Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Romans 2 – Judging, practice what you preach and circumcision

Romans chapter 2 has a couple of teachings that are misquoted so many times and used for so many false doctrines. The one that is the most evident is that of, ‘Don’t judge me, because if you judge me, then you will also be judged.’ Another one is that of, if one subjects themselves to follow the Torah, then that person is under the law. This chapter is also one of the most used verses used to justify that one does not need to be circumcised in the flesh. All of these points are totally false and I will show you why in this article, by using what Shaul wrote here in Romans 2.

One key point that we do not always remember about the letters that Shaul wrote is that they did not originally have chapters or verses, but were written as a continual piece of writing as they were letters sent to the Gentile believers living in Rome.

There are many valuable lessons that can be learnt from Shaul’s letters and even in this chapter in Romans. But in order to learn from these lessons, we need to understand what is being taught in the correct context. If we do not read it in its correct context, we stand the chance of failing to learn what Shaul was teaching, and even worse, we could learn the total opposite of what is being taught, like millions of people around the world because they follow the people who incorrectly interpret Shaul's teachings.

Now let us break this chapter into sections, and I will point out the things that Shaul was really trying to say. 
Therefore, O man, you are without excuse, everyone who judges, for in which you judge another you condemn yourself, since you who judge practice the same wrongs. And we know that the judgment of Elohim is according to truth against those who practice such wrongs” (Rom 2:1-2). This verse is so wrongly used by millions of people to try and hide or justify their sinful behavior. As soon as someone tries to point out their error(s), the first reaction to this is a very defensive reaction with the phrase, something like this, “don’t judge me, for you will also be judged if you do!”

People only judge when they deviate from the ‘Judgment’ of YHWH. Quoting His Judgment and staying within His Judgment is not being judgmental! Only when one deviates from the Judgment of YHWH, then that person elevates himself above YHWH and will then be judged by YHWH accordingly.

The church has taught us all to be too thin skinned, so that we are incapable of accepting correction for our sinful actions, which is a very dangerous matter, and can lead us into destruction. The fact of the matter is that the majority of the time, when someone points out errors, it is done out of love, in order to help that person become aware of the problem and to fix the problem. Even if the rebuke seems harsh, it is not to be met with a defensive reaction, but rather a personal soul searching on the matter to see if the matter is true. Then we can repent of the error and continue to grow in faith.

And do you think, O man, you who judge those practicing such wrongs, and doing the same, that you shall escape the judgment of Elohim? Or do you despise the riches of His kindness, and tolerance, and patience, not knowing that the kindness of Elohim leads you to repentance? But according to your hardness and your unrepentant heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of Elohim, who “shall render to each one according to his works”: everlasting life to those who by persistence in good work seek for esteem, and respect, and incorruptibility; but wrath and displeasure to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness” (Rom 2:3-8). Here Shaul is speaking to those who are hypocrites, who judge other people while, they themselves, do the same evils. He is also clarifying that a person only judges if he judges outside the judgment of YHWH (as stated above).

Notice how Shaul points out that those who practice the same wrongs by which they judge others are hard and unrepentant and that these people will be met with the wrath of YHWH in the day of wrath.  These people will be judged by Elohim through His Torah (righteous judgment of Elohim) according to their works.

Also notice how clear Shaul is making the distinction between the righteous and the unrepentant sinners. He shows us here that only those who persist in good works (the Torah of YHWH) and seek for esteem and respect and incorruptibility, will inherit everlasting life. And those that do not obey the Torah (truth) but rather obey unrighteousness (anti-Torah) will receive the wrath and displeasure of YHWH.

affliction and distress on every human being working what is evil, of the Yehuḏite first, and also of the Aramean” (Rom 2:9). Aramean, as apposed to “Greek” or “Gentile” who have no ancestral ties to Israel. Almost all our English translations of the Bible have the word “Greek” instead of “Aramean” here, which is again a twisting of Scripture. Shaul is extremely clear throughout his epistle to make proper distinction between these two, although the point of the message is clear that YHWH is no respecter of persons.  

but esteem, respect, and peace to everyone working what is good, to the Yehuḏite first and also to the Aramean. For there is no partiality with Elohim” (Rom 2:10-11). Now do not think that a Greek or any other nationality cannot be saved because the verse reads “Aramean” instead of “Greek”, that is not what Shaul is teaching. Shaul is teaching that esteem, respect, and Shalom (peace) to everyone that obeys the Torah of YHWH, whether it be Jews or anyone else as Elohim accepts everyone who submits themselves to Him. If a person submits to YHWH, then he has to follow YHWH’s instruction which is His Torah (instruction in righteousness).

