To our Christian friends! WELCOME!
We want to extend an invitation to our Christian friends who are usually concerned that we are “under the law” and in danger, or not even saved. Relax! We love our Messiah Yeshua and His Grace more than we ever have! Read below and learn more of our understanding of the Scriptures.
Be sure to check out Gentiles and the Torah and then you may be interested in this in-depth exposition on the book of Galatians: You Foolish Galatians
Key New Testament scriptures
The following is a brief summary of all the points that are explained below in greater detail.
In short, Christians say the New Testament changes the Old Testament, but Messianics say the New Testament explains the Old Testament further without doing away with it. The religious Jews added to the Torah over many years and said their rules were required to be saved. Yeshua and the Apostles tried to delete these man-made laws, without deleting G-d’s Torah while correcting the error of those who thought they could create their salvation by following tradition. This is a frequent theme of the New Testament, that many Christians mistake for the notion that Yeshua and the Apostles came to do away with G-d’s Torah, when in fact they were actually trying to expound on it.
Peter’s vision (Acts 10)
Peter’s vision has nothing to do with eating anything (kosher or otherwise), but is a call to spread the gospel to the Gentiles.
Gentiles and the Torah (Acts 15)
The Judaizers required following Torah (e.g. circumcision) in order to be saved, [salvation by becoming Jewish, with the final sign of circumcision] but the Apostles rejected this because we are saved by faith. However, gentiles must obey basic decency (10 Commandments stuff) to be allowed in the synagogues. But gentiles are told to get in the synagogues on the Sabbath day and learn the Torah of Moses.
Sabbath versus Sunday worship
This is never changed from Saturday to Sunday in the bible. The change occurred later and violates Yeshua’s statement to keep His commandments.
Do not keep Sabbaths and feast days (Colossians 2:16-17)
These were formerly pagan gentiles being criticized by other pagans for keeping the Jewish Sabbaths and festivals. Paul tells them to not let these pagans judge them for this, and that the festivals are a shadow of prophecies concerning Yeshua’s second coming.
The Torah taken out of the way (Colossians 2:14)
This does not say the Torah is taken out of the way and nailed to the tree. This says the debt for our sin is taken out of the way and nailed to the tree.
Adulterous woman (John 8)
Yeshua does not waive the Torah away from this woman, but she cannot be stoned after the Pharisees left, because Torah requires two or three witness to do this.
Torah is now written on our hearts (Heb 10:16)
If the Torah is really written on your heart, then you will be motivated by love to keep the Torah.
All foods clean (Mark 7:19)
Yeshua declares all Torah prescribed foods (i.e. Broma in Greek) to be clean as stated by G-d in His Word and no amount of made-up man-made rules can change this fact. So eat all the Torah prescribed foods you want, but this does not teach anything about eating things which are not prescribed in the Torah. Also, Yeshua calls the Pharisees hypocrites for transgressing the commandments of G-d. Therefore, by most Christian’s interpretation of this story, Yeshua, after calling the Pharisees hypocrites for transgressing the commandments of G-d, immediately turns around to the people and tells them to transgress G-d’s dietary commandments, making Yeshua out to be a bigger hypocrite than the Pharisees? That is not a plausible interpretation.
The Book of Romans
There are many statements in this book that admonish us to keep the Torah, so instead of clumsily contradicting himself in the same letter we learn his point is slightly more subtle and consistent with his own Torah keeping. Paul says that the Jews were trying to be saved by following the Torah and Jewish custom, which is why they failed. But Jews and Gentiles were taught that righteousness is by faith, which is why they were saved.
The Romans were vegetarians and Romans 14 is comparing those who continue to choose eating only vegetables to those Romans who decide that eating Torah-prescribed meats is okay.
Yeshua fulfilled the Torah (Mat 5:17)
Yeshua tells us that fulfilling the Torah does NOT mean that it is abolished.
Yeshua changes the Torah to only two commands (Mat 22:37)
Yeshua quotes the Torah from Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18 to prove that the Torah is abolished? That makes no sense. If the details of the Torah are summed up by Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18, then the details must be kept in order to follow these two.
Yeshua changed the law of Adultery (Mat 5)
The Old Testament laws for adultery (like all the others) were for the purpose of national governance and not to cause salvation. Because the Jews fell into a wrong belief that they could earn their salvation by keeping the laws perfectly, Yeshua defines how pure one must be in avoiding adultery if you want to follow the Torah in order to be saved. So, this is not a change to the Torah of adultery, but only a further explanation of how to apply it in a way that was not originally intended.
Messianics are Legalistic and Judaizers (Galatians 2)
These words are not defined or used in the bible. If they are defined to mean someone who requires circumcision in order to be saved, then Messianics are not legalistic or Judaizers, because we don’t believe that. If they are defined to mean any requirements whatsoever, then that is against what the bible says. So Messianics can only be accused of this if the words are defined to be something that is opposed to what the bible says.
Holy Spirit supersedes Torah-keeping
The Holy Spirit is sent to be our helper. To help us do what? To help us violate G-d’s laws? Of course not. The Holy Spirit helps us keep G-d’s Torah.
New Testament Torah Keeping (Acts 21:24)
There is a false rumor circulating that Paul taught people not to follow the Torah. Unfortunately, this rumor is not only still around, but has become church doctrine. Paul is seen keeping Torah throughout Acts and specifically demonstrates his Torah keeping in Acts 21:24.
Why Keep Torah?
Because G-d wrote it, Yeshua and the Apostles followed it and neither of them ever said not to follow it.
Why a tree and not a cross?
Because in the five verses that tell us what He was nailed to, we are told he was nailed to a tree.
Did the dissolution of corporal punishment constitute a ‘change’ in the Torah?
No. The Torah both foreshadows and promises that someone else will bear our physical punishment.
Messianic teachings frequently are questioned by people coming from Christian churches. 1 Peter 3:15 tells us to always be ready to provide a defense to everyone who asks and to give an account for the hope that is in us with gentleness and reverence. This article is an attempt to do just that by answering many of the common questions we receive.
Christians usually acknowledge that G-d required the Jews to keep many commandments in the Old Testament they like to refer to as the “Ceremonial Torah” – this being much of what is written in Leviticus, Deuteronomy and a few other places in the Torah. However, they believe the New Testament has done away with this requirement and interpret many New Testament scriptures to say as much. So, when they see Messianics keeping Sabbath, keeping the Jewish Festivals and avoiding pork and shellfish, these questions naturally come up.
So, let’s look into this, but first, let’s do put ourselves in the shoes of the Jews who were living in the first century. That is, before Yeshua came and the New Testament was written, their scriptures were only the Old Testament. So, from the Old Testament, point to a scripture that describes what one must do in order to be saved.
Well, it really never puts it that way at all. However, there are many laws with things to do and things to avoid doing. Some violations could be assuaged by offering sacrifices, some violations required banishment and other violations required executions, but it actually doesn’t seem all that clear about what one has to do, or not do, in order to be saved in the afterlife.
However, you would think that someone being stoned to death for violating G-d’s Torah is probably not a person in G-d’s good graces, right? This is probably not what you would call righteousness, right? This is not a saved person, is it? Well, the opposite side of that coin would be that to stay in G-d’s good graces you would follow His Torah, right? That’s what you have to do in order to be saved, right?
Frankly, I wouldn’t blame the first century Jews too much for thinking this. But is it correct? Is that what the Old Testament teaches about righteousness? Well, maybe not. Genesis 15:6 says of Abram, that “he believed in יהוה (YHWH) and He reckoned it to him as righteousness” (NASB). So, the requirement is believing in יהוה and not obeying all the laws? In fact, this was said of Abram, before he was circumcised in Genesis 17:11. He was an uncircumcised man when G-d called him righteous.
But, if this is what is required, then why is it not mentioned more often? The reason is likely that it was widely understood at the time most of the really instructional parts of the bible were written. Most of the instructions come from the five books of Moses that were written during a relatively short period in the grand scheme of history. Much of what constitutes the rest of the Old Testament was history, poetry and prophets. And, even the last of that was over 400 years before the time of Messiah. So, the people of the first century were at least 400 years removed and really more like over 1400 years removed from the instructional books of Moses.
That is a lot of time for a society to change. The people went through a great deal of time and circumstances. They conquered the Holy Land, mixed with the idol worshipers, lost 10 northern tribes, were captured by, sent to, and returned from Babylon, conquered by the Greeks, and then the Romans. So, is it possible that something that was obvious to the Exodus generation had become obscured over this great expanse of time and circumstances? That is, over the centuries, the Jews lost the concept of being saved by believing in G-d and fell into the error that keeping all these rules was what caused their salvation. Seems plausible.
Additionally, over the centuries, the religious leaders created many new rules (i.e. laws) that they required the people to follow. They said people had to follow all these laws – G-d’s laws and their laws – in order to be saved. Many of their man-made laws violated the spirit of G-d’s Torah and some even violated the letter of G-d’s Torah. It is frequently these changes and additions to G-d’s Torah that Yeshua and the Apostles were speaking against. They were not speaking against G-d’s Torah, but of the erroneous man-made laws. This is a somewhat subtle point that is frequently missed by Christians, so they think Yeshua and the Apostles are trying to do away with all laws, both man’s laws and G-d’s laws. This is not so and forms one of the basic themes of Messianic interpretations of New Testament scriptures.
