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Reflections on Romans 4

What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh?

Romans 4:1 (ESV)

Remember that in my reflection on Romans 3, Paul was toggling back and forth between Jewish obligation to the Law (Torah) and justification by faith, making sure that his audience, probably Jewish and Gentile believers in the synagogues in Rome (but talking about Gentile relationships with non-Jesus-believing Jews), understood the proper association, that Jews had many advantages including those Jews who had not yet come to faith in Messiah Yeshua, (Christ Jesus) but that only faith ultimately justifies one before the Almighty.

It must have been a struggle, especially for the Gentile Jesus-believers, to comprehend the relationship between faith and Torah observance. My reading of Romans tells me that these Gentiles might have been getting pretty arrogant, especially in relationship with the non-Jesus-believing Jews they encountered, because they had the Torah but not faith in Messiah. The Gentiles may have concluded that they were justified before God as were their Jewish Jesus-believing counterparts, but not the non-believing (in Jesus) Jews. After all, keeping the Law doesn’t justify.

Paul was trying to correct the error of the Gentiles’ thinking. Christians today tend to mess this up as well, but if we apply Paul to today’s Jewish communities, we see they too must have many advantages, and that God has not abandoned them or replaced them with the Church or even with the community of Jesus-believing Messianic Jews.

Chapter four sees Paul continuing to make his point and expand upon it.

What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness…

Romans 4:1-5 (NASB)

Paul continues to state that Abraham wasn’t justified by what he did, by any works, including circumcision, he was justified by faith and his faith was credited to him as righteousness, even as faith is credited to his readers and to us as disciples of the Master.

But that didn’t mean Abraham wasn’t subject to behavioral expectations by God. That doesn’t mean he didn’t have to obey:

So Abram went forth as the Lord had spoken to him; and Lot went with him. Now Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his nephew, and all their possessions which they had accumulated, and the persons which they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan; thus they came to the land of Canaan.

Genesis 12:4-5 (NASB)

Now it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.” So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him and Isaac his son; and he split wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. On the third day Abraham raised his eyes and saw the place from a distance. Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey, and I and the lad will go over there; and we will worship and return to you.” Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son, and he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So the two of them walked on together. Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” And he said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Abraham said, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” So the two of them walked on together.

Genesis 22:1-8 (NASB)

Abraham was faithful to God and obeyed him, even at great personal cost. Picture what it must be like to, at the word of God, pack up your family and all your possessions and head out in a direction with no stated destination in sight.

The AkedahBut that pales in comparison to the commandment to take your son and serve him up on the altar like a lamb to slaughter. As a father and grandfather, I can only imagine how Abraham’s heart must have been in anguish at knowing not only that his son would die, but that he would have to bind him and kill him with a knife.

Midrash says that Abraham believed that God would allow the sacrifice of Isaac but that God would resurrect him. However, the Torah is silent about this area of Abraham’s thoughts, so we’ll never be sure this side of Messiah what Abraham did and didn’t believe.

We only know that out of faith in God, he obeyed. Thus we can’t say that faith replaces obedience, only that it precedes it. From this I extrapolate that Paul is saying once justified by faith, Jews are expected to continue to observe the mitzvot and that in fact, their observance will have more depth of meaning because of faith.

But there’s something else:

David also speaks of the blessing on the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:

“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven, And whose sins have been covered. “Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account.”

Is this blessing then on the circumcised, or on the uncircumcised also? For we say, “Faith was credited to Abraham as righteousness.” How then was it credited? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised; and he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while uncircumcised, so that he might be the father of all who believe without being circumcised, that righteousness might be credited to them, and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also follow in the steps of the faith of our father Abraham which he had while uncircumcised.

Romans 4:6-12 (NASB)

In short, the forgiveness of sins is by faith, not by performance of the mitzvot, thus both Jews and Gentiles receive forgiveness by their faith and the Gentiles don’t have to be concerned that their sins will be counted against them if they don’t also observe the mitzvot in the manner of the Jews.

Remember I said that I thought the Gentiles were probably getting arrogant in their status of saved by faith apart from the Torah? It’s possible that the non-believing (in Jesus) Jews were “pushing back” with their advantage as Jews, having the Torah, the oracles of God, and maybe getting back at the Gentiles among them by pointing out what the Jews had that the Gentiles would never have.

