Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays part 2

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays

 

The origins of Christianity and the original customs thereof come not from pagans. They come from the Holy Bible and ancient Hebrew thought.

law of moses

In part 1 the claim that Christian holidays are founded in paganism was examined.  In this part, the aspect of the Law and holidays will be examined.

Summary:

Some believe that Christians are in error for not celebrating the Biblical Feasts and even going so far as to call them “lawless” because they don’t believe the law of Moses applies to them as New Covenant believers.  However, it can be shown that this belief does not come from “Western Gentiles” who “corrupted” the faith once delivered to the saints.  This belief comes from ancient Jewish thought.  Ancient Jews believed the Torah would be changed by the Messiah.  The purpose of sharing this aspect of the subject is not to “strive about the law” but display early Christian interpretation and how it is based upon the Bible and “Hebraic thought”, not paganism.
Christians did not see the institution of holidays like Christmas (Feast of Nativity) and Easter (Pascha) as a negation of God’s law.  They saw these as traditions instituted by the Apostles (1 Corinthians 11:2; 1 Thessalonians 4:1-2; 2 Thessalonians 2:15; 3:6) who were believed to have authority to institute such celebrations (Matthew 16:16-19; 18:17-20).
If we are convicted not to celebrate Christian holidays or participate in customs such as Christmas trees or Easter eggs we shouldn’t condemn our brothers in Messiah who do so as “pagans” when there isn’t good evidence that the origin of these customs come from paganism. We should receive them as brothers as God does as Romans 14 talks about. If they are doing it unto the Lord then they are glorifying Him and we shouldn’t speak against them and slander them (Psalm 59:19-23).
We are not to condemn our brothers because we are not the judge of their thoughts or hearts, God is (Acts 15:8; Proverbs 24:12; James 2:4, 8-9).  When we condemn our brothers, in whom God is working, we are in reality condemning Him (Philippians 2:13; Romans 14:4).
It’s up to each one of us to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12), being fully persuaded in our own minds (Romans 14:5-6), seeking to not put a stumbling block before our brothers (Romans 14:13-14). We are all going to stand before the judgment seat of Christ and He will judge whether or not someone was doing a custom unto Him or not (Romans 14:10).
Let each person be convinced in his or her own mind and follow the Lord wholeheartedly in that conviction (Romans 14:5-6). We all have to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling so we ought not to point the finger of condemnation at others as each one of us falls or stands according to the Lord, not man (Romans 14:4).  Regardless of what ‘side’ one chooses, we are to receive each other as the Lord has received us (Romans 14:1-4), bearing one another in love (Romans 15:1-3; 1 Corinthians 13:7).

The Law & Holidays
Moses Law

What about the law?  Some would argue that even if the holidays of Easter & Christmas are not founded in paganism, the Church has no Biblical justification for their institution.  However, the early Church, who learned from the Apostles, did not interpret the Holy Scriptures in this way.

“As opposed to what the Hebrew Roots movement claims, the New Testament teachings of the Apostle Paul are perfectly clear and self-explanatory. Colossians 2:16,17 says, “Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day – things which are a shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.” Romans 14:5 states, “One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind.” Scripture clearly indicates that these issues are a matter of personal choice. These verses and many others give clear evidence that the Mosaic Covenant laws and ordinances have ended. Continuing to teach that the Old Covenant is still in effect in spite of what the New Testament teaches, or twisting the New Testament to agree with the Hebrew Roots beliefs, is false teaching.”  {Question: “What is the Hebrew Roots movement?” –  got Questions?org}

The early Church, from whom the holidays of Lent, Easter & Christmas come, were not committing apostasy because they didn’t believe in following the law of Moses.  They were following their understanding of the writings of the New Testament and which agrees with Hebrew thought of the time.

The purpose of sharing this information is not to bring forth strife and debate about the law (Titus 3:9) but to attempt to display that early Christians were staying faithful to the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3) not turning aside to “paganism”.

Tit 3:9  But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.

Change in the Law

Hebrews 7.12

 

Heb 7:12  For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.

Ancient Jews believed the Torah would be changed by the Messiah.  I’m not going to go too in depth on the theology of the change in the law in this article.  The purpose of sharing this information is to display that the early Church’s belief, which has extended to today, that the Law of Moses is not applicable to Christians is based upon ancient Hebrew thought, not a “spirit of lawlessness” as some claim.

 

“The thought of Torah changing in the “Age to Come,” is displayed in the rendering of Deut.17:18, in the סִפְרָא ‘Sifra’ which is the Jewish midrash to Leviticus. Here it is stated that the Lord wrote a copy of the Mishna-Torah for Himself, and that He would not be content with the Mishna-Torah of the fathers. The question is asked:

Why does He say Mishna-Torah?  Because it is destined to be changed.

The Targum of Isaiah 12 reads:
Behold, in the Memra of the Lord of my salvation do I trust, and shall not be dismayed; because my strength and my glory is the Terrible One, the Lord:  He has spoken by His Memra and become my salvation.  And ye shall receive new instruction with joy from the ‘Chosen of Righteousness.’

The Midrash Qohelet on Ecclesiastes 11:8 concurs with this understanding and states:

The Torah which a man learns in this world is but vanity compared with the Torah of Messiah.

According to Jewish thought, God Himself will teach Israel on that great day is portrayed in the Targum on Song of Songs 5:10:

My beloved. Then the congregation of Israel  commences  to engage  in  the  praise of the Master of  the Universe and speaks  thus: ‘It  is my delight to worship God….who delivers anew  every day, new traditions, which He is to make known to His people on that great day….’

It is assumed that in the Age to Come, since we are in the presence of God, and the “Yetzer Hara” [the evil urge] has been defeated, there will be no sin. Therefore, in the “New Torah” that is expounded by God, it is no longer necessary for the people to be bound by the commandments in the Torah of this age. The reference is found in the tractate Niddah 61b, and in the contest speaks of a cloth that is woven of both linen and wool threads. This cloth is prohibited to be worn by the living, however, it is lawful to be used as a burial shroud. This, we are told, is because death bring a release from the Mitzvot of Torah. R. Joseph then states:

This implies that the commandments will be abolished in the hereafter [Age to Come].”

“The early Rabbis and other Jews of two thousand years ago recognized that there would be changes in the Law of God in the Messianic age, when the New Covenant would be fully in force. Messiah himself was seen as the authoritative interpreter of Torah who would explain the differences between the covenants. Whatever he taught was to be obeyed. Moses had prophesied that, “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him. For this is what you asked of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said, ‘Let us not hear the voice of the LORD our God nor see this great fire anymore, or we will die.’

“The LORD said to me: ‘What they say is good. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him. If anyone does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name, I myself will call him to account.” Deut. 18:15-19

The Talmud says of Messiah, “Come and hear: Unto him ye shall hearken, even if he tells you, ‘Transgress any of all the commandments of the Torah’ as in the case, for instance, of Elijah on Mount Carmel, obey him in every respect in accordance with the needs of the hour!” Yebamot 90b The Torah ends with a reminder of the promise to send Messiah: “Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, who did all those miraculous signs and wonders the LORD sent him to do in Egypt –to Pharaoh and to all his officials and to his whole land. For no one has ever shown the mighty power or performed the awesome deeds that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.” Dt. 34:10-12

The implication is that Messiah would be the prophet who would, like Moses, perform miraculous signs and wonders, destroy the power of the oppressor, and redeem Israel. And, like Moses, present God’s Law to the people. In the Dead Sea scrolls from Qumran, especially in the “Rule of the Community”, Messiah is presented as the final interpreter of God’s Torah. e.g. 1QS 3.13 & 4QFlor.1:11-12 To some extent, this same role had also been anticipated in 1 Maccabees, concerning the cleansing of the altar which had been defiled. 1Mac.4:46

Some rabbis expected Torah to change in the days of Messiah. The rabbinic Midrash on Psalms suggests that unclean animals may be declared clean. “Some say that in the time to come all the animals which are unclean in this world God will declare to be clean, as they were in days before Noah. And why did God forbid them? To see who would accept his bidding and who would not; but in the time to come he will permit all that He has forbidden.” Mid. Teh. 146:7 In the Talmud, the Rabbis even say that, “In the days of the Messiah, bastards [i.e. the children of forbidden marriages]…will be pure.” Kid.72b 2Baruch speaks of the inclusion in the covenant community of Gentiles who observe God’s law, and the exclusion of Jews who do not.

Other rabbinic writings refer to a new Torah that is related to the Torah given at Sinai but different in some respects. “The Holy One, blessed be He, will sit in Paradise and give instruction, and all the righteous will sit before him and all the hosts of Heaven will stand on his right and the sun, and stars on His left; and the Holy One, blessed be he, interprets to them the grounds of a new Torah which the Holy One, blessed be He, will give to them by the hand of King Messiah.” Yalqut on Is.26

The Rabbis pondered the relationship of the dead to Torah, since the dead are to be resurrected with the coming of Messiah. cf. Sotah 48b, Gen.Rab.96:5

Once a person has died, is he still obligated to observe all the laws? The Rabbis concluded that those who died were free from the commandments. [Torah prohibits the mixing of wool and linen in the garments worn by the Jewish people. e.g. Dt.22:11-12 This and the other statutes which prohibit the mixing of different kinds of things, i.e. kil’ayim, are symbolic of the separation that God requires of Israel.

“Our Rabbis taught: A garment in which kil’ayim was lost …may be made into a shroud for a corpse. R. Joseph observed: This implies that the commandments will be abolished in the Hereafter….for R. Johanan stated: ‘What is the purport of the Scriptural text, ‘Free among the dead’? As soon as a man dies he is free from the commandments’.” Nid.61b citing Ps. 88:5 [v.6 in English], cf.Shab.151b]

However, freedom from the commandments, either through death or the resurrection, did not mean lawlessness or the freedom to disobey God. Rather, the Rabbis believed that in the days of Messiah, “Man’s deeds will be spontaneously good.” Lev. Rab.18:1 n .5, citing Eccl.12:1

This is much the same as what Paul wrote: “Do you not know brethren – for I am speaking to men who know the law – that the law has authority over a man only as long as he lives?” Rom.7:1 For those of us who are Jewish, our failure to keep the Law of Moses condemns us to God’s judgment of death. In Messiah we are put to death, as the Law requires. Paul then explained that the new life which one receives in the resurrection of Messiah produces righteousness by its very nature, not by any obligation to the Law. It is not the Law which dies, it is the transgressor of the Law who dies.

In Tanakh, there is a basis for these expectations. In promising to make a New Covenant, God said that it would be different from the covenant made at Sinai, but would still have His Law at the center. The text of the New Covenant promise indicates the differences and changes from the Covenant of the Law.

” ‘The time is coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke My covenant, though I was a husband to them,’ declares the LORD.

” ‘This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,’ declares the LORD. ‘I will put My law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be My people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, Know the LORD, because they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest,’ declares the LORD. ‘For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.’ ” Jer. 31:31-34

God said that the new covenant would be different from the covenant of the law made at Sinai. His purpose did not change, but Israel broke the covenant of the law made at Sinai, resulting in judgment. Through the new covenant, with its differences, God intends to bring Israel into a righteous relationship with Himself. The nature of the differences between the Covenant of the Law and the new covenant is contained in God’s three prophetic declarations: 1. “I will put My law in their minds and write it on their hearts.” 2. “I will be their God, and they will be my people.” 3. “I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

 1. “I will put My law in their minds and write it on their hearts.”

In the covenant made at Sinai, God had included certain symbolic practices to remind Israel to think about and obey His Law. The mezuzah, tefillin, and tzitzit * symbolize Israel’s submission to God’s Law. They serve as ever-present reminders to keep God’s commandments on our hearts. Dt.6:4-9 As the Lord said of tzitzit, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘Throughout the generations to come you are to make fringes on the corners of your garments, with a blue thread on each fringe. You will have these fringes to look at that you may remember all the commands of the LORD, that you may obey them and not prostitute yourselves by going after the lusts of your own hearts and eyes.” Num. 15:38-39

The Rabbis say of tefillin, however, that since they are a sign to remind Israel of the commandments of God, they are not worn on Shabbat or the holy days because these days are a sufficient reminder in themselves. cf. Eruvin 96a “The very Sabbath day itself and the very festival itself is intended to serve as an everpresent reminder of God’s Presence and of His commandments….To add the observance of tefillin in the context of its meaning and purpose would not only be superfluous but would imply downgrading the Sabbath.” Hayim Donin, To Be A Jew, Basic Books, 1991, P.146 Unfortunately, although the symbols themselves remind us, as do Shabbat and the festivals, they do not give us the power to keep the commandments, and they cannot produce submission in our hearts. That is why, in the new covenant, God puts His law in our minds and writes it on our hearts. The reminder comes from within.

Where does the power to live righteously come from? From God’s Spirit living within. The Messianic Age, the age of the outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit is characterized by holiness. Israel and the world are transformed, and “In that day there will be upon the bells of horses: ‘Holy unto the Lord;’ and the posts in the Lord’s house shall be like the basins before the altar. Yea, every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah shall be holy unto the Lord of hosts…” Zech.14:20-21 This is the core of God’s second promise in the new covenant He makes with Israel:

 

2. “I will be their God, and they will be my people.”

God repeats this new covenant promise in Ezekiel 37:27, after first promising: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit in you and move you to follow My decrees and be careful to keep My laws.” Ezek. 36:26-27 cf 37:1-14 God’s Spirit provides the power to walk in obedience to His commandments. God gives His Spirit to those who enter into the new covenant. His Spirit draws us into close relationship with Him, making us the people He has always wanted us to be.

Abraham, the father of the Jewish people, is a God-given example of the way we should walk before the Lord. cf Is.51:1-2 He left his country, his relatives, and his father’s house to follow God. He believed God for His promise of a supernaturally conceived son. He obediently put that son on the wood as a sacrifice to God, believing in His power to resurrect Isaac to fulfill His promise. In all of this, we see that Abraham trusted, and therefore obeyed, God completely. “Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness.” Gen.15:6 Faith was the means by which Abraham was considered righteous by God, but it is not the sum and the end of that righteousness. Abraham’s faith produced a very tangible deed when he offered up Isaac. Gen. 22

God considered Abraham righteous because of his faith, the internal decision of his heart. The righteousness of the law is different, as Moses told our ancestors: “And if we are careful to obey all this law before the LORD our God, as He has commanded us, that will be our righteousness.” Deut. 6:25 The Biblical record demonstrates that we did not “obey all this law”. Today, we are not better than our fathers. We need a different source of righteousness. In the new covenant we believe as Abraham did, and we receive from God the same righteousness he received.

 

3. “I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

In the new covenant, there is a difference in (a) the means of atonement, (b) the power of that atonement, (c) the priesthood which offers the sacrifice, and (d) the Temple in which the sacrifice is offered. Each of these is regulated by specific commandments in the Covenant of the Law. God is therefore promising to change those specific commandments when He institutes the New Covenant. God indicated in Jer.31:31-34 that there would be all these differences between His New Covenant with Israel and the Covenant of the Law He made with us at Sinai.

How can God’s law change? God created Adam without sin in a world without sin. When Adam chose to sin, however, he changed, the world changed, and so did his relationship with God. God Himself did not change, but His instruction to Adam did, because of Adam’s changed nature and circumstances. Initially God placed Adam in the garden of Eden and gave him the responsibility of taking care of it. cf. Gen.2:15 When Adam rebelled against God, he was excluded from the garden and his responsibility changed.

In the same way, in the days to come, when Israel is a redeemed people, we and our circumstances will have changed. God’s instruction for our relationship with Him will change accordingly, even as it did for Adam. His covenant with Abraham, the foundation for Israel’s relationship with God, remains the same. What are the differences in (a) the means of atonement?

In Torah, God had declared that it is the blood, i.e. the sacrificial death, of an innocent other that brings atonement. Lev.17:11 Vicarious atonement, the death of an innocent other in the place of the guilty, is at the heart of the Covenant of the Law. In that covenant, however, sheep, bulls, and goats were the innocent others who were sacrificed. In the New Covenant, it is Messiah. Can one man atone for the sins of another? Can one man atone for the sins of all Israel? If God had not promised and declared it, there would be no reason to believe it. But He did promise it as His New Covenant way of removing our sin from us.

In Torah, God stipulated that a person who unintentionally killed another was to flee from the blood-avenger to a city of refuge and live there until the death of the High Priest. Num. 35:22-28 The High Priest is called the Anointed One, haCohen haMoshiach. e.g. Lev.4:3,5,16 The death of the High Priest canceled any right of vengeance which the relatives of the one killed might have had. In effect, the death of the High Priest, the Anointed One, brought atonement. In the Talmud, the Rabbis also noted, “It is the death of the [high] priest that procures the atonement.” Mak.11b

God commanded the sacrifice of Abraham’s only son. Gen.22 As Abraham prepared to sacrifice Isaac in obedience to God’s command, he told Isaac that God Himself would provide the lamb for the sacrifice. In response to Abraham’s obedience in offering his only son to be sacrificed, God declared Abraham worthy to be the father of all those from every nation who would be God’s people. On that day, however, God did not provide a lamb in place of Isaac. He provided a ram. The time when God would provide that promised lamb was still in the future. [In the traditional Yom Kippur liturgy, God is asked to remember the binding of Isaac as though it were the equivalent of the atoning sacrifices in the Temple.]

Isaiah the prophet spoke of Messiah as the ultimate atoning lamb: “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and he was afflicted, but he did not open his mouth; like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so he did not open his mouth…

“Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him putting him to grief. If he would render his soul as a guilt offering, he will see his offspring, he will prolong his days, and the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in his hand. As a result of the anguish of his soul he will see the light of life and be satisfied. By his knowledge the righteous one My servant will justify the many as He will bear their iniquities. Therefore, I will allot him a portion with the great and he will divide the booty with the strong because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors yet he himself bore the sin of many and interceded for the transgressors.” Isa. 53:5-7,10-12

This is a portion which the ancient rabbis as well as the followers of Yeshua understood to be speaking of Messiah. The Lord put Messiah to death as a guilt offering to atone for our sin, transgression, and iniquity. (b) the power of that atonement: The covenant of the Law provided for ongoing sacrifices for ongoing sins. Each sin required another sacrifice. There was no end to the sacrifices because there was no end to the sins. Additionally, atonement could only be made for sins that had already been committed, not for sins that would be committed in the future.

In the New Covenant, the sacrifice of Messiah is not limited to one direction in time. One sacrifice atones for all sins, whether committed before or after that sacrifice is offered. The Messianic sacrifice brings more than atonement. It also brings peace, healing, and being acceptable to God. David spoke prophetically for Messiah, his descendant: “Sacrifice and meal offering you have not desired. My ears you have opened. Burnt offering and sin offering you have not required. Then I said, ‘Behold I come. In the scroll of the book it is written of me: I delight to do your will, O my God. Your law is within my heart.’ ” Ps. 40:6-8

In the Covenant of the Law, God did require burnt offerings and sin offerings. Messiah who comes with God’s law within his heart, comes to do the will of God and, by offering himself, makes all other sacrifices unnecessary in and of themselves. They simply serve to teach of and point to the one sacrifice. (c) the priesthood which offers the sacrifice: A Levitical priest cannot offer this kind of sacrifice. In Tanakh, however, God speaks of other priesthoods. The Levites, after all, were chosen as substitutes for the first-born male of each family, the natural priest of each family. Num.3:41 Before God chose the Levites, they were not the priests of Israel. After they were chosen, there were times when God bypassed the order He had established for them. Eli is a case in point. He was God’s high priest, but he did not raise his children to fear the Lord. God rebuked Eli for his immoral sons, and promised, “I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who will do according to what is in my heart and mind. I will firmly establish his house, and he will minister before my anointed one always.” 1Sam. 2:35 God chose Samuel to be His priest in the place of the sons of Eli.

Samuel served as God’s high priest in anointing both Saul and then David as King of Israel. The promise that God would raise up “a faithful priest” referred to Samuel, but it looked beyond him to Messiah, a greater priest. Samuel, after all, did not minister before either Saul or David always, literally “all the days”, as God had promised. When Saul turned away from the Lord, Samuel turned away from Saul. And as for David, Samuel died before David ascended the throne.

God had commanded that when the Temple was built, all sacrifices should be offered there by the sons of Aaron. Elijah, who is not identified as a descendant of Aaron, offered sacrifices on Mt. Carmel in his confrontation with the prophets of Baal. God sent fire from heaven to complete the sacrifices and demonstrate that He was the only true God. 1Kings 18 God had chosen Elijah for that purpose.

Long before Elijah, Samuel, Aaron, or even Levi, God had already established a different priesthood. After a successful military rescue operation, Abraham gave a tenth of all the spoils to Melchizedek, “a priest of God Most High.” Gen.14:18-20. Melchizedek, whose name means “king of righteousness”, was also the king of Salem. He was both a king and a priest. Messiah belongs to the same priesthood. “The LORD will extend your mighty scepter from Zion; you will rule in the midst of your enemies. …The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind. You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” Ps. 110:2,4 Like Melchizedek, Messiah is both a king and a priest.

In the covenant of the Law, the kings were to come from the tribe of Judah, and the priests from the tribe of Levi. No one could be both, even though all Israel was to be a kingdom of priests to bring the nations to God. Ex.19:6 Zechariah also prophesied of Messiah as a priest and a king. Zech.6:11-13 The Lord told Zechariah to put an ornate crown on Yeshua, the high priest, and seat him on a throne. The Lord said that Yeshua represented Messiah who would be both priest and king.

Messiah is to be a priest like Samuel, doing all that is in God’s heart and mind, and a king like David, a man after God’s own heart. God promised to bring such a priest from the order of Melchizedek because the Levitical priests could not set the people free from sin. They could not set themselves free from sin.

(d) the Temple in which the New Covenant sacrifice is offered: The sacrifice of Messiah cannot be offered within the Temple confines or system. It would defile the Temple altar, rather than bring atonement. cf. 2Kings 23:16 Yet it is this one sacrifice that establishes the New Covenant and atones for all the sins of those who enter into the covenant.

Following the giving of the Ten Commandments, God gave Israel instructions for the altars “in every place” on which they would offer sacrifices to Him. cf. Exod. 20:22-26; vv19-23 in Heb. He did not initially specify one place where sacrifices were to be offered to Him in the land of Israel. There would be many places. Later God designated one particular place.

Where could God receive the sacrifice of Messiah as an offering for sin, presented by a priest of the order of Melchizedek? God encompassed Moses in His glory and showed him the pattern for the Tabernacle he was to make. Ex. 24:15-25:9,40 God supernaturally revealed to David the plan for the Temple. 1Chr. 28:19 In the visions of God, Ezekiel was shown the design of the third Temple.

God commanded that these places of worship and sacrifice be made exactly according to the pattern He revealed from heaven. He was present in their Holy of Holies, but earthly temples are inadequate to fully contain and reveal God’s glory. They are also inadequate for the new covenant sacrifice which brings complete atonement and forgiveness.

The Lord said to Israel, “Heaven is my throne, the earth is my footstool. Where then is the house you could build for me and where is the place that I may rest. For my hand made all these things.” Is. 66:1 God is enthroned in the heavenly temple, which provided the pattern for the sanctuaries on earth. The Lord warned Israel to trust in Him, and not in the Temple. “Do not trust in deceptive words and say, “This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD!” Jer. 7:4 In the Talmud, R. Joseph taught that this meant the first two temples would be destroyed because of Israel’s sins and a third one built. Naz.32b

The Temple itself could not take away our sins. To the contrary, our sins took away the Temple. A place beyond the reach of our sins was necessary. God spoke of a time of restoration when He would dwell in our midst and Jerusalem would be called “The Throne of the LORD.” “In those days, …men will no longer say, ‘The ark of the covenant of the LORD.’ It will never enter their minds or be remembered; it will not be missed, nor will another one be made.’ ” Jer. 3:16-17

The ark, in the Holy of Holies, was the place where atonement was made for all Israel on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. The fact that there will be no ark and that it will not be missed means that complete and final atonement will already have been made. Messiah, as a priest of the order of Melchizedek, will have entered the heavenly Holy of Holies to offer his own blood to secure our eternal redemption. cf.Heb. 9:11-12″  {DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE COVENANTS}

THE TORAH OF MOSES AND THE MESSIAH

“The ancient Sages reject on the one hand the idea that the injunctions received from their fathers will cease to be valid, yet on the other hand they sometimes stress that the Messiah will give Israel a new Torah. RaMBaM states in the 8th and 9th of his 13 dogmas that the “Torah which we now have was given to Moses” and “This Torah will not be changed nor will the Creator — may he be blessed — institute any other Torah”. He nevertheless explains in his work “Ordinances of the Kings” that the King anointed as Messiah will “sit on his kingly throne and write for himself a Book of the Law in addition to the Law given to our Fathers” and “He will compel Israel to obey these commandments”. Not even the New Testament speaks of the abrogation of the Torah but rather of its “fulfilment”.

Could this be the same as when the Pesikhta Rabbati says that “The Torah will revert to its original state”? “Pesikhta Rabbati 89,6″

Jesus “fulfilled” the punishment of the Law by his atoning death.

According to the Rabbis the Messiah will be invested with such authority.  “Yalqut Isaiah states that, “The Holy One — may he be blessed — will sit (in the Garden of Eden) and draw up a new Torah for Israel, which will be given to them by the Messiah.”  Even the fearful thought of “abrogation” appears in the traditions of the Wise: “In the future the commandments will be annulled.’  In the Midrash Mekhilta from the time of the Tannaites — that is, from the first two Christian centuries — we find the statement that, “At the end the Torah will be forgotten.”

