Was Jesus Trained As A Pharisee?

Q. I appreciate your website very much. I have found many answers reading your articles. I remember reading somewhere else that Jesus was trained as a Pharisee as a young man, that he knew many of them personally and was very familiar with their teachings, beliefs and traditions. Can you give me some guidance on this subject?

A. There’s no Biblical record of Jesus receiving any formal religious education. But at age 12 He amazed the religious leaders with His knowledge (Luke 2:46-47).

In all probability you were reading about Paul, not Jesus. In Acts 22:3 Paul said, “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city. Under Gamaliel I was thoroughly trained in the law of our fathers and was just as zealous for God as any of you are today.” Gamaliel was a Pharisee and one of the most highly respected teachers of his time (Acts 5:34).

In Philippians 3:4-6 Paul described himself as being circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.

And in Galatians 1:14 he said, “I was advancing in Judaism beyond many Jews of my own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers.”

I believe this background is one of the reasons Paul was so relentlessly persecuted by the Jewish leaders. They had always thought he was one of their own, but instead he became the Lord’s primary spokesperson for the doctrine of Grace, and more than anyone opened the door of salvation to the Gentiles.

But even though they had him beaten, thrown in jail, run out of several towns, and even tried to kill him, he said he could wish that he would even be cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of his brothers, those of his own race, the people of Israel (Romans 9:3-4). He longed for them to come to know Jesus as their Messiah, like he had. Let it be soon Lord, please.

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