Abraham, Paul, Circumcision, and Galatians

Apostle-Paul-PreachesIt was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you. And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.

Galatians 5:1-6 (NASB)

On the surface, it seems as if Paul is speaking against circumcision, which is commanded by God to the Jewish people, that all their males will be circumcised on the eighth day of life. Did Paul just cancel God’s commandment to the Jews?

God said further to Abraham, “Now as for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations. This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: every male among you shall be circumcised. And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you. And every male among you who is eight days old shall be circumcised throughout your generations, a servant who is born in the house or who is bought with money from any foreigner, who is not of your descendants. A servant who is born in your house or who is bought with your money shall surely be circumcised; thus shall My covenant be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. But an uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant.”

Genesis 17:9-14 (NASB)

On the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.

Leviticus 12:3 (NASB)

I don’t see how Paul could be addressing Jewish people in the above-quoted scripture from Galatians and telling them not to circumcise. To do so would be in direct contradiction to God, and I don’t see Paul doing that. Neither does Ariel Berkowitz as he states in his article A Torah-Positive Summary of Sha’ul’s Letter to the Galatians:

We come now to another commonly misinterpreted passage in Galatians. This is the section about circumcision. Any reader of this letter written by Sha’ul who does not pick up the context of the Letter to the Galatians by now has one final opportunity to observe the context.

In verses 2 and 3, it appears at first sight that Sha’ul is teaching against circumcision. In turn, by doing so, he would appear to be teaching against following the teachings of Moses. On the one hand, Sha’ul is teaching against circumcision – and against Moses – if people follow those practices in order to earn, merit, or keep their salvation. Sha’ul, the staunch defender of justification by faith, seems almost at a loss for words in his determination to convince his students to abandon any effort to use God’s Torah, or any teaching, in order to achieve their justification by doing the works of that teaching.

The context for understanding why Sha’ul is against circumcision (and the Torah) for legalistic purposes is found in Galatians 5:4, which states, “You who are trying to be justified by Torah have been alienated from Messiah; you have fallen away from grace.” Here, the writer clearly states the problem he was having with their practicing circumcision: They were “trying to be justified by Torah.” This is in perfect keeping with the theme of the letter, which we saw in chapter two.

On the other hand, Sha’ul had absolutely no problem with circumcision (or living the Torah) — as long as it is done with the proper motives and for the right reasons. There are two reasons why we say this. First, we have already seen that his was a life of consistent Torah observance. Second, he had Timothy circumcised (Acts 16:1–3). One may debate about the reasons why Timothy was circumcised, but one cannot deny the fact that it was done and that Sha’ul was behind it. For these two reasons alone, we can see clearly that Sha’ul was not against circumcision per se, and consequently, not against proper Torah practice. But he was very much against it all if someone attempted to earn, merit, or keep his/her justification by performing it.

Galatians by D.T. LancasterThis explanation is in keeping with other portions of Berkowitz’s commentary, but here, he seems to indicate that both Jewish and Gentile believers should be circumcised in accordance to the commandments. That’s sort of understandable if we rely just on Genesis 17, but once we also involve Leviticus 12:3, we see circumcision as specifically a sign God gave for the Jewish males, not all males, such as Gentiles who are grafted in by faith in Messiah.

According to D. Thomas Lancaster in his book The Holy Epistle to the Galatians, in “Sermon Twenty-Three: Circumcision and Uncircumcision” (pg 231):

Paul warns Gentiles about relying on Jewish status for salvation and declares circumcision irrelevant with regard to salvation.

Berkowitz and Lancaster have similar perspectives regarding Paul’s intent, but Lancaster states that in this section of his letter, Paul is specifically addressing Gentiles. Based on the above quoted passages from Genesis 17 and Leviticus 12, it was an enduring commandment for the Jews to circumcise their males eight days after birth. Of course, Paul also said (1 Corinthians 7:19), “Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but what matters is the keeping of the commandments of God.”

That’s even more confusing because then we have to decide if Paul meant keeping all the commandments of God except the commandment to circumcise. However, in a larger context, Paul tells us:

Only, as the Lord has assigned to each one, as God has called each, in this manner let him walk. And so I direct in all the churches. Was any man called when he was already circumcised? He is not to become uncircumcised. Has anyone been called in uncircumcision? He is not to be circumcised. Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but what matters is the keeping of the commandments of God. Each man must remain in that condition in which he was called.

