Christianity Today Meets Rabbi Paul

Georg Gsell. "The Apostle Paul."
Okay, the beard is right, but what exactly do my Sunday-brethren have against yarmulkes?

I have to admit that I’m often frustrated by some of my Sunday-brethren.  In particular, I often get frustrated when I go back and re-read or re-hear favorite teachers and find them continuing to teach under the old “Christianity vs. Judaism” paradigm, rather than what I would call the “Judaism vs. Judaism” paradigm–that is, recognizing what it means that all of the Apostles and most of the Nazarenes were Jews who were in the midst of an “inter-family” struggle rather than being persecuted by some outside force.

That’s why I was tickled to find Christianity Today publishing an article called, “The Paul We Think We Know,” in which Timothy Gombis openly challenges the old paradigm:

The misconception about Paul with the longest historical pedigree is that he was anti-Jewish. Many imagine that after his Damascus Road experience, Paul immediately rejected Judaism and embraced Christianity. They assume that in the first century these were two clearly distinguishable religions. Before his encounter with Christ, the thinking goes, Paul was wrapped up in a legalistic pursuit of salvation and was teaching others a similar philosophy. So great was his passion that he persecuted the Christians who taught salvation by grace through faith. After his conversion, everything changed. He embraced God’s gracious salvation by faith in Christ and rejected the system of dead rituals bound up in Judaism. Paul left Judaism, therefore, and turned to Christianity.

This account of Paul thrives among evangelicals because it resonates with many who come from legalistic environments. We narrate our testimonies as a movement from guilt to grace, from enslaving oppression to freedom in Christ. We assume, therefore, that Paul’s journey mirrored ours. This view also shapes much of our preaching. Eager to let the glorious light of the gospel shine brightly, evangelicals set it against the dark backdrop of Judaism as a religion of works righteousness.

This scenario, while familiar, is deeply mistaken in at least three ways. First, it represents a faulty vision of Judaism in Paul’s day. E. P. Sanders’s seminal book, Paul and Palestinian Judaism, was the catalyst for much of the intense debate over the past three decades in Pauline studies. Until its publication in 1977, the sharp contrast between Paul and his Jewish heritage dominated scholarship. Sanders’s work gave scholars an entirely new appreciation of first-century Judaism, opening up afresh the world of Jesus and his first followers. We now have to realize that Paul’s past wasn’t ruled by simple legalism. . . .

Paul remained a Jew. He did not imagine that he was inventing a new religion, nor did he leave Judaism to join the Christian church. At the end of his third missionary journey, Paul arrived in Jerusalem and, at the suggestion of James, went through purification rituals at the temple (Acts 21:23-26). Paul saw no contradiction at all between his commitment to Christ and his faithful participation in Jewish practices.

We’ve done our own study on the implications of Acts 21 and are pleased to see that mainline Evangelicals are recognizing Paul’s continued fidelity to Judaism too.  This is not to say that no Christian recognized Paul’s essential Judaism before; half a century ago, E.W. Davies engaged the same point in his Paul and Rabbinic Judaism:

We begin with the significant fact that throughout his life Paul was a practicing Jew who never ceased to insist that his gospel was first to the Jews, who also expected Jewish Christians to persist in their loyalty to the Torah of Judaism, and who assigned to the Jews in the Jews in the Christian [Church] no less than in the pre-Christian dispensation a place of peculiar importance.  (p. 321)

Rabbi Jacob Emden

It’s interesting that Rabbi Jacob Emden (which we are grateful to the Rosh Pina Project for bringing to our attention) came to pretty much the same conclusion:

For it is recognized that also the Nazarene and his disciples, especially Paul, warned concerning the Torah of the Israelites, to which all the circumcised are tied. And if they are truly Christians, they will observe their faith with truth, and not allow within their boundary this new unfit Messiah Shabbetai Zevi who came to destroy the earth.

But truly even according to the writers of the Gospels, a Jew is not permitted to leave his Torah, for Paul wrote in his letter to the Galatians (Gal. 5) “I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, the Messiah will do you no good at all. You can take it from me that every man who receives circumcision is under obligation to keep the entire Torah.” Again because of this he admonished in a letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 7) that the circumcised should not remove the marks of circumcision, nor should the uncircumcised circumcise themselves. . . .

But it is as I have said earlier–that the writers of the Gospels never meant to say that the Nazarene came to abolish Judaism, but only that he came to establish a religion for the Gentiles from that time onward.

It’s gratifying to see that what has been recognized by both Jewish and Christian scholars for over a century is starting to gain some currency in the mainline theologians of both religions:  That Paul was indeed a Jew of the Jews, completely faithful to Hashem and His Torah, not an apostate who created a new religion.  (For an example of a modern Jewish scholar on Paul, read the commentaries of Mark Nanos on Romans and Galatians.)

Gombis also correctly identifies the real challenge facing the early Ekklesia:

The problem in the early church, therefore, was not the temptation toward legalistic works righteousness. They faced the communal challenge of incorporating non-Jewish converts into the historically Jewish people of God. First-century Judaism didn’t have a legalism problem; it had an ethnocentrism problem. The first followers of Jesus were all Jewish, and had difficulty imagining that the God of Israel who sent Jesus Christ as their Savior could possibly save non-Jews without requiring them to convert to Judaism. This is the issue in Acts 15, when Christian Jews from Judea urged the Gentiles in Antioch, “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved” (Acts 15:1).

While the early church leaders decided in theory that non-Jewish believers in Jesus were not required to become Jews (Acts 15:13-21), many churches struggled with the practical challenges of becoming healthy multiethnic communities. Paul, as pastor and theologian, addresses these challenges . . .

