Keith Hunt - From the Mind of a Christian Jew #4- Page Four   Restitution of All Things

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From the Mind of a Christian Jew #4

Difficuly Passages

From the Mind of a Jewish Christian #4

by Daniel Juster (1986)


     Jewish life is a glorious call that witnesses to great
truths about God. By being loyal to his heritage a Jew maximizes
the opportunity to share his faith with other loyal Jews who
would otherwise dismiss it out of hand. As I Corinthians 9
states, "To the Jews I become as a Jew, in order to win Jews, to
those under the law I became as one under the law ... that I
might win those under the law" (v.20).
     However there are several passages which are used by some to
refute this position. It is to these passages that we turn now.


     At first glance, these verses would seem to support
Messianic Jewish conclusions. However, there are interpreters who
find in these verses two phrases which are a source of
anti-Messianic Jewish viewpoints. We quote the passage in its

"To the Jews I become as a Jew, in order to win the Jews, to
those under the law I become as one under the law though not
being myself under the law - that I might win those under the
law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law -
not being without law toward God, but under the law of Christ -
that I might win those outside the law."

     We should first note that Paul here establishes a valid
principle for sharing the Good News. That is, we are to have a
loving indentification with those whom we seek to win. Clearly,
the Messianic Jew is heartened by the clear statement that one
may practice the Law, "I become as one under the law." One reason
for the practice of the heritage, but certainly not the sole
reason, is loving identification with those we seek to win. Two
other phrases bring various interpretations: "though not being
myself under the law" - by some is taken to mean that the Mosaic
revelation with its standards and practices no longer has any
meaning to the life of the believer. Rather, the believer is now
under the "law of Christ," not the Law of Moses. The "law of
Christ" is variously explained as loving God and our neighbor or
as all of the New Testament commands.

     However, there are problems with this view. First, the
command to love God and our neighbor (in Mark 12 and the other
Gospels) is a quotation from Torah. Some say that when the New
Testament quotes Torah, it becomes part of the "law of Christ"
but otherwise has no force over us. This view is certainly
"forced." When the New Testament quotes Torah, it does so because
it is Scripture. This settles the issue. (Note Ephesians 6:1 ff.)
I Corinthians 9:8 says, "Do I say this on human authority; does
not the law say the same?"
     It is clear that Paul, by example and other teaching (II
Timothy 3:16) taught the valid inspiration and authority of the
Torah. The law against incest is not in the New Testament.
     Therefore, can we say that since incest is not quoted in the
"law of Christ" it is permissible? No, of course not! The same is
the case with just weights and measures.
     The author believes that the phrase "law of Christ" is a
synonym for "law of the Spirit" found in Romans 8:1. When we are
in the Spirit, we are no longer under the Law as a fearful
taskmaster, hoping to gain eternal life by our works. Our
essential and central content of faith is the love of God, the
atonement in Yeshua and the power of the Spirit. This produces a
new approach to Scripture whereby the Spirit places God's desires
upon our hearts as well as empowers us to perform God's will. The
reading of Scripture is a primary means for the Spirit to give us
a depth of conviction and power. This all occurs on the basis of
an intimate fellowship with God rather than a rote maintenance of
a code which seems external to us. Yet it is the very Torah which
the Spirit will use to "instruct" in God's ways and to "train in
righteousness' (2 Timothy 3:16; Ezekiel 36; Jeremiah 31).
     However, none of God's eternal standards are invalidated;
all are made part of the Covenant relationship of walking in the
     Furthermore, Paul seeks to present himself and the Gospel in
such a way that there will be no stumbling blocks to his
listeners' acceptance of the Good News. Gentiles were not
required to take on the call of national Israel. This does not
mean that Paul ceased to be a Jew in Gentile settings, but he
certainly did not make his Jewishness so prominent that it would
blunt the Gospel. When Paul says in v.22, "to the weak I became
weak," he does not mean that he literally gave up his courage,
faith and strength. It means he identified with the weak in such
a way that his presentation of the Gospel would meet them where
they were.
     The "law of Christ" does not replace Torah, but is a
principle of approach to all of Scripture in the power of the
atonement and the Spirit. This is the meaning of not to be under
the Law as a system of righteousness. This passage is perfectly
exemplified by Paul's life and practice in the Book of Acts.
Of special significance is the fact that the Apostle to the
Gentiles, because of his Jewish identity, never ceased to care
for his people and his heritage. Though called to Gentile
ministry, he lived as a Jew. If this be the case, how can Jewish
followers of Yeshua, who believe themselves called to Israel,
live in ways that befit non-Jews? We do not seek to bring anyone
into bondage; all must be done in the Spirit. However, the
example of all the apostles, even Paul the Apostle to the
Gentiles, properly causes us to believe that those who are
negative to the Jewish biblical heritage have not heard the
Spirit in regard to these questions.

Keith Hunt)


     We will not repeat the basic discussion of passages in
Galatians already covered in the Section on the Judaizers in the
chapters on the "Books of Acts and Messianic Judaism" and "Paul,
Israel and the Law." The reader should turn to these chapters for
more information on Law and grace and the Judaizing controversy.
We do recall for the reader that: (1) Galatians was written
before the Acts 15 decision on Gentile freedom in the Gospel; and
(2) the Judaizers were a group which taught that a person who is
uncircumcised must follow the law of Moses to be saved. Their
view thoroughly invalidated the Gospel of salvation by grace
through faith. (3) Furthermore, to the Judaizer, the Gentile was
unclean and could not be eaten with unless he was circumcised and
followed the Law. Table fellowship, the proof of the spiritual
equality of Jew and Gentile, in the Messiah was to them
     We should note that the Book of Galatians does not address
the issue of Jewish followers of Yeshua maintaining their Jewish
practice and identity. This is not even in view; Alan Cole states
that Galatians does not at all preclude such Jewish practice and
identity but that its principle of freedom in Messiah fully
allows for the possibility. The question of Jewish practice in
Yeshua must be settled by those passages which speak to it; the
Book of Acts, etc; the testimony of history concerning Apostolic
practice and identity, and the whole drift of Scriptural teaching
on Israel.
     Once again, in all of the discussion on the Law in
Galatians, we must remember that Paul does not demean the Law as
a standard of God. Rather, with the advent of the Messiah, all is
done in His power and under the inspiration of His Spirit.
     We approach the Law as "adults," not as children who have
rules set over them due to their immaturity, hence, the analogy
of the schoolmaster and the Law before Messiah. In Messiah, we
are sons of God's kingdom and not under the Law as a custodian,
but under the power of the Spirit as sons who follow by
inspiration and reason, not rote. Having given these general
comments we turn to these specifics:


"There is neither Jew nor Greek ... for you are all one in Christ
Jesus." (Colossians 3:11-parallel). 