If indeed there was a “war of egos” going on between the Jesus-believing Gentiles and the non-Jesus-believing Jews (with the Jesus believing Jews caught in the middle), then each party would be pressing their own perceived advantage against the other. Paul’s writing this letter to even things out. He’s saying that yes, non-Messianic Jews continue to have the advantages under the Abrahamic and Sinai covenants, but that under one of the blessings of Abraham, it is faith that removes sin for all, not Torah observance, so everyone who has faith will be saved.

DaveningAlso remember that the non-believing (in Jesus) Jews weren’t faithless. They had faith, probably great faith, not in Jesus being Messiah but rather in Hashem, God of Creation, Master of Legions. Yes, faith in Messiah as the first fruits of the dead is the next logical, historical, and Biblical step in Jewish faith in God and the advancement of God’s plan to bring the New Covenant into the world, but non-believing (in Jesus) Jews were not totally abandoned by God, nor were they bereft of His compassion.

For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if those who are of the Law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise is nullified; for the Law brings about wrath, but where there is no law, there also is no violation.

Romans 4:13-15 (NASB)

This sounds like one of those either/or statements about faith being good and the Law bringing wrath, but what about the Law brings wrath?

If someone depended on their behavior alone with no faith in God and with the absence of intent to serve God, the response would be wrath, for without faith, no one can be saved from the consequences of their sin and from God’s righteous judgment. Yes, the Jews had the promises and they were (and are) heirs to the Land of Israel, but if observance is what you believe justifies you before God, then “faith is null,” as Paul wrote. Of course, the other side of that wrath is a Jew who claims to have faith in God but who is not observant. The Torah is clear about the consequences of disobedience or abandoning God’s Law for a Jew. But what about Gentiles in Messiah?

We see that there are two standards of judging obedience. They may overlap, but they’re hardly identical. If the Gentile disciples of the Master were not expected to observe the Torah in the manner of the Jews as per the legal ruling of the Council of Apostles and Elders (see Acts 15), then those without the Law (Torah), that is, the Gentile disciples, are not under the wrath of the Law. They are not expected to obey thus if they fail to observe the mitzvot, there is no transgression.

But as I said above, the other wrinkle is that even if a Jew has great faith and is justified before God, if he or she does not observe the Torah commandments (the conditions of fulfilling the Sinai Covenant), imagining somehow that they are like the Gentiles (and I can imagine that a few Jews may have taken this as Paul’s meaning), then that Jewish person would be under condemnation. Abandoning the Torah is written all over the history of the Israelites.

But to the wicked God says,
“What right have you to tell of My statutes
And to take My covenant in your mouth?
“For you hate discipline,
And you cast My words behind you.”

Psalm 50:16-17 (NASB)

Just to show you that I’m not making up the idea that a Jew could misunderstand Paul’s intent in teaching Jewish Torah obligation and Gentile non-obligation…

And when they heard it they began glorifying God; and they said to him, “You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed, and they are all zealous for the Law; and they have been told about you, that you are teaching all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs.

Acts 21:20-21 (NASB)

Apparently some Jewish people got the idea that because Paul was teaching the Gentiles that they did not have to observe the Torah commandments (Moses) and they didn’t have to circumcise their sons, that Paul was also teaching the Jews the diaspora the same thing. Maybe some Jews reading Paul’s letters or hearing him teach actually thought he was applying the same “freedom” he was preaching to the Gentiles to Jewish believers in Yeshua.

Here was James’ solution to the problem and his attempt to clarify what Paul was really doing:

Therefore do this that we tell you. We have four men who are under a vow; take them and purify yourself along with them, and pay their expenses so that they may shave their heads; and all will know that there is nothing to the things which they have been told about you, but that you yourself also walk orderly, keeping the Law. But concerning the Gentiles who have believed, we wrote, having decided that they should abstain from meat sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from fornication.”

Acts 21:23-25 (NASB)

The Jewish PaulPaul was to pay the expenses of four Jewish men under a vow (probably a Nazarite vow) in order to graphically illustrate that he continued to observe the mitzvot and that there was nothing to the erroneous rumors about him teaching “lawlessness” to diaspora Jews. Verse 25 presents the distinction for the Gentile believers, citing the Acts 15 letter, which limits the observance of the Messianic Goyim to a subset of the commandments.

Thus Paul was not teaching Jews that their level of observance was reduced to that of the Gentile disciples but rather, Paul remained a Torah-observant Jew teaching other Jews to keep to the commandments while at the same time, teaching the Gentile disciples a different or overlapping set of observances that were not nearly as strict or involved.

