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Frequently Asked Questions About Hebrew Roots
Hebrew Roots FAQ's and Myths
Under the Law
Myth: The handwriting of ordinances in Colossians 2:8 refer to the oral law or oral Torah, also known as the Talmud. The oral law is inferred in the NT in other of Paul's writings, like Galatians, which is the correct understanding of "under the Law".
A. If we look at the context of verse 14, the "handwriting of ordinances" is not the oral Law as some might believe. It is clear that Paul is speaking against the tradition of men in verse 8, which the oral law - known as the Talmud.
Colossians 2:6-15 As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: 7. Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.
8. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
9. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.
10. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:
11. In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:
12. Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.
13. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;
14. Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;
15. And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
The definition of "the
handwriting of ordinances":
1) a handwriting, what one has written by his own hand
2) a note of hand or writing in which one acknowledges that money has either been deposited with him or lent to him by another, to be returned at the appointed time
Part of Speech: noun neuter
1) doctrine, decree, ordinance
1a) of public decrees
1b) of the Roman Senate
1c) of rulers
2) the rules and requirements of the law of Moses; carrying a suggestion of severity and of threatened judgment
3) of certain decrees of the apostles relative to right living
Part of Speech: noun neuter
Please note that handwritten means something written down. As the oral Law was spoken, not written down, until the Talmud was compiled, Paul was not referring to that. Handwritten ordinances [not doctrine aka dogma] was the Mosaic Law. Dogma, in this context, means the Law, not doctrines. The oral law is not against anyone. It is an interpretation of Torah as we read in the Talmud - which is considered to have more authority than the written Word of God.
God hand wrote the law with His finger.
Exodus 31:18 And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.
Deuteronomy 9:10 And the LORD delivered unto me two tables of stone written with the finger of God; *and on them was written according to **all** the words*, which the LORD spake with you in the mount out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly.
Paul explains in Ephesians 2 that it is the Law - "the law of commandments contained in ordinances" [old covenant] that was abolished, not the oral law:
Ephesians 2:15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;
The enmity was the law because it
was death to those who could not keep it - which is true even today. Under the
old covenant, no one can keep the law and therefore; one receives death, not
life. The New Covenant in the blood of Christ is a new law which has replaced
the Mosaic Law. The enmity or reason for opposition being abolished, ties in
with the fact that these commandments were what separated Israel from the
Gentiles. Those commandments which told Israel how to be set apart and different
to the nations. Those are what were abolished thus reconciling both Jew and
Gentile in Him.
If one says these dogma are commandments of men i.e. rabbinical laws, how could Jesus death do away with these if Jesus never recognized these anyway?
Remember how Jesus ate with
unwashed hands and his disciples did not adhere to the traditions of the elders?
Even without these pharisaical additions the Mosaic law's intention was to set
apart a people for God. The laws were intended to create this "enmity", to
create a distinction between the set apart and the profane.
Galatians does not refer to the oral law. When a person is under the works of the law, they are "under the old covenant" and its law of death for non-compliance. This is what Paul is speaking of. The oral law is the tradition of man, not the Law of Moses [the old covenant], nor the Law of God.
Galatians 2:15 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles,
16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
Galatians 3:21 Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.
22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.
23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.
24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.
26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
Jesus did not die to save us from the oral law, but to atone for sin:
Galatians 4:4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.
Just so there is no mistake as to what Paul wanted to convey:
Galatians 4:21-31 Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law? 22. For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. 23. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. 24. Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. 25. For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. 26. But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. 27. For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband. 28. Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. 29. But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. 30. Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. 31. So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.
The OT shows us that *all* the Laws that God gave Moses were written down and that these laws were the ones to be obeyed:
Deuteronomy 28:58 *If thou wilt not observe to do **all the words of this law** that are **written** in this book*, that thou mayest fear this glorious and fearful name, THE LORD THY GOD;
Deuteronomy 30:10 If thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which are **written** in this book of the law, and if thou turn unto the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul.
