Was Paul a Torah Teacher?
There are numerous examples in Scripture wherein Paul teaches and preaches from the Tanakh (Torah, Nevi’im, Ketubim= Genesis-Malachi). This entry will review just a few examples which may help us answer the question: Was Paul a Torah Teacher?
II Corinthians 12; 19 All this time you have been thinking that we are defending ourselves to you. Actually, it is in the sight of God that we have been speaking in Christ; and all for your up building, beloved. 20 For I am afraid that perhaps when I come I may find you to be not what I wish and may be found by you to be not what you wish; that perhaps there will be strife, jealousy, angry tempers, disputes, slanders, gossip, arrogance, disturbances; 21 I am afraid that when I come again my God may humiliate me before you, and I may mourn over many of those who have sinned in the past and not repented of the impurity, immorality and sensuality which they have practiced.
Having read II Corinthians 12;19- 21 lets consider the basic connection to the part of the Torah in which the Ten Utterances, or Ten Words (known as the Ten Commandments) are found:
Exodus 20;13 “You shall not murder.
14 “You shall not commit adultery.
15 “You shall not steal.
16 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
II Co. 20 notes what Paul would not wish to find his readers displaying “strife, jealousy, angry tempers, disputes, slanders, gossip, arrogance, disturbances….” The warnings found in Exodus sound very similar to such things which would dissuade a man from adopting such ways. The second five Words the Lord spake refer to commands regarding our relationships here on earth, i.e. our personal conduct and how we treat others (our neighbor) Where does Paul get such standards for ‘righteous’ living? The Torah. His extensive knowledge, upbringing, and education in the Torah and ALL scripture. His departure from studying and living rote words on a page is the evident change and conversion we see in Paul. From ‘doing’ Torah for the sake of Torah…to Torah written upon the heart by the Spirit, he taught (as did his Master) the Heart of the ‘Law’.
II Corinthians 13;1 This is the third time I am coming to you. Every fact is to be confirmed by the testimony of two or three witnesses. 2 I have previously said when present the second time, and though now absent I say in advance to those who have sinned in the past and to all the rest as well, that if I come again I will not spare anyone, 3 since you are seeking for proof of the Christ who speaks in me, and who is not weak toward you, but mighty in you. 4 For indeed He was crucified because of weakness, yet He lives because of the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, yet we will live with Him because of the power of God directed toward you.
Now what if one were to say, “Paul confirmed that the Torah is done away with…”(may it never be) “because he taught against circumcision, etc.”? If this in accurate statement then why is he using prescriptions from the Torah? Why are the standards for his readers Mitsvoth- Command’s, from a part of the Torah which is not contained in the Ten Words (bearing in mind that there is the misunderstanding that Christians are only held accountable to keep the Ten Commandments and nothing more; except the fourth commandment which was ‘changed’ to Sunday and no longer holds the same implications because Yeshua annulled the Sabbath as prescribed in Exodus when he spoke out against the Pharisee’s regarding the hundreds of ‘fence’ man-made laws for the Sabbath…and then called himself Lord of the Sabbath, right? Does that add up? [A]) With what standard is Paul following suite when he declares that confirmation will be established upon the testimony of two or three witnesses? The Torah.
Deuteronomy 17;2 “If there is found in your midst, in any of your towns, which the Lord your God is giving you, a man or a woman who does what is evil in the sight of the Lord your God, by transgressing His covenant, 3 and has gone and served other gods and worshiped them, or the sun or the moon or any of the heavenly host, which I have not commanded, 4 and if it is told you and you have heard of it, then you shall inquire thoroughly. Behold, if it is true and the thing certain that this detestable thing has been done in Israel, 5 then you shall bring out that man or that woman who has done this evil deed to your gates, that is, the man or the woman, and you shall stone them to death. 6 On the evidence of two witnesses or three witnesses, he who is to die shall be put to death; he shall not be put to death on the evidence of one witness. 7 The hand of the witnesses shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.
Who is Paul? Who did he say he was? [B] He described himself in many ways but perhaps the most important is that he was an imitator of Yeshua. (I Corinthians 11;1 Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.) So from what wealth of knowledge and understanding did Yeshua himself teach and preach? The Torah. The word from the beginning, his own flesh the steadfast unchanging truth from the divine to us as a precious treasure and gift. [Deuteronomy 4;5 “See, I have taught you statutes and judgments just as the Lord my God commanded me, that you should do thus in the land where you are entering to possess it. 6 So keep and do them, for that is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ 7 For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as is the Lord our God whenever we call on Him? 8 Or what great nation is there that has statutes and judgments as righteous as this whole law which I am setting before you today.]
