Beware of the Scribes: They are Still With us Today

UPDATE Sept 2021: I have come to believe that Jeff Crippen does not practise what he preaches. He vilely persecuted an abuse victim and spiritually abused many other people in the Tillamook congregation. Go here to read the evidence. Jeff has not gone to the people that he spiritually and emotionally abused. He has not apologised to them, let alone asked for their forgiveness.


And in his teaching he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes and like greetings in the marketplaces and have the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.” And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.” (Mark 12:38-44)

Many of you have met the scribes. Jesus describes them here and contrasts their phony, enslaving religion with the true religion of the poor widow. Notice that the Lord particularly despises these kind of religionists and pronounces them destined to the greater condemnation.

The scribes were experts on the Law of God in Israel. You can read about their self-glory seeking methods here and use those characteristics to identify them today. They used the Scriptures for self-gain and as they did so, they applied the Word of God in twisted manners which oppressed others. Some scribes are really easy to identify. Church leaders who sit in raised thrones, who exalt themselves with elaborate and unique costumery, who sit by choice in places of honor especially in the church – these are the ones to watch for.

However, some scribes are slicker at camouflage. In evangelical churches they don’t necessarily have all the pageantry and pomp of the more liturgical types (I’m not condemning all liturgy in worship by the way, just the abuse of it). But they nevertheless exalt themselves, putting themselves off as the only ones who really understand Scripture rightly, and inevitably their take on God’s Word oppresses people rather than setting them free.

I have no doubt that many of the church leaders and professing Christians of our day are scribes. Jesus warned us. They are out there. And He said, beware of them. Their doctrines are the doctrine of men, not of God. We have all listened to them for too long. Be silent scribes! We are on to you.

20 thoughts on “Beware of the Scribes: They are Still With us Today”

  1. One of the prescribed purposes of the tithe was to support widows, apparently by giving at least a part of the tithe directly to them. Deuteronomy 26:12. In defiance of Scripture, the modern day scribes demand that widows turn at least a tithe of their meager and inadequate income over to the control and support of themselves, the preacher / scribes. Whether and to what extent it is part of the Divine plan I can only speculate, but I have observed that many widows have, by their husbands’ deaths, been afforded a season of freedom from their husbands’ abusive domination. Yet the preacher / scribes do not permit even this season of freedom from obligation and expectation at the end of women’s lives. It is as though these preachers cannot be content to see a woman who is free from a man’s domination and control. My suggestion? Flee any so-called church where the preacher would demand money from widows.

    1. Yes I agree Gary. And it’s despicable that these wolfish preachers use the “widow’s mite” from this very passage in Mark to guilt the widows to put in their mites (or their hundreds or thousands, if their husband’s death left them wealthy), while ignoring the admonishment the passage has for them Do not devour widow’s houses!

  2. I completely agree with this article. I can’t stand hypocritical behavior of people who call themselves Christians then twist the Scriptures to suite their own ends. My advice when meeting someone like that is to run the other way if you can.

  3. Yup, I experienced this hammering with the law by someone who thought he knew scripture better than others. I had already come out of the fog, prayed, fasted, counseled, listened to the Lord, and followed HIS lead out by way of divorce. “Stop the papers! Divorce is not allowed! And, abandonment of a spouse is only leaving physically. Since this isn’t your case you can’t divorce!” counseled the scribe. And yes, I felt an intense oppression after that lecturing that for 2 nights I sobbed. It almost sent me back down into the bottom of that dark pit and beyond. “I cried out to the Lord, HE heard me, and HE answered me” just as HE promises us. Afterwards I had a much deeper revelation of God’s GRACE and understanding of God’s HEART. The rule book method went out when Jesus came in! PTL! It was horrible.

  4. Commenting just to follow the comments on this post. Also because I wonder if Scribes know that they are Scribes. I’m thinking of church leaders and pastors here. If they are truly Christian and have the Holy Spirit, I would think they know what they are doing but are more oriented to serve self than God…. so they’d be quenching the Spirit. Still, I just wonder…. Many may not even be saved, even though in the church.

    Today in church the pastor said he knows an individual who grew up in a Satanic cult. This pastor said that the person he knows was very grounded and was not given to flights of fancy. He said this to preface what followed. He said that these cults intentionally place individuals in churches for the purpose of stirring up dissent and causing division. I can believe it. If not placed by a cult, certainly by the cult’s object of worship himself.

