Paul and the "New Testament"
First, I want to make clear that when I’m talking about some of the things I’m going to cover in this article, you may be thinking that I’m saying this is necessary or a pre-requisite for salvation. That is not what is being said. It is only through the Messiah that we are saved, for His sacrifice on the tree did away for eternity with all sacrifices for right standing with Yahweh. However, there is still the issue of obedience to Yahweh. Salvation is what He gives freely to us through Y’shua; obedience is what we give back to Him as an expression of our love for Him and for what He has done for us.
It’s very important to understand the Hebraic perspective of the writers of the New Testament; more accurately called the Renewed Covenant. Without this understanding, we read into the words on the page things it does not say, because of the Greek/Roman influence upon the teachings of the church, and thus, the way we think. The things often unseen are right on the page in black and white, just like the baptism in the Holy Spirit cannot be seen until someone unlocks our understanding of it. Without understanding the perspective, idioms (sayings) and the attitude of the apostles who wrote the books of Matthew to Revelation, we superimpose our views on what they wrote, giving us a totally different and many times inaccurate conclusion. Doubt this? I don’t blame you! But if you’ll read on, proof will be given straight from the Word of God and from the research of biblical scholars knowledgeable of the Hebrew culture and the Bible.
It is also important to understand how Scripture fits into history, or perhaps vice versa. The Bible is the complete, infallible, divinely inspired word of Yahweh, but it is not a complete history of the world. For instance, Sennacherib of Assyria is mentioned in Scripture and the Bible says he was killed by one of his sons. History tells us the bigger story, into which accurately fits the biblical account thereby validating the Bible as accurate. The same is true of Cyrus of Persia. Hundreds of years before his birth, Yahweh called his name, identified him and said what this king would do for Yahweh. The historical writings of this kingdom also validate the biblical account. I have also included some similar historical information that verifies the biblical accounts covered in this writing.
I think one of the biggest problems facing us today is that we seem to think there is one covenant for the Jews and one for the Gentiles, and “the twain don’t meet!” This is a wrong belief. Exodus tells us that when the Jews fled
“And all the people answered (Moses) together and said, ‘All that YHWH has spoken we will do!’
And Moses brought back the words of the people to YHWH.”
Thus, both Jew and “stranger” accepted the Torah.
1 Corinthians says the same:
“For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.”
Ephesians 3:6 elaborates,
“to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow-heirs and fellow-members of the body, and fellow-partakers of the promise of Messiah Y’shua through the gospel.”
(also see Romans 9:24-26; Romans 11:12; Galatians 3:14; Ephesians 2:11)
So, just as the “strangers” on Sinai (those “non-Jews”) were included in the covenant with Yahweh before Y’shua so are the “strangers,” the Gentiles, included in the covenant under Y’shua.
Y’shua’s focus wasn’t even on the non-Jew! He told the woman with the demon-possessed daughter,
“I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of
So, it was only through Y’shua coming to the House of Israel and our being grafted into HIM that we have salvation! That was the purpose of the vision of Peter at Joppa; to understand that no MAN was to be called unholy or unclean.
“You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a man who is a Jew to associate with a foreigner or to visit him; and yet God has shown me that I should not call any man unholy or unclean.” (Acts 10:28, approximately 48 A.D.)
Without this having happened, salvation would have been for the Hebrews, alone, for it was at Cornelius’ household in the above situation where we have the first record of the Gentiles being first grafted into the commonwealth of Israel and made heirs to the covenant of promise, many years after the church’s “birth.” (see Eph. 2:11-12; Gal. 2:15) How wonderful to see that the same covenant of inclusion in the Tanakh (what we call “Old Testament), is also shown after Messiah with the Renewing of the Covenant (RC) in Y’shua’s blood, and once again the engrafting of the “stranger,” “foreigner,” “non-Jew;” the Gentiles.
Another fallacy in Christendom is that the NT is the “gospel of grace” with grace here meaning, “unmerited favor” and that the OT is the gospel of the “law.” That’s what we’re taught, isn’t it? I was astonished to find that this simply wasn’t true! The chart below should help you to understand what I found. All of the words below have been translated “grace” in both parts of the Bible.
chesed = “undeserved favor” eleos = “undeserved favor”
251 times in Tanakh (OT) 50 times in Renewed Covenant (NT)
chen = preciousness charis = preciousness
70 times in Tanakh 233 times in Renewed Covenant (NT)
So, we can see that there was more “gospel of grace” meaning unmerited favor in what we call the Old Testament than there is in the New, over five to one! AND we can see that the word “grace” that so abounds in the Renewed Covenant really means something quite different than we’ve been told.
Paul wrote many times to the Gentiles to clarify to them that salvation was through Messiah, and to make clear that works would not save them, especially to combat those Jewish believers who kept pushing the customs of the Jews being kept for salvation. That doesn’t discount the validity established by Paul in keeping the Jewish customs before the Gentile believers whom he mentored and before whom he lived as an example they were sure to follow. Paul simply wanted to make clear that keeping the Jewish customs would not provide salvation.
