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Paul’s Epistle to the Romans (the short version)

I shared this with my subscribers in May of 2021, but now I’m making it available here for everyone.

Romans Is Pro-Torah

Paul’s Epistle to the Romans is among the most pro-Torah books of the entire New Testament, but it is commonly taught as if it’s one of the most anti-Torah!

Many people understand Romans 14 to say that all of God’s instructions concerning clean and unclean meat and the weekly Sabbath are no longer relevant to the Christian. They say that those who still cling to such distinctions are “weak in faith” because they aren’t trusting in Yeshua’s death and resurrection to fulfill all of the requirements of the Law. They make a point, in direct contradiction to Paul’s instructions according to their own understanding, of berating any brother who disagrees, shaming them, and even banishing them from their fellowships.

This chapter is almost always taken as a complete literary unit that stands on its own without reference to the surrounding text, to the rest of Scripture, or to historical context. In that light (or lack of light), it’s easy to make any passage say something contrary to its intended meaning. But after reading thirteen chapters of Paul repeatedly tell his readers that keeping the Law is a good thing–avoid sin, uphold the Law, live righteously, obey the commandments, etc.–does it really make sense that he would suddenly switch tack and say the exact opposite?

Since Paul didn’t write anything in this letter about pork or rodents, but he did write about vegetarianism, it makes much more sense to assume he is addressing eating meat versus eating only vegetables. And since he made no mention of the Sabbath or any other of God’s appointed days, doesn’t it make more sense that “one person esteems one day as better than another” in the middle of a conversation about food is about which days of the week are best for fasting?

To many readers today, that seems like a silly argument–and it is!–but it was a serious controversy in the first century, and Christians were still debating it decades later when the Didache was written. Some religious groups fasted on one day of the week and some on another. This Christian fasted on Thursday so that people wouldn’t think he was part of that new cult from Persia, while that Christian fasted on Wednesday so people wouldn’t think he was a Jew. When you could be ostracized, beaten, or even killed for being associated with the wrong religion, your choice of a fasting day becomes a much bigger issue than it might seem in today’s America.

Did this ever come up as a possible explanation for Romans 14 at Wednesday night Bible study? Probably not.

Romans, Chapter by Chapter

In order to get a more accurate understanding of what Paul was trying to communicate, I have written this brief survey of the book, with short summaries of each chapter.

The next time you read Romans, refer back to this survey to keep each chapter in the context of the whole letter, and I hope it will aid you in understanding some difficult texts and in refuting the antinomian lies we have all inherited and even internalized to some extent.

Chapter 1 – The righteous live by faith, but the unrighteous ignore the Law of God and their own consciences in order to do what they please. By consistently behaving contrary to what they know to be right, they eventually destroy their ability to make that distinction at all and earn the enmity of God and the condemnation of his Law.

Chapter 2 – God is just to condemn those who behave wickedly and to rescue those who behave righteously regardless of their ethnic origins. It isn’t enough to say the right things, you must also do them. All those who obey God out of love and faith are living up to the name of Yehudah (meaning “praised”), whether they are born into Israel or not.

Chapter 3 – The Jews have a great advantage in that they have inherited the Scriptures, but everyone is accountable to God for his own sin, and everyone sins. Fortunately, we are not made right with God by the merit of our works, but by our faith in the redemption purchased by Yeshua (Jesus). We don’t obey God’s Law in order to earn salvation, but because we have faith in him.

Chapter 4 – The covenant of salvation was given to Abraham for his faith, not for his obedience. Circumcision is not a condition of the covenant, but a sign of it, and his heirs also receive the covenant without regard to their prior obedience. If the covenant depended on obedience, we would all be lost, and now we too can inherit Abraham’s covenant through our faith in God.

Chapter 5 – Yeshua’s death enabled our reconciliation with God. The world was condemned by the sin of one man and saved by the obedience of Yeshua. The Law magnifies our individual sins, but it also magnifies the grace of God which rescued us from death earned by sin to eternal life earned by his righteousness.

Chapter 6 – Through his death, Yeshua rescued us from the eternal death we deserved because of our sins. The only appropriate response is to repent from all sin and live according to God’s Law. If we go on living in sin, we will be enslaved again to it. He set us free from slavery to sin in order to become slaves of righteousness to God. We obey God’s Law in response to his free gift of eternal life.

