Larry Hurtado on “A Muslim Reads Galatians”

paul-editedIn the course of the presentation, he drew contrasts between the more negative and even caustic references to “the circumcision party”, “Judaizers” and the Torah in Galatians (and also Philippians), and the more positive references to “Israel” and the Jewish people in Romans (esp. chaps. 9-11). But, of course, as I pointed out in the ensuing discussion, in Galatians (and Philippians too) Paul seems to be critical of fellow Jewish Christians, not because they were Jews, but because they were apparently seeking to impose Torah-observance (including male-circumcision) on Paul’s (former pagan) converts as an additional requirement for full recognition as co-religionists with them. It was this “Judaizing” stance, i.e., the view that baptized pagans had to become Jewish, that Paul opposed, and his opponents (I repeat) were Jewish believers in Jesus. So, because their stance seemed to Paul to call into question the sufficiency of Jesus, and because it also represented to him an interference in his gentile-mission (the terms of which he believed he had received directly from God), he went at the matter with full force (and in places some serious vituperation).

But in Romans (esp. 9-11), his subject is the Jewish people and their future in God’s redemptive plan, an altogether different subject.

-Larry Hurtado
Scholar of the New Testament and Christian Origins
“Paul, ‘Judaizers’ and Jews” (February 13, 2013)
from Larry Hurtado’s Blog

I don’t know what I can add to what Dr. Hurtado wrote on his blog yesterday (today, as I write this). I wanted to share it because it confirms everything I believe about what Paul was trying to say to us, especially in Romans and Galatians. Long time readers of my blog know that I am a staunch critic of traditional supersessionism in the church (also called “replacement theology,” “completion theology,” and “covenant theology”), and believe that the church did not replace Israel in God’s covenant promises, but rather that Israel and the Jewish people continue to have a vital role in God’s plan for humanity, both in this world and the world to come.

I also believe that God never intended the “grafted in” Gentile Christians to ever take on a Jewish identity by converting to Judaism (or to “Israel” if you prefer) en masse, and thus being compelled to perform the full list of Torah mitzvot in a Jewish manner as God requires of His people Israel.

PrayingDr. Hurtado, in the above-mentioned blog post, was describing a presentation he attended recently entitled, “A Muslim Reads Galatians,” given by Dr. Shabbir Akhtar (read Dr. Hurtado’s blog for the details). I suppose I should thank Dr. Akhtar in addition to Dr. Hurtado for providing a short and concise description of Paul’s views on the distinctions between Jewish and Gentile believers relative to conversion, Judaism as a religious practice, and Torah observance. Traditionally, Christians have believed that Paul abandoned Torah observance and encouraged both Jews and believing Gentiles (not that believing Gentiles had a history of Torah observance prior to coming to faith in Jesus) to abandon Torah as well. Hebrew Roots Christians (at least in some variants of the tradition) believe the opposite, that Paul continued to observe Torah, and encouraged both Jews and Gentile believers to observe the full yoke of Torah, and that all Christians today are obligated to Torah observance.

Dr. Hurtado ends his brief blog post with this statement:

Paul’s only critique of the Torah (Jewish Law) was when some fellow Jewish believers tried to impose it as an additional requirment (sic) for salvation upon his pagan converts. He had no problem with fellow Jews observing Torah, Jewish Christians included, so long as they didn’t try to impose full Torah-observance upon baptized pagans. He certainly seems to have insisted that Jews as well as pagans must recognize Jesus as God’s Son/Messiah, and held that Jewish failure to do so was a kind of unbelief and “hardening”. But he also believed that God would ultimately deliver fellow Jews from this stance (Romans 11:25-32), showing “mercy” to all, both pagans and Jews.

Wow! Hurtado, commenting on Akhtar, states that “he (Paul) had no problem with fellow Jews observing Torah, Jewish Christians included, so long as they didn’t try to impose full Torah-observance upon baptized pagans.” That’s exactly what I’ve been saying for a while now. That’s what much of Messianic Judaism (especially the articles and books published by First Fruits of Zion [FFOZ]) have been saying for years.

HeavenBoth Hurtado and Akhtar agree that Paul’s letter to the Romans (esp. Chapters 9-11) addresses God’s redemptive plan and the future of the Jewish people, which is not the same subject as Paul’s objections to “Judaizers” attempting to induce formerly pagan Gentiles to convert to Judaism and be bound to the full yoke of Torah as a condition of salvation. Paul held out a bright hope for Israel’s future redemption for the “fullness” of “all Israel.” We should grasp onto that hope as well.

I can’t think of a better way to start my day, especially after the last few days on the blogosphere, than to read this message of hope and encouragement for both Jewish and Gentile believers, including our roles and identities in God’s plan for the present and future, written in a blog post by this eminent New Testament scholar.

Kudos Dr. Hurtado and thank you.

“Try not to become a man of success but rather to become a man of value.”