Yeshua instructs in Matthew 18;16 “by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed…”, read carefully and then consider the structure of the following Deuteronomy 17; 8- 13 verses. Read Matthew 18;15-20 again. Any similarities? Was Yeshua a Torah Teacher?
Matthew 18; 15 “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. 16 But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18 Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven. 19 “Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. 20 For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”
Deuteronomy 17;8 “If any case is too difficult for you to decide, between one kind of homicide or another, between one kind of lawsuit or another, and between one kind of assault or another, being cases of dispute in your courts, then you shall arise and go up to the place which the Lord your God chooses. 9 So you shall come to the Levitical priest or the judge who is in office in those days, and you shall inquire of them and they will declare to you the verdict in the case. 10 You shall do according to the terms of the verdict which they declare to you from that place which the Lord chooses; and you shall be careful to observe according to all that they teach you. 11 According to the terms of the law which they teach you, and according to the verdict which they tell you, you shall do; you shall not turn aside from the word which they declare to you, to the right or the left. 12 The man who acts presumptuously by not listening to the priest who stands there to serve the Lord your God, nor to the judge, that man shall die; thus you shall purge the evil from Israel. 13 Then all the people will hear and be afraid, and will not act presumptuously again.
Deuteronomy 19; 14 “You shall not move your neighbor’s boundary mark, which the ancestors have set, in your inheritance which you will inherit in the land that the Lord your God gives you to possess. 15 “A single witness shall not rise up against a man on account of any iniquity or any sin which he has committed; on the evidence of two or three witnesses a matter shall be confirmed. 16 If a malicious witness rises up against a man to accuse him of wrongdoing, 17 then both the men who have the dispute shall stand before the Lord, before the priests and the judges who will be in office in those days. 18 The judges shall investigate thoroughly, and if the witness is a false witness and he has accused his brother falsely, 19 then you shall do to him just as he had intended to do to his brother. Thus you shall purge the evil from among you. 20 The rest will hear and be afraid, and will never again do such an evil thing among you. 21 Thus you shall not show pity: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.
Matthew 18;1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, 3 and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; 6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. 7 “Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes! 8 “If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than to have two hands or two feet and be cast into the eternal fire. 9 If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it from you. It is better for you to enter life with one eye, than to have two eyes and be cast into the fiery hell.
Why is it necessary for believers to examine ourselves?
What is the ‘key’ with which we test ourselves ‘against’ to evaluate how we ‘measure up’?
Test- Periazo (pi-rad-zo)- to test (objectively) i.e. endeavor, scrutinize, entice, discipline.
Dokimazo (dok-im-ad-zo)- to test (lit. or fig.), by implication, to approve.
Adokimos (ad-ok-ee-mos)- unapproved, i.e. rejected; by implication worthless (literally or morally).
II Corinthians 13; 5 Test (PERIAZO) yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine (DOKIMAZO) yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test (ADOKIMOS)? 6 But I trust that you will realize that we ourselves do not fail the test (DOKIMAZO). 7 Now we pray to God that you do no wrong; not that we ourselves may appear approved (DOKIMAZO), but that you may do what is right, even though we may appear unapproved (ADOKIMOS). 8 For we can do nothing against the truth, but only for the truth. 9 For we rejoice when we ourselves are weak but you are strong; this we also pray for, that you be made complete. 10 For this reason I am writing these things while absent, so that when present I need not use severity, in accordance with the authority which the Lord gave me for building up and not for tearing down.11 Finally, brethren, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. 12 Greet one another with a holy kiss. 13 All the saints greet you. 14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.
Consider II Timothy 3;15 closely. Which sacred writings have his readers been ‘knowing’ from childhood? The writings Timothy speaks of are the Tanakh (TORAH i.e 5 books of Moshe, Nevi’im – Prophets, and Ketuvim- writings). What are these sacred writings able to do? They give wisdom leading to salvation through faith in Yeshua the Anointed of God. If one can not believe God’s own words from the beginning as far as the Torah and its teachings being light, life, holiness, HIS and eternal [C]…perhaps those, who strictly adhere to the Apostolic Scriptures alone as applicable (Matthew-Revelation), will take this scripture at its literal meaning. If we are to examine ourselves, testing and evaluating ourselves for correction and training in righteousness and equipping ourselves for every good work…again, what is the standard by which we should undertake this excellent charge? ALL of scripture.