Were you called while a slave? Do not worry about it; but if you are able also to become free, rather do that. For he who was called in the Lord while a slave, is the Lord’s freedman; likewise he who was called while free, is Christ’s slave. You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men. Brethren, each one is to remain with God in that condition in which he was called.

1 Corinthians 7:17-24 (NASB)

That’s rather similar to the following:

For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.

Galatians 3:27-29 (NASB)

communityPut together, we seem to read that neither circumcision nor uncircumcision matters, just as there is neither Jew nor Greek. It appears as if we are all “one new man” (Ephesians 2:15) in Christ with no distinctions whatsoever. This argument has been used to justify both the complete rejection of observing the Torah mitzvot for any believing Jew or Gentile, and the complete acceptance of observing all the Torah mitzvot for every believing Jew or Gentile. It gets confusing.

Of course, when Paul says “neither male nor female,” he wasn’t obliterating physical distinctions between men and women. Another way to interpret Paul on this matter is to say that neither circumcision nor uncircumcision or being Jewish or Gentile matters as far as access to salvation and justification by faith in God through Messiah.

This preserves the commandment of circumcision for the Jews and still allows Paul’s statements to be consistent with God’s commandments.

I know there are some folks out there who will say that Abraham had faith and it was his seed (singular), the Messiah, that allows Gentiles to enter into a covenant relationship with God. And Abraham was commanded to be circumcised and to circumcise his male children and all the males in his household. Doesn’t that mean we Gentile believers need to be circumcised too?

Not so fast!

Then he believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.

Genesis 15:6 (NASB)

This is the establishment of faith as the primary linkage for anyone to enter into a covenant relationship with God. But the linkage for the blessings to the nations through Messiah comes earlier:

And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.

Genesis 12:3 (NASB)

Between the two above verses, we have the complete set of requirements that allows Gentiles to enter into covenant relationship with God through faith in Messiah (you can find a more complete description in my blog post The Jesus Covenant Part 8: Abraham, Jews, and Christians).

However, much later on, when Abraham was ninety-nine years old, something new happened. God made a covenant with Abraham that included a physical offspring, the Land of Israel, and circumcision. These, in my opinion, were conditions of God’s relationship with Abraham that took a different trajectory. Certainly the requirement of faith was carried down from the previous encounters with God, but God identified a specific population that were to be included relative to the Genesis 17 promises: Abraham’s physical descendents and members of his household were included in the circumcision requirement.

Does that mean Isaac, Ishmael, Eliezer, and all other males in Abraham’s household at this moment became Hebrews? No, because there’s more. Circumcision certainly created a linkage to Abraham but not all circumcised people become Hebrews, Israelites, or Jews.

Now Abraham took another wife, whose name was Keturah. She bore to him Zimran and Jokshan and Medan and Midian and Ishbak and Shuah. Jokshan became the father of Sheba and Dedan. And the sons of Dedan were Asshurim and Letushim and Leummim. The sons of Midian were Ephah and Epher and Hanoch and Abida and Eldaah. All these were the sons of Keturah. Now Abraham gave all that he had to Isaac; but to the sons of his concubines, Abraham gave gifts while he was still living, and sent them away from his son Isaac eastward, to the land of the east.

Genesis 25:1-6 (NASB)

abrahams-servantAfter Sarah died, Abraham married other wives and had other children. But before Abraham died, he sent away all of his other offspring, giving them gifts, and then singled out Isaac, the Child promised to him by God to fulfill the Genesis 17 covenant involving Abraham’s offspring, circumcision, and the Land of Israel. Of course, Abraham had circumcised Ishmael and all of his other sons as well as Isaac, but Isaac was the only beneficiary of the covenant relationship involving what would eventually become the Jewish people. Even his other sons, let alone the other non-relative males (servants, slaves, herdsmen) in his household who had been circumcised, were not inheritors of the covenant that led to possession of the Land of Israel and the conditions specified for the descendents of Isaac and Jacob, the Children of Israel, the Jewish people…the Torah of Moses.