R.Shimon Ben Eleazar, who was active from ca. 170–200 AD, declares that, “This is how it will be in the days of the Messiah; there will be no ‘thou shalt’ and ‘thou shalt not’ commandments (zechut ve-hovâh).” Klausner, in his book “The Messianic Idea in Israel”, explains that, “The natural interpretation of this is that in the days of the Messiah, the Torah and the Commandments will lose their significance”.

In so far as we understand redemption history as different eras, as we have seen the Sages above doing, we can interpret mentions of the 2000 years of the Torah and the 2000 years associated with the days of the Messiah as more or less mutually exclusive — which is how Klausner and others have understood it. In practice this means that in the Messianic age there will be Messianic laws.

RaMBaM insists upon the natural character of the Messianic age. He writes:

“Do not entertain the idea that the natural course of this world will change in the days of the Messiah, or that the laws of nature will be suspended then. No. The world will follow its own course.”  Hilchoth melachim 12,1

Vayyikra Rabba 9:7 reads:

R. Phinehas, R. Levi, and R. Yochanan said in the name of R.
Menachem;  ‘In  the  time to come, all  sacrifices  will  be
annulled,  but  that of thanksgiving will not  be  annulled’
This is indicated by what is written [Jer. 33;11].

Midrash Tehillim on Psalm 146:7 tells us, even the laws of “kashrut” will be abrogated:

The  Lord will loose the bonds.  What does the verse man  by
the words ‘Loose the bonds’?  Some say that of every  animal
whose  flesh it is forbidden to eat in this world, the  Holy
One,  blessed be He, will declare in the time to  come  that
eating of its flesh is permitted.  [Eccles. 1:9 is quoted as
the proof text.]

The thought of Torah changing in the “Age to Come,” is again made perfectly clear in the rendering of Deut. 17:18, in Sifra. Here it is stated that the Lord wrote a copy of the Mishna-Torah for Himself, and that He would not be content with the Mishna-Torah of the fathers. The question is asked:

Why does He say Mishna-Torah?  Because it is destined to  be
changed.

THE NEW TORAH

A second school of thought regarding the mutability of the Torah presents us with the concept of an entirely “New Torah” being revealed in the “Age to Come.” This thought is distinguishable from the previous understanding in that: [1] the first school of thought, although considering Torah to be mutable, confines these changes to the context of the Torah that was revealed to Moses at Sinai; [2] the second group states that the changes will go far beyond the mere “reinterpretation” of the Torah revealed at Sinai. They suggest that the very substance of Torah will be changed, and that in the “Age to Come,” the Law of Torah will be of a different fabric than that of the present age. Proponents of this position use the Targumic rendering of the text found in Isa. 12:3. The Masoretic text reads:

Behold  God  is my salvation, I will trust and will  not  be
afraid, for the Lord my God is my strength and my song.   He
also has become my salvation….With joy you will draw water
out of the wells of salvation.

The Targum reads:
Behold, in the Memra of the Lord of my salvation do I trust,
and shall not be dismayed; because my strength and my  glory
is  the Terrible One, the Lord:  He has spoken by His  Memra
and   become  my  salvation.   And  ye  shall  receive   new
instruction with joy from the ‘Chosen of Righteousness.’

The Midrash Qohelet on Eccles. 11:8 concurs with this understanding and states:

The  Torah  which a man learns in this world is  but  vanity
compared with the Torah of Messiah.

That God Himself will teach Israel on that great day is portrayed in the Targum on Song of Songs 5:10:

My  beloved.  Then the congregation of Israel  commences  to
engage  in  the  praise of the Master of  the  Universe  and
speaks  thus:   ‘It  is my  delight  to  worship  God….who
delivers  anew  every day, new  traditions  [or  decisions],
which  He  is  to make known to His  people  on  that  great
day….’

It is assumed that in the Age to Come, since we are in the presence of G*d, and the “Yetzer Hara” [the evil urge] has been defeated, there will be no sin. Therefore, in the “New Torah” that is expounded by G*d, it is no longer necessary for the people to be bound by the commandments in the Torah of this age. The reference is found in the tractate Niddah 61b, and in the contest speaks of a cloth that is woven of both linen and wool threads. This cloth is prohibited to be worn by the living, however, it is lawful to be used as a burial shroud. This, we are told, is because death bring a release from the Mitzvot of Torah. R. Joseph then states:

This implies that the commandments will be abolished in the hereafter [Age to Come].

 

 

THE TORAH OF MOSES AND THE MESSIAH

 

“Tradition assigns to the Messiah a threefold role: kingly, priestly, and prophetic. When speaking of Jacob’s blessing we also mentioned Judah’s “ruler’s staff”, for which Hebrew uses the word me .hoqêq, ‘lawgiver’. In his prophetic role the Messiah will draw up a new Law for the people.

The Messiah’s Torah and the future of the Law

The future of the Law has preoccupied the Rabbis from early times. They sometimes asked, “Torah, whatever will become of you?”61  And further, in the Talmud there is a discussion of the possible ranking of the precepts in order of importance:  Nazîr 50.

“Moses was given 613 precepts; of these there are 365 (thou shalt) in accordance with the number of days in the year, and 248 (thou shalt not) according to the number of bones in a man’s body…  Came David and cut them down to eleven…  Came Isaiah and cut them to six…  Came Micah and cut them to three…  Isaiah came back and cut them down to two…  Came Habakkuk and cut them to one, as it is written (Hab. 2:4), ‘The righteous shall live by faith’.”   Makkoth 23-24.

Paul founded his teaching of Justification by Faith partly on these words of Habbakuk when he wrote: “For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith’.”   See Rom. 1:17, Gal. 3:11 and Hebr. 10:38.

The ancient Sages reject on the one hand the idea that the injunctions received from their fathers will cease to be valid, yet on the other hand they sometimes stress that the Messiah will give Israel a new Torah. RaMBaM states in the 8th and 9th of his 13 dogmas that the “Torah which we now have was given to Moses” and “This Torah will not be changed nor will the Creator — may he be blessed — institute any other Torah”.

He nevertheless explains in his work “Ordinances of the Kings” that the King annointed as Messiah will “sit on his kingly throne and write for himself a Book of the Law in addition to the Law given to our Fathers” and “He will compel Israel to obey these commandments”.

Not even the NT speaks of the abrogation of the Torah but rather of its “fulfilment”. Could this be the same as when the Pesikhta Rabbati says that “The Torah will revert to its original state”?  Jesus “fulfilled” the punishment of the Law by his atoning death.  Pesikhta Rabbati 89,6.

According to the Rabbis the Messiah will be invested with such authority. Yalqut Isaiah states that, “The Holy One — may he be blessed — will sit (in the Garden of Eden) and draw up a new Torah for Israel, which will be given to them by the Messiah.”Yalqut Isaiah 26, siman 296.

Even the fearful thought of “abrogation” appears in the traditions of the Wise: “In the future the commandments will be annulled.’ Nida 66b.

In the Midrash Mekhilta from the time of the Tannaites — that is, from the first two Christian centuries — we find the statement that, “At the end the Torah will be forgotten.”  Mechilta, Masechet Piska, 2.

R.Shimon Ben Eleazar, who was active from ca. 170–200 AD, declares that, “This is how it will be in the days of the Messiah; there will be no ‘thou shalt’ and ‘thou shalt not’ commandments (zechut ve-hovâh).” Shabbath 130a-b.

Klausner, in his book “The Messianic Idea in Israel”, explains that, “The natural interpretation of this is that in the days of the Messiah, the Torah and the Commandments will lose their significance”.  J. Klausner, Ha-ra’ayon ha-meshihi be-Israel, p289.

The concept of the ‘annulment of the Law’, a phrase used by some of the Rabbis, has had serious consequences for both Jews and Christians. Certainly there are differences of emphasis between the teachings of Moses and Christ, but both of them strove to realise the unchanging will of God. The Midrash on Ecclesiastes says that, “The Torah which man learns in this world is but vanity compared with the teaching of the Messiah.”  Midrash Qoheleth 71,8.

 

Referring to Psalm 146:7 the corresponding Midrash says:

” ‘The LORD sets prisoners free’…  What does this ‘setting free of prisoners’ mean? There are those who say that in the future the Holy One will make all unclean animals fit for eating.”  Midrash Tehilim 146,7.

For ‘prisoners’ the Hebrew OT uses here the word asûrîm, ‘forbidden things’, rather than the normal word asirîm, and this gives rise to a discussion of forbidden foods. We remember how Jesus stresses that “What goes into a man’s mouth does not make him ‘unclean’, but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him ‘unclean’ ” and, “In saying this Jesus declared all foods ‘clean’ ” (Matt. 15:11 and Mark 7:19). In actual fact the Old Testament’s regulations concerning food do not particularly refer to the pollution of the body, as Lev. 11:43–4 in the original Hebrew regarding the eating of unclean beasts twice declares: “Do not pollute ‘your souls’, eth naphshotêchem!” In other words, it is not merely a question of health but also an aesthetic matter.

It is true that the whole Jewish exposition of the Torah is intended as a private matter for Israel alone. The Sages frequently repeat that “The Torah was intended only for those who ate manna in the wilderness”. The Jewish understanding of the Torah can be depicted as a series of concentric circles: the innermost rings are the Ten Commandments; then come the 613 precepts — the taryag; next come the ancillary rules, the seyag or ‘hedge’ around the Law; In addition to all this the ‘Law’ signifies the teachings of the Pentateuch and also the exposition given to it by both the Talmudic and the Mediaeval scholars.

The word ‘Torah’, however, means only ‘teaching’, even though the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the OT made ca. 200 BC, translated the Hebrew by the word nomos, ‘law’. Frequently we come across the distinction drawn between the Written and the Oral Law. The scholars themselves do not always consider it necessary to explain the different aspects of the Law because like Paul they are addressing “those who know the Law” (Rom. 7:1). However, in the context of the Messianic Idea the Torah receives a universal significance, made clear by the Prophet Isaiah: ” The Law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem”.

The basis of Paul’s interpretation of the Torah

Paul’s interpretation of the Torah arose from the awareness that the teachings of Christ were meant for all nations. In this way he was forced to take a stand as to what were mere   ‘commandments of men’ in the Jewish exposition of the Torah. As a profound authority on his own tradition he recognised that the Messiah had the right to give ‘a new interpretation to the Law’ and even to tear down the ‘hedge’. In the Christian camp the claim is sometimes made that Paul’s logic is “capricious”, internally “inconsistent”, and “vacillating”.  Eg. E.P. Sanders and Heikki Räisänen in their books.

 

The Jewish camp, for its part, reckons that Paul’s attitude to the Torah was “completely negative”.  Eg. Joseph Klausner, The messianic Idea in Israel, (Hebr.) p287.

One factor which contributes to this Jewish misunderstanding of Paul is the way Rom. 10:4 has been translated into many western languages as “Christ is the end of the Law!”  Des Gesetzes Ende, etc.

However, the Greek word translated as ‘end’, telos, means primarily ‘goal’, as in “The end justifies the means”. This same word telos is found in 1.Tim. 1:5, which in the NIV is translated as “The goal of this command is love!”. Jesus made this point perfectly clear in the Sermon on the Mount when he said: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them” (Matt. 5:17). In this spirit it would be better to translate the verse in Romans regarding Christ that he is the ‘goal’ of the Law. There is nothing negative in that.

What then is the logic of Paul’s interpretation of the Law, and how does his scholarly exposition square up with the teachings of the Old Testament and with the points brought out by the earliest Jewish Messianic Expectation? For the sake of clarity it may be best to divide the answer into a number of basic points.

1. Firstly, we must see that the Bible depicts God as holy and that he demands holiness. Moses on several occasions received the words “Be holy, because I, the LORD your God, am holy” (Lev. 11:44, 19:2, 20:26). Therefore Paul too wrote:

“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men…  There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil; first for the Jew, and then for the Gentile” (Rom. 1:18 and 2:9).

When a certain pastor once expressed the wish that young people might be burdened with a guilty conscience until the problem of their sin was dealt with, people took offence at him. Nevertheless, he spoke just as Paul had done:

“So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good” (Rom. 7:12). “We know that the Law is good if a man uses it properly” (1 Tim. 1:8).

The Law is also “spiritual” (Rom. 7:14). When God through his Holy Spirit reveals to us our sin, we are forced to say with Paul: “I know that nothing good lives in me”; “So I find this law at work: when I want to do good, evil is right there with me”; “I see another law at work in my members…  making me a prisoner” (Rom. 7:18,21,23). Only the person whom God has his hand upon “knows, finds, and sees” his true state.

This is also brought about by the Law, which was given “so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God” (Rom. 3:19). “So the Law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith” (Gal. 3:24). Here we see the logic of Paul’s interpretation of the Law, which every believer inevitably experiences as real.

Modern Judaism’s understanding of Man is quite different from that found in the New Testament. The devout Jew reads every morning in his prayer book, Sidûr, the words: “My God, the soul which thou hast given me is pure.” Israel’s most popular TV Rabbi once stated in his Sabbath morning service that, “In us there is more light than dark, more goodness than bad — the Christians teach otherwise”.

And indeed: Jesus taught that   “From within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, murder, adultery”, the whole gamut of our sinfulness (Matt. 15:11 and Mark 7:21–22). Man is utterly corrupted by inherited sin. That is why he needs forgiveness and atonement for sin. Judaism generally rejects the idea of original sin and claims that the demands of God are not disproportionate. Hence the above-mentioned morning prayer asks:

“Do not let the evil inclination (Heb. yetser ha-Râ) rule over us. Deliver us from evil men and evil companions and let us be joined to good inclinations.”

In other words, evil lies in wait for Man as if it were external to him. Gen. 6, however, contains an account of the generation of Noah which uses just that word yetser: “The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time”. And Proverbs 20:9 asks: “Who can say, ‘I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin’?” It is none other than the holiness of God which leads to the conviction of sin and ultimately to genuine repentance.

2. Secondly, the will of God is manifestly much simpler than the hundreds of ritual and human commandments created by Jewish tradition. Furthermore, differentiating between the true manna eaters and the Gentiles in their relationship to God results in spiritual discrimination. The prophet Amos cried out: ” ‘Are not you Israelites the same to me as the Cushites?’ declares the LORD…  Surely the eyes of the Sovereign LORD are on the sinful kingdom” (Amos 9:7–8).

We have already seen the discussion in the Talmud about the possible reduction of the Torah’s 613 precepts to one, “And the righteous will live by faith”. Even Moses hinted at the simple, fundamental intent of the Law in Deut. 10:12:

“And now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.”

The prophet Micah also emphasised the simplicity of the relationship with God:

“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Mic. 6:8).

Jesus himself showed that the most important things in the Law are “justice, mercy and faithfulness” (Matt. 23:23). Might also Moses have been aware of the human tendency to create human laws, since he twice stressed when giving the Law, “Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it” (Deut. 4:2 and 12:32)?

The prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah feared that the commandments of men might become a substitute for the true word of consolation or some kind of false refuge. Rather than the “rule upon rule” attitude “God said, ‘This is the resting place, let the weary rest,’ and ‘This is the place of repose.’ ” But now instead they “will go and fall backwards and be crushed under their burdens” and they will be “snared and captured”. They do indeed approach God “with their lips”, but their “hearts” are far from him, “because their worship for God is made up only of rules taught by men”. But God will yet have it that the “wisdom of the wise will perish, the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish”. Paul too quoted these harsh words of Isaiah.   Is. 28:10-13 and 29:13-14. Also 1 Cor. 1:19.

In the same way the Old Testament’s weeping prophet, Jeremiah, who was active before the destruction of the first temple (586 BC), complains that the people trust in an external form of worship, whilst otherwise following “the stubborn inclinations of their evil hearts”: “Do not trust in deceptive words and say, ‘This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD!’ ” Or,”How can you say ‘We are wise, for we have the law of the LORD,’ when actually the lying pen of the scribes has handled it falsely?…  they have rejected the word of the LORD.” The people place their trust in circumcision although “the whole house of Israel is uncircumcised in heart”.  Jer. 7:4, 8:8 and 9:24-26

These prophetic rebukes apply equally to every age. How easily a learned religious tradition can become more important than the personal obedience of faith. The Christian too might say, “We have the church, we have the true teaching and we have baptism” — and done in the right way too! Three times Paul employs the same formula: “Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing” as such, but rather a) ” the keeping of God’s commandments” b) “faith expressing itself through love” and c) “the new creation”.  1 Cor. 7:19, Gal. 5:6 and 6:15

Paul did not disparage circumcision, but he wanted to get matters into their proper perspective. Following the same Pauline framework it could be said that “child baptism is nothing and adult baptism is nothing”, rather a life lived in accordance with the will of God, faith expressing itself through love, and the renewal of the mind available to us in Christ — and yet through baptism we are united with the death and atoning work of Christ.

Personally, baptism has always for me been something very precious, especially so for one who has buried his only son as a fully fledged disciple of Christ in the soil of Israel. Paul was perfectly consistent in applying his Christ-centred thinking to every area of the Christian life.

3. For Paul the Law was not an end in itself but a “schoolmaster” (AV) to lead us to Christ. The Law shows a man his true spiritual state and in this way gives him a longing for conciliation. Christ is the goal of the Law. He is the end of the legalistic, formal relationship with God and the beginning of a new personal relationship. As the Messiah, Christ has the right to give the Law “new grounds of interpretation”, through which the Torah will “revert to its original state”. However, the Messianic tiqun, the healing of humanity’s “sin impediment”, means that Christ will atone for our sins. In this way he   “fulfilled the Law” on our behalf.

Paul speaks of Christ as the goal of the Law “so that there might be righteousness”. He bases this on the words of Deut. chapter 30, which are familiar to every devout Jew, and in which is also found the germ of the vicarious atonement idea. Christ is for him “the end of the Law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes”.

“Moses,” he continues, “describes in this way the righteousness that is by the law: ‘The man who does these things will live by them’. But the righteousness that is by faith says: ‘Do not say in your heart, “Who will ascend into heaven?’ ” that is, to bring Christ down, or ‘”Who will descend into the deep?’ ” that is, to bring Christ up from the dead. But what does it say? ‘The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart’, that is, the word of faith which we are proclaiming.”  (Rom.10:6-8)

Along with the verse which Paul quotes, the Hebrew text in Deut. 30:12–13 states twice the words “yaaleh lanu” and “yered lanu”, “for us” or “on our behalf”, “pro nobis”! They stress the fact that, “There is no need for you to say ‘Who will go up on our behalf into heaven to fetch it for us and to proclaim it to us, that we might fulfil its requirements?’ It’s not beyond the seas, so you have no need to say ‘Who will cross the ocean on our behalf to fetch it for us and to proclaim it to us that we might fulfil its requirements?’ “

The logic behind these verses, in which we find a nascent OT doctrine of redemption, is that a) in the old covenant the Law was proclaimed to men so that they would fulfil its requirements, but now b) in the new covenant Christ has satisfied all the Law’s demands by going on our behalf down into the deep and rising up to heaven, and we proclaim this completed act. Humanity was unable to carry out God’s holy will, deserving only punishment, but now Christ has atoned for our sins, and justification is connected with the forgiveness of sins.

The best definition of justification is found in Isaiah 53:11 where it is said of Christ that, “my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities”. Luther’s Catechism defines justification with the words: “When in faith we receive Christ our redeemer, God does not hold our sins against us but forgives them for Christ’s sake. He imputes Christ’s purity and holiness to us. In this way God justifies us.” Luther used his favourite expression opus alienum, ‘a deed done by someone else’, to describe this: another has satisfied the demands of the Law, another has suffered for our sins, another has borne our iniquities. This is all brought out by the OT’s pro nobis phrase, so dear to Paul.

4. Nevertheless, this Messianic role includes Paul’s description of Christ’s “ascending” and “descending”, (Grk. anabesetai and katabesetai.) This was also appealed to by Sabbatai Tsvi, even though he forced it to support his “strange deeds” and denial of the Law. Precisely this kind of common derivation attests to the genuineness of the ideas. Even if such thoughts are utterly foreign to the modern reader we cannot set new conditions to the grounds of the Messianic expectation. Paul says in  Ephesians:

“What does ‘he ascended’ mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill all tings” (grk. ‘ta panta’, everything ) (4:9–10).

Peter understood this mystery to be that Christ “also went and preached to the spirits in prison”…  “For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead” (1. Pet. 3:19 and 4:6). The Apostles’ creed concurs with this when it affirms that Jesus “descended into Hades”.

The Jerusalem Targum says in connection with Deut. ch 30:

“O, would that we had a prophet such as Moses who would ascend into heaven and give us the Torah and proclaim to us its demands!”

Verse 4 chapter 30 promises that God will gather the banished of Israel, even though they be in “the most distant land under the heavens”. Targum Jonathan explains that this will happen “through the efforts of the High Priest Elias, and he will retrieve them from there through the Messiah-King.” Midrash Rabbah rejects the idea that there will come “a second Moses with another Torah from heaven”. Could this be a reaction against the early Christian church seeing in Christ the promised prophet who would be like Moses!

In the context of the Bronze Serpent we discussed the description in the Wisdom of Solomon of the “sign of salvation”, and the passage we quoted terminated with the words: “You lead men down to the gates of Hades and back again”. Proverbs 30:4 asks: “Who has gone up to heaven and come down? Who has gathered up the wind in the hollow of his hands?…  Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and the name of his son? Tell me if you know!” Thus the ‘ascending and descending’ idea is prominent even here in this passage, which speaks of the act of creation and of the Son of God.

This humiliation and exaltation is most beautifully expressed by Paul in his hymn found in the letter to the Philippians:

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:5–11)

5. In the synagogues of ancient times the Ten Commandments were read every Sabbath as a kind of foundation to the faith. In ca. 90 AD, however, the Great Council of Jamnia decided to abandon the practice. According to the Talmud someone might mistakenly assume that God gave only these 10 precepts on Sinai. The same council caused the use of the “translation of the Seventy”, the Septuagint, to cease as the synagogue’s official source, because the early Christians relied on it rather than on the Hebrew original to prove Jesus as the Messiah. For the same reason even the emphasis on belief in the resurrection was toned down considerably. We have seen how the Sabbatai Tsvi movement rejected the Ten Commandments, otherwise accepting the Jewish ritual law.

The decisions made at Jamnia were of momentous consequence for the whole subseqent development of Judaism. It thus became more and more a religion of law, and the minutiae of Pharisaic Torah exegesis began to monopolise the position of authority at the expense of the other streams of Jewish thought. Paul, who tells us about himself that he was a member of the strictest sect of the Pharisees, saw this danger. He writes:

“But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code” (Rom. 7:6).

Originally God justified Abraham on the grounds of his faith. Legal ordinances given some 430 years later to Moses cannot annul this “covenant previously established by God” (Gal. 3:16–19). To this day, Christ as the Messiah still has the answer to the Jewish Torah problem.

The “hedge” around the Law with its traditions and ordinances of men has now been torn down. The Ten Commandments are of course still valid as the irrevocable “words of the Covenant”. The Christian’s protective “hedge” is Christ himself, and so Paul in his letters uses over 160 times the phrase “to be in Christ”. If we stray out of Christ, the “dogs of the Law,” to use Luther’s words will tear us to pieces. In this way the law serves the gospel. Here lay the background and logic of Paul’s Torah teaching.

The strongest testimony against the addition of further human ordinances is however to be found in Moses’ own statement in Deut. 5:23 as he gave the Law: “These are the commandments the LORD proclaimed… and he added nothing more!” In this way these “words of the Covenant”, the Ten Commandments, are sufficient as the expression of the holy will of God. These commandments were not abolished at Calvary.”  {THE TORAH OF MOSES AND THE MESSIAH }

 

THE MESSIAH WHO WILL BREAK DOWN THE HEDGE AROUND THE LAW

“The search for the OT roots of the Christian faith is somewhat reminiscent of diving for pearls in the depths of the ocean. The diver first brings up a great quantity of shells from the sea bed and deposits them on the beach. The bystander sees only these outer casings until the shells are opened, upon which some may reveal a precious pearl hidden inside. Reading the old Jewish literature can be very frustrating since, for the most part, it concerns itself with the exposition of the religious ritual law, which is really of interest only to the Orthodox Jew. The spiritual and psychological dimensions so characteristic of the OT prophets are conspicuous by their almost total absence. Not infrequently, nevertheless, the tightly closed shell may yield up a rare pearl.

Although the Rabbis find ‘mysteries’ in the OT in far greater abundance than that to which the Christian church is accustomed, they still frequently stress the words of Deut. 29:29: “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children for ever.”

Mental and spiritual concepts must, by their very nature, be described figuratively. We cannot explain precisely what, for example, ‘faith’, ‘hope’, or ‘love’ is. By the same token, the Messianic mystery has, as it were, created its own secret code, which must be “cracked” before it will be understood. One of the toughest nuts is Gen.38:29 on the son of Judah and Tamar:

” ‘So this is how you have broken out!’ And he was named Perez.”

We have already come across the discussion associated with the name of Perez, regarding the Messiah as the conqueror of death. Ben Parets, “son of Perez” is actually one of the best known cryptic Messiah epithets. In Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus the name appears in the form ‘Phares’: “And Judah begat Phares.” (Matt. 1:3 AV) Therefore Jesus was, in a sense the ‘Son of Perez’.

The ‘Seal of the Midrashim’, R. Tanhuma Bar Abba, speaks again and again of the Messiah in connection with Perez. “He is the final saviour, the Messiah-King.” Tanhuma states that there are sinners who through their falling have sustained great loss, and those who have benefitted from their misdemeanours.

