“My child, give your heart to Me, and your eyes will heed My ways.” Proverbs 23:26
The Apostolic Writings….a collection of writings and letters which, according to the audience, will either reveal a Torah abolishing person who claims to be the Messiah or will reveal a Torah observant person who claims to be the Messiah, depending on what lens is used to read and interpret them. Sounds confusing doesn’t it?
There is, unfortunately, so much angst and hostility today by many in Replacement Theology who hold strong and fast to the doctrine the Apostolic Writings reveal a Torah abolishing Messiah. Unfortunately Replacement Theology has adopted enormous amounts of antisemitism into its doctrine based upon the erroneous interpretations of the Apostolic Writings, which we will address at some point. The arguments which can very quickly ensue is very disheartening to the point where I just walk away in most cases as I am not in any way interested nor seeking out confrontations.
In the previous Op, ‘Just how Jewish is Yeshua’ I focused on very briefly showing how Yeshua and His talmidim (Students/Disciples) never once walked away from the Torah nor the right rulings of the Sanhedrin on how to walk in the Torah of HaShem i.e. the Mishnah/Talmud/Etc = The Oral Torah. In this Op it is my intention to focus on showing how the Apostolic Writings can only be properly understood through the lens of the Torah and the Oral Torah and any other interpretation devoid of the Torah will produce erroneous and destructive results that we see over the centuries via Replacement Theology.
I will be using many different resources to include the Tanakh, the Apostolic Writings themselves, to include the Mishnah, the Talmud Bavli as well reference various authors who have written their own books discussing the subject.
As always, before we delve into this large topic, now more than ever, never forget the following unchanging characteristics of HaShem as they are more relevant than ever before:
- HaShem never changes per Num 23:19/Mal 3:6/Hebrews 13:8/James 1:17
- His Word is firmly established per Psalm 119:89
- He reveals the end out of the beginning per Is 46:10
- He does nothing without first revealing it to His prophets per Amos 3:7
- He says there is nothing new under the sun per Ecclesiastes 1:9
- He says His Torah is a tree of life and eternal per Proverbs 3:18-19 and Psalm 119:160
- He says His Torah is perfect and restores the soul per Psalm 19:7
- He says His Torah makes the simple one wise per Psalm 19:7
- He says His Torah Is freedom and liberty per Psalm 119:45 and James 1:25
- He says His Torah is the only good doctrine there is Proverbs 4:2
- He says His Torah will add length of days and years of life and peace per Proverbs 3:2
- He says all of the ways of His Torah are ways of pleasantness and peace per Proverbs 3:17
- He says His Torah is for our good and well-being per Deuteronomy 6:24
- He says His Torah is health for our lives per Proverbs 3:8
- He says His Torah is life to our soul and a graceful ornament for our neck per Prov 3:22
- He says His Torah is better than pearls and all desires cannot compare to it per Prov 8:11
- He says those who walk with His Torah are praiseworthy per Psalms 119:1
- He says observing His Torah is how we purify our path per Psalms 119:9
- He says His Torah is better than thousands in gold and silver per Psalms 119:72
- He says His Torah brings abundant peace to those who love Him and His Torah per Psalms 119:165
- He says there is one Torah for all per Exodus 12:49/Leviticus 24:22
- He says those who hate His Torah love death per Proverbs 8:36
- He says His Torah is the way of faith per Psalms 119:29-30
- He says His Torah makes us wiser than our enemies per Psalms 119:98
- He says His Torah is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path per Psalms 119:105
- He says one who finds His Torah has found life per Proverbs 8:35
- He says one who finds His Torah has found favor from HaShem per Proverbs 8:35
You may be asking why I always include pictures of nature in my Ops? The most basic reason is I want people to look at these and see the Hand of HaShem, our Great King, in His creation and realize this is Who we are striving to serve! The same Elohim Who made all of creation, is the same One Who reaches out to each of us, seeking our attention, love, devotion and loyalty unto Him for only then will we know true peace and have life more abundantly in the Olam Haba i.e. the World to Come! I digress.
Now this Op is not intended to be a giant bash fest, on the contrary, it is to highlight what has been in front of our eyes all along, all these years and Baruch HaShem, He has sovereignly chosen to peel off the blinders we all, myself included, have had on.
In order to proceed, we need to understand what was going on at the time of Yeshua which will form the basis for what we read in the entire Apostolic Writings. The first and foremost issue is Shammai vs Hillel!!!