11 For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off.
Joshua 1:8 **This book of the law** shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, *that thou mayest observe to do according to **all that is written** therein*: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.
Joshua 8:31-34 As Moses the servant of the LORD commanded the children of Israel, **as it is written in the book of the law of Moses,** an altar of whole stones, over which no man hath lift up any iron: and they offered thereon burnt offerings unto the LORD, and sacrificed peace offerings. 32. **And he wrote there upon the stones a copy of the law of Moses,** which he wrote in the presence of the children of Israel. 33. And all Israel, and their elders, and officers, and their judges, stood on this side the ark and on that side before the priests the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD, as well the stranger, as he that was born among them; half of them over against mount Gerizim, and half of them over against mount Ebal; as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded before, that they should bless the people of Israel. 34. And afterward **he read all the words** of the law, *the blessings and cursings, **according to all that is written in the book of the law.**
Joshua 23:6 Be ye therefore very courageous to keep and to do **all that is written** in the book of the law of Moses*, ***that ye turn not aside therefrom to the right hand or to the left***;
1Kings 2:3 *And keep the charge of the LORD thy God*, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies, *as it is **written** in the law of Moses*, that thou mayest prosper in all that thou doest, and whithersoever thou turnest thyself:
What did Jesus say of the traditions of the Pharisees, which some refer to as the oral law/Torah aka the Talmud:
Matthew 15:1-3 Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, 2. Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. 3. But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?
Mark 7:5-9 Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands? 6. He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. 7. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. 8. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. 9. And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.
Mark 7:13 Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.
Myth: Christians are antinomians because they don't keep the Sabbath on Saturday and therefore violate Torah.
Myth. We need to keep the Sabbath, as part of the commandments, and to not do so means we are lawless or "anti-nomian".
It needs to be clarified that Sunday, which many Christians observe as a remembrance of Christ being risen on the first day of the week, does not replace the Sabbath as some suggest is the purpose. It is fully a new day, just as the New Covenant brought the new priesthood and new laws. And just as the Sabbath was a shadow of things to come, the rest we have in Christ cannot even begin to be compared to the physical rest offered by the Sabbath rest bound to the Mosaic Law. A shadow of something simply does not give the true image.
The Sabbath was given as a sign of the Sinai Covenant to the children of Israel after they were delivered from Egypt.
Deuteronomy 4:8 And what nationis there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?
Exodus 16:25-30 And Moses said, Eat that to day; for to day is a sabbath unto the LORD: to day ye shall not find it in the field. 26. Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the sabbath, in it there shall be none. 27. And it came to pass, that there went out some of the people on the seventh day for to gather, and they found none. 28. And the LORD said unto Moses, How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws? 29. See, for that the LORD hath given you the sabbath, thereforehe giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day. 30. So the people rested on the seventh day.
Deuteronomy 5:15And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the LORD thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the LORD thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day.
Nehemiah 9:13-14 Thou camest down also upon mount Sinai, and spakest with them from heaven, and gavest them right judgments, and true laws, good statutes and commandments: 14.And madest known unto them thy holy sabbath, and commandedst them precepts, statutes, and laws, by the hand of Moses thy servant:
These verses show that the Sabbath was first given to the people of Israel through Moses along with the other commandments at Mount Sinai.
Those who believe Christ should understand that we are in a different covenant, which was promised by God in Jeremiah 31. Because of that, no longer is the Sabbath binding on those who enter into the New Covenant.
The NT teaches that the Sinai Law or Mosaic Law contained shadows of the good things to come in the New. The Sabbath was one of these.
Colossians 2:16. Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: 17. Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.
The true meaning of the Sabbath wasn't just the cessation of work and rest for the body but was also spiritual. Work wasn't the primary issue here obviously, since the priests did work on the Sabbath. Jesus brought the issue forward when the Pharisees accused the disciples of profaning the Sabbath.
Matthew 12:1-5 At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn, and to eat. 2. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day. 3. But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him; 4. How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests? 5. Orhave ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless?
