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#37960 Sat Oct 13, 2007 7:42 PM
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I would to hear opinions from the forum about a biblical issue that I am interested in and have struggled over to understand. This is also one of those questions that most people initially misunderstand when I bring it up, so please read my questions carefully.

Regarding the Passover, the scripture says in Exodus 12:14 - "Now this day will be a memorial to you, and you shall celebrate it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations you are to celebrate it as a permanent ordinance." (Note: “throughout your generations…a permanent ordinance.”) The basic idea is repeated later in Exodus 12:24 – “And you shall observe this event as an ordinance for you and your children forever.” (Note: “forever”)

While the ritual ordinances of Torah do not apply to Gentile believers (as clearly set forth by the Jerusalem Council of Acts 15), today's Messianic Jews still hold the position that Jewish people, including or especially believers in Jesus, are required to keep the ordinance of Passover as set forth in the Torah as a means of obedience to God faithfulness to God's calling and purpose for Israel. While Jesus said that He did not come to abolish but to fulfill the law, many Christians interpret "fulfill" to mean that He brought an end to the Law, abolished it, made it null and void, etc, but Jesus' own words, and words like "permanent" and “forever” in Exodus 12:14; 24 would seem to contradict that view.

There are similar references to permanence in connection with the Sabbath as well, such as Exodus 31:16 – “So the sons of Israel shall observe the Sabbath, to celebrate the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant.” While Sunday is the Lord's Day and the appropriate day for Christians to gather for corporate worship without question (Acts 20:7, 1 Cor. 16:2), does the Bible teach that even believing Jews should still continue to keep the Sabbath as a sign of God's covenant relationship with Israel (see Exodus 31:13)? Many passages in Acts make it clear that Paul and the others in the apostolic church continued to refer to Saturday as the Sabbath of Israel.

There seems to be a lot of evidence in Acts that Jewish Christians in the apostolic church continued to keep the ordinances of Torah, including the Sabbath, to the extent that they were able. According to Ireneaus, John and the other apostles continued to live strictly according the ordinances of Moses.

Salvation was and is always by grace, never by Law, so my questions do not have to do with soteriology but rather matters of obedience and calling. Now my question(s): Do these passages mean that Jews, especially the faithful remnant that believes in Messiah Jesus, must still keep the Passover and Sabbath for the sake of obedience to God? Would this be analogous to baptism, where we consider a born again believer in Christ, Jew or Gentile, who neglects baptism to be disobedient, but still saved? By the same token, and in light of the cited passages, is a Jewish believer who neglects the Passover and the Sabbath living in disobedience to God? Since the Bible cannot be divided against itself, can we say that certain passages from Paul’s writings that might seem to say otherwise should be interpreted to preserve harmony with Exodus 12:14, 12:24 and 31:16 rather than overturning them? What do you think?

The answer that many give to such questions is that such things in the early church were relegated to matters of conscience, but when the God's Law commands Israel with words like “permanent” and “forever”, the law of conscience does not seem to apply. For Gentiles believers such things are clearly issues of conscience I believe, because while we are members of the commonwealth of Israel through Christ (Ephesians 2:12-13), we are still not Israel. But what about the Jews? When it comes to salvation, scripture is clear that there is neither Jew nor Gentile, male or female, slave or free, but isn't obedience and calling a different issue altogether?

I understand that these questions may seem academic from a Gentile perspective, but the purpose and calling of Israel has always been an area of great interest to me, perhaps because I have never been satisfied with the standard dispensational or covenantal interpretations. I have read some of the Messianic Jewish scholars, and they are fairly critical of the gentile church's traditional approach to the subject of Israel and her place in God's redemptive economy. The answers to these kinds of questions do have some practical relevance in our Great Commission efforts toward Jewish people, where we often struggle with the same questions that the early church struggled with, except maybe in reverse. For instance, when Jewish people are saved, what are we to tell them? Do we tell them they are no longer Jews but Christians and must forsake all things Jewish (the medieval approach), or do we say that to continue to live as a Jew is a matter of conscience (modern approach), or does the answer lie elsewhere? Should we even concern ourselves with such questions?

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deacon jim #37961 Thu Oct 18, 2007 1:52 PM
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Jim,

I would like to get back to this. I have interacted with "Messianic Jews" before so the issue is somewhat familiar to me. However, I do not presently have the time to give a full response. I do believe that the cross releases the Jews from the ceremonial observances of the Old Testament Church. Lord willing, I will address this more fully later.

Last edited by CovenantInBlood; Thu Oct 18, 2007 1:54 PM.

Kyle

I tell you, this man went down to his house justified.
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First, biblical Judaism, no longer exists. The ceremonial law after the destruction of the Temple was impossible to fulfill. The ceremonial law is no longer relevant. It was fulfilled by Christ.

Quote
Gal. 4:9-11, 5:1 but now that ye have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how turn ye back again to the weak and beggarly rudiments, whereunto ye desire to be in bondage over again? Ye observe days, and months, and seasons, and years. I am afraid of you, lest by any means I have bestowed labor upon you in vain. … For freedom did Christ set us free: stand fast therefore, and be not entangled again in a yoke of bondage.
Add to this the fact that the term “forever” may also be translated “all the days of your life” (i.e. Ps. 23:6, etc.) and we have the idea of “all the days of Israel’s existence.” Since, Passover was fulfilled by Christ (and now by His church) this translation seems most fitting.

Secondly, biblically speaking, there are only spiritual Jews. Gentiles that have been saved are spiritual Jews. Jews that are believers are spiritual Jews. Biblically speaking, it is no more a people of race – but grace (please note, it was always a people of grace (Rom. 2:28-29), but we see the covenant in the OC often accomplished thru the people of race – God’s chosen people).

