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

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

Ancient Mikvah (Bath/Baptism Facility) in Jerusalem
Ancient Mikvah (Bath/Baptism Facility) in Jerusalem

Salvation:  The Great Question

What especially upset the Jewish establishment was the message Yeshua and His followers preached that salvation comes by grace through faith, not by works.  In keeping with the division of the world between Jews and Gentiles, the prevailing understanding of the day was that anyone who wanted to be reconciled to God and learn His ways needed to convert to Judaism.  Formal, legal conversion required circumcision, mikvah (baptism), and presentation of a sacrifice at the Temple (when possible).  Gentiles who went through that process were called “proselytes”.  Sadly, the conversion process also involved complete immersion in the Jewish traditions to the point that the proselytes adhered more to the doctrines of the men who had instructed them than the Torah itself.  That is why Yeshua included an indictment of this process in His confrontation with the Pharisees:

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.  (Matthew 23:15 NKJV)

Please click here to continue reading

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

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

"The Chief Priests Take Counsel Together" James Tissot
“The Chief Priests Take Counsel Together”
James Tissot

The Very Jewish Paul

Was Paul hopelessly confused on the question of the Law of God?  No, not at all.  The confusion comes when we attempt to view him as a man who walked away from Judaism after he met Yeshua on the road to Damascus.  That is not true.  Paul remained an observant Jew until the end of his life, as we know from his own words:

But Paul said, “I am a Jew from Tarsus, in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city; and I implore you, permit me to speak to the people.”  (Acts 21:39 NKJV, emphasis added)

But when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, “Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee; concerning the hope and resurrection of the dead I am being judged!”  (Acts 23:6 NKJV, emphasis added)

Please click here to continue reading

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

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

BFB140421 Easy PluckPluck Chickens, Not Scripture

There is a story about a man who had an interesting way of structuring his day.  Every morning he would close his eyes and flip through his Bible, letting his fingers choose a verse at random.  Whatever the verse said would be his guiding principle for the day.  That worked well until one day when his finger fell on this verse:

“And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.”  (Matthew 27:5 KJV)

This was not what the man expected and certainly not an example he wanted to follow.  After much contemplation, he decided that it would be acceptable to choose another verse at random.  After going through the process again, his finger came down at this place:

Then said Jesus unto him, “Go, and do thou likewise.”  (Luke 10:37b KJV)

This story illustrates a common shortcoming:  the practice of “verse plucking”.  Those who employ this method latch onto a passage, a verse, or a piece of a verse to prove a point, but they neglect the context of the Scripture and thus miss the full meaning.  “Verse plucking” is the method by which the Bible can be twisted to say anything the interpreter desires – even if it is the exact opposite of what the Scripture actually means.  That is why Peter issued his warning regarding the words of Paul:

Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures. (II Peter 3:14-16 NKJV, emphasis added)

Please click here to continue reading