Who Are the Real Judaizers?

Galatians 2:14, To live as a Jew. The Greek word here is Ioudaidzo from which the term Judaizer derives. This is the only occurrence of this work in the Testimony of Yeshua. Biblically speaking, who and what is a Judaizer?


Mainstream Christians label those who believe in the gospel and, at the same time, adhere to the Torah as Judaizers. Is this a correct label and what is the biblical historical origin of this term? 

The term Judaizing or Judaizer as the mainstream church understands it to mean is not found in the Bible per se. However, church historians and Bible teachers have applied this term retrospectively to those in the primitive Christian church as well as to modern saints who advocated adherence to the Torah. This is ironic since Paul in many places in his writings advocated Torah obedience to the believers in Rome (who were both Jewish and Gentile) and elsewhere. So while Paul teaches Torah observance on the one hand, many believe that Paul was teaching liberty from the Torah (in book of Galatians, for example) on the other hand. This has led to much confusion about what Paul really believed. Was he conflicted in his beliefs in that it seems that he was both for and against the Torah? Or maybe he gradually changed his opinion from pro-Torah to anti-Torah. This latter proposition seems unlikely since Bible scholars tell us that Romans and Galatians were written nearly at the same time. So the term Judaizer as used by modern Bible scholars seems to be a canard­—a fabricated concept or one built on a false premise. 

The fact is that the phrase “to become Jewish” from which the English term Judiazer derives is found only twice in the entire Bible. The first place is in Esther 8:17 where the Greek Old Testament (LXX) uses the Hebrew verb Ioudaizon meaning “to become a Jew,” or “to profess oneself to be Jewish.” It was used in reference to those Persians who suddenly “converted” to Judaism to escape Jewish persecution. The second reference is found in Galatians 2:14 were Paul accused Peter, not of being Torah-obedient, but rather of adhering to non-biblical Jewish traditions, which forbad Jews and Gentiles from eating together. In this verse we find the phrase “to live as do the Jews.” This phrase is the Greek word Ioudaizō meaning “to become Judean, to live after Jewish customs or manners.”

In reality, adherence to these extrabiblical Jewish traditions was Judaizing—a fact that seems to be missed by the majority of Christian scholars from the second century to this day! The issue here was not whether YHVH’s Torah-law was still binding on Christians, but whether Christians needed to follow non-biblical or extra-biblical—in some cases, even unbiblical—manmade traditions. This would be like telling a person who has just become a Christian that celebrating Christmas and Easter are required to be a Christian, when, in fact, the Bible requires no such things. Such a requirement would be an extra-biblical, manmade traditions. Such was what Paul was accusing Peter of doing.

Religious systems trying to foist their unbiblical requirements upon their adherents is not a new thing, for Yeshua accused the learned Jewish religious leaders of his day of doing the same thing, that is, of “making the word of Elohim of no effect through your traditions which you have handed down” (Mark 7:15). Earlier he said, “You reject the commandment of Elohim, that you may keep your tradition” (Mark 7:9).

In reality, what Paul was fighting against was not YHVH Elohim’s Torah-laws, which in numerous places in his writings (which we have chronicled and discussed elsewhere) he advocated, defended and claimed to follow himself. Rather he is rejecting the idea that one can be saved by their own good works including circumcision. 

After all, this issue was the focus of the debate of the first Jerusalem council in Acts 15. In verse one of this chapter we read, “And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” The fact is that circumcision was never a biblical requirement for salvation going back to Abraham (see Paul’s discussion of this in Romans 4 where he shows that Abraham was justified by faith, not by works, including circumcision). Yet over the course of time, and due to a misunderstanding of the Torah law requiring all males to be circumcised before taking Passover, it became the belief among some Christians that circumcision is a prerequisite for salvation. This and other unbiblical Jewish traditions that were hindering the spreading of the gospel and Gentiles from coming to faith in Yeshua is what Paul was vigorously combatting in his Galatians epistle and elsewhere. For Paul, it never was about Torah-obedience as the mainstream Christian church has made it out to be. To say that it is a bald-faced lie, and the mainstream church has been peddling this lie for nearly 2,000 years! It is time that people wake up and realize this.