-Albert Einstein

Advertisements

50 thoughts on “Larry Hurtado on “A Muslim Reads Galatians””

  1. One interesting variation is offered by Dr. Mark Nanos, suggesting that the “Judaizers” (whom he terms “influencers”) were not necessarily Jewish believers. By the way, I take great exception to the term “Jewish Christians” as applied to early followers of Rav Yeshua, because it is in my view an oxymoron. The Greek term “Christianos” was applied in a non-Jewish context, and was not likely applied to Jews but rather to the non-Jewish followers who lacked any other distinguishing label (since they were not “Jews”). Nonetheless, Nanos suggests that these Jewish “influencers” were members of the ordinary Jewish community whose alternative “good news” was an offer of acceptance within the Jewish community and their protected-minority political status within the Roman Empire. Of course, this conflicted with the B’nai Noa’h freedom in the Messiah that Rav Shaul was teaching, and it forced upon neophyte non-Jews a set of prescribed religious behaviors that they may well have misunderstood. In fact, coming from the pagan environment where all sorts of strange magical actions were prescribed to appease one god or other, these new proselytes were likely to mistake Jewish religious practices for merely another means to appease another new god, especially if they were not being trained as were ordinary proselytes over a period of several years before their conversion would be complete. Thus, Rav Shaul’s comments about a loss of grace and the Messiah then offering them no benefit could be attributed to either of these causes. Certainly, even without the error of magical misinterpretation, full converts would not be able to demonstrate the extra merit that adheres to non-Jews who follow the Torah even though they are not required to do so, because they would have become merely Jews for whom observance is an expected requirement.

  2. …full converts would not be able to demonstrate the extra merit that adheres to non-Jews who follow the Torah even though they are not required to do so, because they would have become merely Jews for whom observance is an expected requirement.

    That’s a theme that recurs on my blog and is a source of major debate between me and some of my detractors in the Hebrew Roots community, PL. Non-Jewish Christians, in my opinion, derive merit from not attempting to recreate our identity to mirror Jewish people and rather, to support Jews, Judaism, and Israel by provoking zealousness of the Torah and Moshiach.

    I posted this “meditation” based on Dr. Hurtado’s blog post for a very simple set of reasons. A major luminary in New Testament scholarship and supporter of early high Christology wrote and article and referenced another scholar, all in support of Jewish continuation of Torah practice within the early Messianic community, a voluntary but not mandatory acceptance of some of the Torah mitzvot by the non-Jewish believers, a confirmation that Paul (and presumably the rest of the Jewish apostles) believed that a non-Jew was only obligated to obey the full Torah mitzvot if they formerly converted to Judaism (which Paul opposed in most cases), and that Paul was very clear that “God would ultimately deliver fellow Jews from this stance (kind of unbelief and “hardening”) (Romans 11:25-32), showing “mercy” to all, both pagans and Jews..”

    In other words, as I’m reading Hurtado (and Dr. Shabbir Akhtar), they support the belief that Paul had no problem with the Torah being observed among believing Jews (which flies in the face of much of modern Christian thought) and that access to the mitzvot was allowed but not mandatory for the non-Jewish disciples of the Messiah.

    As a Christian, I feel a lot less “crazy” now.

  3. Y’know, I don’t quite understand what the HR folks have to complain about, since they are free to conform themselves with Torah as much as they wish. They would be going too far if they insist that everyone must do everything, or that non-Jews must do all that Jews do, because that would be contrary to Yakov’s Acts 15 halakhic decision and would effectively deny the continuance of Jewish distinctiveness. But where liberty rules in place of coercion or demand, then midot like consideration and tolerance may flourish, and no one is prohibited from pursuing spiritual maturity or Matt.5:19 greatness in the kingdom.

    Non-HR Christians, on the other hand, may need some encouragement to accept the perspective that fruitfulness after having been grafted into a Jewish olive tree does imply a willingness to soak in some Jewish-root nutrient. In fact, “wild” olive branches are not genetically different from “domesticated” ones, so after enough care from the domestic gardener who grafted them onto the tree they really ought to become very much like the already-domesticated branches, and their fruit should be virtually identical. Perhaps we must be careful how far we pursue the implications of an analogy, but this one takes us in an interesting direction.

  4. This is part of what I was discussing with my Pastor last night. He supports one body of Messiah with distinctions drawn between the believing Jews and non-Jews within that body, but he isn’t sure how that can be best expressed. Having lived for fifteen years in Israel and seeing the level and nature of observance in the Orthodox community, he believes that Messianic Jews who seek to emulate Orthodox halachah are extending “Torah observance” far outside the teachings of the Bible. I think this is a discussion that Christianity and Messianic Judaism needs to continue so that we can learn to understand one another. Perhaps at some point, those Christian “wild olive branches” will begin to feel more like “soaking in some Jewish-root nutrient,” so to speak.

    As far as HR Christians and their perspectives, if you’d like to ask them first hand, I can offer you links to a couple of blogs. Just remember to observe the caution notices and keep your hands and feet inside the ride at all times once entering. 😉

  5. “Y’know, I don’t quite understand what the HR folks have to complain about, since they are free to conform themselves with Torah as much as they wish.”