Exactly!  And once we recognize that the principle tension of the NT is not “Grace vs. Law,” but rather, “What the heck are we supposed to do with all of these Gentiles?  And where is Israel’s specialness if anyone can be saved?” a lot of the apparent contradictions resolve themselves.  For example, we no longer have to argue, as Ken Silva recently found himself doing, that the Torah “has been done away in its entirety as a code,” but that “God’s command concerning homosexuality is clear: ‘You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination’ (Lev 18:22).”

Homosexuals seeking Scriptural justification are quick to point out the self-serving nature of such a distinction; it basically comes down to picking and choosing what to believe.  Silva argues that there is

the “law of the Spirit” (Rom 8:2), the “law of Christ” (Gal 6:2), and the “royal law” (James 2:8). This “law” includes numerous commands, both positive and negative, which form a distinct code of ethics for today. [4]  It is here that the pro-homosexual exegetes have made their mistake. As a unit the New Testament code is new, but not all the commands in the New Testament are new.

This is what it sometimes feels like to be a Christian. It doesn't have to be.

The problem is that not everything that Christians think is covered in the NT really is, and some things that they don’t think are there actually are.  For example, the NT has no express commandment against bestiality; would we argue that homosexuality (expressly mentioned in Romans 1) is still wrong, but that bestiality is still permitted?  Conversely, Hebrews 4 actually does tell us that the seventh-day Sabbath is still the command of Hashem.

If, on the other hand, we recognize the continuance of the Torah in the NT, and especially in Paul, then we are not left simply picking and choosing which parts of the Torah are still valid.  It all is!  Some parts may be constrained, as some argue, for the Jews only, while others are for “when you come into the Land” and still others specific to the Temple service–but the woven thread of Scripture is not broken neatly in two between “old” and “new.”

And after all, if God could annul His promises and commandments once before, on what basis can we argue with Muslims and Mormons that He could not do so again?  Only by arguing for an absolute continuity of the Scriptures in the past can we argue for it in the present and future.

I hope that this sort of scholarship does not remain in the ivory tower this time, as it has in times past, but will instead trickle down to more and more pulpits and from there to the rest of my Sunday-brethren.  Perhaps then more Jews would be willing to read and understand Paul–as is already happening with Yeshua–rather than assume that he’s the bad guy.

Shalom

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63 Replies to “Christianity Today Meets Rabbi Paul”

  1. Shalom Rabbi Michael,

    This post was great! I wish you would stop reading my mind lollol ha i was thinking about this very same subject for the last 2 weeks, a very important one!

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  2. I am sorry to ask you a doubt.

    In this article and the link regarding Hebrews 4th chapter it is assumed that the rest that is specified is of Sabbath. But while checking the Psalm that the author of Hebrews is alluding to, Ps 95:11, it turns out that it does not mention Sabbath at all!

    Here is the text: אשר-נשבעתי באפי אם-יבאון אל-מנוחתי

    Instead of – שׁבּת (Sabbath) – it uses מנוחת (Menookhaw) which is more of a resting place than rest.

    You can see the same word in Gen 49:15; Num 10:33; Deu 12:9; Jdg 20:43; Rth 1:9; 2Sa 14:17; 1Ki 8:56; 1Ch 22:9; 1Ch 28:2; Psa 23:2; Psa 95:11; Psa 132:8; Psa 132:14; Isa 11:10; Isa 28:12; Isa 32:18; Isa 66:1; Jer 45:3; Jer 51:59; Mic 2:10; Zec 9:1;

    In Jer 51:59 it is used as an adjective for Seriah: And this Seraiah was a <> prince.

    Here is my doubt:

    While you people make and propagate a doctrine, do you take time to verify facts, or is it that anything goes attitude?

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    1. I always try to take the time to verify what I write from original sources. Admittedly, I’m better at it now (and have more access to Judaica) than when I wrote the article on Hebrews 4 years ago, but on review, it still holds up to inspection.

      Before we begin on the subject of the word for “rest,” do we agree that Hebrews 4:9-10 says, properly translated, “So there remains a Sabbath-keeping for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His,” which refers back to v. 4, “For He has said somewhere concerning the seventh day: “And God rested on the seventh day from all of His works”? (Sorry for the run-on sentence.)

      The point of Psalm 95 referring to the Sabbath is secondary to the above fact in establishing the continuance of the seventh-day Sabbath. Even if it were not a part of the Sabbath liturgy (which it is; I’m looking at it in my Siddur (prayer book) right now–it’s the second Psalm quoted in the whole Shabbat, in fact), the author of Hebrews connects the idea of entering the Holy One’s rest/comfort with resting from our own labors on the seventh day as God did from His.

      Moreover, if you take a moment to look at the root of menuchah, you’ll find that noach (Strong’s #5117) appears in three very key passages referring to the Sabbath:

      Exo. 20:11 – For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and He rested (vay’nach) on the seventh day. Therefore, the LORD blessed the seventh day and sanctified it.

      Exo. 23:12 – Six days shall you do your work, and on the seventh day you shall cease, so that your ox and donkey may rest (y’nuach) and your maidservant’s son and the sojourner may be refreshed.

      Deu. 5:14 – But the seventh day is the Sabbath to the LORD your God; you shall not do any work–you, your son, your daughter, your slave, your maidservant, your ox, your donkey, and your every animal, and your foreigner within your gates, in order that your slave and your maidservant may rest (ya’niuch) like you.

      Strong’s is a pretty nice tool to start off with (I use the computerized versions all the time to do quick searches), but before you come to any sort of conclusion in a word-study, you need to at the very least go look up the root word and where it appears. Ultimately, of course, you should learn a bit about how the language works, how the words conjugate, how prefixes and suffixes affect the meaning, and how the sentence structure works. .

      Also, you shouldn’t stick “you people” into a question–it makes it sound like a personal attack.

      Shalom

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      1. I do not need to use Strong’s lexicon because I read the original tongues, right sitting here in my hamlet in India.

        If the author of Hebrews wanted to tell us about Sabbath he could have used σάββατον instead of καταπαυσεως.

