How to Understand the New Testament-Part 1

A basic backround is needed to understand any book of the Bible, but in this series of articles we are going to concentrate on the Gospels and Epistles, called the New Testament. The Hebrew writers, who considered the Torah-based faith of Israel to be the only valid faith system given by God, warned of a coming “spiritual deception” that would affect many. This counterfeit “faith” would be based on “lawlessness” or “Torah-lessness, and would lead up to the false messiah, who would be called a “man of lawlessness (or “torah-lessness”-2 Thes 2.3).

This prophecy has proven accurate because millions of people today follow a faith not grounded in the Torah. As a result, any festival, sacrifice or instruction given before Matthew is seen as “fulfilled” which means in their minds, “done away with” but that is a total redefinition of the word. They believe that any teaching that can be found in the Torah is good for history but it has no authority over a believer as far as conduct is concerned. Anyone attempting to obey a custom or commandment prior to the New Testament is accused of being in bondage and “keeping the Law” and they are said to be “falling from grace.” Only the teachings of the New Testament are valid for believers, even though it can be clearly seen that first century believers were Torah observant, including every writer of the Gospels and Epistles.

There is a great need to understand the backround of the New Testament because there has been over 1500 years of false concepts. Many believers today have a basic problem called “replacement theology” (see “Replacement Theology” this site for more information on how this developed). We need a basic understanding of what happened, and this series of articles will attempt to give you a basic understanding of the New Testament books. We need to place ourselves in the audience with those in the first century, and to have the basic training they had because they understood the Hebraic concepts put forth in the Gospels and Epistles. Terminology, once clearly understood by the believers in the first century, has changed, and even the same words will have a different meaning now.

In these articles, we will move away from using terms like “new testament” and use “gospels and epistles” and “Tanak” instead because they were originally Hebrew thought and so were the concepts contained in them. Where does it say that we are to call the Bible “Old Testament” and “New Testament?” The Tanak is the books of the so-called “old testament” and here is why. The Torah (Five books of Moses), the Nevi’im (the Prophets) and the Ketuvim (the writings) make up the divisions of the “old testament.” Taking the first letter of each division, it forms TNK, or “Tanak.” We are not denying that there is a “new covenant” but that comes in stages and we are not in its fullness yet. This covenant was made with Israel and Judah (Jer 31.30-34).

The Gospel was preached before Yeshua, and it was preached to Abraham (Gen 12.3; Gal 3.8). It was preached in the wilderness. The word gospel is “besorah” in Hebrew and it means “good news” or glad tidings, and it is found in the Tanak all over the place (Isa 40.9; Isa 52.7; Isa 68.11). It means the “good news of the redemption and the Messiah.” We need to see the characters in the gospels and epistles as Jews with Jewish concepts. John the Baptist was called “Yochanon ha Matvil”; Matthew was “Mattatiyahu” and James was “Jacob”; Mary was “Miriam” and so on. Satan, the adversary, tries to make a person move from what God is trying to communicate to something else. The “Jesus” today is not the Yeshua of the gospels and epistles, which the prophets foretold. Paul (Shaul) was not a breakaway from the Judaism he practiced (a Pharisee from the School of Hillel) but remained within the Torah-based faith of Israel (1 Cor 11.1-2; 2 Thes 2.15, 3.6; Phil 3.5). Let’s look at Yeshua and Paul. Paul continued to be a Pharisee after Acts 9 and said “I am a Pharisee” (Acts 23.6). Paul was from the School of Hillel and his teacher was Gamaliel (Acts 22.3).

There is a book called “Will the real Jesus please stand” by Vendyl Jones. The title comes from an old television show called “What’s My Line.” When you examine the picture on the cover you have a protestant Jesus, a Catholic Jesus and an orthodox Jewish Jesus. The most accurate picture of “Jesus” is the Orthodox Jewish one. We see these men as westernized, gentilized people, but we need to see them as they were, not as they are presented now.

In Dan 11.29-32 we have a prophecy about Antiochus Epiphanes IV, so let’s look at some backround. Alexander the Great brought Hellenism everywhere he went, When he died, he divided his kingdom into four parts among four generals. Seleucus ruled over what is known as Syria, and that is where Antiochus was from. His rule was cruel a picture of the false messiah, and the Maccabean wars were the result. In Dan 11.30 it says that he became enraged against the Torah and many turned away from it to escape persecution. In verse 31 it says that he will make war on the sanctuary (the temple) and introduces idolatry. In verse 32 he favors those who forsook the Torah and turned to godlessness. So, to forsake the Torah means godlessness. That is exactly what the false messiah will do and the groundwork is already in place through replacement theology.

