Philippians 1:11, The fruits of righteousness which are by Yeshua the Messiah.
What is righteousness? Scripture equates righteousnesswith as having something to do all of YHVH’s Torah-commandments.
My tongue shall speak of thy word: for all thy commandments are righteousness. (Ps 119:172)
In this verse in Paul’s epistle to the saints in Philippi, Paul refers to “the fruits of righteousness by Yeshua the Messiah.” What does this mean? Let’s discuss this and discover what it has to do with us.
First, let’s establish an important fact. It is impossible for any human to obey YHVH’s high standards of Torah-righteousness on his own strength as Yeshua’s encounter with the rich young ruler proves (Matt 19:16–22). When the young man asked Yeshua what he must do to have eternal life, Yeshua seems to set the man up for a fall when he declares, “If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” Yeshua is not being disingenuous here. Were one to keep the Torah perfectly without sinning, hypothetically, one would not fall under the death penalty for violating the laws of Elohim (i.e. sin). Presumably one could earn eternal life by one’s own good works. But no man has ever accomplished this superhuman feat except the superhuman Yeshua! Continuing, when the young ruler proudly declares his perfect Torah obedience, Yeshua shows him that he was, in fact, violating the Torah in at least one area—covetousness and greed. Yeshua shows him how to come into Torah compliance, and then admonishes him to come and to follow him. What Yeshua is teaching here is that it’s impossible to keep the Torah perfectly without factoring Yeshua, the Living Torah, into the equation. The point that we can’t keep the Torah without Yeshua directly intervening in our lives, I hope to conclusively demonstrate below.
One way that Yeshua helps his followers to obey the Torah is by sending them his divine Spirit as an internal spiritual force into our hearts to nudge and lead us into Torah-obedience.
What’s more, Yeshua also gives his people the divine gift of his grace to accomplish the same thing. His grace removes the guilt, stain and penalties for our past sins, and with a clear conscience and a clean spiritual slate before YHVH, minus the past baggage of sin weighing us down, we are able to go forward under the power of YHVH’s Spirit to walk in accordance with his Torah. Praise Yeshua! An illustration of this would be a runner who trains wearing a backpack filled with rocks. Once the weight is removed from his back, when he runs, he feels as if he were flying through the air.
Our faith in, love for and continual abiding in Yeshua is the key to receiving his systemic spiritual empowerment to walk a life that mirrors Yeshua. Paul invites us to imitate Yeshua as he himself imitated Yeshua (1 Cor 11:1). The word Christian means “one who follows what Christ did and taught.” One follows Yeshua by abiding in him as a branch abides in or is attached to a vine (John 15:4–5). A branch that is attached to a tree naturally, through no effort of its own, receives energy from the tree and produces fruit. The energy of life just naturally flows into the branch. When we abide in Yeshua, we will naturally produce the fruit of the Spirit. Love is the first and foremost fruit out of which all the other fruits subdivide. How do we walk in love toward YHVH and love toward our neighbor? The biblical answer is simple: by keeping his Torah commandment, which show us how to love. As Paul tersely declares, “Love is the fulfilling of the Torah-law” (see Rom 13:8–10).
Do these Galatians Scripture passages nullify the YHVH’s Torah-law as the mainstream church teaches, or do they validate the Torah as the church does not teach? Read and find out…
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:
Let the light of truth shine forth against the lies and misinformation that is so freely and regularly promulgated in the minds and mouths of so many disciples of the Messiah—many of whom are viewed as biblical experts. The problem is that too many people view Scripture through various lenses which filter out the light of divine Truth and skew the words of Elohim. As a result, they interpret much of Scripture through bias confirmation rather than letting the simple truth of Scripture speak for itself. Hopefully, the following discussions will clear up some of the confusion…
Galatians 2:11–16,Peter…works of the law. What were these “works of the law” to which Paul was referring that forbad Peter from eating with the Gentiles? Is this referring to the corpus of Jewish extrabiblical tradition or oral law, which forbad Jews from eating with Gentiles? Or is it referring to the idea that since the Gentiles were uncircumcised, and thus, ostensibly, non-Israelite, Jews couldn’t share a meal with them for fear of being defiled by incurring ritual impurity? Is Paul attacking the Jews’ oral traditions or the false concept that circumcision is a precondition for membership within the body of Yeshua and hence of fellowship among believers including the sharing of food? Perhaps Paul, in rebuking Peter, is attacking both issues.