In combatting the false notion that circumcision, for example, must be a prerequisite to salvation, Paul opposed this idea in a grand and logical step-by-step manner in his epistle to the Romans, and again in his epistle to the Galatians in a knock-out-the-opponent-quickly manner. 

So if we are to apply the term Judaizer to anyone, it must be applied to those advocating a works-based salvation formula, not to those who teach that salvation is by grace alone through faith in Yeshua with the spiritual fruits of conversion being love toward Elohim and one’s fellow man as defined by the Torah—something this author strongly advocates. 

Sadly, the fundamental truth of who a so-called Judaizers really were seems to have been missed by the majority of early church fathers and modern mainstream church theologians and leaders, who have continued to repeat their predecessors’ anti-Semitic and anti-Torah theological viewpoints. These traditions of men have been handed down to them by many second century Torah and Jew hating church fathers, incorporated into Roman Catholic theology and subsequently picked and peddled by the Protestants to this day. For one to now go against these institutionalized manmade and unbiblical traditions by which the word of Elohim has been made of none effect carries with it serious implications. These include excommunication from various Christian institutions, rejection by one’s peers, and most importantly, many ministers would lose their financial security. This means that many pastors, Bible teachers and countless others who make their living in Christians ministry sucking off the tit of Christianity Inc. would be forced to go out and get a real job like the rest of us! As Scripture declares, “the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil” (1 Tim 6:10).

 

How to Easily Understand the Hard Sayings of Paul

2 Peter 3:15–16Paul…hard to understand. If the writings of Paul are confusing as Second Peter 3:15-16 affirms, then why did the Holy Spirit write confusing things through Paul and not through others? 


Why Paul Is Difficult to Understand

Paul was hard to understand in the first century as Peter states in 2 Peter 3:16–17, and he’s hard to understand now in the twenty first century, as we will discuss below. In fact, it might be said that if it was hard for Paul’s contemporaries (those who knew him and ministered with him) to understand him, then, logically, it follows that it will be even much harder for those of us to understand him who live 2000 years later and who didn’t know him or work with him. To the former point, Peter writes, 

And account that the longsuffering of our YHVH is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.  Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.

Again, if Paul was hard to understand in his day, how much more 2000 years later!

For those living and working with Paul, he was hard to understand because of his intellect and education. He was one of the top Jewish scholars of his day with an intellect to match it. You weren’t taught by Gamliel, the grandson of Hillel the Great, the founder of the Hillel School of Phariseeism and considered by some modern Jews to be the greatest sage of the common era, unless you were the top of your class in Judaism! This was the same Paul who was well-travelled, multi-lingual, could debate with the Greek philosophers of Athens, could quote Greek literature from memory and was from a wealthy and prominent family who were Roman citizens because of their wealth and influence. By contrast, most of Yeshua’s other disciples were from the backwoods regions of the Galilee and were common tradesman. Today it would analogous to a logger from Oregon or a fur trapper from Alaska suddenly linking up into a working relationship with a PhD professor in physics or philosophy from Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard or Yale universities. 

Now scroll forward 2000 years. Since then, we have nearly 2000 years of church history with all of its institutionalized traditions, syncretistic belief systems, man-made doctrines, anti-Semitic theologies and so on to have to wade through. The very purveyors of these church traditions are also the same people (the Christian leaders and “scholars”) who are translating our Bibles. This means that they’ll often be translating the biblical text in ways that agree with their best (often anti-Torah) understandings of Scripture. 