        The rest that is spoken in Hebrews 3 and 4 have nothing to do with Sabbath, if the Holy Spirit wanted it to mean as Sabbath it would have used σάββατον instead of καταπαυσεως.

        The only other verse other than Hebrews 3 & 4 where the word καταπαυσεως is used is in Act 7:49 and it clearly proves that it means a place of rest.

        ὁ οὐρανός μοι θρόνος, ἡ δὲ γῆ ὑποπόδιον τῶν ποδῶν μου· ποῖον οἶκον οἰκοδομήσετέ μοι, λέγει Κύριος, ἢ τίς τόπος τῆς καταπαύσεώς μου;

        “‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me, says the Lord, or what is the place of my rest?

        Though I have a post graduation in linguistics, it does not take such esoteric knowledge to realize that the rest spoken in Hebrews 3 & 4 and Psalms 95 has nothing to do with Sabbath, unless, of course, one is thoroughly indoctrinated into believe anything!

        The Almighty expects us to seek knowledge and be knowledgeable, but not to twist anything to mean whatever we want.

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      2. A couple of points in response:

        First, you’ve not addressed the Holy Spirit’s use of the word *sabbatismos*, which is the noun form of *sabbatizoo*, which is used in the Septuagint every time the Holy One says to us, “You shall keep the sabbath.” That is the key point, and unless you can address it, you’re simply engaging in a bit of rhetorical sleight-of-hand.

        By the way, I corresponded with Dr. William P. Welty on this point, and he (reluctantly) agreed that “Sabbath-keeping” is the correct translation .

        Second, whether or not *you* see a connection between *sabbatismos* and * katapauseos*, the author of Hebrews clearly makes the point of connecting them for you. I’ve gone into the Hebrew to explain to you exactly where the connecting point is: The rest (*nuach*) of the Sabbath is connected to entering the place of rest (*m’nuachah*).

        Third, even if you proved your point on the technicalities of the Greek (which you haven’t), it wouldn’t matter. Psalm 95 stresses that Israel didn’t enter the Land, the place of Hashem’s rest, because of *disobedience*. The author goes on to connect the rejection of the *sabbatismos*, the seventh-day Sabbath-keeping, with the same sort of disobedience–and that’s true in the plain text whether or not you choose to acknowledge the author’s word-play and the place this Psalm holds in the Sabbath liturgy or not.

        As you say, the Almighty expects us to be logical and knowledgible without twisting the truth–but twisting the truth is exactly what mainline Christianity has done in regards to the Torah and the Jewish people since the 2nd-4th Centuries. We are blessed to be living in times when the old anti-Semitism and anti-nomianism are being set aside in favor of understanding the NT in light of its Jewish roots, as the above article by Christianity Today shows.

        Sadly, as Yeshua Himself pointed out, you can’t put new wine into old wineskins, and many of those who have spent their whole lives preaching from the false, “The Torah is abolished!” paradigm will lash out at those returning to the original teaching of the Master and His Apostles.

        Shalom

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      3. (This reply is in addition to the earlier post with the time stamp July 28, 2011 at 1:20 am , I do not know in what order it will show up.)

        Heb 4:8 For if Joshua had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day.

        (Most Bibles have it as Jesus instead of Joshua, but the context makes it clear that the subject is Joshua)

        What way Joshua is associated with giving Israel Sabbath? Was he not supposed to take them to a place of rest and give them rest from the enemies, as did Solomon for a short while?

        The context is clear and the words are different and it has nothing to do with the weekly Sabbath.

        The whole passage is about the tranquility that a child of God has to enter, without messing around with the concerns of this world.

        —————————————————-
        Since you spoke about word study.
        =============================

        The Almighty does not expect poor humans to get into all that stuff. He has given things that are very simple and easy to understand. He will not expect a poor shepherd or weaver to get into etymology.

        Deu 30:11 For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off.
        Deu 30:12 It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?
        Deu 30:13 Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?

        —————————————————-

        (There is nothing personal here, while I stated “you people”, it is plural, and personal cannot be plural, all I meant was people who hold such doctrine.)

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      4. *(Most Bibles have it as Jesus instead of Joshua, but the context makes it clear that the subject is Joshua) * I agree, but it’s also more word-play by the author: “Y’hoshua” is the older, Hebrew form of the Aramaic “Yeshua,” from which we get Iesous, Jesus.

        *What way Joshua is associated with giving Israel Sabbath? Was he not supposed to take them to a place of rest and give them rest from the enemies, as did Solomon for a short while?*

        That’s the point: Though the second generation did enter into *m’nauchah*, the “Place of Resting,” the Promised Land, because of continued disobedience we as a people did not enter into spiritual *m’nauchah.* That’s why the Psalmist pleads with the people, “Today, if you hear His voice . . .”

        The author of Hebrews is saying, “Look, even though Y’hoshua did lead us into the Promised Land, he could not give us true *m’nauchah, *as evidenced by our subsequent history of rebellion and the Psalmist’s plea*–*but Yeshua has, through His sacrifice and the giving of the Spirit. The Sabbath did not cease when entering the Land of *M’nauchah,* therefore even in spiritual *m’nauchah *there remains a Sabbath-keeping (*sabbatismos*) for the people of God. For the one who has entered into Hashem’s spiritual resting place, he also rests (*nuach*) from his own work as Hashem did from his–on the seventh day!” referring back to v. 4.

        But again, you’re still failing to deal with the core issue: There remains a Sabbath-keeping for the people of God on the seventh day, as vv. 9-10 make clear.

        Shalom

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      5. Hebrews 3 & 4 does not say anywhere about Sabbath observation, it talks about the spiritual rest, whereas Sabbath observation is ritualistic rest.

        The scriptures are very clear that the old covenant is fleshly, related to the earthly existence of human beings whereas the new covenant is spiritual. (2Co 3:6)

        The rest that is being spoken of is of spiritual nature.

