How to Easily Understand the Hard Saying of Paul

I have just written this article in response to an email question that I received from one of the readers of this blog. John writes,

Studying Sha’ul has been a real challenge for me. He seems to say that Torah needs to be followed one moment and then tells the gentiles not to become Jewish and not to undergo circumcision. I am starting to wonder whether he was schizophrenic? How do you understand him? It is my understanding that circumcision is necessary to become partaker of God’s covenant with Abraham.

I quickly wrote the article below in several hours in answer to John’s question. The article probably contains some typos. If so, let me know in this article’s comments section. No matter how many times I read my articles, I still find typos, so your help will be appreciated. For those of you who have my cell phone number, don’t text me with your typo notices. Email them to me, please. It’s a lot easier for me to make the corrections from my computer than my cell phone. Thank you.

Why Paul Is Difficult to Understand

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unlocking the Mystery of Understanding Paul

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

Rather, the best way to understand Paul is to step back and to view his writings from his larger context of Scripture—the forest for the trees. For example, Paul told the saints in Corinth to imitate him as he imitated Messiah Yeshua (1 Cor 11:1). By the way, this lines up with John’s instructions to all the saints in his first general epistle (1 John 2:6). If we’re to imitate Yeshua, then what did he do, so that we can imitate him as Paul (and John) instructs? For sure Yeshua followed the Torah-law. If not, he was a sinner, for we read in Scripture that “sin is the violation of the Torah-law” (1 John 3:4), that sin is unrighteousness (1 John 5:17) and that YHVH’s Torah-law defines what righteousness is (Ps 119:172). On the contrary, we know that Yeshua kept the Torah, for he was without sin, for if he had sinned, he wouldn’t been our perfect, sin-free Savior or Redeemer. He kept the Torah in all points and never violated a single command, which would have been sin (Heb 4:15; 2 Cor 5:21; 1 Pet 2:22; 1 John 3:5). Not only did Yeshua obey the Torah, but he clearly upheld its validity again and again (e.g. Matt 5:17–21; John 14:15), and he commissioned his disciples to carry his instructions in this regard forward to the whole earth (Matt 28:20, 18–20 for context). So according to Paul, this is what he imitated, and what he expected the saints of his day (and us) to imitate.

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

Wherefore the law [Torah] is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. (Rom 7:12)

For we know that the law [Torah] is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. (Rom 7:14)

For I delight in the law [Torah] of Elohim after the inward man… (Rom 7:22)

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin [i.e., violation of the laws/Torah of YHVH, see 1 John 3:4], that grace may abound? Elohim forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? (Rom 6:1–2)

Do we then make void the law through faith? Elohim forbid: yea, we establish the law. (Rom 3:31)

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

But if, while we seek to be justified by Messiah, we ourselves also are found sinners [i.e., violators of the law/Torah], is therefore Messiah the minister of sin [lawlessness/Torahlessness]? Elohim forbid. (Gal 2:17)

And when they heard it, they glorified YHVH, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe [in Yeshua the Messiah]; and they are all zealous of the law [Torah]: And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs. What is it therefore? The multitude must needs come together: for they will hear that thou art come. Do therefore this that we say to thee: We have four men which have a vow on them; them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law [Torah]. (Acts 20:20–24)

While he answered for himself, neither against the law [Torah] of the Jews, neither against the temple, nor yet against Caesar, have I offended any thing at all. (Acts 25:8)

And it came to pass, that after three days Paul called the chief of the Jews together: and when they were come together, he said unto them, Men and brethren, though I have committed nothing against the people, or customs of our fathers, [i.e., the Torah] yet was I delivered prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans. (Acts 28:17)

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

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (Jer 17:9)

Because the carnal mind is enmity against Elohim: for it is not subject to the law of Elohim, neither indeed can be. (Rom 8:7)

The antipathy of humans (even many Christian including scholars, Bible teachers and pastors) toward YHVH’s Torah-law can also be explained by the fact that man has this peculiar tendency to want to twist the word of Elohim to make him say what he’s not really saying at all. The religious Jews of Yeshua’s day had this same (sinful) tendency.