No wonder the Romans letter seems so difficult to follow. Paul was trying to explain circumstances that were (and are) very difficult to understand.

The common denominator for Jews and Gentiles in Messiah is faith. Faith justifies, makes one righteousness, and erases all guilt of sin (after repentance, of course), and only afterward are we to live a life of obedience by faith. Only then will God judge our hearts and hold us accountable to the level of our observance as specifically assigned to Jew or Gentile.

I know I’m going to get some “push back” for all that, but it’s the only way to explain what Paul is saying that makes any sort of sense to me.

For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, (as it is written, “A father of many nations have I made you”) in the presence of Him whom he believed, even God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist. In hope against hope he believed, so that he might become a father of many nations according to that which had been spoken, “So shall your descendants be.”

Romans 4:16-18 (NASB)

Like I said, faith is the common denominator in accordance with grace. Abraham has two lines of descendants, those who are of the Law, that is, the Jewish people, and those who are of the faith of Abraham, that is, the Gentile believers. This isn’t to say that the Jews have only the Law and Gentiles are the ones with all the faith. Like I said, faith is the common link between Jews and Gentiles. But we Gentiles are joined to the covenant blessings by faith and we do not have the Law.

The Law, that is, the Torah, the conditions of the Sinai covenant between God and Israel, is particularly identifying of Jews. That’s why (in my opinion), Paul structured his sentence as he did. The Jews are the ones whose obligations to God are specifically defined in the Torah. The Gentiles, by contrast, are specifically identified, not by the Law obviously, but as children of Abraham by faith alone. The Gentile behavioral conditions are summarized in the Acts 15 letter. Remember, the Jews were also physically children of Abraham, so they had their link back to the Patriarch both by faith and by bloodline. Gentiles are Abraham’s children by faith alone. This is how Abraham would be the father of the Jews but also the “father of many nations.”

sarah and isaacThe final verses of this chapter pull Paul’s points together, citing Abraham’s faith in the promise of an offspring, even in the face of both his and Sarah’s great age, and repeating that Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness. Paul then points all this back to Jesus, the keeper of the New Covenant promises, the seed of Abraham (Galatians 3:16; 3:29), the one God raised from the dead, the one who was delivered over to sinful men for the transgressions of the world, for the sake of the Jews but also the Gentiles, that through faith in him and the resurrection, we have the hope of living in the New Covenant age, in an age of peace and tranquility, in an age without strife or sin, with Messiah the King.

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18 thoughts on “Reflections on Romans 4”

  1. You wrote:

    Greetings, James.

    I’ve been reading through today’s article, and man, is that a lot to try to wrap your mind around.

    To give you a little background info, not quite two years ago, I watched a video that turned my world upside down and my theology inside out. I studied my brains out trying to comprehend what I never would have tried to comprehend before, in light of the new revelation that Torah was not “fulfilled” in the sense of being finished. And I concluded that the one-law position had to be true. Nothing else made sense to me since then. Now, that’s quite a bit to try to digest and deal with, to say the least, being the product of the church that I was! This has been no small struggle.

    However, some of the material I have been reading this year has made me second-guess “one law for all.” I noticed while doing a study with a study book on the feasts how repeatedly in Scripture they were to be observed at the Temple, which was where God chose to place His name. I also read a book called, “Breath of Life: God’s Spirit in Judaism.” I began to see in one of the latter chapters how much the celebrations had to do with national Israel, and how we will probably never relate to these things in the same way as Israel, although we may have appreciation and find meaning in them.

    And in the past couple of months or so, I did an extensive study on Acts 15, and I discovered some things that have finally given me some solid evidence contrary to the one-law view. The first thing was Dt. 14:21, where God said Israel was not to eat anything that dies of itself, but they were to give it to the stranger to eat or sell it to an alien. So God Himself clearly made a difference in what Israel and others could eat. That’s pretty firm and plain. The other thing was learning about the God-fearers (ger toshav) as opposed to the converts (ger tzadik).

    It’s still really difficult now to wrap my mind around certain requirements being only for Israel, which seems like two different standards, one for Hebrews and one for everyone else. That leaves us to determine which ones are not for non-Israelites, and how exactly do we determine this?

