Saturday, July 26, 2008

Neither Jew Nor Gentile

Question: According to Galatians 3:26-29, all Believers are one in Messiah, and there is no longer Jew or Gentile. Why do you continue to make a distinction between Jews and Gentiles? Aren't we all Christians now, and no longer Jews or Gentiles?

Answer: Let's look at the passage in question: "For you are all sons of God through faith in Messiah Yeshua. For all of you who were baptized into Messiah have clothed yourselves with Messiah. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Messiah Yeshua. And if you belong to Messiah, then you are Abraham's descendants, heirs according to promise."

Rabbi Paul is not teaching us that all earthly differences between men and women, and between Jews and Gentiles automatically disappear when we become Believers in the Messiah. "There is neither Jew nor Greek" is not meant to be interpreted literally any more than "there is neither male nor female." Men who believe in Messiah are still men. Women who have encountered Yeshua are still women. In fact, Rabbi Paul teaches elsewhere that there are distinct "roles" for the sexes. For example, spiritual leaders of communities must be men - not women. Men are to be the leaders of the home - not the women. If we understood Paul's words literally, and there were no longer any differences between men and women, then men could marry men, and women could marry women - something which is clearly wrong. Just as there are still differences between men and women in Messiah's New Covenant Community, so too there are differences between slaves and those who are free, and there are differences between Jews and Gentiles.

The New Testament itself makes distinctions between Gentile Believers and Jewish Believers. That's why Paul, who identified himself as "a Jew from Tarsus" could also say to the Gentile Christians in Rome, "I am speaking to you who are Gentiles (Romans 11:13)." In fact, it's quite possible that differences between men and women and Jews and Gentiles will continue in the Age To Come. In the book of Revelation, even though the Son of God is resurrected and glorified, He is still revealed to be a Man. Even more specifically, He is identified as belonging to the tribe of Judah and the Root of David (see Revelation 5:5). I find it interesting that throughout eternity, the names of the twelve tribes of Israel are written on the everlasting gates of the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:12). In addition, "the nations" will walk by the light of the Eternal City, and the glory and honor of the "nations" will be brought into it. The leaves of the Tree of Life are for the healing of the "nations." God has ordained that followers of the Messiah come from every nation, tribe, people and language group; and these differences in language, culture and identity remain on Earth, and some may even endure into Eternity.

This ongoing difference between Jews and Gentiles manifests itself in several ways. For example, Messianic Jews should be circumcised for religious reasons, since we are still special participants in the covenant made with Abraham. Paul circumcised Timothy, since he had a Jewish mother (see Acts 16:1-3). On the other hand, Messianic Gentiles must not be circumcised for religious reasons, as Rabbi Paul makes clear in his letter to the Galatians. They are to be content with being circumcised in their hearts. However, Gentiles Believers may have their sons circumcised for medical reasons, but not for religious reasons.

So what does Rabbi Paul mean when he writes that there is neither Jew nor Gentile, male nor female, slave nor free? He means that for all who have joined themselves to Israel's Messiah, there is a new equality that we have. Now that the Messiah has come, we have a new and equal access to the God of Israel. He is equally our Heavenly Father. We can all come boldly before His throne of grace at any time. We all share His Spirit. We are brothers and sisters. However, earthly roles and differences remain. Yes, all who genuinely believe in the God of Israel and the Jewish Messiah are "Christians" - but "Christian" simply means a follower of Christ (Messiah - Israel's Anointed King); being a Christian does not mean that one's national and ethnic identity are diminished. (Loren Jacobs)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Monday, March 3, 2008

Is Christ the End of the Law?

A Closer Look at Romans 10:4

by Doug Ward, PhD

Sometimes a passage of Scripture is used so often as a proof text that it becomes a sort of slogan and takes on a life of its own, independent of its original context and meaning. One example is the famous phrase from Rom. 10:4, "Christ is the end of the law." This phrase is often used by Christians, especially those from the Lutheran and Dispensationalist traditions, to support the idea that since Christ has come, the laws of the Old Testament (OT) no longer have any relevance for us.

However, the meaning of Romans 10:4 is not as obvious as one might think, because telos, the Greek word for "end" in this verse, can be translated into English in several ways. One translation of telos is "termination point'' (see for example Strong's Concordance). If telos means "termination point'' in Rom. 10:4, then Paul may indeed be proclaiming that Christ's coming has brought some law to an end.

In contrast, telos can also be rendered "goal'' or "purpose''. If telos has this meaning in Rom. 10:4, then the verse may not be making a negative statement about "the law'' at all.