    Really? Maybe you should ask Mark Kinzer, Dauermann, and a long list of other hangers on who forbid believing Gentiles to keep Torah commandment they deem only Jews can keep. You should read BE 101…..

  6. Hi Dan.

    That would presuppose Kinzer, Dauermann, and so on are actually intend on forbidding non-Jewish believers from keeping any form of Torah commandment and that they have the ability to enforce their intention. Plenty of HR non-Jews adopt greater or lesser aspects of Torah observance without interference from other groups or individuals, so besides being fodder for blogosphere conversations, the complaint may be rather moot. Also, in my opinion, the most important mitzvot aren’t uniquely identified as Jewish (Matthew 25:31-46 for instance). I can’t imagine anyone forbidding a person of faith, Jewish or non-Jewish, from feeding the hungry, visiting the sick, or clothing the unclothed.

  7. It does not matter where we started or where we are now, for those drawn to G-d’s son we are in a sense travelling towards the Kingdom of G-d and the promise of eternal life. Our goal can not be to become “Jewish” and our goal can not be to “leave the Church” or “go back to Church”. Our goal is to BE “The Church” fully embracing Truth while leaving the world and entering into the Kingdom of G-d, joy, peace and righteousness in the Holy Spirit.

    “…It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord…” Yeshua

    As Mary said to the servant’s “Whatever he says, do it!”

    James, I always get a certain JOY when you put Yeshua’s words in your posts or your comments. I’m sure his other followers feel the same thing when they read. Thank you so much! 🙂

  8. “That would presuppose Kinzer, Dauermann, and so on are actually intend on forbidding non-Jewish believers from keeping any form of Torah commandment and that they have the ability to enforce their intention. Plenty of HR non-Jews adopt greater or lesser aspects of Torah observance without interference from other groups or individuals, so besides being fodder for blogosphere conversations, the complaint may be rather moot. Also, in my opinion, the most important mitzvot aren’t uniquely identified as Jewish (Matthew 25:31-46 for instance). I can’t imagine anyone forbidding a person of faith, Jewish or non-Jewish, from feeding the hungry, visiting the sick, or clothing the unclothed.”

    Not good enough James…Numb. 15:37 is a command of God so are the fourth commandment, but Gentiles are forbidden to keep them because a few idiots decided that these are “Jewish” commands…..

  9. Is Dr. Hurtado one of those “idiots?” Please read the blog post (above) where he renders his opinions on a few relevant matters. I didn’t write today’s “meditation” to promote or defend the people or viewpoints you’re discussing, but to show that Christianity and serious Christian scholarly research is recognizing that Jews who are believers in Yeshua as Messiah are Jews who continue to adhere to the Torah of Moses. Really Dan, I can’t see how his commentary can be taken as anything but good news by both Messianic Judaism and Hebrew Roots.

  10. James, sorry… I don’t know what your comment means. Sometimes I need things said outright. I know your comment has some meaning, but I can’t figure it out.

    If you mean to say that my comments would be better when kept in the boxes provided, I’m not sure I can. It’s all one big conversation to me…there are no real beginnings and endings for me. Even over many posts on many blogs, to me it is one conversation, not many. Shalom

  11. “but to show that Christianity and serious Christian scholarly research is recognizing that Jews who are believers in Yeshua as Messiah are Jews who continue to adhere to the Torah of Moses.”

    And you expect us to believe that this is the only motive you had putting up this post, right? We can see through your motives. There is no news that Jews who believe in Yeshua continue to adhere to the Torah….You posted this only to imply that Gentiles should not keep Torah, we are not that stupid, you know?

  12. No Steven, that’s not what I meant. I just thought maybe that you can clicked the comment button on thinking this was a different post. You’re more than welcome to post here, I just didn’t understand, given the context of today’s message, how what you said fit in. Maybe I just haven’t had enough coffee yet or something. No worries.

  13. You posted this only to imply that Gentiles should not keep Torah, we are not that stupid, you know?

    Read the content in the blog post carefully Dan:

    He (Paul) had no problem with fellow Jews observing Torah, Jewish Christians included, so long as they didn’t try to impose full Torah-observance upon baptized pagans.

    I don’t think that Hurtado (or Paul) meant that the non-Jewish believers couldn’t accept additional mitzvot upon themselves voluntarily, just that whoever the “Judaizers” were should not attempt to force full Torah-observance on the non-Jewish believers.

    Yes, that’s one of the points I was trying to make. I thought that quoting a well-known New Testament scholar making statements similar to those I’ve been writing about might help drive home a few points. Certainly Dr. Hurtado has no investment in our little corner of the blogosphere, nor in the debates in which we engage, so I hoped that bringing an opinion in “outside the box,” so to speak, might help clear the air a little bit.

    I hate to put it this way Dan, but it’s like you’re saying “don’t confuse me with the facts” or something.

    That said, the other reason I posted this “meditation” today was as I previously stated. There are a fair number of “traditional Christians” who read my blog and I thought that audience might benefit from Hurtado’s statements as well.

