In 1 Cor 7.17-19, Paul is not teaching that Jews were not to be circumcised, he believed that they should. He circumcised Timothy. This was according to the Torah commandment in line with the Abrahamic Covenant. Circumcision is found in the Torah. What was important in our passage was “keeping the commandments of God.” Now, was he talking about “love one another” or was he talking about the Torah?
What Yeshua is talking about by “love one another” is the context of what is taught in the Torah. There is not a “chasm” between the Tanak and the New Testament (Gospels and Epistles). There is a man-made chasm, but not one from God. When Yeshua said “keep my commandments” he is talking about the Torah. The concept of “commandments” in the New Testament is the Torah. That is what the Jews and the hearers of Yeshua thought when he said “commandments.”
The Book of James is a commentary on the Torah by a believer. Faith without works is dead is a Torah concept. The word “works” in Hebrew is “mitzvot” and it means the Torah, the commandments. How do we know what the works of God are? The Torah tells us. Replacement Theology teaches that the Torah has been replaced by the words of Yeshua and the words of Paul. In reality, the words of Yeshua and the words of Paul are in agreement with the Torah.
There are two terms for Jewish eschatology that need to be understood. The first is “Yamot ha Mashiach” which means “Days of the Messiah.” The other is “Ikvot Ha Mashiach” which means “Footsteps of the Messiah.” We are to walk in his “footsteps.” Replacement Theology has Messiah walking one way, and Christianity walking another way. 1 Cor 11.1-2 says we are to imitate Paul as he imitates Yeshua. We know that Yeshua was Torah observant because when they arrested him they found “no fault in him” and had to bring false witnesses to accuse him of wrong doing. So, that means Paul was Torah observant because he followed what Yeshua did. So, that means we should be Torah observant, too.
Replacement Theology follows the Byzantine idea that anything Jewish is cursed by God, and that idea has been passed down. How do we distinguish Replacement Theology? First, see what they say about the Torah, the Sabbath, kosher food and Torah observance. This will tell you whether they are coming from a basis of Replacement Theology or not. A “Judaizer” is one their biggest “war cries.” So, let’s define what a Judaizer is. There is such a thing as a “Judaizer” and the “legalistic” label. Legalism is when someone is being taught that the observance of certain things gains merit with God, or righteousness. By the non-observance of these certain things, he “loses” merit or righteousness with God.
Paul deals with this in much of his writings. Paul says justification with God comes by faith, not by commandments. But at the same time, he brings in what the commandments were for and how they were to be used. Christianity says Yeshua “instituted” two things, the “Lord’s Supper” and “Baptism.” Now, Christianity rightly teaches that these are not necessary for salvation. Should one be baptized, or “immersed?” Yes, but it doesn’t save you. It is the same way with the Torah. Should we keep and observe the Torah as it applies to each person? Yes, but it doesn’t save you.
When one believes, we are given by “chessed” or grace, the righteousness of Yeshua. You cannot get any more righteous than that. Once you become a believer, what do you do? We are to walk in his footsteps. This was always the plan of God, there never was a “Plan B.” A “Judaizer” is one who teaches that one must become a Jew in order to have salvation with God. It also means they teach that you must keep the Torah, Sabbath, kosher, etc, for righteousness. You keep the Torah because you have received the righteousness of God already, by faith, just like being baptized. You do it because you have become a believer, not to become a believer.
Here is something that is misunderstood in Jewish and Christian “schools of thought.” When a person becomes a believer in Yeshua as Messiah, there are several terms used. These terms include; “believers”; “redeemed”; “born again” or “saved.” So, let’s develop this. It is not a difficult concept to discuss, but it is missed within Judaism and Christianity.