Chapter 7 – Through the physical death of Messiah, we died spiritually to the condemnation of the Law. Through his resurrection, we are enabled to live and bear fruit in righteousness. The Law defines sin, but our old sinful natures gravitate to that which is opposed to God, turning the Law that was meant for life into death through our disobedience. The Law does not bring death, but our violation of the Law does. Even while we believe in God and long to obey him in our hearts, a part of us is always in rebellion, drawing us back into slavery to sin.

Chapter 8 – Yeshua released us from the condemnation we deserved, enabling the Spirit of God to live in us, manifesting in a mind focused on the Spirit and living righteously rather than on the flesh and living according to its sinful desires. The flesh constantly pulls us back, but we have been made children of God and only have to cry out to him. His Spirit helps us and intercedes for us, gradually transforming us to be more like Yeshua through our trials and conflicts. We may suffer all kinds of external trials, but none of these things can ever separate us from the Love of God.

Chapter 9 – God’s promises to Israel are certain, but not all who are descended from Israel are counted as Israel. Believing gentiles are counted by God as his people, and only a remnant of natural Israel will be saved. Those Israelites who tried to earn their salvation through the Law will lose it because they didn’t obey through faith.

Chapter 10 – Messiah is the goal of obedience to the Law for all who obey in faith. The Law promotes a better life, but it is only through faith and submission to Yeshua that we are truly saved. The natural descendants of Israel can’t appeal to ignorance because all of Scripture points to Yeshua.

Chapter 11 – God has not rejected natural Israel. He will always preserve a remnant of those who believe in him rather than in their own obedience. Some natural branches of the tree of Israel have been cut off and believing gentiles have been grafted in, but God can as easily cut off those gentiles again and graft the natural back in. The whole tree of Israel will be saved by this process of cutting out the bad and grafting in the good, but God’s promises to the descendants of Israel can never be revoked, and he will forgive those who repent. We have all sinned and God shows mercy to us all equally.

Chapter 12 – God showed mercy to forgive your sins, so don’t live as if you’re still part of the world. Don’t be proud in your salvation or in the spiritual gifts that God has given. We are all one body and we are all important to its health and function. Work for each other’s good. Live in harmony with everyone as much as possible with humility and without prejudice. Respond to animosity with kindness, forbearance, and honor.

Chapter 13 – Submit to whatever authorities are over you where you are and give them the respect and honor due their position. All of God’s Law can be summarized in the single commandment, love your neighbor as yourself. We are living in dark days, so live in the light, by living in obedience to God’s commandments and showing love to each other. Live like Yeshua lived rather than giving into the sinful desires of your flesh.

Chapter 14 – Welcome those whose faith is not as strong as yours and don’t berate them for their weaknesses. Don’t get caught up in worthless arguments over whether to eat meat or be a vegetarian and on what day to fast completely. Live according to your own consciences, not condemning each other for differences of opinion. Our lives are no longer our own, but we all live and die for the sake of God. None of us are perfect, and we will all answer for our own failings. Be considerate of each other’s opinions and don’t tempt or offend a brother contrary to his conscience. Food and drink are relatively minor issues in the Kingdom of God. It’s not a sin to eat meat or drink wine, but don’t do it if it creates a problem for a brother.

Chapter 15 – We should make allowances for the weaknesses of our brothers. We should learn from the example of Yeshua and from the Scriptures and may God help us to live in unity. Messiah became a servant for all, both Jew and Gentile. Overall, you’re doing well, even if you need some correction. I will visit you when I can after I go to Jerusalem but pray for my deliverance from unbelievers there.

Chapter 16 – Be generous and welcoming to the men and women who serve the Kingdom in their various capacities and give my greetings to all those in your community who also work faithfully for the Kingdom. Do not allow anyone to cause division among you but remain faithful to God in the preaching of the Gospel and obedience to his commandments.

Conclusion

Paul’s Letter to the Romans is very clear in some ways and very cloudy in others. Chapter 14 is especially confusing for many Christians for two reasons: 1) They have inherited an antinomian (anti-Law) view of Jesus and Paul, and so they interpret everything in that light, and 2) At least half of the conversation is missing, so it’s easy to fill in the gaps with what we’ve been taught rather than what Scripture actually says. Reading our own assumptions into a text is known as eisegesis, and it’s always a bad idea.