Matthew 12:6-8 But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple. 7. But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless. 8.For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day.
Matthew 12:9-13 And when he was departed thence, he went into their synagogue: 10. And, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered. And they asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days? that they might accuse him. 11. And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? 12. How much then is a man better than a sheep?Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days. 13. Then saith he to the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, like as the other.
Messianics often say that we must keep the Sabbath because Jesus "kept it". In John 5 we see where Jesus is accused of breaking the Sabbath and he defends Himself by saying that He worked as His Father worked.
John 5:16 And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day.
17 But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.
18 Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.
19 Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.
Paul nowhere taught that we had to continue to keep the Sabbath like the Children of Israel had been required to while under the Sinai covenant.
Colossians 2:14-17 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; 15. And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it. 16.Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: 17. Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.
Romans 14:5-6One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. 6. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.
Hebrews 4 shows us that the Sabbath rest we obtain now, is through the New Covenant and Jesus.
Hebrews 4:3-11 Forwe which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4. For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works. 5. And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest. 6. Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: 7. Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. 8. For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. 9. There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. 10. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. 11. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.
Jesus is that promised rest.
Matthew 11:28-30 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, andI will give you rest. 29. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
We rest from the labour of trying to earn our righteousness with God. The Law showed that none of us can obtain righteousness by our own efforts. According to the Law, it had to be kept as a whole.
Galatians 3:9-13 So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham. 10. For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursedis every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. 11. But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. 12. And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. 13. Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:
Deuteronomy 27:26 Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them. And all the people shall say, Amen.
That was the point of the Law to show us our need for Christ, of a Saviour and Redeemer and the need to have spiritually new circumcised hearts. The Law also increased the abundance of sin.
Romans 5:20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:
Romans 7:13 Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.
If we were not aware of our sinfulness we wouldn't see the need for a Redeemer or the need of a New Covenant. IF the Law truly made us righteous there would have been no need for either.
Hebrews 7:11-12 If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron? 12. For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.
Hebrews 7:18-19 For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof. 19. For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.
Since the Law pointed to Christ
Deuteronomy 5:15And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the LORD thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the LORD thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day.
We see how in the Old Covenant the Sabbath rest was given after redemption from the bondage in Egypt. This was a shadow of the deliverance from sin that Jesus has obtained for us.
The rest we have in Christ is in knowing and trusting that He will change our hearts when we take up our Cross daily and follow Him.
Luke 9:23-24 And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. 24. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.
Matthew 11:28-30 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Myth. Acts 15 tells us that we are to learn and keep the law of Moses and that Gentiles who convert can start with just the basic list, but should become fully obedient to the law over time as they grow spiritually.
In Acts 15, the apostle Peter makes it clear that Gentiles who come to the faith do not have to be circumcised or keep the law of Moses
Acts 15:1-11 And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. 2. When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question. 3. And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren. 4. And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them. 5. But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses. 6. And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter. 7. And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. 8. And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; 9. And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. 10. Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? 11. But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.
Acts 15:13 And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: ...
Acts 15:19-29 Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: 20. But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. 21 For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day. 22. Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren: 23. And they wrote letters by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia: 24. Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment: 25. It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26. Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27. We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who shall also tell you the same things by mouth. 28. For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; 29. That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.
Act 15:30 So when they were dismissed, they came to Antioch: and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the epistle: 31 Which when they had read, they rejoiced for the consolation.
In verse 10 we see what Peter responds to the Pharisee believers that insisted on Law keeping
Acts 15:10-11 Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? 11. But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.
We see that neither they nor their fathers were able to bear the yoke of the Law and Peter then asked those that insisted on circumcision and the keeping of the Law, why they were forcing this yoke upon Gentile believers. They made the keeping of the Law a salvation issue, which many do today as well.
Moses yoke and Jesus' yoke were not the same. Jesus said:
Matthew 11:28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Galatians 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
In this chapter the apostle James actually regarded those Pharisees who believed but were saying that the Gentiles had to be circumcised and keep the Law, as having troubled believers and having subverted their souls. James then stresses that they had given no commandment for Gentiles to get circumcised and keep the Law.
