How to Easily Understand the Hard Sayings of Paul

2 Peter 3:15–16, Paul…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 be 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 4:15; 2 Cor 5:21; 1 Pet 2:22; 1 John 3:5). Not only did Yeshua obey the Torah, but he clearly upheld its validity again and again (e.g. Matt 5:17–21; John 14:15, 21), and he commissioned his disciples to carry his instructions in this regard forward to the whole earth (Matt 28:20, 18–20 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. 

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)

But we know that the law [Torah] is good, if a man use it lawfully…(1 Tim 1:8)

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)

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)

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)

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)

So with all of this overwhelming evidence (and more could be given) from Scripture itself that not only proves Paul’s favorable disposition toward the Torah-law, but that he actually lived according to it himself and taught both the Jews and the non-Jewish saints to do likewise, how is it that so many Christian scholars believe and teach the opposite? This is a discussion for another day, but suffice it to say, two Bible verses sum up the indigenous and general antipathy that all carnal humans have toward the commandments of Elohim because of their sin nature:

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Does Ephesians 2:15 say that the Torah-law Has Been Abolished?

In the comments section of this blog, someone just asked the question whether Ephesians 2:15 is referring to the Torah, as the Christian church typically teaches. Here is what it says:

For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. (Ephraim 2:14–16)

Here is my explanation:

What does Ephraim 2:15 really say? Does it say that Yeshua abolished the law? NO! How could it say this when Yeshua said he came to establish the Torah-law and to bring it into its fuller dimension (Matt 5:17), and that not one jot or tittle of it would pass away as long as heaven and earth are here (Matt 5:18), and that the saints would be rewarded eternally based on their obedience to the Torah-law (Matt 5:19)? And then Yeshua goes on to explain the importance of obedience to both the spirit and letter of the Torah-law in the rest of his Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5–7). 

Moreover, how could Ephesians 2:15 mean that YHVH’s Torah-law was done away with when in numerous places Paul upholds the law and declares that he is obedient to it and that he has not violated even one jot or tittle of it, just like Yeshua said? 

Think people think! Let’s not let the silly, illogical, twisting of Scripture and cherry-picked out of contest out arguments of our somewhat biblically ignorant Christian friends dictate our understanding of the Word of Elohim. For example, would you go to a first grader to answer your questions about advanced mathematics or physics. Would you seek a child’s advice and expertise on how to build a house are rebuild an engine? I think not. Sadly, and in reality, most Christians are babies when it comes to understanding the details of Scriptures. All that most of them know how to do is to regurgitate the lies that they have heard from the pulpits. Beyond that, they have little or no knowledge or skill when it comes to rightly dividing the Word of Elohim. So, again, let’s not let these neophytes interpret Scripture for us. 

Not only that, when we repeat faulty interpretations of Scripture, we run the risk of making ourselves look like the same childish fools as those who proffer such lies and misinformation about Scripture. So instead of repeating the lies, let’s step back and logically think our way through the issues, just as I have taught the reader how to do above.

So what does Ephraim 2:15 mean if it is not referring to the Torah law? In reality, this verse says nothing at all about the Torah-law. It simply mentions that Yeshua abolished “commandments” and “ordinances”. Whose commandments and ordinances? Those of Elohim’s or men? We have just proven above that Elohim’s laws have not been done away with, so what is left? It’s a simple process of elimination. This is simple syllogistic logic. 

So what is the real issue in Ephesians chapter two? Paul is making the point that the Gentiles are now part of the nation and covenant promises of Israel through Yeshua. (For context, go read Eph 2 starting in verse 11.). He is battling the Jewish idea that the Gentiles were second class citizens and had no place with Israel and no relationship with Elohim unless they endured an elaborate conversion process including physical circumcision. As such, the Jews looked down on the Gentiles as second class citizens because they were not ethnic or biological Jews. This is the enmity that Paul is talking about in this verse. These are the traditions and dogmas of men (not of Elohim or the Bible) that Yeshua came to obliterate, so that the Gentiles could now receive the gospel message and be part of the kingdom of Elohim where there is neither Jew nor Greek (Gal 3:28), but “the one new man” as Ephesians 2:15 states. 

