And they which were sent were of the Pharisees.…
represented the Judaism of the Post-Exilian era. Originally purists as well as legalists, they strove to carry out in practice the ideal of legal life set up by the scribes. Hence they were denominated Perushim, Pharisees or Separatists. First mentioned by Josephus under Jonathan and Hyrcanus, high priests about B.C. 145-150. In the time of Christ they had so far degenerated from their primitive piety as to make the essence of religion consist in ceremonial observance — an apostacy which drew down upon them the exposures, rebukes, and denunciations of Jesus. They were ultra-conservatives in Israel, the champions of orthodox literalism, and who accordingly watched everywhere with inquisitorial severity to see that the theocratic order was preserved intact, not merely as to ritual, but also with respect to the competence of office and doctrine (John 9:13; John 7:47, 48; John 12:42).
(T. Whitelaw, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And they which were sent were of the Pharisees.