said, 'by the name of Jesus.' So, they beat them and let them go.

Acts 5:17: "Then the high priest rose up… [after they were doing the healings, tremendous miracles and fantastic things were going on] …and all those with him, being of the sect of the Sadducees…" This tells us that all of the priests and all of the scribes were of the sect of the Sadducees.

  • they were the ones in charge of the temple
  • they were the ones who were in control

Verse 18: "And they laid their hands on the apostles and put them in the public hold. But during the night an angel of the Lord came and opened the doors of the prison; and after bringing them out…" (vs 18-19). He took off their bonds.

The apostles came back at sunrise and were preaching. The Sanhedrin sent the officers to the prison to get the apostles. The apostles weren't found and someone came in and said, 'They are preaching out here!' Now, they were really fearful because how did the apostles get out?

Verse 24: "And when they heard these words, both the high priest and the captain of the temple… [the temple guard, the captain in charge of it] …and the chief priests also, were utterly perplexed as to what this could lead to. But a certain one came and reported to them, saying, 'Behold, the men whom you put in the prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people.' Then the captain went with the officers and brought them without violence, so that they might not be stoned; for they feared the people. And they brought them in and set them before the Sanhedrin. And the high priest asked them, saying, 'Did we not order you by a direct command not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, with the purpose of bringing this man's blood upon us.' But Peter and the apostles answered and said, 'We are obligated to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus Whom you killed by hanging Him on a tree. Him has God exalted by His right hand to be a Prince and Savior, to give repentance and remission of sins to Israel. And we are His witnesses of these things, as is also the Holy Spirit, which God has given to those who obey Him.' Now, when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and took counsel to put them to death. But a certain man stood up, a Pharisee in the Sanhedrin, Gamaliel by name, a teacher of the law…" (vs 24-34).

There were a few Pharisees on the council. You know the council that Gamaliel gave. He said, 'If this of God, you can't stop it. If it's of men, it's going to collapse. So, you better not meddle and find yourself fighting against God.' Notice the subordinate place that he had. He gave them council, but they had to approve his council. It was the Sadducees who were in charge of the temple!

This means that undoubtedly, in the year in Acts 2, that Pentecost had to be the Pentecost that the Sadducees had already determined by their calendar calculations would be on that day. It could be none other.

Acts 6:7: "And the Word of God spread, and the number of the disciples in Jerusalem was multiplied exceedingly, and a great multitude of the priests were obedient to the faith." Then we find the whole account concerning Stephen. We find everything that he did. We won't go through that.
Acts 8:1: "Now, Saul had consented to killing him. And that day a great persecution arose against the Church that was in Jerusalem; and all the believers were scattered throughout the countries…" A very interesting point.

Acts 9:1: "Now Saul, still breathing out threatening and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest." Why would he go to the high priest? Because the high priest alone had the authority, if you're going to do what he did!

Verse 2: "Asking him for letters to take to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any who were of that way, he might bring them bound, both men and women, to Jerusalem."

Sounds like a little brainwashing technique coming in. Arrest them and brainwash them. What are two important things that we see here in these verses?

  • he went to the high priest

Who had authority over the synagogue? The high priest!

  • with a letter he had authority over the synagogue

What does this tell us?

  • that a Pharisee could not enforce his way in the synagogue above what the priest had authorized
  • that the Pharisees at that time were subject to the authority of the priests

That becomes so vitally important! Now, let me read to you concerning the counting of Pentecost.

From: Encyclopedia Judaica (1971 ed., Vol. 14):

The Pharisees interpreted Sabbath of Leviticus 23, as the first day of Passover, which was a Sabbath day of rest, so that for them Shavuot, that is Pentecost, always falls on the 51st day from the first day of Passover.

from: The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia:

The Torah provides that the seven weeks up to Shavuot, that is Pentecost, should be counted from the morrow after the rest day, or 'me makarot ha Shabbat,' which means on the day following the Sabbath. The word 'ha Shabbat' is the Sabbath and is so all the way through.

I'm not going to go through an argument of whether someone may have translated it 'weeks' because he was Pharisee, or a rabbi, or whatever. In the King James it is translated correctly Sabbath all the way through.