     It is sad that we even have to respond to the use of this
verse as a proof-text against Messianic Judaism. Incredibly, the
answer would be obvious if the whole verse was quoted. The left
out portion is "there is neither slave nor free, there is neither
male nor female." Paul is not saying that all distinctions
between men and women have been obliterated! This would lead to
the end of marriages and families. In what sense is there neither
male nor female, then?
     It is defined in vv 26, and 29 - "In the Messiah, Yeshua,
you are all children of God, through faith ... And if you are
Messiah's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to
     Men and women are exactly one in this, that they are equally
children of God and spiritually of equal significance. In no way
does God envision men bearing children or an end to all the
wonderful joys that the male/female distinction brings to life as
a result of His creation order. Men and women have different
callings in life, though they are one in Messiah.
     It is precisely the same with Jew and non-Jew in the
     Both may be called to different styles of life and witness,
to different fields of service, yet they are spiritually one in
the Messiah. The oneness spoken of does not lead to a dullness of
all peoples, nations and races becoming the same in speech,
manner, dress, mission and style. What a horribly boring world
that would be!  It would be like a symphony orchestra composed of
all violins! God's unity is a symphonic unity, blending all
together under the head conductor, the Messiah. Oneness in the
Messiah leaves ample room for varieties of life and calling,
especially in regards to Jew and non-Jew.
     Note as well, non-Jews are called (in v.29) not spiritual
Israel, but the offspring of Abraham by faith.


"For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has
destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility." 

     Messianic Jews, on the basis of this passage, are often
accused of re-erecting the "wall of partition" between Jew and
Gentile. It is charged that because Jews maintain their
Jewish/biblical heritage, they become distinct from other
believers, hence re-erecting the wall.
     The wall of partition does not refer to a difference of
practice and lifestyle by which Jews and non-Jews may be
distinguished. It rather refers to practices which precluded
table-fellowship between Jew and Gentile and produced hostility.
Gentiles were then pagans, idolators. According to biblical Law,
contact with unclean meats precluded on the food lists of
Leviticus and Deuteronomy, contact with blood and with death made
a person unclean. Uncleanness precluded visiting the Temple for a
specified period of time, one to seven days. Since it was
impossible to know if a Gentile had such contact, the oral
tradition of Judaism concluded that contact with Gentiles made
one unclean. The solution for the religious was to avoid all
contact with Gentiles.
     In Yeshua, however, the Gentile is no longer a pagan or
unclean (Acts 10). Both Jew and the non-Jew are spiritually one
in Yeshua. The non-Jewish believers are given a charge to avoid
those things which would be especially abhorrent to Jewish
believers (Acts 15). Now in Yeshua, Jew and Gentile accept one
another and have table fellowship, prayer and praise together!
This does not imply, however, that they are to have identical
calling and lifestyles. As J.H. Yoder argues, the wall has to do
with acceptance and table fellowship which was such a crucial
demonstration of acceptance. The rejection of fellowship implied
that the other person was not spiritually acceptable. The wall of
partition is not a wall of distinctions, but a wall of hostility
as Ephesians 2:14 clearly states.
     Now in the light of this, let's quote the whole of the
passage from 2:13-16, "But now in Messiah Yeshua you who were
once far off have been brought near in the blood of Messiah. For
he is our peace, who has made us both one, and has broken down
the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the
law of commandments and ordinances, that he might create in
himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and
might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross,
thereby bringing the hostility to an end."
     The commands and ordinances are not necessarily
intrinsically Torah, but the oral extensions of these laws made
Gentiles unclean and contact with Gentiles something to avoid. As
well, it would abolish commands precluding a Jew worshiping in
the most intimate way with a Gentile since the Gentile, in
Yeshua, is no longer an idolatrous sinner, but has been cleansed
by the cross.
     In the Messiah, a universal body of believers of Jew and
Gentile is formed. This does not preclude a Jew's special calling
- for he is both part of the universal body and the nation of
Israel. It does not preclude the instruction of Torah (II Timothy
     It is crucial here to note that a Messianic Jewish
congregation is a New Covenant congregation in which Jews and
non-Jews fellowship together in oneness. Each have equal
privilege in Yeshua. However, the style of worship is Jewish and
Jewish members are encouraged in their identity and calling.
Because there is mutual acceptance rather than seeking to press
one another into preconceived molds, true love can flourish. The
greatest proof of an end to the wall of hostility is the
Messianic congregation where Jews and non-Jewsin significant
proportions - worship together. In a non-Jewish congregational
setting where a lone Jew has lost his practice and identity there
is little testimony of this truth. However, there is a place for
Jewish segments of predominantly nonJewish congregations which
maintain their Jewish involvement in the present and future
through their children. A Messianic Jewish congregation is just
one kind of expression of the universal body of the Messiah!

(An interesting take on this part of Paul's writings, and not
without merit. But it is not technically the correct answer.
There was a literal wall in the Temple with a sign on it that
stated NO Gentile was to pass beyond that point, on pain of
death. This wall was a division between Jew and Gentile
(prosolite Gentile). It was a man-made commandment and ordinance.
Paul is here teaching that in Christ ALL such man-made
commandments were abolished. There was now no division at all
between Jew and Gentile - all were on the same platform, on the
same level, on the same plank - no one was above or below another
- all were equal on the salvation stage - Keith Hunt)


Verses 9-10, in particular, speak of this - "You observe days,
and months and seasons and years! I am afraid I have labored over
you in vain."

