Part 10: Christ, Paul & The Law

Hypocrisy was a big concern of Christ.  In his teaching years he took the religious power holders to task for being so.  The problem was they were adding onto the Torah and the teachings of the prophets (collectively referred to as “the Law”).  These add-ons, their rules and regulations for the common people to follow which they often excluded themselves from, were the only laws Christ and the apostles wanted done away with.  After all, Christ’s Holy Spirit wrote the Torah and inspired the prophets!

“How terrible for you, hypocritical scholars and Prushim [Pharisees]!  For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, but neglect the weighty things in the Torah: justice, kindness, and faith.” Matthew 23:23.   The Delitzsch Hebrew Gospels: A Hebrew/English Translation. © 2011 by Vine of David, vineofdavid.org, p. 93.

“Hypocrites!  Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying ‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me.  And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”  Matthew 15:7-9 (NKJV).

When the Pharisees and the Herodians tried to bait Christ to espouse treason against Rome he replied: “Why do you test Me, you hypocrites?  Matthew 22:18 (NKJV).

“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.”  Matthew 23:13 (NKJV).

“He said to them: “Thus it is written and decreed that the Mashiach [Messiah] will be afflicted and will arise from the dead on the third, and that teshuvah will be proclaimed in his name and the forgiveness of sins among all nations beginning with Yerushalayim [Jerusalem].”   Luke 24:46.  The Delitzch Hebrew Gospels: A Hebrew/English Translation, p. 325.

Early in his ministry Christ made it clear that he was pro-Torah.  “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets.  I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.”  Matthew 5:17 (NKJV).

Paul & the Torah

“Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good.”  Romans 7:12 (NKJV).

Those who think Sha’ul [Paul] sought an escape from the Jewish Law in order to make Christianity easy for pagan converts must find this verse difficult.  It proves that [he] neither had an un-Jewish view of the Law nor desired to abrogate it.  This verse witnesses to [his] lifelong high regard for the Torah, which corresponds to his lifelong observance of it (see Acts 13:9N, 21:21N).  This attitude would have been with him from his youth, since his parents were Pharisees (Acts 23:6); it would have been strengthened by his studies with Rabban Gamli’el (Acts 22:3); and there is no reason to suppose that his coming to faith in Yeshua –who did not “come to abolish the Torah” (Matthew 5:17) – would have changed it.  Daniel H. Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary, Jewish New Testament Publications, Inc., ©1992, p. 378.

Here is Paul’s great tribute to the Law.  It is caused by or filled with the Spirit of God.  Paul condemns law only on one ground- legalism.  He resists that view which regards law as a lien upon the being of God- by which God is obligated to do this or that for man (e.g. to save him) because man has kept certain statutes.  The Wycliff Bible Commentary, The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago, ©1962, p. 1204.

Paul was pro-Torah (and against legalistic rule following) but not to the point that following the Torah might discourage the spreading of the faith to the Gentiles.

In Eph. 2:14-15, Paul is speaking about how the gentiles who were called the un-circumcision (v. 11), were separated from Christ (v. 12), but have now been brought near (to God) by the blood of Christ (v. 13). Jesus removed the requirement of having to follow the Law in order to please God, established justification by faith, and thereby united both Jew and Gentile into one group in Christ.  This is when Paul says in verse 15 that he abolished in his flesh the enmity which is the law of commandments in ordinances.  The Law was that which separated Jew from Gentile and since it has been fulfilled in Christ, it is no longer something that would separate Jew and Gentile.  Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry, carm.org.

He was involved in another similar disagreement found in Acts 15:1-29.  In the end the only thing required of Gentile believers was to avoid four cited sins.  Somehow, over the centuries since, this has been misunderstood that the Torah was to be entirely disregarded, thrown out all-together, even for Jewish followers of Christ.

Paul was adamant that trusting in Christ doesn’t abolish the Law; rather it confirms it:  “Do we then make void the law through faith?  Certainly not!  On the contrary, we establish the law.  Romans 3:31 (NKJV).


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