Paul (and the Bible) on Physical and Heart Circumcision

1 Corinthians 7:18, Let him not be circumcised. In this chapter, Paul advises believers to remain in whatever physical state they were spiritually called (verses 20, 24). To the unmarried, remain unmarried (verses 1, 8). To those who are married, remain married (this is Paul’s advice, not YHVH’s, verse 10), even if one is unequally yoked in marriage (verses 12–16). To those who are circumcised, remain in that state and vice versa (verse 18). If called as a slave, remain as one (verses 21–23).

With regard to circumcision, Paul’s advice doesn’t require strict adherence as his circumcision of Timothy shows (Acts 16:1–4). In that case it was more expedient for the preaching of gospel to the Jews that Timothy be circumcised, so as not to be a stumbling block to the Jews who had a high view of circumcision. This type of circumcision was acceptable, since it was not done as a salvation requirement for Timothy.

1 Corinthians 7:19, Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing. What is Paul saying here? Is he confused, or does he have a larger principal in view? Paul’s bottom line in all of his writings is that circumcision is not a salvational requirement. If it were, then, obviously, women could not saved! As we shall see, however, the Scriptures teach that in the future, for those in certain ministry situations, circumcision will be a requirement (Ezek 44:7, 9). To understand the issue, let’s briefly discuss what the Scriptures say about circumcision.

Some will say that circumcision of the heart (Rom 2:29) is a “New Testament” invention that happily has replaced physical circumcision. This is not quite true, for YHVH has desired his people to have circumcised hearts from the time of Moses (Deut 10:16; 30:6) and Jeremiah (Jer 4:4). What’s more, YHVH will require the priests who will serve in his millennial temple (an archetypal model of YHVH’s plan of salvation through Yeshua’s death on the cross) to not only be circumcised in the heart, but in the flesh as well (Ezek 44:7). Not only that, but all those who will enter that sanctuary, both Israelite and non-Israelite, must be circumcised physically and spiritually (Ezek 44:9). 

Physical circumcision is not a requirement for salvation, and Paul teaches that redeemed believers not only can be saved without undergoing the rite of physical circumcision, but that all (including women) are circumcised through Messiah’s circumcision (Col 2:10–13; see also Phil 3:3), even as each person has “died” to sin and has been resurrected to new spiritual life through faith in and identity with his death, burial and resurrection (Rom 6:3–8).

Paul never disparages physical circumcision, except when false teachers make it a requirement for salvation, or when those who are physically circumcised parade it as a mark of spiritual superiority. Paul goes on to say that physical circumcision, however, is a sign, mark or token, and a seal (placed on someone) or an impression or stamp made by a signet ring signifying ownership, something which distinguishes one from others and by which one is known (Rom 4:11). Circumcision was a sign of Abraham’s righteousness and the faith he had in YHVH and a mark of YHVH’s “ownership” of Abraham. Faith precedes circumcision, but when one is circumcised, one commits to walk in the faith and righteousness of Abraham, and to enter into a deeper, more committed and more intimate (covenant-based) walk with YHVH Elohim. Perhaps physical circumcision as a mark of a deeper and more committed relationship with YHVH is the reason it, along with heart circumcision, will be required of all who will be allowed to not only minister in, but also to visit the millennial temple (Ezek 44:7, 9). In the past, the temple represented YHVH’s presence on earth, and it was viewed as a sort “the gateway to heaven.” In ancient times, those who sought the privilege of visiting this special and set-apart spot had to prepare themselves physically and spiritually to approach the Creator. They had to be ritually and spiritually pure, and physical circumcision was an aspect of this. For those of the priesthood who will be ministering in the millennial temple, physical circumcision will still be a requirement to fulfill covenantal, ritual cleansing and the requirements of spiritual types and shadows, for which that institution will be used to teach the unsaved peoples of the earth during the Millennium the truths of YHVH’s plan of salvation as it did in the past. Physical circumcision will be an outward sign that will (literally) go before the priest showing that he has committed himself to putting a way the filth of the world as represented by the foreskin.

Now if one is circumcised and doesn’t follow the Torah, then it’s as if he weren’t circumcised at all (Rom 2:24–29). In YHVH’s spiritual economy from Genesis to Revelation, YHVH always looks primarily at one’s heart attitude rather than at outward show involving religious rites, rituals and ceremonies. However, Yeshua clearly teaches in his Sermon on the Mount that YHVH not only prefers heart, or spirit of the law obedience, but letter of the law obedience also. He desires his people to love him with all their heart, soul, mind and strength, which involves both a letter and the spirit of the law obedience. 

While physical circumcision is not a requirement for salvation (much like water baptism), in doing so, one is demonstrating one’s desire to be obedient to all the Word of YHVH including the commands of Torah. Yeshua clearly stated that not one jot or tittle of the Torah has been nullified, and that those who keep all of YHVH’s Torah commands will obtain a higher reward in his eternal kingdom than those who do not (Matt 5:17–19), and they will be able to approach closer to him in his temple in the Millennium.


