Thursday, December 20, 2012

Galatians Chapter 1 explained

Now here is a project that I felt needed to be done. The project is to write a detailed explanation on the book of Galatians. The reason this needs to be done is simply because the book of Galatians is probably the most misquoted and misunderstood book in the entire Bible by the Christians. The Church uses it to attack anyone who desires to turn to do the desire of the Almighty. They also use it to justify their own personal desire not to do what is written in the Word of the Almighty. It is easy to twist the words of Shaul to seem as though it is okay to disregard the Hebrew Tanakh (Old Testament).

I have also seen a poster explaining Galatians 1 as “the gospel of Christian freedom” Many Christians believe this as being set free from obedience to the Word of the Almighty. But is it really? We will be investigating this subject further.

Before we get started with Galatians, let us look at something that Kepha (Peter) said about the writings of Sha’ul (Paul):

So then, beloved ones, looking forward to this, do your utmost to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, and reckon the patience of our Master as deliverance, as also our beloved brother Sha’ul wrote to you, according to the wisdom given to him, as also in all his letters, speaking in them concerning these matters, in which some are hard to understand, which those who are untaught and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do also the other Scriptures. You, then, beloved ones, being forewarned, watch, lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the delusion of the lawless” (2 Peter 3:14-17)

Here Kepha is teaching us that we need to do our very best to be found by the Almighty in peace, being spotless and blameless. In order to do so, one needs to study the Scriptures to know and understand what is good to do and what is bad. We also need to understand what the authors meant by what they wrote. If anyone does not seek the true context of the passages, then that person is only fooling himself and not seeking truth.

Kepha also makes it very clear that some of Sha’ul’s letters are hard to understand for those who do not know the Hebrew Scriptures intimately. The people who do not know the Hebrew Scriptures are those who cannot understand the writings of Sha’ul at all, as Sha’ul quotes the Scriptures often and uses many Hebrew idioms and Hebraisms. It is them who create false doctrines based upon what Sha’ul wrote, but taken way out of context, because they do not know any better.

Kepha also makes it very clear that those who do not keep the Torah, are those who create the delusion that we are to stay away from Torah, so that we do not fall from our steadfastness. As you can see, Kepha is teaching that we still need to abide by what is written in the Law (Torah) as this is what holds all the answers.

Let us also have a look at a few references as to what Sha’ul used and taught us to follow, that which he himself calls Scripture.

And indeed, all those wishing to live reverently in Messiah יהושע (Y’hoshua), shall be persecuted.
But evil men and impostors shall go on to the worse, leading astray and being led astray.
But you, stay in what you have learned and trusted, having known from whom you have learned, and that from a babe you have known the Set-apart Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for deliverance through belief in Messiah יהושע (Y’hoshua).
All Scripture is breathed by Elohim and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for setting straight, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of Elohim might be fitted, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim 3:12-17)

Here Sha’ul is teaching that those who desire to live reverently in the Messiah, will be persecuted, but Sha’ul makes it very clear that it is because those who follow the Messiah will not be led astray by those who do not keep to the Scriptures.

Sha’ul clearly teaches us to follow the Set-Apart Scriptures which is breathed by the Almighty and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for setting straight and for instruction in righteousness.

Now is Sha’ul referring to any of his letters or writings as being Scripture? Or is he referring to the Hebrew Scriptures? To answer this simple question, Sha’ul makes it clear that the people knew the Scriptures from when they were a babe. Sha’ul’s letters did not exist at that time, so they are not considered to be Scripture according to Sha’ul. What did exist, and what Sha’ul was speaking of, was the Hebrew Scriptures and Sha’ul is making it clear that we are to live by these Scriptures. The Messiah confirms this in Mat 4:4 where He says, “It has been written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of יהוה (YHWH)’” This too is proof that the Hebrew Tanakh is the Word of the Almighty which never changes.

Let us look at a few more verses:

For whatever was written before was written for our instruction, that through endurance and encouragement of the Scriptures we might have the expectation” (Rom 15:4).

Here Sha’ul makes it clear again that the Scriptures are everything written in the Hebrew Tanakh and that we are to live by these Scriptures.

