An Important Question
When addressing the lies that the mainstream church has been dishing out like a load of dung against Paul and the Word of Elohim (i.e. Yeshua the Messiah, the Word of Elohim) since the time of the early church fathers, let us first ask an important question that has far-reaching implication including whether you can trust the Bible and whether you are saved or not. In the Epistle to the Galatians. It is this: Is Paul advocating the abrogation of the Torah-law as mainstream Christianity teaches or not?
This is the lens through which most Christians view Galatians. For example, the chapter subheadings in my NKJV Bible reveal the antitorah bias of mainstream Christianity. The heading above Galatians 2:11 reads, “No Return to the Law,” and the heading over Gal 3:10 reads, “ The Law Brings a Curse.” When Christians study their Bibles and encounter these subheadings that are written by men and not inspired by the Spirit, what are they to think? Most don’t questions the scholars who translate the Bible or the publishers sell the Bibles. Most readers will automatically thinks to themselves, “After all, these translators and publishers are Bible experts, they know more than I do, so who am I to question them?”
Interestingly, the same author of Galatians elsewhere admonishes us to, “Prove/test all things; hold fast to that which is good” (1 Thess 5:21). This is the responsibility of each saint as he studies the word of Elohim. Therefore, it behooves us to have a touch of intellectual scepticism when studying the Scriptures to insure that we’re not unwittingly putting our faith in the traditions and doctrines of men by which the word of Elohim has been made of none-effect (Mark 7:9, 13), and that we haven’t inherited lies that have been passed on down to us from our spiritual fathers (Jer 16:19). Let us instead be like the righteous Bereans who “searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11).
Instead of looking at Galatians as a stand-alone book, let’s view it in the broader context of all the New Testament writers’ and Yeshua’s view of the Torah. After all, the Scriptures cannot contradict themselves. The Bible doesn’t lie, Elohim doesn’t change, and Yeshua declared that the Scriptures can’t be broken (or loosened, untied, dissolved, annulled, John 10:35).
In 1 Cor 11:1, Paul instructed us to imitate him as he imitated Messiah. So let’s follow Paul’s advice.
What did Yeshua teach and do vis-à-vis the Torah?
He never violated the Torah (or sinned), or else he couldn’t have been our sin-free Savior and taken upon himself the consequences or penalty of our sins, which is death.
Yeshua advocated Torah-obedience for his followers (Matt 5:17–19; John 14:15).
Paul goes on to tell us to imitate him as he imitates Yeshua. This includes obedience to the Torah.
Elsewhere, in many places, Paul advocates Torah obedience as we will see next.
How Did Paul View the Torah (“Law”)?
In answering this question, let us allow Paul to speak for himself in order to establish his predisposition with regard to the Torah-law. Was he a proponent or opponent of it? Several Scriptural quotations from his own pen should suffice in answering this question:
Wherefore the law [Torah] is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. (Rom 7:12)
For we know that the law [Torah] is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. (Rom 7:14)
For I delight in the law [Torah] of Elohim after the inward man… (Rom 7:22)
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin [i.e. violation of the laws/Torah of YHVH, see 1 John 3:4], that grace may abound? Elohim forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? (Rom 6:1–2)
Do we then make void the law through faith? Elohim forbid: yea, we establish the law. (Rom 3:31, Romans was written in about A.D. 56)
But we know that the law [Torah] is good, if a man use it lawfully…(1 Tim 1:8, First Timothy was written just before Paul’s martyrdom in about A.D. 66)
But if, while we seek to be justified by Messiah, we ourselves also are found sinners [i.e. violators of the law/Torah], is therefore Messiah the minister of sin [lawlessness/Torahlessness]? Elohim forbid. (Gal 2:17, Galatians was written between A.D. 55 to 56)
Toward the end of Paul’s life and ministry when, according to many Christian theologians, Paul was supposed to have already liberated the first-century believers from the “shackles and bondage” of the Torah-law, yet in the Book of Acts we read the following:
And when they heard it, they glorified YHVH, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe [in Yeshua the Messiah]; and they are all zealous of the law [Torah]: And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs. What is it therefore? The multitude must needs come together: for they will hear that thou art come. Do therefore this that we say to thee: We have four men which have a vow on them; them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law [Torah]. (Acts 20:20–24, written in about A.D. 58 to 60)
While he answered for himself, Neither against the law [Torah] of the Jews, neither against the temple, nor yet against Caesar, have I offended any thing at all. (Acts 25:8; Paul made this statement in a court of law about A.D. 62.)