If, as a Christian male, you believe you have an obligation to be circumcised and to circumcise your sons, no one is going to stop you, but being circumcised, even with the belief that it is required of the spiritual offspring of Abraham, does not create any sort of linkage between you and Abraham’s physical descendants. It doesn’t give you the Land of Israel, and it doesn’t obligate you to observing the Torah mitzvot in the manner of the Jews.

By Paul’s day, circumcision of males became a sort of shorthand way of saying “conversion to Judaism.” Paul was right in saying that circumcision (converting to Judaism) does not justify anyone before God, just as performing all of the mitzvot (for Jew or Gentile) does not justify.

Hopefully, at some point, I’ll be able to write on why Abraham was commanded to circumcise physical offspring who would not inherit Israel or non-relative males who also would not inherit, but for now, I will say that Paul did not believe that circumcision was a guarantee of salvation for Jew or Gentile, however I understand that he believed circumcision was still a requirement for the Jews, as were the other mitzvot of Torah. If he was teaching Jews not to circumcise their sons, then he was lying here:

After Paul arrived, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood around him, bringing many and serious charges against him which they could not prove, while Paul said in his own defense, “I have committed no offense either against the Law of the Jews or against the temple or against Caesar.”

Acts 25:7-8 (NASB)

PaulActs 21:20-26 contains more complete text testifying to the fact that Paul never taught the diaspora Jews to fail to circumcise their sons. If he was lying here, then we can have no confidence in anything Paul wrote which would leave the majority of the New Testament in a shambles, along with our Christian faith.

If you, a Christian, feel you must be circumcised and you must circumcise your sons, remember that it does not justify you before God, it does not put you in the line of succession of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and Jacob’s twelve sons, and of the twelve tribes, and the Torah of Moses, and give you possession of the Land of Israel. At best, you may be aligned with the non-physical relative members of Abraham’s household, but then, we are still searching for what they and their circumcision mean.

Yes, Timothy was circumcised by Paul, but Titus the Gentile believer specifically was not. Neither was Cornelius the Roman and his entire household. Neither do we have a record of any other Gentile believers who were required to be circumcised as a condition of faith in Messiah. Think of this as you will.

For more on this topic, please read If Paul Had Circumcised Gentiles.

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22 thoughts on “Abraham, Paul, Circumcision, and Galatians”

  1. It wasn’t that Paul forbid circumcision, He was circumcised Himself, the Jews that we causing trouble insisted that to be a born again Christian you had to be circumcised. Jesus + nothing = salvation, and his all by Gods grace though Faith, same for Abraham as it is for us today.
    Greg

  2. @oogenhand: In the modern world, the commandment applies to any Jewish male or to a Gentile man who converts to Judaism. A person is considered Jewish if he has a Jewish mother. For instance, my wife is Jewish and I’m not, but because she’s Jewish my children are considered Jewish. The Reform branch of Judaism considers anyone who has either a Jewish mother or Jewish father (or both, of course) as Jewish, but that’s a fairly recent decision and one designed to attempt to keep anyone who has a Jewish parent in the synagogue and as part of the Jewish community. In Conservative and Orthodox branches, a person with a Jewish father and a Gentile mother would have to convert to Judaism formally to be considered Jewish. Unlike other lineages, you aren’t 1/2 Jewish or 1/4 Jewish. You either are or not.

    As far as non-Jewish believers in Messiah (Christ), as “spiritual offspring” of Abraham, there’s no mandate for us to be circumcised. There’s strictly a commandment for physical descendants of Abraham, and as far as Judaism goes, descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Muslims also circumcise their males because of Abraham and Ishmael, but I don’t believe any other people group who may have been originally associated with Abraham currently exists and carries forward this practice.

    @Greg: My understanding is that Paul was using the term circumcision as a sort of “short hand” for converting to Judaism. He was against Gentiles converting if they were doing so in order to be justified. It wasn’t necessary because all people can be justified with God by faith in Messiah. That’s the meaning of “neither Jew or Greek.” It doesn’t obliterate the distinctions between the two people groups within the body of Messiah, but it does mean that no one is justified before God except through Messiah. In terms of justification, being Jewish doesn’t carry an automatic advantage.

  3. “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery”

    Christians like to say “don’t put us back under the law” and it’s understandable by this verse which seems to be saying that.

