Month 5:18, Week 3:3 (Shleshi/Bikkurim), Year:Day 5936:136 AM|
Gregorian Calendar: Sunday 5 August 2012
What Did Yah'shua Bring to an End?
Continued from Part 1
Yesterday we looked at the commonly misinterpreted passage of Galatians 4:9-11 which has been twisted by antinomians (those who reject the Torah or Law) to mean that Yahweh's original mitzvot (commandments) to observe the Sabbath, New Moon Day and the seven Annual Festivals now puts believers in bondage if they try to observe them, and we said that, in context, that actually Paul was warning former pagans not return to their old calendar of heathen religious observances.
"Having abolished in His flesh the enmity, [even] the law of commandments [contained] in ordinances; for to make in Himself of twain one new man, [so] making peace" (Eph.2:15, KJV)
"By abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace" (Eph.2:15, ESV).
"He abolished the Jewish law with its commandments and rules, in order to create out of the two races one new people in union with himself, in this way making peace" (Eph.2:15, GNB)
"By annulling the chok (decree, law) of mishpatim (regulations, judgments, justices) in ordinances that the Shnaym (two) He might create in Himself into Adam Chadesh Echad (One New Humanity), arbitrating shalom (peace)" (Eph.2:15, OJB).
"By rendering inoperative the enmity, the [unbiblical] religious law of commandments contained in dogma (rabbinical additions, religious opinions or doctrines of men), that in Himself He might make the two into one renewed man, making peace" (Eph.2:15, MRC),
"And enmity (by his flesh and also the Torah, becaause of commandments in his commands) he abolished, that [from] the two of them he might create in himself one new man, and he made peace" (Eph.2:15, HRV).
"Having abolished in His flesh the enmity - the Torah of the commands in dogma - so as to create in Himself one renewed man from the two, this making peace" (Eph.2:15, ISRV).
"By destroying in his own body the enmity occasioned by the Torah, which its commands, set forth in the form of ordinances. He did this in order to create in union with himself from the two groups a single new humanity and thus make shalom" (Eph.2:15, JNT/CJB).
"Abolishing the enmity to the law, the Commandments, and the Ordinances, through His own flesh, in order to create in Himself one new man from the two, making peace" (Eph.2:15, Book of Yahweh, The Holy Scriptures).
"Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in human dogma; for to make in Himself from the two one renewed man, so making shalom" (Eph.2:15, RSTNE).
Today's passage is just as controversial as yesterday's and is used by antinomians to insist that all the ordinances of the Old Covenant, including the feasts, sabbaths and new moons, were eliminated at the cross. To illustrate the problem I have today cited ten translations (see above), the first three being typical Protestant ones and the remaining seven, differeing Messianic ones. I could have cited a host of others but these are sufficient to illustrate the problem.
The following are the main interpretations that translators read into this statement of Paul:
Because Paul is, as Peter acknowledged, sometimes "hard to understand" (2 Pet.3:16), we are forced to approach the problem in two ways:
- 1. Yah'shua (Jesus) completely abolished commandment-keeping including festival-observance;
- 2. Yah'shua (Jesus) abolished commandment-keeping including festival-observance as a means of obtaining salvation;
- 3. Yah'shua (Jesus) abolished all the man-made rules and interpretations of Torah invented by the rabbis;
- 4. Yah'shua (Jesus) abolished all the ritual ordinances and commandments pertaining to the Old Covenant;
- 5. Yah'shua (Jesus) abolished the "emnity" (hostility) from Yahweh caused by man disobeying the commandments and ordinances which until the Cross were only abolished temporarily by animal sacrifices but which had no efficacy after death. he does so because of believers trusting in Messiah and His atonement.
These two have to go hand-in-hand, beginning with what Paul says about the subject matter in his other writings and then the other B'rit Chadashah (New Testament) witnesses, including Yah'shua (Jesus) Himself, of course. We can, by employing this Berean method, deal with each of the five points listed above, as follows:
- 1. Work hard to translate from known Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek manuscripts the exact meaning of the words and syntax used by Paul; and
- 2. Review all the Bible teachings on the subject matter to determine the harmony of the whole counsel of Elohim (God).