And it came to pass, that after three days Paul called the chief of the Jews together: and when they were come together, he said unto them, Men and brethren, though I have committed nothing against the people, or customs of our fathers, [i.e. the Torah] yet was I delivered prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans. (Acts 28:17, written about A.D. 63)
Viewing Galatians Through a Different Lens
In view of the fact that Paul instructed us to imitate him as imitated Yeshua, who was Torah observant, and in light of the fact in numerous places in Paul’s own writings and in the Book of Acts we see that Paul was Torah observant to the end of his life, what conclusion can we come to in light of these facts? Either the Bible is consistent, and the Torah is for all people for all time, or Paul was an inconsistent liar in telling us, on the one hand, to follow the Torah, and on the other hand, telling us not to obey it. Which is it? If Paul is inconsistent, then the truth of the Bible is inconsistent, the Scripture is broken, Yeshua is a liar and the Bible is a lie. Which one is it?
There is another answer to this dilemma. Perhaps the mainstream church has misinterpreted Paul in the Book of Galatians and has come to a skewed view in believing that Paul abrogates the Torah in Galatians. We take the position of the inerrancy of Scripture, that it can’t be broken, that Elohim and Yeshua don’t lie, and that Paul wasn’t a duplicitous schizophrenic. Instead of viewing Galatians as an antitorah tirade courtesy of Paul, maybe there is something else going on here that needs to be discovered—the real message of Galatians that in no way contradicts the rest of the Bible.
This analysis of Galatians won’t be exhaustive, detailed or comprehensive. It will be a quick overview—a skimming over the theological waves. We’ll save the details for another time.
Gal 1:6–10, Paul opens his epistle up by claiming that the Galatian believers have turned away from the basic gospel message “to another gospel” (vv. 6–7). He is so opposed to this that he places a double curse on those who are teaching this other gospel (vv. 8–9). So what is this other gospel?
Gal 1:6–7, This could be a confusing passage the way it reads in some of our Bibles until you get into the Greek. Here it is in the KJV:
I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another [Gr. heteros] gospel: which is not another [Gr. allos]; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. (KJV)
How do we make sense of what Paul is saying here? It is only understood by looking at the Greek words. The English word for another is two different words in Greek with two slightly different meanings. According to Moulton and Milligan (quoting Lightfoot in Vocabulary of the Greek NT) “the primary distinction between allos and heteros is that the former is ‘another one besides,’ and the latter another as ‘one of two.’” If this is correct, then this verse should read,
I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto one of two [Gr. heteros] gospel[s]: which is not another besides [Gr. allos]; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. (KJV)
This is still confusing to me, so let’s dig a little deeper.
Bullinger in his Companion Bible (App. 124) states that the difference between allos and heteros is “another of the same kind” versus “another of a different kind.” It is a numerical versus qualitative distinction. With this in mind, the verse would read,
I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto a gospel of a different kind: which is not another of the same kind; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. (KJV)
This is better, but still a little confusing to me. Let’s see how some other translators handle this passage.
The RSV tries to clarify the difference between these two Greek words in this way:
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and turning to a different gospel not that there is another gospel…
The NIV resolves the confusion in this way:
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—which is really no gospel at all…
Stern in his CJB has a similar translation to that of the NIV:
I am astounded that you are so quick to remove yourselves from me, the one who called you by the Messiah’s grace, and turn to some other supposedly “Good News,” which is not good news at all!
William and Robert Mounce in their Greek and English Interlinear translate this passage as follows:
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—not that there is another gospel…
These translations seem to bring light of Paul’s intent in this passage.
Gal 1:11–21, The gospel message Paul was teaching was the same as that of the other apostles such that they glorified Elohim regarding Paul (v. 24).
