Keith Hunt - From the Mind of a Christian Jew #2- Page Two   Restitution of All Things

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From the Mind of a Christian Jew #2

Messiah - Covenants - Acts


FROM THE MIND OF A JEWISH CHRISTIAN #2

by Juster (1986)


THE NATURE OF MESSIANIC PROPHECY 


     Before leaving the topic under discussion - Yeshua and the
call of Israel - it would be wise to state our viewpoints
concerning the nature of Messianic prophecy or those passages
from the Old Testament which are usually used to "prove" that
Yeshua is the Messiah.
     At times, followers of Yeshua have been zealous to quote
passage after passage as predicting the details of His life.
Unfortunately, thoughtful people who have checked out some of
these references claim that some do not speak of the Messiah at
all, but of Israel or King David. If what we have written
heretofore is correct, the problem is not that Yeshua doesn't
fulfill many predictions, but that the word "fulfill" does not
always mean to resolve a prediction. It oftentimes means to fill
up the meaning of Israel's history and to bring it to its epitome
of meaning.
     We believe in Yeshua because of the reality of the faith
walk with God we experience through Him; answered prayer,
supernatural healing and peace. We not only believe in Yeshua
because He fulfills the predictions, but because of the evidence
that He is the representative of Israel and Israel's meaning as
focused in one individual. Further, we believe because of the
nature of the Gospel reports of His wonderful teaching, His
amazing healing ministry and the excellent testimony of His
resurrection.
     We have already looked at those passages which speak of His
solidarity with Israel. They are not predictions, strictly
speaking, but tell of events which fill up the meaning of
Israel's history in the Messiah-representative. We have looked as
well at His marvelous teaching, incisive and with authority; not
as the Scribes. His resurrection is the best attested fact of
ancient history. There are several sources: the Gospels and the
writings of Paul, James, Peter and Jude. They all assert a real
resurrection and an empty tomb. The disciples of the disciples -
the fathers of the Church - in their writings, verify the
testimony of the disciples as well as the fact that most of them
died for this testimony of truth. These are not the stories of
liars or deluded men. The disciples testified that Yeshua
appeared publicly, taught, ate and fellowshipped with them over a
period of forty days before His ascension.
     Those who opposed the movement only had to produce His body
to end the movement. Yet, as the great scholar Merril Tenney
said, "only the reality of the resurrection can explain the
establishment of this movement among thousands of Jews in
Jerusalem and its spread to the uttermost part of the earth." No
other theory does justice to all of the facts. After years of
personal skepticism and searching out every angle, I can testify
that this evidence now speaks more strongly than ever. Read the
Gospels in an unbiased way. Who but Yeshua died as a sacrifice in
love and even as He hung on the cross said, "Father forgive them
for they know not what they do"? Here the depths of the love of
God touched the human race.
     Since my earlier days of skepticism I have witnessed
miracles of healed lives through the mighty name of Yeshua,
bodies healed, the healing of inner hurts, families restored,
addicts healed without withdrawal, and schizophrenia healed - all
through the ministry of prayer in Yeshua's name. In the light of
the whole context of Israel's purpose to be light, in the light
of the fact that through Yeshua the Scriptures have spread to the
non-Jewish world, in the light of the foregoing, I can only ask,
how can you not believe in Yeshua?

     Too, there are those real predictions. Only Yeshua ties
together the meaning of the Scriptures and human history in a
coherent way: His birth in Bethlehem was predicted (Micah 5:2).
It was predicted (Daniel 9:25) that the Messiah would be cut off
before the destruction of the second Temple and then confirm a
covenant to the nation. It was predicted that the New Covenant
would be established and the Holy Spirit would be poured out on
all flesh. This occurred as recounted in Acts 2 (see Joel 2 and
Ezekiel 36). People from all over the Mediterranean world - Jews
who spoke different languages of the countries of their
habitation - came to Jerusalem for the feast of Shavout. All
heard the Good News of Yeshua preached in their own tongues by
people who didn't even know these languages.
     Isaiah 53 refers to Yeshua, His sacrifice and resurrection
for us. I remember a brilliant biology professor in Chicago who
came to our congregation. He had become interested in the Bible
and began to teach the Tenach as he learned it to Jewish people
from all over the city. He had five evening classes with several
rabbis in attendance. When he came to the Messianic prophecies
which have been taken to refer to Yeshua, he avoided the
conclusion that Yeshua is the Messiah and convinced himself of
other interpretations. However, when he came to Isaiah 53, no
other interpretation but that this passage referred to Yeshua
could be made to fit the chapter. In turmoil he cancelled all his
classes. Later he became a follower of Yeshua. What was so
convincing to the professor? It was a description that fits
Yeshua perfectly and no one else. We do not deny the fact that
Israel, also, has played a role as the suffering servant.
     However, as the servant songs of Isaiah progress (there are
four major songs from Isaiah 40-53) the image becomes more and
more focused on an individual who works in representation of
Israel. A simple reading of the chapter shows us that the
Scripture cannot be fully applied to Israel! "He is despised and
rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief and
we (Israel) esteemed Him not. He was wounded for our
transgressions and bruised for our iniquities." Could it be said
of Israel that "He made his grave with the wicked and with a rich
man in his death"? Yet Yeshua died between the wicked and the
rich man, Joseph of Aramathea, was with Him in death and buried
His body. Yeshua returned from the dead, fitting the sense of
this chapter also.
     The Scriptures teach that Yeshua died as an atonement for
our sins. This teaching grates upon modern sensibilities and
pride but is a perfectly consistent doctrine, though of great
depth. How is this so? Scripture teaches the truth of our own
individual responsibility for our own acts. However, it does not
teach that we can atone for our own sins. In fact, Scripture does
not see men and women as separate individuals, but sees them
rather in terms of their identity within the family, the nation
and the human race.
     In Scripture, we are a fallen race. Adam died because of his
sin; the whole human race dies because it is also under the power
of sin through its connection to Adam. Our connection with a
fallen race is part of our identity. We are considered dead to
God. The Bible teaches that we are to be perfect, just as God is
perfect. God is perfectly holy and cannot look upon sin without
judgment. What then is the solution?

     We can accept Yeshua's death for us and His resurrection and
be accounted as having died in Him and been raised to new life in
Him. In other words, we may change our spiritual racial descent
from the fallen race of Adam by identifying with the perfect man:
Yeshua. We are accepted by God in Him. We are considered as
having paid the price, in Him. Biblical scholars have long known
of this truth about the idea of man's connection to the human
race and to its representatives. They have called this the
concept of "corporate solidarity." When we identify with God's
work in Yeshua for us and receive Him as Savior, we are recreated
in the depths of the inner man. We are not fully perfect, but are
given a recreated spirit (II Corinthians 5:17). His life is in
our lives and we are bound up with Him.