Then the Pharisees and scribes asked Him, “Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashed hands?” [Yeshua] answered and said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR FROM ME. AND IN VAIN THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE COMMANDMENTS OF MEN.’ For laying aside the commandment of Elohim, you hold the tradition of men….” He said to them, “All too well you reject the commandment of Elohim, that you may keep your tradition.…  making the word of Elohim of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do.” (Mark 7:6–9, 13)

Why do men twist the Word of Elohim and make it say something that it doesn’t say? This is because of the innate sinful and rebellious nature of man’s heart as noted just above. This disposition of man all stems from the lie of the serpent at the tree of knowledge, who placed in the mind of man the seeds of doubt and unbelief when it came to obeying the clear commands of Elohim.

Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which YHVH Elohim had made. And he said to the woman, “Has Elohim indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” (Gen 3:1).

Note what the serpent-devil said to the first humans, which caused them to sin: “Has Elohim indeed said…?” In other words, “Does Elohim really mean what he says?” There you have it. The seeds of rebellion, sin, doubt and unbelief! The serpent was really say, “When Elohim gives us commandments to follow, he really doesn’t mean what he says.” All of the ancient church traditions not withstanding, all of the religious institutions, the seminaries, the denominations, the church buildings and cathedrals, the religious ceremonies, rituals, pomp, doctrinal statements, creeds, and the religious theological philosophies aside, this lie of the devil is at the basis of all of man’s anti-Torah-law, religious tradition, philosophy, doctrines and rhetoric.

And long ago YHVH’s holy prophets who were speaking for him prophesied that this rejection of his Torah on the part of his people would be to occurring down through the ages. 

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me; Because you have forgotten the Torah-law of your Elohim, I also will forget your children. (Hos 4:6)

I have written for him the great things of My Torah-law, But they were considered a strange thing. (Hos 8:12)

That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children who will not hear the Torah-law of YHVH. (Isa 30:9)

Thus says YHVH: “Stand in the ways and see, And ask for the old paths, where the good way is, And walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’ Also, I set watchmen over you, saying, ‘Listen to the sound of the trumpet!’ But they said, ‘We will not listen.…’  Hear, O earth! Behold, I will certainly bring calamity on this people—The fruit of their thoughts, Because they have not heeded My words Nor My Torah-law, but rejected it.” (Jer 6:16–17, 19)

 “How can you say, ‘We are wise, And the law of YHVH is with us’? Look, the false pen of the scribe certainly works falsehood. The wise men are ashamed, They are dismayed and taken. Behold, they have rejected the word of YHVH; So what wisdom do they have? (Jer 8:8–9)

Yes, they made their hearts like flint, refusing to hear the Torah-law and the words which YHVH of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets. Thus great wrath came from YHVH of hosts. (Zech 78:12)

 “For the lips of a priest should keep knowledge, And people should seek the Torah-law from his mouth; For he is the messenger of YHVH of hosts.But you have departed from the way; You have caused many to stumble at the law. You have corrupted the covenant of Levi,” Says YHVH of hosts. (Mal 2:7–8)

And finally,

O YHVH, my strength and my fortress, My refuge in the day of affliction, The Gentiles shall come to You From the ends of the earth and say, “Surely our fathers have inherited lies, worthlessness and unprofitable things  [or lies, KJV].” (Jer 16:9)

The Truth About Paul and the Torah-Law

So if the church has twisted the truth about what Paul was saying as we’ve just discussed above, what was Paul really saying about the Torah-law? 

If Pal, contrary to popular and majority opinion, again for the reasons noted above, is really upholding the Torah-law, then what’s going on with him? Simply this. Paul IS NOT against the Torah, but against the false and unbiblical false teaching that man’s good works (i.e. Torah obedience) can earn a person salvation, or that adherence to men’s unbiblical traditions (e.g. that you have to be circumcised in order to be saved) are a necessary prerequisites to obtaining YHVH’s grace or unmerited favor (or pardon for sin). That’s it. This is Paul’s whole thesis and the basis for all of his brilliant and hard to understand polemic is all about. Nothing more or less. When all of Paul’s writings are understood through this grid, he makes perfect sense. He’s totally upholding Torah-law obedience, but not as a precondition for receiving initial salvation or right-standing with Elohim. Salvation occurs through faith in Yeshua and through legally identifying with his death, burial and resurrection. Once that spiritual legal transaction has been made in a person’s life, then Paul expects a person to produce the good spiritual fruits or good works of righteousness that obeying YHVH’s Torah commands bring. 

