The Lord’s Sabbath

ShabbatQuestion: According to Jewish Law and tradition, is it acceptable, discouraged or totally unacceptable for a Gentile to keep the Sabbath according to the regulations spelled out in the Torah and the Talmud and expounded upon by the Rabbis?

Answer: A non Jew is not allowed to keep Shabbos. Those that are in the process of converting make sure to do at least one thing on Shabbos that would normally not be allowed. For example they might carry something in their pocket.

The quotes above are part of a discussion group thread at judaism.stackexchange.com (and thanks to Judah Himango of the Kineti L’Tziyon blogspot for posting the link on his Facebook page). As you can see if you follow the conversation, it is generally discouraged for a non-Jew, Christian or otherwise, to attempt to observe the Shabbat in the same manner (if at all) as a Jew. The observations are apparently from the perspective of Orthodox Judaism, so Conservative and Reform Jews may have a somewhat more lenient viewpoint, nevertheless, the Shabbat is generally reserved for the Jewish people.

This doesn’t really upset most Christians since the Saturday Sabbath, as with most other aspects of “the Law,” was deemed done away with. While Christians generally worship on Sunday, it’s not really considered a “Sabbath” in the church, based on Pauls’ statement in Romans 14:5-6:

One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord.

This effectively obliterates the fourth commandment to “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy” for Ten Commandments believing Christians, but apparently, that can’t be helped. The result is that the vast majority of both Christians and Jews believe that Shabbat observance cannot and should not be applied to Gentiles and that is that.

Almost.

There is actually a lot of conversation going on in various circles about Gentles and the Shabbat, even as we’ve seen at judaism.stackexchange.com. In actuality, it doesn’t seem totally forbidden for a non-Jew to keep the Shabbat, they just can’t keep it in a way that is consistent with religious Judaism. AskNoah.org, a site created within an Orthdox Jewish context and dedicated to serving Noahides (righteous Gentiles), has this to say.

Question: I’ve been told that a Noahide must “mark” the Sabbath in some way. Could you give me examples of ways to mark Sabbath in the manner of a Noahide?

Answer: A Noahide is allowed to mark the seventh-day Sabbath in some types of ways. But there must not be a belief or conviction that he or she has – or is allowed to take on as a Gentile – any religious obligation to rest from all productive activity on the Seventh Day, or on any other day. (Although indeed, there must be an intellectual recognition that G-d assigns a special quality to the Seventh Day, since that is part of the Torah of Truth).

The answer continues by providing a number of suggestions for the Noahide as far as “marking” the Shabbat, but such marking must be done without making a vow of any kind in relation with the Shabbat, and with the understanding that “marking” the Shabbat is totally voluntary.

The world of Messianic Judaism, as seen from the point of view of Jews who accept discipleship under Jesus (Yeshua) as the Jewish Messiah, take a similar point of view. We can see one such illustration in a recent comment Derek Leman made in response to something I said on one of his blog posts at Messianic Jewish Musings:

So, I think a Divine Invitation exists for non-Jews. I don’t think (and the apostles didn’t think) it is a Divine Obligation.

My advice for non-Jews keeping Shabbat: learn the traditional prayers and songs. Make some modifications in parts where the wording is about God’s special relationship with Israel. Someone ought to make a Shabbat Seder (the Friday night prayers) for non-Jews which respects the wording of special relationship between God and Israel and pictures non-Jews coming into the sign between God and Israel as co-participants (not replacements, see Exod 31:13).

Shabbat candlesI’ve often said that I believe non-Jews who wish to honor God as sovereign Creator may do so based on Genesis 2:3, but AskNoah.org has a response for that as well:

Although it says in Genesis 2:1-3 that G-d designated the Seventh Day as holy and sanctified, don’t forget the basic principle that G-d did not limit Torah to always be a *chronological* account of events. In fact, G-d first dictated the book of Genesis to Moses shortly after the Israelites arrived at Mount Sinai. The first time there was any commandment about a special observance of a “Sabbath” was after the Israelites passed through the sea on dry land. When they ran out of the matzah they took out of Egypt, G-d provided them with mannah as food from Heaven. But no mannah fell on the Seventh Day. G-d instead provided a miraculous double portion on Friday afternoon, and He commanded the Israelites to remain in their camp on the Seventh Day. Moses explained to them that they were, from that time on, commanded to observe the Seventh Day as a day of rest and a holy Sabbath (Exodus 16:23). Thus, at the first mention of the Seventh Day in the text of Genesis, G-d told Moses to insert the information that He had blessed the Seventh Day (referring to the double portion of mannah that fell on Friday afternoon for the Israelites), and He made it holy (when He prohibited the Israelites from leaving their camp on that day).

It is true that in Judaism, the chronology of the writing and the order of events of and in the Torah aren’t considered to be strictly literal, so the authority answering the question about Genesis 2:1-3 may have a point. On the other hand, if we assume that there is a chronology to God’s creating the earth and that He actually “blessed the seventh day and made it holy,” relatively “soon” after He created the globe upon which we live, then the holiness of the Shabbat could precede the Sinai event by many hundreds or even thousands of years (or more).

Then we have another scripture which provides some illumination.

“And the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD,
to minister to him, to love the name of the LORD,
and to be his servants,
everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it,
and holds fast my covenant—
these I will bring to my holy mountain,
and make them joyful in my house of prayer;
their burnt offerings and their sacrifices
will be accepted on my altar;
for my house shall be called a house of prayer
for all peoples.”
The Lord GOD,
who gathers the outcasts of Israel, declares,
“I will gather yet others to him
besides those already gathered.” –Isaiah 56:6-8 (ESV)

This is very difficult to get around. While not a commandment, it certainly suggests that “foreigners” (non-Hebrews) not only may observe the Shabbat, but will derive some direct benefit for doing so, namely being brought to God’s “holy mountain”, which is probably the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, and having our offerings accepted by God in the Temple (and AskNoah.org does state that Gentiles will be able to worship at the Third Temple). Even the Master quotes the prophet Isaiah when he cries out that “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers” (Matthew 21:13).

I suppose Christians could say that the words of the prophet Isaiah were annulled when the Law was “nailed to the cross with Jesus”, but that hardly explains why Christ would quote prophetic words that would soon lose their power. Such a view also suggests that God’s Word is not eternal, so we have another puzzle when considering a traditionally Christian interpretation of scripture.

But if “Jewish” Shabbat observance is considered both by Christianity and by Judaism to be a dead issue for the Gentiles, why should the few of us who are not Jewish but who are drawn to the Shabbat care? Well, because we’re drawn and for whatever reason, God has written upon our hearts a desire to hold the seventh day as sacred.

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I don’t think Judaism has much to worry about as far as Christian or “Messianic Gentile” Shabbat observance goes. I’ve never met a person who was not Jewish who kept the Shabbat with anywhere near the level of sanctity and detail as an Orthodox Jew, so it can be truly said that we “mark” the Shabbat without ever actually “keeping it holy,” at least to the measure of accepted Jewish halachah.

But what does God think of the disciples of Jesus keeping the Shabbat? Even if we are not commanded, are we allowed and is our rest pleasing to Him? Or was that last question moot?

Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” –Mark 2:27-28

If the Savior and Messiah is Lord of the Shabbat, what does that mean for we non-Jews who are his disciples?

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58 thoughts on “The Lord’s Sabbath”

  1. I enjoyed reading the post. Pretty interesting.

    The only thing I would encourage others to remember is that the spiritual rest takes preeminence over the physical rest (as it sounds like you do). It would be a shame for one to place so much emphasis on the temporary physical rest to completely miss the eternal spiritual rest of God. I love the conversation found in Hebrews 3 & 4 about this. And this goes without saying that Jesus calls everyone to find rest for their souls in Him, which just so happens to precede another “situation” involving Jesus and the Sabbath (Matthew 11:25-12:14).

    Have a great day.

  2. Thanks, Eugene,

    The Shabbat is considered something of a “preview” of Messianic days, when we will all have our rest in him. I’ve read Rabbinic commentaries that compared the seventh day Shabbat to a day when the Messiah had finally come (or come again, as we Christians understand it). It is a spiritual rest for our souls, and a day when we can put down our weekly cares and duties, and focus on our families, on prayer and study, and on God.

    It’s also acceptable to get a little physical rest, too. 😉

    Blessings.

  3. Eugene,

    Do you think Yeshua canceled the perpetual covenant of Shabbat?

    James,

    Shabbat is a covenant only with Israel: Exodus 31:16-17. Why would G-d want you participating in something that is specifically intended as a sign of a relationship between G-d and Israel? That is…unless you ARE part of Israel. : )

    Sincerely,

    Peter

  4. “There shall be one instruction for the citizen AND for the alien who resides among you.” EX 12:49 This particular verse is in reference to Passover, but the context here concerns the principle of treating the resident alien (gentile) the same as any Israelite. This principle is repeated at least 15 times in Torah. Hashem does not discriminate, nor should we.

  5. @Peter: I’m a little confused since I thought you’d believe that the Shabbat applies equally to the Jew and to the grafted in Gentile. Are you saying you agree with traditional Judaism? All I’m saying is that I believe we who are not Jewish can still voluntarily partake in a Sabbath rest and that, given the comments of Isaiah and Jesus, perhaps we have more of a stake in that Sabbath than others might believe.

    @Jeff: First of all, welcome and thanks for your comment.

