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

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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.


What was bad about the Old Covenant—what is passing away and being transferred?

2 Corinthians 3:11, Passing away. This is not a reference to the Torah-law itself, but to the old or former covenant (i.e. the agreement or contract YHVH and Israel made with each other) as it phases into the new or renewed covenant. Yeshua initiated the new covenant at his last supper, but it will be finalized with the two houses of Israel (see Jer 31:31, 33 and Heb 8:8) at his second coming when the two sticks or houses of Israel are reunited (see Ezek 37:15–27) at which time he will finalize the new covenant with a reunited Israel (v. 26; see also Isa 54:10; 55:3; 59:21; Ezek 34:25; Jer 32:40; 50:5; Hos 2:18–23). We are presently in the intermediate phase between the two covenants. To view it differently, Yeshua betrothed himself to his spiritual bride (redeemed Israel, spiritual Israel or the Israel of Elohim, see Gal 6:16) at his last supper, but will marry her at his second coming. The saints who are now in Yeshua are under the new covenant as the betrothed bride of Yeshua, but all Israel will be brought into the new covenant at his second coming at which time he will finalize the covenant that he initiated with his disciples before his death.

Attaining Spiritual Maturity in the New Covenant—On Being a Spiritual Mountain Climber

(This manna from heaven was revealed and downloaded to Natan in the back country of Alaska while sitting, Bible in hand, prayerfully, overlooking Little Port Walter on Baronov Island [75 miles SE of Sitka], and while on a boat in the Pacific Ocean in the Chatham Straights between Baronov and Admiralty islands.)

On Being Spiritual Mountain Climbers

From the time that YHVH revealed himself to the children of Israel while they were enslaved in Egypt, he has been calling his people to be spiritual mountain climbers. He first called the Israelites out of Egypt and up to Mount Sinai, and then up to Mount Zion in Jerusalem. He then called his people to come even higher yet to the upper room on the day of Pentecost, and he is now calling his people to come up even higher to the New Jerusalem that is above us and is “the mother of us all” (Gal 4:26).This highest mountain of YHVH is the ultimate source of our spiritual sustenance, the source of the river of life along which the trees of life are situated (Rev 22:1–2). From this spiritual wellspring comes all divine revelation and ultimately immortal life as children of the Most High. What does it mean to be a spiritual mountain climber?

The beginning of the upward spiritual journey of YHVH’s people is memorialized in the counting of the omer, which starts on First Fruits Day occurring during the Feast of Unleavened Bread and culminates fifty days later with the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost (Heb. Shavuot; Lev 23:4–16). Each new step in this journey is a stepping stone or a launch pad to the next. For the Israelites, the journey started at sea level in the flat-land Nile River delta area of Egypt (a metaphor for this world, Satan and death) and then continued climbing higher and higher until it finally reaches heaven itself—the abode of Elohim. YHVH gave Jacob a similar perspective when he gave him the vision of the ladder to heaven in Genesis 28.

The problem is that most people only climb so far in their spiritual journey and then stop, or they grow weary along the way, or they become comfortably complacent at the level they have thus far attained and never move past that spot. Merely treading water while in the river of life means that one is making no forward movement; they may, in fact, be pulled backwards by the downward current. This is dangerous because while we think we are moving forward, we may actually be going backward! Yeshua warned the Laodicean church about such an attitude of self-assurance and complacency in Revelation chapter three. 

