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Apostle Paul, the great confuser-in-chief and “messianic rabbi Shaul”

December 28, 2015

saint_paulNeither consistency nor his ability to explain were Apostle Paul’s strong points. Take these few gems of his for example:

But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code. (Romans 7:6)

To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law, though I myself am not under the law, so as to win those under the law. (1 Corinthians 9:20)

Numerous excuses for Paul are offered by messianics (who prefer to see Paul as “rabbi Shaul”) these days and I’ve heard them all (and even used them myself in my messianic days). “It’s not Torah that Paul meant, it’s “law of sin”. Or, “it’s not Torah, it’s the Jewish “legalism” he was against”, or “law of Christ is Torah too”, etc. Even if Paul somehow didn’t mean what he said, the way he said it is how his later disciples who came to understand him. Not just this verse, but many things he has written. Not thousands of years later, but in the very beginning of Christianity’s development. How early was the poor Paul “misunderstood”? Even the book of Acts, a whitewashing work of a Pauline apologist written at the end of first century (or even the beginning of the second, according to some scholars), records that this is how Jews in the first century understood Paul, which means that he was widely known even among Jewish Christians to be teaching against Torah from the very beginning!

Eusebius, a famous Church father, had this to report about the Jewish Christians’ view of Paul:

“These men, moreover, thought that it was necessary to reject all the epistles of the apostle [Paul], whom they called an apostate from the law; and they used only the so-called Gospel according to the Hebrews and made small account of the rest.” (325 CE, Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 3.27)

In sum, we can sit here two thousand years later and revise history and pretend that all the Christian antagonism toward Judaism and Mosaic Covenant arose in a vacuum instead of drawing its support from the New Testament and especially the writings of Paul. Or, we can review evidence in regards to Jewish Christians who lived much closer to the time of Jesus, Paul and early Jewish Christianity – they seem to have been in a far better position to judge Paul for who he truly was than we are today.

Reading Paul’s own words in the NT is the best starting point to judge his true views on Torah. I used to make excuses for him in my messianic days, even when what he clearly wrote couldn’t have been come from a pen of a Torah-observant, faithful Jew. His comparison of the Mosaic Covenant to Hagar, slavery and those who are under it to slaves (Galatians 4:22-26) alone should give any thinking person a pause.

And how about another Paul’s favorite of mine:

“We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away. But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. (2 Corinthians 3:14)

Here Paul not only completely re-interprets (is this another “midrash” of his?) the true reason why Moses covered his face (when the Torah plainly tells us that it glowed after he just came from G-d’s presence) as being one of the signs of passing away of the Mosaic Covenant (even though G-d just instituted it), but actually insists that Jews are blinded by the same covenant at the very moment G-d made it with them. The Jews are blind, according to Paul, even when they read “the old covenant” (by which he probably means Torah, I suppose, but that’s how Christians came to see Torah, as “old”) and that only Jesus can take away the Jewish blinders. The theme of “blind Jews” was common all throughout the Christian history and to this very day, we have Paul to thank for that.

Of course, Paul’s Gentile audience did not know any better! Paul was pulling a fast one on them to advance his cause, as has been the case with all religions based on man’s own ideas (and there were and are many), sort of like Joseph Smith of Mormonism (and countless others). And so Gentiles that Paul converted to his Christ-faith readily accepted his words as we read them today. They ate up his reinterpretations of biblical stories to paint Judaism and the Mosaic Covenant as dulling, blinding, ineffectual and obsolete. Christianity that resulted from this is still with us to this day – it didn’t arise in a vacuum – and it practically “worships” Paul and his teachings as G-d’s words, almost to the exclusion of anything else! And as history has so amply proven this is exactly how virtually everyone who has ever read Paul’s writings understood them, including today’s Torah-observant Jews themselves (who modern Pauline apologists insist should have understood his “midrash” better than anyone else).

Messianics claim today that “Paul’s Gentiles learned Torah from the synagogue and from Jewish teachers.” That’s another nice theory, probably based on James’ statement from Acts (a very late work) that Moses is being preached in every town. The reality is quite different. Paul was very particular about who had access to his converts. To that end, he set up his own churches with leadership composed of his disciples, complete with deacons, etc. Did Paul and his convert teachers teach Gentiles Torah, that is the way Jews would have learned it in his day? Why would they!? Paul believed that Torah wasn’t for the Gentiles under his care and neither he himself was obligated to observe it, as he made clear. But still, did they learn anything from Torah and the prophets? Yes, but only if one can consider Paul’s cristological reinterpretations of the Bible (as exemplified by his twisting of Deuteronomy 30:11-14 in Romans 10:6-13) as Torah!

I think that messianics who today wish to whitewash Paul and his deeds live in an imaginary world where Christianity never happened and where Paul was a great Torah teacher faithful to Judaism, “rabbi Shaul”. The reality is quite different. Paul probably founded hundreds of churches throughout the Asia Minor as well as in Europe and influenced their theology in every way. What did he teach them and how is it that they suddenly forget everything about the greatness of Torah and Judaism after Paul died? But we do know what he taught them, since we can read his lessons for them in the NT. He taught them that while Jews were useful and may convert to his Christ-faith one day (even though the true “seed” of Abraham was Jesus and not “seeds”, that is Jews as Paul “midrashed”), they were lost, they were blind, and they were slaves to Torah and Mosaic Covenant. More importantly, we know how quickly all of his churches turned anti-Jewish and anti-Torah. And guess what – at every turn it was Paul’s own writings that were used to justify all of it. We have observable history to examine of how Paul’s churches turned out in the long run, not theories of Paul’s modern apologists. Perhaps we should judge Paul and the effects of Paul’s teachings using Jesus’ own standard: “by their fruit you will recognize them.”.

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68 Comments leave one →
  1. remi4321 permalink
    December 28, 2015 2:25 pm

    I think Paul was unhappy to be Jewish… Seriously, he did everything to separate himself from them after his heat stroke on the way to Damascus… This is a fellow I have a hard time to understand and I think Christians have a better understanding of Paul than the “Messianic” of Rav Shaul. He definitely taught replacement theology and the end of the law, but people prefer to deny it.

  2. December 28, 2015 2:37 pm

    I think that Paul’s claims to be a “Pharisee” or that he was a disciple of Gamaliel himself were in fact lies to establish his authority. VERY common among even among today’s messianics, many of whom claim to have come from “Orthodox” families when they did not (I can name names) or the untold number of Gentile “messianics” who claim to be Jews when in fact they have no shred of Jewish ancestry. How can these people reconcile their deception with the supposed “truth” of their faith?

  3. Jim D. permalink
    December 28, 2015 2:56 pm

    Excellent post, Gene.
    .

    “To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law, though I myself am not under the law, so as to win those under the law. (1 Corinthians 9:20)”

    I suppose this is so obvious I needn’t comment on it, but this is clearly the NT scriptural support Messianics and evangelical Christians must have in mind as they dress and act Torah-observant when approaching Jews for conversion. Many contemporary protesters of Jews For Jesus’ and other groups’ tactics don’t realize this. I suppose there are also many Hebrew Roots Christians whose conscious intentions are not so deceitful, but to the others this applies.
    .

    “Here Paul not only completely re-interprets (is this another “midrash” of his?) the true reason why Moses covered his face (when the Torah plainly tells us that it glowed after he just came from G-d’s presence) as being one of the signs of passing away of the Mosaic Covenant (even though G-d just instituted it), but actually insists that Jews are blinded by the same covenant at the very moment G-d made it with them.”

    I think this is a terrific comment on 2 Cor 3:14.

    “We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away.

    Paul attempts to equate Moses’ glowing face with Torah itself. But there are several ways to unpack this verse, and by doing so, it becomes nothing less than ridiculous.

    Exodus 34:29-35 is so clear that Moses’ face glowed from his encounter with God. He comes down from the mount carrying the tablets. If he later covered his face, he didn’t cover the tablets! That is merely one point. Secondly, the verses state clearly that the people were afraid of his glowing skin. But whenever he spoke to them, he *removed* the veil. Only after relaying God’s commandments directly to the people would he then cover his face.

    The point of the verses is clear: Moses’ face reflected the glory of God, and he presented that for all to see when he conveyed God’s commandments to them. When his task was to relay God’s word to the people, the veil was off, but when he covered his face, it was to avoid unnecessary fear in those who would be afraid, and in his characteristic humility, to discourage the rest from worshiping him.
    .

    How can anyone have this verse explained to them and not begin to question both Paul and their beliefs?

  4. remi4321 permalink
    December 28, 2015 3:22 pm

    “How can anyone have this verse explained to them and not begin to question both Paul and their beliefs?”

    Jim, you have a religion that forbid you to doubt and if you doubt you are to pray to Jesus to remove that doubt. If that doubt overtakes you, then you were never “one of us”, hells awaits you and you should take a rock and throw yourself in the ocean…

    Most christians, when they find something not that right in their Bible usually stop. Read the “old” testament verse and then read the “new” testament again. If it’s a clear contradiction, they usually have two options. They go to their Bible commentary and that will explain the contradiction in a way or another. Or they pray about it and ask Jesus to remove the doubt. The next morning, their short term memory put it far way in the back of their mind. And if all else fails, they remind themselves “anyway, Jesus is the only way and I cannot have my sins forgiven without Jesus”. Think about it, if you cannot understand a bible verse, the apostle tells you that you have a veil in your face. Who wants to be part of those who are blinded? Do you want to go back to the dead law of Moses, anyway there are thousands of other proof that Jesus was the messiah… In keeping it imprecise, and vague, the minister puts in your mind “there is no need for you to doubt”, without going to any specific passage. Then next time you have a doubt, you use the thousand proofs that you have not check to weight it with that small contradiction. That’s what I did for the 5 years I was a Christian…

    “I think that Paul’s claims to be a “Pharisee” or that he was a disciple of Gamaliel himself were in fact lies to establish his authority. ”

    Would a Pharisee ask a letter to the Hight Priest anyway? I heard from a Rabbi that Pharisees would never have done such a thing. Was he wrong or right in your opinion?