    However, when were Gentiles ever “under the law”? The Torah was given to Israel and as far as I know, Greek and Roman Gentiles weren’t starting their own Torah Keeping communities, therefore, it seems there’s still more to “unpack” from this.

    I think last week it was mentioned how there are heavy curses on Israel for Jews not keeping the Torah. If we keep this in mind while reading Paul I believe it helps. Rather than diminishing the Torah and a Jewish persons obligation to it, Paul is arguing the opposite to these misguided Gentiles: the Torah is nothing to “play” with, misuse, etc. and conversion has a weighty consequence for them personally, and to Israel as a whole.

    It gives me an even greater appreciation for just how merciful God is, and how much grace He has extended to us non-Jews.

  4. However, when were Gentiles ever “under the law”?

    That’s always my question when I hear Christians fearfully declare, “You’re trying to put us back under the Law!” Really, when were you ever under the Law?

    In response to my blog post on Paul’s Hagar-Sarah Midrash, Rabbi Carl Kinbar sent me a brief list of his thoughts on the matter, which I think apply here. The demands on Rabbi Kinbar’s time are formidable, so he wasn’t able to develop his ideas beyond what I’m quoting here, but as time allows, maybe I’ll devote a commentary of my own regarding them at some point.

    1. We have to begin on the premise that Paul cannot be contradicting the plain sense of the Torah. The opposite premise–that Paul undermines the Torah–is unthinkable on its face.

    2. Paul’s allegory is an allegory, not a commentary. Allegory and midrash never displace the plain meaning of the biblical text they interpret. The plain sense of Genesis/Exodus is that the Torah is connected to the descendants of Isaac, not the descendants of Hagar.

    3. There is nothing in Genesis/Exodus to suggest that the Torah makes us slaves. Paul cannot be claiming that it does.

    4. Since Paul cannot be undermining the Torah, what is his point?

    5. Since Mt. Sinai was not actually located in Arabia, what is Paul saying by locating it there in his allegory? I can only think of one reason: It represents the Torah in exile and therefore Hagar represents the Torah in exile. According to one line of Jewish thought, when Jews do not govern in the Land, Israel is in exile even in the Land.

    Note: There may be some lost connotations in “Arabia” – early in the letter, Paul mentions going there after he left Jerusalem.

    6. Hagar represents the Torah in exile and Jerusalem of Paul’s day which, he may be saying, is in Roman slavery. There is a line of Jewish thought which views Israel as being in exile even in her own land when she does not have sovereignty in the Land.

    7. Jerusalem above is the “original,” just as the original Tabernacle is above (the pattern having been shown to Moses on Mt. Sinai). Both will descend one day (see Rev. 21:2-3). I tentatively suggest that Jerusalem above and the Tabernacle above are one and the same.

    8. The allegory is addressed to Gentiles “who desire to be under the Torah” (Gal. 4:21). Period. It is not a general statement about the nature of Torah.

    9. In the context of Galatians itself (and Acts): “Slavery” is nothing more than the requirement that Gentiles need to be circumcised and keep the whole Torah. [Paul’s visits to Jerusalem were good (until the last one), but there was a problem: “Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery” (Gal. 2:4), the demand that Gentiles be circumcised and keep the whole Torah. (See also Acts 25:7, which you cited.) Also, “certain men came from James [in Jerusalem] . . . (Gal. 2:12) apparently advocating the same slavery, so that even Peter was led astray.

    10. In the allegory, perhaps “Jerusalem” is the same “Jerusalem” mentioned elsewhere in the letter: the center of the apostolic faith. I suggest that Paul is deeply concerned, if not already convinced, that the Jerusalem assembly has come under the influence of the advocates of this form of slavery. His allegory is in line with the letter as a whole: it is meant to warn Gentile believers about the false teaching emanating from Jerusalem.

    Sorry to jam all of this at you unfiltered, but I believe there is plenty of food for thought contained in this list of ten points.

  5. While I always appreciate very much Rabbi Kinbar’s inputs, and particularly his ten points above, I should note with regard to his fifth point that there is some reason to believe that Rav Shaul was quite literally accurate in his reference to Mount Sinai being in Arabia, and that the mountain identified by Constantine’s mother Helena and thus currently called Mount Sinai in the Egyptian desert is not at all the correct site. The real Mount Sinai was in Midian, where Moshe had fled and had been tending the flocks of Yitro. Midian spanned the area from the vicinity of modern Eilat and into what is now southern Jordan and northwestern Saudi Arabia. But even so, Arabia and Mount Sinai have always been outside of Israeli territory, so R.Kinbar’s suggestion about a notion of “Torah in exile” still makes sense.