Acts 15:24. Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment:
1) to pack up baggage in order to carry it away to another place
1a) to move one’s furniture (when setting out for some other place)
2) of an enemy
2a) dismantling, plundering
3) of a place
3a) to overthrow, ravage destroy towns lands etc.
4) to turn away violently from a right state, to unsettle, subvert
Part of Speech: verb Related Word by Thayer’s/Strong’s Number: from G303 (in the sense of reversal) and a derivative of G4632
The apostles, elders and Holy Spirit agreed with James as we see in the following verses
Acts 15:22-29 Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren: 23. And they wrote letters by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia: 24. Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment: 25. It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26. Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Acts 15:27. We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who shall also tell you the same things by mouth. 28. For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; 29. That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.
We see that the letter which was written in response to this question of a requirement of observing the Law and circumcision is distributed with witnesses to the Gentiles who are coming to the faith. There is no mention of obeying the whole Law or circumcision, just of those four necessary things.
Paul addressed these specific issues many other times as well, and to the Galatians he wrote:
Galatians 6:12-15 As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. 13. For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh. 14.But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. 15. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.
There was no mention within the letter of instructions sent by the apostles, elders and church in Jerusalem of them being temporal, or that they should go to synagogues to learn the Law. In fact, Jesus warned that they would be put out of the synagogues.
Matthew 10:17 But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues
Mark 13:9 But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten: and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them.
Luke 12:11-12 And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say: 12. For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.
John 16:1-3 These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended. 2. They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. 3. And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me.
Even the apostle Paul, before turning to Christ, spoke of the persecution to the believers:
Acts 26:10-12 Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. 11. And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities. 12. Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests,
As a final note, this is also why many believers did not go to the synagogues, and rather, met in private or homes.
Some note that in Acts 15:21. For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.
...that it means that the list of four things to abstain from was merely the beginning of becoming "Torah observant", because it says that Moses, since the law was given, was being preached every sabbath, so the new Gentile believers could still learn these things.
However, the reality is, James and the elders were pointing out that Moses had been taught for all those years. So what the law was about wasn't 'new' and they were not being commanded to follow the law, which is what the entire issue was about. In fact, the apostle Paul wrote this concerning the focus on and reading of the law of Moses:
2 Corinthians 3:9-16 For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. 10. For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth. 11. For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious. 12. Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech: 13. And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished: 14. But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ. 15. But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. 16. Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away.
This is also partly why Judaism and Christianity are different beliefs. Those practicing Judaism, while following rabbinic Judaism which involves the Talmud and kabbalah, attempt to follow the Law of Moses even without the Temple and priesthood, while Christians, those being Jews and Gentiles, follow Jesus Christ and the New Covenant. Notice that Paul, a Jew, speaks of a difference in when he was in 'the Jews religion' and then preached Christ.
Galatians 1:11-16But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. 12. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. 13. For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: 14. And profited in the Jews' religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers. 15. But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace, 16. To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:
1Corinthians 1:23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; 24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
Paul likens being under the Law to spiritual adultery.
Rom 7:4 Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.
5 For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.
6 But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.
We cannot thus be under the Law and bring forth fruit for Christ. Paul says there that we are dead to the law and married to Christ. He clearly says we are serving according to the Spirit of the Law not the letter. Attempting to live under the letter and authority of the Law is in direct contradiction to the words of Paul where he says:
Rom 7:6 But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.
Hebrew Roots FAQS & Myths
Basic Doctrinal Issues
Under the Law
Sacrifices, Feasts, Celebrations
Names For God & Jesus
Who Is Jesus
Talmud & Kabbalah
Note: "Strong's" for Hebrew and Greek Word definitions from Strong's Exhaustive Concordance by James Strong
"Thayers" > Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament
"BDB" >Brown-Driver-Brigg's Hebrew Definitions
All Scripture King James Version unless otherwise stated
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