  14. James, it’s not you..it’s me. Sometimes, I write things that don’t always match the topic and seem out of place. It’s just the way I think…The good news is that….to myself, I always make sense… 🙂

  15. “He (Paul) had no problem with fellow Jews observing Torah, Jewish Christians included, so long as they didn’t try to impose full Torah-observance upon baptized pagans.”

    So I guess for Hurtado, Paul was a liar and a cheat when he said: ” Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, KEEPING GOD”S COMMAND IS WHAT COUNTS.”

    But, be free to drink the kool-ade…..

  16. @Steven: It’s all good then. I’m glad you make sense to you. I make sense to me too, even when my wife can’t figure me out. 😉

    @Dan: I seriously doubt that Dr. Hurtado is a liar or dispenser of kool-aid, given his reputation in Christian scholarship. You’re free to disagree with him (not everyone agrees with him, but it’s usually on whether or not Jesus was worshiped as God very soon after the ascension or centuries down the road…see James D. G. Dunn and Maurice Casey) but I don’t think “shooting from the hip by taking one verse out of context is going to give you a compelling edge.

    Please try to set aside your position and your tendency to argue at the drop of a hat for a moment, go re-read his blog post…all of it (I hope you actually read it before responding to me), and see if it’s at all possible and reasonable for Hurtado’s perspective to have merit. You don’t have to agree with him…but maybe, just maybe, he’s got a point.

  17. James, I also thank Drs. Hurtago and Akhtar for such a well-founded and grace-abounding interpretation of the spirit of what Paul believed, taught, and said. Those of us who see Torah as a beautiful thing for all who follow Messiah and understand the spirit of the writer of this blog as you do had a better day today because of this uplifting commentary. Thank you for sharing it.

  18. Those of us who see Torah as a beautiful thing for all who follow Messiah and understand the spirit of the writer of this blog as you do had a better day today because of this uplifting commentary. Thank you for sharing it.

    You’re welcome, Dan.

    (Two Dans commenting on the same blog post…this could get interesting).

  19. They key to understanding that particular observation of Rav Shaul’s is his assertion that conversion wasn’t required to pursue the Torah, and coercion or imposition of the whole megillah onto non-Jews was inappropriate. Of course, one may object that Dr.Hurtado didn’t fully grasp or express perfectly the issue he was presenting, but James didn’t present it because it was perfect but because it provided support from a Christian scholar for a perspective that Christians rarely support and that he has been trying to express.

  20. Well said, PL. Thanks. And I agree that a non-Jewish believer doesn’t have to convert in order to voluntarily perform mitzvot beyond what is required of them. My sticking point is that my interpretation of scripture doesn’t support non-Jewish Christians being required to perform the Torah mitzvot in the manner of the Jewish people.

    Seeing anything that even begins to mirror this opinion coming from a mainstream New Testament scholar like Hurtado is very encouraging.

  21. “My sticking point is that my interpretation of scripture doesn’t support non-Jewish Christians being required to perform the Torah mitzvot in the manner of the Jewish people.”

    This show that you really don’t understand what it’s all about. There is no requirement of Torah on the Jewish people, that is why 90% of Jews are secular. But you of course elect to bash a small minority of OL people, it is much easier, no?

    As far as Hurtado Is concerned “He (Paul) had no problem with fellow Jews observing Torah, Jewish Christians included, so long as they didn’t try to impose full Torah-observance upon baptized pagans.”

    This is his private opinion, which as you know does not make it the truth…I have enough problems with your private opinions, why should I take the time to read his?

  22. First Fruits of Zion was, for a long time, the lone voice advancing the idea that Jews and Gentiles had identical obligations to the Torah. We created many of the arguments one commonly hears today in the Messianic movement to refute the plain meaning of Acts 15 and 21. We worked out explanations to try to prove that the Bible is not saying what it sounds like its saying in those passages. We made assumptions about the apostles’ motives and expectations.

    Eventually, we found we could no longer argue against the Bible. Neither could we find Jewish, Messianic Jewish, Christian, or even secular NT Bible scholars who agreed with our conclusions. At first, the sense of being the lone voice for a lost truth emboldened us. Later, as we learned more and as we studied more, we realized how foolish it was to close our eyes to the scholarship of others. Bible scholars agree that the apostles exempted the Gentile believers from circumcision and full, Jewish obligation to Torah.

    As we have wrestled with Acts 15 and 21, we have come to agree with the broad consensus of the scholarly community. That agreement has significantly strengthened the message of First Fruits of Zion, giving us a broad base of academic support to draw from in our arguments for Torah. We may still be a lone voice in our campaign for a restoration of Torah to the body of Messiah, but we now marshal an impressive array of the best Jewish-roots scholarship to advance that goal.

  23. This show that you really don’t understand what it’s all about. There is no requirement of Torah on the Jewish people, that is why 90% of Jews are secular.

    OK Dan, so now you’re saying that the Jewish people are not obligated to observe the Torah, in spite of what it seems to say in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy and lots of other places in the Bible. I must admit, this is a new one on me, Dan. I had always thought that the Jewish people who do not observe the mitzvot were choosing a path other than faith in Hashem and were outside of obedience to Him.