Actually, there are many concepts in the bible that are just simply not explained in complete detail from start to finish. For example, when Yeshua says “If I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself…”(John 14:3 NASB), that should jump off the page at you as a reference to the traditional Jewish betrothal/wedding ceremony. There are many other brief comparisons to this ancient ritual, but the bible never details all the steps involved from start to finish in any organized way in one spot. But these are known and can be easily learned to greatly understand the fuller inferences that both Yeshua and the Apostles are deliberately making.
Similarly, the concept of the blood covenant is frequently referenced and used as a teaching tool to help us understand our relationship with G-d. When we read that Jonathan gave David his robe (1 Sam 18:4) we should recognize this as one of the typical symbols of men who made a blood covenant with each other. However, all the symbols involved with a blood covenant are never explained in complete detail in the bible. Why not? Because it was a concept that was well understood to those who originally received this information. In fact, neither Abraham nor the Jews developed the concept of a blood covenant. It was a concept ubiquitous to all the peoples of the ancient near east.
In fact, there are a great many concepts that are alluded to, but not explained in great detail, because they were understood by the people at that time, such as; sowing seeds, reaping, shepherding, making wine, pressing olive oil, threshing grain, etc.
So, it is plausible that the reason the concept of righteousness coming from believing in יהוה is not given great lengths of scripture in the Old Testament is because it was understood by the original audience. However, we should be careful not to take a few scriptures and use them to overturn a great many other scriptures. Is that what we are trying to do with Genesis 15:6? Well, there would be a greater concern of doing this if it wasn’t for many New Testament scriptures that drive this point home.
Romans 4:3 (NAS) “For what does the Scripture say? “And Abraham believed G-d, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.” It says the same thing in Romans 4:9 (NAS) “… Faith was reckoned to Abraham as righteousness.” In fact, Paul goes on and on with this theme for pages in Hebrews 11 and others.
Here is a brief excerpt from Hebrews 11 (NAS):
3 By faith we understand…
4 By faith Abel offered to G-d a better sacrifice…
5 By faith Enokh was taken up…
7 By faith No’akh…
8 By faith Abraham…
9 By faith he lived…
11 By faith even Sarah herself received…
20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob…
21 By faith Jacob, as he was dying, blessed each of the sons…
22 By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the exodus…
23 By faith Moses…
24 By faith Moses…
27 By faith he left Egypt…
28 By faith he kept the Passover…
29 By faith they passed through the Red Sea…
30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down…
31 By faith Rahab…
32 And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, who by faith…
Faith, Faith, Faith
It has always been by faith! So why did the Jews think they could earn their salvation by doing things G-d told them to do? They couldn’t. And, we can’t either. This was an error not stated in scripture that they fell into over the centuries (nay, millennia) and the New Testament spends considerable time trying to pull the first century Jews out of this error. However, correcting this error doesn’t mean throw out G-d’s directions to us with the throwing out of this error. He is not changing what is stated in the Old Testament. This is one of the keys in understanding the New Testament that Messianics hold different from what most Christians believe.
In short, Christians say the New Testament changes the Old Testament, but Messianics say the New Testament explains the Old Testament further without doing away with it. It is possible to add additional explanation to something without changing the original, or contradicting it. For example, I might tell you there is an office building across the street from me. And then the next day I might tell you it is a ten-story office building. And then the next day, I might tell you there is a lawyer’s office on the tenth floor. I have provided successively further explanation of the office building without changing or contradicting the earlier statements. However, if I later told you there is a doctor’s office on the eleventh floor, then I have contradicted or changed my previous statement. The question is, does the New Testament do this? Does it change what is said in the Old Testament? Christians say yes, but Messianics say no. So, let’s look at a few key New Testament scriptures where Messianic understanding differs from many traditional Christian interpretations.
Peter’s Vision (Acts 10)
Peter’s Vision (Acts 10)
The following is an actual (and typical) Christian comment regarding Peter’s vision in Acts 10:
“As far as New Testament theology as a whole, I think Acts 10 is a huge problem for the idea that dietary laws should be kept”
Most Christians believe Peter’s vision basically says we don’t need to keep the OT dietary laws. Many of us used to think this too. Even after reading the bible extensively over many years.
However, this is probably the most blatant, most obvious, most astonishingly bad example of failure in basic reading comprehension by the vast majority of Christians that exists in all the scriptures. Usually Christians like to focus on just Peter’s vision and make a ruling without bothering to read it in context of the whole story, which starts in Acts 10:1 and ends in Acts 11:18.
A small detail that is helpful in understanding what is happening in Acts 10:1-11:18 is to learn about how exclusive the Jews were in keeping to themselves and that up until this point in history all the debates had been by Jews, for Jews, about matters of Jewish Torah and the Jewish Messiah. Gentiles were not involved in faith in the Jewish Messiah in any large way up until this point. Also, some Jews, namely the House of Shammai, would not allow non-Jews (uncircumcised) in their synagogues, and no Jews would allow gentiles in their houses, at their dinner tables, in their circle of friends or any other contact that could possibly be avoided. Right, wrong or indifferent, that is just the culture that existed at that time.
Acts 10 is lengthy, so we will skim through it and allow you to go read your own translation of choice to confirm, but they all clearly say the same thing.
Acts 10 opens with a special gentile centurion who already feared G-d [Elohim] and had a vision from G-d to send for the Apostle Peter at Joppa. At the very moment the centurion’s soldiers approached Joppa, Peter also had a vision from G-d with the animals he is told to kill and eat. At that moment the soldiers arrive and relate the centurion’s vision to Peter. Peter agrees to travel with them to Caesarea the very next morning. Peter reminds the centurion how the Jews do not associate with gentiles but agrees to at this moment due to the visions that both Peter and the centurion had received.
Peter states that the point of these visions means Jews are not supposed to show partiality for the Jews against the gentiles in spreading the gospel of the Jewish Messiah. Peter preaches the gospel to them and these gentiles receive the Holy Spirit and become saved. Peter returns to Judea and relates the visions, preaching and saving of the gentiles to the Messianic Jews, who now also recognize that G-d has ordained preaching the gospel to the gentiles. The story ends in Acts 11:18 where even these Jews in Judea now understand that G-d ordained His gospel to the gentiles confirmed in Peter’s vision, the centurion’s vision, Peter’s preaching of the gospel to gentiles and these gentiles being saved.
This is a huge moment in the history of the world. This is the moment at which G-d’s gospel has gone from being virtually a completely inward, Jewish-only religion to going out unto all the rest of the gentile world and it is documented in considerable detail in Acts 10:1 – 11:18.
That’s great stuff to know. But notice there is nothing in here about changing OT dietary laws. The fact that Peter’s vision might seem to indicate this is a good learning experience about the need to be careful when attempting to interpret dreams and visions, because Peter himself tells us the meaning of this vision is that the gospel was to be preached to the gentiles several times in these very scriptures in which his vision was given. Are we to disagree with Peter’s own interpretation of his own vision? Certainly not. We encourage all of you to read Acts 10:1 – 11:18 for yourselves and see what you think, paying particular attention to this verse: “Elohim has shown me that I should not call ANY MAN common or unclean” [ Acts 10:28 ]. Clearly, Peter’s interpretation of the dream focuses on men, not unkosher foods.
How can so many Christians fail at such basic reading comprehension? We don’t understand, but we do know that I too many of us were among those Christians for most of our lives. For some of us, Peter’s vision was one of the first stones we would throw at the Messianics to dismiss them and move on . And now that we realize how badly we interpreted something that is so obvious, we tread very carefully before making up our minds interpreting other scriptures – especially other scriptures where the meaning is not so blatantly obvious.
Gentiles and the Torah (Acts 15)
Gentiles and the Torah (Acts 15)
The following is an actual (and typical) Christian comment regarding Acts 15:
“See the Council of Jerusalem in Acts. The Apostles didn’t tell the Gentiles to “observe the Torah and all the Holy Days.” We were told to abstain from blood, food sacrificed to idols, and sexual immorality.
In Christ there are no national differences. We are neither Jew nor Greek and such differences are moot. There’s no requirement to follow the Mosaic Torah, which was given to prepare the way for the coming of Christ and his liberty.
It astonishes me that we are rehashing what was worked out for us at the Council of Jerusalem some two thousand years ago..”
First, the Judiazers of Acts 15:1 were not criticized for encouraging people to simply observe the holy days, they were criticized for claiming complete Jewish Torah was required (circumcision in particular in this case; in religious Judaism, then and now, circumcision is the final sign of converting to BE a Jew), in order TO BE SAVED. ( Acts 15:1 ). And, not mentioned, but understood from the time, to be allowed into the Synagogues along side the Jews without making the Jews ceremonially unclean.
However, the entire response in Acts 15 assumes these good Gentiles converted by Paul were true believers by grace ( Acts 15:11 ) and saved, as there is never any action put upon them TO BE SAVED. The entire response is based on what behavior the Gentiles needed to exhibit in order to come into the synagogues along side the Jews. Obviously, you cannot let every ax-wielding mass-murderer in with your family without some sort of protection for those already attending the synagogue.