In the time of Yeshua there were several sects of beliefs and sects within Judaism such as: Sadducees, Boethusians, Essenes, Chassidim, Zealots and the Pharisees with the School of Shammai and the School of Hillel the predominate ones. Hillel was born around 70 Before Common Era (BCE) and died around 10 Common Era (CE). Shammai was born around 50 BCE and died around 30 CE. This is very important to know because it means their teachings were very much the talk of Israel during the time of Yeshua!
Replacement Theology has a VERY bad understanding of what a Pharisee really meant. It does NOT mean someone who is arrogant, prideful, self seeking, etc, it meant a person who was wholly devoted to their walk in the Torah of HaShem! Yeshua was a Pharisee. His talmidim were all Pharisees. Paul was a Pharisee…it just mattered as to which school of thought that person adhered too i.e. Shammai or Hillel. I digress.
Historically Shammai and Hillel opposed one another in their theology, even to the point of actual violence erupting between the two. Shammai thought Hillel was too lenient as it pertains to their interpretation of the Scriptures, and what was the controversy? How did non-Jews i.e. Gentiles fit in to the covenant with HaShem and the Torah? Shammai was VERY hostile towards non-Jews while Hillel was very open to bringing non-Jews into the covenant and learning the Torah. It should be noted that Yeshua agreed with Hillel’s teachings.
A statement which is made in Tractate Shabbos 31a in the Talmud Bavli says when describing the differences between Shammai and Hillel, “Shammai’s impatience sought to drive us (Non-Jews) from the world; Hillel’s patience brought us beneath the wings of the Divine Presence.”
In 30 BCE Hillel became the Nasi, (President) of the Sanhedrin, until his death in 10 CE. Remember what the mandate of the Sanhedrin was/is by HaShem? Devarim (Deuteronomy 16) says and I will paraphrase the authority given by HaShem to the Sanhedrin was for them to render right rulings on HOW TO WALK in the Torah of HaShem! They didn’t concern themselves with civil affairs, their focus was solely the Torah of HaShem and HOW to walk. Their right rulings are recorded for us in the Mishnah and then expounded upon with commentary in the two versions of the Talmud i.e. Talmud Bavli and Talmud Yerushalmi. HaShem then commands that we are required to do what the Sanhedrin rules on and not to deviate to the right or to the left and to defy the Sanhedrin is the defy HaShem Himself because He bestowed the authority upon them. If the Sanhedrin should become corrupt or render a wrong ruling, then it is HaShem Who will intervene and correct the problem. This is another area in which it can erupt into a very explosive topic among people today. I digress.
An excerpt from the book ‘Galatians’ by Steve Salter, he says on page 8 “Around 20 BCE the House of Shammai gained the majority in the Sanhedrin and passed what has come to be called the Eighteen Measures, although these measures were not an official Sanhedrin ruling. These measures or edicts were designed to further separate Jews from non-Jews.” This is the basis for what we read about Peter and his vision of the sheet for it was these 18 measures that prohibited Jews from entering the home of a non-Jew let alone actually eat with a non-Jew. Shammai was so hostile towards non-Jews they believed that a non-Jew could never enter the Kingdom of HaShem! It didn’t matter if the non-Jews converted or were G-d-Fearers, in Shammai’s beliefs, a non-Jew was doomed, something HaShem not one time ever said or teaches in His Torah!
Steve Salter says on page 9 “This topic would continue to divide the faith for many decades after the resurrection of Yeshua. We can see several examples of this in the book of Acts. Some said that one must convert to Judaism, while others said that nothing a Gentile did could gain him eternal life. For the most part, most Jews that believed in Yeshua believed that non-Jews had to convert when they became believers in Yeshua. G-d showed Peter that this was a fallacy in his understanding of the Scriptures. The vision of the sheet from Heaven had nothing to do with kosher or non-kosher foods. The non-kosher foods were a picture of the non-Jew, whom the Jews considered to be unclean. Peter didn’t understand the analogy in the beginning, but he soon realized what G-d was saying. It would be Peter who first explained the vision to his brethren. In explaining the vision, Peter ties it in with the salvation of Cornelius and his family. By this time he clearly understood the vision and its purpose.”
The point that should be made here is nowhere, anywhere in the entirety of the Bible does HaShem ever say that obedience to the Torah is what secures salvation! It is ALWAYS faith i.e. believing what HaShem says that first secures salvation AND THEN striving to walk in the Torah as the EVIDENCE of that faith! Abraham first believed HaShem THEN he walked in the Torah! That is the crux of the entire Word of HaShem! Torah is the vehicle to develop a relationship and know HaShem! Without the Torah there cannot be a relationship with Him and why? Because Torah is the Heart of HaShem, it is Who He is! It is a great gift He has granted to us. Can we walk in His Torah perfectly? Sadly no, we cannot. We do the best we can out of love, devotion and loyalty unto Him as His servants.