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of Elohim, not of works, lest anyone should boast.

For we are His workmanship, created in Messiah Yeshua for good works, which Elohim prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Eph 2:8–10, emphasis added)

So in light of this truth, some of Paul’s other statements make more sense, as do those of the other apostles and of Yeshua.

Wherefore the law [Torah] is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. (Rom 7:12)

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)

Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY,” “YOU SHALL NOT MURDER,” “YOU SHALL NOT STEAL,” “YOU SHALL NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS,” “YOU SHALL NOT COVET,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on YHVH Yeshua The Messiah, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts. (Rom 13:8–14)

Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of Elohim is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. (1 John 2:2–6)

If you love Me, keep My commandments. (John 14:15)

Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matt 5:18–20)

Instead of hearing what Paul is actually saying about the Torah, most people, including Bible teachers, popes, cardinals, bishops, priests, reverends, professors, pastors, Bible teachers, lay people et al have listened to and believe his false accusers, who said that he was violating the Torah and teaching against it.

And when we had come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly. On the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present. When he had greeted them, he told in detail those things which Elohim had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. And when they heard it, they glorified YHVH. And they said to him, “You see, brother, how many myriads of Jews there are who have believed, and they are all zealous for the law;  but they have been informed about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs. (Acts 21:17–21)

What we see in this passage is two things. First, Paul was not teaching against the Torah, but rather was zealous for it and was teaching the Gentiles the same thing. Second, what Paul was against was the Jewish fable and lie that circumcision was a prerequisite for salvation. It never has been and never will be from Abraham until now. Paul makes this argument in Romans chapter four where he teaches that Abraham was justified by faith in Elohim, not by being circumcised. This is why Paul was ambivalent about the ritual of physical of circumcision. It was a good thing to do, but not a requirement for salvation.

When we understand Paul in this contextual light, suddenly he makes sense, and his words aren’t so difficult to understand. The theological knots that religious people have twisted the writings of Paul into suddenly g\begin to unravel. For those who hate the Torah-laws or commandments of Elohim, and prefer instead to believe the lies of the serpent at the tree of knowledge that Elohim doesn’t really mean what he says in his Word, what I have written above will make no sense. In fact they will be opposed to it. They, as Yeshua said, prefer the traditions of men over the word of Elohim, and there’s nothing more I can say to these blind folks except to quote Yeshua who quoted Isaiah.

Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: “THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR FROM ME. AND IN VAIN THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE COMMANDMENTS OF MEN.” For laying aside the commandment of Elohim, you hold the tradition of men…. (Mark 7:6–8; Isa 29:13)

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Continue reading

 

Did the Torah-law end with Yeshua?

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

The evidence within the Testimony of Yeshua itself doesn’t support this common Christian interpretation, however. In no way is Yeshua annulling the Torah here, or else he would be contradicting what he clearly taught in Matthew 5:17–19.

Furthermore, Yeshua’s statement here can’t possibly mean that the Torah was now obsolete in the Testimony of Yeshua, since the apostles and early believers adhered to the Torah long after the passing of John the Baptist (Yeshua, p. 41, by Ron Mosely). Additionally, Paul’s statement in Romans 3:31 that the Torah is not voided by grace should dispel any notions that Luke 16:16 implies that the Torah would pass from the scene in the life of believers.

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

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

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

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

 

Your good works will not save you!

Mark 12:34, You are not far from the kingdom. Yeshua makes this complimentary statement to the scribe who had correctly and succinctly summarized the message of the Torah (both its letter and spirit intent) in verses 32–33.

However, note that Yeshua didn’t say, “You are in the kingdom of Elohim (i.e. “you have eternal life”).”

What was the one thing that was keeping this scribe from being in the kingdom? It was doubtless the same thing that kept the rich young ruler from obtaining the eternal life that he sought (Matt 19:16). After having obeyed the Torah the best that he could, the young ruler still needed to surrender all to Yeshua the Messiah, and to follow him unreservedly (Matt 19:18–22).

