Rom 2:25 For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision.
Rom 2:26 Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision?
Rom 2:27 And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law?
Rom 2:28 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:
Rom 2:29 But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.
Rom 3:1 What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision?
Rom 3:2 Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.
The subject in this section of Romans relates to the misuse of Torah knowledge. (17-23) that leads to boastfulness and hypocrisy (21-23) It is not anti-Semitic or against Judaism as many suppose but applies a universal truth as in vv 1-3, the sin of pride.
The result of the behavior described in vv 17-23 is that, far from being a “light unto the Gentiles” (Isa, 42:6, 49:6) as the Jew is supposed to be, as such a Jew plunges them further into darkness causing them to harden their hearts, “because of you…G-d’s name is blasphemed by the Goyim (Gentiles). One may add with the necessary changes, the same accusation can be made of some who “call themselves” Christians: by leading lives that shame G-d they cause Jewish people to despise the Messiah and distance themselves even further (example: the televangelists scandals of the late 1980’s). Fortunately, G-d’s truth does not depend on them, and there are others whose lives are a better testimony.
Rabbi Moses of Coucy in the 13th century said:
Those who lie freely to non-Jews and steal from them, are worse than ordinary criminals, they are blasphemers; for it is due to their guilt, that some say, ‘Jews have no binding law, no moral standards,”
(25-26) On the one hand circumcision, taken as symbolic of being Jewish but recalling the covenant with Abraham in particular, is indeed of value, as explained in 3:1-2, 9:4-5. 11:11-32 but only if you do what Torah says. But if you are a transgressor of Torah, your circumcision has become uncircumcision! You have thrown away everything your Jewishness stands for, by despising G-d and His Law (Torah) you have cut your self off from His promises and from His people, spiritually, even though biological and cultural attachments remain. The reality behind the symbol has departed.
On the other hand if an uncircumcised man, a Gentile, keeps the righteous requirements of the Torah…his physical uncircumcision will be counted as spiritual circumcision, “circumcision of the heart.” (v 29). The imagery comes from Leviticus 26:4; Deu 10:16; 30:6; Jeremiah 9:24-25. Such a person will then become an heir to promises of the covenant with Abraham.
Sha’ul (Paul) is here pressing his case against sanctimoniousness and false prude in general but in particular in its Jewish form.
Acts 15 Does Acts 15 Remove Torah Requirements?
By Rabbi Phil Davis
I have heard from a number of you lately regarding certain doctrines taught by Christian Churches. Some of your questions are:
Primarily, what effect does Acts 15 as interpreted by Christians have on us? The second unasked half of this question is, “Do they interpret it correctly? And finally: Have the dietary laws of Torah been abolished?
Much of this concerns the dietary laws of Torah. The separation of the unclean animals from the clean.
Kashrut as well as being a guidepost of protection, and discipline, protecting Israel from diseases that were and are endemic to pagan nations as a result of their eating habits, was also a sign of separating the clean from the unclean, the holy from unholiness. Kashrut then, is a visible token of a community of people, that have been called out and covenanted to Elohim through a call to personal, practical and experiential holiness. Most of these instructions are found in Leviticus chapter 11.
Since many of the early Church fathers taught, and contemporary Christian teachers still teach that the church has replaced Israel in YHVH’s promises and purposes; a natural progression of that false premise has been that keeping kosher is Jewish legalism. Since Israel was replaced (as is falsely taught) so have their dietary laws and instructions. Tonight I hope you shall soon discover nothing like that is taught in Scripture, nor is it even suggested.
Let me first begin by examining Acts chapter 10. This is the Scripture I see most often cited as abolishing Kashrut. Here we have an account of YHVH Elohim instructing Shimon Keefa (Peter), to kill and eat from a selection of animals that were clearly not kosher (verses 12-13). These instructions are given to Keefa in a vision after a period of intense prayer. YHVH tells Peter in verse 15, that nothing that He has cleansed is unclean or treif. If we stopped there, as most Christians then it would be right to conclude that YHVH was reversing the instructions of Leviticus 11. But, true and honorable Bible students whose heart is open to YHVH’s Torah are willing to study further and allow Him to teach us. In verse 28 of the same chapter, Keefa (Peter) himself under the anointing of the Ruach haKodesh gives the interpretation and midrash on his very own vision.