    Unfortunately, I must disagree with your apparent suggestion that the Torah applies equally based on the various “one law for the Israelites and the Gerim” passages in the Torah, since it seems clear that the Gerim in question assimilated into the Israelites within three generations or so and their descendants did not retain any portion of their non-Israelite identity. That means the One Law principle cannot be applied today to non-Jews who want to be obligated to Torah and still retain their Gentile identity. We are grafted in and are adopted sons and daughters of the Most High God through the Messianic (Davidic) covenant, but that doesn’t retrofit us back into the Mosaic covenant and complete obligation to Torah.

    I’ve said all this before many times, so to get the “long version” of my beliefs, you can check back to some of my previous blog posts such as (and this list isn’t exhaustive): Defining Judaism: A Simple Commentary, The Prayer of Cornelius, and The Many Paths of God. I’m not trying to put you off, but it’s probably easier for you to read what I’ve already written than for me to try and recreate things I’ve previously documented.

    Once you’ve digested that, please come back here if you’d like and continue to discuss these issues.

    @Dan: As hard as it may be for you to understand, I really do believe what I’m saying and am not trying to please FFOZ or anyone else (that much should be obvious by my taking such unpopular positions relative to Christianity, One Law, and Hebrew Roots movements and my specific stance on Shabbat, which probably goes against how folks like Derek understand the concept.

    I’m nobody’s robot. If I were, I’d have stayed where I was a year or two ago and not gone through all the pain and anguish of re-evaluating my core beliefs and transforming them to be more consistent with what I believe God is telling me through the Bible.

  6. FFOZ encourages everyone to keep the Sabbath as best as they are able–from something as simple (yet profound) as marking the day as distinct to as detailed as pre-tearing your toilet paper. Not only do we encourage you to do so we provide resources that assist all of God’s people in sanctifying the day in a meaningful and holy way.

  7. Thanks, Boaz. From my point of view however, in the non-Jewish person choosing to mark or observe the Shabbat, the main distinction would be in “commandedness,” or lack thereof in the Gentile’s case. At least that’s how I’d see it for any other mitzvah. On the other hand, when you factor in Isaiah 56:6-8 and Mark 2:27-28, it seems as if the Shabbat takes on a unique meaning in the life of the Gentile disciple that most of the other mitzvot don’t share. Do you have an opinion about this Boaz (or anyone)?

  8. Yes, I agree. There is prophetic, symbolic, and practical reasons for Gentiles to embrace and honor the Sabbath. We’ve outlined key areas why none commanded mitzvoth should be considered and applied: 1.) Kingdom practice 2.) Love for God 3.) Discipleship 4.) inherent blessings 5.) solidarity with Israel 6.) return to an apostolic-type practice (not in any order).

  9. I suspect this is where traditional halacha on the Shabbat doesn’t illuminate the entire scope of Sabbath keeping. I mentioned to someone on Facebook earlier today, that the Talmud is a vital component in preserving the identity and purpose of the Jewish people across time, but it doesn’t do a very good job at defining non-Jewish disciples of Jesus (for obvious reasons). As you say Boaz, Shabbat may be unique among the mitzvot in that it can be more widely applied to the world population, at least in some sense. We’ll only know for sure when the Messiah returns and we can understand his teachings clearly, not viewed indistinctly through a dark mirror (1 Corinthians 13:12) as we do now.

  10. “Yes, I agree. There is prophetic, symbolic, and practical reasons for Gentiles to embrace and honor the Sabbath. We’ve outlined key areas why none commanded mitzvoth should be considered and applied: 1.) Kingdom practice 2.) Love for God 3.) Discipleship 4.) inherent blessings 5.) solidarity with Israel 6.) return to an apostolic-type practice (not in any order).”

    Of course they are not bound to it….Only if they want……

  11. @ Peter

    Hello Peter,

    I believe that the New Testament teaches that a gentile Christian is under no obligation to keep/observe the Sabbath day (Acts 15:15-29; Colossians 2:16,17). As for a Jewish Christian, I suppose if they chose to “honor the Sabbath” through his/her Jewish heritage that would be up to the individual in particular, but by no means would they be able to “bind” it on others nor would their salvation be at risk if they chose not too (Acts 15:7-11).

    I hope this answers your question cleary enough. If not maybe I should have just answered you with a “yes.” The “international covenant” (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:47) revealed in the New Testament made possible by Jesus through the shedding of His blood (Matthew 26:28) contains no reference or inference that the Sabbath day observed under the Law of Moses is to be “legally” observed during the dispensation of the New Covenant.

    Take care Peter.

  12. James and Boaz,

    When G-d makes a covenant and tells you to do something, is it just an invitation? Or is it a command?

    James, Boaz isn’t acknowledging the Isaiah passage which refers to a covenantal OBLIGATION.

    Shabbat is not a suggestion under the New Covenant. It is a legally protected right. Don’t let groups like FFOZ tell you any differently–don’t let them take your rights. If you’re in the New Covenant (which was made only with Israel according to the prophets) then you are a citizen of Israel (Eph 2). And citizens are bound by the rule of law (i.e. Torat Moshe).

    Man, I’d love to publicly debate someone on this! : ) Any takers? I promise to be nice.

    James, celebrate Shabbat and enjoy! It’s your right if your father is the King of Israel (Yeshua).

    In Brotherly Love,

    Peter

  13. Eugene,

    You wrote: “The “international covenant” (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:47) revealed in the New Testament made possible by Jesus through the shedding of His blood (Matthew 26:28) contains no reference or inference that the Sabbath day observed under the Law of Moses is to be “legally” observed during the dispensation of the New Covenant.”

    My question for you: do you think Yeshua came to abolish Torah?

    -Peter

  14. @ Peter

    No, I do not believe that Jesus came to abolish law that holds men accountable to God. If that were true there would be no sin to need forgiveness of. Now, if you are asking me if I believe that mankind is responsible for keeping the Law of Moses then my answer would be no due to the fact that are no indications in the New Testament that this is true. I addressed that in the Acts 15 reference…particularly verses 5-11. The apostles, the elders and the rest of the church made the ruling of God’s Spirit concerning the issue clear in verses 13-29.

  15. I enjoy the Shabbat just fine, Peter. Thanks.

    There’s a difference between a “right” and a “responsibility” although they can certainly overlap. As an American citizen, I have the right to vote, but voting is also a civic responsibility (although I am not actually forced to vote if I choose not to).

    I’ve already said in my blog post and in my previous comments that I think that Shabbat observance has wider applications than many of the other Torah mitzvot, so I think you’re “preaching to the choir” on this one. I think we can agree that if a Jew refuses to perform the various mitzvot including observing the Shabbat, there are consequences down the line, but the question is, does that hold for those of us who didn’t have ancestors at Sinai?

    It’s one thing to say that I choose to honor God by voluntarily performing “such and thus mitzvot” in addition to those assigned to me by the authority of the Jerusalem Council and the Holy Spirit, and another thing entirely to say, I’m taking them all as my “right” regardless of what James, Paul, and the Holy Spirit have to say about it.

    OK, I know you believe James, Paul, and the Holy Spirit are in agreement that Gentiles have the “right” to appropriate the full yoke of Torah (and I’ve explained before in various blog comments scattered across half of cyberspace why I think Gentiles aren’t obligated to that full yoke as are the Jewish people), but my interpretation is quite different. Remember Peter said, “why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear?” It doesn’t sound like having the “right” to be obligated to the full Torah was always biscuits and gravy. It also sounds like Peter was trying to protect the (we) Gentiles from the “burden” of Torah.

    As Americans, we are taught to be individuals and to stand up for our individual rights. That’s not bad as far as it goes, but there’s the opposite value epitomized by the famous words of John F. Kennedy:

    Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.”

    He wasn’t talking about rights at that point, but rather responsibilities. You behave as if, by me saying that the Gentile Christians are not obligated to the full weight of the 613 commandments, that I’m denying you your “rights” to wear a tallit gadol, have an aliyah in your congregation, and to making your claim to all of the behaviors and mitzvot incumbant on the Jew, thus becoming a Jew yourself in all but name.

    I don’t see them as our rights, but as the responsibilities and duties God assigned to the Hebrews at Sinai and that are carried by the Jewish people in the modern age. If I choose to take additional mitzvot on board, I do so voluntarily and not because I am commanded to do so. If you believe you are commanded to do so, then you may believe thus and we stand on opposite sides of that belief.

    We wouldn’t be the first two Christians to disagree on some matter of theology. Meanwhile, my wife still lights the candles in our home on Erev Shabbat.

    Oh, and I came to my conclusions quite apart from FFOZ, though they have provided me with valuable educational assistance from time to time.

    You might want to have a look (if you haven’t already) at my blog post Dayenu which talks about how Gentiles sometimes look at the Jewish lifestyle.

    Thanks again.

  16. Eugene,

    You are looking at Acts 15 through an anti-nomian Christian lens. Please allow me a brief moment to correct that misapprehension.

    There are two primary passages that refer to the dispute that raged in Antioch: Acts 15:1 and Galatians 2. These passages tell us that the circumcised group didn’t want to eat with the gentile Believers because they thought them impure. In fact, the circumcised group would only associate with the gentile Believers if they became circumcised. Acts 15:1 tells us why they thought this: because these Pharisees thought that salvation comes through works–specifically, the work of circumcision. THIS was the dispute, NOT whether the Torah should be observed.

    Acts 15:2 tells us that the issue was singular and that the issue was that which was stated in Acts 15:1–the issue regarding faith vs. works (i.e. the work of circumcision).

    Next, examine the arguments before the court. Was Peter arguing against Torah? No, although some would try to say that “yoke” refers to Torah. This is an anti-nomian view that comes from Christians who hate Torah. But we know that the Torah is not a burden—especially not the unbearable burden to which Peter refers.

