We are going to pick up in the introductions of Paul with Phil 1.1, where we have the word “overseer.” This word can also be translated as “bishop” in English, but we are looking at the Hebraic and Torah meanings of the words used by Paul in his introductions. By using the word “bishop” we already have a bad impression. We think of “robes, big hats, a clergical figure” and so on. But, the term in Hebrew is “zekan” and it means an elder. That is what he is, there is not the idea of a “clergy” in Scripture and so this concept is not being conveyed here. The Temple priesthood did not go from the Temple to the “church” in any way. In a congregation in the Gospels and Epistles, you needed to have at least ten people, based on Gen 18 and Ruth 4.2). Then, you had to have at least three “zekanim” or elder-overseers, not just one. That means that in a “church” you did not have one “pastor” over everyone, you had to have at least three. We also have the word “deacons” in verse 1. Paul would have used the word “shammashim” which means “servants.” These people kept order, did work around the synagogue and distributed food to the needy. They served the congregation.
The introductions in First and Second Thessalonians have some of the same concepts we have already gone over, so we are going to move on to 1 Tim 1.1-2. Paul again uses the word “shaliachim” so we are going to take a look at a deeper definition of “apostle” or “shaliach.” People have the impression of an apostle as being based on the “Twelve Apostles” and that is what they base their impression on. We have said before that a “shaliach” is a “sent one on a mission, to do a job.” We have the impression of a “super saint” with miracles and so on, which may be present, but the lack of miracles does not negate one’s function as a shaliach. He is a shaliach because of what he was sent to do. It must be an enormous undertaking, but it might be a small one as well. In every synagogue and congregation there was a shaliach in the first century, the time Paul wrote this and was setting up congregations. He was the guy who gave the interpretation of the Torah reading, either from a Targum (Aramaic paraphrase) or the Septuagint. He was simply called “the shaliach.”
Why is this? It defined that he had a job to do, what he was sent to do. His job was to give an interpretation of the Torah in a language the people would, and could, understand. The Gospels and Epistles are full of “shaliachim” or apostles, not just “The Twelve.” Paul was definitely a “shaliach”. His job was to go out to the non-Jews and to establish congregations in the framework that God had given to the Jewish people. Barnabas had the same job as Paul. That is what made them “shaliachim.” Paul goes on to say in 1 Tim 1.1 that Yeshua is “our hope.” This is based on Jer 17.12-13, which is a Sukkot passage. The word “hope” in that passage is the Hebrew word “mikveh” which means the “person confided in” and a synonym with “the Promise of the Father.” Yeshua is the “Saviour” and the Hebrew word Paul would have used is “Moshiach” (not “Mashiach” which means anointed, Messiah). It is often translated into English as “deliverer.” The “hope” was synonymous with the “promise” but the “promise” is not the Messiah. Messiah is the “agent” of the promise. So, let’s go over what an agent is. A good definition of this can be found in the book “The Encyclopedia of the Jewish Religion” by Werblowsky and Wigodor. It says that an “agent” is “shaliach” in Hebrew and “the main point of the Jewish law of agency is expressed in the dictum ‘A person’s agent is regarded as the person himself’ (Ned.72b; Kidd 41b). Therefore any act committed by a duly appointed agent is regarded as having been committed by the principal, who therefore bears full responsibility for it with consequent complete absence of liability on the part of the agent. A number of results stem from this basic premise. The agent must be of the same legal status and standing as his principal. The appointment of a minor, imbecile, or deaf mute as an agent is invalid, as is any appointment by them (Bava Kamma 6.4). Similarly, the death of the principal automatically voids the agency. Betrothal or divorce by proxy is effected by appointing the proxy as an agent. The agent is regarded as acting in his principal’s interest and not to his detriment, and in any dispute as whether the agent exceeded the terms of his agency this consideration is taken into account. The only exception to the plenipotentiary powers of the agent within the terms of is agency is the rule that ‘one cannot be an agent for a transgression’ (Kidd 42b); the law of agency applies only to legal acts, and a person committing a crime as the agent of a principal is held responsible for his act.”
