Did Paul Say Unclean or Common

I did not realize it until today that I skipped over Romans 14:14-18.  There is an interesting nugget in here that most people do not know.  If you have not heard it before, you will now:  the translators are bias.  We all have our biases, right?  The translators translated the Bible with preconceived notions and therefore translated the Bible to fit this view.  I am not saying their intent was to deceive.  Far from it, just their preconceived ideas about what the Bible says influenced the translation.

 I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died.  Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil.  For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,  because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval. Romans 14:14-18

Many argue this passage is another area where Paul is showing all food is clean.  Is this really what this passage is saying?  Is the word for unclean really used here?  The transliteration of the Greek word for unclean is akathartos.  It is used during Peter’s vision when Peter said I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.  Interestingly enough the word for common is koinos.  The word koinos is what is used in Romans 14.  Instead of translating the word as common as before they translated koinos as unclean.  Why?  To present the idea that all food is clean.  

There are other instances of translators translating words one way in some circumstances and another way in at other times.  There are also times when translators just add words to “help” one understand what is being said.  Some translations will somehow mark these added words, but not all of them.  Just know, what you read in English is not always a proper translation.

Until next time…kadosh, kadosh, kadosh is HaShem!


To Circumcise Or Not To Circumcise

Galatians 2 can be a confusing passage. There are several topics that are discussed. I argue that unless you understand what was going on in that time period you miss the true understanding. In verses 3 and 4 lots of spirited debate occurs. Does anyone need to follow the Torah anymore? Do Gentiles need to follow Torah? Maybe not all of Torah, but circumcision? Titus was not compelled being a Greek so that settles that right? Words are thrown around without truly knowing the context behind the words. Like bondage and liberty. Let’s take a look and see what is going on.

People today, notably Americans, view everything from their own standpoint. We have trouble seeing events in their original context and instead inject our context into the picture. Unfortunately, many have had a picture painted for them about Jews. The picture is many believe Jews work for their salvation. Another picture that is painted is Torah is bondage. It is a yoke that is unbearable. No one can hold up to the yoke of Torah. Torah is opposite of liberty. If you follow Torah you then Christ is of no benefit to you. All of these are misconceptions. They are all false. These pictures come about due to ignorance. For there is not one verse that states Torah is bondage or the Torah is a yoke that no one can bear. In fact, Scripture states just the opposite. Judaism has always been a faith based system. Are there some within Judaism that believe it is a works based system? Yes. Just because someone believes something does not make it true. Some believe in Amillennialism, but that does not make it true. Many believe in Pre-Tribulation, but that does not make it true. Let’s look at Galatians 2 in the context of when it was written.

Many believe that circumcision is required to convert to Judaism. Today, that is what is taught in Orthodox Judaism. This was not always the case. There was a long standing debate between the different schools of thought at one time. Shammai and Hillel debated this very topic. In Yevamot 46a the viewpoint presented is “A male convert who has been immersed but not circumcised or circumcised but not immersed, is a convert.” Note that immersed is basically a baptism. Paul, who was from the school of Hillel, was taught why a Gentile did not have to undergo circumcision to convert to Judaism. Shammai on the other hand believed a convert must be circumcised to convert. Yeshua’s remarks on how to carry out Torah seem to go along with Hillel’s viewpoint over Shammai most of the time. The one opinion Yeshua did agree with Shammai was on the subject of divorce.

Paul, already versed on why a Gentile did not have to undergo circumcision to be a convert to Judasim, writes in Romans 4 how Avraham converted. He converted through faith, while he was uncircumcised. Avraham later received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith. This very thought is what Paul is trying to get through to the Galatians. Circumcision is not a means to convert. Faith is and always will be the true way.

Let’s look at verse four and into the bondage issue. Does following Torah bring bondage? King David said in Psalms 119:45 and I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts (laws). King David, says because he sought after G-d’s Torah he walks at liberty. James calls the Torah the perfect law of liberty and whoever looks into it he being not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work shall be blessed. In James 2:12 he states as they shall be judged by the law of liberty. Everyone is going to be judged according to the Torah per Paul in Romans 2:12.   In 1 John 5:3 we are told for this is the love of G-d, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not burdensome. Yeshua said “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Are we told the same thing in the Tanakh? Yes, in Deuteronomy 30:11 it says “For this commandment which I command you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it out of reach.” So Torah is not bondage or too hard. What is the bondage that Paul is speaking about in Galatians 2?

Paul speaks several times about sin being bondage. Per Colossians 2:14, believers are released from the death sentence as a result of sin. Yet some of the Pharisees and teachers of the Torah taught something different than Torah. They taught traditions of man and sometimes these traditions would cause them to break Torah. Some of these teachers and Pharisees held their traditions above Torah. You cannot do this. Traditions are fine, but when you hold them equal to or above Torah then there is a problem. This is what Yeshua contended with during His ministry.

