Hidden in Plain Sight (Shorter Version)
This is a shorter version of the extensive study done on the book of Acts. If you like more of a synopsis than the details, then this is for you. If you want proof of everything mentioned here, as well as all the explanation of the things we can’t cover in this format, then go to the original article with this title. (Hidden in Plain Sight)
Would you begin reading a book halfway though? If you did, would you know what was going on, who the good and bad guys were, what the situation was, and be able to understand what is going on? It’s doubtful. However, this is what we do with the Bible. We begin two-thirds of the way through at Matthew, and miss the plot and very important information including the definition of terms we will run into in the New Testament.
This article is to explore Scriptural references from Acts to show that Paul and the apostles were continuing in their former lifestyle and practices in compliance with the instructions of God in the Tanakh/Old Testament. Due to the Gentile lack of training in the foundations of the Bible, we miss things that would have been obvious to those of the first century who knew that type of lifestyle. To illustrate this, I’d like to give you something to consider.
In our culture, we understand the following phrases, but if a guest from another culture, totally different from our own heard them, would they know what was being said?
“I’ve got to get the check in the mail to Uncle Sam.”
“I’m going to have some green beer.
“What are you dressing up as?”
“I ate too much turkey and dressing.”
“Have you got your eggs colored yet?”
(I am not endorsing these practices, simply using them to make a point.)
This “code” is important to know in order to understand what is happening and what is being referred to as well as what time if year it marks. In Acts, we have references we don’t comprehend because we don’t know the “code.” The purpose of this article is to unlock some of those references for you.
The Word tells us that God has one seed, one faith, one people, and one family. We’re also told that the New Testament was to be checked against the Old Testament, as Paul commended the Bereans for doing. The “new” had to be measured by the Old; if done the other way around, we get a backwards message.
Is there any information to support this statement in the Scriptures the New Testament believers would have checked? Yes, there is:
Isaiah 8:20: if someone speaks not according to the torah and the testimony, there is no light in them.
This told the people of Messiah's day that if someone came along proclaiming he was messiah, but did not speak according to the torah and the testimony, then he was not who he claimed. It, along with the rest of the Old Testament, was the measuring stick for the New Testament believers to measure what anyone said to them. Therefore, if the apostles or our Messiah approved believers not following the commandments, then according to the Old Testament prophesies, that person is not speaking for the God of the Bible! The disciples, who were trained in torah as all Jewish men were, would not have listened to such a person, nor would they have followed him or believed him to be the messiah. Their strict training in the torah would make such a thing impossible.
Indeed, with this premise plainly in place in the New Testament (Paul’s commendation of the Bereans for going to the Old Testament to check whether or not what he said was accurate), then we could really end this article here. With this premise, there’s no way the church’s teaching that “we’re no longer under the law” can possibly be true. However, to support and ultimately prove this premise, we’ll go on.
Ezekiel 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.
27 "And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.
This tells us that the reason we are given a new heart was to be able to walk in His commandments and statutes. This is said to the house of Israel. Since this information is reiterated in the New Testament in Hebrews 8:8-12, if you are a New Testament believer and say you are a Christian but not part of Israel, then being given a new heart does not apply to you because if He's talking to Israel and you aren't Israel, then He’s not talking to you!
We are constantly bombarded with the following type of statements from Christians, “Jesus freed us from the law,” “The disciples didn’t follow the law,” “Paul clearly wrote that we are no longer under the law.” Since Christianity (rightly) believes that the Word of God is inerrant and does not contradict itself, if these statements are accurate, then the book of Acts should show us the transition away from following the commandments of the torah to living Christianity like today’s churches. The practices of those churches should reflect the lifestyle of the disciples/apostles who moved away from the law.
The following are lists of Scriptures in the book of Acts highlighting the practices of the disciples/apostles and those of Paul that are repeatedly mentioned. We will see if the disciple’s practices reflect the statements listed above, or not. Some of the more difficult things to understand for those untrained in the Old Testament (the background for the disciples heritage) are explained, some are just referenced for those untrained in OT to understand significant OT phrases. For complete explanation, see the original article on this subject. (Hidden in Plain Sight) Remember, we are examining the disciple’s practices for many years after Messiah’s ascension. If they changed their lifestyle, then it should be reflected here in the detailed history of Dr. Luke. The question the reader needs to ask as they read is this: are the above statements verified by these accounts?
