October 30, 2020

Characteristics of The Scribes, The Zealots and the Essenes

Reading Time: 2 minutes

The Scribes, the Zealots and the Essenes were three important sects at the time of Jesus.

While the Scribes and the Zealots are mentioned severally, in the Synoptic Gospels, the Gospels are completely silent on the Essenes.

DISCLOSURE: This post may contain affiliate links from which I will earn a commission. READ FULL DISCLOSURE.

The Scribes and the Zealots, in particular, played a significant role in the ministry of Jesus as recorded in the Synoptic Gospels of the New Testament.

You are about to learn a great deal about these three sects in biblical times.

Let’s begin with the major characteristics and beliefs of the Scribes.

After that, we shall go straight ahead to describe the characteristics and beliefs of the Zealots as well.


Our last stop will be the Essenes, a relatively obscure religious sect in early Judaism.


I would limit this tutorial about the Scribes to just a summary of the salient points you need to know. You can then expand the points about the Scribes for your WASSCE Christian Religious Studies paper.

i believe this approach is best for an easy understanding and recollection of the characteristics and beliefs of the Scribes.

The same shall be done for the characteristics and beliefs of the Zealots. Then the Essenes shall follow suit in the same manner.

Below are the summarized points for the characteristics of the Scribes in the Synoptic Gospels of the New Testament.

1. Not a religious party but a professional class.

2. Highly educated class of lawyers.

3. Re – copied oversized copies of the Old Testament

4. Most of the Scribes were Pharisees.

5. The Scribes were permanently represented in the Sanhedrin.

6. They tested Jesus on several occasions regarding important religious questions. Here are two examples.

“Which is the greatest commandment in the law?”.

“What should a man do to inherit eternal life?”

6. The Scribes teamed up with the Chief Priests to mock Jesus on the cross.

7. Jesus accused them of wearing long robes, interested in having salvation at marketplaces and taking the best seats in the Synagogue and at feasts.

It is now time to direct our attention at the characteristics, beliefs and role of the Zealots in the Synoptic Gospels.

THE ZEALOTS: MK 3:18, LK 6:15, MATT 10:4

The Zealots were highly instrumental in some key events that took place during the ministry of Jesus as recorded in the New Testament.

Below is a summary of the characteristics and role of the Zealots in the Bible.

1. The Zealots were an extremist, proudly patriotic, nationalist movement.

2. This sect hated foreign rule over the Israelites. To the Zealots, no foreign power must be allowed to have any control over God’s people.

3. For that matter, the Zealots constantly preached the violent overthrow of Roman rule at the time.

4. Simon the Zealot, believed to belong to the sect of Zealots, was a disciple of Jesus.

5. Judas Iscariot, the disciple who betrayed Jesus, might have been a Zealot. Judas Iscariot probably wanted Jesus to dramatically proclaim himself king and prove himself as the long-awaited Messiah.


1. In fact, the Essenes were not mentioned anywhere in the Synoptic Gospels. However, they were an active religious sect during the time of Jesus.

2. It was a religious group which strictly observed Jewish law and disciplined lifestyle.

3. The Essenes were known for being a secretive body devoted to the study of mysteries and healing.

4. John the Baptist would have belonged to this sect.

BEFORE YOU FORGET: Share this post on your favourite social media platform by clicking on one or more icons below. Many thanks.

Ralph Nyadzi

Ralph has a passion for the teaching and learning of Language and Literature mainly because these two help him to understand and appreciate why people act the way they do. Over the past two decades, he has coached over 5000 students and adult learners to achieve their educational goals. Ralph is the founder and CEO of Cegast Academy.

View all posts by Ralph Nyadzi →

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Sign up to have personalized learning/teaching tips, tools & tricks delivered into your inbox.