Before we go to Rom 8, we need to lay a foundation. Paul is one of the most misunderstood characters in Christianity and Judaism. He is “slaughtered and maligned” as they say. We have two basic things we are dealing with as we go through this study. When we talk about Christianity, we going to be centering on what is called Replacement Theology (the “church” replaced Israel). This involves the teaching that Sunday replaced the 7th day Sabbath; Greek over Hebrew; the New Testament is of more value than the Tanak; Christmas and Easter replaced the festivals and so on. All types of concepts have “crept in” on how to interpret Paul. It’s not what Paul said, it is how he is perceived in what he said, and there is a world of difference.
Then we have Judaism. They will call him a Hellenist, a pagan who introduces paganism into Christianity. They will say he is anti-Jewish and anti-Torah. What we are doing is going through passages where Paul mentions the Torah and give what we believe his meaning was. Sometimes when the word “nomos” is used it does not always mean “Torah.” There is a “Law of the Spirit” so remember that.
In the past, the way it has been perceived is that he went to the non-Jews and they became Christians and then the Jews became believers in Yeshua and there were several things going on. These non-Jews who became believers would eventually be called Christians and they departed from all “Jewishness.” This was beginning already before Paul died, to be truthful. He already mentioned “wolves among you.” The concept said they switched from Sabbath to Sunday and did not observe the biblical festivals, ate whatever they wanted as long as it wasn’t offered to idols. They also had a government different from the synagogue because they separated themselves from it. They were anti-Temple and that they formed the “church” that was of “like mind” and they thought the same way as the church of the 21st century, or the 15th century, or a “church” out of Europe, rather than what was actually there. Most of Christianity perceives it this way. All this began in the 1st century. Here is basically what happened, however.
After the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. by the Romans, the “seat” of the congregation was uprooted and destroyed. Everything began to be really “watered down” and by the time we move through the second century and beyond that is moving further away and into these types of patterns mentioned above. By the second century we have records of them moving away from the Sabbath to Sunday. 311 A.D. is the first recorded celebration of Christmas. The Jews who were believers resisted this at first. By the time we get up to the late second century groups of Jewish believers were moving into this. There was a radical response in Judaism to it. Other Jews who were believers in the Pella region (North Jordan/Jabbok River area) there were two major groups. The first group was the Netzerim (Nazarenes) and the other was the Ebionites. Both these groups remained Torah observant, believed that Yeshua was the Messiah but information was scarce. Church historians like Eusebius talk about them.
There are opinions that the Netzerim were from Beit Hillel and the Ebionites were from Beit Shammai, and the Ebionites were more radical and strict. Eventually the Byzantines make it illegal for a Jewish believer in Yeshua to follow Jewish customs and were hunted down. The Netzerim and the Ebionites existed until about 600 A.D. Islam was rising about the same time and they had everything against them now. Christianity hunts them down, they weren’t welcome in Judaism and Islam was rising. It was really a serious time. What we want to do is see exactly what Paul said and call it as it is. How did the believers in the first century understand him. SO, with that in mind, let’s move on to Rom 8.
In light of what Paul has said in Rom 7, he says in Rom 8.1-2 that “therefore now no condemnation” in Yeshua, which means we are not guilty and there is no damning power over us. The “law of the Spirit” is “nomos” but it is not the Torah there. It just means a “regulative principle or pattern, system of rule.” Our new marriage to Yeshua is contrasted with our first marriage to the “old nature” or first spouse (condemnation to a circumcised heart and life). Rom 8.3 is not an attack on the Torah, or “Law.” It is just saying the Torah was not designed to give “life” or “salvation” to a person. The Torah is an instruction from God and it is needed but it cannot do a job it was not designed to do.
Rom 8.4 teaches us that we need to keep in mind a true definition of the Torah The Torah is a picture of God. It tells us who God is, what he values and what he condemns. To “walk according to the Spirit” in Christianity means a “license” to do anything. What is seen as “in the Spirit” if you attend churches and meetings is not the Spirit.