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  3. I think my using of is giving trouble while posting. I will use * instead:

    … And this Seraiah was a **quiet** prince.

    Here **quiet** is מנוחת.

    I just wanted to give you an example that the word is not rest in the Sabbath sense.

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  4. Kattackal,

    Hope all is well. Let me get right to the point. So what are you trying to say? That Torah is not binding for today?

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      1. I think I’ve demonstrated more than adequately that I do read the Scriptures, and yes, they’re quite clear that there remains a Sabbath-keeping for the people of God on the seventh day.

        I don’t pass judgment on or break fellowship with my Sunday-brethren–as demonstrated by my constant use of the term “Sunday-*brethren*.” But I won’t let you use bad exegesis to pass judgment on me for keeping the Torah and traditions as my King does, either.

        Shalom

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    1. Gal 4:21 Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law?
      Gal 4:22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and one by a free woman.
      Gal 4:23 But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, while the son of the free woman was born through promise.
      Gal 4:24 Now this may be interpreted allegorically: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar.
      Gal 4:25 Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children.
      Gal 4:26 But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother.
      Gal 4:27 For it is written, “Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear; break forth and cry aloud, you who are not in labor! For the children of the desolate one will be more than those of the one who has a husband.”
      Gal 4:28 Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise.
      Gal 4:29 But just as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so also it is now.
      Gal 4:30 But what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman shall not inherit with the son of the free woman.”
      Gal 4:31 So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman.

      Do you want to be a child of the slave woman? The call is yours.

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      1. Are you calling Paul, who himself kept the whole Torah according to the strictest measure of the Pharisees, a slave? If so, I’m happy to join him in bondservant status.

        If not, then you might want to try interpreting his letters in light of the way he conducted his life. You might start with the article I wrote at http://hebrewroot.com/Articles/acts_21.htm

        But this just brings us back to the subject of the original blog post: Both Christian and Jewish scholarship are increasingly recognizing that Paul was neither anti-Torah nor anti-Judaism–nor even a “Christian” in the modern sense of the term.

        What this means in practical terms is that while there is still room to argue–as even many Messianics do–that certain commandments may not be incumbant on a Gentile believer in Yeshua in the way they are on one who is Jewish. I think it’s silly to demand to be exempted from a bunch of fun holidays, but whatever. However, as Paul himself points out, one who is circumcised, whether Jewish by birth or conversion, is a debtor to do all of the Law, whether or not he is “under” it.

        If Judaizing–telling a Gentile that they must be Jewish and/or follow the whole Torah in order to be saved–is a false gospel worthy of eternal condemnation, how much worse is the sin of promoting the false gospel that a Jew must Gentilize, cease to be Jewish and cease to keep the commandments that the Eternal One Himself gave us on Sinai in order to be saved?

        Shalom

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      2. There is hardly any reason to think that Paul would write something and practice something else.

        To be honest, every group (including mine) have their own favorite set of errors, but they will go to any extreme to prove they are right, even at the wresting with the scriptures.

        The book of Galatians proves you to be wrong in every possible way.

        Here is a warning from Apostle Peter to you:
        ==================================
        2Pe 3:15 And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;
        2Pe 3:16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.

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  5. Michael,

    I agree with you 100% and most importantly G-d’s Word does! Every time i experience this is very dis -heartening, actually very sad. So that the Divine Instructions that G-d Himself gave are earthly and carnal??? Have you ever read what Yeshua HaMashiach said about the Torah? Please re-read Matt.5:17-19.
    The Torah itself is spiritual:

    “For we know that the Torah is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin.” – Rom.7:14

    (Please notice that the Torah/Instructions of G-d are spiritual! and that humans are fleshy sold under sin! Note the distinction.)

    Furthermore:

    “So the Torah is holy, and the Commandment is holy and righteous and good.” – Rom.7:12

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    1. Michael,

      Just in case you may have understood in my post, after the second sentence it’s no longer in referenced to you! I’m just kind of airing out…..i know you know these things.

      “So the Divine Instructions that G-d Himself gave are earthly and carnal???…….”

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    2. Yes, I have read Mat 5:17-19.

      Now let me ask you:

      Mat 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.

      If Jesus came to fulfill the Law, did he go without fulfilling it?

      Or did he fail in fulfilling it?

      Do you want to believe that Jesus failed in his mission?

      (I am not asking you as the mouth piece of any group. I am asking you as one who believes that Jesus did not fail in his mission and he fulfilled his mission.)

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      1. Mr. Kattackal,

        Me and you have a different understanding of what fulfill means:

        Let give you an example.

        I tell my son that he must take out the garbage and clean his room. Now when my son fulfills this, he will have to do it again tomorrow and the next day to. That is what Yeshua was saying. And actually Yeshua gave us better explanation in the upcoming verse, what else did He say: “For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Torah until all is accomplished. “Whoever then annuls one of the least of these Commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” Has heaven and earth disappeared?

        Yeshua kept Torah and tells us to do the same! If you love HIm, “keep His Commandemnts”! G-d doesn’t make mistakes, so He would never give Instructions and say that this is what you are supposed to keep, to then say oh i was just kidding you don’t have to keep anything!

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      2. Yes fulfill the law. If you can take time to study further you can realize that it was fulfilled.

        Yes, Jesus said that the Law will not be obliterated till heaven and earth are there.

        Please read 2 Peter 3rd chapter to realize what is heaven and earth.

        2Pe 3:5 For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:
        2Pe 3:6 Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:
        2Pe 3:7 But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition

        If you mean heaven and earth as literal heaven and earth, please consider these verses.

        (I am off for the day, see you tomorrow)
        of ungodly men.

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  6. Sorry, it was not even typo. After I pasted the verse, the cursor was below the textbox while I continued typing. (As I see it there are a few bugs in the Java Script used by WordPress.)