Support for the idea that Paul is addressing issues surrounding adherence to Jewish oral law is strengthened by a text found in the Dead Sea Scrolls (4QMMT or 4Q394–399); qv. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/4QMMT), which address sectarian Jewish interpretation of biblical law or halachah including righteousness by works, and which seems to contain similar language to Paul’s statements in this chapter.
However, to one scholar, the validity of the argument that Paul has 4QMMT in mind when writing Galatians is debatable as pointed out by Jeff Dryden (http://www.tyndale.cam.ac.uk/Tyndale/staff/Head/4QMMT.htm).
On the other hand, Hebrew scholar, Martin Abegg, presents the idea that Paul in his epistles to the Romans and Galatians may have been informed by some of the ideas espoused in 4QMMT (http://www.sabbathreformation.com/article-paul-works-of-the-law-and-mmt-118800746.html). The term “works of the law” (miqsat ma’ase ha-Torah) is found in it its complete form once in 4QMMT (4Q398 14–17 ii conflated with 4Q399 from The Completee Dead Sea Scrolls in English, p. 229 as translated by Geza Vermes; Penguin Classics, 2004 and A New Translation—The Dead Sea Scrolls, p. 454, translated by Wise, Abegg and Cook; Harper San Fransisco, 1996) and in its incomplete form (4Q394 3–7 i conflated with 4Q395; Vermes. p. 223 and Wise et al, p. 462).
Therefore, with various and opposing opinions from biblical linguistic experts on the subject of whether Paul is referring to extra biblical Jewish laws or to the Torah-law itself in this verse, one thing seems clear. The exact meaning Paul’s phrase “the works of the law” is not clear and remains open to discussion and to debate.
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 word in the Testimony of Yeshua. Biblically speaking, who and what is a Judaizer?
Who Is the Real Judaizer?
Mainstream Christians often label those believers in the gospel and who adhere to the Torah Judaizers. Is this a correct label and is the biblical historical origin of this term?
The term Judaizing or Judaizer as the mainstream church understands it today isn’t found in the New Testament 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 advocated Torah obedience to the believers in Rome (who were both Jewish and Gentile). 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 being 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 a concept built on a false premise.
The term Judiazer is found only in two verses in the entire Bible. The first place is in Esther 8:17 where the Greek Old Testament (LXX) uses the Hebrew verb yachad 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 final reference is found in Galatians 2:14 were Paul was accusing Peter, not of being Torah-obedient, but rather of adhering to non-biblical Jewish traditions, which forbad Jews and Gentiles from eating together. 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! This isn’t a new thing, for Yeshua accused the learned Jewish religious leaders of his day of the same thing: “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 the Torah, which he advocates, defends and claims to follow himself in a number of places in his writings, but he rejects the idea that one can be saved by their works including circumcision. After all, this issue was the focus of the debate of the first Jerusalem council in Acts 15. In combatting the false notion that circumcision, for example, must be a prerequisite to salvation, Paul opposes this idea in a grand and logical step-by-step fashion in the book of Romans, and again in the book of Galatians in a knock-out-the-opponent-quickly manner. So if we’re 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, this fundamental truth of who a Judaizer really was seems to have been missed by the majority of early church fathers and modern mainstream church theologians who have continued to repeat the anti-Semitic theological viewpoints handed down to them starting with the second century church fathers onward, and who fear rejection from their peers and supporters if they go against millennia of church tradition.
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 7:9, 13), and that we haven’t inherited lies that have been passed on down to us from our spiritual fathers (Jer 16:19). Let us instead be like the righteous Bereans who “searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11).
Instead of looking at Galatians as a stand-alone book, let’s view it in the broader context of all the New Testament writers’ and Yeshua’s view of the Torah. After all, the Scriptures cannot contradict themselves. The Bible doesn’t lie, Elohim doesn’t change, and Yeshua declared that the Scriptures can’t be broken (or loosened, untied, dissolved, annulled, John 10:35).