And according to his practice, Sha’ul went in unto them, and for three Sabbaths was reasoning with them from the Scriptures” (Act 17:2).

We can see that Sha’ul made a practice of teaching from the Hebrew Scriptures on the Sabbath. Was he reasoning from his letters, or from the Hebrew Tanakh which he called the Scriptures?

Now Sha’ul cannot contradict himself by saying one thing to one group of people, and another thing to a different group of people. This would make him a hypocrite and all his letters invalid for teaching. But this is not the case, if his writings are understood in the correct context. Sha’ul clearly kept to everything written in the Hebrew Scriptures and taught us to do the same. It is therefore impossible for him to teach otherwise, because if he did do so, then he would be a heretic and a hypocrite and all his writings would be null and void. We must also understand that Sha’ul does not have the power or authority to change anything in the Scriptures at all.

So now we can start to dismiss many, and hopefully all, false doctrines that are rooted in the book of Galatians. Let us now get into the book of Galatians and the true contextual explanation thereof.

Galatians 1:1 - 2

Sha’ul, an emissary – not from men, nor by a man, but by יהושע (Y’hoshua) Messiah and Elohim the Father who raised Him from the dead – and all the brothers who are with me, to the assemblies of Galatia:” (Gal 1:1-2)

Sha’ul has been sent to Galatia to spread the truth about the Scriptures by the Messiah and His Father the Almighty. This is one more place that proves that the Messiah is NOT the Almighty, and disproves the Trinity doctrine.

Galatians 1:3 - 5

Favour to you and peace from Elohim the Father and our Master יהושע (Y’hoshua) Messiah, who gave Himself for our sins, to deliver us out of this present wicked age, according to the desire of our Elohim and Father, to whom be the praise forever and ever. Amĕn” (Gal 1:3-5)

The Messiah gave Himself for our sins. He is known as the perfect lamb whose blood was shed. “And, according to the Torah, almost all is cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Heb 9:22). Now if you do not know the Hebrew Scriptures, you are not going to understand this concept, as it is explained in great detail in the Torah. Only through the shedding of blood can one be forgiven of sin. In the Torah, a goat or a lamb was brought to the Kohanim (Priests) and it is they who slaughtered it. Never ever did the general population of Yisra’el ever slaughter a sin offering themselves, they always brought it to the Kohanim (priests). One thing you will see if you ever read the Hebrew Scriptures, is that the priests are called Mashiyach (Messiah) too.

The Kohen Gadol (High Priest) presented the blood of one's sacrifice in the most Set Apart place, once a year, for the covering of the sins of the nation to the Almighty. The Kohen Gadol was the only person who was allowed to do so which happened on Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement). The High Priest was the mediator between the people and the Almighty. Anyone else who went into the most Set Apart place, would immediately die.

Y’hoshua the Messiah is also a Kohen (Priest). He is our Kohen Gadol (High Priest) (Heb 4:14) who still presents His blood to the Almighty as the mediator between us and the Almighty. He does this every year on Yom Kippur. And when we come with a sacrifice for a sin or guilt or peace, etc. he sprinkles it on the heavenly altar.

Now because The Messiah shed His blood for our sins, it is speaking of our past sins and does not give us free reign to carry on sinning. We are called to repentance, which is a turning away from sin. But what is sin? “Everyone doing sin also does lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4). Any transgression of the Torah is a sin.

Galatians 1:6 - 7

I marvel that you are so readily turning away from Him who called you in the favour of Messiah, to a different ‘Good News, which is not another, only there are some who are troubling you and wishing to pervert the Good News of Messiah” (Gal 1:6-7)

Okay, so let us see who are those that are the ones who teach a different good news to the true Good News:

Let no one deceive you in any way, because the falling away is to come first, and the man of lawlessness is to be revealed, the son of destruction
The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power and signs and wonders of falsehood
” (2 Thes 2:3, 9)

Here Sha’ul is making it very clear that those who are lawless (do not live by and teach Torah) are from Satan. He also makes it very clear that anyone who teaches anything contrary to the Torah is teaching a different “good news.” But these lawless men come in disguise and fool many into believing that they are messengers of light and the emissaries of the Messiah, as the following verse explains:

For such are false emissaries, deceptive workers, masquerading as emissaries of Messiah. And no wonder! For Satan himself masquerades as a messenger of light!
It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness, whose end shall be according to their works!” (2 Cor 11:13-15)

So we have to be really careful as to who we listen to, even though they seem to be genuine and loving. It is very possible that they could be false emissaries and deceptive workers masquerading as emissaries of the Messiah, but are rather teachers of lies and deceit. What then are we to do?