    2Pe 3:7 But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

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  7. Wow. I’m just getting caught up here. I can’t believe what I’m reading. This type of believer sure is going to be confused in the New Jerusalem! I wonder if Mr. Attack-All has ever read Revelation 12:17 or 14:12-13. Besides, shouldn’t he be harassing Mr. Gombis at Christianity Today rather than you, Michael? I’m fairly certain their readership is slightly larger – and many Christians, having read that dastardly article, could be succumbing to fits of open-mindedness as we speak.

    Chazak! & Shabbat shalom, Michael.

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      1. That’s very kind, but I’m afraid my views are of little import compared to your own. Surely you, being so knowledgeable concerning scripture, know “when” the New Jerusalem is. Perhaps you could share your understanding with me, and while you’re doing so, perhaps you could also explain your understanding of Rev. 12:17 & 14:12-13…

        And if it’s not too much trouble, would you please show me where scripture says that there will be only 144,000 believers in heaven?

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      2. I did not tell anyone, nor do I believe that there will only be 144,000 people in heaven. I am wondering where you got it.

        If it is my FaceBook profile, read the whole profile where I have stated:

        “I am a Bible Student because I study the Bible.”

        Just because I say I am a Bible Student, it does not mean I follow Charles Taze Russell – in fact I oppose more than 60% of his teachings.

        [I will explain / answer New Jerusalem later because I am too tired after developing and testing a software for over 3 days with hardly a few hours of rest.]

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  8. Okey, I was trying to figure out as to why you asked for my views on Revelation 12:17 … 14:12. I was foreseeing many other questions, not exactly this one. But, it does not matter.

    The reason I asked you regarding “when” is New Jerusalem is intended to give you an answer for this and many other questions. Once we arrive at an answer that question many answers would follow, and you will be able to answer many questions on your own.

    I ask the same question to my own group, so there is nothing specific about you or the group you belong to.

    Rev 21:2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

    For starters: I think you will agree with me that “new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven” is Heavenly Jerusalem.

    Can we unconditionally agree on this point?

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    1. Like you, I believe my question to you concerning Rev. 12:17 & 14:12-13 will answer many questions. It’s unfortunate that you had difficulty determining why I would ask you about these very important verses. If you had read them, you would see that they both make reference to the followers of Yeshua keeping the commandments of G-d, and therefore, address your erroneous view that Torah is somehow done away with.

      Until, you understand this, nothing else matters. And once you understand this, everything else will make sense. To be honest, I don’t much care “when” you believe the Ha Olam Ha Ba will take place, or whether you have somehow deluded yourself into thinking that the New Jerusalem has already arrived. If you believe that G-d has done away with Torah, which He said all nations will follow in the Messianic Age, I have nothing else to offer you.

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    2. Look up the thread, you are the one who raised the issue of New Jerusalem, and that is the precise reason I asked you when it is.

      Raising the counter question regarding the commandments of God from Rev 12 & 14 was your doing.

      Since you raised the issue of New Jerusalem, you are the one to clarify.

      ============================================
      BTW: irrespective denomination / group, it is very old stuff to call the other person to be deluded or used by devil and so on, there is nothing new there. Try telling a Pentecostal believer what they do in the name of tongues is wrong and sure you will get similar answer. Try telling a Catholic that his idol worship is wrong, you will surely get similar response. A Christian is supposed to answer any question with all humility.

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      1. I didn’t ask “when” the New Jerusalem was. You did. I merely mentioned that you’d be confused there, which you will be, apparently. Further, I mentioned that to Michael, not you, if you insist on getting so technical.

        And yes, I’m fully aware that I brought up the verses Rev. 12:17 & 14:12-13. Have you managed to read them yet? Surely, you have an explanation.

        Finally, you wrote that “A Christian is supposed to answer any question with all humility.”

        What do you consider yourself then, Sir? Do your own writings exhibit “all humility”? Let’s take a look. Even though Michael has been polite to you, you have written to him in the the following manner:

        “While you people make and propagate a doctrine, do you take time to verify facts, or is it that anything goes attitude?”

        ” do not need to use Strong’s lexicon because I read the original tongues, right sitting here in my hamlet in India.”

        “The Almighty expects us to seek knowledge and be knowledgeable, but not to twist anything to mean whatever we want.”

        “Do you want to be a child of the slave woman? The call is yours.”

        “The book of Galatians proves you to be wrong in every possible way.”

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      2. Let me answer you point by point:

        I asked you about New Jerusalem because I am not confused, and I have answers. And I am prepared to answer, anyone, strictly according to 1 Peter 3:15.

        I have read Rev 12:17 & 14:12-13 and understood them in the light of the new covenant, I have no confusion there.

        “While you people make and propagate a doctrine, do you take time to verify facts, or is it that anything goes attitude?” – It is an inquiry, a fact finding, whether you are like the rest of the Christianity.

        ”do not need to use Strong’s lexicon because I read the original tongues, right sitting here in my hamlet in India.” – this is answering what he said, assuming that I go by concordance, and his ability to read the original tongues – he said (and have more access to Judaica).

        “The Almighty expects us to seek knowledge and be knowledgeable, but not to twist anything to mean whatever we want.” – I have quoted scriptures to prove this – please read the scriptures, they will speak to you.

        “Do you want to be a child of the slave woman? The call is yours.” – It is a plain statement, supported by scripture – read them.

        “The book of Galatians proves you to be wrong in every possible way.” – it is matter of fact statement.

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    1. I still have answers, and I am always prepared to present them.

      I do not look for excuses where I have no answers. My humility will be to admit my ignorance where I have no answers, and seek answers!

      There are many ways of fulfilling the law, for those who have proper understanding of the scriptures!

      Love is the fulfilling of the Law – 13:10
      Loving neighbor is fulfilling the Law – Gal 5:14
      Bearing the burden of one another – Gal 6:2

      All these are for people who love and respect the scriptures than make some ostentation of divinity.