When Paul, who was a Pharisee, writes “walk according to the Spirit” it means the halakah consistent with the Torah. When a person walks “in the Spirit” he will be consistent with the Torah commands, not against them. The Torah defines for us what “in the Spirit” is. You can’t have something that is contrary to the Torah and say it is “in the Spirit.” We believe in the manifestations of the Spirit found in 1 Cor 12, but so much of what we see in the “charismatic” movement is not from the Spirit of God. People say, “I don’t need to study or research because the Spirit teaches me.” However, the Spirit doesn’t teach you if you don’t study his word. You are going against what he said in his word when he inspired the verse “Study to show yourself approved” before God and men. That doesn’t mean every time you open up a book that it is the Spirit, but if you don’t study God is not going to show you things. Now, that doesn’t mean God won’t work a miracle for you or help you. What we are saying is if we are “in the Spirit” there is a definition you can go back to. If you hear a prophecy or someone telling you about the future, how can you tell if it is from God or not? It it is contrary to God’s word, then you know it didn’t come from God. Too many people like to “preach” when they “prophesy.”
Rom 8.5 uses the term “things of the Spirit” and this also means “consistent with the Torah.” Rom 8.6-7 teaches that the spiritual mind is subject to the Torah, but the mind set on the flesh can’t do it. Rom 9.1-4 teaches that the Torah was given by God and so is everything else listed there, including the Temple service. Rom 9.14-29 does not necessarily deal with the Torah, but it does deal with the concept of “election” or “chosenness.” All the legalistic works of anyone, especially the Jewish people, were cast aside. Faith (emunah) is given by God, resulting in righteousness. God saves some because he is merciful and condemns others because he is just. The wicked (Rashim) are vessels of wrath “fitted” (“katartizo”= make one what he is, ought to be) for destruction (Rom 9.22). The word for “prepared beforehand” in Rom 9.23 is “proetoimazo” which means “pre-ordained, prepared beforehand.” God has mercy on some, and hardens others (v 8). For complete information of the “elect” and the concept of “chosen” see the teaching “The Sovereignty of God and the Elect” on this website.
Rom 10.4 is another misunderstood verse. In English translations, it says “For Christ is the end of the Law” and it gives the impression that the Torah has been “done away with” in Christ. At least, that is what they will teach you. However, the word “end” there is the Greek word “telos” (where we get the word “teloscope” from) and it means the “goal or target” of the Torah. In other words, he is what the teaching is all about (1 Tim 1.5). When you read the Torah, it is like looking through a “teloscope” at Yeshua, bringing him into clear view. This is consistent with Psa 40.7; Luke 24.27; John 5.39-46 and many other passages. Yeshua made visible what Moses taught. Replacement Theology Christianity says that Yeshua was the “end” (not goal) of the Torah, and that it is over. But, that is not what “telos” means. Rom 10.5-10 says we are saved by “emunah” and our hearts are circumcised (which is the same as being “born again/life”-Deut 30.6). Rom 10.11-15 teaches that God sends us out into the world and we are to “go.” He has already “chosen/elected” those who are “his” before the foundation of the world (Eph 1.4). These are the steps on how the elect will be saved.
Now to understand how we can get to this place described in Rom 10.11-15, we need to understand the process. Yeshua will take us there in Matt 5.17-48 in his midrash on Torah observance. His hearers will be shocked and in a spiritual panic when he gives his views in these passages. We will pick up in Matt 5.17-48 in Part 15 and see how Yeshua will break down the self-righteousness and works related theologies among his hearers. He is going to show what God requires, then show them what it is like to stand before God in their own righteousness. As a result, they will realize they will need a redeemer and a Messiah because the Torah is going to “get them” every time. This should be our reaction, too. So, we will begin in Part 15 dealing with this very important portion of Scripture before we move on to Rom 11.