Gal 2:3–5, Paul now introduces the issue of circumcision. It seems that there were false brethren who were compelling the Gentiles to be circumcised, which Paul openly opposed calling forced circumcision “a bondage.” We read elsewhere that these believing Pharisaical Jews taught that circumcision was a precondition for salvation (Acts 15:1).
Gal 2:6–10, The other apostles accepted the message of the gospel that Paul was preaching to the Gentiles, and for them, circumcision wasn’t an issue. In other words, it wasn’t a precondition for coming to faith in Yeshua.
Gal 2:11–13, Paul takes Peter to task for following non-biblical Jewish (Pharisaical) traditions that viewed Gentiles as second class citizens. Those who held to such traditions refused to eat with Gentiles (for fear of being spiritually and ritually contaminated). Those who advocated this Jewish tradition also followed the Jewish traditions concerning circumcision. What were those traditions? See Acts 15:1 and 5 where we learn that there were believing Pharisees who taught that one couldn’t be saved unless one was circumcised and obeyed the Torah (in order to be saved). This issue was the center of the Acts 15 Jerusalem Council debate. The apostles ruled at this council that circumcision (and obedience to the Torah) wasn’t a precondition for salvation. The issue at this council was not the validity of the Torah, but whether one had to be circumcised (and obey the Torah) to be saved. In Romans chapter four, Paul makes the strong case that Abraham was saved by Elohim’s grace and that circumcision (and Torah obedience) had nothing to do with the patriarch’s salvation. In fact, Abraham was circumcised some 24 years after he was justified or saved. Therefore, from the beginning, circumcision never was a factor in salvation, which has always been a based on grace and faith and never based on men’s good works (or Torah obedience).
Now let’s return to Galatians. The issue here is not whether the Torah is valid for disciples of Yeshua or not, but whether the disciples needed to adhere to the Pharisaical tradition demanding that the rite of circumcision be performed as a precondition for membership in the synagogue fellowship. The question was, “Should this tradition of man be brought over from the Jewish religious system and adopted into the Christian church?” That it should be was “the other gospel” that Paul was so adamantly opposing. Again, the issue never was whether the Torah was a standard of righteousness that disciples of Yeshua should follow or no, but whether obedience to it was a precondition for salvation (or justification and redemption).
The Torah teaches us that circumcision was a sign of the Abrahamic Covenant and never was a condition for receiving YHVH’s favor (or grace). It was something you did because you were saved (or accepted by Elohim), and not to get saved (i.e. to get accepted by Elohim). The same can be said of the entire Mosaic Covenant (as opposed to the Abrahamic Covenant). Torah-obedience was a result of salvation, not a precondition for it. Therefore, man is not saved by the works of the Torah, but by faith in Elohim who then pours out his unconditional love and grace upon the person who has inclined his heart to repent of his sins, and trust and obey YHVH. This is the Abrahamic Covenant model for receiving salvation from Elohim as Paul teaches in Romans chapter four.
Gal 3:1–9, Therefore, having established these basic truths, Paul goes on to explain that the works of the law can’t save a person. Faith in YHVH by the work of the Spirit is what saves a person. This is how Abraham was saved. This is the same model we are to follow today.
Gal 3:10–12, Those who think that their good works of Torah obedience can save them (or justify them; that is, to bring them into right standing before Elohim) have now put themselves under the curse of the law. The law blesses the person who keeps it, but curses the person who disobeys it. If one merely violates one commandment, the curse of death comes on that person, for, as Ezekiel declared, the soul that sins shall die, or as Paul states, the wages of sin is death, for sin is the violation of the law, as John writes. The only way to not come under the curse of law is to never violate the law in the first place…ever—a human impossibility!
Gal 3:13, Messiah is the only person who never sinned even once, so he is the only one who can redeem us from the penalty or curse of the law, which has come on every human.