Friday to Saturday Sabbath observed by disciples/apostles, Jews and Gentiles:
Acts 1:12 - “a Sabbath day’s journey”
Acts 13:14 - “on the Sabbath day”
Acts 13:27 - “every Sabbath day”
Acts 13:42 – “the next Sabbath”
Acts 13:44 – “the next Sabbath day”
Acts 16:13-15 – “on the Sabbath”
Acts 17:1-3 – “three Sabbath days”
Acts 18:4 – “every Sabbath”
Acts 20:7* - see below
Acts 20:11 – “until daybreak” (waiting for Sabbath to be over)
Acts 20:7: And on the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to depart the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight.
“on the first day of the week” is NOT what the Greek says! Note that day is italicized, showing that the translators added that word. It was not in the original text.
The Greek is: miá toón sabbátoon. Like English, Greek has two words for numbers:
Cardinal: 1, 2, 3
Ordinal: first, second, third
One and first are not necessarily the same. Bring one orange. Bring the first orange” which implies there is more than one. These two sentences do not relay the same information. The Greek actually says:
Miá = one
Toón = of the
Sabbátoon = Sabbaths
This fits perfectly with the context and the custom of counting the Sabbaths between Passover and Shavuot (Pentecost). Paul is still keeping God’s feasts according to God’s rules in the Old Testament.
Contrast this with v. 18 where Paul said, “from the first day.” The Greek in that verse is protos hemera, a totally different phrase than the one above. When Paul wanted to say first, he knew how. When he wanted to say “one of the Sabbaths”
he knew how to do that, too. Therefore, in v. 7, Paul was relating a very Hebrew concept in context with God’s feasts, which are still being observed by Paul, the disciples, and the Gentile believers. Also in v. 7 it says, “to depart the next day” Why wait? Because Paul was waiting for the Sabbath to end, in accordance with the Old Testament instructions of God in the torah.
Acts 20:11: And when he had gone back up, and had broken the bread and eaten, he talked with them a long while, until daybreak, and so departed.
“until daybreak” Paul waited for the Sabbath to be over before he traveled, again, keeping the commandments of the Old Testament by so doing. His trip would take him farther than “a Sabbath day’s journey,” so he waited for Sabbath to end.
References to the Feasts being kept:
Acts 1:15 - “in those days”
Acts 2:1-4 - “fully come”
Acts 12:1-4 - “Now it was during the days of Unleavened Bread”*
Acts 20:6 - “after the days of Unleavened Bread”
Acts 20:16 - “on the day of Pentecost”
Acts 27:9 - (fast = Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur)
Acts 12:4 in the KJV reads: "...intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people."
The Greek word is:
Strong's NT:3957 pascha (pas'-khah); of Aramaic origin [compare OT:6453]; the Passover (the meal, the day, the festival or the special sacrifices connected with it):
OT:6453 HEBREW: Pecach (peh'-sakh); from OT:6452; a pretermission, i.e. exemption; used only technically of the Jewish Passover (the festival or the victim):
v. 4: the King James Version (KJV) translates this as Easter*. This NOT in the Greek! The Greek word is pesach, which is the Passover. Easter and Passover have nothing to do with each other. One is the celebration of a Babylonian fertility goddess; the other has to do with the death, burial and resurrection of the Messiah. They are two different times of the year, they are not at the same time; just check your calendar today to confirm this. It is rare that they ever fall on the same day. (Passover can be any day of the week; Easter can only be on a Sunday.) The disciples still haven’t ended keeping the feasts of Yahweh after Messiah’s resurrection; they are going on as before. They haven’t been “freed from the law” they are still keeping it!
Indeed, by applying the tradition of men over the actual words of the text, the KJV translators left out God’s name in the Old Testament- יהוה – Yahweh - an omission totaling almost 7000 times, and here chose to use the word for a Babylonian fertility goddess instead of the actual word given in the Greek!
Well-known Bible scholar W. E. Vine has this to say:
"PASCHA mistranslated 'Easter' in Acts 12:4, A. V. denotes the Passover (R. V.). The phrase 'after the Passover' signifies after the whole festival was at an end. The term Easter is not of Christian origin. It is another form of Astarte, one of the titles of the Chaldean goddess, the queen of heaven.* The festival of Pasch held by Christians in post-apostolic times was a continuation of the Jewish** feast, but was not instituted by Christ,*** not was it connected with Lent. From this Pasch the Pagan festival of Easter was quite distinct and was introduced into the apostate Western religion, as part of the attempt to adapt Pagan festivals to Christianity. See PASSOVER." (Emphasis and stars, mine)
Underlined section: most people don’t know that Acts is not just referring to the day of Passover, but to the entire season of Passover including that day, the seven days of Unleavened Bread and the day of first fruits, as well as the counting of the omer, 50 days after Passover to Shavuot/Pentecost.