Quote
Gal. 3:26-29 For ye are all sons of God, through faith, in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ. There can be neither Jew nor Greek, there can be neither bond nor free, there can be no male and female; for ye all are one man in Christ Jesus. And if ye are Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, heirs according to promise.
Thirdly, most in the early church understood Christ as the fulfillment of Passover, and the celebration of Christ’s resurrection as the proper mode of Passover observance. This should be all Christians understanding and practice (1 Cor. 5:7-8). This article may help (somewhat). For the Sabbath (binding moral law) please read, The Covenantal Sabbath and the shorter The Perpetuity and Change of the Sabbath. You may find other articles on the Sabbath here (Praxis/Sabbath).

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J_Edwards #37963 Sat Oct 20, 2007 1:06 AM
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Gal. 4:9-11, 5:1 but now that ye have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how turn ye back again to the weak and beggarly rudiments, whereunto ye desire to be in bondage over again? Ye observe days, and months, and seasons, and years. I am afraid of you, lest by any means I have bestowed labor upon you in vain. … For freedom did Christ set us free: stand fast therefore, and be not entangled again in a yoke of bondage.

I am familiar with these passages from Galatians, but have always understood Paul’s objections in Galatians to be toward Gentile believers who were considering circumcision as a means of making them fully acceptable to God (implying that God was the God of the Jews only, a perversion of the Gospel) and that Paul’s comments concerning “weak and beggarly rudiments” etc. was really a reference to their former works-based pagan religion. By submitting to circumcision, they were reverting to a works-based righteousness that was really no different than their former paganism.

But supposing I am mistaken, and the Mosaic Law represented the “beggarly rudiments” and a return to “bondage” of Galatians 4:9-11 for all believers (Jew or Gentile), then why did the Apostles themselves apparently continue to observe it? Please consider the following:

1) How do we interpret the controversy that led to the Jerusalem council in Acts 15 and the apostles resulting decree to the Gentiles? The implication is clear that the Jewish believers were still circumcising their children and keeping the Law. If this was the same perversion of the gospel that was happening in Galatians, then why didn’t Peter, and James, and the other Apostles instruct these Jewish believers rightly, rather than debating over the Gentiles?

I understand that there is neither Jew nor Greek when it comes to salvation (we are both saved by the blood of Christ). However, it would seem that the Jerusalem Council (Peter, James, Paul, et al.) were certainly drawing a distinction between Jew and Gentile with respect to their status concerning the Law.

2) How do we interpret Paul’s actions in Acts 18:18 where he (apparently) had taken a Nazirite vow?

3) How do we interpret the instruction of James and the actions of Paul in Acts 21:20-25 where Paul apparently makes a public offering at the temple to prove that he himself “walks orderly and keep the Law?” Most commentators are critical of Paul, assuming that his actions in this case were duplicitous and did not reflect the truth of the gospel. If so, then we must lay the same charge against James and the Jerusalem church in general. Was there a conflict between how they lived and what they believed and taught, or are we missing something?

4) Finally, there is Irenaeus of Lyons. Irenaeus was a disciple of Polycarp who was a disciple of the Apostle John. Here we have a compelling bit of historical evidence. According to Irenaeus, the Apostles were keeping the Law. In about 180 A.D. Irenaeus recorded in “Against Heresies,” (Book III, Chapter 12, Paragraph 15):

“Thus did the Apostles, whom the Lord made witnesses of every action and of every doctrine—for upon all occasions do we find Peter, and James, and John present with Him—scrupulously act according to the dispensation of the Mosaic law, showing that it was from one and the same God; which they certainly never would have done, as I have already said, if they had learned from the Lord [that there existed] another Father besides Him who appointed the dispensation of the law.”

So then, if the Apostles were continuing to practice Judaism, were they in spiritual darkness on this matter? I have also never felt that either dispensational or covenant theology has adequately addressed this issue. But I would like to figure this out, so please let me know how you understand these things.

Saved by Grace,

Jim


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deacon jim #37964 Sat Oct 20, 2007 9:39 AM
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Quote
Deacon Jim said,

I am familiar with these passages from Galatians, but have always understood Paul’s objections in Galatians to be toward Gentile believers who were considering circumcision as a means of making them fully acceptable to God (implying that God was the God of the Jews only, a perversion of the Gospel) and that Paul’s comments concerning “weak and beggarly rudiments” etc. was really a reference to their former works-based pagan religion. By submitting to circumcision, they were reverting to a works-based righteousness that was really no different than their former paganism.

But supposing I am mistaken, and the Mosaic Law represented the “beggarly rudiments” and a return to “bondage” of Galatians 4:9-11 for all believers (Jew or Gentile), then why did the Apostles themselves apparently continue to observe it? Please consider the following:
The Galatians were mostly Gentile heathen. However, the Judaizers were attempting to bring them under the Mosaic law (the law is the law no matter its audience, Romans 3:19 ( everybody, the whole world. Greijdanus, op. cit., p. 177; and Murray, op. cit., p. 106)). As Paul states in Gal. 3:1-2, “You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?” As Kistemaker states,

Quote
Neither in Greek, however, nor in modern English does the word bewitch always have reference to literal witchcraft. In the interpretation of this passage much has been made of “the evil eye” (cf. Deut. 28:54, 56; Prov. 23:6; 28:22; Matt. 20:15; Mark 7:22). But Paul was probably not thinking about the sorcerer who had brought the Galatians under the baleful influence of his evil eye, but rather of the Judaizer who had cast a spell upon them not by means of his eyes but by means of his words, his teaching; specifically, by telling them that faith in Christ must be supplemented by Mosaic ritualism. And the Galatians, by yielding to this influence, had failed to understand that a Christ supplemented is a Christ supplanted.