Not only is it difficult for humans to surrender all to the Master, and then to follow him wherever he leads, but after having followed the Torah the best we can, we must still humbly recognize that without the righteousness of Yeshua in the equation, our best efforts at Torah-obedience will still miss the mark of YHVH Elohim’s acceptable standard of righteousness, thus leaving us maybe not far from the kingdom, but definitely not in the kingdom of Elohim.

 

What is the difference between the Torah and the law of Moses, if any?

This question from on of our loyal readers just came in about my recent post on Acts 15.

Great teaching Natan, but one question…I never thought of there being both a Torah law and a law of Moses that was custom rather than law. So circumcision isn’t a Torah Law but Law of Moses that is a custom rather than law. How does one tell the difference between what Moses commanded that is a Torah law and what he commanded as his customary law? Referring to this: ” Rather, what he was referring to was the customs Moses established (which become known as the law of Moses), which exceed the basic requirements of the Torah. In this case, it was the custom the circumcision as a requirement for inclusion in the nation of Israel and is based on the Passover requirements found in Exod 12:43–49. “

Here is my response—

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

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

However, many people think that the law of Moses or the Torah originated with Moses. I have emphatically taught over the years, and the Scripture is clear on the fact, that the Torah didn’t originate with Moses, but from eternity or from heaven where Elohim exists. How can we assert this? This is because the Torah is a reflection of the heart, mind, will and righteous character of Elohim. It is spiritual and is thus eternal as Paul states in Romans 7:14.

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

Consider this. The principles of the Torah are eternal, spiritual and endless because Torah Continue reading

 

Acts 15 Explained (The mainstream church has lied to you!)

Is YHVH Elohim’s instructions in righteousness or Torah an unbearable yoke that Christian are free from making it now alright to murder, steal, lie, commit adultery and break the Sabbath? That’s what some misguided people want you to believe!

Oy vey! There is so much confusion, misunderstanding and false teaching out there in the church world. For example, the mainstream church has taught (or brainwashed) its constituents into believing that according to Acts 15, Gentiles are free from all of the requirements of the Torah-law of Moses, except for the four things mentioned in Acts 15:20.

What this means is that I guess it’s now all right for Gentiles to murder, steal, lie, worship idols, violate the Sabbath and you don’t have to tithe either (oops, there goes the pastor’s salary, retirement and building fund down the drain, and denominations are a thing of the past, as well, with their financial base gone), as long as we do the four requirements stipulated by the apostles in Acts 15:20. That means we have to do kosher slaughter of clean animals and make sure we get the blood out of the meat. Oh, I just remembered, the church doesn’t even teach these basic things, much less practice them. Now I’m really confused…so what’s really going on here? Well, it’s a heart of man thing! Paul summed it up in Romans 8:7,

Because the carnal mind is enmity against Elohim: for it is not subject to the law of Elohim, neither indeed can be.

Jeremiah had something to say about this as well,

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (Jer 17:9)

Human nature hasn’t changed much from the time these words were penned until now. To wit, someone just wrote the following in the comments section of this blog:

I heartily disagree. One need only look to what the Jewish apostles taught their goyim charges (from the Council at Jerusalem – Acts15, specifically verses 28 & 29));

It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond these essential requirements: You must abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals, and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things.

Not a word about the “Law”. Rather listen to what Jesus’ closest friend had to say, “Now then, why do you test God by placing on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear?”

Evidently, some feel that they know more than the Holy Spirit, and Peter.

I responded as follows:

Yes, yes, yes, those of us who’ve been around the block a time or two over the past few decades have heard this argument more than a few times. It’s not that someone is claiming to know more than Peter or the Holy Spirit, as you suggest. Rather, it’s that someone is failing to understand the Acts 15 passage in its full context and has defaulted to believing the traditions of men by which the Word of Elohim has been made of non-effect. Please allow me to explain.

