Paul's Teaching on Temple Rituals Restitution of All

  Home Navigation & Word Search

Paul's Teaching on Temple rituals and Animal sacrifices

It was okay ... BUT ...


Keith Hunt

     In my study on the book of Galatians we covered the BACKDROP
to why Paul wrote the letter to the Galatian Christians. After
the apostles had preached boldly and widely the name of Jesus
Christ (through Him was the forgiveness of the sins and not by
the laws of Moses or spilling the blood of animals or the
physical rite of the circumcision covenant, and Temple rituals)
as personal Savior, certain individuals came contradicting and
gainsaying the gospel of justification by faith in Jesus and
teaching that it was by the means of circumcision and keeping the
laws of Moses that one could be justified and saved.

     As we look below at the following, (taken from Alfred
Edersheim's book called THE TEMPLE) we shall see that the
teaching of the Rabbis (what the blood of bulls and goats was
understood to do for the offerer) makes what we have stated in
our Galatians study that much more meaningful. A system of
beliefs that taught that the death and spilling of animal blood
together with the blood of circumcision COULD ATONE for human
sin. After generation after generation of such belief, it would
make it very difficult for the religious leaders of such learning
to be persuaded that such a belief was in error, and that the
only way to justification with God was by means of the blood of a
man - namely one called Jesus Christ. 
     It can be seen how those leaders of the "circumcision party"
would want to cling to a belief that had been held for
generations, with the proudness and pomp of the temple and its

     When we consider the fact that the Gentile nations also had
their temples, priesthoods and animal SACRIFICES - their spilling
of blood - it will not be difficult to see how quickly and
easily they would have been deceived into abandoning the truth
that Paul taught them, and accepting the teaching of those who
came among them and taught that the spilling of human blood (via
circumcision) along with animal blood (sacrificial system of the
laws of Moses) could atone for sins and justify. The whole
culture of Jewish and Gentile religious life evolved around

     Therefore it should be of no great surprise for us, to find
that within the early NT Church we find a group of believers who
clung tenaciously to physical circumcision and all the law of
Moses (Acts 21:18-20; 15:5,1). 

     We should note carefully that contrary to what some
individuals said about Paul's teaching, he did not teach AGAINST
circumcision and the law of Moses PER SE - at times he conformed
to performing them when it was a matter of expedience (Acts
16:1-3;18:18; 21:21-26;24:10-21). 
     Some of Paul's words of defense as he stood before Festus
were, "Neither against the law of the Jews, neither against the
temple, nor yet against Caesar, have I offended anything at all"
(Acts 25:8). 
     The Jews indeed brought many complains against Paul, "which
they could not prove" (verse 7). The truth is readily seen - if
those strict religious temple worshipping Jews COULD HAVE proved
that Paul had been and was teaching people to forsake Moses THEY
     But they could prove no impropriety against Paul in regards
to their religious system, and as Festus told Agrippa, "...when
the accusers stood up, they brought NONE accusation of such
things as I supposes: But had certain questions against him of
their OWN SUPERSTITION, and of one Jesus, which was dead, whom
Paul affirmed to be alive (Acts 25: 18-19).

     The difference between the Rabbis and Paul was not WHETHER
one should partake of circumcision and temple rituals or not,
but one of THEOLOGICAL significance - was circumcision,
sacrificial rites and the laws of Moses to be performed in order
to secure justification? 
     The Rabbis taught they were - that none could be saved
without them (Act 15:1) - Paul taught that justification came by
FAITH in the blood of Jesus, that true circumcision was
of the heart (Rom. 2:28,29; 3:23-30). The Rabbis taught that the
BLOOD of ANIMALS, ATONED for human sin - Paul taught that only
the blood of Christ could atone for our sins, and that it was
"not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take
away sins" but those animals sacrifices were to remind people of
sin year after year, (Heb.10:3,4).

     If you have not yet read our by study "SAVED BY GRACE"
please make sure you do.  Nothing is more important than for you
to KNOW what is the TRUE and ONLY way to be saved.

QUOTING form Alfred Edersheim's book (I recommend ALL the books
written by Edersheim, the Jewish Christian scholar) THE TEMPLE,
in reference to Jewish Temple teachings at Paul's time:

"There is no atonement except by blood." In accordance with this
we quote the following from Jewish interpreters. Rashi says, 'The
soul of every creature is bound up in its blood; therefore I give
it to atone for the soul of man - that one soul should come and
atone for the other.' Similarly Aben Ezra writes" 'One soul is a
substitute for the other.' And Moses ben Nachman: 'I gave the
soul for you on the altar, that the soul of the animal should be
an atonement for the soul of the man.' The quotations might be
Another phase .... appears in such Rabbinical statements as that
by the imposition of HANDS: 'The offerer, as it were, puts away
his sins from himself and transfers them upon the living animal;
and that, as often as any one sins with his soul, whether from
haste or malice, he puts away his sin from himself, and places it
upon the head of his sacrifice, and it is an atonement for him.'

.....There is yet one other place on which the Synagogue lays
stress. It is best expressed in the following quotation, to which
many similar might be added: 'Properly speaking, the blood of the
sinner should have been shed, and his body burned, as those of
the sacrifice. But the Holy One - blessed be He! - accepted our
sacrifice from us as redemption and atonement. Behold the full
grace which Jehovah - blessed be He! - has shown to man! On His
compassion and in his fullness of His grace He accepted the soul
of the animal instead of his soul, that through it there might be
an atonement.'

END quote from Edersheim's book pp. 118-120

     HAaaaa!! do you now see what Paul and the other apostles
were up against as they preached CHRIST JESUS as the Son of God
and as the ONLY SACRIFICE that could AT-ONE-MENT between God and
mankind?  The Rabbis of Paul's day in their generations of
belief, taught and believed, that the blood of animals, the soul
of the animal DID ATONE - cleanse from sin, the one doing the
offering of the animal sacrifice.

     Now as you read the book of Acts and the book of Galatians,
you should be able to see more clearly the SITUATION of Paul and
others in their preaching and teaching the CHRISTIAN GOSPEL in a
Jewish world and culture, a Jewish culture that even influenced
GENTILES who had accepted the God of Israel and were converts to

     Today, after the Temple and animal sacrifices came to an end
in 70 AD, what do the religious Jews teach?  They still do not
accept Jesus as the Christ as the Messiah. They teach that they
can go to God and ask for forgiveness of sins, and they are
forgive. They teach that in so doing they can obtain heaven and
eternal life, WITHOUT JESUS THE CHRIST in their life in any way
whatsoever! This is where, according to New Testament writings
the JEWS are in complete ERROR and teach a FALSE belief or shall
we say DOCTRINE. The New Testament makes it VERY CLEAR there is
NO SALVATION outside of accepting Jesus the Christ as PERSONAL

     The day will come when spiritual BLINDNESS will be taken
away from the Jews, and they will KNOW that Jesus was/is the
Christ, was/is the very Messiah, they had looked for and hoped


Written first in 1985 and re-written October 2007

  Home Top of Page

Other Articles of Interest:
  ... ... ...

Navigation List:

Word Search: