The Pharisees in Jesus’ time were revered by the people, but Jesus had very harsh words for them.
These pompous, holier than thou men towered over the people like mighty guardians. They were members of a religious sect who often clashed with Jesus over His interpretation of the Law.
The name Pharisee means (separated one). Hence, the Pharisees separated themselves from society to study and teach the law, but they also separated themselves from the common people and labelled them religiously unclean.
Regardless, the Pharisees commanded respect from the masses because of their pious persona. Still, Jesus was not impressed. He saw them as empty shells and scolded the group for unnecessary punishments they placed on the poor.
In a scathing rebuke of the Pharisees found in Matthew 23 and Luke 11, Jesus called them hypocrites and exposed their sins. He compared the Pharisees to whitewashed tombs, which are beautiful on the outside but are filled with dead men’s bones and uncleanness on the inside.
“ Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. ” (Matthew 23:13).
“Woe to you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things” (Matthew 23:23).
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs that indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness” (Matthew 23:27-28).