The interpretation of this passage became one of the outstanding points at issue between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, according to the Pharisaic point of view supported by the Septuagint and the latter universally accepted in the Talmud.

No Sadducees wrote in the Talmud; that's why it was universally accepted there, 200 to 400 years later.

The Shabbat in question was the first day of Passover. Hence, Shavuot, or Pentecost, would always fall 50 days later on the 6th of Sivan. The Sadducees, however, and later the Karaites, supported by the Samaritans, took the word to mean literally the Sabbath after the beginning of the Passover festival. Thus, Pentecost would always fall on a Sunday and might vary in the date of the month from the 7th to the 13th of Sivan."

Who was at charge at the temple? The priests and the Sadducees, no doubt! Everyone knows how they counted Pentecost. When Jesus kept Pentecost, whether at the temple or whether in Galilee, it had to be by the order of the chief priests at the temple.

Later when the temple was destroyed, then the Pharisees were at liberty to do what they wanted, because there were no Sadducees around. They were at the temple and they were all destroyed when the temple was destroyed. Of course, God made sure that they were because they were the ones who authorized the death of Jesus.

I don't think we need to cover anything else because that's the heart and the core of the argument right there. Who is in charge of the temple should pretty well tell you what the whole situation is.

We will have some decent, more down to earth sermons now that we don't have to fight off all of the false prophets running hither and yon and to and fro. I'm going to have to go through the three days and three nights.

Isn't it interesting how that the main factors concerning Christianity are always attacked: Passover, three days and three nights—which you have to believe, because that's the only sign that He gave—and Pentecost. There's never an argument about Trumpets, nor Atonement, nor Tabernacles. Why is there always the argument on Passover, three days and three nights and Pentecost? Because those three are tied so closely to what Jesus did in founding the Church and what the disciples did! That's why it's important. That's why they're always under attack.

I've gone through the term called 'ton sabbaton.' That shows that when you come to Pentecost in Acts 2, that is literally referring to the 50th day and counted from the day after the weekly Sabbath.

I'll telegraph one thing on the resurrection. Someone wrote something and it's from United Biblical Church of God out of Florida, I forget who wrote it, but I've got the booklet. He quotes in there saying, 'Well, the Bible doesn't tell us what Jesus did from the time He was resurrected at the end of the Sabbath until Mary Magdalene came Sunday morning, or the first day of the week.' That's one of the reasons for now, his believing in a resurrection on Sunday morning, because the Bible doesn't tell us what Jesus did.

If you read the last part of John, there a lot of things that wasn't recorded for us which John said if they were, 'the world would be filled with books.' You can't base a doctrine on what is missing! What can you base a doctrine on? Only what is present!

All Scripture from The Holy Bible In Its Original Order, A Faithful Version (except where noted)

Scriptural References.

  • John 7:19
  • Matthew 23:1-2
  • Philippians 3:2
  • Acts 15:1, 5
  • Philippians 3:3-9
  • Matthew 2:1-4
  • Matthew 3:1-7
  • Matthew 9:1, 10-11, 14
  • Matthew 12:1-2, 9-14, 22-24, 38-39
  • Matthew 15:1-2
  • Matthew 16:1, 6, 11-12
  • John 11:46-49
  • Matthew 19:1-3
  • Matthew 20:17-18
  • Matthew 21:12-15, 23, 43-46
  • Matthew 22:15-16, 23-24, 41-46
  • Matthew 26:3-5, 47, 57, 59,62-65
  • Matthew 27:1, 3, 6, 12-13, 20, 41-42, 62
  • Acts 3:19
  • Acts 4:1-3, 5-6
  • Acts 5:17-19, 24-34
  • Acts 6:7
  • Acts 8:1
  • Acts 9:1-2

Scriptures referenced, not quoted:

  • Mark 7; Mark 3:6
  • John 9
  • Matthew 23
  • Acts 2

Also referenced:

Article: Getting It Right: Pentecost, the Final Answer by William F. Dankenbring


  • New American Standard Bible
  • Encyclopedia Judaica, 1971 ed., Vol.14
  • Universal Jewish Encyclopedia

FRC: nfs
Transcribed: 10-16-16
Proofed: bo—11/7/16