Read with me from Acts 10: 28:
28 And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath showed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.
Peter clearly declares that the only purpose of the heavenly vision he received atop Simon the Tanner’s roof, was to show him that when YHVH cleanses non Jews or Ephraimites through trust in His finished atoning work on Calvary’s tree, that Jews no longer have the right to refer to non-Jews and Ephraimites as unclean dogs! Rather they must now be accepted into the kingdom mishpocha (family), as fellow heirs of the gift of eternal life.
YHVH was sending that generation and ours a message through Keefa. Not that the dietary laws are abolished but that all men that have been washed in the blood (Kippur) of the Messiah are made clean, be they Israelite of Gentile.
It helps to understand the common teaching of traditional rabbinical Judaism of that day, which taught that non-Israelites were tref or unclean and that all Israelites must remove themselves from non-Israelite influence and even presence. Not eating with them or associating with them for to do so would make the Israelite ritually unclean. Traditional Judaism taught that unless the stranger was willing to join the children of Israel through Torah observance and the rites and practices of Oral Torah he was to be avoided.
We see in this context that Shimon Keefa would have been unable to visit the house of a Roman centurion named Cornelius to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom and universal love of YHVH for all the nations. The heart, mind and understanding of YHVH’s plan had to be revealed to him.
And we see that Immediately after Keefa came to this understanding, YHVH sent three men to lead him to Cornelius’s home, which resulted in Cornelius’s entire family being set-apart for the Kingdom of G-d and we see that they were even sealed with the same Ruach Hakodesh as had the 120 Israelite talmidim on Shavuot 33 AD in the Temple on Mt. Moriah.
In the very next chapter Peter rehearses the vision and the subsequent events to the elders at Yerushalayim. Keefa’s initial understanding was wrong and had to be corrected by YHVH, but it was his understanding of Gentiles and their relationship to YHVH’s Kingdom that had to be corrected not YHVH Elohim’s dietary laws.
The Church has taught these verses incorrectly for so long that well meaning and trusting Christians accept the teachings out of hand without closely scrutinizing the scriptures themselves.
YHVH did not, I repeat did not reverse the laws of kashrut. He was however reversing unkosher attitudes toward other nations who would no longer be unclean, after their purification by trust in the cleansing blood of Messiah! He corrected man’s traditions that had been overlaid onto His Word only. His Word stands forever!
We have to ask ourselves, how did the church ever get the idea that YHVH is doubleminded and so confused that He reversed the dietary instructions that He Himself gave? We also have to ask ourselves who is behind this? Is simply an agenda or is it still deeper. The hasatan trying to pervert the Word of Truth.
When we replace the Truth with another so-called truth by man we are selling congregations into slavery to a different master. When we water down or annul the Word of G-d in any area it is far easier to ignore, annul, or water down other Life giving Scripture. And pretty soon we have a “gospel” without any power. Certainly one that does not have the saving grace required for be reconciling and separating unto YHVH Elohim. We are being Moral relativists no matter how you cut it. To falsely establish a separate set of rules we in effect are establishing a new mandate for believers. WE are replacing G-d’s Word with our own.
In Acts chapter 15, we can clearly see exactly what the Brit Chadasha truly teaches about kashrut. After the Jerusalem council met to determine if non-Jewish believers returning from the nations, were under obligation to keep all 613 mitzvahs of Torah. We find their ruling in verses 28 & 29 of Acts 15.
28 For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things;
29 That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.
Now these passages have been misinterpreted and misused to allow conduct not becoming someone separated unto YHVH Elohim. Follow me as we closely examine these passages for what they do say and what they do not say.
The leadership at Jerusalem under the unction of the Ruach haKodesh
decided to initially require gentiles to observe only four of the seven Noachide laws to preserve fellowship and unity for a season until the new converts grew in trust and maturity, but it doesn’t end there as we shall see.
Two of the four requirements were to avoid:
· Eating meat with blood
· Things Strangled
This was the initial way to get them started towards a full Torah observant lifestyle, since Yaakov determined that further Torah instruction would come in their local cities from where they originally came (Acts 15:21).
Let me read from that passage:
21 For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath day.
Don’t forget most of these early believers who were non-Jewish were God-Fearers. Gentiles who had been associated with the synagogues for years but had not taken the final step of circumcision to become Jews. If you will also note the early believers assembled themselves in synagogues first and also at private homes where preserving table fellowship between Jews and non-Jews was important to further the cause of Yahshua. Therefore, the initial four Noachide laws.