     The obvious conclusion drawn by the foe of Messianic Judaism
is that Paul here is against anyone observing Jewish holidays.
However, what were the special months and years referred to in
Judaism? They are not found in Scripture, except for the seventh
sabbatical year when slaves were freed and the land was given
beneficial rest. Once again, the context of preceding verses is
essential. According to what we know of the region of Galatia
historically, Paul is writing to predominantly non-Jewish people.
He says, "Formerly, when you did not know God, you were in
bondage to beings that by nature are no gods; but now that you
have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you
turn back again to the weak and beggarly elemental spirits, whose
slaves you want to be once more. You observe days, and months and
seasons and years; I am afraid I have labored over you in vain"
Galatians 4:10-11.
     The full context has prompted many commentators to hold that
Paul here is not speaking of Jewish biblical celebrations. There
must have been another problem in Galatia, it is thought. This
problem is acknowledged to be connected with astrology. It is
also known that heretical groups existed which connected some of
the Jewish holidays to astrology and superstition. Paul could not
be speaking of celebrations given by God as putting people under
the bondage of evil spirits! Nor could he be speaking of Jewish
holidays in saying that they, a non-Jewish group, are turning
back to weak and beggardly elemental spirits.
     Apparently, what Paul refers to is a drift into superstition
connected to special years, days and seasons - akin to astrology.
This is a bondage, for during such days, some actions are safe
and others are unsafe, some endeavors are to be undertaken and
will be especially fruitful, while others are especially
dangerous. This actually brings bondage to evil spirits. There
may have been a perverted Jewish content added to some of this.
Certainly, in the light of this background, this passage has
nothing to say against Jewish people celebrating God's grace in
their history through feasts of Israel. There is no superstition
connected to this and no bondage to evil spirits!
     Again, Paul's example in life shows the critics of Messianic
Judaism to be misinterpreting this passage, ignoring not only the
historical context, but the very words of the whole passage
itself. We might also note that Derek Prince in a taped message
quotes this passage in regard to astrology. He notes that the
wording recalls Deuteronomy 18:10-14 in speaking against
astrology as. "observing seasons." II Kings also says in a
context of astrology that Manasseh "observed times" or seasons
(II Kings 21:6).

(The writer is close to the truth, and certainly has merit in his
explanation. The key is, yes, Paul is addressing Gentiles here,
but certainly ones who had not know the true God, had worshipped
and lived a life of following man-made gods, who were really no
gods. Now they had come to know the true God, but were after
knowing Him, going BACK AGAIN to their old gods and ways of
worshipping their old gods, with pagan days, months, years, and
etc. I ask the reader to take a little time on the Internet and
find out where January 1st came from - beginning the year in the
middle of winter. Where did starting the day at 12 midnight come
from? Where did Christ-mass come from? Where did Easter come
from? Where did Halloween come from? Where did the Roman calendar
come from? Where did observance of the First day of the week come
from? Ah yes, after a little study, think you'll get what was
going on here with many of the Galatians. They were GOING BACK
AGAIN to old pagan ways. This section has nothing to do with
God's days and Festivals which cannot be called "weak" or
"beggarly" - Keith Hunt)


     There is a very unusual allegory given whereby Paul states
that Hagar and her son, Ishmael, parallel the Covenant from Mount
Sinai representing children who are slaves. This, says Paul,
stands for the present city of Jerusalem. However, there is a
Jerusalem above that is free. It is this Jerusalem who is our
mother. We are like Isaac, children of the promise and like Isaac
- who was born by the Spirit - we are persecuted by the son born
of the flesh.
     Sarah's words are then quoted: "Get rid of the slave woman
and her son, for the slave woman's son will never share in the
inheritance with the free woman's son" (Galatians 4:30). 
     The conclusion is that we, as followers of Yeshua, are not
children of the slave woman, but of the free woman. The whole
allegory is given to enlighten those who desire to be under the
law of works righteousness - that is, those who have accepted the
theology of the Judaizers. This is a very difficult passage of
Scripture to interpret. We do not know the exact nature of the
situation in which Paul would respond with such an unparalled
analogy. This passage should definitely be understood in the
light of the clearer, straightforward passages, such as those in
the books of Romans and Acts.
     A quick reading of this passage has caused some to conclude
that Jews who follow their calling are under bondage and are
slaves; they should therefore give up all Jewish practice and
identity. This, however, cannot be the meaning of this text, for
several reasons. 