It must be asked and clarified, are all 613 Commandments in the Torah for every single person? An emphatic NO! Some only apply in the Land of Israel, 271 of them apply to the Temple in Jerusalem, some only to the Kohen HaGadol (High Priest) some only to the Levites, some only to women, some only to men, etc. Very important to understand! Moving on.
With this said, when we read in the Apostolic Writings Yeshua engaging the Pharisees, He is always engaging the Pharisees of the School of Shammai! He is NOT engaging ALL the Pharisees because after all He is a Pharisee from the School of Hillel! Keep this in mind!
It is so very sad when I read or hear leaders in Replacement Theology who bash the Jews and mock them for their Torah observance or some even go so far as to refer to them as the ‘Synagogue of Satan’ quoting Revelation 2:9 and 3:9. This has led to countless cases of anti-Semitic attacks on the Jews over the centuries! What Replacement Theology has failed to understand, because they refuse to do the research, is this term ‘Synagogue of Satan’ is actually referring one specific sect of the Pharisees!
On page 118 of the book ‘Jesus the Pharisee’ by Harvey Falk “It was a common practice to refer to those who followed the teachings of Shammai as ‘followers of Satan, vipers, Synagogue of Satan, etc.'” Point is, Yeshua was NOT condemning all of the Jews as some in Replacement Theology teach. Just the opposite, He was pointing to the School of Shammai because of their hostility towards non-Jews! What does this imply then? Yeshua’s goal was to bring the Torah to the non-Jews, just as was mandated by HaShem that Israel was to be a light to nations i.e. live out the Torah as an example and then the non-Jews would be drawn to HaShem and go to Israel to learn how to walk in the Torah!
Steve Salter on page 11 of his book says “Hillel and Shammai had many disciples that studied under them. These disciples in turn grew to become the leading Rabbis of their day. In the New Testament, all of the disciples of Yeshua were of one of the mainline groups with the exception of Judas, who was of the sect of the Sicarii (Sicarii primarily followed Shammai). It is hard to say for certain just which groups all of them followed. Paul, of course, was with the House of Hillel as he sat under Rabban Gamaliel. Gamaliel was the grandson of Hillel and the leader of the Sanhedrin during Paul’s time.
James, the brother of Yeshua, was most likely of the House of Shammai. This hypothesis is based on the fact that James was not a believer in Yeshua until after Yeshua had risen from the dead. A logical and viable explanation would be that they disagreed on halakah (How to walk in the Torah). James would have followed the halakah of Beit Shammai and Yeshua, would, for the most part, agree with the halakah of Beit Hillel. It would have been very difficult for James to follow Yeshua during the days that Yeshua walked the earth since they differed on the way that one was to live their lives (Halakah).”
Does this now, thus far, change your perception and understanding of the Apostolic Writings? We will keep going forward.
Over the years I have read many comments from people how much they despise the ‘customs’ of men as seemingly discussed in the Apostolic Writings. What is being missed is that word in Greek for ‘Custom’ is ‘Ethos’ which when taken to its Hebrew origin means ‘The way one lives his life, the way one is to walk, i.e. Halakah’. Point is, it is a reference to the right rulings of the Sanhedrin for how to walk in the Torah of HaShem!
To further add some confusion, historically there were several different sects of the Jewish faith such as ‘The G-dFearers’ or ‘Devout Ones’. These were not simply ones who feared HaShem, but were instead distinct class of people. This group will be the major problem that the believers have to contend with in the first and second centuries. For clarification a G-dFearer was a non-Jew that lived with the Jewish people, yet remained a non-Jew, but did follow the parts of the Torah that applied to them. They are known as ‘Geirim’ or ‘Strangers’.
Steve Salter says in his book on page 16 “Up until this time the G-dFearer would have departed from all aspects of paganism. He would have kept the Noahide Covenant, Shabbat, all the Feasts, ate Kosher and any of the other commandments in the Torah that applied to him. He was considered Torah observant in every respect if he kept the commandments that applied to him. This was all anyone had to do to claim the title ‘Torah Observant.'” Remember these G-dFearers were non-Jews, so the argument by Replacement Theology that the Torah is only for the Jews is destroyed! Keep this in mind when you read the Apostolic Writings for yourself!
The basis for the Oral Torah i.e. the Halakah, is discussed in the Perkei Avot 1.1 which says “Moses received the Torah from Sinai and passed it on to Joshua. Joshua passed it on to the elders; the elders to the Prophets; the Prophets passed it on to the Men of the Great Assembly. They, the Men of the Great Assembly, made three statements: ‘Be deliberate in judgment; raise up many students; and make a fence around the Torah.'” Now did these folks just one day get up and decide to do this or is there Scriptural support for making a fence around the Torah?
