Churches Of Christ/Doctriens


distinguish the different sects that existed in Judaism which represented different beliefs, ideas and doctrines".

To my knowledge there were four distinct sects within Judaism during the time of Christ.

Pharisees - believed in a strict keeping of the Mosaical Law (essentially the conservatives of their day) so much so that they added their own laws on top of the Mosaical Law and condemned people for not following those laws the same as if they did not follow Moses.  They believed in the resurrection of the dead, angels and other spirits, the coming of Messiah as an earthly king who would conquer all their enemies, and sought power and prestige among the people.  We read about this sect the most in the New Testament and Paul was a former member of this sect when he was still Saul of Tarsus before he was selected by Christ as an apostle on the road to Damascus.  The Pharisees focused on distinct Jewish culture rather than Hellenizing (becoming Greek-like as the rest of the world in their area was doing).  The Pharisees believed in free will, but that God foreknew the choices man would make and guided history subtly.

Sadducees - these were the liberal of the day.  They believed in a more loose interpretation of Moses, were the majority of the Sanhedrin Council.  They did not believe in angels, spirits, or life after death.  They were for Hellenization (becoming like the Greek culture) and consisted of the aristocracy and wealthy of the Jews (which is why they were so intent on the connection with the trade with the empires of the world).  This was the priestly class that saw themselves as above the rest of the Jewish people.  They focused on the Temple, and the rites and privileges surrounding it.   The Sadducees believed in total free will and that God did not know the destiny of individuals.

Essenes - This was a smaller group of Jews that really didn't involve themselves too much in politics and culture.  They were much like the ascetic monks of Catholicism separating themselves from the world and living voluntarily impoverished lives.  They immersed themselves daily in cleansing rituals, and many were celibate.  We see in them the origin of the similar Catholic practices since Catholicism is really nothing more than the result of the successful Judaizing influence on the church.  They are "New Testament Jews".  The Essenes believed in individual predestination and not in free will.  This is the only group not mentioned in the Bible.

Zealots - This was a small radical group who focused primarily on political concepts.  They wanted Judah to secede from the Roman Empire, violently if necessary.  Ultimately they succeeded to an extent, invoking the Jewish Wars of 67-73 that ultimately ended in Titus sacking Jerusalem, the destruction of the Temple, and an end to Biblical Judaism forever.  The most notable in the Bible is Simon Zelotes who became an Apostle.

This is of course a very simple summary of the four groups.  There is a lot of information out there on them.  I recommend the works of Josephus Flavius, a historian who lived in and wrote about the first century AD.  He had a lot to say about these four groups.

Hope that helps.

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Ernie Laurence, Jr.


I am capable of answering any questions concerning doctrines of the church of Christ. I specialize in Creation vs. Evolution topics, the book of Revelation and other Biblical prophecies, and other apologetics related topics such as distinctions from denominational doctrines.


My experience in this area includes: having been raised by members of the church of Christ from infancy, having been immersed into the church of Christ at age ten, having taken an active role in worship/service leadership (song leading, teaching, preaching, youth ministry) since age fourteen through the present, and participating in numerous formal debates, research projects, and online discussions.

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I hold a bachelor's degree in computer information systems (CIS) from Tarleton State University which focuses on business communication and management. This provided training for how to deal professionally with individuals and organizations if not direct training in the field of religion. See experience section for informal education experience.

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