William Hendriksen and Simon J. Kistemaker, vol. 8, New Testament Commentary: Exposition of Galatians, Accompanying biblical text is author's translation., New Testament Commentary, 112 (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953-2001).
Thus, in light of this, chapter 4 should be translated in the light of chapter 3. We could add to this the context of Galatians 4:1-7: Kistemaker again,

Quote
The altruistic nature of Christ’s coming is stressed in the purpose clause: 5. in order that he might redeem them (who were) under law. Essentially we have here the same thought that was expressed previously in 3:13: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us.” Even the verb—redeem—is the same. Hence, see the explanation of 3:13, and for the thought compare II Cor. 5:21. Yet, there is a difference, for here in Gal. 4:5 emphasis is placed on the fact that we (Gentiles, Jews; the addressed, the addressor, everybody destined to be redeemed) were “under law,” and this not only in the sense of being subject to the moral law, which by nature we were unable to fulfill and whose curse we were unable to carry so as to get out from under it; but also (in the present context; see verses 3, 8–10; cf. Col. 2:8, 14, 20–23) in the sense that “we” regarded strict obedience to the ceremonial law and all its man-made additions to be necessary for salvation. Accordingly, the Father’s object in commissioning his Son was that, in the most comprehensive sense, the latter might purchase those free that were under law; and not only that but also: that we might receive the adoption as sons. Cf. Rom. 8:15, 23; 9:4; Eph. 1:5.
Quote
Deacon Jim said,

How do we interpret the controversy that led to the Jerusalem council in Acts 15 and the apostles resulting decree to the Gentiles? The implication is clear that the Jewish believers were still circumcising their children and keeping the Law. If this was the same perversion of the gospel that was happening in Galatians, then why didn’t Peter, and James, and the other Apostles instruct these Jewish believers rightly, rather than debating over the Gentiles?
Yes, “some” (Acts 15:1) were still circumcising their children according to the law. However, this does not make it – the Gospel. At the JC, some Pharisees stood up and said, "The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to obey the law of Moses" (Acts 15:6). However, note that Peter and the rest of the apostles did not respond immediately. They gathered together and met (Acts 15:7). After MUCH debate (Acts 15:7), Peter stood up and said,

Quote
“…"Brethren, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and believe. "And God, who knows the heart, testified to them giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us; and He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith (Acts 15:7-9).
Peter and others were originally messed up on the issue of the Gentiles. It is at the JC that Peter and the other Jews get straighten out (and as would be expected it takes time for this to be circulated and accepted by the church). As Galatians 2 (most scholars contend that Gal. 2 and Acts 15 speak of the same event), says,

Quote
…But when Cephas came to Antioch, I resisted him to the face, because he stood condemned. For before that certain came from James, he ate with the Gentiles; but when they came, he drew back and separated himself, fearing them that were of the circumcision. And the rest of the Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that even Barnabas was carried away with their dissimulation. But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Cephas before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest as do the Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, how compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews? We being Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, yet knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we believed on Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ, and not by the works of the law: because by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. But if, while we sought to be justified in Christ, we ourselves also were found sinners, is Christ a minister of sin? God forbid. For if I build up again those things which I destroyed, I prove myself a transgressor. For I through the law died unto the law, that I might live unto God. I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I that live, but Christ living in me: and that life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself up for me. I do not make void the grace of God: for if righteousness is through the law, then Christ died for nought.
Thus, we see that not everyone had immediate understanding on this issue. Paul did; he corrected the church accordingly – even the infallible first Pope. <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/drop.gif" alt="" />

Quote
Deacon Jim said,

2) How do we interpret Paul’s actions in Acts 18:18 where he (apparently) had taken a Nazirite vow?
Have you read 1 Corinthians 9:19-23?

Quote
For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.
In your text, Paul demonstrated that he was a law-abiding Jew. At other times he stresses his Roman citizenship (Acts 22:25 ff). In the above situation (Nazirite vow), a discernible display of his integrity as a Jew would be much more effective than an extended explanation. He applied the old adage: “A picture is worth a thousand words.” What did he do after his shaving" Verse 19 says, "he himself entered the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews." His methodology had a divine purpose – “so that I might win those who are under the Law.”

Quote
Deacon Jim said,

3) Finally, there is Irenaeus of Lyons. Irenaeus was a disciple of Polycarp who was a disciple of the Apostle John. Here we have a compelling bit of historical evidence. According to Irenaeus, the Apostles were keeping the Law. In about 180 A.D. Irenaeus recorded in “Against Heresies,” (Book III, Chapter 12, Paragraph 15):

“Thus did the Apostles, whom the Lord made witnesses of every action and of every doctrine—for upon all occasions do we find Peter, and James, and John present with Him—scrupulously act according to the dispensation of the Mosaic law, showing that it was from one and the same God; which they certainly never would have done, as I have already said, if they had learned from the Lord [that there existed] another Father besides Him who appointed the dispensation of the law.”
I wasn’t aware Irenaeus interpretation of events is considered infallible? He also affirms that Mary is the Coredemptrix of humanity saying,

Quote
In accordance with this design, Mary the Virgin is found obedient... But Eve was disobedient; for she did not obey when as yet she was a virgin. And even as she... having become disobedient, was made the cause of death, both to herself and to the entire human race; so also did Mary, having a man betrothed [to her], and being nevertheless a virgin, by yielding obedience, become the cause of salvation, both to herself and the whole human race... And thus also it was that the knot of Eve's disobedience was loosed by the obedience of Mary. For what the virgin Eve had bound fast through unbelief, this did the virgin Mary set free through faith. (Against Heresies, 3:22:4))
We may add to this his statements on "free-will" and the nature of evil (somewhat Platonic). His writtings also clearly state that Christ lived to be 50 yoa. Clearly, Irenaeus is not always right!