Actually the Old Testament was very inclusive of Gentiles, if those Gentiles chose to sojourn with Israel and worship and obey the Elohim of Israel. For example, Ruth was a Moabitess. Rahab was a Canaanite. Caleb was an Amalakite. Ephraim and Manasseh were half Egyptian. Moses married a black Ethiopian woman. Moreover, the Torah states in numerous places that there was one law for both the Israelite and the foreign Gentile that chose to become part of Israel. This is because a mixed (non-Israelite) multitude come out of Egypt at the exodus with Israel. This is also because when Israel conquered its enemies, some of the conquered people chose to become part of Israel, and the Torah makes allowances and provision for this. 

Moreover, YHVH commanded the Israelites to be a spiritual light to the nations around them (Deut 4:6), so that the Gentiles would come to the light of YHVH’s Truth (Isa 60:1–3). Additionally, when Israel fulfilled its divine mission to evangelise the Gentiles, not only would the foreigner be able to join himself to Israel because they came to the light of YHVH’s truth (Isa 56:3ff), but that same foreigner would actually eventually have the opportunity and privilege of serving in YHVH’s temple as priests (Isa 66:19–21 cp. 1 Pet 2:9; Rev 1:6; 5:10; 20:6).

Thus, the fulfillment of YHYVH’s greater plan for evangelizing the whole world was being thwarted in Paul’s day by unbiblical and man-made Jewish traditions, dogmas, commandments and rituals that hindered if not prevented Gentiles from coming to the glorious light of the gospel Truth and coming to know Elohim (1 John 2:3–6), and learning how to love him by keeping his Torah commandments (John 14:15, 21; Rom 13:8–10). 

This is what Paul is really saying in Ephesians 2:15. And, as they say, now you know the rest of the story—the whole truth and nothing but the truth!

 

Natan’s Notes of Galatians—What is the bottom line?

Galatians 3:13, Curse of the law. The curse of the law is not the Torah-law, but the penalty for violating it. Yeshua came to save us from the penalty of the law, not from the law itself. Through his grace and forgiveness coupled with our repentance, we are saved from the consequences of violating the law (the penalty of the law, which ultimately is death), but we have not been liberated from obedience to the law. That would be like saying that if someone pays your fine for speeding, the speeding laws no longer apply to you and you are free to drive at any speed you like. This of course is absurd.

Galatians 3:19, It was added/sent again. This refers to the Torah in its codified form as given to the Israelites at Sinai, and to the sacrificial system that was imposed on the rebellious Israelites until the time of Yeshua’s death on the cross (see notes at Jer 7:22). Let me explain.

The Levitical priesthood (along with the elaborate tabernacle sacrificial system) was a temporary institution that YHVH added (Gal 3:19 cp. Jer 7:21–22) to the nation of Israel’s legal system because of the firstborn Israelites’ (who YHVH commissioned to be the priests of their families, Exod 19:22 cp. Exod 13:2, 11–16) failure to prevent Israel from worshipping the golden calf and to sin by faithlessly grumbling and murmuring against Elohim. In a general sense, YHVH didn’t give the Israelites the Torah at this time—the principles of which they and their forefathers already knew (e.g. Gen 26:5), and which were in existence since the foundation of the earth. These eternal and inviolate principles had already been passed on down to successive generations by men like Enoch, Noah and the patriarchs. So what other law was added? At Mount Sinai, the eternal principles of the Torah were codified into an administrative legal system (with civil penalties including the institution of a sacrificial system as a penalty for sin, which the Bible calls this system “the law of Moses”), and this codified system became the constitution of the nation of Israel. At the same time, YHVH gave them the institution of the Levitical priesthood and the sacrificial system (Gal 3:19), which (along with the rest of the Torah) pointed them to their need for Yeshua the Savior (Gal 3:16, 24). An example of such a codified system of law would be the American Constitution, the principles of which the founding fathers gleaned from many sources (including the biblical Torah, the ancient Greeks, English common law, the English Magna Carta and the French philosophers), which they then combined to make the legal code that now governs the United States (in theory). A similar situation occurred with the law of Moses, except the source for it was the Word, will, heart and character of Elohim, which he had revealed his servants of antiquity, and which then had been passed on down as well as additional laws that were given to Moses pertaining to governing the nation of Israel.

The civil penalties that the law of Moses prescribes along with the sacrificial and Levitical systems were temporary institutions that pointed, like a schoolmaster, tutor or pedagogue (to use Paul’s analogy in the latter part of Galatians chapter four), to Yeshua the Messiah, and which were completely fulfilled by the Messiah as the writer of Hebrews goes on to explains in great detail (see Hebrews chapters 5–11). 