    On another note, about circumcision, it was once common practice in the USA, from the 1950s until at least the 1980s (and it may still be so in some places) to circumcise all infant males for reasons of health. It was recognized in that era (and supported, no doubt by Jewish doctors of which there were many) that circumcision offers an inherent blessing by facilitating personal cleanliness and correlating with reduced incidence of certain types of cancer in the female partners of circumcised men. It began to be resisted by some few who felt that they had been wrongly imposed upon by their parents and the medical establishment, hence it became legally risky to continue the practice, so I do not know how commonly it may still be practiced. Nonetheless, there must still exist in the USA a few generations of circumcised non-Jews. One may well ponder what significance, if any, their circumstance might engender. Certainly these cannot be said to bear any covenantal obligations, any more than would circumcised Muslim or the other children of Avraham who were circumcised but nonetheless sent away as not being inheritors with Yitzhak. However, they illustrate that non-covenantal reasons exist for circumcision; though for them conversion to Judaism for the right reasons would be much easier than it is for those who have not been circumcised. And they should certainly feel less inhibited about attending a Passover Seder, given the statements in Torah about needing to be circumcised in order to eat the Passover [:)].

  6. However, they illustrate that non-covenantal reasons exist for circumcision; though for them conversion to Judaism for the right reasons would be much easier than it is for those who have not been circumcised. And they should certainly feel less inhibited about attending a Passover Seder, given the statements in Torah about needing to be circumcised in order to eat the Passover [:)].

    I’ve been following a conversation elsewhere that has been very passionately advocating that non-Jewish believers are expected to circumcise their males in response to the covenant connection with Abraham. Given the Biblical record and subsequent history, I don’t see a direct command from God to do so, but it does beg the question, what about those in Abraham’s household who were circumcised but nevertheless, sent away? Were they just a dead end in terms of covenant?

  7. It seems likely that they represented an opportunity for non-Jewish “sons of Avraham” to apply the principles learned in Avraham’s household to a wider context outside the covenantal responsibilities of Yitzhak’s descendants. Indeed, might Rav Shaul have had them in mind as an example for later non-Jewish disciples of Rav Yeshua? It is merely that for them in particular, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision would mean anything as compared with loving faith that supports becoming a new creation (cif:Gal.5:6; 6:15), though he did instruct the Corinthians (1Cor.7:19) that keeping the commandments of G-d mattered in either case.

    I suppose the biggest problem in some sectors is the mistaken view that unless one is somehow bound by the Jewish covenant, one is worthless. This would seem to be neglecting the role of being a grafted branch that benefits along with the native ones, without the same responsibilities or expectations. If an olive branch is wild and not grafted, or it is broken off, of course it has little worth except as fuel for a fire. But one should never denigrate the benefits available to a grafted branch, nor should one liken becoming circumcised to being grafted (the type of cutting involved is quite different [:)]).

  8. I agree, PL. The belief that Gentile believers must look and act identically to Jewish believers is to deny that God has created a unique people of the Jews who have unique responsibilities and that the people of the nations who are called by His Name (i.e. Gentile Christians) are equally unique with their own unique responsibilities.

  9. James, can you please show from Scriptures the “unique calling?”

    Also, how do you square the fact that Esau was circumcised (unique calling) and yet was cut-off from his people?

  10. Dan, I assume you mean a non-Jew’s unique calling, since Jewish uniqueness is all over scripture. Well, if we Gentiles don’t have a unique calling in Messiah, I guess we are second-class citizens in the Kingdom after all.

    Actually, Acts 15:16-18, which quotes Amos 9:11-12 speaks specifically of “the rest of mankind” and “the Gentiles who bear my name,” so we are called out from the masses of the unbelieving nations and still distinguished from the Jewish people.

    According to Isaiah 49:22, we will be responsible for returning Jewish people to their Land.

    According to Isaiah 60:10, we will be responsible for rebuilding the walls of (probably) Jerusalem.