     Let us note that the biblical idea of atonement is not just
a concept of another person dying for our sins so we go free no
matter what we do or no matter what kind of people we are. This
is a common misperception. Yeshua, rather, is representative -
God and representative - man. As representative God, He
demonstrates the love of God and the suffering that God Himself
experiences for the human race. God suffers our every sin and
pain and yet desires to forgive. This is manifested most fully at
the cross. As representative man, Yeshua, in His loving identity
with us, suffers what we would not suffer. He shows fully the
destructive nature of sin, which seeks to destroy Him, the
perfect man. When we believe in Him, we repent of our sins and
identify with Him in such a way that He lifts our burden. To be
under His atonement we must be part of Him.
     Yeshua is not just a separate being (from us) who dies in
our stead. God expects us to respond to this great act of mercy;
and if we do, we are under His representative's cover; racially
and spiritually in him. Just as Adam's sin corrupted the whole
race, so the righteousness of Yeshua is now in us. In the
resurrection, He will bring us to complete sinlessness.
Therefore, both because He paid the price representatively and we

are judged as part of Him by God (as some have said, when God
looks to us He sees the righteousness of Yeshua) and because we
are now children of God headed toward perfection, God can fully
accept and forgive us while yet maintaining the absolute holiness
and inviolability of His law.
     Certainly this does not even plumb the depths of the
atonement. Yet it fits the nature of life itself. We find that
children do participate in the life of their parents, but are not
totally bound by their inherited tendencies. We find that people
who love us suffer terribly when we sin; yet they are willing to
bear the cost of our sin and forgive us when we repent. We find
that when another cries and suffers with us, the burden of shame
and grief is lifted.
     In Yeshua, God brought these realities to bear upon the
whole human race that we might have our burden lifted, that we
might be forgiven and be made new creatures in Him. It is to this
that the (Old Testament) sacrificial system of substitution
points. Praise God for these wonderful truths and the power of
goodness that comes into our lives by faith when we truly
believe.


THE COVENANT STRUCTURE OF THE OLD AND NEW TESTAMENTS

     Meridith Kline, from his studies of the covenant documents
of the Torah, perceived that the whole Bible takes on the
character of covenant documents. The parallel structure and
coherence between the Tenach (Old) and the New Covenant
Scriptures is amazing! The present arrangement of the Scriptures
is not accidental; it reflects that covenant structure. Even if
placed in different orders, the general structure of the Bible
shows a very coherent character which yields a deep sense of
inspiration by the same covenant-making God.
     The Tenach (the Old Testament) begins with the Torah, the
five Books of Moses. These books are the covenant foundations for
all of Scripture. They record the creation, the fall, the Noahic
Covenant, the Abrahamic Covenant, the lives of the patriarchs
(who were the recipients of the Abrahamic Covenant) and the
Mosaic Covenant.

     Actually, four of these books are devoted to the history of
the Exodus period and to the covenants and legislation, which
became the foundation of life in ancient Israel. We have called
this covenant material the Mosaic Covenant. Israel is the
recipient of the Abrahamic and Mosaic Covenants. These documents
are foundational for all future revelation; for God's character
and law are revealed in them. Furthermore, prophets are to be
judged by their consistency to these Covenant documents.
(Deuteronomy 13,18).
     Prophetic-historical books follow the Torah: Joshua, Judges,
Ruth, I and II Samuel, I and II Kings, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther,
etc. These books are not mere history, but inspired accounts that
interpret the meaning of Israel's history in the light of her
responses to the Torah. As such, the books are based squarely
upon Torah, as well as serving to inspire fidelity to the Torah
as the covenant foundation of Israel's life.
     Even the Book of Ruth shows us life among the covenant
people in a personal vein. And the Book of Esther shows us the
preservation of God's covenant people, as promised to Abraham.
All is built squarely upon Torah.
     The poetical books then follow, which describe the
expressions of faith by a covenant people in literature, worship
and proverb. 
     After poetry, the prophetic books follow. The role of the
prophets was consistently to call Israel back to Torah. Their
predictions of judgment and blessing followed from the promises
and curses laid down by God in Torah (Leviticus 26). At times
their predictions were amazing as in the detailed fulfillments of
judgment.
     It was in the light of Israel's national failure that the
prophets looked forward to the coming of the New Covenant. This
hope was also based upon Torah truth; for the prophets looked for
a way that man could both be accounted as righteous before God
and empowered to perform His Law by the power of the Spirit
(Ezekiel 36). Even the Messianic prophecies fit the implications
of the Torah. This includes the promise of worldwide blessing
given through Abraham, to be fulfilled finally and most fully in
the Messianic Days or the Millenial Kingdom. It also includes the
need of Messiah to suffer, die and rise again, for the whole
Temple sacrificial system pointed to Him. Yeshua could well say
that Moses wrote of Him and His ministry.

     The New Covenant Scriptures, built upon God's revelation in
the Tanach, exhibit an amazing similarity of structure. The four
gospels, parallel to Torah, are the primary covenant documents.
They record the history of the One who made the Covenant, as well
as the foundation event of the Covenant in His life, death and
resurrection. They record His words instituting the people of the
New Covenant (Matthew 16, etc.) as well as the promise of the
Spirit, which is central to the New Covenant.
     Yeshua Himself, in a sense, is our New Covenant with God;
and the Gospels are the portraits of Yeshua. The Book of Acts is
also a prophetic-historical book, telling us what happened among
the people who accepted the New Covenant. It also interprets the
implications of this New Covenant. The twenty-one letters to the
various New Covenant congregations parallel the writings of the
prophets. They call the people to fidelity to the New Covenant in
the midst of their straying. They apply the New Covenant and its
implications to the specific situations which arise. They also
have material which is predictive and looks forward to the return
of Messiah and His reign through Israel over all the earth.
     At the end of all this material is one great book of
prophecy which ties together all the material of Scripture
concerning the dangers of the last days, as well as the coming of
the Messiah to rule and reign upon earth. This book strengthens
believers in the midst of persecution by showing the ultimate
Lordship of Yeshua over all the forces of evil.