It turns out that each of these interpretations of telos in Romans 10:4 is currently upheld by large numbers of Christians. Those who believe that telos means "goal'' or "purpose'' in this verse can point to scriptures like I Tim. 1:5, Rom. 6:21-22, or James 5:11, in which telos clearly has that meaning. On the other hand, those who read telos as "termination point'' in Rom. 10:4 can cite Mark 3:26, Luke 1:33, and Heb. 7:3, where this same Greek word refers to something coming to an end.

A further issue that must be tackled in understanding Rom. 10:4 is the scope of the Greek word nomos, which is translated "law'' in English. Does nomos refer here to the laws given at Mt. Sinai, to the Pentateuch, or more broadly to the revelation of God's will given in the entire Old Testament? Since it is the Greek analogue of the Hebrew word Torah, nomos can have any of these meanings, depending upon the context.

For the rest of this article click on the link below.

Is Christ the "End of The Law"? -- A new look at Romans 10:4 .

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Jesus, Yeshua, Yahshua, or Yehoshua???

The Messiah’s Hebrew name is usually transliterated as either Yeshua or Yahshua. The opponents of the Yeshua form claim that this pronunciation is the result of a Jewish conspiracy to hide the Savior’s true name. Those who call the Messiah Yeshua are accused of perpetuating a Jewish conspiracy and "denying His name" or "degrading Him" by their use of the Yeshua form.

The proponents of the Yahshua form claim that the Messiah’s name was the same as Joshua’s, written "vwhy" or "wvwhy" in Hebrew (Strong’s #3091). That may be so, but the problem is that neither of these spellings of Joshua’s name can possibly be pronounced "Yahshua." The third letter in Joshua’s name (reading from right to left) is the letter vav (w) and a vav cannot be silent. The letter vav must be pronounced as either a "v" or an "o" or an "u." (In the case of Joshua, it takes an "o" sound, giving us "Ye-ho-SHU-a." Strong’s confirms this pronunciation.) For a name to be pronounced "Yahshua," it would have to be spelled [wv--hy, and no such name exists anywhere in the Hebrew Bible.

The English form Jesus is derived from the New Testament Greek name Ihsouß, pronounced "Yesous." According to Strong’s, Yesous (Strong’s #2424) is "of Hebrew origin" and can be traced back to Joshua’s Hebrew name, Yehoshua (#3091, "wvwhy"). But how do we get the Greek Yesous from the Hebrew Yehoshua? Someone armed with nothing more than a Strong’s Concordance may have difficulty answering that question. Someone who reads the Bible in Hebrew, though, knows that the name Joshua sometimes appears in its shortened form, Yeshua ("wvy") in Neh. 8:17 it is apparent even in English: "Jeshua the son of Nun." (The letter J was pronounced like a Y in Old English.) Strong does not tell the reader that the Greek Yesous is actually transliterated from this shortened Hebrew form, Yeshua, and not directly from the longer form Yehoshua. The process from "Yehoshua" to "Jesus" looks like this:

Hebrew Yehoshua > Hebrew Yeshua

Hebrew Yeshua > Greek Yesous

Greek Yesous > English Jesus

There is no "sh" sound in Greek, which accounts for the middle "s" sound in Yesous. The "s" at the end of the Greek name is a grammatical necessity, to make the word declinable.

In Neh. 8:17, Joshua’s name is 100% identical to the name which today’s Messianic Jews use for the Messiah, Yeshua ([wvy). Strong’s confirms this pronunciation, and tells us that there were ten Israelites in the Bible who bore this name (#3442). Therefore the shortening of Yehoshua to Yeshua predates the Christian era by at least 500 years, and cannot be the result of a Jewish conspiracy to hide the Savior’s true name.

The most accurate pronunciation of our savior's name is "Yehoshua" which could have been shortened to "Yeshua." The name "Jesus" is at best an English translation of the Greek translation "Yesous". Finally the name "Yahshua" is simply a work of fiction.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Virgin Birth

Much has been made of the "virgin birth". Both the Nicene & Apostle's creed acknowledge it. But what's the deal? Is it significant to a believer's theology? It's certainly not a prerequisite for salvation. So, did the Messiah have to be born of a virgin? Was it prophesied? The answer is Yes & No. The only prophesy regarding the "birth" of the Messiah is found in Isaiah.

Isaiah 7:14, "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin (עַלְמָה, ’almah) shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel."

The Hebrew word used here (עַלְמָה, ’almah) can sometimes refer to a woman who is a virgin (Gen 24:43), however it does not carry this meaning inherently. The word is simply the feminine form of the corresponding masculine noun עֶלֶם (’elem, “young man”; 1 Sam 17:56; 20:22). The Aramaic and Ugaritic cognate terms are both used of women who are not virgins. The word seems to pertain to age, not sexual experience, and would normally be translated “young woman.”

