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Posts tagged ‘torah’

The Epistle of the Jerusalem Apostles to the Gentiles

 

A very fascinating and instructive drama in the history of the Early Church is recorded in the fifteenth chapter of the book of Acts. A special council of the Jerusalem church leaders was held to decide how to respond to the issue of certain Jews who were Judaizing new Gentile converts who were being added to the church.

Luke’s narrative is both clear and concise and worthy of our close attention.

 

Acts 15
1 And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.
2 When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.
3 And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren.
4 And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them.
5 But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.

 

Notice: not only was the issue about binding the rite of circumcision on the Gentile believers, but it was about commanding them to “keep the law of Moses” [i.e., the TORAH].

 


6 And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.
7 And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe.
8 And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us;
9 And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.
10 Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?
11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.

 

Two points that should be noted here:
1. Peter described the TORAH as “a yoke (i.e., bondage) … which neither we nor our fathers were able to bear.”
2. Peter unequivocally declared that the Jews would be saved “through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ”, “even as they” (i.e., the Gentiles) were saved–NOT BY OBSERVANCE OF THE TORAH!

 


12 Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them.
13 And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me:
14 Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name.
15 And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written,
16 After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up:
17 That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things.
18 Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.
19 Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God:
20 But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.
21 For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.
22 Then pleased it the apostles and elders with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas and Silas, chief men among the brethren:

 

The Epistle of the Jerusalem Apostles to the Gentiles


23 And they wrote letters by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia.
24 Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment:
25 It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul,
26 Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
27 We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who shall also tell you the same things by mouth.
28 For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things;
29 That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.

 

This is the studied and deliberate response of James, the brother of Jesus, and the other leaders of the Jerusalem church–the brightest minds, the deepest thinkers, the most Spirit-filled and Spirit-led men among all the thousands of Jews who had believed. This is the complete epistle. It does not contain any command to the Gentile believers to “keep the Law/Torah”; rather, it clearly states that they “gave no such commandment”!

In very simple and straightforward terms these spiritual giants wrote to the Gentiles that “it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things”:

 

Abstain from:

  • meats offered to idols,
  • and from blood,
  • and from things strangled,
  • and from fornication.

 

There is no mention of keeping a Sabbath Day; no mention of keeping the Feast of the Passover–or any other of the Feasts of the Jews, for that matter; no mention of circumcision; and no mention of the dietary restrictions of clean and unclean animals.

 

Conclusion….

Those who are admonishing us to “keep the Torah” are apparently quite ignorant of this epistle in Acts 15. The question was settled once and for all by these apostles at this time. Those who want to quibble about the distinction between the MORAL LAW and the CEREMONIAL LAW should be careful to observe that the Founding Apostles of the church did not feel the need to make such a distinction.

In the words of the Apostle Peter,

 

“… why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?”

 

 

 

 

Pastor Tim D. Cormier
Apostolic Faith Tabernacle
January 8, 2017

 

AFTERWORD

 

The following should be kept clearly in focus when considering Acts 15:

 

The Jerusalem Council of Acts 15 occurred at least 20 years after the Birth of the Church at Pentecost in Acts 2, and at least 17 years after the conversion of Saul (the apostle Paul) in Acts 9.

 

There is nobody alive today who could possibly have a better understanding of the Torah and all its complex variants and subtle nuances than did Peter, the chief apostle to whom Jesus gave the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, and James, the bishop of Jerusalem, and Paul, who wrote of his own eminent qualifications in Philippians 3:

 

4 Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more:

5 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;

6 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.

 

There is nothing anyone could possibly say about what happened 1,967 years after it happened that would in any way be more precise and insightful than what was said by those who were actually there when it happened.

 

The bottom line analysis: the outcome of Acts 15 is the actual epistle that was written by James and the apostles and elders and brethren of the Jerusalem Council! To say MORE or LESS is to violate the very principle of “ADDING to or SUBTRACTING from” the Word of God.

 

The Epistle of the Jerusalem Apostles to the Gentiles


Acts 15

23 And they wrote letters by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia.
24 Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment:
25 It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul,
26 Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
27 We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who shall also tell you the same things by mouth.
28 For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things;
29 That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.

 

 

 

If a distinction between the WRITTEN TORAH and the ORAL TORAH was needed to fully grasp the significance of what was intended when referencing the TORAH, surely these FOUNDING APOSTLES, full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, would have had the sense to make such a distinction, and if not, we know that the Holy Ghost would have inspired them to say the right and necessary things.

 

It should also be noted here that the apostle Paul wrote his epistle to the Galatian churches at this time. There is no stronger sacred writing condemning the binding of the Torah on the Gentile believers than the epistle of Paul to the Galatians!

 

Notice the force of Paul’s inspired words at the beginning of the epistle:

 

Galatians 1
6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another [heteros, different] gospel:

7 Which is not another [allos, same]; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.

8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.

9 As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

 

Who are we, some 1,967 years after the fact, to say that when the apostles used the word TORAH [i.e., LAW], they really meant this or that instead of what they actually said? Who are we, as Gentiles living nearly 2000 years later, to superimpose our “superior knowledge and understanding of Jewish culture and traditions” on what the anointed and inspired Jewish Apostles said and wrote contemporaneously with the raging spiritual conflict of their day?

