Circumcision and the Law

Is the sign of the Avraham Covenant important?  The sign of circumcision.  Avraham is told at 99 years of age to become circumcised as a sign of the covenant with G-d.  He is told this covenant is between Me and you and your descendants.  All his servants were also to be circumcised.  Many Christians believe they are a spiritual descendants of Avraham based on Galatians 3:28-29.  So one must ask is circumcision important?  In Galatians 5, circumcision comes up again.  Remember circumcision was an issue in Galatians 2, which I address here, and was the subject of the Jerusalem council in Acts 15.  Circumcision is a sign that one belongs to the covenant of promise with G-d.  Let’s look at what Paul is telling us now.

Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you.  And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law.  You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.  For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness.  For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love. Galatians 5:2-6

Verses 2 & 3 have been used for many years to state that one should not become circumcised for if you do you are under obligation to keep the whole law.  That is you have to keep it perfectly.  If not, you have been severed from Christ and He is of no benefit to you.  Wow.  Just reading those two verses alone, I would agree that circumcision seems to have passed by the way side.  But, I have to take all of Scripture and view these verses in context.  Did Avraham have to be circumcised to receive salvation?  No.  He had emunah (faith) and then was circumcised.  Why?  G-d said it was the sign of the covenant between them and future generations.  So just like Avraham, you must have emunah first.  For if you think getting circumcised does anything for you then you are sadly mistaken.  If you believe that verses 2 & 3 say not to get circumcised then an issue arises when Timothy gets circumcised and Paul is right there with him.

Paul clears up the message if one would continue reading and not form their thoughts before reading the whole passage.  Verse 4 tells us this is for those seeking to be justified by the law.  In other words, receive salvation by works.  Paul has stated this throughout this epistle.  Salvation is not by works, but by having emunah.  Circumcision of the flesh is a sign of the circumcision of the heart.  Throughout Scripture David, the Prophets, and Yeshua all were saying repent of the heart, come back to Him.  You can make sacrifices all day, but if you heart is not right it does not matter.  You can give all the money you want, but if your heart is not in the right place it does matter.   This is what Paul is saying in v6, circumcision does not mean anything towards salvation.  If you do not have emunah, whatever you do does not matter.

We must remember to read the entire passage.  Sometimes this means reading a few verses, sometimes a previous chapter or two, or sometimes going back into the Tanak to obtain the proper perspective.  We must always have the Torah as our foundation and all other writings are pointing back to the Torah.

Now, I ask you again, is the sign still important?

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

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Jew nor Greek? What is Paul Getting At?

We are finally at the end of Galatians 3. We went through a lot of hard to understand verses. If you have not read through the rest of my Galatians 3 postings please take the time and read them. Read the verses…see if you have a different understanding of what Paul is really trying to say.

Galatians 3:26-29 – For you are all sons of God through faith in Yeshua the Christ.  For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Yeshua the Christ.  And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.

Some will try and use verse 28 to say no one should be called a Jew because if you are in Christ then we are all one. Is that really what Paul is saying here? I don’t think so. If it was, then there is no such thing as male or female or as slave nor free. Does that make sense? Again, I don’t think so. I believe what Paul is saying is we are all one. It does not matter what race, gender, social standing you have…we are all one in the Messiah Yeshua. To further clarify that this is Paul’s position let’s look at Romans 2:28-29:

 For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh.  But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.

Clearly, Paul is stating that all who have been circumcised in the heart (this phrased is used many times in the Tanach) by the Spirit is a Jew. I know a lot of Christians will be aghast at this thought, but Paul said it not me.

Paul finishes the chapter by stating if you belong to Yeshua, then you are a descendant of Avraham according to the promise given by G-d. If you are a descendent of Avraham that makes you part of the Israelites, Hebrews, or Jews. They all mean the same thing. Remember the “New” Covenant is with the House of Judah and the House of Israel and if you are not physically a Jew then you are grafted into their tree. This covenant is where the Torah will be placed on your inward parts and in your heart and the Spirit will direct you in following His statutes and ordinances.

Baruch HaShem! We made it through Galatians 3. We will go into Galatians 4 next, but the next post is something I should have done before getting into Galatians. We are going to look at Paul, who was He and what did He teach.