    This is his private opinion, which as you know does not make it the truth.

    Perhaps not proof, but a highly educated and studied opinion. Just because you don’t agree with it doesn’t mean it lacks credibility.

    I have enough problems with your private opinions, why should I take the time to read his?

    You don’t have to if you don’t want to. I just thought you might like to read my source material before you started criticizing me again. It would be a reasonable action to take, and his blog post isn’t very long. But you’re right, you don’t have to.

    As far as having problems with my opinions, you only have a problem if you choose to read and then react to what I write on my blog. You already know before visiting here that we are very likely to disagree. You can always avoid your problems with what I say simply by not reading what I write.

    Also, I don’t believe I have “bashed” anyone today and particularly in this blog post (as opposed to the various acts of character assassination directed at Gene and me that are going on elsewhere in the HR blogosphere). In fact, I have tried very hard to be even handed and fair in my writing of this blog post and in every response I’ve written to everyone’s comments.

    Is it “bashing” just because I disagree with you?

  24. As we have wrestled with Acts 15 and 21, we have come to agree with the broad consensus of the scholarly community. That agreement has significantly strengthened the message of First Fruits of Zion, giving us a broad base of academic support to draw from in our arguments for Torah. We may still be a lone voice in our campaign for a restoration of Torah to the body of Messiah, but we now marshal an impressive array of the best Jewish-roots scholarship to advance that goal.

    Hi Boaz, and thanks for stopping by and commenting.

    I agree that it’s highly unlikely that one scholar or scholarly group will have a corner market on the truth and the rest of the full body of Jewish and Christian academics and researchers will have completely missed the mark. Frankly, it took a lot of courage for you and FFOZ to re-evaluate your position and develop beyond your original position. I can only imagine how difficult the transition must have been but I see very good fruit as a result (sorry, the pun wasn’t intentional).

    If truth is in the Bible, and of course I believe it is, then God isn’t going to make it amazingly difficult to find. If one reasonable, intelligent, and honest Bible scholar seriously studies a scripture and comes to a conclusion, other scholars should be able to examine the same scripture and either validate or refute the conclusion based on a rational and studied process.

    I understand that we’re not all going to agree on what the Bible is telling us sometimes, but that means it’s very important to continue to dialog with one another openly and with good motives to share information and test and retest our understanding of the Word of God. God wants us to understand Him and the Word (including the Word made flesh) He gifted humanity with.

    Carving up “territory” and jockeying for position like this is some sort of a race only furthers a group’s own agenda and goals, not God’s. One day, we will be one body with one King who will again live among us and he will teach us what seems so elusive to us all right now. Before his return, we must continue in faith to do our part to repair the fallen sukkah of David and to get ready.

  25. Oh, and realizing that Boaz makes a particularly tempting “target” for some, while I will tolerate reasonable differences of opinion, performing “anyone bashing” including “Boaz bashing” will result in comments being heavily edited or deleted at my discretion. For those of you who disagree with my decision, know that I would do exactly the same thing if you were the one being attacked. There’s no excuse for name-calling and personal assaults within the community of Messiah.

  26. “OK Dan, so now you’re saying that the Jewish people are not obligated to observe the Torah, in spite of what it seems to say in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy and lots of other places in the Bible. I must admit, this is a new one on me, Dan. I had always thought that the Jewish people who do not observe the mitzvot were choosing a path other than faith in Hashem and were outside of obedience to Him.”

    Finally you are starting to get it…maybe there is still hope for you….BTW, is God only the God of the Jews?

    “Perhaps not proof, but a highly educated and studied opinion. Just because you don’t agree with it doesn’t mean it lacks credibility.”

    Well, go with Boaz, the majority always makes it right…OH, well…..

    “You can always avoid your problems with what I say simply by not reading what I write.”

    Or you can always close the comment section….LOL!

  27. “Before his return, we must continue in faith to do our part to repair the fallen sukkah of David and to get ready.”

    Gentiles like you and Boaz don’t have room in David’s Sukka, he was Jewish…Maybe by invitation?…..

  28. All believers are all born of Messiah Yeshua, under his authority…he is “…the everlasting Father…”. If Jesus is a Jew of the house of David, and we are born from him (in him we have life), we are born of the house of David.

  29. Finally you are starting to get it…maybe there is still hope for you….BTW, is God only the God of the Jews?

    So if the Jews aren’t obligated to the Torah, then why do you say that the Gentiles are? Or are you saying that there are no Jews or Gentiles just the body of Messiah and that we’re all “Israel” together and that means we are all obligated to an identical identity (which doesn’t sound like you since you “bust” anyone you consider a “fake” Jew)?

    But then you say that only Jews will be allowed in the Third Temple, Dan. If you’ve got a stable theological foundation, I wish you’d express it. If it’s too long, you would write it out on your own blog so at least I’d have some way of understanding what you’re talking about.

    Or you can always close the comment section….LOL!