In 1 Cor 11:1, Paul instructed us to imitate him as he imitated Messiah. So let’s follow Paul’s advice.
What did Yeshua teach and do vis-à-vis the Torah?
He never violated the Torah (or sinned), or else he couldn’t have been our sin-free Savior and taken upon himself the consequences or penalty of our sins, which is death.
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)
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.
It has taken me decades to understand Galatians and to see how the mainstream church has twisted its message to make Paul say things he is not saying at all! Once understood, it is plain to see that what the church’s view that the book of Galatians teaches in one way or another against the Torah-law DOES NOT line up with the truth of the rest of Scripture. Therefore, is Scripture wrong or the church? I choose the latter. Let Elohim be true and every man a liar…
Definition of Terms in Galatians
Definition of Terms in Galatians
The Epistle to the Galatians can be challenging to understand due, in part, to the legal language and concepts that Paul the academically trained Torah-law scholar employed therein. To help us to understand Galatians, it is imperative to know the definitions of some of the words found in this small epistle. To help in this daunting task, I have drawn upon, among others, the Jewish New Testament Commentary by Dr. David Stern who is also the translator of the Complete Jewish Bible.
The law (the Torah)
The Torah of Elohim as contained in the first five books of Scripture (the Penteteuch [Greek] or Chumash [Hebrew]). Defined literally, Torah in Hebrew means “teachings, precepts, instructions [in righteousness].” In the Jewish religion the term Torah can have both broader and narrower meanings than just the five books of Moses: (a) the entire Tanakh (or Old Testament); (b) the Oral Law; (c) or strictly the legal code (non-narrative) parts of the first five books of Moses.
The law versus [a] law
In most cases where the term the law is found in the English New Testaments, the definite article the is not part of the original Greek (this can be verified by consulting a Greek interlinear), even though the English translators have not italicized it indicating it as a word which has been added by the translators to clarify the meaning of the text (as they have in the KJV and NASB Bibles). The term law by itself (without the definite article the preceding) can, at times, simply refer to: (a) any legal code of do’s and don’ts without reference to faith, heart conviction or love; (b) legalism; (c) a perversion of the Torah into a system of do’s and don’ts to earn, merit or keep Elohim’s love and favor and thereby to receive salvation; or the law of sin and death, which is the lawless and rebellious flesh nature at work in one’s life.
Under [the] law
Galatians 3:23; 4:4, 5, 21; 5:18; also Romans 3:19; 6:14, 15; 1 Corinthians 9:20, 21. The phrase under [the] law can alternatively be rendered under subjection to legalism, according to David Stern. Finally, let’s look actually at the Greek word under as it is used in the phrase under law.
The Complete Jewish Bible (by David Stern) translates the phrase under [the] law as under legalism (see Stern’s Jewish New Testament Commentary, p. 344 where he explains why). Stern explains here that the word under is the Greek word upo which means “controlled by (as in under the control of or in subjection to sin,” see Rom 3:9). He reasons that if one is not controlled by or in subjection to law or legalism, then how is one under, controlled by or in subjection to grace? In the same sense that we have accepted Yeshua’s yoke which is easy and lightto be under (Matt 11:28–30), this is in contrast to the yoke of legalism which is not easy and light to be under.
Stern contends that YHVH’s people are living en (i.e. within the framework of Torah, but not to be upo (i.e. in subjection to) legalism. YHVH’s people are in a faith/trust relationship with him and always have been under grace and “under” Torah (a gracious subjection), but never under legalism (a harsh subjection) (Jewish New Testament Commentary or JNTC, p. 374).
Elements of the world
Galatians4:3. Refers to the elemental [demonic] demigod spirits that the dualistic hellenized heathens worshipped and who were supposed to live in the spheres above the earth and who controlled life on earth (see Stern’s JNTC, pp. 556–557).
Weak and beggarly elements
Galatians 4:9. Stern says that when Gentiles observe the Torah festivals of YHVH neither out of joy in sharing what YHVH has given to them nor out of spiritual identification with them, but out of fear induced by legalists who have convinced them that unless they do these things, YHVH will not accept them, then they are not obeying the Torah but subjugating themselves to legalism; and legalism is just another species of those weak and miserable elemental [demonic] spirits and no better than the idols they left behind (JNTC, p. 557).