     The Bible is a marvelous unified and coherent revelation.
Truly "men spake from God as they were moved by the Holy Spirit"
(II Peter 1:21). Their personalities were not violated, but they
conveyed the very words God intended to communicate - whether
through the dictation to Jeremiah of a "Thus saith the Lord" and,
"write these words," to the letters of Paul to Timothy. The
Scriptures are uniquely the inspired Word of God, revealing a God
who acts in history and speaks in history and who seeks to redeem
history as it progresses to the Age of Messiah. Indeed, the Bible
is "His-story," which has no parallel in any of the quasi-
religious literature of the world.


THE BOOK OF ACTS 

     It is only in recent years that the Book of Acts has been
given its due as a most significant book for our understanding of
holistic New Testament teaching. In years past, the Book of Acts
was read as an exciting history of what happened during the forty
or so years after Yeshua's ascension. However, when issues of
doctrine were at stake, the Book of Acts was passed over and
people turned intead to the epistles for answers. This was
unfortunate, for the Book of Acts provides the context for
understanding the epistles.
     Furthermore, a deeper reading of the Book of Acts - the
sequel to the Gospel of Luke - exhibits a selection of material
and an organization that is clearly intended to bring out a more
complete understanding of the movements of the followers of
Yeshua. Central to this purpose is the clarification of the
relationship between Jews and Gentiles in the "kaheelah," or
church of the Messiah. It is now commonly recognized among
biblical scholars that Luke is a writer who seeks to convey
theological understandings. Luke, the travel companion of Paul,
researched his material well and wrote his work after most of
Paul's epistles. The Epistles of Paul are written for very
specific situations, and a lack of understanding of those
situations can cause us to generalize from the epistles in ways
that illustrate poor interpretation. However, Luke's perspective
is general: a summary made after the epistles were written. The
perspective of his work on the issues that involve Messianic Jews
will therefore be less misleading.
     The Book of Acts begins with the record of Yeshua's
ascension. As previously noted, the disciples are concerned about
the establishment of the Kingdom on earth through Israel. Yeshua,
however, reminds them to be patient and to do God's work; the
times and seasons are in the hands of the Father (Acts 1). As we
concluded earlier, this passage foresees a continued purpose for
the nation of Israel, as well as an eventual coming to the world
of the earthly reign of the Messiah as presaged by the prophets.
However, the disciples are told to wait for the outpouring of the
"Ruach Ha-Kodesh," the Holy Spirit, after which they will be
mighty witnesses of all that God has done through Yeshua (Acts
1:8). Their ministry is to have worldwide dimensions according to
this passage. Yet the disciples believed that this worldwide
dimension was to come by witnessing to Jews scattered all over
the world. They believed that gentiles would also respond, but
they thought they would do so by becoming Jews at the return of
the Messiah once Israel had accepted His Good News.
     The account of the coming of the Spirit on the day of
Shavuot (Pentecost) is one of the most wonderful in all of
Scripture. Remember that the 120 who were gathered in the upper
room in prayer on this day were all Jews. We read that there
appeared tongues of fire on each one of them and they began to
speak other languages as the Spirit gave them utterance.
     We should recall that the feast of Shavuot is one of the
three major feasts of Israel, for which men were to travel to
Jerusalem. Hence we read that devout men from every nation under
heaven were dwelling in Jerusalem for the feast. This fact is
incredibly overlooked: the men at the feast from all these
nations were Jews, Jews who spoke the languages of the countries
from which they resided. This miracle of languages points to the
truth that the Good News was for every nation and tongue. Yet at
that time it was only the Jews from those nations who were
hearing the Good News. We read of the crowd who gathered that
"they were bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in
his own language." They were amazed and asked, "Are not all these
who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of
us in his own native language, Parthians and Medes and Elamites
and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia,
Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt ... and the parts of Libya ... and
visitors from Rome ... we hear them telling in our own tongues
the mighty works of God?" (Acts 2:5-11).
     It is true that proselytes were present on this occasion;
but proselytes were converts to Judaism or would-be converts. It
was Peter who stood up and gave the great interpretation of the
event. His message is a ringing affirmation of the truths of the
Messiah's life, death, resurrection, ascension and return. He
calls upon the people gathered to repent: The miracles were
undeniable; Yeshua was resurrected. Many signs and wonders were
done and those who were added to this young congregation of
believers numbered about 3,000. A significant congregation of
Jewish believers in Yeshua thus was established at Jerusalem.
Their lives were changed and there was a demonstration of love
and an unparalleled sharing. They sold their possessions to meet
each other's needs, broke bread in one another's homes and
enjoyed a deep fellowship and praise toward God.
     The disciples - most prominently Peter and John - continued
their miracle works and teaching under the power of God. Although
the Jewish religious establishment sought to prohibit them, and
whipped them for doing so, they continued the work under
obedience to the Spirit. This they considered a privilege - to
suffer for Yeshua and righteousness' sake.

     There are a few things to note in these chapters for our
discussion: First, the number of followers swelled to over 5,000
(4:4). Second, we note that Peter still addressed the people as
"sons of the prophets and of the covenant which God gave to your
fathers, to Abraham..." (3:25). The covenant with Abraham is
still perfectly valid and is fulfilled and will be fulfilled in
Yeshua's ministry according to 3:26 and Acts 4. The story of Acts
continues with the death of Ananias and Sapphira for lying to the
Spirit of God about their contribution, the arrest and beating of
disciples, great miracles of healing, the famous speech of
Gamaliel to let the movement be, "for if it is not of God it will
come to naught...." (5:37-39).

(A good example here of "general statements" used in the Bible,
many many times, for not everything that is not of God comes to
naught - i.e. the Roman Catholic church - she is the Babylon of
the book of Revelation, and she has deceived the whole world -
she is huge in membership - over one Billion around the world. I
have a study on this website called "A Key - General Statements"
which you need to study if you have not done so. It is one
important key in reading the Bible - Keith Hunt)