    Tempt me. 😉

    All believers are all born of Messiah Yeshua, under his authority…he is “…the everlasting Father…”. If Jesus is a Jew of the house of David, and we are born from him (in him we have life), we are born of the house of David.

    Are we all one in the body of Messiah, Steven? Yes. Are we all of the house of David (Judah)? No.

    There is one body but within that body, there are unique distinctions. The whole “neither male nor female, neither slave nor freeman” comes to mind. Even Hurtado, who’s coming from a very different conceptual direction than the rest of us, agrees that Paul believed the Jews were obligated to the Torah and that the Torah was good, but he did not support obligating the Gentiles to be converted to Judaism and to be compelled to conform to the full body of Torah.

    And yet all that is consistent with being contained within the body.

  30. “So if the Jews aren’t obligated to the Torah, then why do you say that the Gentiles are? Or are you saying that there are no Jews or Gentiles just the body of Messiah and that we’re all “Israel” together and that means we are all obligated to an identical identity (which doesn’t sound like you since you “bust” anyone you consider a “fake” Jew)?”

    You still don’t get it, do you? Your question in the end gives you up….All I am trying to say is that God has only black or white, he does not have gray, a color that all of you of the same camp are adopting…If God is the God of all (I am still awaiting your agreement here) then it cannot be “by invitation” for only part of the all. Either you Gentiles are in, or you are out….

    “But then you say that only Jews will be allowed in the Third Temple, Dan.”

    And where did I say this? Where did you got that fantasy?

    “And yet all that is consistent with being contained within the body.”

    How can one body live in to separate and different houses? Transformers? LOL!

  31. “Are we all one in the body of Messiah, Steven? Yes. Are we all of the house of David (Judah)? No.”

    Acts 15: Symeon hath rehearsed how first God visited the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name.
    And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written,
    After these things I will return, And I will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen; And I will build again the ruins thereof, And I will set it up:
    That the residue of men may seek after the Lord, And all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, Saith the Lord, who maketh these things known from of old.

    The purpose of rebuilding David’s fallen tabernacle is for “the Gentiles upon whom my name is called”

    The people said: “What portion have we in David? neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse:”

    But, of the people taken out of the nations, his name is given and those of the house of David will sit in the rebuilt tent of David where Yeshua’s throne will sit, together they will judge the world in righteousness. 🙂

  32. Yes, I know Steven. I wrote a six-part series on Acts 15 starting here so in a sense, I’ve already responded to what you’ve said with an exceptionally detailed answer. We are “Gentiles called out by His Name” and thus part of the body of Messiah. Messiah will return and rebuild David’s fallen sukkah (the Temple) and it will be a house of prayer for all peoples.

    However, we are Gentiles called out by His Name. The Jews were called out by God’s Name at Sinai and we are called out through Messiah. The Jews entered into a special covenant relationship with national promises from God that the Gentiles do not share, but we all share in the promise of Messiah, in salvation, and in the life of the world to come.

  33. “However, we are Gentiles called out by His Name. The Jews were called out by God’s Name at Sinai and we are called out through Messiah.”

    James, yes, Gentiles are called out by his name. What I’m teaching is the rejection of the “House of David” by Israel. The saying “What portion have we in David? neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse:” is to say “we do not accept and recognize David as our King”. It is a rejection of the King who’s authority is G-d given and by anointing. David a picture of Messiah.

    When Israel rejected Yeshua Messiah, they were again rejecting the “House of David”. “We have no King but Caesar”.

    Now, I know from past exchanges with you….you want to skip over all the nastiness and go straight to where “all of Israel will be saved” and “every knee shall bow and tongue confess Yeshua is Lord” which is THE ACCEPTANCE of the “House of David” to rule over them. If that comforts you, awesome…it comforts me too!

    But, we still have to deal with the present fact….Israel is not there yet. They are not in the “House of David”..

    I will repeat, and maybe you will agree, but maybe you need to think on what I’m saying. Everyone who has accepted the King of the Jews to rule over them is IN the “House of David”. Those who continue to say “neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse” by rejecting David’s son, Yeshua Messiah, are NOT in David’s house. Those who do not accept the New Covenant are dead, he is NOT the G-d of the dead, meaning he does not rule the dead but the living. This is what Yeshua meant when he said “I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.”.

    Have you ever wondered what it means when Yeshua said “you will not see me again until you say Blessed is he who come’s in the name of the Lord”?

    It means, we declare verbally that we now accept the House of David to rule over us for “he who come’s in the name of the Lord” is Davids son.

    I look forward to that day when Jerusalem and indeed all of Israel, discontinues their rejection of The House of David. In whose house I live. Shabbat Shalom James

  34. I agree that we must all accept Yeshua as King and Lord, but in quoting “we have no King but Caesar,” you are overgeneralizing the statement. Whatever group of Jewish people present who said that were not acknowledging that Yeshua was their King but that does not mean that all of Israel rejected Yeshua at that moment in time and forever.

    You’re also forgetting that there were plenty of Jewish disciples and followers still in existence so a “remnant” of Israel recognized King Yeshua.

