A New Creation

A couple of weeks ago we finished Galatians 5 and now we are ready for chapter 6.  Chapter 6 is a short chapter with only one disputed passage in it.  You might be able to guess, based on the rest of Galatians what it is about…circumcision.  Yes, again.  We have taken a look at what Paul is saying in the various other chapters of Galatians and this time is no different.

See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand.  Those who desire to make a good showing in the flesh try to compel you to be circumcised, simply so that they will not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. For those who are circumcised do not even keep the Law themselves, but they desire to have you circumcised so that they may boast in your flesh.  But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Yeshua, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.  For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.   Galatians 6:11-15

Clearly, Paul is teaching that circumcision is not required for salvation.  I 100% agree!  Some though will use this passage to state that you should not become circumcised even in obedience to G-d.  In my opinion, Paul emphasizes his large writing to emphasize the importance of this topic.  There were those who were pushing salvation by adherence to the Torah…starting off with circumcision.  Yet, this group did not keep the Torah themselves.  Paul then states whether you are circumcised or not what matters is to become a new creation.  We become a new creation once we are circumcised in the heart.  We then and only then can walk the Torah out in obedience.  Trying to perform Torah without G-d is a heavy burden.  Loving others without G-d is difficult.  Our father Avraham followed the same process.  He believed first, then obeyed.  The Israelites were first redeemed from Egypt then given the Torah.  Without a true circumcision of the heart nothing else matters.

All throughout Galatians Paul was stressing having emunah (faith).  Others were stressing performing works in order to be saved.  I believe I have shown in discussing the other chapters of Galatians that Paul stresses salvation first then obedience.  Paul has not forgotten nor dismissed the Torah.  He was Torah obedient his entire life according to his own testimony in Acts.  He had Timothy circumcised.  If circumcision was truly nothing, then why have someone circumcised?

One can read a lot into Galatians.  It is a difficult book, the most difficult book in the Brit Chadasha (New Testament) in my opinion.  If one would just take a step back and look at the author, look at his life, look at what all he really said then Galatians becomes a little easier to understand.

With that we are finished with Galatians!  Up next….Romans.

Until next time….kadosh, kadosh, kadosh is Hashem!

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Love, Love, Love – Is Love The Fulfillment Of All The Commandments?

Many believe that love is the fulfillment of all the commandments.  They believe that just loving everyone is all G-d wants from us today.  In a way it is, but is not.  Let’s take a look through the verses in Galatians 5:13-15 to see what I am trying to convey.

 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.  For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”    Galatians 5:13-14

We are called to freedom.  King David and James wrote about this same freedom.  They both say Torah brings freedom.  All throughout Galatians Paul is mostly dealing with one topic.  Salvation!  Salvation does not come by works but by faith.  Here, Paul is stating as your are following the commandments don’t think you are assuring yourself salvation.  Following the commandments….loving your neighbor, serving your neighbor through love is an expression of our faith.

The next verse is used to support the position that love is the only commandment today.  Is this correct?  Who gave Paul the right to change the commandments?  G-d said in Deut. 4:2 and 12:32 not to add or subtract from His commandments.  He said in ch 13 if someone comes telling you to not follow G-d and His commandments they are not from Him.  Love does not replace the Torah.  If we perform the commandments and do not have love then we do not fulfill the commandments.  This is what Paul is saying.  All through the Tanakh (Old Testament) we are told this.  The prominent Rabbi’s through the time fault our people for one thing…lack of love.  We are told the sacrifices are not what G-d wants.  Why?  Their was no love behind it.  People were going through the motions only.  In 1 Corinthian 13:1-3 Paul is saying the same thing again.  In Romans 2:25 Paul says “If you circumcise your flesh, but hate your brother, you remain as uncircumcised“.  If you are doing something without the love then you might as well not do it.  Your heart matters.

Faith without love is worthless.  For if you truly have faith, your love will spring forth.  I hope you see that love is the fulfillment of all the commandments, but that love is not the only commandment.