    What was Peter arguing? He was arguing that gentile Believers are saved by grace and that to say that they could be saved by works would be to impose an UNBEARABLE burden on them, an unbearable burden that was never imposed on the Fathers. Peter’s argument corroborates that the only issue before the court was the issue stated in Acts 15:1.

    Finally, look at the holding of the court. James thought that Peter’s argument agreed with the prophets–he thought Peter’s view was correct. So grace won the day.

    But what about the four prohibitions you say? These were meant to address the context brought out by Galatians 2–the purity concerns. The issue was proof of conversion. James decided that gentile Believers could prove their sincerity by avoiding pagan practices that would make one impure.

    And what about the dictum? What did James mean by noting that gentile Believers would be in synagogue every Shabbat to learn Torah? Well, by this point, it should be obvious: these converts wanted to learn Torah and now they had the right to go to synagogue to learn Torah so they could begin practicing it.

    Take some time to unlearn what the Christians have told you Acts 15 stands for. They have it completely wrong.

    Peace,

    Peter

  17. @Eugene:

    As I’m sure you realized long before this, you’ve arrived on a blog where the conversations are quite lively, disagreements are commonplace, and the viewpoint on scripture is not strictly the norm for the church. I don’t consider myself “Messianic” and call myself a Christian, but I have a somewhat different perspective. Part of this is due to being married to a Jewish wife for almost 30 years (we were both atheists when we were married and became “religious” sometime later, though in different directions) and watching her explore her Judaism. Part of this is due to my finding that the church didn’t seem to really want to dig into what the Bible has to say, particularly within its original Hebrew context. I wanted to learn more and to draw closer to God and, beyond a certain point, the traditional Christian church couldn’t take me there.

    I am not disrespecting you or the church. I’m only explaining that I needed to make a decision for myself and that decision does not reflect upon anyone else’s choices or their faith.

    I hope you’ll meet some challenges here and are able to challenge others. We don’t learn in an environment where we all agree with each other. One of the reasons I created this blog was to ask questions nobody wants to ask and to probe for answers that sometimes won’t exist this side of the return of Jesus.

    Welcome and make yourself at home, just like everyone else.

    Blessings.

  18. James,

    You wrote: “I think Gentiles aren’t obligated to that full yoke as are the Jewish people), but my interpretation is quite different. Remember Peter said, “why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear?” It doesn’t sound like having the “right” to be obligated to the full Torah was always biscuits and gravy. It also sounds like Peter was trying to protect the (we) Gentiles from the “burden” of Torah.”

    James, specifically which command of G-d is burdensome? Shabbat perhaps? Does the rest and relaxation of Shabbat weigh you down? Or how about kashrut? Is it a drag to eat healthy? Yeah, that is some burden. We really need to protect the gentiles from this stuff. Seriously???

    Don’t listen to Christians who reflexively interpret “yoke” as Torah. How about looking at it contextually for a change and examine the same word in Galatians 5 in which Paul refers to the “yoke” of works-based justification.

    Sincerely,

    Peter

  19. I’m going to sign off in a few minutes Peter, so this will be my last response for the night. Did you read my blog post “Dayenu” (I posted a link to it in my last response to you). It should contain most of the answers to all of the questions you are posing me. Please feel free to read it and reflect upon it in my absence, and if you’d like, we can pick this up tomorrow.

    Thanks.

  20. @ Peter

    Read Acts 15 again Peter.

    “But some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, “It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses….Since we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, “You must be circumcised and keep the law”—to whom we gave no such commandment—…For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well.” (Acts 15:5, 24, 28-29)

    It sounds as if you believe the Spirit was wrong in His decision. I’ll stick with the revealed will of God in His New Covenant which is for all people (international) and not for one race (national/fleshly Israel) which the Law of Moses was given to.

    And, not that it seems as if it will change your mind, I would like to add that the apostle Paul plainly said, “So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.” (Colossians 2:16,17) Since there is only one law recorded in the Bible that contains the referenced observations I have no question about Paul’s referenced law, and since you are a man I do not worry about your judgment concerning my “obligation to observe” such things.

  21. Eugene,

    I’m not judging you. I fail at Torah every day so how could I judge anyone?

    And your translation of Acts 15:5 is wrong. The original Greek uses a periphrastic “te” to connect “paraggellein” (to instruct) and “terein” (to keep) which then is better rendered as “it is necessary to circumcise them in order to instruct and keep the Law of Moses.” Notice that this reading conforms to the context (Acts 15:1; Peter’s arguments regarding grace, etc).

    Look at the Greek. And look at the context of the original dispute—the Believers at Antioch were not contesting Torah, they were contesting the false notion of works-based salvation, the idea that circumcision brought salvation.

    I’m not trying to be a jerk here. I’m just presenting you with facts. And if you think my reading of Acts 15:5 is wrong then allow me to quote you all of the Christian scholars who render it as I have done. I have a good memory and would be happy to cite all of those sources so you know that this is the truth. I don’t say anything without being able to back it up. Just ask Derek Leman, James, or anyone on these types of blogs.

    Peace,

    Peter

  22. @ Peter

    Regardless of whether or not you believe you’re judging me doesn’t change the emphasis of what Colossians 2:16,17 still says; and that’s that you have no authority to bind the observation of the Sabbath upon me . The gospel is the international covenant Peter…made for all and not for once race like the previous covenant made with national Israel.

    The words of “scholars” don’t impress me but regardless, concerning your accusation that I’m translating Acts 15:5 wrong the following translations by many, many “scholars” are all Acts 15:5. And please notice that none of them support “your own translation” that conviently supports “your own view” on the issue and not the Holy Spirit’s decision that was clearly given.

    New International Version (©1984)
    Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to obey the law of Moses.”

    New Living Translation (©2007)
    But then some of the believers who belonged to the sect of the Pharisees stood up and insisted, “The Gentile converts must be circumcised and required to follow the law of Moses.”

    English Standard Version (©2001)
    But some believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees rose up and said, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to order them to keep the law of Moses.”

    New American Standard Bible (©1995)
    But some of the sect of the Pharisees who had believed stood up, saying, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to direct them to observe the Law of Moses.”

    King James Bible (Cambridge Ed.)
    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.

    International Standard Version (©2008)
    But some believers from the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “The gentiles must be circumcised and ordered to keep the law of Moses.”

    Aramaic Bible in Plain English (©2010)
    But some of the school of The Pharisees who had believed stood up, and they were saying, “It is necessary for you to circumcise them and to command them to keep The Law of Moses.”

    GOD’S WORD® Translation (©1995)
    But some believers from the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “People who are not Jewish must be circumcised and ordered to follow Moses’ Teachings.”

    King James 2000 Bible (©2003)
    But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees who believed, saying, It is needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.

    American King James Version
    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.

    American Standard Version
    But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees who believed, saying, It is needful to circumcise them, and to charge them to keep the law of Moses.

    Douay-Rheims Bible
    But there arose some of the sect of the Pharisees that believed, saying: They must be circumcised, and be commanded to observe the law of Moses.

    Darby Bible Translation
    And some of those who were of the sect of the Pharisees, who believed, rose up from among them, saying that they ought to circumcise them and enjoin them to keep the law of Moses.

    English Revised Version
    But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees who believed, saying, It is needful to circumcise them, and to charge them to keep the law of Moses.

    Webster’s Bible Translation
    But there rose certain of the sect of the Pharisees, who believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.

    Weymouth New Testament
    But certain men who had belonged to the sect of the Pharisees but were now believers, stood up in the assembly, and said, “Yes, Gentile believers ought to be circumcised and be ordered to keep the Law of Moses.”

    World English Bible
    But some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, “It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.”

    Young’s Literal Translation
    and there rose up certain of those of the sect of the Pharisees who believed, saying — ‘It behoveth to circumcise them, to command them also to keep the law of Moses.’

    It tickles me how everyone likes to quote “scholars” when the “scholars” agree with them because their view is against the plainly understood scriptures of God. You’re not the first on wordpress that I have talked to that wants to talk about scholars instead of scripture. The end point is that you can’t give any New Testament scripture that COMMANDS (this is for emphasis – not screaming – I can’t put things in bold in my replies) a Jewish or Gentile Christian to observe the physical 7th day Sabbath…which is what you asked me about in your intial question directed towards me.

  23. Eugene,

    You’re not quoting literal translations. If I can show you how the Christian scholars when rendering literal translations of Acts 15:5 use the literal rendering of the Greek, would that change your mind? Or are you going to hide behind non-literal English translations of the original Greek?

    Just curious. It wasn’t written in English–you know that right?

    Sincerely,

    Peter

  24. Eugene,

    You can find the Greek here: http://interlinear.biblos.com/

    When we’re talking about Greek grammar, don’t then use an English translation that relies on English grammar to construct the sentence. Obviously, English grammar is quite a bit different from Greek grammar. I would suggest that you use an expository translation guide to Acts but then you’d probably say how you hate scholars (even though you’re completely relying on scholars for ALL of your English translations).

    If you don’t like scholars, then don’t rely on their English translation—go to the Greek text yourself (as I have done).

    Cheers,

    Peter

  25. Peter and Eugene, I want to issue a reminder gentlemen, that you can disagree without personalizing conflict. Continue to recall that you are both brothers in Christ. Thanks.

  26. @ Peter

    I don’t think you’re reading my replies slowly enough becuase you’re leaving out things that are clearly presented.

    We’re not talking Greek gramar. You are. I’m talking about what translation after translation made by people who understood the Greek very well said about Acts 15:5.

    The point you were trying to make was that Acts 15 was ONLY about circumcision and NOT about “law keeping.”