The term “Renewed Covenant” (Brit Hadasha in Hebrew) originated some 600 years before Paul, when Jeremiah declared that God would make a brit hadasha with the House of Israel and with the House of Judah, which would not be broken as the one from Sinai had been. According to Jeremiah, this covenant would be written on the heart. (Jeremiah 31:30-31) This passage is quoted in the RC in Hebrews 8:8-12.
In his Jewish New Testament Translation, David Stern explains that the New Testament is not actually a “new” covenant, but that the Torah of God was given through Messiah Y’shua to the Gentiles, just as the original Torah was given through Moses to the Jews and the strangers among them, and that this is the actual meaning of Hebrews 8:6 concerning the term “better covenant.” (More on this later)
Y’shua was from a Torah observant family and lived the life of a Torah observant Jew; He died a Torah observant Jew. He arose thusly and taught His disciples until His ascension as a Torah observant Jew. His family fulfilled the commandments (mitzvah) for his circumcision, (Ex. 13:2, 11-16) for the
All throughout the gospels we are told that He kept the feasts and the Friday to Saturday Sabbath of His Father. You can check a Strong’s Concordance for all the many Scriptures on this. Sabbath observance was considered a prime duty and crucial mitzvah of the second
Here’s a list of some of Y’shua’s other examples of Torah Observance in just the book of Matthew:
5:17-18 Y’shua teaches that the Torah retains its validity until planet earth passes away.
The Torah is the basis of Y’shua’s teachings.
8:1-4 Y’shua commands a healed Jewish man to fulfill a sacrificial mitzvah (see Lev. 13 &14)
8:19 A Torah teacher would only be willing to be Y’shua’s disciple if Y’shua was Torah observant.
19: 16-19 Y’shua encouraged a Torah observant man to keep the mitzvot.
Though Y’shua differed with some of the religious authorities on how to keep the various mitzvot of the Torah, the issue of observance as a way of life was not contested in the Gospels. It was the traditions man had imposed on God’s mitzvot to which He objected.
Israeli scholar David Bivin has written a modern paraphrase of a very important Scripture in Matt. 5:17-19 as follows:
Never imagine for a moment, Y’shua says, that I intend to abrogate the Torah by misinterpreting it. My intent is not to weaken or negate the Torah, but by properly interpreting God’s Written Word I aim to establish it, that is, make it even more lasting. I would never invalidate the Torah by removing something from it through misinterpretation. Heaven and earth would sooner disappear than something from the Law. Not the smallest letter in the alphabet, the yod, nor even its decorative spur, will ever disappear from the Law. (He was, after all the Living Torah who had spoken the written Torah into life. John 1:1-5)
Scholar John Fischer states that in the above passage the term “fulfill” [plerosai] is used to describe Y’shua’s relationship to the Torah. Here it implies to cram full, bring full expression, show forth the intended meaning. The idea is to give fullness and provide true meaning, as opposed to destroying, overthrowing or abolishing. The best educated guess for the Hebrew word Y’shua spoke in this passage is םײקל (l’kayyem). In its vernacular and rabbinic usage at that time, l’kayyem connoted to teach correctly regarding a subject.
Matthew 24:12 is a profoundly significant Scripture in which Y’shua is teaching on the signs of the end of the age. We are told that iniquity will abound and most people’s love will grow cold. The biblical definition of iniquity is transgression of Torah. One translation puts it this way, “Many people’s love will grow cold because of increased distance from Torah.” Some versions even translate it for what it is: “lawlessness (Torahlessness) will increase”!! (See Lawlessness Study)
So, what does this tell us about Y’shua’s attitude toward the Torah? It tells us that He greatly respected it, stating that the world situation at the end of the age will deteriorate because people will not respect the Torah or its teachings. Indeed, Matthew chapters 5 and 24 give us a consistent picture of the teachings of Y’shua regarding the Torah; His message is that the Torah is valid and is to be respected and observed. In Luke 24:27 and 24:44 we can see Y’shua’s respect for and adherence to the Torah and in Matthew 7:12, He gives a summary of the teaching of the Scriptures. The words of the Torah and the Prophets were the source of His main teachings.
The above pattern is shown in each of the gospels. Y’shua held the role of Rabbi and thus fulfilled the “duties” attached to that title: He healed and was asked to heal, He upheld the teachings of the Torah and greatly respected the Torah, (In Luke 4:1-13, He quotes Deut. 8:3: 6:13&14; Ps. 91:11&12, showing us how important the Torah and its truths were to Him in a time of great need.) He taught in the synagogues and was well respected as a public teacher, which would not happen were He not Torah observant; He took an active part in Shabbat worship as He read from the Prophets and expounded on the verses, He taught Torah in surrounding villages and even to the Samaritans, the “half-breed” Jews from the northern kingdom of Israel; He kept all the mitzvahs of Torah connected with healing lepers and told those who were healed to do so as well; He fulfilled the mitzvah of Torah by wearing the tzitziyot [plural]; He quotes a certain mitzvot to a wealthy leader in Luke 18:18-30 and challenged him to dedicate his life more fully to God; the Pharisee Nicodemus called Y’shua “Rabbi” a title which only a Torah observant Jew would merit, especially to a Pharisee!; in John 5:45-46 Y’shua defends the honor and position of Torah thus emphasizing the importance of knowing and believing the Torah, something only a Torah observant Jew would’ve said and taught; He blessed the bread in accordance with Ex. 23:25; He kept the feasts of Sukkot in John 7:2 and Passover in accordance with Lev. 23:33-43, Num. 29:12-39, Deut.16:13-16; Ex. 23:17); while He objected to the added traditions of the religious authorities, He did not rebuke the upholding of Torah principles. (Matt 23:4-7, 8-12, 23, 27-28, 29-32) Even in the midst of a stern rebuke about HOW they kept Torah’s mitzvot Y’shua upheld the validity and truth of the Torah mitzvot-all of them!