Paul’s original readers understood the full context of his words because he wrote them in response to a controversy they were experiencing at that moment. In order to understand what he intended for them to get out of his letter, we need to separate what we think he meant from what he actually wrote. Once we are able to do that, we are free to consider his words within the context of the whole of Scripture (not just the New Testament or Paul’s other letters) and of the controversies that we know were an issue at the time (not just the controversies we’ve been told were an issue).

Taken at face value, Romans 14 isn’t really that difficult to understand and isn’t anti-Torah at all.

Killing the Passover

The how, when, were, and why of killing the Passover.

Whenever I tell someone that we keep Passover as a Christian, I expect them to ask if I sacrifice a lamb. Sometimes, they actually do ask. Other times, I think I can see them wanting to ask, even if they don’t. Let me put your mind at ease.

No, I don’t sacrifice a lamb. I don’t even kill one.

Technically speaking, that means we don’t really keep Passover, because in Biblical usage, the lamb is the Passover. What we really do is a memorial of Passover, called a seder, which itself is a memorial of the original Passover in Egypt. We usually gather with several other families and read an abbreviated Passover Hagaddah that has been modified to emphasize the prophetic and messianic symbolism of Passover. We have a large meal, including most of the traditional Passover foods (matzah, horseradish, charoset, etc), in addition to lamb and other dishes.

Even though we usually have lamb at our seder, it’s not a real Passover because the lamb wasn’t killed specifically for that purpose. It’s just grocery store lamb. If we were in Jerusalem, we might do things differently.

Let me tell you why that might make a difference, and as I do, please keep in mind that, although everything I write is based in Scripture, it is my own interpretation and I am not always correct. I always reserve the right to be wrong and to change my mind at a later date. 😉

The Victim

In this manner you shall eat [the lamb]: with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. It is the LORD’s Passover.
Exodus 12:11

Throughout the Old Testament, the term “Passover” (pesach in Hebrew) refers to the lamb, not to the day, the week, nor any other part of the meal.

Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats…
Exodus 12:5

The Passover must be an unblemished, male yearling, either a sheep or a goat.

A goat?

Yep. We almost always speak of a Passover lamb, but the Passover can also be a goat.

“Without blemish” means that it must have no scars, no injuries or past broken bones, no defective parts, and no illnesses. Rabbinic tradition has a long list of characteristics that qualify as blemishes, many of which I’m sure would be familiar to judges in best-of-breed contests at dog shows and county fairs.

“A year old” probably doesn’t mean what you think. The ancient Hebrews counted their days and years differently than we do. The Hebrew for “a year old” is ben shanah, which literally means “son of a year”, and really means that it must be within the first year of life. We usually count our age by the years we have passed, but the Biblical pattern is to count age by the year you are in. A Passover must have been born sometime after the previous year’s Passover. I believe the rabbinical standard is that the lamb must be at least a few weeks old and preferably already weened.

The Scene

And you shall kill the Passover to YHWH your God, from the flock or the herd, at the place that YHWH will choose, to make his name dwell there.
Deuteronomy 16:2

‘Since the day that I brought my people out of the land of Egypt, I chose no city out of all the tribes of Israel in which to build a house, that my name might be there, and I chose no man as prince over my people Israel; but I have chosen Jerusalem that my name may be there, and I have chosen David to be over my people Israel.’
2 Chronicles 6:5-6

Once the Tabernacle had been completed in the Wilderness, God told the Israelites that they must stop slaughtering animals anywhere except at the Tabernacle (Leviticus 17:3-4) to get them out of the habit of performing their own sacrifices independently of the priests whom God had appointed. However, he also told them that, once they were in the land, they could resume slaughtering animals for meat wherever they lived, but they had to bring all sacrifices to one specific place where he would “make his name to dwell” (Deuteronomy 12:13-15).

In Jerusalem, Not Just at the Temple

It took a few centuries, but eventually God designated Jerusalem as that place. Since the time that King David brought the Ark of the Covenant to the Holy City, it has been the only place on earth that God allows sacrifices.

Unlike other sacrifices, though, and contrary to popular opinion, the Passover does not need to be killed at the Temple. Deuteronomy 16:5-6 says that the Passover may only be killed “at the place that YHWH your God will choose”, which sounds like it’s talking about the Temple. However, verse 7 says that it may also only be cooked and eaten at the same place.