The issue being raised by Paul is described in detail in his letter to the Romans:
- 1. The notion that Yah'shua (Jesus) abolished His Father's commandments as something 'bad' is, of course, patently absurd, for then you set the Son up against the Father, as the heretical Gnostics did, mocking Yahweh as an inferior 'Demiurge';
- 2. Keeping the commandments as a means to earning salvation (legalism) was never the doctrine of the Tanakh (Old Testament) in the first place, but an idea invented by some antinomians. Animal sacrifices were but a stop-gap affording temporary covering from sin in mortality until Messiah came to deal with the problem on the Cross for time and eternity. Though commandment-keeping is enjoined on believers in the Tanakh (Old Testament) it is always an expression of love to the Creator rather than as a means of 'getting' something even though promises naturally flow from their implementation because of the eternal laws set up by the Creator in the Cosmos. Man was never delivered from sin by commandment-keeping - only Messiah, and emunah (faith) in Him, could ever accomplish that;
- 3. That Yah'shua (Jesus) condemned the traditions of the Elders (or 'Oral law') is beyond dispute, as is the fact that these man-made rules created an impenetratable wall of separation (m'chitzah) between 'Jews' and 'Gentiles'. However, the separation caused by this false teaching required no death on a cross to abolish, but simply the davar (word) of the King (Yah'shua/Jesus) dismissing them as having no value or efficacy...which they never actually had. Rather, as the verses before and after Galatians 2:15 make plain, the m'chitzah (dividing wall) being spoken is a reference to the wall of separation between those of the Covenant of Israel and those outside of it. Through the sacrificial death of Messiah, all are eligible as members if the Nation or Kingdom of Israel through emunah (faith) in Messiah, the Old Covenant having been fulfilled and a New one for all coming into existence;
- 4. That Yah'shua (Jesus) has abolished the Levitical Priesthood, all the animal sacrifices and ritual observances that pointed to His death and resurrection is clearly so, since these have now been fulfilled and the temporary covering of animal blood is no longer required, nor the priesthood that administered these ordinances, nor the sign of the Old Covenant, viz. circumcision. Messiah is the perpetual Cohen Gadol (High Priest), replacing the need for any human Cohen Gadol (High Priest), cohenim (priests) or Levites attending to these things. However, this does not mean that Yah'shua (Jesus) has abolished every mitzvot (commandment) that does not concern these things. Therefore the moral and ethical laws remain unchanged (since Yahweh is unchangeable), as do the sabbaths, new moons and festivals (minus the animal sacrifices), the law of niddah (menstruation), the Kashrut dietary laws, and so forth, which were clearly intended to be of eternal application and are known to have pre-existed the Mosaic Covenant anyway. Some rituals, like mikveh (baptism), clearly remain and is emphasised as the central ordinance of the New Covenant, replacing circumcision;
- 5. Yah'shua (Jesus) abolished the debt note that Yahweh held against us for disobeying His Torah upon condition of repenting, accepting the work of the Cross as the propitiation for sin, and continuing to trust Messiah and obey the mitzvot (commandments) not abolished by the Cross. So this last and fifth interpretation is entirely correct, and is the central emet (truth) being expounded by Paul in today's passage.
One wrong interpretation of two or three key passages of scripture tend to colour and distort the whole meaning of the Besorah (Gospel). Today's is the second of three key ones we are examining. A battle is going on between good and evil in every human, and especially for those who are trying to do what is right. How can they know what is right and what is wrong? By reading the Torah! The good that we want to do, we do not do, and the bad that we do not want to do, we do. In desperation, Paul cries out: "What a miserable creature I am! Who will rescue me from this body bound for death?" (v.24) And then he answers the question, saying: Yah'shua (Jesus) is the answer! The Torah or Law of Yahweh was never the problem! It was always the standard by which we measure good from bad, and still is. When Paul says that Yah'shua (Jesus) has freed him from the "law of sin and death", He's obviously not talking about Yahweh's qodesh (holy, set-apart) Torah of mitzvot (commandments) but the devilish power of sin to overwhelm us operating under Satan's 'law' or 'torah'.