    “Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus”

  5. December 28, 2015 3:28 pm

    “Or they pray about it and ask Jesus to remove the doubt. The next morning, their short term memory put it far way in the back of their mind. And if all else fails, they remind themselves “anyway, Jesus is the only way and I cannot have my sins forgiven without Jesus”.”

    Remi, well put! It’s an effective mechanism for dealing with cognitive dissonance. We’ve all done it as Jesus-believers. Until the (ample) evidence to the contrary accumulates to the point that it no longer works.

  6. December 28, 2015 3:35 pm

    “I suppose this is so obvious I needn’t comment on it, but this is clearly the NT scriptural support Messianics and evangelical Christians must have in mind as they dress and act Torah-observant when approaching Jews for conversion.”

    Jim, absolutely. However, for saving souls from eternal hell, the goals justify the means. For Christians who do this to Jews they may very well liken it to a shot a nurse gives to a baby to immunize her from a horrible disease. Sure, the baby doesn’t suspect that the needle will really hurt (although the nurse knows it full well), and trustingly submits to the shot while the nurse distracts the baby with a smile and talks soothingly to her. In nurse’s mind the deception and the painful shot are for the good of the ignorant baby. The clueless baby (the Jews) will appreciate it one day.

  7. Jim D. permalink
    December 29, 2015 3:53 am

    Remi,

    You’re answer to my question was, as is often the case, very helpful. Thank you. Yes, it does seem that a believer requires a certain volume of repudiation to push him or her over the tipping point. One, two or only a handful of proofs (or, “anti-proofs”) isn’t enough. But if we can keep them engaged long enough — which is the real trick, I suppose — there’s a chance.

    “Would a Pharisee ask a letter to the Hight Priest anyway? I heard from a Rabbi that Pharisees would never have done such a thing. Was he wrong or right in your opinion?”

    There is a theory, offered by Hyam Maccoby I believe, that Paul was actually working for the Sadducees, i.e., the Temple priests. They were the ones who persecuted the early church, not the Pharisees. This would seem to have support, and implicated Paul in yet another one of his fabrications.

    As to his claim to have been a student of Gamaliel, this may have been technically true, but if it was, it could only have been for a short time, and he stretched it to the point of misrepresentation. Why do I say this? Because how long could anyone have remained under the tutelage of the greatest Rabbi of the day without learning Hebrew? Obviously, not long at all.

    “Rabbi Shaul” didn’t know Hebrew. Almost every time he quoted from Torah in his letters — whether you’re looking at the translation itself or the underlying theological import — it is painfully obvious that he relied completely on the Septuagint.

  8. Jim D. permalink
    December 29, 2015 8:39 am

    “For Christians who do this to Jews they may very well liken it to a shot a nurse gives to a baby to immunize her from a horrible disease.”

    Indeed, Jews must be immunized from this disease. I think Israel should implement a simple curriculum at the primary and secondary school levels that teaches the correct understanding of key verses, such as Isaiah 7:14 and 53, and fundamental biblical concepts such as actual blood atonement and forgiveness, so that the population isn’t vulnerable to messianic efforts.

  9. December 29, 2015 8:59 am

    ““Rabbi Shaul” didn’t know Hebrew. Almost every time he quoted from Torah in his letters — whether you’re looking at the translation itself or the underlying theological import — it is painfully obvious that he relied completely on the Septuagint.”

    Jim, that’s so true! But his Gentile converts certainly couldn’t know any better.

    “so that the population isn’t vulnerable to messianic efforts.”

    I would also be OK with tightening proselytism restrictions in Israel that target Jews. Sure, it will not politically correct from a Western point of view, but its vital that the Jewish state protect the most vulnerable of its Jewish citizens from the numerous foreign-funded Christian missionary organizations. Democracy must not be allowed to be used as a vehicle to subvert the Jewish character of Israel or its citizens. But you are correct – educating the Jewish children is the key above all else.

  10. December 29, 2015 11:52 am

    “it does seem that a believer requires a certain volume of repudiation to push him or her over the tipping point.”

    Yes indeed Jim. I would also say that it depends since how long the Christians has believed in Jesus. It’s almost impossible to convince somebody that has been thought since he/she was a child. Their whole life is centred around the worship of a false god and even with many contradiction, they will not change their mind. Like one of my close friend told me “Jesus is my whole life”. Also, we have to think about the people that felt Jesus and regardless of the quantity of text you show them, their worship of Jesus is purely experimental. I met one of them in my congregation and he was exactly like Gene wrote in his article. He told me that he does not need any proofs and he knew his believe was true because it was reveal to him in a dream.

    “I think Israel should implement a simple curriculum at the primary and secondary school levels that teaches the correct understanding of key verses”

    Yes, and I really don’t know why they don’t do that… It’s way easier to deal with false teaching when the people don’t believe in them…

  11. December 29, 2015 12:01 pm

    “As to his claim to have been a student of Gamaliel”

    Paul (Rav Shaul) is almost deified by the MJ movement. He is a Hebrew of Hebrews, a follower of Gamaliel! Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s really worth the effort to prove that he did not even know Hebrew, even if all the passages are taken for the Greek Septuagint. Messianic are quick to endorse the Septuagint and quick to condemn the Masoretic even if their “old” testament was translated from the Masoretic. They would rather say that the Masoretic has been corrupted than facing the fact that the GREAT Rav Shaul was not a Hebrew scholar or that the NT has contradiction and mistranslations from the Septuagint.

  12. December 29, 2015 12:03 pm

    “It’s almost impossible to convince somebody that has been thought since he/she was a child. Their whole life is centred around the worship of a false god and even with many contradiction, they will not change their mind. ”

    Remi, in my experience, the OPPOSITE is actually the case. It seems MUCH harder for someone to later leave Christianity if they became a Jesus-worshiper as a teenager or an adult through a conscious decision vs. someone who was a Christian since very early childhood because his or her parents were Christians and they were raised this way. Someone who made a decision as an older teen or adult will be far more committed. Like I was. It was very hard for me to make the break.

  13. December 29, 2015 12:12 pm

    Hmm.. Maybe you are right, but I became a Christian at 29 thought. I would guess it depends also of the reasons and surrounding of the conversion. For example, if someone lost a family member that was a follower of Jesus just before his conversion. But if someone just got caught in praying the sinners’ prayer, the emotional aspect won’t be as strong…

  14. December 29, 2015 12:34 pm

    “It was very hard for me to make the break.”

    Do you have any specific text or theology that allowed it to break or was it just over time?

  15. December 29, 2015 12:40 pm

    “But if someone just got caught in praying the sinners’ prayer, the emotional aspect won’t be as strong.”

    But if they only did that, it’s hard to call such a person “committed”. The truly committed converts of any religion are usually far more zealous than the old timers born into the system. After transforming their lives to conform to the new beliefs, often alienating their families and friends in the process, it’s very hard to abandon what spent many years to build up (including their faith in JC).

    For those born into Christianity (meaning into families with higher than normal level of commitment), the hardest people to convince among the “old timer religion” type are those operating on a high level of emotionalism. For them, emotions (especially personal feelings about Jesus) trump any evidence that would expose their convictions as wrong.

  16. December 29, 2015 12:45 pm

    “Do you have any specific text or theology that allowed it to break or was it just over time?”

    Remi, I described my de-conversion experience on my About page. https://dailyminyan.com/about/

    I don’t list a lot of specific texts there though (it wasn’t the point of the page) – for me it was a combination of MANY things – historical, textual, reason, realization that I was practicing idolatry, conversations with others, and even common sense – and then the light bulb went on and stayed on.

  17. December 29, 2015 12:51 pm

    In the end it takes a willingness to accept the truth. When I started to preach the D’var, I thought “I will try to prove Jesus from the old testament”, but I also promised myself to follow the truth wherever it leaded me. After using Isaiah 53 too many times and finding out that the prophet like Moses had no links with Jesus. I started to think to myself “is that all there is in the whole old testament?” My wife had doubts about the trinity in the same time and I found out that if Jesus was not G-d, then I thought that the whole New testament was just a big lie. The whole process took for me only 2 months. I could not preach any more. Then I went to look at JewsforJudaism. It took one video and that nailed it.

  18. December 29, 2015 1:26 pm

    I think that for me, one of the first textual things that sort of shook me up was the anti-semitism in the gospel of John and the fact that the details of the events in that particular book contradicted just about everything claimed in the three synoptic gospels. Not in minor points – in major ones. John’s constant use of the phrase “the Jews” and calling my Jewish people children of Satan for not believing in JC made me question the authorship and the intent of the book. It was a shock. Then I started to examine the rest of NT, book by book, verse by verse. At first my reaction was to dismiss what I was seeing as humans making mistakes in writing things down – but the NT was still G-d’s word. Then, I moved on to Paul and saw how he was completely twisting various biblical verses. I started studying history of Christianity and the development of the Trinity doctrine. Then at some point it finally occurred to me that Jesus wasn’t any sort of god or divine. OK, he was “only” the Messiah and not divine, I reasoned at the time. I could no longer address “Yeshua” in prayer as I’ve done or “thank” him for anything. Then I moved on to examining prophecies supposedly about Jesus as messiah and realized that ALL of them were either mistranslated, used completely out of context or just plain made up. The whole thing started to smell very rotten, unbecoming of the G-d of Israel described in the Hebrew Bible. It took a few months of reading and praying to finally rid myself of rest of the Christian/messianic dogmas. To make long story short – I repented and fully returned to Judaism. I threw out all Christian/messianic books in my house (save for one NT, to use in discussions with Jesus-worshipers).

