Sunday, January 16, 2011

18 New Testament Misconceptions No. 6

#6 Works of the Torah

“Works of the Torah” also appears in Galatians 3:10. However, the more accurate phrase is, “Those who rely (only) on observances of the Torah of Moshe.” In other words, this means that “works of the Torah” is something that stands alone without the faith element required to sanctify the ritual, as seen in other verses:

“Therefore no one will be declared righteous in His sight by works (abdeh) of the Torah; rather through the Torah we became aware of sin” (Romans 3:20).

“For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from the works (abdeh) of the Torah” (Romans 3:28).

“We who were Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners, know that a man is not justified by the works (abdeh) of the Torah, because by the works of the Torah no man shall be justified” (Galatians 2:16).

In this last verse Rav Shaul appeals to his own people and says that, out of their own Scriptures and traditions, they should know that ritual alone does not justify themselves! Furthermore, the word used here for “works” is “abdeh” and it has an interesting etymology. The word “abdeh” can also be personified, turning the meaning into “servant” or even “slave”, as we see here:

“Paul, a servant (abdeh) of Mashiyach Y’shua, called to be an apostle and set-apart for the Gospel of Elohim” (Romans 1:1).

“Paul and Timothy, servants (abdeh) of Y’shua the Mashiyach” (Philipians 1:1)

“Ya’akov, a servant (abdeh) of Elohim and of our Master, Y’shua the Mashiyach” (Ya’akov 1:1)

Therefore, the teaching in a sense is not to be a slave of any form, but to understand that we are to follow the commandments of YHWH. With that idea established then, let us look at the remainder of the Scriptural record:

“You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Y’shua the Mashiyach was publicly portrayed as crucified?” (Galatians 3:1)

Compare this statement to two others Rav Shaul makes. The first one is in Galatians 1:6-7 where he talks about these people turning to “another Gospel, which is no Gospel at all.” The second is here:

For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. And when the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Master Y’shua will slay by the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendour of his coming. The coming of the lawless one will be in the accordance with the works of Satan, displaying in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they have refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason Elohim sends them a strong delusion, so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness” (2 Thessalonians 2:8-12)

The message is that the Galatians should have known better by what they have seen and heard, and that the heresies that have ensnared them arose very early and will continue right until the End Times. Now let us examine the next verse:

“This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works (abdeh) of the Torah, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? (Galatians 3:2-3)

Clearly no one, neither Jew nor Gentile, ever became righteous by doing the Torah. Instead, they came to the decision to do Torah through spiritual revelation that this was YHWH’s will:

“Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain – if indeed it was in vain? So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works (abdeh) of the Torah, or by hearing with faith?” (Galatians 3:4-5).

It is extremely important to understand that the “Spirit” is not above Scripture. Rather, the Spirit guides us to the proper interpretation of Scripture as well as proper implementation of Scripture’s commands:

“Even so Abraham believed Elohim, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness. Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham. The Scripture, foreseeing that Elohim would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “all the nations will be blessed in you.” So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer” (Galatians 3:6-9).

Here we see the climax of Rav Shaul’s argument. Abraham heard the Voice of YHWH, recognized the Voice as the One true Elohim, and then, by obeying that Voice, had his belief credited as righteousness. It just does not get any clearer than this. Rav Shaul aligns with the same understanding in the Tanakh, which is that works without understanding the origin of its requirements is a dead ritual. It certainly does not mean that the Torah, which has this truth, is to be set aside!

No comments:

Post a Comment