Torah and New Testament #3

The multitude of regulations (the Jews found 613 laws in the Law, the books Genesis through Deuteronomy) was such that even to remember them all was a burden, and to keep them all bordered on the impossible.

Leon Morris, Galatians: Paul’s Charter of Freedom.

I have always found this argument bizarre. God made too many laws. And the Jews made a huge mistake: they believed God about those laws. But never fear, Paul is here to clear it all up: no laws, but freedom.

I also find strange the argument that we needed Paul to say the laws were irrelevant because they were hard to keep. Thankfully now we only have to worry about the easy laws like “love your neighbor” and “love God with all your heart.” I mean, those are easy to keep, right?

The other night, I heard a speaker, a guy who I had hoped to hear good things from, say, “And when Christ comes to your door, he doesn’t come with a list of rules.” I thought to myself, “Is he talking about the Jesus who said bear fruit, give alms, love God, love neighbor, fast, pray, do not judge, and blessed is the servant the master finds working when he returns?”

But, perhaps it’s Paul’s fault that well-read thinkers like Leon Morris and much admired speakers like the one I went to hear make such statements. I mean, after all, didn’t Paul say, “now we are released from the law” and “the law was our guardian until Christ”? He did. So what’s up with Paul and the law? How should we take his statements?

In my 2005 book, Paul Didn’t Eat Pork (see it here on amazon), I list in two charts the anti-law statements of Paul and the pro-law statements. Our first observation about Paul and the law should be that he has both kinds of statements. Here are a handful of examples (red = bad; blue = good):

… you also have died to the Law through the body of Christ. Romans 7:4.

… the doers of the Law will be justified. Romans 2:13.

… you are not under the Law. Galatians 5:18.

… the Law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh. Romans 7:14.

… you are not under Law, but under grace. Romans 6:14.

I delight in the Law of God. Romans 7:22.

The most important realization, which was the main point of the second chapter in this series (“Torah and New Testament, #2”), is that Paul’s letters represent his instructions to the gentiles in Messiah Yeshua. Paul’s understanding of gentile relationship to Torah is different than his understanding of Jewish relationship to Torah. Paul did not write any letters about Jewish relationship to Torah (although Romans 14 indirectly addresses it).

So, if I were to assert that Paul believed Jews should keep Torah in full, where would I find a basis for this claim? If Paul didn’t write about Jewish relationship to Torah, where can we find the concept of a pro-Torah Paul? The first answer is in his own lifestyle as recorded in Acts. Acts 21:21-24 says it all: Paul keeps Torah and tradition. The second answer is in the nature of Acts 15, where gentile relationship to certain Torah commands is discussed, but assumed and not questioned is the axiom that Jews in Yeshua will keep the commandments of Moses.

But that still leaves us with the seemingly anti-Torah statements of Paul. Before categorizing and explaining them, keep in mind some historical realities that should help us comprehend Paul’s rhetoric, the reason for his strong statements:

  • Gentile Yeshua-followers were caught between Roman law and synagogue rejection. Roman law in many places required certain pagan affirmations such as venerating Roman deities and emperors. Judaism was given a special exemption. Gentile Yeshua-followers were first seen as part of Judaism, but synagogues started rejecting them when they refused to convert and join the synagogue. This put them in danger of being outlaws in the Roman system.
  • Paul opposed conversion strongly, because gentile Yeshua-followers were converting to become kosher to God. But Yeshua already made gentiles kosher to God via the cross. If Paul accepted the idea of conversion as a prerequisite or allowed others to practice this, the gospel would be compromised. Being right with God comes through faith in Yeshua, not through joining the nation Israel. Gentiles are to be in Messiah, not in Israel.
  • The cross of Yeshua changed something radically in the relation of all people to the Torah, Jews and non-Jews. Torah leaves a person guilty and separated from God (think of the Temple and even the closest worshipper cannot enter the Presence). But the cross, for the first time, brought people near to God, abolishing the sentence of death and separation.
  • A proper application of Torah all along should have included the idea that obeying commands never merits a pardon from God. This is why, in Jewish worship and particularly at High Holidays, we pray, “We have no good deeds before you.” Obedience does bring favor, but obedience does not erase guilt and obedience cannot bring us all the way to reconciliation with God. Only an act of God (i.e., the cross) can do that. The inability of the Torah to save is not a new truth, but is the basis of Messiah’s sacrifice. Something more than Torah needed to be done.