If Y’shua came from a Torah observant family, was this an aberration, or was this the custom of his entire extended family? In Mark 6:17-20, John the Baptist is killed for his devotion to Torah. Due to his love for God’s Word, he rebuked King Herod, a Jew, who had disobeyed a mitzvah of Lev. 18:16. Though he executed John, King Herod feared John and considered him a tzaddik, or “righteous,” a scrupulously Torah observant person. What we American Gentile Christians don’t understand is that in the face of this event, it took a VERY Torah zealous person to rebuke the King, for this was a dangerous act, as John’s story proves. Also, John’s disciples are listed as often fasting and offering prayers, following in the footsteps of the rabbi under whom they studied. (Luke 5:33) If John was a tzaddik according to Mark , then Mark 1:7 proclaims that Y’shua was all the more so. Luke 1:6 gives us even more information about the Torah observance of John’s parents, Y’shua aunt and uncle, thus showing us a picture of his extended family’s devotion to the Torah of Yahweh.
Since Y’shua was Torah observant, we should expect His students to have the same lifestyle. As scholar John Fischer stated,
“…if he [Paul] was not scrupulous in his observance of the Torah, he would quickly have been disregarded in both his validity and authority. The facts of Paul’s continuing conformity to the practices of traditional Judaism are there plainly on the face of Scripture for those willing to find them.” (as stated previously in Acts 24:14-17 and 1 Cor. 5:6-8, emphais mine)
Many people take for granted that Paul remained Torah observant; others think that when he believed in Y’shua as Messiah that he abandoned keeping the Torah, especially during his foreign journeys. Still others give him a sort of schizophrenic lifestyle where sometimes he kept the Torah (when with Jews) and sometimes didn’t (when with Gentiles) making him a type of hypocrite.
After his blinding on the road to
In Acts 23:6, Paul continued to call himself a Pharisee well after believing in Y’shua. He speaks in present tense and in this chapter the Pharisees as a group, stood up for him when they saw that he shared their doctrinal beliefs and had Pharisaic training. Certainly they would not have done so if he were no longer Torah observant.
Dr. John Fischer explains that Paul continued to dress as a Pharisee, was easily recognizable as a rabbi and Torah teacher, thus explaining why he was invited to speak at a synagogue gathering in Pisidia (Acts -43). In Acts 28:17 his Torah observance is revealed:
“…[Paul] called together those who were the leading men of the Jews, and when they had come together, he began saying to them, “Brethren, though I have done nothing against our people, or the customs of our fathers, yet I was delivered prisoner from
Either he was telling the truth and keeping Torah (“the customs of our fathers”) or he was lying.
“In that era, it would have been considered as acting against the Jewish people if someone practiced and taught an anti-Torah lifestyle. Sha’ul [Paul] states that he did not have that type of an attitude.” (Dr. David Freedman)
His Torah observance came to light with the believers in
“all will know that there is nothing to the things which they have been told about you, but that you yourself also walk orderly, keeping the Torah.” ( v 24).
In Acts 13:15 and v. 44-47, we see that both Paul and Barnabas kept the Sabbath, which was when the Jewish community gathered, and that they shared the message of Y’shua as Messiah. Had they not been Torah observant, they would never have been asked to speak once, let alone twice! This is a continual pattern throughout the book of Acts – they kept the Sabbath. If Paul had any problems with the validity of Torah, we would see him shunning the observance of the Sabbath on his journeys. Instead, the record proves he constantly kept it. To have kept parts of the Torah and shunned others would be tantamount to an inconsistent, dishonest approach by Paul, thus labeling him a hypocrite. In Acts 18:19-21 we have further proof that Paul remained Torah observant. The Jewish community at
In several places in 1 Corinthians, Paul affirms the Torah as an authoritative source of practical teaching and even quoted from it to verify his points. (1 Cor. ; 9:9&10; , 34; ) Bible scholar Professor Risto Santala said of Paul,
“He based his entire thinking on the Old Testament writings, and again, he [Paul] accepted only Old Testament teachings as the sole authority [of his values].”
Indeed, the vast majority of the RC expounds upon the Tanach (OT). The historic dignity of Rabbi Sha’ul [Paul] can only be upheld if he is seen as a Torah observant rabbi. Any other view casts doubts on the statements he made about himself, and on the truth of Luke’s writings. Attempts at portraying Paul as abandoning the Torah make him a hypocrite and liar at worst, and an inconsistent person at best.