However, it appears these Gentiles were not murderers? Or were they? Acts 15:20 doesn’t prohibit them from murder. Or stealing. Or a great many other evils. So is this other behavior okay because it is not specifically prohibited in Acts 15? Of course not! What James is saying is that a modicum of decency is required to allow new converts into the synagogue – something like the basic 10 commandments. And these new Gentiles were apparently not struggling with murder or stealing, but with sexual immorality and idolatry (i.e. foods sacrificed to idols), so he corrects them on this. In doing so, he lays at least two FULL chapters of the Torah on them: Lev 18, defining sexual immorality, and Lev 11, defining idolatrous foods,
So, once saved and exhibiting a modicum of decency (i.e. more or less the 10 commandments), then the people already inside the synagogue could feel safe admitting these new members. But, once admitted, what then? James instructs the new members to get in the synagogue on the Sabbath and learn the laws of Moses (i.e. the Torah)( Acts 15:21 actually states “Torah” in the original text). For what purpose should these Gentiles learn the laws of Moses? For the purpose of ignoring them? For the purpose of learning they are all now null and void? Of course not. They are to learn the laws of Moses for the purpose of following them.
The instructions in Acts 15 seem so obvious that one wonders why the scriptures need to even waste space with such a thing, but they do and people still get it wrong.
To summarize Acts 15:
You do not need to be circumcised and become a Jew to be saved ( Acts 15:1 ) because we are saved by grace ( Acts 15:11 ), but new converts (Jews and Gentiles alike) need to exhibit a modicum of decency to associate with other believers (Acts 15:20) and once in the synagogue on the Sabbath please learn the rest of the Torah ( Acts 15:21 ); A Torah that includes the admonition to observe G-d’s specified holy convocations, BTW, the Sabbath being the first one of them – Leviticus (23:2-3)
Sabbath versus Sunday worship
Sabbath versus Sunday Worship
The fact that Messianics do “Church” on Saturday instead of Sunday frequently becomes a question in conversations about differences between Messianic believers and traditional Christians. They try to use a few scriptures to support their Sunday worship, but most usually don’t have a firm grasp on when or why this change was made. Frequently it is just said that Yeshua rose on the first day, so that is why they do church on Sunday. They are partially correct – Yeshua did rise on the first day, but the biblical first day starts at the end of the the 7th day, Saturday night; Yeshua rose from the dead very late on Saturday night, at “Motzei Shabbat”, the departure of the Sabbath – so, this fact, that He rose on the first day of the week, requires a little background.
Jews counted days from evening to evening and the Sabbath from Friday evening to Saturday evening because of Genesis 1:5, soActs 20:7, and 1st Corinthians 16:2, were Havdalah services on what we call Saturday night. Jews still have Havdalah services to this day. At “Motzei Shabbat,” or the departure of the Sabbath. The Havdalah is a ceremony to separate the 7th day from the 1st day, and even in ancient times Isaiah 12:2-3 was quoted as a prayer to welcome the Sabbath: “Behold, G-d is my Salvation [Yeshua-ti, salvation for me], I will trust and not be afraid. With joy we shall draw water from the well of Yeshua [Salvation].
This was not Sunday morning worship service as we know it today (during the day), but gatherings in homes on Saturday night, which to them marked the first day of the week. Actually, the fact that 1st Corinthians 16:2, instructs them to handle money only after the Sabbath had ended (during the Saturday evening Havdalah gatherings) is actually evidence that they were still keeping the Sabbath halakha.
The “Lord’s day”, or more appropriately the “Day of יהוה ” in Revelation 1:10 has eventually come to be called Sunday over time (noting also the change in the wording), but there is no evidence that this is what is meant at the time that John used it.
This phrase has always meant (even to Jews in this day) the one day of the year called “Yom Kippur”, which is just another name they gave for one of G-d’s declared feast days in Leviticus.
That’s it? Two weak references to Havdalah services, a “Day of יהוה ” phrase by John that has changed meaning and some non-scriptural later references is all the evidence for deleting G-d’s directed Sabbath day? Does Yeshua ever state once to disobey His own 10 commandments? Do any of the apostles direct us to stop keeping G-d’s appointed Sabbath times that are commanded to observe throughout their generations (Ex 31:13)?
Not only that, the New Testament church is seen specifically keeping the Sabbath in Acts 13:14, Acts 13:42, Acts 13:44, Acts 15:21, Acts 16:13, Acts 17:2, Acts 18:4, Colossians 2:16.
Also, they are teaching in the synagogues in Acts 9:2, Acts 9:20, Acts 13:5, Acts 13:14, Acts 13:43, Acts 14:1, Acts 15:21, Acts 17:1, Acts 17:10, Acts 17:17, Acts 18:4, Acts 18:9, Acts 18:26, Acts 19:8, Acts 22:19, Acts 24:12, and Acts 26:11 which would only have been on a Sabbath day.
Not only did they keep the Saturday Sabbaths (Leviticus 23:3), but they also kept all the Leviticus 23 feast days, many of which were counted as Sabbaths, in Acts 12:3, Acts 20:6, Acts 20:16, 1st Corinthians 1:8, and 1st Corinthians 5:8.
And all of this Sabbath and feast day keeping by the Apostles occurred months, years even decades later, as the Apostles themselves continued in them, so if they were to preach a change to the Sabbath, they would have been huge hypocrites. The fact is they weren’t hypocrites, they kept the Sabbath, they never said to stop keeping the Sabbath and there is no biblical evidence that we should be told to stop keeping the Sabbath today.
Do not keep Sabbaths and feast days? (Col 2:16-17)
Do not keep Sabbaths and feast days (Col 2:16-17)
Many Christians read Colossians 2:16-17 and think it is the “smoking gun” for us to stop bothering with Sabbath keeping, dietary laws, Old Testament feasts and such. However, this – like many errors – comes from taking a few scriptures out of context and running with them. The key to understanding this scripture is the most basic reading comprehension tool, that of understanding the background of the writer and the recipient of a letter.
It is well understood that Paul was a Jew, so we will not expand on that much further other than to say he was a Jew who was seen still keeping Sabbaths and feast days all throughout Acts. Many Christians frequently misinterpret scriptures by not remembering most scriptures were originally written by Jews, to other Jews about matters of Jewish Torah. But there are a few exceptions to this and Colossians is one of them. Knowing this becomes very helpful in our understanding.
Even Christians will acknowledge the congregation in the city of Colossae was Gentile ( 2:11, 2:13, 3:11 ). Colossae was a city in Asia Minor and like most of the area at that time was under the Roman Empire. Like most Romans (and frankly all non-Jewish people at that time) they grew up with all the Roman deities of their day. They worshiped many gods, but usually the most powerful god was connected with sun worship. They had their temples and they had their special feasts to their gods – usually revolving around special solar days such as the winter solstice and the spring equinox and such. They made sacrifices, burned incenses and frequently participated with temple prostitution as part of their worship. They were your basic pagans of the time.
However, apparently the message of Yeshua had come to them and they converted. Word of this made its way back to Paul, which is why he is writing them this letter. Converting, by its very nature, implies they stopped doing things associated with their old religion and started doing things associated with their new Jewish-based religion. They likely turned from their old pagan practices and started keeping Sabbaths, and the Jewish festivals and such. That must have really made them look peculiar to their old pagan friends and family and it appears they were being criticized for that very thing. But Paul is encouraging them to keep it up, to keep the faith and not listen to their judgmental pagan friends. This is what Paul is saying in Colossians 2:16-17. Far from telling them to ignore the Sabbaths and feasts, he is telling them to keep going in spite of their persecution.
Christians have such an ingrained anti-Torah bias in them, that it even occasionally shows in their interpretations. The following is verse 17 in the New American Standard (NAS) bible, “…things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.” The word “mere” is written in italics, and with good reason. Whenever the interpreters of the NAS added a word that was not in the original Greek, they put it in italics. At least they were honest enough to do this for us, but the added word shows their bias and makes it much easier to be dismissive of G-d’s commanded Torah feasts. They added the word “mere” because they “thought that it should be in there.” But why? Who would think it needs to be in there? The answer; someone who wants to dismiss the value of keeping Torah. The New Living Translation (NLT) also adds the word “only” for the same bias as the NAS.
However, most other interpretations do not take the liberty to add these words in verse 17 like the NAS and NLT. Here are some others:
So, if you come from the understanding that Paul WAS keeping the Torah feasts (see Acts) and that he was not telling people to quit doing it, then he is not necessarily being dismissive in Colossians 2:17. It is true, now that Messiah has ascended to heaven that we cannot SEE his body with our eyes like the Apostles had done earlier. However, we learn how Yeshua fulfilled the Spring Torah feasts during his first coming with all the symbolism involved (at least you see it if you are Messianic), but He did not fulfill the fall Torah feasts. However, we see from His first coming that the feasts give as a slight glimpse, an outline or a shadow (if you will) of Messiah’s work. The value in studying this shadow is that the Fall feasts now provide a shadow of Messiah’s work during his second coming and the symbolism of the Fall feasts are dripping with allusions to many prophecies about Yeshua’ second coming so that we can understand these other scriptures better by learning (and doing) the shadows that are these feasts. Messiah will fulfill the substance/symbolism of the fall feasts with His physical body when He returns. That is what Paul is saying in Colossians 2:17 – far from dismissing the feasts.
