What Does Lawlessness Mean in the New Testament?
I was raised with the teaching that the Word of God is the foundation of my life and its principles are what I must live by. It is my desire to know what God wants of me and to live in accordance with His Word; a desire that has brought me to where I am today.
I do not want to follow the traditions of men just because that’s the way it’s always been done. I only want to obey the will of my heavenly Father, as did my Savior and Redeemer. If I find that something I’ve been taught doesn’t measure up to what I find written on the pages of my Bible, then the foundation of my childhood requires me to let go of what men say and teach, and to follow what Yahweh (God’s name - יהוה) put right on the page in His divinely inspired, inerrant Word.
2 Timothy 3:16 says,
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.”
I believe this. Therefore, we can see that Scripture is able to interpret itself and provide the truth and “instruction in righteousness” for us all, and keep us on the path God intended for us. That will be the criteria in this paper: Scripture will interpret Scripture. I have interjected a few footnotes from my Bible as well (and marked as so) since I found them thought provoking.
It might interest you to know that when the New Testament was being written, there was no formally compiled “Scripture” except the OLD Testament. Therefore, when New Testament writers refer to “Scripture(s)” or what was written as divinely inspired from Yahweh, they are referring to the OLD Testament! The individual letters and histories of the New Testament were not compiled into a formal collection until approximately 130 A.D., long after the New Testament books had been written.
So for my own clarity and to be correct in my desire to walk in obedience to Yahweh, I wanted to study the subject of “lawlessness” for myself. There were several passages in Matthew, as we’ll see later, that have always troubled me, most especially those who said,
“Lord, Lord, we did ___ in your name" and Y’shua replies, “Depart from me you wicked, you workers of lawlessness; I never knew you.”
I do not want to find out – too late – that I’m a goat when, like the people in this passage, I think I’m a sheep.
Therefore, it was important that I know what these passages meant. I wanted to truly convince myself whether or not the New Testament references to “lawlessness” truly meant something that applied to me, today. The only way I could prove or disprove this to myself was to study each entry myself. This is the record of that study.
I began in 1 John 3:4, because it defines “lawlessness” (what the KJV calls “iniquity”)
“Everyone doing sin also does lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.
From this I could see that sin IS lawlessness. So whatever it means, it is sin.
I continued reading through 1 John 3:6 which says:
“Everyone staying in Him does not sin. Everyone sinning has neither seen Him nor known Him.
So, whoever practices sin (lawlessness, since sin IS lawlessness) doesn’t know Him.
My Bible referred me from 1 John 3:6 to 1 John 2:3:
And by this we know that we know Him, if we guard His commandments.
I wanted to know exactly what these highlighted words meant because I want to know that I know Him. So I looked them up. To do so, I had to compare with a KJV Bible since my Strong’s Concordance is a KJV one.
know, 1097 gnosko – to know (absol) with great many applications, allow, be aware (of), feel, (have) know(ledge), perceive, be resolved, can speak, be sure, understand
guard, (KJV=keep), 5083, tereo (tay-reh’-o), to guard (from loss or injury, prop. by keeping an eye upon; thus different from 5442, which prop. to prevent escaping; and from 2892 which implies a fortress or full military apparatus) i.e. to note (a prophecy; fig. to fulfill a command), by implication to detain (in custody, fig. to maintain), hold fast, keep, observe, preserve, watch. [I also found that EVERY time the KJV “keep” is used in 1 John, it is this word.]
commands, (KJV = commandments) 1785 entole (en-tol-ay’), injunction, i.e. prescription, commandment, precept. [Every time this word is used in 1 and 2 John, it is entole.]
So, this verse is saying that if we truly have knowledge of Him, we will watch, keep, observe, and preserve His commandments. Exactly what those commandments are is not clearly defined by Strong’s, so I had to dig further.
Understanding just what commandments John was talking about became imperative to me. If I am going to say that I know Him, I have to keep these commandments, according to 1 John 2:3. So, I decided to look up every New Testament reference to Strong’s number (1785) “commandment,” especially if Y’shua said this word, and see in what context He used it.
What are the Commandments in the New Testament?
I decided to go through the Strong’s chronologically, from Matthew to Revelation. I also saw that commandment and commandments were often the same number, (1785).
Matthew 5:17-19: (Sermon on the Mount)
17) Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to complete. (literally = perform or restore)
18) For truly, I say to you, till the heaven and the earth pass away, one jot or one tittle shall by no means pass from the Law till all be done.
Luke 16:17 also gives this verse in a slightly different way:
And it is easier for the heaven and the earth to pass away than for one tittle of the Law to fall.
19) Whoever, then, breaks one of the least of these commands (1785), and teaches men so, shall be called least in the reign of the heavens; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the reign of the heavens.
So, in this passage, Messiah put (1785) in context of the Law (in Hebrew, Torah) and the Prophets and Y’shua tells us that the Torah won’t pass away until heaven and earth pass away, making the Torah eternal, or at the very least in effect until the earth ceases to exist.
The next reference was in Matthew 15:3-4 and 6b (to the scribes and Pharisees)
3) But He answering, said to them, “Why do you also transgress the command (1785) of God because of your tradition?
4) For Elohim has commanded (1785), saying, ‘Respect your father and your mother,’ and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’
6b)…So you have nullified the commands (1785) of Elohim (God) by your tradition.
This passage made a clear connection with the Torah because as He was saying the Pharisees transgressed the commands of the Father, He quoted an example and it is from the “10 Commandments” which is found in the Torah, the first five books of the Old Testament.