Paul’s statements which seem to be anti-Torah all manifest one of these realities.

The righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the Law, says Paul. Yes, Yeshua’s radical love which made him obedient to the point of death on behalf of humanity has manifested God’s justice (the “righteousness of God”). God’s idea of justice is sacrificial love to redeem the unjust.

Let me say that again. God’s idea of justice (“the righteousness of God”) is sacrificial love to redeem the unjust.

You are not under Law but under grace, says Paul. Try reading Romans 6 with this understanding: you are not under Law means not under the condemnation of the Law. You are judged innocent, pardoned already. Therefore, grace or favor from God is your status, not judgment or condemnation.

Christ is the end of the Law, says Paul. I would argue that “end” here means the proper purpose and the unveiling of its true meaning. Many put this in simple terms: end means goal. Try assuming in Romans 10 that Paul is making a deeper point than “the Law was abolished when Christ died.” Try assuming it means “the cross completes what God taught us in Torah, showing us how the laws of separation and holiness are answered in God’s redeeming act of gift-love on the cross.”

The Law is holy and the commandment is holy. The Law is spiritual but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. I delight in the Law of God in my inner being. It is not hearers of the Law but doers of the Law who will be justified. The mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s Law.

If Paul taught his gentile disciples, and I believe he did, that Sabbath and food laws did not apply to them (see Romans 14), this is not because Torah was abolished, but because those commands were always Israel-specific. They were identity markers of belonging to the Jewish people and the Sinai covenant. Paul does not view this covenant as having ceased.

Paul combatted the idea of justification-by-Jewishness. He did not, as older interpreters like Augustine and Luther thought, battle with legal perfectionism. That was not the reigning issue in Judaism in Paul’s day and it is not in modern Judaism either.

Rather, Paul combatted the ideas, “I am right with God because I am Jewish” and “I will convert to Judaism so I can become right with God.” If these ideas were the truth, then the cross was unneeded. To believe these lies renders the sacrificial love of Yeshua irrelevant. If these are true, why did the Lord of life die?

In #4, examining Yeshua on some points of Law and Temple.

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34 Responses to Torah and New Testament #3