In our understanding of an “agent” most of us have the concept of “sports agent” or an agent for an actor, etc. But, the agents in such a role are not looked at as the “principal” player or actor. Nobody thinks that every word coming out of the agents mouth is the “word” of the player or actor. The agent had the power to negotiate deals, but that power was limited by the say-so of the one they represent. That is the western, Gentile concept. However, that is not the biblical, Jewish concept, as we have just read. Nehemiah had the full authority of the Persian king to accomplish his task. He was Jewish and his enemies did not like the idea of a Jew having the full authority of a Persian king, so they came against that. You had to treat Nehemiah as the Persian king himself.
This idea of a “shaliach” and our definition plays a role in our understanding of the “angel of the Lord.” Now, does God have a body? No, he is “Spirit.” The word “angel” is “malak” in Hebrew and it means a “messenger.” God sends a “messenger” or “angel” to the people, and they are the “angel of the Lord” or the “shaliach” or “agent.” Everything he says is seen as coming directly from the Lord. Many times it will say in the Scriptures the “angel of the Lord” and then later in the same passage “the Lord said.” Was there a voice out of heaven? No, the angel of the Lord is seen as the “agent” of God and what he says is what God says. Let’s look at a few examples. Gen 22.11-18 we have the angel of the Lord who speaks in the first person for the Lord and speaks saying “declares the Lord.” In Josh 5.13 through 6.2 “the captain of the Host (armies) talks to Joshua and it says, “The Lord said.” They can be called “the Lord” because they are the “shaliach/agent/messenger/angel.” Another example is Gen 18.1-33 with the story of Abraham and the three angelic visitors. The three angels are “shaliachim” and “agents of the Lord.” Remember, the person’s agent is regarded as the person himself. We know that Abraham directed his comments to one angel/shaliach in particular, who spoke for the Lord himself and was treated as such by Abraham. When you read passages such as these you will see that the “agent” or “shaliach” of the Lord will talk, and then it will say “and the Lord said.” This is different than the understanding of an agent/shaliach/angel/messenger that most people have. So, keep that definition in mind as we move on.
Picking up in 1 Tim 1.1, we were talking about the “hope” and how it was synonymous with the “promise.” However, the “promise” was not the Messiah because the Messiah is the “agent/shaliach/messenger/angel of the promise. The “promise” is defined as three things concerning the “land of Israel, the people redeemed by God and the Atid Lavo and the Olam Haba.”
1 Tim 1.2 refers to “the faith” and what was Paul referring to? It was what God had promised. Paul also goes on to talk about “peace” which is the Hebrew “shalom” and it is a term for the Messiah. He is the agent of peace. When one prays for “peace” you are praying for the Messiah. Gen 49.10 says “until Shiloh comes” and “Shiloh” is a derivative of “Shalom”, and Shiloh is a name for the Messiah, which means “peace bringer.” The verse goes on to say that “to him (Shiloh) shall be the obedience of the peoples.” We also have the word “grace” in verse 2. The name “Yochanon” means “God shows favor” in Hebrew, or “grace.” Grace is the bestowal of kindness on one who has neither claim or an adequate compensation to make for it. Throughout the Tanak it stands for some form of “chanan” which means “to show favor.” It is often coupled with “Racham” which means a tender feeling of pity and compassion when a weakness is encountered in those that are dear to us or need our help. Racham is rendered “mercy” at times. So, in 1 Tim 1.2, we have these concepts being conveyed: “chanan, racham and shalom” from God our Father and Messiah Yeshua. You will see the same three words used in 2 Tim 1.1-2.
In Part 9. we will pick up with the introduction in Titus 1.1-4 and develop more concepts needed to understand the Torah foundations that Paul was bring out.