The article written by Ron Cantor titled Should Gentiles Keep the Torah is well written. It specifically takes verses and uses them to support his viewpoint. He does exactly what he charges those of us who as he calls us the ‘One Law’ movement. I am going to go through the verses he cites for his support and show the other side of the story. Before I do that though, the one thing the author does not do is see things from a bigger perspective. That is what I want to look at first.
The author wants people to believe the (blood) Jews are separate from everyone else. They have different instructions on how to live than any other person who has cleaved to HaShem. So if you are Jewish you follow Torah, but if you are any other designation then you have a different set of rules. I can think of issues with this. Can you imagine a parent having different set of rules for each kid? Or how about a company having different set of rules for each person. That does not work out so well. What if someone is part Jew? Which side do they fall into? Are they more Gentile than Jew and therefore they don’t follow Torah? Or since they have a little bit of Jew they belong in the Jewish group. Should everyone go and take a blood test to determine if they have any amount of Jew DNA? So, there becomes this issue in the beginning if you believe there are different rules for different people.
What happens in a congregation with both Jews and non-Jews when it comes time to eat? In Israel, it is not a big deal about finding kosher food. Kosher food is also not more expensive than non-kosher food as it is elsewhere. In a majority of America kosher meat is not on every corner. In Dallas, I have to drive over 30 minutes to a market that offers a selection of kosher meat. Many congregations have oneg – eating lunch together after service at the synagogue. So a Gentile believer can bring pork and sit next to a Jewish believer who cannot eat pork. That is an issue. What if someone of the pork while being cut flips over to the Jewish person’s plate? Oh man, the ordeal. The Jewish person just lost their lunch. What about if the Gentile person invited the Jewish person over for a meal? What are they to do about meat? The Gentile can’t serve pork or shrimp. How orthodox is the Jew? Should the Gentile be concerned about the plate having had dairy served on it? There are many issues that arise when one considers just the food issue when there are two set of rules.
The covenant spoken of in Jeremiah is a renewal covenant with the House of Israel and the House of Judah. Just like the renewal covenant spoken to Joshua where G-d renewed his covenant with Israel. Is there any difference in this renewal covenant? Yes, the Torah will be placed in one’s inward parts and written on the heart. Why? For this has always been the issue with the Jews. They may follow Torah, but their hearts were uncircumcised. They were following Torah thinking this was their salvation. This never was the case. The Torah does not provide salvation.
With this renewal covenant, just like the previous covenants, Gentiles are grafted into it. Gentiles do not have a birth right into the covenant, like the Jew, but they are still part of this covenant. Assuming the covenant in Jeremiah has started. We know it is not complete based on Jeremiah 31:34. We also know the House of Israel and the House of Judah have not been reconciled. That is a whole other discussion so I digress. Another whole teaching is why Yeshua had to die, to remarry the House of Israel, but that is also another topic.
No matter the covenant that the Gentiles are grafted into they are still children of Avraham. The Gentiles do not have their own covenant. They must graft a covenant to become part of G-d’s people. For that is the promise the Gentiles hold so dear to. Most state the covenant with Avraham is unconditional. I wholeheartedly disagree. For in Genesis 17:1-14 we are told about this covenant. The L-rd said to Avraham “Walk before Me, and be blameless. I will establish My covenant between Me and you, and I will multiply you exceedingly.” In v9 “G-d said further to Avraham, Now as for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations. If the covenant between Avraham and G-d was unconditional, nothing Avraham had to do, then why does G-d say walk before Me and be blameless and you shall keep my covenant? Doesn’t sound so unconditional does it? Then HaShem continues by stating that circumcision is a sign that we are in covenant. Not only his physical descendants, but even his servants. Yeshua was a Jew and He is our master. We are His servants and therefore, we are to be circumcised as well. Not as a factor for salvation, but a sign that one was in covenant with G-d. It was previously established in Genesis that Avraham had faith. According to The Book of Jasher, Avraham lived with Noach many many years. Avraham knew of G-d. He had faith in G-d or he would not have done what G-d had told him to do.
Throughout the Tanakh there are over 300 prophecies about the Messiah. There are many prophecies about the nations coming into Israel and worshipping the One True G-d. There is not one mention of different rules for different people. Not one. In fact, there are several verses that speak of the Gentiles becoming one with Israel. Some will be made into Levites and serve in the Temple even!
I have more to say on this topic, but will wait to address it on one of the passages the author quotes for his support. With that, let’s get into the piece that Mr. Cantor authored.
The first passage that is used as support for different rules for Gentiles and Jews is Acts 15 and the Jerusalem Council. He claims verse 21 which says “For Moses from ancient generations has in every city those who preach him, since he is read in the synagogues every Sabbath”, does not teach Gentiles should grow in their Jewishness over time. Instead he believes the intention was to show the four things that were forbidden to do, were universally immoral ways to worship the one true G-d and says the Torah would back this up.
The author states the four prohibitions addressed how the newcomers could worship. In this I agree. The author continues though and says that obviously they (newcomers) would adhere to other universal laws found in the Old Covenant (Thou shalt not lie, steal, etc). One other point the author states is the letter that went out and is read in v23-29 says the apostles did not state the Gentiles needed to attend the synagogue every week to learn Torah.
The author writes as if certain commandments are universal and others are not universal. Though this distinction is never made anywhere in Torah nor in the Brit Chadasha. Anyone who resided with Israel was required to follow one Torah. Numbers 15:15 – One ordinance shall be both for you of the congregation, and also for the stranger that sojourneth with you, an ordinance for ever in your generations: as ye are, so shall the stranger be before the Lord. Again in Numbers 15:16 – One law and one manner shall be for you, and for the stranger that sojourneth with you.