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      1. Sorry for the lack of response on my part; I was away for the weekend at a marriage retreat and I’ve been in the office all day.

        Tomsan, you’ve just disproved your own case. If Yeshua’s fulfillment of the Law abrogates it, then it must follow that my own fulfillment of the Law by loving my neighbor also abrogates my responsibility thereafter. In other words, all I have to do is for just one moment show love to my neighbor–and then after that I can punch him in the face as often as I want. For that matter, having fulfilled the Law by showing love to a single neighbor, I can punch *anyone* in the face as often as I want.

        And that’s an utterly stupid perversion of Scripture, of course.

        In the same way that my own fulfillment of the Law does not annul it thereafter, neither does Yeshua’s. In fact, “fulfill the Torah” is a first-century Jewish idiom which means to carry it out and teach it correctly. For example, the Pirke Avot (Ethics of the Fathers), an extremely early compilation of rabbinic teachings, states, “He who fulfills the Law in poverty will fulfill it in weath, and he who abolishes the Torah in wealth will abolish it in poverty.” In other words, someone who keeps the Torah while poor will also keep it when rich and vice versa.

        This use of the terms “fulfill” and “abolish” precisely follows the NT usage. Therefore, when we read that to love our neighbor is to fulfill the Law, it means that the correct keeping and teaching of the Torah will result in acts of love towards one’s neighbor–indeed, that the entire Torah is summed up in Love (as Yeshua Himself summed it up). One “fulfills” the Torah only by *continually* acting in love.

        In the same way, Yeshua did not fulfill the Torah so as to remove our obligation to follow it; rather, He in effect said, “I have not come to violate the Torah or teach others to do so, but to bring the Torah to its fullest measure in My own life and that of My disciples.”

        Shalom

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      2. I am sorry to read this:

        “In other words, all I have to do is for just one moment show love to my neighbor–and then after that I can punch him in the face as often as I want”.

        If your concept of love is of this quality, there is a long way for you to go before becoming a follower of Jesus, because Our Lord taught that the greatest form of loving someone is to lay down life for him. Punching on his face is not laying down life for him!

        Please, you can do better! This type of statements are not expected of a sensible human being!

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  9. Mr.Kattackal,

    while i agree with your above post:

    Love is the fulfilling of the Law – 13:10
    Loving neighbor is fulfilling the Law – Gal 5:14
    Bearing the burden of one another – Gal 6:2

    While this is very very true, this is not all that there is. There are more divine Instructions to keep us from harms way and to do what the Creator wants us to do (His perfect Will). Let’s just take a look at the ‘Ten Words’:

    1. Belief in G-d
    This category is derived from the declaration in Ex. 20:2 beginning, “I am the L-rd, your G-d…”
    2. Prohibition of Improper Worship
    This category is derived from Ex. 20:3-6, beginning, “You shall not have other gods…” It encompasses within it the prohibition against the worship of other gods as well as the prohibition of improper forms of worship of the one true G-d, such as worshiping G-d through an idol.
    3. Prohibition of Oaths
    This category is derived from Ex. 20:7, beginning, “You shall not take the name of the L-rd your G-d in vain…” This includes prohibitions against perjury, breaking or delaying the performance of vows or promises, and speaking G-d’s name or swearing unnecessarily.
    4. Observance of the Holy Sabbath
    This category is derived from Ex. 20:8-11, beginning, “Remember the Sabbath day…” It encompasses all mitzvot related to Shabbat, holidays, or other sacred time.
    5. Respect for Parents (father and mother)
    This category is derived from Ex. 20:12, beginning, “Honor your father and mother…”
    6. Prohibition of Physically Harming a Person
    This category is derived from Ex. 20:13, saying, “You shall not murder.”
    7. Prohibition of Sexual Immorality
    This category is derived from Ex. 20:13, saying, “You shall not commit adultery.”
    8. Prohibition of Theft
    This category is derived from Ex. 20:13, saying, “You shall not steal.” It includes within it both outright robbery as well as various forms of theft by deception and unethical business practices. It also includes kidnapping, which is essentially “stealing” a person.
    9. Prohibition of Harming a Person through Speech
    This category is derived from Ex. 20:13, saying, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” It includes all forms of lashon ha-ra (sins relating to speech).
    10. Prohibition of Coveting
    This category is derived from Ex. 20:14, beginning, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house…”

    Please remember that these are categories of the 613 mitzvot/Commandments. From these there are certain Commandments binding on men, women, priest and within the Land of Israel, so all the Commandments do not pertain to everyone! Actually today with the suspension of the Temple services there is many Commandments not being done today according to HaShem’s great will. In all these , we show are love for G-d, and for our neighbor etc etc. (Matt.5:17-19)

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    1. Probably you have not read this passage:

      Mat 22:37 And he said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
      Mat 22:38 This is the great and first commandment.
      Mat 22:39 And a second like unto it is this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
      Mat 22:40 On these two commandments the whole law hangeth, and the prophets.

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      1. Mr.Kattackal,

        Please let’s be logical, im sure you don’t believe that those versus that you quoted is all we must do?? Within loving G-d and loving thy neighbor there are hundreds of inter-related Instructions/Commandments. The Commandments are not burdensome but they are “holy, just, and good”.

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    1. Does Mat 22:37-40 look like saying love thy neighbor one moment and punch on his face in the next?

      Does it not say that loving the neighbor is the fulfillment of law and prophets?

      There is no point in following a set of rituals, instead of following the essence of it.

      If Jesus says love fulfills law, how can any human give a new shade to say that it does not?