Matthew 19:17-20 says (to the rich young ruler):
17) And He said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except one- God. But if you wish to enter into life, guard the commands¹ (1785).”
18) He said to Him, “which?” And Y’shua said, “‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,’
19) ‘Respect your father and mother,” and ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’”
20) The young man said to Him, “All these I have watched (guarded, kept) over from my youth, what do I still lack?”
Here we have Y’shua quoting the 10 Commandments from Exodus 20 and the “great commandment” from Deuteronomy 6, both found in the Torah, clearly excluding the thought that the commandments refer to JUST the 10 commandments.
¹ The footnote on this verse was rather interesting. It said, “The ultimate proof of our love towards God is this: whether we obey Y’shua as He commands us to keep the Father’s commandments!”
Why would Y’shua tell this young man to keep the command (1785) if he wanted to enter life when Y’shua knew He had come to die in order to declare men right and acceptable to Yahweh? If Y’shua was going to do away with the “law” or Torah of Yahweh, why did he tell this young man to keep it so close to His death? The answer became clear to me shortly.
Next was Matthew 22: 36-38, and 40
36) “Teacher, which is the great command (1785) in the Torah?
37) And Y’shua said to him, “ ‘ You shall love Yahweh your God with all your heart, and with all your being, and with all your mind.’
38) This is the first and great command. (1785)
39) And the second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’
40) On these two commands (1785) hang all the Torah and the Prophets.’”
This, again, put (1785) right in context with the Torah, the commands being those in the first five books of the Old Testament. The passage Y’shua is quoting comes from Deuteronomy 6:5.
Now we move to the book of Mark. Mark 7:8-9,13 where Y’shua said to the Pharisees:
8) Forsaking the command (1785) of God, you hold fast the tradition of men
9) And He said to them, “Well do you set aside the commands (1785) of God, in order to guard your tradition.
13) Thus you are nullifying and making void and of no effect [the authority of] the Word of God through your tradition, which you [in turn] hand on. And many things of this kind you are doing.
This is quoting the same passage as we found in Matthew 15:3-4, 6b in which Matthew included Y’shua’s quote from the 10 Commandments, a part of the Torah.
Mark 10:19 (to the rich young ruler)
You know the commands (1785), ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Do not rob,’ ‘Respect your father and your mother.”
Once again, (1785) refers to part of the Torah.
28) And one of the scribes coming near, hearing them reasoning together, knowing that He had answered them well, asked Him, “Which is the first command (1785) of all?”
29) And Y’shua answered him, “The first of all the commands (1785) is ‘Hear O Yisrael, Yahweh our God, Yahweh is one. (This particular “one” in Hebrew = echad.)
30) And you shall love Yahweh your God with all your heart, and with all your being, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first command (1785).
31 And the second, like it, is this, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no other command (1785) greater than these.
Again, Y’shua is quoting the Torah in Deuteronomy 6, using “command” in conjunction with this section of Scripture.
And they (Zachariah and Elizabeth) were both righteous before God, blamelessly walking in all the commands (1785) and righteousness of Yahweh.
Since Zachariah was a priest, serving in the Temple when he got word by the angel that Elizabeth would have a son he was to name John, we can see from context and what the Gospels tell us about him that this reference to (1785) must mean that they kept the Torah of God. It was the only way a Jew could be considered “righteous” at that time. (“For all Thy commandments are righteousness.” Psalm 119:172)
Luke 15:29 (The older brother in the Prodigal son story)
And answering, he said to his father, ‘See,
these many years I have been serving you, and I have never transgressed a command (1785) of yours, but to me you have never given a young goat, so
I could rejoice with my friends.’”
This parable has many applications, but there is one that believers have traditionally not seen and it is, perhaps, the most important application. In this parable, Y’shua was talking about the two kingdoms or two “houses” of the Hebrew people. One was the northern kingdom of Israel and the other was the southern kingdom of Judah. In Scripture we are told that Yahweh divorced Israel, she was taken captive by the Assyrians and dispersed among the nations; she would forget her new moons and Sabbaths and not even know who she is. In this parable, Y’shua is telling the Jews (those from Judah) that Israel, who has lived among the “unclean” Gentiles, will return and is warning the Torah keeping Jews about their attitude toward the Israelites when they do return. (Y’shua said to the woman of Canaan, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Matthew 15:24) So in this passage from Luke we can truly see that Judah, the Torah keeper (command[ment] keeper) of the two houses/kingdoms of Judah and Israel is NOT happy to see Israel return and rejoin the “fold” so to speak! (talked about in Ezekiel 37) The allegory is of the Jews staying at home, [keeping the commands of the Torah] while the younger brother (the house of Israel) ran wild into the world.
Luke 18:20 (to the rich young ruler)
You know the commands (1785), “Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Respect your father and your mother.
Y’shua quotes the Torah once again in direct connotation of (1785). Since we’ve seen three versions of this one encounter, do you think it might be an important point? Whenever something is repeated, we KNOW it is important!
There were some cross references in my Bible which sent me on a treasure hunt to this section which tells us that the commands (1785) which Y’shua spoke are actually the words of His Father!
John 12:48-50 (to the crowds)
48) He who rejects Me, and does not receive My Words, has one who judges him: the Word that I have spoken shall judge him in the last day. (emphasis mine)
The footnote for this verse said:
We are going to be judged according to the Words Y’shua spoke, nothing else! His Words (teaching, commands)* are the same as His Father’s.