Paul did not have a problem with circumcision. He had a problem with using circumcision as a matter of conversion. This is what the Jerusalem Council was all about in Acts 15. Verse 1 says “Some men came down from Judea and bean teaching the brethren, ‘unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved’”. As I mentioned at first, this was a long debated topic and was not new at the time of Paul’s ministry. Include this info along with the idea that Torah is not too difficult or brings one into bondage and that it is actually freedom or life, then you have a whole new perspective to consider.

Until next time…kadosh, kadosh, kadosh is HaShem!

Should Gentiles Keep The Torah?

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

All Things Are Indeed Clean!

What in the world is Paul saying in Romans 14:20?  Are all things really clean?  Does Paul give permission to eat anything you want, despite G-d’s instructions not to?

For he who in this way serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.  Do not tear down the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are clean, but they are evil for the man who eats and gives offense.  It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles.  The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves.  But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin. Romans 14:18-23

I am going to break from my normal style and link a page.  This is a very good write-up of what Paul discusses about Romans 14 in all and why try and recreate my own piece.  I will also note that I am not endorsing this site that I am linking.  I have not read everything this person has written on the site.  What I have read, I agree with about 95% give or take.

Romans 14 Analysis

Let me know what you think!

To Eat Meat or Not To Eat!

As we head into Romans 14 the beginning of which is used by many to state we can eat what we choose to eat (which is true, you can eat what you choose to, but G-d did not give us this permission) and that no one can tell you which day to regard to the L-rd…in other words which day is the Sabbath.

I have written about this verses before, but will do so again here.

Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions.  One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only.  The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him.  Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.  One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind.  He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God. Romans 14:1-6

In verse one, Paul starts speaking about those weak in faith, but not judging them on their opinions.  Who the weak are is important, but not for this time.  Remember, we are looking at verses which many believe to be anti-Torah or dismissing the commandments.  It is important to note that we are dealing with opinions here.  This means that we are not dealing with should one follow the commandments.  For that is not an opinion, at least from G-d’s perspective.

Paul says some believe they can eat all things and while those who are weak eats only vegetables.  No where in Torah is it said to eat only vegetables, but it is halacha to eat only vegetables when the meat has been handled by non-Jews.  Why?  There was a concern the meat may have been offered to idols, which was a practice during those times by many gentiles.  The gentiles coming into the Jewish faith system at that time were pagan.  Those believed in pagan gods and idols.  They made sacrifices to these so-called gods.  Even those who had accepted Yeshua as their savior turned back to these elemental things.  Paul deals with this in most of his epistles. Galatians 4 is just one example of this turning back from where they had come.

Therefore, many Jews would not eat meat prepared by gentiles and ate only vegetables.  Paul went on to state that no one is to judge those who eat meat or those who do not eat meat.  Simple enough.

Next Paul makes the statement that so many misinterpret.  V5 – One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind.

Now, as I have previously mentioned, the Sabbath is not discussed anywhere within Romans.  Not one time.  Let’s take a look at see what Paul is saying here.  First, remember we were just reading where Paul was talking about food.  To eat or not to eat…meat.  In verse 5, Paul is still dealing with meat.  From a grammar perspective, if one is to change subjects in a letter, do you continue in the same paragraph or do you start a new one?  Notice here, this is the same paragraph as the verses before it.  It is kind of funny that I am discussing grammar, b/c I am by no means a grammar scholar.  Pretty poor in my opinion.  Anyway, v6 clarifies what Paul is revealing here.  I believe Paul is discussing fasting.  Some contend he is still writing about whether one eats meat or not.

Paul is discussing not eating at all on certain days.  Whereas the previous discussion was about eating meat or not anytime.  Can you recall back in Luke 18:12 the discussion about the one bragging about fasting twice a week?  Also, in Didache (an early church document dated by most scholars to be from the late first century AD) which states, “Your fasts should not be with the hypocrites, for they fast on Mondays and Thursdays. You should fast on Wednesdays and Fridays” (Didache 8:1). Interestingly, from the Didache, we see not only that Pharisees fasted on certain days of the week, but that fasting among the early Christians was also a common practice, and that certain days (Wednesday and Friday) were set aside by some for the purpose of fasting. Thus, these days were “esteemed.” Is this activity fact or opinion? Opinion of course.   This is why I see Paul discussing fasting here, but in no way is Paul addressing the Sabbath.

I hope this has been of benefit to you.  Have a question or a comment?  Let me know!

Until next time…kadosh, kadosh, kadosh is HaShem!