The general principles of the Torah are inviolate and have never changed. This includes the ten commandments, the biblical feasts, the Sabbath, the dietary laws, and all the laws and principles that regulate moral behavior as well as tell us how to love Elohim with our total being and our neighbor as ourselves. These are the eternal principles of the Torah of which Yeshua said that not one jot or tittle would pass away, that we must obey (both letter and spirit), and that obedience to will determine the saint’s rewards in the kingdom of Elohim. Yeshua explains all these things in his landmark and pivotal teaching that history now refers to as the Sermon on the Mount (i.e. Matthew chapters five through seven). Read it, believe it and follow these principles as they lead and guide you into the kingdom of heaven through Yeshua the Messiah!

Galatians 3:24, Schoolmaster. The church’s concept and understanding of the schoolmaster is incorrect. Consider what David Stern has to say about it:

Stern in his Complete Jewish Bible translates schoolmaster as custodian. He explains why in his JNT Commentary (p. 553). The word translated as schoolmaster in the KJV and other English Bibles is the Greek word paidagogos which literally means boy-leader. In ancient Greece a paidagogos was a slave who conducted a boy to and from school and was not actually the school teacher. You can verify this definition in Webster’s dictionary. As languages evolve words change in meanings. Therefore, a secondary modern meaning of pedagogue is a teacher or schoolmaster and pedagogy is the science of teaching. Stern explains that the ancient Greek paidagogos had no teaching function and although the Torah had as one of its goals the leading of Jewish people to the Messiah, as Paul explicitly states at Romans 10:4, that is not the import of the present verse. The paidagogos actually would have been a harsh disciplinarian for the Jewish people, providing some protection but generally making the Jewish person aware of many transgressions so that Jews might turn from legalistic rule-following and be declared righteous legally on the basis of faith and being faithful to Yeshua, whose trusting faithfulness to God the Father purchased our salvation.”

Just because the Torah-pedagogue brought us to the Messiah, doesn’t mean we don’t need it anymore. This is a presumptuous and false understanding of Paul in Galatians 3:24 in its broader context. 

One purpose of the Torah was to identify our sin (1 John 3:4) and hence our need for the Messiah who forgives that sin. This is what Paul is saying in Gal 3:24. 

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What Is the Biblical Definition of Legalism?

Galatians 3

A Wild and Crazy Place to Be

The spiritual Babylon of the church system is a warm and comfortable place in which to live. Within its comfort zones, it has fixed boundaries and clear delineations. When one steps out of the mainstream church system, however, and into a more Hebraic and Torah-pursuant spiritual orientation, it can becomes the shooting gallery of the wild, wild west of doctrines and ideas. 

Outside the so-called organized church system, or churchianity for short, it’s a free-for-all wilderness of every man doing what’s right in his own eyes. In this wilderness outside of organized religion, one has to determine which church beliefs to hold on to and which ones are lies and unbiblical traditions our spiritual fathers have passed on down to us. Here one must learn to separate the spiritual wheat from the chaff. As one’s eyes are opened to the pro-Torah Hebrew roots of the Christian faith, there are many new ideas and doctrines to consider. When coming onward and upward to a fuller knowledge of the truth, one must determine priorities without falling prey to more false doctrines and legalism. This includes determining which biblical truths are the trunk of the tree issues, and which areas are the twigs and the branches. 

In the midst of this confusion, there are many winds of doctrines blowing around capturing people’s attention. People often get sidetracked from the trunk of the tree issues and get hung up on nonessential issues. Paul warned about this.

That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind [violent agitation, very strong tempestuous wind] of doctrine [teaching, instruction], by the sleight [deception] of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive [to delude, lead astray from the right way]. (Eph 4:14)

If one is not grounded firmly on the foundation of essential biblical truths, one can get hung up on side-issues that can become nonessential pet doctrines. Those who fall prey to this tendency will often gravitate toward biblical teachers who agree with them. A pet doctrine can become so important to a person that it can become a spiritual idol in one’s heart. One can become so convinced of the importance of a nonessential doctrine or belief that one will begin to demand that others around them conform to it, and then view those who don’t as somehow inferior spiritually. This is legalism. These pet doctrines often lead to pride and exclusivism toward those who do not agree with us and our pet doctrines. If not careful, we can develop an us versus them mentality, and become prideful because we posses a truth that the next guy doesn’t. 