*For which Jeremiah condemned the people of Judah
** Nowhere in Scripture are the terms "Jewish feast, Jewish Sabbath or Jewish laws" used. This terminology was coined by the "early church fathers" to distance themselves from the Jews, and to make acceptable their changes to the eternal torah/law of Yahweh. (See Leviticus 23. This chapter tells us that they are GOD's days and are pronounced as being FOREVER.) Scripture tells us we will keep the Sabbath, the feasts and the commandments when Messiah returns. See Zechariah 14:16-19. Ezekiel 46:1-18: tells us a prince will enter the eastern gate and make sacrifices as a priest. Only one prince in the future will also be able to act as high priest and enter through the eastern gate: Y'shua/Jesus. Every Bible scholar I've heard speak ties this passage to the millennial kingdom.
***No, it was instituted by Yahweh, the Word of God, pre-incarnate (John 1:1-5) in the OLD Testament and continued throughout the New Testament.
Hebrew teaching method used:
Acts 1:20 - Peter compares two references from Psalms called gezera shava
Acts 7:46-51 - Stephen uses midrash, a torah study/discussion methodology, here
using 2 Chronicles 2:6
Devout men, God-fearing men: those who kept/observed torah:
Acts 2:5 – “devout men”
Acts 8:2 – “devout men”
Acts 10:2 – “a devout men and one who feared God”
Acts 10:22 – “a righteous and God-fearing man”
Acts 10:30 – “I was praying … during the ninth hour”
Acts 13:16 – “you who fear God”
Acts 13:26 - “you who fear God”
Multitude: this has GREAT Old Testament significance (see long version for explanation) from Genesis 48:19
Acts 2:6 – “the multitude came together”
Acts 2:39 – “you and your children, and for all who are far off”
OLD Testament sermons preached:
Acts 2:14-47 - Peter’s sermon on day of Shavuot/Pentecost
Acts 4:8-12 - Peter’s sermon after healing man at Beautiful Gate
Acts 6:8- chapter 7 - Stephen is falsely accused of changing the customs, which
Moses handed down
Acts 13:14-44 – Paul addresses synagogue in Pisidian Antioch
Repent, (re)turn, baptism: all OLD Testament teachings:
Acts 2:38-39 - Peter speaking on day of Shavuot/Pentecost
Acts 3:18-21 - Peter’s sermon after healing man at Beautiful Gate
Acts 8:12-13 - Philip preaching in Samaria
Acts 8:35-36 - The Ethiopian eunuch was baptized after listening to an OLD
Testament Bible study
Acts 10:47-48 - Peter preaching to Gentiles – Cornelius’ household
Acts 16:13-15 - Lydia
Acts 17:30 - Paul to the Athenians
Acts 19:1-5 - Paul to John’s disciples
Acts 20:21 - Paul testified of this to both Jews and Gentiles
Acts 22:16 - Paul tells of his Damascus Rd. experience
Acts 26:20 - Paul’s testimony to King Agrippa
Acts 26:23* - Light to both Jew and Gentile
Is there a way to know the meaning of the phrase, “proclaim light both to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.” Yes. The definition is in the beginning: the Old Testament:
Light = the Word
Psalm 119:105 - Thy word is a lamp to my feet, And a light to my
Isaiah 8:20 - To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not
according to this word, it is because there is no light
The Word is also called truth:
Ps 119:160 - The sum of Your word is truth,
And every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting.
Ps 119:151 - And all Your commandments are truth.
Ps 119:142 - Your law ( תורה - torah in Hebrew) is truth.*
*torah = Strong’s 8451; a precept or statute; torah signifies primarily direction, teaching and instruction (Proverbs 13:14). It is derived from the verb, yarah “to project, point out” (3384) and hence to point out or teach. The law of God is that which points out or indicates His will to man. It is not an arbitrary rule, still less is it a subjective impulse; it is rather to be regarded as a course of guidance from above. Seen against the background of the verb yarah, it becomes clear that torah is much more than law or a set of rules. Torah is not restriction or hindrance, but instead the means whereby one can reach a goal or ideal. In the truest sense, torah was given to Israel to enable her to truly become and remain God’s special people. One might say that in keeping torah, Israel was kept. (Emphasis, mine)
*truth = Strong’s 571; emeth eh’-meth, from 539 stability, certainty, truth, trustworthiness.