To not move forward spiritually is to stagnate and to die. YHVH wants a people that are on the move, who will obediently follow him wherever he leads, and not stop and park along the way only to construct their religious monuments with their fossilized customs, rituals and traditions. Heaven is a far above the earthly plane, and YHVH wants children who will seek him no matter what, who have a heart to follow him no matter where, and no matter the cost. Although eternal life is a free gift from heaven, it will not be given easily. It costs nothing, but, at the same time, it costs everything! Each of us must be willing to sacrifice his all—to lose his earthly life—to gain eternal life. YHVH refuses to give out his priceless gift of eternal life willy-nilly to anyone and everyone! YHVH requires that his saints be determined, tough and gritty mountain climbers who refuse to give up until that summit is reached. He has no pleasure in those who turn back, or refuse to go on. The older generation of Israelites found this out the hard way while trekking through the wilderness—a symbolic metaphor for this physical life—en route to the Promised Land (a metaphor for eternal life or heaven on earth). Their hearts were sin-hardened and they lacked the faith in YHVH to make it all the way. Thus they perished in the wilderness just short of their goal and ultimate reward (read Heb 3:7–19; 4:1–11). Only those who doggedly overcome the world, the flesh and the devil remaining lovingly loyal and obedient to him will receive the highest reward he has to offer. As Yeshua said,

But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. (Matt 24:13)

The Spirit Versus the a Letter of the Law—The Two Covenants

Let’s now explore what it is to climb the mountains that YHVH has placed before us to ascertain where we are at on the journey and how far we have to go to reach the ultimate summit.

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The Spirit of the Law Versus the Letter

Which side of the Torah do YOU lean toward? License or legalism? The letter or the spirit? Mercy and grace or judgmentalism? Is our obedience to Torah based on love or self-righteous legalism? Where is the heart of Elohim in this issue? What should be our approach—especially toward others? All too often we want leniency and grace, but are reluctant to show mercy toward others when it comes to Torah-obedience. Is Elohim a harsh judge or a loving Father? What does he want from us? Read on as we explore this issue in an effort to find the heart of Elohim on this matter.

2 Corinthians 3:2–15, Overview of the Letter Vs. the Spirit of the Torah

In this passage, Paul is not teaching against the validity or replacement of the Torah with something else. No! There is nothing wrong with YHVH’s Torah-law. How could there be? It is the Word, mind, will and heart of Elohim. Torah shows us how to love Elohim and our neighbor. It shows us how to be blessed, defines sin, shows us how to walk in the paths of righteousness, leads us to Messiah and the shows us our need for him because of our sin and inability to live up to its high standards of holiness and righteousness. 

These are just a few of the wonderful benefits of  YHVH’S Torah-Word, which I have discussed at length many times elsewhere. The problem with Torah, if you will, is not with Torah itself, but with what sinful and misguided people do with it. The Torah, like money alcohol or guns, is neutral. It is the misuse of these things by sinful people that is evil. For example, money is not evil; however, the love of it is as Scripture clearly states.

The problem with many people in our day who are returning to a more Hebraic and Torah-centric orientation in their spiritual walk is balance or the lack thereof. Too many people go hog-wild over Torah because the mainstream church system which they have exited had deprived them of it, and when they learn about the Torah, they run to it like a flock of starving and half-crazed sheep stampeding from a desert into verdant, lush pasture of grass. They gorge themselves and then get the runs and get all messy. (I know because I grew up on a sheep farm!) Too many people forget about Yeshua and the fact that they cannot even do Torah without him and his Spirit working in them. Sadly, people forget that we’re “under/subject to the law toward Messiah” as Paul was (1 Cor 9:21). Without Messiah, the Torah is the simply a legalistic set of rules, and those who follow it as such are simply a bunch of people trying to earn their own righteousness through their own will power. This cannot be done. The Israelites tried this and failed miserably. Most perished in the wilderness. Why do we think we can do any better? 

Please keep this mind that in 2 Corinthians 3 Paul is largely talking about covenants—both the old and new, which he refers to in verses 6 and in 7 as “the ministration of death,” and which is passing away (v. 11). The Torah itself which remains is still glorious (v. 11). The Torah was merely the terms of the “Old Covenant”, not the covenant itself. Never forget that the “Old Covenant” never promised a person eternal life or ultimate salvation from sin; the New Covenant does. Moreover, there is nothing wrong with the Torah itself, for with it comes many benefits and blessings (if obeyed) and many curses including guilt, shame, condemnation and death because of sin (if disobeyed). 