You, then, beloved ones, being forewarned, watch, lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the delusion of the lawless” (2 Peter 3:17)

As the verse above says, we need to be steadfast in the Scriptures and not fall for the Torah-less teachers and doctrines. Sha’ul makes it clear that the Scriptures (Hebrew Tanakh) is what we need to refer to for instruction (2 Tim 3:12-17 – see above). The Torah is the instruction in righteousness. Without the Torah there is unrighteousness or lawlessness.

Galatians 1:8 - 9

However, even if we, or a messenger out of heaven, bring a ‘Good News’ to you beside what we announced to you, let him be accursed.
As we have said before, and now I say again, if anyone brings a ‘Good News’ to you beside what you have received, let him be accursed” (Gal 1:8-9).

Here is a response to those who claim to hear things from the “Holy Spirit” that no one else does. Sha’ul warns against these people. If anyone or any spirit speaks anything against what is written in the Torah, then it is proof that that person or spirit is speaking falsehood and the spirit is not the Ruach haKodesh (Set Apart Spirit), but rather a spirit of the devil.

There is a lot of “Holy Spirit” teachings going on in the Christian faith, where the teachings cannot be found anywhere in the Scriptures, and yet, so many people fall for these ridiculous teachings without testing it at all.

The reason that Sha’ul repeated the statement twice, is because there is no capitalization or underlining in the Hebrew language to point out an important statement. Rather, Hebrew has, what is called, parallelism, which is simply repeating a word or statement. So it is very clear that Sha’ul is giving a very stern warning against such people and spirits that cannot support their teachings by using the Hebrew Scriptures.

Galatians 1:10 - 12

For do I now persuade men, or Elohim? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I should not be a servant of Messiah. And I make known to you, brothers, that the Good News announced by me is not according to man. For I did not receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but through a revelation of יהושע (Y’hoshua) Messiah” (Gal 1:10-12)

Sha’ul makes it clear that he is not out to please men, but rather to please the Almighty by teaching His desire and using His Words and not the words of men. Where can these words of the Almighty be found? In the Hebrew Tanakh.

Now Sha’ul makes the claim that the Messiah taught him the Good News. Does this mean that the Messiah taught him anything that is not written in the Hebrew Scriptures? Definitely not. We can know this because of what is written in the book of Acts.

And the brothers immediately sent Sha’ul and Sila away by night to Beroia, who, having come, went into the congregation of the Yehud’im. Now these were more noble than those in Thessalonike, who received the word with great eagerness, and searched the Scriptures daily, if these words were so. Then many of them truly believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, decent women as well as men” (Act 17:10-11)

Here we see that Sha’ul used the Hebrew Scriptures to teach the truth of the Messiah. If he did not, then the Y’hudim of Beroia would not have believed him at all. Shaul taught only from the Hebrew Scriptures.

And according to his practice, Sha’ul went in unto them, and for three Sabbaths was reasoning with them from the Scriptures, explaining and pointing out that the Messiah had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This is the Messiah, יהושע (Y’hoshua), whom I proclaim to you” (Act 17:2-3)

It is very clear that Sha’ul used the Scriptures to teach about the Messiah. So the Messiah Himself did not teach Sha’ul anything new that is not found in the Hebrew Scriptures (Tanakh).

Let us also jump ahead a little to the book of Revelation to see what it says who the people of the Almighty are:

And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to fight with the remnant of her seed, those guarding the commands of Elohim and possessing the witness of יהושע (Y’hoshua) Messiah” (Rev 12:17)

Here is the endurance of the set-apart ones, here are those guarding the commands of Elohim and the belief of יהושע (Y’hoshua)” (Rev 14:12)

So it is very clearly written that the set apart people are those who guard the Commandments AND have the belief of the Messiah Y’hoshua. It is impossible to do only one and not the other. It is impossible to believe in the Messiah and not do the Commandments.