  1. Daniel says:

    ok… interesting points… but if gentiles come under the “Spirit of Adoption” through Christ’s death and resurrection, then does not an adopted child follow the rules of the biological child? which would mean because gentiles are to “cross-over”, they are not Israelites, but Hebrews… they are not Jewish, because a Jew did not exist until Judah was born. In fact, the Torah existed way before Moses, it was just not written, because He called Abraham (son of a gentile/idol maker) and made him the Father of Many Nations. Even before God called Abraham, Noah knew the difference between clean and unclean animals. TRUTH BE TOLD, God never said clean and unclean food, He said “animals”… therefore, just because someone eats something, that doesn’t make it food. Also, Christ was the completion of the Law, the fulfillment. He stated in Matthew 5:17-20 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
    Therefore one’s righteousness has to exceed self-righteousness, and we must know that until all is accomplished and until heaven and earth pass away, not a letter or a punctuation will disappear from the Law.
    I also saw that you had stated the 2 big commands, Love God, love your neighbor… but if you would finish the verses, you would see that it also says “the sum of the Law hinges on these 2” which means the entirety of the Law is in those 2 commands… because to Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, is to obey His commands because you love Him. All 613 commands actually fit into those 2, so the question is, “IS EVEN THE FIRST COMMAND DOABLE?” CAN ONE LOVE GOD WITH EVERYTHING THEY ARE? King David did, before and after the adultery and the murder of Bathsheba’s husband. King David, a man after Gods own heart, who knew the Law front to back, who praised God every day for His statutes and commands, and walked in them, made a big sinful choice, and Christ did not exist in the flesh yet, but still was forgiven by God. SO it is quite safe to say that God has always been a forgiving God, but Christ came to do what the Law could not do on it’s own. If the Word became flesh, that means Christ is the Torah in the flesh, and walked out perfection, and because of perfection and holiness, was then nailed to the cross to be the perfect sin sacrifice… so there is no more need for sin sacrifices, and no more need for a high priest to enter into the Tabernacle and the Tent of Meeting, etc… because Christ came to destroy the barrier between God and man… why else would He say “I AM THE WAY THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE, NO MAN COMES TO THE FATHER BUT THROUGH ME.” ???? Think about it… it’s always been about a relationship with the Father in Heaven, so how does one have a relationship with the Father? One must accept Christ as the mediator and sacrifice for our sins, and then “IF YOU LOVE ME OBEY MY COMMANDS”… how do we know what commands? “YOU HAVE NOT SEEN ME DO ANYTHING I HAVE NOT SEEN MY FATHER IN HEAVEN DO.”……which means Christ obeyed His Father, and we are Brothers and Sisters in Christ, then ALL God’s TRUE CHILDREN… will be doing the works, but will also have faith in Christ…. (James 2:17 – Faith without works, is dead.) Grace is not freedom from Gods Law, for what Freedom can their be from “INSTRUCTIONS IN RIGHTEOUSNESS”??? we are free from the punishment of the Law, for when we follow Christ, we are no longer outsiders condemned by the Law, but we are Family, judged by the Father, who wants us to obey His Torah. We should want to learn His ways, for it will be well with us.

  2. Derek Leman says:

    Daniel:

    I decided to approve your comment in spite of several strong reasons not to. It is way too long. You capitalize points like you are shouting. You try to do too much in one post. And clearly, you have a pre-formed theology about this matter and your objective is simply to argue for your theology and against mine.

    What I would prefer — as it is more helpful for readers and for discussion — is that if you disagree you choose one (or at most two) points at a time and make an argument showing where you feel I have gone wrong.

    One thing you did not get from my post: some Torah commands never applied to non-Jews before Yeshua and do not apply now in Yeshua. You wrongly assume all commands are for everyone. You might look at Deuteronomy 14:21.

    Now, you made a string of arguments and I agree with almost none of them. But I’d rather discuss one point at a time. So please come back with a more focused response and we can discuss this if you like.

    Derek Leman

    • benicho says:

      Regarding Deutoronomy 14:21—why would Gd choose some laws (like these) to set the Jews apart from the gentiles? What’s the bigger picture?

  3. James says:

    I agree that “the two greatest commandments” are hardly simple and as Jesus (Yeshua, if you will) said, “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments”. It’s apparent that there are multiple “sub-behaviors” encompassed by these two greatest commandments, so there’s a lot more going on here than meets the casual eye. I also realize this scripture is sometimes used to justify the idea that both Jewish and non-Jewish disciples of the Master are *obligated* to the identical set of Torah commandments, but the difference in covenant requirements between Mosaic and Messianic seem to make it clear that Jews bear the greater “yoke” of Torah (additional responsibilities).

    I like how Lancaster’s Galatians book manages Paul’s missive in describing how Paul, as you’ve said, was against Gentile conversion to Judaism. Gentiles were already “kosher” in the eyes of God, and Paul’s main point was that the Torah was to be maintained in full by the Jewish Messianic disciples while the Gentile disciples bore no such requirement.

    As far as loving God…as strange as it sounds, that’s not so easy, at least to the degree of with all our “heart, soul, mind, and effort” goes. I’m leading up to that point on my own blog, but it won’t be until Friday when I get there.