    See, I’ll remind you about what you said – “Acts 15:1 tells us why they thought this: because these Pharisees thought that salvation comes through works–specifically, the work of circumcision. THIS was the dispute, NOT whether the Torah should be observed.”

    Again, I will point out that this is what YOU say about Acts 15, including verse 5, but the plain translation of the verse says otherwise…hence my reason for pasting all of the translations from Biblos that clearly say that the Pharisees sought to bind circumcision AND the Law upon the gentiles (which some are clearly labled “Literal Translations” contrary to your statement about me “hiding” behind non-literal English translations). Neither the observance of circumcision nor the Law of Moses were neccesary for salvation as the rest of Acts 15 shows.

    Peter, it’s not that I don’t like the “scholars” who translate the New Testament; my point about the “scholars” is that many, many supposed “scholars” get a whole lot wrong simply because they ignore what the word of God plainly says. Would you not agree with this? Acts 15:5 is very plain so no “scholarship” is needed to help me understand something that is not difficult to understand.

    Again, I will plainly say that Colossians 2:16,17 plainly says that no one has authority (from Heaven) to bind upon me the Sabbath or judge the lack of my Sabbath observance with God’s approval.

    Anywho, I don’t think I’ve said anything “ungentlemanly” – if that’s even a word 🙂 – the only thing I can think of is my all caps of a word or two but I explained my reason for doing that…for emphasis because I can’t place anything in bold in my replies. If I have, I apologize.

  27. @Eugene and Peter: Since your current discussion seems to be centering around the Acts 15 letter, you might want to take a look at my review of Toby Janicki’s article A Gentile Believer’s Obligation to the Torah of Moses, which is heavily grounded in Acts 15.

    Eugene, I wasn’t accusing you or Peter of any “ungentlemanly behavior”, but I’ve found it prudent to issue the occasional reminder when a conversation seems to be getting a tad “heated”.

  28. Eugene,

    When I was talking about “literal” I meant the versions found in translator’s expository guides that capture the Greek grammar. The ones you referred to are not “literal” in the sense that showing the literal Greek usage is their primary concern. For example, NASB says it’s “literal” but they’re also trying to make it readable. So “literal” is used rather loosely.

    Be that as it may, here’s why EVEN IF YOU ARE RIGHT (not yelling), it wouldn’t matter about 15:5. Just because someone makes as assertion (like the one made in 15:5), doesn’t mean that that assertion is being contested in the actual lawsuit. What I mean is that you need to focus on what happened after 15:5 and see that Peter and Paul never argued against keeping the Torah but rather were only contesting the idea that salvation is by the work of circumcision.

    Here’s an example of what I mean: 15:5 could’ve read “Then a Pharisee stood up and said the gentiles must be circumcised to be saved and the sky is not blue.” Of these two assertions, the opposing side may only want to dispute one assertion. We have two clues then as to which assertion is being disputed: (1) what was the original factual and legal context of the dispute? In other words, what was the original grievance? (2) what assertions were argued before the court?

    Do you see what I mean? Even if you’re right about 15:5, your exegetical work is not done. You must show that both separate and unrelated assertions were actually disputed–and you prove this by citing where Peter or Paul made the argument that gentiles shouldn’t be following Torah. Why must you do this? Because there’s a direct correlation between the ISSUE and the HOLDING of the court. If you get the issue wrong then you’re version of the holding will be wrong and you’ll extract a completely unintended rule.

    The only bit of evidence available to you to make this argument of yours is to say that Peter was referring to Torah when he talked about an unbearable yoke. But this antinomian view is rebutted by citing that Torah is considered to be a delight (see Psalm 19 and Psalm 119). James (the blogger, not the Apostle), for example, thinks Peter (the Apostle) was trying to protect gentiles from Torah. But history tells us that G-d blessed the gentiles in ancient Israel who obeyed G-d’s Torah. How can you protect someone from a blessing? Wouldn’t that be the equivalent of a curse to do so?

    Lastly, I apologize is my ALL CAPS translated as yelling. It’s just me trying to highlight key thoughts for emphasis. I’m just passionate; I don’t ever really get angry on here.

    Peace,

    Peter

  29. Well, I’m almost sorry that I had to be at a meeting last night.

    First, a couple of points that might be of interest in interpreting the text:

    1) There were two groups active during the late second temple era which are collectively referred to as “Pharisees” today. One group was led by Hillel, whose academy was in Galilee. He died some time before Yeshua began his ministry. The other was led by Shammai, whose academy was in Jerusalem. It is interesting to note that EVERY time that the “Pharisees” challenge Yeshua, it is from the position of Shammai, and, with the exception of divorce, Yeshua responds in accordance with the teachings of Hillel. This is extremely important to understand whenever the “Pharisees” are mentioned.

    2) One of the disputes between Hillel and Shammai is whether eating is holy (strengthening the spiritual inclination) or not (strengthening the fleshly inclination). Shammai says that eating is holy only on Shabbat, and that eating at all other times should be done only to give one strength to carry out Hashem’s commands. (This is part of why the would fast–that is, skip meals.) Hillel says that the holiness of Shabbat infuses the entire week, and can thereby sanctify eating every day.

    Given the above points, consider that Yeshua taught that “Until Heaven and Earth pass away, not one jot or one tittle shall pass from this Torah.” That when Paul testified (Acts 25:8) that he had done “nothing against the Torah of the Jews”, he either committed perjury, or else everything that he wrote has to be interpreted to be consistent with this testimony.

    Now, reading Romans 14 to suggest that Paul was belittling the G-d’s Sabbath is outrageous. The entire discussion is about eating. (Of course, Paul is not belittling kashrut, either, just some over-zealous rule-making.)

    As for the claims of Orthodox Jewry that the Sabbath was revealed at Sinai, ask them why we light a candle at Havdalah. (It’s because Adam was afraid at the end of Sabbath, and so Hashem taught him to make fire.)

    The Song of Moses (sung by all nations in the World to Come–see The Revelation) says “They have moved me to jealousy with [that which is] not God; they have provoked me to anger with their vanities: and I will move them to jealousy with [those which are] not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation.” Of what can a Jew be made jealous? Of what are they possessive? Shabbat & the Torah. Don’t think that it’s a coincidence that Isaiah mentions these two.

    Paul teaches that the purpose of Gentiles being allowed into the covenant is to make the Jews jealous. I argue that it is through our superior observance of their commands.

    As for obligation, I think it is a matter of maturity. We don’t expect an infant to obey all of the rules of the house. We teach them the basics, and more as they grow. This is the fifth commandment of Acts 15–to be in the synagogue every week and hear Moses being preached. The “yoke of Torah” is an ancient term still very much in use today. It’s not a bad thing. It attaches you to the plow to allow you to bring life to the earth. You don’t put the whole yoke on a calf, but you do accustom it.

  30. Greetings and welcome, Nathan. Let me consider some of your points.

    You said: As for the claims of Orthodox Jewry that the Sabbath was revealed at Sinai, ask them why we light a candle at Havdalah. (It’s because Adam was afraid at the end of Sabbath, and so Hashem taught him to make fire.)

    I’ve never heard that before. Can you tell me where that information comes from? I didn’t understand that there was a tradition for Havdalah quite so early.

    You also said: Paul teaches that the purpose of Gentiles being allowed into the covenant is to make the Jews jealous. I argue that it is through our superior observance of their commands.

    I think you’re going to get quite an argument on that one. So you are saying that Gentile disciples of Jesus are better or more superior in performing the mitzvot than the Jewish people, is that right? I think there might be a related application relative to Gentiles and honoring Jesus, but we are also seeing something of a “revival” where the Jewish people are reclaiming Jesus (Yeshua, if you will) as their own, which is right. Perhaps the Jews have been provoked that this is the beginning of the response.

  31. @ Peter

    “Here’s an example of what I mean: 15:5 could’ve read “Then a Pharisee stood up and said the gentiles must be circumcised to be saved and the sky is not blue.” But that’s not what they said, and the apostles, elders and the rest of the church (not to mention the Spirit of God) clearly understood what was being said because the particular Pharisees did not only try to bind circumcision upon the gentiles but also the observance of the Law…listen to what the apostles, elders and the rest of the church said in their answer to the gentile Christians – “Since we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, “You must be circumcised and keep the law”—to whom we gave no such commandment—” (Acts 15:24)

    Gave no such commadment for what??? No commandment for the necessity of observing circumcision or the Law as gentiles. Their answer should really suffice this conversation. Not to mention one more time that Colossians 2:16,17 still says what it says. My very first reply to you should settle any other question you have for me about this issue.

    Nice discussing the topic with you though (not trying to be facetious either).

    @ Nathan Ha Goy

    Hello Nathan, I would like to say a few things about some of the points you mentioned.

    “Given the above points, consider that Yeshua taught that “Until Heaven and Earth pass away, not one jot or one tittle shall pass from this Torah.”

    You didn’t finish quoting the rest of that verse. It says, “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.”

    Jesus fulfilled the law – “Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.” (Luke 24:44,45)

    As pertaining to your comment, “that when Paul testified (Acts 25:8) that he had done “nothing against the Torah of the Jews”, he either committed perjury, or else everything that he wrote has to be interpreted to be consistent with this testimony.”

    Paul had done nothing against the Torah because the Torah called for a Messiah and that Messiah came in the person of Jesus Christ who left His international covenant for all of mankind which replaced (fulfilled the purpose of – Galatians 3:24-29) the first national covenant made with Israel . Paul could not and was not violating the Torah by following the teachings of Christ becuase the Torah said that the Christ would come and His law would be given (Isaiah 2:1-3; Acts 13:46-48; 23:6; 26:1-6, 20-23). When a person places his/her faith in the New Testament they have to by default place their faith in the reliability of the Old Covenant that called for/contained the prophecies for the Messiah.

