During his ministry, Jesus encountered scribes not only in Jerusalem but also in smaller towns and villages. Outside of Jerusalem—and even in Jewish communities outside of Palestine—such men were minor officials, learned in the Law, who may have served as copyists or local judges.—Mark 2:6; 9:14; Luke 5:17-21.
In Jerusalem, scribes were closely associated with Jewish government. (Matthew 16:21) Their role there, says
The Anchor Bible Dictionary, “seems to be as associates of the priests, both in judicial proceeding and enforcement of Jewish custom and law, and ongoing business in the Sanhedrin.” As high-ranking teachers of the Law, some of these scribes were actually members of the Sanhedrin, or Jewish high court. They served along with the chief priests and Pharisees.
Most often, the scribes appear as Jesus’ religious opponents. However, some did not oppose him. For example, one scribe told Jesus: “I will follow you wherever you are about to go.” Jesus said to another: “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”—Matthew 8:19; Mark 12:28-34.