     It was not the example of Paul in the Book of Acts, nor the
import of his teaching in the Book of Romans on the value of
being a Jew. Next, Isaac is the son of promise according
to the analogy. He was the one given the promise of blessing,
land and nationhood from his father Abraham. Because Isaac is the
son of promise and the product of miraculous birth, Jews exist
today. Paul, therefore, cannot be saying that being a Jew is a
slave-type bondage.
     The contrast is not at all about being called to Jewishness,
but is rather a contrast between flesh and spirit. Paul is
contrasting the spirit, promise, and faith to the flesh and a
fleshly understanding of the Law.
     Abraham was given the promise of many descendants, a great
nation through which all the world would be blessed. He believed
God, but Sarah was barren. Hence he sought to bring about God's
promise by human fleshly (ordinary) means. In the ancient Near
East, if a man's wife was barren, she could give him her
maidservant. The children born to the servant would count as
their own. Hence, Abraham would have descendants; human means
would be used to secure the promise of God. However, this was
contrary to God's way of working. Abraham was to have the son of
promise miraculously - by his own wife - by the power of the
     The Judaizers also sought to use human means to fulfill
God's divine purposes. Keeping the Law by human effort, they
contended, would bring salvation. Indeed, they taught that
Gentiles must accept circumcision (become Jews) and keep the Law
of Moses to be saved. Human works would produce the salvation of
God. How similar to Abraham's use of human work in producing
Ishmael by Hagar.
     The approach of the Judaizers to the Sinai covenant is
tantamount to slavery and parallel to the slave woman and her
child. Those who seek justification before God by their own good
works will find only greater condemnation, and even bondage to
sin (Romans 7:8). Only dependence on the grace and promise of God
will bring true freedom and deliverance.
     Hence, although the Judaizers in the flesh are sons of
Isaac, they act more like sons of the slave woman, Hagar. They
are acting in the flesh and do not give a true testimony to the
meaning of God's promises to Abraham's descendants. In fact, they
are like the then-present state of Jerusalem - in bondage to
Roman occupation - rather than the future Jerusalem of promise to
be brought about by the power of God's Spirit. The slave does not
inherit the promises of God, but remains in bondage to the way of
human works.
     There is nothing in this passage to suggest that fulfilling
the God-given call to be part of the nation of Israel is, itself,
bondage. Both Jew and Gentile are children of promise - like
Isaac - when they approach God by faith unto salvaton. However,
in the leading of the Spirit, both may indeed have a difference
of calling and lifestyle. The Jew who follows the way of the
Spirit may sense a love for his nation and a call to witness to
God's purposes in it. The non-Jew may take a different path. Paul
had no arugment with a Jew expressing his faith by identity with
the calling of Israel, and he expected both Jew and Gentile to
reflect the moral dimensions of the Law in the life of faith. His
quarrel was with legalists who sought to bring non-Jews forcibly
into the role of Israel by their teaching that no salvation was
otherwise possible. They showed themselves to have completely
misunderstood the "Good News."
     Why would Paul use such a difficult analogy to make this
point? We cannot know for sure; but we are comfortable in that
the above exposition is acceptable to the evidence of Scripture.
Perhaps the best suggestion was given by R.N. Longnecker, who
held that Paul was probably responding to an analogy that the
Judaizers used. They would have been teaching that non-Jews must
become Jews and adopt the whole of the Sinai revelation and
Jewish practice in order to be children of the promise.
Otherwise, they would be castoffs, like Hagar and her child,
Ishmael. Paul thus uses this argument to turn the tables on his
opponents, holding that they show themselves to be akin to the
slave status of Hagar and Ismael by their legalistic
bondage-producing teaching.

(The writer is very close to the truth and in the overall is
correct. Paul contrasts those who were teaching that
justification and salvation could be realized by keeping the Old
Covenant without Christ, and the New Covenant of promise and
faith, which is the true freedom through Christ, that God the
Father had always given as to the way it would be for the
forgiveness of sins and being saved into eternal life. I fully
expound the book of Galations on this website - Keith Hunt)


     For Messianic Jews, the Book of Hebrews is a truly wonderful
book. It presents the greatness of God's revelation in Yeshua in
an unparalleled way, revealing Him as Prophet, King and - most of
all - High Priest. The middle chapters of the book bring out the
dimensions of the work of Yeshua as priest and sacrifice,
primarily by contrasting His work with the priesthood and
sacrificial system which foreshadowed and pointed toward His
redeeming work. Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, in which the
High Priest entered the holiest part of the Tabernacle and
sprinkled blood upon the ark for the nation's sin, is the central
Holy Day emphasized here. In its sacrificial dimensions, Yom
Kippur is the great pointer to Yeshua's work.
     Why then is Hebrews listed among difficult passages? It is
because there exists an interpretation of the book which is
anti-Messianic Jewish. This interpretation is not in accord with
the biblical context or history, yet it has gained popularity.
The view teaches that Hebrews precludes following the calendar of
Judaism and any identity with Israel's feasts and festivals,
because all of these things have been replaced by a New Covenant
that does away with the Law. Chapter eight is the central chapter
for this discussion. For we read:

"The ministry Yeshua has received is as superior to theirs as the
covenant of which he is a mediator is superior to the old one,
and it is founded on better promises. For if there had been
nothing wrong with the first covenant, no place would have been
sought for another" (8:6-7).

     The writer then goes on to quote Jeremiah 31:31-34, which
gives the promise of the new Covenant and says, "By calling this
covenant 'new,' he has made the first one obsolete and what is
obsolete and aging will soon disappear" (8:13).
     A critic of Messianic Judaism thus draws the conclusion that
all dimensions of Jewish identity and practice are part of what
is obsolete and should be forsaken. Furthermore, we are even
accused of making the blood of Messiah of no effect and
spurning His sacrifice when we remember our national origins in
the Exodus by celebrating Passover!

"It is impossible for those who have been once enlightened, who
have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy
Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the Word of God and the
powers of this coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back
to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son
of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace"
(Hebrews 6:4-6).

     How this interpretation can be fairly gleaned from these
passages without great violence to the context is paradoxical.
Let us respond as follows. If this is the true interpretation of
Hebrews, all first-century Jewish believers (including Paul and
the other apostles) would have been guilty of these horrible
sins. Yet these apostles are our examples. The problem of Hebrews
for Messianic Judaism dissolves when we take the time to
carefully read just what is being said to whom!
     Recent studies have shown - by language parallels and
emphases - that the Book of Hebrews was probably written by a
group of Essene Jewish followers of Yeshua. The book emphasizes
the Tabernacle in the wilderness instead of the fixed Temple
which was built later. All its imagery and teaching on sacrifices
is related to the Tabernacle. The Qumran community (an
Essene-like community) held the Temple and its present priesthood
to be greatly corrupt. They therefore expounded the sacrificial
system dimension of Scripture in relation to the Tabernacle, even
though the Temple was then the scene of these rituals ... and the
Tabernacle did not exist.
     Qumran also emphasized the Melchizedekian Priesthood in
their teachings. Moreover, Qumran rejected the then present
priesthood as illegitimate since they were not de scended from
Zadok. Hence it is now becoming a generally accepted view that
the Book of Hebrews was addressed to a group of Essene - like
Jewish followers of Yeshua, of which there were probably many in
the first century. They were in danger of giving up their faith
in the work of Yeshua and returning to the hopes of the Essenes
who did not follow Him. They would hence be depending upon Essene
ritual for salvation and the hope of the reestablishment of a
true priesthood which parelleled the purity of the period when
Israel worshipped and sacrificed at the ancient Tabernacle which
anteceded the Temple. The emphasis was then on the Mosaic
sacrificial system purified, as the way of bringing the power of
God to Israel and deliverance from the hands of oppressors. It is
thought that in this time of national crisis - perhaps during the
Roman invasion of Israel to quell the rebellion of 66-70 CE -
that the Jewish believers in Yeshua here addressed were forsaking
their faith and in danger of returning completely to Essenean-
type beliefs. By doing this, they would spurn the Gospel
and crucify the Son of God afresh. It was not by remaining Jewish
that they did this. This is why there is such exhortation in the
face of grevious trial (12:7-13).