I hope this series has been beneficial to you. If you have any questions or thoughts please let me know.

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

Why The Law? – Galatians 3:19-22

As you have seen thus far Galatians 3 is a tough chapter. Lots of phrases that can be confused if one does not understand the proper context. When reading Scripture it is best to understand the beliefs and life of the writer, the time period of the writing, and who is the audience. In this case we have Paul, who when he defended himself states he was educated under Gamaliel (which is not small thing), a Pharisee and son of Pharisees, brought offerings, found in the temple purified, he committed no offense against the law of the Jews, and in Acts 24:14 states “I do serve the God of our fathers, believing everything that is in accordance with the Law and that is written in the Prophets”. So from this we see that Paul was well educated, still considered himself a Pharisee, still followed Torah, and believed in everything in the Tanak (what you may call Old Testatement).

Therefore, when looking at Scripture that Paul wrote one must keep this information in mind. For if Paul says all these things (Luke writes them), but teaches something different, then everything he wrote is questionable at best.

Let’s examine Galatians 3:19-22 which says:

Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed would come to whom the promise had been made.  Now a mediator is not for one party only; whereas G-d is only one.  Is the Law then contrary to the promises of G-d? May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law.  But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Yeshua might be given to those who believe.

Paul says the Law was added because of transgressions which is basically sin. You might be going wait a minute, if transgressing the Torah is sin how was the Torah added due to sin? Paul did right about this in Romans 5:13 – for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. In other words, sin was in the world, but you did not know it was sin. Therefore, G-d was not holding one accountable to it. Now with the Torah known you know what how sin is defined.  Now we see that we are not righteous in of ourselves and we need a savior. Amen that G-d provided for us! Take note, this does not mean we should continue to sin. Many believe the rest of the verse shows that Paul was stating the Torah is no longer before us. Nothing can be further from the truth. If I may let’s remove the words in between the commas and see if the verse is any clearer. It (Torah) was added because of transgressions until the seed would come to whom the promise had been made. Until the seed would come is the Messiah. What did the Messiah do for us? He took away our transgressions, our sins. It is not the Torah that was added until the Messiah came. No, it is the transgressions that have been done away with, not Torah. Paul could have said here , as he did in Romans 6:1-2, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in transgression now that the offspring has come? By no means!”

Paul continues on explaining that the Torah was never meant to impart life…give you salvation. The Mosaic Covenant does not impart life. Salvation comes from the promise given to Avraham. The Torah exists for 3 reasons:

  1. To provide G-d’s righteous standard
  2. Define sin which is breaking the standard
  3. To show that we fall short of this standard

Israel (you and me) was not saved because they received Torah, they received Torah because they had already entered into the covenant that saves….Avraham’s Covenant.

It is time to wrap this up today, but I hope you are starting to understand what Paul was writing about in Galatians. The Torah was never meant to save anyone. The works of Torah will not save you.

What do you think? Is this the Torah for all believers? Even Christians….

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

Is The Promise Nullified?

Moving along to the next verses Galatians 3 which sometimes cause issues.  Okay, causes a lot of issues.  Remember what Peter told us about Paul’s letters in 2 Peter 3:15b-16 – as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.

Anyone who tells you that Paul’s letters are easy to understand then you know they are not telling the truth.  Paul’s letters require study, which not too many people really want to do.  I digress, so let’s get to those verses.

The rest of chapter 3 is twisted by many b/c it is a difficult piece to go through.  I am going to break it up a little so that this post will not be too long.  Galatian 3:15-18 –

Brethren, I speak in terms of human relations: even though it is only a man’s covenant, yet when it has been ratified, no one sets it aside or adds conditions to it. Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ. What I am saying is this: the Law, which came four hundred and thirty years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise. For if the inheritance is based on law, it is no longer based on a promise; but God has granted it to Abraham by means of a promise.

Here Paul is explaining that even in covenants between humans, no one changes it.  This concept is hard to understand in our society today since contracts are changed all the time.  A covenant is different though.  The closest thing we have to a covenant today is marriage.  Covenant’s are typically until death do us part.  With that understanding, Paul continue’s to tell us the Torah, which came 430 years after Avraham’s covenant, did not nullify Avraham’s Covenant.  They both existed together at that point.

