The Apostle Paul Revisited: Paul’s Argument with Jesus, Part I

This is the first of a series comparing the words of Yeshua and Paul regarding the Law (Torah) of God.

Should God Have The Last Word?

A very strange thing happens when I encounter others who share with me a testimony of faith in Jesus Christ (Messiah Yeshua), but do not share the same regard for all the commandments of the Lord.  These brothers and sisters do have regard for His commandments, but draw a line at things like observing Sabbath on the day God specified, keeping the Feasts of the Lord, and eating only the foods God placed on the menu.  The strange thing is the reactions that come with the understanding that we have disagreement on these points.  Sometimes the reaction is silence, as if some of the brethren just want to make the issue go away by ignoring it.  Sometimes they react in disbelief, wondering how I can be “bound up” in all that old Law.  This perception of the Law, or Torah[1]as bondage comes from what people think they know of Judaism and of the Jewish practices Yeshua and the Apostles addressed in the Scriptures.  For example, one person indicated she considered it bondage to legalism when a Jewish friend of hers had to cut short a phone conversation to prepare for Sabbath.  There is a vast difference between what God commanded about Sabbath and the excessive regulations added by Rabbinical Judaism, but I wonder if by the standard of  this particular example it is also legalism to cut short a phone conversation to prepare for church on Sunday.

Is the Law really bondage?  Consider the testimony of Scripture:

For this commandment which I command you this day is not too difficult for you, nor is it far off.  It is not [a secret laid up] in heaven, that you should say, “Who shall go up for us to heaven and bring it to us, that we may hear and do it?”  Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, “Who shall go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear and do it?”  But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your mind and in your heart, so that you can do it.  (Deuteronomy 30:11-14 AMP)

The Apostle John echoes this passage when he says, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments.  And His commandments are not burdensome.  (I John 5:3 NKJV).  The Apostle Paul quotes from it in Romans 10:5-13 in setting up his argument that, “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”  (Romans 10:9 NKJV)  And yet in regard to the Law, the reaction of many brethren is to invoke Paul for a defense, usually with a comment such as, “Paul settled that question in Galatians”, or “If you follow the Law, then you’re tied to a gospel of works, which is what Paul wrote against in Romans.”

I do not pretend to have all the answers, but let me be brutally honest:  after living this Messianic lifestyle for well over a decade, I have enough personal experience to testify that Christians generally have no real understanding what the Apostle Paul was actually saying, or what the Law (Torah) actually says.  Moreover, their remarks indicate a perception that Paul said something different than what Yeshua said.  For example, while Yeshua said He had not come to abolish the Law (Matthew 5:17-19), Paul wrote that we are not under law, but under grace (Romans 6:15).  At first glance, those statements appear to be in conflict, and unfortunately comparatively few people have bothered to dig further and determine why these two seemingly contradictory statements appear in the Word of God we profess to be inerrant.

This is a problem.  Here we have to two greatest figures in Christianity apparently arguing with one another.  One says the Law stands forever, but the other says Christians are no longer subject to that Law.  If this is so, then at the very least we have a contradiction that threatens a meltdown of the entire foundation of the Church.

Who should have priority in this argument?  Do we reconcile Yeshua to Paul?  After all, Paul came after Yeshua’s work on the cross was finished and therefore had more perfect revelation than others before him.  Or do we reconcile Paul with Yeshua since Yeshua is God Himself?

That sounds like an easy question.  The basic tenet of Christianity is that Messiah Yeshua is God come to earth as a human being (John 1:1-14).  Many Christians over the centuries have denied the divinity of Jesus.  We call such people heretics.  (Do a Google search on Arianism and see what you find.)  If we accept this core Christian belief that Yeshua is God Himself, then whatever Yeshua says must be true.  After all, how can God, the Author of Truth, say or do anything that is untrue?

But here we have the problem.  There is controversy in Christian circles about what Yeshua really meant when He said He did not come to abolish the Law.  Those who are not so sure about His meaning turn to Paul for help, thinking that Paul settled the question by proving that the Law no longer applies to Christians.  In essence, they are reconciling Yeshua with Paul.  To put it another way, the words of God Himself are subject to the authority of Paul, a human being God created.