    I am seeing that the feasts have so much to do with Israel’s national history, as well as the future. Accepting the concept of animal sacrifices not having been abolished is very, very difficult for me in light of the fact that Yeshua offered one Sacrifice for sins forever. And I still wonder why, if certain commands were given for the purpose of setting Israel apart from the nations as holy to the Lord (as my Hebraic Roots mentor tells me), why would it be any different for us? We are to be holy and separate from the world, also.

    Still processing all this…

    Blessings,
    Linda

  2. I agree that all of this information is quite a chore to assimilate. I’ve been studying for years and still learn new things every day. Part of the problem is having the right perspective or “mindset” to be able to see the Bible in a certain light. Without that shift in perspective, we will always see the Bible through a single, interpretive matrix that was crafted by the Church originally nearly two-thousand years ago.

    Even once we’ve made the shift, the more straightforward way to interpret the data from a “Messianic” point of view is to say “one law for all,” but there are a lot of details that don’t quite fit. Acts 15 becomes a mystery if one law/one torah is valid, since the status of Gentiles should have been a “no brainer”. Either that, or the Jerusalem letter should have been written very, very differently.

    Ultimately, once we explore the nuances of the Bible and particularly Paul’s epistles as well as Luke’s “Acts”, we find that the status of Gentiles in the Jewish Messianic community and in relation to larger Israel is more like “resident aliens” than actual “citizens” identical to born-Jews. We have virtually all of the same rights and responsibilities (which is why it can get confusing) but with some specific distinctions. Without those distinctions, it would be as if God were obliterating the original Sinai event when He forged the twelve tribes, the children of Jacob, into national and corporate Israel. God has always meant for Israel and the nations to become reconciled to Him, which is what the New Covenant and the coming Messianic Age is all about, but there remains both Israel and the nations, that is the rest of the world’s population. Yes, we are all reconciled to God through faith, but within that context, God does not throw the Jewish people under the bus, so to speak, but continues to preserve them as uniquely special.

  3. I hope your head hurts in a good way. I get that when I study something that is packed full of information. If it hurts in a bad way, I’m sorry for that. As the umpire says, “I calls ’em as I sees ’em.” 😉

  4. In Romans 4 Shaul continues his arguments from the previous chapters. (Keep in mind, Shaul did not assign these chapter and verse numbers. They were added later.)

    Thus far, Shaul has addressed the ideas of:

    1.)”Cheap grace,” where one can claim to “believe” apart from obedience to G-d’s Torah

    2.) Earning salvation based on on works

    3.) Automatic salvation based on being born a Jew, a descendent of Avraham

    Shaul now turns to Avraham in order to strengthen his case. In this chapter, he reiterates the themes of obedience (faith in Yeshua being likened to Avraham’s faith, which was seen in his obedience) as well as the Shema (this faith is accessible to Jew and gentile through Yeshua).

    Romans 14-15

    The context of verse 14 is that of the previous verses. Torah not only “reveals” sin in man, but also “stirs up” sin within him. If someone is looking to earn their salvation through observance of the Torah (they which are of the law), they are sure to sin and thus fail. No one can “keep Torah” (at all), outside of faith – however within faith (having the correct view of Torah as G-d’s will for your life), one can keep Torah.

    An example of this is King David’s statements about himself in the Psalms. David, who was an adulterer and murderer, wrote that he stood blameless in the Torah.

    Verse 15 is another that is often pulled out of context. Shaul is not saying that anyone who has not been exposed to Torah is “off the hook.” He made it quite clear in the previous three chapters that neither Jew or gentile have excuse before G-d. Shaul’s comment is on the heels of the previous verse (note the word “Because” at the beginning of verse 15).

  5. Hi Linda,

    One Law argues that gentiles are now responsible to the Law as covenant members, and thus Deut 14:21 is in context of a gentile who is not in covenant… so in that case, the argument to disprove One Law, is invalid.

    Also, you cannot have the Law of Moses apply to gentiles, if they are not party to the covenant, so you are left with two choices, either, you are party to the covenant and thus responsible to obey the Laws, or you are not, and if not, then you are only responsible to the Laws given Noah, and in that case, 95% of the bible becomes completely irrelevant to you as a gentile… Arguing for some of the Law of Moses applying and other laws not applying, is inconsistent and full of holes, at least within the context today…

    Just something to think about… 😀

  6. I’ll probably be writing some sort of response to Pete Rambo’s review of JK McKee’s book ‘Are Non-Jewish Believers Really A Part Of Israel?’ at some point, so it will more directly address the dynamics between my perspective and the One Law/One Torah approach.