Root word Strong’s 539; aman, aw-man’, a prim. Root; to build up or support; to foster as a parent or nurse; to render or be firm or faithful, to trust or believe, to be permanent
Aman means “to be firm, endure, be faithful, be true, stand fast, trust, have belief, believe.
So, when Paul makes a New Testament reference to “light” and “truth” he is referring to the previous definition of these terms: torah.
Romans 1:16 and 2:10 tell us that God said to tell it to the Jew first, and then to the Gentile. It also tells us there is no partiality with God. In this verse, Paul was walking according to God’s instructions.
Praising God, an Old Testament practice:
Acts 2:47 - praising God
Acts 3:8 – “leaping and praising God”
Acts 16:25 – “praying and singing hymns of praise to God”
Set times of prayer observed by the Jews kept by New Testament believers:
Acts 3:1 - “…the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.”
Acts 10:3-4 - “the ninth hour”
Acts 10:9 - “the sixth hour”
Acts 10:30 - “at the ninth hour I prayed”
The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The New Testament never mentions the “Christian God”:
Acts 3:12-26, (v. 13) - “The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our
Acts 5:30 – “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus”
Prophecy, vision, dreams, Old Testament practices:
Acts 3:17 – “Repent therefore and return”
Acts 7:55-56 – “he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus
standing at the right hand of God”
Acts 9:10-12 – “the Lord said to him in a vision, "Ananias."
Acts 10:3 – “he clearly saw in a vision an angel of God”
Acts 10:10-17 – “he fell into a trance”
Acts 11:4-18 – “in a trance I saw a vision”
Acts 11:27-28 – “began to indicate by the Spirit”
Acts 12:9 – “but thought he was seeing a vision.”
Acts 16:9-10 – “a vision appeared to Paul in the night”
Acts 18:9 – “the Lord said to Paul in the night by a vision”
Acts 23:11 – “the Lord stood at his side”
Jews not accepting what God was doing or jealous of the apostle’s deeds through God’s power:
Acts 4:15-18, 21 – “they commanded them not to speak or teach … in the name of
Acts 13:45 –“when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy”
Acts 17:5 – “the Jews, becoming jealous”
The Jews were jealous! They felt what the disciples were doing belonged to them.
Tithing continues from Old Testament (there is NO New Testament command to tithe!)
Acts 4:37-5:2 – Ananias and Sapphira
Apostles, New Testament believers keeping/upholding the torah:
Acts 3:26 - Turn away from disobeying God - from lawlessness (not keeping
Acts 5:29 - "We must obey God rather than men.”
Acts 10:14 – 15-17 years AFTER Messiah’s ascension, Peter still eating according
to the OLD Testament dietary laws. He said, “I have never eaten
anything unholy and unclean."
Acts 11:1-18 – Peter explains what God has done to the disciples in Jerusalem.
They were questioning Peter on entering the home of a Gentiles,
something not done in Judaism. Up until GOD specifically told
Peter to go to the home of a Gentile, the disciples were still obeying
this rabbinical tradition (it was not a “law” of torah).
NOTE: It took God SPECIFICALLY addressing this tradition for
Peter and the disciples to accept change on this issue. IF God
endorsed a change in the torah, a much more important change
to a Jew, don’t you think there would also be SOME N.T. record of
an incident where God specifically addressed that there was to be
such a change? However, there is none.
Acts 11:8 - (see Acts 10:28 to see what Peter finally understood it all to mean)
Acts 13:14-15 – “on the Sabbath day they went into the synagogue”
Acts 13:27 – “the prophets which are read every Sabbath”
Acts 18:18 (For explanation, see Numbers 6)
Acts 18:24-28 – Apollos, a man “mighty in the Scriptures… was speaking and
teaching accurately the things concerning Jesus… Priscilla and
Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the
way of God more accurately.” Remember the beginning
Scripture? Apollos would not have listened to Priscilla and
Aquila if they had told him that Jesus had “done away with the
law.” As someone “mighty in the Scriptures,” which at that time
were only the OT, he would have measured anything told to him
with an OT measuring stick. Anyone who said differently, he
would have dismissed as a false prophet.