“It is accurate to conclude, ‘We shall not have understood the meaning of [Sha’ul’s] writings until we have found an interpretation consistent with Paul’s own belief that he was throughout a loyal and observant Jew.” (Santala, emphasis mine)
Paul loved the Torah and did not allow for its cancellation. In fact, as Y’shua had, he fought for its correct understanding and use.
There is much of the same information as above on these two important figures of the “Renewed Covenant” (OT). Hopefully, from the above information, you’ll be able to read their writings and see the same context as is cited above.
What about John’s disciples?
By about 300 years after the ascension, the church differed greatly from what Messiah had preached.
“All believers should be aware of “Constantine’s Christian Creed”: (which applied mostly to Messianic Jews, with whom the Roman church was fighting for supremacy)
“‘I renounce all customs, rites, legalisms, unleavened breads and sacrifices of Lambs of the Hebrews, and all the other feasts of the Hebrews, sacrifices, prayers, aspirations, 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 absolutely 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 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 Cain and the leprosy of Gehazi cleave to me, as well as the legal punishments to which I acknowledge myself liable. And may I be an anathema in the world to come, and may my soul be set down with Satan and the devils. Furthermore: I accept all customs, rites, legalism, and feasts of the Romans, sacrifices, prayers, purifications with water, sanctifications by the Pontificus Maximus, propitiations, and feasts, and the New Sabbath, “Sol dei” (day of the sun), all new chants and observances, and all the foods and drinks of the Romans.* In other words, I absolutely accept everything Roman, every new law, rite, and custom, of Rome, and the New Roman Religion.’” (How the Cross Became a Sword, Richard Booker). Bolded words are his, all other emphasis is mine. *The Romans ate stuffed door mice. Would you?)
Law or Torah?
Concerning the origin of the word, “law,” scholar Roy Blizzard says,
“The English word law is used to translate the Hebrew word Torah. Torah is the feminine noun from the root yarah. It means to direct, to teach, to instruct. Torah is direction or instruction. It sets forth the way man is to live. It instructs man as to how he is to live in an ethical and moral way among his fellow man and before God.”
Christians today who suggest that the “law” of God has been updated or abolished, as though it were some Athenian or Roman decree, have a misconception of the true definition of the “law”; just as “Bishop” Gene Robinson said in an interview with CBN, “Homosexuality is a gift from God.” (Really?!!!) The Dictionary of Christian Tradition, published by Regency and Zondervan, defines God’s “law” as “the will of God expressed in commandments of a positive and negative kind.” This source book says that the people of God “obey Him (and thus His law), not to earn salvation, but out of gratitude and love for Him.”
This idea of obeying the will of God by our obedience to the principles already laid down in the Torah is evidenced in Paul’s teaching to the Romans in chapter 12. The Hebrew word for halakhah comes from the root word for “walk” and stressed the idea of teaching believers how to walk with and before the Lord. With Paul’s frequent use of the concept of the believer’s walk with God, (thus reinforcing the Hebrew concept of halakhah from his heritage), it is sad that Christians have been taught that the only source manual Paul had for describing this walk has been abolished.” (Blizzard)
Blizzard further states,
“The idea of law in Hebrew is not something that, if transgressed, is going to get you zapped. Torah is instruction that, if followed, will enrich one’s life; if ignored, will diminish it.”
In the biblical text, “law” is viewed as that which God commanded. The Hebrew word translated commandment is mitzvah, which actually means a charge or a commandment. According to Blizzard, commandments, when performed, designate the individual as moral and ethical, benefiting all involved and pleasing Yahweh.
According to biblical scholars, the English word “law” is a poor translation of the Greek word nomos, which the Greek text has Paul using frequently in his epistles. Paul was 100% Jewish, and when he spoke of the “Law,” he was thinking in terms of Torah, the way of life for the believer. Y’shua’s purpose was to give the correct application and interpretation of God’s Torah to the Jews, and to show Himself as the fulfillment of the prophecies of the Messiah. Paul’s purpose was to extend Yahweh’s Torah to embrace the non-Jews. For both Y’shua and Paul, Torah was grace.
