What Was Jesus Warning to the Disciples in Matthew 16?

In Matthew 16, Jesus was warning his disciples about the false teachings of the Pharisees and Sadducees. He told them to beware of their leaven, which is a metaphor for their teachings.

What is Leaven?

Leaven is a substance such as yeast that is used in baking to make bread rise. In biblical times, leaven was also used as a metaphor for sin or corruption because it spreads and affects everything it touches.

Who were the Pharisees and Sadducees?

The Pharisees and Sadducees were two prominent Jewish sects at the time of Jesus. They had different beliefs and practices, but they both held positions of power and influence in Jewish society.

The Pharisees were known for their strict adherence to the Jewish law and traditions, but they also added their own interpretations and rules which often led to hypocrisy. They were also opposed to Jesus’ teachings and saw him as a threat.

The Sadducees were more politically motivated and held positions in the Jewish temple hierarchy. They rejected many of the traditional Jewish beliefs such as the resurrection of the dead, which put them at odds with both Jesus’ teachings and those of the Pharisees.

Jesus’ Warning

When Jesus warned his disciples about the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees, he was cautioning them against false teachings that could lead them away from God’s truth.

Jesus said to his disciples in Matthew 16:6-7 (NKJV), “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.. do you not yet understand?”

Jesus was frustrated with his disciples because they still didn’t fully comprehend his message despite being with him for some time. He knew that their lack of understanding could be dangerous if they fell prey to false teachings.

The Importance of Discernment

Jesus’ warning is still relevant today. We must be discerning and cautious about the teachings we accept as true. False teachings can come from many sources, including religious leaders, social media, and even our own thoughts.

We must test everything against God’s word to determine if it is true or false. As 1 John 4:1 (NKJV) says, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”


In Matthew 16, Jesus was warning his disciples about the danger of false teachings. He urged them to be cautious and discerning about what they accepted as truth.

This message is just as relevant today as it was then. We must be diligent in testing everything against God’s word to ensure that we are not led astray by the leaven of false teaching.