Quote
Deacon Jim said,

So then, if the Apostles were continuing to practice Judaism, were they in spiritual darkness on this matter? I have also never felt that either dispensational or covenant theology has adequately addressed this issue. But I would like to figure this out, so please let me know how you understand these things.
Yes (as seen above), the apostles and other Christians mentioned in Scripture were not completely right all the time -- they were all were sinners (Paul withstood Peter, the problem of Paul, John-Mark, and Barnabas (Acts 15:36 f), Paul's intentions (Acts 16:6), etc.). Covenantal theology – the scripture – is pretty straight forward on this issue.


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deacon jim #37965 Sat Oct 20, 2007 10:11 AM
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There's one other point that should be made regarding the Apostles practice of Judaism. The period of time between the resurrection and 70 AD was a time of transition in which the New Covenant economy was coming to maturity and the Old Covenant economy was "waxing old and ready to vanish." After the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem in 70 AD there was no longer any possibility of practicing "Biblical" Judaism - obviously by God's design.

Heb 8:13 In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.


Jim

Jud 1:3 . . . contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.

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Thank you for your comments. They are actually quite helpful to me.


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J_Edwards said:

The Galatians were mostly Gentile heathen. However, the Judaizers were attempting to bring them under the Mosaic law (the law is the law no matter its audience, Romans 3:19 ( everybody, the whole world. Greijdanus, op. cit., p. 177; and Murray, op. cit., p. 106)). As Paul states in Gal. 3:1-2, “You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?”

Your explanation is pretty much in agreement with what I have understood. The Gentiles were becoming proselyte Jews in order to add to, enhance, or complete their stature in Christ, which Paul rightly condemns. Jew or Gentile, any system of works- or ritual-based righteousness is a departure from the gospel. But I would also assert that the case in Galatians says nothing about the Mosaic Law (in effect, or not in effect) except that it (the Law) can never be a means of righteousness. The "weak and beggarly rudiments" of Galatians 4:9 is not the Mosaic Law per se, but simply a general reference to the principle of works-based righteousness. Paul speaks of these former pagans "returning" to something...these Gentiles were not returning to Judaism; they were returning to false works-based religion from which they had (supposedly) been saved. The ritual Judaism (circumcision, holy days) that the Galatians were sumbitting to was just the case in point.

Quote
J_Edwards said:
Peter and others were originally messed up on the issue of the Gentiles. It is at the JC that Peter and the other Jews get straighten out (and as would be expected it takes time for this to be circulated and accepted by the church).

Agreed. They were not sure what to do with the Gentiles at first. Why? Because they viewed "the Way" (Christianity) as something that existed not apart from, but within, Judaism. It was not uncommon in those days for Gentile "god fearers" to convert to Judaism, becoming proselyte Jews by circumcision. There were Jewish believers who thought that Gentiles coming to Christ would need to do likewise, that is, become Jews.

So the apostles finally figured it out, and issued the decree concerning the Gentiles - that the Gentiles had no obligations under the Mosaic Law. But I suppose the part that I get stuck on is that they did not instruct the believing Jews that they too were no longer "under the Law." I realize that these men were not infallible, but it would seem to me that the plain implication of the JC was that what was clearly decreed concerning the Gentiles was not necessarily true for the Jews. I realize that this is an argument from silence, but it seems strange that the apostles would come to the conclusion that the Gentiles were not obligated to keep the law without addressing those in the Jerusalem church who apparently thought such remained necessary for Jews.

Quote
J_Edwards said:
Thus, we see that not everyone had immediate understanding on this issue. Paul did; he corrected the church accordingly – even the infallible first Pope.

I guess Pope Peter I was not speaking "Ex Cathedra" just yet, eh? <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/laugh.gif" alt="" />

Quote
J_Edwards said:

Have you read 1 Corinthians 9:19-23?

Quote
For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.
In your text, Paul demonstrated that he was a law-abiding Jew. At other times he stresses his Roman citizenship (Acts 22:25 ff). In the above situation (Nazirite vow), a discernible display of his integrity as a Jew would be much more effective than an extended explanation. He applied the old adage: “A picture is worth a thousand words.” What did he do after his shaving" Verse 19 says, "he himself entered the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews." His methodology had a divine purpose – “so that I might win those who are under the Law.”
[/quote]

Good point. I am familiar with the passage from 1 Corinthians 9:19-23. The translation that I normally use, NKJV, does not inlcude the words "though not being myself under the law" as these apparently do not appear in all manuscripts. But I grant you that this could explain many of Paul's actions wiht respect to publically keeping Torah. However, taking a Nazirite vow seems a bit unecessary, if all Paul is trying to do is cater to the conscience of the Jews he was trying to reach. Perhaps not.<img src="/forum/images/graemlins/scratch1.gif" alt="" />

Quote
J_Edwards said:
I wasn’t aware Irenaeus interpretation of events is considered infallible?


I would never suggest that Irenaeus was infallable. It was merely a data point.

So if I understand you, your position is that the apostles continued to observe the Mosaic Law publicly in Jerusalem so as not to offend the Jews, but they lived like Gentiles in Antioch in order not to offend the Gentiles, and that the "myriads of Jews who believed" and were also "zealous for the law" (Acts 21:20) did not understand that the Law had been abrogated in Christ. Correct?

I obviously need further study on this, and welcome additional replies, but your points have been helpful.