The commentary on Perkei Avot 1.1 says “And make a fence around the Torah – institute decrees and ordinances that will separate a person from sin. As HaShem said in Vayikra (Leviticus) 18:30 ‘And you shall observe My ordinances,’ which was interpreted by our Sages to mean, ‘Make a safeguard for My ordinances.'” The point here is a person can break a fence and it is not considered a sin, but breaking a Torah commandment is sin and will incur judgment from HaShem. The fence is what we read in the right rulings of the Sanhedrin!
When we read in Acts 18 how Paul took a Nazarite Vow and shaved his head, which we have discussed several times before in various Op’s, this is AFTER he had come to believe in Yeshua. Then he goes to Jerusalem, as recorded in Acts 21, meets with the council which are comprised of just about all the writers of the Apostolic Writings, who inform Paul of what he is being accused of i.e. teaching Israel to depart from the Torah and the ‘customs’ i.e. the Halakah, same things Replacement Theology teaches about Paul today. In order to prove these accusations are wrong, they tell Paul there are four other men, believers in Yeshua, who also took a Nazarite Vow, and all of them are ready to complete their Vows, per Bamidbar (Numbers) 6, which means they have to go up to the Temple, immerse, be purified by the ashes of the Red Heifer, bring three animal offerings each i.e. a Burnt, Peace and Sin offerings, Mincha (Bread) offerings and then shave their hair. Point is, if Yeshua ended the Torah and the Temple at His resurrection, as is commonly taught by Replacement Theology, then why is Paul still walking in the Halakah and bringing animal offerings to include sin offerings to the Temple some 30 years AFTER becoming a believer in Yeshua?
Its all through the Apostolic Writings that the Torah is THE only way to live in service to HaShem, NOT to obtain or maintain salvation, but as the evidence of faith in HaShem! Further, if Yeshua walked in the Torah and the Halakah, and then He says we are to imitate Him, how confusing is it then for people to read how Yeshua lived and then be told ‘Don’t do as He did! That is just legalistic bondage designed to destroy you!’ If HaShem is unchanging, reveals the end from the beginning and says there is nothing new under the sun, then can the Apostolic Writings teach a brand new doctrine that is devoid of everything from the beginning? No it is impossible and is the definition of insanity! I digress.
Consider what the Book of James in the Apostolic Writings chapter 2 verse 18 says “But someone will say, ‘You have faith, and I have works (Torah observance).’ Show me your faith without your works and I will show you my faith BY MY WORKS (Torah observance).” As Steve Salter says in his book on page 69 “Faith ALWAYS produces works, it is a spiritual law that cannot be changed or altered. James was not saying that works can save one, he was merely stating that one cannot have faith without the works….”
So with all this said thus far, let’s get to crux of the matter. What did Yeshua Himself in Matthew 5:17-20 regarding the Torah? When reading these verses remember what Replacement Theology teaches in that Yeshua came to toss the Torah out, replace HaShem’s Feasts with Christmas/Easter, change His Shabbat to Sunday and render all animals clean for food. Let’s see if Yeshua would agree with Replacement Theology: “Do not think that I came to destroy the Torah or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to complete.” We need to define some words in this very important verse.
Per page 72 of Steve Salter’s book: “When Yeshua says ‘I came’ it does NOT refer to Him leaving Heaven and coming to earth. It is an idiom that means ‘My intent’ or ‘My purpose’. The term ‘To destroy the Torah’ was a well known Rabbinic expression that meant that one was giving an incorrect interpretation of a verse or verses of Scripture. When a person disagreed on another’s interpretation he would accuse him of destroying the Torah by his interpretation. In response, the one accused would respond that he was not destroying the Torah, but fulfilling it i.e. rightly interpreting it.”
Has every single prophecy in HaShem’s Word come to pass yet? Nope, not yet, therefore it is an impossibility that Yeshua did away with the Prophets as some in Replacement Theology teach. Further, the word ‘Fulfill’ means “To cause HaShem’s will, as made known in the Torah, to be obeyed as it should be, and HaShem’s promises given through the prophets to receive fulfillment.” In other words, Yeshua showed us how the Torah was meant to be properly understood.
Verse 18 of Matthew 5 says “For truly, I say to you, till the heavens and the earth pass away, one yod or one tittle shall by no means pass from the Torah till all be done.” Well, are you and I still here reading this Op? There is your proof the Torah was NOT tossed out! The reference to a ‘Yod’ is the name of the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet and the ‘Tittle’ is a reference to the decorative markings on each of those letters. In other words, there is zero chance that even the smallest letter or decoration on that letter has been tossed out, despite what Replacement Theology teaches.