[*My note: that is the meaning of the Hebrew word. Torah = teachings, instructions of God. It does not mean “law” as it has been mistranslated through the years from the meaning of the Greek word nomos, referring to law as in a legal system. Translating “Torah” as “law” gives it a very different meaning than God gave through the Hebrew.]
Lest you doubt that Y’shua’s words were the Father’s, here’s what Y’shua said about it in:
John 7:16: (teaching in the temple)
Y’shua answered them and said, “My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me.”
So we see that the words Y’shua has spoken are connected with the Torah and are actually His Father’s words/commands (1785), Yahweh’s instructions/ teachings for life.
Eye Opening Scripture
These verses were then cross referenced to an amazing scripture, which I checked in three different versions.
John 3:36 (John the Baptist is speaking)
He who believes in the Son possess everlasting life, but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.
This was SO shocking to me that I checked it with the KJV, which says:
He that believeth¹ on the Son hath everlasting life; and he that believeth² not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
Well, I just couldn’t believe that these two versions could be SO different! One of them had to be misleading. So I looked up the two “believeths” and found something very interesting. They are not the same word!!
Believeth¹ 4100, pisteuo (pist-yoo’o) to have faith (in, upon or with respect to a person or thing), i.e. credit, by implication to entrust (esp. one’s spiritual well-being to Christ); believe(r), commit (trust), put in trust with
Believeth² 544, apeitheo (ap-i-theh’o) to disbelieve (willfully and perversely) not believe, disobedient, obey not, unbelieving; [from 545 (apithes, ap-i-thace’) from 1 as a negative particle and 3982, unpersuadable, i.e. disobedient]
544 is a derivation of 545, meaning that the root of the word carries the meaning of the derivation. Therefore, both of these words (544 & 545) convey a strong meaning of disobedience, not simply unbelief as the KJV has it translated.
Actually, the Amplified version also has it correctly translated:
And he who believes in (has faith in, clings to, relies on) the Son has (now possesses) eternal life. But whoever disobeys (is unbelieving toward, refuses to trust in, disregards, is not subject to) the Son will never see (experience) life, but [instead] the wrath of God abides on him. [God’s displeasure remains on him; His indignation hangs on him continually.]
My study continues, but to this point I could see that, thus far, Y’shua has clearly stated the importance of keeping His commandments (1785) which He has put in context with keeping the Torah.
Commandment Study Continued
Next in the study of command (1785) was John 14:15, 21, 23: (to His disciples. We are also His disciples!)
15) If you love Me, you shall guard My commands (1785) ¹
¹ The perfect sequence: first love, then obedience.
21) He who possesses My commands (1785) and guards them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I shall love him and manifest Myself to him.
23) Y’shua answered him, “If anyone loves Me, he shall guard My Word. And My Father shall love him, and we shall come to him and make Our stay with him.²
² This single verse summarizes the entire Messianic Scriptures!
So, if we keep Y’shua’s commands, then He and the Father will love us and make their stay with us. So far, the commands we’ve seen or Y’shua has stated have to do with keeping the Torah.
John 15:10-12: (to His disciples)
10) If you guard My commands (1785), you shall stay in My love, even as I
have guarded My Father’s commands (1785) and stay in
11) These words I have spoken to you, so that My joy might be in you, and that your joy might be complete.
12) This is My command (1785), that you love one another as I have loved you.
This is again a recapping of the Torah command to love God first and then to love your neighbor. [John 13:34 says a “new” command in the KJV. Others translate it more accurately as a “renewed” command.]
9) For this, “You shall not commit
adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear
false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other command (1785) it is summed up in this word, “You shall love your
neighbour as yourself.”
10) Love does no evil to a neighbour. Therefore, love is a completion of the Law. (Torah)
Here we see Paul using command (1785) in connection with the Torah just as we saw with Y’shua, giving further weight that the commands are the Torah, which we have mistranslated as “law.” (Did Y’shua’s death nullify His own instructions for life? His own teachings? [He IS “the Word,” according to John 1:1-5.] Did His death “cancel” His own Words and instructions to us? He spoke in accordance to Yahweh’s command, for He and the Father are both “one,” meaning they are a united entity, [in Hebrew, echad].)
1 Corinthians 7:19
The circumcision is naught, and the uncircumcision is naught, but the guarding of the commands (1785) of God does matter!
I will postpone a commentary on this verse until the end as it was another study. If you choose to read through to the end, then you can find out about this verse. For the present, the important thing to see from this verse is that Paul again states that the commands of God - “does matter.”
14) For He is our peace, who has made both
one, and having broken down the partition of the barrier,
15) having abolished in His flesh the enmity ¹ - the Torah of commands (1785) in dogma – so as to create in Himself one renewable man from the two, thus making peace
16) and to completely restore to favour both of them unto God in one body through the stake, having destroyed the enmity by it.
¹ The enmity has been done away with, not the commands of Yahweh!
The New American Standard version of this passage helps us to more clearly understand just what the enmity that was done away with is:
14) For He Himself is our peace, who made
both groups into one (Jew and
Gentile) and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall,
15) by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace,
16) and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.
This passage shows us that the atonement of the Messiah’s death removed the enmity between God and man and the enmity that existed between the Jews and Gentiles, the enmity which would have kept Peter from entering Cornelius’ household without God’s intervention. (Acts 10; See: Does the Bible Say We Can Eat Anything?)
“Respect your father and mother,” which is the first command (1785) with promise.
Paul again puts the Torah in context with command (1785) in these two verses.
1 Timothy 6:14
that you guard the command¹ (1785) spotlessly, blamelessly, until the appearing of our Master Y’shua Messiah.
