There are keys to understanding the Gospels and Epistles and how we should look at them. Most people look at them through corrupted sources, but we need to depict them accurately about what is being said and done. Just like in journalism, we need to address the who, what, where, when, why and how. One of the things we do is avoid most Christian books because not many are coming from a Jewish backround. The events happened in Israel and the language, sub-languages, idioms, phrases and concepts are Hebrew. Christian books come from a corrupted, western, European/Greek sources that impact the message because of a lack of understanding of the first century Jewish world. Stay away from “theology” because we need a firm foundation first before we can draw any conclusions. That is one of the purposes for this study, to help with a proper foundation. Build a library or have access to good teaching and sources to address the who, what, where, when, why and how.
Who Yeshua is talking to and on what is he commenting on is very important. Sources like Josephus, books on first century “Judaisms” (the various sects) like the Pharisees, Sadducees, Boethusians, Zealots, Sicarii, Am Ha Eretz, Essenes and many more are necessary. Understanding the idioms, phrases and concepts on a variety of subjects will also help. The reason for all this that we need to establish a base to understand what Yeshua is really saying. To understand the Gospels, we need to have a basic understanding that is free from the damaged Christian theology that is all around us. The Gospels need to be restored to a first century understanding
There are also translation problems, no matter what language the Hebrew has been translated into. We need to do a proper backround on any book we study, like, who are the characters (who); what is the setting (what) and what events are happening. This must not come from our understanding of a word or phrase or how it is understood in the 21st century lands we live in. This also must not come from how we “feel” about what something says. This is what is done in a Bible study where everyone gets to comment on a verse and what they think it means. That is not the proper way to study the Scriptures. We need to know what the words meant to those who were listening and participating in the events going on in the verse. In other words, we need to understand the Scriptures in the same way those who wrote them and heard them. So, what we are going to do is give you an example of how to study the Scriptures, using the Torah and some of the keys we have just gone over. We are going to begin in the Gospels, John 1.23 and go to John 8.11 to be exact. This will not be an exhaustive study, but it will give you an idea of how to work in the Gospels using first century understanding, using the keys to understanding what is written. This information that will be presented is necessary if you are going to interpret what is being said in the Gospels correctly. As an experiment, go through John 1.23 to John 8.11 yourself before you continue. Try to interpret these verses with what you have, then come back and study them with what we will present. See if there is a difference.
The “servant of the Lord” is called “Eved Adonai” and John the Baptist is going to fulfill that role as the “herald” or “voice.” So, let’s start in John 1.23 where John is asked whether he is Elijah, or the Prophet. John says he is the “voice” and quotes Isa 40.3-5. This “voice” is also called the “messenger” in Mal 3.1 and that word in Hebrew is “malak” meaning “angel.” Isa 62.10 says,” Go through, go through the gates and clear the way for the people. Build up, build up the highway. Remove the stones (also seen as repentance and removing what was offending-this was the message of John), lift up the standard (term for Messiah) over the peoples.” This passage is also linked with Micah 2.12-13 where it says, “I will surely assemble all of you Jacob, I will surely gather the remnant of Israel. I will put them together like sheep in a fold, like a flock in the midst of its pasture. They will be noisy with men. The breaker (the poretz) goes up before them (this is a term for John, the breachmaker who opens the way for the sheep); they break out (the sheep), pass through the gate (that has been opened) and go out by it. So their king (Yeshua) goes on before them, and the Lord at their head.” This was the role of John. He was the voice, the herald, the messenger, who went and opened the way for the sheep to find their shepherd so that he could lead them into the Kingdom of God. They have been “penned up” all night and they are anxious to get out. The breachmaker (poretz) comes and removes the stones that blocked up the gate so the sheep could not get out. The shepherd (Yeshua the king) is waiting for them in the pasture, seen as the Kingdom of God, and they sheep run to him and he leads them into the Kingdom. The “poretz” was the role of John. The people have been waiting, “penned up” if you will, for the Messiah. They were in a state of expectation (Luke 3.15). Then John comes preaching repentance (remove the stones that hinder as the “poretz”) to make ready the “sheep” for the coming king. Yeshua comes along, and John releases the people to go and follow Yeshua as he leads them into the Kingdom of God.
The people hearing John would have had all these verses in mind, with the concepts associated with them, as they listened to John. Even today, the concept of the “Voice of the Herald” can be found in prayer books for Sukkot. Now, what does this “voice” say? Some of the things he says will apply to Israel, some will apply to the Messiah as the “servant of God” and some will apply to both. The servant passages are from Isa 40 through 55 approximately. When John said he was a “voice crying in the wilderness” the people knew exactly where that was (the servant passages in Isaiah) and they would not have had just a few verses in mind. They would have had many verses in mind because they were taught these things from the very beginning of their youth. They were trained in it. Today, very few people have even read the servant passages, or even know where they are. These servant passages are related to the “voice” passages. Now, when you read the Gospels about John, after reading Isa 40 through 55, you will have a deeper understanding of who John was and what he said. You will see what his role was as the “poretz” (breach maker). Israel has said the Messiah will gather the people, suffer and die, heal the sick, judge the nations, be hidden to some and many more concepts. These concepts are all found in the servant passages, and this is what the “voice” proclaimed. This is what John taught.
Here are more keys to know if you are going to understand the New Testament. You must know the Moedim (festivals); the sub-language of the festivals; the sub-language of the Temple; the Mishkan in the wilderness; the Mishkan in the land; the First Temple (Solomon); the concept of Kedusha; the Second Temple (from Zerubbabel, the Hasmonean extensions and rebuilding, the Herodian extensions and rebuilding; the Third Temple (being planned right now) and Ezekiel’s Temple (after Yeshua returns), also known as the Fourth Temple, to name just a few. Now, we are in the book of John, and we looked at just one concept, from one verse, in order to understand that book. But this can be applied to the New Testament as well.
So, in Part 21, we will continue to look at some other examples from just the book of John. We will not go verse by verse, but we will go to selected portions that will help us understand what is happening. Concepts in these passages will be given to help us realize how the Torah can help us understand the New Testament and how these verses can and should be understood. So, go ahead and read from John 1.29 through 8.11 and see what you come up with. Then, in Part 21, we will examine some selected verses to get an idea of what is being communicated.