[Discussion points…not meant to force a change in belief, but to challenge one to search for truth in scripture. Be a Berean and study the Hebrew, Greek and context, context context, starting from the foundation and moving forward from that foundation with continuity. ~~Dee]
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The New Testament, Jews, and TorahPosted on October 23, 2009
Revisiting the New Testament About Jews and TorahThe first and most important thing about this: if you assume that Paul’s writing is intended to address the entire subject and is a sort of divine correction on what had been said earlier in the Bible, you will come out with a Law-Free position for Jews and non-Jews. But if you notice two things, you will question the orthodoxy of the Law-Free position:
(1) Paul was not Law-Free himself (Acts 21).
When we had come to Jerusalem, the brothers received us gladly. On the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present. After greeting them, he related one by one the things that God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. And when they heard it, they glorified God. And they said to him, “You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed. They are all zealous for the law, and they have been told about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or walk according to our customs. What then is to be done? They will certainly hear that you have come. Do therefore what we tell you. We have four men who are under a vow; take these men and purify yourself along with them and pay their expenses, so that they may shave their heads. Thus all will know that there is nothing in what they have been told about you, but that you yourself also live in observance of the law. But as for the Gentiles who have believed, we have sent a letter with our judgment that they should abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality.” Then Paul took the men, and the next day he purified himself along with them and went into the temple, giving notice when the days of purification would be fulfilled and the offering presented for each one of them.
(Acts 21:17-26 ESV)
(2) Paul was the apostle to non-Jews and his epistles are to non-Jews. The underlying issue in many of them is the insistence by some that non-Jews must convert (officially convert by circumcision for salvation!) in order to follow the Jewish Messiah. Paul’s rhetoric is about God accepting non-Jews as they are without (official circumcision) conversion. Pauline scholarship in general is now almost universally agreed on this. The old idea that Paul was opposing a works-salvation like Pelagius or like the church selling indulgences in Luther’s time is a misreading of Paul. Judaism was not like medieval Catholicism.
(3) Acts 15 assumes that Jews do keep Torah in Yeshua and only debates non-Jews. It is hard to miss this one.
But some believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees rose up and said, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to order them to keep the law of Moses.”(Acts 15:5 ESV)
Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God, but should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood. For from ancient generations Moses has had in every city those who proclaim him, for he is read every Sabbath in the synagogues.”(Acts 15:19-21 ESV) [These four things include a huge section of Torah instructions including the kosher food instructions, the family/menstruation instructions (blood), sexual guidelines and all which have to do with idolatry. “The Torah uses the term HOLINESS specifically with regard to THREE areas:
#1) Idolatry (mixing in other ways of worship from other religions)#2) Sexual immorality (blood and fornication)#3) Forbidden foods (blood and method of slaughter)
Hebraic view that for a non-Jew who desire to be ADOPTED into COVENANT relationship with YHVH that the NON-JEW would be AWARE of ALL the commandments but would only be asked to follow SOME of the commandments and LEARN and FOLLOW the rest of the commandments as they were taught the Torah on a WEEKLY basis in the synogogues.]
(4) Theologically, what are we saying about God if in one era he gives commandments and in the next era he says, “I gave something unfit for the highest expression of righteousness and now I rescind it”?
(5) The Torah claims to be a permanent covenant with Israel. What do we do about biblical authority if we say, “It doesn’t mean what it says”?
(6) Yeshua’s words in Matt 5:17-19 should not be explained away, as they have been in Christian commentary for millennia.
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.(Matthew 5:17-20 ESV)
(7) The Law-Free statements in Paul are about a distortion of the gospel that Gentiles need conversion plus Yeshua, which is not true.
(8) There are thousands of other misunderstandings that have built up over the years. It takes time to reread the Bible is a unity and not as a discontinuity (“the NT overturns the OT”). For example, few note that the New Covenant (Jer 31:31ff) contains within it the commandments of the old (seen not only in Jer 31 but also in Ezek 36).
“Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”(Jeremiah 31:31-34 ESV)
“Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord GOD: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Lord GOD, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes. I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.
(Ezekiel 36:22-27 ESV)
(9) Statements about the Age to Come in the prophets frequently contain reference to Israel and the nations keeping Torah.
If you believe in the ongoing necessity and beauty of Torah, think outside the box. What are the most compelling reasons people think the New Testament teaches otherwise?
If you do not believe in the ongoing necessity and beauty of Torah (for Jews), think outside the box. What are the most compelling reasons people think the New Testament teaches otherwise?
Which New Testament ideas, if you were honest, trouble you the most with regard to Torah?
Which of my arguments above appears strongest/weakest to you?
REMEMBER: The purpose of dialogue is not to win an argument or demonstrate your cleverness, but to learn and to share what may help others learn. Let’s discuss this with mutual respect.
I think the biggest part of the debate is how one interprets the clause hupo nomon, correctly translated “under law,” but only appearing in: Romans 6:14f; 1 Corinthians 9:20; Galatians 3:23; 4:4f, 21; 5:18.
Places where English translations employ “under (law),” but where different language is used, include: Romans 2:12 3:9; 7:6, 14; Philippians 3:6; Hebrews 7:11; 9:15, 22 (all RSV/ESV).
I think an excellent case can be made that being “under the Law” pertains to the condemnation of sin specified by the Torah, as opposed to be within the sphere of its jurisdiction. Those who are “under grace” have received forgiveness and salvation.
**I don’t follow Torah but it’s cool that there are some Messianic Jews who do. I don’t think there’s any NT reason NOT to follow Torah. But why should we? And who do we turn to to codify Torah for us? The Bible – fine, then we’re Karaites, but then how do we relate the rabbis? If the rabbis, okay, but why? Do we also follow what the Talmud says about Yeshua, or do we pick and choose?
I agree it’s good to think outside the box though 🙂
**I’m new to this blogging thing so please forgive me…and a lil’ late for this post. I argue w/ a baptist friend about the Law and grace.Grace…is a free ticket to some to act any way they want. “I’m saved by grace, not by works. So what I do doesn’t determine my salvation.” That’s what I hear all the time. Its true to a certain extent.Grace to me, is the fact that the Almighty chose you from the beginning of time (election) to be a Christian. He didn’t have to do this. Almost like winning the lottery…without playing. You don’t deserve it, but it happened. Undeserved favor.The Law…Paul explains this to a tee, I believe in Romans. He talks about trying to keep the law but always failing. He goes on to say, “Oh wretched man that I am…” Why? Because he was trying to keep the the law w/ an unconverted heart. In the old testament the Almighty says He would write the Law on the hearts. When one is converted, I believe it is in one’s nature (new nature) to do those things in the law. Before I was a christian, my nature was to do evil. It also says for christians (a commandment) “…to love the Lord w/ all your heart, mind, and soul. And love your neighbor as yourself.” On these two, hang the law and prophets. So, to sum it up, me outwardly obeying something my heart is contrary to is wrong. Yeshua explained this when He says, “…if you even look on a woman to lust after her in your heart, you’ve done commited adultery.” The law starts on the inside.