Some say Paul borrowed heavily from the teachings of the Essenes, especially on how to conduct oneself in a synagogue. They will say that Paul taught that there should be no law governing a believer because “where there is no law, there is no sin” (Rom 4.15). But that is not what Paul means. What he means is that when people don’t have the Torah, there is no knowledge of sin. The Torah instructs us on what God considers sin and it identifies it. They will also accuse Paul of using Gnostic terms for “perfect” and “mature”, which they say were taken by Paul from the Greek mysteries. This is of course ridiculous.
They will also go on to say that Paul taught to be one with Christ, we should be “above’ the Torah, which is seen as “worldly.” They say that Paul taught men to be above the statutes of men, the holy days, meat and drink and to purge the “old leaven” of the Torah and become a new lump. This is, according to them, what Paul meant by “putting off the old man” and to “put on the new man who is renewed for the knowledge of God (Gnosis). As a result, there is no Jew or Greek, male or female, bond or free, which “Christ” is all in all. Most of this is the “platform” for Christianity. They go on to say “the shadow of things to come” has no “essence” for a believer. They point out that Paul’s hostile attitude toward the Torah and the Jews comes from his conflicts with them because they “picked on him.” They also say that Paul had problems with other believers because they picked on him, too. They say that Paul’s theology was “anti-nomianism” (against the Torah) as seen in Romans. They wrongly assert, however, that many verses in Romans were “interpolated” or “added” into the text by the second century. All of that is not even true, and Paul was not saying what they are saying. This is bad enough in the Jewish world, but this has been echoed in the Christian world also.
They say that Paul believed that because the Jews followed the Torah, they come under the wrath of God, just like a pagan who worships an idol. Paul isn’t saying that in any of his writings and it is a perversion of what he really said. The purpose of the Torah was not to increase sin, it was to reveal sin. Paul was giving the concept of how the Torah works. Paul did not teach that Yeshua redeemed us from the Torah (law), but he redeemed us from the penalty of the Torah (law), which is death. They will say that Paul believed that the Torah was from angels, but not from God. Basically, they will assert that Paul and his followers believed that the “new testament” replaced the “old testament.” The “letter versus the Spirit” and this simply is not true. We could go on and on with these false accusations against Paul from the Jewish Encyclopedia and the Encyclopedia Judaica, and how they cast him in a devious light To attack Paul is an attack on Christianity.
What we are attempting to do is to bring some of these Jewish (and later Christian) attitudes to light so that when you read these publications and certain articles, you will be able to see it for what it is. You will need to see the “real Paul” so that when these descriptions about him come up, you can see the discrepancies. How can the Jews deal with Paul in truth unless they have an accurate picture of him. Christianity doesn’t have an accurate portrayal of him, either. What we have to do is get down to what he is being accused of (in what he believes, does and teaches) and see if it holds up to Scripture. What we have seen so far is that the Jewish view of Paul is very inaccurate. Again, go to the articles in the Jewish Encyclopedia (“Saul of Tarsus”) and the article in the Encyclopedia Judaica (“Paul of Tarsus”) to see this. This is why Jews don’t accept Yeshua. Another article to look at is “Christianity” in the Jewish Encyclopedia because misconceptions of Paul are not limited to Jewish sources. One concept to remember as we go into Replacement Theology is that it will be centered in “Paulism” and not the real Paul. The bottom line will be that “the Emperor Constantine finished what Paul had already begun” (Jewish encyclopedia, “Christianity”).
Now, what is the definition of Replacement Theology? It is when anyone believes that God has replaced the Sabbath with Sunday, that Christmas and Easter replaced the biblical festivals and that the “Torah has been done away with.” In addition, anyone who believes that Yeshua is the Messiah and observes the festivals but does it in a way they made up and not according to the “tavnit” is engaging in Replacement Theology. Now, the word “tavnit” means a pattern, shadow, blueprint, picture. To “keep and observe” means “to incorporate the things of God into your life, staying true to the tavnit (pattern, blueprint) God has given by doing certain things, at certain times in certain places by certain people. Many groups in the Hebrew Roots movement think they are keeping the festivals, like Passover and Sukkot, but what they are doing is not according to the definition for “keeping and observing.” This is also Replacement Theology because they have changed the tavnit (Deut 4.2; Rev 22.18).
Christianity is Replacement Theology, based on many misunderstandings about Paul. The whole context of Christian Replacement Theology is “Paul attacked the Jews” or “Paul attacked the Torah” and “Paul was the founder of Christianity.” No matter who you talk to in Christianity, this will be the core of their belief. If we can prove that Paul observed the commandments and wasn’t against the Jews who believed in keeping the commandments, and taught the non-Jews to observe the Sabbath and keep the Torah as it applied to them, and if we can prove that Paul and the Messianic community were doing animal sacrifices 30 years after Yeshua, then what Christianity says about Paul should be rethought.
We have all been caught in it. Many Christians say, “Why can’t the Jews see Messiah in the Passover?” It is because they have not really heard about the real Yeshua. You could just as easily say, “Why can’t Christians, who say they study the New Testament, see Paul for who he really was?” He was a Torah observant Jew, a Pharisee from the School of Hillel, who taught the Torah to both Jew and non-Jew. Why can’t Christians see that? If you misunderstand Paul, there is no way you will understand the Gospels and Epistles. Somewhere along the line, a person needs to stop and really examine what is being said. It isn’t going to be easy, and it is not the path you want to take if you want to be popular. People need to “back-up” and really look at all of this and examine “What do these things really say?” It is easy to say what everyone wants you to say, but there comes a point when you have to say, “Wait a minute!”
So, we are going to begin to look at some of the basic problems with Replacement Theology. First of all, we need to see that Christianity at large is Replacement Theology and we all have been affected by it one way or the other. We will constantly have to repent from it’s influences, even after you have become a believer in Yeshua and the Torah. We are, or should be, moving forward in a process of moving away from these things. The Torah, in Replacement Theology, has been replaced. They will say, “It is for the Jews” and along with this, the Jews are “lost” and this implies a negative connotation to the Torah. The “benefit” to a Christian is that the Torah teaches “some” Godly principles, such as “nine” of the Ten Commandments, leaving off the Sabbath. But even then the Sabbath has been replaced by Sunday. We have all grown up with this. Sunday is the Christian Sabbath. The movie “Chariots of Fire” is about this very thing. One runner was a Jew, and another was a Christian. The Christian runner would not run on Sunday because it was “the Sabbath.” There is a book about Stonewall Jackson, the Confederate Civil War general, called “Rebel Yell” by S.C. Gwynne, where he presents Jackson as a very religious man who kept Sunday as the Sabbath and would restrict his activities of work and so on.
So, you have the Torah in Christianity as something you can take principles from, as long as they agree with Christian theology. If it doesn’t, you can ignore them, or say “that was for the Jews” or “that was before the cross.” This principle is across the board in Christian circles. So, when we talk about the “commandments” and the believer in Christianity hears that, they say that was for the Jews, and the “commandments’ that Christians have in the “New Testament church” are different. These “commandments” are to “love one another as Christ has loved us.” But, is that what is meant?
In Part 7, we will pick up here and develop this further by going to 1 Cor 7.17-19 and show you what Paul was really saying there, and then move on to talk about these commandments and how they should be properly understood outside of Replacement Theology.