It is this Babylonian mixture of truth and error (man made doctrines and traditions of men along with questionable if not faulty Bible translations) out of which most of us have come. We have to somehow weave our way through this tangled religious theological web and mess and figure out what is truth and what is error, what to keep and what to toss out, who is right and who is wrong, what is wheat and what is chaff. This isn’t easy to do especially when we’ve been indoctrinated, even brainwashed by the church to view Paul, the Torah-law and the rest of the Bible in a certain way through the lenses of those who have taught us their viewpoints be they right or wrong. One’s attempt to separate the precious from the vile and the holy from the polluted promises, justifiably so, to be a daunting and frightening proposition. That’s why the majority of people will prefer to stay in the comfort zones of their churches and man made traditions, rather than to step out into the unknown and unexplored wilderness of being a truth seeker, and, like a modern-day archeologist, to dig down to the bedrock of biblical truth. To step out of the boat of the church system means that, like Peter, you have to have a higher measure of faith than those who will remain safely and comfortably in the boat of their religious traditions. It means that one has to keep their eyes on Yeshua and follow his voice, or else sink into the spiritual watery depths of spiritual confusion. It means that you have to role up your sleeves and get to work, and put on your rubber muck boots and slog through the muddy dung in the barnyard of men’s religious traditions, some of which are good and many of which are vile, to get to the solid high ground of biblical Truth.

Unlocking the Mystery of Understanding Paul

Now let’s discuss Paul specifically to unlock the mystery of how to understand him. This is not a complicated task if done in a logical way. The way NOT to do it is to cherry pick Paul’s difficult-to-understand scriptural passages out of the larger contest of Scripture and then to explain them one-by-one. To attempt to understand Paul in this manner becomes an impossible knot to untie—especially in light of how many Christian scholars have translated his hard sayings through the grid of their faulty understanding and biases. 

Rather, the best way to understand Paul is to step back and to view his writings from the larger context of Scripture—to see the whole forest instead of merely focusing on the individual trees. For example, Paul told the saints in Corinth to imitate him as he imitated Messiah Yeshua (1 Cor 11:1). By the way, Paul’s statement here lines up with John’s instructions to all the saints in his first general epistle to do the same (1 John 2:6). If we’re to imitate Yeshua, then we must, logically, ask ourselves what our Master did, so that we can imitate him as Paul (and John) instructs. For sure Yeshua followed the Torah-law. If not, then he was a sinner, for we read in Scripture that “sin is the violation of the Torah-law” (1 John 3:4), that sin is unrighteousness (1 John 5:17) and that YHVH’s Torah-law defines what righteousness is (Ps 119:172). On the contrary, we know that Yeshua kept the Torah, for he was without sin, for if he had sinned, he wouldn’t been our perfect, sin-free Savior or Redeemer. He kept the Torah in all points and never violated a single command, which would have been sin (Heb 4:152 Cor 5:211 Pet 2:221 John 3:5). Not only did Yeshua obey the Torah, but he clearly upheld its validity again and again (e.g. Matt 5:17–21John 14:1521), and he commissioned his disciples to carry his instructions in this regard forward to the whole earth (Matt 28:2018–20 for context). So according to Paul, this is what he imitated, and what he expected the saints of his day (and us) to imitate.

Next, we read in numerous places that Paul spoke favorably of the Torah law. 

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What is the difference between the Torah and the Law of Moses?

In this blog, we ask and answer the hard questions that few Bible teachers ever ask much less answer including the topic of discussion below. Why is this? For one thing, I have an inquisitive mind and I want answers. Second, I trust the Word of Elohim, and I know that it is the divinely revealed Truth of Elohim and it contains no contradictions; everything in Scripture perfectly dovetails with everything else to form a glorious, unified and indivisible grand picture of YHVH’s plan of salvation for fallen humans. Therefore, I am not afraid to ask the hard questions, because I am assured that I will not be disappointed or disillusioned when the answers are revealed. The Truth will only strengthen our faith in and our understanding of the will of the Almighty Elohim, not weaken it. So I keep asking the questions and seeking the answers. So please enjoy the following study.