     In Chapter six we read of the appointment of deacons to
serve the congregation, thus freeing the apostles for teaching
and prayer. This was occasioned by the fact that Hellenistic
Israel's Call and the New Testament Jews (Greek-speaking)
complained of unfair treatment toward their widows and needy in
the distribution of community funds. One of the deacons appointed
was Stephen.
     Stephen had a powerful preaching and teaching ministry.
Others hated his teaching and conspired to have Stephen arrested
on (trumped-up) charges of blasphemy. Acts 7 records Stephen's
great defense in a sermon that recounts the whole of Israel's
history.
     At the end of his speech, Stephen made a strong accusation
against his accusers, calling them stiff-necked, uncircumcised in
heart and ears, resisting the Holy Spirit and following in the
tradition of those who killed the prophets. They were enraged and
stoned Stephen (illegally) on the spot; but Stephen saw a vision
of Yeshua and prayed for Him to receive his Spirit.
     In all of this, the Good News still has not really spread
beyong geographic Israel. The struggle is between Jews who follow
Yeshua and a Jewish religious establishment that seeks to destroy
the movement. It is the persecution which follows (in Acts 8)
which finally becomes the means of forcing the Good News out of
its confinement.
     As already stated, there was no sense yet that the Gospel
was to be offered freely to gentiles; the Good News was for Jews
only! 
     Chapter 8 begins the story of God's preparation for
a change of understanding by: spreading the Gospel to the
Samaritans, the amazing conversion of Saul to the movement, and
the wonderful story of Peter and the conversion of the
Gentile-proselyte Cornelius. This prepared the apostles to accept
a ministry to the Gentiles. The most prominent ministry was the
work of Saul, the former great persecutor of the "followers of
the Way," the earliest name for believers in Yeshua (see Acts
7:58 and 8:1).
     Chapter 8 records Philip's preaching to the Samaritans. The
response was tremendous. Many believed and many were cleansed
from unclean spirits; many were healed. Philip baptized in the
name of Yeshua, but strangely, the Holy Spirit did not come upon
them. The story of Acts 8 is not an example of the way the Spirit
must come to indwell a person, but is rather exceptional because
these people were Samaritans. In general, people could receive
the Spirit without the apostles' laying on of hands. Unless the
apostles became the source of their receiving the Spirit,
however, the conversion of the Samaritans would be suspect, for
the Samaritans were not accepted as Jews. They were considered
"halfbreeds," who no longer followed the truth.

(The truth of the Samaritans the author does not fully give. The
Jewish Encyclopedia has a long article on what was really a sect
of Judaism - but their theology was so different in certain ways,
the Jews would have nothing to do with them - Keith Hunt)

     
     Great hatred grew between the Jews and Samaritans. The
latter worshipped at Mt. Gerizim, not Jerusalem. They accepted
the Torah (namely, the Books of Moses), but not the prophets and
were accommodated to pagan elements. Many Jewish "followers of
the Way" would certainly have held that Samaritans could not
accept Yeshua unless they renounced their Samaritan religion.
Peter and John laid hands upon the Samaritans and they received
the Holy Spirit with supernatural manifestations. We are not told
what these manifestations were. It might have been prophecy,
tongues, etc. However, it was a clear manifestation of the Spirit
and there would be no dispute from the Jerusalem Congregation as
to its veracity. Yet to accept the Samaritans, who, despite their
errors had a Jewish ancestry and accepted the Torah, was quite
different than accepting gentiles who were foreign and pagan.
     How providential was the conversion of Saul (Acts 9)! He was
a student of Gamaliel, the greatest rabbi of his day; he was a
Roman citizen from Tarsus; he was a Pharisee of the Pharisees
(Philippians 3:5,6). He journeyed to Damascus with letters of
authority from the Jerusalem establishment to bring the followers
of "the Way" to Jerusalem to be beaten and imprisoned. It was
while on the road to Damascus that he saw his great vision of
Yeshua, was blinded and told to enter Damascus.
     This event was truly one of the great miracles of history.
Those who seek natural explanations of this event by such
theories as "Paul's malaria" or "epilepsy" or "propensity to
visions" are to be pitied. They ignore the rest of the story. For
a disciple at Damascus named Ananias also had a vision and was
told to go to the house of Judas in Damascus to find the blinded
Saul. God also gave Paul another vision: to expect Ananias to
come and lay hands on him to receive back his sight. Ananias was
not acting out any "wish fulfillment." He didn't even know that
Paul was there; but when told of his misson, he argued with God,
for he had heard of Saul's great record of persecution. Then we
read of the great revelation that salvation is to be offered also
to the gentiles, for God says to Ananias, "Go, for he is a chosen
instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings
and the sons of Israel, for I will show him how much he must
suffer for the sake of my name" (9:15).
     And so Ananias obeys, Saul receives his sight and is
baptized, accepting his commission.
     Saul now preaches the Good News in the synagogues; he
escapes an attempt to kill him and seeks to join the disciples at
Jerusalem who cannot believe that he, too, is a disciple. Through
the intervention of Barnabas, who recounts the story of Paul's
conversion, they accept him. In danger again, Saul is sent to
Tarsus. As yet, we still have only a Jewish movement for Yeshual
Acts chapter 10 Is the great turning point. It is crucial for us
to realize at this point that we are still reading Jewish
history. Against all the prejudice of the ages, we must shout
that Yeshua is the Messiah and Savior of Jewish people.
Once again it was the supernatural work of the Spirit of God
which brought the progress of the next chapters. No human
intention was behind it, but the Spirit worked against the
intentions and proclivities of the apostles to bring the Gospel
to the gentiles, without the restrictions of having first to
become part of the call of Israel! Who was to be chosen for this
work of the Spirit? None other than the burly Peter himself.
     Once again, God's method of communication was by
supernatural visions: A vision was given to Cornelius, a man who
feared the God of Israel. He was told to send for Peter in
Joppa. While his messengers journeyed, Peter had his great vision
of a sheet descending from heaven containing, all kinds of
non-kosher or unclean food. Yet Peter was told to kill and eat.
Peter refused, protesting that he had never eaten anything
unclean. God's response is, "What God has cleansed, you must not
call common."
     To make its full import, this vision occurred three times.
Some hold that God hereby signified an end of the applicability
of the food lists in Torah for Jewish people. Yet we never read
that Peter ate the food or thought that the vision implied
anything about food laws. Instead, we read, "Peter was inwardly
perplexed as to what the vision he had seen might mean." As Peter
reflected, the messengers arrived from Cornelius in the perfect
timing of God. Peter was told by the Spirit to accompany them.
The significance of the vision was that gentiles who turn to the
God of Israel in Yeshua are not to be considered unclean.
This then is the issue of Acts: are gentiles fully accepted by
God in Yeshua without adopting the call of the nation of Israel?
It is never an issue that Jews might be called to give up their
calling as part of the nation of Israel along with their practice
of the Jewish-biblical-national heritage. It is assumed that they
will maintain their heritage in a biblically consistent way as
Jews.
     So Peter preaches the Good News to Cornelius and makes the
marvelous statement, "Truly, I perceive that God shows no
partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does
what is right is acceptable to him" (10:34-35). 

