We are going to pick up in Gal 2.16 with some vital information. It says that Yeshua the Messiah is the origin, or cause, of our faith which leads to being justified, not by works of the law (in this case the law about ritual circumcision and becoming Jews for salvation, according to Beit Shammai) since no man can get righteousness from obeying the Torah or any law (Eph 2.8; Rom 5.8; Gal 3.22). The term “works of the law” is “ergou nomou” in Greek and it means a system of works righteousness which Beit Shammai taught through the 18 Edicts. It means you “add” something to help God save you, basically. If God has given you faith, through his grace, leading to salvation without becoming Jews through ritual circumcision and you don’t add something to that, then Messiah lives in you (Gal 2.20). Now, the term “Messiah lives in you” means that you live a life he would approve of. In other words, he lives on in those who follow him and not the man-made 18 Edicts of Beit Shammai.
Following the edicts means you are adding something to what God has provided and that nullifies his grace. If righteousness came through the Torah, then Yeshua’s death wasn’t needed (Gal 2.21). We learn in Gal 3.1-2 about the Ruach (Spirit/Wind). This word is “pneuma” in Greek. The problem is pneuma is used to describe the Shekinah and the Ruach Ha Kodesh (Holy Spirit), two separate manifestations. In Gal 3.2, “Spirit” should be “Shekinah” which is the indwelling presence of God, and this is the word Paul would have used because he wrote this book in Hebrew. How to tell which manifestation applies? If a verse is talking about God within you, it is Shekinah (the presence). If it talks about the Ruach being or coming “upon you” it should be understood as the Ruach (power of God). For example, in John 20.22 Yeshua said, “receive the Holy Spirit.” That should read “Recieve the Shekinah” because it was within them. He then tells them in Acts 1.8 that the Holy Spirit will come upon them. If they received the Holy Spirit in John 20.22, why is he saying they will receive the Holy Spirit in Acts 1.8? It is because the word “pneuma” was used for both manifestations in Greek, and if you don’t know that, this can be very confusing. There are other examples, but this illustrates the concept of the Shekinah being in us, and the Ruach in power coming upon us. Two different manifestations. Now there is a concept in Christianity called “blind faith” but that is not biblical. Faith is “emunah” which means “action” or “confidence” in Hebrew and biblical faith has three components. Faith is made up of “ahav” or “love.” The next component is “da’at” which is “knowledge of God” and the last one is “mitzva’ot” or “commandments, good works.” Any breakdown in faith is the result of a breakdown of one or more of these components so you know where to start. If you are operating outside of these three components that make up faith, it is not biblical faith.
The “Basar” or “Gospel” was taught before Yeshua ever came. It was looked for and taught by the Prophets (Gal 3.3-8) It did not start with Yeshua, but it began in Gan Eden (Garden of Eden). The nations would be blessed through it (Gen 12.3, 18-18, 22,18, 26.4, 28.14; Isa 40.7, 52.7). What did Abraham believe? He believed that the Lord would redeem his people (Gen 15.16) and there would be two redemption’s. There was the Egyptian redemption through Moses and there would be a messianic redemption through Yeshua.
Many believe that there are no “Jews” anymore when it comes to a lot of things, especially Torah observance. Christianity reaches out to the Jews, then teaches them to be Christians, devoid of Torah observance. Gal 3.28 is used to prove this, but this verse talks about “status” before God. We are all equal before God, whether you are a Jew or non-Jew, male or female, slave or free. Gal 4.1-5 teaches that God has a system that taught righteousness, a way to walk. This gets into the concept of the dual nature of the Torah. Before we came to faith, the Torah had us under arrest, and this talks about its judicial role. It identified us as sinners and it demanded punishment for breaking the Torah, and it held us in “custody” until we stood before God. But once we came to faith, its role as “custodian” goes away (we are free, it no longer condemns us because we have been declared “not guilty”), and its role as “teacher” takes over, which is its educative role. It teaches us about the good and perfect will of God on how to walk and calls for our obedience.
The Galatians were going backward. They began listening to people who said they were “missing” something. They began to believe they had to be circumcised to become a Jew to be saved. This part of the 18 Edicts of Beit Shammai. But, they already had equal status before God with the Jews by emunah. In Gal 4.9-10, the “weak and worthless elemental things” mentioned is not talking about the Torah, but the man-made laws and traditions that were confusing them. In addition, he is not against the biblical festivals, which were still in operation because the Temple and priesthood still stood, when he says, “You observe days and months and seasons and years” because we know Paul kept them. What he is talking about is their attitude. You observe these things in faith. Do you observe them to gain righteousness? These also could be referring to man-made “days and months and seasons and years.” The Jewish people did not come up with the biblical “days and months and seasons and years” because they came from God himself. Anytime the Lord was against the festivals, like in Isa 1.10-14, it is because the attitude of the people was wrong. They did not make you righteous, that is a system of works called “works of the law” that we already dealt with.
Paul begins to think he has wasted his time with the Galatians. Paul begins to lay out two basic concepts to the Galatians in Gal 4.21-31. First, you can have faith and follow the Torah and good works, or you can follow the Torah to gain righteousness through its works. If you are using the Torah to gain righteousness, like the Galatians, believing they had to be saved through ritual circumcision, then this doesn’t work, it never did. But, if you have emunah, do you still have commandments? Yes! James says faith (emunah) without works (the mitzva’ot, or commandments) is dead. Faith and the commandments found in the Torah compliment each other (Jam 1.22-25, 2.17). What it comes down to is how you perceive what you are doing. Keeping days, months, seasons and years is not a bad thing if you approach them by emunah.
Galatians 5 deals with this attitude. If they receive ritual circumcision, what good is Yeshua. They think that salvation can be earned, not a gift. And if they believe it is by works (ritual circumcision) then they must keep the whole Torah, even the oral law. If they fail in one thing, but you are ritually circumcised, you still failed in the other things and they fall short and grace is of no value. The rabbinic teaching of Beit Shammai was telling them that unless they were ritually circumcised to obtain some “declaration of Jewishness” they will have fallen short of God’s grace.
Galatians 6 talks about forgiveness and that they were to “bear” (lift up the burden” and forgive the sins of others against them. They were to examine their own walk and not worry about what everyone else was doing. each one is to “bear” their own load like a soldiers backpack, which means they were going to be held responsible for their own life. Hopefully, you are beginning to see things in a different light now. In subsequent teachings, we will begin to explore Paul and the Torah and we will learn that he was not against it, but actually observed it in is own life and he taught it to others.
In Part 8, we will begin to talk about the “Moedim” (the appointed times) and the “Mikrah (rehearsals) found in Lev 23. These will be the festivals, including the Sabbath. We will also talk about the calendars. A knowledge about these issues will go hand in hand with understanding the Torah and New Testament foundations.