    The New Testament scriptures plainly teach that there were times when Paul observed Torah with the goal of saving souls through the gospel of Christ and there were times when he did not observe the Torah (the Old Covenant) because he was dealing with people who were not Jews nor did they need to observe Torah to be saved. He circumcised Timothy (Acts 16:3) but not Titus (Galatians 2:3).

    “For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.” (1 Corinthians 9:19-23)

    Do you see the distinction Paul made there? A law observed by Paul while dealing with the Jewish people and a law that Paul observed while dealing with gentiles. Either the way the goal was the same – salvation through the gospel of Christ (Romans 1:16,17).

  32. Eugene, you seem like a really nice guy, but replacement theology is not only inaccurate, but it has been the cause of nearly 2,000 years of harrassment, abuse, persecution, torture, and other violence up to and including murder of the Jewish people by Christianity. Saying that the Torah was replaced in the lives of Jews by a universal covenant that mashes Jews and non-Jews together into one indistinct and homogenous mass is the theological and spiritual equivalent of destroying the Jews by assimilating them into Gentile Christianity. It also obliterates the Judaism of Jesus. Even Revelation 5:5 calls Jesus (post ascension) the “Root of David,” indicating that he is still Messiah and still Jewish (some people think his Judaism died on the cross with him for some bizarre reason).

    The first in my four-part series on this topic was recently published in Messiah Journal. Please, please pick up a copy and follow the rest of the series as it is published throughout the year. Ultimately, I’m going to propose the need of the church to get past replacing the Jewish people with Gentile Christians in every single covenant and what a post-supersessionist Christianity needs to look and act like.

  33. @ James

    Thanks for the compliment, I try; but who said Jesus wasn’t a Jew in my replies? The reality of Christianity doesn’t do away with who Jesus was upon the earth (Galatians 4:4) and I love the quote from Revelation 5:5 along with 1:8 (it goes very with Romans 1:1-5 and Acts 2:29-36 too) and the other verses in Revelation that show who Jesus really is in connection to His fulfillement of the Old Testament scriptures as the true Messiah.

    As far as “replacement theology” goes I think you’re missing the point of Ephesians 2:14-22. The church is the body of believers of Christ (to which there is one – Ephesians 1:22,23; 4:4) united through His sacrifice and law that is for all peoples. Paul plainly said in Ephesians there was a “wall of separation that separated the Jews and gentiles” and that Jesus removed it and created one “new man from the two.” Also, the whole book of Hebrews (primarily chapters 7-11) show how the Old Covenant made with fleshly Israel was replaced/fuliflled with the New Covenant made with all humanity especially in chapter 8:7-13 where the writer even uses Old Testament scripture to prove his point (to which I’m sure you’re aware of). When a person obeys the gospel of Christ today they are added to the church just as the Jews were in Acts 2:47.

    It seems rather easy to understand to me when we take into account the plain language of the New Testament, and whether or not people abuse the will of God set forth in the scriptures is up to them – many people (religious) have abused true and basic principles found in the Bible but that doesn’t mean that the principles are any less true – i.e. the New Testament plainly says that believers in Christ make up a holy priesthood, but that in no way gives people the right to wear black robes with white collars, be referred to as father, to hear confessed sins, etc. (1 Peter 2:5, 9, and by the way, verse 9 sounds very familiar to Ex. 19:6 and De. 7:6).

    I don’t see why anyone has to believe that Jesus was not a Jew because they believe the New Covenant fulfilled the Old Covenant and the promise to Abraham to bless the world through his fleshly seed/descendant which was Jesus, the Lamb of God and Savior of the world (Galatians 3:26-29; Romans 3:21-26; 4:13-18).

    Have a good day James.

  34. Eugene,

    The Acts 15:24 you’re using is not found in Scripture. Notice how all the modern translations remove the phrase you quoted? This is because it’s not in any of the early manuscripts and has been proven to be a scribal addition during a time when Christian anti-Semitism was particularly high.

    Let’s examine the different versions:

    New International Version (©1984)
    We have heard that some went out from us without our authorization and disturbed you, troubling your minds by what they said.

    New Living Translation (©2007)
    “We understand that some men from here have troubled you and upset you with their teaching, but we did not send them!

    English Standard Version (©2001)
    Since we have heard that some persons have gone out from us and troubled you with words, unsettling your minds, although we gave them no instructions,

    New American Standard Bible (©1995)
    “Since we have heard that some of our number to whom we gave no instruction have disturbed you with their words, unsettling your souls,

    King James Bible (Cambridge Ed.)
    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:

    Notice how it’s in the (old) King James version but not in any of the recent versions?

    Eugene, I know I can be annoying on here–so determined that I am right. But give this evidence a chance, pray about it even. Rely on G-d’s word and don’t hinge your entire argument on something that isn’t even in Scripture.

    Does this new evidence affect your opinion at all?

    Your brother in Christ,

    Peter

  35. @Eugene: Sorry to sound like a broken record, but it still seems as if you’re saying that the New Testament has replaced the Old Testament rather than the Davidic covenant having ratified the Mosaic and Abrahamic covenants (the latter being my understanding of how covenantal relationships actually work).

    Jesus taught from Genesis (Genesis 2:24, Mark 10:8), that a man and woman become “one flesh” rather than two separate individuals when they marry. That doesn’t mean that a man stops being a man and a woman stops being a woman (obviously). It doesn’t mean they lose their individual identities, responsibilities, and roles. A woman is still the only one in the marriage capable of having children, but a man is still required to contribute something during act of procreation that a woman cannot produce. Both are different and unique, and both are united under God in the purpose of being “one flesh” in the sense of family and raising children.

    Now apply that to the “one new man” (Ephesians 2:15), “removing the veil between Jew and Gentile” (Ephesians 2:14), and “neither Jew nor Greek” (Galatians 3:28) scriptures and you can see them in a different light. Jewish and Gentile disciples of Jesus are “one new man” in the same sense that a husband and wife can be “one flesh”. The “one new man” unites Jewish and Gentile disciples without removing any of the individual rights, responsibilities, and roles of each covenant group. Jews are still Jews in identity as defined by the Mosaic covenant even as men are still men. Gentiles are still Gentiles in identity as defined by the Davidic/Messianic covenant even as women are still women. The Marriage covenant unites man and woman and the Davidic covenant unites Jews and non-Jews in pretty much the same manner, without “undoing” the uniqueness, identity, responsibilities, and obligations of each group.

    Jews retain not just being Jews but they also retain Judaism and all that goes with it. They don’t lose their distinctiveness under the Davidic covenant any more than a man or woman becomes an androgynous being under the marriage covenant.

    I hope you (and everyone else) can see where I’m going with this. It isn’t what Christianity typically teaches, and nearly 2,000 years of supersessionist theology in the church has turned “theory” into the illusion of “fact”.

    This conversation is definitely fuel for the other articles in my supersessionist series so thank you for the inspiration.

    Blessings, Eugene.

  36. @ Peter

    You’re not annoying me at all. The “new evidence” might would have some “sway” if it were not for the fact that we do know what the “words” of the Pharisees were to the gentile Christians and we do know what “no such commandment/instruction” concerning the Pharisees has reference to because of what we can read in the previously stated verses of Acts 15 – that’s circumcision AND keeping the Law of Moses.

    Have a good night. I have enjoyed the conversation.

  37. @ James

    I understand the direction you’re going but I believe you’re missing point of Ephesians 2:14-16 and the removal of the “separating wall and law of commandments” that is an obvious reference to the Law of Moses and the only marriage mentioned in Ephesians as far as the Jew and genitle goes. The “oneness” found in the Ephesians letter is in the body of Christ, the church (Ephesians 1:22,23) which is the bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:23,28-32). The Jew and gentile are added together (not married to each other) in the same body thus being made “one new man/body.” The Law of Moses was the shadow of the present body of Christ for the Jew and gentile both (Colossians 2:16,17).

    As far as other marriage comparisons go in the New Testament, Paul also said, “Or do you not know, brethren (for I speak to those who know the law), that the law has dominion over a man as long as he lives? 2 For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband. 3 So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man. 4 Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God. 5 For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death. 6 But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.” (Romans 7:1-6)

    If a Jew wants to recognize/celebrate his/her heritage or history I see no problem with that at all, but to say that it’s okay to practice a separate “Judaism ” that distinguishes itself from “Christianity” when believers in Christ are added to and are called to represent one body, I don’t agree with that. The Mosaic covenant was fulfilled by Christ and now all men and women are ammenable to Jesus and His international covenant. Multiple times over the book of Hebrews refers to the New Covenant as better in so many ways over the Old Mosaical covenant and urges the Hebrew readers to not go back to it.

    Moses had his “house” but the “house of Christ” completes the “house of God” which is the church of God…the body that both Jews and gentiles are added to when to they submit to Jesus as Lord and Savior.

    “Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus, 2 who was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was faithful in all His house. 3 For this One has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as He who built the house has more honor than the house. 4 For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God. 5 And Moses indeed was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which would be spoken afterward, 6 but Christ as a Son over His own house, WHOSE HOUSE WE ARE if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.” (Hebrews 3:1-6)

    “These things I write to you, though I hope to come to you shortly; 15 but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” (1 Timothy 3:14,15)

    I don’t quite understand what you think a Jewish individual must recognize in the Mosaic covenant that cannot be recognized in the New Covenant of Christ.

    Have a great day James.