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  10. Mr.Kattackal,

    It seems like you either did not read Michaels very good response to this, lets read what he said again:

    Michael wrote concerning the fulfillment of the Torah:
    “In the same way that my own fulfillment of the Law does not annul it thereafter, neither does Yeshua’s. In fact, “fulfill the Torah” is a first-century Jewish idiom which means to carry it out and teach it correctly. For example, the Pirke Avot (Ethics of the Fathers), an extremely early compilation of rabbinic teachings, states, “He who fulfills the Law in poverty will fulfill it in weath, and he who abolishes the Torah in wealth will abolish it in poverty.” In other words, someone who keeps the Torah while poor will also keep it when rich and vice versa.

    This use of the terms “fulfill” and “abolish” precisely follows the NT usage. Therefore, when we read that to love our neighbor is to fulfill the Law, it means that the correct keeping and teaching of the Torah will result in acts of love towards one’s neighbor–indeed, that the entire Torah is summed up in Love (as Yeshua Himself summed it up). One “fulfills” the Torah only by *continually* acting in love.

    In the same way, Yeshua did not fulfill the Torah so as to remove our obligation to follow it; rather, He in effect said, “I have not come to violate the Torah or teach others to do so, but to bring the Torah to its fullest measure in My own life and that of My disciples.”

    I think this is self explanatory. These terms come from the source, Yeshua was not a Christians as many believe. He is Jewish and lived according to the Judaism of His day.

    Also listen to your words: “There is no point in following a set of rituals, instead of following the essence of it.”

    The Commandments or anything that G-d Instructed are not some “rituals” as you claim, He Commanded them! He gave them, not for us to say “oh He didn’t really mean what He said”. G-D DOES NOT MAKE MISTAKES! I believe that your biggest problem is that you do not understand the Commandments/Torah and how they work in the believers lives. They are for the believers, our new way of life after coming into faith in the G-d of Israel and His Moshiach! The Commandments are not for salvation but they are for those who are saved.

    “If you love Me, keep My Commandments” – Yeshua

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  11. You quoted: “If you love Me, keep My Commandments” – Yeshua

    And this is His commandment:

    “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. ” John 15:12

    Your complaint is that I have not understood the words of Michael, but the sad part is that both of you have not understood the mission of Jesus. Both of you will do good to learn the sayings of Jesus and writings of Paul than trying to defend the indefensible.

    The views of the Rabbais of any century have absolutely no value whatsoever, because Jesus himself has deplored their lack of understanding of the scriptures. It was the same Rabbais who spearheaded the persecution of Jesus and first century Christians. I whether you will even try to defend them!

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    1. Which commandment of the Torah do you think is not a) either a concrete way to express and demonstrate love, whether to man or Hashem, or b) a “fix” for a failure of love (e.g., the sin offerings)?

      Shalom

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    2. Mr.Kattackal,

      This will be my last post to you. If you are an honest man who wants to know G-d’s Truth and not mans, He (the Almighty) will reveal it to you, (keep your eyes and heart open :))

      you said: ” Both of you will do good to learn the sayings of Jesus and writings of Paul than trying to defend the indefensible.”

      This is funny not because i’m trying to poke fun at you but because Yeshua and Shaul/Paul were both Rabbis! I can tell you have never read any of the wisdom of the Sages. Please find out what was the faith of the first century believers were? How did they practice their faith?

      Something for you to think about, how is it that most Gentiles are telling all the first century believers (Paul, Peter, James etc etc who were Jews) how is the ‘JEWISH FAITH’ to be understood and practiced?? That is some what of a oxymoron no??

      Shalom to you my friend and G-d bless!

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      1. My mother used to pray for me, so that my heart would be opened to receive the greatness of Mary worship.

        We had a neighborhood pentecostal pastor who used to pray for me so that I will receive the glossolalia.

        You could try to do better!

        Jesus and Paul were Rabbais and they were persecuted by Rabbais and you want to take side with the persecutors!

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  12. Who said Torah does not envisage expression of love? It does, it does much more. But the human nature is not able to comprehend and fulfill its just requirements – Paul has extensively written about. Many centuries disobedience to Torah by the very people to whom it was given proves that it cannot be fulfilled by humans.

    That was the precise reason that the Son of God had to fulfill it, and had to give us a new covenant of simplified, but all inclusive terms. And the most important feature of this new system is grace. If law can justify man then why grace?

    [BTW: I am not a Sunday Christian or any such beast, I am a Christian with no tags attached]

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    1. Grace? It has always been by grace my friend! Grace did not start with Yeshua, Grace is an integral attribute of the Holy One, blessed be He! And this attribute of grace has been with Him throughout eternity and when He began to create man.

      I don’t know about you but i fulfill Torah/Commandments every single day and not only me but plenty of others do to. Your are interpreting the Scriptures from a western mindset and with a heavily Christian theology.

      Do you even know were the New Covenant was promised??? Jeremiah 31:31 just to name one, do you know what it says? Oh and by the way it’s actually a Renewed Covenant – because all the same Commandments apply!

      “B.H”!!

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      1. I am sitting in the orient, and I have nothing to do with the western mindset.

        You said: Grace? It has always been by grace my friend!

        Where? In the Law? Do you mean stoning the disobedient to death and cutting off them from among the people is called “grace”? You should kidding!

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    2. It’s impossible to comprehend and fulfill the just requirements of Yeshua’s teachings in the Gospel accounts too. Who among us truly loves all of our neighbors as ourselves? Who among us has never stayed angry with a brother or lusted? Who among us constrains our tongues 100% of the time?

      Does our human frailty change the fact that Yeshua’s commands are Yeshua’s commands, and that though we are saved by grace we are expected to strive after them?

      Shalom

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  13. Oh yea i almost forgot about this quote of yours:

    “The views of the Rabbais of any century have absolutely no value whatsoever, because Jesus himself has deplored their lack of understanding of the scriptures. It was the same Rabbais who spearheaded the persecution of Jesus and first century Christians. I whether you will even try to defend them!”