  4. louise says:

    Well, how can it be that i found both Derek’s initial writeup and Daniel’s comments so helpful and edifying that i have printed off both? i know i will be using them time and time again in the inevitable discussions on this very subject. it never goes away in most evengalical circles, which is where a lot of us fellowship (and testify) these days…..

    sheepishly, i must add that i too am a capital letter user. but honestly, Derek, it is not shouting. it is because some of us have rather passionate and intense personalities and feel deeply about certain subjects. if we were speaking, we could use our voices (and or hands) to make a point especially stand out, but in writing..alas…we have to resort to capital letters.

    Blessed are the peacemakers, which i think you all are………

  5. Rey says:

    Shalom Derek,

    I have question? If the Sabbath and Kosher laws are to separate Israel from the nations and so that they can be holy as HaShem their G-d is Holy why can’t a gentile also observe these commands? How can some foods be unclean and an abomination to Jews but ok for Gentiles? How can a Jew be cut off from their people for not obeying the Sabbath and Gentiles don’t obey the Sabbath at all and they are still part of G-d?

    Now i’m not saying that Gentiles are obligated to observe the Torah in the same manner…… but it’s confusing.

    • James says:

      I know this was probably said elsewhere (sorry for beating you to the punch, Derek), but Gentiles *can* choose to observe the Shabbat and to “keep kosher” in some manner or fashion…it just isn’t in obedience to the commandments given to the Children of Israel at Sinai.

      I’m married to a Jewish wife and so what she eats, I eat. She buys kosher meat so I eat kosher meat. It’s not like I’m going to eat a ham sandwich in front of her just because she doesn’t consider the kosher laws binding on me. Someday, she’ll kasher our kitchen and I’ll observe the requirements for keeping a kosher kitchen. OK, I eat the way I do not just because of my wife, but as a matter of personal conviction. While I can’t say I eat certain foods and refrain from others because I am commanded by God with severe penalties if I don’t, I do so as a choice. The same goes for Shabbat observance and fasting on Yom Kippur.

      If you consider the Gentile God-fearers and disciples of the Master who existed in the time of Paul and Peter, they most likely observed some form of kosher eating, just to have table fellowship with their Jewish counterparts and, since 1st century worship among the disciples of Jesus (Yeshua) would have been held on the Shabbat, the Gentiles also probably observed some sort of Shabbat rest…not necessarily because they felt obligated, but because they made personal commitments based on the context of their faith, since especially at that time, being a “Christian” was well within the Jewish framework.

      I don’t know exactly how God sees all of this (and I’ve certainly been wrestling with those thoughts on my blog for the past week or so), but ultimately, all we can do is proceed as best we can from our understanding of God’s desires for our lives, knowing we won’t get it all “right”, but moving forward with the intention of pleasing God and promoting peace with our Jewish, Christian, and other neighbors in the world.

  6. Derek Leman says:

    Benicho:

    Regarding Deuteronomy 14:21 specifically, the reason for a laxer law on resident aliens and foreigners regarding meat found dead, this may be for humane reasons (less food restrictions for needy people). It also to some degree reflects the fact that purity laws are not absolute. They are symbolic (they symbolize life and death). I have posted here at Musings about the purity laws and it would be good for more people to learn the details of Leviticus. I have a daily commentary on Torah I send out to a big email list called the Daily D’var. Anyone can email me and request to be on the Daily D’var if they would like to spend a year becoming more intimately familiar with things like this (of course, we won’t be back into Leviticus until the cycle arrives there in 2012).

    But more generally, God’s view of circles of sanctity looks like this:
    High Priest > Priests > Israelites > Resident Aliens > The Nations

    Those higher on the sanctity scale have increased restrictions. The High Priest has many more restrictions than Israelites in general, for example.

  7. Derek Leman says:

    Rey:

    The law about not working on the Sabbath is not an absolute. There is nothing wrong, in general, with working on Saturday. God simply forbids it to Israelites.

    A parallel example might help. There is nothing wrong with marrying a widow, but a High Priest is forbidden to do it. Should you refuse to marry a widow as a gentile on the logic that following the most restrictive laws is the way to be closest to God? Of course not.

