Who were the Herodians in the New Testament?
A variety of political groups existed in the first century AD. One of these was the Herodians, a group that supported the Roman leader, King Herod Antipas, who reigned from 4 BC to AD 39.
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The Herodians were known for their desire to submit to Herod and his rule in exchange for political favor and peace. Unlike the Pharisees and others who desired Israel to follow the teachings of the Torah apart from the influence of the Romans, Herodians were willing to work with this outside government in more pragmatic ways.
The Herodians were the opposite extreme of the Zealots of the time, who believed God alone should lead Israel and resorted to activism and military opposition to end Roman control.
In the New Testament, there is mention of an occasion that united the Herodians and the Pharisees—their common hatred of Jesus. Mark 3:6, shortly after Jesus heals a man on the Sabbath, says, "The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him [Jesus], how to destroy him."
In Mark 8:15, Jesus warned about Herod and his followers: "Watch out; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod." Those who followed Herod were willing to compromise to achieve personal gain. They even sought to kill Jesus when He posed a threat to their ways. Jesus warned against their false teachings, knowing their hearts and plans.
Later in Matthew 22:16, the Pharisees "sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians" in an attempt to trick Jesus through a question about paying taxes to Caesar. Jesus gave an answer that amazed them, so they left (Matthew 22:22).
Today there is still the temptation to choose what is socially acceptable or personally beneficial above God's ways. Some will even seek to harm others who could cause problems to their personal achievements as the Herodians did with Jesus. However, God's desire is for all to be saved through faith in Christ (John 3:16) and for His followers to seek to serve others as an example of His love (Mark 10:45).
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