II Timothy 3; 13 But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
Let us go back to Paul and another example from the letter composed to the Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia. This is an often used scripture which is typically administered to identify that the Torah commands had become so burdensome on the believers in Christ that a change was made in order to establish a “refined” set of standards which were to be followed in lieu of the “Law” of the Lord. It is clear that the readers were being persecuted and pressured by the oral traditions and persuaded to adhere to Torah commands in order to seal their salvation. Let it be stated: there is no amount of “Torah Commands” any one could ever do, no matter how whole heartedly and devoutly that would allow a route to salvation. That one and only route is through the Messiah Yeshua. That being said, when the Spirit has truly written the Torah on a heart, and one’s eyes have been opened to the wonderful things contained on every page, once there is an established love for the commands of our King…one deigns to apply as much treasure to ones life as possible. Why? Because the walk in love will allow one to know more about the heart of God. “Why did He command this”? “Where is Yeshua in that?” It becomes alive! Applicable! Exciting! Transforming.
The Heart of God is exactly where Paul and the drafter’s of this letter are drawing from for their instructions. This is the “milk” they wanted the Gentile believers to begin with before they choked on the slab of meat. This letter was never meant to be an end all, “This is all you are ever expected to fulfill.” But where do these instructions come from? Read Acts 15;19- 31 and we shall ask the question again.
Acts 15; 19 Therefore it is my judgment that we do not trouble those who are turning to God from among the Gentiles, 20 but that we write to them that they abstain from things contaminated by idols and from fornication and from what is strangled and from blood. 21 For Moses from ancient generations has in every city those who preach him, since he is read in the synagogues every Sabbath.” 22 Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them to send to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas—Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, leading men among the brethren, 23 and they sent this letter by them, “The apostles and the brethren who are elders, to the brethren in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia who are from the Gentiles, greetings. 24 “Since we have heard that some of our number to whom we gave no instruction have disturbed you with their words, unsettling your souls, 25 it seemed good to us, having become of one mind, to select men to send to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 “Therefore we have sent Judas and Silas, who themselves will also report the same things by word of mouth. 28 “For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these essentials: 29 that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication; if you keep yourselves free from such things, you will do well. Farewell.” 30 So when they were sent away, they went down to Antioch; and having gathered the congregation together, they delivered the letter. 31 When they had read it, they rejoiced because of its encouragement.
At the time of the Acts 15 letter, all the way back to the time of the Tabernacle there was the issue of meat being sacrificed to idols. In Corinth and other cities meat was offered for sale which had been used for sacrificial purposes in the heathen temples, having been sold to the dealers by the priests, who received a large share of the sacrifices for themselves, or by the individuals who offered them, and had more remaining of their own share than they could use themselves. Thus, a Christian might unconsciously eat of meat, either at the house of a friend (see I Corinthians 10:27) or by purchasing it himself in the public shambles, which had been previously brought in contact by sacrificial usage with an idol. Many social acts, as well as purely religious ceremonies, were in the heathen mind included in acts of worship, while the Jews held to the intensity and tradition whose hatred of idolatry could not allow them to partake of such meats, against which YAHWEH had uttered His most terrible denunciations, and against which He had preserved them as a living witness.
The word (sēirim) here translated “devils,” literally denotes hairy or shaggy goats, and then goat-like deities, or demons. The Egyptians, and other nations of antiquity, worshipped goats as gods. Not only was there a celebrated temple in Thmuis, the capital of the Mendesian Nomos in Lower Egypt, dedicated to the goat-image Pan, whom they called Mendes, and worshipped as the oracle, and as the fertilizing principle in nature, but they erected statues of him everywhere. Hence the Pan, Silenus, satyrs, fauns, and the woodland gods among the Greeks and Romans; and hence, too, the goat-like form of the devil, with a tail, horns, and cloven feet, which obtain in medieval Christianity, and which may still be seen in some European cities.
In the text of Leviticus 17 the expression “and they shall no more offer” shows that the Israelites were in the habit of first dedicating their ordinary food to these deities; whilst the words “gone a whoring” indicate the orgies connected with this form of idol worship, it has been urged that the demand to offer refers to sacrificial meat.
The Lord made a clear distinction in Leviticus that the people were to bring all offerings to the place He had indicated (ie. the Altar at the Tabernacle). No more would they offer in their own place and preferential manner, that it be clear to Whom they were sacrificing, so that they would not incur a guilt in offering to a demon/ false god. As you can see the same issues were taking place in the time of Moshe and in the First Century.Could we venture to ask, could the same things be happening now?