    Since I was referencing Acts 15 in my prior comment to you, we know that the Jerusalem Council and all the other Jews present were disciples of the Master, so the room was filled with representatives of Israel who did acknowledge Yeshua as King.

    Today, only a minority of Jews acknowledge that Yeshua is the Messiah, but that number is growing. While Paul’s statement that “all Israel will be saved” probably doesn’t include every single Jewish person, the nation of Israel will be saved.

    I also want to add that although all Jewish people don’t currently acknowledge Yeshua as Messiah, all Jewish people are in covenant relationship with God based on the Abrahamic and Sinai covenants. They have a relationship with God but they (like the rest of us) need to acknowledge the Messiah to complete God’s plan for them.

  35. James, there is no life outside the New Covenant in the Blood and Body of Messiah. The Sinai covenant is death and cursing to those who break it.

    Do you believe the Jews have obtained life in the Sinai Covenant? If that were true, is there a need for another covenant? Has Yeshua died in vain?

  36. I don’t believe that observing the mitzvot will save anyone, but you act like all Jews everywhere are evil because God gave them the Torah at Sinai. The whole “law is death” thing is substantially misunderstood in many churches. I don’t have time to go into it all right now, but you might want to pick up a small book written by Dr. David Stern called Restoring the Jewishness of the Gospel: A Message for Christians. It’s only about 76 pages long but gives a very nice summary of Messianic Judaism in general and the relationship between the Law and the Jewish people.

    Again, I’m not saying that observing the mitzvot will save anyone, but I am saying that the Jewish people, saved or not, continue to be bound by Sinai and are obligated to observe the mitzvot by covenant. The New Covenant didn’t undo any of the previous covenants and for the Jews, all of the covenants are additive.

  37. “The New Covenant didn’t undo any of the previous covenants and for the Jews, all of the covenants are additive.”

    That’s not what the bible teaches.

    “In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.”

    I think that was G-d being quoted. Do you know better than G-d?

  38. Steven,

    James thinks that ” I will put my Law (Torati-תורתי) in their minds and write in on their hearts..” Is not part of the NC given also to the Gentiles. Or maybe he thinks that Gentiles don’t have minds and hearts?…

  39. Steven, actually the Torah is in the very, very, very slow process of fading away, but since Messiah will build a new Temple upon his return, it can’t really go away because then everything associated with the Temple would be invalidated (including Jewish people). The New Covenant language generally confirms the previous covenants for the Jewish people, so nothing is undone as of yet. Also Jesus said that he didn’t come to do away with the law but to fulfill it in the sense of making it full. He is the goal of the Torah, not in the sense of an ending, but as the perfect lived model for a Torah keeping Jewish person.

    Dan, Acts 15 makes it clear that James made a halachah for the Gentiles that did not require they convert to Judaism and have to keep the full yoke of Torah. According to Lancaster’s (and probably Stern’s) interpretation, only when a Gentile formally converts to Judaism are they obligated to all of the Torah. That said, and as I’ve insisted many times before. a Gentile believer is allowed to keep as much Torah as they feel called to and are capable of observing.

    I hope you slept well.

  40. James, I can see you are still confusing the Law of Moses with G-d’s Sinai Covenant. They are 2 different but interrelated concepts. The reason the “book of the Law” was not placed INSIDE the Ark of the Covenant (the heart) was that G-d understood before he choose Israel, they would go astray. The Book of the Law was placed OUTSIDE the ark as a “witness against you”.

    1) The Law of Moses can never pass away. It includes a commandment to hear the prophet like Moses. “Heaven and Earth will pass away, but my word will never pass away.

    2) The Covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob can never pass away and is fulfilled in Yeshua Messiah.

    3) The Sinai Covenant is conditional with a commandment to choose life.

    4) Israel broke that Covenant, G-d did not break it. G-d did not forget his people or his covenant. But, he made a way where there is no way…..by redeeming his people through sending his son to die. A new and living way, that is “in his body”.

    5) In that death, the body and blood of Messiah were given in “New Covenant, “NOT LIKE THE ONE I MADE WITH THEIR FATHERS AT SINAI WHICH THEY BROKE”.

    6) The Law is, as we speak, being written in the heart of Israel and Judah and the Gentiles he takes out for his name.

    7) When G-d sent Yeshua into the world, he spoke the words of G-d (they are spirit and they are life eternal) and then made the New Covenant with his disciples (and all of creation) on the Cross. G-d began to work on his “New Heavens and New Earth” which will be completed at the appointed time.

    So, when you say he didn’t come to do away with the law but to fulfill…..that I agree with you. But, the law is not the covenant. He did not come to do away with the law, but to make the New Covenant as the fulfillment of the law. Which as Dan pointed out….is given to Gentiles also.

    What a great and mighty G-d we serve, who can know him or his ways? Thank G-d, through his son’s willing sacrifice, our hearts can be purified by faith making way for his law to be written there. It’s an awesome plan. Surely, salvation is of the Jews. May all of Israel come to know our Messiah Yeshua, and worship G-d in spirit and in truth.

