Apologetics Faith Hebrew Roots Theology
R. L. Solberg  

The Number One Danger of Hebrew Roots

I was really convicted at church this week. We’re working our way through the book of Philippians, and my Pastor, Tony Calabrese, brought a great message about how we can authentically live out our faith. He didn’t speak directly to Torahism and the Hebrew Roots Movement, but the application of his teaching to those theologies is striking. He put his finger on what I think is the biggest danger of Hebrew Roots theology. So let’s press into that idea by examining a passage in Philippians 3 that speaks directly to how being a Torah-observant Christian can lead us away from the heart of our heavenly Father. And I will do my best to channel Pastor Tony’s wisdom as we walk through it. In fact, pretty much all the good nuggets I will share are his.

Philippians 3

Philippians is a letter Paul wrote to the church in the Roman colony of Philippi to thank them for the aid they had sent him and let them know he was sending Epaphroditus back to Philippi. And in chapter three, he spends some time warning the church about the false teachers among them. The passage we’re going to look at runs from verses 2-11:

2 Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. 3 For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh— 4 though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. 7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

Philippians 3

Paul’s warnings in this passage point to one group of people. The “dogs and evildoers” he has in view are false teachers within the church. They are undermining Yeshua’s work by teaching that all Christians must follow Jewish law and keep all its religious duties. And these evildoers—Paul uses the derogatory term “dogs”—are causing disruption from within the church. They want to reframe Christianity through the lens of religious performance.

In verse two, Paul accuses them of “mutilating the flesh.” He uses the Greek word κατατομή (katatomē, mutilation) to imply that anyone who gets circumcised thinking it will somehow gain them membership in God’s family is disfiguring themselves for no reason. Because of the work of Yeshua, circumcision is no longer required for membership in God’s covenant people. Rather, “we are the circumcision who worship by the Spirit of God” (v. 3). Under Moses, the people of the covenant were marked or identified by physical circumcision. The people of the New Covenant are marked by the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Paul adds that we “glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh” (v. 3). And therein lies the thrust of his warning to the church in Philippi. The “dogs” are those in the church who put their confidence in the flesh rather than Jesus. They weren’t denying Christ, but for them, it was Jesus plus something more. They wouldn’t state it this openly, but they essentially said, “We love Jesus, we believe in His sinless life, and the cross, and His resurrection…but that’s not enough.” They were teaching, just like Torahism teaches today, that there are things we need to add to our faith to be mature Christians or achieve true righteousness in God’s eyes. Rather than trusting that the work of Jesus took care of all that, they were putting their confidence in that “something more.” This is why, starting in verse four, Paul reminds them of his own impeccable credentials.

4 If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.

Philippians 3

In contemporary vernacular, Paul is saying to those false teachers, “You think your religious performance is solid? Hold my beer.” He far surpassed them at their own game of religious importance. “You think you’re good at following the rules?” Paul asks. “Look at my resume.” And he wasn’t parading his credentials to show how great he was. He was explaining that he used to be where those false teachers are now. He used to put his confidence in those things, too. But something happened.

On a road outside Damascus, on his way to persecute believers, the apostle Paul had a life-changing encounter. He met the risen Jesus. He came to faith, and his whole world turned upside down. As a result of this radical transformation, Paul realized that his personal performance had no value as righteousness. He was really good at doing these religious things and had passionately pursued them his whole life. But after meeting Yeshua, Paul recognized how little his accomplishments and religious performance amounted to. 

7But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith

Philippians 3

The phrase “not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law” (v. 9) is telling. Paul no longer puts his confidence in his religious performance or credentials; in his “flesh.” In fact, he refers to his impressive résumé of righteous accolades as “rubbish.” And the ESV translation is just being polite here. The Greek word translated as “rubbish” is σκύβαλον (skybalon), which means animal dung. Compared to the righteousness he found in Jesus, Paul’s lifelong religious performance amounted to a big pile of…well, camel poop. Once we’ve met Jesus, we can no longer treasure our human activities and religious pedigrees. Don’t misunderstand. Paul is not saying those things are wrong or bad. But rather, they are s worthless as fecal matter compared to knowing Jesus. And further, keeping those things doesn’t add to our righteousness. So that is not where our confidence or our focus should be placed. 

A Holy Offense

And Paul is worked up about it. He’s angry. It’s the kind of visceral reaction many of us had to the two young climate activists throwing tomato soup on a beautiful original Van Gogh painting. Paul saw the self-righteousness of these false teachers as defacing a beautiful and precious thing. It was toxic. It was hurting and sabotaging Christ’s bride, the Church.

This is the same thing that angered Jesus. He warned about the “yeast of the Pharisees” in all three synoptic gospels, referring to their hypocrisy and self-righteousness. And as Paul said elsewhere, “Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?” (1 Cor 5:6). Even the smallest amount of self-righteousness—of trying to make ourselves right with God through external religious performance—can poison the ministry of the Church and weaken the faith of believers. As Pastor Tony said, “Even a little bit of self-righteousness will choke out the grace of Jesus in our lives if we’re not careful.” When it comes to knowing Yeshua and being in right-standing with God, Paul says our lists of religious activities are like bringing a pile of manure to God and saying, “Hey, I did this for you.”  Consider Psalm 51.

16 For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;

    you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.

17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;

    a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

Psalm 51

This passage speaks of the opposite of self-righteousness and religious performance. It’s a humble spirit, sorrow for our sins, and dependence on God, not our performance, for our righteousness. These are the things that touch the heart of our Father. And Paul is teaching in Philippians 3 that once he met Jesus, he stopped trusting in his own accomplishments, as impressive as they were. He tossed out his self-righteousness like so much garbage and put his confidence in Yeshua’s righteousness. And why did he do that? 

8…in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.

Philippians 3

Don’t miss this. It’s not the righteousness of our own that comes from flawlessly performing a list of religious activities. But the righteousness from God that comes through faith. One is self-righteousness, and the other is God’s righteousness. And what is Paul after?

10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

Philippians 3

It’s as if Paul is piloting a sailboat and singularly focused on reaching the destination of Knowing Jesus. He’s throwing everything overboard that is slowing him down or could send him off course. Everything that doesn’t matter gets tossed into the sea. And for Paul, that included all his religious accomplishments, activities, credentials, and accolades. It was all counted as loss.

Paul came face-to-face with Jesus Himself, and he exchanged doing for knowing. He came to count all the things he did—his activities and his credentials—as loss. He traded them for the gain of knowing Jesus. For what he called the “surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (v. 8). Paul re-oriented his entire life around the person of Jesus. 

And this is where I was so convicted by Pastor Tony’s sermon. I know I need to do the same thing. I can get so caught up in learning about Jesus that I neglect the pursuit of knowing Jesus. And in that sense, Paul is a great role model for us. We need a complete re-orientation around Jesus. Not around Moses, or the Torah, or the Law. Around Jesus.

Wrap it up, Solberg

Our Hebrew roots friends keep the weekly Shabbat and the annual feasts. They don’t eat pork or shellfish. And none of those things are wrong for a New Covenant believer to do. But they don’t earn us anything, either. Those rituals don’t add to our status in God’s eyes or make us more righteous, mature, or blessed. Paul did all those things blamelessly. But once he met Jesus, he came to count them as loss, as garbage.

The passage we looked at in Philippians 3 reveals the dangerous side of Torahism. What that theology does—and I have witnessed this many times in my work in the world of Hebrew Roots—is take our focus off of Jesus and His Gospel. The more Torah-observant we become, the more our confidence, ever so subtly, shifts away from the saving work of Christ and toward our religious or moral performance. The key to the Christian life isn’t trying harder or performing better. It’s trusting God and knowing Him.

Again, Paul’s goal, as he states in verse 8 and again in v 10, is “That I may know him.” Not that I may do more for Him. For Paul, it’s no longer about doing but knowing. As fallen humans, it’s easy to prioritize doing things for God over knowing God. And I am the chief sinner in that regard. It is scandalous that we don’t need to perform righteous duties for the living God to see us as righteous. It’s tough to accept our righteousness for exactly what it is: a free gift of love. Our religious performance doesn’t make us righteous. It’s Yeshua’s performance on the cross that makes us righteous. Therefore, we need to be very careful that we’re not following a list of religious do’s and dont’s and missing the heart of our Father. The reminder for our Hebrew roots friends, and for me personally, is this: Let’s not be so busy performing for Him that we miss the real goal of knowing Him.

57 thoughts on “The Number One Danger of Hebrew Roots

  1. Cheryl

    Thank you. This is a great message. And certainly bring believers togther with hope.