  19. December 29, 2015 1:35 pm

    My library would be almost empty if I would remove all Christian/messianic book of mine. :) Maybe one day!

  20. Troy permalink
    December 29, 2015 4:09 pm

    It may not be commonplace, but it’s certainly not impossible for someone who has been a Christian since childhood to realize the problems with Paul and reject his writings. I was “saved” at the age of 7, and by 18 was starting to see certain “issues” in the church, mainly the bogus holidays and lack of Sabbath observance at the time. Now in my late 40s I’ve finally spent some time seriously looking for the Truth.

    I haven’t abandoned Yeshua as Messiah, though I know I have to confront that and prove or disprove it for myself at some point.

    However, once I realized that Matt 5:17-19 was a clear indication that Torah was not in fact abolished, and realized how easy it was to prove that Paul could not have been teaching what the church says he teaches without being contradictory or flat out wrong, I started really questioning the inclusion of his writings in the canon. But then, these were early “Church fathers” already drinking Paul’s koolaid so it makes sense why he was (wrongly) included.

    What first troubled me about Paul, even before I decided he was a false teacher, was his manipulation of the Pharisees vs Sadducees in order to escape trial by the Jewish council in Acts 23. He was initially detained when Jews from Asia who were in Jerusalem accused him of teaching against Torah, as well as bringing gentiles into forbidden areas of the temple (Acts 21:27-29).

    In verse 29 Luke records: “(For they had seen Trophimus the Ephesian in the city with him previously, and they assumed Paul had brought him into the inner temple courts.)” The way this is recorded makes it fairly certain that 1) Trophimus was in a part of the temple off limits to gentiles, and 2) He was either encouraged to be there by Paul, or thought he could be there based on Paul’s teaching.

    Earlier (Acts 21:10-13) a prophet warned Paul he’d be detained, but Paul insisted he was ready to die at the hands of the Jews if necessary.

    The 12 apostles feared Paul even after his conversion (Acts 9:26), and later talked about how the tens of thousands of Jews in Jerusalem who believed were all zealous for the law (Acts 21:20) but were hearing rumors that Paul was teaching against the law (Acts 21:21). They required Paul to take part in a Nazarite vow to prove he was Torah observant and that there was nothing to these rumors (Acts 21:22-24).

    So Paul does this, but in so doing somehow Trophimus ends up where he shouldn’t be, and the Asian Jews accuse him of teaching against the law and bringing gentiles into the inner courts. With all of this, it seems Paul hasn’t done much to clear up the rumors, right?

    So he is detained and eventually ends up before the council, apparently doesn’t realize which person there is the High Priest (Acts 23:3-5) and then sees an opportunity to lie his way out of his predicament by claiming he’s on trial for his belief in the resurrection of the dead, setting of a ruckus between the Pharisees and Sadducees and escaping. He ends up getting passed off to the Romans and eventually appealing to Ceasar to continue avoiding being tried by the Jews, after insisting he was perfectly fine with being detained and even dying in Jerusalem at the hands of the Jews.

    All of this started bothering me first, and then I started thinking about the contrast between Paul’s detention and the detention the apostles experienced in Acts 5. There, an angel freed the disciples and instructed them to return to the temple and teach, which they did. After being re-detained, Gamaliel recognized that they would either fade away like other false teachers, or they were doing God’s work and would be unstoppable. On the basis of that reasoning the disciples were beaten and released.

    Quite a contrast no? So then I happened to notice some other curious things. Paul’s accusers were Jews from Asia. Ephesus was the largest city in Asia at the time. In Acts 19 we read that Paul spent three months promoting his viewpoints in the Synagogue, where he was completely rejected. He then spend an additional two years teaching at the Hall of Tyrannus, and all who lived in the province heard him (Acts 19:8-10). Essentially everyone from Asia knew Paul after him living there for at least 2 years and three months.

    So his accusers in Jerusalem certainly knew Paul well. For Paul to NOT have been teaching against the law would mean his multiple Jewish accusers were all lying. Seems unlikely that Torah observant Jews with a problem with Paul’s teaching against the law would be violating Torah by bearing false witness.

    Further, it is Paul himself who repeatedly refers to himself as an Apostle. Was he the 13th apostle? The 12 had all been first hand witnesses to Yeshua’s ministry. Paul was not. Matthias replaced Judas after prayer and the casting of lots. The 12 apostles are never recorded as having referred to Paul as an apostle. And yet, Paul claims this title for himself repeatedly in his writings.

    If Paul is the 13th apostle, why does Revelation 21:24 say “The wall of the city has twelve foundations, and on them are the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.”

    Seems there are only 12 apostles acknowledged by NT writings.

    Then consider what Revelation 2:2 says in the letter to Ephesus: “‘I know your works as well as your labor and steadfast endurance, and that you cannot tolerate evil. You have even put to the test those who refer to themselves as apostles (but are not), and have discovered that they are false.” Who again was the “apostle” that the Ephesians knew?

    Paul in fact lamented the fact that all of Asia had deserted him (2 Tim 1:15), and that nobody (i.e. the apostles who had required him to prove he was Torah observant) had come to his defense when he was detained (2 Tim 4:16). It seems to be fairly clear in the NT writings that everyone knew Paul for what he was–a false teacher.

  21. December 29, 2015 5:09 pm

    Hi Troy, what you are saying is quite interesting. I never saw it like that, but that makes a lot of sense. Maybe you are right that the disciples did not really considered Paul as an apostle. Nevertheless, the church did and now it is part of Christian doctrines since two thousand years.

    What books of the Bible do you consider inspired then? What about Hebrews? Also, how can you know for sure that the rest of the new testament writing is not a fraud as well? Is your congregation believes like you do? I heard some messianic reject the Pauline writing, do you go to such a congregation?

  22. Troy permalink
    December 29, 2015 6:52 pm

    Remi:

    What I find so interesting is that despite Paul’s inclusion in the NT canon, there is plenty of information in the NT writings to question whether he should be there, but the inclusion of his writings makes the case stronger (i.e. his acknowledgement that the Asians had abandoned him and nobody had come to his defense, or the repeated self titling of himself as an apostle.) It’s almost as if Paul needed to be included to solidify the case against him.

    Honestly I don’t know exactly where I stand in regard to the NT writings. I do not put them in the same class as the Tanakh, that is for sure. Hebrews may have been written by Paul. If it wasn’t, I definitely have a big problem with Hebrews 8 (the only portion I’ve recently dug deep into) quoting Jeremiah 31 about the new covenant, which to me is clearly a Messianic Era event given the surrounding context there in Jeremiah. I believe the quote is misused in Hebrews to suggest the new covenant is now, whereas it seems clear to me in Jeremiah it’s a future occurrence. At best you might be able to say it has begun now but will not be perfected until the Messianic Era. Yeshua spoke of the new covenant in his blood at the last supper, which I suppose could either mean something to look forward to (in the future), or something starting right then (but not perfected until the Messianic Era.)

    What is very clear about the Jeremiah quote is that the new covenant would be established with the House of Israel and of Judah, and NOT with gentiles or “the church”. And, it clearly says the Torah will be written in our hearts and minds so that we observe it naturally/instinctively, when Messiah rules.

    Anyway, I haven’t quite figured out where I stand relative to the NT writings. I could say I would just drop all of Paul, but then there are other things I’ve come to new conclusions on, like the virgin birth, deity of Yeshua, etc. which may require the acknowledgement of certain textual corruptions introduced into those writings by the church, and once you go there, where do you stop?

    I have to believe that if Yeshua was indeed Messiah (ben Yosef) that Hashem has protected that knowledge like He has the Tanakh. One of the things that has kept my belief in Yeshua’s candidacy for Messiah is that his apostles were all martyred for their faith. They were Jewish, and they walked with him, and either witnessed his resurrection, or lied. While it is conceivable that one can accept on faith something that occurred in the past that they did not personally witness, it is highly unlikely that 12 people who spent years with Yeshua could all conspire to lie about his resurrection if it didn’t happen, when there was no benefit to doing so, and serious downsides (i.e. Martyrdom). If they concocted an outlandish fairy tale, it’s not like they stood to profit from it–they brought persecution and death upon themselves. It seems hard to believe you could hold a conspiracy like that together without someone recanting.

    As far as congregation goes…well that’s interesting. As I mentioned, since the age of 18 I’ve known something was wrong, but when I got married and my wife wasn’t really on the same page, I sort of just drifted along in church, until maybe a year or year and a half ago when I had a chance encounter with a gentleman who is an Orthodox Jew who believes in Yeshua, and is part of a very small Orthodox movement. By Orthodox I mean basically everything Orthodox Judaism entails + Yeshua as Messiah. Surprisingly there are a few of these communities around, as I’ve learned.

    Because he lives about 1:20 from me, and because initially I didn’t think I agreed with oral Torah/Talmud etc., I initially spent some time with a local Hebrew Roots fellowship. After a couple months there I realized there was still too much Christian about it, and I had also been researching oral Torah and found a very well written and balanced paper showing that oral Torah is necessary and even proven in written Torah, so I started driving the 1:20 to fellowship with them. For the sake of family peace, because my wife *still* isn’t on the same page, I am still attending a Baptist church on Sundays. It’s tough though–was especially tough the last couple weeks with all the Christmas stuff.

