who are the scribes according to the bible who often argued about Jesus
In ancient Israel, scribes were educated individuals whose job it was to research the law, write it down, and create a commentary on it. Additionally, they were used when a written document was required or when a legal issue needed to be interpreted. Ezra was a scribe and “a teacher well versed in the Law of Moses” (Ezra 7:6).
The scribes took very seriously their responsibility to preserve the Scriptures; they would carefully copy and recopy the Bible, even counting letters and spaces to guarantee each copy was accurate. The Old Testament portion of our Bibles has been preserved thanks to Jewish scribes.
Jews were known as “the people of the book” due to their devotion to studying the Bible, especially the law and how it should be upheld. Scribes were often linked to the Pharisees’ sect in the New Testament period; however, not all Pharisees belonged to this group (see Matthew 5:20; 12:38). They served as law translators and community instructors (Mark 1:22). They were highly esteemed in the community for their expertise, commitment, and outward displays of upholding the law.
But the scribes added other man-made traditions to what God had spoken, going beyond just interpreting the Bible. They mastered the art of following the text of the law while disregarding its intent. Things got so bad that people began to value the rules and customs the scribes added to the law above the law itself. Jesus and the scribes and Pharisees ended up in several altercations as a result of this. At the start of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus surprised His audience by saying that no one could enter paradise by following the scribes’ code of righteousness (Matthew 5:20). Jesus’ sermon then spent a significant amount of time discussing what the people had been taught (by the scribes) and what God actually desired (Matthew 5:21–48). At the end of his ministry, Jesus chastised the scribes for their hypocrisy (Matthew 23). They were aware of the law and even educated others about it, yet they disobeyed it.
The scribes’ first goal was sincere: to understand and uphold the law and inspire others to uphold it. But when artificial customs replaced God’s Word and a fake purity replaced a life of genuine godliness, things went tragically wrong. The scribes said they wanted to keep the Word safe, but the traditions they passed down made that impossible (Mark 7:13).
How did things go off course so drastically? most likely as a result of the Jews’ arrogant attachment to the law and how it distinguished them as God’s chosen people after centuries of hardship and servitude. Jesus rejected the attitude of superiority that the Jews of his day had (John 7:49). (Matthew 9:12). The scribes’ inherent hypocrisy was the biggest issue. They were less concerned with pleasing God and more concerned with looking good to other people. These same scribes ultimately participated in having Jesus imprisoned and executed (Matthew 26:57; Mark 15:1; Luke 22:1–2). Every Christian may learn from the scribes’ duplicity that God is looking for more than just outward deeds of righteousness. He seeks an inner transformation of the heart that continually submits to Christ in love and obedience.