  2. Mitchell Chapman

    Rob, I appreciate your zeal but why are you kicking against the goads by creating a strawman? Sadly you missed it again. I encourage you my dear brother to learn what Torah really isn’t and then by logically conclusion you will KNOW what Torah actual is!

  3. Eric L

    Thank you, R.L. That is one of the greatest passages in the New Testament! Was just studying it three days ago with my kids.

    I asked them, “can you say with confidence that your obedience to Torah — compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Messiah Jesus as Lord — is “dung” and “nothing”?

    Reminded them of what we had just read in Galatians — NO ONE can be justified by works of the Torah.

    We are earnest Torah followers – out of love! No desire to earn any browny points with God. Please don’t psychoanalyze me and explain we don’t understand our own choices. It is demeaning.

    Mitchell is correct — the Torah-observant Gentile seeking to justify him/herself with Torah obedience is a straw man, at least in my experience.

    One important correction to your article: Paul’s “dogs and evildoers” were specifically requiring circumcision for justification. Nowhere does Paul say the Philippians should not “follow Jewish law.”

    1. R. L. Solberg

      Thanks, Eric! I don’t know you personally, and I have no reason to doubt the earnestness of your faith and the motivations behind your Torah-keeping. If you were to read the dozens of messages and emails I get daily, you would understand that the Torah-observant Gentile seeking to justify him/herself with Torah obedience is far from a strawman. I would prefer this theology didn’t exist exist and I didn’t have to write about it and help people deal with it in their lives. But it’s a reality. There are marriages, churches, families and friendships that are damaged by the theology of Torahism. Not by every Torah-keeping Christian, of course. But, in my personal experience, the problem is pervasive.

      Many (not all) Torah-keeping followers of Yeshua cause division by challenging, judging, and looking down on fellow believers who don’t keep Torah, labeling them lawless and living in sin and so on. It sure would help my cause if Christians like you, who have chosen keep certain Torah commands as a personal expression of their faith, would join me in telling your fellow Torah-keeping Christians that they are not justified in God’s eyes by doing so, and that no follower of Christ is required to keep those things.

      Blessings,
      Rob

      1. Mitchell Chapman

        Rob,
        Many Messianic and non Messianic Jews (I’m the former, NOT the latter) would have preferred “the church” never to have divorced herself from the ROOT, TRUE AND OR NATURAL VINE, THE OLIVE TREE perpetrating anti-semtism, biased anti-Torah translations, etc. Reformation Day just came and went and with it another year of “celebrating” the reformation of the Roman Catholic Church. WHY, do you believe the Reformers stopped there and didn’t go ALL the way back to 325 with the Council of Nicea? NON knew Torah and created theologies, terminologies, denominations and definitions without any understanding of basic hermeneutics for as they would preach 2 Tim 2:15; they didn’t really understand the historical context in which it was written.

        There is a plethora of solid scholarship available today to help any serious hermeneut understand 1st Century Jewish customs and culture the backdrop from which Yeshua as well as Shaul wrote spoke and lived in

        1. R. L. Solberg

          I, too, would have preferred the Church never perpetrated antisemitism or forced Jewish believers to leave their Hebrew customs behind. R.

          1. Mitch Chapman

            Rob, Sadly it is both your written and spoken words which compound what you indicate never occurred which was that “the Church never perpetrated antisemitism or forced Jewish believers to leave their Hebrew customs behind.” To paraphrase the words of Shaul of Tarsus “I beseech, urge, appeal, beg, exhort, plead encourage, implore you by the tender great mercies and compassion of G-d which never fail and are never ending to make a decisive dedication of all your members and faculties to understand what the Torah isn’t and therefore what Torah actually is. Additionally, the ‘Church’ has not, did not and will not EVER replace Israel. People born as Jews, when they come to faith in the BIBLICAL Yeshua DO NOT become Christians. Lastly, The issue of Acts 15 and Phil 3 related to the legalistic perversion of Torah and the desire of some, NOT ALL to make Gentiles into Jews through full observance of Torah.

          2. R. L. Solberg

            Hi, Mitch. I have never denied that antisemitism has reared its ugly head in the Church, nor that Jewish believers were forced to leave their Hebrew customs behind. In fact, in my previous statement, I lamented the fact that those things are sadly true.

      2. Eric L

        Thank you for your reply. It pains me to here of the heresy of anyone trying for justification apart from charis+pistis in Messiah. Torah was never intended to justify anyone; to use it for that purpose is like trying cut down a shrubbery with a herring. Herring is great for some things, but not yard work LOL.

        In your reply, you bring up three separate issues:

        (1) Is the Torah for justification? Resounding NO

        (2) Is disobedience to Torah lawlessness? YES, by definition, and explanation by the NT. Obeying Torah in order to obey God is right for all kinds or reason apart from justification. Nowhere does the NT say the Torah is not a normal part of the believer’s life.

        The NT DOES specify (a) circumcision is optional, and (b) Torah following is not for justification, and (c) the “traditions” that developed into Rabbi-ism are dangerous and keep Jews & Gentiles separated.

        (3) Is it loving for believers in the midst of serious doctrinal disagreements to ruin their marriages, churches, and friendships? Is it loving to judge other believers? Those who do should bear in mind they will be judged with the same standard, and that all judgement about who is IN/OUT of the Kingdome is reserved for the Son.

        Hopefully we will challenge one another’s thinking, as you do me and I hope I do you.

        1. R. L. Solberg

          Thanks, Eric. I’ve never heard that herring analogy before. Very nice!

          Terminology is important. So when you use the word “torah” it makes a big difference if you mean “instruction, direction, guidance” or “Law of Moses.” From the context of your comments I would guess the latter, but I can’t be sure. For example consider the question “Is disobedience to Torah lawlessness?” If you mean “Is disobedience to God’s instructions/directions lawlessness?” the answer would be “always, yes.” It you mean “Is disobedience to the Law of Moses lawlessness?” the answer would be “Yes, for those who were under the Law of Moses, which was only ancient Israel.”

          To define sin merely as a transgression of the Law of Moses is far too narrow. It’s also misleading and leads us back into the “yoke of slavery” (Gal 5:1). Think about it this way. If sin is defined as the breaking of the Law of Moses—which is what I believe you might be inferring from passages like 1 John 3:4—then Adam and Eve never sinned, because they did not break any of the Mosaic commands. No, sin is biblically defined as rebelliousness or disobedience to the commands of God that apply to you. And the ceremonial commands of the Law of Moses only applied to ancient Israel. You’ll notice that no Gentiles or Gentile nations in all of the Tanakh were ever judged for not keeping the Sabbath, or not eating kosher, or not keeping the feasts. Why? Because these commands were only for Israel.

          Shalom, Rob

          1. Eric L

            Rob,

            You may not feel it when you are constantly being disagreed with in many comments, but I appreciate you and this blog, and I bet I’m not alone! Now, a short story . . .

            Once upon a time, a man on a deserted island – who had never heard the history of Jews, gentiles, or Christianity – finds a Bible in a large glass bottle, washed up on shore. It is a BIG glass bottle 🙂

            He breaks it open and reads Genesis through the gospels, understanding what he reads.

            These words from Deuteronomy 11 stand out to him: “Love the Lord your God and keep his requirements, his decrees, his laws and his commands always.”
            These plain words of Jesus stand out to him: “It is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the Law to become void” (Luke 16).

            Now he gets to Acts 15, and is thankful to learn he does NOT need to circumcise himself with a shard of flint LOL. He also longs for a time and place when the Torah is expounded everywhere each week.

            He is coming to love God and His revelation, and asks God to accept him into His kingdom in the name of Jesus. And he keeps obeying all parts of the Torah he can — in light of living on a desert isle. He also imagines the various ways he can follow the Torah in larger society once he is rescued.

            Now he gets to Paul’s letters. He understands the PRIMACY of Jesus, and knows NOTHING about Paul contradicts Jesus. So when he reads about the “yoke of slavery” in Galatians 5, he understands through context it refers to someone attempting to justify himself by circumcision and obedience to the Torah, rather than reconciling to God through Messiah.

            He then makes a note to continue to obey God’s Torah from love and thankfulness (Deut. 11) rather than out of some misguided attempt to earn God’s love – which never actually entered his mind. But obviously SOMEBODY somewhere once tried this, or else Paul wouldn’t have written Galatians.

            And he lived happily ever after!

            The inherited arguments of Augustine and the historical fights between Jews and Gentiles are *less than nothing* to me. The words of Torah and Jesus fit like hand in glove. So – WHATEVER Paul means – I know Paul fits with them, too.

            Like the guy on the island, I happily obey all the parts of the Torah I can obey. God declared circumcision and sin sacrifice OVER. There is no temple and I don’t live in Israel, so there are plenty of other parts I can’t obey.