    My current perspective is basically that Messianic Judaism and Hebrew Roots groups are kinda doing their own thing. I’ve come to realize that this isn’t the best way forward, in my opinion. I do believe that eventually the dispersed Northern Kingdom will be regathered (though I do not believe all Christians are Ephraim!) and I think the scepter of Judah (Gen 49:10) indicates that Judah retains the authority to rule both politically and religiously (Torah is both legal and spiritual), and has kept the faith alive all these centuries, so I do believe Orthodox Judaism is the best (though perhaps not 100% perfect) expression of true faith in Hashem, and that whether or not Yeshua is Messiah, it is the way I feel led to express my faith.

    On the other hand, I’m also trying to figure out if Hashem expects the same thing from gentile believers as Jewish believers, and to figure out which I am. Orthodox rabbis will suggest that the Noahide laws are all that applies to gentile (non-Israelite) believers, which could be just a means to discourage the not-fully-commited gentile from converting and bringing disrepute and judgement on Israel. I have a surname that is known to be used by Jewish people, but I’m not sure it’s always Jewish. My mom’s mom’s mom was a Schuler from Germany which is also a Jewish surname, but again I’m not sure it always has to be. There is no family lore to suggest it, but I wonder why I would be drawn to this as I am. If I can prove I have any significant Jewish heritage I will be delighted to restore the family name to Jewish faith and practice, but if I’m gentile I want to figure out if Hashem would have me convert or not. I just don’t want to do something solely on the basis that I feel drawn to it, if that makes sense.

    I don’t know why I tend to write such ridiculously long comments, and this is way off topic, but I hope it helps answer your questions.

  23. December 29, 2015 7:18 pm

    Hi Troy, nothing is out of topic. I feel that you might be in a similar situation than me (in a way). I stopped believing in Yeshua just a little bite more than a year ago, but still go to a “messianic” congregation for my familly. I am not Jewish and even if conversion could be an option for many in my situation, I could not do it for the sake of my family. I don’t think G-d requires me to convert thought. As for the Shabbath and the law, I don’t think it is mentioned in the Bible that gentiles should keep it. Just after I stopped believing in Yeshua, I started to be more inclined to keep Shabbath, but that caused more complication in my family than anything so I stopped.

    I would suggest, if I may, that you check the claims of Yeshua. You mentioned the virgin birth and the diety of Yeshua. As you are the only messianic I ever talked to that seems honest to look at the claims with rational eye, it may be good to figure out if Yeshua was really the messiah or no. I found a website that was pretty good truth2u. He is an ex-pastor that changed his mind about Christianity. You may say that he is bias, and you would be right to say so, but found his pod cast quite interesting.

  24. December 29, 2015 7:56 pm

    “If they concocted an outlandish fairy tale, it’s not like they stood to profit from it–they brought persecution and death upon themselves. It seems hard to believe you could hold a conspiracy like that together without someone recanting.”

    Troy, I think that it will help you to look at this from a different angle by reading my post Would the disciples of Jesus die for a lie?

  25. Troy permalink
    December 29, 2015 9:05 pm

    Remi:

    I guess you mean truth2u.org? I’ll check it out–thanks! As for Shabbat, how did observing it impact your family if you are attending a messianic congregation? Shabbat was made holy at creation so I tend to think it applies to all, even if you take the view that only the Noahide laws apply to non-Israelites.

  26. Troy permalink
    December 29, 2015 9:05 pm

    Gene:

    I had no idea you had addressed that topic here. I’ll read it and let you know what I think. Thanks!

  27. Troy permalink
    December 29, 2015 10:46 pm

    Gene I commented on Would the disciples of Jesus die for a lie?to keep things on-topic, rather than responding here.

  28. Jim D. permalink
    December 30, 2015 1:19 am

    Hi Troy, welcome to the conversation.

    As you know so far, both Remi and Gene are former believers. I think you’e in good hands with them. I am not, so I cannot relate to your experience like they can. My story is a little different. In a nutshell, just so you know where I’m coming from, I was raised in a secular Jewish family and was secular most of my life. Ironically, I married a born again Baptist woman about six years ago, and her influence — quite unintentionally, as you might imagine — resulted in my choosing to “return” to Judaism and become relatively observant. In the years since, I have read and learned quite a bit about both Christianity and Judaism. I’d like to add my two cents, if you don’t mind.

    “If I can prove I have any significant Jewish heritage I will be delighted to restore the family name to Jewish faith and practice, but if I’m gentile I want to figure out if Hashem would have me convert or not. I just don’t want to do something solely on the basis that I feel drawn to it, if that makes sense.”

    Your answer will cost $89 and some patience. You can order a basic DNA test at FamilyTreeDNA, which will tell you about your family’s ethnic origins. They are pretty busy these days, so be prepared to wait a couple of months for your results. https://www.familytreedna.com/landing/jewish-ancestry.aspx

    “Orthodox rabbis will suggest that the Noahide laws are all that applies to gentile (non-Israelite) believers, which could be just a means to discourage the not-fully-commited gentile from converting and bringing disrepute and judgement on Israel. ”

    In fact if you read through the Torah, you can sift out what applies to the Israelites and what does not. I believe you will find consistency with this statement by rabbis. The exceptions apply in the land of Israel, where, for example, all in the land are to observe the Sabbath, even slaves and foreigners. This did not apply outside Israel, however. Traditionally, rabbis have indeed discouraged converts, but there is also an unspoken “rule”, so to speak, that one is to rebuff a person seeking conversion three times, and if they continue to press after that, then they are to be instructed in the conversion process.

    Troy, how do you distinguish Yeshua the messiah from Yeshua the god-man? What/who is the messiah supposed to be — what are the tests — and what do you believe this is based on? I am also interested to know your views regarding the blood of Yeshua.

  29. Troy permalink
    December 30, 2015 11:19 am

    Hi Jim, and thanks for the info!

    I haven’t posted much here, but I have followed the back and forth between Gene, Remi and Peter Vest on Peter’s blog (though I now avoid Peter’s blog due to…well no point in going into it really.)

    Thanks for your background. Is your wife still an ardent Southern Baptist? My wife is not on the same page as I am, and it makes things a bit awkward, even stressful at times, though I’m not pushing anything on her and am doing my best to maintain peace in the home while my faith is being reformed.

    I did actually purchase a DNA test, but from Ancestry, when they had a $69 special going a few weeks ago. I had been contemplating dna testing for some time, but had resisted thinking I should look first in the family history/tree, and also because I felt a little silly that I was so curious to find out–telling myself it really didn’t matter and I shouldn’t care so much about it. I guess I’m curious because I’m looking for some sort of spiritual or supernatural explanation for why I have been drawn away from Christianity for so long when others (like my wife) don’t even seem to be affected at all when you point out to them that the NT writings prove that Torah still applies and that Christian practice is bogus.

    DNA testing appears to be a little more complex than just giving you a checkbox indicating Jewish heritage or not. I am by no means an expert or even knowledgeable in this area, but a little bit of reading seems to suggest Ashkenazi heritage is accurate if the percentage is high enough. I’m no sure about Sephardic though–haven’t noticed any claims of accuracy there. My surname is said to be Sephardic, (I tend to find it in lists of Sephardic surnames), but I don’t know how, given that the entire family seems to originate in Lancashire England, or at least were there as of the 1700s which is as far back as I’ve been able to go so far. The surname also is directly related to a couple villages in the Lancashire area which have the surname in them. Interestingly, there are very few of us, less than 7,000 with my particular spelling, maybe around 24,000 with the three major variants, and 5-7% of us appear to live in Israel. The rest are all in the US, UK or Australia primarily.

    On my mother’s side, my great grandmother (mom’s mom’s mom) was a Schuler from Germany. Aside from the surname being Jewish and designating someone employed by a Shul, I have vague hints that may or may not point to a possible Jewish connection there. Her parents emigrated in the mid-1800s, and her father’s obituary says he was converted to Christianity by the minister who wrote it, but doesn’t indicate from what he was converted. I haven’t found any birth or baptismal records from Germany for him either, though I did eventually find him on a passenger list from when they emigrated to the USA.

    As far as what I believe about Messiah…I’d say that is still in a state of flux. The bottom line is I know that whatever I end up believing must align in every way with Torah. I have given up any idea of Yeshua’s deity, and believe that can be easily supported by the NT writings. I have given up on the virgin birth, choosing for now to believe the genealogies are there to prove his physical Davidic lineage and the virgin birth was a later Greco/Roman change/addition. (I know Gene has written an article on this, and I know I need to inspect the genealogy question more closely, but haven’t yet gotten around to it.)

    The way my transformation has gone is that I tell myself I must question *everything* and follow the truth wherever it leads. I also know that my assumptions and biases are still there, and I tend to just leave them alone until they come up for consideration.

    For example, it was relatively easy for me to see 30 years ago that Christian holidays were bogus and shouldn’t be celebrated, that Christmas should be ditched, Passover should replace Easter, and that we should be worshiping on the Sabbath. That was about as far as I got back then, sadly.

    From then to now I would have periods where my convictions would trouble me and I’d give them passing thought, and then I’d just push them back and ignore them until they came back to the forefront. Eventually this past year or so I reached a point where I could no longer ignore them, (I guess I’m getting older and worried that I don’t know what I believe to be truth), and I finally got off my lazy behind and started really looking at things.

    When it occurred to me that I had completely missed the full Torah 30 years ago, that was the biggest struggle for me–coming to terms with the entire Torah. The biggest hurdle was all of the “But Paul …” issues. I wrestled with all the complexities of Paul’s writings, trying to figure them out, until the middle of one night as I was laying their sleepless (a frequent problem during this process) and realized I was making it way too complicated. It occurred to me that I didn’t have to understand Paul, I just had to understand that he couldn’t possibly be teaching what the church said he was.

