In Acts 21.15-26 we have the story of Paul, who took a Nazarite vow and after it was over, he cut his hair (Acts 18.18). He then goes to Jerusalem to keep Shavuot (Acts 20.16), to give alms and offer the korbanot (sacrifices) required when coming out of a Nazarite vow (Acts 24.17). This is 28 years after Yeshua ascended to heaven. Once he gets there, he is confronted with rumors that he is teaching people not to follow Moses and for not keeping the customs. Now, there are five levels of Jewish law. The highest level is the written Torah. The next level is that which is implied in the Torah. The third level is is a law found elsewhere is Scripture. The fourth level is rabbinic decrees and the lowest level is the customs. Paul is being accused by rumor of not following the highest and the lowest level of Jewish law. He proves these rumors untrue and that he walks according to the halakah. Then he is accused of bringing a non-Jew into the Temple by people who knew him from Asia because he had just come from there (v 28).
Paul is arrested and the Temple was shut down because of the threat to kedusha, which of course never happened. Paul gives his defense in Acts 22.1-22. He tells them the story of his life and salvation from the barracks where he has been taken. He tells them about Yeshua and how Yeshua is the Messiah. Many of those listening knew Yeshua. None of those listening objected to anything he was saying. However, when he told them that Yeshua was sending him to the non-Jews in Acts 22.22, that is when the people got upset with him and said he didn’t deserve to live. Now, let’s look at the book of Galatians.
It was written in Hebrew by Paul and it must be understood using the concepts we have just presented. In v 1 we are told he is a “sh’liach” (apostle) or “sent one, agent” of the Lord and a sh’liach should be regarded with as much acceptance as the one who sent him (Father, Yeshua). Yeshua was a sh’liach of the Father (John 6.28-40, 7.16,29,33). Moses was a sh’liach of God (Exo 3.4-22). Paul is also an agent working under the authority of the Father and Yeshua. What he says will line up with what the Father and Yeshua said. That should be the case with anyone who is sent by another as an agent. The “churches” in Gal 1.2 are the “kehilat” (plural of kahal). The “church” as it is understood today was not instituted by Yeshua, but the kahal (congregations) existed before Yeshua. Yeshua did not institute “baptism or the Lord’s Supper” either. Baptism is “Tevilah” in Hebrew or “immersions.” The Lord’s Supper (an actual meal, not a wafer and a thimble full of grape juice) was called a “Seu’dah Elohim” or a “meal consecrated to God.” These meals before God had been done 1000’s of years before Yeshua. We are going to go through Galatians briefly and we are going to point out things like this that have led us into massive error.
The kahal (congregation) is mentioned in Deut 18.15 with the phrase “day of the assembly” or “yom kahal” in Hebrew . This was Israel at Mount Sinai. The problem with the English translation of “church” is we think in Gentile Christianity terms and we need to see these passages in Hebraic terms and see the people for who they were, following in a Jewish framework. When Yeshua came he continued what was already happening and what had already been established as far as the kahal was concerned.
In Gal 1.3-6 we learn of the “gospel” or “basorah.” So, let’s define what the Basorah (feminine), or gospel, really is. Basar (masculine) means “good news” or “glad tidings.” The people were looking for the Malkut Shamayim (Kingdom of Heaven). In Zech 14.9 the kingship of God is established in the earth. This is the greatest meaning of basar. That is the first part of the basorah (feminine of basar). But, there are many more aspects to the basorah and many more concepts related to it like the following: the golden age of Israel; David’s throne is established; the Messiah has come; God reigns through the Messiah in the earth; peace has come; man and nature is restored; the resurrection has occurred; righteousness is in the earth; the day of the Lord has come (Atid Lavo); the Torah goes forth; idolatry is gone; the exiles that have been dispersed into all the nations have returned to the land; true worship in the Temple has been restored and the non-Jews believe that Yeshua is the Messiah. The Messiah is not the basar (gospel) but he is the agent that will bring all of this about because he is empowered to do so. His task is to redeem man and nature, and this is called the restoration/redemption. We enter into this redemption by “emunah” (faith, action, confidence). This is what the people understood as the “gospel.”
Jerusalem was the headquarters for the those with faith in Yeshua as the Messiah. In 30 AD we had the resurrection. The sh’liachim (apostles) have been personally trained by Yeshua, plus many others. There was not a concept at this time that the non-Jews were going to come into the faith “en masse.” Nor was there a concept that they would without first becoming Jews through ritual circumcision. Their concept of the “Great Commission” in Matt 28.19-20 was to go into the world to the Jew. The non-Jewish world would come into the faith as a convert, then see that Yeshua was the Messiah. Some factions did not like that idea, especially Beit Shammai. Paul’s revelation, along with Peter, the sh’liachim and the “brethren” in Acts 11.1 was that the non-Jews did not have to be Jews through ritual circumcision, which is the subject of Galatians.
The basar was preached to Abraham (Gal 3.8) and to Israel in the wilderness (Heb 4.1-3). It is mentioned many times in Scripture, like in Isa 40.9 and Isa 52.7. The Jewish people in Yeshua’s day knew what the “gospel” was and it is not what is being preached today unless it met all the above descriptions. What we need to understand is what the people were expecting in the first century. This will help us in determining what the true gospel was. We are going to challenge everything as we go forward.
Galatians is one of the worst interpreted books of the Bible and the most damaging to believers in the 1900 years. As we have said, the “basar” means “good news or glad tidings.” Now, if you ask most people (believers) what the gospel is, they will tell you “believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved.” But there is more to it than that and we are going to expand that understanding. The people in the first century were looking for the Malkut Shamayim (Kingdom of Heaven). Gal 1.16 says that there would be “another basar (gospel)”, one that would be different from the basar that the Jewish people understood and expected. The basar (good news) of the Malkut Shamayim means that the “kingship of God” is the number one aspect (Zech 14.9; Isa 2.1-4; Micah 4.1-4; John 1.44-51; Jer 23.5-6; 33.15-16; Isa 27.12-13) and Judah and Israel will be regathered from the nations.
We have given certain aspects of the gospel earlier. In the mind of the people, they were expecting all these things listed when they heard “gospel/basar.” Remember, you have two groups leading the Jewish people for the most part, Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai. Now, you will have a third group in the mix, the believing non-Jews. Beit Shammai dominated what the halakah was concerning the non-Jews. They could not be accepted unless they became Jews through ritual circumcision. Beit Hillel taught that the Malkut Shamayim could be entered into by faith, either Jew or non-Jew, and that the non-Jews had a place in the resurrection and the Olam Haba, even if they were not circumcised. Gal 1.6-7 talks about those who “distort” the basar/gospel. In our case in Galatians, people were “adding” to the grace of God by requiring ritual circumcision of non-Jews for salvation. Salvation comes by faith alone, through the grace of God, in Yeshua alone. Paul states that these people requiring ritual circumcision from Beit Shammai were adding something that the Lord had not required for salvation. The key to Galatians is this backround, or you are going to be reading as it was interpreted in the second century and beyond. Western, Hellenized interpretations are the result of nearly 2000 years of pagan, gnostic, Marcionic influences and beliefs. As a result, changes were made. We will get into more details on this later.
We will need to strip all that away and get back to the Hebraic way of understanding the Scriptures, especially the New Testament. These concepts will apply when studying any of these books. We will pick up here in Part 6.