Thoughts?  Comments?  Please share!

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

Who Wants To Be Under the Law?

Last time I wrote about Paul wondering if he had labored in vain over the Galatians.  They seem to be having all kinds of issues between the Judaizers (those proclaiming you must follow the Torah to be saved) and the traditions and customs of their previous life.  Next we will look at another passage in Galatians 4 where Paul is again discussing being under the law.  This is a phrase we dealt with before here and here.

Galatians 4:21-31…Tell me, you who want to be under law, do you not listen to the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the bondwoman and one by the free woman. But the son by the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and the son by the free woman through the promise. This is allegorically speaking, for these women are two covenants: one proceeding from Mount Sinai bearing children who are to be slaves; she is Hagar. Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children.  But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother. For it is written,

Rejoice, barren woman who does not bear;
Break forth and shout, you who are not in labor;
For more numerous are the children of the desolate
Than of the one who has a husband.”

 And you brethren, like Isaac, are children of promise.  But as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now also.  But what does the Scripture say?

Cast out the bondwoman and her son,
For the son of the bondwoman shall not be an heir with the son of the free woman.”

So then, brethren, we are not children of a bondwoman, but of the free woman.

We see the phrase under the law immediately in this passage.  Please refer to the links above where I already discuss this issue of being under the law.  It means you have sinned and you have nothing that has covered that sin.  If you try and go about salvation on your own you will be under the law.  Those who have a true relationship with Yeshua are not under the law because His grace is covering you.  This does not mean you have a license to sin.  Sin is lawlessness meaning you do not observe G-d’s commandments.  One can argue all day the commandments of the Brit Chadasha (what you may call the “New” Covenant) are a different set of commandments, but no where are we told to follow a new set or that G-d changed the commandments.

Paul then provides another drash on the bondwoman and the free woman.  The son born of the bondwoman was works of the flesh and cannot save you.  Avraham and Sarah took matters into their own hands and tried to fulfill G-d’s promise.  The son of the promise, was Isaac.  He came as the promise from G-d.  It is a great illustration of what the Torah is to the promise to Avraham.  One cannot be obtain salvation via their own works, it is only through the Messiah that we obtain salvation.  Torah does not create slavery, but going through life without a relationship with the Messiah is slavery.  You are a slave to the certificate of death that has been decreed against you.

This is the same story as the Exodus.  G-d redeemed Israel.  The Israelites were not able to leave based on anything they did.  It was all G-d.  Then after He redeemed them, He tells the Israelites if you obey my voice I will make you my treasured people among all the nations.  It is always salvation then obedience.  If you are acting in disobedience you cannot claim the promise.  This is what Paul was addressing in Romans 11:17-24 amongst other places as well.

 Paul continues on to say that true believers are of the free woman…of the Spirit and not the flesh.  This reminds me of the drash my Rabbi gave on Ezekiel 11:19 and Ezekiel 36:26 and related those two to Romans 7:25-8:14.  Great drash which I did write up one time.  I will have to post it here sometime soon.  Alright, that takes us through Galatians 4, so next time we will start in Galatians 5.

Any questions?  Do you see this differently?  How so?

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

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!

Are you cursed for following Torah?

Through the first two chapters of Galatians Paul has been presenting the idea that we are saved by faith and not by works.  We are justified by G-d’s grace alone.  He continue this theme into chapter 3.

ch3v10 – For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them”

Notice who is under a curse.  All who rely on works of the law…meaning all who rely on works to be saved.  Why?  No one can do all of the commandments without failing as Yeshua did.  So, if you fail in following Torah we are told throughout the Torah you will be under a curse.  Is the Torah a curse?  No, but disobedience to the Torah is a curse. Paul is quoting Deuteronomy 27:26.  This idea is not something Paul comes up with or was newly delivered to him.  This has always been the case.

See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you today, and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside from the way that I am commanding you today, to go after other gods that you have not known (Deuteronomy 11:26-28).