  38. Hi Eugene,

    It’ll be easier to answer all of your points inline as I do below:

    I understand the direction you’re going but I believe you’re missing point of Ephesians 2:14-16 and the removal of the “separating wall and law of commandments” that is an obvious reference to the Law of Moses and the only marriage mentioned in Ephesians as far as the Jew and genitle goes. The “oneness” found in the Ephesians letter is in the body of Christ, the church (Ephesians 1:22,23) which is the bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:23,28-32). The Jew and gentile are added together (not married to each other) in the same body thus being made “one new man/body.” The Law of Moses was the shadow of the present body of Christ for the Jew and gentile both (Colossians 2:16,17).

    I’m not sure how what you just said discounts my point. In fact, it seems to emphasize it. If, as you say, The Jew and gentile are *added* together”, then they are hardly fused into one amorphous, indistinct mass where one cannot be distinguished from the other. The Torah (Law) pointed and points to the Messiah, but you are assuming one must end before the other begins. Another way of interpreting all this is to say that the Messiah represents a perfect distillation of the Law, lived out in an absolute manner, but without extinguishing it for the descendents of Israel’s children. Also, if you refer back to the whole point of Peter’s experiences in Acts 10 (food was just a metaphor, not the point), it was not the Law that made a Gentile “unclean” in the eyes of a first century Jew, but Jewish ordinances expressed as halachah. In this case what God tore down in Peter and is tearing down in Ephesians isn’t the whole of Torah, but the parts of Jewish interpretation of Torah that previously existed to keep Jews and Gentiles apart. Also, since previously Jews had a legal covenant relationship with God but Gentiles didn’t, that was a wall that created separation. By using the Davidic (Messianic) covenant to ratify the previous covenants, Gentiles and Jews could enter into a new covenant relationship with God together, which had never before existed. However that doesn’t have to mean that the previous covenants were null and void. As I mentioned previously, in the ancient near east, later covenants ratified earlier covenants, not abolished them. Only subsequent Christian re-factoring of Biblical interpretation created the idea that grace totally replaced the law, giving rise (sadly) to supersessionism and the Christians replacing the Jews as God’s “chosen people”.

    As far as other marriage comparisons go in the New Testament, Paul also said, “Or do you not know, brethren (for I speak to those who know the law), that the law has dominion over a man as long as he lives? 2 For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband. 3 So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man. 4 Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God. 5 For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death. 6 But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.” (Romans 7:1-6)

    Paul was talking about the “law of sin”, which ruled the lives of the Gentile pagans, not the “law of Torah”. The tough part about following Paul’s logic in the letter to the congregation in Rome, is that it was a mixed congregation of Jewish Messianic worshipers and newly minted Gentile believers. He isn’t always addressing both. Sometimes he toggles back and forth, speaking to one specific audience or the other.

    If a Jew wants to recognize/celebrate his/her heritage or history I see no problem with that at all, but to say that it’s okay to practice a separate “Judaism ” that distinguishes itself from “Christianity” when believers in Christ are added to and are called to represent one body, I don’t agree with that. The Mosaic covenant was fulfilled by Christ and now all men and women are ammenable to Jesus and His international covenant. Multiple times over the book of Hebrews refers to the New Covenant as better in so many ways over the Old Mosaical covenant and urges the Hebrew readers to not go back to it.

    This logical always drives me a little crazy. If the Mosaic covenant was so bad and awful, why did God institute it in the first place. It’s as if God played a game of “bait and switch” with the Israelites, telling them to obey the Law and then bringing Jesus on the scene saying, “Oops. I changed the rules, guys. Sorry about that.” If I follow traditional Christian thought, the only conclusion I can come up with is that God deliberately lied to the Children of Israel and set them up for failure. On the other hand, I agree that ratifying the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants with the Davidic covenant does create a “better way” now that it’s established and one in which all people, Jew and Gentile alike, may be reconciled to God in an exciting and fabulous “new” (well, it’s 2,000 years old) way.

    In terms of identity, the Gentiles and Jews do have separate roles and functions, just like men and women do and like slaves and freemen do. In terms of access to God and being part of the body of the Messiah, we are indeed one. My wife and I are “one” before God, but that doesn’t mean she has to give up being a woman. The Jews who are Messianic and I are one before God, but neither God nor I demand that they must stop being Jewish. In fact, if you read Toby Janicki’s article The Gentile Believer’s Obligation to the Torah of Moses in the current issue of Messiah Journal, you’ll see that there is significant overlap in terms of the duties and relationship the Gentile and Jewish believers have to God, with just a few specific differences.

    Some time ago, I compared the teachings of Jesus in the book of Matthew with what we can find taught in the Torah and I discovered that Jesus didn’t actually contradict anything and taught we Christians to obey many of the Torah commandments. Not the laws relating to wearing fringes or tefillin but certainly the laws about visiting the sick, feeding the hungry, and caring for the widow and orphan. I don’t think you can say that obeying those “laws” to treat the disadvantaged with compassion were done away with.

    Moses had his “house” but the “house of Christ” completes the “house of God” which is the church of God…the body that both Jews and gentiles are added to when to they submit to Jesus as Lord and Savior.

    Nothing in this contradicts what I’ve said and in fact, supports it. The Davidic covenant (house of Christ) ratifies (builds onto) the Mosaic covenant (house of Moses), but you don’t have to tear down the house of Moses to build onto the house of Moses. In fact, if the Davidic covenant replaced the Mosaic for the Jewish people, you’d have to delete significant parts of the Old Testament, Judaism, and the entire Jewish people (and we can see from the past almost 2,000 years of church history, this has already been tried).

    “Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus, 2 who was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was faithful in all His house. 3 For this One has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as He who built the house has more honor than the house. 4 For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God. 5 And Moses indeed was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which would be spoken afterward, 6 but Christ as a Son over His own house, WHOSE HOUSE WE ARE if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.” (Hebrews 3:1-6)

    I really don’t see how this opposes my perspective. I didn’t say that the Torah was the end of all things and that Jesus didn’t change anything. But as Jesus, Paul, Peter, and the rest of the Jewish disciples obeyed the Law, and as the Apostles continued to obey the Law after the ascension of Christ (because it doesn’t contradict grace, grace has always been from God since the beginning), at what point were the Jews supposed to stop. Paul didn’t violate the law of the Jews and when accused of it and arrested, he continued to deny any such violation of Torah (Acts 21, Acts 24) in front of both the Jews and the Romans. If Jesus abolished the Law, shouldn’t Paul have broken with Jewish custom and obedience? If he indeed did break the Law, shouldn’t he have confessed that he did so?

    “These things I write to you, though I hope to come to you shortly; 15 but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” (1 Timothy 3:14,15)

    Not sure how this contradict anything I’ve said.

    I don’t quite understand what you think a Jewish individual must recognize in the Mosaic covenant that cannot be recognized in the New Covenant of Christ.

    The continuation of Jewish existence as opposed to extinction, for one thing. If Jews are forced to abandon their Jewish identity in order to convert to Christianity (and why should a Jew convert to a wholly different religion in order to worship their own Jewish Messiah? 2,000 years ago, it was we Gentiles who had to abandon our pagan faith to join with the Messiah in “the Way”), then Judaism the the hope of the Messiah ceases to exist. Remember, Jesus came for “the lost sheep of Israel”, not to turn Israel into a foreign nation.

    I maintaint that there is nothing in what you said that demands a Jewish person surrender being Jewish and Judaism in order to become a disciple of the Master. Peter didn’t surrender his Jewish identity. Neither did James, Paul, or any of the other Jewish disciples as we see in the New Testament record. If Judaism didn’t matter, why did Paul have Timothy (Gentile father, Jewish mother) circumcised? Shouldn’t the law of circumcision have been done away with along with the Abrahamic covenant, and replaced by grace?

    Maybe I’m grossly misunderstanding your point or maybe you’re misunderstanding me. I’m not saying the Davidic covenant didn’t have remarkable and revolutionary effects on the Jewish people and the rest of the world. Yes, through that covenant, the Jewish and Gentile disciples share something new and wonderful that had never existed before on the face of the earth. However, the Davidic covenant didn’t whitewash all of humanity, making us carbon copy xerox clones of one another, with no individuality, identity, or distinctiveness. Just as the Mosaic covenant didn’t destroy but rather ratified the Abrahamic covenant, the Davidic covenant ratified but did not destroy the Mosaic covenant. At each point in time, something about the plan of God was being created and added to the picture.

    But just as a painter doesn’t have to whitewash one part of his painting in order to create another part, so too does God not have to destroy what he created with the Children of Israel in order to bring grace, truth, and life to the rest of us.

    My wife is Jewish (though not a believer) and tonight, as the sun goes down, she will light the candles and we will welcome the Shabbat into our home. This is not a denial of the grace of Christ, but a confirmation of it. In the Sabbath, we get to experience a glimpse of the peace we will experience in Messianic days. For just a little over 24 hours, we can allow ourselves to put aside the burdens of the world, and taste the sweetness of what is to come.

    I can’t see why God would want to replace any of that and I don’t see anything in the Bible that says that he did.

    Have a great day.

  39. @ James

    I would like quickly say something please. In your comments: “This logical always drives me a little crazy. If the Mosaic covenant was so bad and awful, why did God institute it in the first place. It’s as if God played a game of “bait and switch” with the Israelites, telling them to obey the Law and then bringing Jesus on the scene saying, “Oops. I changed the rules, guys. Sorry about that.” If I follow traditional Christian thought, the only conclusion I can come up with is that God deliberately lied to the Children of Israel and set them up for failure. On the other hand, I agree that ratifying the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants with the Davidic covenant does create a “better way” now that it’s established and one in which all people, Jew and Gentile alike, may be reconciled to God in an exciting and fabulous “new” (well, it’s 2,000 years old) way.”