Jim :cheers:

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Kyle

It would be great to hear your comments! The Messianic Jews seem to be saying that while the Law was never a means of righteousness, but is still important for ethnic Israel to fulfill their purpose and calling by continuing to live as Jews. - Jim

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Deacon-Jim says,

But I would also assert that the case in Galatians says nothing about the Mosaic Law (in effect, or not in effect) except that it (the Law) can never be a means of righteousness.
This would be incorrect. I have already shown that the Mosaic Law is in view from the context of Galatians 3 and 4. Paul sums it up in Galatians 5:1-4 saying,

Quote
For freedom did Christ set us free: stand fast therefore, and be not entangled again in a yoke of bondage. Behold, I Paul say unto you, that, if ye receive circumcision, Christ will profit you nothing. Yea, I testify again to every man that receiveth circumcision, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Ye are severed from Christ, ye would be justified by the law; ye are fallen away from grace.
Clearly, this speaks of the Mosaic law. As Kistemkaer states,

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Since the Galatians were already yielding to the Judaizers in the matter of observing “days and months and seasons and years” (4:10), the danger was great that they would yield also in the matter of circumcision, and that, as a result, their whole religion would be reduced to ritualism with a slightly Christian tinge. It is for this reason that the apostle uses such incisive language. If they accept circumcision, thinking that this is necessary for salvation, or at least for a full measure of salvation, Christ will be of no advantage to them whatever. A Christ supplemented is a Christ supplanted.

Calvin,

The liberty of which Paul speaks is exemption from the ceremonies of the law, the observance of which was demanded by the false apostles as necessary. But let the reader, at the same time, remember, that such liberty is only apart of that which Christ has procured for us: for how small a matter would it be, if he had only freed us from ceremonies? This is but a stream, which must be traced to a higher source. It is because “Christ was made a curse, that he might redeem us from the curse of the law,” (Galatians 3:13;) because he has revolted the power of the law” so far as it held us liable to the judgment of God under the penalty of eternal death; because, in a word, he has rescued us from the tyranny of sin, Satan, and death. Thus, under one department is included the whole class; but on this subject we shall speak more fully on the Epistle to the Colossians.

John Calvin, Calvin's Commentaries: Galatians, electronic ed., Logos Library System; Calvin's Commentaries, Ga 5:1 (Albany, OR: Ages Software, 1998).

Timothy George states,

Now for the first time in the letter the issue of circumcision is specifically mentioned with reference to the Galatians. Actually it had been in the background of Paul’s polemic against the Judaizers all along. In chap. 2 Paul reminded the Galatians of his successful resistance against the efforts of certain “false brothers” to have the Gentile Titus circumcised during their visit to Jerusalem. Similarly, those who belonged to “the circumcision group” had provoked the incident which led to Paul’s confrontation with Peter at Antioch. However, only here in chap. 5 does Paul engage the issue head on in terms of the crisis in Galatia. Now we know for sure what must have been perfectly clear to the original readers of the epistle all along, namely, that the Galatian agitators were demanding that Paul’s converts should get circumcised.

… It may be, as E. P. Sanders has suggested, that Paul’s opponents had deliberately adopted “a policy of gradualism,” introducing first Jewish calendar observances as a preliminary step toward circumcision with the idea that this decisive act would initiate the Galatians into a fuller observance of the law.

Timothy George, vol. 30, Galatians, electronic ed., Logos Library System; The New American Commentary, 356 (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2001, c1994).
Quote
Deacon Jim Says,

But I suppose the part that I get stuck on is that they did not instruct the believing Jews that they too were no longer "under the Law." I realize that these men were not infallible, but it would seem to me that the plain implication of the JC was that what was clearly decreed concerning the Gentiles was not necessarily true for the Jews. I realize that this is an argument from silence, but it seems strange that the apostles would come to the conclusion that the Gentiles were not obligated to keep the law without addressing those in the Jerusalem church who apparently thought such remained necessary for Jews.
Well they did instruct the Jews that “all [are] one in Christ Jesus,” (Gal. 3:28), as evidenced by the letters (such as Galatians and Acts) being written and circulated among the churches. However, this was a process in which they were making progress, but it was not instantaneous.

I do not see how you can say, “the plain implication of the JC was that what was clearly decreed concerning the Gentiles was not necessarily true for the Jews” when Paul is making the point that “all [are] one in Christ Jesus.” Paul’s point is that whether Jew or Gentile they are justified the same way. The ceremonial law is of no value. His point is that a Jew is no better than a Gentile (in Romans he shows the “advantage” of the Jew, but this is not saying the Jew is “better” or needs the law) and the Gentile is not better than the Jew.

Quote
Deacon Jim says,

I guess Pope Peter I was not speaking "Ex Cathedra" just yet, eh?
When Catholics attempt to make this point, I maintain they are saying that the Pope speaking "Ex Cathedra" is more scriptural than Scripture itself. They normally digress and become very defensive.

Quote
Deacon Jim says,

Good point. I am familiar with the passage from 1 Corinthians 9:19-23. The translation that I normally use, NKJV, does not inlcude the words "though not being myself under the law" as these apparently do not appear in all manuscripts. But I grant you that this could explain many of Paul's actions wiht respect to publically keeping Torah. However, taking a Nazirite vow seems a bit unecessary, if all Paul is trying to do is cater to the conscience of the Jews he was trying to reach. Perhaps not.
You are attempting to second guess Paul. Paul thought this step was necessary. If we study Paul’s misionary style, if he did not keep the ceremonial law in some places he would not have even had access to the synagogues and thus his pulpit to the Jew would have disappeared.

As far as the omitted clause in some manuscripts, Metzger states that the case is overwhelming for its inclusion. The Textus Receptus, contains a copyist error of omission.

Quote
The words, which are decisively supported by (p) x A B C D F G P it vg syr cop goth arm probably fell out by accident in transcription, the eye of the copyist passing from upo nomon to upo nomon.

Bruce Manning Metzger and United Bible Societies, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, Second Edition a Companion Volume to the United Bible Societies' Greek New Testament (4th Rev. Ed.), 493 (London; New York: United Bible Societies, 1994).
As Hodge states,

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This clause happened to be omitted from the Elziver edition of the Greek Testament from which our translation was made, and therefore fails in the common English version. It is found, however, in all the more ancient manuscripts, in many of the fathers and early versions, and is therefore adopted by most modern editors. The internal evidence is also in its favor. It was important for Paul to say that although acting as under the law, he was not under it; because it was a fundamental principle of the gospel which he preached, that believers are freed from the law. “We are not under law, but under grace,” Romans 6:14. It was necessary, therefore, that his compliance with the Jewish law should be recognized as a matter of voluntary concession.