“Thus Judah profited, because from him came forth Perez and Hezron from whom are descended David and the Messiah-King, he who will save Israel. Behold how great the difficulties the Holy One indeed gave until he was to raise up the Messiah-King from Judah, he of whom it is written, “And the spirit of the Lord will be upon him.”   Midrash Tanhuma, Bereshit va-Yeshev. Isaiah 61:1-3.
The Midrash Rabbah discusses this verse at greater length. Firstly the half-humorous observation is made that,

“Judah was busy taking a wife, while the Holy One, blessed be He, was creating the light of the Messiah.”  Midrash Bereshith Rabbah, par. 85

One of the Rabbinic expository works known as “The Priestly Gift” says of this that, “The last Saviour is the Messiah, the Son of David, who is descended from Judah’s son Perez,” and the Midrash part continues, “This is the Messiah-King; as it is written, ‘A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse’ and ‘The Lord will extend your mighty sceptre from Zion.’ ” (Is. 11:1 and Ps. 110:2) The Rabbis’ explanation adds: “This is the Messiah, who will soon appear, because it is written of him that,’One who breaks open the way [Heb. porets, from the same root as Peres] will go up before them.’ ” (Micah 2:13)

It is important to take note of the Bible passages mentioned above. They illustrate a method by which weakly founded Messianic prophecies are set in their larger context. We see furthermore that the Targums and Midrashim generally speak of the ‘Messiah-King’, and not so much of some nebulous ‘Messiah concept’.

RaMBaN (R. Moses Ben Nahman), who lived towards the end of the 13th century, describes the birth of Perez as follows:

“He was encircled by a hedge, and he was enclosed within it. That is why it is said ‘So this is how you have broken through the hedge and come out from within it’.” Perez was the first-born, “The first-born through the power of the Most High, as it is written, ‘I will give to him a first-born son’. This was written about the holy person who is to come, David, the King of Israel — long may he live. Those who are wise will understand.”    Mikraot Gedoloth, corresponding section.

What would ‘those who are wise’ understand, and what is meant by ‘breaking through the hedge’? Historically this well depicts what happened when Christianity broke out of the Judaic mould, as we can see from the following.

The Rabbis speak a great deal about the ‘hedge of the Law’. Galatians 4:4–5 says that Jesus “was born under law” and “redeemed those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.” “It is for freedom,” Paul continues, “that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery”(5:1). “If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law”(5:18). From being a gift, the Law in Judaism can become an enslaving yoke.

In the Judaism of today there are officially 613 commands and prohibitions. It would appear that the development into a religion of law took place at a very early stage. The prophet Isaiah wrote ca. 700 years before Christ that instead of being the ‘word of repose’ religion had become a demand:

“Do and do, do and do, rule on rule, rule on rule; a little here, a little there — so that they will go and fall backwards, be injured and snared and captured” (28:10–13), and that the fear of God was nothing more than “rules taught by men” (29:13). The Targum of Jonathan explains that God made Man of 248 bones and 365 sinews, the number of days in the solar year (together = 613). In addition to these ‘thou shalt’ and ‘thou shalt not’ commands there was a separate group of ancillary commands which made up the ‘hedge around the Law’. In the shelter of this fold the devout Jew had to live.

Jesus, in his teaching, was forced to speak about this very misapplication. Referring to the words of Isaiah quoted above, he added that:

“They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men… Then the disciples came to him and asked, ‘Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?’ He replied, ‘Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. Leave them alone’ ” (Matt. 15:8–14).

Thus Jesus truly broke through the hedge of the Law.

Moses, when he instituted the commandments, said to the people,

“Hear now, O Israel, the decrees and laws I am about to teach you…  Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it!”   See Deut. 4:1-2, Proverbs 31:6 and joshua 1:7
Jewish scholars have, of course, tried to give the taryag, the 613 precepts, a foundation in the Pentateuch, but in both these and in the seyag, the ancillary rules, there are elements which the Rabbis themselves would concede have no basis in the written law. Precisely these halakha or traditional precepts are one of modern Israel’s most difficult internal problems.

Paul spoke about this ‘hedge around the Law’ in Ephesians 2:14–15;

“For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has DESTROYED THE BARRIER, THE DIVIDING WALL of hostility, by ABOLISHING in his flesh the LAW WITH ITS COMMANDMENTS AND REGULATIONS. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace.”

By this “dividing wall” and “law with its commandments and regulations” we can only understand ‘the hedge around the Law’. Christ, by his sacrificial death, has broken it down. “And they who are wise shall understand”, claimed RaMBaN.

Isaiah 8:14, which the Talmud interprets as signifying “the Messiah, Son of David” Sanhedrin 38a. describes this same ‘breaking through’, which is connected with the Perez illustration: “He will be a sanctuary, a rock of offence and stone of stumbling to both the houses of Israel, a snare and a trap to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.” All of these features are well applicable to Jesus: he was “the first-born through the power of the Most High”, he unintentionally created a breach between the mother and daughter religions, and he became “the stone which the builders rejected”.

Midrash Rabbah attaches the ‘Messiah Ben Phares’ illustration to the prophecy in Micah 2:13: “One who breaks open the way will go up before them… the LORD will be at their head.” RaSHI, Rabbi Shlomo Yitshak (1040–1105), who expounded in his writings the whole Talmud and OT, said of Perez that he is “their saviour, the one who will break open the way”. RaDaQ, Rabbi David Qimhi, declares that “the one who breaks open the way is Elijah, and their king is the Branch, the Son of David”. Micah’s reference to the concept of the ‘one who will break open the way’ is natural since the Hebrew word for this, porets, is derived from the same root as Perez.

The Christian will no doubt understand well this constant reference in much of the Jewish literature to the herald of the Messiah who will prepare the way for him. The Metsudat David, a popular 17th century Jewish exposition of the Prophetic and Historic books, explains the prophecy of Micah as meaning that:

“Elijah will come before the time of salvation to turn the hearts of Israel to their Heavenly Father in order to be a herald of salvation to them…  but by the ‘king’ is meant the Messiah-King, and the Lord will come before them all, because at that time he will also give back his Holy Spirit to Zion.”  Mikraoth Gedoloth on Micah 2:13

It is amazing to see that in the writings of the most widely recognised Jewish exegetes there are thoughts associated with the name of Perez which can help us to understand the Plan of Salvation and some of Paul’s more difficult teachings. Not infrequently, however, these pearls are buried deep in the ocean of tradition, concealed within a protective shell.”  {THE MESSIAH WHO WILL BREAK DOWN THE HEDGE AROUND THE LAW}

 

The Law of Christ

Law of Christ

The Law of Christ

Gen 49:10  The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering {יקּהה ‘yiqqahah’} of the people be.

יקּהה ‘yiqqahah’ means gathering or obedience.

Isa 42:4  He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law.

John Gill commentary
and the isles shall wait for his law; his doctrine or Gospel, the law or doctrine of faith, particularly that of justification by his righteousness, with every other; this the inhabitants of the islands, or distant countries, the Gentiles, should be desirous of hearing, readily embrace and receive, and trust in Christ, made known to them in it. The Septuagint version is, “and in his name shall the Gentiles trust”; and so in Mat_12:20.

 

Mat 12:18  Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles.
Mat 12:19  He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets.
Mat 12:20  A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory.
Mat 12:21  And in his name shall the Gentiles trust.

Isa 51:4  Hear Me, My people; yea, give ear to Me, My nation. For a law shall go out from Me, and My justice I will make rest as light to peoples.
Isa 51:5  My righteousness is near; My salvation went out; and My arms shall judge peoples; coastlands shall wait on Me, and they shall hope on My arm.

Jas 4:12  There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?

Isaiah prophecies that the nations would wait for the law of Messiah.  Matthew references this prophesy but says the nations shall wait for His name.  The “name” of Jesus is the Word of God, His character.

“There is no law behind God, because the furthest thing back is God. The moral absolutes rest upon God’s Character. The creation as He originally made it conforms to His character. The moral commands He has given to men are an expression of His character.”  Francis Shaeffer ‘The God Who Is There.’

Jesus is THE image/character of God  (Hebrews 1:3; 2 Corinthians 4:4-6; Colossians 1:15-16) who is love (1 John 4:8).  He revealed God’s name/character to mankind (John 17:6).

The New Covenant is God’s law/Torah written upon our hearts (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 8:8-13), His character of love (John 13:34-35; 15:10-12; 1 John 4:21; James 2:8; Romans 13:8-10; Galatians 5:14), His Spirit dwelling within us (John 14:15-18; 1 John 3:22-24), God working in us (Philippians 2:13), transforming us into the image of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 13:21; Ephesians 3:17-20; Colossians 3:10; Romans 8:29; 1 John 4:8).

Messiah came to earth in the very image of Almighty God (2 Corinthians 4:4; Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:3), who is love.  His life displayed that love and He calls all those who believe in Him to display that love as well.  This is the essence of the concept of ‘Christ in us.’  It is through His love that man is formed into His image (Colossians 3:10; Romans 8:29) where there is no longer Jew or Greek, Barbarian or Scythian but Christ is all and in all (Colossians 3:11).  This is the true essence of what the Torah is.

The true intent of the law/Word of God is not to make men religious but to reform men into the image of their God who is love (1 John 4:8).  It is this love that unites us and perfects us.  It is the bond of perfection (Colossians 3:14) which sets man free (Galatians 5:13-14).  This love is not intended only for a certain group of religious people, but for all mankind.  Scripture declares that in the Messiah shall the ‘gentiles trust’ (Matthew 12:21; Romans 15:8-12; Isaiah 11:10).  For Jesus is the true Light which enlightens every man (John 1:9; 12:44-46; Isaiah 49:6), sent to restore all of mankind back to God (Isaiah 45:22; Romans 3:29; John 1:12; 3:15-17).

The fruit which Israel was called to produce was the ‘goodly’ fruit of His Word (Jeremiah 11:16).  However, Israel did not produce this fruit but brought forth wicked fruit (Jeremiah 24:2-8).  As a result, God brought fire upon this olive tree, breaking the branches thereof (Jeremiah 11:16-17).

The Hebrew word for ‘goodly’ in Jeremiah 11:16 is תאר ‘toar’ which means a shape, form, outline or figure of a thing.   תאר ‘toar’ is a cognate of the word תורה ‘torah’ which literally means instruction which defines the border of a people or the ‘image’ of a people. תורה ‘torah’ is most commonly translated as ‘law.’  Here we see that Israel was to produce the fruit of His Law which would bring forth His image to the world.  His Image is that of love (1 John 4:8, 16; Matthew 22:35-40).

Mat 12:18  Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles.
Mat 12:19  He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets.
Mat 12:20  A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory.
Mat 12:21  And in his name shall the Gentiles trust.
Isa 42:1  Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.
Isa 42:2  He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street.
Isa 42:3  A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth.
Isa 42:4  He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law.
Rev 19:13  And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.
Joh 1:14  And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

His Name is the Word…the Word is the Torah…His Name is the Torah…Jesus is the Word…Jesus is the Torah.  This is not to say Jesus is the law of Moses however, this is to say Jesus is the Word of God.

Isa 5:24  Therefore as the fire devoureth the stubble, and the flame consumeth the chaff, so their root shall be as rottenness, and their blossom shall go up as dust: because they have cast away the law of the LORD of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.

The Hebrew word for name is שם ‘shem’ which literally means one’s breathe or character.  What is the character of the Almighty?  Love (1 John 4:8).

The Hebrew word for love is אהב ‘ahav’ which is consists of the letters  אב ‘av’ which means father and the middle letter ה ‘heh’ which has the meaning of revelation.  The Father revealed.  In ancient Hebrew, the letter ה ‘heh’ was depicted as a man with outstretched arms, like unto Messiah on the cross. How was the love of the Father revealed?  Through the giving of His only begotten Son on the cross as an atonement for the sins of mankind (John 3:16).

Further connecting the Name of God to His character of love and the revelation of this love at Calvary is seen in the ancient pictograph meanings of the Sacred Name.

The pictographs of יהוה ‘Yahweh’ speak of Him being revealed through the nails in His Hands.

It is God’s name/character of love that is written in the heads of His redeemed people (Revelation 22:4).  The prophet Ezekiel was shown that His mark is depicted in the letter ת ‘tav’ which was written in ancient times as the image of the cross (Ezekiel 9:4).

The word תורה ‘torah’ also pictographically displays Messiah on the cross, revealing the love of God.

ת – cross
ו – nail
ר – head, leader
ה – man with outstretched arms

Jesus’ declaration of God’s love was manifest on the cross.

Psa 22:22  I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee.

Heb 2:10  For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
Heb 2:11  For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren,
Heb 2:12  Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.

Christ laid down His life for mankind, revealing the love of God.  In this love for mankind, He fulfilled the law.  The New Covenant Torah is for believers to do the same.

Joh 13:34  A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
Joh 15:12  This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
Joh 15:13  Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

Gal_6:2  Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

Gal 5:13  For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.
Gal 5:14  For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

1Jn 4:21  And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.

1Pe 2:21  For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:
1Pe 2:22  Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:
1Pe 2:23  Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:
1Pe 2:24  Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.
1Pe 2:25  For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

1Jn 2:1  My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:
1Jn 2:2  And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
1Jn 2:3  And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.
1Jn 2:4  He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
1Jn 2:5  But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.
1Jn 2:6  He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.
1Jn 2:7  Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning.
1Jn 2:8  Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth.
1Jn 2:9  He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now.
1Jn 2:10  He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.

Joh 13:13  Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.
Joh 13:14  If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.
Joh 13:15  For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.
Joh 13:16  Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.
Joh 13:17  If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.

Eph 5:1  Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;
Eph 5:2  And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.

1Jn 3:16  Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
1Jn 3:17  But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?
1Jn 3:18  My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.
1Jn 3:19  And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.
1Jn 3:20  For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.
1Jn 3:21  Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.
1Jn 3:22  And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.
1Jn 3:23  And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.
1Jn 3:24  And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.

Rom 8:1  There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
Rom 8:2  For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
Rom 8:3  For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
Rom 8:4  That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

Rom 8:28  And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
Rom 8:29  For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

Rom 13:8  Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
Rom 13:9  For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Rom 13:10  Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

1Ti 1:5  Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:
Mar 12:28  And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all?
Mar 12:29  And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:
Mar 12:30  And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.
Mar 12:31  And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.
Mar 12:32  And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he:
Mar 12:33  And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.
Mar 12:34  And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. And no man after that durst ask him any question.

Luk 10:27  And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.
Luk 10:28  And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.
Luk 10:29  But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?
Luk 10:30  And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.
Luk 10:31  And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
Luk 10:32  And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.
Luk 10:33  But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,
Luk 10:34  And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
Luk 10:35  And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.
Luk 10:36  Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?
Luk 10:37  And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.

Christ’s Words are the Words of the Father
Joh 14:24  The one who does not love Me does not keep My Words. And the Word which you hear is not Mine but of the Father who sent Me.
Joh 7:16  Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.
Joh 7:17  If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.
Joh 12:48  He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.
Joh 12:49  For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.
Joh 5:30  I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.

Yet, the law of Christ is not the same as the law of Moses.  Paul could not live “without the law” and be under the law of Christ if the law of Moses (Old Covenant) and law of Christ were the same thing.
1Co 9:19  For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.
1Co 9:20  And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law;
1Co 9:21  To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law.
1Co 9:22  To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.
1Co 9:23  And this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.
1Co 9:24  Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.
1Co 9:25  And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.
1Co 9:26  I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:
1Co 9:27  But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

Rom 7:1  Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?
Rom 7:2  For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.
Rom 7:3  So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.
Rom 7:4  Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.
Rom 7:5  For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.
Rom 7:6  But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.
Rom 7:7  What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.
Rom 7:8  But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead.
Rom 7:9  For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.
Rom 7:10  And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death.
Rom 7:11  For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.
Rom 7:12  Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.
Rom 7:13  Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.
Rom 7:14  For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.
Rom 7:15  For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.
Rom 7:16  If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.
Rom 7:17  Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
Rom 7:18  For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
Rom 7:19  For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
Rom 7:20  Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
Rom 7:21  I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.
Rom 7:22  For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:
Rom 7:23  But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
Rom 7:24  O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
Rom 7:25  I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.
Rom 10:1  Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.
Rom 10:2  For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.
Rom 10:3  For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.
Rom 10:4  For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.
Rom 10:5  For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them.
Rom 10:6  But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:)
Rom 10:7  Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.)
Rom 10:8  But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;
Rom 10:9  That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
Rom 10:10  For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
Rom 10:11  For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
Rom 10:12  For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.
Rom 10:13  For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Rom 10:14  How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
Rom 10:15  And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
Rom 10:16  But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?
Rom 10:17  So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Rom 10:18  But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.
Rom 10:19  But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you.
Rom 10:20  But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me.
Rom 10:21  But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.

Gal_6:2  Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

A New Commandment

new commandment

One of the celebrations amongst Christians during the Easter season is “Maundy Thursday” which remembers the Last Supper and the New Covenant.

The word ‘Maundy’ traces back to the Latin word ‘mandatum’ which means a commandment.  Most scholars agree that the name “Maundy” was given to this celebration because of the Latin translation of John 13:34:
“Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos”  (“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you”).

Joh 13:14  If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.
Joh 13:15  For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.

Joh 13:34  A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

 

The New Covenant is the law written on our hearts, a better testament but NOT according to the covenant made with Israel at Sinai.

Heb 8:6  But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.
Heb 8:7  For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.
Heb 8:8  For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:
Heb 8:9  Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.
Heb 8:10  For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:
Heb 8:11  And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.

Heb 8:12  For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.
Heb 8:13  In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old {παλαιόω ‘palaioō’}. Now that which decayeth {παλαιόω ‘palaioō’} and waxeth old {γηράσκω ‘gēraskō’} is ready to vanish away.

The first covenant was taken away that the second might be established:

Heb 10:1  For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.
Heb 10:2  For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins.
Heb 10:3  But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year.
Heb 10:4  For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.
Heb 10:5  Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me:
Heb 10:6  In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure.
Heb 10:7  Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God.
Heb 10:8  Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law;
Heb 10:9  Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.
Heb 10:10  By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
Heb 10:11  And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins:
Heb 10:12  But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;
Heb 10:13  From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool.
Heb 10:14  For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.
Heb 10:15  Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before,
Heb 10:16  This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them;
Heb 10:17  And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.
Heb 10:18  Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.
Heb 10:19  Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,
Heb 10:20  By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;
Heb 10:21  And having an high priest over the house of God;
Heb 10:22  Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.
Heb 10:23  Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)
Heb 10:24  And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
Heb 10:25  Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
Heb 10:26  For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,
Heb 10:27  But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.
Heb 10:28  He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:
Heb 10:29  Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?
Heb 10:30  For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.
Heb 10:31  It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
Heb 10:32  But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions;
Heb 10:33  Partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used.
Heb 10:34  For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.
Heb 10:35  Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward.
Heb 10:36  For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.
Heb 10:37  For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.
Heb 10:38  Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.
Heb 10:39  But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.

Heb 12:24  And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.

The New Covenant brings a change in the priesthood and a change in the law.  The Old Covenant was done away.

2Co 3:2  Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men:
2Co 3:3  Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.
2Co 3:4  And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward:
2Co 3:5  Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God;
2Co 3:6  Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.
2Co 3:7  But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away {καταργέω ‘katargeō’}:
2Co 3:8  How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious?
2Co 3:9  For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory.
2Co 3:10  For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth.
2Co 3:11  For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.
2Co 3:12  Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech:
2Co 3:13  And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished {καταργέω ‘katargeō’}:
2Co 3:14  But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ.
2Co 3:15  But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart.
2Co 3:16  Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away.
2Co 3:17  Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
2Co 3:18  But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

Heb 7:11  If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?
Heb 7:12  For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.
Heb 7:13  For he of whom these things are spoken pertaineth to another tribe, of which no man gave attendance at the altar.
Heb 7:14  For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood.
Heb 7:15  And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest,
Heb 7:16  Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life.
Heb 7:17  For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.
Heb 7:18  For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof.
Heb 7:19  For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.
Heb 7:20  And inasmuch as not without an oath he was made priest:
Heb 7:21  (For those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by him that said unto him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec:)
Heb 7:22  By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament.

Perfection did not come through the Levitical priesthood and the Old Covenant law.

Heb 7:11  If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?
Heb 7:12  For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.

Heb 7:17  For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.
Heb 7:18  For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof.
Heb 7:19  For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.

1Co 13:10  But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away {καταργέω ‘katargeō’}.
1Co 13:11  When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

2Co 3:7  But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away {καταργέω ‘katargeō’}:

2Co 3:11  For if that which is done away {καταργέω ‘katargeō’} was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.

2Co 3:14  But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away {καταργέω ‘katargeō’} in Christ.

Rom 4:14  For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect {καταργέω ‘katargeō’}:

Gal 3:17  And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect {καταργέω ‘katargeō’}.
Gal 3:18  For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise.

Gal 5:4  Christ is become of no effect {καταργέω ‘katargeō’}
unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.

 

“Be not deceived with strange doctrines, nor with old fables, which are unprofitable. For if we still live according to the Jewish law, we acknowledge that we have not received grace. For the divinest prophets lived according to Christ Jesus. On this account also they were persecuted, being inspired by His grace to fully convince the unbelieving that there is one God, who has manifested Himself by Jesus Christ His Son, who is His eternal Word, not proceeding forth from silence, and who in all things pleased Him that sent Him.”  {The Epistle of Ignatius to the Magnesians}

“Let us not, therefore, be insensible to His kindness. For were He to reward us according to our works, we should cease to be. Therefore, having become His disciples, let us learn to live according to the principles of Christianity. For whosoever is called by any other name besides this, is not of God. Lay aside, therefore, the evil, the old, the sour leaven, and be ye changed into the new leaven, which is Jesus Christ. Be ye salted in Him, lest any one among you should be corrupted, since by your savour ye shall be convicted. It is absurd to profess Christ Jesus, and to Judaize. For Christianity did not embrace Judaism, but Judaism Christianity, that so every tongue which believeth might be gathered together to God.

Let us not, therefore, be insensible to His kindness. For were He to reward us according to our works, we should cease to be. For “if Thou, Lord, shalt mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? ” Let us therefore prove ourselves worthy of that name which we have received. For whosoever is called by any other name besides this, he is not of God; for he has not received the prophecy which speaks thus concerning us: “The people shall be called by a new name, which the Lord shall name them, and shall be a holy people.” This was first fulfilled in Syria; for “the disciples were called Christians at Antioch,” when Paul and Peter were laying the foundations of the Church.

Lay aside, therefore, the evil, the old, the corrupt leaven, and be ye changed into the new leaven of grace. Abide in Christ, that the stranger may not have dominion over you. It is absurd to speak of Jesus Christ with the tongue, and to cherish in the mind a Judaism which has now come to an end. For where there is Christianity there cannot be Judaism. For Christ is one, in whom every nation that believes, and every tongue that confesses, is gathered unto God. And those that were of a stony heart have become the children of Abraham, the friend of God; and in his seed all those have been blessed who were ordained to eternal life in Christ.”  {The Epistle of Ignatius to the Magnesians}

“For why should God, the founder of the universe, the Governor of the whole world, the Fashioner of humanity, the Sower of universal nations be believed to have given a law through Moses to one people, and not be said to have assigned it to all nations? For unless He had given it to all by no means would He have habitually permitted even proselytes out of the nations to have access to it. But— as is congruous with the goodness of God, and with His equity, as the Fashioner of mankind— He gave to all nations the selfsame law, which at definite and stated times He enjoined should be observed, when He willed, and through whom He willed, and as He willed.

For in the beginning of the world He gave to Adam himself and Eve a law, that they were not to eat of the fruit of the tree planted in the midst of paradise; but that, if they did contrariwise, by death they were to die. Which law had continued enough for them, had it been kept. For in this law given to Adam we recognise in embryo all the precepts which afterwards sprouted forth when given through Moses; that is, You shall love the Lord your God from your whole heart and out of your whole soul; You shall love your neighbour as yourself; You shall not kill; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; False witness you shall not utter; Honour your father and mother; and, That which is another’s, shall you not covet.

For the primordial law was given to Adam and Eve in paradise, as the womb of all the precepts of God. In short, if they had loved the Lord their God, they would not have contravened His precept; if they had habitually loved their neighbour— that is, themselves — they would not have believed the persuasion of the serpent, and thus would not have committed murder upon themselves, by falling from immortality, by contravening God’s precept; from theft also they would have abstained, if they had not stealthily tasted of the fruit of the tree, nor had been anxious to skulk beneath a tree to escape the view of the Lord their God; nor would they have been made partners with the falsehood-asseverating devil, by believing him that they would be “like God;” and thus they would not have offended God either, as their Father, who had fashioned them from clay of the earth, as out of the womb of a mother; if they had not coveted another’s, they would not have tasted of the unlawful fruit.

Therefore, in this general and primordial law of God, the observance of which, in the case of the tree’s fruit, He had sanctioned, we recognise enclosed all the precepts specially of the posterior Law, which germinated when disclosed at their proper times. For the subsequent superinduction of a law is the work of the same Being who had before premised a precept; since it is His province withal subsequently to train, who had before resolved to form, righteous creatures.