            And lots of other parts of the Torah are super easy for me to avoid, like bestiality, and mixing crops (I am not a farmer and don’t have a garden).

            But the heart issues and principles behind even the commands that are OVER or IMPOSSIBLE still give me a place to obey. I try to do the minor parts of the Torah without neglecting the weightier matters of the Law like LOVE — an instruction from Jesus, of course.

            ———–

            To address some specific points you raise: “The Law was for ancient Israel alone.” Apart from taking Paul’s teaching out-of-context, or making the extra-biblical assumption that circumcision is a technical term for obeying Torah**, there is no reason to think this. It also contradicts Jesus’ plain words, Paul’s teaching in Ephesians 2, and James 1:22-25.

            Sin is not “merely” the transgression of the Law but all transgression of the Law is sin. The more one is aware of the righteous requirements of Law the more acutely one is aware of his/her inexorable bent toward sinning. Adam and Eve disobeyed what they knew from God. What I know from God includes the Torah. 1 John 3 . . .DOES apply to me, as a Christian.

            Gentile nations were not judged for breaking Sabbath etc. because the oracles of God came first to the Jews. They were responsible only for what they knew (Romans 1:19-20). Any individual gentile who joined with Israel became subject to the Torah, at different levels depending on whether he was a God-fearer or full convert.

            Now that God has revealed to Paul the big “mystery” of the gospel – that Gentiles can become full and equal converts without circumcision – those who join with spiritual Israel at the moment of salvation (Ephesians 2) have the opportunity to learn how to please and obey God. The more they learn from Torah, the more they can – through the indwelling capability of the Holy Spirit – obey. Out of love and gratitude!

            ——————-
            **If circumcision were a code word for obeying the law, there would be no reason for Paul to write in Galatians 5:3, “every man who lets himself be circumcised . . .is obligated to obey the whole law.” He is saying this to shock them into awareness that their attempt to justify themselves by circumcision is actually at attempt to justify themselves by keeping the law ‘good enough’ to please God (v.4). Something no one can do, and something for which the Law was never intended.

    2. Mitch Chapman

      Yeshua IS the Living Torah (Word, Logos, Devar, Memre); John 1:14!
      Torah is the Way: Psalm 119:1
      Torah is the Truth: Psalm 119:142
      Torah is the Life: Deuteronomy 32:46-47

      Yeshua is the Way, The Truth and The Life (John 14:6)

      1. R. L. Solberg

        Hi, Mitch! Respectfully that string of logic does not prove that Jesus is the Torah in the way that you think it does. Is He the way, the truth, the life and the Word? Yes! Does He give us God’s instruction (torah)? Of course! But is Jesus the living Law of Moses? Absolutely not. However, I think we could say that Jesus is the “living Torah” in the sense that He (rather than the Law of Moses) is now the source of God’s instruction for His people. Remember that Jesus is superior Moses (Heb 8:6). The Mosaic Law was given to lead God’s people to Christ (Gal 3:24-25), not the other way around. Blessings, Rob

        1. Mitch Chapman

          Rob,
          Is it really the Law of Moses or is it the Law of G-D? Asked another way WHO is the actual author? Hebrews (think Messianic Jews) chapters 7-9 is about the Priesthood

          [Heb 8:6] But now the work Yeshua has been given to do is far superior to theirs, just as the covenant he mediates is better. For this covenant has been given as Torah on the basis of better promises. CJB

          Yeshua himself better than the Levitical cohanim, as shown in Chapter 7, but the work Yeshua has been given to do is far superior to theirs, since the place where they serve is only a copy and shadow of the heavenly original, referred to in Rev 15:5 as “the Tent of Witness in heaven.” The term, “Tent of Meeting.” speaks of God’s communicating with his people; whereas “Tent of Witness” bespeaks God’s witness to his own righteousness (John 5:37-40, Rom 3:25-26).

          The New Covenant has been given as Torah. This is a virtually unknown theological truth of far-reaching importance. First, although there are many, both Jews and Christians, who suppose that the New Covenant abrogated the Torah, the New Covenant explicitly states that it has itself been given as Torah. But more importantly according to Scripture there remains no such thing as a biblical testament as Jeremiah 31:31 indicates it’s a New COVENANT

          Obviously, since the New Covenant is Torah, then the Torah has not been abrogated. Instead, the New Covenant has been given the same status as the Torah of Moses; that is, it has come to have the highest authority there is, the authority that accompanies promulgation by God himself. One might say that Torah has been expanded — or, better, that Torah has been made more explicit (compare Mt 5:17-48).

          A Gentile grafted into Israel by his faith in Yeshua the Messiah (Ro 11:17-24, Ep 2:8-16) has himself come into the framework of Israel’s Torah. A Gentile Christian should never think of himself as “free from the Law,” as many do because of grace which is a false dichotomy.

          A look at the Greek text will explain why the subject has been ignored. The phrase, “has been given as Torah,” is the passive, perfect-tense verb, “nenomothetetai.” This is a compound word formed from “nomos” and “tithemi.” “Tithemi” is a common word meaning “lay, put, place, make”; and in general — that is, when there is no specifically Jewish context — “nomos” may be translated “law.” Thus “nenomothetetai” in a non-Jewish context means simply “to make law”; when it is used in connection with the Roman Senate or the Athenian Areopagus (Acts:19-22) it is quite properly rendered “to legislate, enact, establish as law.”

          But “nomos” is also the word used in the Septuagint and other Jewish literature written in Greek to render the Hebrew word “Torah.” Since the New Covenant was written by Jews, the word “nomos” or any of its compounds must always be checked wherever it appears to see whether it refers to “law” in general or “Torah” in particular. The word “nomos” appears 14 times in the book of Messianic Jews; and every lime, without exception, it means “Torah” and never merely “law.”

          Also, every place in the New Covenant or the Septuagint where there appears a compound word related to “nenomothetetai” it always has to do with “Torah” and never with “law.” At James 4:12 the word “nomothetes,” the noun formed from the verb used in our verse, is used to describe God as the “one Giver of Torah, with the power to deliver and to destroy.” At Rom 9:4 “nomothesia” the verbal noun (gerund), is rendered “giving of the Torah.” In the Septuagint “nomothetein” which is the active voice of the verb in our verse, is used more than a dozen times to mean “instruct,” the context always implying “instruct in Torah” (and at the same time implying that instruction in Torah involves not only the legal component but the full range of God’s “Teaching” — the literal translation of “Torah”).

          The word in our verse appears at only one other place in the New Covenant Heb 7:11 where we read that the Jewish people “nenomothetetai,” that is, “were given the “Torah.” At 7:11, every translation, without exception, takes the “nomos” in “nenomothetetai” to be not “law” in general but “Torah” in particular — no one thinks an early version of the Knesset (the legislative body of the State of Israel) met on Mount Sinai to pass laws. But in the present verse, even though “nomos” and its compound “nenomothetetai” nowhere in the entire book of Messianic Jews refer to “law” in general, but always to “Torah” in particular, not one translator or commentator has grasped the point that the New Covenant has been given as Torah.

          Although today there is likely no conscious ill intent, I am convinced that the failure to translate “nenomothetetai” correctly is the evolved consequence of an earlier perverse unwillingness on the part of Christians to recognize and emphasize the Jewishness of the New Covenant. This perversity resulted from the wrong theology that regards Christianity as a religion separate from Judaism, having superseded it, and which regards Judaism as a dead religion, whose Law, whose Torah, ceased to be operative when Yeshua came. Like the translation of “telos” in Rom 10:4 as “termination” instead of “goal,” the failure to see that the New Covenant has been given as Torah reflects, even if unconsciously, the antisemitism which came to pervade the Christian Church during the centuries after it had drawn away from its Jewish roots which sadly still exists today with many well intended, but equally misinformed pastors, evangelists, theologians, bible teachers as well as bible college and seminary professors.