  41. Israel broke that Covenant, G-d did not break it. G-d did not forget his people or his covenant. But, he made a way where there is no way…..by redeeming his people through sending his son to die. A new and living way, that is “in his body”.

    Steven, you make it sound as if God’s “Plan A” didn’t work, so He went to “Plan B,” replacing one with the other.

    I can see you are still confusing the Law of Moses with G-d’s Sinai Covenant. They are 2 different but interrelated concepts. The reason the “book of the Law” was not placed INSIDE the Ark of the Covenant (the heart) was that G-d understood before he choose Israel, they would go astray. The Book of the Law was placed OUTSIDE the ark as a “witness against you”.

    From my point of view, you seem to be “overly spiritualizing” something that is actually fairly concrete…the relationship God established and maintains with the Jewish people. I don’t really see how you can separate the Torah from the Covenant at Sinai and use the New Covenant to invalidate the Sinai Covenant. If you actually read the New Covenant language (Jeremiah 31 and Ezekiel 36) you’ll see that the New Covenant doesn’t replace the older covenants but instead, expands upon them and continues to include the previous covenants with Israel. In fact, the exile the Jewish people had suffered from was a direct penalty cited in the Mosaic covenant (see Ezekiel 36:16-19). The end of this chapter in Ezekiel (vv 33-38) reads very much like a return of the blessings of the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants upon God’s people Israel.

    The Torah is not the covenant but it is a set of conditions that define the covenant relationship. Yes, Israel on numerous occasions broke the covenant, but although God temporarily turned away from Israel, He never abandoned them and in fact returned to them. The fact that the modern state of Israel exists today is proof that God is still working and restoring Israel.

    The New Covenant is a process and not all of the conditions have been met as yet. For one thing, the Messiah has to return and finish what he started by rebuilding the Temple, drawing Israel to him, and restoring the nation of Israel to the head of all nations on earth.

    I don’t think it’s reasonable to start carving up the Bible into bits and pieces, keeping what we like and tossing out the rest (and the Jewish people along with it). God is still working. The restoration is happening. Watch and wait.

  42. “If you actually read the New Covenant language (Jeremiah 31 and Ezekiel 36) you’ll see that the New Covenant doesn’t replace the older covenants but instead, expands upon them and continues to include the previous covenants with Israel.”

    That is not accurate, I know the language very well.

    1)The New Covenant does not replace the Abrahamic Covenant because it is fulfilled in Messiah Yeshua.

    2) The New Covenant does not replace the Law of Moses, it takes the law from the outside of the ark and places it inside the ark (the heart cleansed by faith in the words Yeshua spoke)

    3) G-d can not build and expand upon a broken covenant. Of course it’s replaced. That is the nature of Covenants. Broken is broken. What CAN be done is to make a better covenant with better promises that can not be broken AND pay the penalty for breaking the old covenant at the same time, that covenant that brought death. (“he tasted death for every creature”)

    “although God temporarily turned away from Israel, He never abandoned them and in fact returned to them”

    The instruction is “you return to me, THEN I will return to you) The way to return has been ordained and not you or any man can change that. The made the way to return in the body and blood of Messiah. There is no returning except through Yeshua. He is the door of the sheep fold. G-d did not forsake Israel, Israel has forsaken G_d, except for the remnant he keeps in garment by grace they would be like Sodom and Gomorrah. “Except the Lord of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah.”

    I know G-d will never be “done with Israel” your preaching to the choir! 🙂 Shabbat Shalom

  43. “Dan, Acts 15 makes it clear that James made a halachah for the Gentiles that did not require they convert to Judaism and have to keep the full yoke of Torah. According to Lancaster’s (and probably Stern’s) interpretation, only when a Gentile formally converts to Judaism are they obligated to all of the Torah. That said, and as I’ve insisted many times before. a Gentile believer is allowed to keep as much Torah as they feel called to and are capable of observing.”

    Where does the Torah mandate “conversion to Judaism?” Is boaz’s and Derek’s Micky mouse conversion count?

  44. @Steven: This discussion probably requires more attention than I can give it just now. Between having a cold and not having slept much last night, my brain is a little “fuzzy.” I’ll have a fresh look at your statement later (probably after Shabbat) and see if there’s something I need to respond to. In the meantime, have a wonderful and refreshing Shabbat. I’m anticipating being able to sleep in and catch up on much needed rest.

    @Dan: Since I didn’t mention either of those two people, they aren’t relevant to this discussion, Dan. As far as conversion goes, Paul didn’t think it was necessary for the non-Jewish disciples either and James issued halachah to that effect. We are co-sharers in the Messianic blessings with Israel. That’s a blessing. No wonder the Gentiles were happy to hear the news (Acts 15:31).

  45. As to the heading and link…

    : )

    “….it was clear that he has approached the subject with considerable preparation, thought, seriousness, and respect for Paul. Indeed, commendably, it seemed that he has acquired some Koine Greek (which, some readers will recall from the animated blog-discussions in Autumn 2011, some folk don’t think necessary for PhDs in NT)….”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s