For what wonder if He extends a discipline who institutes it? If He advances who begins? In short, before the Law of Moses, written in stone-tables, I contend that there was a law unwritten, which was habitually understood naturally, and by the fathers was habitually kept. For whence was Noah “found righteous,” if in his case the righteousness of a natural law had not preceded? Whence was Abraham accounted “a friend of God,” if not on the ground of equity and righteousness, (in the observance) of a natural law? Whence was Melchizedek named “priest of the most high God,” if, before the priesthood of the Levitical law, there were not levites who were wont to offer sacrifices to God? For thus, after the above-mentioned patriarchs, was the Law given to Moses, at that (well-known) time after their exode from Egypt, after the interval and spaces of four hundred years. In fact, it was after Abraham’s “four hundred and thirty years” that the Law was given.

Whence we understand that God’s law was anterior even to Moses, and was not first (given) in Horeb, nor in Sinai and in the desert, but was more ancient; (existing) first in paradise, subsequently reformed for the patriarchs, and so again for the Jews, at definite periods: so that we are not to give heed to Moses’ Law as to the primitive law, but as to a subsequent, which at a definite period God has set forth to the Gentiles too and, after repeatedly promising so to do through the prophets, has reformed for the better; and has premonished that it should come to pass that, just as “the law was given through Moses” John 1:17 at a definite time, so it should be believed to have been temporarily observed and kept.

And let us not annul this power which God has, which reforms the law’s precepts answerably to the circumstances of the times, with a view to man’s salvation. In fine, let him who contends that the Sabbath is still to be observed as a balm of salvation, and circumcision on the eighth day because of the threat of death, teach us that, for the time past, righteous men kept the Sabbath, or practised circumcision, and were thus rendered “friends of God.” For if circumcision purges a man since God made Adam uncircumcised, why did He not circumcise him, even after his sinning, if circumcision purges? At all events, in settling him in paradise, He appointed one uncircumcised as colonist of paradise.

Therefore, since God originated Adam uncircumcised, and inobservant of the Sabbath, consequently his offspring also, Abel, offering Him sacrifices, uncircumcised and inobservant of the Sabbath, was by Him commended; while He accepted what he was offering in simplicity of heart, and reprobated the sacrifice of his brother Cain, who was not rightly dividing what he was offering. Noah also, uncircumcised— yes, and inobservant of the Sabbath— God freed from the deluge.

For Enoch, too, most righteous man, uncircumcised and inobservant of the Sabbath, He translated from this world; who did not first taste death, in order that, being a candidate for eternal life, he might by this time show us that we also may, without the burden of the law of Moses, please God. Melchizedek also, “the priest of the most high God,” uncircumcised and inobservant of the Sabbath, was chosen to the priesthood of God. Lot, withal, the brother of Abraham, proves that it was for the merits of righteousness, without observance of the law, that he was freed from the conflagration of the Sodomites.

But Abraham, (you say,) was circumcised. Yes, but he pleased God before his circumcision; nor yet did he observe the Sabbath. For he had “accepted” circumcision; but such as was to be for “a sign” of that time, not for a prerogative title to salvation. In fact, subsequent patriarchs were uncircumcised, like Melchizedek, who, uncircumcised, offered to Abraham himself, already circumcised, on his return from battle, bread and wine.

“But again,” (you say) the son of Moses would upon one occasion have been choked by an angel, if Zipporah, had not circumcised the foreskin of the infant with a pebble; whence, “there is the greatest peril if any fail to circumcise the foreskin of his flesh.” Nay, but if circumcision altogether brought salvation, even Moses himself, in the case of his own son, would not have omitted to circumcise him on the eighth day; whereas it is agreed that Zipporah did it on the journey, at the compulsion of the angel.

Consider we, accordingly, that one single infant’s compulsory circumcision cannot have prescribed to every people, and founded, as it were, a law for keeping this precept. For God, foreseeing that He was about to give this circumcision to the people of Israel for “a sign,” not for salvation, urges the circumcision of the son of Moses, their future leader, for this reason; that, since He had begun, through him, to give the People the precept of circumcision, the people should not despise it, from seeing this example (of neglect) already exhibited conspicuously in their leader’s son.

For circumcision had to be given; but as “a sign,” whence Israel in the last time would have to be distinguished, when, in accordance with their deserts, they should be prohibited from entering the holy city, as we see through the words of the prophets, saying, “Your land is desert; your cities utterly burnt with fire; your country, in your sight, strangers shall eat up; and, deserted and subverted by strange peoples, the daughter of Zion shall be derelict, like a shed in a vineyard, and like a watchhouse in a cucumber-field, and as it were a city which is being stormed.”

Why so? Because the subsequent discourse of the prophet reproaches them, saying, “Sons have I begotten and upraised, but they have reprobated me;” and again, “And if you shall have outstretched hands, I will avert my face from you; and if you shall have multiplied prayers, I will not hear you: for your hands are full of blood;” Isaiah 1:15 and again, “Woe! sinful nation; a people full of sins; wicked sons; you have quite forsaken God, and have provoked unto indignation the Holy One of Israel.” Isaiah 1:4 This, therefore, was God’s foresight—that of giving circumcision to Israel, for a sign whence they might be distinguished when the time should arrive wherein their above-mentioned deserts should prohibit their admission into Jerusalem: which circumstance, because it was to be, used to be announced; and, because we see it accomplished, is recognised by us.

For, as the carnal circumcision, which was temporary, was in wrought for “a sign” in a contumacious people, so the spiritual has been given for salvation to an obedient people; while the prophet Jeremiah says, “Make a renewal for you, and sow not in thorns; be circumcised to God, and circumcise the foreskin of your heart:” and in another place he says, “Behold, days shall come, says the Lord, and I will draw up, for the house of Judah and for the house of Jacob, a new testament; not such as I once gave their fathers in the day wherein I led them out from the land of Egypt.”

Whence we understand that the coming cessation of the former circumcision then given, and the coming procession of a new law (not such as He had already given to the fathers), are announced: just as Isaiah foretold, saying that in the last days the mount of the Lord and the house of God were to be manifest above the tops of the mounts: “And it shall be exalted,” he says, “above the hills; and there shall come over it all nations; and many shall walk, and say, Come, ascend we unto the mount of the Lord, and unto the house of the God of Jacob,” Isaiah 2:2-3 — not of Esau, the former son, but of Jacob, the second; that is, of our “people,” whose “mount” is Christ, “prזcised without concisors’ hands, filling every land,” shown in the book of Daniel. In short, the coming procession of a new law out of this “house of the God of Jacob” Isaiah in the ensuing words announces, saying, “For from Zion shall go out a law, and the word of the Lord out of Jerusalem, and shall judge among the nations,”— that is, among us, who have been called out of the nations—”and they shall join to beat their glaives into ploughs, and their lances into sickles; and nations shall not take up glaive against nation, and they shall no more learn to fight.” Isaiah 2:3-4

Who else, therefore, are understood but we, who, fully taught by the new law, observe these practices—the old law being obliterated, the coming of whose abolition the action itself demonstrates? For the wont of the old law was to avenge itself by the vengeance of the glaive, and to pluck out “eye for eye,” and to inflict retaliatory revenge for injury. But the new law’s wont was to point to clemency, and to convert to tranquillity the pristine ferocity of “glaives” and “lances,” and to remodel the pristine execution of “war” upon the rivals and foes of the law into the pacific actions of “ploughing” and “tilling” the land.

Therefore as we have shown above that the coming cessation of the old law and of the carnal circumcision was declared, so, too, the observance of the new law and the spiritual circumcision has shone out into the voluntary obediences of peace. For “a people,” he says, “whom I knew not has served me; in obedience of the ear it has obeyed me.” Prophets made the announcement. But what is the “people” which was ignorant of God, but ours, who in days bygone knew not God? And who, in the hearing of the ear, gave heed to Him, but we, who, forsaking idols, have been converted to God? For Israel— who had been known to God, and who had by Him been “upraised” in Egypt, and was transported through the Red Sea, and who in the desert, fed forty years with manna, was wrought to the semblance of eternity, and not contaminated with human passions, or fed on this world’s meats, but fed on “angel’s loaves” — the manna— and sufficiently bound to God by His benefits— forgot his Lord and God, saying to Aaron: “Make us gods, to go before us: for that Moses, who ejected us from the land of Egypt, has quite forsaken us; and what has befallen him we know not.” And accordingly we, who “were not the people of God” in days bygone, have been made His people, by accepting the new law above mentioned, and the new circumcision before foretold.
It follows, accordingly, that, in so far as the abolition of carnal circumcision and of the old law is demonstrated as having been consummated at its specific times, so also the observance of the Sabbath is demonstrated to have been temporary.

For the Jews say, that from the beginning God sanctified the seventh day, by resting on it from all His works which He made; and that thence it was, likewise, that Moses said to the People: “Remember the day of the sabbaths, to sanctify it: every servile work you shall not do therein, except what pertains unto life.” Whence we (Christians) understand that we still more ought to observe a sabbath from all “servile work” always, and not only every seventh day, but through all time.

And through this arises the question for us, what sabbath God willed us to keep? For the Scriptures point to a sabbath eternal and a sabbath temporal. For Isaiah the prophet says, ” Your sabbaths my soul hates;” Isaiah 1:13 and in another place he says, ” My sabbaths you have profaned.” Whence we discern that the temporal sabbath is human, and the eternal sabbath is accounted divine; concerning which He predicts through Isaiah: “And there shall be,” He says, “month after month, and day after day, and sabbath after sabbath; and all flesh shall come to adore in Jerusalem, says the Lord;” which we understand to have been fulfilled in the times of Christ, when “all flesh”— that is, every nation— “came to adore in Jerusalem” God the Father, through Jesus Christ His Son, as was predicted through the prophet: “Behold, proselytes through me shall go unto You.” Thus, therefore, before this temporal sabbath, there was withal an eternal sabbath foreshown and foretold; just as before the carnal circumcision there was withal a spiritual circumcision foreshown.

In short, let them teach us, as we have already premised, that Adam observed the sabbath; or that Abel, when offering to God a holy victim, pleased Him by a religious reverence for the sabbath; or that Enoch, when translated, had been a keeper of the sabbath; or that Noah the ark-builder observed, on account of the deluge, an immense sabbath; or that Abraham, in observance of the sabbath, offered Isaac his son; or that Melchizedek in his priesthood received the law of the sabbath.

But the Jews are sure to say, that ever since this precept was given through Moses, the observance has been binding. Manifest accordingly it is, that the precept was not eternal nor spiritual, but temporary, which would one day cease. In short, so true is it that it is not in the exemption from work of the sabbath— that is, of the seventh day— that the celebration of this solemnity is to consist, that Joshua the son of Nun, at the time that he was reducing the city Jericho by war, stated that he had received from God a precept to order the People that priests should carry the ark of the testament of God seven days, making the circuit of the city; and thus, when the seventh day’s circuit had been performed, the walls of the city would spontaneously fall. Joshua 6:1-20 Which was so done; and when the space of the seventh day was finished, just as was predicted, down fell the walls of the city.

Whence it is manifestly shown, that in the number of the seven days there intervened a sabbath-day. For seven days, whencesoever they may have commenced, must necessarily include within them a sabbath-day; on which day not only must the priests have worked, but the city must have been made a prey by the edge of the sword by all the people of Israel. Nor is it doubtful that they “wrought servile work,” when, in obedience to God’s precept, they drove the preys of war. For in the times of the Maccabees, too, they did bravely in fighting on the sabbaths, and routed their foreign foes, and recalled the law of their fathers to the primitive style of life by fighting on the sabbaths. Nor should I think it was any other law which they thus vindicated, than the one in which they remembered the existence of the prescript touching “the day of the sabbaths.”

Whence it is manifest that the force of such precepts was temporary, and respected the necessity of present circumstances; and that it was not with a view to its observance in perpetuity that God formerly gave them such a law.

Therefore, since it is manifest that a sabbath temporal was shown, and a sabbath eternal foretold; a circumcision carnal foretold, and a circumcision spiritual pre-indicated; a law temporal and a law eternal formally declared; sacrifices carnal and sacrifices spiritual foreshown; it follows that, after all these precepts had been given carnally, in time preceding, to the people Israel, there was to supervene a time whereat the precepts of the ancient Law and of the old ceremonies would cease, and the promise of the new law, and the recognition of spiritual sacrifices, and the promise of the New Testament, supervene; while the light from on high would beam upon us who were sitting in darkness, and were being detained in the shadow of death.

And so there is incumbent on us a necessity 1 Corinthians 9:16 binding us, since we have premised that a new law was predicted by the prophets, and that not such as had been already given to their fathers at the time when He led them forth from the land of Egypt, to show and prove, on the one hand, that that old Law has ceased, and on the other, that the promised new law is now in operation.

And, indeed, first we must inquire whether there be expected a giver of the new law, and an heir of the new testament, and a priest of the new sacrifices, and a purger of the new circumcision, and an observer of the eternal sabbath, to suppress the old law, and institute the new testament, and offer the new sacrifices, and repress the ancient ceremonies, and suppress the old circumcision together with its own sabbath, and announce the new kingdom which is not corruptible.

Inquire, I say, we must, whether this giver of the new law, observer of the spiritual sabbath, priest of the eternal sacrifices, eternal ruler of the eternal kingdom, be come or no: that, if he is already come, service may have to be rendered him; if he is not yet come, he may have to be awaited, until by his advent it be manifest that the old Law’s precepts are suppressed, and that the beginnings of the new law ought to arise. And, primarily, we must lay it down that the ancient Law and the prophets could not have ceased, unless He had come who was constantly announced, through the same Law and through the same prophets, as to come.”   {Tertullian – An Answer to the Jews}

God Changes Times and Seasons

times and seasons

God changes times and seasons

Dan 2:21  And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding:

 

The Holy Scriptures declare that God changes the times and seasons which can be applied to the concept that He has the authority to change how and when His people celebrate holidays.  God also removes and sets up kings (leadership) in which laws pertaining to these kingdoms are often changed. God can also change religious leadership such as the removal of the Levitical priesthood to establish the Melchizedek priesthood (Hebrews 7:12; 10:9).

Jesus took away the authority of the Jews and gave it to Christians.

Mat 16:16  And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
Mat 16:17  And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
Mat 16:18  And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Mat 16:19  And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Mat 18:17  And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.
Mat 18:18  Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Mat 18:19  Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.
Mat 18:20  For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

Before Jesus asks His disciples who they thought He was and gave the authority to bind and loose to them, He warns them of the doctrine of the Scribes and Pharisees.  This is because the doctrine of the Jews was not to be followed or looked to for authority.

Mat 16:12  Then they knew that He did not say to take heed from the leaven of bread, but from the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Mat 21:42  Jesus said to them, Did you never read in the Scriptures, “A Stone which the builders rejected, this One became the Head of the Corner? This was from the Lord, and it is a wonder in our eyes?” Psalm 118:22, 23
Mat 21:43  Because of this I say to you, The kingdom of God will be taken from you, and it will be given to a nation producing the fruits of it.

Binding & Loosing

binding loosing 2

 

The early church saw this authority to “bind and loose” in light of how to celebrate holidays and what was to be allowed and what was to be forbidden.

On the subject of binding and loosing, J.B. Lightfoot says:

“…the reader sees abundantly enough both the frequency and the common use of this phrase,  and the sense of it also;  namely,  first,  that it is used in doctrine,  and in judgments,  concerning things allowed or not allowed in the law.  Secondly,  That to bind is the same with to forbid;  or to declare forbidden.  To think that Christ,  when he used the common phrase,  was not understood by his hearers in the common and vulgar sense,  shall I call it a matter of laughter or of madness?

To this,  therefore,  do these words amount:  When the time was come,  wherein the Mosaic law,  as to some part of it,  was to be abolished and left off;  and as to another part of it,  was to be continued,  and to last for ever:  he granted Peter here,  and to the rest of the apostles,  Mat_18:18,  a power to abolish or confirm what they thought good,  and as they thought good,  being taught this and led by the Holy Spirit:  as if he should say,  “Whatsoever ye shall bind in the law of Moses,  that is,  forbid;  it shall be forbidden;  the Divine authority confirming it;  and whatsoever ye shall loose;  that is,  permit;  or shall teach;  that it is permitted and lawful;  shall be lawful and permitted.”

“For to you, O bishops, it is said: “Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” {Constitutions of the Holy Apostles Book II}

“The terms binding and loosing, are equivalent to opening and shutting, because formerly the Jews opened the fastenings of their doors by untying it, and they shut or secured their doors by tying or binding it. (Bible de Vence) — Dr. Whitby, a learned Protestant divine, thus expounds this and the preceding verse: “As a suitable return to thy confession, I say also to thee, that thou art by name Peter, i.e. a rock; and upon thee, who art this rock, I will build my making laws to govern my Church.” (Tom. i, p. 143.) Dr. Hammond, another Protestant divine, explains it in the same manner.  And p. 92, he says: ” What is here meant by the keys, is best understand by Isaias xxii. 22, where they signified ruling the whole family or house of the king: and this being by Christ accommodated to the Church, denotes the power of governing it.”  {Haydock Catholic Bible Commentary}

Isa 22:22  And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.

John Gill Commentary on Isaiah 22:22

Isaiah 22:22
“And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder,…. In allusion either to magistrates carrying a key on their shoulder, hanging down from thence, having a hook at one end of it fit for that purpose; or having one embroidered on that part of their garment: or one carried before them by their servants. It regards either the keys of the temple; or rather the key of the king’s house, which it was proper should be delivered to him as treasurer and steward of it; the Targum takes in both,

“and I will give the key of the house of the sanctuary, and the government of the house of David, into his hand.”

In the mystical sense, Christ is said to have this key, Rev_3:7 where the following words are applied to him:

so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open; all which is expressive of the government of the church being on his shoulders, and of his absolute and uncontrollable power over it; who opens the treasures of his word, of his grace, and of wisdom and knowledge, and communicates them unto, and shuts or hides them from, whom he pleases; who opens and shuts the doors of his church, his house, and lets in, and keeps out, whom he thinks fit; and who also opens and shuts the door of the kingdom of heaven, and introduces into it his own people, and excludes others.”

Adam Clarke commentary on Matthew 18:18

“Οσα εαν δησητε – και οσα εαν λυσητε. Binding and loosing, in this place, and in Mat_16:19, is generally restrained, by Christian interpreters, to matters of discipline and authority. But it is as plain as the sun, by what occurs in numberless places dispersed throughout the Mishna, and from thence commonly used by the later rabbins when they treat of ritual subjects, that binding signified, and was commonly understood by the Jews at that time to be, a declaration that any thing was unlawful to be done; and loosing signified, on the contrary, a declaration that any thing may be lawfully done. Our Savior spoke to his disciples in a language which they understood, so that they were not in the least at a loss to comprehend his meaning; and its being obsolete to us is no manner of reason why we should conclude that it was obscure to them.

“The phrases to bind and to loose were Jewish, and most frequent in their writers. It belonged only to the teachers among the Jews to bind and to loose. When the Jews set any apart to be a preacher, they used these words, ‘Take thou liberty to teach what is Bound and what is Loose.’” Strype’s preface to the Posthumous Remains of Dr. Lightfoot, p. 38.”

Adam Clarke commentary on Matthew 16:19

“That binding and loosing were terms in frequent use among the Jews, and that they meant bidding and forbidding, granting and refusing, declaring lawful or unlawful, etc., Dr. Lightfoot, after having given numerous instances, thus concludes: –
“To these may be added, if need were, the frequent (shall I say?) or infinite use of the phrases, אסור ומותר bound and loosed, which we meet with thousands of times over. But from these allegations the reader sees, abundantly enough, both the frequency and the common use of this phrase, and the sense of it also; namely, first, that it is used in doctrine, and in judgments, concerning things allowed or not allowed in the law. Secondly, that to bind is the same with, to forbid, or to declare forbidden. To think that Christ, when he used the common phrase, was not understood by his hearers in the common and vulgar sense, shall I call it a matter of laughter, or of madness?
To this, therefore, do these words amount: When the time was come wherein the Mosaic law, as to some part of it, was to be abolished, and left off, and, as to another part of it, was to be continued and to last for ever, he granted Peter here, and to the rest of the apostles, Mat_18:18, a power to abolish or confirm what they thought good, and as they thought good; being taught this, and led by the Holy Spirit: as if he should say, Whatsoever ye shall bind in the law of Moses, that is, forbid, it shall be forbidden, the Divine authority confirming it; and whatsoever ye shall loose, that is, permit, or shall teach that it is permitted and lawful, shall be lawful and permitted. Hence they bound, that is forbade, circumcision to the believers; eating of things offered to idols, of things strangled, and of blood, for a time, to the Gentiles; and that which they bound on earth was confirmed in heaven. They loosed, that is, allowed purification to Paul, and to four other brethren, for the shunning of scandal; Act_21:24 and, in a word, by these words of Christ it was committed to them, the Holy Spirit directing, that they should make decrees concerning religion, as to the use or rejection of Mosaic rites and judgments, and that either for a time, or for ever.
“Let the words be applied by way of paraphrase to the matter that was transacted at present with Peter: ‘I am about to build a Gentile Church,’ saith Christ, and to thee, O Peter, do I give the keys of the kingdom of heaven, that thou mayest first open the door of faith to them; but if thou askest by what rule that Church is to be governed, when the Mosaic rule may seem so improper for it, thou shalt be so guided by the Holy Spirit, that whatsoever of the law of Moses thou shalt forbid them shall be forbidden; whatsoever thou grantest them shall be granted; and that under a sanction made in heaven.’ Hence, in that instant, when he should use his keys, that is, when he was now ready to open the gate of the Gospel to the Gentiles, Acts 10, he was taught from heaven that the consorting of the Jew with the Gentile, which before had been bound, was now loosed; and the eating of any creature convenient for food was now loosed, which before had been bound; and he in like manner looses both these.
“Those words of our Savior, Joh_20:23, Whose sins ye remit, they are remitted to them, for the most part are forced to the same sense with these before us, when they carry quite another sense. Here the business is of doctrine only, not of persons; there of persons, not of doctrine. Here of things lawful or unlawful in religion, to be determined by the apostles; there of persons obstinate or not obstinate, to be punished by them, or not to be punished.
“As to doctrine, the apostles were doubly instructed. 1. So long sitting at the feet of their Master, they had imbibed the evangelical doctrine.
“2. The Holy Spirit directing them, they were to determine concerning the legal doctrine and practice, being completely instructed and enabled in both by the Holy Spirit descending upon them. As to the persons, they were endowed with a peculiar gift, so that, the same Spirit directing them, if they would retain and punish the sins of any, a power was delivered into their hands of delivering to Satan, of punishing with diseases, plagues, yea, death itself, which Peter did to Ananias and Sapphira; Paul to Elymas, Hymeneus, and Philetus, etc.”
After all these evidences and proofs of the proper use of these terms, to attempt to press the word, into the service long assigned them by the Church of Rome, would, to use the words of Dr. Lightfoot, be “a matter of laughter or of madness.” No Church can use them in the sense thus imposed upon them, which was done merely to serve secular ends; and least of all can that very Church that thus abuses them.”

Lightfoot commentary on Matthew 18:18

“This power was built upon that noble and most self-sufficient foundation,  Joh_16:13;  “The Spirit of truth shall lead you into all truth.”  There lies an emphasis in those words,  “into all truth.”  I deny that any one,  any where,  at any time,  was led,  or to be led,  into all truth,  from the ascension of Christ,  unto the world’s end,  beside the apostles.  Every holy man,  certainly,  is led into all truth necessary to him for salvation:  but the apostles were led into all truth necessary both for themselves and the whole church;  because they were to deliver a rule of faith and manners to the whole church throughout all ages.  Hence,  whatsoever they should confirm in the law was to be confirmed;  whatsoever they should abolish was to be abolished:  since they were endowed,  as to all things,  with a spirit of infallibility,  guiding them by the hand into all truth.”

The Apostles understood that they were given authority to make commandments.

2Th 2:15  Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.

2Th 3:6  Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.

1Th 4:1  Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more.
1Th 4:2  For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus.

1Co 11:2  Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.

To reject the word of the apostles is to reject the word of Christ and God (Luke 10:16; 1 Corinthians 14:37; 1 Thessalonians 4:1, 2, 8). The “apostles’ doctrine” is “the doctrine of the Lord” (Acts 2:42; 13:12).

Thus, if we find the early Church writings referencing the doctrine of the Apostles and these things agreeing with the writings of the New Testament we are not to reject them.

“Again we write, again keeping to the apostolic traditions, we remind each other when we come together for prayer; and keeping the feast in common, with one mouth we truly give thanks to the Lord. Thus giving thanks unto him, and being followers of the saints, ‘we shall make our praise in the Lord all the day,’ as the psalmist says. So, when we rightly keep the feast, we shall be counted worthy of that joy which is in heaven” {Festal Letters 2:7 [A.D. 330] – Athanasius}.

“But you are blessed, who by faith are in the Church, dwell upon the foundations of the faith, and have full satisfaction, even the highest degree of faith which remains among you unshaken. For it has come down to you from apostolic tradition, and frequently accursed envy has wished to unsettle it, but has not been able”  {Festal Letters 2:29 [A.D. 330] – Athanasius}

The Festal Letters are also called the “Easter letters” which were a series of letters sent by the Bishops of Alexandria which conformed to the decisions of the First Council of Nicaea.

If we see Easter and Christmas chronicled by the early Church fathers as being traditions handed down by the Apostles then we are not to reject them.