How do we resolve this conundrum?  We find out what Yeshua really said, and then we find out what Paul really said.  When we do that we shall see that they were not saying different things.

At this point I must issue a disclaimer.  This project is something that has occupied the attention of theologians for centuries.  A simple blog post cannot possibly touch on even a fraction of what these learned men and women have written.  But then, there is no need to do so.  All we must do is examine Scripture and let the Word of God speak for itself.  However, that also is too big a task for this post.  The best I can do is offer evidence from specific passages and provide some explanation from the cultural context of the First Century.  Admittedly, that will only be the beginning.  Although I will continue to examine this subject, the real success of this and other posts is not in how persuasively I write, but in how many readers have the motivation to investigate these things for themselves.

What Yeshua Said

Now, what did Yeshua really say?  We’ll start with the key verses in Matthew and then provide a few sound bites from the other Gospels:

Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets.  I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.  For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.  Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.  (Matthew 5:17-19 NKJV, emphasis added)

What Yeshua seems to be saying in Matthew 5:17-19 is that He did not come to get rid of the Law at all, but that it still applies, and that those who break any of the commandments and teach others to do so will suffer loss of status in His Kingdom.  And yet what some Christians seem to think is that He said, “I did not come to destroy the Law, but I came instead to destroy the Law.”  That line of thought derives from a creative interpretation of the word “fulfill”.  The reasoning is that Yeshua fulfilled the Law, meaning that He completed the prophecies of the Law and brought its provisions to a conclusion.  That, however, makes no sense in light of His statement, “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.”  (Matthew 5:18)

What Yeshua really means is that He came to teach the Law correctly and provide us the full meaning, and that no part of the Law will pass away until all its provisions are completed.  The confusion is in the translation of two different Greek words as “fulfill”.  The first word is plēroō (πληρóω, Strongs G4137).  The Strongs outline of Biblical usage says this about plēroō:[2]

  • to make full, to fill up, i.e. to fill to the full; to cause to abound, to furnish or supply liberally (I abound, I am liberally supplied)
  • to render full, i.e. to complete
    • to fill to the top: so that nothing shall be wanting to full measure, fill to the brim
    • to consummate: a number
      • to make complete in every particular, to render perfect
      • to carry through to the end, to accomplish, carry out, (some undertaking)
  • to carry into effect, bring to realisation, realise
    • of matters of duty: to perform, execute
    • of sayings, promises, prophecies, to bring to pass, ratify, accomplish
    • to fulfil, i.e. to cause God’s will (as made known in the law) to be obeyed as it should be, and God’s promises (given through the prophets) to receive fulfilment

That is what Yeshua says He came to do with the Law and the Prophets.  There is nothing in there about doing away with it.  Quite the contrary; Yeshua came to establish the Law and make its full meaning plain.

The second word translated as “fulfill” is ginomai (γíνομαι, Strongs G1096), which means:[3]

  • to become, i.e. to come into existence, begin to be, receive being
  • to become, i.e. to come to pass, happen (of events)
  • to arise, appear in history, come upon the stage (of men appearing in public)
  • to be made, finished (of miracles, to be performed, wrought)
  • to become, be made

Again, there is nothing about abolishing in this outline of Biblical usage.  Instead, it refers to the completion of anticipated things.  That brings to mind what God’s angel explained to Daniel when that prophet asked about the next steps for Israel after the Babylonian captivity:

Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy.  (Daniel 9:24 NKJV)

And that is what Yeshua meant about the Law and the Prophets.  It is still in effect until all the prophesied events take place.  In other words, until heaven and earth pass away.

Now that we know Yeshua never disputed the applicability of the Law, consider what He said to the Jewish leaders of His day:

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.  (Matthew 23:23 NKJV)

He answered and said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written:  ‘This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.  And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’  For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men—the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do.”  He said to them, “All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition.”  (Mark 7:6-9 NKJV emphasis added)