The Avraham Covenant, which is the promise, is what we as believers in Yeshua hold onto that G-d will give us eternal life if we have emunah (faith) in Him.   The Torah or Law of Moses, did not come and nullify this.  No, the Torah was and is about having a relationship with our G-d.  For He is holy and can only be in relationship with others who are holy.  G-d asks us to be obedient to Him.  Did G-d tell us what this looks like?  Yes, the Torah.  It is about obedience to Him…not for salvation for that is through the promise…but in having a relationship with Him.

Please notice, that Paul says once a covenant is ratified, no one sets it aside or adds conditions to it.  That means what believers call the New Covenant did not do away with the Law of Moses.  It simply cannot.  I will one day touch on covenants, but I need to digress here b/c this is getting long.

To sum it up, the Torah did not replace the covenant of Avraham and the promise given to him.  Our inheritance was and is not based on the Torah.  This was not the Torah’s purpose.  Next time, we will look at why the Torah.

Thank you so much for reading.  It would make my day to know that you read this, so please let me know.  Do you agree?  Do you have anything to add?

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

Galatians 3:11-14 – Faith Tops Law – Did Paul Say That?

The last time I wrote we looked at Galatians 3:10 and the curse for those working for their salvation.  Hopefully, you gained some insight in that we are justified by faith and are obedient to G-d after we have entered into the covenant.  We are not going very far with the next analysis – v11-14.  It reads:

Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, “The righteous man shall live by faith.”  However, the Law is not of faith; on the contrary, “He who practices them shall live by them.”  Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”— in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

Hopefully, you see what Paul is saying here, but just in case.  As I have already explained previously, there is only one way for us to have salvation and that is through Yeshua.  The next verse comes with a lot of confusion – “However, the Law is not of faith”.  Is Paul saying faith tops Law?  Not in the sense that the two compete.  No.  Paul is saying the covenant that brought the Law (Covenant of Torah, Law of Moses, etc) was not of faith.  It is not a covenant that saves.  That covenant was with Avraham.  Please understand the covenants build on each other and do not cancel each other out.  For instance, most Christians believe the Avraham Covenant applies to them and it does!!!  Please see that it was not canceled by the Torah.  The covenants should be a post by itself and may one day I get there.  Let’s move on.  The Torah did not replace the Avraham Covenant and one must enter into the Avraham Covenant to have salvation.  Following Torah by itself gets one nowhere fast.  Once you enter into the Avraham Covenant one must know how to relate with G-d.  G-d is holy and to have any relations with Him we are to be holy people.  The Torah is a covenant showing us how to have a relationship with the one and only almighty G-d.  One more thought on v11 and that is Paul is quoting Habakkuk 2:4 here which says “but the righteous will live by emunah (faith).”  The circumstances for salvation did not change from the Tanach to the Renewal Covenant.  Salvation has always been about emunah (faith).  The Torah helps show us how much we need a savior because we cannot be saved with our own effort.  Living by emunah though means living out your faith by being obedient.  Yeshua taught the same concept many times.  John 14:15 is one example and says “if you love Me,you will keep My commandments.”

Paul continues saying “he who practices them shall live by them”.  In continuation of what Paul has been saying if you depend on the works of the Law to be saved…  Throughout Leviticus and Deuteronomy we are told there are blessings for following Torah and curses for not following Torah.  Everyone who sins has a curse upon them yet Yeshua redeemed us from the curse of the Law.  Is the Torah (Law) causing the curse?  No.  Not following the Torah causes the curse.

We have received incredible blessing and life through the work of the Messiah. Does receiving this blessing mean we are free to walk in disobedience to G-d’s commands? Now that we have been set free from the curse of the law, are we also free to continue in the very sins that put us under the curse in the first place? As Paul says in Romans 6:2, “By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” Or we might say in this context, “How can we who have been redeemed from the curse continue to walk in disobedience?”

I hope this helps you see what Paul was intending his message to say.  What do you think?  Disagree…tell me why.

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