(A fanciful idea the author gives. The truth is simply much
simpler. Paul wrote the book of Hebrews to Christians, mainly
Jewish Christians, but certainly Gentile Christians would be
educated and informed and corrected in matters where correction
was needed. It covers important aspects of the Messiah; the
Temple; Priesthood past and one under the New Covenant; it covers
"tithing" and sacrifices of the Temple; it is also a needed
"Jewish" type epistle as the Temple and Priesthood and Sacrifices
would shortly come to an end - with the destruction of Jerusalem
and the Temple by the Roman armies in 70 AD - Keith Hunt)

     The essence of argument of the book is to not place our
hopes in ritual or in a purified human priesthood because in
Yeshua we have a better sacrifice, a better priesthood and a
better Covenant. There is no statement to the effect that we have
a better Law, for, as we have seen, the New Covenant promise is
to write God's Law, statutes, and ordinances upon our hearts
(Ezekiel 36:27). Further attention to the Book of Hebrews shows
that what is referred to as being "obsolete" is the whole
Temple-priestly, sacrificial system. Indeed the word obsolete is
literally in "process of vanishing" in the original. Paragraph
after paragraph emphasizes the limitations of the blood of bulls
and goats and the repeated ministrations of the priesthood.
The writer to the Hebrews emphasizes that the Mosaic Covenant, as
a Covenant, is essentially connected to this system - which is
vanishing. The New Covenant replaces this Covenant because of
the weaknesses inherent in that old system which was given only
for a time to point to the sacrificial-priestly work of Yeshua.
We have stated clearly that we believe the Abrahamic Covenant
with Israel is still in effect (Romans 11:29). We have also
argued that the Mosaic Covenant, as a Covenant, is no longer
in full effect and that God has sovereignly removed the
possibility of following this Covenant by allowing the Temple to
be destroyed. Hence, as a Covenant by which we gain entrance into
the presence of God, this Covenant is superseded. Note that the
writer of Hebrews is clearly referring to the Mosaic Covenant
and emphasizing its priestly-sacrificial dimensions when he
states that it, as a Covenant, is vanishing (see all of Chapter
8). (The reader should note that "obsolete" is not the correct
translation from the Greek.)
     The suspension of the sacrifical system is thought by many
to have reference only to this age of the Temple's suspension and
that a re-establishment of the Temple system will occur in the
Millenium, under the Messiah. However, as the Temple system in
ancient times pointed forward in anticipation of Messiah's work,
so it will point back in the future. The sacrifices also
exemplified dedication and thanksgiving (see J. Walvoord, The
Millenial Kingdom). However, this would not be the same Temple
system as before (see Ezekiel 40-48.)
     This does not mean that the Mosaic writings are not
Scripture, profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction and
training in righteousness (see II Timothy 3:16). Nor does it mean
that these documents (Torah) cannot give guidance to a Jewish
calling and identity which transcends the sacrificial-priestly
system. The feasts, for example, are the national celebrations of
Israel and exist because of God's promise to make of Abraham a
great nation. They celebrate God's acts of grace to Israel.
Although recorded in Mosaic writings, they are essentially
connected to the Abrahamic Covenant, a Covenant of faith and
promise still in effect....
     The Book of Hebrews is one of the most "Jewish" books every
written! By its specific emphasis, it shows the meaning of
Yeshua in a most Jewish way. Because it only emphasizes the
obsolescence of the Temple-sacrificial system and not of Israel
and its national life, and because it appeals to the great
heroes of Jewish history as the major example and spur to faith,
it is a book which certainly supports a Messianic Jewish calling.


"Now if the dispensation of death, carved in letters on stone,
came with such splendor that the Israelites could not look at the
face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was
to fade away, should not the dispensation of the Spirit be
attended with greater splendor? For if there was splendor in the
dispensation of comdemnation, the dispensation of righteousness
must far exceed it in splendor. Indeed, in this case, what once
had splendor has come to have no splendor at all, because of the
splendor that surpasses it. For if what faded away came with
splendor, what is permanent must have much more splendor.
Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, not like Moses, who
put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not see the
end of the fading splendor. But their minds were hardened; for to
this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains
unlifted, because only through Messiah is it taken away. Yes, to
this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their minds; but
when a man turns to the Lord the veil is removed. Now the Lord is
the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is
freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of
the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of
glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the

     This chapter provides us with several unusual statements.
Here a contrast is made between the New and Old Covenants. We
should note that the references contrasting the New Covenant
relate not to the Tenach or the Old Covenant Scriptures as a
whole, nor even the Torah (Genesis-Deuteronomy), but only the
Covenant which Moses received from God. There is no contrast with
the Abrahamic Covenant, for example, in Genesis 12-17. Of this
Mosaic Covenant received from Sinai we read these descriptive
words: "The written code kills," "the dispensation of death,"
"dispensation of condemnation." In contrast the New Covenant is
called the "dispensation of the spirit" and the "dispensation of
righteousness." Indeed, the New Covenant is compared to the old
as one which has greater splendor and permanence while the old is
fading away.
     A superficial reading of this passage causes some to reach
very popular untenable conclusions. A reading in the light of the
whole context of Pauline theology, however, gives an
understanding that is both rich and consistent. Among the
untenable conclusions reached by some are that: (1) We should
have nothing to do with the content of Torah, since its content
produces spiritual death; (2) A Jew who accepts Yeshua, but
practices his heritage of feast and nationhood, seeks to remain
under a dispenstion of death rather than fully embracing the new
dispensation of life in the spirit.