Awaken From Your Sleep

Last time we looked at Romans 13:8-10 and this time we will complete chapter 13.  These verses are not necessarily debated from a Torah perspective, but I wanted to point out what Paul is referring to when he says it is the hour for you to awaken from your sleep.

Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed.  The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.  Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy.  But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.  Romans 13:11-14

Paul tells us it is time to awaken from our sleep.  Paul is not speaking about physically sleeping, but about attentiveness towards G-d.  There are many verses about rising from our slumber from Song of Solomon to Isaiah to Peter’s epistles to Revelation, etc.  Our salvation is knocking at the door and many times we are to busy with our daily lives.  Between jobs, kids, house chores, activities, and things like tv, where is the time for G-d?  Where is the time to study His word?  Where is the time to pray?  Where is the time to truly fellowship with other believers?

Paul tells us the night is almost gone…you don’t have much time to turn to the L-rd.  Turn from your ways of seeking your own delight and turn towards the L-rd.  Your ways, the deeds of darkness is sin.  Don’t act as the heathens do as they follow the lusts of the flesh.  Previously in Romans 8, Paul spoke about the lusts of the flesh.  We are not to walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.  We have previously discussed how walking according to the Spirit is defined (See Ezekiel 11:19-20 & 36:26-27).  The Spirit is going to cause you to walk in His commandments.  All people should Shema – hear and do as Yeshua said.  Put on the full armor of light.  Light is Torah.  If you don’t understand, look into light.  Yes it is Yeshua.  Yeshua is the light and He is also the Word made flesh – Torah.

We are to put on Yeshua.  Isaiah 61:10:
I will rejoice greatly in the Lord,
My soul will exult in my God;
For He has clothed me with garments of salvation (Yeshua),
He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness,
As a bridegroom decks himself with a garland,
And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

This is what John was thinking of when He said  Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.”  It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.” in Revelation 19:7-8.

Please arise and seek G-d with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might!

Until next time…kadosh, kadosh, kadosh is HaShem!

Love: The Fulfillment of the Torah

Love!  That is the fulfillment of the Torah.  Words that are so true, but not new.  We have moved from chapter 10 to chapter 13 in Romans and the topic of love fulfilling the Law.  What did Paul mean by this?  Was it to say that if we love then you do not have to do the commandments?  Let’s take a look:

Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.  For this, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.  Roman 13:8-10

I think everyone can agree that we should love each other.  Yeshua said the two greatest commandments were to love the L-rd your G-d with all your heart, soul and mind and the second to love your neighbor as yourself and on these two commandments hang or depend the whole Torah and the Prophets.    What does love mean?  Is love some feeling you get?  You know, like when you are in middle school and you see that girl and you blush and start to sweat.  Or is love something else?

In 2 John 1:6 we are told love is walking according to His commandments.  Paul says loving your neighbor is not committing adultery, murder, theft, to covet, or any other commandment.  Paul is affirming what John said, love is performing these commandments plus any others that would show love to your neighbor.  Paul is not stating love is the only commandment or love replaces these commandments.  For the two greatest commandments that Yeshua gave were quoted from Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18.  To love is all throughout the Torah.  We are to love G-d, to love our neighbors.

For those who may think that when Paul says that these commandments are summed up in this say…Paul is not stating to get rid of commandments.  It is like giving a speech and you state in your conclusion paragraph “to sum it all up”.  In other words, let me compress what I just said in a simple way for you.  The Greek word anakephalaioō does not mean replace, but to sum up, to condense.

To sum this up :), Paul is not stating to have some nebulous feeling for your neighbor, but to love your neighbor through the commandments.  Showing them your love as the MaShiach shows us His love continually.

Until next time…kadosh, kadosh, kadosh is HaShem!

Righteousness Based On Faith

Last time we looked at Romans 8:1-8 and Paul was explaining how the flesh wants to follow things that lead to death while those according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.  That those walking according to the flesh cannot fulfill the requirement of the Torah, but those walking according to the Spirit will fulfill the requirement of the Torah.   He then says in verse 9 that those who have the Spirit of G-d (Ruach Hakadesh, Holy Spirit) are in the Spirit and not flesh.

I am going to continue in Romans 10.  Remember the objective of these writings is to help others see the verses that many believe state the Torah is no longer to be followed.

For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. For Moses writes that the man who practices the righteousness which is based on law shall live by that righteousness. But the righteousness based on faith speaks as follows: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ (that is, to bring Christ down), or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).” But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; 13 for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”              Romans 10:3-13

I believe Paul is speaking to the Gentiles here, for he is telling them about the Jews who are zealous for G-d, but through their own efforts.  They are following Torah without a circumcised heart.  Paul writes the goal of Torah is Christ.  Many believe Paul is saying once you have Christ you no longer need Torah, but that is not what he is saying.  For the next few verses is quoting Deuteronomy 30:11-14.