Read the text of Leviticus 17;1- 16 carefully and ask yourself the question, where was the letter from Acts 15 drawn from? [” that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled…”]There is more exciting proof to come.
Leviticus 17;1 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Speak to Aaron and to his sons and to all the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘This is what the Lord has commanded, saying, 3 “Any man from the house of Israel who slaughters an ox or a lamb or a goat in the camp, or who slaughters it outside the camp, 4 and has not brought it to the doorway of the tent of meeting to present it as an offering to the Lord before the Tabernacle of the Lord, blood guiltiness is to be reckoned to that man. He has shed blood and that man shall be cut off from among his people. 5 The reason is so that the sons of Israel may bring their sacrifices which they were sacrificing in the open field, that they may bring them in to the Lord, at the doorway of the tent of meeting to the priest, and sacrifice them as sacrifices of peace offerings to the Lord. 6 The priest shall sprinkle the blood on the altar of the Lord at the doorway of the tent of meeting, and offer up the fat in smoke as a soothing aroma to the Lord. 7 They shall no longer sacrifice their sacrifices to the goat demons with which they play the harlot. This shall be a permanent statute to them throughout their generations.”’ 8 “Then you shall say to them, ‘Any man from the house of Israel, or from the aliens who sojourn among them, who offers a burnt offering or sacrifice, 9 and does not bring it to the doorway of the tent of meeting to offer it to the Lord, that man also shall be cut off from his people. 10 ‘And any man from the house of Israel, or from the aliens who sojourn among them, who eats any blood, I will set My face against that person who eats blood and will cut him off from among his people. 11 For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement.’ 12 Therefore I said to the sons of Israel, ‘No person among you may eat blood, nor may any alien who sojourns among you eat blood.’ 13 So when any man from the sons of Israel, or from the aliens who sojourn among them, in hunting catches a beast or a bird which may be eaten, he shall pour out its blood and cover it with earth. 14 “For as for the life of all flesh, its blood is identified with its life. Therefore I said to the sons of Israel, ‘You are not to eat the blood of any flesh, for the life of all flesh is its blood; whoever eats it shall be cut off.’ 15 When any person eats an animal which dies or is torn by beasts, whether he is a native or an alien, he shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, and remain unclean until evening; then he will become clean. 16 But if he does not wash them or bathe his body, then he shall bear his guilt.”
The Torah is broken up into what are known as “portions”, or sedra’s. They are parts of the text which are broken up into readings that correspond with a Haftarah (portion from the Prophets) reading. When the study of the Torah was outlawed [D], the Jews would read the Haftarah which would keep in their heart and mind the Torah reading which always connected to the themes of the portions, thus they would in effect still be keeping up with their Torah study. If we were to identify which Torah Portion Paul and his associates of one mind were drawing from for the Letter of Acts it is clear to me the portion comes from the “heart” of the Torah, the center book…Leviticus which is also known as the Book of Priests. The portion he seems to clearly be drawing from is the portion of Acharei Mot- After the Death. It begins from Leviticus 16;1- 18;30. It is quite clear the connections in the verses from Leviticus 17;5-7 regarding refraining from meats sacrificed to idols, and 10-12 regarding the refraining from the consumption of blood, and 15-16 regarding the consumption of meats that have died on their own or been ‘torn’ in the field. If we were to read on in the Torah portion of Acharei Mot we would come to Leviticus 18;6- 23 which are all about sexual immorality, forbidden relationships, bestiality, homosexuality, etc. It is no coincidence that the “essentials” in the letter of Acts all correspond to this Torah Portion. One might ask themselves, “What else does this Torah Portion say? Perhaps these are essential as well?” Let’s take a look.
Leviticus18;1 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘I am the Lord your God. 3 You shall not do what is done in the land of Egypt where you lived, nor are you to do what is done in the land of Canaan where I am bringing you; you shall not walk in their statutes. 4 You are to perform My judgments and keep My statutes, to live in accord with them; I am the Lord your God. 5 So you shall keep My statutes and My judgments, by which a man may live if he does them; I am the Lord.24 ‘Do not defile yourselves by any of these things; for by all these the nations which I am casting out before you have become defiled. 25 For the land has become defiled, therefore I have brought its punishment upon it, so the land has spewed out its inhabitants. 26 But as for you, you are to keep My statutes and My judgments and shall not do any of these abominations, neither the native, nor the alien who sojourns among you 27 (for the men of the land who have been before you have done all these abominations, and the land has become defiled); 28 so that the land will not spew you out, should you defile it, as it has spewed out the nation which has been before you. 29 For whoever does any of these abominations, those persons who do so shall be cut off from among their people. 30 Thus you are to keep My charge, that you do not practice any of the abominable customs which have been practiced before you, so as not to defile yourselves with them; I am the Lord your God.’”