Gal 3:17, The Sinaitic (or Mosaic) Covenant with the written Torah (in codified form) forming its framework, in no way supersedes the Abrahamic Covenant YHVH made with Abraham. These two covenants are not conflicting, but complimentary to each other, and, in truth, are indivisible. They need each other. One can’t exist without the other. The Abrahamic Covenant shows man how to enter into a spiritual relationship with Elohim (by faith), while the Sinaitic Covenant shows man how to stay in right relationship with Elohim (i.e. how to love Elohim and one’s fellow man) after one has initially entered into a right relationship with his Creator. The church’s idea that the covenants of Elohim are antithetical, or that the latter supplants the former, or that the new covenant annuls and supplants them all is totally wrong. Paul disproves this in Romans when he proves, from the Abrahamic Covenant, the salvation equation (i.e. by grace, through faith one is saved, see also Eph 2:8), and then goes on to demonstrate that salvation by faith resulting in grace in no way annuls the Torah, but establishes or strengthens it (see Rom 3:31).
Gal 3:19–25, The word added (v. 19) means “to put together with.” The written Torah was the nation of Israel’s legal code or constitution and was written down (Gal 3:10), and included the Levitical and sacrificial systems along with the eternal truths of the Torah, which Abraham followed (Gen 26:5; 18:19) and goes back before the creation of man and originated in the heart, mind and character of the Creator—YHVH Elohim. The Torah, which always existed, was written down 430 years after YHVH made his covenant with Abraham. The written Torah was added or put together with the Abrahamic Covenant.
YHVH gave the Israelites the Torah-law in a written or codified form, so that nation would have written rules (or a constitution) by which to govern itself (how can a nation exist without a legal code to keep it from descending into anarchy?).
Because of sin, that is, the sin of the golden calf, YHVH also gave the Israelites, as part of the Sinaitic-Torah Covenant, the Levitical priesthood and sacrificial systems. When they sinned at the golden calf, YHVH had already given them his Torah at Mount Sinai. This still didn’t prevent them from sinning. So YHVH gave them the priesthood and the sacrificial system as a custodian or literally, “boy-leader” (vv. 24 and 25, incorrectly translated as schoolmaster or tutor in some Bibles) that would help to guide them in the paths of righteousness, and to help prevent them from wandering off again into the heinous sin of idolatry. Eventually, the sacrificial and Levitical systems pointed them to Yeshua the Messiah, who would redeem them once and for all from the power and consequences of sin. This is why Paul introduces the concept of the Messiah-Seed (vv. 16, 19), and a mediator (v. 20). The Torah-law with it’s penal code, temple service, ritual cleansings, Levitical priesthood and sacrificial system was a tutor or, more accurately, a guide to bring us to Messiah (v. 24). When Messiah came, these things were no longer needed (as Paul states in verse 25), for Yeshua fulfilled them as the writer of Hebrew so eloquently lays out. Because these aspects of the law of Moses were fulfilled in Yeshua (again as the writer of Hebrews points out), this in no way means that the rest of the Torah ceased with Yeshua. If that were so, then it is now permissible, one could logically reason, to steal, murder, commit adultery, lie, covet, dishonor parents, worship idols and so on. Of course, this is absurd! This is not what Paul is saying here. Yet, that is the logical path that Christian theology will lead to if one follows it to its logical conclusion.
When Paul states in verse 24 that the Torah brought us to Messiah, he is envisioning two aspects of the Torah. As previously noted, he is referring to the sacrificial and Levitical systems that YHVH directed Moses to add to the existing Torah code after the golden calf incident. But the Torah also brings us to Messiah in that it defines what sin is. Sin is the transgression of the Torah-law (1 John 3:4). When one sins, there is a penalty to pay. Ultimately, the wages of sin is death. Under the law of Moses, when one sinned, an animal had to be sacrificed, a price was paid, restitution had to be made, someone was stoned, or they were excommunicated from the camp of Israel. The threat of these penalties for sinning hanging over the heads of the Israelites helped to guide them in the paths of righteousness. It acted as a custodian or guide to help them to walk the straight and narrow path. With the indwelling presence of the Spirit of Elohim now living in the saint, one no longer needs that external guide, for we have an internal guide to help keep us on the straight and narrow path. That’s why Paul can say in verse 25 that we’re no longer under a guide or custodian. As we shall discover in chapter five, our guide is not the Set-Apart Spirit of Elohim working in the heart and mind of each believer—writing YHVH’s laws on our hearts!