    It was like the proverbial light over my head switched on and I realized that if sin was lawlessness (1 John 3:4) and Paul wrote we are no longer under the law (Romans 6:14), but then followed it up by saying that wasn’t a license to sin (Romans 6:15), then he couldn’t possibly be saying Torah was abolished, because sin is defined by Torah–the two are inseparable. Paul was the only obstacle to embracing Torah, and when Paul fell I was finally 100% convinced that the Torah-lessness of Christianity was absolutely abominable.

    From that point I have been addressing things as they come up, when I’m ready for it. I still had the same view of Yeshua at that point, that I had learned as a Christian, but I didn’t cling to it. I just let it sit there until I was ready to dig into it. I’m still in the midst of that process. The guy who started the Chavura I study/fellowship with believes Yeshua is Messiah ben Yosef, but he told me to set aside the NT for awhile and learn Torah. I am learning Torah but still find that I look to the NT as I wrestle with things. (Hence my opinion now that Paul was a false apostle now compared to my opinion that he was just hard to understand when I first embraced Torah.)

    The guy who started the Chavura also says there is much more pointing to Messiah in Kabbalah than Tanakh, but I’m nowhere near being ready to dig into Kabbalah. For the most part I have been studying Torah by means of the portions which we discuss twice through the week, once during a weekday Torah study and then again on Shabbat.

    So for now, my belief in Yeshua as Messiah is just sort of there. I’m not stubbornly clinging to it, and I have been dealing with and significantly reforming my view on Yeshua’s nature for awhile now. I will eventually confront the question of whether or not Yeshua could have been Messiah. For now I read articles on both sides and just sort of let it all sit until I’m really ready to address it, if that makes sense.

    Sometimes posting comments on a blog forces me to deal with an issue. For example, I wasn’t completely ready to confront my idea of Yeshua’s nature until I got into a discussion with Peter on his blog, which originated from me pointing out to him that there are a few actual Orthodox Jewish groups who believe in Yeshua, but warned him that they didn’t accept the deity of Yeshua. Then I started pointing out to him various NT writings which support Yeshua’s humanity and not deity, and in the process was able to convince myself, when I hadn’t really started out feeling I was ready to go there just yet.

    Similarly, pointing out that the Martyrdom of the apostles is something that bolsters my continued de-facto belief in Yeshua as Messiah has spawned a discussion with Gene which will also push me to investigate this concept further.

    So, I guess I would say I am a work in progress :-) I just want the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, and getting there through the obstacles of history tainted by various religious and political motivations, and my own human inadequacy and bias is tough, but worthwhile. I think this is what Hashem ultimately wants of us–to want to know him and drawn near to him so badly that we are willing to struggle mightily to get there.

  30. December 30, 2015 12:13 pm

    Hi Troy, to answer your question ” As for Shabbat, how did observing it impact your family if you are attending a messianic congregation? ”

    Most messianic are really just baptist congregation with nice Jewish ornaments. I kept for a while Sabbath with my wife, but after checking with my wife, Paul convinced me that I was not commended not keeping it. And like most messianic do, I reinvented Sabbath. Is it wrong to drive? No, Shopping? that’s wrong. And I pretty much did my own rules until I realized it did not really make sense. Finally, when I realized that the New Testament was wrong, I decided to keep the Sabbath. I wanted to go to synagogue and did want to stop to buy anything at least. My wife kept saying that it was not mandatory and that I was trying to be a “Jew”. After a while I realized it was not necessary mandatory for me to keep it if I am now Jewish, so instead of keeping a half-Sabbath and driving my car around, I decided to use that option.

    One think I wanted to add for your name. the word “die Schule” is also the German word for school. It could be possible, I guess, to be a German name as well… Also, if you do the DNA test and you are positively Jewish, would you need to convert anyway?

    Finally, one last thought, as long as you don’t believe Yeshua is G-d, then I would guess it is not idolatry to believe he is the messiah (if you don’t pray to him and don’t worship him). So, I would suggest to take your time and patiently check the claims on both sides. Like that you will be able to make you own decision and be sure whatever people will tell you.

  31. December 30, 2015 12:26 pm

    “Also, if you do the DNA test and you are positively Jewish, would you need to convert anyway? ”

    Yes, he would still need to convert – Judaism DOES NOT accept DNA tests as proofs of one’s Jewishness. A person could indeed have solid Jewish biological ancestry but if it is through one’s paternal line only or if there is no documented proof of maternal descent, one would need to still need to undergo conversion.

    However, if a DNA test does indicate possible Jewish ancestry, with some folks it may very well prompt them to seek to reconnect to the Jewish people through conversion.

  32. Troy permalink
    December 30, 2015 12:49 pm

    Yeah I don’t think I would be halachically Jewish even if I could prove my great-grandmother was Jewish. Isn’t that too far back? I know for a fact my grandmother and mother were never Jewish in any sort of practical way. Since her father converted, and I don’t know when, it could be my great grandmother was Christian most her life and never new she was Jewish even if her father was. And then there is still the chance that Schuler could be a secular German surname as well as Jewish, just like my own surname could be either or. I just have no idea unless I get more aggressive with the genealogical research and have someone in Germany and/or England help me investigate, or maybe the DNA test will suggest there is heritage somewhere (or not).

    Four generations ago would, if both spouses were 100% jewish, I guess only show up as 1/8 (12.8%). I’ve sort of told myself that if DNA showed something closer to 25% (indicating somewhat recent heritage on both sides perhaps) I would feel strongly compelled to look at some sort of conversion (be it Orthodox or Messianic depending on where my understanding ends up, and arguably Messianic would not be “valid” to Orthodox Judaism.) If it’s more like 1/8 I’ll still be motivated I think. If I find out I’m not at all Jewish I’ll have to figure out what I believe Hashem would desire of a gentile.

  33. Troy permalink
    December 30, 2015 12:50 pm

    That should have been 12.5% not 12.8%.

  34. December 30, 2015 1:26 pm

    “Yeah I don’t think I would be halachically Jewish even if I could prove my great-grandmother was Jewish. Isn’t that too far back?”

    Troy, if you could prove that your maternal line goes back to a Jewess even 10 or more generations, it still would NOT be “too far back” according to halacha.

  35. December 30, 2015 1:34 pm

    Yes, but it’s really hard to prove if they got converted to Christianity a few generations back and removed all ties with Judaism. You’re not the only one in that situation unfortunately. For me, it is one of the red flag of Christianity.

    My wife’s father is Jewish, but a few generations from now and people won’t even know…

  36. Jim D. permalink
    December 31, 2015 3:53 am

    “Troy, if you could prove that your maternal line goes back to a Jewess even 10 or more generations, it still would NOT be “too far back” according to halacha.”

    Maybe according to Halacha Gene, but I wonder about this: God states clearly that anyone who causes a fellow Jew to idol worship is to be killed, but one who does so only for himself — or for herself? — will suffer karet. On the other hand, we also know that the children (or, more specifically, the sons) of one to sins yet reject their fathers sins and are righteous, are righteous indeed. Therefore, the question is raised: What about the third and fourth generations? Are the yet-to-be born descendants of Jewish idol worshipers still Jewish? If so, then what is the point of God’s declaring that the idol worshiper will be cut off from his people?

    On a side note, you guys were pretty busy today! I noticed all the comments around noon here and wanted to jump in, but was swamped with work.

    Troy, you never answered my questions as to what you believe qualifies a man to be Moshiach. Or about the significance of Yeshua’s blood — if you do have opinions about that.

    Gene, Paul’s vision on the road to Damascus describes perfectly an epileptic seizure with auditory hallucinations — something well documented in medicine.

  37. December 31, 2015 5:57 am

    On the general topic of Paul: I heard from my Rav that Paul was planted by the Sages to mislead the Christians away from Judaism altogether. I have a friend who wrote an amazing book about Yeshu that I read recently. In my comments and questions to her after reading it, I asked her if she knew anything about Paul being planted by the Sages. She said yes, but she couldn’t read the document very well and she is finding it for me so I can read it myself. I already believe Paul was planted and was a tzadik and did a great thing by writing the books he did, and likely Revelation, Hebrews, even perhaps the gospel of John, distancing the Notzrim from any connection with Torah and the Jewish people.

    On a side note, I also believe Toldot Yeshu is an absolute historically accurate story of Yeshu’s life. The Talmud speaks of this same Yeshu, only in less detail. Toldot Yeshu merely fills in extra details to what the Talmud says about ONE OF the multiple Yeshus. It seems the xtians base their fairy tale on two of the Yeshus, primarily the one spoken of in the Talmud and Toldot Yeshu as a former talmid of R’ Yehoshua Ben Perahya. I wrote a bit about this on my *resurrected* blog combatingmessianics.blogspot (maybe it’s the messiah of blogs?!?), for anyone interested.

  38. December 31, 2015 9:05 am

    “If so, then what is the point of God’s declaring that the idol worshiper will be cut off from his people?”

    Jim, I think that the real-world effect is that most such people (who convert or assimilate away from Judaism) are lost forever and are cut off from Israel. And in most cases, whenever their descendants do come forth to rejoin the Jewish people, they are made to convert like any other non-Jew.

    “Gene, Paul’s vision on the road to Damascus describes perfectly an epileptic seizure with auditory hallucinations — something well documented in medicine.”

    You could be right. I read that epilepsy can also cause temporary blindness, which could help explain Paul’s experience.

  39. December 31, 2015 9:08 am

    “I heard from my Rav that Paul was planted by the Sages to mislead the Christians away from Judaism altogether.”