(And this is the true explanation of the vision - the unclean
beasts. It had nothing to do with "food laws" of God - it was to
show that Gentiles were to be given the New Covenant Gospel -
Keith Hunt)

     While Peter preached, the Spirit fell upon the listeners.
The believers from among the circumcised were amazed because the
gentiles were given the gift of the Spirit! They spoke in tongues
and extolled God, yet they had not become Jews! Further, the
usual order of Acts 2 (repent, believe, be baptized and receive
the gift of the Holy Spirit) is reversed: Here they believe and
receive the Spirit before baptism. Peter say, "Can anyone forbid
water for baptizing these people who h;,e received the Holy
Spirit just as we have?" (10:47).
     We also note the supernatural manifestation of the Spirit in
this case as in Acts 8. It is completely unprompted. Again, this
manifestation and the apostolic presence would be used to enable
the Jerusalem disciples to accept these events. Many people in
the Book of Acts believe the Gospel, but it was only in three
incidents after Pentecost that the supernatural accompaniments
were emphasized. In each case, it was for the purpose of enabling
the disciples to overcome barriers to the acceptance of others as
one in faith with them. In Acts 8 it was the Samaritans; in Acts
10 it was the Gentiles, a designation covering everyone else.
Late in Acts 19, it was the exceptional group known as disciples
of John the Baptist, who still existed years after the beginnings
of the movement for Yeshua.

     In Acts 11, Peter was questioned concerning his actions by
the Jerusalem community. They asked, "Why did you go in to
uncircumcised men to eat with them?" All Peter had to do was
recall the supernatural work of God's Spirit, which he could not
resist. Their response is recorded in verse 18. "When they heard
this they were silenced. And they glorified God saying, Then to
the Gentiles also God has granted repentance unto life."
     The work of God's Spirit perfectly prepared the Jerusalem
leadership for a new situation which arose in Antioch: There the
Good News was preached to Greeks. Previously, even those who were
scattered spoke "the word to none except Jews." Hence Barnabas
was sent to Antioch, a mixed congregation of Jews and non-Jews.,
Barnabas then went to Tarsus and, upon finding Saul, brought him
to Antioch. For one year they taught this congregation. They also
sought to exhibit unity with the Jerusalem leadership by sending
aid (v. 30) to them.
     All of this led to the greatest endeavor to spread the Good
News among gentiles. It was the ministry of Saul of Tarsus. Saul
and Barnabas were called out by prophecy from the Antioch
congregation in which they faithfully ministered. They
embarked under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

     The ministry of Saul will be the primary focus of the Book
of Acts. Who was this man, vilified by some as the adulterator of
the simple truths of Yeshua's teaching, criti cized as a renegade
Jew, and hailed as the founder of Christianity?
     In Saul we find a zealous Jew, educated in the best
tradition of Pharisaical (later Rabbinic) Judaism (Philippians
3). We find a man who used the Jewish methods of reasoning in
which he was so steeped." Yet we also find one who was a Roman
citizen who could quote the philosophical views of his day (Acts
17). Here was a man who could tell the Corinthians that he did
not come with words of human wisdom in great oratorical power,
for it was necessary that his message gain adherence by the power
of the Spirit and not by human ingenuity. Perhaps the problem in
seeking to understand Saul is ours, not his: a man too great for
our limited understanding, with a perspective so vast that we
distort it by our ability to only see certain facets of it.
Barnabas and Saul believed in a big God, big enough to reach out
to the gentiles with the Good News of Yeshua. Yet they never
forgot God's chosen people of whom they were. In every town, a
pattern was repeated. As they traveled from country to country,
they went first to the synagogue. The synagogue had the "Torah
and the prophets" which were the source for conveying the truth
of the Gospel. The response varied from town to town. Many Jews
believed; many did not. However, perhaps in ways unexpected,
gentiles responded in droves:

"The next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered together to hear
the word of God. But when the Jews saw the multitudes they were
filled with jealously and contradicted what was spoken by Paul
and reviled him" (Acts 13:44-45).

     We must note that in those days, Judaism was a proselytizing
religion. Many gentiles sensed the bankruptcy of pagan religion
and attached themselves to the synagogue and its high view of one
great God and the ethics of the Bible. Some converted; but many
could not take the final step. The barrier was circumcision. This
sign was looked upon as barbaric by Greeks, even a scandal,
especially for adults. So there were the so-called "proselytes of
the gate," who remained close to the synagogue but did not become
Jews.
     The preaching of Paul enabled the gentiles to be blessed by
a life and fellowship with God on a high spiritual and moral
plain without requiring their conversion to Judaism. This truly
incited the Jewish synagogal leadership to jealousy, for they
lost many of the "proselytes of the gate" for whom they had
labored so long and hard. The movement of the Gospel among the
gentiles thus dampened the prospects of adding converts to
Judaism. Although the disciples in Jerusalem had rejoiced at
Peter's explanation of Cornelius' conversion, the influx of
gentiles would soon require a clear and definitive decision
regarding the relationship between Jewish and gentile "followers
of the Way" as well as the requirements vis-a-vis Judaism for the
gentiles. Acts 15 presents the controversy which was the catalyst
for a discussion on these issues. We read, "But some men came
down from Judea and were teaching the brethren, unless you are
circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be
saved. And when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and
debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were
appointed to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders about
this question. 
     But some believers who belonged to the party of the
Pharisees rose up, and said, it is necessary to circumcise them
and to charge them to keep the law of Moses" (15:1-5).
     This is the story of what became known as the "Judaizing"
controversy. The term "Judaizing" is easily bandied about today
by many who do not truly understand what the controversy was all
about. This is a sad example of human carelessness in handling
the holy Word of God. What is Judaizing? Let us begin with a
negative and then a positive. Negatively, it is not a term to be
applied to believing Jews who maintain their practice and
heritage in their call to be part of the nation of Israel.
Neither does Judaizing refer to non-Jews who have a love and
appreciation for Jewish things. As the Scriptures define it,
Judaizing is the view that unless you are circumcised according
to the custom of Moses you cannot be saved, i.e., "it is
necessary to charge them to keep the law of Moses ... (15:1).
     Judaizing is also any position which holds that circumcision
and following the call to be a Jew places an individual on a
"higher plain of spirituality" with God which is otherwise
unobtainable.
     The Book of Acts and Galatians are the primary sources for
understanding this controversy. The former provides the broader
context; the latter, a specific situation. It is the writer's
view that the Book of Galatians not only was written      
before the Book of Acts (this being universally acknowledged),
but that the book was written before the events described in Acts
15. The bases of this view are beyond the scope  of this book,
but can be found in several books on the date, authorship and
purpose of Galatians. If this is so, the Book of   Galatians
reflects the situation when the Judaizing controversy
was as yet not settled by the apostolic authorities over the
church. Acts 15 would then be the definite statement of authority
in regard to that controversy.