Charles Hodge, An Exposition of First Corinthians, electronic ed., 189 (Escondito, California: Ephesians Four Group, 2000).
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Deacons Jim says,

So if I understand you, your position is that the apostles continued to observe the Mosaic Law publicly in Jerusalem so as not to offend the Jews, but they lived like Gentiles in Antioch in order not to offend the Gentiles, and that the "myriads of Jews who believed" and were also "zealous for the law" (Acts 21:20) did not understand that the Law had been abrogated in Christ. Correct?
Not exactly. “Occasionally” [the phraseology, “continued to observe the Mosaic Law” is too strong and carries the point to a fault IMO] Paul and others obeyed the ceremonial law. While others may have done it in ignorance (and we do things thru ignorance even today), Paul did it to be an effective and received minister of the “true gospel.” As someone else has already stated, this was a time of transition. Many of Paul’s points in his letters point to the church learning during their transition. Some though did not obey the ceremonial law thru ignorance, but because they actually believed it led to God. So, what you have is people that believed thru grace alone, others ignorantly believing in grace + c. law, others that continued to believe in the law alone, and some that did not believe (I’m sure there were screws loose in others as well, but these are the main groups). In all, Paul attempted to meet people where they were at so he could bring them to where they should be. At times it appears he would cross the proverbial line in the sand [one may ask is Paul still a Jew, is Paul still a Roman citizen, or …], but it was always with the intent of winning others to Christ thru grace alone.

Acts 21:20 is followed by Acts 20:21-23 f.

Quote
And when they heard it they began glorifying God; and they said to him, "You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed, and they are all zealous for the Law; and they have been told about you, that you are teaching all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs. "What, then, is to be done? They will certainly hear that you have come. "Therefore do this that we tell you. We have four men who are under a vow; …
Note that the word from the JC had not completely spread yet. They did not have telephones, e-mail, TV, or TBN <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/drop.gif" alt="" /> . They had IPR (Israel Postal Route) with mule one and mule two. The Word was progressing, but slowly. Thus, so Paul could be all things to all men (orderly, keeping the Law, Acts 21:24) “Paul took the men, and the next day, purifying himself along with them, went into the temple giving notice of the completion of the days of purification, until the sacrifice was offered for each one of them” (Acts 21:26). Paul was able to preach almost a full seven days before being arrested (Acts 21:27). After his arrest things get even more interesting for … “Paul, standing on the stairs, motioned to the people with his hand; and when there was a great hush, he spoke to them in the Hebrew dialect,” (Acts 21:40) and preached the sermon in Acts 22. The Jews get mad at him for preaching the Gospel and now instead of appealing to his Jewishness (as he did in his sermon and the shaving of his head, et. al.) he appeals to his Roman citizenship (Acts 22:25 f). What did he do on his way to and when he arrived in Rome? He preached and demonstrated the Gospel as a Roman citizen. He was tried before Felix, accused before Fetus, consulted with King Agrippa II, and appealed to Caesar. He went from Malta to Rome, he did the backstroke and ministered the Gospel thru an incident with a snake. Paul was all things to all men that he might win some.


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J_Edwards #37969 Tue Oct 23, 2007 9:35 AM
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Hello everyone,

After reading the original post and scanning through all of the replies, it seems to me that the real question is not if and should believing Jews from the early church and today hold to the Law and preserve it's ordinances, but what the reason for doing so is. Great arguements from all, and by argument I mean discussion, but I'm not sure that the real issue has truly been tackled.

Is it unbiblical for a born again believing Jew to observe particular ordinances from the Law? To cirmumsize, observe the Passover, eat kosher foods, etc.? My simplified answer to that is, No. Now, I will add that I believe that it depends on why they are observing those ordinances. If it is because they believe that they must for righteousness sake, then I believe they are at fault. However, if they observe them merely for ethnic identity, then I would say they are not at fault. By 'at fault' I simply mean that they are not in violation of 'by Grace through Faith' alone for salvation.

Paul used the Law to denote that we are no longer under the Law in Galations, yet I'm sure he is aware that Jesus stated that He did not come to abolish the Law, for indeed He stated that not one jot nor tittle would be removed from the Law. The Jeruselem Council did not conviene in order to abolish the Jewish practices, but rather their 'decree' (if you will) was to condone the imposing of Jewish practices upon the Gentile believers. It has been rightly said that faith has always been the means to salvation and justification and never the Law, for the Law can only condemn us. But the Jerusalem Council also stopped short of forbidding the continued practice of Jewish ordinances among the believing Jews.

Simply stated, if either a believing Jew or Gentile wish to practice and observe the ordinances within the Law, they should, for it is their conscience. If they observe the ordinances out of a desire to obtain righteouness, then I believe that they are wrong. Observance of the Passover is nothing, non-observance of the Passover is nothing. Circumsision or non-circumsision is nothing. What is believed by the observance is something, and needs this needs to be examined by everyone who observes them.

In Christ,
Mattehw


"Those who go down to the Sea in Ships
Who do Business on great Waters;
They have seen the Works of the LORD,
And His Wonders in the Deep."
-Ps. 107:23-24
Matthew #37970 Tue Oct 23, 2007 1:04 PM
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Matthew,

Welcome to the forum <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/hello.gif" alt="" /> The tone of your argument sounds familiar though – were you previously here (or maybe elsewhere) under a different name?