First, let me thank you for allowing me to address this sadly misunderstood passage of Scripture that has confused many people and led many folks, such as yourself, to come to a totally wrong and unscriptural conclusion. To take the position you are positing totally contradicts hundreds of other verses in both the OT and NT. Yeshua himself said that the scripture cannot be broken (John 10:35). To say that Scripture contradicts itself is, honestly, to call the Bible a lie and the Author of it a liar. Hard words, but the truth. Sadly, this is the majority position of the mainstream church. YHVH Elohim will straighten out this mess in due time. Many Christian teachers who have taught this and who have led YHVH’s people astray will be proven to be false and will have to answer before Elohim’s throne of judgment for it.

I will post the counter argument to your position on my blog. Those who are not afraid of the truth can read the truth here:

Now here’s my commentary on Acts 15.

Acts 15:1–29, See notes at Matt 11:29. (Posted below)

Acts 15:1, Custom of Moses. This is based on Exodus 12:48 which requires all males to be circumcised before being allowed to partake of Passover. To be part of Israel, one had to become circumcised and observe the Passover and all Israel was required to do so (Exod 12:47). Foreigners were forbidden from keeping the Passover (Exod 12:43) until they were circumcised. From this, the Pharisees got the idea that circumcision is a prerequisite for salvation—or inclusion in spiritual family of redeemed Israel. As Paul points out in Romans chapter four, Abraham was justified by faith, not by the rite of circumcision. Therefore, the custom of circumcision as a prerequisite for inclusion within the nation of Israel (a metaphor for salvation) is unique to the law of Moses, and not to the over-arching and eternal principles of the Torah (as demonstrated by the fact that Abraham come into a relationship with YHVH 24 years before being circumcised) to which the law of Moses is subservient. This custom was necessary in order to protect the sanctity and integrity of the physical nation of Israel from foreign and pagan influences and was not prior to or subsequent to the physical nation of Israel intended to be a prerequisite for eternal salvation as Paul, again, makes clear in Romans chapter four.

Acts 15:10, Yoke on the neck. Many Christian commentators teach that Peter is making a reference to the Torah when he speaks of a yoke being put around the neck of the people of Israel meaning that Torah-observance was an impossibility. Yet, Moses told the Israelites that Torah-obedience wasn’t impossible (Deut 30:11–14), and that it would be a source of life to them (v. 19), and would be a source of wisdom and understanding for them, thus eliciting the curiosity of the surrounding nations (Deut 4:6–8). Were Moses and Peter at odds with each other thus violating the unity of Elohim’s Word (John 10:35)? Or Continue reading

 

Abraham a Torah Keeper Before Moses?

Genesis 18:19, Shall keep the way of YHVH…do justice and judgment. To what is YHVH referring here? He is referring to the Torah, something some Christian Bible teachers say did not exist before Moses and Mount Sinai (see also Gen 26:5). Let’s now see how the Scriptures define these terms and how they relate to the Torah. Genesis 18:19 says, 

“For I [YHVH] know him [Abraham], that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of YHVH, to do justice and judgment; that YHVH may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken.” (emphasis added)

Let’s define the three highlighted words above in the larger context of the Scriptures.

“The way” is the Hebrew word derech (Strong’s H1870) and is used in the following places:

Blessed are the undefiled in the way [derech], who walk in the law [Torah] of YHVH. (Ps 119:1)

I will run the way [derech] of the commandments … (Ps 119:32)

Teach me, O YHVH, the way [derech] of thy statutes … (Ps 119:33)

“Justice” is the Hebrew word tsedaqah (Strong’s H6666) meaning “righteousness.” Here is an example of its usage:

… for all thy commandments are righteousness … (Ps 119:172)

“Judgments” is the Hebrew word mishpatim (Strong’s H4941) meaning “ordinances” referring to YHVH’s moral and ethical laws as embodied in the last six of the ten commandments, which teach righteousness in one’s business and personal relationships.

 …[YHVH’s] righteous judgments [mishpat]. (Ps 119:7)

I have chosen the way [derech] of truth: thy judgments [mishpatim] have I laid before me. (Ps 119:30)

Thy word is true from the beginning; and every one of thy righteous judgments [mishpatim] endures forever. (Ps 119:160)

Can there be any doubt, if we’re to believe what the Scriptures literally say that Abraham was Torah observant hundreds of years before Moses (Abraham’s great, great grandson) was born?