Only in the twists and turns of modern, non-Jewish based theology is it conceivable that Paul could have left his Jewish faith and practices when he began preaching to the Gentiles. Both the Renewed Covenant and ancient literature indicate that Jewish believers (who were the only ones for a while) continued to keep the Jewish Torah with its many feasts and traditions. Jewish believers kept the Torah instructions, not for salvation, but to identify themselves as Yahweh’s chosen people. Y’shua, Peter, James, Paul and John were known to have continually maintained respect toward the Torah, which continued until the end of their lives and was also the commonly held attitude among believers at least as late as 50-60 years after the ascension. There is not one instance where Y’shua or Paul attacked the “law” or any of its ordinances, but in every case they supported the Torah as the Word of God. As believers in Messiah, we are commanded to walk by faith and to fulfill the Torah by applying its moral principles to our relationships with fellow believers. (Matthew 5:17-20)
Paul told Timothy that the Torah was good if an individual used it lawfully, and that the only ones who would be crowned or rewarded would be those who lived lawfully. (1Tim. 1:8; 2 Tim. 2:5) He taught that he was not living without the Torah of God, but was rather “under the law to Messiah” (1 Cor. ). Before the high priest and Felix, Paul boldly proclaimed that those who accused him could NOT prove that he actually broke the Torah. Then he confessed that he worshiped God and believed all things which were written in the Torah and the Prophets. To make sure there was no misunderstanding, Paul reminded his listeners that he continually brought offerings and alms and went through the
“For although I am a free man, not bound to do anyone’s bidding, I have made myself a slave to all in order to win as many people as possible. That is, with Jews, what I did was put myself in the position of a Jew, in order to win Jews. With people in subjection under such legalism, in order to win those under this legalism, even though I myself am not in subjection to a legalistic perversion of the Torah. With those who live outside the framework of Torah, I put myself in the position of someone outside the Torah in order to win those outside the Torah-although I myself am not outside the framework of God’s Torah but within the framework of Torah as upheld by the Messiah. (Acts 24:19-21, emphasis mine)
In his book, Paul on the Mystery of Israel, Dan Harrington affirms that,
“Paul never disavowed Judaism. He never said, ‘I am no longer a Jew.’ In fact, at several points, he lists his credentials as a Jew.” (Phil. 3:5-6; 2 Cor. 11:22; Rm 11:11)
Harrington further notes that one recent realization and thus approach by scholars to understand Paul’s words involves viewing them in the context in which they were written. One extremely significant concept that many modern believers seem to miss is that according to Paul’s writings, the Torah was intended to direct us to a right relationship with our fellow believers, while Messiah alone is the redemptive factor of God who can bring about a right relationship with the Father.
Again, it’s particularly interesting to note the points of discussion when Paul returned to
1) The many thousands of Jews who believed were all zealous for the Torah
2) A problem arose when people were mistakenly informed that Paul was teaching Jews to forsake the Torah
3) James declared to Paul that this misconception must be clarified immediately, and it should be noted that Paul
agreed with James and did what was requested of him, to prove his loyalty as a Jew to the Torah.
4) At that time, Paul was under a Nazarite vow, which is found in Numbers 6:1-23. He kept the Torah
commandments as well as paying for others to do the same.
“One of the most misunderstood texts of Pauls writings is Rm. 7:1-14. Here he speaks of being “delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter” (v.6) Does this mean Paul was against the Torah of God? He answers this in v. 7, “God forbid!” and spends the next 7 verses explaining how great and spiritual the Torah is and what good things it has done for him personally. One Jewish scholar said that Paul is using a well-known concept in Jewish teaching and is actually referring to the death of the flesh, not the death of God’s Torah. For an illustration, Paul uses the death of a spouse in the marriage relationship stating that when a man dies, he is free from all laws relating to that union, making perfect sense as Paul was writing to those who knew the Torah and would have been familiar with such an illustration. This is why Y’shua had to die to “remarry”
“When the church of the second and third centuries began to drift away from its Jewish roots, some extremely significant misconceptions developed concerning God’s Torah, due largely to the influence of Greek philosophy and other pagan rites. The first was a misunderstanding of the inherent goodness of the “Law.” (1 Tim. 1:8-9) As we have seen, the Greek word for law tended toward the negative and lacked the ability to convey the depth of the Jewish concept of Torah. To understand the depth of this error, it is necessary to examine the vast difference between the Greek concept of law, nomos, and the beloved Torah of the Jews.
Dr. Ron Mosley states:
“To the Hebrew mind, the primary purpose of the Torah is to instruct humanity as to how to hit the mark of life, as opposed to committing sin, which is to miss the mark. But because the Greek language had only one term for law, nomos, whether speaking of the “Law of God”, “the law of sin,” “the law of the Spirit of life,” or “the Law of Christ,” it is often difficult to determine which law is being addressed in the NT. In Hebrew, the image projected by the word “Torah” was a positive one; not so for the Hellenistic framework of the Greeks or the Babylonian culture of the Aramaic language.
“The second misconception is that the Torah and grace are opposites and that Torah was replaced by the age of grace. Once we understand Torah from the Jewish perspective (*which would be the biblical perspective), as instruction from God, the error of this concept is suddenly exposed. This idea was promoted primarily by those who adopted the false pagan view that the Jews were saved by works while the Church was saved by faith. Many early Gentile believers mixed Gnostic ideas with their Christian theology and concluded that the God of the Jews was a harsh, legalistic God as opposed to the God of love depicted in the New Testament. The original Jewish church understood Yahweh, the God of Israel, to be the one true God of eternity who is immutable, having but one plan of salvation of both the Old and New Testaments, a plan that involved faith in Messiah. In Daniel, written some 600 years before Christ’s death, we can see the Jewish concept of repentance and trust in Yahweh for mercy (grace), apart from any works of the Law. (Daniel 9:18)
“The third misconception is the idea that New Testament believers have a “better covenant” than God’s Torah. The passages from the book of Hebrews concerning a better covenant are discussing the sacrificial system that is only better in Christ, as God’s Lamb, as opposed to a literal lamb. The manifestation is better and has changed, but the covenant itself is the same: it took the death of a lamb to bring us into right relationship with God.