Is the Law really the issue here?  Or is the issue the way the Pharisees have applied the Law?  How much more plainly can Yeshua say it than this, “For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men”.  It is not He who has dictated a change in Law, but the religious men of His day.  His intent, as He said in Matthew 5:17, is not to abolish the Law, but to teach it correctly.  To do that, Yeshua had to take issue with the way the Jewish leaders perverted the Law of God by using their traditions to add to and take away from it (see Deuteronomy 4:1-2).  Notice that in Matthew 23:23 He does not tell them to stop tithing in such detailed manner as they have been, for that also is part of the Law (Leviticus 27:30-32; Numbers 18:21-32; Deuteronomy 14:22-29, 26:1-15).  Instead, He told them to keep the “weightier matters of the Law:  justice and mercy and faith”.  It seems that Christians do very well keeping these weightier matters already.  Where we really fall down is in the easy things, particularly God’s Sabbath, His Feasts (Appointed Times), and His dietary instructions.

The question, then, is not whether the Law applies to us, but how we are applying it.  Yeshua addressed that point with satan:

But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’’  (Matthew 4:4 NKJV)

But Jesus answered him, saying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.’”  (Luke 4:4 NKJV)

As far as I can tell, the first recorded words out of the mouth of God are, “Let there be light (Genesis 1:3).  If we take Yeshua at His word, then everything that God has said from that point on is like food and drink to us.  In other words, we need all of it, including those hard-to-understand passages like the one about letting a mother bird go free when taking eggs from a nest (Deuteronomy 22:6-7).[4]

The words, commandments, instructions, teaching, statutes, and ordinances of God are indeed nourishment for us, but there is even more to it than that.  Observing and obeying them constitutes evidence of our love for our God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit:

If you love Me, keep My commandments.  And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.  I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.  A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me.  Because I live, you will live also.  At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.  He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me.  And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.  (John 14:15-21 NKJV, emphasis added)

As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.  If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.  (John 15:9-10)

The only way one can argue that Yeshua is not upholding the Torah as delivered by God through Moses is by saying that Yeshua came to give us a new kind of Law.  Yet that argument clashes with Yeshua’s very words in Matthew 5:17-19 and elsewhere.  If there is a new set of commandments, where are they?  Do we piece together this “new Torah” from Yeshua’s teaching and the commentaries of the Apostles?  Or do we conclude instead that what Yeshua did was to present the correct teaching of Torah, and that the Apostle’s writings are commentary on both the Torah and Yeshua’s living example?  That fits much better with Yeshua’s assertion to the Pharisees about Moses:

Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; there is one who accuses you—Moses, in whom you trust.  For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me.  But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?  (John 5:45-47 NKJV)

Can we honestly say that Yeshua’s exhortation to the Pharisees does not apply to us today?

Part II presents comments from Paul’s letters that seem to indicate his opposition to the Law (Torah), as well as his comments that uphold the Law.

Please click here to continue to Part II.

Please click here to continue to Part III.

Please click here to continue to Part IV.


[1] Law and Torah are used interchangeably throughout the Hebrew and Greek scriptures.  In reference to the Law of God, or Law of Moses (e.g., the Law given by God through Moses), it means the Law, Teaching, Instruction, and Commandments of God.  The full meaning of Torah (Strongs H7451, תּוֹרָה) is, “law, direction, instruction; (A) instruction, direction (human or divine), (1) body of prophetic teaching, (2) instruction in Messianic age, (3) body of priestly direction or instruction, (4) body of legal directives; (B) law, (1) law of the burnt offering, (2) of special law, codes of law; (C) custom, manner; (D) the Deuteronomic or Mosaic Law”.  The Greek equivalent is nomos (Strongs G3551, νóμος), which means, “anything established, anything received by usage, a custom, a law, a command; (A) of any law whatsoever, (1) a law or rule producing a state approved of God, by the observance of which is approved of God, (2) a precept or injunction, (3) the rule of action prescribed by reason; (B) of the Mosaic law, and referring, according to the context, either to the volume of the law or to its contents; (C) the Christian religion: the law demanding faith, the moral instruction given by Christ, esp. the precept concerning love; (D) the name of the more important part (the Pentateuch), is put for the entire collection of the sacred books of the Old Testament”.