(It really makes little difference when and if Galatians was
written before Acts, for the theology of the Old Covenant with
circumcision was preached by some, like authordox Jews do today,
and they still claim they will have eternal life, WITHOUT CHRIST
or the New Covenant - Keith Hunt)

     The problem in Galatians is essentially the same as the
problem in Acts 14 and 15: Congregations had been terribly
troubled by the teaching that circumcision (a human work) was
necessary for salvation. The response of Saul of Tarsus to this
controversy was multi-faceted.
     First, there was his verbal chastisement of those who would
fall away from the Gospel. The Gospel is a message of salvation
by grace through faith. No human work can be an ingredient in
that salvation; nor can it be said that any human work is
necessary to fulfill that salvation. Paul then went on to assert
his apostleship as of equal authority to the Jerusalem apostles,
and dependent upon a direct call of God. This apostleship and the
validity of the Gospel he preached were clearly recognized by the
Jerusalem apostles (Galatians 1:11; 2:10).
     If the Acts 15 decision had already transpired it' would
 have been strange indeed that Paul did not quote the decision,
which had the backing of all the apostles in Jerusalem, to
silence the Judaizers. He did not quote it because the decision
had not yet been reached. Paul then recounted some history to
show the truth of his position that gentiles are saved by grace
through faith, without adopting the call and life of Israel. The
example from history related to Peter: For "James and Cephas and
John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the
right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the gentiles and
they to the circumcised" (Galatians 2:9-10).
     The great "but" comes in v. 11, for Peter came to visit the
Antioch congregation. In an incident unrecorded in the rest of
Scripture, Paul discusses a controversy he had with Peter. Peter
had been willing to eat with gentile believers but, in fear of
the Judaizers, he drew back and separated himself. Paul publicly
rebuked Cephas (Peter) "before them all" (v. 14). The issue is
that Peter was not sincere about the Gospel. The chapter
continues with Paul's rebuke:

"If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew,
how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews! We ourselves,
who are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners, yet who know that
a man is not justified by works of the law, but through faith in
Yeshua ha Masiach, even we have believed in Messiah Yeshua in
order to be justified by faith in Messiah, and not by works of
the law, because by works of the law shall no one be justified"
(Galatians 2:14-16).

     A full exposition of Paul's view on the relationship of law,
grace and the covenants awaits the next chapter. Here it is clear
that Paul was saying that the Judaizer's position implied that a
man was righteous in the sight of God by his works according to
the Law, rather than by faith in the atonement and resurrection
of Yeshua. This was heresy.
     Peter was called insincere about the Gospel because he
refused to eat with gentile believers. It is crucial to
understand the implications of this: To the practicing Orthodox
Jew, the gentile was unclean. In Acts 11 Peter was first
questioned as to why he would stoop to eat with unclean gentiles.
The uncleanness stemmed from the fact that they engaged in all
sorts of practices forbidden in the (clean-unclean) lists of
Leviticus and Deuteronomy. To touch a dead body, to eat blood, to
eat pork or shellfish, to not be purified from bodily emissions,
all made a person ritually unclean and not privileged to engage
in Temple worship or service. To maintain cleanliness, Jews would
distance themselves from gentiles.
     However, if a gentile had accepted Yeshua, he was clean in
Him. This was the import of Peter's vision in Acts 10,
accompanied by the words, that "what God has cleansed, do not
call it unclean." If gentiles were clean in Yeshua, then the
truth was to be reflected by eating with them. In the culture of
the Near East, table fellowship was the symbol of mutual
acceptance and spiritual unity. Peter's withdrawal under the
pressure of the fear of man undercut the whole sense of the truth
of salvation by grace and the spiritual unity of Jews and
gentiles in Yeshua. Table fellowship was therefore a key issue in
Galatians. Paul's words to Peter were biting. For he called Peter
a Jew who lived like a gentile, but who by his actions, was
hypocritically requiring gentiles to live like Jews. The only
explanation for Paul saying that Peter lived like a gentile is by
comparison to his very strict Pharisee standards. To a trained
Pharisee, a Galilean fisherman would be living like a gentile.
All of the evidence of early church history justifies the view
that Peter continued his Jewish practice in a general sense. Paul
then goes on to say, "we who are Jews by birth and not Gentile
sinners" (Galatians 2:15). That is, we are people under God's
covenant with the opportunity to live accordingly. We are Jews;
we still have the covenant call as Jews; but we also understand
justification by faith and must not do anything to undercut it.
There is great humor and irony in the greatly trained Pharisee
taking a Galilean fisherman to task for trying to appear so
Jewishly kosher, when he, the trained Pharisee, undercuts Peter's
whole attitude of withdrawal as contrary to the very Gospel he
seeks to profess.
     Paul's whole point in retelling this event is that Peter
accepted the rebuke. The story provides an incident whereby all
would know the Judaizing teaching was wrong, as proved by Paul's
correction of Peter. If Paul had the decision of Acts 15 to go
by - which he later enthusiastically communicated as an emissary
of the apostles (Acts 15:27,30,31)--he would have simply quoted
it at this time.

     Therefore it is of utmost importance to understand the
implications of Acts 15 and all later passages in the Book of
Acts connected with it. In Luke's account of the Acts 15 council
on Judaizing, Peter is first to speak. He recalls the
supernatural work of the Spirit leading to his preaching to the
gentiles in Acts 10. They were given the Spirit even though they
were not Jews (15:8). God did not distinguish the Jew and non-Jew
in regard to the gift of His Spirit. Hence, Peter speaks against
any Jewish yoke for gentile believers. Barnabas and Paul speak
next. They point to God's great work among the gentiles through
their ministry. However, it is ultimately James who gives the
viewpoint which becomes the definitive view of the council.
     Who was this James? He was none other than the brother of
Yeshua, the author of the epistle bearing his name. The testimony
of history is that James became a firm believer after the
resurrection of Yeshua and was soon accepted into the apostolic
circle. Eventually, he became leader of the Jerusalem community
of Yeshua. 
(No there is no word that James became "leader" - a pillar as of
one as Paul said, but nowhere is it stated he was "leader" -
Keith Hunt)

     According to Josephus and Eusebius, James' piety and
loyalty to the Jewish biblical heritage were absolutely
steadfast. So much was this case that when James was murdered by
the plot of the wicked high priest (a Sadducean), the Pharisees
were incensed. They proceeded to agitate the people against the
priest and through their efforts he was deposed.
     James' speech first recalls those scriptures which point to
the salvation of the gentiles by the Messiah's work. James
clearly has great leadership sway over the whole council, for his
judgment becomes the position of the gathered council.
He says, "Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble
those of the Gentiles who turn to God, but should write to them
to abstain from the pollutions of idols and from unchastity and
from what is strangled and from blood. For from early generations
Moses has had in every city those who preach him, for he is read
every sabbath in the synagogues" (15:19-21).