These four laws however carried an importance not readily shown by the text. Actually they provided a simple way of making the dietary laws of Leviticus 11 binding on all believers in the Brit Chadasha. For we see in biblical practice, clean animals were never strangled as the pagans did, rather the throat was and still is slit for pain-free and immediate merciful death to the animal. Biblical practice repeatedly throughout Torah commands that blood resulting from this pain-free death to the animal must be poured out to and upon the ground. The result of this is that to comply with these simple laws a convert could not take his food from pagan sources and would be eating kashrut because he would have to obtain food from a source that did not strangle their food or allow blood to remain in the carcass.
We see then that the instructions of kashrut, have not been nullified or voided by Israel’s Messiah, rather we might say that though the Ruach Hakodesh in Acts 15:28 & 29, Yahweh expands these mitzvahs to be binding on all non-Jewish believers from the nations!!
Understanding this does Acts 15 sound like kashrut has been done away with in the Messianic Scriptures?
We can’t leave it there, however, for HaShem’s Torah Old and New must be read as a whole scripture explaining scripture, without taking verses out of context to prove a false doctrine. Let us now examine another scripture that many church leaders love to twist. It is found in Colossians chapter 2 verses 14-22. Let me read:
14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;
15 15 And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
16 16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:
17 17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.
18 18 Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,
19 19 And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God.
20 20 Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances,
21 21 (Touch not; taste not; handle not;
22 22 Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?
NOTE THAT LAST VERSE/AFTER THE COMMANDMENTS AND DOCTRINES OF MEN…Which sums up all that has gone before it…
From the Christian perspective, Christians suppose that in verse 14 Sha’ul teaches that Yahshua nailed all Torah observance to the cross. If this were so then Rabbi Sha’ul, would be in direct contradiction to what Luke recorded in Acts 15 and more importantly what Yahshua Himself said about the eternality of G-d’s Torah.
The primary rule of biblical hermeneutics is that scripture never contradicts itself. First of all “the thing” that was nailed to the cross in verse 14 of Colossians chapter two, was the list of indictments by YHVH of all of the broken ordinances of Torah that you and I were and are guilty of!
In that day when a criminal was executed a list of indictments were nailed to the execution stake so that the populance could see what crimes the perpetrator was guilty of.
The list of indictments against us by YHVH Himself was nailed to the tree of Calvary when we became forgiven. Nowhere does this verse teach that YHVH first gave Torah and then He later got rid of it. If Torah is YHVH’s eternal Word and if it will never pass away (Matt. 5:17-19).
Deuteronomy repeatedly reminds us that the following of Torah gives and imparts life if we keep it flawlessly. That does however exclude all of Adam’s children! Sha’ul would never refer to Torah as a document that YHVH gave us to kill us with. No! What was nailed to the cross was our debt certificate, or YHVH’s handwritten record of all the ordinances of Torah that we did indeed break. Colossians 2:21 teaches us those pagan nations, from whom the non-Jewish believers came from, had many weird legalistic ordinances about food. Rules such as don’t touch food sacrificed to a pagan deity, don’t eat or taste that food reserved for a pagan deity in need of food at some future time of hunger. Rabbi Sha’ul was forbidding adopting pagan laws or doctrines of men, be they Jewish or otherwise concerning eating of foods. He further nails down this context by reminding non-Jewish believers in Colossus, that all these pagan laws concerning foods are not YHVH’s found in Leviticus 11, rather they are traditions and legends of men that will eventually perish with the depraved minds who invented and use them.
We have to ask then are some misguided Christians trying to tell us, that the dietary laws of Torah are man made rather than divinely mandated? Would a Jewish rabbi like Rabbi Shaul call Torah man-made? Come on, get real! Verse 22 of Colossians as well cannot be referring to kashrut of Torah, since Sha’ul clearly states that the eating laws that he is warning believers about, have pagan origins and can confuse them into disobedience to Acts 15, which commands kashrut upon all believers from all nations! Let YHVH continue to be true and let every man continue to lie and be lied to, if they do not desire to know what YHVH teaches in His Word!