“At that time [A.D. 150] there flourished in the Church Hegesippus, whom we know from what has gone before, and Dionysius, bishop of Corinth, and another bishop, Pinytus of Crete, and besides these, Philip, and Apollinarius, and Melito, and Musanus, and Modestus, and, finally, Irenaeus. From them has come down to us in writing, the sound and orthodox faith received from tradition.” {Eusebius – Church History 4:21}

“As I said before, the Church, having received this preaching and this faith, although she is disseminated throughout the whole world, yet guarded it, as if she occupied but one house. She likewise believes these things just as if she had but one soul and one and the same heart; and harmoniously she proclaims them and teaches them and hands them down, as if she possessed but one mouth. For, while the languages of the world are diverse, nevertheless, the authority of the tradition is one and the same.” {Irenaeus – Against Heresies 1:10:2 [A.D. 189]}

“It is possible, then, for everyone in every Church, who may wish to know the truth, to contemplate the tradition of the Apostles which has been made known throughout the whole world. And we are in a position to enumerate those who were instituted bishops by the Apostles, and their successors to our own times: men who neither knew nor taught anything like these heretics rave about. For if the Apostles had known hidden mysteries which they taught to the elite secretly and apart from the rest, they would have handed them down especially to those very ones to whom they were committing the self-same Churches. For surely they wished all those and their successors to be perfect and without reproach, to whom they handed on their authority.” {Irenaeus – Against Heresies 3:3:1}

“Well, they preserving the tradition of the blessed doctrine derived directly from the holy apostles, Peter, James, John, and Paul, the sons receiving it from the father (but few were like the fathers), came by God’s will to us also to deposit those ancestral and apostolic seeds. And well I know that they will exult; I do not mean delighted with this tribute, but solely on account of the preservation of the truth, according as they delivered it. For such a sketch as this, will, I think, be agreeable to a soul desirous of preserving from loss the blessed tradition.” {Clement of Alexandria – Miscellanies 1:1 [A.D. 208]}

“Although there are many who believe that they themselves hold to the teachings of Christ, there are yet some among them who think differently from their predecessors. The teaching of the Church has indeed been handed down through an order of succession from the apostles and remains in the churches even to the present time. That alone is to be believed as the truth which is in no way at variance with ecclesiastical and apostolic tradition.” {Origen – The Fundamental Doctrines 1:2 [A.D. 225]}

“But the admonition that he [Cyprian] gives us, ‘that we should go back to the fountain, that is, to apostolic tradition, and thence turn the channel of truth to our times,’ is most excellent, and should be followed without hesitation.” {Augustine – On Baptism, Against the Donatists  5:26[37] [A.D. 400]}

“But in regard to those observances which we carefully attend and which the whole world keeps, and which derive not from Scripture but from Tradition, we are given to understand that they are recommended and ordained to be kept, either by the apostles themselves or by plenary [ecumenical] councils, the authority of which is quite vital in the Church.” {Augustine – Letter to Januarius [A.D. 400]}

In regards to Easter & Christmas, Augustine states:

“Those feasts concerning which we have no express scripture, but only traditions, which are now observed all the world over; we ought to know that the keeping of them was commended unto us, and instituted (or commanded) either by the apostles themselves, or general councils, of which there is a most wholesome use in the church of God; such are the feast of our Lord’s Passion, Resurrection and Ascension into heaven, and the coming down of the Holy Ghost, which are now kept holy with a yearly solemnity.” {Augustine Epistle 118}

“It chiefly behooves us that upon the day of our Lord’s nativity, we should receive the sacrament in remembrance of him that was born upon it, and upon the return of the year to celebrate the very day with a feasting devotion.”  {Augustine Epistle 119}

“He was born, according to tradition, upon December the twenty-fifth.” {On the Trinity, 4.5, Post Nicene Fathers 3.74}

“[Paul commands,] ‘Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you have been taught, whether by word or by our letter’ [2 Thess. 2:15]. From this it is clear that they did not hand down everything by letter, but there is much also that was not written. Like that which was written, the unwritten too is worthy of belief. So let us regard the tradition of the Church also as worthy of belief. Is it a tradition? Seek no further.” {John Chrysostom –
Homilies on Second Thessalonians [A.D. 402]}

 

Establishing the Law

romans 3.31

Rom 3:31  Do we then make void the law {καταργέω ‘katargeō’} through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.

Early Christians, who instituted Christmas & Easter for example, believed in “establishing the law.”

But he had withal said above: “Are we, then, making void the law through faith? Far be it; but we are establishing the law.” {Tertullian On Modesty }

“Do not in any way forsake the commandments of the Lord; but keep what you have received, neither adding thereto nor taking away therefrom.”  {Didache – first century writing attributed to the Apostles}

“And He that was the Lawgiver became Himself the fulfilling of the law; not taking away the law of nature, but abrogating those additional laws that were afterwards introduced, although not all of them neither.  For He did not take away the law of nature, but confirmed it. For He that said in the law, “The Lord thy God is one Lord;” the same says in the Gospel, “That they might know Thee, the only true God.” And He that said, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself,” says in the Gospel, renewing the same precept, “A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another.”

He who then forbade murder, does now forbid causeless anger. He that forbade adultery, does now forbid all unlawful lust. He that forbade stealing, now pronounces him most happy who supplies those that are in want out of his own labours. He that forbade hatred, now pronounces him blessed that loves his enemies. He that forbade revenge, now commands long-suffering; not as if just revenge were an unrighteous thing, but because long-suffering is more excellent. Nor did He make laws to root out our natural passions, but only to forbid the excess of them.  He who had commanded to honour our parents, was Himself subject to them.

He who had commanded to keep the Sabbath, by resting thereon for the sake of meditating on the laws, has now commanded us to consider of the law of creation, and of providence every day, and to return thanks to God. He abrogated circumcision when He had Himself fulfilled it. For He it was “to whom the inheritance was reserved, who was the expectation of the nations.” He who made a law for swearing rightly, and forbade perjury, has now charged us not to swear at all. He has in several ways changed baptism, sacrifice, the priesthood, and the divine service, which was confined to one place: for instead of daily baptisms, He has given only one, which is that into His death.

Instead of one tribe, He has appointed that out of every nation the best should be ordained for the priesthood; and that not their bodies should be examined for blemishes, but their religion and their lives. Instead of a bloody sacrifice, He has appointed that reasonable and unbloody mystical one of His body and blood, which is performed to represent the death of the Lord by symbols. Instead of the divine service confined to one place, He has commanded and appointed that He should be glorified from sunrising to sunsetting in every place of His dominion.

He did not therefore take away the law from us, but the bonds. For concerning the law Moses says: “Thou shalt meditate on the word which I command thee, sitting in thine house, and rising up, and walking in the way.” And David says: “His delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law will he meditate day and night.” For everywhere would he have us subject to His laws, but not transgressors of them. For says He: “Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord. Blessed are they that search out His testimonies; with their whole heart shall they seek Him.”

And again: “Blessed are we, O Israel, because those things that are pleasing to God are known to us.” And the Lord says: “If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.”

Let us therefore follow Christ, that we may inherit His blessings. Let us walk after the law and the prophets by the Gospel. Let us eschew the worshippers of many gods, and the murderers of Christ, and the murderers of the prophets, and the wicked and atheistical heretics. Let us be obedient to Christ as to our King, as having authority to change several constitutions, and having, as a legislator, wisdom to make new constitutions in different circumstances; yet so that everywhere the laws of nature be immutably preserved.”   {Apostolic Constitutions}

“Seeing then that the days are evil, and that the Active One himself has the authority, we ought to give heed to ourselves and to seek out the ordinances of the Lord.

For He hath made manifest to us by all the prophets that He wanteth neither sacrifices nor whole burnt offerings nor oblations, saying at one time; What to Me is the multitude of your sacrifices, saith the Lord I am full of whole burnt-offerings, and the fat of lambs and the blood of bulls and of goats desire not, not though ye should come to be seen of Me. or who required these things at your hands? Ye shall continue no more to tread My court. If ye bring fine flour, it is in vain; incense is an abomination to Me; your new moons and your Sabbaths I cannot away with.

It behooves us therefore to investigate deeply concerning the
present, and to search out the things which have power to save us.
Let us therefore flee altogether from all the works of lawlessness,
lest the works of lawlessness overpower us; and let us loathe the
error of the present time, that we may be loved for that which is to
come.

Ye ought therefore to understand. Moreover I ask you this one thing besides, as being one of yourselves and loving you all in particular more than my own soul, to give heed to yourselves now, and not to liken yourselves to certain persons who pile up sin upon sin, saying that our covenant remains to them also.

Ours it is; but they lost it in this way for ever, when Moses had
just received it. For the scripture saith; And Moses was in the
mountain fasting forty days and forty nights, and he received the
covenant from the Lord, even tablets of stone written with the
finger of the hand of the Lord.

But they lost it by turning unto idols. For thus saith the Lord;
Moses, Moses, come down quickly; for thy people whom thou
broughtest out of the land of Egypt hath done unlawfully. And
Moses understood, and threw the two tables from his hands; and their covenant was broken in pieces, that the covenant of the beloved Jesus might be sealed unto our hearts in the hope which springeth from faith in Him.”

“Let us become spiritual, let us become a temple perfect unto God. As far as in us lies, let us exercise ourselves in the fear of God, [and] let us strive to keep His commandments, that we may rejoice in His ordinances.”

“Thou shalt love Him that made thee, thou shalt fear Him that created thee, thou shalt glorify Him that redeemed thee from death; thou shalt be simple in heart and rich in spirit; thou shalt not cleave to those who walk the way of death; thou shalt hate everything that is not pleasing to God; thou shalt hate all hypocrisy; thou shalt never forsake the commandments of the Lord.”  {Epistle of Barnabas}

 

“You never grudged any act of kindness, being “ready to every good work.” Adorned by a thoroughly virtuous and religious life, you did all things in the fear of God. The commandments and ordinances of the Lord were written upon the tablets of your hearts.”

“For this reason righteousness and peace are now far departed from you, inasmuch as every one abandons the fear of God, and is become blind in His faith, neither walks in the laws of His commandments.”

“Let him that has love in Christ fulfill the commandments of Christ.”

“Blessed are we, dearly beloved, if we should be doing the commandments of God in concord of love, to the end that our sins may through love be forgiven us.”  {Clement of Rome Epistle to the Corinthians (A.D. 96)}

“And we ought not rather to fear men but God. For this cause, if you do these things, the Lord said, Though you be gathered together with Me in My bosom, and do not My commandments, I will cast you away and will say unto you, Depart from Me, I know you not whence you are, you workers of iniquity.” {Second Clement (A.D. 100)}

“Sir, these commandments are great and beautiful and glorious, and are able to gladden the heart of the man who is able to observe them. But I know not whether these commandments can be kept by a man, for they are very hard.” He answered and said unto me; “If you set it before yourself that they can be kept, you will easily keep them, and they will not be hard; but if it once enter into your heart that they cannot be kept by a man, you will not keep them. But now I say unto you; if you keep them not, but neglect them you shall not have salvation, neither your children nor your household, since you have already pronounced judgment against yourself that these commandments cannot be kept by a man.” {Shepherd of Hermas (A.D. 150) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.2 pg.29}

“If then,” [he said,] “man is lord of all the creatures of God and masters all things, cannot he also master these commandments?” “Aye” said he, “The man that has the Lord in his heart can master [all things and] all these commandments.” {Shepherd of Hermas (A.D. 150) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.2 pg. 29}

“Man, Sir,” I say, “is eager to keep the commandments of God, and there is no one that asks not of the Lord that he may be strengthened in His commandments, and be subject to them; but the devil is hard and overmasters them.” “He cannot,” said he, “overmaster the servants of God, who set their hope on Him with their whole heart. The devil can wrestle with them, but he cannot overthrow them. If then you resist him, he will be vanquished and will flee from you disgraced.” {Shepherd of Hermas (A.D. 150) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.2 pg. 29}

“And I hope, Sir, that I am now able to keep these commandments which you have commanded, the Lord enabling me.” “You shall keep them,” said he, “if your heart be found pure with the Lord; yea, and all shall keep them, as many as shall purify their hearts from the vain desires of this world, and shall live unto God.” {Shepherd of Hermas (A.D. 150) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.2 pg. 30}

The teaching of the Lord, with whom not only is the adulterer rejected, but also the man who desires to commit adultery; and not only is the actual murderer held guilty of having killed another to his own damnation, but the man also who is angry with his brother without a cause: who commanded [His disciples] not only not to hate men, but also to love their enemies; and commanded them not only not to swear falsely, but not even to swear at all; and not only not to speak evil of their neighbors, but not even to style any one “Raca” and “fool;” [declaring] that otherwise they were in danger of hell-fire; and not only not to strike, but even, when themselves struck, to present the other cheek [to those that maltreated them]; and not only not to refuse to give up the property of others, but even if their own were taken away, not to demand it back again from those that took it; and not only not to injure their neighbors, nor to do them any evil, but also, when themselves wickedly dealt with, to be long-suffering, and to show kindness towards those [that injured them], and to pray for them, that by means of repentance they might be saved.” {Irenaeus (A.D. 180) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.1 pg. 408}

“As in the law, therefore, and in the Gospel [likewise], the first and greatest commandment is, to love the Lord God with the whole heart, and then there follows a commandment like to it, to love one’s neighbor as one’s self; the author of the law and the Gospel is shown to be one and the same. For the precepts of an absolutely perfect life, since they are the same in each Testament, have pointed out [to us] the same God, who certainly has promulgated particular laws adapted for each; but the more prominent and the greatest [commandments], without which salvation cannot [be attained], He has exhorted [us to observe] the same in both.” {Irenaeus (A.D. 180) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.1 pg. 476}

“Why call you me Lord, Lord,” He says, “and do not the things which I say?” For “the people that love with their lips, but have their heart far away from the Lord,” is another people, and trust in another, and have willingly sold themselves to another; but those who perform the commandments of the Lord, in every action “testify,” by doing what He wishes, and consistently naming the Lord’s name; and “testifying” by deed to Him in whom they trust, that they are those “who have crucified the flesh, with the affections and lusts.” “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” {Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 195) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.2 pg.417}

“The kingdom of God,” He says, “comes not with observation; neither do they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” Now, who will not interpret the words “within you” to mean in your hand, within your power, if you hear, and do the commandment of God?” {Tertullian (A.D. 198) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.3 pg. 409}

“But how can we possess immortality, unless we keep those commands of Christ whereby death is driven out and overcome, when He Himself warns us, and says, “If you will enter into life, keep the commandments”? And again: “If you do the things that I command you, henceforth I call you not servants, but friends.” Finally, these persons He calls strong and steadfast; these He declares to be founded in robust security upon the rock, established with immovable and unshaken firmness, in opposition to all the tempests and hurricanes of the world. “Whosoever,” says He, “hears my words, and does them, I will liken him unto a wise man, that built his house upon a rock: the rain descended, the floods came, the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.”

We ought therefore to stand fast on His words, to learn and do whatever He both taught and did. But how can a man say that he believes in Christ, who does not do what Christ commanded him to do? Or whence shall he attain to the reward of faith, who will not keep the faith of the commandment? He must of necessity waver and wander, and, caught away by a spirit of error, like dust which is shaken by the wind, be blown about; and he will make no advance in his walk towards salvation, because he does not keep the truth of the way of salvation.” {Cyprian (A.D. 250) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.5 pg. 421}

“…As I have learned also from the memoirs. For He exhorted His disciples to surpass the pharisaic way of living, with the warning, that if they did not, they might be sure they could not be saved; and these words are recorded in the memoirs: ‘Unless your righteousness exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.’” {Justin Martyr (A.D. 160) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.1 pg.252}

“For the tradition of the elders themselves, which they pretended to observe from the law, was contrary to the law given by Moses. Wherefore also Isaiah declares: “Your dealers mix the wine with water,” showing that the elders were in the habit of mingling a watered tradition with the simple command of God; that is, they set up a spurious law, and one contrary to the [true] law; as also the Lord made plain, when He said to them, “Why do you transgress the commandment of God, for the sake of your tradition?”

For not only by actual transgression did they set the law of God at naught, mingling the wine with water; but they also set up their own law in opposition to it, which is termed, even to the present day, the pharisaical. In this [law] they suppress certain things, add others, and interpret others, again, as they think proper, which their teachers use, each one in particular; and desiring to uphold these traditions, they were unwilling to be subject to the law of God, which prepares them for the coming of Christ.” {Irenaeus (A.D. 180) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.1 pg. 475}

“This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me: howbeit in vain do they worship Me, teaching the doctrines and the commandments of men.” He does not call the law given by Moses commandments of men, but the traditions of the elders themselves which they had invented, and in upholding which they made the law of God of none effect, and were on this account also not subject to His Word. For this is what Paul says concerning these men: “For they, being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God.” {Irenaeus (A.D. 180) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.1 pg. 476}

“As He does Himself declare: “Unless your righteousness shall exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” For what meant “exceed” (that of the scribes and Pharisees) referred to? In the first place, [we must] believe not only in the Father, but also in His Son now revealed; for He it is who leads man into fellowship and unity with God. In the next place, [we must] not only say, but we must do; for they said, but did not. And [we must] not only abstain from evil deeds, but even from the desires after them. Now He did not teach us these things as being opposed to the law, but as fulfilling the law, and implanting in us the varied righteousness of the law.” {Irenaeus (A.D. 180) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.1 pg.477}

“And for this reason did the Lord, instead of that [commandment], “You shall not commit adultery,” forbid even concupiscence; and instead of that which runs thus, “You shall not kill,” He prohibited anger; and instead of the law commanding the giving of tithes, [He told us] to share all our possessions with the poor; and not to love our neighbors only, but even our enemies; and not merely to be liberal givers and bestowers, but even that we should present a gratuitous gift to those who take away our goods. For “to him that takes away your coat,” He says, “give to him your cloak also; and from him that takes away your goods, ask them not again; and as you would that men should do unto you, do you unto them:” so that we may not grieve as those who are unwilling to be defrauded, but may rejoice as those who have given willingly, and as rather conferring a favor upon our neighbors than yielding to necessity.

“And if any one,” He says, “shall compel you [to go] a mile, go with him twain;” so that you may not follow him as a slave, but may as a free man go before him, showing yourself in all things kindly disposed and useful to your neighbor, not regarding their evil intentions, but performing your kind offices, assimilating yourself to the Father, “who makes His sun to rise upon the evil and the good, and sends rain upon the just and unjust.” Now all these [precepts], as I have already observed, were not the injunctions of one doing away with the law, but of one fulfilling, extending, and widening it among us.” {Irenaeus (A.D. 180) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.1 pg. 477}

“Why, then, did the Lord not form the covenant for the fathers? Because “the law was not established for righteous men.” But the righteous fathers had the meaning of the Decalogue written in their hearts and souls, that is, they loved the God who made them, and did no injury to their neighbor.” {Irenaeus (A.D. 180) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.1 pg.481}

“But if some, through weak-mindedness, wish to observe such institutions as were given by Moses, from which they expect some virtue, but which we believe were appointed by reason of the hardness of the people’s hearts, along with their hope in this Christ, and [wish to perform] the eternal and natural acts of righteousness and piety, yet choose to live with the Christians and the faithful, as I said before, not inducing them either to be circumcised like themselves, or to keep the Sabbath, or to observe any other such ceremonies, then I hold that we ought to join ourselves to such, and associate with them in all things as kinsmen and brethren. But if, Trypho,” I continued, “some of your race (the Jews), who say they believe in this Christ, compel those Gentiles who believe in this Christ to live in all respects according to the law given by Moses, or choose not to associate so intimately with them, I in like manner do not approve of them.”

“And Trypho again inquired, “But if some one, knowing that this is so, after he recognizes that this man is Christ, and has believed in and obeys Him, wishes, however, to observe these [institutions], will he be saved?” I said, “In my opinion, Trypho, such an one will be saved, if he does not strive in every way to persuade other men – I mean those Gentiles who have been circumcised from error by Christ, to observe the same things as himself, telling them that they will not be saved unless they do so. This you did yourself at the commencement of the discourse, when you declared that I would not be saved unless I observe these institutions.” {Justin Martyr (A.D. 160) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.1 pg.218}

 

“There will be no other God, O Trypho, nor was there from eternity any other existing” (I thus addressed him), “but He who made and disposed all this universe. Nor do we think that there is one God for us, another for you, but that He alone is God who led your fathers out from Egypt with a strong hand and a high arm. Nor have we trusted in any other (for there is no other), but in Him in whom you also have trusted, the God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob. But we do not trust through Moses or through the law; for then we would do the same as yourselves. But now–(for I have read that there shall be a final law, and a covenant, the chiefest of all, which it is now incumbent on all men to observe, as many as are seeking after the inheritance of God.

For the law promulgated on Horeb is now old, and belongs to yourselves alone; but this is for all universally. Now, law placed against law has abrogated that which is before it, and a covenant which comes after in like manner has put an end to the previous one; and an eternal and final law–namely, Christ–has been given to us, and the covenant is trustworthy, after which there shall be no law, no commandment, no ordinance. Have you not read this which Isaiah says: ‘Hearken unto Me, hearken unto Me, my people; and, ye kings, give ear unto Me: for a law shall go forth from Me, and My judgment shah be for a light to the nations. My righteousness approaches swiftly, and My salvation shall go forth, and nations shall trust in Mine arm?’

And by Jeremiah, concerning this same new covenant, He thus speaks: ‘Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah; not according to the covenant which I made with their fathers, in the day that I took them by the hand, to bring them out of the land of Egypt’). If, therefore, God proclaimed a new covenant which was to be instituted, and this for a light of the nations, we see and are persuaded that men approach God, leaving their idols and other unrighteousness, through the name of Him who was crucified, Jesus Christ, and abide by their confession even unto death, and maintain piety.

Moreover, by the works and by the attendant miracles, it is possible for all to understand that He is the new law, and the new covenant, and the expectation of those who out of every people wait for the good things of God. For the true spiritual Israel, and descendants of Judah, Jacob, Isaac, and Abraham (who in uncircumcision was approved of and blessed by God on account of his faith, and called the father of many nations), are we who have been led to God through this crucified Christ, as shall be demonstrated while we proceed.

I also adduced another passage in which Isaiah exclaims: “‘Hear My words, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David. Behold, I have given Him for a witness to the people: nations which know not Thee shall call on Thee; peoples who know not Thee shall escape to Thee, because of thy God, the Holy One of Israel; for He has glorified Thee.’ This same law you have despised, and His new holy covenant you have slighted; and now you neither receive it, nor repent of your evil deeds. ‘For your ears are closed, your eyes are blinded, and the heart is hardened,’ Jeremiah has cried; yet not even then do you listen.

The Lawgiver is present, yet you do not see Him; to the poor the Gospel is preached, the blind see, yet you do not understand. You have now need of a second circumcision, though you glory greatly in the flesh. The new law requires you to keep perpetual sabbath, and you, because you are idle for one day, suppose you are pious, not discerning why this has been commanded you: and if you eat unleavened bread, you say the will of God has been fulfilled.

The Lord our God does not take pleasure in such observances: if there is any perjured person or a thief among you, let him cease to be so; if any adulterer, let him repent; then he has kept the sweet and true sabbaths of God. If any one has impure hands, let him wash and be pure.

I also adduced another passage in which Isaiah exclaims: “‘Hear My words, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David. Behold, I have given Him for a witness to the people: nations which know not Thee shall call on Thee; peoples who know not Thee shall escape to Thee, because of thy God, the Holy One of Israel; for He has glorified Thee.’

This same law you have despised, and His new holy covenant you have slighted; and now you neither receive it, nor repent of your evil deeds. ‘For your ears are closed, your eyes are blinded, and the heart is hardened,’ Jeremiah has cried; yet not even then do you listen. The Lawgiver is present, yet you do not see Him; to the poor the Gospel is preached, the blind see, yet you do not understand. You have now need of a second circumcision, though you glory greatly in the flesh.

The new law requires you to keep perpetual sabbath, and you, because you are idle for one day, suppose you are pious, not discerning why this has been commanded you: and if you eat unleavened bread, you say the will of God has been fulfilled. The Lord our God does not take pleasure in such observances: if there is any perjured person or a thief among you, let him cease to be so; if any adulterer, let him repent; then he has kept the sweet and true sabbaths of God. If any one has impure hands, let him wash and be pure.

“By reason, therefore, of this laver of repentance and knowledge of God, which has been ordained on account of the transgression of God’s people, as Isaiah cries, we have believed, and testify that that very baptism which he announced is alone able to purify those who have repented; and this is the water of life. But the cisterns which you have dug for yourselves are broken and profitless to you. For what is the use of that baptism which cleanses the flesh and body alone? Baptize the soul from wrath and from covetousness, from envy, and from hatred; and, lo! the body is pure.

For this is the symbolic significance of unleavened bread, that you do not commit the old deeds of wicked leaven. But you have understood all things in a carnal sense, and you suppose it to be piety if you do such things, while your souls are filled with deceit, and, in short, with every wickedness. Accordingly, also, after the seven days of eating unleavened bread, God commanded them to mingle new leaven, that is, the performance of other works, and not the imitation of the old and evil works.

And because this is what this new Lawgiver demands of you, I shall again refer to the words which have been quoted by me, and to others also which have been passed over. They are related by Isaiah to the following effect: ‘Hearken to me, and your soul shall live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, even the sure mercies of David. Behold, I have given Him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the nations. Nations which know not Thee shall call on Thee; and peoples who know not Thee shall escape unto Thee, because of Thy God, the Holy One of Israel, for He has glorified Thee. Seek ye God; and when you find Him, call on Him, so long as He may be nigh you.

Let the wicked forsake his ways, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return unto the Lord, and he will obtain mercy, because He will abundantly pardon your sins. For my thoughts are not as your thoughts, neither are my ways as your ways; but as far removed as the heavens are from the earth, so far is my way removed from your way, and your thoughts from my thoughts. For as the snow or the rain descends from heaven, and shall not return till it waters the earth, and makes it bring forth and bud, and gives seed to the sower and bread for food, so shall My word be that goeth forth out of My mouth: it shall not return until it shall have accomplished all that I desired, and I shall make My commandments prosperous. For ye shall go out with joy, and be taught with gladness. For the mountains and the hills shall leap while they expect you, and all the trees of the fields shall applaud with their branches: and instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle.