The Torah taken out of the way (Col 2:14)
The Torah Taken Out of the Way (Col 2:14)
A common Christian retort against Messianic teachings is to say that Yeshua did away with the Torah and nailed it to the stake, taking it away, so we should not be following it any more. When they say this, they are attempting to paraphrase Colossians 2:14. It is possible to mistake this quote depending on the particular interpretation you are using. However, we need not even resort to the Greek (or Aramaic) texts, because most English Interpretations are sufficiently clear. However, there are a couple which are decidedly poorly worded such as the following:
It might be possible to see how one gets the thought that it is the Torah itself that is nailed to the stake from these interpretations. However, there seems to be some uncertainty about how to put the original text into English words because the wording varies quite a bit with different translations. Let’s look at a few other translations.
The NIV and New Living Translation are often criticized for taking liberties with their translations (and rightfully so), but here is one example where they are probably more accurate than some of the more traditional translations such as the King James. You will also notice that the NEW version of the NIV (2011) reads much differently than the 1984 NIV version as if they now recognize how poorly their previous wording was.
We won’t delve into the original language here other than to say a close study of it will render an English wording more similar to most of these translations other than the 1984 NIV or original King James. And from this, we can more easily see the intended meaning – that what is taken away is not the Torah itself, but our sin – or better yet the debt for our sin. That is what is nailed to the tree. Yeshua did not nail the Torah itself to the tree. He took sin upon himself on the tree. The Torah itself is not sin. May it never be!
These are the kinds of common misconceptions between what people believe/feel/have-heard/want-to-believe the texts say and what they ACTUALLY say. But it is hard to break away from teaching that is already so ingrained. I know. I have been there too. But after a few examples like this that showed how blatantly biased my predisposition was and how badly I was failing at basic reading comprehension, I had to throw off my in-grained biases, slow down and re-evaluate what each of these scriptures were actually saying in context regardless of how I previously FELT about them. It is not an easy process to do this.
Adulterous woman (John 8)
Adulterous Woman (John 8)
Frequently, Christians use the story of the adulterous woman in John 8:1-11 as proof that Yeshua waived the Torah away and applied grace. This is said to be evidence that the OT people lived under an age of Torah and that we are now living under and age of grace.
One thing to consider seriously in this matter is that these verses do not even appear the earliest Greek texts! And they never appear in the Aramaic texts! But, even if they are authentic, the argument still holds no water.
Verses 9-11 reads as follows in the NAS:
G-d’s Torah laws should jump off the page and hit you in the face. But it doesn’t for the vast majority of Christians, because they don’t know their bibles as well as they think they do. This scripture screams Deuteronomy 19:15, which reads in the NAS as:
All the Jews of the time were well aware of this requirement as it was of vital importance, especially in grave matters such as capital punishment. This is precisely why the writers make a point to document that all the witnesses who were against this woman had left. Yeshua makes another point to specifically ask if there was not even one person as a witness against her (not to mention two or three). Her answer is that there are none. At that moment, even Yeshua himself could not have stoned this woman without breaking Torah in Deuteronomy 19:15. Far from waving the Torah away, Yeshua follows the Torah with great precision.
Yeshua probably had the right to condemn her as He has the right to condemn all of us. However, instead of condemning, He offers her grace, just as he extends grace to us every day. However, G-d’s graciousness is not a license to sin more. Yeshua tells her to go and sin no more.
And just as G-d extends grace to us just like he did to her, His admonishment to sin no more also extends to us. Do likewise. Go and sin no more. And sin is breaking G-d’s laws. Sin is violating G-d’s Torah, which He hasn’t waived away or nailed to the tree or any other such thing.
Torah is now written on our hearts (Heb 10:16)
The Torah is Now Written on Our Hearts (Heb 10:16)
Frequently, Christians say this means we do not need to follow Torah anymore because G-d now tells us directly what we should do by our feelings and emotions so that we do not need to refer back to any written document (because the writing is now on our heart). Right? Is that what this says?
The scripture reads:
Heb 10:16(NAS): “THIS IS THE COVENANT THAT I WILL MAKE WITH THEM AFTER THOSE DAYS, SAYS יהוה : I WILL PUT MY TORAH UPON THEIR HEART, AND ON THEIR MIND I WILL WRITE IT.”
The author of Hebrews is quoting Jeremiah 31:33, but that doesn’t change the meaning of what it says. The word that is translated as “heart” here is accurate in that it is literally referring to the thumping thing in your chest. However, nobody actually believes if you dissect yourself that you will find any real letters stenciled on your heart. The word is used as an idiom for what the heart stands for. But what does the heart stand for? In our culture today, this idiom is associated with emotions and feelings of love. This idiom grew out of the symbolism around the Roman G-d of Cupid. However, that is not the way people of the ancient near east viewed this bodily organ in an idiomatic sense. To them, the heart was the motor that makes your body move. It symbolized your motivation to do something.
So, we see that this phrase tells us people will be motivated to do something. What is it that people will be motivated to do? Follow His laws. And His laws are the Torah. So, putting His laws/Torah on your motor/motivation means you will be motivated to follow His Torah.
In fact, even if we use the modern English idiom associated with the heart, that of loving, the interpretation is substantially the same, because wouldn’t someone who had a love for G-d’s laws want to follow them? Is loving G-d’s laws consistent with ignoring them and dismissing them as irrelevant and unworthy of being followed? Well, no. If you love G-d’s Torah then you would want to follow it. Right? Of course. So, it doesn’t matter which idiom you use for the word “heart” they both direct us to follow His Torah laws.
All foods clean (Mark 7:19)
All Foods Clean (Mark 7:19)
This story starts back in verse one, and we see that the disciples were eating something. Some translations use the word “bread” and some use the word “food”. The Greek word used here is artos (Strong’s G740), which more than likely (especially, given the context) is bread. Actually, it was not just any type of bread, but a special kind of bread that the Pharisees had created many rules about eating. This bread was supposed to be consecrated to יהוה and they were not supposed to break it in order to eat it. They also required them to ritually wash their hands, which is the issue being posed by the Pharisees in this story. However, it is important to remember, that all these rules created by the Pharisees about eating this bread are not commanded by G-d in His Torah. These are man-made rules. Although, the word artos can be used for food of any kind, it is highly likely given the complaints from the Pharisees about how they were eating it, that this was the special bread in question here.
Moving forward to the statement in Mark 7:19, we find several interesting things. First is that many Greek manuscripts do not have the final phrase in question at all, and this is not included in the Textus Receptus, which is generally considered the most accurate compilation of many variant Greek texts and fragments.
Secondly, for those texts that do have this phrase, not only are bible translators uncertain how to interpret it, bible translators are uncertain as to who even said it. Some interpretations have all of Mark 7:19 stated by Yeshua (i.e. in red for red letter editions).
The way this is translated, we can see that all of Mark 7:19, including the final phrase, is spoken by Yeshua Himself. However, other translation of the same text, do not attribute it to Yeshua. It is added as a parenthetical phrase by the writer (not in red for red letter editions).
We don’t see many things written in parenthesis in the bible, so this should be a clue that something unusual is going on here. As a side note, the Aramaic Peshitta does not have the parenthetical phrase in Mark 7:19 at all. So the writer (presumably Mark) has inserted his own commentary about what Yeshua was saying. Some may want to say that later church copiers added the phrase in a attempt to change the meaning, but either way we will show that it does not necessarily mean what many Christians think it means.
It has been argued that one of the oldest Greek texts (the Alexandrian Text) has this phrase and that the phrase points back to the speaker meaning that is was a comment by the writer as stated in these parenthetical interpretations. For the sake of argument at the moment to dispel all doubt, let’s use this as the correct reading.
In Mark 7:19 Yeshua uses this moment to make a more universal statement about eating that is not just about eating the specific piece of ritual bread. So he shifts focus from the word Artos (that they were eating) to the word Broma in Mark 7:19 . In fact the last three words of Mark 7:19 – the often parenthetical phrase (Thus he declared all foods clean) are actually the following three Greek words:
The interpretation of these are:
The first thought is, how does any honest Greek to English translator get the lengthy phrase “Thus he declared all foods clean” out of these three Greek words? But let’s ignore that for the moment and press on.
However, bible translators who use this phrase cannot escape the force of the word “broma”! Even if one assumes this is a parenthetical statement by the writer instead of the end of Yeshua’ spoken sentence (which is debatable), the statement still only refers to the eating of Torah prescribed foods/meats with G1033 “broma”.
There are two other Greek words for food/flesh/meat/eating that are not restricted to Torah foods and these are brosis (G1035) and trophe (G5160).
The words “brosis” and “trophe” are used throughout the NT Greek in many places to mean many things, but the word “broma” is so exceedingly clear to any Greek scholar as meaning only Torah prescribed (Kosher, if you will) foods to a Greek Speaking Jew in first century Palestine that any debate to the contrary strains credibility. What was kosher or not kosher was very important to the Jews, and so, not surprisingly, Greek speaking Jews adopted a word that specifically addressed this much like the way we even have a word for this 2000 years later in English – that being “kosher”. An internet search of the word Broma may not necessarily return the “kosher” definitions, but that is because for Greek speakers who are not Jews, there is no need to adopt a Greek word for “kosher” because the concept does not even exist to them. However, Strong’s attempts to provide an interpretation that is most accurate with the way the word was used by Greek speaking Jews of the first century. And Strong was not a Messianic. He had no reason to attempt to prove Messianic teachings. He was just trying to be accurate with the words. To say the Greek word used as Strong’s G1033 in Mark 7:19 between first century Greek speaking Jews does not mean “kosher eating”(only), is intellectually dishonest.