     The first conclusion is utterly false. Need we again quote
II Timothy 3:16-17, "All Scripture is inspired by God and is
profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, etc." The psalmist
says "the law of the Lord is perfect, giving life to the soul"
(Psalm 19:7). Is Scripture contradictory? Does what brings life
in Psalm 19 bring death in II Corinthians 3? Obviously not. Paul
clearly says of the Law that God gave as part of His revelation,
"So the law is holy and the commandment is holy and just and
good. Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no
means! It was sin, working death in me through what is good, in
order that sin might be shown to be sin and through the
commandment might become sinful beyond measure! We know that the
law is spiritual; but I am carnal, sold under sin" (Romans
     This passage gives the solution to false interpretations
which despise Torah. When Paul called the Mosaic Covenant the
dispensation of death, it was not because of its inherent nature.
It was rather because of what people made of the Torah by their
approach to it. Because humans are sinful, they approached Torah
as a system of works-righteousness and falsely sought to earn
God's favor by their own merits. Although the Law is a guide
under the leading of the Spirit of God, when used as a written
code to be followed in our own fleshly power, it condemns. For by
the Law's high standard, we all stand condemned (Romans 3:23). So
as to not face this condemnation, a person becomes a rationalizer
of his faults and becomes self-righteous. Yet Scripture says God
dwells with those who are of a contrite and humble heart (Isaiah
57:15). Hence, an approach to the Law with this self-righteous
attitude served to separate people from God, producing a
dispensation of death.
     The Mosaic revelation itself was not a dispensation of
death; but man's approach to it produced this legalistic period.
Even the foremost 16th century Christian theologian, John Calvin,
said of this passage, "there are some rash teachers who hold we
should throw out the tablets of the law calling the law a
dispensation of death." He responded "Perish this wicked thought
from our minds." 
     The issue is not whether the Torah is used for guidance,
teaching and correction (II Timothy 3:16, 17) but, rather, the
attitude of approach. Approached with dependence upon God's
mercy, the Law, as Psalm 19 says, gives life to the soul. 

     What of the contrast between the Mosaic Covenant and the New
Covenant in terms of glory?

     The Mosaic Covenant of Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy was
glorious. However, the New Covenant - which outstrips it in power
- has much greater glory! It is by the light of the New Covenant
that we see, once and for all, the end of all self-righteousness.
As man gazes at Yeshua hanging on the tree, all pretensions to
merit-by-works are utterly stripped away.
     The New Covenant replaces the Mosaic as the way of entrance
into the presence of God and providing a new way of approach to
God by the sacrifice of Yeshua, which replaces the sacrifices of
the Mosaic revelation central to it. The splendor of Yeshua's
personal revelation makes the other revelation fade in
comparison. It does not provide a new Law, but rather the power
to do the Law in Him. In that covenant we are accepted as
perfectly righteous before God and are privileged to enter boldy
unto the throne of Grace. Hence, the Mosaic mediation system of
priest and sacrifice is superseded.
     Nothing in this passage, however, removes the gift and call
of God to Jewish followers of Yeshua, which Paul calls (in Romans
11:29) "irrevocable." The apostles' example in maintaining their
heritage is clear. Some years after this passage was written,
Paul testified that he lived in observance of the Laws and
customs (Acts 27 ). He was not contradicting his own writing. The
call of a Jew to the purposes of Israel is a result of God's
everlasting covenant with Abraham. Jewish national practices
rooted in Torah primarily celebrate the fulfillment by God of
those promises. 

(Yes Paul lived according to the Bible, God's word, just as Jesus
taught us to do - Mat.4:4. Hence the laws that needed to be
caried over into the New Covenant were so done, and Paul could
claim he lived according to the Law - the Word of God, not the
false ideas and traditions of Judaism, but God's true word. And
Paul taught it was not wrong to do physical rites of the Temple
and physical circumcision, if you so desired, but the physical
rites and physical circumcision was not needed for justification
and salvation - Keith Hunt)

     In every practice we see Yeshua's meaning and light over
all. The message of this passage is parallel to that of Hebrews,
as delineated above. For it is now by the Spirit and His
conviction that we are guided to do God's will and follow His
call with the Scriptures as our resource. This is freedom indeed.
In this walk we are transformed step-by-step into the likeness of
the Messiah (II Corinthians 3:18).