    1. I know someone who grew up in a Satanic cult.
      And I have heard that Satanic groups intentionally plant individuals from their groups into Christian churches that are being effective for the Gospel, in order to disrupt the movement and work of the Spirit in those churches by bringing the leader into discredit, stirring up conflict, and any other way they can disrupt the work of the kingdom. I have sensed in my spirit sometimes that this is happening in situations I’ve been in, but have no objective evidence to prove it.

      As to whether Scribes know they are Scribes, hmmm….. some may know, some may not. Some may be genuine believers but be quenching the spirit and / or be operating in the modes and traditions they have been taught because they have not realised yet that those traditions are off track from the Bible. I know that some of my beliefs and practices have changed over the years, and I now look back on ways I was legalistic and ways I mistaught others or set bad examples to them. I know Jeff C would say the same thing for his Christian journey. Yet the Lord moved and lighted our paths so that we undid those fixed ideas and let Biblical truth shine more clearly in our minds and souls.

  5. Scribes have absolutely no concept of what being a Christian means, although they think they do.There’s a lot of them around, and they are far more harmful than any potential cultic infiltrators.

  6. Pastor wrote: “I have no doubt that many of the church leaders and professing Christians of our day are scribes. Jesus warned us. They are out there. And He said, beware of them. Their doctrines are the doctrine of men, not of God. We have all listened to them for too long. Be silent scribes! We are on to you.”
    Yessireeeee, and I’ve been “stuck” in those congregations with those “godly women” and am married to a scribe/Pharisee… who was born into a clan of Pharisees from way back. My husband is also completely STEALTH in his emotional/psychological neglect/abuse and was that way in bringing up his (and my) kids [blended family.] Again, he was born into that (his parents model this type of behavior perfectly and he’s a sharp man, a fast learner)… from way back! He doesn’t openly criticize or ridicule me… it’s a passive aggressive “nice guy” sort of hidden agenda… he trusts NO ONE, not even God (as he admits)… yet, he is positive that he belongs to YHVH, the One True God.
    I think he’s quite pitiful, really. I’m LONG PAST feeling sorry for him or “standing along side to be the submissive wife” or even wanting to fight to help him… he doesn’t want help… he doesn’t lift a finger to change. He tells God to change him. You know, “Create in me a clean heart” and all that. Over and over and over.
    Have any of you ever done a study on the ezer knegdo (not sure how to spell the Hebrew>English)… the Hebrew meaning behind “help mate” in Genesis. WAY DIFFERENT than a blind passive slave to her man!!!! OBVIOUSLY, God loves women… He LOVES women… we weren’t built as “auxiliary staff” to men.
    I highly recommend reading and digesting the book, Guardian Angel by Skip Moen. It changed my life; it’s huge… but you’ll have to make a paradigm shift from the Greek culture mindset (which is what western culture, church and secular, is) to the Hebrew mindset, which is what Christ Messiah was/is, to really put it into play. My husband says he knows he needs an ezer knegdo because God says he does… but husband has done everything in his strength to break me down into a puppet to the Pharisee ways. Those ways, btw, have a kazillion unspoken rules as well as abuse of God’s Word.

    1. Thanks for this comment, anon. And bless you!

      I have not read the book by Skip Moen but am happy (NOTE added later: I have now changed my mind. See my later comment) to leave the recommendation just you gave it because I’ve read / heard a bit by him on the internet and I think he has some pretty good things to say. And he does seem to have a good understanding of Biblical Hebrew, and is not prejudiced against women.

      We are pretty careful on this blog about what endorsements we allow to be published. In this case, I’m making a judgement call based on the little I’ve read/heard from Skip Moen, and what anon has told us here.

      (Addit from Barb made at the same time as my later comment: I am leaving this original comment of mine intact because I believe it would be unethical to scrub out the evidence of my mistake.)

    2. From what I’ve read, the Hebrew words “ezer kenegdo” do not mean “help mate” but “help meet for him”, that is, “helper fit for him”, or helper corresponding to him, unlike the animals. The confusion comes from the old English word, “meet”, which is not used today. It means “fit” or “suitable”. Helpmate is an inaccurate English translation.

      1. Yes, it actually means “a helper who is in your face.” We are to be the other half of our husband’s “troop”… think “war.” We are to fight for him, have his back and encourage him if he’s on the right track with God but stand up with warnings and correction (if need be) when he’s headed for trouble.
        None of this subservient, slave chattel mentality from God… not at all!