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. (Matt 7:7–8)


Is there a difference between the Torah and the law of Moses? Technically, no, since the Scriptures use the terms law of Moses and the law (i.e. Torah) interchangeably in many places.

However, many people think that the law of Moses or the Torah originated with Moses. I have emphatically taught over the years, and the Scripture is clear on the fact, that the Torah did not originate with Moses, but from eternity or from heaven where Elohim exists. How can we assert this? This is because the Torah is a reflection of the heart, mind, will and righteous character of Elohim. It is spiritual and is thus eternal as Paul states in Romans 7:14. Moreover, Scripture reveals that the voice of Elohim from heaven gave the ten commandments to the Israelites (Exod 20:1–22), and the finger of Elohim wrote them on stone (Exod 31:18; 32:16), and the rest of the Torah was dictated to Moses directly by Elohim (Exod 13:1; 25:1; 30:11, 17, 22; 31:1, 12 and dozens or more references could be given). Therefore, no one except an ignorant fool or a deceiving, disingenuous liar can ever say that the Torah-law originated from human source or sources.

At the same time, and in a sense, Moses is the originator (by the hand of Elohim) of the law of Moses as opposed to the eternal principles of the Torah, which, again, are a reflection of the heart, will, character, holiness and righteousness of Elohim. What do I mean? Moses is the first person to have written the Torah down in Exodus 24:7 (perhaps that is one reason he needed to be educated in Egypt, so that he was capable of such a task requiring literary skills). He put the Torah into a form that had not existed before: a national constitution for a physical nation state in written form. For the first time, he codified the Torah or turned it into a written legal code. This was necessary because Israel was now a nation with physical borders and not just a large nomadic family or tribe. As such, Israel needed a system of written laws by which to govern their nation. Therefore, Torah had to be expanded and more clearly defined, if you will, to meet the legal requirements of governing a physical nation. The laws of Elohim had to be specifically spelled out and put into a written form. In this form, political leaders, judges, priests and people would know what the law was, so that could be studied, obeyed and adjudicated. Furthermore, the nation could pass no new laws that in any way would contradict the Written Torah, which was the supreme law of the land. 

Consider this. The principles of the Torah are eternal, spiritual and endless because Torah is a reflection of the eternal and infinite mind of the Creator, so it has many applications and possibilities and can be expanded to meet the legal exigencies of a physical nation. None of those applications, however, violate the basic principles of the eternal principles of Torah. For example, the Sabbath is a rest day. Though rules and regulations may be enacted that tell us how to keep the Sabbath, nothing can violate the basic principle of resting on the seventh day of the week.

The eternal principles of the Torah may also be likened to the Constitution of the U.S., which is the overarching law of that nation; no state, county or city government can pass a law that violates the U.S. Constitution. They can pass many additional laws, but nothing that goes against or supersedes the Constitution is permitted. This is akin to the law of Moses, which was based on or sprung out of the eternal principles of the Torah. It could contain additional legal requirements that would help to rightly govern a physical nation, but the nation could never pass a law that would contradict or invalidate any principle of Torah. For example circumcision was a sign of the Abrahamic Covenant, but under the law of Moses, it became a proof of citizenship, like a passport, in the physical nation of Israel. It was necessary for the protection of the nation and to prevent aliens from coming in and taking over. Those people who went through the physical ordeal of circumcision were likely serious about wanting to part of Israel. This was a test of the seriousness of their intent. The problem with the believing Pharisees of Acts 15:1 who believed that circumcision was to be a precursor for salvation is that they took the concept of circumcision both as a sign of the Abrahamic Covenant and as a physical act of faith in Elohim, mixed it with the proof of citizenship requirements of the law of Moses and then conflated the two and now made it a salvational requirement for inclusion in the spiritual nation (or body of Messiah) of Israel. Paul corrects this theological error in Romans four and addresses it in Galatians (and elsewhere), and the apostles made a ruling on this issue in Acts 15, as well. Contrary to what many in mainstream Christianity erroneously teach, Acts 15 was not a verdict on the validity of Torah, rather it was a verdict on whether circumcision was a prerequisite for salvation. It was a prerequisite to be a member of the physical nation of Israel, but not for salvation, as Paul states in Romans chapter four.