Another favorite Scripture that is often twisted to fuel antinomian teachings in the church regarding kashrut is First Timothy chapter 4 verses 4 & 5.
4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving:
5 For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.
These verses have been commonly taught as Sha’ul declaring all foods to be kosher that were previously unkosher in Torah, as long as they are sanctified by the Word and prayer. Therefore according to this version of Scripture twisting, Christians are free to eat any garbage they want and as long as they pray and speak the Word to and over their food! Thus the convoluted logic goes, it will miraculously become clean kosher food even if Torah previously forbade it. Do you really believe that religious mumbo jumbo? Why would Rabbi Sha’ul, a Torah observant Jew, teach a “feeding free for all” to returning saints, when that would contradict all the other teachings of Brit Chadashah, as well as overrule Yaakov’s (James’s) decree to non-Jewish converts to Biblical practices found in Acts 15?
Let’s look at what these verses truly teach. If you believe and know the truth about Yahweh’s Word (Torah) then you’ll know that all of YHVH’s original creation was good, according to the Genesis account. Since non-Jewish believers were becoming believers in the Genesis account of creation rather than adhering to pagan fables, it now gave them the freedom to receive kosher foods with thanksgiving and gratitude (verse 3).
Let me read verse 3:
3 Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.
We’re talking about permitted food. Kosher food. But verse 4 is taken out of context by Christians to give credence to their false doctrine about kashrut.
However, In verse four of First Timothy 4, Sha’ul gives one condition to this new Ephraimite attitude of thanksgiving to the true and living YHVH for their daily food and sustenance. He reminds them that thanksgiving to YHWH is fine, as long as they prayerfully discern the clean from the unclean. Remember they were taught this each Sabbath in the local synagogues.
In verse 4, Rav Shaul reiterates that the only kind of thanksgiving that YHVH will receive regarding our food choices, is if through prayer a believer attempts to rightly discern if the food or foods he is about to consume, have already been sanctified (set-apart) by the Word of YHVH. In other words only foods sanctified (set-apart) by and through Torah, should be eaten with an attitude of thanksgiving. YHVH would not want us to thank Him for a provision, if in fact He never allowed the provision for His people in the first place! To put it another way, a believer should not eat, pray or consume anything that is not first outlined in Torah as being previously set –apart (sanctified). Does that sound anything like what your Christian friends have been sharing with you? Perhaps it is time for you and I to reevaluate a lot of the doctrines of man that we have been taught!
Lastly in Mark 7 verses 18-23, Yahshua is said by many, to be teaching His talmidim that everything is clean when it comes to food choices and that the true unclean things come out of a man’s heart. Very true that evil comes from within but is that what he is teaching here? Read it again! Nowhere in these verses does He instruct His Torah observant talmidim to have a food orgy, since the body’s digestive system is going to purge them. He is merely using the principal of “stacking” to teach a greater revelation, which does not negate the revelation of kashrut, but rather uses kashrut as an object lesson, to show that a kosher heart is of the greater import in an individual’s life and relationship with YHVH. This principal is known as “stacking”, where the greater revelation is stacked upon the already revealed lesser revelation but never negates it, as the Christian Church has falsely taught. What Yahshua is telling the Prushim (Pharisees), is that kashrut is fine. But what good is their strict kashrut, when their hearts are defiled by all kinds of unkosher thoughts and desires, which He outlines for them in verses 20-23 of Mark 7? It is a polemic over the Written Law and the Oral Law. A lesson on the purity laws as in this case “hand washing” as opposed to G-d’s law. It is a lesson on not superceding or overlaying G-d’s law with man-made law. YHVH never negates a lesser principal in order to teach and establish a greater one. Rather through “stacking”, He uses the lesser, as an object lesson to point to the greater revelation. Or to put it another way, He uses the physical and the natural, to explain the spiritual and the supernatural. Where in any of these verses does YHVH rebuke kashrut for anyone? Especially His disciples?
There are numerous other scriptures that have been twisted. Many out of ignorance and some by deliberate disobedience catering to their own agenda. It is incumbent upon every believer to settle these questions in their own minds for as James says in chapter 3:1 of his book: When you and I stand before YHVH, we won’t be able to blame our seminary, mentor, pastor or rabbi or any other person for that matter for our doctrinal failures. It is up to you.
Rabbi Phil Davis (R. Milchamah b. David)