(That was James' judgement but they all had to agree - James
could not override all present - Keith Hunt)

     The gathered elders then sent Paul and Barnabas, along with
Judas and Silas, as witnesses from their own community with a
letter recording the decision for all the churches. The letter
indicates that those who troubled them were not sent by the
Jerusalem eldership. Next, the letter conveys that the decision
is from the gathered assembly of elders and apostles (v.25). The
decision is said to be the decision of the Holy Spirit (v.28).
What exactly is the meaning of this decision? Of great note is
that not a word of the decision or the discussion leading up to
it questioned the propriety of Jews maintaining their call and
heritage. This was never at issue in the new Testament period but
was assumed to be the natural stance of Jews.
     The only reason we do not find much New Testament material
specifically teaching this is that it was so obviously assumed.
The New Testament books were written to settle problems and
controversies as they arose. All of church history testifies that
Jewish believers maintained their heritage. This was so
obviously accepted by all the apostles that it was never
addressed as an issue until after their death! Scholars today are
beginning to perceive that the apostolic position was that Jews
should maintain their biblical calling and heritage.
     In his First Letter to the Corinthians Paul makes his
position clear:

"Only let every one lead the life which the Lord has assigned to
him and to which God has called him. This is my rule in the
churches. Was anyone at the time of his call circumcised? Let
him not seek to remove the marks of his circumcision" (I
Corinthians 7:17-18). 

     Acts 21 is Luke's key chapter for applying the decision to
Jews.
     As for gentile believers, they are given the direction to
"abstain from the pollutions of idols and from unchastity and
from what is strangled and from blood" (Acts 15:29). We recognize
here one of the historic Jewish positions: A gentile who is to be
accepted as righteous must follow the Noahic Covenant. That
covenant (in Genesis 9), universal for all mankind, was
interpreted as forbidding idolatry, immorality and the eating of
blood. Hence, James is affirming the fact that gentiles can be in
Messiah without becoming Jews and are spiritually one with the
community of faith. Yet those basic Noahic stipulations would be
certainly followed by anyone in the Messiah. Hence, they affirmed
the basic moral dimensions of the Law as universally applicable
as well as the sanctity of blood.
     It is also of note that this is the minimum standard for
Jews and gentiles to achieve table fellowship, that great symbol
of spiritual unity. Table fellowship in the early communities of
Yeshua was celebrated with the Messiah's Supper, thus making
mutual acceptance through a common meal crucially significant.
Jews, by implication, would have to lower their standards of
rigorous ritual cleanliness to maintain such fellowship, whereas
gentiles would avoid grossly offensive practices in regard to
eating things forbidden in Leviticus 11. (See Romans 14 on the
principle of mutual love in non-biblically binding standards.)
The interesting statement of Acts 15:21 is also significant: "For
from early generations Moses has had in everycity those who
preach him, for he is read every Sabbath in e synagogue." James
here is saying that the testimony to a fully Jewish lifestyle is
already present in the synagogues of the Diaspora. Moses is read
weekly in the synagogue and if gentiles are interested, they have
ample opportunity to respond. The job of the apostles, however,
is to spread the Good News of Yeshua without any barriers of
culture or national calling standing in the way of its
acceptance.
     Acts 21 is commentary on this decision. It is the most
crucially important passage in the New Testament for gaining an
understanding of the apostolic position on the practice of Jewish
believers. It reflects what was the assumed stance of the
apostles and makes what was only implicit in the New Testament
explicit.
     In Acts 21, Paul travels to Jerusalem. He goes under
prophetic warnings of danger to his life, but is constrained in
spirit to go.
     When Paul arrives in Jerusalem, we read that the brethren
"received him gladly" (21:17). The next day Paul meets with James
(who has formulated the Acts 15 statement regarding Judaizing)
and all the elders. After Paul testified of God's mighty work
among the gentiles, those gathered "glorified God." However, a
problem had arisen:

"And they said to him, 'You see brother how many thousands there
are among the Jews of those who have believed; they are all
zealous for the law, and they have been told about you that you
teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses,
telling them not to circumcise their children or observe the
customs'" (vv.20-21).
     The Good News had truly spread within the Jerusalem
community.
     The Greek word is that there were myriads who believed. They
were all zealous for the Law.
     Paul, at this point, had an opportunity to admit that he did
teach Jews to forsake Moses and to not circumcise. Luke's purpose
in this passage is clearly to show that Paul was loyal to his
heritage and that his later arrest was unfair in the light of
this loyalty. The advice Paul is given is to purify himself with
four men under a Nazarite vow. This was a special vow taken for
service to God during which the person neither drank wine nor cut
his hair. Paul was to take the men, purify himself with them, and
pay their expenses for offerings. In the words of the chapter,
the purpose is, "Thus all will know that there is nothing in what
they have been told about you, but that you yourself live in
observance of the law" (v.24).
     Clearly, the facts as the elders knew them testified that
Paul lived in observance of the Law. That he taught Jews to
forsake their observance was considered a vicious rumor. ". . .
there is nothing in what has been told about you. . ." (v.24).
There is no argument; Paul does exactly as advised. However, he
is later arrested due to the force of the rumor anyway.
     It has been argued that Paul compromised under pressure. Did
James also compromise? He gave us the Book of James and
maintained his observance until his death. If Paul compromised,
why is there no hint of it in the text? Why is Luke so
misleading? Did the same Paul who was stoned and whipped for the
Gospel - who went up to Jerusalem knowing that he would be
arrested - compromise at this point? It is so out of character
that it is unacceptable. Further, Luke, in the same passage,
notes that the elders recalled their decision in regard to
gentile freedom. "But as for the Gentiles who have believed, we
have sent a letter with our judgment that they should abstain
from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from
what is strangled, and from unchastity" (v.25).
     Why is this passage included? It is so we will understand
that Paul's maintaining his heritage was no compromise of the
principal freedom in the Gospel, laid down in Acts 15. No! Paul
did not compromise! Luke is clearly revealing the difference of
call in one universal body of faith: Jews are part of the call
and identity of the nation Israel, whereas gentiles are free from
this call. The view that Paul compromised at this point in his
life is given its death sentence in Acts 18:18 where we read, "At
Cenchreae he cut his hair, for he had a vow." The vow related to
cutting the hair was a Nazarite vow based on the Torah (Numbers
6). It was the same vow that was taken by the four men in Acts
21!
     Here, Paul observes the Law with no external pressure!
Furthermore, we find indications of such observance throughout
Paul's whole life. Clearly his epistles must be interpreted in
this context:

* In Acts 15:22, Paul agrees to carry out the decision of the
apostles which allows full Torah identity for Jews.