Galatians 1:13 - 14

For you have heard of my former way of life in Yehudaism, how intensely I persecuted the assembly of Elohim, and ravaged it. And I progressed in Yehudaism beyond many of my age in my race, being more exceedingly ardent for the traditions of my fathers” (Gal 1:13-14)

Now Sha’ul is revealing who he was before the Messiah appeared to him. He tells us that he was a very learned man in the teachings of the Talmud (Oral Law). Although he did also study the Torah and knew it very well, many of the teachings and traditions of the Y’hudim were based on the Oral Law (traditions of the elders). Many of these teachings and traditions contradicted the written Torah. The reason why Sha’ul teaches why he persecuted the “assembly of Elohim” is because the Pharisaical law, which was based on the Oral Law, was the law of the state of Israel. Anyone rejecting the Oral Law and following only what is written in the Hebrew Scriptures, was persecuted by the Pharisaical rulers.

So Sha’ul makes a clear distinction between Pharisaical Judaism and Torah observance.

Galatians 1:15 - 17  

But when it pleased Elohim, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me by His favour, to reveal His Son in me, that I might bring Him, the Good News, to the gentiles, I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood, neither did I go up to Yerushalayim, to those who were emissaries before me. But I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus” (Gal 1:15-17)

Sha’ul is explaining that the timing of the Almighty is perfect and that Sha’ul needed his education in Pharisaical Judaism, and literature first, before he take on his role of spreading the Good News. It was by the favour of the Almighty that He called Sha’ul to be His emissary. Just like with Sha’ul, many of us are called, it is just up to us to choose to accept that calling and to do what the Almighty requires from us. This requires obedience to His Word.

Sha’ul was called to take the Message of the Messiah to the Gentile nations, but as we will later see, most of his letters that appear in the B’rit Chaddashah (Renewed Covenant) are addressed to Jewish groups living among the gentile nations.

After the encounter with the Messiah, he did not immediately consult with other people, but rather, spent his time in prayer and Scriptural studying to learn about the Messiah in the Scriptures. If we also desire to learn who the Messiah is and what He does for us etc, then we need to go and study the Hebrew Tanakh continually. Why do I say this? According to Scripture and majority understanding, the Messiah Y’hoshua is the Word of the Almighty in the flesh. So if we want to know who the Messiah is, then we need to go study the Word of the Almighty in great detail. This is what Sha’ul did.

Galatians 1:18 - 19

Then after three years I went up to Yerushalayim to learn from Kĕpha, and remained with him for fifteen days. And I saw no other of the emissaries except Ya’aqov, the brother of the Master” (Gal 1:18-19)

After Sha’ul had spent his time in the Scriptures, he then went to learn from Kepha (Peter) for fifteen days. He went to Kepha because Kepha knew the Messiah personally and walked with the Messiah and learned directly from the Messiah Y’hoshua Himself.

Galatians 1:20

“And what I write to you, see, before Elohim, I do not lie” (Gal 1:20)

This verse does not need much explaining. Sha’ul is trying to gain the peoples trust and making an oath before Elohim that he is speaking truth.

Then I went into the districts of Syria and of Kilikia. And I was still not known by sight to the assemblies of Yehudah which were in Messiah, but they were hearing only that, “The one who once persecuted us now brings as Good News the belief which he once ravaged.” So they were esteeming Elohim in me” (Gal 1:21-24)   

Sha’ul has just finished the setting or introduction of his letter to the Galatians. He states that he has not yet been to Yerushalayim since his encounter with the Messiah. He also reported that the believers in Yerushalayim were esteeming the Almighty because of what they heard about him.

So now that we have covered the first chapter of Galatians, which is the introduction and foundation to the rest of his letter, we can see that Sha’ul is teaching that it is still necessary to study and do all that is written in the Hebrew Scriptures. The truth is, that the obedience to the Torah is what sets us free from the law of sin.

I will be posting the explanations of the rest of Galatians soon.