    Aaron, if that is true, a great disservice to Israel was unwittingly done by those who supposedly planted, since Pauline teachings and the resulting Christianity eventually contributed to the deaths of millions of pious Jews.

  40. December 31, 2015 9:23 am

    To the opposite, the Sages did a great service to get rid of Christianity’s original connection to Judaism. What the Roman empire did when it was pagan wasn’t any better than what it did when it was Christian. Spiritual deaths are more significant than physical deaths. While we were physically oppressed by Christians over a large time span, this separation helped spare many Jewish souls. If a person dies righteous, he either has Gan Eden or he is reincarnated to fix some things he missed. If a person dies wicked and/or idolatrous, he could be sent to Gehinnom, reincarnated into bad circumstances, or reincarnated as an idolatrous gentile, just what he wanted in his previous life. It is much better to die righteous, and even better to be righteous and not die.

    On a related topic, the Christians and all other peoples and nations who have Jewish blood on their hands will pay for it dearly, and they haven’t paid for it yet.

  41. December 31, 2015 9:28 am

    “While we were physically oppressed by Christians over a large time span, this separation helped spare many Jewish souls.”

    Now that is paradoxically true. In effect, through their oppression and forced separation, antisemites helped preserve Jews within Judaism by keeping them from assimilating.

    “On a related topic, the Christians and all other peoples and nations who have Jewish blood on their hands will pay for it dearly, and they haven’t paid for it yet.”

    If the prophets are right, this will certainly be the case.

  42. Jim D. permalink
    December 31, 2015 6:16 pm

    Aaron, do you think the Rebbe is the real Moshiach?

  43. December 31, 2015 6:26 pm

    Actually, Jim, Aaron doesn’t think highly of Chabad. He is breslov.

  44. Troy permalink
    December 31, 2015 8:05 pm

    Jim, I probably couldn’t answer the question right now regarding the “blood of Yeshua”. Most of the NT content related to that topic is Pauline and I’ve decided Paul was a false teacher. Outside of Paul there are only a couple of statements attributed to Yeshua himself that would have bearing on this question.

    Honestly my understanding of the nature of Yeshua has changed dramatically, and my journey has just begun. At this stage I have not spent enough time re-examining the Tanakh in light of my new understanding to even try to answer the question of what the tests for Messiah is or how Yeshua fulfilled them or didn’t.

    The guy who started the Chavura I attend and study with recommended I read “Mashiach: Who? What? Why? How? Where? and When?” by Chaim Kramer. I haven’t yet done that, but I did buy the book several months ago. Do you guys (Jim, Gene, Remi) have any opinion about this work?

    I like reading what Gene posts here, but to a degree I see a lot of objection to what Rome made of Yeshua, and I agree with that. I try to strip all of that stuff away and just deal with Yeshua the Jew.

    My journey is still young, and I have a long way to go. I have a lot of study to do to solidify my overall position on Yeshua. I still hold that he was Messiah mainly because it’s what I believed as a Christian, and I haven’t spent enough time yet to determine whether that belief is worthy of retaining or whether it must go.

    It’s like I’m slowly cleaning house and throwing out the useless junk, and I just haven’t gotten to the Yeshua room yet. I have spent some time, somewhat accidental and instigated by Peter Vest, reforming certain parts of my view of Yeshua’s nature, such that I am convinced the Roman god-man has to go, along with the virgin birth. So I have made progress, but I’m not finished yet. I’ve straightened out the closet a little bit but the room is still a mess.

    Most of my time in my journey thus far has been spent coming to grips with Torah and making that most difficult transition out of Pauline churchianity, then studying Torah via the weekly portions at Chavura with folks pursuing an Orthodox Jewish perspective and lifestyle (although with Yeshua as Messiah), and looking into Paul to the point where I’m ready to call him a false teacher. (And my study of Paul is really the only thing that prompted me to comment here initially since that’s what this post is about.)

    So, in the same way I went from “But Paul says . . .” to “Paul is confusing, but he definitely couldn’t be saying that!” to “Screw it, Paul is a false teacher”, my perspective on Yeshua will have to go through a similar test and I’m not quite through it, and as such not really prepared to mount an all out defense of him until I have spent enough time working through it.

    Make sense? That’s why, for example, when I was responding to Remi about my view of the NT writings, I was careful to say “I have to believe that if Yeshua was indeed Messiah …”

  45. Jim D. permalink
    January 1, 2016 6:51 am

    Thank you, Troy. I enjoy your open, conversational style of writing, as well as the fact that you are being open minded and intellectually honest in your quest. You also seem to keep a nice balance between healthy skepticism and readiness to accept what is revealed as you progress forward.

    As you continue with Paul’s epistles, you would be well served, I think, to distinguish between the ones that are generally thought by the best qualified scholars to be his genuine writings vs the rest. And if you then read them in their actual chronological order, you can recognize the progression of his thinking.

    I presume you’ll next turn your focus to the synoptic Gospels, which I think would be a good idea. When you do that, I would like to suggest the following, if I may:

    Whereas Paul’s genuine writings are his own words, and therefore easier to judge, keep in mind that, for the most part, the Gospel writers put many words into Yeshua’s mouth (as well as others’). This will make it more challenging for you to apply the test to him in the way you did with Paul. The trick is getting a better feeling for what are most likely his authentic sayings vs what are not.

    One book I found to be extremely helpful with this is, “The Authentic Gospel of Jesus”, by Oxford professor Geza Vermes (pronounced “Vermesh”). After you read that, which won’t take long, try reading the Gospel chapters in parallel rather than in series. I think following these steps will reveal a great deal indeed.

  46. Concerned Reader permalink
    January 3, 2016 11:32 pm

    There is a book called gospel parallels that does that really well.

    https://books.google.com/books?id=AldMcgAACAAJ&dq=gospel+parallels+book&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiuuM3CqY_KAhUE4mMKHRbFCloQ6AEIJTAA

  47. January 4, 2016 1:07 pm

    Hi Troy, I never heard about Chaim Kramer, it would be hard for me to say anything good or bad…

    Just a few thought following my coffee with my messianic friends this weekend. I was at a restaurant with 2 friends, my wife and my son and they were talking for about 1 hours about the “god of this world” (an my son about legos). I pretty much stayed quiet the whole time, not wanting to argue about useless points. As they are all so sure that “satan” is the god of this world and only blind don’t acknowledge that. Have you studied Dualism and it’s origin. Do you think it is something worth the talk anyway?

    After an hour and a half sitting, one of my friend asked me what I do believe. So I explained it. Then they all accused G-d of not being just for forgiving without an atonement. I replied G-d’s words “Are my ways not right says the L-rd? No your ways are not right…”

    Anyway, they came with the parable of the judge letting a murderer free. That judge according to them is worst unrighteous. I told them… Fine, what about, if I commit a murder, I arrive in front of the same judge and he say to me… wait a minute, I’ll kill my son instead of you! That would be even more unjust, as Ezekiel 18 say “the sin of the son will not be imputed to the father”. I told them that even if I am a sinner and will never be able to accept a foreign god even if he promise to forgive my sins.

    I must admit I forgot something with that analogy… What an awful judge would burn someone to stake for stilling a candy. Most don’t kill in their whole life and even if our sins are serious, hell forever would not be a punishment right for the crime. The Law of Moses was full of laws and each law has a proper way of repaying. Imaging if all the time someone broke the law, he would have been stoned to death… But that’s what the Christian god is, unmerciful and unkind.

    The conversation finished with how they have personal knowledge that Jesus is G-d, and that they know Jesus is their messiah because the way the felt and the way they were led by him in their life. I told them that they should not follow their emotions. Then they asked me if I ever asked G-d if Jesus was the messiah, and I replied “Yes”. Then I point to the fact that Mormons use that same sentence to prove that the book of Mormon is inspired!

    Anyway, it was a good overall conversation. I shared that I think that Jesus is a new arrival god as per Deuteronomy 32 and that G-d would not decide to go in a human body as per Deuteronomy 4.

  48. January 4, 2016 1:16 pm

    Sounds like you had fun, Remi. I find that it far easier to defend what’s true and biblical, than to defend Christianity’s indefensible theological pretzels. That’s why so many Christians end up resorting to “Jesus changed my life” defense when confronted with raw facts that expose the faulty logic of their convictions and the (what should be obvious) idolatry of worshiping a man as god.

  49. January 4, 2016 1:24 pm

    And they use “Jesus was in the old testament, he fulfilled more than 100 prophecies” without naming anything specific. And we all know it’s not true, they may have less than 10 that they can actually use (out of context), and mostly only one, that is Isaiah 53.

    And everything you go with something specific, they will reply “yes, that’s what THE RABBI say!, but I know it’s not true”

  50. remi4321 permalink
    January 4, 2016 1:44 pm

    What about Dualism, did you ever use that argument against Christians? It’s a no-brainer, but they have a second/fourth god… I think it comes from Persia.

  51. January 4, 2016 1:48 pm

    “What about Dualism, did you ever use that argument against Christians?”

    I usually don’t need to go that far with most of them:) There are far more basic things to talk about before one gets into history of religions.

  52. remi4321 permalink
    January 4, 2016 1:54 pm

    Did people ever accused you of not believing in “the Satan”? I usually say that in the Tanakh, there is no evidences that “HAsatan” is not an obedient angel, that only the book of Job use that term, and I say that I could be wrong, not to go more in an argument.

  53. January 4, 2016 2:06 pm

    “Did people ever accused you of not believing in “the Satan”?”

    Not that I recall. They accused me of being deceived by him though:)

    As far as who satan is in the Bible – in Job he’s a servant of G-d who appears in G-d’s presence alongside all other angels (which would be a bit odd for an “unholy sinner” and “rebel” who went against G-d and even took other angels with him, per Christian narrative). In Job the “opposer” (satan) clearly appears in the role of a judicial prosecutor who brings accusations of possible sins and shortcomings of various people before the judge, that is G-d, and awaits there to see which judgement the Judge will render and execute.