While I would agree “in general” with what you stated, it is not the correct answer to the original question, which said:

Quote
While the ritual ordinances of Torah do not apply to Gentile believers (as clearly set forth by the Jerusalem Council of Acts 15), today's Messianic Jews still hold the position that Jewish people, including or especially believers in Jesus, are required to keep the ordinance of Passover as set forth in the Torah as a means of obedience to God faithfulness to God's calling and purpose for Israel. … Do these passages mean that Jews, especially the faithful remnant that believes in Messiah Jesus, must still keep the Passover and Sabbath for the sake of obedience to God?
The phrases “are required to” and “must still keep” implies disobedience if not kept. They imply “unrighteous” if not kept. They both imply “sin” if not kept. As I have already pointed out, born-again Jews biblically “are not required” to keep such. Ethnically they may chose to (but this is another matter – even a Gentile may practice the Passover, et. al), but biblically, as a believer they do not need to.

Additionally, while part of Galatians does refer to Gentiles not having to keep the law to be justified, the same applies to Jews, as Paul states, “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 Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28) and “For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation “ (Gal. 6:15). Galatians was written to the church – Jew and Gentile alike. While teaching the Galatians he was also teaching the Jews. Besides, we, the church (Jew and Gentile), are “the Israel of God,” as Paul says in Gal. 6:16. And while Jesus did not come to destroy the law, He did come to fulfill it (Matt. 5:17), and Christ our High Priest (Heb. 7:26f) fulfilled all the ceremonial laws (Heb. 9-10)! Besides the laws were only a shadow of the realties that were to come (Heb. 10:1).

<img src="/forum/images/graemlins/bravo.gif" alt="" />


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J_Edwards #37971 Tue Oct 23, 2007 2:09 PM
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J_Edwards,

I guess I'm basically saying what you are, there is no requriement for any observances under the old covenant. While they may be observed, I do not believe that in not observing the Passover a believing Jew is in sin.

In my wonderings, I have met a few Jewish believers (one refered to himself a 'whole' or 'complete' Jew) who would agree that the observance of the Passover is not 'required'. They also believed that anyone who 'require' keeping the Passover was in the sin of legalism. This is because they no longer saw themselves as being Jews under the Law, but rather a new creation in Christ and thus freed from the Law by the new covenant.

As to non-believing Jews, well that's another argument, for they are not a new creation; and yet they cannot currently keep the Law, and to violate even a the smallest part of the Law is to be guilty of violating the whole Law. How can they be required to keep any part of it?

Blessing in Christ,
Matthew

P.S. - Yes, I've been on here before as Diaconeo, several years ago when I was stationed in Spain. It's been a while since my last post, and so I had to create a new account.


"Those who go down to the Sea in Ships
Who do Business on great Waters;
They have seen the Works of the LORD,
And His Wonders in the Deep."
-Ps. 107:23-24
J_Edwards #37972 Tue Oct 23, 2007 11:28 PM
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J_Edwards said:
This would be incorrect. I have already shown that the Mosaic Law is in view from the context of Galatians 3 and 4.

I think you may have misunderstood my point. Of course ritual Judaism (the Law) is in view here, as it clearly deals with keeping of holy days and circumcision. But my intended point was that Paul's objections were the use of the Law as a means of work-based righteousness. He objected to the circumcision of Gentile believers because the only reason a Gentile (in those days) would be circumcised was to become a proselyte Jew, which would mean that the Jew had some advantage in standing before God through the Law, which we agree is a denial of the Gospel. Clearly, these Gentiles cannot return to the Law per se, because they did not come from there. They came out of paganism. This is evident from the text...

Quote
But then indeed, when you did not know God, you served those which by nature are not gods. But now, after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage? (Galatians 4:8-9)

Paul is saying that they are returning from whence they came. But they did not come out of ritual Judaism. They were not returning to a ritual Judaism that they had never practiced. They came out of paganism (“you served those which... are not gods.”) Paul is referring to the basic elements and rituals of religion as a means of righteousness. Legalism is legalism whether Jewish or pagan. It is legalism that Paul is objecting to in this letter. The Law is just the case of legalism that was in view; case in point so to speak. What these Galatians were doing was was as much a perversion of the Law as it was a perversion of the Gospel.

While your overall approach to this subject of why Paul continued to keep Torah is compelling (that he might win the Jews), you lose me when you bring Galatians into the discussion. Nothing in Galatians speaks to the original subject of this post: whether or to what degree the Law remained in effect for Jewish believers. The message of Galatians is that we are not saved by the works of the flesh, but by grace. Since the purpose of the Law was never to save, Paul's teaching in Galatians that it cannot save now does not indicate a change in the status of the Law. I agree wholeheartedly (I think) with the quotes from Kistenmaer and Calvin, in fact I think they make my point.

Quote
J_Edwards said:

I do not see how you can say, “the plain implication of the JC was that what was clearly decreed concerning the Gentiles was not necessarily true for the Jews” when Paul is making the point that “all [are] one in Christ Jesus.” Paul’s point is that whether Jew or Gentile they are justified the same way. The ceremonia law is of no value. His point is that a Jew is no better than a Gentile (in Romans he shows the “advantage” of the Jew, but this is not saying the Jew is “better” or needs the law) and the Gentile is not better than the Jew.

I agree that Paul teaches that the Law is of no value to the Jew in terms of justification. I agree that the Paul clearly teaches that the Jew has no advantage over the Gentile, and that we are both one in Christ! Amen! We agree! But again, this whole line of reasoning misses the point. All it tells us is that the Jew and Gentile are both saved the same way - by faith. But it does not prove that the Jewish people no longer have a relationship to Torah that does not exist for Gentiles. Doesn't Paul also teache that there is neither “male nor female” and neither "slave nor free”? Does Paul really mean that there is no difference between the calling and roles of men and women in the earth, both in the church and in society? Paul certainly believed and taught that there was a difference! Likewise, Paul still taught slaves to obey their masters. So we conclude that we are all one in Christ, we are all equal in Christ, but we are not all the same. So then, could the Law still hold some purpose for Jewish believers that it does not hold for Gentiles? If ethnic Israel no longer exists or has any meaning in God's redemptive economy as Covenant theology maintains, and as you asserted in your original post (I think), then the answer is clearly “no.” But if ethnic Israel does still have a purpose in God's redemptive economy, then the answer may well be “yes.” (If I have misrepresented your position on Israel, then pls forgive.)

