Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Apostle Paul - Take a Good Look!

Have you met Paul, he's an Apostle... Most Christians would like to think they know all about Paul; what he taught and what he believed is what they learn about in church, after all... or is it? I have heard it claimed, by pastors in Christian churches, that Paul was anti-Jewish. That he taught the abolishment of the law, and the rejection of the Jewish customs and holy days. In this paper, we will take a look at all of these things, and more. First, let's look at what is being taught in the majority of Christian churches. This will give us a good base to jump off from. Dispensationalism is the prevalent Christian belief taught by the majority of churches. It states that the Jews were "under the law of Moses," called the "dispensation of law," but that the law has been "abolished by Christ." They say that it was "nailed to the cross" and it is no longer incumbent upon Christians to adhere to (except possibly certain "moral aspects" of it). They teach that Christians are now "under grace," or are living in the "age" of "dispensation of grace." This is nothing short of a slap in the face of not only Paul, but Stephen and all the others that lost their lives while trying to fight this notion. I think we need to look at the fact that Luke dedicates 7 of 28 chapters (part and full chapters: 6-7, 21-26, and 28) in the book of Acts to defending the false charges made against the early believers and Paul. These charges were... that they were subverting and undermining the validity of the Torah (what most modern translations call "the law"). This makes one quarter of the book of Acts that is dedicated to dispel these lies. It becomes very clear, all of a sudden, how serious an issue this was for the first-century believers. Stephen lost his life over it and Paul spent many years in court and in prison over the same charge of promoting antinomianism and dispensationalism. Let's take a closer look at this issue: The very issue that got Stephen into hot water with the Jewish authorities, and then stoned to death, is the very issue that got Paul into trouble in Acts 21. Acts 6 13 They set up false witnesses who said, "This man never stops saying things against this holy place and the law; 14 for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and will change the customs that Moses handed on to us." False witnesses brought these false accusations against Stephen...and Paul was directly responsible for Stephen's death. Acts 7 58 Then they dragged him out of the city and began to stone him; and the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. What were these false accusations? That Stephen was teaching the doctrine of DISPENSATIONALISM; namely, that the Torah/law is done away because Christians are under grace. Stephen lost his life defending himself against these false accusations! The Jewish authorities accused Paul of the same thing. Acts 21 28 shouting, "Fellow Israelites, help! This is the man who is teaching everyone everywhere against our people, our law, and this place; more than that, he has actually brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place." To prove to his false accusers that he was not changing the law of Moses Paul takes a Nazarite vow; a vow whereby one consecrates himself to a state of holiness and ritual purity in light of Torah (See Num. 6:2-6, 13-18 for details about the Nazarite vow). He also takes on himself, the considerable expense of paying for four other men, who were also under a Nazarite vow, to offer the appropriate sacrifices. They had to do this in order to come out of their Nazarite vow. Paul did this to prove that he wasn't against the Torah. Acts 21 17 When we arrived in Jerusalem, the brothers welcomed us warmly. 18 The next day Paul went with us to visit James; and all the elders were present. 19 After greeting them, he related one by one the things that God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. 20 When they heard it, they praised God. Then they said to him, "You see, brother, how many thousands of believers there are among the Jews, and they are all zealous for the law. 21 They have been told about you that you teach all the Jews living among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, and that you tell them not to circumcise their children or observe the customs. 22 What then is to be done? They will certainly hear that you have come. 23 So do what we tell you. We have four men who are under a vow. 24 Join these men, go through the rite of purification with them, and pay for the shaving of their heads. Thus all will know that there is nothing in what they have been told about you, but that you yourself observe and guard the law. 25 But as for the Gentiles who have become believers, we have sent a letter with our judgement that they should abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from fornication." 26 Then Paul took the men, and the next day, having purified himself, he entered the temple with them, making public the completion of the days of purification when the sacrifice would be made for each of them. Upon arriving in Rome, Paul testifies before the Jewish leaders there about his Torah obedience. Acts 28 17 Three days later he called together the local leaders of the Jews. When they had assembled, he said to them, "Brothers, though I had done nothing against our people or the customs of our ancestors, yet I was arrested in Jerusalem and handed over to the Romans. 18 When they had examined me, the Romans wanted to release me, because there was no reason for the death penalty in my case. And yet, most of the traditional Christian theology today has bought into the very same lies that the false accusers made-up against Stephen and Paul. The same lies, against which they defended themselves, and for which they eventually lost their lives. The majority of the traditional Christian church holds to an antinomian (anti-Torah) and dispensational view of scripture. As well as believing what Paul's accusers had falsely claimed about his teachings. The very lies he vigorously defended himself against; that he was, in any way, abrogating, nullifying, doing away with, or changing the Torah-law of Yahweh. Most Christian leaders have missed the whole point of the book of Acts! The point of the Book of Acts is that the early Apostles and Evangelists were taking the good news (the Gospel) of the redemptive and salvatory work of Yeshua the Messiah to both Jewish and non-Jewish populations. A message of salvation by grace through faith. Yet these servants of the Most High God were in no way compromising or abrogating the Torah (instructions in righteousness) of the same God. The message of salvation by grace is complimentary, and not contrary to the message of obedience. Obedience to the commandments of Adonai, as revealed by Him, at Mount Sinai. Yeshua said that if we love him we will keep His commandments(John 14:15). Not to mention the direct instruction we have been given on this very matter, that the Messiah felt compelled to lay out. Matthew 5 15 No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lamp stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. 