In speaking to his inner circle, Jesus said, “I pray not for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word.” In reading that, don’t you like to imagine Jesus that night was actually looking over the heads of those disciples, and seeing us, and praying, for us in the distant future?
Maybe. Maybe not. Leaving that aside, let’s look at the Pharisees and Sadducees who were facing Paul in the first reading. Who were they?
Both the Pharisees and the Sadducees came about in i52 B.C. because of a decision official Judaism made departing from an eight hundred-year-old tradition.
Going back eight hundred years, we see King David on his death bed in 967 B.C. Now, he had promised the kingship to his son Solomon, but while he was comatose a rogue son, Adonijah had taken the reins. But when David came to, he ordered the priest Zadoc to anoint Solomon king.
Zadoc was certain that if he anointed Solomon, the ambitious Adonijah would cut down both him and Solomon; but out of obedience to God’s anointed King David, Zadoc anointed Solomon king.. Miraculously, the whole nation shouted, “Long live King Solomon,” sending Adonijah fleeing for his life.
Because of Zadoc’s heroism then, the people declared that in perpetuity every High Priest needed to be a direct descendent of Zadoc.
That’s the way it was until 152 B.C. when the only available descendent of Zadoc was an imbecile. The majority of the people agreed then on anointing as high priest Jonathan, the noble brother of their national hero Judas Maccabeus.
However, a faction of arch-conservatives, separated themselves, holding that keeping to all Traditions was sacred. They were the first Pharisees, a name which means, “Separated Ones.”