Connecting the Gospel to Its Pro-Torah Hebrew Roots
When I was taking a college level biblical Greek class a few years back, the Christian professor and I had a few discussions about the Torah. It was his belief that the epistles in the New Testament contained very few references to the Torah. In his mind, therefore, the Torah wasn’t a very prominent idea in the minds of the apostolic writers. I tried to enlighten him otherwise.
While the epistles might not contain very many outright references to the Torah — especially direct commands to be obedient to the Torah’s standards of righteousness, the apostolic writers weave the fundamental concepts of the Torah through their writings and make countless allusions to the Torah as we shall see in the study below. The Torah was just part of their spiritual and social fabric and background. It was their spiritual foundation, and to them Yeshua the Jewish, Torah-obedient Messiah, who was the Living Word of Elohim incarnate, was simply an extensions or expression of this basic idea of Torah truth and righteousness, and whose example they expected the saints to follow as his disciples.
1 Thess 1:2, Labor of love.(Hard work, intense labor or toil of charitable/agape love, benevolence, good will). Biblically speaking, is love merely an emotion, or is it something more? The Bible presents love as an action. Yeshua said, “If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). This action involves obedience to YHVH’s Torah-commandments. Elsewhere, Yeshua sums up the Torah when he quotes the biblical shema, which states that the duty of man is to love YHVH with all one’s heart, soul, mind and strength and one’s neighbor as oneself (Mark 12:28–31 cp. Deut 6:4 and Lev 19:18). The shema is a summation of the ten commandments the first four of which show us how to love YHVH, while the last six how to love our neighbor. These ten statements form the foundation or cornerstone of the entire Torah, which expand out of them.
1 Thess 1:9, Turn from idols … serve the living Elohim.The Tanakh (Old Testament) views idolatry as anything that takes one away from worshiping and serving YHVH by obeying his Torah commandments. The biblical prophets were continually warning the Israelites against following the idolatrous (Torahless) ways of the nations and urging YHVH’s people to repent of the sin of idolatry and to turn back to the Torah.
1 Thess 2:12, Walk worthy. Walking involves action. Worthy indicates a direction or the manner of the walk. What determines whether the direction or manner of one’s walk is worthy or not? A religious leader, denomination, or each person himself? If so, then the concept of what is worthy is merely a subjective determination left up to the whims of individuals or a group of individuals. If so, how can there ever be any unity among people? YHVH hasn’t left such an important thing as this up to the changing vicissitudes and caprice of humans. YHVH Elohim determines for man what is worthy or good. This is delineated in his Torah — his immutable standards for righteousness.Continue reading