What mainstream Christian teachers also tend to ignore is that the Torah bringing us to Messiah is only one of the Torah’s purposes—not the only one! The law not only points out sin, and the sacrificial system showed Israel their need for a once-and-for-all Redeemer, but in numerous places, both Yeshua and the apostolic writers show us that the Torah is essential in the life of the redeemed believer to guide us in the paths of righteousness from the point of our acceptance of Yeshua and onward. Moreover, Yeshua clearly states in several places that the eternal and heavenly rewards of the saints are based on one’s Torah works (e.g. Matt 5:19). One can’t throw the Torah into the trash can and expect to have a high reward in the kingdom of Elohim. If fact, if you toss out the Torah, you may not even end up there!
Gal 4:1–5, When we were in the world, we were spiritual slaves to the elements (rudiments or principles) of the world. As worldly sinners (Torah violators, 1 John 3:4), we came under the death penalty, for the wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23). We needed the Torah as a guardian or steward to tell us what sin was and to lead us to repentance and to the Messiah, who came to redeem us from being under the curse or penalty for violating the law, which is sin. This is him showing sinners his grace. If, as the mainstream church teaches, Yeshua came to set us free from the law, so that we no longer have to obey the law, then we are turning the grace of Elohim into lasciviousness (lewdness, licentiousness or licence to sin or to violate the Torah), which as Jude says, only ungodly men do (Jude 4). Or as Paul asks in Romans, do we make the law void through grace? Elohim forbid, may it never be, is his response (Rom 3:31).
Gal 4:8–20, This passage is difficult to understand. Are the “weak and beggarly elements” (v. 9) speaking about “the elements, rudiments or principles of the world” to which Paul makes reference earlier (in v. 3) and to which the Gentiles had been in bondage (v. 3) before coming to salvation—before they knew Elohim (vv. 8–9)? Or are the “weak and beggarly elements” referring to the Torah? The latter interpretation is what the mainstream church teaches; however, this doesn’t seem to be what Paul is saying here. How could the Gentiles return again to something they never had in the first place—which they had done “when you did not know Elohim” as Paul states in verse 8? They never had the Torah before coming to faith in Messiah. They did, however follow the pagan, Torahless customs of the world. This is what the “weak and beggarly elements” are. Not the Torah!
Gal 4:10, Are these days, months seasons and years referring to pagan holidays and observances, which are aspects of the weak and beggarly elements of pagan worship? If so, why should we think it strange that the Galatian believers were still observing pagan holidays? In our day, hasn’t the mainstream church replaced YHVH’s feasts and Sabbath with pagan festivals? On the other hand, the mainstream church teaches that in this verse not only is Paul referring to the biblical feasts and Sabbath, but that he is here abrogating the biblical Sabbath and feasts. Is this the case? If Paul is referring to the biblical feasts and Sabbath, let’s bring into this discussion 1 Corinthians 13—the Bible’s well-known “Love Chapter.” There Paul states that without love, everything a saint does is merely a clanging gong and tinkling cymbal to YHVH. In other words, it means nothing to YHVH. Similarly, if we obey the Torah out of legalistic obedience hoping that somehow by our good works we will earn salvation in our own strength apart from Elohim’s merciful grace, then this is merely sinful pride on our part. Torah-obedience done out of a heart of pride and legalism without love for and faith in Yeshua is no more than a clanging gong or tinkling cymbal to YHVH. It is merely empty religion devoid of a relationship with the our Father in heaven made possible through a relationship with the Messiah through the Spirit of Elohim. When this happens, YHVH’s feasts and sabbaths simply become religious activities done by prideful humans hoping to establish their own (self) righteousness apart from Elohim. They are no longer YHVH’s feasts and sabbaths, but men’s feasts and sabbaths—empty, meaningless religious rituals. A similar thing happened to the ancient Israelites who celebrated YHVH’s feasts and sabbaths out of hypocrisy, sinful rebellion and pride (Isa 1:14; Amos 5:21). They were men’s feasts, not YHVH’s. The Galatians by seeking to be saved through circumcision and through obedience to the Torah including the feasts and the sabbaths had turned these wonderful truths into empty, pointless, meaningless and dead-end religious rituals.