     This passage is usually quoted to imply the end of any
relevance for the food laws of Leviticus 11, and to give evidence
that all practices rooted in Torah (Genesis--Deutero-nomy) are
also to be eliminated.
     Messianic Jews have various interpretations of the food
lists contained in Leviticus 11. Their approaches seek an
understanding of the purposes of the lists. Some hold that these
laws are related to the symbolic meaning of animals as not
fitting a concept of wholeness, or because they feed on carrion,
and are thus too tied to the death and decay (symbols) resulting
from sin for proper usage. Others hold that these laws have
definite health value and are still valid today. Some hold that
such laws of clean and unclean only penalized a person by
precluding them from Temple worship for a day or a week, etc.
Hence, without a Temple system, these laws lose direct relevance
for those who are in Yeshua. Others hold that these laws have
continuing validity in keeping Jews a distinctly-called people
through being unique in what they eat. Chapter VII will give this
writer's perspective on these laws. However, the issue of food
laws must be settled in the light of their purpose. We must also
take into consideration the elimination of the Temple system by
the work of Yeshua. The phrase in Mark has little bearing on the
     A careful reading of the passage in context proves that the
passage does not eliminate the distinctions of Leviticus. In
chapter seven, Yeshua was criticized because His disciples ate
without following the prescribed hand washing ritual by the
tradition of the Pharisees. According to tradition, this made the
food unclean. Yeshua's response was first a criticism of the
tradition which set aside the commands of God by interpreting
them in such a way that the actual command in its intent is
     Yeshua taught that the more important issue of clean and
unclean is not foods or rituals of washing, but the nature of
one's heart attitude. Real spiritual defilement does not depend
upon what goes into a man and passes out, but relates to the
spiritual heart of the person, which, when corrupt, is the source
of sin (evil) thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder,
adultery, greed, malice, deceit, etc.
     Yeshua did not directly teach at this time that the food
laws or the Biblical heritage of Jews was then at an end. Indeed
the statement, "Jesus declared all foods clean" may be
a scribal addition, as noted in English versions by brackets. We
cannot be sure that it comes from Mark himself. Let us assume
that it does. If so, it does not say, as often misquoted, that
"all things are clean" but that all foods are clean. A "food"
would be defined as that which was listed as acceptable in
Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy. Hence the passage may only mean
that foods not ritually treated according to the non-biblical
Pharisaic tradition are yet acceptable for eating. When we turn
to the parallel of Matthew 15, this becomes almost certain - for
Yeshua there concludes, "Eating with unwashed hands does not make
a man unclean."
     The issue clearly is the clean and unclean nature of foods
in regard to ceremonial washing. Pork would not be considered a
food. Certainly, poisonous plants are not options for our eating.
"You shall not test the Lord your God" would apply to the
foolishness of eating poisonous foods knowingly and expecting
God's protection. 

     Some hold that the unclean foods of Leviticus 11 possess
such dangers in more limited degrees. However we may interpret
the above Scripture, an application of the biblical kosher laws
is not determinable on the basis of this passage alone. The
passage gives no weight to a generalized conclusion that all
celebrations of the Jewish biblical heritage are now to be


"And in praying do not heap up empty phrases (vain repetitions)
as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for
their many words."

     Jewish worship, even in the time of Yeshua, was liturgical
in part. The word liturgy does not connote a dangerous practice
to avoid. Liturgy simply is an order of prayers and readings that
are written or orally memorized and repeated as part of worship.
The Psalms, for example, are liturgical. Jewish prayers - some of
which go back to the time of Yeshua--primarily weave Biblical
verses, promises, and teachings together and put them into prayer
form so that Scripture will be prayed into one's life and the
life of the community. Spontaneous prayer, memorized prayers and
Biblical passages are all integral to worship that is pleasing to
our Father in Spirit and truth (John 4:24).
     The problem, as indicated, is simply this: Messianic Jews
have adopted some of the great prayers of Judaism which are
biblical in content. Despite the fact that such material is
biblical, Messianic Jews are accused of engaging in vain
repetition which is contrary to the Spirit. To such accusers,
only worship that is made up "on the spot," spontaneously is of
the Spirit. These folks do not recognize that such a view would
actually eliminate their choruses and hymns as well. But since
music makes these forms more enjoyable to them, they are
     A hymn is a prayer sung to God; and there is no reason
why a spoken prayer may not be as spiritual as a hymn sung. The
accusation of "vain repetition" comes because the prayer may be
repeated daily or weekly, as well as from the allegation that
such prayers are not as emotionally moving to some people as
musically-sung choruses and hymns. The interpretation of this
passage in some quarters arises from a contemporary cultural
prejudice against form, and is, itself, fraught with
     What is Yeshua saying in Matthew 6t--He was first teaching
His disciples not to pray like Gentiles or pagans. The charact-
eristic of pagan religion He probably had in mind was its
magical-legalistic character. Pagans envisioned that if they said
a phrase over and over it would produce certain definite results.
The prayer could be babbled over and over without any meaning or
thought, but as a magical way of manipulating the gods or nature.
This was thought to be of value.
     Yeshua's point is that when we pray, we are coming before
our personal heavenly Father. Hence our prayer must be given
consciously as a heart-intended offering to Him of praise, or a
heart-intended request of intercession. If the prayer is written
or memorized, it should be said with thought so that we will mean
it! We must make it our own through our heart attitude. If the
prayer is spontaneous, the same holds true. How vain are the
repetitions of those socalled spontaneous prayers that are
babbled out without thought or heart-intention! Imagine coming
before a person and saying Hallelujah over and over again as fast
as you can, without putting your heart and mind behind it! Yet
some who criticize us for praying a Psalm do just this and are
themselves guilty of vain repetition. They do not direct their
hearts to God, but are emotionally "psyching themsleves up"
through fast repetition.

     To cap the argument, Yeshua goes on to teach the apostles a
simple memorized prayer that can be said with meaning and used
with other prayers. This prayer is in mnemonic form, as can be
seen in modern translations that put it into poetical form.
Furthermore, the prayer is parallel in its content to the ancient
Jewish prayer known as the Kaddish which Yeshua probably prayed
in the synagogue:

Yeshua's prayer 
Our Father in heaven,    
hallowed be your name.   
Thy kingdom come. Thy    
will be done in earth    
as it is in heaven. 


Glorified and sanctified be God's great name in the world which
he created according to his will.
May he establish his kingdom during the days of your life and
all the house of Israel.

     The importance of heart-intention is crucial to infusing
repeated prayers and Psalms with meaning. It is also crucial in
keeping spontaneous prayer from degenerating into stereotypical
phrases and cliches that have no meaning. The rabbis called such
heart-intention 'kavanah,' and taught that without it, all
are vain!

     The best teachers of worship have always caught that both
spontaneous prayer and repeated content are important to a
balanced worship; Repeated content teaches us how to pray
scripturally by making scriptural content the center of our
prayer so our heart's desire is God's own desire. Spontaneous
prayer then is enriched by biblical content and brings a
freshness to the liturgy of worship. All worship should be
offered to our God who is present, a real person before whom we
bring offerings of praise and intercession.