There are two types of Jews in these verses. The Traditionalists who follow the commandments, and the Hellenistic, who are corrupt and move away from the commandments. In Dan 7.25 it says that the Antiochus (a picture of the false messiah) will make alterations in the times (the “zem’nim”=another word for the moedim, or festivals) and the law (“v’dat” which is another name for the Torah). Christianity is Hellenistic, not Hebraic, because it has moved away from the Torah. Antiochus moved against the temple, the biblical calendar and the Torah, and so does Christianity.

But people will say “we love the Jewish people” but there is a covert anti-Semitism. You ask, “How?” Because it is anti-Torah. They want the Jews to be saved, but they also tell them that they do not have to obey the Torah anymore because it has been “done away with” like Antiochus tried to do. Some have gone so far as to say Jews don’t need to be saved because they already have the Covenant at Sinai. That isn’t true either. We could name a few famous false teachers you would recognize, but that isn’t the focus right now. Just look up the “Plural Covenant” and do some research.

The Scriptures teach that Jews and Gentiles (Acts 15.19-21) believed in Yeshua and did not forsake the Torah. Acts 21.15-26 gives us great insight into this concept through the Apostle Paul. Paul took a Nazarite vow (Num 6.1-21; Acts 18.18) and was coming to Jerusalem to make offerings (Acts 24.17)after ending it, as required by the Torah. He is accused by some of forsaking the Torah (Acts 21.21) and James (Jacob) tells him to pay for the expenses (sacrifices/korbanot) of four other Messianic Believers in Yeshua who are also coming out of a Nazarite vow to show those that he has not turned away from the Torah and that he walks “orderly, keeping the Torah” (Acts 21.24). This is 28 years after Yeshua, and after the Book of Galatians was written.

Paul is not moving away from the Torah, and none of his epistles taught that concept either. Paul is accused by Jews from Asia, who knew he was there, of bringing a gentile into the temple, which was untrue. Paul is arrested and he gives his defense before Felix, the new Procurator. He says that he came to Jerusalem to “brings alms to my nation (mandatory from Exo 23.14-17) and to present offerings (korbanot/sacrifices).” So, what we have tried to establish is that the writers of the gospels and epistles were Torah observant 28 years after Yeshua. Christianity teaches that Paul taught against the Torah, the very accusation levied against him falsely in Acts 21.21 and refuted by the leader of the believers, James (Jacob), and by other brethren.

Grace did not begin with Yeshua, it began in Eden. We have to change our thinking about these men that wrote the gospels and epistles if we are going to understand the “new testament.” If we fail to recognize this and see that everything they said comes from a Torah observant basis in the faith of Israel, then we are going to be misled. Now, Antiochus Epiphanes forbid the reading of the Torah, Sabbath keeping and the festivals and he shut down the temple. How does that apply? Where do you think the world leaders of today get the idea that Israel must give up the land, that they must give up the Temple Mount, that these things aren’t important and that they must be like the other nations of the world? The elders of the believers in Jerusalem did not teach against these things and they wrote the New Testament! They stood in the temple and taught that people should believe in Yeshua and follow the Torah.

Now there is a teaching called “Dispensationalism” in the churches today. It says that the Law existed before Yeshua, but after the cross it is now grace. We totally disagree with this. The word “law” is a misnomer and people get upset with that word, just like “jail, death, curse, restrictions” and so on. Law is “Torah” and it means “instruction, guidance and teaching.” Torah, or instruction, began in Eden and continues to this present day. Grace began in Eden and continues to this present day. Torah and grace go hand in hand, they do not oppose each other. Rom 10.4 says that the Messiah is “the end of the Law (Torah) but that is not what that verse is teaching. The word for “end” is “telos” and it means “target, goal, object of the teaching.” It is the basis for the word “telescope” which is something that we use to “see”. It means the Messiah is the target, goal or object of the instruction (Torah=Psa 40.7; Luke 24.27). That changes how we see this verse (read Deut 4.5-8).

Antiochus was against the covenant (Torah) and if the Jewish people disregarded the Torah, he favored them. It is the same today. Decide to start following the Torah and see what happens. People will actually be offended. This attitude affects politics regarding Israel with concepts like “give up the land” and “give up the Temple Mount” but the Lord told them not to do that. We love Israel as long as we don’t have to deal with the Torah. We must transform our minds on how to read the gospels and epistles to get out what they are actually saying. We will continue in Part 2.

Posted in Articles, Idioms, Phrases and Concepts, Understanding the New Testament

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