Another example where the Torah had to be expanded under the law of Moses was in the area of the inheritance laws. Traditionally, the firstborn son received the lion’s share of his father’s inheritance and was responsible for carrying on the family lineage. That’s following Torah in at its ideal level. However, what if your first born son was out of Elohim’s will (such as Ishmael), or was a profane, rebellious and godless man (such as Esau), or was an immoral and power hungry person (like Reuben who slept with his father’s concubine to affirm the his status as the firstborn leader of his tribe), then what? The birthright would then go to the next best male candidate for the position. Now what if one had no sons? Then what? This is what the daughters of Zelophehad faced in Numbers 36. The Torah had to be amended or expanded to accommodate this situation. Moses sought YHVH on the matter, who gave him instructions on what to do. So ideally, and according to the overarching principles of Torah, the birthright would go to the firstborn son, but humans don’t live in an ideal or perfect world, so sometimes adjustments or exceptions were made and the Zeloophehad’s daughters were able to inherit their father’s estate with certain provisos made. The same thing is true with marriage. Ideally, it’s between one man and one woman for life. Period. But what if you were the leader of a tribe or a king and your wife was barren and she couldn’t bear you a son? Then what? You had to get a son somehow or your tribe and lineage would die out or be destroyed or subsumed by a more powerful neighboring enemy tribe. Today the same conditions don’t exist where if one childless, that’s not the end of the world; they’re nomadic or kingly lineage dies out. As nomads in the ancient Near East, one’s tribe was one’s life and security. One couldn’t exist without that community support and protection; without this, one died. So if one’s wife was barren, what did one do? A man had to take another wife who could bear him a son to continue his lineage. The same was true of a king who had a barren wife. Was having multiple wives (polygamy) YHVH’s ideal situation for marriage? Absolutely not. It caused no end to familial problems, as the Bible so poignantly chronicles in a number of instances. Yet, polygamy became a reality for some men, and the law of Moses accommodated this practice and addresses this issue.

The same is true of divorce and remarriage. Yeshua states that, again, marriage was between a man and a woman for life from the beginning. Yet because of the hardness of the human heart, some people simply couldn’t continue to live together in marriage, and so the law of Moses permitted divorce and even allowed for remarriage (Mark 10:2–9, cp. Deut 24). This was not the perfect will of Elohim for marriage, but his permissible will, if you will.

In conclusion, Paul alludes to the good, better and perfect will of Elohim in Romans 12:2. All three are in the will of Elohim, but how much of the time are we ever in his perfect will? What is the perfect will of Elohim? It is the Torah, which reflects his perfect, holy or pure and righteous character. Are even the best intended humans capable of always walking in the perfect will of Elohim, or walking at the highest level of Torah all of the time or even most of the time? Hardly! Nevertheless, we should always be striving to do our best as much as possible. Let’s face it. Life is just plain difficult. That is where YHVH’s grace comes in! If our hearts are right and we are doing the best that we can, then YHVH’s merciful grace will cover us, as long as we do not turn his grace into licentiousness or license to sin (i.e. the violation of YHVH’s Torah, 1 John 3:4), which is what the church has largely done through its misguided and false teaching about the Torah being abrogated. The Bible is clear: there is no grace for willful and knowing disobedience!

 

What Is the Purpose of the Torah?

Deuteronomy 28:1, Commandments. Most people with whom I have engaged in discussions about the Torah-law of Elohim have a limited understanding of the breadth, scope and purpose of Elohim’s law. If they were to understand the full ramifications of the Torah, they would likely be less inclined to dismiss its validity in their lives. When discussing the Torah with people who have a traditional Christian view of  “the law,” it might be helpful to keep the following truths in mind; they help to “blow the lid” off of people’s theological boxes!


(Excerpted from a larger work by Ya’acov Natan Lawrence entitled, YHVH’s Instructions In Righteousness—A Messianic Believer’s Introduction to the Torah available online at http://www.hoshanarabbah.org/pdfs/torahprimer.pdf)

The purpose of the Torah is to show man how to walk in right relationship (or righteousness) with his Creator. To do this, we must love YHVH with all our heart, soul, mind and strength (Deut 6:5; Mark 12:30) and love our neighbor as ourself (Lev 19:18; Mark 12:30). Once one is saved by grace through faith (See my teaching article entitled: The Abrahamic Covenant: The Covenant of Salvation, available at http://www.hoshanarabbah.org/pdfs/abracov.pdf.), Torah helps show man how to walk in the straight and narrow path that leads to blessings and life and avoids the curses of the law (Deut 30:15; 32:47). The Torah shows man how to avoid sin (which is the violation of YHVH’s Torah-commandments, 1 John 3:4), which is walking contrary to YHVH’s instructions in righteousness that are for our blessing and benefit.

The Torah does not set an impossible standard by which to live. We must ask ourselves, would a righteous and just Creator and a loving Heavenly Father give to his chosen people and children a set of standards that were humanly impossible to perform, and then curse them for their inability to meet these standards? Of course not! Rather, the Torah (including both the Abrahamic and Mosaic Covenants) sets a standard of faith, trusting in Elohim, and of following its system of repentance and sacrifice for obtaining forgiveness from Elohim and restoring a condition of being considered righteous in his sight. After all, Moses, the human instrument through whom YHVH revealed the Torah to the Children of Israel, states in Deuteronomy 30:11–14:

For this [Torah] commandment which I command you this day, it is not hidden from you, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, “Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?” Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, “Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?” But the word is very near unto you, in your mouth, and in your heart, that you may do it.

Paul quotes this very passage in Romans 10:6–8 where he relates the written Torah to Yeshua, the Living Torah or Word of Elohim incarnate (in the flesh, see John 1:1, 14). He shows that they are one in the same and that Messiah Yeshua came to live and reveal to us the righteousness of the Torah-law (verse 4) that is available to us if we will but have a heartfelt faith in him (verses 4, 9–10) and allow him to live out his righteousness in us through the empowering work of the Spirit of Elohim. In verses 11 through 21, Paul goes on to relate this very truth to being the central message of the gospel that Isaiah prophesied (Isa 52:7) would be preached to redeem both houses of Israel to Yeshua their Messiah.

It might be said that in a sense that the Torah itself is neutral; neither positive nor negative, for it is like a mirror simply reflecting the image portrayed in it. Torah reacts according to human action. Those who obey it are blessed and those who disobey it are cursed. David Stern in his Jewish New Testament Commentary lists both some of the “negative” and some of the positive functions of the Torah.

On the “negative” side:

1) The Torah has the capacity to stir up sin in an individual. This capacity of the Torah to make us sin is not a fault in the Torah but a fault in ourselves. A healthy person thrives in an environment deadly to someone who is ill; likewise, the Torah, beneficial to a believer living by faith, is an instrument of death to these controlled by their sinful nature (p. 375).

2) The Torah can still produce guilt feelings in a believer—as it rightly should whenever he contemplates how his behavior falls short of the standard Elohim sets in the Torah. But these feelings are not irremediable. The remedy is once-and-for-all trust in Yeshua the Messiah’s final atonement for sin (Rom 3:21–26), followed by ongoing confession of and repentance from sins (1 John 1:9) (Ibid.).

3) The Torah also provides a framework of justice by which Elohim, the Just Judge of the universe, will judge the actions of men to determine both their level of punishment for its violation and their level of reward for obedience to it.