What does God say His people will LIVE in accord with ? What does God say His people will find if they keep His statutes and judgments (His Torah)? Whom are held accountable to keep these standards which differentiate between the Holy and the defiled? The Torah of the Lord was given to Israel as a sacred precious treasure. The purpose was that they would find life in these wonders of the Divine bestowed upon lowly man. Life that would lead to the shining of light unto the nations, the light of the Lord, the light of Yeshua. They were to live the Torah among the pagan nations to which they would come and stir in all hearts the desire to live a wholesome, functioning, prosperous and set apart life. This opportunity was not exclusive to the Hebrews, it was available for all people, from the beginning. [E] Read Matthew 5;14-20 carefully. Consider, what is the purpose of Yeshua using this parable of the light of the world in direct connection to the confirmative scripture regarding the continuity of the Torah?
Matthew 5; 14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 15 nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lamp stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. 17 “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18 For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 “For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.
There are some who say, “There is no point in trying to consider, keep, walk in, glean from, apply the Torah to our lives because we can not do it ALL.” Aside from the fact that much of the Torah was directly for Priests, to be done in the Temple, to be performed in Israel, etc. What would be the point to even trying to apply Torah to our lives if we can not do it all? I would ask the same question for those of you who may have read on in Matthew 15 and come to the command of Yeshua in verse 48. A wonderful, powerful, vast, lofty and yet reachable command, a goal from our Master. Would He have given it if it weren’t worth the reach? I ask the same thing regarding the Torah of the Lord.
Matthew 15; 48 Therefore you are to be perfect (TELEIOS), as your heavenly Father is perfect (TELEIOS).
Teleios- complete (in various applications of labor, growth, mental or moral character, etc.); completeness.
The walk in Torah as with the walk toward the perfection Yeshua desires for us is expressed by the work of the Holy Spirit in us to where we seek His will and study His word as a whole for the means of allowing Him to make us a into a Holy people set apart for Him to shine light into the world. This is a work that takes a lifetime. Let us consider some scripture which describes the perfect Word and will of our Maker and how we can become perfected:
James 1; 1 James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad: Greetings. 2 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its perfect (TELEIOS) result, so that you may be perfect (TELEIOS) and complete, lacking in nothing. 5 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, 8 being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. 9 But the brother of humble circumstances is to glory in his high position; 10 and the rich man is to glory in his humiliation, because like flowering grass he will pass away. 11 For the sun rises with a scorching wind and withers the grass; and its flower falls off and the beauty of its appearance is destroyed; so too the rich man in the midst of his pursuits will fade away.12 Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial (DOKIMOS); for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted (PERIAZO), “I am being tempted (PERIAZO) by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt (PERIAZO) anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. 15 Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. 16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. 17 Every good thing given and every perfect (TELEIOS) gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. 18 In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures.19 This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. 21 Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. 22 But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; 24 for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. 25 But one who looks intently at the perfect (TELEIOS) law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.
Ya’akov is the name of the writer of the so called book of “James”, Jacob. The writer is known as the brother of Yeshua. What he states is that every Perfect gift comes from the Father of Lights…this Father is without variation or shifting shadow. He then states that the one who looks intently at the Perfect Law, the Law of Liberty and who abides in it will be blessed. When a person considers that Yeshua and Paul came and taught about the exchange or replacement of one “law” for another; if someone makes the statement that because the perfect Yeshua came and drew us into a better understanding on how to perform God’s will that means all that came before is done away with and inapplicable for our lives now in Yeshua…one should try and consider what such a statement could imply. I believe it could imply that there is variation in the Perfect Torah that God gave in the ancient of days. I believe such a statement could entail that the Lord is capable of shifting His intentions for us from people group to people group and age to age. I believe such a statement could undermine the eternal, steadfast, trustworthy nature of the King of Kings. I believe the reason Jacob wrote regarding the lack of inconsistency with God and indicated the perfection of His law are directly connected. What else does scripture tell us about the Torah of the Lord?
Tamiym- entire (literally, figuratively, morally); also (as a noun)integrity, truth.
Tamam (taw-mam) to complete.
Psalm 19 ;1 The heavens are telling of the glory of God;
And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.
2 Day to day pours forth speech,
And night to night reveals knowledge.
3 There is no speech, nor are there words;
Their voice is not heard.
4 Their line has gone out through all the earth,
And their utterances to the end of the world.
