Difference Between Pharisees and Sadducees

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Differences Between Pharisees and Sadducees

The Bible refers frequently to the Sadducee and Pharisee, especially in the New Testament, because Jesus was in constant conflict with them.

The Sadducees and Pharisees made up the ruling class of spiritual Israel. There are many similarities between the two groups, but also great differences between them, let’s see…

Difference Between Pharisees and Sadducees

Main Differences Between Pharisee and Sadducee

  • RELIGIOUS LEADERS: Among the Pharisees they were known as rabbis, while the Sadducees operated with priests and in turn were members of the Sanhedrin.
  • FIRST 5 BOOKS OF THE TORAH: The Sadducees held that they were the main source of authority of God’s will for all Jews, that is, if something was outside of those texts, it could not be counted as part of the Law. The Pharisees claimed that God did not provide the Jews with only a Written Law, but that there was also an Oral Law.
  • WRITTEN AND ORAL LAW – The Pharisees validated the Oral Law that was made up of oral traditions and revelations given by Jewish prophets after Moses.
  • INTERPRETATION OF THE TORAH: As a consequence of the validity of the Oral Law of the Pharisees, they considered that men could interpret the Torah by exercising their reasoning ability to apply different laws depending on the existing problem.
  • THE OTHER LIFE: The Pharisees believed in heaven and hell based on a judgment on adherence to the Torah, but the Sadducees did not believe that man experienced a resurrection after physical death.
  • THE MESSIAH: The Pharisees believed in God’s sending a messiah to bring peace to the world and rule from Jerusalem. The Sadducees did not believe in the coming of a messiah.
  • GOD AND HIS ACTION IN JEWISH LIFE: The Pharisees believed that all circumstances in the life of the Jews were determined by God, while the Sadducees believed that man created his own circumstances.
  • FAMILY: The Pharisees belonged to middle-class Jewish families who were committed to the Mosaic Law. The Sadducees came from the Jewish aristocracy.
  • EDUCATION: The Pharisees received an education more grounded in religious values, while the Sadducees were exposed to a somewhat more secular education, even with some recognition of Hellenism.

Difference on the role of the Government

Pharisees Form of Government

Pharisees believed that God punished the Jews for allowing the oppressive Gentiles (such as the Romans) to rule over them, since the Jews did not comply with what is established by the Torah.

Sadducees Form of Government

Sadducees believed in the authority of the Torah, as well as offered their support to the prevailing rulers, since they understood that they could benefit politically and economically if their relationship was peaceful with the Government.

Summary: Pharisees and Sadducees


Pharisees are committed on a religious level and to the protection of the statutes of the Oral and Written Law. They participated in the traditional forms of worship in the temple. They rejected foreign philosophies and ideologies like Hellenism and eventually created multiple laws so that Jews could interact with Gentiles.


Sadducees were essentially liberal elitists who incorporated the concept of free will through an understanding of Mosaic Law. They also strove to try to maintain a priestly caste and were active in participating in political discourse with their influence among fellow Jews.

Who were the Pharisees?

The Pharisees in a Jewish community that existed until the 2nd century AD. Its origin occurred during the Persian domination or as a result of considering the two successors of the Hasidim. On multiple occasions it is a group that is cited in the New Testament Gospels.

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Doctrine of the Pharisees

Pharisees interpretations were accepted by most of the Jews. It is due to the above that after the fall of the Temple, the Pharisees took control of official Judaism and transformed it into a cult.

  • They believed in human freedom, therefore fate could influence men, but they were not toys in its totality.
  • They believed in the immortality of the soul.
  • They believed in punishment against eternal reward.
  • They believed in the resurrection.
  • They believed in the obligation to obey their interpretive tradition, in addition to religious obligations.
  • They were ready to gain political influence within the life of Israel.

Who were the Sadducees?

The Sadducees are also known as the Zadokites and they are the descendants of the High Priest Sadoq from the time of Solomon. Its genesis as a political party can be located in the 2nd Century BC and disappears at a time after the 1st Century BC.

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Characteristics of the Sadducees

They were members of the upper class of Jewish society, which is why the conquerors were always looking for their support in order to subdue the people. In other words, they were collaborators in relation to foreign power, regardless of whether they were Greek or Roman.

It was because of this submission to power that the Sadducees were able to hold important public office. As part of the group could be found the high priest, as well as the aristocracy and the main landowners.

Sadducees’ Beliefs

  • They denied the immortality of the soul.
  • They denied the resurrection.
  • They did not believe in the existence of spirits or angels.
  • They did not accept predestination.
  • They emphasized the free will of humans between good and evil.
  • They rejected the Rabbis’ interpretation of the Torah.
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