Under a schoolmaster
The Complete Jewish Bible translates schoolmaster as custodian. In his JNTC (p. 553), Stern explains that 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.
Galatians2:11. The word but (KJV) is better translated as and, furthermore, moreover, and not but as in opposition to.
The Jews’ religion or Judaism
Galatians1:13, 14. The word Judaism (NKJV) is referring to non-Messianic Judaism, not to the those Jews who were disciples of Yeshua the Messiah and Torah-obedient.
Hagar versus Sarah
Galatians4:22–31. Here we see a Jewish midrash which is an in-depth biblical lesson in story form. Often it involves interpreting the Tanakh through allegorical and not literal interpretation. In this passage we see that Abraham tried to obtain YHVH’s promises through works by working out YHVH’s plans and purposes for his life through his own effort. As a result, he took matters into his own hands (works) and conceived Ishmael through Hagar instead of waiting in faith on YHVH to bring him a son through Sarah.
Conversely, Isaac represents obtaining YHVH’s grace and favor (salvation) through faith and not works. Paul here draws a parallel between Hagar (who represents a works or legalistic approach to earning YHVH’s favor) and the Torah-commandments given on Mt. Sinai. If one hopes to achieve YHVH’s favor by the legalistic works of perfectly keeping all of the Torah-commandments then one is sure to fall short and miss the mark even as Abraham did in attempting to obtain a son of promise through Hagar.
This midrash underscores the fact that the Mosaic or Sinaitic Covenant was not a covenant of salvation. This was the purpose of the Abrahamic Covenant as Ariel Berkowitz so clearly points out in his book Take Hold (pp. 23–25). He says that the Abrahamic Covenant was a covenant strictly of grace which Abraham did not earn, merit or deserve, yet he received the promises and blessings of offspring, land and nations. Berkowitz goes on to write that if the Abrahamic Covenant was the covenant of promise then the Mosaic Covenant was the covenant of dwelling in that promise. Participation in the covenant of Sinai did not secure the promises given as a grace gift by YHVH to Abraham and his descendants. Rather, the Torah-covenant was given to keep the people of Israel in YHVH’s path of righteousness so that the promises YHVH made to Abraham and his descendents might come to fruition upon Israel. The Torah-covenant provided a means for Israel to fulfil it’s YHVH-ordained destiny, and it provide d a legal standard so necessary to an orderly society (ibid.).
A Quick Overview of the Book of Galatians
Below is a quick overview of the book of Galatians. My explanatory comments are in brackets.
Many Christians will casually read this Bible statement by Paul and assume that the Torah-law was done away with. Is this really what Paul is saying here and does such an interpretation line up with the rest of Paul’s writings as well as the truth of the entire Bible? Let’s look at this statement logically and in the larger context of Scripture to see what the truth really is.
1 Corinthians 6:12–13, All things are lawful. When Paul said that all things are lawful to him, what do you think he meant? It’s now all right to murder, commit adultery, lie, steal, have sex with animals, practice witchcraft, and we can also add break the Sabbath, eat pork, etc., etc.? Obviously, violating the commands of Elohim wasn’t what he meant here, for doing such is, by biblical definition, sin (1 John 3:4), and those who love Yeshua will not be sinning, but will keeping his commandments (John 14:15). Moreover, it was our sin that put Yeshua on the cross, so why should we mock Yeshua’s death by continuing to practice sin? In fact, prior to 1 Cor 6:12, Paul listed a number of sins that will prevent one from entering the kingdom of heaven including drunkenness, sexual immorality, theft and so on. So obviously, breaking the laws of Elohim was not what he meant in verse 12. If Paul is here permitting the eating of unclean meat that the Bible forbids and calls an abomination, then he is also permitting sexual immorality—a sin which he juxtaposes in verse 13 with the eating of certain foods.