    I mentioned in a private email to Pete that I thought that One Law/One Torah (OL/OT) exists on one side of a scale of opinions with a strict interpretation of Bilateral Ecclesiology (BE) at the other end. Obviously I lean much closer to the BE end of the scale but I’m not sitting at the extreme. Pete’s a pretty even tempered and approachable guy and I’m hoping that a dialogue between us will reveal differences in opinion as a way to inform interested parties. There are a lot of people involved in this dynamic who are very hurt and angry, often at “the Church,” and unfortunately, they communicate out of those emotions. So far, my conversations with Pete have been quite civil, and I’d like to present an honest investigation of perspectives from a platform of education rather than each party simply trying to “win” (Charlie Sheen style).

    Naturally, there will be no final agreement, but that’s not the point. The point is in the middle of all of these debates is the reality that we are all disciples of Messiah, and how we treat each other either sanctifies or denigrates the name of our Master.

    Something to think about, Zion.

    Peace.

  7. “In short, the forgiveness of sins is by faith, not by performance of the mitzvot, thus both Jews and Gentiles receive forgiveness by their faith and the Gentiles don’t have to be concerned that their sins will be counted against them if they don’t also observe the mitzvot in the manner of the Jews.”

    Thanks James.

    Just as Americans are one, and (theoretically) the laws on the books apply equally to us all, we nonetheless have folks who have additional responsibilities and obligations the rest of us do not.

    A police officer interacts with the SAME laws differently than I do, but he is not better than I am, he is not more loved, favored etc. The fact that he can legally do things I cannot legally do does not equate to favoritism and doesn’t diminish me in any way, since the police officer’s “freedom” to legally exceed the speed limit for example (under certain circumstances) is also attached to responsibilities I do not have, namely, to approach and apprehend people who present a threat to the community.

  8. I’m in the process of polishing an “extra meditation” which will more closely address the distinctions between Jewish and Gentile members of the Messianic ekklesia based on the latest of Pete Rambo’s blog posts, Ruth. I suspect it will inspire a lot of conversation both on his blog and my own. I hope to forge a platform for reasonable and friendly dialog between to differing perspectives. I think we can all learn a lot from this sort of conversation and we need to learn to treat our brothers and sisters in Messiah better, especially those with whom we don’t always agree.

  9. SWJ wrote:

    Just as Americans are one, and (theoretically) the laws on the books apply equally to us all, we nonetheless have folks who have additional responsibilities and obligations the rest of us do not.

    A police officer interacts with the SAME laws differently than I do, but he is not better than I am, he is not more loved, favored etc. The fact that he can legally do things I cannot legally do does not equate to favoritism and doesn’t diminish me in any way, since the police officer’s “freedom” to legally exceed the speed limit for example (under certain circumstances) is also attached to responsibilities I do not have, namely, to approach and apprehend people who present a threat to the community.

    I agree with everything you wrote here, as do most people I know who adhere to One Law theology… have you ever considered maybe a different approach to the dilemma?

  10. Hi, Zion. I like your name (smile).

    In response, I don’t think that argument (regarding Dt. 14:21) works at all. It would be the same as God saying to Israel, for an example, “Get rid of your pornography. You may give to the give it to the stranger to view or sell it to an alien.” I cannot believe that God would promote sin for those that don’t know Him. Therefore, from where I sit, it could not have been a sin for the stranger or alien to eat that which died of itself, which would mean there was a distinction specifically for Israel.

    Some months ago I brought up questions about the dietary laws to my Hebraic Roots mentor, who is in that small HR category that is not one law. I was listening to one-law advocates talk about what animals God had established for food and what were not for food because they were unclean. I couldn’t see my teacher’s perspective at all. He was telling me that the Bible didn’t say the dietary laws were about health. Rather, they were given to set Israel apart from the nations. But I couldn’t accept this until I saw proof of it in the Word, which Dt. 14:21 looks like to me.

    On the other hand, I can track with you on your second paragraph. How could we advocate that the 10 commandments are only for Israel, for instance (although in all honesty, most of the church did throw the fourth one out)?

    James (and others of you) has obviously been in this stream SO much longer than I have, and I still have a lot to learn, but I am learning SO much from his writings and enjoying the various comments and appreciate it very much.