    Which makes sense, considering that G-d is a King who has servants who do most things on His behalf – whether they are accusations, judgements, punishments or blessings. There are angels for all sorts of tasks (e.g. the “destroying angel” in Passover story and in 2 Samuel 24:15).

  54. Jim D. permalink
    January 4, 2016 7:04 pm

    “After an hour and a half sitting, one of my friend asked me what I do believe. So I explained it. Then they all accused G-d of not being just for forgiving without an atonement.”

    Hey Remi. Glad you managed to get through that whole thing. I think it is you who has the patience of Job!

    So, here’s my take on that conversation. And sorry, but this is a long comment.

    As you know, your friends had blood atonement in mind — that there is no forgiveness without blood. Hebrews… blah, blah, blah.

    The thing is, Christians don’t “get” the truth of blood atonement because their vision is completely distorted by the NT. They can’t see what’s actually written in Exodus and Leviticus regarding blood sacrifice. Granted, it is confusing at first and takes some study to sort everything out. But if you follow the blood — like detectives say, “follow da money!” — your eyes will indeed be opened.

    Blood is used in the Torah in a handful of specific ways, and Torah comes right out and tells us the specific purposes in most cases. In Exodus, there are two: The night of the Exodus from Egypt, blood was used for protection, as a marker. (It had nothing to do with atonement for sin.) And when Moses sprinkled blood on the people at Sinai after the Golden Calf incident — it was the blood of the Covenant.

    There is the exception here and there, but for the most part, there were three types of animal sacrifice: burnt, well-being (or “peace”) and sin offerings.

    The burnt offering was purely a gift to God, to show appreciation, etc. All of it went up to the heavens in smoke. The peace offering was partially turned into smoke, and parts of the flesh then consumed. But it is the “sin” offering that is of great interest here.

    As a lead-in, its important to understand that the overall concept in Torah is that people’s sins pollute the land — we have all read verses about not defiling the land — and the sanctuary as well. There are three primary objects of the sanctuary, each progressively more holy: the altar, the incense altar, and the ark in the Holy of Holies. The more severe the sin, the further in the pollution pushes. An individual, involuntary sin pollutes the sacrificial altar; An involuntary communal sin pollutes the incense altar; and brazen and unrepentant sins pollute the ark itself. God made it clear that He would not reside in the tent of meeting if it was full of sin contamination. Therefore, it needed to be regularly purged.

    Now, if you look carefully from Exodus Chapter 29 through Leviticus, you will see how sacrificial blood is handled.

    In many instances, the Torah comes right out and tells us what the blood is for. In Ex. 29, for example, blood is applied to Aaron and his sons to consecrate them: “This is what you shall do to them in consecrating them to serve me as priests:…” (Ex. 29:1) Blood is then applied to the altar, some sprinkled on their vestments, and a small bit applied to their right ears, thumbs and toes. Note that this was done to consecrate the priestly line and this is an exception. The only other time blood was ever applied to a person was to one who had recovered from scale disease, because scale disease was considered to represent death, and blood works its magic due to its life. At no other times than these two, do you find blood being applied to persons.

    “Purification Offering” is a more correct translation of the Hebrew than “sin offering”. If you follow what happens with this blood, you will see that it is applied to the horns of the altar or sprinkled on the incense altar or on the ark covering on Yom Kippur.

    Follow the steps for Yom Kippur in Leviticus 16. (There is a crossover of one animal, but I won’t get into that detail at this point.) Notice the purification is done in reverse: First the ark. And, by the way, notice what the Torah says about what that blood does: “Thus he shall purge the Shrine of the uncleanness and transgression of the Israelites, whatever their sins.” (Lev. 16:16) Then the tent of meeting, and finally the altar: “Thus he shall cleanse it (16:19)

    Voila! All clean!! As it says: “When he has finished purging the Shrine, the Tent of Meeting and the altar…” (16:20) Notice something? It says nothing about purging the people.

    Now, look what happens: The people’s sins are removed by the LIVE goat!

    “Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat and confess over it ALL the iniquities and transgressions of the Israelites, whatever their sins, putting them on the head of the goat; and it shall be sent off to the wilderness by a designated man. Thus the goat shall carry on it all their iniquities…” (16:21-22)

    Finally, Leviticus sums up the steps in 16:33. These are distinct, separate steps.

    You may ask: Why would the blood of the purification offerings be applied to these holy objects instead of the sinful persons? Because they have already personally “atoned” through punishment and/or repentance. It is only after personal atonement (in the sense of forgiveness) that they could approach the sanctuary with their sin offering and the blood used for atonement in the sense of purifying. The purpose there was not to purify the person, but to purify the holy objects in the sanctuary that were polluted by their sins.

    Blood cleanses the Temple, not the people.

    And Christians say Jews are blind? Just look and tell me who is blind!

    So what’s are the lessons here? First, this answers one of messianic’s favorite questions: How do you atone for your sins when there is no Temple?? Oh my! Well, the answer is simple: When there’s no Temple to purify, we don’t need blood to do it!

    Personal atonement is accomplished through punishment and/or confession, regret, repentance and asking for forgiveness. We all know the relevant verses.

    With the correct understanding of the use of blood in regard to sin, one instantly recognizes that the so-called atoning blood of Jesus is complete and utter nonsense.

  55. Troy permalink
    January 4, 2016 8:08 pm

    Jim: those are very kind words and I appreciate them, as well as the book recommendation! It sounds almost taylor made for this someone in circumstances like mine, so I’ll definitely order and read it!

    Remi: you mentioned hell in a comment since I’ve last been here, and I just thought I’d mention that I abandoned the traditional Christian concept of hell a few years before I started my current journey, for pretty much the same reasons you mentioned in your comment. At the time I decided that I believed some would inherit eternal life, and others would be annihilated. That’s where I was when I last put any thought into it. It’s another topic I’ll have to look at again from a more Jewish perspective, (but it’s not high on the priority list.) There are Christians who reject the traditional view, i.e. http://rethinkinghell.com for example, though they’re obviously still steeped in Christian replacement theology.

  56. January 5, 2016 4:10 am

    Jim, I appreciate certain aspects of your comment / analysis, but I have three questions / comments / observations. We may have touched on this before in a thread, but I’d like to go over it again using things you wrote in this thread.

    You wrote: “How do you atone for your sins when there is no Temple?? Oh my! Well, the answer is simple: When there’s no Temple to purify, we don’t need blood to do it!”

    Some Christians may say the body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit, and the body needs atoning, no?

    Where in the TORA (Mosaic laws) is it said about personal or communal forgiveness without a plant or animal sacrifice?

    You wrote: “… blood works its magic due to its life.”

    To me, blood represents death, not life (I know the Tora says the life of the flesh is in blood). But outside of that statement, blood is usually the sine qua non of death representation. Take a RED light. You go through it and there’s death. (I know you didn’t make this argument [but I can see someone making it], but does the argument that the ‘red’ represents life because if you heed its warning you stay alive satisfy you?)

    So I have no idea why the Tora used what I clearly see is a perfect representation of death (blood/red, and the dead animal that it came out of) to represent life? Until I hear a good answer other than the Tora said it, I will be unsettled by this.

  57. Jim D. permalink
    January 5, 2016 4:40 am

    Hi Leonard,

    Well, nice to see that there’s someone out there who’s also still awake at this hour! But I am about to turn in myself, so I’ll answer as best I can tomorrow.

    You made a good catch, however. I thought of it after I posted my comment, but decided to wait to see if anyone addressed the point — and you did. I referred to personal forgiveness, but that was not the right idea. I should have said that through punishment and/or repentance (as per the appropriate requirements), one’s slate is wiped clean, so to speak, set right again. Forgiveness can come from the offended or injured when the sin is against another person. Forgiveness of sin with respect to blood atonement is the English word for when the person’s sin contamination is expiated from the holy places. It’s like Good acknowledging that the damage has been erased and the sinner is off the hook.

    More tomorrow about the rest, and “because the Torah says so”..

  58. January 5, 2016 12:04 pm

    Thanks Jim for the comment. It’s greatly appreciate and will definitely read more about it next time I open my Bible. Unfortunately, it’s easy to forget how many things unbiblical christians believe. I will study that and will be able to answer properly next time they come and ask a question. But again, I don’t put too much hope that they will see the truth, as none want to change their mind about Jesus even if you show them that worshipping him is idolatry. Also, they will rather put their trust in the lies of the author of Hebrews than really checking what the Torah says.

    Troy, for hell, I think the only thing really clear in the Tanakh is this verse: “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” But again, the word “contempt” in Hebrew only happens 2 places and it’s hard to make any conclusion of what it makes.

  59. January 5, 2016 12:22 pm

    “http://rethinkinghell.com”

    I think it’s good to rethink what people say and the dogmas. It’s easy for a christian to answer, even if Judaism is the truth. You can only repeat the things you have been though at church and all the dogmas like the trinity, hell, blood, righteousness, etc. just as they thought you, without asking questions. But to rethink things demands courage.

    One more thing for hell and afterlife, I think nobody knows for sure what is Sheol and what it means. People like David were not afraid, it was a normal thing and I think it’s because “secret things belong to G-d”, we out to trust him and worry more about life. Christians worry already too much for the rest of the world! In a way, it’s selfish to worry about hell and to do good to avoid it, even if christians will say that they are forgiven, hell is always in their thoughts and they always doubt they are saved.