Overview of Paul’s Epistle to the Romans

The Gospel, the Torah, & the Israelite Nation Reunited

The following overview of Romans is a radical departure from what the mainstream church teaches. Read it and see if what follows doesn’t unite the truth of the Bible from beginning to end, instead of pitting one section of the Bible against the other, which is  approach the church typically takes when presenting the teachings of Paul.

The Main Themes of Romans

This is perhaps the only book in the Bible that is organized systematically like a theological textbook from beginning to end with each point leading to the next. This is not how biblical books are typically arranged.

In this epistle, there are several main themes.

Pre-eminently, Elohim is the Just Judge of the universe to whom all are accountable (both Jews and Gentiles). This concept alone is huge, since most humans don’t want to believe they’re accountable to anyone except their own egos.

The Torah is Elohim’s standard of righteousness by which he will judge the deeds of all men (both Jews and Gentiles) fairly. If people can accept the fact that there is a supreme Being to whom they’re accountable for their actions, then it’s a short next logical step to accept that such a Being (Elohim) has laws that man must follow if he’s not to run afoul of that Being.

Next, Paul counters a religious system that purported to explain who that Being was and what he required of sinful man. This was Judaism. The problem is that Judaism had perverted the truth of Elohim into a racially exclusive, legalistic, works-based salvational system. Paul attempts to correct this error, and restore this religion to its original truth.

Paul then presents the gospel message of salvation by grace through faith in Yeshua the Messiah is at the center of YHVH’s process to redeem sinful man.

Before Elohim, the Creator of the universe, there is no racial inequality between Jews and Gentiles. Elohim isn’t a racist. All are equal before him. All are sinners, and all need Yeshua. 

Paul’s Epistle to the Romans keeps Yeshua and the gospel message front and center, Continue reading


James vs. Paul: Are we saved by faith or by works or what?

James 2:20–24, Faith without works is dead. James is here referring to the works of faith, not the works of the law. No man can live a good enough life to be saved by his Torah-obedience or the works of the law (Rom 3:20, 28; Gal 2:16; 3:11).

However, faith in Elohim is more than just mental ascent—“a knowing in your heart.” It has to be backed up by action (and we’re not talking about the works of the law). For example, when Elohim told Abraham to leave Babylon or to sacrifice Isaac, he obeyed by leaving that country and moving to Canaan. Moreover, many were healed in Yeshua’s ministry because they had faith in the Master and backed that faith up with corresponding action, which was the evidence of their faith.

This faith-action continuum had nothing to do with Torah-obedience per se, but had everything to do with “putting your money where your mouth is” by backing up your faith or belief with action. It is this kind of faith that James is talking about here, and this in no wise contradicts the teachings of Paul who said that no man is justified by the works of the law.

When Paul declares in Ephesians 2:8–9, “For by grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of Elohim, not of works…,” he was correct and not opposed to James. What’s more, Paul goes on to say in verse 10, “For we are [Elohim’s] workmanship, created in Messiah Yeshua for good works…that we should walk in them.” These good works (i.e. obedience to the Torah) are the fruits, evidence or proof of our salvation and are the works that back up our faith.

So, in summary, the Bible teaches that we need the faith (a heart that believes and wants to obey Elohim) to lead us to salvation, as well as the works of faith after we have received Elohim’s free gift of salvation as evidence that we are saved. This fact in no way contravenes the reality of salvation by grace through trusting belief in Yeshua the Messiah, which is apart from the works of the Torah-law.


From Prisoner to Captain of the Ship in One Voyage!

With Elohim, all things are possible if we keep our eyes on Elohim and are led of his Spirit! Even a shipwreck can be a blessing and help expand the kingdom of Elohim…

Acts 27:1–44, Sail to Italy. When one is in the perfect will of Elohim, things work out if we hear and obey the Word and Spirit of Elohim. 

At the beginning of the voyage, in the eyes of the secular leaders onboard the ship, Paul was merely another typical prisoner. By the end of the trip, he was now, in fact, advising the leaders and the de facto captain of the ship.

This is because Paul feared, heard and obeyed the Spirit of Elohim, was neither timid nor ashamed to share his faith and what the Spirit had revealed to him with those leaders. This earned Paul and, by default, Elohim respect and credibility in the eyes of the secular leaders putting Paul and Elohim in charge of the situation. In this way, the reality and Presence of Elohim was witnessed to the world around Paul, and Elohim was glorified.

From Paul’s example, we learn how to turn a difficult situation in a secular setting and use it as a witnessing tool for YHVH’s glory. Because Paul heard and obeyed the Spirit, he and the others were spared death.


Was Paul Validating the Need for Sacrifices in Acts 21?