Acts 20:27-31* - (see below)
Acts 20:32 – “I commend you to God and to the word of His grace” This was a
reference to the OLD Testament.
Acts 21:17-20 – “how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who
have believed, and they are all zealous for the Law”
Acts 21:23-26 – “that you yourself also walk orderly, keeping the Law” This was
said by James to Paul. The direction was so that Paul could
prove to ALL that he KEPT the torah commands. Indeed, the
entire reason for him to sacrifice in the temple and have his
head shaved was to keep a torah commandment. Notice that
Paul sacrificed in the temple AFTER becoming a believer in
Messiah! Why would he have done this if he’s teaching everyone
they are “free from the law”?
Acts 22:12 – “a man who was devout by the standard of the Law, and well spoken
of by all the Jews who lived there” This would hardly be possible if
he were not keeping the torah commandments!
Acts 23:1-6 – “a man who was devout by the standard of the Law, and well
spoken of by all the Jews who lived there” “in violation of the Law
order me to be struck?" "I was not aware, brethren, that he was
high priest; for it is written, 'You shall not speak evil of a ruler of
your people.'" These are Paul’s words. Does this sound like a man
who believes the OT commandments are obsolete?
Acts 24:14 – “I do serve the God of our fathers, believing everything that is in
accordance with the Law”
Acts 24:16-18 – “I also do my best to maintain always a blameless conscience
both before God and before men” This is the heart of the
commandments (this can be seen in the 10 Commandments)
“I came to bring alms to my nation and to present offerings”
“they found me occupied in the temple, having been purified”
These are Old Testament practices
Acts 25:8 – "I have committed no offense either against the Law of the Jews or
against the temple…”
We don’t have to guess. Paul clearly tells us that he has not disobeyed or discounted the torah commands.
Acts 26:4 – “all Jews know my manner of life from my youth up”
If Paul was no longer living as the Jews, he could hardly have used
this as a defense!
Acts 26:20 – “repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to
These are all Old Testament practices. The deeds to be done are
found in the torah.
Acts 26:22 – “I stand to this day testifying both to small and great, stating
nothing but what the Prophets and Moses said…”
Acts 28:17 – “I had done nothing against our people, or the customs of our
Acts 28:23 – “…trying to persuade them concerning Jesus, from both the Law of
Moses and from the Prophets…”
*Acts 20:27-31: For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the words of God.
28 "Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.
29 "I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock;
30 and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.
31 "Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears.
“I have not shunned to declare to you all the words of God” What words of God is he proclaiming? The OLD Testament. We are warned about false shepherds who cause the people to stray away from the words of God in Ezekiel 34:1-10 (please read). The new believers, like the Bereans, would be comparing what was taught to the Tanakh/Old Testament. If they found the Ezekiel passage, they would not have listened to anyone trying to change God’s ways.
Acts 20:30 - …and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.
“…men will arise speaking perverse things, to draw away…”
Perverse = the Greek word: diastrepho (dee-as-tref'-o); to distort, i.e. (figuratively) misinterpret, or (morally) corrupt, turn away
Its root: strepho (stref'-o); to twist, i.e. turn quite around or reverse (literally or figuratively):
Paul is warning that men will come who will distort, twist and turn around the ways of God to draw people away.
This is a reality we are all dealing with today. Gentile influence entered the early believers and about the 2nd Century began to dominate and turn the “church” away from its Hebrew roots, away from walking like the Messiah and the disciples. This began with the bar Kochba rebellion which caused the believing Jews to flee Jerusalem as Messiah had commanded*. By the 3rd Century, Gentiles were driving out anything remotely “Jewish” thanks to “early church fathers” such as Origen, Marcion and John Chrysostom, the “golden mouthed” orator who hated the Jews. Add Constantine’s creed** and we’ve a real change of former ways. By the time of the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D., there are no Messianic belivers involved. Indeed, guards were posted all along the pathway to keep anyone like that out. Now, the “church” is officically removed from its Hebraic foundation and taken over by Gentiles and their practices. This is exactly of what Paul was warning. They changed the Sabbath, the feasts and the terminology (to: eucharist, communion, Christmas, Easter) kicking out God’s Sabbath, feasts and terminology.