* In Acts 16:3, we find Paul in the synagogue on the Sabbath as
was his practice.

* In Acts 20:16, we see Paul hastening to be at Jerusalem for
Shavuot. This was one of three major feasts wherein Jewish people
were commanded to appear before God in Jerusalem.

* In Acts 22:3,12 Paul defends himself as having done nothing
against the Law.

* In Acts 23:1-5, he quotes the Law in response to his own
necessity of respecting rulers-even the high priest.

* In Acts 24:11-17, Paul argues that his accusers are angry with
him due to his belief in the resurrection. He recounts his Acts
21 action as part of maintaining a clear conscience of witness
before men (24:17).

* In Acts 25:8, he says, "Neither against the law of the Jews,
nor against the temple have I offended at all."

* In Acts 26:5-8, Paul testifies that he has lived as a strict
Pharisee with no qualification stated in regard to recent
practice. In Acts 26:19-20, Paul said he called for deeds worthy
of repentance. This is strictly Jewish phrasing.

* Acts 28:17 is a real clincher. Paul says to the Jews in Rome,
"Brethren, though I had done nothing against the people or the
customs of our fathers, yet I was delivered prisoner."

     The conclusion becomes inescapable: the evaluation of the
elders concerning Paul was absolutely correct; there was nothing
to the rumor that had been spread about him.

     There are many biblical scholars who have recognized this
truth.

     H.L. Ellison states that to be part of his nation, Paul
would have worn the fringes of Judaism, which were memory aids to
recall our responsibility to live according to Torah. So also
J.H. Yoder states that Paul's concern was not with Jewish loyalty
to the Law for he himself conformed to the Law. The most stirring
statement comes in the classic work of W.D. Davies, 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 Christian no less than in the
pre-Christian dispensation a place of peculiar importance."

The conclusion of this chapter on the Book of Acts is clearly to
support the thesis of this book as a whole, namely that Jews
under the New Covenant are still called to maintain their
historic national identity as part of Israel. Being part of
the universal body does not remove the specific expression of
that salvation in a way that befits the call to be a part of the
nation of Israel in its distinctive task of witness. Many
believers have diverse calls to different nations and cultures.
The call to Israel is valid.
     In addition. we must express our belief that the apostles
are our authorities in doctrine by their teaching and example. We
cannot, as Karl Barth said, look over their shoulders and correct
their notebooks. If they - including Paul - maintained their
Jewish practice and identity, that settles the issue for us. They
did!
     Even Paul, the apostle to the gentiles as a Jew, maintained
his practice and identity as did the disciples of the disciples,
the Nazarenes. Praise God for the revelation of His truth.
     We then continue our practice, knowing that Yeshua is the
One to whom all things point. All is done with an eye to its
fulfillment in Him. And ours is a rich heritage of the acts of
God, rooted in history, exemplified by the apostles and full of
God's grace, a witness to the world of God's faithfulness to
Israel and all the children of God.
....................

To be continued

NOTE:

Paul was not against Temple rites and physical circumcision per
se. He just taught they were not required for salvation.

What is the bottom line, the fundamental foundation? First, we
clearly know from the Gospels that the Jews had added much of
their own traditions to their religion. God in Deut.12:32 said to
Israel they were not to add or take away from the word and
commandments of God.
Jesus came along and this is what he said about Jewish
traditions: "Howbeit, in vain do they worship me, teaching for
doctrines the commandments of men ... Full well you reject the
commandments of God, that you may keep your own traditions" (Mark
7:78-9).
The apostle Paul would have know Jesus' teaching and he would
have put aside anything that was not "the word of the Lord."
He himself said, "Yes, doubtless, and I count all things but
loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my
Lord....and do count them dung, that I may win Christ"
(Philippians 3:8).

Paul and the other leaders of the New Covenant church of God,
would have put aside all things in Jewish religion that were not
in the word of God, as they worshipped and served the Eternal
Father and His Son Jesus the Christ.

There is still much "tradition" in the lives and Sabbath/Festival
services in the Messianic Jewish congregations. Much traditions
that are wrong. They still have many of the Old Covenant/man made
traditions in the Passover and other Feasts of the Lord, that are
either superceeded by the New Covenant (the New Covenant Passover
is now only unleavened bread, fruit of the vine, and foot
washing) or just out and out man made traditions of the Jews.
Too many Messianic Jewish congregations are still in the ancient
past, and have not moved as they should have; they have not
recognized the man made traditions that need to be put away from
their services.

Now I will say here (as I've done elsewhere on this website),
that national historic days in the life of a nation are not wrong
to remember (such as July 4th in the USA, as that nation's
birthday), as long as they are not made into religious dogma.

Paul and other leaders in the New Covenant church of God, would
have put aside man made Jewish traditions. There was nothing
wrong with participating in the Temple rites and physical
circumcision, IF you desired to do so, but those physical rites
were now under the New Covenant not a requirement. The Temple was
still God's Temple (till it was obliterated in 70 AD by the Roman
armies) and its rites came from God, as did circumcision, so it
was not wrong to observe them IF you wanted to, BUT again let me
say, under the New Covenant you did not have to follow those
physical rites any more. That is why many were getting it wrong
about Paul, thinking he taught people to forsake Temple rites and
physical circumcision. He taught no such thing. He taught they
were no longer required to be observed under the New Covenant,
but you could if you desired to. The physical rites of the Temple
and physiacl circumcision were not required for salvation.

Jesus did teach we are to live by every word of God. But the
question is then - HOW? I have on this website a two-part study
called "Living by Every Word of God - How?" and it will give you
the basic keys to so do.

Keith Hunt

To be continued


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