    Another parallel. Nazarites do not eat raisins. Should we all strive for raisin-free lifestyles to be nearer to God?

    • Rey says:

      Derek,

      I understand your examples but it’s not the same….

      The Torah existed before Sinai (for it is eternal), for the 7th day (Shabbat) was already declared holy from creation, the correct sacrifices shown to our first parents by G-d Himself, and Noah knew how to distinguish between clean and unclean animals.

      The examples you gave above are understandable…. in the case of the priest, we have to take into consideration the importance of the role of the priest and how it typifies Moshiach roll as High Priest. The same with the Nazarites…..

      I’m not arguing with you Derek, we are discussing so please don’t think that i’m arguing.

  8. Derek Leman says:

    Consider Paul address this issue in Romans 14. Suffice it to say that Paul knows his Torah. The issue is gentiles in the Roman congregation looking down on Jews for their strange customs (such as Sabbath, and Roman literature has examples of Romans mocking the Sabbath).

    Paul says: One man esteems one day as better than another, while another man esteems all days alike. The Jew esteems the Sabbath as the highest day. The Roman says all days are the same. God, Paul is arguing, says they are both right. The Sabbath is special to Jews because of the covenant with God. The Sabbath has no relevance for gentiles and is not part of the Abrahamic covenant or the gospel.

    Paul also says: He who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The Jewish worshipper keeps Sabbath to honor God. Those who do not keep Sabbath should respect those who do, believing that by so doing they are honoring God. This is in sharp contrast to the common line in Christian preaching that the Jewish people are somehow legalistic for keeping commandments!

    Paul’s explanation in Romans 14 is very gentile. He is explaining the differing Jewish customs to gentiles using their language. If you read the chapter this way, it makes perfect sense. You can find more in my book, Paul Didn’t Eat Pork, and even more in Mark Nanos’ The Mystery of Romans.

    • Rey says:

      Derek,

      you said “Paul also says: He who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The Jewish worshipper keeps Sabbath to honor God.”

      So cannot a gentile observe the Sabbath in honor of G-d also, since it has already been proclaimed a holy day by the Creator Himself? G-d Himself rested on that day, shouldn’t we follow in His footsteps?

      “And on the seventh day G-d ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. And G-d blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because on it G-d ceased from all the work of creation that He had done. ” – Gen.2:2,3

      just a thought…..

  9. Derek Leman says:

    Rey, no problem. I have this discussion over and over again. Some ideas that I regard as faulty have become popular in the broader Messianic movement and especially among those who buy into the One Law idea. You are repeating one of the common arguments. Let me attempt to show you this argument has no basis. The argument I am refuting is, “The Sabbath existed before the Torah and is universal, a creation ordinance.”

    (1) Nothing is said in Genesis about a commandment to Adam and Eve or Noah or Abraham about keeping Sabbath.
    (2) Genesis does not call it the Sabbath, but the seventh day. The word for “rest” or “cease” is from the same root at Shabbat.
    (3) We might better read Genesis 1:14 and 2:2-3 as foreshadowing Israel than establishing a creation ordinance. See John Walton, The Lost World of Genesis One, for an excellent reading.
    (4) The Sabbath is first taught to Israel in Exodus 16.
    (5) Exodus 31:13 says it is a sign between Israel and God. This is why we refer to it as a sign commandment.
    (6) The argument that “Sabbath is a universal requirement because it is rooted in creation” goes against Judaism’s interpretation of Sabbath.
    (7) It also goes against the teaching of the apostles — clearly. Acts 15 is clear. Romans 14 is clear. Let me know if you cannot see what I mean by this.
    (8) People should read the Bible without assuming “every text is universal” and not as a timeless set of principles. Specific passages and commandments and covenants come in a context.

    • Rey says:

      Derek,

      I never implied that because the Sabbath in the Creation narrative it’s a Commandment for all of the nations. That is not what i meant at all. I meant this is evidence of Torah being pre-existent, this lays the groundwork for why G-d gave this holy day to His people, for G-d Himself rested on this day.