¹ command (singular) often means commands, plural e.g. Deuteronomy 17:20, Ps. 19:8.
So Paul commands us to keep the commandments of Torah spotlessly, blamelessly! Y’shua did the same, as His Father Yahweh had commanded it, forever!
Therefore you shall love Yahweh your God and keep His charge, His statues, His precepts, and His commandments, always.
When does always come to an end?
So, now that I’ve covered all the “commandment/s” Scriptures to 1 John, we are back where we started, at 1 John 2:3-6. Let’s look at these verses now that we have a context for “commandment” now knowing that Y’shua used this word in reference to the commandments/ precepts of the Torah.
1 John 2:3-6:
3) And by this we know that we know Him, if
we guard His commands.
4) The one who says, “I know Him,” and does not guard his commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
5) But whoever guards His Word, truly the love of Elohim has been perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him.
6) The one who says he stays in Him ought himself also to walk, even as He walked.
This is pretty clear, isn’t it? If we know Him, we’ll watch, preserve, observe, keep His commandments and if we don’t keep them, we fool ourselves and are liars; there is no truth in us. So, as Y’shua walked, as a keeper of the commandments, we are to walk in the same way, if we say we stay in Him. No wonder 1 John makes people nervous!!
Next comes 1 John 3:22-24:
22) And whatever we ask we receive from Him,
because we guard His commands (1785) and do what
is pleasing in His sight.¹
23) And this is His command (1785), that we should believe in the Name of His Son Y’shua Messiah and love one another, as He gave us command (1785).
24) And the one guarding His commands (1785) stays in Him, and He in him, And by this we know that He stays in us, by the Spirit which He gave us.
There are some interesting pictures in these verses. I’ll save the first verse for last since it will take the most time. In v. 23 we see that the command (1785) is to love one another, again quoting the Torah, and the other part is to believe in the Name of His Son, to which the entire Old Testament pointed. This makes (1785) again in context with the Torah and prophesies of Messiah’s coming, as Y’shua said, “…the Torah and the Prophets….” V 24 tells us that guarding His commands (1785) keeps us in Him, with the Spirit bearing witness.
Now for the first verse in this section. 1 John 3:22 almost quotes a section of James.
James 4:3 (KJV)
Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss…
To understand the comparison I’m going to make, we must take a side path for a few moments.
Paul states that without the Torah, we’d
have no knowledge of sin.
for the Torah works out wrath, for where there is no Torah, there is no transgression (3847- parabasis = violation, breaking).
Without the Torah, there is no “breaking” or “violation” of God’s instruction. Without the Torah, there’s nothing to break.
7) What, then, shall we say? Is the Torah sin? Let it not be! However, I did not know sin except through the Torah….For apart from Torah sin is dead.
Knowing that the Torah tells us what sin is and what it is not, I looked up the “ask amiss” part of James 4:3 to find out what “amiss” meant. It means with evil intentions or desire. Well, if we “ask with evil intention,” isn’t evil “sin” according to the Word? So, if it is sin, then isn’t that asking “lawlessly,” making it in violation of the Torah? Then if we ask “amiss” we are asking something that is against the Torah! If we ask against God’s instruction and teaching, then we won’t get it. It is amazing to see that this instruction of James cycles back to the Torah, a cycle that repeats over and over again in both parts of the Bible.
Now that we have seen that we are to keep his commands (1785), for if we do not we don’t know Him, and the one guarding His commands (1785) stays in Him, then let’s finish our “command” study.
1 John 4:21
And we have this command (1785) from Him, that the one loving God should love his brother, too.
Again, a restating of the second “greatest” commandment from the Torah.
1 John 5:2-3
2) By this we know that we love the children
of God, when we love God and guard his commands (1785)
3) For this is the love for God, that we guard His commands (1785), and His commands are not heavy. (burdensome, KJV)
So, if we love Him we will love His children, guard His commands (as we’ve seen, the only commands given are those in the Torah, whether in the Old Testament or the New Testament) AND John says these commands “are not heavy;” they are not burdensome to keep. Is this what the traditional teaching of the church has been? Why have we been told the Torah is too heavy to keep if the divinely inspired Word of God says it isn’t? And it even said this in the “NEW” Testament!
2 John 6
And this is love, that we walk according to His commands (1785). This is the command (1785) that as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it.
So, this was not something new! It was consistently stated throughout the teachings of the apostles; keep the commands of Yahweh, (the Torah) for it is love.
And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to fight with the remnant of her seed, those guarding the commands (1785) of God and possessing the witness of Y’shua Messiah.
This is the story of the end-time remnant. They will be those who do both: they believe and trust their eternity to Messiah, but they also guard (keep) the commands of God. The next verse gives the same picture.
Here is the endurance of the set-apart ones (remnant), here are those guarding (keeping) the commands (1785) of God and the belief in Y’shua.
This next verse actually made the hair stand out all over me and made me sit up straight in the chair when I was digging all this out. It is a pretty solemn warning to those who do not keep the Torah. Remember, the verse below is from the “NEW” Testament!
Blessed are those doing His commands (1785), so that the authority shall be theirs unto the tree of life, and to enter through the gates into the city.
I don’t want to be one of those not keeping the commands (the Torah) of God!! I want access to the tree of life and into the gates of God’s city!
Let’s see how the King James translated this verse:
Blessed are they that do his commandments (1785), that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.