The problem when one lives a totally Torah-centric live is that it overlooks the necessary power of the Spirit of Elohim to work in a person’s life through a relationship with Yeshua. The problem is the rebelliousness of human nature and hard human heart which refuses to be subject to the laws of Elohim (Heb 8:7–8; Rom 8:7; Jer 17:9). We need help from above to overcome our human natures that are opposed to Elohim’s laws. That is where Yeshua comes into the picture

Moreover, the problem has never been with the Torah, or even the letter of Torah-law per se. How could it be? Torah is the instructions in righteousness from Elohim himself and are a reflection of his very mind, will and heart. There can be nothing wrong with this, since this is pure light and Truth! Now I said “the letter of the law per se.” What did I mean by this? Simply this. If one lives only by the letter of the law, and judges others by the letter, and doesn’t bring in the spirit of law, then how are we all to stand? What if YHVH only judged us by the letter and not the spirit? We would all become instant grease spots yesterday!!! No! Thankfully, his mercy triumphs over his judgment against our violation of his Torah or else we are all gonners! There for his grace go each of us. 

Morevover, if we get perpetually hung up all the time on every jot and tittle of every point of the law, we will become so focused on legalism and judgmentalism that our focus will be on that instead on the love of brethren and the love of Yeshua. We will be so focused on a punctilious letter of the law obedience and judging everyone else who is not living up to our standards that we will fail to be doing the great commission and winning the lost and loving one another. That is the problems with the many people today who are leaving the mainstream Christian church and returning to a more Hebraic, Torah-centered spiritual orientation. Too many Hebraic-minded folks have become so proud of their Torah-obedience that YHVH can no longer use us to advance his kingdom. He hates this kind of self-righteous, Pharisaical pride!

The problems with Torah is humans, which is not a problem with Torah at all. Rather it is deceitful, deceived humans who twist the Torah for their own purposes or who misunderstand its full purpose. Remember what Hebrews 8:8 says? The problem was with them—the Israelites—and their lack of faith and hard hearts, and NOT with the Torah. That’s one reason that YHVH needed to make a new covenant and why the old one is passing away (Heb 8:13). So what is the remedy for the problem of human hard heartedness? As Jeremiah prophesied, YHVH this time will pour out his Spirit and change the hard and disobedient heart of faithlessness and unbelief (Heb 4:1–7) of man and give him a new heart (Heb 8:7–13; Jer 31:31–33). 

Again, this can only happen as Yeshua lives out his righteousness in a person as the Spirit of Elohim changes the human heart. 

Never forget what Paul said elsewhere: we are subject to the Torah through Messiah (1 Cor 9:21). This is the miracle of a transformed heart that not only wants to but is empowered to comply with the Torah. It truly is a miracle that we cannot fully understand or explain. But the fruits of it are evident in a person’s life. These are called the fruit of the Spirit. All the fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5 are the fruits or manifestation of Torah obedience out of a heart of love and faith. At the same time, the works of the flesh are the manifestation of Torahlessness which is sin (1 John 3:4), and is the opposite of righteousness, which Torah defines (Ps 119:172). 

So what is the spiritual blindness that Paul refers to in 1 Corinthians 3:14? It is the blindness of a hard and disbelieving heart. It is the blindness of human pride in one’s ability to live up to Torah by one’s own strength. It is pride in thinking that we’re better than the next guy who’s not living up to our Torah standard, whatever that may be. It is blindness based on a letter of the law approach to Torah instead of both a letter AND a spirit of the law approach. And yes, there can be blindness due to the guilt and shame of failing to live up to the high moral and spiritual standards. When we obey Torah out of fear of Elohim instead of love for him, this too is blindness and bondage.

So when returning to a more Torah-centric belief system and lifestyle, let us clearly walk the straight and narrow path not veering too far to the left (or license, grace, of the spirit of the law) or too far to the right (legalism, judgmentalism, self-righteousness or the letter of the law). The heart of our Father in heaven is somewhere in the middle between the two as Yeshua stated:

But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. Elohim is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:23–24)