Regarding verse 21 which says “For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath day” the author states this was given to affirm these four prohibitions. Then says “The Torah, which is read weekly, would affirm this, hence v. 21.” So, the entire Torah is read by Gentiles so they could understand about these four prohibitions that the author contends are all in 2 chapters of the Torah. That does not make a lot of sense. For one the verse reads every Sabbath Moses is read, so it is expected for the Gentiles to be in the synagogue each Sabbath to hear the reading of Moses. The author never addresses why this council was even meeting in the first place which is given to us in the very first verse and says “And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.”. The entire council meeting was regarding does a Gentile have to be circumcised to be saved. The answer is NO! We cannot earn our way to salvation. A Jew cannot earn his way to salvation. This council is a result of things going on which are written in Galatians. Certain men were teaching works save. The whole book of Galatians is to counter this position. It is and always has been faith. If you do not have faith then no matter what you do there is no salvation. Peter gets up and speaks and talks about the giving of the Holy Spirit to the Gentiles. The Holy Spirit is to cause one to follow G-d’s commandments (Ezekiel 11:19-20 & 36:26-27). Not “universal” ones as the author contends. James (Or Jacob which is his real name) then speaks and quotes from the Tanakh about rebuilding the Tabernacle of David and allowing the Gentiles who are called by His Name. Are we to go to the Tabernacle of G-d and be eating pork? If eating something is an abomination to G-d, it is an abomination. It is that simple.
James continues by giving the four prohibitions. I contend, which cannot be proven, that the four prohibitions were so the pagan coming into relationship with the Jews could associate with each other. There was no way a Jew was going to associate with a Gentile who was doing these four things. So to start the Gentiles off James gives the four prohibitions. Then in v21 starts off with For, which is a continuation word Moses is read in every city who preach him, is read in the synagogue every Sabbath. I contend that James meant for the Gentiles to continue going to synagogue and listen to Moses. Why? To hear what all Moses commanded to the Israelites from G-d. No one needs to listen to the entire Torah to understand what is said in two chapters. Also, if this is Paul’s understanding why is it throughout the rest of Acts and his own epistles does it state each Sabbath and for three Sabbaths in a row, etc. Why wasn’t he teaching the Gentiles on different days? Instead he explicitly shows Gentiles coming every Sabbath. Where else were they going to know who G-d is than hearing the Torah in the synagogue? It is not like a Gentile was able to go and purchase a Torah scroll in that day.
Regarding the letter, the author points out the Gentiles were not told to follow the Sabbath in the letter. Therefore they should not have to attend the synagogue each Sabbath. The Gentiles were not told to love G-d either or to follow any of the other so-called universal laws, so does that mean they do not have to follow them either? Using the author’s logic, you don’t even have to love or have faith in G-d to enter into covenant. This is simply faulty logic.
As if I needed to add to that, Gentiles are told to imitate the MaShiach and Paul says you should imitate him b/c he imitates the MaShiach! Ephesians 5:1 – Therefore be imitators of G-d, as beloved children. 1 Peter 2:21 – For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 1 Corinthians 11:1 – Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. 1 John 2:6 – Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. 1 Corinthians 4:16 – I urge you, then, be imitators of me. 1 Thessalonians 1:6 – And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit.
So if Gentiles are to be imitators of the MaShiach, how can they do so without following Torah?
The author’s next point of contention is G-d has called Israel to be a separate nation. They are to be a light to the rest of the world. One of the verses he uses for support is Exodus 19:4-5. Which reading it without any other context certainly paints a picture that Israel was to be G-d’s own possession. The issue with this is who all was in front of Mount Sinai at this time? There were many who came from Egypt and who are camped in front of the mountain. They were together with Israel. G-d did not state for them there are different rules. G-d did not state to them they were not called and are not His own possession. Again, in the Millennial Reign we are told Gentiles will be serving as priests and Levites (Isaiah 66:21). Gentiles will be given land in Israel as an inheritance as well (Hebrews 11:8-16, Ezekiel 47-48, Leviticus 25:44-46, Isaiah 13:19-14:2). Jews, whether believers or not, have this same issue of being separate. G-d never said don’t bring others in. In fact, He says the opposite. That is why Avraham tried to bring so many into covenant. This is why he setup his tents along busy intersections. To bring people into covenant with G-d. One covenant for all.
The author’s next point is Paul’s words to the Gentiles. Brings up Ephesians 2:8 which says faith alone, through grace that we are saved. The author says this could not be any clearer regarding the Gentiles being required to keep the law of Moses and quotes Galatians 3:1-3, 5 & 3:10-11. While I absolutely agree that it is faith alone through grace in which we are saved, these verses do not state Gentiles are called to follow Torah. These verses state about faith and faith alone. That is how one obtains salvation, through faith. If you rely upon your works to be saved then you will be cursed. Why? Because you will sin and therefore the penalty for not following Torah is cursing. The point about following Torah is not about salvation, but about obedience. This is why Moses tells the Jews about being circumcised in the heart. A couple of prophets state the same thing…be circumcised of the heart. This means accept G-d with faith. Only G-d can circumcise your heart.
If the author would have read a little further in Ephesians it states in v19 – So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household. Paul is telling the Ephesians you are in the same household as the Jews. We are all one. One tree. One sheep pen.
The next section about why then are Jewish believers commanded to keep the Torah I am going to ignore for now. Little is said and it is not pertinent to this discussion in my opinion.
An analysis of Part 2 will come next week, so stay tuned.
Link to the author’s work: Ron Cantor – Should Gentiles Keep The Torah