In them He has placed a tent for the sun,
5 Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber;
It rejoices as a strong man to run his course.
6 Its rising is from one end of the heavens,
And its circuit to the other end of them;
And there is nothing hidden from its heat.
7 The law of the Lord is perfect (TAMIYM), restoring the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.
8 The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.
9 The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether.
10 They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.
11 Moreover, by them Your servant is warned;
In keeping them there is great reward.
12 Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults.
13 Also keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins;
Let them not rule over me;
Then I will be blameless (TAMAM),
And I shall be acquitted of great transgression.
14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in Your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.
Genesis 17;1 Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; Walk before Me, and be blameless (TAMIYM) . 2 “I will establish My covenant between Me and you, And I will multiply you exceedingly.” 3 Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying, 4 “As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, And you will be the father of a multitude of nations.5 “No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; For I have made you the father of a multitude of nations.6 I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of you, and kings will come forth from you. 7 I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you. 8 I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.”
When God made the Eternal Covenant with Abraham and his seed, it came through the promise of Isaac, the Son of the Promise who directly foreshadows the Messiah Yeshua. This is a promise which enables us to be a part of it as the Lord expressed, Abraham would be a father of nations. When this Eternal Covenant was made it was sealed by the ritual at the Covenant of the Parts, and it was the Fiery Torch Whom passed through these pieces taking on implications of the ceremony “If I fail to keep ‘my’ end, may what happened to these animals happen to me”. This Fiery Torch was present at the Giving of the Fiery Torah at Mount Sinai. This manifestation of Almighty God is the entity we know as Yeshua. He says to Abraham “Be Perfect”. He said to His disciples “Be Perfect”. He says to us “Be Perfect.” Yeshua did uphold His part of the covenant, but Abraham’s seed did not. We did not, and could not…therefore Yeshua did cause “what happened to these animals” to happen to Him when He gave himself over to sacrificial death on behalf of all men who were, are, and will be. [F] It is because of this fulfillment, which means VERIFICATION, of the promises that were that we can believe that Yeshua saw the ways of His Father and did them. He did not change or replace them…he did explain and establish them. In my eyes so did His disciple Paul. Yeshua saw the heart of the Father, the Torah. Yeshua walked in the Torah [G]. Paul eventually saw Yeshua’s ways and followed them. We are enlisted to follow in Paul’s ways as imitators of Yeshua. There is a pattern here.
Surely Yeshua’s Torah observance was the greater work that we are to follow, the Perfect walk in Torah. With attention to the heart of the command and its applicable purposes from on High. I submit that there was a lack prior to Yeshua’s appearance and that He has promised there are still greater things to come. Does the fact of greater things to come diminish the significance of the work Yeshua performed on earth, or that He currently performs as the risen and living High Priest and King? Does the work of Yeshua diminish the work of the Lord in the past, ie. days of the forefathers?
[John 5;19 Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. 20 For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and the Father will show Him greater works than these, so that you will marvel.]
Revelation 15; 3 And they sang the song of Moses, the bond-servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, “Great and marvelous are Your works, O Lord God, the Almighty; Righteous and true are Your ways, King of the nations! 4 “Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy;
For all the nations will come and worship before You, For Your righteous acts have been revealed.”
There is another text in which Scripture declares the work of the Lord is Perfect. After reading the Revelation text it would do us good to consider what the Song of Moses is. I believe in enlisting the Holy Spirit to teach us from the Word, in the Name of Yeshua and according to God’s will. Let us read it with this intention:
Deuteronomy 32 “Give ear, O heavens, and let me speak;
And let the earth hear the words of my mouth.
2 “Let my teaching drop as the rain,
My speech distill as the dew,
As the droplets on the fresh grass
And as the showers on the herb.
3 “For I proclaim the name of the Lord;
Ascribe greatness to our God!
4 “The Rock! His work is perfect (TAMYIM),
For all His ways are just;
A God of faithfulness and without injustice,
Righteous and upright is He.
5 “They have acted corruptly toward Him,
They are not His children, because of their defect;
But are a perverse and crooked generation.
6 “Do you thus repay the Lord,
O foolish and unwise people?
Is not He your Father who has bought you?
He has made you and established you.
7 “Remember the days of old,
Consider the years of all generations.
Ask your father, and he will inform you,
Your elders, and they will tell you.
8 “When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance,
When He separated the sons of man,
He set the boundaries of the peoples
According to the number of the sons of Israel.
9 “For the Lord’s portion is His people;
Jacob is the allotment of His inheritance.