*(Matthew 24:15-18; also see;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bar_Kokhba's_revolt and look under section entitled: “Revolt.”)
** Constantine’s creed: "I renounce all customs, rites, legalisms, unleavened breads & sacrifices of lambs of the Hebrews, and all other feasts of the Hebrews, sacrifices, prayers, aspersions, purifications, sanctifications and propitiations and fasts, and new moons, and Sabbaths, and superstitions, and hymns and chants and observances and Synagogues, and the food and drink of the Hebrews; in one word, I renounce everything Jewish, every law, rite and custom and if afterwards I shall wish to deny and return to Jewish superstition, or shall be found eating with The Jews, or feasting with them, or secretly conversing and condemning the Christian religion instead of openly confuting them and condemning their vain faith, then let the trembling of Gehazi cleave to me, as well as the legal punishments to which I acknowledge myself liable. And may I be anathema in the world to come, and may my soul be set down with Satan and the devils."
New Testament believers are part of Israel:
Acts 5:31 - All who come to the God of Israel ARE Israel, (there is no longer Jew or Gentile…ALL are Israel. (Galatians 3:7-9; Romans 11:11-24; Ephesians 2:11-12)
Acts 13:23 - "… God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus,…”
Acts 15:9 – “He made no distinction between us and them”
Acts 15:14 – “how God first concerned Himself about taking from among the
Gentiles a people for His name.”
God’s name (Yahweh) was associated with the Jews and their way of
life; a lifestyle He had designed.
Laying on of hands continues from Old Testament:
Acts 6:6 – “they laid their hands on them”
Acts 8:17 – “they began laying their hands on them”
Acts 13:1-3 – “laid their hands on them”
Acts displaying God’s power and “endorsing” His representatives:
Acts 8:6-7 – “unclean spirits… were coming out of them shouting with a loud
voice; and many who had been paralyzed and lame were healed.”
Acts 8:12-13 – “signs and great miracles taking place”
Acts 14:3 – “signs and wonders be done by their hands.”
Acts 19:11-12 – “God was performing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul”
Acts 28:8-9 – “after he had prayed, he laid his hands on him and healed him.”
Believers a sect of Judaism:
Acts 9:2 – “letters from…the synagogues at Damascus…if he found any belonging
to the Way… he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.”
The only way Paul could have done this was if those of “the Way” were
considered a part of Judaism. Otherwise, he could not have been
given any authority concerning them.
Acts 24:1-5 – “the sect of the Nazarenes”.
Acts 24:14 – “according to the Way which they (the Jews) call a sect”
Acts 28:22 – “concerning this sect” (spoken by the Jews)
Apostles in the synagogue (NO “churches” are found!) :
Acts 9:20 - Paul was commissioned by God to speak to Gentiles, kings and the
Jews (See Acts 9:15-16)
Acts 13:5 – “they began to proclaim the word of God in the synagogues of the
Acts 13:14-15 – “they went into the synagogue… after the reading of the Law and
Acts 14:1 – “they entered the synagogue of the Jews”
Acts 17:17 – “in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles”
Acts 18:4 – “in the synagogue every Sabbath”
Acts 18:19 – “entered the synagogue”
Acts 19:8-10 – “he entered the synagogue…for three months”
Kosher burial in accordance with torah for a New Testament believer:
Acts 9:36-37 – “they had washed her body, they laid it in an upper room.”
Prophets/prophetesses speaking as in the Old Testament:
Acts 11:27-28 – “some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch”
Acts 13:1-3 – “prophets and teachers”
Acts 15:32 – “being prophets themselves, encouraged and strengthened the
Acts 21:9 – “four virgin daughters who were prophetesses.”
Prayer and fasting continues from the Old Testament:
Acts 13:1-3 – “when they had fasted and prayed”
Acts 14:23 – “having prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in
whom they had believed.”
Disciples (falsely) accused of teaching against the torah (“law”):
Acts 6:8- chapter 7 –“(the Jews) secretly induced men to say, ‘We have heard him
speak blasphemous words against Moses’”
Acts 18:13-15 – “the Jews with one accord rose up against Paul… saying, ‘This
man persuades men to worship God contrary to the law.’"
Acts 21:27-30 – “Men of Israel, come to our aid! This is the man who preaches to
all men everywhere against our people, and the Law”
Acts 22:1-3 –"Brethren and fathers, hear my defense which I now offer to you."