  60. Jim D. permalink
    January 6, 2016 2:42 am

    Leonard,

    I can now respond to your other questions. But in order to make my point better, I’m going to address your comments in reverse, starting at the bottom. You said;

    “Until I hear a good answer other than the Tora said it, I will be unsettled by this.”

    I think we really need to talk about this first, because it’s at the root of the answers to all your other questions, and, frankly, the basis for all the issues you have with Christianity vs. Judaism.

    Let’s take a big step back and consider the big picture. Everything in Christianity is — supposedly — based on Judaism. Now, granted, the early “church”, comprised of Jesus’ family and apostles (not including Paul) apparently viewed him as “the” messiah, and miraculously resurrected. But, aside from the concept that he was resurrected — which in and of itself was enough to found a new religion, regardless of the milieu in which it developed — the fact is that Christianity is completely dependent on Judaism. Or perhaps more accurately, Jewish scripture and practice of the day.

    Many of the underlying concepts are from Tanakh, some correctly, others from mistranslations and distortions: The whole concept of the Messiah; born of a virgin, from the house of David, the God of Israel; repentance according to what? — the commandments; many of Jesus’ sayings; atonement from Jesus’ blood; etc, etc. If you remove Tanakh — even Torah — from the equation, you no longer have Christian theology at all.

    So then the question really is: Is Christianity truly an extension or evolution of Judaism? As you have been reading here over many months, time and time again, we see that Torah in fact does not support nor does it lead in to Christian theology. While it was and is presented as the New Covenant, the truth is that it is nothing of the sort. It is a total fabrication. Of course, Christian believers will have none of this. But the truth is, one has to accept either the NT or Tanakh — you can’t accept both, because in fact they are fundamentally incompatible. The NT is bound on top of the Hebrew Bible (with mistranslations), but they are really separate books theologically.

    “Some Christians may say the body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit, and the body needs atoning, no?”

    This is a Pauline construction and is well integrated into Christian thought and theology. It’s a nice idea, and supports living a moral life, but such a thing is never seen throughout all of Tanakh. It is crystal clear that God is God and man is man, and other than man being created in God’s image (which does not mean God is in man — except perhaps the “spark” that is spoken of), the two are completely separate. The entire concept of the Holy Spirit — i.e., God Himself — residing in man’s body is not supported at all in Tanakh. When it is said that the spirit of God came into a person, like King Saul, for example, that never meant that the person “housed” God. It had more to do with a type of divine inspiration, wisdom and enhancement, that is all.

    God said very clearly that He would reside in the Tent of Meeting and later the Temple, and at all times that specifically and only meant the buildings — never, ever within a person.

    The only way to accept this concept is to say that Paul was greater than all the prophets, including Moses, greater than everything in the Tanakh, and that Hashem used Paul for a revelation as significant as the events of the Exodus from Egypt and the revelation at Sinai. Does that really seem even remotely possible? Obviously not. Rather, Paul simply had his own peculiar ideas, and in his brilliance and his use of Roman social infrastructure, he planted theological seeds which he knew would grow in Roman soil. That is all. Christianity took off on the shoulders of the Roman Empire, as any other religion would have done in its place and at the time.

    The biblical precept that mankind was created in the image of God does lead to the idea that man should live in ways that respect his unique legacy. But that is as far as it goes. To turn that into the idea that God resides in the bodily temple of man, and therefore needs blood atonement, or more accurately, the purging of the pollution created by sin — is not a Jewish concept at all. Really, if you even think of it, why would one’s body, if even a temple of God, need it? We all have blood coursing through our veins! We are full of blood. If blood cleanses due to the life in it, then we remain spic ‘n span for as long as we live. The short answer to your question then, is simply: “no”.

    “So I have no idea why the Tora used what I clearly see is a perfect representation of death (blood/red, and the dead animal that it came out of) to represent life?”

    We, in our society, do equate blood with death. It’s true. It’s that way for me, too. We see killings on TV and there’s always blood. We have associated it with death. But this is a social norm, and is learned. Do you have any doubt that for at least 1,500 years before the destruction of the Second Temple, blood was viewed very differently? If it was viewed the way we see it, it would never have been used as it was. In fact, prior to the time religious blood sacrifice began in Israelite culture, it was commonplace throughout the middle east and Mesopotamia. And what about in ancient Mayan civilization, with their brutal human sacrificial system? They also regarded blood as having mystical powers. Blood has not always been viewed the way we view it today.

    In fact, one of the tremendous advancements of early Judaism was the rejection of human sacrifice, which was rampant, in favor of the use of animal sacrifice instead. This was a great moral and spiritual advancement. True, blood is necessary for life, and the draining of blood results in the death of the animal — but so would many other things: restricting air, water and food, or removing an organ instead of the blood. Blood inside the body is life. Removed from the body results in death. But one can say that, for some minutes after removal from the body, blood still contains all its life-giving attributes, until the oxygen breaks down at least. That is when it was used to purify the holy objects.

    So, my personal answer to your question — this time (partially) from outside the Torah — is that blood is associated differently today than it is in Torah, and blood in and of itself is lifeblood, not deathblood.

  61. January 6, 2016 9:05 am

    Thanks. I’ll look into your theory about blood being viewed that way before…

    On a perhaps unrelated topic, from some commentators of the Tora, I do remember them theorizing that sacrificing an animal is a stand-in / substitute for the death the bringer(s) of the sacrifice should get for his (or the community’s) sins. (But then one can ask them why would a poor person only need to bring a grain offering?)
    Have you heard this theory I mentioned; and do you agree / can you place it within your theory?

  62. Jim D. permalink
    January 6, 2016 10:28 am

    “Thanks. I’ll look into your theory about blood being viewed that way before…”

    Sounds good. Let us know what you find.

    “…an animal is a stand-in / substitute for the death the bringer(s) of the sacrifice should get for his (or the community’s) sins. (But then one can ask them why would a poor person only need to bring a grain offering?)”

    It sounds like your question might be a conflation of two concepts. The first is found in Leviticus 5:1-11. The particular sins described there are unintentional and are not the type requiring the death penalty. The second is a provision in Exodus 13:15 where God says that the firstborn are His, however, must be redeemed by the sacrifice of a substitute animal. (This is another reflection of Judaism’s rejection of the common practice in some cultures of the day of sacrificing firstborn children to the gods.) In general, I believe — and others here should clarify if they can — sins that actually deserve the death penalty cannot be paid for by substitute.

    By the way, if you’re interested enough in putting some time into getting a clear understanding of the sacrificial system, read Jacob Milgrom’s commentary on Leviticus. He has three thick volumes on it as part of the Anchor Bible Commentary series, which is quite a lot to digest, but there is also a smaller, good synopsis in a separate book “Leviticus – A Book of Ritual and Ethics” (ISBN 0-8006-9514-3). Milgrom’s work remains the most revealing and authoritative work on the subject. What you soon discover is that the sacrificial system was a highly detailed and symbolic system that reflected spirituality and morality. Aside from understanding the overall concepts, the reader will learn that every bit of it — male vs. female animals, use of the various parts such as the fat over the kidneys, the wave offering, the particular sequences, etc.– had a specific meanings. Leviticus is the least understood book of Torah, but the most packed with meaning.

  63. remi4321 permalink
    January 29, 2016 3:48 pm

    Hi Troy, Gene, et al. I was wondering if it worth the effort to keep on posting in that orthodox messianic website. I am throned between the two. Those guys only like to scorn like wild beast, but I also know that others might read those comments. What do you think, should I just leave them and forget about this website?

    Thanks.

  64. Troy permalink
    June 6, 2016 1:04 pm

    Gene, Remi, Jim D. and all…just thought I’d pop back in here and let you know that I’ve progressed much in the last few months since I last posted here. I eventually had to completely let go of Yeshua as Messiah. Bottom line is I realized it’s ridiculous to crown anyone Messiah unless/until the messianic requirements are met. Christians should be more honest with themselves and realize their faith is that Yeshua WILL BE Messiah, not that he is or was. Anyway, I’ve been attending a local orthodox shul and enjoying it. Conversion is of interest to me, but my wife isn’t on the same page. We’ll see what the future holds I guess. I just wanted to let you all know how much I appreciate the encouragement, information and discussion that goes on here. Keep up the good work Gene and all who participate!

  65. June 6, 2016 1:16 pm

    Troy, that’s good to hear. Speaking from experience, I am sure it wasn’t easy for you. Best of success on your journey! Stop by and contribute anytime.

  66. caleb turner permalink
    April 16, 2017 3:28 am

    Another bumbling gentile who has no idea what Paul was talking about, let me help you out: Acts 24:14King James Version (KJV)

    14 But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets:

  67. Jim D. permalink
    April 16, 2017 12:37 pm

    Caleb,

    The answer might be found in 1 Corintians 9:20. Paul would present himself as a pious, law abiding Jew when it suited his aims, but he didn’t actually feel he was bound by the law inasmuch as he believed Jesus was the new Way.

    Another possibility is that he parsed his words. it’s possible they were carefully chosen. He may have actually believed that everything that was written in the Law and Prophets was true, but what does “believing” really mean? That he believes he is bound by them? Or that he believed they *were* true at the time they were written? The Law and Prophets were *then*. Now, there was the new Way, which superseded the old. No doubt, being on trial, Paul was very careful with his wording.

    As Bill Clinton famously said when being questioned about his affair with Monica Lewinsky, “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.”

  68. April 18, 2017 8:24 pm

    And Caleb, you may praise yourself about not being one of those bumbling gentile, but it’s really hard to pin-point what Paul meant. He switches his mind constantly and his saying can be interpreted in various ways depending on how we want to see it. Also, many of Paul’s letters might have not been written by Paul at all!

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