Abrahamic / Middle Eastern Christianity How to Pronounce "Pharisee" from the Bible Learn How to Pronounce This Term From The Gospels Share Flipboard Email Print (c) Superstock / Getty Images Christianity The Bible Christianity Origins The New Testament The Old Testament Practical Tools for Christians Christian Life For Teens Christian Prayers Weddings Inspirational Bible Devotions Denominations of Christianity Funerals and Memorial Services Christian Holidays Christian Entertainment Key Terms in Christianity Catholicism Latter Day Saints View More By Sam O'Neal Christianity Expert M.A., Christian Studies, Union University B.A., English Literature, Wheaton College Sam O'Neal is the co-author of "Bible Stories You May Have Forgotten" and "The Bible Answer Book." He is a former editor for Christianity Today and LifeWay Christian Resources. our editorial process Sam O'Neal Updated June 25, 2019 Origins: The word "Pharisee" is an English translation of the Aramaic word perīsh, which means "separated." This is appropriate, as the Pharisees of the ancient world often considered the Jewish people to be separated from the rest of the world -- and the Pharisees themselves to be separated from among the more "common" members of the Jewish people. Pronunciation: FEHR-ih-see (rhymes with "there is he"). Who Were The Pharisees? The Pharisees were a specific group of religious leaders among the Jewish people in the ancient world. They were highly educated, especially in connection with the Scriptural laws of the Old Testament. The Pharisees are often referred to in the New Testament as "teachers of the Law." They were most active during the Second Temple period of Jewish history. The first mention of the term "Pharisee" occurs in the Gospel of Matthew, in connection with the public ministry of John the Baptist: 4 John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. 5 People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. 6 Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 10 The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.Matthew 3:4-10 (emphasis added) The Pharisees are mentioned several more times throughout the Gospels and the rest of the New Testament, since they were one of the primary groups who opposed Jesus' ministry and message.