For as many as sinned without Torah shall also perish without Torah, and as many as sinned in the Torah shall be judged by the Torah. For not the hearers of the Torah are righteous in the sight of Elohim, but the doers of Torah (the law) shall be declared right” (Rom 2:12-13)

So those who sin, not knowing the Torah, will perish without the Torah. In order to gain everlasting life, one needs to have the Torah and subject themselves to it. Also notice how those “under Torah” and those “doers of Torah” are put in opposition to one another; therefore, both cannot simultaneously be in error. This is clarified with the phrase “for the doers of Torah will be made righteous.” So, if Torah-doers are made righteous, it stands to reason Torah itself is NOT passing away! The fact that such deep pro-Torah statements are being sent to Gentiles in Rome speak volumes of how mainstream Christianity is perverting Shaul’s teachings. “Under Torah” means to look to its rituals as a form of magic; a power that needs no purity of intent to bring about blessing, but merely fixed repetition. Torah in itself provides no authority of magic. Rather, Torah has authority because it is YHWH’s instruction to man! So “under Torah” is a false teaching that has never been true according to the Tanakh: YHWH blesses man for Torah observance, which is obedience to His Commandments and obedience to Him. Notice in Matthew 15 how Yehoshua rebukes the Pharisees on this very issue, how they set aside YHWH’s Torah (instructions) in favor of their traditions.

For when gentiles, who do not have the Torah, by nature do what is in the Torah, although not having the Torah, they are a Torah to themselves, who show the work of the Torah written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or even excusing” (Rom 2:14-15)

Shaul does not suggest that Gentiles are spontaneously Mastering Torah. Even common logic will prove this to be true. The point is that they should learn the written Torah without the distraction from Pharisaic or any other man-made traditions which are not rooted in the plain understanding of the Torah.

in the day when Elohim shall judge the secrets of men through  יהושע (Yehoshua) Messiah, according to my Good News” (Rom 2:16). Here is a scary thought for many people, that in the end on the return of the Messiah, those that have sinned but have not been “caught out”, will be judged for all the sins that they committed in secret. YHWH knows your thoughts and even the intentions of your thoughts too. "According to my Good News" is that of the Messiah who also lifted up and magnified the Torah of His Father. So everyone will be judged according to the Torah of YHWH.

See, you are called a Yehuḏite, and rest on the Torah, and make your boast in Elohim, and know the desire of Elohim, and approve what is superior, being instructed out of the Torah, and are trusting that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, an instructor of foolish ones, a teacher of babes, having the form of knowledge and of the truth in the Torah” (Rom 2:17-20). Wow, Shaul makes it VERY clear in this piece that we are all to learn and conduct ourselves according to the Torah! It is very clear through out the entire Scriptures, and stated here again by Shaul, that in order to know the desire of the Almighty, then you must study the Torah. The Torah is a very beautiful Word, however, many false teachers try and claim that it is a curse and that all that subject themselves to it are under a curse.

Is that really what Shaul is teaching? Can that statement or idea be found anywhere in Scripture? Certainly not! The Torah is the Living Word of YHWH, it is the marriage contract between the bride and the bridegroom, it teaches us how to love the Almighty and also to love each other. One can only start reading the Torah and see for themselves that if the world was governed by the Torah (which it will be with the return of the Messiah), then there would not be any hunger or poverty or theft or murders or unrighteousness in any way.