“The fourth misconception is that if a believer is led by the Holy Spirit he is not under the “Law” of God. This reasoning comes from a misapplication of the words of Paul in his address to the Galatians when he reminds them that if they served the Lord by the “Law” of God and were led by the Spirit of God they would not be subject to the consequences of the “law of sin.” (Gal. 5:16-18) There are several verses concerning the law of sin in the writings of Paul to his Gentile congregations that are often lifted out of context and applied to the Law of God. Another example is in Rm.6:14, where the context demonstrates the reference is to the law of sin. Paul explains, “For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.” This wording is sometimes confusing to modern readers, but in reading the entire chapter one realizes that Paul has stated simply that a man becomes a servant to whatever law to which he yields, whether the Law of God or to the law of sin. As believers, we are instructed not to yield to sin and become subject to the law of sin, but instead, to yield to the grace of God.
“These misconceptions suggest that at some point in the early days of Christianity, a foreign concept of law, unknown to Jesus, Paul or the early church, with its Jewish perspective of Law and grace, crept into Christendom. But, let us remember that in Paul’s day, the Tanakh, (containing the Law, the Prophets, and the other Old Testament writings) was the only Scripture they had. Both Jesus and Paul taught that the Spirit of God should guide believers into the fulfillment of the Law through faith and love. Although Jesus fulfilled the ceremonial or sacrificial part of the Law by dying on the cross, we still see the principles of the Torah, such as the priesthood and the atonement, evidenced today in the ministry of the church. In short, the manifestation has changed, but the spirit of the Law (Torah), which exposes sin and produces light and life, is still intended to be the center of the New Testament teaching.” (Dr. Ron Moseley, *addition mine, addition of italics, underlined mine)
So, what about Paul’s apparent assault on the Torah in his epistles? It is understandable that Paul, apostle to the Gentiles, would get upset with those Judaizers who continually tried to hinder his work by requiring the Gentiles to keep Jewish customs as a prerequisite for salvation. Because Paul’s epistles were written to correct misunderstandings among his Gentile converts, most of whom were not familiar with the ways or commandments of Yahweh, to the casual reader they sometimes appear to be against the Torah of Yahweh. Yet Paul’s writings in no way repudiate the validity of keeping the Torah.
When a Christian suddenly becomes defensive at the mere mention of Yahweh’s Law, there is a temptation to ask, “Which law makes you uncomfortable?” Why should a blood-washed believer be put off by the Law of Yahweh, the God they claim to server, since it only condemns Lawbreakers? Since the first century, the church has misunderstood the Torah, which both Y’shua and Paul dearly loved and by which they both lived. Paul’s arguments that seem to be against the Torah were actually against its misuse. The teaching that the Torah of Yahweh was superceded by, or in opposition to the grace of God did not originate with Paul, but with a heretical sect called the Marcions and their interpretation of Paul’s writings. [Feel free to investigate Marcion if you so desire.] Incidentally, Polycarp the martyr, the disciple of John the Apostle previously mentioned, called Marcion “the first born of Satan.”
In order to understand the Torah as it relates to the Renewed Covenant, we must learn to understand the Apostle Paul, who wrote half of the books therein. Peter said Paul wrote some things that were “hard to understand,” and when in the hands of those “unlearned in the Scripture (meaning the Torah) and unstable” are often twisted to their own destruction. (2 Peter 3:15-16)
“Such unlearned interpreters were unaware of the Jewishness which undergirded the way Paul thought and expressed himself. Today, we have a similar problem with modern theologians and church members who are not trained to recognize Paul’s frequent use of Hebraic terms. Only after one understands the Jewishness of Paul’s’ writings can he obtain an accurate interpretation of the text.” (Dr. Ron Moseley, emphasis mine)
For the truth of what the renewed covenant says concerning the Torah of Yahweh, we must go to the source. [Remember that as these books were being written, they were not compiled into “The New Testament” until approximately 300 years later. Therefore, the commandments or “law” of Yahweh to which the writers are referring HAS to be those of the Tanakh, called the “Old Testament.”] Here are 12 clear statements the NT makes concerning the Law or Torah of God:
1. The hearers of the” Law” are not justified before the Lord, but the doers of the “Law” will be justified. (Rm. 2:23)
2. The promises of God come out of the “Law,” which Paul told the Ephesians they must obey, that things would go well with them and they might live long on the earth. (Eph. 6:2-3; Ex. 20:12; Deut. 5:16)
3. The writer of the Book of Hebrews confirms that the Renewed Covenant is the same covenant of God’s Torah that He promised to write on our hearts and minds. (Heb. 10:16)
4. James reminds us that if we commit sin, we are transgressing the Law (Torah). (James 2:11; 2: 8-26)
5. By keeping the Lord’s commandments (mitzvah), we know that we know Him. (1 John 2:3-4)
6. We have our prayers answered because we keep the Lord’s commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. (1 John 3:22)
7. As we keep the commandments, God will dwell in us and we will have assurance through His Spirit. (1 John 3:24)
8. By keeping God’s commandments, we know that our love for God and our fellow believers is real. (1 John 5:2,3)
9. The definition of biblical love is to walk after God’s commandments. (2 John 6)
10. Only those who keep the Lord’s commandments will have the right to the Tree of Life. (Rev. 22:14)
11. Referring to the Tanakh, the only “Law” available, James wrote, “Whosoever looks into the perfect Law of Liberty, and continues therein, being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, shall be blessed in his deed” (James 1:25)
12. The man who says he knows the Lord but does not keep His commandments is a liar and the truth is not in him. (1 John 2:4)
These often overlooked teachings are an integral part of the very fabric of Renewed Covenant thought. The apostles never taught that the Torah of Yahweh was superfluous. Neither did they suggest that grace was a license to sin. Quite the contrary, Jude wrote this Spirit inspired admonition to believers of all ages:
“Beloved, while I was making every effort to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of God into licentiousness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord, Yeshua the Messiah.” (Jude 3-4)
As we have come to see, the Torah of Yahweh is a series of teachings and instructions to believers, showing them how to live in ethical and moral harmony with their fellow man and before Yahweh. The following conclusions can be easily formed from understanding the Torah or “law” and history:
1. The “law” of Yahweh did not last only until John the Baptist, but was even used by Paul.
2. Y’shua went beyond the letter of the “law” in His instructions for all believers, addressing the heart as
well as outward obedience.
3. Successful Christian leaders of the past have always realized that the “law” reveals Yahweh’s will.
4. The purpose of Yahweh’s “law” produces happy and successful relationships for all involved.
5. The curse of the “law” is only on lawbreakers.
6. The term “Renewed Covenant” was in use long before the time of Paul.
7. The true definition of the word “law” is a wholesome one and should cause all of us to desire a deep
understanding of the Torah.
8. After the 4th C., the church’s view concerning Yahweh’s “law” changed.
9. The “Age of Grace” has to do with Yahweh’s nature and existed before Paul.
10. The words “abolish” and “fulfill” had very specific meanings during the time of Y’shua but have been
redefined in many circles today.
11. The Renewed Covenant (New Testament) teaches many positive things about the “law” of Yahweh.
Today, more and more believers are “getting back to basics” and understanding that the commandments of Yahweh, which have been cast in such a negative view, are actually the moral underpinnings of our faith. Without Yahweh’s moral principles, it is impossible for any group of people to live in harmony with one another. King David wrote, “The Law of Yahweh is perfect, restoring the soul” (Ps. 19:7) Do we believe it, or not?
What about today?
Another important point to make is that Yahweh is speaking this information to little pockets of people all over the world. Since He taught me about all of this, I’ve watched Him miraculously bring other people to whom He’s been speaking across my path and the path of others. We have no “preacher,” we aren’t sitting under a teacher who is telling us what to do or believe, we have no national or international group to organize us and herd us into believing doctrine in agreement with their statement of faith. All we have is God Almighty speaking to “whosoever has ears to hear, let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the ekklesia,” as is stated to EVERY church in the first few chapters of Revelation. When events like these unfold all across the world, and people come together who love Yahweh, know Him, obey His Word, yet who’ve never met before, and find that Yahweh has told them the exact same things then we know that we are dealing with a “God thing.”
For example: a preacher recently did some interesting teachings on the talit (prayer shawl) and how it applies to every believer. This was an interesting look into the Hebrew tradition and how it applies to us today and the beauty of a Scriptural picture we have missed by not understanding the Hebraic roots of our faith. The wearing of the tzitzit, (the tassels on the prayer shawl corners), is the reminder of Yahweh’s commandments. (Numbers -41 and Deut. 22:12) This preacher covered how the word translated “wings” in the OT many times represented the prayer shawl, and sometimes even gave the picture of Yahweh’s prayer shawl! The Hebrew word kanaph means border or corner and can be translated “wings,” as it is some 67 times in the Bible. God instructed that Cherubim with outstretched wings be embroidered on the inner walls of the Tabernacle. Thus the Hebrews worshipped under His “wings,” (Ex. 26:1) and the same imagery is used for the outstretched wings of the Cherubim over the Mercy Seat. (Ex. 25:20) For this reason the corners of the prayer shawl are often called “wings.” When Psalm 91 talks about God hiding us under the shadow of his wings, this is the imagery given in the Hebrew. It is also the prophecy about the Messiah given in Malachi 4:2.
During the first century there were several traditions associated with the tzitzit concerning Messiah. One was that these knotted fringes possessed healing powers, having its roots in the Malachi Scripture, above. Certainly, the woman with the issue of blood knew of these traditions, which would explain why she sought to touch the corner (“wings”) of Y’shua’s talit. With this understanding in mind, an ancient Israelite under the prayer shawl could be said to be “dwelling in the secret place of the Most High” and “under His wings.” When one realizes the significance of this concept to the first-century Hebraic mind, it becomes clear why this woman was instantly healed: she was expressing her faith in Y’shua as the “sun of righteousness with healing in His wings” and declaring her faith in Yahweh’s prophetic Word!