  10. Derek Leman says:

    Rey, you asked: “So cannot a gentile observe the Sabbath in honor of G-d also, since it has already been proclaimed a holy day by the Creator Himself?”

    I am only arguing against making Sabbath a requirement for gentiles to be faithful to Messiah. I am not arguing that Sabbath-keeping is forbidden.

    But I will say this: when gentiles take on Torah, there is a common error in taking also a pseudo-Jewish identity. This becomes for many Messianic gentiles a replacement theology (though they would deny this). They say, “We are [essentially] Israel through our faith in Messiah so we must keep Torah as Israel.”

    This undermines Jewish identity. It also makes a mockery of Galatians.

    I don’t blame you and many others who have fallen for these arguments. They are voiced so convincingly by so many teachers who are building their following. It is a message with popular appeal: “Be more holy and join our holier-than-they movement which knows the true secret to faith and godliness.”

    • Rey says:

      Derek,

      I don’t believe that because you dress Jewish or speak Jewish that it makes you any holier, actually i agree with you that many are a little confused. Many don’t really know and do it out of ignorance.

      Yes there are different Commandments for different people, for Priest, for those who dwell in Israel, for men, woman etc etc… but tho all are not priest, Jews wash their hands before meals in resemblance to the Command of the priest, correct?

  11. Rey says:

    Derek,

    Check this interesting comment 😉

    “Abraham, called the first Jew, was a Gentile. How could this be when he never made formal geirut? And even more puzzling… how could he, being a Gentile, have kept the entire Torah before the Sinai event even took place like the Chazal assert? The Torah preceded Creation, and is the blue print of Creation. Nature is designed by the Torah, therefore the internatity and externality of man is formed by the design of Nature. Hence, the Hebrew term “HaTeivah” (Nature) has the same gematria as Elokim (86), which reveals how Abraham became a Jew and kept all of the Torah and Mitzvot before Sinai. Abraham’s devotion to G-d within his heart, accomplished this which is a testimony to all mankind who must reveal the Jew within themselves, for the Torah is their very substance. The Torah is the blue print design of the Gentile just as the Jew. All mankind was created with 248 organs and 365 sinews, to even glimmer a thought that G-d did not create the Gentile with the same 613 parts like the born Jew is entertaining heresy and foolishness.” – (Shemayah Yardin, commentary on Rebbe Nachman’s Anatomy of the Soul)

    “G-d gave Torah to Israel in order that they should bring it to the Nations.” – (Midrash Tanchuma; Hamfo’ar v.2)

    “The Midrash states that G-d gave the Torah to all the Nations before He gave it to Israel. This is to represent the fact that the Torah was intended for all mankind. How much more so is this true in that the Midrash also tells us that G-d revealed the Torah in all 70 languages of the Nations of the world? To deny this is doing a disservice to one’s self, to Israel, to Torah, and to G-d; but worse, to teach otherwise is denying the Non-Jewish world the over abundance of glorious blessings that are contained within the Torah and the wondrous infinite wisdom that G-d bestowed upon the chosen stewards of His Torah for the purpose of sharing it with and bestowing this upon the rest of the world.” – (Shemaya Yardin)

    • Carl Kinbar says:

      “The Midrash states that G-d gave the Torah to all the Nations before He gave it to Israel.”

      Rey, it’s an odd comment, especially as a basis for a universalist Torah. I’m sorry to have to question Shemaya Yardin, but “the Midrash says,” like “the Bible says,” doesn’t help anyone to locate the actual source.

      I believe the correct translation would be that G-d OFFERED the Torah . . . and every nation but Israel rejected it.

  12. Derek Leman says:

    Rey:

    You responded above: “I never implied that because the Sabbath in the Creation narrative it’s a Commandment for all of the nations. That is not what i meant at all. I meant this is evidence of Torah being pre-existent, this lays the groundwork for why G-d gave this holy day to His people, for G-d Himself rested on this day.”