You, then, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who proclaim that a man should not steal, do you steal? You who say, “Do not commit adultery,” do you commit adultery? You who abominate idols, do you rob temples? You who make your boast in the Torah, through the transgression of the Torah do you disrespect Elohim? For “The Name of Elohim is blasphemed among the gentiles because of you,” as it has been written” (Rom 2:21-24)

Now here Shaul is once again addressing the hypocrites, or is at least warning the readers to not be hypocrites. He shows us that if we claim to be followers of the Almighty and we have any influence on other people, even if it is by being observed by how we live our lives, then we are to live our lives totally according to the Torah of YHWH. If we do not do this, then we are guilty of blaspheming the Name of Elohim.

What Shaul is also saying here is one of the most important keys to deciphering all his letters (which is the majority of the Renewed Covenant). He is saying here that one has to practice what you preach. Now that is a very important statement! Let me explain why, it is taught by all of Christianity that Shaul taught that it is not any more necessary to follow the Torah, because of the death and resurrection of the Messiah. This false doctrine is never supported anywhere in Scripture nor anywhere in Shaul’s letters.

You see, if Shaul taught that we are to practice what we preach, then he himself would also have to practice what he taught, or else he would also be a hypocrite! So if it was not necessary to follow the Torah anymore, then why did Shaul subject himself to following the Torah till the day he died? He did not deviate one bit from the Torah, in fact, he went out of his way to keep the Torah even when he was in captivity.

For circumcision indeed profits if you practice the Torah, but if you are a transgressor of the Torah, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. So, if an uncircumcised one watches over the righteousness of the Torah, shall not his uncircumcision be reckoned as circumcision? And the uncircumcised by nature, who perfects the Torah, shall judge you who notwithstanding letter and circumcision are a transgressor of the Torah! For he is not a Yehuḏite who is so outwardly, neither is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But a Yehuḏite is he who is so inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart, in Spirit, not literally, whose praise is not from men but from Elohim” (Rom 2:25-29)

Once again, here is a small piece of Shaul’s letter that is grossly mistranslated and many false doctrines are based on these few verses. The false teachers use this piece to teach that it is not necessary to be circumcised in the flesh. This of course is a totally false teaching.

Once again, we need a key to understanding what Shaul really meant here. Why do we need a key? Because Shaul wrote with a Hebrew mindset as he himself was a Hebrew and used Hebrew idioms. We, who are English speaking, are not Hebrews and do not read the Scriptures with a Hebrew mindset. In order to understand these Hebrew idioms we have to actually learn them and that is what the key is and not some magic formula that was “revealed in a divine way” to a single person, like many false teachers claim when they try and teach a new false doctrine to the people.

Now the key to this section is that of the circumcised and the uncircumcised. Shaul is not necessarily classifying the physical circumcision here, but is rather speaking of two different groups of people. Whenever he talks of the circumcision, he is referring to the Hebrews or Jews as that is how they were known, and the uncircumcision are the Gentiles or those that are not native to Israel.

Now with this point clear, you can read the section in the correct context. Those who are of the ‘circumcision’ who transgress the Torah, will become ‘uncircumcision’. If you do not use the key in this instance, you can try and imagine what people might believe, that those who are circumcised must be uncircumcised…. ? Who is going to have their foreskin sewn back on? OUCH!

No, what is being taught is that the Jews who transgress the Torah, will be cut off from YHWH’s people as stated in Romans 11.

Also, because a person could be physically circumcised and be a thief, liar, murderer, etc.
On the flip side, those who are of the uncircumcision (Gentiles), who keep the Torah of YHWH, will be reckoned as the circumcision (grafted into the good olive tree) again explained in Romans 11. You see, the true faith of YHWH and His Son the Messiah is to love Him and to watch over the righteousness of the Torah and to become righteous by doing the Torah of YHWH.

So are we to be circumcised in the flesh too? Well…. What does the Torah (the Living Word of YHWH) teach us on this subject? I am sure you can look it up for yourself!

So if you read Shaul’s letters in the correct context, it makes so much more sense and dismisses all the false teachings that stem from them. Shaul NEVER taught that it was not necessary to keep the Torah, but rather that it was absolutely necessary to keep the Torah of YHWH in order to inherit everlasting life.

1 comment:

  1. Great summaries of these texts. Thank you for tackling them.