Gal 4:21–31, YHVH never promised eternal life salvation to the children of Israel through the Sinaitic Covenant—only earthly blessings if they would obey, and curses if they did not. Under the Abrahamic Covenant, the promise of salvation through the promised Seed of Abraham (the Messiah) is revealed. This is why this covenant is superior to the Sinaitic Covenant as Paul is trying to show here by employing the Hebraic literary device of allegorical midrash. Hagar, Ishmael and the Sinaitic Covenant center around the works or efforts of men apart from the grace of Elohim, while the locus of the birth of Isaac and the Abrahamic Covenant are about faith in and the grace of Elohim. In this discussion, Paul talks about two Jerusalems—the physical one and the heavenly one. At the time of Paul, the religious activities occurring at Jerusalem centered around a rigourous, legalistic adherence to the Torah and to the traditions and doctrines men had added to the Torah. This had become a burden and bondage. Circumcision was a main focal point of the conversion process this religious system required of converts. For circumcision to be required of adult male Gentiles to become Christians was an onerous burden and stumbling block—something Paul in this epistle loudly decries.
Gal 4:29, Paul now begins to transition this discussion into that of walking in the Spirit (a similar tack he takes in Rom 8:1ff). Paul is more concerned with our focus on loving, serving and obeying Yeshua and walking in the Spirit, than a punctilious adherence to Torah’s strict demands. If we genuinely love Yeshua, our hearts are unreservedly inclined on serving him, and we choose to follow the Spirit, then it automatically follows that we will love him by keeping his Torah commandments. This is “law of Messiah” (Gal 6:2)!
Gal 5:1–2, What is this yoke of bondage? In the context of Paul’s larger discussion in Galatians, it is the Jewish extra-biblical tradition that circumcision is a requirement for salvation (as well as other non-biblical Jewish traditions), and the adherence to pagan traditions (holidays and ritual observances) that the Galatians were having a hard time giving up. Has Yeshua freed us from obedience to the Torah, from the penalty of violating the Torah or from men’s non-biblical and pagan traditions, which were against the Torah and caused us to sin? He has freed us from all of the above except from Torah obedience. Circumcision as a prerequisite to salvation is a yoke of bondage, for if salvation is based on perfect Torah-obedience, then no one will ever be saved, since no one can ever keep the Torah perfectly. If our salvation is based on perfect Torah obedience, which no mortal can do, then the Torah too will become a yoke of bondage! Adherence to the world’s rudiments or sinful practices and its pagan customs is also a yoke of bondage from which Yeshua came to set his people free. Yeshua came to set us free from the rudiments of this world, and from a legalistic approach that says one must follow man’s religious requirements and to perfectly obey the Torah in order to accepted by YHVH Elohim.
Gal 5:3, If circumcision is a requirement for salvation (as Jewish tradition taught, and as modern rabbinic Judaism still teaches, then not only must one be circumcised, but one must follow perfectly all the rest of the Torah. Paul calls this being “justified by the law.” Such people are relying on their own works to save them instead of the grace of Elohim. These people have “fallen from grace” according to Paul. This doesn’t mean that the saint shouldn’t endeavor to live up the righteous standards of the Torah as much as possible the best he can. It simply means that we do it because we love Yeshua and want to obey him, and not because we’re trying to earn his favor and our salvation.
Gal 5:14, Here Paul upholds the Torah, which defines what love is.
Gal 5:16–26, Walking in the Spirit means not violating the Torah. Everything listed below (the fruit of the Spirit and the works of the flesh) are all aspects of the Torah (both the letter and the spirit of it). This list invalidates the arguments of those who teach that Paul came to free us from the Torah! The fruit of the Spirit are aspects of what we might call, the weightier matters of the Torah, or the higher Torah against which there is no law.