          1. R. L. Solberg

            Hi Mitch. I refer to the commandments as the “Law of Moses” because that is the term that Scripture consistently uses to refer to the commands that Yahweh gave Israel at Mount Sinai through Moses (Josh 8:31-32, 23:6; Judges 4:11; 1 Kings 2:3; 2 Kings 23:35; 2 Chron 23:18, 30:16; Ezra 3:2, 7:6, Neh 8:1; Dan 9:13; Luke 2:22, 24:44; John 7:23; Acts 13:39, 15:5, 28:23; 1 Cor 9:9; Heb 10:28). ~Rob

        2. Mitch Chapman

          In response to Gal 3:24-25
          The word translated “custodian” is “paidagogos,” literally, “boy-leader.” In ancient Greece a paidagogos was a slave who conducted a boy to and from school. It is therefore not surprising that the KJV renders the phrase, “the law was our schoolmaster to bring Jews to Messiah” But although the English word “pedagogy” is derived from it, the paidagogos had no teaching functions (see Arndt and Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon…, ad loc.); and although the Torah had as one of its goals leading Jewish people to the Messiah, as Sha’ul explicitly says at Ro 10:4 that is not the import of the present verse. The paidagogos actually would have been a harsh disciplinarian, hired to do a job, with the boy required to obey him. Thus the Torah, because it was perverted into legalism, served in the role of harsh disciplinarian for the Jewish people, providing some protection but generally making the Jewish person aware of many transgressions (v.19), so that the Jewish people might TURN AWAY FROM (perform teshuva aka repent, demonstrate repentance) THE LEGALISTIC PERVERSION (rule-following) and be declared righteous (2:16) on the basis of our trusting and being faithful to Yeshua, whose trusting faithfulness to God the Father purchased our salvation

          1. Mitchell Chapman

            Rob, What version of Scripture are you referring to in yiur response?

            Interestingly, you didn’t reply to my response regarding Hebrews 8:6 and or Gal 3:24-25.

            Will they be forthcoming?

          2. R. L. Solberg

            Hi, Mitch! Sadly, I don’t have the bandwidth to fully respond to all the messages I get on a daily basis. Apologies to you.
            When you say “the New Covenant has been given as torah,” I would agree with you if you’re using the term “torah” in the Hebrew sense of “direction, instruction, teaching,” rather than a synonym for the Laws of Moses. In the New Covenant, are we under God’s direction, instruction, and teaching? Of course! Are we still under the Law of Moses? No.
            Regarding the word testament vs. covenant, they are synonyms. Testament is an old English word that means, “covenant,” or “agreement between two parties.” It was derived from the Latin testamentum. This term was used to translate the Greek and Hebrew words for covenant; berit in Hebrew and diatheke in Greek. Hence the Old and New Covenants came to be referred to as the Old and New Testaments.
            Blessings, Rob

          3. Mitch Chapman

            Rob, For clarification, the “commandments” you refer to comprise ALL of Torah which include the commands, statutes, judgments and testimonies. ALL of these “613” are summarized in Exodus 20:2-17 which is in fact the Marriage Covenant aka Ketubah spoken to Moses at Sinai (20:1) but eventually written by and or with “the finger of G-D” (Ex 24:12).

            The covenant entered into at Sinai was the ketubah aka marriage covenant, which was between and conditional upon the BRIDE (Israel) to remain faithful to her unconditional GROOM. We see the Ancient Near East terms of marriage in Ex 6:7 with the 4th “I will” which represents not only the 4th Cup of Wine at Passover, but the one Yeshua didn’t drink. This 4th Cup is also the Marriage/Betrothal Covenant in the Ancient Hebraic Wedding custom. Israel at this point (Ex 19) was the combined ethnic children of Israel, those from Jacob and the [often forgotten about] mixed multitude (under Pharaoh’s rule); Ex 12:37-42. These two people groups (Jew and Gentile) became the children of Israel who Moses led up out of Egypt during the historical Exodus. They were both physically and spiritually redeemed aka saved and immersed aka baptized in to the Sea of Reeds (Ex 14) before receiving the Torah. The summary of the Ketubah is the 10 Commandments. They are NOT suggestions, even though not a few many forget to remember what remember means in Ex 20:8 The sign of the marriage covenant is specifically indicated in Ex 31:13,16-17 and it is the eternal Shabbat (Ezek 20:12,20) and remains in Isaiah 66:22-23 which not a few many accept as the Millennial Reign.

            The physical terms of the Marriage covenant are given in Ex 21-23 summarized in Ex 24:1-8 as the Book of the Covenant. It was through the molten aka golden calf incident (Ex 32) where the covenant was broken. The covenant they broke” referred to by Jeremiah in 31:32 is the Ketubah, marriage covenant aka book of the covenant NOT the entire Torah. Still not a few many will errantly point to James 2:10. However, it is just not true that under the “Mosaic Law” (Torah) a person who failed to obey a single commandment had destroyed any possibility of getting right with God — as some Christian theologies and denominations continue to teach.

            A covenant is NOT a testament and vise versa. A covenant is a mutual agreement defining an ongoing relationship between the parties without end. They are progressive in nature. The terms of one covenant do not become null and void in a later covenant but they are built upon.

            A testament is a Greek legal document (contract) defining the lawful rights (obligations) between the parties, with a definitive beginning and end. Interestingly KJV affecting western church theology and terminology as well as denominational doctrine and definition renders the Hebrew word for covenant בְּרִית used exclusively in LXX as diathḗkē 13x as “testament” and 20x as covenant.

            Sadly, not a few many perpetuate this false dichotomy with law vs grace as the word “but” doesn’t appear in any Greek manuscript.

        3. Mitch Chapman

          Rob,
          Shavua tov, To the author of this Gospel, the Word of God was both distinct from God and yet at the same time was, in some way, God. This Word of God (Logos/Memra) played an exclusive role in the creation of the world, as we read in the verses above. Moreover, the life force that makes any of God’s creation breathe, move, and exist was intricately connected with and depended upon that very Word of God. (vs.3) In this section, the author of the Gospel compares this Logos/Memra/Word to light shining in the darkness, stating resolutely that the power of darkness was not able to overcome it

          1. R. L. Solberg

            That’s a great quote from Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg! And I don’t disagree with it. ~R.

          2. Mitch Chapman

            Rob you write: “That’s a great quote from Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg! And I don’t disagree with it.” (This Word of God (Logos/Memra)

            My response: …Which is in Hebrew דְּבַר אֱלֹהִֽים) who IS Yeshua but you reject Him as the Living Torah. Please help me to understand your logic and how this reconciles with Hebrews 4:12?

          3. R. L. Solberg

            Hi Mitch. Is Jesus the way, the truth, the life and the Word? Yes! Does He give us God’s instruction (torah)? Of course! But is Jesus the living Law of Moses? Absolutely not. But I think we could say that Jesus is the “living Torah” in the sense that He (rather than the Law of Moses) is now the source of God’s instruction for God’s people. Remember that Jesus is superior Moses (Heb 8:6). The Mosaic Law was given to lead God’s people to Christ (Gal 3:24-25), not the other way around. Blessings, Rob

  4. Mitch Chapman

    Rob,
    Please help me to understand why you wouldn’t desire to follow Yeshua, who IS L-RD of ALL with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and observe, guard, keep, adhere to Torah?

    1. R. L. Solberg

      Hi Mitch. It is my goal to love and follow Yeshua with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. But under the New Covenant, that is not achieved by keeping the Law of Moses. ~Rob

      1. Mitch Chapman

        Rob,
        By doing so, you are by definition a “Torah Observant Gentile”! What would be the reason you choose to do so? To earn salvation? To be justified by the works of Torah? Yeshua commanded you to do you?

        1. R. L. Solberg

          That would be a pretty unorthodox definition, Mitch! The term “Torah-observant” is defined (both technically and popularly) as observing the commands that God gave to Israel at Sinai, as recorded in the Torah. ~Rob

          1. Mitch Chapman

            Rob,
            The historical account of the Exodus indicates there were others than the ethnic children of Jacob (Israel) who Moses led up out of Egypt during the Exodus. This is clearly indicated in Exodus 12:38. The Biblical account records there were always Gentiles who became part of Israel and therefore became Israelites.

    2. Mitch Chapman

      Rob,
      In that there remains grace in Torah, I will chalk up your omission of any reference to Heb 8:5 as part of your 8:6 response. Hebrews Chapters 7-9 remains about the Priesthood. Yes, Yeshua is greater than all those that 8:5 refers to collectively in ALL English bible versions as “who, they, these” who were only and always Levites
      Shavua tov achi

      1. Mitch Chapman

        Rob,
        The Torah remains to provide ALL with faith in the Biblical Yeshua the teachings, instructions, precepts, principles, wisdom and doctrine of YHVH for RIGHTEOUS living.

      2. R. L. Solberg

        Hi, Mitch. Did you know that Hebrews 8:8-12 contains the longest quote from the OT that is found in all the NT? It’s a quote from Jeremiah 31-31-34, which is the original text regarding God’s New Covenant. The quote doesn’t mention the priesthood, BTW. And in the very next verse after this long quote about a new covenant (not a new priesthood), the author says “In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away” (Heb 8:13). But let’s suppose, just for the sake of argument, that the entire quote and following verse are actually about a new priesthood. “For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well” (Heb 7:12). The Law of Moses was fulfilled by Jesus and has come to an end (Gal 3:24-25). Shalom!