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (1 Tim 4:3)

What Is Legalism?

When one begins to emphasise pet doctrines there is a tendency toward exclusivism (wanting to hang out with others who also hold to these same pet doctrines), which can lead to legalism. 

So what is legalism? It’s not what exactly what the church has led you to believe it is. One of the definitions of legalism is an extra-biblical term that is often thrown out as a sort of insult against others who don’t believe as we do. 

Another definition of legalism according to the dictionary is “an excessive adherence to law or formula.” 

Those in the churchianity often use the term legalism as an invective against those who have discovered the validity of YHVH’s Torah and are now pursuing a more Hebraic or Torah-compliant lifestyle. This, however, isn’t how Yeshua or the apostles understand the concept. Yeshua told his disciples that if they loved him they would keep his Torah commandments (John 14:15). He said that the saint’s eternal spiritual rewards—not their salvation—are based on Torah-obedience (Matt 5:19). He then goes on to tell his disciples that their righteousness had to exceed that of the Pharisees who were punctiliously obedient the Torah (Matt 5:20). The apostles for their part in numerous places uphold the validity of the Torah in a believer’s life as well (Acts 21:202424:1425:8Rom 3:317:122213:8–101 Cor 7:199:211 John 2:3–43:4245:2–3Rev 12:1714:1222:14).

People who are zealous for righteousness and righteous standards of conduct can easily and unwittingly fall prey to legalism. Legalism must be differentiated from righteous living out of a heart of love, faith and humility. YHVH demands that the saints live a righteous life (Matt 5:20Rev 19:81 John 2:29Rom 8:41 Cor 15:34Eph 4:246:14).The Bible defines righteousness as Torah-obedience (Ps 119:172). All unrighteousness is sin (1 John 5:173:10). The Bible prescribes righteousness, but proscribes self-righteousness and legalism.

The apostolic writings reveal that there are two kinds of legalism that had become an issue in the first century Messianic community. These types of legalism are still with us today. These are…

Salvational legalism. This is the idea that salvation is based on one’s good works. Paul addresses this issue and warns against this false teaching in several places (Eph 2:8–9Gal 3:1–35Rom 3:20274:211:62 Tim 1:9Tit 3:5).

Halachic legalism. Halachah is a Hebrew word that means “to walk” and refers “how one walks out their faith.” Halachic legalism is demanding that others conform to our pet doctrines, our extra-biblical man-made doctrines or traditions, or our specific interpretation on how to walk out a Torah command. It boils down to the idea that “your spiritual walkor halachah needs to conform to mine.” Halachic legalism involves doctrines or beliefs that are nonessential to salvation.

In his Jewish New Testament Commentary, David Stern defines these two types of legalism. Salvational legalism is based on…

[A]ctions stemming from boastful, self-righteous belief that by doing them, by following a set of rules in one’s strength, without any trust [faith] in God or faithfulness towards him, one can earn God’s praises and applause and obligate him to grant one a berth in [the kingdom of] heaven. (p. 345–346)

 [T]he false principle that God grants acceptance to people, considers them righteous and worthy of being in his presence, on the ground of their obedience to a set of rules, apart from putting their trust in God, relying on him, loving him and accepting his love for them. (p. 521)

Stern then goes on to define halachiclegalism.

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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).

 

Confronting the Lies About Paul—Galatians Explained from a Hebraic Perspective

The church has lied to YOU about Paul and his epistle to the Galatians!  NOW learn the truth…

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 7:913), 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 5:17–19John 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.

Galatians Explained

Continue reading
 

Welcome to Galatians—A Fun, Though Controversial Book!

I love the book of Galatians! Why? One reason is this: The more difficult and controversial a biblical book, chapter or passage is, once understood by the light of YHVH’s Spirit, the greater the opportunity for the light of YHVH’s truth to shine through and illuminate the darkness of men’s understanding for His glory! Besides that, I like challenges and understanding the Epistle to the Galatians provides a challenge.

A Quick Overview of the Book of Galatians

Below is a quick overview of the book of Galatians. My explanatory comments are in brackets. 

The main theme of the book of Galatians is that one is saved by the grace of Elohim through faith in Yeshua the Messiah, not by the works of the Torah-law. Here, it’s not Paul’s point to discuss the validity of the Torah in a believer’s life. This he does, for example, in the book of Romans. Rather, in Galatians, he discusses how one is saved: Is it by works (i.e. obedience to the Torah and men’s non-biblical religious doctrines), or by the grace of Elohim?