 

Torah Central—A New Paradigm From Which to View the Bible

The Living and the Written Torah Is the Central Theme of the Bible

The Living and Written Torah is the dominant theme of the Bible. They are one in the same thing—totally unified and absolutely indivisible, which is why I used the singular verb is and not the plural are in the previous sentence. Another way to say this is that whole Bible is about Yeshua the Torah-Word of Elohim who was made flesh (John 1:1, 14). 

To illustrate this point, as we shall discuss later, we find this dominant theme prominently highlighted at the beginning, middle and end of the Scriptures. 

In this study, we will focus more heavily on the Written Torah, as opposed to Yeshua the Living Torah, although in our minds, without Yeshua, it’s impossible to fully understand, much less obey the Written Torah. Furthermore, it is only Yeshua, the Living Torah and not the Written Torah who is capable of saving us from our sins and giving us eternal life.

The Written Torah Defined

Let’s first define our terms. What does the word Torah mean as defined in the Bible? The primary meaning of the Hebrew word Torah, VRU< (Strong’s H8451, TWOT 910b) is “teaching, precept, instruction” and not law, although it is translated as such some 219 times in the Tanakh (Old Testament). What is the fuller meaning of the word Torah?

According to Strong’s Expanded Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Torah, as already noted, signifies primarily direction, teaching, instruction (Prov 13:14). It is derived from the verb yarah/VRh meaning “to project, point out” (Strong’s H3384) and hence to point out or teach. The law of Elohim is that which points out or indicates His will to man…Seen against its background of the verb yarah, it becomes clear that Torah is much more than law or a set of rules. Torah is not restriction or hindrance, but instead the means whereby one can reach a goal or ideal.

Similarly, The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament states that the word Torah means “teaching” whether it is the wise man instructing his son or Elohim instructing Israel. The wise give insight into all aspects of life so that the young may know how to conduct themselves and to live a long blessed life (Prov 3:1f). So too Elohim, motivated by love, reveals to man basic insights into how to live with each other and how to approach Elohim. Through the Torah, Elohim, shows his interest in all aspects of man’s life which is to be lived under his direction and care. The Torah of Elohim stands parallel to the word of YHVH. 

As already noted, the word Torah originates from the root word yarah vRH (Strong’s H3384), which also means “to flow as water, to lay or throw as in shooting an arrow; to point out as if aiming the finger to make a point, to teach.” Another cognate (related word) of the word Torah is the Hebrew word moreh (Strong’s H4175) which means “teacher or archer (as in one who shoots at a target).” Moreh vRun derives from the same Hebrew root word, yarah, as does the word Torah and signifies that law is the revelation of Elohim’s will (e.g. Isa 1:10). Therefore, when one is walking according to the Torah of YHVH Elohim, one is walking in the light of YHVH’s truth, which is hitting the mark of righteousness. Likewise, YHVH’s teachings or instructions are a river of life flowing from his throne aimed at hitting the mark of truth and righteousness. By contrast, the Hebrew word for sin is chata (Strong’s H2298) which means “to miss the mark,” i.e. transgressing the Torah as 1 John 3:4 states, Sin is the transgression of the Torah.

The meaning of word Torah when analyzed through its Paleo-Hebrew pictographic letters yields some interesting insights from yet another perspective that are worth noting. The definition of the word Torah VRu< from the Paleo-Hebrew is as follows:

  • Tav means “sign, seal, covenant.”
  • Vav means “nail, peg, secure, add.” 
  • Resh means “head, person, highest.” 
  • Hey means “behold, reveal.”

The meanings of the individual picture-letters when combined give us the following expanded understanding: 

  • The Torah is “the highest secure covenant revealed.”
  • The Torah is “the covenant or sign that reveals the secure head or highest person” (i.e. YHVH-Yeshua).

The Origin of Torah and Its Introduction into the World

The Torah predates Moses who gave the law to the children of Israel at Mount Sinai. There are many examples in both the books of Genesis and Exodus before Mount Sinai that YHVH’s servants both knew of and followed the Torah. That is another study and beyond Continue reading