New Testament Lawlessness Defined
We’ve now come to the end of the verses in the New Testament on “command/s” (1785) and are ready to look at the two verses that I most wanted to investigate on lawlessness. However, before going to them, let’s take a look at one interesting thought found in Matthew 23:23-39 and especially John 7:19. You can read these for yourself. Y’shua is rebuking the scribes and Pharisees. Notice what He says to them. I’ve always been told that these people kept the law (Torah), but according to Y’shua, they did not! He called the scribes and Pharisees “lawless”! They had broken the Torah by adding to it and subtracting from it. [Check this out in Matthew 5:17-19; 15:3-9; Mark 7:7-13; John 7:19; Acts 2:23-29 and Stephen’s sermon in Acts 7:53.]
Now, the passages I was most interested in:
Matthew 7:15, 21-23: (to the multitude)
15) But beware of the false prophets¹, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are savage wolves.
¹ Y’shua reveals unto us in v 23 that they are those who work lawlessness!
21) Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Master,
Master,’ shall enter into the reign of the heavens, but he who is doing the
desire of My Father in the heavens.
22) Many shall say to Me in that day, ‘Master, Master, have we not prophesied in Your Name, and cast out demons in Your Name, and done many mighty works in Your Name?
23) And then I shall declare to them, ‘I never knew you, depart from Me you who work lawlessness!
Lawlessness = (iniquity, KJV) 458, anomia, from 459, illegality, violation of law, wickedness, transgression of law, unrighteous.
To what law is this referring? The root word tells us:
Root word: 459 anomos, lawless (i.e. negatively), not subject to the Jewish law, without law, lawless, transgressor, unlawful, wicked.
So, according to the root meaning, those who are asked to depart from Y’shua’s presence at judgment are lawless, they do not live in accordance with the Torah of Yahweh!! Even though they are doing mighty works in His Name!
Also notice that verse 23 ends with “lawlessness” and the next verse begins, “Therefore…” putting the “therefore” as a connection between what is above and what is coming next, which is the house built on the rock. Notice what Y’shua says:
24) Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine, and does them, shall
be like a wise man who built his house on the rock…
Building the house on the rock is Y’shua, yes, but it is also the Torah for Y’shua is the living Torah (John 1:1-5)
The next section tells us where the lawless will end up.
Matthew 13:41-42: (to His disciples)
41) The Son of Adam shall send out His
messengers, and they shall gather out of His reign all the stumbling blocks,
and those doing lawlessness¹ (458)
42) and shall throw them into the furnace of fire – there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
¹ Lawlessness is the tare which the devil sowed, and sprouts and takes shape in the form of lawless “believers.”
How can we be lawless and be “believers”?
This is an oxymoron! We have seen how Y’shua told us again and again to keep
the commandments (1785); to keep the Torah!
Matthew 24:11-12: (to His disciples)
11) And many false prophets (lawless
according to Matthew 7:15, 23) shall rise up and lead many astray.
12) And because of the increase of lawlessness [Torahlessness] (458) the love of many shall become cold.
These passages in Matthew 7 and Matthew 24 had always intrigued me because of the solemness of the warnings. I have never wanted to find out too late that I was on the side of the goats, where I truly do not want to be! In this study I could clearly see that those who end up in trouble are those who have not kept His commands. He calls them lawless.
Just in case there’s still doubt, let’s see how else Y’shua used this word, “lawless/lawlessness” or “Torahlessness” as we have seen, which is Strong’s number (458).
27) Woe to you, scribes and Pharissees,
hypocrites! Because you are like white-washed tombs which outwardly indeed look
well, but inside are filled with dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.
28) So you too outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness. (458) [Torahlessness]
I speak as a man, because of the weakness of your flesh. For even as you did present your members as servants of uncleanness and of lawlessness (458) resulting in lawlessness (458), so now present your members as servants of righteousness resulting in set-apartness. (holiness)
Here Paul is simply saying that before, we broke the Torah, we worked lawlessness [Torahlessness] which made us lawless [Torahless]. Now, however, we are to present ourselves as servants of righteousness which will result in holiness. By comparison, we are to no longer work Torahlessness.
Even if one hasn’t gone to all this study, it is important to note that the New Testament plainly defines lawlessness for us:
Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. 1 John 3:4
Since we’ve seen from the Strong’s the definition for lawlessness, we can see that sin equals torahlessness!! When believers tell people today that they are sinning, then believers are telling them that they are disobeying the torah and living outside of God’s instructions on how to live.
This next passage is a bit long, but very powerful. I was amazed at what I found in it.
2 Thess. 2:3-12, 15:
3) Let no one deceive you in any way,
because the falling away is to come first, and the man of lawlessness¹ is to be revealed, the son of destruction,
4) who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshipped, so that he sits as God in the Dwelling Place of God, showing himself that he is God.
5) Do you not remember that I told you this while I was still with you?
6) And now you know what restrains, for him to be revealed in his time.
7) For the secret of lawlessness (458) is already at work – only until he who now restrains comes out of the midst.
8) And then the lawless one shall be revealed, whom the Master shall consume with the Spirit of His mouth and bring to naught with the manifestation of His coming.
9) The coming of the lawless one is according to the work of Satan, with all power and signs and wonders of falsehood,
10) and with all deceit of unrighteousness in those perishing, because they did not receive the love of the truth ², in order for them to be saved.
11) And for this reason God sends them a working of delusion, for them to believe in the falsehood,
12) in order that all should be judged who did not believe the truth, but have delighted in unrighteousness
15) So, then, brothers, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or by our letter.