In chapter one, Paul warns against accepting a “different gospel” and shares his personal testimony.

Chapter two describes Paul’s confrontation with Peter about not having to adhere to Jewish (non-Torah) traditions. He then begins to define what the gospel is by asserting that men are justified (made righteous) before Elohim not by the works of the law, but by faith in Yeshua. [This is because a man can never keep the laws of Elohim well enough to measure up to his high standard of righteousness or perfection. This in no way gives man a pass to violate the laws of Elohim — only that man can’t be saved by the good works of Torah-obedience.] Once a man is saved, Yeshua now lives his righteousness through the man [through the help of the Holy Spirit].

In chapter three, Paul further explains the concept of justification by faith stating that this method of salvation goes back to Abraham who trusted Elohim, and because of that faith YHVH accounted him as righteous. At the same time, if one attempts to be justified by the works of the law, because he can’t keep the whole law perfectly, he will fall under the curse or penalty of the law [which is death. Elsewhere we learn the that sin is the violation of the law (1 John 3:4) and the wages or penalty of sin is death (Gal 3:22Rom 6:23).]. Paul goes on to explain that all believers in Yeshua [both Jews and non-Jews] are children of Abraham (v. 28, 29), and so the same salvation model applies to them that YHVH established at the time of Abraham. What then is the purpose of the Torah, Paul asks? It is to bring sinners to the cross of Yeshua [who died in our place to take on himself the penalty for our sins]. [This isn’t the only purpose of the Torah, as Paul teaches us elsewhere. This is the only purpose he mentions in Galatians for the sake of this discussion. The Torah’s other purpose — once we are brought to Messiah because of our sin, which the violation of the Torah — is that it shows us how to walk without sinning; namely how to love Elohim and our fellow man.] Paul concludes this chapter by saying that once the Torah has brought us to Yeshua, we’re no longer under penalty phase of the Torah, and this applies to all people, not just the Jews.

Next in chapter four, Paul explains in more detail the glorious gospel message of salvation by grace. Messiah came to redeem us (set us free) from slavery to sin and the world and to give us a spiritual inheritance as sons of Elohim. He then asks a question. After having received the glorious message of salvation by grace, how can one turn to a works-based salvation and to other non-biblical religious doctrines of men? He then answers the question by using an illustration to make his point. He compares the old or former covenant that YHVH made with the Israelites at Mount Sinai with the new covenant through Yeshua. This was prefigured in Abraham’s two sons: Ishmael and Isaac. The first son (Ishmael) was a result of human effort and brought bondage, while the second son (Isaac) was a result of YHVH’s grace and brought freedom. [Similarly, if one seeks to do Elohim’s will through one’s own effort, it will result in spiritual bondage. On the other hand, if one seeks to do Elohim’s will through his grace and the divine empowerment of the Holy Spirit, it will bring freedom from sin (i.e. Torahlessness) and it’s death penalty.]

In chapter five, Paul exposes the false teachers who were bringing “another gospel.” They were teaching that one can’t be saved, born again, justified or redeemed unless one is physically circumcised. [Although this doctrine is nowhere to be found in the Scriptures, it had become a belief in first-century Judaism. This was hindering the spread of the gospel message among uncircumcised non-Jewish peoples to whom Paul had been commissioned.] Again, Paul restates the idea that salvation is by grace through faith in Yeshua, and that if one seeks to be saved by one’s good works including circumcision, then one must keep the entire law [perfectly without sinning, which is an impossibility]. Evidently, this false teaching was causing much division and strife within the church at Galatia, and Paul urges the believers there to fulfill the Torah-law by loving one another. [Yeshua sums up the entire Torah as loving YHVH with everything and one’s neighbor as oneself (Mark 12:29–31).] Paul admonishes believers to walk according to the Spirit of Elohim that is living in them, which will lead them away from sin (Torahlessness) and towards righteousness (Torah-obedience). Walking in accordance to the leading of the Holy Spirit leads us away from Torahlessness (the works of the flesh including murder, lying, stealing, fornication, uncleanness, witchcraft, idolatry, worldliness and other fleshly passions and desires) and towards righteousness (the fruit of the Spirit).

Paul concludes this letter in chapter six by giving further instructions about living as a follower of Yeshua.