Scribe (-s) - Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words

Scribe (-s)

[ 1,,G1122, grammateus ]
from gramma, a writing," denotes "a scribe, a man of letters, a teacher of the law;" the "scribes" are mentioned frequently in the Synoptists, especially in connection with the Pharisees, with whom they virtually formed one party (See Luke 5:21), sometimes with the chief priests, e.g., Matthew 2:4; Mark 8:31; Mark 10:33; Mark 11:18, Mark 11:27; Luke 9:22. They are mentioned only once in John's Gospel, John 8:3, three times in the Acts, Acts 4:5; Acts 6:12; Acts 23:9; elsewhere only in 1 Corinthians 1:20, in the singular. They were considered naturally qualified to teach in the synagogues, Mark 1:22. They were ambitious of honor, e.g., Matthew 23:5-Matthew 23:11, which they demanded especially from their pupils, and which was readily granted them, as well as by the people generally. Like Ezra (Ezra 7:12), the "scribes" were found originally among the priests and Levites. The priests being the official interpreters of the Law, the "scribes" ere long became an independent company; though they never held political power, they became leaders of the people.

Their functions regarding the Law were to teach it, develop it, and use it in connection with the Sanhedrin and various local courts. They also occupied themselves with the sacred writings both historical and didactic. They attached the utmost importance to ascetic elements, by which the nation was especially separated from the Gentiles. In their regime piety was reduced to external formalism. Only that was of value which was governed by external precept. Life under them became a burden; they themselves sought to evade certain of their own precepts, Matthew 23:16,ff.; Luke 11:46; by their traditions the Law, instead of being a help in moral and spiritual life, became an instrument for preventing true access to God, Luke 11:52. Hence the Lord's stern denunciations of them and the Pharisees (See PHARISEES).

Note: The word grammateus is used of the town "clerk" in Ephesus, Acts 19:35.

Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words