Luke 12:1 In the meantime, when an innumerable multitude of people had gathered together, so that they trampled one another, He began to say to His disciples first of all, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.”
Mt 13:33 “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened”
Matt 16:6 Then Jesus said to them, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.”
Matt 16:11 “How is it you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread? — but to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”
Mark 8:15 Then He charged them, saying, “Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.”
Matt 16:12 Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
Above I have shown just a few instances of the word leaven in the Bible. The first scripture is the verse from my last post that started me on this one. My IDGI was, “…leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.” Looking through Old and New Testament, leaven is not necessarily good or bad in and of itself. In some OT scriptures it is forbidden in a sacrifice and in others it is required. So is there is a property of leaven that is being used as a picture maybe?
I looked around a bit and the information is confusing. I suspect that the leaven of Jesus time was pretty much yeast. There are other things that may be used today such as baking powder but these are more modern-day inventions.
So leaven – (using yeast as the likely substance):
- A “substance” added to dough to cause it to rise.
- Used to produce fermentation which causes the production of CO2 gas which then makes the dough rise
- Simplest way to continue your starter is to save a piece of dough and place in the new dough.
- Prohibited in food offerings dedicated to the Lord by fire.
- Leavened bread required for the peace-offering and for the two wave loaves offered at the Feast of Weeks.
- Used metaphorically in the Bible of an influence that can permeate whatever it touches.
- Used as a symbol of either good or bad influence.
Basic concept taken from http://www.bible-history.com
So my understanding now of this “leaven of the s” phrase is that it is, like yeast, something that is introduced into a larger mass. It then will move and influences the entire mass. In this case it is the wrong or hypocritical philosophies and theologies that the Pharisees held that were being taught. And since they were a group of men that were held in high esteem it was moving at lightning speed through the Jewish population.
Jesus calls it hypocrisy because He elsewhere points out that they do not do what the tell others to do.
The Bing Dictionary defines hypocrisy thus:
- Feigned high principles: the false claim to or pretense of having admirable principles, beliefs, or feelings
So I have a fresh understanding today of Luke 12:1.
We all are acting as “leavening” by our words and our actions. We may be a good influence or bad, but by our actions we influence the thinking of the people around us. Let’s be careful that we do not introduce bad leaven either purposefully or even by accident. And let’s not ever be the kind of person who can be labeled a hypocrite!