[4] The commandment about the mother bird is regarded by the Jewish sages as the least of the commandments.  “’The Least of the Commandments’:  Deuteronomy 22:6-7 in Rabbinic Judaism and Early Christianity”, Robert M. Johnston, Andrews University Seminary Studies, Vol. 20, No. 3, August 1983.  The scripture says, “If a bird’s nest happens to be before you along the way, in any tree or on the ground, with young ones or eggs, with the mother sitting on the young or on the eggs, you shall not take the mother with the young; you shall surely let the mother go, and take the young for yourself, that it may be well with you and that you may prolong your days.”  (Deuteronomy 22:6-7 NKJV)  Interestingly, the blessing for keeping this commandment, “that you may prolong your days”, is the same as the blessing for the one of the greatest commandments, honoring one’s father and mother (Exodus 20:12)


© Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog, 2014.  Permission to use and/or duplicate original material on The Barking Fox Blog is granted, provided that full and clear credit is given to Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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About The Barking Fox

I am . . . - A lifelong disciple of Jesus (Yeshua) of Nazareth. - An avid student of the Bible. - A devoted husband and father. - A 29-year veteran of the United States Army. - A historian who connects people with their own stories.

11 responses to “The Apostle Paul Revisited: Paul’s Argument with Jesus, Part I”

  1. blaine scogin says :

    Al,

    The writer of Hebrews tells us in Heb.10:1,

    For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near.

    Paul also articulates the shadow of the law in Col. 2:-16-17. Here he writes,

    Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day–things which are a mere shadow of what is to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.

    The law with its Jewish feast are only a shadow. The Jewish feast were only for Israel and are not binding on New Covenant believers.

    The scope of redemptive history is a movement from the shadow of law to the substance of Christ. This movement is seen in two covenants. the Old Covenant has passed. We are under the New Covenant. Heb. 8:13 states

    When he said, “a new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear.

    Brother my understanding is we are under a new covenant as administered by Christ. Not the Mosaic Covenant as administered by Moses. Indeed on the Mount of Transfiguration the voice of the Father said this is my beloved Son listen to Him.

    Will close for now. These are my thoughts.

    Blaine

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    • The Barking Fox says :

      The church has been misreading some of the passages you mentioned for nearly two thousand years, and sadly that continues to cause Believers to miss out on additional blessings from the Father. At some point in the future I may address the misperceptions in Hebrews, but for now I would like to encourage you to investigate what the Bible says the New Covenant actually is (Jeremiah 31:31-34, to which the writer of Hebrews refers in Hebrews 8:8-12). Consider what the Word of God says happens to the Law of God under this New Covenant. As for the passage in Colossians, 119 Ministries has an excellent 10-minute teaching on Colossians 2 that addresses the very thing you have mentioned. I encourage you to watch it because it is very informative.

      Several of my blog posts investigate what Scripture has to say on these matters, including our identity as Israelites along with Jews and what that means to our walk of faith in Messiah.

      Is Jesus on Vacation?
      Commonwealth and Cooperation: How Jews and Christians Can Work Together
      By Root and Branch: A Personal Messianic Challenge
      The Godly Legacy of Passover

      I hope you will find them helpful.

      Shalom,

      Al

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      • blaine scogin says :

        Al,

        Brother I fail to see how the Hebrews 8 passages can be misread. The language us pretty clear.

        Heb. 8:6 uses pretty clear language when the writer speaks of Jesus obtaining ” a more excellent ministry” as He is the “mediator of a better covenant which has been enacted on “better promises”.

        The same with Hebrews 8:13. The language speaks of a ” new covenant” that us replacing the old covenant that is “becoming obsolete and growing old and us ready to disappear”.

        So how are these passages being misread? I am using a literal translation of the Bible, NASB Update.

        My understanding. We are under a new covenant administered by Christ. Nit the old covenant administered by Moses.

        Brother I.must admit I am puzzled with your grasp of secular history. Do you nit see the scope of redemptive history as moving from the shadow of Moses to the.substance of Christ? I think this is marvelously depicted in the Mount of Transfiguration account of Jesus appearing with Moses and Elijah. Yet the Father said this us my Son whom I have chosen and love. Listen to Him. On the end Jesus was with the disciple. I take this to mean He is the One we listen to. Not Moses.