I would not qualify as a dispensationalist, as I think the idea of a “church age”, and the conclusions that are drawn from it, are un-biblical for the most part, but I do not see the replacement of ethnic Israel with spiritual Israel either. A few of the reasons...

Quote
Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah – not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord. (Jeremiah 31:31-32)

During Jeremiah's day, the "House of Israel and the House of Judah" referred very specifically to two earthly kingdoms composed of the 12 tribes of the children of Israel, a national and ethnic people. Therefore, the promise of the New Covenant is made to a national and ethnic people; the Jews.

Doesn't Paul clearly states that the Jewish people are still central to God's redemptive work in the earth?

Quote
For if their being cast away is reconciling of the world, then what will their acceptance be but life from the dead. (Romans 11:15).


Quote
Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. For the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable. (Romans 11:28-29)

What others have concluded about God's ongoing plans and purposes for national Israel:

Quote
Edwards:
“Nothing is more certainly foretold than this national conversion of the Jews in Romans 11.”
Jonathan Edwards, The Works of Jonathan Edwards, vol 1, Banner of Truth, reprint, 1976, 607
I'm probably going to regret that one! <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/stupidme.gif" alt="" />

Quote
Spurgeon:
"The day shall yet come when the Jews, who were the first apostles to the Gentiles, the first missionaries to us who were afar off, shall be gathered in again. . . . Matchless benefits to the world are bound up with the restoration of Israel; their gathering in shall be as life from the dead." Cited in Murray, 256

Oops! Methinks I digress. But what we believe about Israel does have implications in how we answer the question being explored in these posts.

Quote
J_Edwards said:

When Catholics attempt to make this point, I maintain they are saying that the Pope speaking "Ex Cathedra" is more scriptural than Scripture itself. They normally digress and become very defensive.

Excellent! Umm, can I use that? <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/jester.gif" alt="" />

Quote
J_Edwards said:
You are attempting to second guess Paul. Paul thought this step was necessary. If we study Paul’s missionary style, if he did not keep the ceremonial law in some places he would not have even had access to the synagogues and thus his pulpit to the Jew would have disappeared.

Perhaps my choice of words was unfortunate. I was not second-guessing Paul. <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/nope.gif" alt="" /> I was second guessing your interpretation of Paul's motives.

Quote
J_Edwards said:
As far as the omitted clause in some manuscripts, Metzger states that the case is overwhelming for its inclusion. The Textus Receptus, contains a copyist error of omission.

I see that most of the modern translations include it. No disagreement here. Paul says that he is not “under the law.” But if we examine Paul's other uses of this expression “under the law”, it is generally pejorative; something that is not good; a legalistic interpretation of Torah. I would not necessarily follow that Paul does not consider himself as living within the framework of Torah as a faithful Jew.

Quote
J_Edwards said:
Acts 21:20 is followed by Acts 20:21-23 f.

Quote
And when they heard it they began glorifying God; and they said to him, "You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed, and they are all zealous for the Law; and they have been told about you, that you are teaching all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs. "What, then, is to be done? They will certainly hear that you have come. "Therefore do this that we tell you. We have four men who are under a vow; …
Note that the word from the JC had not completely spread yet. They did not have telephones, e-mail, TV, or TBN <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/drop.gif" alt="" /> . They had IPR (Israel Postal Route) with mule one and mule two. The Word was progressing, but slowly. Thus, so Paul could be all things to all men (orderly, keeping the Law, Acts 21:24)

You need to help me out here, as I am not following your point. Yes, the donkey-net was slow, so....?

It would seem that Paul had an excellent opportunity to teach these folks to forsake the Law of Moses, if that was indeed the truth that they had not yet assimilated. I find many instances in scripture of Paul teaching against a legalistic application of the Law, but I find no instance of him teaching Jews that they should forsake it. If it had not place for them, then why didn't Paul teach Jewish believers to discard the Law as a hindrance to the Gospel.

While I may take issue with some of your points, I am not certain that you a wrong in your overall conclusion...but not sure you are right either. Sorry for meandering from the original point somewhat, but the larger questions are interesting and important. (They don't exactly teach this stuff in Sunday School, do they?)

Yours in Christ - Jim <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/cheers2.gif" alt="" />

Last edited by deacon jim; Tue Oct 23, 2007 11:57 PM.
J_Edwards #37973 Tue Oct 23, 2007 11:48 PM
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This is a correct understanding of my initial question. Israel was commanded to keep the Passover and Sabbath "forever" which, if "forever" means for all time, would preclude abrogation in the New Testament era, and would mean that to set them aside would indeed be sin. That does not mean that these things were a means of salvation, any more that obeying the speed limit is a means of salvation. That was the original question, But this question leads to a broader question which Matthew has correctly raised...why were Jewish Christians in the New Testament still keeping the Law?

deacon jim #37974 Wed Oct 24, 2007 9:42 AM
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All Christians observe the Passover, not just Jewish believers. It's called the Lord's Supper now, but both ordinances celebrate the same thing - the sacrifice of the Lamb of God.

All believers observe the Sabbath, but we call it "the Lord's day" now.

All Christians (including Gentile believers) are to observe covenantal "circumcision" (of the heart) through baptism. The two New Testament sacraments and the Lord's Day are the "forever" applications of the Old Testament ordinances.


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