"For we know that the Torah is of the Ruach (Spirit); but as for me, I am bound to the old nature, sold to sin as a slave. I don't understand my own behaviour - I don't do what I want to do; instead I do the very thing I hate! Now if I am doing what I don't want to do, I am agreeing that the Torah is good. But now it is no longer 'the real me' doing it, but the sin housed inside me. For I know that there is nothing good housed inside me - that is, inside my old nature. I can want what is good, but I can't do it! For I don't do the good I want; instead, the evil that I don't want is what I do! But if I am doing what 'the real me' doesn't want, it is no longer 'the real me' doing it but the sin housed inside me. So I find it to be the rule, a kind of perverse 'torah', that although I want to do what is good, evil is right there with me! For in my inner self I completely agree with Elohim's (God's) Torah; but in my various parts, I see a different 'torah', one that battles with the Torah in my mind and make me a prisoner of sin's 'torah', which is operating in my various parts. What a miserable creature I am! Who will rescue me from this body bound for death? Thanks be to Elohim (God), He will! - through Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ), our Master (Lord)! To sum up: with my [regenerated] mind, I am a slave of Elohim's (God's) Torah; but with my old nature, I am a slave to sin's 'torah'" (Rom.7:14-25, JNT/CJB).
What does Satan feel about Yahweh's Torah? He hates it! He loathes it because he is himself entirely Torahless. And when Satan's nature operates in us through the flesh, what, then, is our view of Yahweh's Torah? We hate it as much as the devil does and seek to rebell against it! So what does Yah'shua (Jesus) in our levim (hearts) do? What perspective does He change in us? Our emnity or histility towards Yahweh's Torah and therefore to Yahweh Himself! Obviously! And that is what Galatians 2:15 is telling us. The fully regenerated believer has a new, positive lev (heart) toward Torah.n He guards it rather than opposes it.
This can be a little shocking for evangelicals brought up on a diet of hating Yahweh's Torah (Law) and mitzvot (commandments). Only when we have made shalom (peace) with Yahweh through accepting His Son, who empowers us to not only live the Torah and mitzvot but to actually love them, can we truly become one new man with shalom (peace) in this life. This is confirmed in Ephesians 2:16 which reads:
The Covenant People of Israel and the alienated Gentiles this become symbolic representations, respectively, of loving the Torah of Yahweh and hating Yahweh's Torah represented by the satanic nature of the flesh. As Israelites and Gentiles are made into one new nation and humanity (by the Gentiles being grafted into the Vine of Israel), so the hostilitty of the Adamic nature to Yahweh's Torah is nullified by trusting in Messiah. Note that it is the enmity to Yahweh's Torah that is being slain, rather than Yahweh's Torah being slain, the very opposite of what Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformers taught.
"[Yah'shua/Jesus) did this in order to create a union with Himself from the two groups a single new humanity and thus make shalom (peace), and in order to reconcile to Elohim (God) both in a single body by being executed on a stake (cross) as a criminal and thus killing in Himself that enmity (hostility)" (Gal.2:15b-16, JNT/CJB).
By translating Ephesians 2:15 in this way, the text is then put in harmony with other scriptures that say the Torah (Law) has not been abolished:
Paul is then seen not to be contradicting himself at all, as the Messianic anti-Paulists claim nor is he preachign against observing the Torah as evangelicals vehemently preach! This changes nothing of his teaching of salvation by grace - the undeserved loving kindness of Elohim (God) - it simply restores to the equation the place of Torah as something which naturally follows the one who is born-again and living in an obedient spirit.
"Do we then make void the Torah (Law) through emunah (faith)? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the Torah (Law)" (Rom.3:31, NKJV).
"Do not think that I came to destroy the Torah (Law) or the Nevi'im (Prophets). I did not come to destroy but to fulfill (bring to completion). For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the Torah (Law) till all is fulfilled (completed)" (Matt.5:17-18, NKJV).
Tomorrow we'll loke at a third controversial passage, Acts 15, and see that Paul is, in fact, wholly internally consistent in his teachings and that it is the sectarians who have misinterpreted him.
Continued in Part 3