So if you sin you are under a curse.  This is exactly why the Torah or Law exists, to show that you have a need for the Mashiach (Messiah).  This is why Paul says when the in Romans 5 and later on in Galatians 3 that “the Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more”.  The Torah was given so we would recognize the need for G-d.  If you did not know you sin, why would you turn to G-d?  You would not know you needed to.

So what frees us from this curse?  The Mashiach.  Your trusting Him with your life brings salvation.  This has always been the only way to salvation.  Avraham and all our Patriarchs saw Yeshua.  They all had faith.  With faith brings obedience though.  With your faith you entered into a covenant with G-d.  A covenant typically has stipulations, things both sides must do.  For believers, the must do is Torah.

Hopefully, this clears up any confusion on Galatians 3:10.  Any questions?  Do you agree, disagree?

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

Galatians 2:3 – Is Circumcision Required?

Wow, it has been a while since I posted on this series of problem verses.  Next we are going to get into Galatians.  This is a problematic book in that a lot of people use many of the verses out of context.  The point Paul is stressing in this entire book is salvation comes by grace and not through works of the law.  Yet, many want to say that Paul throws out Torah.  If Paul threw out Torah then why was he taking a Nazarite vow in Acts 21, which includes sacrificing animals?  Why when he defended himself in Acts 23-25 did he state he followed Torah, he was a Pharisee?  Hmmm, things to consider.

On to Galatians.  Most do not bring up anything in chapter 1 so let’s move on and revisit if we need to unless someone brings it up.  V3. begins our first confusing statement.

v3 – But not even Titus, who was with me, though he was a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised.

Everyone automatically assumes, this means we do not have to obey Torah and get circumcised.  That is not what the text says though.  He was not compelled to do it. Compelled means driven or forced into action.  Who was trying to force Titus to be circumcised?  We are told in the next verse.

v4 – But it was because of the false brethren secretly brought in, who had sneaked in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to bring us into bondage.

Some came in wanting to put them in bondage.  Ok.  What is the first thing you thought of when the passage says “bring us into bondage”?  Come on now, admit it.  You thought of Torah or law.  Is that how the disciples or King David thought of Torah?  Let’s see:

Psalms 119:45 – And I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts.

James 1:25 – But one who looks intently at the perfect LAW, the LAW of LIBERTY, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.

Reread what James says.  Perfect law, law of liberty.  If you abide by it….be an effectual doer, then you will be blessed.  This does not sound like bondage to me.

1 John 5:3 – For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.

First James now John?  John tells us His commandments are not burdensome. I know, we were always told that following the commandments are burdensome and bondage.

Did Paul have anything good to say about the Torah or commandments?  Sure he did….Romans 7:12 – So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.

If the Law (Torah) is holy, the commandments are holy righteous and good, shouldn’t we do them?

I am not going to list everything King David said b/c it would be long.  But here are a few things from Psalm 119…ways are blameless if you walk in the ways of the Lord, I shall delight in your statutes, make me walk in the path of your commandments for I delight in it.

I want to be like King David, as you know was called a man after G-d’s own heart.

I digress, but you get the picture.  The Torah, the commandments are not burdensome.  Scripture tells us over and over again.

Back to v4.  What were false brethren doing to bring them in bondage?  They were trying to get those in Galatia to submit to the Torah for salvation.  They were saying you must be circumcised to be saved.  Nothing can be further from the truth.  Our father Avraham was brought into covenant with G-d 24 years before he was circumcised.  While circumcision of the flesh is a commandment, one needs to be circumcised in the heart before you are saved.  If you are not circumcised at the heart, following the commandments (unless perfect) will not do you any good.  So Titus did not need to become circumcised to be in covenant with G-d (what you might call saved).  As the Acts 15:21 meeting said, start out with these 4 things and the rest you will hear each Sabbath when the Torah is read.  Meaning the rest will come in time.

What do you think?  I hope this helps you or at least intrigues you.  Tell me what you think!

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