4) Because of the righteous standards the Torah sets out, for the sinner it points out the fact that they have sinned and how far they have fallen short of the glory of YHVH (Rom 3:23) and hence their need for a Savior or Redeemer. The Torah actually points the way to Yeshua as Paul points out in the book of Galatians (3:25).

On the positive side:

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An Overview of the Ten Words or Commandments

Exodus 20:1–17,

The Ten Words or Ten Commandments by which they are more commonly known are but the mighty cornerstone of the 613 commandments of the Torah. The Jewish sages teach that all 613 are implied in the Ten; or that the Ten can be expanded into 613. The Tanakh (Old Testament) and Jewish writings contain a number of phrases that express the quintessential essence of the Torah. One of these best-known passages naming several of these phrases is in the Jewish Talmud: “[R.] Simlai said, ‘613 commandments were given to Moses—365 negative mitzvot (commandments), the same as the number of days in the year, and 248 positive mitzvot, the same as the number of parts in a man’s body. David came and reduced them to eleven (Ps 15), Isaiah to six (Isa 33:15), Micah to three (Mic 6:8), Isaiah again to two—“Observe and do righteousness” (Isa 56:1). Then Amos came and reduced them to one, “Seek me and you shall live” (Amos 5:4)—as did Habakkuk, “The righteous one will attain life by his trusting [or by faith] faithfulness (Hab 2:4)”’ (Makkot 23b–24a, abridged, from the Jewish New Testament Commentary, by David Stern, p. 565). 

We see some of these same Torah summation-type statements in the Testimony of Yeshua. For example, the phrase, “the just shall live by faith” is found in three passages of the Testimony of Yeshua (Rom 1:17; Gal 3:11; Heb 10:38); In Leviticus 19:18, we find the phrase, “you shall love your neighbor as yourself,” which is the summation of the last five of the famous Ten Commandments. This in itself is a summation of all of the 613 Torah commandments that relate to human relationships, which we see in Yeshua’s famous “Golden Rule” passage of Matthew 7:12, “Therefore all things whatsoever you would that men should do to you, do you even so to them, for this is the law and the prophets.” Paul echoes this concept in Romans 13:8, “Love does not do harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fullness of the Torah.” Love is the foundation and quintessential concept behind the Torah-law of Elohim. Yeshua states this in Mark 12:29–31, 

“And Yeshua answered him, ‘The first of all the [Torah] commandments is, Hear, O Israel; YHVH our Elohim is one Master: And you shall love YHVH your Elohim with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, you shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is none other commandment greater than these.’”

Love must be the motive behind all our righteous deeds or else our actions count for nothing (1 Cor 13:1–13). The concept of love and the keeping of YHVH’s Torah-law are codependent actions. One cannot exist without the other. John, in his epistle, discusses this idea at length in 1 John 2:7–11; 3:11–24; 4:7–21 where he states that “Elohim is love” (1 John 4:8, 16), and that one’s love of Elohim and man is linked to obedience to the Torah commandments (1 John 2:3–11; 3:11–18). As YHVH first loved us, we should love our fellow man (1 John 4:7–11), in word, deed and in (Torah) truth (1 John 3:18). This relates to Yeshua’s admonition to his disciples in John 14:15, “If you love me, keep my Torah-commandments.”

Lest one recoil at the thought of having to keep 613 commandments of the Torah please be advised of the fact that there are approximately 1050 commandments in the Testimony of Yeshua!

The 18 Benefits of Studying and Obeying YHVH’s Torah

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What does, “the law and prophets were until John” mean?

Luke 16:16, The Torah and the Prophets. Many people in the mainstream church view this passage as drawing a defining line between the so-called age or dispensations of law (in the Old Testament or Tanakh) and the age or dispensation of grace (in the New Testament or the Testimony of Yeshua). This in turn, in their minds, sets the Tanakh (which reveals the law or Torah) and Testimony of Yeshua (which supposedly reveals the concept of grace) at odds with each other. Is this a correct interpretation of this passage? 