Matthew's interpretation (Matt 1:22-23) of this passage has several problems, the largest hanging on the Hebrew word 'almah. Writing in Greek, the gospel author turned almah into parthenos, a word usually (but not always) meaning "virgin." In fact, there was a precedent for this; the Septuagint, a translation of the Old Testament used by Greek-speaking Jews of the day, did indeed use parthenos in the Isaiah passage. But the Septuagint was for the most part a notoriously sloppy translation, and its version of Isaiah was generally more error-ridden than the rest. By the Middle Ages, the Jews had abandoned the Septuagint, and later Greek translations, by Aquila, Theodotion, Lucien and others, did not use the word parthenos.

All things considered, words and expressions being mistranslated or a bit out of context is not surprising. What is surprising is that this literary sleight of hand grew to become such a cornerstone of Christendom. That being said, it is still possible that Mary was a "virgin" in every sense of the word. However little can be assumed with the limited information we we're given. I encourage everyone to re-read these passages in context.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Marriage, Abraham, Sarah, Hagar

There's much debate and confusion about the relationship between Abraham and Hagar and it's implications.

Gen. 16:3 identifies Hagar as Abram's WIFE (Strong's #802). She was also a servant to Sarah, but her status as a concubine didn't change the fact that she was just as married to Abram as Sarah was.
The same word used to refer to Sarah is also used to refer to Hagar.
Gen. 16:3a: "And Sarai, Abram's wife (802), took Hagar her female servant, the Mitsrite, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife (802)..."
It's also important to point out that the same Hebrew word 'ishshah (802) translates into English as both "wife" and "wives". There is no distinction between singular and plural in the original Hebrew text.
Gen. 2:24: "...and cleave to his wife (802)..."
Gen. 4:19: "And Lemek took for himself two wives (802)..."

Exodus 21:10: “If he takes another wife to himself, he shall not diminish the food, clothing, or marital rights of the first wife.”
Notice that God did not say "He may not marry another woman", but rather "IF he marries another woman".

Biblically, concubinage is not an immoral sexual relationship, similar to having a personal mistress. When the Hebrew word pilegesh (Strong's #6370) is used, it speaks of a female concubine that is MARRIED to her male partner.
*CLARIFICATION* While concubinage is not considered immoral, it is never recommended and typically it is only practiced by men of great wealth.

Since the OT defines na'aph (adultery) as a man laying with a married or betrothed woman (ie. a wife), Matt. 5:27-28 should read:
"You heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you that everyone looking at a gune (wife) to epithumeo (lust or covet) for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart."

If you read Matthew 19:4-6 or Mark 10:6-9, you'll see that Messiah wasn't addressing the issue of monogyny or polygyny (yes, the spellings are correct), He was answering a question about divorce. The entire point of this passage is the permanence of marriage. Nobody at the time, when hearing Messiah's words against divorce, would have been so confused as to think he was actually redefining marriage.

Romans 7:2-3: "
Thus a married woman is bound by the law (Torah) to her husband as long as he lives; but if her husband dies, she is discharged from the law (Torah) concerning the husband. Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law (Torah), and if she marries another man, she is not an adulteress."
This passage speaks VOLUMES, both in what it says and in what it DOES NOT say. If there were no other Scriptures teaching that a man may have multiple wives simultaneously, this one law teaches this truth. Clearly, God did not change His mind concerning polygyny in the NT.

Polygyny is not a popular concept today. Our "liberated" culture believes that "what's good for the goose is good for the gander", which is not a biblical principle.
While the vast majority of men should not engage in concubinage, that does not negate the fact that the bible allows for wise men with means to do so without condemnation.

Origins of Christmas

What is one of the world's oldest holidays that includes:
- Elaborate rituals & ceremonies
- House decorations of evergreen plants such as holly and mistletoe.
- A time of unrestrained rejoicing, with revelry, drinking, and gluttonous feasts.
- A celebration held one week prior to the winter solstice.

Christmas you say?

Nope. “Christ's Mass”, instituted by the Roman Catholic Church, has only been around +/-1600 yrs.
The answer is actually the Winter Solstice festival. It was held in honor of the (bastard) son of Nimrod, the Babylonian sun-god, who (supposedly) conquered the power of death.

December 25th was the traditional Victory of the sun-god Festival in the pagan Babylonian world. In the ancient Roman Empire, the celebration can be traced back to the Roman festival Saturnalia, which honored Saturn, the harvest god, and Mithras, the god of light, both were celebrated during or shortly after the winter solstice.