And the Lord shall be for a name, and for an everlasting sign, and He shall not fail!’ Of these and such like words written by the prophets, O Trypho,” said I, “some have reference to the first advent of Christ, in which He is preached as inglorious, obscure, and of mortal appearance: but others had reference to His second advent, when He shall appear in glory and above the clouds; and your nation shall see and know Him whom they have pierced, as Hosea, one of the twelve prophets, and Daniel, foretold.”   {Justin Martyr Dialogue with Trypho XI  Chapter 11, 12, 14}

“And for this reason, indeed, when at this present time the law is read to the Jews, it is like a fable; for they do not possess the explanation of all things pertaining to the advent of the Son of God, which took place in human nature; but when it is read by the Christians, it is a treasure, hid indeed in a field, but brought to light by the cross of Christ, and explained, both enriching the understanding of men, and showing forth the wisdom of God.” {Irenaeus (A.D. 180) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.1 pg. 496}

Fulfillment of the Law

fulfill law

Rom 10:4  For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.

The law was designed to lead us to Christ (Hebrews 10:1), revealing our sins (Romans 7:7; 3:19) and condemning us (Romans 7:5-23; 1 Corinthians 15:56) that we might turn to Him by faith and receive His gift of grace unto salvation (Romans 5:20; 7:24-25; 1 Corinthians 15:57).  Through faith in Him, we receive His Spirit (Galatians 3:5, 14) to work through us (Philippians 2:13; Ephesians 3:20; Hebrews 13:21) and guide us (John 16:13; 14:26; 1 Corinthians 2:10-13) that we might walk by the Spirit of the law unto life, becoming His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21; Philippians 3:9).  If we walk in the letter of the law by our own power (works of the law) we will die (Galatians 3:10; 2:16).

The law was a schoolmaster to lead us to Christ that we might attain justification through faith (Galatians 3:24).  After faith is come, we are no longer under the schoolmaster (Galatians 3:25).  We are not under the law, we are under grace (Romans 6:14).  Whatsoever things the law says, it says to those who are under the law (Romans 3:19) that the world might become guilty before God (Romans 3:19), realizing our bondage to the elements of the world (Galatians 4:3) and our need for redemption through Jesus (Galatians 4:5) and to be led by the Spirit (Galatians 5:18).

We can only be pleasing to Him, and hear Him say ‘well done good and faithful servant,’ (Matthew 25:21-23) if Christ is living through us, the hope of Glory (Psalm 147:11; 33:18; 1 Peter 1:1, 13; Jude 1:21).  Messiah always did the will of the Father, the things which were pleasing to Him (Luke 3:22; Matthew 12:18; 17:5; John 5:30; 8:29; Psalm 40:7-8).  We are to submit our lives to Him (Romans 6:13) that He might live through us (John 17:21-23), just as the Father lived through Him (John 14:10; 15:1-10; 2 Corinthians 5:19).

If Christ in us is the only way we can please Him, where is the boasting (Romans 3:27)?  Where is the uplifting of self over another?  If we are boasting because of our works, we are making Messiah of none effect and are bringing ourselves into condemnation (Galatians 3:10).  He alone is to be exalted (Isaiah 2:11, 17), we are to bend the knee in the same manner as everyone else (sinner and saint alike) (Isaiah 45:23; Romans 14:11; Philippians 2:10).  Our knowledge of doctrine and the performance thereof, if gained and performed properly, comes from Him, not by our own strength/righteousness/worthiness (Philippians 2:5-13).

Our only boasting should be that we know Him (Jeremiah 9:23; 1 Corinthians 1:31), yet even that only comes through His grace (Galatians 1:15; John 6:37-44), not our worthiness (Romans 3:23).   We are only made worthy through His work (Colossians 1:22; John 17:19; Acts 26:18), and God working in us to present us blameless and sanctified in His sight (Philippians 2:13; Jude 1:24; Ephesians 5:26-27; Philippians 1:6; 1 Thessalonians 5:23).

The letter of the law kills us that we might come to Messiah Jesus (the Word made flesh) to receive life.
2Co 3:6  Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.

Joh 6:63  It is the Spirit that gives life. The flesh does not profit, nothing! The Words which I speak to you are spirit and are life.

Rom 8:2  For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

Rom 10:4  For Christ is the end {τέλος ‘telos’} of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.

1Ti 1:5  Now the end {τέλος ‘telos’} of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:
Mat 5:48  Be ye therefore perfect {τέλειος ‘teleios’}, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect {τέλειος ‘teleios’}.

Heb 7:19  For the law made nothing perfect {τελειόω ‘teleioō’}, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.
Heb 7:11  If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?

Heb 9:9  Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience;

Act 13:39  And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.

Rom 3:20  Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
Rom 3:21  But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;

Rom 8:3  For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:

Gal 2:16  Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

Mat 5:18  For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

Here Jesus is saying that the law will pass away when all is fulfilled
Gal 3:19  Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.

Rom 8:3  For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
Rom 8:4  That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

Jesus said that all things have been fulfilled
Joh 19:28  After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished {τελέω ‘teleō’ – fulfilled}, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst.
Joh 19:29  Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth.
Joh 19:30  When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.
Eph 2:15  Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;
Eph 2:16  And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:
Eph 2:17  And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.
Eph 2:18  For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
Eph 2:19  Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
Eph 2:20  And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
Eph 2:21  In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
Eph 2:22  In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

Col 1:20  And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.

 

Rom 10:4  For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.

“For by His advent He Himself fulfilled all things, and does still fulfil in the Church the new covenant foretold by the law, onwards to the consummation [of all things]. To this effect also Paul, His apostle, says in the Epistle to the Romans…” {Irenaeus Against Heresies Book IV}

“He came not to destroy the law and the prophets, but rather to fulfil them…”Thus Christ did not at all rescind the Sabbath: He kept the law thereof, and both in the former case did a work which was beneficial to the life of His disciples, for He indulged them with the relief of food when they were hungry, and in the present instance cured the withered hand; in each case intimating by facts, “I came not to destroy, the law, but to fulfil it,”…This verity of the gospel then stands unimpaired: “I am not come to destroy the law and the prophets, but rather to fulfil them.” {Tertullian Against Marcion Book IV}

“After that, the Lord, “amplifying the Law,” openly adds the prohibition of anger against a brother to that of murder.” {Tertullian On Prayer}

“Unity, moreover, is everything which is once for all. But for Christ was reserved, as in all other points so in this also, the “fulfilling of the law.” {Tertullian On Exhortation to Chastity }

“After the ancient examples of the patriarchs, let us equally pass on to the ancient documents of the legal Scriptures, that we may treat in order of all our canon. And since there are some who sometimes assert that they have nothing to do with the law (which Christ has not dissolved, but fulfilled), sometimes catch at such parts of the law as they choose; plainly do we too assert that the law has deceased in this sense, that its burdens–according to the sentence of the apostles–which not even the fathers were able to sustain, have wholly ceased: such (parts), however. as relate to righteousness not only permanently remain reserved, but even amplified; in order, to be sure, that our righteousness may be able to redound above the righteousness of the scribes and of the Pharisees….Turning now to the law, which is properly ours–that is, to the Gospel.”  {Tertullian On Monogamy}

“And “that the land was fat;” that is, the flesh of our Lord: “fat,” that is, “rich;” for it flows with honey and milk. The parts of the land are marked off for an inheritance and possession to him–that means the doctrine of the Lord. For this is a pleasant rest, as He says Himself: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden,” etc. For they who keep the commandments, and do not disclaim the ordinances of the law, enjoy rest both in them and in the doctrine of our Lord; and that is the meaning of “in the midst of the lots.” As the Lord says, “I am not come to destroy the law and the prophets, but to fulfil them.” For even our Lord, in the fact that He keeps the commandments, does not destroy the law and the prophets, but fulfils them, as He says in the Gospels. “He set his shoulder to toil, and became a husbandman.” This the apostles did. Having received power from God, and having set themselves to labour, they became husbandmen of the Lord, cultivating the earth–that is, the human race–with the preaching of our Lord.”
{Hippolytus Exegetical Fragments}

 

And His sending to the scribes and teachers of the existing Scriptures, as to those who knew the true things of the law that then was, is well known. And also that He said, ‘I am not come to destroy the law,’ and yet that He appeared to be destroying it, is the part of one intimating that the things which He destroyed did not belong to the law. And His saying, ‘The heaven and the earth shall pass away, but one jot or one tittle shall not pass from the law,’ intimated that the things which pass away before the heaven and the earth do not belong to the law in reality.

Since, then, while the heaven and the earth still stand, sacrifices have passed away, and kingdoms, and prophecies among those who are born of woman, and such like, as not being ordinances of God; hence therefore He says, ‘Every plant which the heavenly Father has not planted shall be rooted up.’ Wherefore He, being the true Prophet, said, ‘I am the gate of life; he who enters through me enters into life,’ there being no other teaching able to save. Wherefore also He cried, and said, ‘Come unto me, all who labour,’ that is, who are seeking the truth, and not finding it; and again, ‘My sheep hear my voice;’ and elsewhere, ‘Seek and find,’ since the truth does not lie on the surface.{Clementine Homily III}

The Divine Scriptures Compared to a Net – Origen

“And before our Saviour Jesus Christ this net was not wholly filled; for the net of the law and the prophets had to be completed by Him who says, “Think not that I came to destroy the law and the prophets, I came not to destroy but to fulfil.” And the texture of the net has been completed in the Gospels, and in the words of Christ through the Apostles.  On this account, therefore, “the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net that was cast into the sea and gathered of every kind.”  And, apart from what has been said, the expression, “gathered from every kind,” may show forth the calling of the Gentiles from every race.  And those who attended to the net which was cast into the sea are Jesus Christ, the master of the net, and “the angels who came and ministered unto Him,” who do not draw up the net from the sea, nor carry it to the shore beyond the sea,—namely, to things beyond this life, unless the net be filled full, that is, unless the “fulness of the Gentiles” has come into it.” {Origen Commentary on Matthew Book X}

How Christ Fulfilled and Ended the Old Testament Regime  – John Piper

“The glory of Jesus Christ shines more clearly when we see him in his proper relation to the Old Testament. He has a magnificent relation to all that was written. It is not surprising that this is the case, because he is called the Word of God incarnate (John 1:14). Would not the Word of God incarnate be the sum and consummation of the Word of God written? Consider these summary statements and the texts that support them.

1. All the Scriptures bear witness to Christ. Moses wrote about Christ.

John 5:39, 46: You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me. . . . If you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me.

2. All the Scriptures are about Jesus Christ, even where there is no explicit prediction. That is, there is a fullness of implication in all Scriptures that points to Christ and is satisfied only when he has come and done his work. “The meaning of all the Scriptures is unlocked by the death and resurrection of Jesus.” (Graeme Goldsworthy, Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture, p. 54)

Luke 24:27: And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

3. Jesus came to fulfill all that was written in the Law and the Prophets. All of it was pointing to him even where it is not explicitly prophetic. He accomplishes what the Law required.

Matthew 5:17-18: Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

4. All the promises of God in the Old Testament are fulfilled in Jesus Christ. That is, when you have Christ, sooner or later you will have both Christ himself and all else that God promised through Christ.

2 Corinthians 1:20: For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.

5. The law was kept perfectly by Christ. And all its penalties against God’s sinful people were poured out on Christ. Therefore, the law is now manifestly not the path to righteousness, Christ is. The ultimate goal of the law is that we would look to Christ, not law-keeping, for our righteousness.

Romans 10:4: For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

Therefore with the coming of Christ virtually everything has changed:

The blood sacrifices ceased because Christ fulfilled all that they were pointing toward. He was the final, unrepeatable sacrifice for sins. Hebrews 9:12: “He entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.”

The priesthood that stood between worshipper and God has ceased. Hebrews 7:23-24: “The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever.”

The physical temple has ceased to be the geographic center of worship. Now Christ himself is the center of worship. He is the “place,” the “tent,” and the “temple” where we meet God. Therefore Christianity has not geographic center, no Mecca, no Jerusalem. John 4:21-23: “Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. . . . But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth.’” John 2:19-21: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. . . . He was speaking about the temple of his body.” Matthew 18:20: “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

The food laws that set Israel apart from the nations have been fulfilled and ended in Christ. Mark 7:18-19: “[Jesus] said to them, ‘Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him . . . (Thus he declared all foods clean).’”
The establishment of civil law on the basis of an ethnically rooted people, who are ruled directly by God, has ceased. The people of God are no longer a unified political body or an ethnic group or a nation-state, but are exiles and sojourners among all ethnic groups and all states. Therefore, God’s will for states is not taken directly from the Old Testament theocratic order, but should now be reestablished from place to place and from time to time by means that correspond to God’s sovereign rule over all peoples, and that correspond to the fact that genuine obedience, rooted as it is in faith in Christ, cannot be coerced by law. The state is therefore grounded in God, but not expressive of God’s immediate rule. Romans 13:1, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” John 18:36: “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting.”

Let us worship the wonder of Christ who unleashed these massive changes in the world.”

For more on the understanding of the early Church in regards to Christ fulfilling the law see  Augustine – Contra Faustum, Book XIX
Following are some pertinent excerpts from Augustine.

“If you allow, in consideration of the authority of the Gospel, that Christ said that He came not to destroy the law and the prophets, but to fulfill them, you should show the same consideration to the authority of the apostle, when he says, “All these things were our examples;” and again of Christ, “He was not yea and nay, but in Him was yea; for all the promises of God are in Him yea;” 2 Corinthians 1:19-20 that is, they are set forth and fulfilled in Him. In this way you will see in the clearest light both what law Christ fulfilled, and how He fulfilled it…It is quite plain, and the New Testament leaves no doubt on the matter, what law and what prophets Christ came not to destroy, but to fulfill.

The law given by Moses is that which by Jesus Christ became grace and truth. John 1:17 The law given by Moses is that of which Christ says, “He wrote of me.” John 5:46 For undoubtedly this is the law which entered that the offense might abound; Romans 5:20…Read what is there said of this law: “The law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, wrought death in me by that which is good.” Romans 7:12-13 The entrance of the law made the offense abound, not because the law required what was wrong, but because the proud and self-confident incurred additional guilt as transgressors after their acquaintance with the holy, and just, and good commandments of the law; so that, being thus humbled, they might learn that only by grace through faith could they be freed from subjection to the law as transgressors, and be reconciled to the law as righteous.

So the same apostle says: “For before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which was afterwards revealed. Therefore the law was our schoolmaster in Christ Jesus; but after faith came, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.” That is, we are no longer subject to the penalty of the law, because we are set free by grace. Before we received in humility the grace of the Spirit, the letter was only death to us, for it required obedience which we could not render. Thus Paul also says: “The letter kills, but the spirit gives life.” 2 Corinthians 3:6 Again, he says: “For if a law had been given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law; but the Scripture has concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.” Galatians 3:21-22

And once more: “What the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sent His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, that by sin He might condemn sin in the flesh, that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Romans 8:3-4 Here we see Christ coming not to destroy the law, but to fulfill it. As the law brought the proud under the guilt of transgression, increasing their sin by commandments which they could not obey, so the righteousness of the same law is fulfilled by the grace of the Spirit in those who learn from Christ to be meek and lowly in heart; for Christ came not to destroy the law, but to fulfill it. Moreover, because even for those who are under grace it is difficult in this mortal life perfectly to keep what is written in the law, You shall not covet, Christ, by the sacrifice of His flesh, as our Priest obtains pardon for us. And in this also He fulfills the law; for what we fail in through weakness is supplied by His perfection, who is the Head, while we are His members.

Thus John says: “My little children, these things write I unto you, that you sin not; and if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: He is the propitiation for our sins.” 1 John 2:1-2

Christ also fulfilled the prophecies, because the promises of God were made good in Him. As the apostle says in the verse quoted above, “The promises of God are in Him yea.” Again, he says: “Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers.” Romans 15:8 Whatever, then, was promised in the prophets, whether expressly or in figure, whether by words or by actions, was fulfilled in Him who came not to destroy the law and the prophets, but to fulfill them.

You do not perceive that if Christians were to continue in the use of acts and observances by which things to come were prefigured, the only meaning would be that the things prefigured had not yet come. Either the thing prefigured has not come, or if it has, the figure becomes superfluous or misleading. Therefore, if Christians do not practise some things enjoined in the Hebrews by the prophets, this, so far from showing, as you think, that Christ did not fulfill the prophets, rather shows that He did. So completely did Christ fulfill what these types prefigured, that it is no longer prefigured. So the Lord Himself says: “The law and the prophets were until John.” Luke 16:16

For the law which shut up transgressors in increased guilt, and to the faith which was afterwards revealed, became grace through Jesus Christ, by whom grace superabounded. Thus the law, which was not fulfilled in the requirement of the letter, was fulfilled in the liberty of grace. In the same way, everything in the law that was prophetic of the Saviour’s advent, whether in words or in typical actions, became truth in Jesus Christ. For “the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” John 1:17

At Christ’s advent the kingdom of God began to be preached; for the law and the prophets were until John: the law, that its transgressors might desire salvation; the prophets, that they might foretell the Saviour. No doubt there have been prophets in the Church since the ascension of Christ. Of these prophets Paul says: “God has set some in the Church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers,” and so on. 1 Corinthians 12:28 It is not of these prophets that it was said, “The law and the prophets were until John,” but of those who prophesied the first coming of Christ, which evidently cannot be prophesied now that it has taken place.

Accordingly, when you ask why a Christian is not circumcised if Christ came not to destroy the law, but to fulfill it, my reply is, that a Christian is not circumcised precisely for this reason, that what was prefigured by circumcision is fulfilled in Christ. Circumcision was the type of the removal of our fleshly nature, which was fulfilled in the resurrection of Christ, and which the sacrament of baptism teaches us to look forward to in our own resurrection. The sacrament of the new life is not wholly discontinued, for our resurrection from the dead is still to come; but this sacrament has been improved by the substitution of baptism for circumcision, because now a pattern of the eternal life which is to come is afforded us in the resurrection of Christ, whereas formerly there was nothing of the kind.

So, when you ask why a Christian does not keep the Sabbath, if Christ came not to destroy the law, but to fulfill it, my reply is, that a Christian does not keep the Sabbath precisely because what was prefigured in the Sabbath is fulfilled in Christ. For we have our Sabbath in Him who said, “Come unto me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you shall find rest unto your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29

When you ask why a Christian does not observe the distinction in food as enjoined in the law, if Christ came not to destroy the law, but to fulfill it, I reply, that a Christian does not observe this distinction precisely because what was thus prefigured is now fulfilled in Christ, who admits into His body, which in His saints He has predestined to eternal life, nothing which in human conduct corresponds to the characteristics of the forbidden animals.

When you ask, again, why a Christian does not offer sacrifices to God of the flesh and blood of slain animals, if Christ came not to destroy the law, but to fulfill it, I reply, that it would be improper for a Christian to offer such sacrifices, now that what was thus prefigured has been fulfilled in Christ’s offering of His own body and blood. When you ask why a Christian does not keep the feast of unleavened bread as the Jews did, if Christ came not to destroy the law, but to fulfill it, I reply, that a Christian does not keep this feast precisely because what was thus prefigured is fulfilled in Christ, who leads us to a new life by purging out the leaven of the old life. 1 Corinthians 5:7

When you ask why a Christian does not keep the feast of the paschal lamb, if Christ came not to destroy the law, but to fulfill it, my reply is, that he does not keep it precisely because what was thus prefigured has been fulfilled in the sufferings of Christ, the Lamb without spot.

When you ask why a Christian does not keep the feasts of the new moon appointed in the law, if Christ came not to destroy the law, but to fulfill it, I reply, that he does not keep them precisely because what was thus prefigured is fulfilled in Christ. For the feast of the new moon prefigured the new creature, of which the apostle says: “If therefore there is any new creature in Christ Jesus, the old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

When you ask why a Christian does not observe the baptisms for various kinds of uncleanness according to the law, if Christ came not to destroy the law, but to fulfill it, I reply, that he does not observe them precisely because they were figures of things to come, which Christ has fulfilled. For He came to bury us with Himself by baptism into death, that as Christ rose again from the dead, so we also should walk in newness of life. Romans 6:4

 

When you ask why Christians do not keep the feast of tabernacles, if the law is not destroyed, but fulfilled by Christ, I reply that believers are God’s tabernacle, in whom, as they are united and built together in love, God condescends to dwell, so that Christians do not keep this feast precisely because what was thus prefigured is now fulfilled by Christ in His Church.

I touch upon these things merely in passing with the utmost brevity, rather than omit them altogether. The subjects, taken separately, have filled many large volumes, written to prove that these observances were typical of Christ. So it appears that all the things in the Old Testament which you think are not observed by Christians because Christ destroyed the law, are in fact not observed because Christ fulfilled the law. The very intention of the observances was to prefigure Christ.

Now that Christ has come, instead of its being strange or absurd that what was done to prefigure His advent should not be done any more, it is perfectly right and reasonable. The typical observances intended to prefigure the coming of Christ would be observed still, had they not been fulfilled by the coming of Christ; so far is it from being the case that our not observing them now is any proof of their not being fulfilled by Christ’s coming. There can be no religious society, whether the religion be true or false, without some sacrament or visible symbol to serve as a bond of union. The importance of these sacraments cannot be overstated, and only scoffers will treat them lightly. For if piety requires them, it must be impiety to neglect them.

It is true, the ungodly may partake in the visible sacraments of godliness, as we read that Simon Magus received holy baptism. Such are they of whom the apostle says that “they have the form of godliness, but deny the power of it.” 2 Timothy 3:5 The power of godliness is the end of the commandment, that is, love out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned. 1 Timothy 1:5 So the Apostle Peter, speaking of the sacrament of the ark, in which the family of Noah was saved from the deluge, says, “So by a similar figure baptism also saves you.” And lest they should rest content with the visible sacrament, by which they had the form of godliness, and should deny its power in their lives by profligate conduct, he immediately adds, “Not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience.” 1 Peter 3:21

Thus the sacraments of the Old Testament, which were celebrated in obedience to the law, were types of Christ who was to come; and when Christ fulfilled them by His advent they were done away, and were done away because they were fulfilled. For Christ came not to destroy, but to fulfill. And now that the righteousness of faith is revealed, and the children of God are called into liberty, and the yoke of bondage which was required for a carnal and stiffnecked people is taken away, other sacraments are instituted, greater in efficacy, more beneficial in their use, easier in performance, and fewer in number.

And if the righteous men of old, who saw in the sacraments of their time the promise of a future revelation of faith, which even then their piety enabled them to discern in the dim light of prophecy, and by which they lived, for the just can live only by faith; Romans 1:17 if, then, these righteous men of old were ready to suffer, as many actually did suffer, all trials and tortures for the sake of those typical sacraments which prefigured things in the future; if we praise the three children and Daniel, because they refused to be defiled by meat from the king’s table, from their regard for the sacrament of their day; if we feel the strongest admiration for the Maccabees, who refused to touch food which Christians lawfully use; 2 Maccabbees vii how much more should a Christian in our day be ready to suffer all things for Christ’s baptism, for Christ’s Eucharist, for Christ’s sacred sign, since these are proofs of the accomplishment of what the former sacraments only pointed forward to in the future!

For what is still promised to the Church, the body of Christ, is both clearly made known, and in the Saviour Himself, the Head of the body, the Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, has already been accomplished. Is not the promise of eternal life by resurrection from the dead? This we see fulfilled in the flesh of Him of whom it is said, that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. John 1:14 In former days faith was dim, for the saints and righteous men of those times all believed and hoped for the same things, and all these sacraments and ceremonies pointed to the future; but now we have the revelation of the faith to which the people were shut up under the law; Galatians 3:23 and what is now promised to believers in the judgment is already accomplished in the example of Him who came not to destroy the law and the prophets, but to fulfill them.

It is a question among the students of the sacred Scriptures, whether the faith in Christ before His passion and resurrection, which the righteous men of old learned by revelation or gathered from prophecy, had the same efficacy as faith has now that Christ has suffered and risen; or whether the actual shedding of the blood of the Lamb of God, which was, as He Himself says, for many for the remission of sins, Matthew 26:28 conferred any benefit in the way of purifying or adding to the purity of those who looked forward in faith to the death of Christ, but left the world before it took place; whether, in fact, Christ’s death reached to the dead, so as to effect their liberation. To discuss this question here, or to prove what has been ascertained on the subject, would take too long, besides being foreign from our present purpose.

Meanwhile it is sufficient to prove, in opposition to Faustus’ ignorant cavils, how greatly they mistake who conclude, from the change in signs and sacraments, that there must be a difference in the things which were prefigured in the rites of a prophetic dispensation, and which are declared to be accomplished in the rites of the gospel; or those, on the other hand, who think that as the things are the same, the sacraments which announce their accomplishment should not differ from the sacraments which foretold that accomplishment. For if in language the form of the verb changes in the number of letters and syllables according to the tense, as done signifies the past, and to be done the future, why should not the symbols which declare Christ’s death and resurrection to be accomplished, differ from those which predicted their accomplishment, as we see a difference in the form and sound of the words, past and future, suffered and to suffer, risen and to rise?