Acts 23:29 – “I found him to be accused over questions about their Law, but
under no accusation deserving death or imprisonment.”
Acts 25:7-8 – “the Jews who had come …, bringing many and serious charges
against him which they could not prove”
Acts 26:2-8 – “In regard to all the things of which I am accused by the Jews”
These things all continue from Old Testament through the New:
laying on of hands
anointing with oil
feasts kept and referred to
dietary laws kept
prayers at certain times of the day
still fasting and praying
still in the synagogues
Does this sound like the disciples’ lifestyle is no longer based upon the torah?
Contrary to many churches teaching, the torah/law does not put us in right relationship with God. Only Messiah’s death does that. You are justified from all things by His death. You are not justified from things you do right but from the things you do wrong. God’s teaching and instructions (law/torah) tell you what is right and what is wrong. Once again, the Old Testament was all they had to figure out what God required of them in the area of obedient living with Him and with mankind. Torah is how you live; grace through Messiah’s death is how you’re forgiven. Grace is to rescue us from our old nature so that we can obey God’s torah!
[Here are some examples of the eternal nature of torah from just one chapter of Scripture: Psalm 119: 1, 4, 9, 11, 44, 89, 98, 105, 128, 120, 140, 142, 150, 151-2, 160, 165, 172, 174. You can read the entire chapter and see that David talks about how eternal the commandments, statutes, ordinances and testimonies (all Torah) are. (See also Isaiah 40:8 and Romans 3:31)]
How could Gentile believers think they were to live differently from the Jews when they were using the exact same information from the Old Testament to teach them HOW to live obediently to God?
Jesus had to come and die in order to blot out sin, not to blot out the torah/law. Paul tells us that the torah is not obsolete: it shows us our sins:
Romans 7:7: What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, "You shall not covet."
Messiah did not die to get rid of what shows us our sins. (Matthew 5:17-18; Romans 3:31; Romans 7:7, 12)
Deuteronomy 13:1-5; 12-14: Anyone can read this passage in Deuteronomy and see that if anyone teaches you to stray away from the one true God and His instructions, don’t listen to him. If you listen to something other than His instructions, you’re worshipping false gods. Even if that prophet prophesies correctly, don’t listen to or follow him. Deuteronomy 18:18-22 gives us the test to tell if one speaking from Yahweh. The Meshiah-tekat (anti-Messiah), the “lawless one” is the one who has no regard for the law of the fathers. If we reject the Tanakh/Old Testament, which gives all the instructions/laws of the Messiah, then we reject the Scriptural foundation of who the Messiah was to be. This information isn’t found in the New Testament, but in the framework FOR it, the Old Testament. The New Testament was based upon the Old. (Deut. 10:12-17; Deut 11:1)
In Scripture, the feasts, Sabbaths, commandments are called God’s, not Jewish. This terminology is a phenomenon of our culture and created to distance us from God’s way of doing things.
Acts 17:10-11 tells us that the Bereans (Gentiles) searched the OLD Testament to see if what they were hearing was true. They could see that if Paul and Silas did not speak according to the torah and the testimony, there was no light in them (Psalm 19:7-11; Isaiah 8:20). Would any of the disciples teaching that the law was no longer applicable hold up if the Bereans were to check it out with the OLD Testament? How about us, today? We are encouraged to “be like the Bereans.” If we follow the pattern they laid in the New Testament, then how much of what we’ve been taught measures up to the OLD Testament standard the Bereans used to establish truth?
This message, of walking like Y’shua/Jesus and the apostles, is being rejected today by “Christians” who, like the Pharisees and scribes of Y’shua/Jesus’ day, have chosen the customs of men over the commandments of God. “Christians” accuse Paul of the same thing the unbelieving Jews did: that he taught people to reject the torah and to go against the customs of the fathers. But is that what we’ve seen thus far? No, it is not.
The disciples produced a seed like the one foretold in the Old Testament and kept by Messiah; a seed that obeyed the commandments and this seed was multiplied after “its own kind” – a duplicate of what that seed was before. There is another seed in Scripture – the seed of the serpent. It stands against the Word of God, is also multiplied among the nations and produces after “its own kind.” The early disciples preached a Messiah of torah. The other seed is a torah-less Messiah; a lawless Messiah called in Scripture the anti-Messiah.