Another instance was when Y’shua called Jarius’ daughter back to life. The original language of that verse actually says, “And he took the young girl by the hand and said, ‘El Yah, Talitha cumi: which is interpreted as: God, Yahweh is speaking to the young girl under the talit (prayer shawl) Arise!’” I have since seen this confirmed by a Greek scholar, Dr. Doug Wheeler. So God got this preacher's attention, and he taught his congregation about the importance of the talit and how this importance was exemplified in Scripture.
It is obvious from all we’ve looked at that neither Y’shua nor Paul ever renounced Judaism, deviated from the instructions given to Moses, nor attempted to start a new religion void of Hebraic roots. At this point, a major question needs to be answered: if Y’shua and Paul did not form a new "anti-Jewish" religion, who did? A quick look at church history shows that as the church moved westward and away from its Jewish roots, the leaders of the Roman church of the fourth century developed theologies which virtually did away with all that was Jewish, as we have seen. The most fundamental change was the teaching that the Torah was evil and stood in opposition to the grace of God. By the fourth century, the Roman church had changed the church’s fundamental teaching of keeping the Torah to a religion whose message avoided anything to do with the term. Pseudo-Christian writers taught that the Torah of Moses had been fulfilled by the coming of Y’shua, but they redefined the word “fulfilled” to mean abolished or canceled, which was the exact opposite of its true meaning as used by Messiah. (Matt. 5:18-19) Again, to Y’shua, as in the rabbinic literature of His day, the word “fulfill” the Law meant to keep the Torah and correctly interpret its teachings. We can see from Paul’s writings that he also understood the phrase “fulfill the Torah” to mean that the Torah is only fulfilled through love for God and our fellow man. (Gal. 6:2, Rm 13:10)
The new ideas opposing the Torah in Christianity began to spring up as early as A.D. 160-220 in the Roman African communities represented by Tertullian, and were spearheaded by popular speakers, such as John Chrysostom in
What’s been so amazing is to see how seamlessly this all fits together. Before, parts of the RC were frankly just hard to understand. Now, it is easy to see how incredibly awesome Yahweh’s plan was and is, and how He’s still working to bring about the promises He made to Abraham long ago. And in order to do so, the house of
So, just how did the churches born since the Reformation get in this mess of misunderstanding what Y’shua, Paul, Peter, James, Luke, etc., wrote? It most likely came about because they came OUT OF the Roman Catholic church and during the many years Catholicism reigned the world, the understanding was lost that we are to look like the Bride of the first century, doing what she did, looking like she looked: a Nazarene offshoot of the Hebrews. So, though some changes were made, ultimately the “Protestant churches” looked more like their mother church that they realized and less like the Bride Y’shua left awaiting His return. Scripture says that to the Lord a day is as 1,000 years and 1,000 years as a day. This means that Y’shua left His bride about two days ago. If your spouse leaves home for a couple of days, do you expect them to look completely different or the same when they return? Well, I think Y’shua is expecting His Bride to look the same as when He left her, doing the same things she was doing when He was here, walking in obedience to the things He said. Today, those following the practices of the modern Christian church look NOTHING like the Bride He left.
If Y’shua, Paul, John and their disciples kept the Sabbath, kept the Feasts and taught their talmidim [disciples] to do the same, why aren’t we doing this? It was done in ancient Hebrew times, it was done by Y’shua, His disciples and the disciples of the Apostles, as we have seen; it will be done in the millennial kingdom (Zephaniah -19). So what makes us think that we the only exception? The truth is, we aren’t. We’ve been grafted into
Yahweh is calling whosoever will to keep His commandments in accordance with point #10, above. [Only those who keep the Lord’s commandments will have the right to the Tree of Life. (Rev. 22:14)] He is calling those who have ears to hear. Yes, it’s different from what we’re used to and heard in church, but it is Scriptural; yes it will take some getting used to, some learning and adjustments. But the bottom lines is this: will we cling to the traditions of men which are false and bring death, which are not found in Scripture or exemplified by our example, the Savior, the Apostles and disciples, OR will we believe what God wrote, what Y’shua said and did, and obey Him by walking in a similar manner? The choice of obeying His Word is life or death, blessing or curse. Our lives prove that God has blessed us as He has never blessed us before because we made the choice to obey His WHOLE Word, His Torah as well as the Renewed Covenant. Now you have to make a similar choice. Just like salvation or the baptism in the Holy Spirit, no one can do it for you; all we can do is give you the information and back it up with the Word as has been done by writing this article. Now, the choice is yours.
(*I usually do not use “Old Testament” and “New Testament” because they give wrong pictures. I have tried to use NT and OT for this paper so as to not confuse you. In actuality, there is no word for testament in the Hebrew, only covenant. So the use of “testament” is inaccurate. Secondly, there’s no “old” and “new,” only the original covenant and the renewing of the original through Y’shua.)