In Acts 15.19-20, we have four things listed there that the new non-Jewish believers were to do right way. They were to abstain from idolatry, sexual immorality, things strangled and blood. But, that doesn’t mean that there are only four items here because there are many chapters in the Scriptures associated with just these four prohibitions. It is not just four “standards” listed here, there is much more attached to them. There is a tractate in the Mishnah devoted just to idolatry (Avodah Zarah). From Ezek 33.25-29 we learn that these four prohibitions keep judgment from falling on a nation also. Acts 15.19-20 is based on this passage in Ezek 33.
The non-Jews were to go to the synagogue where “Moses” was taught (Torah) to learn all the things that applied to the things just mentioned (Acts 15.21). Ezek 33 goes over the same things Acts 15 does. What does that tell you? The same things that were given to the Jews in Ezek 33 were being given to the non-Jews who believe in Yeshua. People have this concept that if you follow the Torah, the Sabbath and other things in the Torah that you have fallen from grace. But Acts 15.19-20 proves this assertion to be false because these four things, with all the chapters in the Scriptures associated with them, is out of the Torah and they didn’t fall from grace. People have misinterpreted what Paul said about the Torah, so they say “We’re not supposed to observe it or follow it.” However, that isn’t true either. There is an overall perspective. Paul is not speaking to his non-Jewish listeners to become Jews. Keeping the Torah in what applies to you does not make you a Jew. Paul was quite explicit about that in 1 Cor 7.17-20. He does not try to get someone “Jewish” who is not, or to stop Jews from being Torah observant.
When you read Paul and his statements on the Torah, you need to ask “who, what, where, when, why and how” over and over again. You have to remember that he was a Torah observant Jewish man, a Pharisee from the School (house) of Hillel (Acts 23.6). He is trying to take a person who is, in some cases, totally pagan, an idol worshiper and sexually immoral and turn them into Godfearer’s, who had a place in Jewish synagogues everywhere. That means that person is going to keep the Sabbath, eat kosher, observe the festivals (while the Temple stood) but that does not mean he is becoming a Jew.
People reading Paul have several things to overcome. They know very little about Paul’s Pharisaical understanding of the Tanak. They know very little about the Hebrew methods of interpretation and teaching that Paul used, which existed before his time (like PARDES and the Seven Rules of Hillel). They know little about the deeper, mystical aspects of Paul’s theology. The Hebrew concepts Paul tries to convey are not carried over well into Greek. For example, to convey the idea of a legalistic observance of the commandments apart from faith, the phrase “erga nomos” (works of the law) had to be created because such a concept did not exist in Greek at the time of Paul. As much Hebrew meaning was lost also when Paul’s concepts were translated from the Greek a second time into other languages, like modern English. People come to Paul’s letters with a bias instilled in them by Replacement Theology, who says they are not “under the law.” Peter taught that Paul was hard to understand even before some of the problems described came into being (2 Pet 3.15-16). Peter said these men were “lawless” which means with “no restraint of the Torah, Torah-less.”
Topics from the Jewish perspective that Paul deals with include the following: Salvation; Jews; Faith; Righteousness, The Promise; Circumcision; Torah; Redemption; The Day of the Lord; Judgment; Unrighteousness; The Godhead; the Lie, or Deception; The Mitzvot; Grace. We will expand on these as we move on. These topics are explained and taught throughout this website, so whenever you come to certain articles, these things are brought out many times and expanded on. The topic Paul talks about most is the Torah, so let’s work on this topic and see what Paul had to say about it in the Book of Romans. We are going to look a this book and point out what Paul was saying and his relationship with the Torah. Many of the verses we are going to look at are misinterpreted to say that Paul was anti-Torah, when in fact, he was not. So, we are going to look at some verses in Romans. In turn, once you see what Paul was really saying and his view of the Torah, it will help you when you get to other books and the verses found there.
In Rom 2.12-13 Paul uses the term “hearer’s of the Law” (Torah) and this concept is expanded on in Jam 1.22-25. The Torah was seen as the “perfect law of liberty” (Jam 1.25) and that is how it should be seen. If error binds, then the truth sets you free, and the truth is the Torah. He then goes on to say the “doers of the Law will be justified” but people have the wrong impression about this. The goal, or target, of the Torah is Yeshua (Rom 10.4) and he is the one who justifies. By “doing” the Torah (the instruction/teaching), it should lead you to Yeshua who justifies.
Rom 2.14 merely says that you don’t have to be a Jew to hear “do not steal.” Then he goes on to say “according to my gospel” in Rom 2.15-16, and he is not saying he has a different gospel, but that he teaches the same Basar that was given from the beginning and it teaches judgment. In Rom 2.17-29, he will be talking mainly to the Jews. He is teaching the role of the Jews. So, when Paul says to “rely on the Torah” and “boast in God” it is a good thing (Jer 9.23). So, being “instructed out of the Torah”, “a guide to the blind”, “a light to those in darkness”, “a corrector of the foolish”, “a teacher of the immature”, and “having in the Torah the embodiment of knowledge and of the truth” is a good thing also, and he is being complimentary of the Torah, not against it. All of these are good and the commission of the Jewish people. But, in Rom 2.21-24, he gets on them because they were being hypocritical if they think they were fulfilling the calling of the Lord and the Torah when they taught one thing (Torah) and didn’t obey it.
We will pick up in Rom 2.25 in Part 11.