10 “He found him in a desert land,
And in the howling waste of a wilderness;
He encircled him, He cared for him,
He guarded him as the pupil of His eye.
11 “Like an eagle that stirs up its nest,
That hovers over its young,
He spread His wings and caught them,
He carried them on His pinions.
12 “The Lord alone guided him,
And there was no foreign god with him.
13 “He made him ride on the high places of the earth,
And he ate the produce of the field;
And He made him suck honey from the rock,
And oil from the flinty rock,
14 Curds of cows, and milk of the flock,
With fat of lambs,
And rams, the breed of Bashan, and goats,
With the finest of the wheat—
And of the blood of grapes you drank wine.
43 “Rejoice, O nations, with His people;
For He will avenge the blood of His servants,
And will render vengeance on His adversaries,
And will atone for His land and His people.”
44 Then Moses came and spoke all the words of this song in the hearing of the people, he, with Joshua the son of Nun. 45 When Moses had finished speaking all these words to all Israel, 46 he said to them, “Take to your heart all the words with which I am warning you today, which you shall command your sons to observe carefully, even all the words of this law. 47 For it is not an idle word for you; indeed it is your life. And by this word you will prolong your days in the land, which you are about to cross the Jordan to possess.”
What did Moses say that the Law of the Lord is? Bondage? A heavy Yoke? A burden? A curse?
Life. Life. Life. Perfection.
What is the point? Why head this entry “Was Paul a Torah teacher?” and ask the question at all?
What use is there in proving through scripture that Paul and Yeshua taught from and practiced the Torah?
What difference does it make that the ideals for conduct they preached came from the Torah and its design?
The answer to those questions I can attempt to offer, but first instead please permit me to express what is NOT the point of this entry: To condemn anyone who may not believe the same way as I do, to discourage anyone who has not decided the Torah is a viable route for closeness with God, to diminish the fact that there is one route to salvation and that is through the blood of the Lamb of God- Yeshua.
So, what is the point? In my opinion there is a lot of seeking we can do to better understand scripture. We should not be practicing picking and choosing single verses here or there to make a theological point. We should read scripture with context- Entire books and letters, with Historical, Geographical and Ancient Near Eastern Concepts in mind. We should try and learn the ancient languages, at least referencing the words to site their true meaning. Why ask the question? If you believe Paul taught against the Torah, please define Torah. Paul teaches using examples of several different “laws”. Which is he preaching about where and why? If he was teaching against Torah in some places please ask this question, Why was he using Torah values and concepts directly from the Torah in others? Does it make sense that he would contradict himself in such an evident way? Is there truly a contradiction here? Or, is there something we may have missed about Paul? If you will follow the references below as indicated in the entry above you will see scriptures which identify the point. These are not my own words, for I am dust. What difference does it make? I believe it will make a world of difference, I believe a veil of sorts has been placed over each and every one of our eyes, I believe false labels have been attached over time. If it be God’s will, He will tear from us the false labels and remove all the veils in His timing. I believe the label of unreachable burden has been placed on the Perfect Torah of the Lord and the point…to assist you in identifying this label and at the very least opening a door to your heart for God to work in the process of revelation, sanctification and perfection.
So may it be for honor and glory and praise to Yeshua, the Word from the Beginning who dwelt among us and is with us to the end of the age!
Psalm 119;1 How blessed are those whose way is blameless (TAMIYM),
Who walk in the law of the Lord.
2 How blessed are those who observe His testimonies,
Who seek Him with all their heart.
3 They also do no unrighteousness;
They walk in His ways.
4 You have ordained Your precepts,
That we should keep them diligently.
5 Oh that my ways may be established
To keep Your statutes!
6 Then I shall not be ashamed
When I look upon all Your commandments.
7 I shall give thanks to You with uprightness of heart,
When I learn Your righteous judgments.
8 I shall keep Your statutes;
Do not forsake me utterly!
[A] Lord of the Sabbath reference and Sabbath healing. Matthew 12.
Note: Yeshua says what is lawful to do on the Sabbath is to do good- Luke 6, Mark 3.
I do not believe Yeshua violated anything from the Torah commands regarding the Sabbath I believe it was the many fence Laws of the Oral Tradition which he was against because it kept people from enjoying the Sabbath as it should be, with all due respect to the Jewish Halakah, if you would follow this link and click on the various prohibitions it would soon become clear how this was what was seen as ‘heavy’ then and now. Not the original commands the heart of which are found here: Isaiah 58; 13-14.
[B] Who did Paul say that he was?