      2. It sure explains why I’ve been fighting for these past 20+ years for my husband, our children and me without his desire, help or leadership whatsoever. He had no desire for an ezer kinegdo. He wanted a puppet… wow … has he met me????

      3. Anonymous,

        I’d never looked into this before, but I used to live in Israel and have studied contemporary Hebrew, both in the United States and while living in Israel through an ulpan (class to learn Hebrew in Israel, usually for new immigrants, which at the time I was). I can say that in contemporary Hebrew “ezer” means “help.” (In Biblical Hebrew it does as well; Think “Ezra” or “Eli-ezer,” the latter of which means “My God [is my] help.”) I do have a Hebrew-English TaNaKH (which stands for Torah, Nevi’im, and Ketubim, ie, Torah or teachings that hit the mark, Prophets, and Writings) that I acquired from the Jewish section of Manhattan while being tutored in Hebrew there before moving to Israel. I usually check the original Hebrew in that Bible first, and I had not ever looked into these two words before.

        What I find particularly fascinating about your comment is the second word, which in Hebrew are two words joined. In Hebrew, the connecting word (like “and” or “as” is often joined to the word it is modifying or describing). In this case, the “ke-” translates to “as” or “like” in English, and the root word connected to that is “neged,” which in contemporary Hebrew means “against.” I’m thinking that the translation of “neged” hasn’t changed from the Biblical Hebrew. The “-o” suffix merely refers to the pronoun or word that the thought harkens back to, which is in this case “him” (the husband). So a direct translation would be something like “help as against him.”


        In double-checking this on-line, I found this explanation to be of interest and helpful:
        The Hebrew Meaning of “Help Meet” [Internet Archive link]

    3. Dear Readers, I am very sorry. I need to make an apology. I should have done more due diligence before endorsing the recommendation of Skip Moen. We have done more research on him and found that one import of his teaching is that people can be saved without believing in Christ, nor does he seem to believe in original sin. Therefore he does not seem to us to be an orthodox Christian. I have written privately to the commenter who recommended him, and asked her forgiveness. I was very very wrong to have put her in this position.

      I beg forgiveness from all of you, as well.

      1. Truly what a state of affairs we live in that it is thought we even need to do due diligence when seeking to recommend a pastor of all people! It is not enough to even see a book review given 4.5 / 5 stars by hundreds praising the scriptural principles within it when we later find it is a false gospel.

        I have been horrified…truly horrified…to find that many, many popular (sell out crowd popular) speakers, teachers and pastors are adding and / or subtracting from the true gospel. These are people I used to purchase Bible studies or books of and pass them on to others. Now I am ashamed I gave so much clout to those who are as Paul said “teaching a gospel other than the one I taught you”. And what was Paul’s conclusion? That anyone who did this should be eternally condemned! Just to make sure he was heard he repeats the same in the following verse in Galatians. Just hours ago I listened to a sermon by a well known name who I had never heard preach before. I thought there was one or two sentences that seemed a bit “off” but I thought he was generally biblically sound. Then I read by several sources this man has accusations of spanking his wife as regular punishment! Sigh. I looked him up because it is the world we live in now. I commend you Barbara for making known your findings. Its all you can do. Many people have truly been helped here by the resources recommended! 🙂

      2. Barbara,

        No need to grant forgiveness from me to you, as far as I can see. There is only so much time for due diligence, and it seems to me that you have taken the time as it was granted you. Thank you for the update. This is nothing from which you need to repent. I think you did what you were able when you were able, and your heart was right when you did what you did. But that said, thank you for letting us know this. I had not yet purchased his book although was thinking about it. Thankfully sometimes I’m slow on the draw and I hadn’t yet purchased it. Now we all know of his stance and can make our own decisions accordingly. As for me, I shan’t make the purchase if he believes one can be saved without Christ. (That said, it seems like some of the better counselors I’ve read are secular, sadly, but I prefer to stay in the Christian circles that exegete properly, as you do here at acfj.)

  7. Barbara wrote and I agree: I know that some of my beliefs and practices have changed over the years, and I now look back on ways I was legalistic and ways I mistaught others or set bad examples to them… Yet the Lord moved and lighted our paths so that we undid those fixed ideas and let Biblical truth shine more clearly in our minds and souls.

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