Knowing this, why didn’t Yeshua (or Mark, if you will) use either brosis or trophe – a much more generic word for food that does not necessarily designate Torah (only) prescribe foods if they had wanted to extend their point to eating non-Torah foods? How extremely confusing of them to do that!
Whatever point is being made about whatever is being eaten, we can be certain about one thing – that is, they are discussing the meaning of eating only Torah prescribed foods with “broma”.
Even conceding the point that the Alexandrian Text points back to Yeshua and thus justifies the statement as parenthetical, you would have to concede that a more honest rendering of this parenthetical statement due to the use of the word broma would have to be:
“Thus He declared all Torah prescribed foods clean.” Eat all the “broma” you want and assign it whatever meaning you want to get out of Mark Chapter 7, but remember “broma” is ONLY Torah prescribed foods.
And if there was any doubt about what Yeshua meant by what He said in Mark 7, thankfully we have the synoptic version of this same story told in Matthew 15:1-20, the conclusion of which is:
Matthew 15:19-20 NAS “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. These are the things which defile the man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile the man.”
This addresses the man made rule of not washing hands, without adding any direction to eat what is not described in the Torah.
Also in Matthew 15 Yeshua first calls the Pharisees hypocrites for transgressing the commandments of G-d and then in an instant turns around to the people and instructs them to transgress the commandments of G-d by ignoring part of the Torah? Who is the bigger hypocrite in this interpretation – Yeshua or the Pharisees? People who say Yeshua is teaching us to not follow G-d’s dietary commands are making Yeshua out to be a bigger hypocrite than the Pharisees! How can this be? Is there no other plausible interpretation that prevents Yeshua from being such a huge hypocrite? If such a plausible interpretation existed, wouldn’t that be the preferred one?
The most eloquent solution is that Yeshua was describing whether or not man-made rules added to the Torah make you unclean if you are eating Torah prescribed foods (i.e. Broma). In fact, if man makes this interpretation out to allow violations of G-d’s Torah Torah, then aren’t we committing the EXACT same error Yeshua berates the Pharisees for – that of transgressing the commandments of G-d for the sake of our traditions/interpretations? So, Yeshua berates the Pharisees for transgressing the commandments of G-d and our response to this is to preach transgressing the commandments of G-d? How can that be?
Why would we choose an interpretation from Mark 7, that not only ignores the text there, but also contradicts the interpretation in Matthew 15 and makes Yeshua the biggest hypocrite of all? We see the best interpretation that matches both the text in Mark 7 and has the same meaning as Matthew 15 is that Yeshua is saying you are not unclean if you follow eating Torah prescribed foods, but there is no extension in any of this that violates Torah and tells us to eat foods that are not prescribed by G-d.
The Book of Romans
The Book of Romans
Romans is a lengthy letter, so it would be quite lengthy to address every verse line by line. However, there are many scriptures in Romans that seem to say we are now under grace and saved by faith – which means we no longer need to follow the laws anymore? However Paul also writes the following (NAS):
So, is Paul blatantly contradicting himself from one chapter to the next (even one verse to the next) in this one letter to the Romans? We think better of Paul and the Holy Spirit who inspired this writing to think so. Well, then is it possible there is something being discussed here slightly more subtle and we are missing it? That could well be the case. It must be the case that Paul was not contradicting himself. And in fact, the verses 9:30-33 probably provide a good explanation of what Paul is getting at that clears this up.
Paul says that the Jews were trying TO BE SAVED by following the Torah, which is why they failed. But the Gentiles were taught that righteousness is by faith, which is why they were saved. Combine this with Paul’s other scriptures about not nullifying the Torah through faith and we get a clearer picture of what Paul is trying to say throughout Romans – that being that even though we are saved by faith, not earning salvation through works, it is no excuse to stop trying to follow G-d’s laws, because following G-d’s laws has many other benefits for us short of salvation. AND, neither G-d, nor Yeshua, nor the Apostles ever tell us to stop following G-d’s laws as we can see with a proper understanding of what the scriptures actually say.
Romans is written to primarily a gentile church ( 1:13, 11:13, 15:16 ) in Rome of course. At the time Romans was written, those in Rome who followed יהוה were a considerably smaller group than the gentile pagan city at large. Most Christians don’t know this but most Roman pagan religions of the early Roman period required them to be vegetarians.
Romans 14:2 (NAS): One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only.
So, we see the WEAK ones in Romans 14:2 are ones who had a dietary “law” MORE STRINGENT than G-d required in His Torah. It is not known why they hung onto these pagan restrictions if they had converted to this new Jewish based religion, but the fact that they were more stringent than the Torah required meant they were actually NOT VIOLATING the Torah. It is to these people that Paul is addressing these comments. To them, even eating Torah-allowed meats was considered undesirable!
Some people choose not to drink alcohol even though the Torah doesn’t prohibit it. Romans says we should not condemn them for this. But they also should not condemn those who choose to drink within the limits prescribed in the Torah.
This is similar to the discussion happening in Romans 14, but regarding vegetarianism. The all things eaten in Romans 14 implies all things allowed by Torah (as opposed to vegetarianism), because Paul uses the word Broma in Romans 14 several times which, as we have already learned, is Torah prescribed food – and Torah restrictions are regarding meat products and not vegetables. So, in Romans 14, we see Paul contrasting the eating of Torah allowed meats against those who are strict vegetarians, but none of this discussion is about eating meats that are not allowed in the Torah.
Yeshua fulfilled the Torah (Mat 5:17)
Yeshua Fulfilled the Torah (Mat 5:17)
Many Christians believe the Torah is not required anymore; that it is abolished for us because Yeshua says He fulfilled the Torah. We may not be 100% clear on exactly what Yeshua meant by fulfilling the Torah, but the ONLY thing we can be clear about for sure is that fulfilling the Torah DOES NOT MEAN IT IS ABOLISHED, because that is the ONLY definition Yeshua gave us as to what it means is THAT IT IS NOT ABOLISHED. And yet this is the ONLY meaning Christians assign to His fulfilling the Torah is that it is abolished? How can this be?
If His Torah is not abolished then it is still in effect by definition of not being abolished. He fulfilled it in that His work was accomplished on His exact feast days, but the meaning of this does not abolish the Torah as He clearly states.
Yeshua changes the Torah to only two commands (Mat 22:37)
Yeshua Changed the Torah to Two Commands (Mat 22:37)
When Yeshua said this, he didn’t create any new Commandments, because He was just quoting His Torah in Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18. In fact Deuteronomy 6:5 was part of the great Shema that Jews everywhere quoted day and night, and still do today. This was John 3:16 for the Jews. They knew this verse better than any verse in the scriptures. Yeshua often criticizes the people for missing the mark, but here Yeshua affirms their dedication to this verse was right on target.
So, Yeshua quotes two verses directly from the Torah as evidence that the Torah should be ignored? That hardly seems plausible. What does it mean to sum up a Torah? We could say in the USA that the Constitution sums up our laws. But, then does that give us a right to ignore speeding laws and drive as fast as we want? Of course not, because the detailed laws, such as speeding, are allowed to be created by local governments under the Constitutional law. Similarly, if Deut 6:5 and Lev 19:18 sum up G-d’s Torah (law) wouldn’t that mean the details given right there in G-d’s Torah are in force by the very nature of this summation? How can you violate that which is summed up by Deut 6:5 and Lev 19:18 and still say you are following Deut 6:5 and Lev 19:18?
Yeshua changed the Law of Adultery (Mat 5)
Yeshua Changed the law of Adultery (Mat 5)
This comes from the Sermon on the Mount. The sermon is long, so we will focus on a couple of the key comments in Matthew 5:17-20and 5:27-28 that address the question at hand.
At first it might seem as if Yeshua has now changed the law of adultery. However, this is not the case. As we have stated many times already, the error the Jews fell into was thinking they could earn their salvation by keeping the Torah (in addition to adding many, many of their own laws). This was an error. G-d never instituted His Torah expecting people to earn their salvation by keeping it. So, what makes their burden so heavy (besides their man-made laws) is telling people they have to keep the Torah perfectly IN ORDER TO BE SAVED. And as burdensome as this is, there are many (see scribes and Pharisees) who are coming close enough to keeping all this on a surface level that they believe they have earned their salvation.
This is why Yeshua confronts them with His true definition of the word “adultery”. Some basic aspects of what is considered adultery are given in the Old Testament, but this was for a human level of government and not for the purpose of earning salvation. So, Yeshua basically says if you want to EARN your salvation you must be truly perfect and keep His FULL meaning of the mitzvah regarding adultery, which He reveals here for the first time for that purpose. The reason G-d never revealed the full meaning of adultery (even though it always existed) is because he never expected people to earn their salvation by this, because the meaning presented in the Old Testament is in keeping with its intent, which was not salvation, but national governance.
What Yeshua is doing here is similar to the description of the building we discussed in the Commentary section. It is possible to later reveal additional details about something without contradicting or nullifying the previous information.
So, how can your righteousness exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees? By not thinking you can earn your salvation as they did. The righteous man knows that he can never be good enough to earn his salvation and throws himself humbly on G-d’s mercy and Yeshua’s sacrifice. Do this and your righteousness will exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees. And that is indeed easy.