Gal 6:2, 16, This then is “the law of Messiah” that pertains to “the Israel of Elohim” or redeemed Israel who Paul elsewhere refers to as “the one new man” (Eph 2:15). These are the true children of Abraham as Paul states several times in Gal 3 alone (Gal 3:7–9, 14, 28, 29; see also Rom 4:16; 9:8–11). One can be a genetic descendant of real or true Abraham and follow the Torah legalistically, yet not be a child of Abraham or, as Paul terms it, the Israel of Elohim, even as one can possess all knowle.g. but if he doesn’t have faith, hope and love, he is nothing in the eyes of Elohim as Paul teaches in 1 Cor 13. The law of the Messiah, therefore, is to have faith in the Promised Seed of Abraham, who is Yeshua the Messiah, and to be transformed by his Spirit into a son of Elohim. This is one who walks in the Spirit not fulfilling the lusts of the flesh, but who loves Yeshua, the Written Torah-Word of Elohim in flesh form, by keeping Yeshua’s commandments out of a circumcised heart of love and faith. This law of Messiah is the same law to which John makes reference in his first epistle. There John speaks of “an old commandment which you have had from the beginning” and, at the same time, of a “new commandment” (1 John 2:7–8) where Yeshua is the focus rather than non-biblical traditions of men, some old, venerated and moth-eaten Torah scroll or the letter of the Torah-law itself. John in no way redefines sin, or annuls the necessity of Torah obedience (1 John 3:4; 2:3–4). Torah, for him, is not an end all. It is a vehicle to know the Father (1 John 2:3), and this is through Yeshua the Messiah (1 John 2:24–29; 5:1–5, 20). John concludes his epistle by admonishing his readers to “keep yourselves from idols.” An idol is anything that takes our eyes off Yeshua the Messiah, who is YHVH Elohim incarnate and the Creator. A Torah scroll along with men’s religious traditions can become an idol!
A New, New, Higher View of Galatians
As we have seen from our discussion above, Paul isn’t invalidating the Torah simply because salvation is by grace through faith and not based one’s good works. Rather, Paul is steering the Galatian saints away from a letter-of-the-law focus on the Torah—an approach which seems to lead automatically to a more legalistic view of the Scriptures—while deemphasizing one’s focus on the basic gospel message, which is faith in Yeshua and a walk in the Spirit. Paul is not invalidating the Torah in any way, for to do so he would be going against his own words instructing us to follow him as he imitates Yeshua, who upheld the Torah (both the letter and the spirit of the law) throughout the Sermon on the Mount and elsewhere. So what is Paul really saying in Galatians?
There are those who say that Paul is invalidating the Torah completely and totally. There are also those who read this epistle and think that Paul is teaching that the Torah is for the Jews only and not also for the non-Jews. Finally, there are those who read Paul and are convinced that while he is validating the Torah for all people—both Jews and Gentiles, he is at the same time teaching against using Torah as a means to earn one’s salvation. It is this last interpretation of Paul to which this author adheres. Yet in Galatians, Paul is saying something in addition to this. What is Paul’s higher and deeper message in this often misunderstood epistle?
Not only is Paul steering the Galatians away from the belief that one’s good works (e.g. circumcision) can save a person, but he is trying to get their focus off of a letter-of-the-law approach and more on a walk-of-the-Spirit approach through the grace of Yeshua. It boils down to this: When one puts their faith in Yeshua, accepts his sacrifice to pay the penalty of their sins, repents of their sins and receives the Spirit of Yeshua, they become a new creation in Yeshua by the internal, miraculous work of the Spirit (Gal 2:20; 6:15; 2 Cor 5:17). The saint’s focus now should not primarily be on the dos and don’ts of the Torah, but on walking in the Spirit, which if one does, guess what? Voila! He won’t be violating the Torah! Our focus must be on pleasing and serving Yeshua and walking in the Spirit, and we will show our love for Elohim by not worshipping false gods, by not taking his name in vain, by keeping his sabbaths, by surrendering to him as a living sacrifice and endeavoring to be his holy priesthood in all things. Likewise, we won’t be lying to our neighbor, stealing from him, coveting or committing adultery. The walk of the Spirit is how the saint fulfills the Torah! Paul is telling us to keep our focus on Yeshua and on the simplicity of the gospel message and to walk in the Spirit, and we will automatically be fulfilling the Torah. The Spirit of Eohim will convict us when we sin and violate the Torah, and we will repent and get back to walking according to the Spirit of truth (Torah-truth), which is totally in line with the heart, will, mind and character of our Heavenly Father. This is Paul’s message to the Galatians and to us as well.