        By Him,

        Blaine

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      • The Barking Fox says :

        Blaine:

        For centuries the common teaching in Christian circles is that Hebrews is about God doing things in an entirely different way. That is the misunderstanding. The truth is that Hebrews addresses a prophesied change in the priesthood, not an annulment of God’s Law. Consider that the word “covenant” does not appear in the original Greek in Hebrews 8:7 or 8:13. That’s why the word is in italics in your NASB and in other reputable translations. Young’s Literal Translation renders Hebrews 8:13 this way:

        in the saying `new,’ He hath made the first old, and what doth become obsolete and is old [is] nigh disappearing. (Hebrews 8:13 YLT98)

        The “new” is the new priesthood, with Yeshua as the High Priest of the order of Melchizedek. The author of Hebrews rightly points out that prophecy from Psalm 110. What is also new is the Aaronic priesthood, which according to Ezekiel 44 will be the sons of Zadok who alone among the descendants of Aaron remained pure and did not lead the people into lawlessness. Thus it is not the old covenants (and there have been many) that are disappearing, but the imperfections in the humans who are to keep the covenants. And indeed the Temple worship and so much else which the Lord gave to us all through Moses are shadows of the things to come, but a shadow does not disappear when the real object comes in the room. Rather, it becomes diminished in the presence of the actual item. That is why the prophets explain to us how the Temple, the sacrifices, Sabbath, and the Feasts will continue in the Millennial Kingdom, with King Yeshua officiating and teaching us about them. See for example (and there are many examples in Scripture), Isaiah 66:22-23:

        “For as the new heavens and the new earth which I will make shall remain before Me,” says the LORD, “So shall your descendants and your name remain. And it shall come to pass that from one New Moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, all flesh shall come to worship before Me,” says the LORD. (Isaiah 66:23-23 NKJV)

        For further study on the better understanding of Hebrews, see Brad Scott’s short article, “Ivrim 7:12 – Doesn’t a change in the Priesthood mean no more Torah?”, and a more extensive article by 119 Ministries, “FAQ – Hebrews 7:12-18; 8:6-13 – New High Priesthood or Law Abolished?”.

        Now regarding the New Covenant, I look forward to your comments on these questions:
        – Where are the terms of the New Covenant recorded?
        – With whom has God made this covenant?
        – What will the covenant do?
        – What is the sign of the fulfillment of this covenant?
        – Is this covenant fulfilled?

        Thank you for the opportunity to address these issues. I know you have an open heart to love, hear, and obey our Father, and even to adjust your understanding as the Holy Spirit reveals. He has been adjusting my paradigms for about 20 years. Although it has been awkward and difficult at times, this process has brought me into deeper truth and intimacy with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as His whole Word has come alive in ways I never imagined possible. I pray the same and even greater blessing for you.

        Shalom,

        Al

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  2. blaine scogin says :

    Al,

    Do not have time to respond adequately to your last post as it is going to require thought and prayer.

    Lord willing, will try to give a more thoughtful response tomorrow. Suffice to say I do not see your view in Hebrews 8.

    In His Bonds,

    Blaine

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    • blaine scogin says :

      Al,

      If you are going to reason that Heb.8:6 and 8:13 is only a change in priesthood with no change in law. Then how do you explain Heb.7:12 which says,

      For where the priesthood is changed, of necessity that takes place ahange of law also.

      Granted the priesthood has changed under the New Covenant. So has the law. As I keep stating in my posts we are under a new covenant governed by Christ is Holy Spirit.

      In 1 Cor.9:21-22 Paul makes the distinction between the law of Moses and a lot of Christ. The verses state,

      To the Jews I became like a Jew, so that I might win Jews, to those who are under the Law, as under the Law, though not being myself under the Law, so that I might when those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law.

      In the above verses Paul makes a distinction where he is not under the law of Moses, but under the law of Christ. He uses the term law of Christ in Gal.6:2 where he speaks of bearing one another’s burdens and thus fulfilling the law of Christ. To read the Mosaic code where law of Christ is used is to violence to the text.

      Again I reason that based on the above verses as well as others I have shared in my post we are under a new covenant. Not the Mosaic code.

      In His Bonds,

      Blaine

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      • blaine scogin says :

        Am to address your questions on your last post.

        Where are the terms if the New Covenant recorded…….