    First, it seems I did misunderstand the argument you were making. But I am glad I took the time to list evidence against the “universal-Sabbath-from-creation” view.

    Second, it seems now that you are saying (but I may be wrong again) that Torah and Sabbath pre-existed and therefore the seventh day is intrinsically holy and therefore anyone who does not observe the holiness of the day is to some degree at fault. If you are not saying that, how do you avoid that conclusion based on your premise that “God gave this holy day to his people because God rested on that day”?

    I would like to propose a different understanding of how Genesis 2:2-3 looks forward to the Sabbath: God foreknew the Torah and put its pattern into creation to reveal his foreknowledge of Israel and the covenants. Thus, the day is still holy in a symbolic sense. There is nothing intrinsically holy about the day. To those who are not commanded to observe it, it is as any other day.

  13. Derek Leman says:

    Rey, in regard to your citation from the Midrash Tanchuma above and also to Shemayah Yardin, I want to make sure you don’t think these statements mean Judaism sees gentiles as obligated to Torah in the same way as Jews. These sources you cite accept the notion of Noahide laws, a limited set of laws for gentiles. They also refer to the legend that all nations had an opportunity to be the people of Torah, but refused it. None of them mean to say that Sabbath, food laws, fringes, circumcision, and the sign commandments of Israel are obligatory for gentiles.

    • Rey says:

      Derek,

      The Noachide Laws being within the Torah does not contradict what i’m saying, again i never said that a Gentile was obligated to do anything, never said that. I’m telling you how i feel about the situation. I do not believe that Torah tells me that i should not observe the Sabbath just because i’m a Gentile etc etc…i think the arguments can go both ways.

      Isn’t everyone in the Messianic age going to observe Torah? Man i just don’t think that something that G-d calls holy could be wrong for me to observe, and if G-d said something is abominable how can it be wrong for one and not the other?? Once again why did Noah a Gentile know the difference between clean and unclean animals, i’m not saying that he ate Kosher (who knows) but it’s there……. Just like the Sabbath, G-d sanctified it and made it holy, He rested on that day!

  14. Seth says:

    Another important note in all of this: Paul did not regard the Torah (i.e., the 613, the Law of Moses) as existing from creation:

    “This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.” (Gal 3:17-18)

    Paul considers the Abrahamic promise as prior to the Torah of Moses. We acknowledge every Shavuot that the Mosaic covenant was ratified between Hashem and the sons of Israel at Sinai. There may have been shadows or types of the Torah in the lives of the Patriarchs, but the 613 did not exist as a ratified covenant prior to Sinai. And Shabbat was the sign given to the sons of Israel of their unique covenant relationship between them and Hashem. Not universally, but uniquely to Israel.

  15. Derek Leman says:

    Seth, very true. To clarify for Rey, who validly is alluding to statements by the sages about Torah being before creation (and Messiah and Temple and four other things): the idea that Torah precedes creation refers to God’s foreknowledge. But Torah was ratified on Sinai, at a point in time much after creation.

  16. James says:

    One of the things that occurs to me when non-Jewish believers discuss that they too are (or should be) obligated to the same Torah as Jewish believers is whether or not the non-Jewish believers really comprehend what they want to take onboard. I follow a number of Rabbis (non-Messianic) on twitter and just saw this in my timeline a few minutes ago. I think it illustrates quite well aspects of “Torah obedience” that most Christians (Gentile Messianics) don’t consider:

    Shabbat Protocol for Hurricane Irene.

    From a non-Jewish perspective, most folks would figure that if a hurricane is coming or has arrived by Shabbat, all bets are off as far as any level of behavioral restriction. If the lights go out, I’ll light a candle or flashlight. If I need to know the latest weather report, I’ll fire up my battery-driven radio and tune to the emergency news channel. If I need to carry objects from one domain to another, you bet I’ll do that.

    Now a great deal of what is normally prohibited is permitted in a case of a true emergency when life and limb are at stake, but there’s a difference between an emergency and a tough situation (power is out due to 110 mph winds blowing down power poles but you are immediately safe and unharmed at home).