His Commandments are not really all that burdensome compared to the entire Talmud or compared to false gods who require the people to sacrifice their own children and such. We encourage everyone to diligently review G-d’s Torah and see what REALLY applies to them today and whether or not it is really such a tremendous burden to do it. And you will not be able to keep it all perfectly all the time; you will stumble. But, if you keep moving on and trusting in Messiah’s blood, you will not fall! The proper response, then, should be to encourage all to keep the Torah and not encourage people to ignore the Torah. Messiah said those who teach people to break the commandments of the Torah will be least in the Kingdom of Heaven! (Matt. 5:19)
Even though we do not earn our salvation by keeping His laws (and nobody ever did), we are still called to keep His commandments with all our hearts and all our minds and all our strength. They have not been annulled because we are saved by faith, because they never were in force to cause salvation. Therefore the TRUE reason they were given in the Old Testament still applies equally as powerful to us today. No more. No less. Yeshua’s warning not to teach that any of these are annulled is a serious warning, a serious warning the vast majority of Christianity has ignored by preaching the Torah is annulled, a serious warning that Messianics take seriously.
Messianics are Legalistic and Judaizers (Galatians 2)
Messianics are Legalistic and Judaizers (Galatians 2)
As Messianics, we hear comments about being legalistic and Judaizers, but these terms are not actually used in scripture. We have already addressed this from Acts 15. This same issue is addressed similarly in the second chapter of Galatians. A careful reading of Galatians 2 will indicate the same issue that occurred in Acts 15, which is some believed circumcision, as the final seal of conversion to Judaism, which is never what circumcision was in the first place, was required TO BE SAVED (i.e. justified) and would not associate with those who weren’t. We stand with Paul that this is wrong and we do not teach circumcision as a means to salvation.
But still, the words “legalist” or “Judaizers” are often used against Torah keepers. These words are universally taken to be something to avoid, but they are never used or defined in the bible. The point of creating them is to define something the scriptures tells us to avoid doing. Fair enough. We can agree on that. However, many Christians like to throw them out any time anyone suggests anybody consider doing anything at all. Clearly, that is too vague to be useful. We would concede that requiring works IN ORDER TO BE SAVED fits within legalism and Judaizer, but we have stated many times that we do not believe this. However, many Christians view even the suggestion that we should follow G-d’s biblical Commandments as legalism. Well, if that is legalism, then count the Apostle John as a legalist.
So, is it possible to have a desire to follow G-d’s commandments even though one believes they do not lead to salvation without being legalistic? John says yes. We also say yes. Also, it appears John says that doing these things helps us recognize if we know Him, so it serves that purpose as well. But help in recognition is not necessarily the same thing as causation, so we stop short of saying John is teaching that keeping His Commandments CAUSES salvation. Is what John teaching here considered legalistic? I guess that gets back to how you define this word that is not defined in scriptures. But however we choose to define it, let’s not define it in a way that violates scripture.
Holy Spirit supersedes Torah keeping
Holy Spirit Supersedes Torah Keeping
Messianics hear from Christians that we don’t need to keep the Torah laws anymore, because we now have the Holy Spirit [Ruakh HaKodesh] to guide us. It is true that we have the Ruakh HaKodesh now and something different happened in Acts 2 and beyond that had not happened before. But what does that mean? The Ruakh HaKodesh is now our helper. That’s good for us. But does that nullify the Torah? Has the helper arrived for the purpose of helping us violate G-d’s laws? Of course not. Think about it this way. If a boss wants a job done and one person does it without a helper, but the second person can only do it with the aid of a helper, is the task at hand now different simply because one has help with doing the task? Similarly, if one person needs a personal tutor to pass a test, does that make the test itself any different because of the tutor? Yeshua did indeed send the Ruakh HaKodesh as a helper, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the requirement to keep the Torah is deleted. In fact, quite the opposite. The Ruakh HaKodesh is sent to help us. To help us do what? To help us NOT keep the Torah? Of course not. The Ruakh HaKodesh helps us keep the Torah.
New Testament Torah Keeping (Acts 21:24)
New Testament Torah Keeping (Acts 21:24)
It is a common misconception (perhaps better a rumor) that Paul taught people (Gentiles, especially) not to follow the laws of Moses; not to follow the Torah. However, we see from Acts 21:20-24 this was a FALSE rumor.
In verse 20 many Jews WHO HAVE BELIEVED (that Yeshua was the Messiah) AND were zealous for the Torah (i.e. Torah). In this one verse we see we are supposed to BOTH believe in Yeshua AND follow Torah. But you might say this is only for the Jews to do and not the Gentiles. Really? G-d is giving Jews different rules than Gentiles? We are not really one in Messiah? This seems hardly plausible.
In verse 21 there was a FALSE rumor spread by Jews opposed to Paul’s ministry saying he was telling Gentiles not to follow the Torah. How do we know this rumor was false and not true? Thankfully, they tell us directly below in verse 24. They asked Paul to get involved with a Nazarite vow so that ALL WILL KNOW THAT THERE IS NOTHING TO THE THINGS WHICH THEY HAVE BEEN TOLD ABOUT YOU, BUT THAT YOU YOURSELF ALSO WALK ORDERLY, KEEPING THE Torah.
So, the rumor was false. Paul kept the Torah and he directed people in his churches to keep the Torah. Those in the church today who say Paul teaches us not to keep Torah are continuing the same rumor that has been for 2000 years and are aligning themselves with those opposed to Paul in Acts 21:21. Sadly, and tragically, this rumor has become church doctrine!
As mentioned above, Paul is seen to be an incessant Torah keeper throughout Acts. ( Acts 9:2, 9:20, 12:3, 13:5, 13:14, 13:42, 13:43, 13:44,14:1, 15:21, 16:13, 17:1, 17:2, 17:10, 17:17, 18:4, 18:9, 18:26, 19:8, 20:6, 20:16, 22:19, 24:12-14, and 26:11 )
Gentiles were not raised from childhood learning the laws of Moses like the Jews had, so when converting they were at a tremendous disadvantage in knowing how to keep the Torah. This is why they are given some leeway to get into the synagogues, but they were expected over time to learn (and keep) the laws of Moses after having fully heard them in the synagogues every Sabbath day (Acts 15:21). The typical reading schedule in the synagogues were either a one or three year cycle of reading through the Torah, so it would take the Gentiles at least one year (and more likely three) to hear the whole Torah just ONCE. It makes sense that they are given only a limited set of commands to follow (Acts 15:20) until they had a chance to hear them all. Bear in mind, there was not a bible on every coffee table in those days. One HAD to go to a SYNAGOGUE in order to study the scriptures.
We have looked at many scriptures noted above where the church has wrongly continued to spread the rumor of Acts 21:20 that Paul taught his followers not to follow Torah. And we learned the correct interpretation that Paul did not teach disobedience to Torah to be consistent with his Torah keeping (Acts 21:24). We have not addressed every single scripture the church has used to spread this false rumor, but we have looked at some of the key ones. A continued study will show they all agree with this. Indeed, they MUST agree with this or Paul was a huge liar and a hypocrite. But it is exactly this type of liar and hypocrite the church has tried to make out of Paul for all these centuries.
With this proper understanding, many other scriptures that advocate keeping the Torah can be taken at face value (as they should) and the church has to perform linguistic gymnastics to try to explain what they are saying is exactly the opposite of what they are plainly saying. Let’s look at a few of these scriptures (NAS):
Why Keep Torah?
Why Keep Torah?
Many Christians don’t see the need or value in keeping the Torah – especially if it does not make us saved. So why should we bother? The most direct answer is because G-d said to AND neither Yeshua nor the Apostles UN-said it. If G-d says to do something shouldn’t we take it seriously?
However, there are a great many benefits for keeping the Torah.
We learn that it is a great teaching tool, such as the Feasts being a shadow of Messiah’s work and we learn of that work by learning about the feasts, and learning by doing.
Also, keeping the other little things daily (and many of them are indeed little) keeps our minds constantly directed back toward Him by constantly remembering (and doing) what He said. That is very beneficial in our daily lives.
Sha’ul [Paul] described his faith like being an athlete in training – and like an athlete who does little things over and over in training to build up his strength to be ready for the big match, we build up ourselves doing the little things over and over training to be ready for when life smacks us in the nose with all it’s force, so we can now stand up to it.
Keeping Torah is a GREAT way to witness, because if you do, even without trying, it will CONSTANTLY become a conversation starter when people find out you are attending Synagogue on Saturday or when they hear you won’t eat pork at the business lunch or other social functions.
Keeping Torah is a great way to learn to follow G-d even when we don’t understand it. Just like a young daughter who doesn’t understand why she can’t ride her tricycle in the street, following G-d’s Torah protects us even when we can’t see it or understand it.
And Christians are already KEEPING much of the Torah! Do they murder? Do they accept lying? Do they accept cheating? Do they accept stealing? These are all Torah commands. There is no Moral Torah separate from Ceremony Torah separate from Ritual Torah. That is a fabrication by Christians that does not exist. The Torah laws are all given in there with no such division and neither Yeshua nor the Shlikhim [apostles] attempt to create any such division. And they are actually keeping most of it already anyway because HE said to. Why would they hate the rest of it?