For material symbols are nothing else than visible speech, which, though sacred, is changeable and transitory. For while God is eternal, the water of baptism, and all that is material in the sacrament, is transitory: the very word “God,” which must be pronounced in the consecration, is a sound which passes in a moment. The actions and sounds pass away, but their efficacy remains the same, and the spiritual gift thus communicated is eternal.

To say, therefore, that if Christ had not destroyed the law and the prophets, the sacraments of the law and the prophets would continue to be observed in the congregations of the Christian Church, is the same as to say that if Christ had not destroyed the law and the prophets, He would still be predicted as about to be born, to suffer, and to rise again; whereas, in fact, it is proved that He did not destroy, but fulfill those things, because the prophecies of His birth, and passion, and resurrection, which were represented in these ancient sacraments, have ceased, and the sacraments now observed by Christians contain the announcement that He has been born, has suffered, has risen.

He who came not to destroy the law and the prophets, but to fulfill them, by this fulfillment did away with those things which foretold the accomplishment of what is thus shown to be now accomplished. Precisely in the same way, he might substitute for the expressions, “He is to be born, is to suffer, is to rise,” which were in these times appropriate, the expressions, “He has been born, has suffered, has risen,” which are appropriate now that the others are accomplished, and so done away.

Corresponding to this change in words is the change which naturally took place in the substitution of new sacraments instead of those of the Old Testament. In the case of the first Christians, who came to the faith as Jews, it was by degrees that they were brought to change their customs, and to have a clear perception of the truth; and permission was given them by the apostle to preserve their hereditary worship and belief, in which they had been born and brought up; and those who had to do with them were required to make allowance for this reluctance to accept new customs. So the apostle circumcised Timothy, the son of a Jewish mother and a Greek father, when they went among people of this kind; and he himself accommodated his practice to theirs, not hypocritically, but for a wise purpose.

For these practices were harmless in the case of those born and brought up in them, though they were no longer required to prefigure things to come. It would have done more harm to condemn them as hurtful in the case of those to whose time it was intended that they should continue.

Christ, who came to fulfill all these prophecies, found those people trained in their own religion. But in the case of those who had no such training, but were brought to Christ, the corner-stone, from the opposite wall of circumcision, there was no obligation to adopt Jewish customs. If, indeed, like Timothy, they chose to accommodate themselves to the views of those of the circumcision who were still wedded to their old sacraments, they were free to do so. But if they supposed that their hope and salvation depended on these works of the law, they were warned against them as a fatal danger. So the apostle says: “Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if you be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing;” Galatians 5:2 that is, if they were circumcised, as they were intending to be, in compliance with some corrupt teachers, who told them that without these works of the law they could not be saved.

For when, chiefly through the preaching of the Apostle Paul, the Gentiles were coming to the faith of Christ, as it was proper that they should come, without being burdened with Jewish observances— for those who were grown up were deterred from the faith by fear of ceremonies to which they were not accustomed, especially of circumcision; and if they who had not been trained from their birth to such observances had been made proselytes in the usual way, it would have implied that the coming of Christ still required to be predicted as a future event—when, then, the Gentiles were admitted without these ceremonies, those of the circumcision who believed, not understanding why the Gentiles were not required to adopt their customs, nor why they themselves were still allowed to retain them, began to disturb the Church with carnal contentions, because the Gentiles were admitted into the people of God without being made proselytes in the usual way by circumcision and the other legal observances.

Some also of the converted Gentiles were bent on these ceremonies, from fear of the Jews among whom they lived. Against these Gentiles the Apostle Paul often wrote, and when Peter was carried away by their hypocrisy, he corrected him with a brotherly rebuke. Galatians 2:14 Afterwards, when the apostles met in council, decreed that these works of the law were not obligatory in the case of the Gentiles, Acts 15:6-11 some Christians of the circumcision were displeased, because they failed to understand that these observances were permissible only in those who had been trained in them before the revelation of faith, to bring to a close the prophetic life in those who were engaged in it before the prophecy was fulfilled, lest by a compulsory abandonment it should seem to be condemned rather than closed; while to lay these things on the Gentiles would imply either that they were not instituted to prefigure Christ, or that Christ was still to be prefigured.

The ancient people of God, before Christ came to fulfill the law and the prophets, were required to observe all these things by which Christ was prefigured. It was freedom to those who understood the meaning of the observance, but it was bondage to those who did not. But the people in those latter times who come to believe in Christ as having already come, and suffered, and risen, in the case of those whom this faith found trained to those sacraments, are neither required to observe them, nor prohibited from doing so; while there is a prohibition in the case of those who were not bound by the ties of custom, or by any necessity, to accommodate themselves to the practice of others, so that it might become manifest that these things were instituted to prefigure Christ, and that after His coming they were to cease, because the promises had been fulfilled.

Some believers of the circumcision who did not understand this were displeased with this tolerant arrangement which the Holy Spirit effected through the apostles, and stubbornly insisted on the Gentiles becoming Jews. These are the people of whom Faustus speaks under the name of Symmachians or Nazareans. Their number is now very small, but the sect still continues.

Do not Christians observe the precept of Scripture “Hear, O Israel; the Lord your God is one God;” “You shall not make unto you an image,” and so on? Do make Christians not observe the precept, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain?” Do Christians not observe the Sabbath, even in the sense of a true rest? Do Christians not honor their parents, according to the commandment? Do Christians not abstain from fornication, and murder, and theft, and false witness, from coveting their neighbor’s wife, and from coveting his property,— all of which things are written in the law? These moral precepts are distinct from typical sacraments: the former are fulfilled by the aid of divine grace, the latter by the accomplishment of what they promise. Both are fulfilled in Christ, who has ever been the bestower of this grace, which is also now revealed in Him, and who now makes manifest the accomplishment of what He in former times promised; for “the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” John 1:17

Again, these things which concern the keeping of a good conscience are fulfilled in the faith which works by love; Galatians 5:6 while types of the future pass away when they are accomplished. But even the types are not destroyed, but fulfilled; for Christ, in bringing to light what the types signified, does not prove them vain or illusory.”

For more on this subject and how the early Church interpreted Christ’s fulfillment of the Law see the study Abolished or Fulfilled?

Love fulfills the Law

romans 13.10

If one believes in Christ and is seeking to walk in His Word/Love (according to their understanding) they are walking in obedience although they may be doing so imperfectly (Romans 13:10).

Rom 13:10  Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

Those who walk in Christ’s love are fulfilling the law.

Rom 13:8  Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
Rom 13:9  For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Rom 13:10  Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

Gal 5:14  For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Gal 5:15  But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.
Gal 5:16  This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
Gal 5:17  For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
Gal 5:18  But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.
Gal 5:19  Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
Gal 5:20  Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
Gal 5:21  Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
Gal 5:22  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
Gal 5:23  Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
Gal 5:24  And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
Gal 5:25  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
Gal 5:26  Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

Col 2:6  As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:
Col 2:7  Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.

Rom 8:1  There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
Rom 8:2  For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
Rom 8:3  For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
Rom 8:4  That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

1Jn 3:21  Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.
1Jn 3:22  And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.
1Jn 3:23  And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.
1Jn 3:24  And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.

 Receiving One Another

romans 14.19

 

God has received those who celebrate Christmas and Easter and He has received those who celebrate Sukkot and Passover.  If God has received a believer, we should too (Romans 14:1-3; 15:7).  If God has taken a believer by the hand, we should too.  We are to walk in God’s name/character, His love.  Our rejection of another is declaration that God has rejected them too.  This is a form of profaning His name.

Rom 14:1  Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.
Rom 14:2  For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs.
Rom 14:3  Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him.

Rom 15:7  Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.

The Greek word for “receive” is προσλαμβάνω ‘proslambanō’ which literally means to “take by the hand,” to “take to one’s self as a friend”.

 

John Gill commentary

“receive him; not only into their affections, and love him equally, being a believer in Christ, as one of the same sentiments with them, only in this matter, but also into church fellowship with them. The Syriac version reads it, הבו ליה אידא, “give him the hand”: in token of communion, a form used in admission of members. The Gentiles were apt to boast against, and look with some contempt upon the Jews, and were ready to object to their communion, because of their want of light and knowledge in these matters; but this was no bar of communion, nor ought a person to be rejected on account of his weakness, either in the grace, or in the doctrine of faith, when it appears he has the true grace of God; and much less on account of his weakness in that branch of it, concerning Christian liberty; for since Christ does not break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax, nor despise the day of small things, churches should not: it may also intend a receiving of such into intimate conversation, at their private meetings and conferences; taking particular notice of them; giving them proper instructions; praying with them and for them; endeavouring to build them up in their most holy faith, and to bring them into the knowledge of those things they are weak in; bearing their weaknesses patiently, and bearing with them in great tenderness: thus such should be received,”

Rom 14:1  Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.
Rom 14:2  For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs.
Rom 14:3  Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him.
Rom 14:4  Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.
Rom 14:5  One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.
Rom 14:6  He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.
Rom 14:7  For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.
Rom 14:8  For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.
Rom 14:9  For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.
Rom 14:10  But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.
Rom 14:11  For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.
Rom 14:12  So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.
Rom 14:13  Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.
Rom 14:14  I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean.
Rom 14:15  But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died.
Rom 14:16  Let not then your good be evil spoken of:
Rom 14:17  For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
Rom 14:18  For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men.
Rom 14:19  Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.
Rom 14:20  For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence.
Rom 14:21  It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.
Rom 14:22  Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth.
Rom 14:23  And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.

 

If we are convicted not to celebrate Christian holidays or participate in customs such as Christmas trees or Easter eggs we shouldn’t condemn our brothers in Messiah who do so as “pagans” when there isn’t good evidence that the origin of these customs come from pagans. We should receive them as brothers as God does like Romans 14 talks about. If they are doing it unto the Lord then they are glorifying Him and we shouldn’t speak against them and slander them (Psalm 59:19-23). Its up to each one of us to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12), being fully persuaded in our own minds (Romans 14:5-6), seeking to not put a stumbling block before our brothers (Romans 14:13-14). We are all going to stand before the judgment seat of Christ and He will judge whether or not someone was doing a custom unto Him or not (Romans 14:10).

Let each person be convinced in his or her own mind and follow the Lord wholeheartedly in that conviction (Romans 14:5-6). We all have to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling so we ought not to point the finger of condemnation at others as each one of us falls or stands according to the Lord, not man (Romans 14:4).  Regardless of what ‘side’ one chooses, we are to receive each other as the Lord has received us (Romans 14:1-4), bearing one another in love (Romans 15:1-3; 1 Corinthians 13:7).

We are not to strive about the law but let each person work out their own salvation.

Tit 3:9  But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.

It is the role of the Holy Spirit to convict of righteousness and sin, not us (John 16:7-8).  The duty of believers is to be prepared to give an answer for the hope that is within them. (1 Peter 3:15).

We don’t have all the answers, but we do have the love of God.
1Co 8:2  And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.
1Co 8:3  But if any man love God, the same is known of him.

Love covers a multitude of sins (mistakes and misunderstandings of the Word/Will of God).
Pro 10:12  Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.
1Pe 4:8  And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.

 The Lord’s Day

Lord's Day

Rom 14:5 One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.
Rom 14:6 He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.
Rom 14:7 For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.
Rom 14:8 For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.
Rom 14:9 For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.
Rom 14:10 But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.
Rom 14:11 For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.
Rom 14:12 So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.

Col 2:16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:
Col 2:17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.

Scripturally, we are not to judge our brothers in Christ in regards to their understanding of the feasts and sabbath days. Following are some articles which display the sabbath – Lord’s day controversy from an historical Christian viewpoint. I leave it up to the reader to work out their own salvation in regards to the sabbath and how that is to be implemented in their life, whether it be a literal resting on the 7th day, a spiritual sabbath in Christ, or a combination of both.

shabbat pict

 

The Hebrew word for sabbath is שבת ‘shabbat’ pictographically displays a “return to the house through the cross/covenant”. Christ Jesus is the door that we enter in order to abide in God ‘House’ (John 10:7). It is through Him that we are covered/hidden. This is the definition of who the Israel of God is (Galatians 6:16)…His hidden ones (Psalm 83:3). It is by the covenant cut in Messiah (Daniel 9:26; Isaiah 42:6), by His sacrifice on the tree that we are covered (1 John 1:7). It is through His Outstretched Arms (wings) that Messiah is calling us (John 3:14; 12:32) and gathering us together as a Shepherd does His flock (John 10:14-16). This is how we enter the Door into the House, this is how we are declared innocent and pure in His eyes. This is how we become His friends and enter into His House in an intimate relationship.

He gathers and then carries in His bosom His people, linking to the crucifixion.  It is through the work of Messiah on the cross that mankind is brought into His family.

Isa 40:10  Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him.
Isa 40:11  He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.

Psa 89:50  Remember, Lord, the reproach of thy servants; how I do bear in my bosom the reproach of all the mighty people;
Psa 89:51  Wherewith thine enemies have reproached, O LORD; wherewith they have reproached the footsteps of thine anointed.

Eph 2:8  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Eph 2:9  Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Eph 2:10  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Eph 2:11  Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;
Eph 2:12  That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:
Eph 2:13  But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.
Eph 2:14  For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;
Eph 2:15  Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;
Eph 2:16  And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:
Eph 2:17  And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.
Eph 2:18  For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
Eph 2:19  Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;

The only way to truly observe the sabbath is by resting in God…ceasing from our own works and trusting in the work of Jesus

Heb 4:8 For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day.
Heb 4:9 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.
Heb 4:10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.

Those who believe in Christ have entered into His rest
Heb 4:3 For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.
Heb 4:4 For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works.
Heb 4:5 And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest.
Heb 4:6 Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief:
Heb 4:7 Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Heb 4:8 For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day.
Heb 4:9 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.
Heb 4:10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.

If you believe in Christ you have entered into His rest…if you believe not you have not entered into His rest. Sabbath is a shadow which points to the rest found in Christ. If one believes in Christ should they still keep the shadow? If one is keeping sabbath for the sake of keeping sabbath then one is missing the point. Keeping the sabbath should only be done as a remembrance of one’s salvation/rest in Christ.

If one is keeping sabbath as a “work of the law” then one is denying their rest in Christ. If one sacrifices a Passover lamb they are denying that Jesus is their Passover. If one afflicts their soul through fasting as a means of atonement on Yom Kippur they are denying that Jesus is their Atonement.

“One should know that the works which Paul repudiates and frequently criticizes are not the works of righteousness [opera iustitiae] which are commanded in the law, but those in which they boast who keep the law according to the flesh; that is, the circumcision of the flesh, the sacrificial rituals, the observance of Sabbaths and new moon festivals [cf. Col 2.18].

These and works of a similar nature are the works by which he says no one can be saved, and concerning which he says in the present passage, ‘not on the basis of works; otherwise, grace would no longer be grace.’ For if anyone is justified through these, he is not justified gratis. But these works are by no means sought from the one who is justified through grace; but this one should take care that the grace he has received should not be in him ‘in vain’ [cf. 1 Cor 15.10] . . . So then, one does not make grace become in vain who joins works to it that are worthy and who does not show himself ungrateful for the grace of God. For anyone who sins after having attained grace becomes ungrateful to him who offered the grace.”  {Origen, Commentary on Romans 8, 7, 6}

Gal 2:21  I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

Col 2:6 As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:
Col 2:7 Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.
Col 2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
Col 2:9 For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.
Col 2:10 And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:
Col 2:11 In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:
Col 2:12 Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.
Col 2:13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;
Col 2:14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;
Col 2:15 And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
Col 2:16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:
Col 2:17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.
Col 2:18 Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,
Col 2:19 And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God.
Col 2:20 Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances,
Col 2:21 (Touch not; taste not; handle not;
Col 2:22 Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?
Col 2:23 Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.

The cross points us back to the beginning and the choice between the two trees in the Garden. Life or death, blessing or cursing. The cross teaches us that redemption and righteousness is only found in Him. Once we come to the cross we die to our selves and then take up our cross to follow Him. It is the path to walking in the Spirit where we become the righteousness of God.

The cross encapsulates the entire message of Scripture. Man sinned and was separated from God but the promise of the Seed of the woman will bring victory over sin and death. This comes through the Messiah who is pierced by the serpent but at the same time crushes His head.

Gal 6:12 As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.
Gal 6:13 For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh.
Gal 6:14 But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.
Gal 6:15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.
Gal 6:16 And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.
Gal 6:17 From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.
Gal 6:18 Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen. To the Galatians written from Rome.

 

Sabbath in Hebrew is spelled שבת ‘shabbat’ from the root שב ‘shuv.’  שב ‘shuv’ is the Hebrew word for repentance or literally returning to an “original state” which I believe, in case of the subject of sabbath, points us back to the Garden of Eden before mankind sinned.

All of the sabbath commands in the Old Testament point to rest from the curse that Adam and Eve received through sin (no work – work was a part of the curse Genesis 3:17-19; no kindling fires – Adam and Eve didn’t need fire as they didn’t need to cook and they were naked implying they didn’t need clothes for warmth etc. Dale Ratzlaff does a great job of displaying this concept in his book Sabbath in Christ)…The sabbath is a picture of restoration back to God which comes only through Christ. The letter ת ‘tav’ is literally the picture of a cross in paleo-Hebrew so שבת ‘shabbat’ shows that restoration/reconciliation comes through the cross.

שבת ‘shabbat’ pictographically displays the concept of “returning to the house through the cross.”  His house is the beginning (see Messiah in the Torah Genesis 1:1).

Sunday was a day of worship from the days of the early Church.  It was not instituted hundreds of years later from Apostates as is claimed by many.

“Wherefore also we keep the eighth day for rejoicing, in the which also Jesus rose from the dead, and having been manifested ascended into the heavens.”  {Epistle of Barnabas}

“Further, He says to them, “Your new moons and your Sabbath I cannot endure.” You perceive how He speaks: Your present Sabbaths are not acceptable to Me, but that is which I have made, [namely this,] when, giving rest to all things, I shall make a beginning of the eighth day, that is, a beginning of another world. Wherefore, also, we keep the eighth day (Sunday) with joyfulness, the day also on which Jesus rose again from the dead. And when He had manifested Himself, He ascended into the heavens.” {Epistle of Barnabas}

“If then those who had walked in ancient practices attained unto newness of hope, no longer observing Sabbaths but fashioning their lives after the Lord’s day, on which our life also arose through Him and through His death which some men deny.” {Ignatius: to the Magnesians (A.D. 35-105) ch.9}

“He, in fulfillment of the precept, according to the Gospel, keeps the Lord’s day, when he abandons an evil disposition, and assumes that of (knowledge), glorifying the Lord’s resurrection in himself.” {Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 195) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.2 pg.545}

“This [custom], of not bending the knee upon Sunday, is a symbol of the resurrection, through which we have been set free, by the grace of Christ, from sins, and from death, which has been put to death under Him. Now this custom took its rise from apostolic times, as the blessed Irenaeus, the martyr and bishop of Lyons, declares in his treatise On Easter, in which he makes mention of Pentecost also; upon which [feast] we do not bend the knee, because it is of equal significance with the Lord’s day, for the reason already alleged concerning it.”  {Irenaeus of Lyon Fragments 7 (120-180 ad)}

“And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons.

And they who are well to do, and willing, give what each thinks fit; and what is collected is deposited with the president, who succors the orphans and widows and those who, through sickness or any other cause, are in want, and those who are in bonds and the strangers sojourning among us, and in a word takes care of all who are in need. But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Savior on the same day rose from the dead.

For He was crucified on the day before that of Saturn (Saturday); and on the day after that of Saturn, which is the day of the Sun, having appeared to His apostles and disciples, He taught them these things, which we have submitted to you also for your consideration.” {Justin Martyr (A.D. 160) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.1 pg.186}

“If, therefore, those who were brought up in the ancient order of things have come to the possession of a new hope, no longer observing the Sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord’s Day, on which also our life has sprung up again by Him and by His death-whom some deny, by which mystery we have obtained faith, and therefore endure, that we may be found the disciples of Jesus Christ, our only Master-how shall we be able to live apart from Him, whose disciples the prophets themselves in the Spirit did wait for Him as their Teacher? And therefore He whom they rightly waited for, being come, raised them from the dead.

If, then, those who were conversant with the ancient Scriptures came to newness of hope, expecting the coming of Christ, as the Lord teaches us when He says, “If ye had believed Moses, ye would have believed Me, for he wrote of Me;” and again, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it, and was glad; for before Abraham was, I am; ” how shall we be able to live without Him? The prophets were His servants, and foresaw Him by the Spirit, and waited for Him as their Teacher, and expected Him as their Lord and Saviour, saying, “He will come and save us.” Let us therefore no longer keep the Sabbath after the Jewish manner, and rejoice in days of idleness; for “he that does not work, let him not eat.” For say the [holy] oracles, “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat thy bread.”

But let every one of you keep the Sabbath after a spiritual manner, rejoicing in meditation on the law, not in relaxation of the body, admiring the workmanship of God, and not eating things prepared the day before, nor using lukewarm drinks, and walking within a prescribed space, nor finding delight in dancing and plaudits which have no sense in them. And after the observance of the Sabbath, let every friend of Christ keep the Lord’s Day as a festival, the resurrection-day, the queen and chief of all the days [of the week]. Looking forward to this, the prophet declared, “To the end, for the eighth day,” on which our life both sprang up again, and the victory over death was obtained in Christ, whom the children of perdition, the enemies of the Saviour, deny, “whose god is their belly, who mind earthly things,” who are “lovers of pleasure, and not lovers of God, having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.”

These make merchandise of Christ, corrupting His word, and giving up Jesus to sale: they are corrupters of women, and covetous of other men’s possessions, swallowing up wealth insatiably; from whom may ye be delivered by the mercy of God through our Lord Jesus Christ!”  {The Epistle of Ignatius to the Magnesians}

“This [custom], of not bending the knee upon Sunday, is a symbol of the resurrection, through which we have been set free, by the grace of Christ, from sins, and from death, which has been put to death under Him. Now this custom took its rise from apostolic times, as the blessed Irenaeus, the martyr and bishop of Lyons, declares in his treatise On Easter, in which he makes mention of Pentecost also; upon which [feast] we do not bend the knee, because it is of equal significance with the Lord’s day, for the reason already alleged concerning it.”  {Irenaeus of Lyon Fragments 7 (120-180 ad)}

Why Worship on a Sunday?

“Why do Christians assemble for worship on a Sunday when the Old Testament clearly endorses observation of the seventh day (Saturday)?

Many modern Christians have almost touch with the theology of their predecessors and therefore can easily fall prey to various seventh day theologies and lines of attack. They are sometimes susceptible when they are accused of ignoring the clear command of several Old Testament statements including the Fourth commandment,

“Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy…” (Exodus 20:8)

This command originally referred, of course, to the day we now call Saturday, whereas a majority of Christians now assemble on a Sunday. Many seventh day groups darkly associate Sunday worship with receiving ‘the Mark of the Beast’ and believe that Christians who attend church on a Sunday have been duped by Satan into actually worshipping him! These groups are often characterised by an astonishingly selective approach to early Christian history in which they dilligently search for “historical evidence” which suits their approach, whilst being quite prepared to ignore other evidence which does not fit in with their schema. They then proceed to marry this flawed historical approach to various fanciful and mystical theories about ”The Mark of the Beast”- the approach is usually authoritative and dogmatic with an air of moral indignation which tends to mask the fact that there is a singular lack of evidence to back up their theories – No, one can go further: They impose their theories upon the evidence rather than allowing the evidence to speak for itself.

The fourth century Roman Emperor Constantine usually plays a major role within their idiosyncratic approach. He is seen as the Arch-villain who imposed Sunday worship upon the Empire and persecuted Sabbath-keepers and his fourth century Edict which upheld Sunday as a day of rest is gleefully pointed out as evidence of this; In fact, typical seventh day claims about Constantine amount to a gross distortion of history which are now widely believed by seventh day people simply because they have been repeated so many times (mostly by people who have never opened a single authoritative book on 4th century history). But this reveals their highly selective approach to history, for they never go back even further – to the second century – in order to consult the writings of Justin Martyr. He wrote,

“Sunday is the day upon which we all hold our communion and assembly” (Justin Martyr, First Christian Apology)

“But every Lord’s day gather yourselves together and break bread, and give thanksgiving after having confessed your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure…” (Chapter 14. ‘The Didache’; Christian Assembly on the Lord’s Day. A first century document.
Justin’s testimony is important, for their exists a direct link from him, through Polycarp, right back to the Apostle John. During his life, Polycarp was personally acquainted with, first of all, John – then later with Justin Martyr, with no evidence of doctrinal dispute existing between them. Other very early documents such as the non-canonical Epistle of Barnabbas and the Didache appear to show that Christians were very soon assembling on Sundays. The Epistle of Ignatius which can be dated to about A.D. 107 gives the reason why The Lord’s Day was now seen as having more importance than the sabbath:

‘Be not deceived with strange doctrines, nor with old fables, which are unprofitable. For if we still live according to the Jewish Law, we acknowledge that we have not received grace….If, therefore, those who were brought up in the ancient order of things have come to the possession of a new hope, no longer observing the Sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord’s Day, on which also our life has sprung up again by Him and By His death.’ Of several other early church documents which can be fruitfully consulted on this topic, ‘Apostolic Constitutions: Church life in the 2nd Century’ says this:

‘On the day of the resurrection of the Lord–that is, the Lord’s Day–assemble yourself together without fail, giving thanks to God and praising Him for those mercies God has bestowed upon you through Christ.’
In fact, the evidence of gathering for worship on a Sunday is present within the New Testament itself (Acts 20:7 1 Cor 16:1-2 and Revelation 1:10, for instance).

But why, then, the change from Saturday to Sunday as preferred days of worship?