  5. Alex

    RL, I am glad I have come across your blog and work! Members of my family have recently become consumed by Hebrew Roots and reading your posts has helped me better understand where their confusion lies and rebuke their Jesus+works soteriology. As you stated, nothing wrong with Christians choosing to observe Torah (though they will always fail to follow the law perfectly), but scripture reveals that one does not need to observe these laws in Christ… Romans 14 describes them as being weaker in their faith, yet faithful nonetheless. However putting faith in Christ and not in your own works strengthens your faith! We should always strive to be the stronger brother and not the weaker one!

    1. Eric L

      Hi Alex,

      In love, you are in error regarding your interpretation of Romans 14.

      To be clear, I am not criticizing your opinion that Torah followers are weaker in their faith, yet faithful nonetheless. I am simply saying that opinion is not supported by Romans 14.

      Romans 14 does not describe weaker Believers following Torah and stronger believers replacing their works with – faith in Messiah. Read it again. What is it about?

      Most of the chapter is focused on some people abstaining from meat because they assume it was sacrificed to idols, vs. others (including Paul) eating the meat *without* assuming it was sacrificed to idols.

      This is the context. Not vegans vs. meat-eaters, or Torah followers vs. non-Torah followers.

      Let us put ourselves in their shoes.

      If you and I lived in a society where much of the meat sold in Kroger was sacrificed to demons (but not labelled as such), would you tend to assume the beef you purchase IS, or IS NOT sacrificed to an idol?

      You and I would want to be careful to AVOID meat sacrificed to an idol of course, based on the words of Jesus in Revelation 2, as well as the Jerusalem council in Acts 15.

      If we ate a potluck at your church after service, some believers would skip ALL the meat to be careful to obey the words of Jesus. They are the ones ASSUMING the meat is biblically tainted.

      Other believers would enjoy the meat, ASSUMING it did not violate the words of Jesus and the Apostles.

      Now imagine those two groups hurling accusations at each other over the dinner table.

      THAT is what prompted Romans 14 to be written. NOT a fight over . . .following Torah or having more faith in Jesus.

      Interesting to note that in both Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8, Paul lands in the “SKIP the MEAT” camp for the sake of love.

      How many of us would rather stand on “faith” and belittle our brother by eating because we KNOW – in faith – that it is OK and CORRECT?

      Paul says that is still wrong, even if it is correct.

      This passage does not really parallel at all the idea of “follow Torah vs. faith in Jesus”.

      The Romans 14 passage also briefly mentions some regarding a day as special and others regarding every day alike. Paul doesn’t specify which of these groups is weaker and which is stronger. Nor should it be assumed the “special day” is Sabbath. In light of Jesus and Paul’s (and the rest of the early church’s) reverence for the Sabbath and obedience to the 4th commandment, it is unlikely the “special day” is the Sabbath. It would be nice to have more context to get a confident interpretation.

      Thank you for reading my thoughts. I wish you the best with not having divisions in your family with those who are trying to follow Torah. Your generous attitude toward them goes a long way toward fulfilling the love Paul describes.

      1. Mitch Chapman

        Eric L,
        Thought you might like this……..
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oAhytdeCuxA

        1. Tony Pino

          Alex and Eric, blessings to you both.

          When one reads Phil 3 correctly, they will understand the issue Paul is dealing with is ethnic superiority. It’s NOT About whether to keep all the Torah or not. Those Paul is dealing with were likely not born a Jew but became one by the oral law/traditions of men of the day by proselytism. There is no law in Torah which states one must be circumcised (i.e., become a Jew) to be part of the covenants of YaH. No one was ever saved by circumcision. These leaders of the area of Philippi held one must become a Jew through circumcision added to faith in Yeshua to be saved. Again, Paul is NOT dealing with whether or not to keep all the Torah laws. It’s a matter of oral laws/traditions of men for the communities.

          Paul is saying, I’m born a Jew and I don’t trust in my ethnicity for salvation but in the work of Yeshua for entrance into the kingdom. Rob is making an argument which is not in the text.

          Blessings again.
          Tony

          1. R. L. Solberg

            Thanks, Tony! Where in Philippians are you seeing evidence that Paul is dealing with ethnic superiority? And that Paul was dealing with those not born Jewish? Is that in the text somewhere? ~Rob

  6. Tony Pino

    Shalom Rob

    I get it right from the context my friend.

    “Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, 👉🏻beware of the mutilation. 👈🏻 For it is 👉🏻we who are the circumcision, 👈🏻 who worship by the Ruach Elohim and glory in Messiah Yeshua and have 👉🏻not depended on the flesh— 👈🏻👉🏻though I myself might have confidence in the flesh also. 👈🏻 👉🏻If anyone else thinks he might depend on the flesh, 👈🏻 I far more— circumcised the eighth day; of the nation of Israel; from the tribe of Benjamin; a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the Torah, a Pharisee;”
    ‭‭Philippians‬ ‭3‬:‭2‬-‭5‬ ‭TLV

    1. mutilation here = circumcision
    2. Paul clarifies this calling his ethnic brothers and himself of the circumcised
    3. Paul clarified he doesn’t depend on his flesh (i.e., circumcise) which means being an ethnic Jew plus Yeshua for salvation
    4. Paul states if anyone should have confidence in the flesh (i.e., ethnicity of being a Jew) It is him.
    5. Paul then goes through his list

    So the problem is not whether one needs to keep all the Torah. The problems is confidence in the FLESH (i.e. ethnic superiority). The issue in Phil 3 is whether or not one must become a Jew through circumcision and believe in Yeshua to be saved

    How do claim it’s about all the Torah in the text?

  7. Tony Pino

    Phil 3
    Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, 👉🏻beware of the mutilation. 👈🏻 For it is 👉🏻 WE WHO ARE THE CIRCUMCISED👈🏻who worship by the Ruach Elohim and glory in Messiah Yeshua and have 👉🏻NOT DEPENDENT ON THE FLESH.👈🏻

    This helps to show me there is a good chance the evil workers and mutilators are gentiles who became Jews by way of proselytism (oral law system of the day) and are prideful on becoming Jews expecting all Gentiles to do the same with their faith in Yeshua.

    1. R. L. Solberg

      Gotcha, Thanks, Tony! So you’re suggesting that, because Paul only specifically mentioned circumcision, he was solely addressing that one Mosaic command, and not the rest of the commands that applied to Israel as a people? In 3:6, Paul claims to have achieved a blameless righteousness under the law, which he executed with zeal. And the Law of Moses was made up of a lot more commands than just circumcision, right? And Paul’s achievement of blamelessness under the law–which means he kept the entire law, not just circumcision—is what he calls “rubbish” in 3:8. Because after meeting Jesus, Paul came to realize that his righteousness under the law paled in comparison to his righteousness under Christ (3:9).
      ~Rob

      1. Tony Pino

        Rob says, “Gotcha, Thanks, Tony! So you’re suggesting that, because Paul only specifically mentioned circumcision, he was solely addressing that one Mosaic command, and not the rest of the commands that applied to Israel as a people?

        Tony Replies: It’s not just about the command of circumcision but what it was made to stand for in the first century. The proselytised system for a gentle to become a Jew was what they wanted to require of every gentile believer who came to faith in Yeshua. They essentially wanted them to become a full Jew to be saved. This is not found anywhere in the Torah. Ethnic superiority was the thinking of the day. Paul was against this line of demands.

        Rob says “In 3:6, Paul claims to have achieved a blameless righteousness under the law, which he executed with zeal. And the Law of Moses was made up of a lot more commands than just circumcision, right? “

        Tony Replies: Paul uses the pharisaic system he grew up with against these leaders who didn’t grow up with it. Remember there isn’t one Judaism but JudaismS of the first century. If anyone knew how to be a superior Jew it was Paul.

        Phil 3:1-10 Is all about being a Jew for salvation. Everything he lists is to show he was more of a superior Jew than them and he was not asking gentiles to become Jews to get saved (i.e., circumcised). The idea of Paul being blameless to the Torah meant he kept the Pharisees traditions of men perfectly which was their standard of righteousness to the law. Yeshua said their standard of righteousness was not true righteousness (Matt 23:1-10, John 5:45-47, 6:19). Following the pharisaic traditional laws of righteousness doesn’t teach you how to walk in righteousness because they didn’t keep Torah correctly. They weren’t superior Jews at all in the eyes of Yeshua. They made all their proselytes twice as much a child of hell as themselves (Matt 23:15).

        Rob says “And Paul’s achievement of blamelessness under the law–which means he kept the entire law, not just circumcision—is what he calls “rubbish” in 3:8. Because after meeting Jesus, Paul came to realize that his righteousness under the law paled in comparison to his righteousness under Christ (3:9).”