¹ Some texts read sin instead of lawlessness. Note that the counterfeit one, and the counterfeit worship exposed in this chapter, centers around “lawlessness!” (Torahlessness) This prophetic passage clearly says that “lawlessness,” the tare which the devil sowed in the Messianic Belief would take over, and has taken over!
² Truth is contrasted with lawlessness, sin, falsehood, deceit, delusion, unrighteousness
I was intrigued by v. 15 because of the word “tradition.” If Paul instructed them to hold the traditions they’d been taught, then just what was that tradition?
tradition, 3862, paradosis (par-ad’-os-is), transmission, specifically the Jewish traditionary law: ordinance, tradition.
So, Paul is saying hold the Torah which you have been taught, consistently what has been said throughout the sixty-six books of the Bible. Neither did Y’shua live a Torahless life, nor (as we have seen) did He or any other New Testament writer tell us to do so.
who gave Himself for us, to redeem us from all lawlessness¹ (458) and to cleanse for Himself a people, His own possession, ardent for good works.
¹Lawlessness is a synonym for sin, according to 1 John 3:4. This is the main reason why Y’shua came to earth, to save sinners from sin: from being lawless; Torahless.
What??? You say. If we have to keep the Torah, then we’d have to be circumcised and Paul said we didn’t have to be circumcised!! Well guess what, you are half right and half wrong.
New Testament Believers Not “Under the Law”
Paul did say men don’t have to be circumcised under the renewed covenant. Why not? He explains this in Romans 2:26-29 and in 1 Corinthians 7:19.
Romans 2: 26-29:
26) So, if an uncircumcised one watches over
the righteousness of the Torah, shall not his uncircumcision be reckoned as
27) And the uncircumcised by nature, who perfects the Torah, shall judge you who not withstanding letter and circumcision are a transgressor of the Torah!
28) For he is not a Jew who is so outwardly, neither is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh.
29) But a Jew is he who is so inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart, in Spirit, not literally, whose praise is not from men, but from Elohim.
What was the mark of the covenant under Abraham?; circumcision, which spilled blood. What is the mark of the renewed (“new”) covenant through the death and spilt blood of Y’shua? Circumcision of the heart, making physical circumcision or uncircumcision no longer of primary importance, but not negating the keeping of Torah! (The mark of the renewed covenant is no longer in man’s flesh (circumcision). The mark(s) is now in Y’shua’s flesh!)
Doubt me? Read on.
1 Corinthians 7:19:
The circumcision is naught and the uncircumcision is naught, but the guarding of the commands (1785) of Elohim does matter!
KJV puts it this way:
Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments (1785) of God.
For circumcision is nothing and counts for nothing, neither does uncircumcision, but [what counts is] keeping the commandments (1785) of God.
THIS is what American Gentile Christians have missed! This circumcision of the heart was even prophesied repeatedly in the Old Testament. It is SO important to understand the Scriptures from the perspective of the ones who wrote it, and they wrote it as Jews. (except for Luke, though even he had to have some understanding of this since he was in constant fellowship with and surrounded by Jewish believers in the Messiah.)
26) 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) I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statues, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.
Hebrews 8:10 reiterates Ezekiel:
10) Because this is the covenant that I shall make with the house of Israel after those days, says Yahweh, giving My laws in their mind, and I shall write them on their hearts, and I shall be their God and they shall be My people.
Misconception About Paul
Why did God “put My Spirit within you”? The italicized part of the rest of the verse in Ezekiel 36, above, answers that question; to cause us to walk according to His statues and ordinances: according to the Torah. If this weren’t for “today” then it wouldn’t have been quoted in Hebrews, in the NEW Testament. This is the “better covenant;” one of the heart. It doesn’t say a different covenant! Both the original covenant and the one through Messiah’s death required a blood sacrifice. The “better” part is that we no longer have to slay animals to cover our sin, for Messiah did that once, for all. But, the sacrifice for sin was only one of many different kinds of sacrifices (sin, peace, guilt, grain, wave, etc.) Did you know that PAUL made a sacrifice after becoming a believer in Messiah? If all sacrifices were done away with, as we’ve been taught, then why did he do this?
This is talked about in the following
17) And when we had
come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly.
18) And now the following day Paul went in with us to James and all the elders were present.
19) And after he had greeted them, he began to relate one by one the things which God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry.
20) And when they heard it they began glorifying God; and they said to him, “You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed, and they are all zealous for the Law; (Torah)
21) and they have been told about you, that you are teaching all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs.
22) “What, then, is to be done? They will certainly hear that you have come.
23) Therefore do this that we tell you. We have four men who are under a vow:
24) take them and purify yourself along with them, and pay their expenses in order that they may shave their heads; and all will know that there is nothing to the things which they have been told about you, but that you yourself walk orderly keeping the Law. (Torah)
26) Then Paul took the men, and the next day, purifying himself along with them, went into the temple, giving notice of the completion of the days of purification, until the sacrifice was offered for each one of them.
So Paul made a sacrifice which included having the head shaved and which involved some expenses, probably for the sacrifices given. According to James’ instructions, he did this so all the Jews would be able to see that he was NOT forsaking the teachings of Moses; the Torah (“law”).
And Paul, having remained many days longer, took leave of the brethren and put out to sea for Syria, and with him were Priscilla and Aquila. In Cenchrea he had his hair cut, for he was keeping a vow.
Why was his hair cut? Numbers 6 tells us. This is the only place in Scripture where a head is shaved to keep a vow unto the Lord.