First of all it should always be borne in mind that the original Sabbath was given in a national scenario to a people who had no access to God’s Holy Spirit nor explicit promise of salvation at that time. In effect, God was saying to them, ‘One day in every seven I want you all to sit down, do no work and contemplate on the beauty and wonder of Creation, and the things of God for the entire day.’ In fact, circumcision and the Sabbath became the two identifiers of God’s Old Covenant people. The Sabbath (Saturday) identifies those who, in turn, identify themselves with the Old Covenant and wish to claim it’s promises. The New Covenant, however, which commenced with the Sacrifice and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, marked a distinct change in approach (see Matthew 26:27-28; Luke 22:20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; 2 Corinthians 3:6; Hebrews 8:7-13; Hebrews 10:16-18). Jesus is now our Lord and Master (Hebrews 1:1-2). Christians are no longer subject to legalistic law codes but, rather, the Spirit of Christ is to lead those who have been spiritually regenerated (born again). The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) clearly reveals this insufficiency of Old Covenant law as a guide for the disciples of Christ. Christians are not required to ‘sit down and think of God’ one day in seven in the old, legalistic sense because, as Spirit-led believers, we should enjoy regular communion with Him through the Spirit! (2 Corinthians 3:6).
Interestingly, the Sabbath command is never repeated in the New Testament, not even once. Furthermore, Jesus is often critical of the Jewish authorities who took a ‘picky’ and literalistic approach to Sabbath day observance. Jesus was quite prepared to heal the sick on this day, something which the Pharisees strongly objected to such was their legalistic approach to the sabbath. The New Testament teaches that the Sabbath is fulfilled in Christ (Matthew 11: 28-30). The book of Hebrews specifically shows how not only the weekly Sabbath, but the ‘Promised Land’ itself are vague foreshadowings of the Eternal Rest which Christians are to enjoy in the New Heavens and New Earth of the future. The faithful finally inherit this – but only in and through Christ. (Carefully study Hebrews 4).

But it is important to understand that Christians now understood themselves to be part of a New Creation, in comparison to the earth’s original creation ( 2 Corinthians 5 : 16-19). This exciting New Testament teaching is often strangely lacking from modern preaching. God created the world on the First Day but an estrangement occurred, of course, when Adam and Eve fell into sin. In due course, however, God sent Jesus – the Second Adam – and, as Paul says, Christians are really part of God’s New Creation. In Genesis 1, on the First Day of creation week, God separated the light from the darkness. In his Gospel, John uses that concept, going back to creation (in his first chapter) and saying, “The true light which illuminates all men was coming into the world” (John 1:9).
This, of course, clearly refers to Christ and lends itself to the conception that those who accept Christ become part of a new First Day – this is why a few started referring to Sunday as ‘the eighth day’ – the idea is that it is a new First Day of Creation; furthermore, Christ rose from the dead on the First Day of the week. (Of course, some ‘seventh day people’ have performed major contortions here by saying, ‘Yes, but that only proves that He was already risen then,’ but, wait a moment, if the Bible wanted to tell us that He actually rose on the Sabbath why did it not clearly do so? What the text certainly appears to say is that he rose, or was ‘arisen’ on the First Day of the week!) Pentecost too occurred upon the first Day of the week (Pentecost, with new meaning, is the continuation of the old ‘Feast of Weeks’ and it is interesting that the Jews were commanded to observe very precise regulations in order to ensure that this day always fell on the First Day of the week – Sunday. Leviticus 23: 15-16).
As Paul Haffner points out,
“While the seventh day brought the first creation to a close, the eighth day marked the beginning of the new creation. Thus the act of creation finds its culmination in the greater act of the redemption.” (Paul Haffner, ‘The Mystery of Creation,’ 1995 ‘Gracewing’ paperback , p142).

Moreover, if we return to Christ’s Resurrection day, we can find several other points worthy of note;

First of all it is surely interesting that Christ entered his own rest from His earthly labours on a Sunday – not a Sabbath.
Secondly, we find in the account what can justly be referred to as the first Sunday evening worship service! (John 20: 19-22). And as if to underline the desirability of seeking after the Lord on this day, the disciples can again be found assembling on this day one week later (John 20:26). (The Old King James says here; “after eight days…” and this is true to the original Greek, but misleading since it appears that the inclusive method of counting is being used here; One Sunday to another being eight days. Almost every modern translation says here, “One week later”) Again, Jesus appears as if to bless this assembly. Quite obviously, Jesus did not appear in order to rebuke His disciples for “keeping” the wrong day!!
While Paul can certainly be found going into synagogues on the Sabbath in order to maintain his practise of approaching Jews first upon entering any town for the first time, he – quite obviously – chose to preach on a Sunday – see Acts 20:7. Sunday rejecting groups either ignore such New Testament verses or produce some woefully inadequate explanations for them.

Some though will still say, ‘Yes, but the Bible clearly upholds the seventh day throughout the Old Testament, can those verses simply be ignored?’ The answer is, absolutely not – but we have to understand that the Old Testament should now only be considered in the greater light of the New Testament since therein lies the greater revelation! Revelation is progressive. But, sadly, this is precisely where many go astray! They attempt an Ebionite approach of trying to “keep” and live within the two major Bible Covenants – but it simply cannot be done, and this shows a lamentable understanding of the doctrine of Grace. The Old Testament is eternally valid for teaching, we don’t attempt to get rid of it like the heretic Marcion (some Adventists have claimed that Luther tried to get rid of it, which he did not). But it represents a Covenant which – for those in Christ – is now obsolete, as it plainly says in Hebrews 8: 13:

“In that He says, ‘ a new covenant,’ he has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.”

The 70AD destruction of Jerusalem did indeed cause it to finally ‘vanish away’!

Christians are not to attempt to put ‘new wine into old wineskins’! What we must hold on to from the Sabbath command amounts to 3 points:

a. That – as Christians – we do need to continue to meet regularly for worship (Hebrews 10:25)
b. That we should never lose sight of the glorious principle that we now find true rest, repose and joy in Christ alone (Matthew 11: 28-12:8), whom we can worship at any time, but should take into account New Testament precedent.
And finally,
c. Knowing that as we continue to cleave to Christ, we will eventually enter the ultimate ‘rest’ from all of our labours, in the New Heavens and the New Earth – Eternal Life in unspeakable joy in the very company of God (Hebrews 3:18-4:11).

The truth is, Holy Spirit – led Christianity is not about keeping days! – we can be sure about this (if we otherwise doubted) from comments which the Apostle Paul makes. In fact, he seems to give the impression that believers who are too concerned about keeping days are immature,

“Let no one pass judgement on you in questions of food and drink or with regard to a new moon or Sabbath, these things are only a shadow of what is to come. But the real substance belongs to Christ.” (Colossians 2: 16-17)

In Galatians 4, Paul takes a legalistic element at Galatia to task about their immature desire to keep, “…days, and months, and times, and years” He tells them, “I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain” (verse 11)

He goes on to give his famous allegory about Hagar and Sarah. Hagar, says Paul, typified the Old Covenant while Sarah typified the New. He concludes the chapter by saying,

“What says the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son : for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free” (verses 30-31)

This really should be crystal clear to all. We are no longer to be legalistic about these things! These two verses also clearly show us the error of trying to live within two covenants.

Will be accept the straightforward teaching that the Old Covenant (or, the ‘bondwoman’) has to be cast out in order for us to serve Christ?

So we find within the New Testament no specific command to assemble for worship on any particular day nor should we expect to find such an instruction since there is a certain freedom in Christ, His blood having released us from Old Covenant penalties/prohibitions. Nevertheless, we do find a strong precedent for assembling for worship on what soon became known as ‘The Lord’s Day’ – Sunday : the day of the resurrection, the day of the disciples meeting and seeking after Christ – with the risen Christ’s revealing of Himself to them, the day of Pentecost, the day on which Paul can be found preaching to other Christians (rather than to Jews), the day on which Paul requested the Corinthians to make a collection for Christians affected by the famine in Judea (1 Corinthians 16: 1-3), the day on which John wrote that he found himself, ‘In the Spirit’ (Rev 1:10) and the day of which Justin Martyr wrote, ‘We all hold our communion and assembly’.

Seventh day adherents might just ponder that they resolutely hold to the day which was a main mark of the Old Covenant, identifying God’s Old Covenant people who placed their trust in the sufficiency of that particular covenant to save them. The Christian, on the other hand, prefers to be associated with the Day of the Lord which identifies them as followers of Jesus Christ whom they look to as Saviour, Lord and Master – and who is fully sufficient for salvation.
Despite all of the above, if Christians prefer to assemble on the seventh day (Saturday) they do no wrong, but the danger is in the legalism and judgmentalism of other Christians (to say nothing of the distortions of church history) which so often seems to accompany seventh-day observance.”  {Why Worship on a Sunday? – Robin A. Brace}

“Perhaps you have read the commands to observe the Sabbath in the Old Testament and asked yourself: “How does this command apply to me?” The history of biblical interpretation has produced several answers to this question. Many teach that Christians are called to keep the Sabbath, in the sense that the Old Covenant commands (i.e. no work on the seventh day of the week [Saturday]). These teachers are quick to point out that Sabbath keeping is one of the “Ten Commandments.” They argue: “Since we believe that the commands against murder, stealing, and adultery are still binding, why should we think the command of Sabbath keeping has been abolished?” End note1)

In this article I will demonstrate that the New Testament teaches that true “Sabbath rest” is not found through obeying an Old Covenant ordinance, but rather through trusting in the person and finished work of Jesus Christ. Since the teaching of the New Testament is primary, let us now explore the teaching of Christ and His commissioned apostles regarding the place of the Sabbath in the Christian life.

Entering True Sabbath Rest

The first text we will interact with is in the book of Hebrews. The entire thrust of the book of Hebrews is to exhort Christians to remain in the perfect, completed work of Jesus Christ and not return to the elements of the Mosaic Covenant. In fact, the Messiah and his work are described as being greater than all that was held dear under the Old Covenant: Moses, the priesthood, angels, sacrifices, and the Sabbath. In chapter four of this epistle we are granted keen insight into the New Covenant view of “Sabbath.”

The precept of “the Sabbath” is related by the Spirit-led author to the promise of entering God’s eternal, enduring rest. He declares that those who refuse to listen to God’s word of salvation will never enter (see 3:11, 19) and those who listen and believe the message brought by His Son have already entered. He writes:

Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it. For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard. For we who have believed enter that rest. (Hebrews 4:1-3a).

Consider that the means of entering God’s “Sabbath rest” is belief. The faithful are at rest, not through the works of the Law, but rather through faith in Jesus. The author of Hebrews continues to note “the Sabbath” rest that we find in the New Covenant: “So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His” (Hebrews 4:9-10). The Sabbath day observance, like the Old Covenant sacrifices and the priesthood, pointed towards the day when God’s people would find rest for their weary souls through the power of the cross. Jesus fulfilled the Law and we who believe have entered true Sabbath rest.

In light of these precepts, we must always remember Paul’s exhortation to the Colossian church, who were being troubled by those who advocated a return to the elements of the Old Covenant:

Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day – things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ. (Colossians 2:16-17).

These are powerfully instructive words. The elements of the Old Covenant were shadows of the Savior. Since the substance, Jesus, has come and fulfilled the Law, we dare not return to the shadows.

In a related text, Paul, in writing to the Galatians, was so distressed by those who were returning to elements of the Old Covenant rather than remaining in the simplicity of faith in Christ, he severely admonished them, stating:

But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again? You observe days and months and seasons and years. I fear for you, that perhaps I have labored over you in vain. (Galatians 4:9-11) End note 2).

We are warned not to return to the shadows of the Old Covenant, or fear those who would judge us for not observing them. Instead, our fear should be directed elsewhere. The author of Hebrews continues: “Let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it” (Hebrews 4:1).

When we consider the intent of the book of Hebrews and its implications, we encounter a subtle irony. We, as readers, are warned to not return to the elements of the Old Covenant because of the great salvation that has arrived, superseding the Mosaic Law (see Hebrews 1:1-3, 3:1-6, 8:6). If one adheres to observing the Sabbath as a necessary means of being at peace with God, they are falling short of entering His rest.3 They have become “Sabbath-breakers” because they have not entered true rest through belief in the terms of the New Covenant established by Christ and His apostles. On the other hand, those who believe in Christ and His work alone as the way to peace with God have entered the eternal rest brought about by His blood. By His grace, these are the true “Sabbath-keepers.” That, is irony.

Saturday, Sunday, Any Day?

Given the centuries of Jewish tradition preceding the coming of Christ, it is not surprising that this teaching of the New Testament caused great controversy in the Jewish culture of the time. As the controversy crept its way into the church, questions arose: When should we worship? How should we view those who set aside a specific day for worship? How should we view those who see all days alike? These questions have continued to be asked throughout the age of the church, and have received a wide range of answers.

In Romans 14, the Apostle Paul answered these inquiries in this way:

Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind. (Romans 14:4-5) End note 4).

If Paul wanted to command mandatory Sabbath keeping for New Covenant Christians, this was the perfect place to do so. One of the issues he addressed in this text was “regarding one day above another” referring to days of worship. Yet rather than command a specific, binding day of worship, the Apostle, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, established something different: Freedom in worship under the New Covenant.

Some time ago in a debate about mandatory Sabbath keeping, I challenged my opponent with this passage and its implications. He replied: “Peter tells us that Paul often writes things that are hard to understand. This passage is one of them.”5 While his comment was cleverly elusive, his response spoke volumes: He had no good answer to this text.

Sunday “Sabbath?”

Beyond teaching that there is no mandatory Saturday Sabbath observance under the New Covenant, this text also implies there is no mandatory Sunday “Sabbath.” Some have answered the Sabbath question by asserting that the Sabbath has been moved from Saturday to Sunday in light of Jesus’ resurrection. An example of this is the so-called “Puritan Sabbath.” M. James Sawyer explains some of its dynamics:

The Puritans established a Christian Sabbath (Sunday) during which Christians must “not only observe an holy rest, all the day, from their own works, words, and thoughts about their worldly employments and recreations, but also are taken up, the whole time, in the public and private exercises of [God’s] worship and the duties of necessity and mercy.” The Puritans saw this Sabbath as binding and honored it with the utmost seriousness. In fact, they believed so strongly in Sabbath adherence that they thought natural disasters resulted from a lack of obedience. End note 6).

To address this teaching, it is significant to note that there is no text in the New Testament where the authors equate the first day of the week (Sunday or “the Lord’s day”) with the Sabbath. When this is considered along with Paul’s teaching regarding days of worship in Romans 14, it is well established that there is no binding command to New Covenant believers to worship on a specific day. Instead, Christians are given freedom in the Gospel to gather and worship according to their conscience. Yet, do not misunderstand, it is essential that we worship and gather, “not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:25) Yet, under the New Covenant, we are free as to when we engage in worship, and are called to not impose our personal conscience upon others. If a community desires to gather, rest, and worship on Saturday, they are free to do so. The same applies to Sunday. The perilous practice we need to avoid is mandating that all Christians must observe a specific day.

Resting in Jesus’ Perfect Work

Many hearts become troubled by those who advocate the need for a Christian to observe the Old Covenant Sabbath. Misguided teachings such as the following do such:

The overwhelming evidence of the Bible and history proves that the Seventh day Sabbath—Saturday today—is the true day of rest and worship of God. God puts His presence into that day. He fellowships with His people on that day, as well as, the annual holy days which, He has commanded to be observed in worship of Him. Now that you have this knowledge and God holds you responsible for it, what will you do? Jesus Christ commands, “Repent and believe the Gospel.” Will you repent sins [sic] and turn to God, or will you continue in your sins? Your eternal life, or eternal death is at stake. End note 7).

On the contrary, we must never allow such distorted views of salvation to eclipse our view of Jesus’ perfect, finished work.

Whenever I have debated the “Sabbath” issue with those who believe we are required to observe it to be pleasing to God, I am grieved by their focus: Jesus and his perfect work are minimized and in its stead is a misplaced zeal for the Law of Moses. We well remember that:

What the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:3-4).

Since our King has come and fulfilled the Law, we need to continue to rely on Him for salvation, sanctification, and security. When we meet people who condemn us as not pleasing to God because we do not obey the Old Covenant Sabbath observance, we should announce to them the Gospel of grace and keep our eyes fixed on the all sufficient Savior. We will then know what it means to heed Jesus’ invitation:

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matthew 11:28-29).”  {Entering True Sabbath Rest – Robin A. Brace}

 

See also: Was the Mosaic Sabbath Eternal and Unchangeable?

“First Century Christian Practice

Try as one might, he will search in vain for New Testament evidence that the primitive church observed the sabbath with apostolic approval. Yes, it certainly was the case that the apostles frequented the synagogues on the sabbath for the purpose of proclaiming the gospel. That is where the greatest concentration of Jews would have been (cf. Acts 13:14; 17:1-2, etc.), and the message regarding Jesus was to be spoken first to them (Rom. 1:16).

But where is the evidence that the early church, under divine guidance, came together to worship God on the sabbath day?

(1) The kingdom of Christ was established on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1), which always fell on “the morrow after the sabbath” (Lev. 23:15-16), hence, on Sunday. So the church started out meeting for worship on the first day of the week (cf. Acts 2:42).

(2) The disciples at Troas “were gathered together” [passive voice] upon “the first day of the week” to break bread, i.e., to worship, (Acts 20:7). The specific day of meeting was no accident. Though Paul was anxious to get to Jerusalem (20:16), he waited seven days for the opportunity to assemble with the church.

Moreover, the passive voice (see above) indicates that the assemblage was orchestrated by someone other than the disciples; it was of divine initiative.

(3) The saints in Corinth were assembling, and contributing into the church treasury, “every first day of the week” (1 Cor. 16:2 — Greek text; cf. NASB).

(4) On the isle of Patmos, John was “in the spirit” on “the Lord’s day” (Rev. 1:10). The term for “Lord’s” is kupiakos, which is defined here as “relating to the Lord.” Thayer comments: “. . . the day devoted to the Lord, sacred to the memory of Christ’s resurrection” (365).

The Gospel narratives, of course, make it clear that the resurrection occurred on Sunday. While Revelation 1:10 would not be conclusive by itself, the very fact that the day is specifically mentioned is significant.

We must also add this note. While it was true that some weak or uninformed Christians had a problem making a clean break with the Mosaic economy (Rom. 14:1ff; Gal. 4:10-11), it is important to recognize that inspired apostolic teaching sought to correct this error.

Also, there is the record of the post-apostolic patristic writers. For the first three centuries of Christian history, the testimony is uniform that the original disciples of Jesus Christ worshipped on Sunday — not on the sabbath. Here is a sampling of that testimony.

(1) The Didache (c. A.D. 120) declares that “every Lord’s day” the Christians gather themselves together and “break bread” (ANF.VII.381).

(2) The Epistle of Barnabas (c. A.D. 120), in discussing such things as incense, new moons, and sabbaths, says that the Lord “abolished these things” in deference to “the new law of our Lord Jesus Christ” (ANF.I.138). Later, it is affirmed: “Wherefore, also, we keep the eighth day with joyfulness, the day also on which Jesus rose again from the dead” (I.147).

(3) Justin Martyr (A.D. 140) declared that “on the day called Sunday” the primitive Christians met for worship. He further stated that this was the day on which Christ was raised from the dead (I.186).

(4) Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 194) spoke of the one who “keeps the Lord’s day” as “glorifying the Lord’s resurrection in himself” (ANF.II.545).

(5) Tertullian (A.D. 200) argued that the “old law” had been consummated; thus the “observance of the Sabbath is demonstrated to have been temporary” (ANF.III.155). Elsewhere he says that “Sabbaths are strange” to Christians, and that they share together “the Lord’s day” (70).

(6) Eusebius (A.D. 324), known as the “father of church history,” stated that sabbath-observance does not “belong to Christians.” On the other hand, he asserted that Christians “celebrate the Lord’s days . . . in commemoration of his resurrection” (26,113).

(7) Noted historian Philip Schaff concludes: “The universal and uncontradicted Sunday observance in the second century can only be explained by the fact that it had its roots in the apostolic practice” (478-479).

Finally, we must make this comment. It is incorrect to refer to Sunday as “the Christian sabbath.”

The Scriptures are emphatic that the requirement to keep the sabbath has been terminated. New Testament data lead to the conclusion that the law of Moses (with all of its components — including the sabbath) has been abrogated. Paul affirmed that the “law of commandments” was abolished “through the cross” (Eph. 2:14ff). Similarly, the “bond written in ordinances” (which contained such things as feast days, sabbaths, etc.) was taken out of the way, having been nailed to the cross (Col. 2:14-16).

Sabbatarians allege, however, that only the ceremonial features (e.g., animal sacrifices) of the Mosaic covenant were abolished at the cross. The moral elements of the law (e.g., the ten commandments), it is argued, continue to this very day.

This position is arbitrary, artificial, and will not stand the test of scripture. Observe the following:

(1) God promised to make a “new covenant,” which would not be like the one given to Israel when the nation left Egypt (Jer. 31:31ff). When that “new covenant” was given, a “change” in laws was made (Heb. 7:12). But the old law, bestowed when Israel came out of Egyptian bondage, contained the ten commandments (1 Kgs. 8:9,21). Thus, the decalogue passed away when the Old Testament was replaced by the New.

(2) In Romans 7, the apostle argued that the Christian is “dead to the law through the body of Christ” (4). He further contended that the child of God is “discharged from the law” (6).

Well, exactly what “law” was in view? Merely a “ceremonial” law? No, that is not the case, for subsequently Paul says: “[F]or I had not known coveting, except the law had said, ‘You shall not covet’” (vs. 7; cf. Ex. 20:17).

Clearly, the law to which the Christian is “dead,” i.e., separated from, and from which he is “discharged,” included the ten commandments. The Christian is not under obligation to keep the sabbath.

The fact is, just after he affirmed that the law was “nailed to the cross,” Paul declared that no one could “judge,” i.e., condemn (cf. Thayer, 361) a Christian for not keeping feast days, sabbaths, etc. (Col. 2:16). That statement could not have been made had the sabbath-law still been operative.

We do not doubt that many sabbatarians are genuinely sincere in their profession of keeping the seventh day. But sincerity alone does not justify. The modern practice of “sabbath-keeping” is erroneous.”  {Sunday “sabbath”?}

See also: Jesus and the Sabbath

Dale Ratzlaff: Does the Sabbath continue in the New Covenant?

The Sabbath and the Covenants – A Refutation of Sabbatarian Theology

The Old Covenant / New Covenant and The Sabbath

 

Love Bears All Things

love bears all things

We can’t force our convictions on others so we must be tolerant of their understanding (1 Corinthians 13:7) as the Lord has been patient and tolerant with us. Tolerance comes from the Latin word ‘tolerantia’ which means to “bear” which compares with the Greek word στέγω ‘stego’ (bears) of which love performs (1 Corinthians 13:7).  Love “beareth” all things, yet love does not rejoice in iniquity (1 Corinthians 13:6).

Toleration is from the Latin ‘tolerationem’ which is a “noun of action from past participle stem of tolerare” which means forbearance.  We must recall that while we were yet sinners and enemies of God (Romans 5:8-10; Ephesians 2:1-6; Colossians 1:20-21) He showed us His great forbearance in sending His Son to bring reconciliation between Himself and us (Romans 2:4; 3:25).  As a result, we are also to be “tolerant” to others who are overtaken in sin and error and extend His goodness to them (Romans 2:1-4).  We are to seek to restore one overtaken in a fault, bearing one another’s burdens and so fulfilling the law of Christ (Galatians 6:1-3).

‘Tolerantia’ traces back to the Hebrew word תלה ‘talah’ which means to lift up and hang as in the Messiah being lifted up (Deuteronomy 21:23; Galatians 3:13) that mankind might be reconciled to the Father while we were yet in our sins.  Messiah is the epitome of toleration.  He who was without sin tolerated the presence of sinners and bear their burdens/sins that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:18-21).  As a result, we are to carry this same “toleration”, the ministry of reconciliation, hating the sin of the world, yet never hating the sinner (1 John 2:9-29).

There’s nothing wrong with disagreements with one another as we all see through a glass darkly.  The important thing to remember is that love covers a multitude of sins and the wisdom from above is “pure, peaceable, gentle, easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy…and the fruit of  righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.” (James 3:17-18).

Tit 3:2  To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.

Jas 4:11  Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge.

1Pe 3:8  Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:
1Pe 3:9  Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.
1Pe 3:10  For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile:
1Pe 3:11  Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it.

We all know IN PART. We all prophecy IN PART. God did it this way so that we would have the common sense to know we need each other.

1Co 13:1  Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
1Co 13:2  And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
1Co 13:3  And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
1Co 13:4  Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
1Co 13:5  Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
1Co 13:6  Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
1Co 13:7  Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
1Co 13:8  Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
1Co 13:9  For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
1Co 13:10  But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
1Co 13:11  When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
1Co 13:12  For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
1Co 13:13  And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

1Co 8:2  And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.
1Co 8:3  But if any man love God, the same is known of him.

Eph 4:1  I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,
Eph 4:2  With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;
Eph 4:3  Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Eph 4:4  There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;
Eph 4:5  One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
Eph 4:6  One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
Eph 4:7  But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.
Eph 4:8  Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.
Eph 4:9  (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?
Eph 4:10  He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)
Eph 4:11  And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
Eph 4:12  For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
Eph 4:13  Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
Eph 4:14  That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
Eph 4:15  But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
Eph 4:16  From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

2Co 13:14  The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.

 

pagan-christianity

littleguyintheeye@gmail.com

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