        Heb.8:8-12 are basically where God describes what He is going to do in the New Covenant. Note He says He is writing His laws His laws on the minds and hearts of those under the New Covenant. Rom.8:2 and 2 Cor. 3:2-3 are good cross references to this.

        With whom God made the New Covenant…….

        Initially Israel but then all who came to have faith in Christ. Time will not allow me to list the scripture references. Can provide those later if you want.

        What is the sign of the fulfillment of the New Covenant…….

        The Holy Spirit. The whole chapter of 2 Cor.3 covers this. Plus the book of Galatians.

        Is the New Covenant fulfilled….

        It is fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Should be obvious by His death on the cross.

        Gotta run. But these are my answers to your questions. Sorry forget appear superficial.

        In His Bonds,

        Blaine

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      • The Barking Fox says :

        Good evening Blaine.

        I have not yet been able to reply with the depth of thought that would do justice to your comments. As you have indicated, these matters are indeed weighty ones, not to be considered lightly. Thus I also ask for your indulgence so I may have time to give your points the proper diligence they deserve.

        Shalom,

        Al

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      • The Barking Fox says :

        Hi Blaine.

        Let’s take your points in order. You begin by saying, “If you are going to reason that Heb.8:6 and 8:13 is only a change in priesthood with no change in law. Then how do you explain Heb.7:12 which says, ‘For where the priesthood is changed, of necessity that takes place change of law also.’”

        Perhaps I was not clear earlier. There is indeed a change in Law, as God has explained through His prophets. The change in the priesthood is that very change in the Law. However, the Law itself is by no means abolished. The issue is this: God’s Law has changed only as God has declared beforehand according to His prophets. This is a principle He explains like this:

        “Surely the Lord GOD does nothing, unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.” (Amos 3:7 NKJV)

        “Remember this, and show yourselves men; recall to mind, O you transgressors. Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure,’ calling a bird of prey from the east, the man who executes My counsel, from a far country. Indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass. I have purposed it; I will also do it.” (Isaiah 46:8-11 NKJV)

        Where in Scripture has God declared that He would bring an end to His Law? I have found the aforementioned changes in the Law regarding the priesthood (Psalm 110; Ezekiel 44:10-31), but have yet to find any reference to an abolition of His Law. On the contrary, the consistent declaration of Scripture is that the Law of God remains in effect forever (see Deuteronomy 29:29; II Kings 17:37; Psalm 119:44; Isaiah 40:6-8; Matthew 5:17-19, 24:35; Mark 13:31; Luke 16:17, 21:33; I Peter 1:22-25).

        Let me provide an illustration. The Code of Criminal Procedure for the State of Texas specifies the responsibilities and procedures for police officers when they stop motor vehicles for various reasons. If the State Legislature were to change that Code, there would be debate and a vote, followed by signature of the governor to make it law. Quite often there is a period between the passage of the law and the date it comes into effect so that everyone who would be affected by it has ample notification of the changes, especially the law enforcement officials who must abide by it. But does this change in the law regarding the duties of police officers in any way negate the Code of Criminal Procedure? Does it do away with the entire Constitution and Statutes of the State of Texas? Of course not. That would be ridiculous. The Constitution and Statutes regulate life and business in Texas, and removing them would bring chaos. In the same way, when God makes adjustments to His sovereign Law that governs and regulates the universe, He does not do away with the entire thing. If He did, the result would be lawlessness, or “Torahlessness”, which is the biblical definition of sin (I John 3:4).

        Next let us consider the question of whether in I Corinthians 9 Paul made a distinction between the law of Moses and the law of Christ. What exactly is this distinction? How are they different? Remember that Yeshua said He and the Father are one and that He never did or said anything unless the Father instructed Him (John 14:9-11). He also said that man lives by every word that comes out of the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4 and Luke 4:4, quoting Deuteronomy 8:3). Moreover, He upheld Moses as giving the commandments (Law, Instructions, Torah) of God, thus indicating that the Law of Moses is indeed the Law of God (Mark 7:9-13).

        In consideration of these things, I must inquire where it is written that Yeshua changed what the Father said through Moses? If He had done so, would He still qualify as the sinless Messiah Who perfectly lived out Torah, or would He be a false prophet deserving death because He led people away from God’s Torah (Deuteronomy 13:1-5)?