There are probably many other beneficial reasons to keep G-d’s Torah, but how dare we demand G-d justify to us why His laws are necessary. Or complain to G-d, because what He tells us to do seems inconvenient? Or should man be able to decide what he will follow and do what is right in his own eyes? Certainly not. Even if we do not understand His laws AND even if He slays, still will we follow Him; this is what the bible teaches.
Why a tree and no cross?
Why a tree and no cross?
Visitors to Bat-Tzion notice that we do not show a “cross”, neither do we talk about a cross, or a crucifixion, but instead use the terms “tree” and “execution”. Why? Acts 5:30, Acts 10:39, Acts 13:29, I Peter 2:24 and Gal. 3:13. In the first four references, the statement is very, very plain, “hanged on a tree,” “took him down from the tree,” “his own body on the tree,” and “hangs on a tree.” The Hebrew word is “etz.” He died on a stake that may have been fastened to a tree on a hill in Yerushalayim. That may have been an olive tree, where sometimes three men would be fastened to three different stakes nailed to the same olive tree. Olive trees are short, gnarly, huge-trunked trees. Messiah was nailed to the ‘stake’ he carried up the hill, and it was fastened horizontally to a tree. His feet were nailed to the tree itself. Five verses state plainly that he hanged on a tree.
The symbol of a cross was not used by Yeshau’s Apostles, nor was it used within the first centuries of the faith. At the Battle of Milvian Bridge in 312, Constantine used a symbol and said “By this Sign Conquer.” That ‘sign’ was the symbol chi-roh, the symbol of Sol Invictus, the “inconquerable Sun” spanning the skies. It was transformed to a “cross”, and its many variations. The earliest symbol, in fact, of Greek believers was a “staurogram.”
It is “stauros”. This is the Greek word for “stake”, or “pole”. It is difficult to get around it. But, if one is honest with the text and not clinging to a man-made icon, one sees that this word is a “stake”, a single piece of wood. We would call it a “beam”.
The first place where this word is used in context of the instrument of execution, deriving later into the use of the shape of the christian icon, is in Matthew 27:32 Of Simon the Cyrene, “him they compelled to bear His “stauros”.” Matthew uses this word in this context only two more times, in verses 40 and 42 of the same chapter. Mark uses this same word in this context in very similar verses, Matthew 27:32 Mark 15:21, 30, and 32. Luke uses it only once in this context, in 23:26. John uses it four times. “Bearing His “stauros” went forth,” 19:17, “put it on the “stauros” 19:19, “by the stauros of…” verse 25, and “remain upon the stauros” in verse 31.None of these clearly indicate that he hung on a “tau”, in the traditional sense.
Traditional depiction ‘shows’ Yeshua in the middle of three ‘crosses.’ The three synoptic gospels all show that there was a criminal on His right, and one on His left. So, this is, by definition, an established historical fact. Yokhanan wrote the last account of the execution. His was a little more detailed, because his was the only account actually written by an eye-witness of what happened at the base of the tree; the others had to learn it, likely from the women who were there. It is not that they contradict each other, either; it is that Yokhanan’s complements the synoptic gospels with details that they did not have.
One of those details is how the two criminals’ legs were broken so they would die before the High Sabbath that was coming on, so they could get them off the tree. We read this in the passage from Yokhanan:
31Now since the day was ending, the Y’hudim said, “Let not these bodies remain on their stakes, because the Sabbath is beginning,” but that day was a High Sabbath. So they besought Pilatos to have the legs of those who were executed broken, and to have the bodies lowered down. 32So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who was executed with Him. 33But when they came to Yeshua, they saw that He was dead already, so they did not break His legs. 34But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. 35And he who saw it testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows well that what he said is true, that you also may believe. –Yokhanan (John) 19:31-35 [PV]
“He who saw it” was Yokhanan, the writer.
This passage begs a question, that if one criminal was on Yeshua’s right hand, and the other on His left hand, as ALL THREE other gospel writers testify, WHY did the soldiers SKIP YESHUA, after breaking one man’s legs, going PAST Yeshua to break the OTHER man’s legs, and only THEN noticing that Yeshua was already dead? Something doesn’t work with the traditional scene they cause us to paint in our heads! It is because they all hung on the SAME TREE! This is the only way that it makes sense that they could hang on either side of Him, and yet the soldier could break the other two men’s legs and THEN observe that Yeshua was already dead.
Is the symbol a bad thing? It would appear not to be, on the surface of it. However, the use of the symbol has brought great shame to those who wear it as a badge of honor, in many ways. There are many ways the name of the Messiah and His Good News has been blasphemed because of those who use this symbol. Although this symbol is seen as a “universal christian symbol”. Many who bear this sign have for the last 1700 years persecuted the Jewish people “in the name of the cross”, and “for the sake of the cross”, wielding and wearing the symbol of the cross as they killed Jews in the name of “Jesus”. This symbol holds the idea that “G-d died”, and that the “Jews killed him.” It has come to be the ‘sign’ of a separation from the Jewish people, and a cause of hatred of Jews. It has been indeed an implement of death. When Pope Urban called for crusaders, he encouraged them by giving them a white tunic with a red cross on it, and some of their first victims were Jews. They killed Jews on the way to the Holy Land because these Jews “killed Christ”, and they did so under this sign. Martin Luther and John Calvin both killed Jews ‘by this sign’, echoing ‘by this sign conquer’. Hitler convinced all of Germany to help in eradicating the whole earth of the ‘scourge’ of the Jews, and he echoed Luther’s “christian” words in doing so. Only a small handful of German Christians saw the error of this doctrine.
This is one of the stronger reasons we do not use this symbol. Yes, the “good news” is an offense to those who are perishing, but the ‘symbol’ of the cross is not that kind of an offense to Jews; it represents the “Jew killer”, having always been thrown in their face when they were being murdered for “killing Christ”. But, more importantly, we do not exalt this symbol in any way, because the symbol can detract from His SUFFERING. We glory in the SUFFERING of Messiah Yeshua, the ‘event’ of His execution, for it is for His suffering, His Execution, that we suffer persecution. We preach the SUFFERING of Messiah for the sake of redemption, not an “icon”, not a “symbol”, and certainly not an idol.
Did the dissolution of corporal punishment of sin constitute a change in the Torah?
Did the dissolution of corporal punishment of sin constitute a change in the Torah?
The short answer is “no,” but, of course, it must be qualified.
First, yes, corporal punishment was ‘transferred’ off of the supplicant/accused, and moved to Yeshua, as He is a substitution sacrifice for us all. The Torah speaks explicitly about stoning certain persons for certain offenses. Some offenses are proscribed with the edict, “He shall die the death.” So, there is a mandate in the Torah to stone certain persons:
The Torah tells us in Deut 21:22 that anyone who commits a sin worthy of death will be hanged on a tree.
Sins that are ‘worthy of death’ or call for death of the offender are these:
In 1 Cor 5 we have a clear example of one of the above causes, yet Sha’ul does not demand that the congregation at Korinth hang him on a tree, but instead says to ‘put him out.’ This is the ONLY way we can punish anyone today. Why?
Because Messiah bore our sins and carried our diseases [Isaiah 53], our sins were heaped upon Him, with the record of our transgressions being nailed to HIS TREE,
As such, HE bore the curse of Deuteronomy: “Cursed is the one who hangs on the tree.” [ Gal. 3:13 , Deut 21:22-23]
In Korinth, a man slept with his father’s wife. He broke Torah, committing a sin ‘worthy of death.’ Sha’ul ‘handed him over to HaSatan’ for the destruction of his body, praying that his soul be preserved against Yom HaPedut. He did NOT call for a stoning or hanging [hanging being the requisite punishment].
Is this a modification of the Torah?
The Torah foretells of substitutionary offerings.
First, the Akidah Yitz’khak, the “Binding of Yitz’khak” is a foreshadowing of this substitionary offering. There, Yitz’khak was supposed to die, at the request of Abba, but, because Avraham showed him he was faithful, יהוה provided a ram. Was this a change in the Torah? No. But it is a foreshadowing of the resurrection, which is precisely what Sha’ul tells us in Ivrim [Hebrews].
A parable is “mashal,” and is a prophetic ‘story.’ This is what we have in Yitz’khak: a prophecy lived out in the event of his being offered on the altar, but being replaced by the ram provided by יהוה .
Then, we have the Torah given, where the animals prescribed as substitution offerings ‘stand in’ for all those bringing those offerings, individuals, priests, the High Priest, all for the purpose of transferring their punishment to the animal.
And then we have Yeshua coming in, and standing in the place of EVERY animal offering prescribed, hence standing in the place of everyone who would offer an offering by faith!
And THIS TOO was foreshadowed as a parable in the Torah, that punishment would be born upon the death of the High Priest. We see this meted out in the six cities of refuge, and the laws surrounding them.
In BaMidbar [Numbers] 35 and in Yehoshua [Joshua] 20:6, the Yisra’elites are commanded to and follow through to create six cities of refuge for those who commit manslaughter, or kill without malice or intent. These six cities belong to the priesthood! One who commits an accidental killing can flee to any of these six cities, presumably the one closest to him/her, and he is protected by the inhabitants of that city if he announces the purpose of his arrival [accused] at the gate. He is then taken by the Levites back to the city of the event and tried before the elders; if found guilty of accidentally killing without malice or clear intent, he goes BACK to the city of refuge to live, returning back to his home UPON THE DEATH OF THE HIGH PRIEST.