    This “logic” is plainly presented in Galatians 3. God had a very good reason to institute the Law of Moses and it has nothing to with “bait and switch.” It had to do with point and lead until the fulfillment of its goal. The emphasis of the salvation that was to come for all of mankind goes back to the promise made to Abraham. The Law was never meant to bless all of mankind. Paul said…

    “Brethren, I speak in the manner of men: Though it is only a man’s covenant, yet if it is confirmed, no one annuls or adds to it. 16 Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ. 17 And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ, that it should make the promise of no effect. 18 For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no longer of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise.What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made;…But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. 24 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.” (Galatians 3:15-19, 23-25)

    I would also like to point out that when you said, “Paul was talking about the “law of sin”, which ruled the lives of the Gentile pagans, not the “law of Torah.” when referring to Romans 7:1-6 to which I quoted earlier. That’s is simply wrong James. Paul himself tells us what law he was talking about when he said, “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet” (Romans 7:7)

    James that’s the VERY NEXT verse and tells us clearly that Paul was not talking about some gentile law but the law that contained the commandment that said “don’t covet.” It’s too clear what law contained that commandment. Again, listen to what Paul said in Romans 7:6 – “But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.” Are you saying that the law of sin which is referred to as a “letter” is “sin that ruled in the lives of gentiles”??? Please re-read Romans 7 if that’s what you believe. The marriage and death referred to in Romans 7 has to do with a person leaving the law of Moses due “to it’s death” and the uniting to the law of Christ.

    How is lighting candles a confirmation of Jesus’ grace if that person doesn’t believe in Jesus to begin with? The law of Moses was given to point the way to Jesus and like I said in my very first reply – if a person misses the spiritual rest brought by Jesus then they are missing the whole point. We have gotten quite a bit aways from my original complimenting post but I must ask one question before our discussion ends – Do you believe that a person who rejects Jesus as the Messiah who was predicted by the law can still be pleasing to God by attempting to follow the law of Moses even though Moses pointed to Jesus? (John 5:44-46)

    As to your final statement in which you said, “I can’t see why God would want to replace any of that and I don’t see anything in the Bible that says that he did.” Have you read, “Previously saying, “Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings, and offerings for sin You did not desire, nor had pleasure in them” (which are offered according to the law), 9 then He said, “Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.” He TAKES AWAY THE FIRST that He may ESTABLISH THE SECOND. 10 By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”? (Hebrews 10:8-10) If the first law were still in effect (in the eyes of God) then Jesus could not serve as High Priest due to the first law limiting the priesthood to the tribe of Levi…this much and much more in the book Hebrews shows why Moses’ law couldn’t remain in effect if the Law of Christ was going to be recognized as the new covenant of God and his people.

    I don’t think my belief in the New Testament being an international covenant or that my belief that says spiritual Israel is God’s special people today has anything to do with a “replacement theology” but rather what I would call a “fulfillment theology” that brings God’s promise made in the garden in Eden and to Abraham that all of the world would be blessed by Jesus Christ to light in the gospel (1 Peter 1:8-11, 17-25; 2:4-9; Romans 1:16,17; 10:1-13)

    Thanks for the reply and for your willingness to continue the conversation – have a great night

  40. Eugene,

    I just noticed that you are a Pastor. Blessings to you. That is a noble profession.

    As to our discussion on Acts 15…

    You wrote: “The “new evidence” might would have some “sway” if it were not for the fact that we do know what the “words” of the Pharisees were to the gentile Christians and we do know what “no such commandment/instruction” concerning the Pharisees has reference to because of what we can read in the previously stated verses of Acts 15 – that’s circumcision AND keeping the Law of Moses.”

    Eugene, did you cross-reference Acts 15 with Galatians 2? Check this out:

    Galatians 2:12 For before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group.

    You can almost sympathize with Peter here. After all, these men had come from James, the brother of Yeshua and one who served as kind of a Chief Justice on the Jerusalem Council. Peter seems to have caved to the appearance of a higher authority. Are you beginning to see that there was a need for James to repudiate these false teachers?

    Now, Eugene, consider the anatomy of the lawsuit. Why were the ethnic gentiles at Antioch upset? What does Scripture say? We know from Galatians 2 that there was one possible grievance: they probably felt like second-class citizens because none of the Jews wanted to eat with them. But that is a relatively minor grievance. Was there anything else more grievous than the seating arrangements at lunch time? Yes, there was something much worse.

    These men (who were supposedly from James) were saying that it was by works of the law that a person was justified. How do we know they taught this? Because at Antioch Paul says to Peter:

    “We…know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ.”

    Paul was mad! These people were teaching a different gospel! And Peter was in on it! This was the grievance that started the lawsuit. Acts 15:1 just fills in the details a little–the work of the law being referred to was circumcision–NOT THE WHOLE TORAH but just circumcision. These false teachers were saying that it was circumcision that was necessary for salvation and they were teaching this as if they had authority from James himself (or at least the Jerusalem Council)!

    And then at the end of the passage dealing with the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15 we read:

    “24 We have heard that some went out from us without our authorization and disturbed you, troubling your minds by what they said. ”

    Doesn’t this seem to refer to the factual context of the original dispute–how there were men coming from James and troubling people’s minds with the false doctrine of works-based salvation?

    By the way, I think Yeshua is blessing our conversation. I sense that it will help a great many people. Do you get this sense as well?

    Blessings to you in Yeshua’s name,

    Peter

  41. @ Peter

    Good morning Peter. Please let me first say that I honestly appreciate the kind words and I strive to serve God as a preacher of the gospel, but I do not serve as a Pastor in the church because I cannot fulfill the requirements of scripture to do so at this time (1 Timothy 3:1-6; Titus 1:5-9; Acts 20:17, 28).

    You sure are right that Galatians reveals the anger of Paul at those who were attempting to pervert the grace of the gospel that the Galatian Christians had obeyed. But I believe you’re missing much more than just the circumcision issue from Acts 15 and Galatians. Without quoting the whole letter to the Galatians let me point out that Paul was referring to the whole of law of Moses and not just cricumcision just like the Pharisees in Acts 15 were trying to do when Acts 15:5 mentions both circumcision and the law of Moses.

    “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? 2 This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?…For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in ALL THINGS which are written in the book of the law, to do them.But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for “the just shall live by faith.” 12 Yet the law is not of faith, but “the man who does them shall live by them.” Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”, 14 that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” (Galatians 3:1-3, 10-14)

    “But then, indeed, when you did not know God, you served those which by nature are not gods. 9 But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in BONDAGE? 10 YOU OBSERVE DAYS AND MONTHS AND SEASONS AND YEARS. 11 I am afraid for you, lest I have labored for you in vain…Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. 23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise, 24 which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai WHICH GIVES BIRTH TO BONDAGE, which is Hagar— 25 for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children— 26 but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all.” (Galatians 4:8-11, 21-26)

    What religion do you know of that these Galatians were being persuaded to follow that recognized days and months and seasons and years??? It’s the same religion that Paul refers to in Colossians 2:16,17. What “bondage” was Paul referring to in verse 9??? The same one he mentions in verse 24! It’s the same one metioned by Peter in Acts 15:10,11. Just like Peter did in Acts 15:10,11 Paul compares the yoke of the law of Moses to the liberty of grace through faith in Christ. Acts 15 was about more than “just” circumcision.

    Lastly, from the book of Galatians let me remind everyone who may be reading this that Paul plainly said, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a YOKE OF BONDAGE. 2 Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. 3 And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the WHOLE LAW. 4 You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. 5 For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love” (Galatians 5:1-6)

    If they didn’t observe circumcision (which actually predated the law but none-the-less was included in it and was the representation of it) they WEREN’T ACTUALLY OBSERVING THE LAW OF MOSES because the law called for its observation! But if they observed/submitted to circumcision then they would have to OBSERVE THE WHOLE LAW to be justified by the law of Moses which couldn’t be done then nor today. That was the whole point in Acts 15. A person can be circumcised today sure but not to be doing it to be justified by the law of Moses, but if a person does it because they say the “law says to” then they’re going to be in for a rude awakening according to Galatians 5 when it comes to the rest of the law. To observe the part you HAVE TO observe the whole (not my logic – it’s Paul’s own argument) and that’s what the whole discussion at Jerusalem in Acts 15 was about.

    Please don’t misunderstand what I’m saying about the law of Moses. I’m not saying it’s “useless” or “evil” or anything like that…I’m not trying to put it down. I love studying and learning from the Old Covenant and its lessons for God’s poeple today. We have to have it to properly understand the New Testament. What I’m saying is that the law of Moses served its purpose as a tutor/schoolmaster and that was to lead people to Jesus as the Christ in faith (Galatians 2:18-21; 3:19-25 – – – please also see my comments to James about the fact that the Old Covenant cannot be “in power/have authority” at the same time as the New Covenant because of what Christ does as our High Priest along with many other things revealed in Hebrews). The whole point of Paul’s letter to the Galatians was to show how the law of Moses was a temporary addition to the promise made to Abraham that his physical seed and the rest of world would be blessed by his seed/singular decendant to come…Jesus the Christ. (Galatians 3:9, 14-16, 26-29)

    I know that this is a little bit of a long reply but please recongize that it’s mostly scripture from Galatians which shows that the topic in Acts 15 was about the keeping of the law of Moses as a whole and not just circumcision alone and also that the “yoke” referred to by Peter in Acts 15 is clearly identified by Paul as the law of Moses.