 

Speaking from personal experience, those who are caught up in the Hebraic Roots movement use this very “logic” (?) to undermine the Truth of the plainly written God-breathed Scripture and fritter away its obvious meaning. It is a source of alarm and concern when someone states “I have just looked beneath the obvious in this chapter” to refute what was clearly and obviously stated.

 

I am willing and prepared to face God with the Acts 15 epistle to the Gentiles just as it is contained in Scripture—without anything ADDED TO it or SUBTRACTED FROM it.

 

Pastor Tim D. Cormier
Apostolic Faith Tabernacle
January 11, 2017

Ten Scriptural Reasons That Prove Why The TORAH Is Not Binding On The Church

 

The contemporary “Hebraic Roots” movement has spawned an infatuation with the Torah and the Tanakh (i.e., the Old Testament) among modern Christendom that is completely unfounded by the apostolic writings of the New Testament and in fact is in direct and flagrant violation of the teachings of Jesus and the apostles. Those who are teaching that the Torah must be religiously followed by believers in our day are abandoning the apostolic teachings and falling prey to the same spirit that the Judaizers were guilty of introducing into the Early Church–against which the apostle Paul contended fervently and unrelentingly. In fact, the apostle harshly condemned those who were attempting to force the keeping of the customs of the TORAH on the new Gentile converts!

Galatians 5:4
Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law [TORAH]; ye are fallen from grace.

 

Here are ten scriptural reasons that prove why the TORAH is not binding on us today in the NT Church.

 

  1. Christ is the END of the Torah.According to the Apostle Paul, when Christ came it signaled the END or COMPLETION of the TORAH.

Romans 10:4
For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.

 

 

Original Greek manuscript term for end:

 

telos [Strong’s G5056]

 

Note the Blue Letter Bible’s Outline of Biblical usage for telos:

 

  • end
    • termination, the limit at which a thing ceases to be (always of the end of some act or state, but not of the end of a period of time)
    • the end
      • the last in any succession or series
    • that by which a thing is finished, its close, issue
    • the end to which all things relate, the aim, purpose

Consider a similar passage that also uses this word end [telos]:

2 Corinthians 3:13
And not as Moses, which put a veil over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end [Gr. telos] of that which is abolished [i.e., the TORAH]….

 

It is very clear from these passages that the apostles understood that, when Jesus came, the period of the Torah [Old Testament or First Covenant] was ended [completed, finished, terminated].

  1. The Torah could not make anything perfect or complete.Hebrews 7:19
    For the law made nothing perfect
    , but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.

    Hebrews 9:9
    Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience;

    Hebrews 10:1
    For the law
    having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.
  2. The Torah with all its service was merely a shadow of things to come.Hebrews 10:1
    For the law

    having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.

    Colossians 2:16-17
    16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:
    17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.

    Hebrews 8:4-5
    4 For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law:
    5 Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount.
     

    Hebrews 9:8-10
    8 The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing:
    9 Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience;
    10 Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.

    Hebrews 9:24
    For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:

  3. Christ fulfilled the Torah so that it might be abolished.Matthew 5:17-18

    17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
    18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

  4. The Torah has been abolished, done away, blotted out, taken out of the way and nailed to the cross.2 Corinthians 3

    7 But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away:
    11 For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.
    13 And not as Moses, which put a veil over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished [i.e., the TORAH]….
    Colossians 2:14
    Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances

    that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;

  5. The Torah is inferior in many ways to the New Covenant, which consists of several BETTER, MORE EXCELLENT AND GREATER THINGS than the TORAH.Hebrews 7:19
    [BETTER HOPE]
    For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.

    Hebrews 7:22
    [BETTER TESTAMENT]
    By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament.

    Hebrews 8:6
    [MORE EXCELLENT MINISTRY, BETTER COVENANT, BETTER PROMISES]

    But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.

    Hebrews 9:11
    [GREATER AND MORE PERFECT TABERNACLE]
    But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building;

    Hebrews 9:23
    [BETTER SACRIFICES]
    It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.

  6. The Torah was weak and could not do some things.Romans 8:3

    For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:

  7. The Torah was a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ.Galatians 3:23-25
    23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.
    24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
    25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster [i.e., we are no longer under the TORAH!].
  8. The Torah was only temporary.Hebrews 8:13
    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.

    Hebrews 9:8-10

    8 The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing:
    9 Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience;
    10 Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.
  9. The Torah could not bring us Grace or Truth.John 1:17
    For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

 

 

 

 

Final Thoughts….

 

In Galatians 4, the apostle Paul clearly states that to be “under the Torah [Law]” is to be IN BONDAGE!

 

Galatians 4
1 Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all;

2 But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father.

3 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage [i.e., under the TORAH] under the elements of the world:

 

9 But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage [i.e., under the TORAH]?

10 Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years [i.e., in compliance with the bondage of the TORAH].

11 I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.

 

16 Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?


21 Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law [TORAH], do ye not hear the law [TORAH]?

22 For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman.

23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise.

24 Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.

25 For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children [i.e., the children or descendants of Israel under the bondage of the TORAH].

26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all [i.e., the NT Church not under the bondage of the TORAH].

27 For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband.

28 Now we [NT Church], brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.

29 But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.

30 Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son [i.e., the TORAH-keepers]: for the son of the bondwoman [i.e., the TORAH-keepers] shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.

31 So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman [i.e., we are not under the bondage of the TORAH], but of the free.

 

Pastor Tim D. Cormier
Apostolic Faith Tabernacle

 

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