The evidence within the Testimony of Yeshua itself doesn’t support this common Christian interpretation, however. In no way is Yeshua annulling the Torah here, or else he would be contradicting what he clearly taught in Matthew 5:17–19. Furthermore, Yeshua’s statement here can’t possibly mean that the Torah was now obsolete in the Testimony of Yeshua, since the apostles and early believers adhered to the Torah long after the passing of John the Baptist (Yeshua, p. 41, by Ron Mosely). Additionally, Paul’s statement in Romans 3:31 that the Torah is not voided by grace should dispel any notions that Luke 16:16 implies that the Torah would pass from the scene in the life of believers.

There are a couple of ways to understand this passage without doing violence to the Torah. First, it could be understood that Yeshua is saying that the Law and the Prophets were the only Scriptures in existence up to the time that John came on the scene. The implication is that more would soon come (ibid.).

A second way to view this passage is that Yeshua is stating that the Torah and the Prophets prophesied or pointed to the time when John would come thus ushering in the Messiah at which time there would be a change in the focus of the message of YHVH’s servants. Instead of just preaching about the Torah or that the Messiah is coming, now the message of “repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (see Matt 3:2; 4:17) would be preached. This is a more expansive message that focuses now more on the salvation message centered on the death, burial and resurrection of Yeshua. This message also includes obedience to the Torah (e.g. Yeshua said, “If you love me, keep my Torah commandments” in John 14:15, also 1 John 2:2–6). Moreover, Paul clearly affirms the validity of the Torah for the New Testament believer in his forceful declarative statement in Romans 3:31,

Do we then make void the law through faith? Elohim forbid: yea, we establish the law.

The data found in the actual writings of the apostles confirms what Yeshua predicted in this verse. Of the some 8,000 verses in the Testimony of Yeshua, well over one-fourth of those verses contain direct references to the Person of Yeshua, while there are only about 260 direct references to the Torah. Yeshua himself confirms his own words as recorded by the Gospel writers. In the Gospels of Matthew and John, Yeshua spoke on 136 different subjects. The number one subject he talked about was himself (316 references), followed by his Father (184 references), then hypocritical leaders (177 references). The kingdom of Elohim comes in fourth place (77 references) and the Torah is in seventh place with 44 references. 

 

The Law of YHVH or the Law of Moses?

Luke 2:24, Law of the Lord/YHVH. This phrase is found only three times in the Testimony of Yeshua—here and in vv. 24 and 39. The same phrase is additionally found 18 times in the Tanakh and obviously refers to the Torah (e.g. Pss 1:1; 19:7; 119:1). Meanwhile, the phrase the law of Moses is found a similar number of times in the Bible: 15 times in the Tanakh and seven times in the Testimony of Yeshua. Obviously the phrases the law of YHVH and the law of Moses are synonymous terms in that they refer to the same thing: the Written Torah. 

From the obvious meanings of these two terms, we learn that YHVH Elohim is the divine source or origination of the Torah, while Moses was merely the one who first wrote it down or codified it, and as the leader of the nation of Israel, he administered it. 

In light of these facts, it is interesting, if not ironic, how the mainstream church chronically refers to the Torah as “the law of Moses,” when Scripture refers to the Torah as “the Torah of YHVH” the same number of times less one. The mainstream church’s choice of one term over the other seems to reveal, sadly, its apathy, if not, at times, its outright antipathy, toward YHVH’s Torah. To justify this ungodly attitude, it has chosen to use the term that casts the Torah-law of Elohim in the most negative light possible by inferring that its source is man and not Elohim. This furthermore underscores the truth of Paul’s words in Romans 8:7 about the carnal mind of man being at enmity with the laws of Elohim in that it refuses to be subject to them.