Questions about the Publican and the Pharisee


The story of the publican and Pharisee is read at which time church's the liturgical cycle? What liturgical book is used for its services for the first time in the liturgical year?







The story of the Publican and Pharisee is read as the first part of a four Sunday sequence which prepares us for Great Lent. The "Triodion", which contains service texts and rubrics (directions for the services) is used for the first time in the church year for this Sunday.



Why is it read at this time?







Since Great Lent is the quintessential time of the year for us to attempt to repent of our sins, the church presents us examples of repentance lust before and throughout Great Lent.



Why did Jesus tell the parable?







St Luke introduces the parable with the following words: "And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:"

The parable teaches us by good and bad example how we should (should not) pray, and if we look more deepply at the story, much much more.



What was a Pharisee? How is the word "pharisee" used as an adjective? Name a famous Pharisee who became a Christian. There were other honorable Pharisees named in the scriupture. Can you name three more?







A Pharisee was a member of a particular a sect or party among the Jews. They were known for a very strict and formal observance of the Jewiish Law. They believed in the Resurrection, unlike the Sadduces, another Jewish sect of the time.

Their name has come to be known as a pejorative (meaning someone hypicocrital self-righteousness and arrogance), because they looked down upon other Jews since they thought that their santicty was superior. This disagreeable trait is much in evidence in the parable.

St Paul was a very zealous Pharisee, and by his own admission, a persecutor of Christians before his conversion to Christ.

Nicodemus was a pharisee who came to Jesus by night, in order to inquire about eternal life (John 3). He became a secret believer during Jesus' earthly ministry. When the counsel of the Jews was trying to find some trumped up charge against Jesus in order to put him to death, Nicodemus boldly stood up for Jesus, at some considerable risk to himself:

Now the Jews' feast of tabernacles was at hand. [John 7:2] ... The Pharisees heard that the people murmured such things concerning him; and the Pharisees and the chief priests sent officers to take him. [John 7:32] ... Then came the officers to the chief priests and Pharisees; and they said unto them, Why have ye not brought him? {46} The officers answered, Never man spake like this man. {47} Then answered them the Pharisees, Are ye also deceived? {48} Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him? {49} But this people who knoweth not the law are cursed. {50} Nicodemus saith unto them, (he that came to Jesus by night, being one of them,) {51} Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth? {52} They answered and said unto him, Art thou also of Galilee? Search, and look: for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet. [John 7:45-52]

Joseph of ARIMATHEA (with Nicodemus), who boldly took down the boy of Jesus and buried it, was also a Pharisee.

And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus. {39} And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. {40} Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. {41} Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. {42} There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews' preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.

Joseph is commemorated July 31. He evangelised in many places, including England.

Gamaliel was a Pharisee, and an honorable man, who gave excellent advice to the Sanhedrin (a counsel of Jewish religious leaders, most of which would have desiored to put the death the Apostses) concering the followers of Jesus Christ:

Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space; {35} And said unto them, Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men. {36} For before these days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered, and brought to nought. {37} After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed. {38} And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: {39} But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God. [Acts 5:34-39]

He was also a teacher of St Paul (Acts 22:3)



What was a publican? Name 2 famous publicans who became Christians.







Zacchaeus, Apostle Matthew Paul



The publican's prayer is a precursor to which much-used prayer? Describe other incidents recounted in the gospels which also remind us of this same prayer.







Jesus prayer Blind men.



What is the worst passion? Name several of its corollary passions.










Describe the errors of the Pharisee. Name at least two.







Did not give credit to God judged the publican



Why was the publican justified?







His humility and repentance. His action. He sought the mercy of God.



The Pharisees arrogance blinded him to two important realities and he judged wrongly on both counts. Which?







his own soul the publican



Name at least 3 virtues of the publican







Humility Repentance Courage


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