So if Paul wasn’t opposing the biblical dietary laws in verses 12 and 15, what was he really saying? According to David Stern in his Jewish New Testament Commentary, Paul was coming against the sexually libertine attitudes of the saints in Corinth whereby they had permitted the man who was having sexual relations with this stepmother and even allowing the sinner to remain in fellowship with the saints there. Stern goes on to say that the phrase, “All things are lawful to me…Food for the stomach…” is really analogous to the modern phrase, “If it feels good, do it”—a concept which Paul strongly opposes. Beale and Carson concur with Stern on this in their commentary on this verse (Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, p. 713). In verse 15, Paul goes on to make the point that our bodies are the temples of the Set-Apart Spirit of Elohim and that we need to treat them as holy vessels by not engaging in sinful practices (whether sexual immorality or eating unclean meats).
Keener agrees with Stern that Paul was here confronting the ungodly and licentious Greek philosophers who would excuse their libertine carnal appetites by saying “I can get away with anything.” Paul, on the other hand, counters this by saying, “Maybe so, but ‘anything’ is not good for you” (The IVP Bible Background Commentary of the NT, pp. 464–465). Keener goes on to say that “‘Food for the stomach and the stomach for food’ was a typical Greek way of arguing by analogy that the body was for sex and sex for the body….That God would do away with both reflected the typical Greek disdain for the doctrine of the resurrection (chap 15), because Greeks believed that one was done with one’s body at death [which is why they reasoned that it was permissible to do whatever you pleased with your body now]. Paul responds to this Greek position with the Old Testament/Jewish perspective that the body is for God and he will resurrect it” (i.e. in v. 14, ibid.).
Paul then goes on to explain why a philosophy that excuses sinful behavior is not acceptable to Elohim or beneficial to the saint.
Romans 4:2, Justified by works. (See notes at Rom 3:28.) Works-based justification produces self-pride and diminishes YHVH in mans’ eyes by giving man a self-exalted and self-sufficient view of himself, which places man and his efforts as the cause of his salvation, and not the grace of YHVH. Works-based justification is humanism and causes man to glory in himself, not YHVH, and to attempt to impress other men instead humbly, yet confidently, relying on YHVH’s grace.
Do Paul and James conflict when the former teaches that we’re not justified by works, while the later says the opposite (Jas 2:17–26)? Not at all. Both are true depending on the vantage point. Let’s explain.
Where many people miss it is viewing scriptural ideas through a Western mindset instead of from a Hebraic vantage point, which is that of the biblical authors. In Western thought, we tend to look at things from a linear perspective—like viewing points on a time line. We say and thinks things like this: I got saved, justified, sanctified, etc., etc. at such and such point in time in the past. While this may be true, Hebraic thought views things more as a process that involves events that have occurred, are occurring and will occur in the future. For example, the Bible teaches that you were saved (at the time you “came to Yeshua”), you are being saved (e.g. work out your salvation with fear and trembling, Phil 2:12), and you will be saved (in the ultimate sense when you receive your glorified body at the second coming resurrection and are adopted into the family of Elohim as a literal child of Elohim). The same is true of justification. When one understands this, the seeming conflict between Paul and James resolves itself.
Paul was speaking about justification at the time of initial salvation or conversion, while James is talking about the on-going process of justification via the production of good works (i.e. loving Yeshua by keeping his commandments, John 14:15). That’s the part of working out your salvation with fear and trembling that Paul admits to in Phil 2:12.
Peter discusses this same concept when he talks about making your calling and election sure so that you don’t fall spiritually along the way en route to the kingdom of heaven and the redemption and glorification of your physical bodies into eternal life before Elohim (2 Pet 1:10).
I believe that the justification that James is talking about is nothing more than what Paul expresses in the famous Eph 2:8–9 passage, but with the addition of verse ten, which many people overlook. Please note the highlighted portion of verse ten (below), which is the justification by works part of the equation, which is nothing more than the process of, if you will, “staying saved” once we’ve received our initial salvation. The Bible expresses this concept in many ways: enduring to the end, overcoming, walking on the straight and narrow path, staying close to Yeshua and abiding in him, loving him and keeping his commandments, producing the fruits of the Spirit, working out your salvation, making your calling and election sure, and so on.
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of Elohim: Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Messiah Yeshua unto good works, which Elohim hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Eph 2:8–10)
In the preceding discussion, I’ve just presented a brief lesson in biblical Hebraic thought versus Greco-Roman Western thought.