If your mind is set on the Torah being disregarded already then you miss what Paul is saying in these verses. In verse 5 Paul quotes Leviticus 18:5 and makes the point that the Torah points to God’s truth and man can thus be saved via Torah, if he follows it in faith.  In verse 6 you can see a translation bias towards the Torah, for those wanting to get rid of it.  The Greek word used is de and can be translated as but.  It can also be translated for, moreover, furthermore, etc.  For the way of the Torah and the way of HaMashiach (the Messiah) are one in the same.  Now, if your righteousness is through Yeshua HaMashiach then your unrighteousness is seen as righteousness.  Why?  Because you are circumcised in the heart and if circumcised in the heart then the Torah is written on your heart and the Holy Spirit will cause you to walk in His commandments (Jeremiah 31:31-33, Ezekiel 11:19-20 and Ezekiel 36:26-27) through faith.

Hence Paul states the word (Torah) is not too far from you it is in your heart and in your mouth.  Paul is quoting Deuteronomy 30:11-14 – “For this commandment which I command you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it out of reach.  It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will go up to heaven for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?’  Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will cross the sea for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?’  But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may observe it.  Paul is equating following Yeshua in faith is the same concept as following the Torah in faith.  They are one in the same.  You cannot have one without the other.

There is more to be said, but time has run out.  If you have any questions or thoughts please post!

Until next time…kadosh, kadosh, kadosh is HaShem!

Set Your Mind On Life

What is your mind set on?  The flesh or the spirit?  Paul discuss this and more in our next passage.

Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Hamashiach Yeshua.  For the law of the Spirit of life in Hamashiach Yeshua has set you free from the law of sin and of death.  For what the Torah could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, G-d did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Torah might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.  For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.  For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward G-d; for it does not subject itself to the Torah of G-d, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please G-d.  Romans 8:1-8.

This chapter starts off with a therefore, so you know this section is really a continuation of the previous chapter.  Paul has just said he is serving the law of G-d with his mind (spirit), but the law of sin with his flesh.  Therefore, there is no criticism or disapproval for those in Yeshua.  Why?  For Yeshua set you free from the law of sin and death.  He paid your penalty.  This is what Paul was telling us in Colossians 2:14 – having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.  The certificate of debt was nailed to the cross and therefore we were made free from the penalty.  Freed from the law of sin and death is not saying freed from Torah.

The Torah could not set you free, because this was never the purpose of Torah.  The Torah’s purpose is to help you in your relationship with G-d.  To help you be holy or set apart or uncommon.  When you don’t follow the commandments you become just like everyone else…common.Now, that your debt is paid for you, you can fulfill the requirement of the Torah by walking according to the Spirit.  What Paul is referencing here is Ezekiel 11:19-20 and 36:26-27.

Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.  Ezekiel 36-26-27

The mind set on the spiritual things, the Torah, will give you life.  In Deuteronomy 30:15 we are told the Torah is life and you can choose it or not.  You can choose to follow your flesh and therefore receive the curses of G-d.  Or, you can choose life and subject yourself to the Torah of  G-d.  The mind set on the flesh is hostile towards G-d and cannot please G-d.  G-d tells us in Deut. 30:19 to choose life.  So choose life today and experience the difference!

Until next time…kadosh, kadosh, kadosh is HaShem!

Delight In The Law Of G-d

Last time Paul was teaching us that his flesh is at war against with his spiritual side.  The flesh wants to do evil while the spiritual wants to follow G-d’s ways.  As we finish chapter 7 Paul continues his teaching on his flesh warring against the law of his mind.

I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.  For I delight in the law of G-d after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.  O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?  I thank G-d through Yeshua Mashiach our L-rd. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of G-d; but with the flesh the law of sin. Romans 7:21-25

Paul is continuing to teach that there is a law within him that even when he does good is present within him.  This law is not Torah.  For clearly this law is evil and the Torah is not evil.  For Paul in the next statement says for I delight in the law of G-d after the inward man.  He delights in the Torah (sounds like King David) after the inward man.  I believe Paul is referencing the new fleshy, not stony, heart one receives when they turn to G-d.  The heart had been circumcised and therefore follows G-d in all His ways.

Yet, Paul knows there is another law warring against what he knows is best.  This law brings us into captivity of the law of sin.  The law of sin is death.  Pure and simple.  There is a penalty for not following the Torah, whether you know to follow the Torah or not (Romans 2:12).  But…But, we have Yeshua our G-d to thank for paying for out debt (Col 2:14).

Paul states even though we have Yeshua’s merciful act, we are circumcised in the heart, therefore serving the law of G-d, our flesh will still want to follow the law of sin.  Some think all is accomplished, but how can all be accomplished if there is still sin in this world?

Until next time…kadosh, kadosh, kadosh is HaShem!