     The issue, should not be primarily our boredom, but God's
(Malachi 2:1). We know from God's directives for worship in Tarah
that He enjoined acts of worship which precisely repeated daily,
weekly and annually. He, also delighted Himself in spontaneous
acts of praise and prayer. Problems 4i worship are not only
matters of style, but issues of whether or not our spirit is open
to the inspiration of the Spirit in all acts of worship so our
love and imagination soar toward God! "God is a Spirit and those
who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth" (John


"Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink,
or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or
a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to
come; the reality, however, is found in Messiah. Do not let
anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels
disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great
detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him
up with idle notions. He has lost connection with the Head, from
whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments
and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow. Since you died with
Messiah to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you
still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: 'Do not handle!
Do not taste! Do not touch!'? These are all destined to perish
with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings.
Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their
self-imposed worship, their false humility, and their harsh
treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining
sensual indulgence."

     This passage is somewhat obscured by the fact that we do not
know the circumstances to which it was addressed. Some quote the
passage, however, as proof against celebrating Jewish festivals.
Yet, the passage is far more complex, for the situation
evidently reflected not only those who were judgmental in regard
to Jewish observances but who also worshipped angels (v.18),
"practiced asceticism" in a harsh treatment of the body (v.23),
and were involved in superstitions of not touching or tasting.
These superstitions involved participation in the "elemental
spirits" of the universe which are demons. All of his is called
"philosophy and empty deceit according to the elemental spirits
of the universe." But it is clearly not speaking about Biblical
     This has prompted most scholars who are students of the
passage to hold that Paul was not addressing a group of Jews who
were in the mainstream of Judaism, but one of those heretical
Jewish groups (or even superstitious Judaized non-Jews) who were
influenced by pagan superstition and seeking to teach their
doctrine at Colosse. Hence Paul could enjoin the Colossians not
to be brought under judgment by those who would enforce Jewish
observance on them. The very ones who are doing such mischief are
engaged in superstition.
     Jewish observances point to Yeshua, the substance of the
faith which they already have. Therefore it is not incumbent on
them to be forced into these practices. At the same time, Paul
enjoins them to avoid clearly pagan practices connected to the
disarmed "principalities and powers," a phrase which is usually
taken to refer to the most powerful of demonic rulers. Paul would
never call the content of Torah human commands and teachings.
Clearly, what is in mind is not the call of a Jew to maintain his
celebration of God's gracious work in the history of Israel and
the world. Rather, it is the imposition of such practices on
non-Jews that is forbidden, as well as the whole quasi-magical
superstition present at Colosse.

Keith Hunt)

     Paul does not contradict his own practice, as recorded in
     The passage says nothing negative to a Jew who, in light of
the whole of biblical history, senses a call of God's Spirit to
remain part of his people and to celebrate God's faithfulness to
Israel through the festivals which are now used to extol
salvation in Yeshua. God has faithfully preserved the Jewish
people according to His Covenant, and the Messianic Jew is a
unique witness to the Covenant-keeping God, which gives
confidence to all people of God's faithfulness. As a witness to
his own people as well, his involvement in the concerns of the
Jewish community - as well as in the biblical heritage - is
necessary if the love of the Messiah is to be demonstrated. Only
then is the truth heralded that "God has not forsaken his people"
(Romans 11). Israel is a unique people with a unique Biblical-
cultural life. So far as it is consistent with Scripture, the
Messianic Jew will be involved in identification with Israel - on
every possible level. He should not shirk the work involved, for
the Spirit can strengthen him to every good work. God did not
spend 2000 years creating a context for understanding the gospel
only to destroy the context of understanding.

Keith Hunt)


"But avoid foolish controversies and geneologies and arguments
and quarrels about the law, because these are not profitable and
are useless."

     Paul here speaks of divisive people who will not submit
themselves to spiritual authority. They are contentious, always
looking for arguments, and, therefore dangerous. The phrase
semetimes cited against Messianic Jud to avoid "quarrels about
the Law." This is taken to mean that we are to avoid the Law or
any discussoin of its meaning or purpose since the Law has no
relevance for us. How false is this view in the light of II
Timothy 3:16 and 17, which call "all Scripture profitable" and II
Timothy 2:15, which calls us to diligence in studying, to
correctly handle "the Word of truth."
     To have a sincere concern to understand the meaning and
purpose of the Law in the light of all Scripture is clearly a
God-given mandate. This is indeed a major theme of Romans 2-8.
Paul is not contradicting his own concern to understand "God's
holy, just, good and spiritual law" (Romans 7) in the light of
God's purpose for it. Quarrels and controversies we are to avoid;
but those who are anti-Law also engender such quarrels and are
similarly to be avoided as "lawless men."


     We have sought to explain many of the passages that are used
by the critics of Messianic Judaism. Our summary of these
passages - in light of all the evidence of Scripture supports
rather than detracts from Messianic Jewish conclusions.
Often the naive follower of Yeshua will find an erstwhile
opponent stringing these passages together out o f context. He is
then shaken by the seeming weight these passages carry in
contradiction of Messianic Judaism. However, we could just as
easily string together pro-Messianic Jewish passages. The problem
is that prejudice and pre-conceived conceptions have caused the
very picking and choosing of these passages. Bias illicitly uses
Scripture for its own purposes. When all of the passages are seen
in the light of the whole teaching of Scripture, in the context
of the situation to which each passage was addressed, the
problems dissolve. The Messianic Jewish understanding can then be
seen to be that which is in accord with Scripture. May this
chapter strengthen faith in the marvelous consistency and wisdom
in the revelation of God.
     It is principle that when Scripture seems to speak against
the Law, it is generally speaking of the misuse of the Law as a
means of gaining merit for salvation by works-righteousness or
depending upon the Law for our relationship with God. Our
obedience is rather the response of love produced by God's Spirit
in us.

To be continued

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