Acts 21:23–27, Vow.  When Paul offered a sacrifice, is this  proof that the sacrificial system is still in force today, even after the death of Yeshua the Messiah on the cross? Some people say yes despite what the writer of Hebrew’s lengthy discussion about how Yeshua’s death replaced the sacrificial and Levitical systems (Heb chapters 8–11; 10:10). 

The rituals that Paul and his fellow Israelites did in Acts 21 actually fits the description of one who is coming out of a Nazirite vow (see Num 6:1–21). This was a sin offering and was the only way that the Torah allows one who has taken a Nazirite vow legally to terminate his vow to Elohim. A sacrifice was to be made at the door of the tabernacle (later the temple) by a priest. 

Today, one can’t technically do a Nazarite vow, since there is no way legally to come out of it unless, of course, one stays a Nazirite until he dies. This is because there is no tabernacle or temple, and there is no Aaronic priest who is available to make the sacrifice. However, in Paul’s day, the priesthood still existed, and the temple still stood. 

The sacrifice for coming out of a Nazarite vow is the only example of a disciple of Yeshua performing any sacrifice after Yeshua’s resurrection. Therefore, this sacrifice was a special exception for believers doing a sacrifice, else how could one legally come out of a Nazarite vow?

Why would Paul involve himself in a sin-sacrifice in Acts 21:24 after the death of Yeshua? We mustn’t read too much into the text. It is true that coming out of a Nazarite vow involved a sin offering. However, Acts doesn’t say that Paul was coming out of his own Nazarite vow. What the text says is that he was acting as a wealthy patron—an act of charity—for four individuals who, presumably were unable to afford the costs of paying for the necessary sacrifices to exit a Nazarite vow. 

Admittedly, this is a perplexing passage. None of the Bible commentaries I examined on this text could give an adequate explanation as to why Paul would involve himself in this particular ceremony to prove to the Jerusalem mob that he was Torah-observant. The Acts text just doesn’t give us enough background information on the subject. One thing seems certain though. Paul was not making a sin offering for himself. His paying for the sacrifices of the Nazarites seems to have been a public relations gesture to appease those in the Jewish mob who were slandering him. It is a logical overreach and reading into the text to take Paul’s act of charity as him making a doctrinal statement favoring the continued validity of the sacrificial system after the death Yeshua, especially in light of what the other apostolic writers had to say about Yeshua’s fulfilling that system by his death. Certainly, the writer of Hebrews makes this point abundantly clear.


From A.D. 70 to A.D. 135 — How the Church Became Divorced From Its Hebraic Roots

What is called Christianity today in many ways is very dissimilar, and in many respects, outright antagonistic to the religion of the first-century, book of Acts believers. How did this come to be?

Many modern Christian churches prides themselves on being “a New Testament church, yet what they practice and believe is often very different from and even opposed to the teaching and practices of the apostles and primitive, first century church. For example, life for the apostolic believers in Jerusalem revolved around the temple (Acts 2:46; 3:1; 5:19-21; 5:42; Acts 21:26; 22:17; 24:18; 25:8; 26:21), and for those outside of the land of Israel, on most Sabbaths, they attended the local synagogue (Acts 13:14; 14:1; 17:1–2; 18:4, 7, 8, 19, 26; 19:8). Not only did the first apostles and early believers not celebrate any pagan influenced holidays such as Easter, Christmas, Halloween, Lent, and the rest, but they adhered to the Torah or law of Moses (see references below). The Book of Acts record is also clear that early believers kept the Bible festivals (as outlined in Lev 23; Acts 2:1; 18:21; Acts 27:9; 1 Cor 5:8; Jude 12) of Passover, Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, Day of Trumpets, Day of Atonement, Feast of Tabernacles, and the Eighth Day.

What’s more, the book of Acts records that both Stephen and Paul were falsely accused of teaching that the laws and customs of Moses were nullified, and, as a result of this false accusation, both lost their lives defending Torah-obedience.

A hundred other examples could easily be given showing how the Christian church has veered away from the Hebrew or Jewish roots of its faith, but hopefully, the reader gets the point.

So what happened to cause Christianity to veer so widely from the Hebrew or Jewish roots of its faith and to arrive at the place where it hardly resembles that religious faith from which it sprang? This is not an easy question to answer since one must look back nearly 2000 years and attempt to reconstruct the times in which our spiritual forefathers lived. Moreover, we must understand what was transpiring politically, religiously, and socially at the time to answer this question properly. It is also imperative that we understand the contextual social and linguistic fabric, the backdrop of history, and the parade of political Continue reading


New Video: Does Paul “being all things to all men” Invalidate Torah?

1 Corinthians 9:22, including the surrounding verses, is confusing to many people, since Paul uses the term “under the law” four times, and mentions “being all things to all men” that he might “by all means save some.” Is this a pro-Torah or an anti-Torah statement? In this video, we define the words and terms, look into the Greek and the surrounding context and let the passage speak for itself. In reality, this is one of the most pro-Torah passages in the whole NT!