        
Reply : What Paul teaches in Phil 3:4-8 is he had all the right credentials for being called a Jew by pharisaic laws and traditions. This meant if anyone should be teaching one must become a Jew to be saved it would be him. He counted all those accomplishments in what someone would call a superior Jew as “rubbish” compared to the work of Yeshua. It’s Yeshua plus nothing for salvations. Even the Torah followers I know like myself hold firmly to this.

        Paul is not teaching no one is required to keep Torah after salvation in Phil 3. The issues are does a gentile need to become a Jew to be saved and the answer is NO.

        Rob my friend, you are creating an argument not in the text.

        1. R. L. Solberg

          Thanks, Tony! I really appreciate your thoughts on this. Iron sharpens iron, right? What you’re saying about Phil 3 is not necessarily wrong. But it’s incomplete. You are unnecessarily constraining Paul’s comments to circumcision. Maybe this is born out of a desire to justify Torah-keeping for Christians? I don’t know. Remember that circumcision is a commanded in the Law of Moses (Lev 12:3). So if Paul is saying that no one is required to be circumcised in the flesh, he’s teaching that no one is required to keep the law of Moses.

          “Look out for..those who mutilate the flesh. For we are the circumcision who worship by the Spirit” (v.2-3). In other words, circumcision of the flesh no longer serves as the sign of God’s people, so don’t put your confidence in it. Paul says, “If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more” (v. 4). And then he lists his Hebrew credentials. “as to righteousness under the law, blameless” (v. 6). And yet, for the sake of Jesus, “I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish” (v. 8). Under the New Covenant, Paul came to realize that whatever righteousness he thought he had achieved by keeping the whole law (not just circumcision) was like so much garbage in comparison to his righteousness under Christ (3:9).

          Blessings, Rob

          1. Tony Pino

            Shalom Rob,

            Rob says, “What you’re saying about Phil 3 is not necessarily wrong. But it’s incomplete. You are unnecessarily constraining Paul’s comments to circumcision. Maybe this is born out of a desire to justify Torah-keeping for Christians? I don’t know. “

            Tony’s replies: The idea of being saved by becoming a Jew is simply the context my friend. Paul is battling those who demand a person become a Jew to be saved like in Galatians. Circumcision is a big issue in the first century and was the main issue. The fact you try to conflate the context into more than what it’s says might be because your trying to protect your theology rather than read the plain meaning of the text. It will always come down to proper context.

            Rob says, “Remember that circumcision is a commanded in the Law of Moses (Lev 12:3). So if Paul is saying that no one is required to be circumcised in the flesh, he’s teaching that no one is required to keep the law of Moses.

            Tony’s reply: The idea of Paul not requiring circumcision means he isn’t requiring to follow the law of Moshe is simply false and something you have never proven. It’s simply a misunderstanding of the Sinai Covenant. Circumcision is the sign of the Avrahamic covenant which has not yet fully been fulfilled. It’s the sign of who is an ethnic Jew and toward the promises given to Avraham and his seed (which includes land and an eternal existence through the messiah. Also the blessing to the nations).

            The law of Moshe was never👉🏻 just 👈🏻 for ethnic Israelites but was also to include the outsider (ger in Hebrew) who lived among them or becoming attached to them. YaH didn’t make it impossible for a gentiles to be part of his covenant people. What you are insinuating is it was impossible for a gentle to have a relationship with YaHat all according to the Sinai Covenant because the Sinai Covenant was only for Israelites. This would say it was impossible for Gentiles to have a relationship with YaH at all. The truth is the only way a gentile had a chance was to become part of Israel and her covenants which YaH always made a way

            We see the pattern in the exodus. All Israelites and the mix multitude were saved by grace (not works and not circumcision) according to Ex 12:37:38. The term mixed multitude comes from the Hebrew word “ereb” which means a people attaching themselves to another people (Brown-Driver-Briggs). The mixed multitude became part of Israel at Sinai, thus became learners of the ketubah (wedding contract). Throughout the torah there is one law for the native and the outsider (a ger was a permanent dweller) living among you. The Ger was to be treated the same and never oppressed by the native. (Exodus 12:49, Exodus 20:10, Exodus 22:20, Exodus 23:9, Leviticus 16:29, Leviticus 17:15, Leviticus 18:26, Leviticus 24:16, Leviticus 24:22, Numbers 15:13, Numbers 15:29, Numbers 15:30, Numbers 19:10, Numbers 35:15, Deuteronomy 1:16, Deuteronomy 29:10-14, Deuteronomy 31:12) 

            Rob says, “Look out for..those who mutilate the flesh. For we are the circumcision who worship by the Spirit” (v.2-3). In other words, circumcision of the flesh no longer serves as the sign of God’s people, so don’t put your confidence in it. “

            Tony replies: Circumcision is a sign of the Avrahamic covenant and will always be. It’s a sign of certain promises to his covenant people. This is eternal and has yet to fully been fulfilled. The sign of YaH’s faithful people has always been faith and a circumcised heart (Deut 10:16). YaH always has demanded a walk of faith by his covenant people to remain part of his covenants. It always involved Israelites and gentiles under the Covenants of YaH. At Sinai YaH betrothed himself to Israel and the New Covenant is still with Israel as the bride (Jer 31:30-34). Gentles have always been able to be grafted into Israel (Ex 12:37-38, Rom 11).

            The Avrahamic covenant is an unconditional covenant and the Sinai Covenant a conditional covenant.

            Rob says, “Paul says, “If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more” (v. 4). And then he lists his Hebrew credentials. “as to righteousness under the law, blameless” (v. 6). And yet, for the sake of Jesus, “I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish” (v. 8). Under the New Covenant, Paul came to realize that whatever righteousness he thought he had achieved by keeping the whole law (not just circumcision) was like so much garbage in comparison to his righteousness under Christ (3:9).
            Blessings, Rob

            Tony replies: my friend you are conflating the list into something not in the text. The list of credentials was Paul showing the leaders if anyone had confidence in the flesh (I.E, being a Jew ) he had more. If anyone could claim salvation by being a Jew it was him.

            Keeping Torah was never about earning salvation even in the Sinai Covenant. All Jews knew they were saved by grace and then were obligated to keep the conditional covenant at Sinai because it was their marriage covenant responsibility to their king. If they (each individual) failed to walk by faith then they would be removed. If the nation failed to walk by faith they would be scattered but always later regathered because of the Avrahamic covenant.

          2. R. L. Solberg

            Oops! You zipped right past what I said. Circumcision is a command that Yahweh gave in the Law of Moses. It’s found in Leviticus 12:3, where, if a woman conceives and bears a male child, “on the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.” Circumcision is a Torah command. Therefore, if Paul says that no one is required to be circumcised in the flesh, it means no one is required to keep the law of Moses. Shalom, Rob

  8. Mitchell Chapman

    Rob,
    Kindly consider the term “upo потоп” (“under law”), which appears five times in Galatians never means simply “under the Torah,” in the sense of “subject to its provisions,” “living within its framework.” Rather, with one easily explainable variation, it is Sha’ul’s shorthand for “living under the oppression caused by being enslaved to the social system or the mindset that results when the Torah is perverted into legalism”

    Christian scholars have discoursed at length about Sha’ul’s supposedly ambivalent view of the Torah. Their burden has been to show that somehow he could abrogate the Torah and still respect it. Non-Messianic Jewish scholars, building on the supposedly reliable conclusion, gratuitously supplied by their Christian colleagues, that Sha’ul did in fact abrogate the Torah, have made it their burden to show that the logical implication of Sha’ul’s abrogating the Torah is that he did not respect it either and thereby removed himself and all future Jewish believers in Yeshua from the camp of Judaism (the so-called “parting of the ways”). In this fashion liberally oriented non-Messianic Jews in the modern era have been able to have their cake and eat it too, to claim Jesus for themselves as a wonderful Jewish teacher while making Paul the villain of the piece.

    But Sha’ul had no such ambivalence. For him the Torah of Moshe was unequivocally “holy” and its commands “holy, just and good” (Rom 7:12). And so were works done in true obedience to the Torah. But in order to be regarded by God as good, works done in obedience to the Torah had to be grounded in trust, never in legalism (Ro 9:30-10:10). If one keeps in mind that Sha’ul had nothing but bad to say for the sin of perverting the Torah into legalism, and nothing but good to say for the Torah itself, then the supposed contradictions in his view of the Torah vanish. Instead of being the villain who destroyed the backbone of Judaism and led Jews astray, he is the most authentic expositor of Torah that the Jewish people have ever had, apart from the Messiah Yeshua himself.