Numbers 6:2-5, 18-19: (for all the details, read verses 2-21)
2) Speak to the sons of Israel, and say to
them, ‘When a man or woman makes a
special vow, the vow of a Nazirite, to dedicate himself to the Lord,
3) he shall abstain from wine and strong drink; he shall drink no vinegar, whether made from wine or strong drink, neither shall he drink any grape juice, nor eat fresh or dried grapes.
4) All the days of his separation he shall not eat anything that is produced by the grape vine, from the seeds even to the skin.
5) All the days of his vow of separation no razor shall pass over his head. He shall be holy until the days are fulfilled for which he separated himself to the Lord; He shall let the locks of hair on his head grow long.
18) The Nazirite shall then shave his dedicated head of hair at the doorway of the tent of meeting, and take the dedicated hair of his head and put it on the fire which is under the sacrifice of peace offerings.
19) And the priest shall take a ram’s shoulder when it has been boiled, and one unleavened cake out of the basket, and one unleavened wafer, and shall put them on the hands of the Nazirite after he has shaved his dedicated hair.
Paul was keeping a Nazirite vow along with four other believing Jews, all of whom went to the Temple to complete their vow to the Lord. They were walking out a Torah command, thus showing us (along with all the Jews in Jerusalem at that time) that they still kept the commandments as believers in the Messiah.
The writing of the Torah on our hearts is what Paul was talking about in Romans 2:26-29, quoted above.
Torah Written on Our Hearts
Other Old Testament passages also talk about this phenomenon which would come.
5) And now if you diligently obey My voice
and shall guard My covenant, then you shall be My treasured possession above
all the peoples – for all the earth is Mine
6) and you shall be to Me a reign of priests and a set-apart nation.
Let me ask you a question: was Old Testament Israel a “reign of priests”? No, they had the designated priesthood, but the entire nation was not a “reign of priests.” So, who’s He talking about?
1 Peter 2:9:
But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people, that you may show forth the praises of Him who has brought you out of darkness into His marvelous light.
He’s talking about those brought into renewed covenant through the death, burial and resurrection of Messiah!
12) And now,
Yisrael, what is Yahweh your God asking of you, but to fear Yahweh your God, to
walk in all His ways and to love Him, and to serve Yahweh your God with all
your heart and with all your being
13) to guard the commands of Yahweh and His laws which I command you today for your good?
14) See, the heavens and the heaven of heavens belong to הּוּהּיּ (Yahweh) your God, also the earth with all that is in it.
15) הּוהּיּ delighted only in your fathers, to love them. And He chose their seed after them, you above all peoples, as it is today.
16) And you shall circumcise the foreskin of your heart and harden your neck no more.
According to Messianic Jews (those who kept the Torah before coming to belief in Y’shua and now have both parts) circumcision of the heart runs parallel with, or results in the guarding of His commandments. I thought circumcision of the heart was only found in the New Testament, but this is Deuteronomy, the Old Testament!
Meanings found in v. 13:
guard (keep, KJV) 8104, shamar, guard, protect, attend, heed (to self), keep observe, preserve, regard, watch.
Remind you of anything? How about the “guard” #5083 in 1 John?
commands (commandments, KJV) 4687 mitzvah, command, law, ordinance, precept.
Remind you of anything? How about all those #1785 we looked at in the NT?
laws (statutes, KJV) 2708 chuqqah appointed custom, manner, ordinance, site, statute.
These words are very familiar to my family as we have been studying the Torah in addition to the New Testament for the last three years and we see these words on a regular basis. It’s interesting to see how they are so consistent with the message of the New Testament.
Deuteronomy 30:6-8 again talks about the circumcision of the heart which was to come:
6) And הּוּהּיּ (Yahweh) your God shall circumcise your heart* and the heart of your seed, to love הּוּהּיּ your God with all
your heart and with all your being, so that you might live,
7) and הּוּהּיּ your God shall put all these curses on your enemies and on those who hate you, who persecuted you.
8) And you shall turn back and obey the voice of הּוּהּיּ and do all His commands which I command you today.
*This picture of circumcision of the heart was also prophesied in Jeremiah 4:4, 9:25, 26 as well as the passage we saw in Romans 2:28 & 29.
6) However, it is not as though the word of
God has failed. For they are not all Yisra’el who are of Yisra’el
7) neither are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham, but “In Yitzhaq you seed shall be called.”
8) That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God, but the children are reckoned as the seed.
Scholars explain it: There is a true Yisra’el, a Yisra’el that is Spiritual within the greater Yisra’el after the flesh. This true Yisra’el is probably the same as the term often used in Scripture: the remnant
Paul clearly states that it takes acceptance of Messiah’s death as your atonement for you to be “declared right” before God, and that the Torah will not save anyone. But neither does Paul “trash” the Torah! On the contrary, he does quite the opposite!
20) Therefore by works of Torah no flesh
shall be declared right before
Him, for by the Torah is the knowledge of sin.
21) But now, apart from the Torah, a righteousness of God has been revealed, being witnessed by the Torah and the Prophets (my note: being Y’shua)
22) and the righteousness of God is through belief in Y’shua Messiah to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference,
23) for all have sinned and fall short of the esteem of God
24) being declared right, without paying, by His favor through the redemption which is in Messiah Y’shua
25) whom God set forth as an atonement, though belief in His blood, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His tolerance God has passed over the sins that had taken place before,
26) to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He is righteous and declares righteous the one who has belief in Y’shua.
27) Where, then, is the boasting? It is shut out. By what Torah? Of works? No, but by the Torah of belief.
28) For we reckon that a man is declared right by belief without works of Torah.
