If one argues that any criticism of Jewish leadership or even
the Jewish people is antisemitic, not only must he call John,
who was a Jew himself, antisemitic, but he must also call Moses,
Isaiah, Jeremiah, Micah, Elijah, and the other Hebrew prophets
antisemitic. Moses called the Jewish people of his day—not just
the leadership—a stubborn and obstinate people and even defiant
toward the Lord (Exodus 33:5; Deuteronomy 9:6; 31:27–29). The
prophet Isaiah wrote, “For this is a rebellious people, false sons,
sons who refuse to listen to the instruction of the Lord” (Isaiah
30:9). None of these Hebrew prophets were antisemitic, and
neither is the author of the Gospel of John.2
THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW. Similar to John, the Jewish apostle
Matthew recorded Yeshua’s criticism of a group of scribes and
Pharisees, addressing their heartless worship and the impact it
had on others. He rebuked the Jewish leadership for venerating
the prophets while behaving like the generation that rejected
them: “So you testify against yourselves, that you are sons of
those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of
the guilt of your fathers. You serpents, you brood of vipers, how
will you escape the sentence of hell?” (Matthew 23:31–33).
In the strongest way possible, Yeshua revealed their sin, warned
what would happen to them as a result, and specified that the
consequences would apply to His generation (Matthew 23:36).
We have no reason to believe Yeshua felt this way about all
scribes and Pharisees, which is sometimes assumed by historical
Christian commentators. This passage applies to the scribes and
Pharisees of Yeshua’s generation who did not recognize the time
of God’s visitation.
THE EPISTLES. Others have misinterpreted 1 Thessalonians 2:14–16
to mean the entire Jewish people are guilty of killing the Messiah
2 Michael L. Brown, Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus: General and Historical
Objections Vol. 1 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000), 146–148.