    1. Mitch Chapman

      Rob,
      Likewise consider what the well know С. Е. B. Cranfield, in his commentary on the book of Romans, writes: “…it will be well to bear in mind the fact (which, so far as we know, had not received attention before it was noted in [Cranfield’s article in) the Scottish Journal of Theology, Volume 17,1964, p. 55) that the Greek language of Paul’ s day possessed no word-group corresponding to our ‘legalism,’ ‘legalist’ and ‘legalistic.” This means that he lacked a convenient terminology for expressing a vital distinction, and so was surely seriously hampered in the work of clarifying the Christian position with regard to the law. In view of this, we should always, we think, be ready to reckon with the possibility that Pauline statements which at first sight seem to disparage the law, were really directed not against the law itself but against that misunderstanding and misuse of it for which we now have a convenient terminology. In this very difficult terrain Paul was pioneering. If we make due allowance for these circumstances, we shall not be so easily baffled or misled by a certain impreciseness of statement which we shall sometimes encounter.” (C.E.B. Cranfield, The International Critical Commentary, Romans, 1979, p. 853)

      Cranfield is right — except for his speculation that he was the first. Forty-three years earlier Ernest De Witt Burton, in his classic commentary on Galatians, also made clear that in the present verse “nomos” means “legalism” and not God’s Torah: “Nomou is here evidently used… in its legalistic sense, denoting divine law viewed as a purely legalistic system made up of statutes, on the basis of obedience or disobedience to which men are approved or condemned as a matter of debt without grace. This is divine law as the legalist defined it. In the apostle’s thought it stands for a reality only in that it constitutes a single element of the divine law detached from all other elements and aspects of divine revelation; by such detachment it misrepresents the will of God and his real attitude towards men. By erga nomou Paul means deeds of obedience to formal statutes done in the legalistic spirit, with the expectation of thereby meriting and securing divine approval and award, such obedience, in other words, as the legalists rendered to the law of the Old Testament as expanded and interpreted by them. Though nomos in this sense had no existence as representing the basis of justification in the divine government, yet erga nomou had a very real existence in the thought and practice of men who conceived of the divine law after this fashion…. The translation of this phrase here and constantly… by ‘the works of the law’… is a serious defect of [ version s that have it].” (E. Burton, The International Critical Commentary, Galatians, 1921, p. 120)

      The phrase, “erga nomou,” found only in Sha’ul’s writings, is used eight times, always in technical discussion of the Torah — here three times; 3:2, 5, 10; and Rom 3:20, 28. Two other uses of “erga” (“works”) are closely associated with the word “nomos” (“law”) — Rom 3:27, 9:32. Even when he uses erga by itself, the implied meaning is frequently “legalistic works” (5:19; Rom 4:2,6; 9:11; 11:6; Eph 2:9; 2 Tim 1:9; Tim 3:5), although he uses it 17 times in a neutral way (Rom 2:6; 13:3,12; 2Cor 11:15; Eph 2:10,5:11; Col 1:21; 1 Tim 2:10; 5:10, 25; 2 Tim 3:17,4:14; Tit 1:16; 2:7, 14; 3:8, 14).

      In every instance “erga nomou” means not deeds done in virtue of following the Torah in the way God intended, but deeds done in consequence of perverting the Torah into a set of rules which, it is presumed, can be obeyed mechanically, automatically, legalistically, without having faith, without having trust in God, without having love for God or man, and without being empowered by the Holy Spirit.

      “Erga nomou,'” therefore, is a technical term coined by Sha’ul to meet precisely the need Cranfield has written about; it speaks of legalism, not Law. But because Sha’ul’s subject is misunderstanding and perverting Torah into something it was never meant to be, erga nomou are, specifically, in context, “works of legalism in relation to the Torah” exactly as Burton explained. Therefore, legalistic observance of Torah commands.

    2. R. L. Solberg

      Thanks, Mitchell! Paul viewed the Mosaic commands under the New Covenant as permitted but not required (1 Cor 7:17-24; 9:19-23). This is why He could call the law holy and good (Rom 7:12) and explain how it still serves a purpose in the life of the believer (Rom 7:7-8; 2 Tim 3:16-17), and also teach that under the New Covenant God’s law is fulfilled not by keeping the ceremonial Mosaic commands, but by walking in love according to the Spirit, as Jesus taught (Matt 22:36-40; Rom 8:4, 13:8-10; Gal 5:14, 6:2). Under the New Covenant, Christians are not required to keep the Law of Moses. “But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code” (Rom 7:6).
      Shalom, Rob

  9. Tony Pino

    Rob says, “ Circumcision is a Torah command. Therefore, if Paul says that no one is required to be circumcised in the flesh, it means no one is required to keep the law of Moses. Shalom, Rob”

    Tony’s reply: are you trying to say Paul teaches circumcision has ended and is no longer required at all?

    What chapter and verse does Paul say 👉🏻NO ONE 👈🏻 is required circumcision? Where does Paul say the command of circumcision has ended?

    1. R. L. Solberg

      I think you’re losing sight of your argument, Tony. In your original post you said, “There is no law in Torah which states one must be circumcised (i.e., become a Jew) to be part of the covenants of YaH.” And I just showed you that the Torah does require circumcision (Lev 12:3). You said that in Philippians 3, Paul’s comment about “rubbish” (3:8) wasn’t about keeping the whole Torah, but just about circumcision for salvation. But it turns out that if Paul was counting his own circumcision (for salvation or otherwise) as “rubbish” (3:9), he was counting a Torah command rubbish. So either way, Paul is teaching in this passage that the Law of Moses does not apply to Christians.

      Elsewhere Paul says, “Was anyone at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision” (1 Cor 7:18). He says circumcision (a Torah command) is not required of believers. Same thing in Galatians 2 where Paul explains that “even Titus, who was with me, was not forced to be circumcised, though he was a Greek” (2:3). So the presence of the uncircumcised Titus at the meeting of Jewish leaders shows that the question about whether non-Jewish believers needed to be circumcised (for salvation or acceptance into the Christian community) had already been resolved: circumcision (a Torah command) is not required. And in Galatians 5, “Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you…For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love” (Gal 5:1, 6). And then, of course, there is Acts 15:1-29 where the Judaizers were teaching that circumcision was required. So the Jerusalem Council discussed the issue and decided it wasn’t one of the requirements they would give to the Gentile churches. They decided that circumcision (a Torah command) was not required.

      Shalom, Rob

      1. Tony Pino

        Rob says, “I think you’re losing sight of your argument, Tony. In your original post you said, “There is no law in Torah which states one must be circumcised (i.e., become a Jew) to be part of the covenants of YaH.” And I just showed you that the Torah does require circumcision (Lev 12:3). You said that in Philippians 3, Paul’s comment about “rubbish” (3:8) wasn’t about keeping the whole Torah, but just about circumcision for salvation. But it turns out that if Paul was counting his own circumcision (for salvation or otherwise) as “rubbish” (3:9), he was counting a Torah command rubbish.”

        Tony replies: I never missed your questions or lost sight of my argument. I’m simply showing you keep making major errors in your interpretation my friend. I asked for clarification because the way you worded your response was Paul considers circumcision done away with for 👉🏻ALL (even Jews)👈🏻 and therefore the law of Moshe is done away with. This literally makes no sense.

        The command of circumcision in Lev 12:3 simply is a continuation of the command given of Abraham’s covenant to the ethnic Hebrews. It’s a sign the blessing comes to the ethnic Hebrew and freely to the nations. It is the sign of the covenant never a sign for how someone gets saved. Avraham was saved by faith and not circumcision. This command still stands today, for not all the -Avrahamic covenant has been fulfilled. It still is coming for All spoken of Israel has been fulfilled. All ethnic Hebrews are required to still circumcise their children. According to 👉🏻you 👈🏻Paul now abolished that command and considered it rubbish?

        You continue to miss the context and repeat the same errors in my opinion. Paul isn’t requiring circumcision for the gentiles because others have made it a salvation issue by way of man made traditions (oral law) and 👉🏻NOT 👈🏻 Torah. They are claiming ethnic superiority for salvation. They have made ethnic identity a salvation issue. Paul is stating he doesn’t count his circumcision as requirement for salvation. Paul is saying it’s not circumcision plus Yeshua for salvation. This is why he claims his circumcision as rubbish. It’s only 👉🏻rubbish👈🏻 compared to the 👉🏻work of Yeshua. 👈🏻 The List shows Paul as a perfect Jew compared to the converts to Judaism and yet he doesn’t claim his ethnicity plus Yeshua for salvation. This doesn’t do away with the law of Moshe but puts it in its proper place as a requirement after salvation (i.e., entertaining the kingdom). Again, its only rubbish compared to the work of Yeshua. This doesn’t do away of the command of circumcision as you are suggesting.