(Saved yes, but this is only talking about salvation; it isn’t talking about the obedience of our walking it out from there)
29) Or is He the God of the Jews only, and not also of the gentiles? Yes, of the gentiles also,
30) since it is one God who shall declare right the circumcised by belief and the uncircumcised through belief.
31) Do we then nullify the Torah through belief? Let it not be! On the contrary, we establish the Torah.
Paul is loudly and clearly stating that the Torah will not save anyone! ONLY accepting the atoning sacrifice of the Messiah will save. However, once you are saved, the Torah instructs us on how we are to live a life that is pleasing to God, a life like the one the Messiah lived before us as our example: a Torah observant and obedient life. (If He did it, we do it; if He didn’t we don’t.)
From this study, you can see that the Torah IS for today, for if we don’t keep it, we lie if we say we know Him (1 John 2:3-4); without it we will not see eternal life with Him (John 3:36), nor will we even have access to the city of God and the tree of life (Rev 22:14), so just those few points tell us how very important the Torah is to God the Father, (הּוּהּיּ Elohim = Yahweh God) and to His Son (ﬠשּוּהּיּ) Y’shua Messiah. The picture gets even more serious when we include all the Scriptures we’ve covered.
We’ve also seen how we have misunderstood what Paul wrote. The Torah is not nullified by the New Testament; the mark of the covenant has now moved to the heart instead of the flesh, which was also prophesied in the Old Testament. Indeed, Y’shua came to show us how it was to be lived in full, instead of the perverted version the Pharisees and Sadducees had given the people with their additions and subtractions, thereby giving the people what Y’shua called “the traditions of men.”
Haven’t we, the New Testament believers done the same? Therefore, all the things we’ve “thrown out” because we aren’t “under the law” we have to now re-evaluate, because we now know they are not obsolete, but still “in force” today. For example, if the “law” is not for today, then we can murder, steal, lie and profane God’s name blamelessly, right? Most everyone would say, “NO!” Well, if ONLY the 10 Commandments are in force today then we can throw out any Torah commands outside of them, right? If this is true, then homosexuality, bestiality, necromancy (calling up the dead), witchcraft, etc., would now be acceptable to God. Is this true? NO! Therefore, the entire Torah is still in force today. Yahweh even tried to explain this to us in both parts of the Bible through His spokesmen, “I am the Lord, thy God. I change not” Malachi 3:6 and the writer to the Messianic Jews (the book of Hebrews) said, “Y’shua HaMashiach, the same yesterday, today and forever.” (Paul’s letter to the Galatians covers that the Torah will not SAVE anyone, but does not invalidate the truth of the Torah for the way we walk out our salvation. This book is so misunderstood by those without a Hebraic mindset – those who forget or don’t seem to realize that “Jesus” was a Jew, as were His disciples).
Therefore, we have an important choice to make. Will we obey what Y’shua said and live as He lived, obeying the Scriptures to “walk as He did,” (1 John 2:6) or instead, will we hold fast to the traditions of men? Y’shua commented on this very question in Mark 7:
“…you hold fast the traditions of men…you set aside the commandments of God in order to guard your tradition. Thus you are nullifying and making void and of no effect the Word of God through your tradition, which you hand on.”
Will we justify our disobedience to what He has said in order to hold fast to what has been passed down to us? Will we “hand on” our “lawless” traditions to our families in disobedience to the commands of Yahweh and His Son, Y’shua? Do we love our traditions more than we love Him? Do we love them more than obeying Him? Please note that these are God’s COMMANDMENTS, not His suggestions.
If we continue on in these non-Scriptural ways then Y’shua, Himself, said:
Do not think that I have come to do abolish the Torah or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill them (to rightly interpret them). For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Torah until all is accomplished. Whoever then breaks or does away with or relaxes one of the least of these commandments, and so teaches others, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees (whom He called “Torahless”), you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.
We MUST understand that the Messiah, Himself told us that the Torah will out-live heaven and earth: the Torah - the instructions and teachings of God - are ETERNAL! Therefore, how can we be “no longer under the ‘law’?” And, how can we say and believe that Paul and other New Testament writers wrote something contradictory to what “God in the flesh” said and it be accepted as “Divinely inspired Scripture?” If Y’shua lied, why are we putting our trust for eternity in Him if we cannot believe what He said while here on earth? If Paul and other New Testament writers contradicted the Messiah, how can we put any credence into what they have said as being from God?
We must remember that in God’s economy, to love Him is to obey Him. (John 14:15) Therefore, to know the truth, we must study the Word of God for what it actually says, not as our non-Hebraic traditions have taught us, not as we’ve been told that it says. My point is that instead of excusing ourselves from obedience to the principles of the Torah, excusing ourselves from studying and applying it to our lives because “that’s Old Testament,” we would be wise in light of what Y’shua said and what we have seen that the New Testament is really saying to know what is in the Torah and to decide to apply all that we can instead of as little as we can. Most believers do not know or understand that the New Testament writers were largely expounding upon the OLD Testament! They didn’t create a new belief system or religion; they were talking about living a “lawful” life in accordance to the way Y’shua - our example - lived.
If we will just let the Word of God interpret itself without trying to explain it away, if we will just search until we find the part that interprets what has us stumped, then we don’t come up with wrong doctrines and we can clearly know and then obey what God has said. Either we believe what He took the time to inspire men to write down for us, or we don’t. Don’t explain away the Word of God. Let it interpret itself so that we can be obedient in walking out our salvation and all find our way through the gates of the city and to the tree of life. This is even MORE interesting once you know that the tree of life is an Old Testament metaphor for the Torah!