Genesis 49:10-11 says, “Judah is My Lawgiver”; it was foretold in Scripture. Judah’s the one who’ll carry the torah. The scepter shall not depart from Judah. The standard of law, the rod/scepter was carried on by Messiah when He came; it did not depart and that principle continued through His disciples and His people, reproducing His seed “after its own kind.” According to that principle, the seed of Messiah would “walk as He walked.” (1 John 2:6) That’s why the gospel went to the Jews first. Once they believed in Messiah, they had both Messiah and torah (Romans 3:1-2). The Jews who came to belief in Y’shua already had God’s instructions, His torah. Now they’d have Messiah and that completed the picture. According to the testimony of the Word, that’s the full testimony of God. This is seen in the Ark of the Covenant: mercy (seat) and the law. (Romans 2:12-16; 28-29)
What we Gentiles miss is that Paul didn’t have to insist on keeping the torah. We miss that Paul and the other disciples DID model keeping torah right in front of the eyes of the Gentiles who have now come into belief in Messiah. Instead of asking where did Paul tell them to keep it, a better question is where did Paul directly say NOT to keep it? A change of instructions of this magnitude could not have been veiled. It would have required an edict from God that Paul could prove from the torah for the other JEWISH apostles to believe that he’d gotten it from God in order for them accept it. No such New Testament edict exists. Indeed, the examples we’ve already covered show the exact opposite: Paul publicly proved several times that he upheld the keeping of torah for all, Jew and Gentile, to see.
Paul told us to follow him as he followed Messiah. If Paul is doing what Y'shua/Jesus did, where are the examples of Y'shua/Jesus living like Gentile Christians, today? If Paul did something different from Messiah, then how can he claim to be leading us in the way of the Messiah when he’d be directly contradicting Him? (Matthew 5:17 – heaven and earth still exist.) As we've seen, many of the texts that the church has used to defend walking differently from the Messiah come from a lack of study/scholarship or simply by giving a superior place to tradition over what the original source texts tell us. For ex: Matthew 15, Acts 10 and 1 Timothy 4 being used to defend unclean as now "food" when each of these passages does not give this information. The first two aren't even about food and the last one is clearly put into context of the torah when one simply looks up “food” (broma) for its meaning in the Greek and see that Paul told Timothy to check out what he ate with “the Word of God.” When one understands that the only “Word of God available for Timothy to use for this was the OLD Testament, then it is easy to see that this passage cannot be saying what the church has traditionally taught. Therefore, Paul not only didn’t eat kreas (food sacrificed to idols) if it caused a brother to stumble, we’ve no record that Paul ever considered (or taught others) what Yahweh calls unclean was now “food.” So, the church has taken tradition and given that superiority over what the Word of God is actually saying.
By applying our Gentile, American Christian glasses to the Scripture without going back to the words in the source documents, we have basically flip flopped the message of the New Testament, making it a different way than the way our Messiah walked, for which some very strict warnings are given in the New Testament. Doing so is in direct contradiction to many Scriptures (very clear even in the English translation) such as Matthew 5:17-18, Matthew 7:21-23, John 14:15, 1 John 2:3-6, 1 John 3:4, Revelation 22:19, as well as Scripture's admonition to be "Christ-like." If we take the Bible as a whole and really dig into the New Testament passages that are troubling or seem to be saying something different, if we bother to look at them outside of our culture and put the New Testament back into its Old Testament framework, then we find that everything fits perfectly, there are no "hanging chads" of Scripture, and there are very few changes from Old Testament to New!
Christians today, like present day Judaism, are perpetuating a falsehood saying that it’s either torah or Messiah but not both. As we have seen, this is not the testimony of Acts nor of the rest of Scripture. Hopefully, all who believe in Messiah will be willing to conform to the teaching of the Word, regardless of its cost to their livelihood, reputation or convenience. Consider this end-time prophecy:
19 O Yahweh, my strength and my stronghold,
And my refuge in the day of distress,
To You the nations will come
From the ends of the earth and say,
"Our fathers have inherited nothing but falsehood,
Futility and things of no profit."
20 Can man make gods for himself?
Yet they are not gods!
21 "Therefore behold, I am going to make them know--
This time I will make them know My power and My might;
And they shall know that My name is Yahweh."
In light of this study, what have you inherited that fits with this end-time prophecy?
The Way of the Messiah would like to thank Brad Scott of www.wildbranch.org for help with this study through his teaching series, "The Church in Acts."