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The Blue Letter Bible

Don Stewart :: Who Were the Scribes?

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Don Stewart

The Greek word grammateus translated scribe means writer. The scribes were the ones who drew up legal documents. They also copied the Old Testament Scripture. They also devoted themselves to the study of the law, and the determination of its applications on daily life. They also studied the Scripture with respect to doctrinal and historical matters. Noted scribes had their own disciples. Many of the scribes were members of the Jewish council.

Most Of Them Opposed Jesus

There were some who believed in Jesus but most were opposed to Him.

Then a scribe came to him and said, "Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go" (Matthew 8:19).

The Scribes were in a large part responsible for Jesus' death.

From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law [scribes], and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life (Matthew 16:21).

They Were Strongly Denounced By Jesus

The scribes, along with the Pharisees were strongly denounced by Jesus.

The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them (Matthew 23:2,3).

They Continued The Persecution Of Jesus' Disciples

They were also associated with the persecutions of Peter and John.

On the next day, their rulers and elders and scribes were gathered together in Jerusalem; and Annas the high priest was there, and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of high-priestly descent (Acts 4:5).

The scribes were involved in the martyrdom of Stephen.

And they stirred up the people, the elders and the scribes, and they came up to him and dragged him away and brought him before the Council (Acts 6:12).


The scribes were scholars of the Old Testament Law. They figured prominently in the ministry of Jesus. They persecuted Him and were responsible for brining Him to trial. Their persecution of Christians continued after the ascension of Jesus. We find the scribes persecuting Peter and John as well as being directly involved in the death of Stephen.

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