A Hebrew and an Israelite, a son of Abraham. II Corinthians 11;22-29- these verses identify Paul and all the suffering he endured for the Name of Yeshua by his own people and the Gentiles.
A Jew, born a Roman citizen, raised at the feet of Gamaliel Acts 22; 3 (a great Torah scholar and leader of the day Acts 5;34 ).
A Pharisee of Pharisee’s Acts 23;6.
A bondservant of the Messiah Yeshua Romans 1;1, Galatians 1;10
[C] Only a few examples of Scripture which indicates that the Commandments, i.e. Torah of the Lord is life, length of days, and light (Proverbs 6;23):
I John 3;24
[D] Towrah (to-raw)- a precept or statute.
Malachi 2; 5 “My covenant with him was one of life and peace, and I gave them to him as an object of reverence; so he revered Me and stood in awe of My name. 6 True instruction (TOWRAH) was in his mouth and unrighteousness was not found on his lips; he walked with Me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many back from iniquity. 7 For the lips of a priest should preserve knowledge, and men should seek instruction from his mouth; for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts.
-Truth is cast to the ground and the Torah is outlawed.
Daniel 8; 12 And on account of transgression the host will be given over along with the regular sacrifice; and it will fling truth to the ground and perform and prosper.
-Flavius Josephus writes that that during the time of Antiochus and the Greek desecration of the Temple at the time of the Hasmoneans in Jerusalem, the Torah’s were cast to the ground and burned.
ANTIOCHUS IV EPIPHANES (175–164), Seleucid king of Syria, described in contemporary sources as eccentric and unpredictable, a ruthless despot who could also be extremely pious and generous. Soon after ascending to the throne, he intervened in Jewish religious life in Jerusalem, where he deposed the pious high priest Onias III and appointed Onias’s brother, the Hellenizer Jason, in his stead. Some three years later he deposed Jason and appointed another Hellenizer, Menelaus. In 169 and perhaps again in 168, Antiochus plundered Jerusalem and the Temple. In 167 he ordered the desecration of the Temple and the abolition of Torah observances. Circumcision, Sabbath observance, or the possession of a Torah scroll were made punishable by death, the walls of Jerusalem were razed to the ground, and foreigners were settled in a newly built citadel in the city’s midst.
-One has to wonder why the Man of Lawlessness (Torahlessness), and the Father of Lies are often found at work in situations and occurrences where the Torah specifically is being cast to the ground and desecrated.
The Torah is the Testimony of the Covenant which promises Israel an eternal place as God’s people.
The Torah is the Testimony that God is the Creator and Master of the universe.
The Torah is the Testimony of ALL that Yeshua did, came to do in Flesh, is performing now, and will return to do in the time to come. The enemy does not want any of us to know, love, believe in the testimony of the Torah.
[E] Covenant with God is for all men, from the beginning.
Exodus 12;49 One law (Towrah)
Leviticus 24;22 One standard (Mish pat-judgment)
Genesis 17;13 covenant available for proselyte
Deuteronomy 29;10- 13 covenant available for chopper of wood, drawer of water…every status, every station.
Ezra 6;21 everyone who separates from the impurity of the world, covenant meal of Pesach and access to covenant promises available.
Isaiah 56;3-8 anyone who keeps the Sabbaths of the Lord and guards His covenant are not called separate, but are given an everlasting name.
[F] Yeshua died for the sins of all those who have come, who live now and who are to come still before His return and reign. See 1 Peter 3;18, Romans 6;10 and Hebrews 10;10. The implications of these scriptures are so profound. The idea that a God who promised an eternal covenant realized in the new covenant (Jeremiah. 31) which is the national recognition of Yeshua by all of Israel, which is the Torah written on the heart…the idea that an unchanging God did this for the ‘ancients’ for us and for all future generations…payment for all our willful rebellious sins….is amazing.
[G] Yeshua walked in Torah, in other words he adhered to the commands He himself fashioned and bestowed upon humanity while in human form. Two examples are from Matthew 8;4 ; Luke 5;14, Luke 7;14. Yeshua healed the afflicted and then commanded them to go to the Priest and show themselves as well as to fulfill the offering required for the cleansing (keeping in mind the beauty of this study regarding the implied difference between being healed and being cleansed.) See Leviticus 14 for the Torah commands Yeshua was in turn commanding to be performed as a testimony.
Please feel free to contact me with any comments, criticism, concerns, prayer requests and if you find any errors which need editing, etc. Safeguardingtheeternal@aol.com
Resources and great links :
www. originalsby paulasue.com