17 "Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. So with all this confusion, who was the Apostle Paul? What did he believe, and what did he teach? Well, lets go by what the scriptures tell us. • He was born a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin. 2 Corinthians 11 22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I. Romans 11 1 I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. Philippians 3 4 If anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; • He was educated as a Jew. Acts 22 3 "I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, educated strictly according to our ancestral law, being zealous for God, just as all of you are today. • He was a Pharisee and the son of a Pharisee. Acts 23 6 When Paul noticed that some were Sadducees and others were Pharisees, he called out in the council, "Brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. I am on trial concerning the hope of the resurrection of the dead." • He kept the Sabbath. Acts 17 1 After Paul and Silas had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. 2 And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three sabbath days argued with them from the scriptures, • He attended the synagogue. Acts 13 5 When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. And they had John also to assist them. 14 but they went on from Perga and came to Antioch in Pisidia. And on the sabbath day they went into the synagogue and sat down. 43 When the meeting of the synagogue broke up, many Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who spoke to them and urged them to continue in the grace of God. 44 The next sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. Acts 14 1 The same thing occurred in Iconium, where Paul and Barnabas went into the Jewish synagogue and spoke in such a way that a great number of both Jews and Greeks became believers. Acts 17 1 After Paul and Silas had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. 2 And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three sabbath days argued with them from the scriptures, 17 So he argued in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and also in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. Acts 18 4 Every sabbath he would argue in the synagogue and would try to convince Jews and Greeks. 19 When they reached Ephesus, he left them there, but first he himself went into the synagogue and had a discussion with the Jews. Acts 19 8 He entered the synagogue and for three months spoke out boldly, and argued persuasively about the kingdom of God. • He kept Yahweh's Holy Day festivals. Acts 20- The Festival of Unleavened Bread and Pentecost 6 but we sailed from Philippi after the days of Unleavened Bread, and in five days we joined them in Troas, where we stayed for seven days. 16 For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus, so that he might not have to spend time in Asia; he was eager to be in Jerusalem, if possible, on the day of Pentecost. 1 Corinthians 5- Passover 7 Clean out the old yeast so that you may be a new batch, as you really are unleavened. For our paschal lamb, Christ, has been sacrificed. 8 Therefore, let us celebrate the festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. • He spoke Hebrew. Acts 21 40 When he had given him permission, Paul stood on the steps and motioned to the people for silence; and when there was a great hush, he addressed them in the Hebrew language, saying: Acts 22 2 When they heard him addressing them in Hebrew, they became even more quiet. Then he said: Acts 26 14 When we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It hurts you to kick against the goads.' • He taught from the Hebrew Scriptures. Acts 13 15 After the reading of the law and the prophets, the officials of the synagogue sent them a message, saying, "Brothers, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, give it." 16 So Paul stood up and with a gesture began to speak: "You Israelites, and others who fear God, listen. 17 The God of this people Israel chose our ancestors and made the people great during their stay in the land of Egypt, and with uplifted arm he led them out of it. 18 For about forty years he put up with them in the wilderness. 19 After he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, he gave them their land as an inheritance 20 for about four hundred fifty years. After that he gave them judges until the time of the prophet Samuel. 21 Then they asked for a king; and God gave them Saul son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, who reigned for forty years. 22 When he had removed him, he made David their king. In his testimony about him he said, "I have found David, son of Jesse, to be a man after my heart, who will carry out all my wishes.' 33 he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising Jesus; as also it is written in the second psalm, "You are my Son; today I have begotten you.' 34 As to his raising him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, he has spoken in this way, "I will give you the holy promises made to David.' 35 Therefore he has also said in another psalm, "You will not let your Holy One experience corruption.' Romans 2 24 For, as it is written, "The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you." Romans 3 1 Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision? 2 Much, in every way. For in the first place the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God. 3 What if some were unfaithful? Will their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? 4 By no means! Although everyone is a liar, let God be proved true, as it is written, "So that you may be justified in your words, and prevail in your judging." • His travelling companions, friends and hosts were Jews. Acts 4 36 There was a Levite, a native of Cyprus, Joseph, to whom the apostles gave the name Barnabas (which means "son of encouragement"). Acts 15 22 Then the apostles and the elders, with the consent of the whole church, decided to choose men from among their members and to send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They sent Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, leaders among the brothers, Acts 16 1 Paul went on also to Derbe and to Lystra, where there was a disciple named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer; but his father was a Greek. Acts 18 1 After this Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. 2 There he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them, 3 and, because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them, and they worked together-by trade they were tentmakers. 24 Now there came to Ephesus a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria. He was an eloquent man, well-versed in the scriptures. Acts 19 34 But when they recognized that he was a Jew, for about two hours all of them shouted in unison, "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!" Acts 22 12 "A certain Ananias, who was a devout man according to the law and well spoken of by all the Jews living there • He practiced circumcision. Acts 16 3 Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him; and he took him and had him circumcised because of the Jews who were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. • He went to Jerusalem to worship. Acts 24 11 As you can find out, it is not more than twelve days since I went up to worship in Jerusalem. Most importantly, Paul was an imitator of the Master and Savior. 1 Corinthians 11 1 Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. 2 I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions just as I handed them on to you. 3 But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the husband is the head of his wife, and God is the head of Christ. Article Source:

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