        Now regarding Paul, look at his full statement in I Corinthians 9:

        “For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.” (I Corinthians 9:19-23 NKJV)

        Notice what Paul is doing here. He is seeking common ground with those to whom he is ministering so they will receive him and the Gospel message that he brings. Perhaps the greatest example of this in Scripture is Paul’s attempt to reach the philosophers of Athens (Acts 17:16-34). Although Paul makes use of Greek philosophy and devotion to pagan gods as his point of departure for the Gospel message, he certainly does not present himself as a devotee of such things. To do so would be to compromise his witness as an apostle of Yeshua haMashiach who knows and follows the standards of holiness and righteousness God has delivered through His Word. There is no difference in what was presented through Moses and what was lived out by Yeshua. In other words, the “Law of Christ” is the example of Yeshua walking out the Law of God (Law of Moses). This becomes somewhat clearer when we see the Young’s Literal Translation of I Corinthians 9:21 –

        “to those without law, as without law — (not being without law to God, but within law to Christ) — that I might gain those without law;” (I Corinthians 9:21 YLT)

        In essence the “Law of Christ” is living out the commandment to love God and love one another, which, according to Yeshua, is the summary of Torah (Matthew 22:36-40). That is the same meaning in Paul’s use of the term in Galatians 6.

        Next let us consider your answers to my questions on the New Covenant. I’ll list my questions, followed by your answers and some commentary.

        1. Where are the terms of the New Covenant recorded?

        “Heb.8:8-12 are basically where God describes what He is going to do in the New Covenant. Note He says He is writing His laws on the minds and hearts of those under the New Covenant. Rom.8:2 and 2 Cor. 3:2-3 are good cross references to this.”

        Yes, Hebrews 8:8-12 is where the Apostolic Scriptures record the New Covenant. The Hebrews reference is an echo of what God stated through His prophet in Jeremiah 31:31-34. It would be wise to read through all of Jeremiah 31 to understand the context in which the Father placed the New Covenant.

        2. With whom has God made this covenant?

        “Initially Israel but then all who came to have faith in Christ. Time will not allow me to list the scripture references. Can provide those later if you want.”

        Please go back to the reference and see exactly what words the Lord uses to define with whom the covenant is made. Who are those people? How are they different from “New Covenant” believers today? What Scriptures define that difference, if it exists?

        3. What will the covenant do?

        You addressed this in the answer to my first question: “Note He says He is writing His laws on the minds and hearts of those under the New Covenant. Rom.8:2 and 2 Cor. 3:2-3 are good cross references to this.” Yes, that it absolutely right! The exact wording is, “I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people” (Jeremiah 31:33 NKJV) and, “I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people” (Hebrews 8:10 NKJV).

        What law is God going to write on the hearts of His people? How is it different from the Law He gave through Moses? Where is that law explained? How do we know it is God’s law? Surely there would be Scripture to tell us if there is some difference between this law written in our hearts and the Law given by Moses.

        4. What is the sign of the fulfillment of this covenant?

        “The Holy Spirit. The whole chapter of 2 Cor.3 covers this. Plus the book of Galatians.”

        Yes, the Holy Spirit is the sign of the New Covenant. What does the Spirit do in the context of the New Covenant? You’ll need to be specific here. All too often we are vague on what the Spirit of the Living God does, Who He is, and how we recognize Him. If we are not following the specifics articulated in Scripture, we risk falling prey to something other than the Holy Spirit.

        5. Is this covenant fulfilled?

        “It is fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Should be obvious by His death on the cross.”

        Well, perhaps not entirely. Note the specific terms of the New Covenant:

        “No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” (Jeremiah 31:34 NKJV)

        “None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” (Hebrews 8:11-12 NKJV)

        Are we still telling people to “know the Lord”? Is there still lawlessness and unrighteousness in the world? If so, then there are still elements of the New Covenant yet to be fulfilled.

        As always, thanks for your dialogue on these matters. It is a pleasure and an honor to exchange views with you.

        Shalom,

        Al

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Sue in NC says :

    Wonderfully written – clear, concise, reasonable in tone, and not at all strident or demanding. Well done!

    Like

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