    The other really interesting aspect here, is that a Rabbi needed to post this information on the web, presumably because Jews in the affected area really needed to know how they were going to observe Shabbat under hurricane conditions. I think most “Messianic” Gentiles would just rely on their own judgment and interpretation and leave it at that. Not a lot of worry would be generated regarding “hurricane halachah” because we’d feel as if God would understand that we couldn’t observe Shabbat while the whale of all storms was going on outside.

    This goes a long way in explaining something my (Jewish) wife keeps trying to tell me. Jews and Christians really do think in fundamentally different ways about some things, including how to observe the Shabbat under various conditions (rain, shine, snow, hurricane). Something to ponder when you consider yourself “Torah observant”.

    • Rey says:

      James,

      I agree but these examples can also be seen within the different sects within Judaism. Not all sects observe the Torah in the same way, there are different Rabbis who teach in different ways/customs. Ashkenazi or Sephardic customs etc etc…

      • James says:

        Actually, that’s one of my points. Among Gentiles who believe that they’re obligated to the full yoke of Torah, one of the arguments is that the church “picks and chooses” what parts of the Bible to obey and what parts to disregard. Taking on all 613 commandments, it is said, is obeying God fully and without human decision making. However, as you’ve just pointed out Rey, it depends on which “model” of Judaism you choose to adopt. Some, and perhaps most of the “Torah-observant” Gentiles choose not to follow any model of Judaism as such but to allow their own group’s interpretation to guide them in how to “obey” the Torah. The argument here is to “follow God” and not the “man-made rules” of the Rabbis. The problem is that by removing Talmudic and Rabbinic rulings, you end up using the judgment of the individuals involved or of congregational leaders which just reintroduces “man-made rules”.

        I’m not trying to start a fight, but I am trying to point out how enormously complex the concept of “Torah obedience” is, especially for people who were not raised in Jewish families nor having the benefit of a Jewish education while growing up.

        • Rey says:

          James,

          And i agree with you 100%, i do not disregard the authority of the Sages i accept the authority. But what i’m saying is there is a lot of picking and choosing within Judaism itself. I understand that there are different opinions.

  17. Rey says:

    Derek,

    Sorry about how the sentence came out, it was all messed up lollol
    But yes you understood me a lil better lol also i don’t find other’s at fault for not observing the Sabbath, it’s not my place to do a such thing. But because G-d did rest on that day and because He gave it to His chosen people Israel who are supposed to be light to the nations, i too want to observe the Sabbath. But in no way do i pass judgement on those who don’t.

  18. Glenn says:

    “Paul combatted the idea of justification-by-Jewishness. He did not, as older interpreters like Augustine and Luther thought, battle with legal perfectionism.”

    It seems the Gospels do reveal some Pharisees held to legal perfectionism. Why would it be a far-fetched idea to think Paul did combat legal perfectionism along with the idea of justification-by-Jewishness?

  19. Carl Kinbar says:

    Hi Derek. Thanks for the post. I’m not sure I buy the “justification by Jewishness” bit. The ideas of identity and boundary crossing in the first century were not the same as ours (See Shaye Cohen’s book.) I could be wrong, but it seems to me that the issue was “justification by covenant.” Gentiles were being told that you must be circumcised (that is, enter the covenant) in order to be saved.

    Your thoughts?

  20. Derek Leman says:

    “Justification by Jewishness” was my contemporary way of saying the same thing you are, “justification by covenant.” The point is, rightness with God was separated from key ingredients like faith and faithfulness. But the enlightenment we all need is by faith that brings about faithfulness. Covenantal nomism (what I called here “justification by Jewishness”) is empty of repentance, faith, and service. In other places I have called it privileged-positionism. It is not a distinctly Jewish view (many in Christendom have based their status on privileged-positionism). Paul saw that God justifies (declares us innocent ahead of the trial) in response to faith. A change in us is needed. We must be transformed, born from above, enlightened.

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