From a Christian perspective, anyone who is not a believer in Yeshua is not “saved”, “redeemed” or “born again.” From a Jewish perspective, this is seen as preposterous. A good term that is used is “resurrection.” The question is, who has a place in the resurrection of the righteous? Everybody is going to be resurrected. The First Resurrection is the one for the righteous, and the other is of the unrighteous (Dan 12.2; Rev 20.5-15). This is called the Second Resurrection. We know there are many who lived before Yeshua who will have a place in the First Resurrection (Heb 11 has a list of some) and righteous before God by faith. They received righteousness through biblical faith. Some have already been resurrected right after Yeshua rose from the dead (Matt 27.51-52). They had confidence in God through the redemption that would be provided by God through a redeemer (the Goel Messiah).
Now, after Yeshua, we have a general thought in Christianity that all this was true up till the time of Yeshua and his resurrection. After that, all of that ceased. Now, in order to have a place in the First Resurrection they must have faith “specifically” in Yeshua. That is the majority teaching in Christianity. But, let’s examine something that is very interesting for your consideration, and it is found in Acts 19.1-10. We are not saying that believing in Yeshua is not required, but, there are some very important concepts here and it can teach us many things. This is 25-29 years after Yeshua has been resurrected and they are in Ephesus. These Jews are considered believers so they had a place in the resurrection of the righteous (v 12). They were immersed into John’s immersion of “repentance ” (v 3). They had not heard about Yeshua yet, but they were considered believers and “talmidim” or disciples (v 1-2). If they were to die in the condition that Paul found them, they would have had a part in the First Resurrection. They were righteous, but they did not know that Yeshua was the Messiah. Paul recognized them as believers, however.
Now, when it says in v 2 “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” they answered, “No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” Now, they followed John’s teaching and they were Jews, so they knew from the Torah and from John taught that there was the Ruach Ha Kodesh. What they mean is “We have not heard that the Ruach Ha Kodesh has come in power yet. We are expecting this manifestation, but it has not come to us yet, or has arrived upon us yet.” This was expected with the coming of the Messiah. If they hadn’t heard that Messiah had come yet, they would not have expected the Ruach Ha Kodesh to come upon them yet, either. Now, let’s back up and discuss the term “Holy Spirit” as translated in our English bibles.
We learn from the book, “The Messiah Texts” by Raphael Patai, that in the chapter “The Return of the Shekinah” that the Greek word “pneuma” was used for both the Shekinah and the Ruach Ha Kodesh. But, both manifestations were translated into English as “Holy Spirit.” The Shekinah is the indwelling presence of God, and the Ruach Ha Kodesh is the power of God that comes upon a believer. So, in Acts 19, they are echoing the belief that when the Messiah came, the Shekinah and the Ruach would come back to the people.
The people in Acts 19 were Jews because they were immersed in John’s immersion of repentance, and John was sent to the Jews, not the non-Jews. They were of the Jewish belief that when the Messiah came, the Shekinah would come. When they heard that Yeshua was the Messiah through Paul, they were immersed in the name of Yeshua. In other words, they were immersed into the “benefits” of the Kingdom of God brought by Yeshua, or “his purposes.” Here is an example of this concept. In Luke 7.29-30, when the people and the tax-gather’s heard, they acknowledged God’s justice, having been immersed with the immersion of John, just like the people in Acts 19. But the Pharisee’s and the Lawyers rejected God’s purpose for themselves, not having been immersed by John. Again, Paul recognized these Jews as believers when he said, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit (in power upon you) when you believed?”
In Matt 11.7-11, John is in prison, and John asked “Are you the Coming One, or shall we look for someone else?” He is recognizing the Jewish belief of two Messiah’s, a suffering servant called Messiah Ben Joseph and a kingly Messiah called Messiah Ben David. He was not doubting, as some believe. Yeshua begins to talk about John, and in v 11 he says that there wasn’t anyone who has ever been born that was greater than John, but he that is “least in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he.” What does that mean?
We will pick up in Matt 11.7-11 in the conclusion of this series, and continue to bring out what is being communicated there and how it relates to the believers in Acts 19.