Yeshua, in Ivrim [Hebrews], is OUR HIGH PRIEST.
We ALL commit the sin of murder [Matt 5:21-22].
”You have heard that it was said to those who were before you, ‘You shall not kill,’ and ‘whoever kills is guilty before the court.’ But I say to you that whoever becomes angry with his brother for no reason is guilty before the court: and whoever should say to his brother, ‘I spit on you’ is guilty before the congregation; and whoever says to his brother, ‘you are a coward,’ is condemned to the fire of Gehinom.”
So, all of us flee to a city of refuge, the City of Promise, also spoken of in Ivrim (Hebrews) 11:10. We are tried here on this earth, and found not guilty by reason of Yeshua bearing our sins and taking the record of them upon HIS TREE. We were freed from our guilt by HIS DEATH, our High Priest, who bore all our sins and wickedness.
This is a clear parable of our being freed from our guilt by the death of the High Priest. There is therefore NO CHANGE in the Torah, and in fact, His bearing our punishment is seen in both the binding of Yitz’khak and in the Cities of Refuge. In the binding of Yit’zkhak Avraham told his son, ” יהוה will provide a LAMB for HIMSELF.” [Gen 22:8] This is the ‘Parable’ Sha’ul tells us about. He said this by faith, that יהוה WOULD OFFER A LAMB; in that chapter, a RAM was actually offered, [verse 13] so the LAMB is a ‘parable’ of our HIGH PRIEST. In like manner, the High Priest dying to set free the killer who was found guilty is also a parable toward Messiah, foreshadowing the ‘substitution’ of Yeshua in place of all the offerings. This would include His having hanged on the tree IN OUR PLACE, just as we see carried out by the early Kahal in 1 Korinti’im chapter 5. It is not a change in the Torah, since it is seen prophesied in the Torah in multiple places.
Did the change in the priesthood mean the Levitical promise of an eternal priesthood went away?
Did the change in the priesthood mean the Levitical promise of an eternal priesthood went away?
Many people believe that the change in the priesthood mentioned in Hebrews violates Torah or nullifies the promises made by Elohim to Aharon and his sons.
On this subject of the priesthood “changing” from the Aharonic priesthood to the priesthood of Messiah, there is much confusion. This is a difficult subject to grasp fully when weighing the promises of Elohim in the Torah to the Renewed Covenant passages, specifically in the book of Hebrews. Even for those who follow Torah and keep the testimony of Yeshua, there is a tendency not to see the full picture, and in turn many arrive at some erroneous conclusions. However, if we walk through the scriptures without the preconception of errors that many of us were taught, we see that once again there is no contradiction in scripture between the Torah and the Brit Khadashah (New Testament).
In the Torah Abba made it clear to Aharon and his sons that they were given the priesthood as an everlasting covenant:
Abba even makes a covenant of shalom specifically with Pinkhas (or Pinchas) in Numbers;
Then we read in Hebrews that the priesthood has been ‘changed.’ So, does this mean that the Torah of Abba is subject to change in light of the renewed covenant scriptures? Does this mean that when Abba says everlasting He doesn’t mean it? Does this mean that the Aharonic priesthood is over and done with?
That cannot be true for many reasons, but primarily because our Elohim does not change. “For I am יהוה , I shall not change” (Mal 3:6)
So let’s look at the seeming contradictions that exist between the passages we have just read. Let us first be reminded, however, of Kefa’s (Peter’s) warning about Sha’ul.
We also see Sha’ul himself warning that the subject of Messiah as our Kohen Gadol (High Priest) is hard to understand.
The first thing we need to look at is the Hebrew word for priest, ‘kohen’. The first time this word is used is in Bereshit (Genesis) about Melki Tzedek. This is important, because He was not just any priest: He was (is) a priest of the Most High Elohim… יהוה . So what we see is that this is a legitimate priesthood that precedes the Aharonic priesthood and, as Sha’ul discusses in the book of Hebrews, Avraham, the father of Aharon and his sons, gave tithes to this priest.
So we see that the priesthood of Melki Tzedek is not new and was not something “created” or “changed” in the time of Messiah. This priesthood existed before Aharon was even born. It is also a priesthood that the psalmist spoke about in reference to Messiah:
We can see through these passages that not only did the priesthood of Melki Tzedek exist before the priesthood given to Aharon, but that there is nothing in scripture that says it went away when the Aharonic priesthood was established. In fact Psalm 110:4 says just the opposite.
So we have both priesthoods existing simultaneously, and in the book of Hebrews we are shown that the priesthood of Melki Tzedek is the greater priesthood. This makes sense, because the Heavenly Tabernacle is greater than the earthly Tabernacle; in fact the earthly Tabernacle was a model of the Heavenly one, was it not? Sha’ul affirms it, echoing the book of Exodus, “See to it that you make it [the tabernacle] after the pattern shown you on the Mount.”
We can also ascertain from scripture that the covenant of shalom and the everlasting priesthood that Abba made with Pin’khas did not negate the everlasting covenant He made with ALL the sons of Aharon. So, just as Sha’ul teaches us in Galatians, a covenant made by Elohim does not negate a promise/covenant made prior to the second one. The covenant that Elohim made with Avraham wasn’t nullified because of the covenant made at Sinai, and neither does the priesthood of Melki Tzedek, which is the greater priesthood, come to an end because of the priesthood Abba gave to Aharon and his sons.
We can see in the book of Acts the “overlapping” of the Heavenly Priesthood of Yeshua with the earthly, Aharonic priesthood. The Priests of the line of Aaron accepted offerings from Messianic believers after Yeshua had died and ascended. We see that Sha’ul and four other men had taken a Nazarite vow. We can see that Sha’ul was under the vow as well because he was “purified with them”.
To understand that this meant that Sha’ul not only made a sacrifice, but multiple sacrifices, we need to look at Numbers 6:13-21 which outlines the way to end a Nazarite vow.
We also see this overlapping of the different priesthoods in the millennial kingdom when we read Ezekiel: 40-46 which talks about the sacrifices that will be performed in the millennial kingdom in the third Beit HaMikdash . Isaiah the prophet also spoke of those that would become priests from outside of the line of Aharon.
So why is the Aharonic priesthood lesser, and why was it given in the first place? This is a point people frequently miss: the Aharonic priesthood was not in existence when Yisra’el said “we will” to Abba in Exodus 19, in fact at that point Abba’s desire was for Yisra’el to be a kingdom of priests.
“’And now, if you diligently obey My voice, and shall guard My covenant, then you shall be My treasured possession above all the peoples – for all the earth is Mine – and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ Those are the words which you are to speak to the children of Yisra’el. And Moshe came and called for the elders of the people, and set before them all these words which יהוה commanded him. And all the people answered together and said, ‘All that יהוה has spoken we shall do.’ So Moshe brought back the words of the people to יהוה .” (Ex 19:5-8)
We can also look at what Abba told Yisra’el when they first came out of Egypt;
It can be concluded, then, that the setting-apart of the firstborn male from all the tribes, was for the purpose of the priesthood as it was originally intended by Abba (for all of Yisra’el). We can see that when we look at Exodus 19, when Abba came down and appeared to Yisra’el. Remember this was before Abba set apart Aharon and his sons to serve as priests.
Clearly these were priests that existed before Aharon and his sons were appointed. Abba desired Yisra’el to be a kingdom of priests and a Kadosh (holy) nation, so what happened? When Abba spoke to Moshe up on the mountain He told Moshe to set apart Aharon and his sons to serve as priest in the Tabernacle for performing the sacrifices and offerings. Was this because of what Abba told Moshe regarding what would happen when Moshe descended down from the mountain and Yisra’el committed the sin of the golden calf? Quite possibly, but what we do know is that it was the Levites that stood up for Abba and killed 3,000 men and because of that they were blessed.
We also look at what Kefa says about Yisra’el through Messiah Yeshua, he says we are a priesthood, and Yokhanan (John) tells us in Revelation that we have become that priesthood.
“…and has made us a kingdom of Kohanim (Priests ) to Elohim His Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amein.” (Rev 1:6 [PV])
The book of Hebrews therefore is not saying that the promise made to Aharon and his sons in the Torah is done away with through Messiah. The Aharonic priesthood has to do with the priestly duties in the earthly Tabernacle/Beit HaMikdash , but Messiah restores the priesthood to the entire nation of Yisra’el, which was Abba’s desire all along. He does so through Messiah as a Priest in the order of Meki Tzedek, a High Priest in the true Tabernacle of which the earthly Tabernacle was a shadow/copy. The book of Hebrews makes it clear that concerning the priesthood in the earthly Beit HaMikdash, Messiah would not qualify.
The priesthood we are offered and enter into through Messiah, it is the priesthood of Melki Tzedek, in the service of the Heavenly Tabernacle, with the offerings and sacrifices being spiritual, this, by the way, is available to all (including the Levites) who put their trust in Messiah and walk in obedience by the Ruakh and not by the flesh. The everlasting priesthood promised to the sons of Aharon is still in effect on earth in the service in the Beit HaMikdash, and eternally through service (along with all of Yisra’el) in the true Tabernacle not made with human hands, but by Abba Himself.