    Zion, do you really think we can keep all of the Torah? We can’t even keep the feasts biblically because there is no Temple in Jerusalem to keep them at, which is where God commanded that they be observed, and it appears God has designed things this way, at least for this time period. I’m gaining a much greater appreciation for the Torah, not that I ever disdained it or the Tanakh before, by any means. But now I do see that Torah is the foundation for all of the Word. Enough for now.

  11. Having seen almost every animated Disney movie that has been made, I will borrow a line from “The Incredibles” ….”when everyone is super, no one will be.” (followed by wicked laugh) By point: Israel was ‘called out’ of the nations to be a kingdom of priests. If everyone becomes part of this kingdom of priests, who are they priests to? It stands to reason some laws are specifically for the priests and not for all citizens. Some of the laws apply to everyone. There must be something I am not understanding because it seems so simple to me. It must be all the kids and Disney movies, I can’t think beyond that level.

  12. Dear Linda — You asked Zion if he really thinks we can keep all of the Torah, as if you thought the answer should be in the negative. At issue is not whether anyone can keep the whole Torah, but rather who is legally responsible to do so and who is not so obligated. Jews bear that legal responsibility and non-Jews do not. That is the crux of Acts 15. One reason for which non-Jews are also responsible to learn Torah is that only thus will they understand the differences between Jewish and non-Jewish responsibilities that are specified within Torah. Really learning Torah is more than simply reading its biblical text; it must include an understanding of the authoritative Jewish interpretations of it that Rav Yeshua ratified as binding also upon his own disciples (Mt.23:2-3). It would thus include also halakhic definitions of which behaviors are appropriate for non-Jews and which are appropriate only for Jews, even allowing for non-Jewish behavior that ascends to levels of morality far above and beyond their minimum responsibilities.

    Shabbat Shalom

  13. Hi, Zion. I like your name (smile).

    Thanks, its just an online identity… 😀

    In response, I don’t think that argument (regarding Dt. 14:21) works at all. It would be the same as God saying to Israel, for an example, “Get rid of your pornography. You may give to the give it to the stranger to view or sell it to an alien.” I cannot believe that God would promote sin for those that don’t know Him. Therefore, from where I sit, it could not have been a sin for the stranger or alien to eat that which died of itself, which would mean there was a distinction specifically for Israel.

    Some months ago I brought up questions about the dietary laws to my Hebraic Roots mentor, who is in that small HR category that is not one law. I was listening to one-law advocates talk about what animals God had established for food and what were not for food because they were unclean. I couldn’t see my teacher’s perspective at all. He was telling me that the Bible didn’t say the dietary laws were about health. Rather, they were given to set Israel apart from the nations. But I couldn’t accept this until I saw proof of it in the Word, which Dt. 14:21 looks like to me.

    The point I was making to you, was that there is a difference between a gentile who is in covenant and gentile who is not in covenant. In the case of Deut 14:21, this would be a case of a gentile who is not in covenant, and thus not responsible to keep the Laws. In other words, a gentile cannot be held responsible to a covenant and its regulations if they never accepted it or joined.

    PL, answered your question nicely concerning Torah Observance, note, I disagree with his view of a gentiles relationship to the Torah…

    I tried to keep this short and sweet, as this is partially venturing away from the blog topic. 😀

  14. Zion, God calls men everywhere to repent and return to Him. How would they return if not to keeping His commandments, His word, laying aside the issue of whichever those may be that apply to Gentiles? How would they have no responsibility at all? Every man shall give an account of himself before God. No one is simply beyond His Word, even if they haven’t accepted His covenant; otherwise, they wouldn’t be judged in the end. That explanation still doesn’t work for me. God gives us all a conscience to let us know when we’ve done wrong. A person who commits adultery isn’t beyond being accountable because they do not know God. I just don’t think Dt. 14:21 can be explained away. That doesn’t make sense to me. (Hope I’m not getting off to a bad start with you…) I’ll drop this now since we’ve gotten off topic. Shabbat shalom.

    Thanks, PL, for your comments. Shabbat shalom.

  15. James thanks for all the study and work you have put into these Roman studies. I am reading them intently and like others here it is a new thing for me. i understand your intent in trying to get into the context of the times and place that Paul was in as he wrote this. I am taking this all to heart as I consider its implications for me personally, a Jewish believer in Messiah Jesus who has been on Christian church since believing

  16. Thanks, Robert. I’m glad what I’ve been writing has been helpful. I want to encourage you as a disciple of Messiah to draw closer to him, and I want to encourage you to also hold fast to God as a Jew. Those two things are not mutually exclusive.

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