        No one has ever been circumcision for salvation. All who left Egypt received salvation and the mixed multitude was not required circumcision. All were required to follow the law of Moshe who attached themselves to Israel. Lev 12:3 is for ethnic born Hebrews to show the sign of Avrahamic covenant and wasn’t required of the 👉🏻ger 👈🏻 who attached themselves to Israel and her covenants. There is no command in the law of Moshe for the 👉🏻ger 👈🏻 To be circumcised to dwell with Israel and be part of the covenants. This is why there is one law for the native as well as the foreigner. The Sinai covenant is not a salvation by works. It’s a salvations by grace.

        Notice the prophetic verses of Deut 30:6-11 how YaH will circumcise the hearts of his people (i.e., done by the work of Yeshua in my opinion ) and they will keep the law of Moshe. Deut 29:14-15 shows Moshe is talking with both ethnic Israelites and gentiles who are welcome to be part of the covenant. The goal of all covenants is to show the promise of the Avrahamic covenant is the blessing goes to the Hebrew and to the nations. This blessing is part of all Israel’s covenants and applies to them all.

        “You are standing today, all of you, before the Lord your God: the heads of your tribes, your elders, and your officers, all the men of Israel, your little ones, your wives, and the sojourner who is in your camp, from the one who chops your wood to the one who draws your water, so that you may enter into the sworn covenant of the Lord your God, which the Lord your God is making with you today, that he may establish you today as his people, and that he may be your God, as he promised you, and as he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. It is not with you alone that I am making this sworn covenant, but with whoever is standing here with us today before the Lord our God, and with whoever is not here with us today.”
        ‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭29‬:‭10‬-‭15‬ ‭ESV‬‬

        “And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live. And the Lord your God will put all these curses on your foes and enemies who persecuted you. And you shall again obey the voice of the Lord and keep all his commandments that I command you today. The Lord your God will make you abundantly prosperous in all the work of your hand, in the fruit of your womb and in the fruit of your cattle and in the fruit of your ground. For the Lord will again take delight in prospering you, as he took delight in your fathers, when you obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep his commandments and his statutes that are written in this Book of the Law, when you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.”
        ‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭30‬:‭6‬-‭10‬ ‭ESV‬‬

  10. Eric L

    Tony! You lined up the nails and hit them on the head!

    “others have made it a salvation issue by way of man made traditions (oral law) and 👉🏻NOT 👈🏻 Torah.”

    “It’s only 👉🏻rubbish👈🏻 compared to the 👉🏻work of Yeshua.”

    “The Sinai covenant is not a salvation by works. It’s a salvations by grace.”

    1. Tony Pino

      Eric, amen
      Much has to do with understanding YaH doesn’t change and know the two laws of the first century which one is oral law and other is the law of Moshe. The two are not exactly the same. The same grafting in of the ger into Israel we see at Sinai is the same way the ger is grafted into the New Covenant into Israel (Jer 31:30-34) in much a grander way because it’s eternal life in Yeshua and through his work. It’s all by faith through grace. The ger enjoys all the same blessings given to Israel which includes the blessing of keeping the laws of the kingdom which still includes the law of Moshe until the new heaven and new earth come (Matt 5:17-19).

      1. R. L. Solberg

        Amen, Tony! God does not change. And it’s important to remember that the Law of Moses is not everything God commanded. The “laws” of God that run the universe and define right and wrong have been true from the very beginning and will never change. Murder and greed and wickedness and sin were wrong long before the Law of Moses, and they will always be wrong. Because those things are contrary to the very nature of God. The Law of Moses, on the other hand, was given at a specific time to specific people for a specific purpose. Much of what was given at Mount Sinai included God’s universal “laws,” of course. Because they never change! But much of the Law of Moses was given to turn a ragtag group of recent slaves into a nation set apart for God: Israel. And embedded in those laws of ceremony, ritual, distinction, and civil order were shadows that pointed to Christ. And it’s those laws that have been fulfilled by Christ and are no longer binding under the New Covenant.

        Not every command that our unchanging God has given applies to every person at all times. Some of His commands were only given for certain people or certain times (see: Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses). And we’re each only expected to keep the commands of God that apply to us. And the ceremonial mosaic commands do not apply to Christian’s today. As I just demonstrated with the example of circumcision. You could also consider the Yom Kippur sacrifice for sin commanded under the Law of Moses, which is no longer required, because Jesus was our sacrifice “once for all” (Heb 10:10), and therefore “there is no longer any offering for sin” (Heb 10:18).

        Blessings, Rob

    2. R. L. Solberg

      None of the commands of the law of Moses were a matter of salvation. And while circumcision was required under the law of Moses, it is not under Jesus. Blessings, Rob.

      1. Tony Pino

        Shalom Rob,

        So many errors in your comments my friend. The pattern of the bible shows each covenant builds upon another. None of the covenants have ceased. The offerings point us to Yeshua. They were and are still a shadow pointing to the reality. Both the Sinai and New covenant are operating side by side right now. As the Sinai covenant was made to Israel with grafted in gentiles (not needing circumcision) to be part of the covenant so the New Covenant is made with Israel and has grafted in Gentiles the same way as Roman 11 teaches.

        YaH has been building on each one giving progressive revelation of his plans concerning Yeshua redeeming and restoring all things through his bride Israel (which always constitutes Israelites and grafted in gentiles). They are all in the process of being fulfilled in Yeshua but none will pass away until all is fulfilled. When Yeshua returns to finish the work he began and defeat death being the final enemy (1 Cor 15:23-24), Only then will the Covenant of Avraham and the Sinai Covenant be fully fulfilled. You continue to contradict the words of Yeshua in 5:17-19 along with passages in the TaNaK. You show (in your comments above 👆) a works salvation theology for the Sinai covenant, falsely interpreting one must become an Israelite to be saved with your interpretation of Lev 12:3. The Sinai covenant is still to operate and will be required when Yeshua returns for the offering system will still be in play (Deut 30:1-11, Jer 33:14-26, Ez 36:22-36, Zechariah 14:21-23, Isaiah 2:1-4 and more ).

        As Isaiah 56:1-8 states the Covenant is not just for an Israelite but for all nations as Isaiah and Yeshua (Matt 21:23, Mark 11:17 says, “My House is a House of prayer for all nations.”

        Hebrew 10:18 doesn’t do away with the law of Moshe. The Torah is a shadow pointing to the reality (Hebrew 10:1). It’s the way it was always designed. The shadow and the reality can and do co-exist. One pointing to the other. The work of Yeshua now shows the requirement for sin has been fulfilled. Again the shadow simply points to that fact and doesn’t contradict the reality. The Shadow must be done until all spoken of Yeshua in the law and the prophets of fulfilled (Matt 5:17-19).

  11. Eric L

    Yes! Gentiles being joined to the Lord’s people has been upgraded in the new covenant, and is now a normal part of the salvation process, even though most ethnic Jews and gentiles don’t recognize it.
    Foreshadowed at Sinai and made more full today.
    Unfortunately, many Gentiles want to love the Lord without loving His FULL renewed covenant, which includes His people, His Torah, and the land of Israel.
    Appreciate you, Tony.

  12. In Search of Truth

    Professor, I have found that some things are best left to Jesus to sort out. It is as if these people argue the Bible by reading it from a broken mirror. Part of one line is completed somewhere else on the page due to the distortion and backwardness they insist on. I put it back to the blindness that GOD said HE would put on Israel. It also stuffs up their ears and hardens their hearts. Yeshua is never a high priority of an argument for them. They tend not to recognize Yeshua’s deity as being GOD. And HIS authority to finish one covenant and begin another.

  13. Mitch Chapman

    In Search of Truth,
    Based upon the name you hide behind I must ask are you really “in search of truth”?

    For clarification, who are the “these people” you reference?
    Regardless, you are making a blanket statement that although is partially true is NOT an absolute truth as I can personally attest to since July 31, 1993. Yeshua, is the priority as He was in the Garden walking and talking with Adam/Eve who also appeared to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the true fathers of “the so called church. ”

    It appears you too have bought into the new Dispensation Theology and it’s doctrines, which is about 180+/- years old. Is it at all possible you have not properly understood the difference between a BIBLICAL covenant and a ‘biblical” testament? Kindly help this “born again Jew” who remained Jewish when he came to faith in the BIBLICAL Yeshua on July 31,1993 where the English word ‘testament’ appears in TaNaK aka the Hebrew Scriptures. No one has been able to show me; but I’m willing to repent. Regardless, no one I’ve ever asked in 29+ years has been able to do so.

    May I strongly suggest that instead of taking the easy route by blaming my Jewish people for not accepting our Messiah; that you become part of the solution. How often in your life have you personally applied Romans 1:16? Would you know how to effectively “witness” to my Jewish people? Where would you start? What would you say? Which Scripture(s) would you use? (Hint: Romans Road won’t work).

What do you think?

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