Verse 19 of Matthew 5 says “Whoever then breaks one of the least of these commands, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.” No one in history has ever been able to keep 100% of the Torah, just not possible, therefore we all are called least in the Kingdom of Heaven, however, there is One Who has, Yeshua and He will be called Great in the Kingdom.
Verse 20 of Matthew 5 says “For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds that of the Scribes and Pharisees, you shall by no means enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.” Yeshua was in no way disparaging the Scribes and Pharisees here in this verse, it was just the opposite, He was exalting them because the Scribes and the Pharisees were the best Israel had to offer, but even they could not merit in their own efforts entering the Kingdom of Heaven. Remember, first FAITH in HaShem, THEN Torah observance as the expression of that faith!
Its very interesting, for we see in Matthew 5 that Yeshua is flatly declaring the Torah IS still in effect and will always be in effect! Then we read through out the rest of the Apostolic Writings a continuation of the Tanakh (Erroneously called the Old Testament) message i.e. first faith in HaShem THEN Torah observance. Paul’s own letters bear this own, but who is Paul?
Paul or Shaul in Hebrew, is the most misunderstood person in the Apostolic Writings. Paul was a person of Jewish descent, specifically from the Tribe of Benjamin. He was a Pharisee of Beit Hillel and studied under Rabban Gamaliel, grandson of Hillel. Somehow, Replacement Theology, has adopted the insane doctrine that Paul was an anti-Semitic and anti-Torah zealot, yet Paul himself says we are to imitate him as he imitates Yeshua, per I Corinthians 11:1, so which is it? Was Torah tossed out or not? See how much confusion Replacement Theology has brought with its insane anti-Torah doctrine? So if the understanding of Paul’s letters are incorrect then our understanding of the rest of the Apostolic Writings will be incorrect.
For example, when Paul lists out the Fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5, his list is an abbreviated version of the list below which is from Perkei Avot 6.6 discussing the 48 ways a person acquires Torah learning:
- by audible study,
- by distinct pronunciation,
- by understanding,
- by discernment of the heart,
- by awe,
- by reverence,
- by meekness,
- by cheerfulness,
- by ministering to the sages,
- by attaching oneself to colleagues,
- by discussion with disciples,
- by sedateness,
- by knowledge of the Scripture,
- by knowledge of the Mishnah,
- by minimizing business,
- by minimizing worldly interests,
- by minimizing indulgence,
- by minimizing sleep,
- by minimizing conversation,
- by minimizing jesting,
- by patience,
- by a good heart,
- by faith in the sages,
- by resignation under affliction,
- by knowing one’s place,
- by rejoicing in one’s lot,
- by setting a limit to one’s words,
- by not claiming merit for oneself,
- by being one that is beloved,
- by loving God,
- by loving one’s fellow- men,
- by loving the ways of justice,
- by loving rectitude,
- by loving reproof,
- by keeping oneself far from the pursuit of honor,
- by not being arrogant in learning,
- by not delighting to lay down legal decisions,
- by bearing the yoke with one’s fellow student,
- by judging him favorably,
- by leading him to truth and peace,
- by being composed in one’s study,
- by questioning and answering,
- by hearing and adding to what one hears,
- by learning in order to teach,
- by learning in order to practice,
- by making one’s master wiser,
- by fixing attention upon his discourse, and
- by reporting a thing in the name of him who said it
Have you been overwhelmed yet by information? This Op is just barely scratching the surface!
Consider this final thought before we close out this Op. In the End of Days, who exactly are the ones the adversary is going after the most? Revelation 12:17 says “And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to fight with the remnant of her seed, those GUARDING THE COMMANDMENTS OF ELOHIM AND POSSESSING THE WITNESS OF YESHUA.” So if the Torah is tossed out then why would the adversary be enraged with those who are keeping the Torah, if what Replacement Theology doctrine is correct that the Torah is the epitome of blasphemy, deception, dung and destruction? Shouldn’t the adversary be high fiving these folks and encouraging them to keep the Torah knowing it will destroy them? Again, Replacement Theology is destroyed by the Word of HaShem simply because He never changes, He reveals the end from the beginning and there is nothing new under the sun!
We will continue this theme in future Op’s and explore further in discovering just how Jewish are the Apostolic Writings.
- The Scriptures by the Institute for Scripture Research
- Tractate Shabbos of the Steinsaltz Talmud Bavli
- Mishlei (Proverbs) by Artscroll
- Jesus the Pharisee by Harvey Falk
- Galatians by Steve Salter