    I too hope that our discussion helps others who may be reading along. God bless in your studies and have a great day Peter 🙂

  42. Eugene,

    Acts 15:5 shows that the Pharisees mentioned the law because their argument was that circumcision is necessary in order to instruct and observe the law of Moses. Did you check that Greek grammar yet? I’m correct about that. They believed that their works-based salvation doctrine that they were teaching carried with it the full authority of the covenant (i.e. Torah) but they failed to take into account how the New Covenant operated differently from the Old.

    Gal 3:1-3 refers to curse specified in Torah which was recited by all the Israelites. This doesn’t mean that the Torah was evil; it just means that grace was required in order to get around the curse for less than perfect obedience.

    Next, you quoted Gal 4. Paul wasn’t saying that the Torah was “beggarly elements.” Paul was referring to pagan days and seasons, etc. There aren’t any special months in Judaism by the way so we know Paul wasn’t talking about Judaism or Torah.

    Next, you quoted Gal 5. Paul wasn’t saying that all circumcision was bad and made it so Christ was worthless to you (after all, Paul circumcised Timothy). Notice that Paul says “you who attempt to be justified by law.” He’s talking about people who use circumcision for salvation just like the Pharisees were promoting in Antioch and before the Jerusalem Council.

    Finally, just so you know this isn’t just “one guy’s opinion”, be sure to check out the Christian scholars who have ushered in “the New Perspective on Paul” which is basically held by most scholars today and it says that Paul wasn’t speaking against the law but rather the misuse of the law. This isn’t just the Messianic perspective.

    Blessings to you,

    Peter

  43. Eugene,

    The Law of Moses was not entirely permanent–it said that there would be a High Priest after the order of Melchizedek and it said that there would one day be a New Covenant. Why a New Covenant? Because the Old was imperfect and provisional until Yeshua arrived. For example, the Passover lamb was not supposed to always be an animal but the prophets foretold that there would one day be a sinless (innocent) Moshiach (who would be the true Passover Lamb).

    When the covenant changes, the law must also change. The entire Law doesn’t change but only those aspects which were transitory. For example, under the Old Covenant, only those with circumcision could receive atonement. But under the New Covenant, the uncircumcised may also receive atonement because they have access to the Passover Lamb.

    Now to your question: it wasn’t circumcision that brought justification under the Old Covenant. So the answer is “false.” It was participation in Passover that brought justification. And, at that time, circumcision was a prerequisite to participation in Passover. Under the New Covenant, it is still participation in Passover that brings justification–the only difference being that circumcision is no longer a prerequisite and the justification is superior since atonement has been made once and for all through Yeshua’s sacrifice.

    Take a look at Ephesians 2 where Paul explains that the uncircumcised are in fact part of the covenant—which is something new (compared to the Old Covenant). Under the Old Covenant, you became a citizen by participating in Passover. Under the New Covenant, you also become a citizen by particpating in Passover. Therefore, Paul calls uncircumcised Believers “citizens of Israel.”

    This is advanced stuff and I wouldn’t fault you for dismissing it out of hand. This isn’t exactly what you’d hear in the average Sunday sermon. But everything I’m saying is supported by Scripture. It’s even supported by Jewish tradition–not that they’d agree with my conclusions! : )

    Peace,

    Peter

  44. @ Peter,

    Nothing you just said (which for the most part is stuff that I’ve already pointed out…and stuff that I preach on Sundays btw 🙂 ) in any way changes the fact that the discussion in Acts 15 revolved around whether or not gentile Christians had to keep circumcision and the rest of the law of Moses to be saved/be in a right relationship with God – the answer was no then and no today (Colossians 2:16,17).

    Also you said earlier…let me show you exactly – “Next, you quoted Gal 4. Paul wasn’t saying that the Torah was “beggarly elements.” Paul was referring to pagan days and seasons, etc. There aren’t any special months in Judaism by the way so we know Paul wasn’t talking about Judaism or Torah.”

    Now you said that nothing in the law of Moses had anything to do with months when I quoted, “But then, indeed, when you did not know God, you served those which by nature are not gods. 9 But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in BONDAGE? 10 YOU OBSERVE DAYS AND MONTHS AND SEASONS AND YEARS. 11 I am afraid for you, lest I have labored for you in vain…Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. 23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise, 24 which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai WHICH GIVES BIRTH TO BONDAGE, which is Hagar— 25 for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children— 26 but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all.” (Galatians 4:8-11, 21-26)”

    If the law of Moses had nothing to do with months then what was Paul talking about when he said, “So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a NEW MOON or sabbaths, 17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.” (Colossians 2:16,17) I will give you at least one hint that you can look at – Amos 8:5.

    I think you really over extended your self by trying to deny that the law of Moses is the “yoke of bondage” Paul is talking about and the same one that Peter was talking about in Acts 15 and also by saying that days, months, season and years were of pagan origin instead of a part of the law of Moses. Paul wasn’t worried about the Galatians Christians reverting back to pagan practices in his letter! The discussion was about them not being held to the law of Moses and staying with the gospel of Christ that gave true liberty.

    The law of Moses was “weak” in that it couldn’t take away sin (I don’t think you’ll disagree) and “destitute” in that it was without the riches of the assurance of blessings and mercy of Jesus Christ (PLEASE READ Ephesians 1:7, 2:4,5; 3:8-10) and “elemental” in that it went backwards to the first things (the Old Covenant) instead of moving forward into the gospel of Christ. Paul was urging the Galatian Christians to not leave the light of the gospel that delievered them from paganism for the law of Moses. It would be like taking two steps forward and then taking one back. The light of the law of Moses has “nothing” on the light of the gospel of Christ (2 Corinthians 3). It really is that simple Peter.

    You also said, “Take a look at Ephesians 2 where Paul explains that the uncircumcised are in fact part of the covenant—which is something new (compared to the Old Covenant). Under the Old Covenant, you became a citizen by participating in Passover.” That’s not true. A Jewish person became a citizen of Israel simply by being born as a Jew…that’s why they were called the children of Israel. But all of that is just getting away from our original discussion of Acts 15.

  45. @Eugene: I have a suggestion. I believe our debate would be of great interest to a wider variety of people, but being “buried” in the comments section of a rapidly aging blog post (four days is a “long time” for my blog, since I publish an article at least once a day, except on Shabbat) may make it hard to find. Now that Shabbat has ended, I have just published a new post called Debating Fulfillment Theology. I would like to suggest we move our conversation to that blog post and continue our debate there.I believe Peter and others would benefit from a forum that is specifically dedicated to the pros and cons of “fulfillment theology”. I hope you’ll be willing to continue our talk in that new venue.

    Thank you.

  46. Eugene,

    You wrote: ” A Jewish person became a citizen of Israel simply by being born as a Jew…that’s why they were called the children of Israel.”

    Let’s look at what Torah says:

    “14 Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.” Gen 17:14

    So it was more about covenant than birth.

    Anyway, I’ve enjoyed our healthy dialogue. I respect that you have your own opinions. We’re both still brothers, having the same Father. So it’s all good. I’m gonna check out that “Fulfillment Theology” blog post James was talking about.

    If you ever want to chat further just let me know (I never get tired of talking Torah!).

    Peace,

    Peter

  47. @ Peter

    I understand, I will check out the new post, but one more question in response to your last reply when you said, “Under the Old Covenant, you became a citizen by participating in Passover.” My reply about birth was given with the intent that men and women both were Jews and not just men. What did a woman have to do to be considered a Jew? See my point.

  48. Since the discussion has gone the other way, I need to clarify about Havdalah. The reason for the candle lighting is as given. That does not imply that the service is that old. Indeed, the spices part of the tradition, which relates to the angels, is therefore almost certainly Great Assembly at the very earliest.

  49. You know, given the direction that the entire discussion took, I lost your original issue! The question asked & answered was if, according to Judaism, Gentiles are _allowed_ to keep Sabbath. The entire question of required doesn’t enter the discussion.

    Or does it?

    I guess I should have tracked the source. I saw a reference to the “ten labours required to make bread” in a context that suggested that they were forbidden to Adam on the Sabbath. I’m afraid that I don’t have any more than that.

    As for being _allowed_, that too is far more open traditionally than post-mid 57st century types would have us believe. According to at least some medieval authorities, a Noahide is permitted to take on any mitzvah he desires (and in doing so, does so permanently). Presumably, this would include the Sabbath.

    Furthermore, Isaiah specifically makes an offer to the children of idolaters _on the condition_ that they keep Hashem’s Sabbaths and cleave to his covenant. The Chabad rabbi that encountered me had no response when I pressed him on this issue.

  50. I think traditional halacha on the matter states that a Gentile *may* keep the Shabbat as long as they don’t keep it in the manner of the Jewish people and they do not consider it a fulfillment of the mitzvot. My question (and I never answered it in the body of my blog post) was whether or not Christians are allowed/required to keep the Shabbat based on Isaiah and the fact that Jesus declared himself “Lord of the Shabbat”.

    As best as I can answer my own question, I have to say that I don’t find a definite “commandedness” in keeping the Shabbat for Christians (this includes any non-Jews who considers themselves “Messianic” in any manner or fashion), but I do believe that we are permitted to, although Jesus and the Apostles didn’t define that manner in the NT. It is certainly likely that the early non-Jewish disciples worshipped in the synagogues with Jews on Shabbat and may have even kept a rudamentary form of Shabbat rest (I’m theorizing since I have no documented proof), so I think there is some faint basis for modern day Christians to do the same, if they wish.

    If there is documented and convincing proof that non-Jewish believers are actually obligated to the mitzvot of Shabbat, I have yet to find it.

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