    Yeshua had more in common with the Pharisees than you imagine! His battles with (certain Pharisees/Rabbis) was only with certain ones, ‘not all’! Did you forget who Nicodemus was?? Let me refresh your memory – he was a Pharisee! What about Paul? He also didn’t stop being a Pharisee! Listen to this discussion between believing Pharisees and Shaul (the Pharisee) and Barnabas over what is the starting point for believing Gentiles in Torah:

    “But some of the sect of the Pharisees who had ‘BELIEVED’ stood up, saying, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to direct them to observe the Law of Moses.” – Acts.15:1-5

    So Mr. Kattackal the Rabbis are all evil? This is very far from the truth, but evil men exist in every place in every country. Since were talking about evil, let’s talk about one of the founding fathers of the Church shall we?

    Read this if you can: http://koeoy.blogspot.com/2011/07/and-their-lies.html

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  14. Other than a few like Nicodemus, how many you can name? Do you know the simple principle that exceptions do not make a rule?

    I think you have noticed the word “some” in Acts 15:1-5 that you quoted.

    Please read:

    1Th 2:14 For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews:
    1Th 2:15 Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men:

    “Those who have killed the Son of God and are contrary to all men” is the certificate that the scriptures gives to the leaders of Jews (Rabbais included), and you take sides with them.

    No, nothing is going to be your last message for me, because your ignorance is exposed!

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      1. My opinion has no value. Only the holy scriptures have value.

        You can reject or twist the words of Jesus:

        Mat 23:27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.
        Mat 23:28 Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
        Mat 23:29 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous,
        Mat 23:30 And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.
        Mat 23:31 Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets.
        Mat 23:32 Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.
        Mat 23:33 Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?
        Mat 23:34 Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city:
        Mat 23:35 That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.
        Mat 23:36 Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.
        Mat 23:37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!

        The book of Acts is replete with the great deeds of the Jewish community!

        .

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      2. It is you who twist the Scriptures. I’ve tried to give you every opportunity to recognize that, but you just seem intent on digging yourself deeper. You don’t answer questions, you don’t follow reasoning, and you certainly don’t do any valid exegesis. You’ve also stooped to anti-Semitic distortions and backhanded insults.

        So let me start by setting you straight on several points: First, you owe the Jewish people your very salvation. No Jews, no Messiah. No Messiah, and you’re dead in your sins. It would therefore behoove you to talk a bit more humbly about those who gave you Messiah.

        Second, you are not interested in honest conversation, or else you would answer my questions:

        “Does our human frailty change the fact that Yeshua’s commands are Yeshua’s commands, and that though we are saved by grace we are expected to strive after them?”

        “So, you think this passage says that all Jews everywhere are responsible for killing Yeshua and the prophets?”

        If Yeshua was condemning every scribe and Pharisee as a hypocrite, then why did so many–including Paul–remain scribes and Pharisees after they came to faith in Him? That would make Paul a hypocrite as well, which would invalidate all of his books–the very books, like Galatians, that you cite as your authority to attack the Torah and those of us who keep it.

        Yeshua is not saying that every scribe and Pharisee is a hypocrite–He is condemning those that are. Neither is Paul saying that every Jew is responsible for having killed Yeshua–that would be really stupid to assume, since he starts out the sentence by commenting the Thessalonians for imitating the assemblies (churches, as it is mistranslated) in Judea, which were completely Jewish and (as shown in Acts 21:20ff) completely observant of both the Torah and the traditions of our fathers! Rather, he is commending the Thessalonians for bearing up under the persecution that they suffered at the hands of the Greeks, just as the Jewish believers in Judea suffered at the hands of their fellow Jews–not all Jews even, but specifically those who were responsible for the execution of Yeshua, meaning the Sanhedrin and the Sadducees.

        Moreover, your own proof text testifies against you: “Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them” (Mat. 23:1-3). Do you see what that says? Yeshua endorsed the teachings and authority of the Pharisees! He condemned the majority of the group for hypocrisy, but acknowledged and endorsed the substance of their teachings.

        Incidentally, did you know that the Pharisees condemned hypocrisy in their own ranks? We find sayings in the Talmud that parallel Yeshua’s. For example, in b.Sotah 22b, we read, “King Jannaeus said to his daughter, ‘Do not fear the Pharisees, nor those who are not Pharisees, but only the ones who are hypocrites, who appear like Pharisees, but whose deeds are the deeds of Zimri, while they seek the reward of Phineas.'” The same section goes on to describe seven types of Pharisees, six of which are hypocritical and vain, and only one (the Pharisee out of love for Hashem) is commended.

        Here’s a hint: If the Pharisees did not see Yeshua as practicing essentially like they did, they would not have repeatedly invited Him over for dinner (Luke 11:37, 14:1). Some blasphemed Him; others ate with Him and still others became His disciples. The relationship is far more complex than Christianity, for too long tainted with the anti-Semitism of the world, has been willing to recognize until recently.

        You speak out of ignorance when you take passages in the Bible out of context to slander a whole people and puff up your own ego (“We Christians are better than those poor Jews”). For example, could you tell me what the two schools of the Pharisees were called and how their teachings compared to those of our Master? Do you know what the Eighteen Measures were, or how they affected the Jewish world at the time of the NT? What hermeneutics did the rabbis use to interpret the Scriptures, and how do those compare to those used by the Apostles? Did you know that the Talmud quotes Yeshua approvingly on at least two occasions? Did you know that the Kingdom of Heaven was and is a rabbinic concept?

        I could go on, but the fact remains that you don’t even understand the whole of Scripture, let alone the cultural milieu that they came from: Quintessentially Jewish, founded in a culture steeped in the Torah, to whom the Gentiles were strangers graciously shown hospitality.

        You’ve not shown the least inclination to discuss or learn; you just want to ride in on your high horse and talk down to us poor, enfeebled Jews who obviously don’t know our own Scriptures and culture as well as you Indians.

        Because of that, I’m terminating this discussion. Take your knee-jerk anti-Semitic, anti-Torah bias elsewhere.

        Shalom

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