Torah and New Testament Foundations-The Torah and Paul-Part 9

We are going to pick up in our examination of the introductions of Paul in his epistles with Titus 1.1-4. Paul uses the term “servant of God” which is “eved Elohim” in Hebrew. He also uses the word “apostle” which we know is “shaliach.” But, let’s go to Isa 8.6 and pick up some additional information. There is a term there which is “the flowing waters of Shiloach” and the word “Shiloach” means “sent” and it is related to the word “shaliach” which also means “sent.” This pool of Shiloach is referred to in the Gospels in John 9.7 where Yeshua tells a man to go “wash in the Pool of Siloam (which is translated “sent”).” Paul uses the phrase “the faith of the chosen (elect) of God” which refers to Israel. Rom 9.4 speaks of the “adoption as sons” concerning Israel, who were set apart by God. When he says “the knowledge of the truth” it is parallel with the “faith of the chosen of God.” The faith of the chosen (elect) of God is the truth according to godliness (the Torah). The word for truth in Hebrew is “emet” and the truth is the Torah (Psa 119.160; John 17.17). The word “emet” is written with the first, middle and last letter of the Hebrew alphabet, a concept that teaches that truth includes all the letters of the Hebrew alphabet (Matt 5.17-19). The word “hope” in v 2 in a Hebraic sense is different than in the English sense. Hope in a English sense is “wish” or “not certain it will happen” but you want to believe it. But, hope in a Hebraic sense is a sure thing, and remember, it is synonymous with the “promise of God.” That is what he is communicating here, the “promise” of eternal life is a sure thing because the Lord “cannot lie” (v 2). To a believer it is a sure thing. To one who is not a believer it is not a sure thing but a very uncertain thing. He promised this “long ages ago” which alludes to the fact that there was never a “Plan A or B” (Age of Law and Age of Grace) but that he was not taken by surprise when Adam sinned. In Titus 1.3 Paul talks about the “proclamation” or “preaching” but this did not start with Yeshua. It is the word “Maggid” which means “the telling.” Paul is personalizing this “maggid” saying that is what he was to do. In v 4 we have the concepts of “grace and peace” again, which we have already discussed.

In Philemon 1.1 Paul uses the word “prisoner” in the sense that he is directed by the Lord in what he does and uses similar concepts. This concludes the introductions to Paul’s Epistles. We have picked some very valuable information in these introductions according to how the people who ead them in the first century would have understood them. Some do not believe that Hebrews was written by Paul because he dealt with the non-Jews in his epistles (he was sent to them) not the “Hebrews” and according to some the writing style is different, so we will not go into the introduction to Hebrews.

The most difficult thing to do is to understand Paul and the Torah. The first thing we need to do is to establish certain things about him in our minds. Paul is a Torah observant Jew according to the standards of the Pharisees of the School of Hillel, that means that Paul was rabbinically trained. Paul himself considers himself a Pharisee (Acts 223.6). Paul follows the Torah and the halakah (Acts 21.20-24). So, we can say that he ate kosher foods, not pork, shellfish, catfish and so on. He also kept the biblical festivals with all the associated halakah. He kept the Sabbath with all the associated halakah. He went to the Temple and offered animal sacrifices 28 years after Yeshua (Acts 21.15.26, 24.17). We know the non-Jews he was working with were called “Godfearers” or “Yiray Ha Shamayim.” The standard for the faith was when a non-Jew became a believer, they became a Godfearer. There wasn’t a question at that time that if a person was a non-Jew and became a believer that he would attend a local synagogue. If he wasn’t a Godfearer, he was in pagan idolatry and worshiping Greek and Roman gods. When he converted, he left all the idolatry behind and went into the synagogues. He began to keep kosher, observed the Sabbath and the festivals and he was being taught the Torah (Acts 15.21), even though he wasn’t required to keep all of it.

The Torah has categories of commandments. It was not given for everyone to observe all of the commandments. You have commandments you are to do, but there are commandments you are not commanded to do. The Godfearer obeyed what applied to them, and the Jewish believer obeyed what applied to them (1 Cor 7.17-19). So, there were categories in the Torah. You had the Kohanim, the Levi’im, Israel, non-Jews, farmers involved in agriculture, judges, men, women, strangers (Gerim), soldiers, kings, parents, children, whether you lived in the land or not and we could keep going. We will have different commandments for certain groups or individuals. If we fail to recognize that, then we will fail to understand Paul’s comments on the Torah.

In Deut 6.4-9 we have what is called the Shema. The command to “bind them on your hand and they shall be as frontlets on your forehead” was given to Israel (6.4). Num 15.37-38 says “Speak to the sons of Israel” and so this applies to Israel concerning the Tzitzit, or the fringes that went on a four cornered garment. What is the purpose of the tzitzit? Verse 39 tells you that it was to help remember the commandments. How many of them were there? There are 613, even though you don’t “keep” all 613 yourself. Now, we need to do a quick definition of the concept of “keep.” To “keep” the commandments means to “incorporate the things of God into your life and to stay true to the tavnit (pattern, blueprint, picture) God has given for specific things to be done at a specific times and at specific places with specific themes.” So, there are commands specific to Israel that they were to be Torah observant, including all who came in contact with them. Zech 8.23 says that even the non-Jews would know this in the last days. It says “In those days” which refers to the eschatological term “B’Yamim” in Hebrew which means “When Messiah comes.” Ten men (a minyan or congregation based on Gen 18 and Ruth 4) from the nations (non-Jews) will grasp (embrace the Torah) the garment (the “kanaf” or corners/wings, where the tzitzit are) of a Jew and go with them. In other words, congregations (ten men) of the non-Jews from among every nation will grasp the tzitzit of a Jewish person, wanting to go with them because God is with them.

So, we have several things going on here. The tzitzit were on the corners, or wings (Mal 4.2), of the garment to help the wearer to “remember” the commandments. But one wearing the tzitzit would have the teaching that went along with those commandments. God gave this to Israel because they have the Torah given to them. The Jewish people were to pass the Torah down to the nations. If everyone wore tzitzit, and someone read this verse thinking that this person wearing the tzitzit knew the Torah, he would believe what that person was saying. Do you know what kind of confusion this would cause? God has an order to things. Just because a person is a believer in Yeshua does not mean they should take on all the commandments found in the Torah.

In Part 10, we will pick up with Acts 15.19-20 and begin to discuss the four minimal standards found listed there for the non-Jews to observe as a result of the Jerusalem Council.

Posted in Articles, Idioms, Phrases and Concepts, Prophecy/Eschatology, The Feasts of the Lord, The Tanach, Understanding the New Testament

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