    I wrote a commentary regarding the unique role of Gentiles relative to the Jewish people in Provoking Zealousness. Even today’s review of the FFOZ TV episode “Repentance” suggests that we Gentiles have a duty to provoke Torah observance in the Jewish people in order to help them repent according to the prophesies. Since Christianity has spent the vast majority of its history trying to inhibit Jewish Torah observance and devaluing the Torah for Jews, it seems reasonable and right for us to cease such activity and to do something that frankly, is not only in the interests of the Jewish people, but of the church.

  11. James,

    “Dan, I assume you mean a non-Jew’s unique calling, since Jewish uniqueness is all over scripture. Well, if we Gentiles don’t have a unique calling in Messiah, I guess we are second-class citizens in the Kingdom after all.”

    Nice try. I meant Jewish “unique calling…? Do you have a lost?

  12. Jews don’t have a unique calling that sets them apart from the nations?

    Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priestsand a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel.” (emph. mine)

    Exodus 19:5-6

    That sounds pretty unique to me.

  13. “That sounds pretty unique to me.”

    This is a call for salvation, not for not allowing Gentiles to wear a talit. Next thing you are going to tell us that gentiles are not called for salvation…..

  14. You asked if I could find a scripture that indicated that Jews had a unique calling. I did. What’s that got to do with Gentiles wearing tallit or not? Don’t you believe Jews are unique or did God homogenize you and me so that we are cookie-cutter identical?

  15. Your camp is loudly saying that the Jews have a “unique calling” and therefore gentiles are not supposed to keep Torah commandments that are “unique” to Judaism. The passage you cited is a call for salvation. Unless you are saying that Gentiles are not called for salvation (only unique to Jews), you, and your camp have no argument. And here I thought you as a Gentile understood all this….

  16. Dan, the passage I quoted is perfectly appropriate to identify the Children of Israel as a unique people group who would inherit the Land of Israel as promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. As part of that inheritance, God gave the Torah as a lifestyle for the Israelites to be lived out in their Land. God already redeemed the Israelites when He took them out of Egypt.

    In Acts 15, the question of how the Gentiles could be integrated into the Jewish religious stream of the way. Should they be circumcised (convert to Judaism) in order to be redeemed (saved)? Was that the only way? It would mean that any Gentile who wanted to become a disciples of Yeshua would have to convert to Judaism, thus only born-Jews and converts would ever be disciples, just like any other stream of Judaism. Paul previously argued in Galatians that this was not required, but it was up to James and the Council of Apostles to formalize it.

    And they did. Gentiles don’t have to convert to be saved and thus they don’t have to keep the Torah in an identical fashion to the Jews. This doesn’t mean that the Torah is irrelevant, and as I’ve said before, people in church keep more Torah than they realize…they just don’t call it that.

    When James and the Council made their decision, the fact that Jews were called to observe the Torah mitzvot was never in question. It was a given. The only question was what to do with the Gentiles.

    My wife, as you know, is Jewish, and as such, she observes certain dietary standards. I keep the same standards as she does, not because I have to but as a matter of conviction (also, it makes cooking dinner and eating together a lot simpler). She doesn’t understand it when I avoid a certain food item because she understands the standards God provided for the Jewish people aren’t identical to those He provides for the rest of us.

    I not only don’t mind her being distinct from me, but I’m delighted. For thousands of years, armies and nations have been trying to exterminate the Jewish people, in part, because they are different and chosen. It makes them the perfect scapegoats. I resist this historic effort by supporting Jewish distinctiveness and Torah observance. In fact, based on my latest review of the FFOZ TV program on repentance, the only way for the Jewish people to ultimately repent and be fully restored to Israel in the Messianic Age, is for them (not the Gentiles) to observe Torah.

  17. I would add here that I don’t think the “assembly” in Jerusalem was succumbing to the push for capitulation to the slavery in mind. I believe the false brother’s were in Jerusalem where James was (harassing him too) and then came to bother people in diaspora assemblies as well. The way I’ve put it before (not here) is that I hope no one would blame me for whatever someone does at your house if they were at mine first. Or, to be more snarky, I guess I can blame “you” in such a way.

  18. I love the statements about your wife (etc.) in your last paragraph (in these comments), James.

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