According to Josephus, more than 250,000 Passovers were killed in Jerusalem within a few hours in one afternoon. I suspect that number might be an exaggeration, but it seems nearly impossible for even half that many to be killed so quickly at the Temple. How much greater would be the difficulties in all the people remaining there on the grounds to cook and eat their Passovers! So much greater, in fact, that it would be completely impossible. There is simply no way to fit potentially millions of people into the Temple grounds at the same time, which is what would be required if “the place that YHWH chooses” is limited to the Temple.

Whatever the Jews were actually doing in the first century, God’s instructions for Passover requires the lamb to be killed at Jerusalem, but not necessarily at the Temple.

Has the Place of God’s Name Changed?

I have heard the argument that the place where God would put his name has changed since Yeshua’s resurrection, namely that the place is now in us, so that the Passover can be killed wherever we are. However, if the place has become purely metaphorical and not an actual place, then I think the Passover and all other sacrifices must also become purely metaphorical.

There is some truth in that. We have no Temple, no altar, and no Levitical priesthood, but we do have a Tabernacle and Altar in Heaven, where Yeshua is the High and only Priest. Whatever sacrifices that we once would have made at the altar in Jerusalem, we now make solely through worship and good deeds rather than blood. However, no altar or priest is required for the Passover1, and as I have demonstrated, the place of God’s name was never at the Temple, but all of Jerusalem.

The Killing

If you have never participated in the slaughter and butchering of an animal, you should find a way to make that happen. Not because it’s pleasant in any way, but because everyone should know what is involved, what happens when the life leaves one living creature so that another–you and me–can live.

The principles of God’s Law require that the animal be killed as humanely as possible, and it’s blood must be drained out. Fortunately, both requirements can be completed by a quick cut across the throat with a very sharp knife. A lamb won’t necessarily cooperate with you, but if it is held firmly, it will stand relatively still, and allow you to kill it and drain the blood in just a couple of minutes.

Although most English translations say something like “you shall offer the Passover sacrifice to the LORD”, there is only a single Hebrew word behind “you shall offer…sacrifice”, zavach. Technically, the word only means “kill”; “offer a sacrifice” is the translator’s interpolation. It’s an understandable rendering, though, because the word is frequently used in the context of holy sacrifices, and Deuteronomy 16:2 says the Passover is to be killed “to YHWH”.

The Passover is very similar to a peace offering (aka thanksgiving offering or zevach shelamim), but unlike the peace offering and the other four kinds of offerings made at the Temple, no part of the Passover or its blood ever touches the altar. At least, not according to God’s instructions. This is yet more evidence that it does not need to be killed at the Temple.

Once the Passover is dead, it is skinned, cleaned inside and out, and prepared for roasting over a fire whole. The simplest method is to put it on a spit with the legs bound up against the body.

The Timeline

Nisan 10

For the first Passover in Egypt, the lamb (or goat) was to be selected on Nisan 10 (Exodus 12:3) and kept by the family until Nisan 14 when it was to be killed. I don’t know what the ancient Jews did in later centuries, but Yeshua–whom we knew did it correctly–and his disciples don’t appear to have selected a lamb until just hours before it was to be killed. \

And on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, his disciples said to him, “Where will you have us go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?”
Mark 14:12

I can’t be absolutely certain, because the Scriptures don’t say one way or another, but I doubt that they had been leading a lamb about with them for the prior four days.

Nisan 14

We do know, however, that they killed a Passover on Nisan 14. Mark tells us so just a few verses down.

And the disciples set out and went to the city and found it just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover.
Mark 14:16

See the section below on The Last Supper for more on that.

Terminology surrounding Passover and Unleavened Bread in the New Testament is a little fuzzy. Matthew, Mark, and Luke all say that the Passover was killed “on the first day of Unleavened Bread”, but the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread is on Nisan 15, while the Passover is to be killed on Nisan 14. There are two possible explanations for this apparent discrepancy.

  1. The terms “Passover” and “Unleavened Bread” were used idiomatically for the the entire holiday season, just as today’s Christians use “Christmas” and today’s Jews use “Passover”. The days leading up to the official start of the ceremonies could be referred to as “the days of” the feast, even though the feast hadn’t technically started yet.
  2. Although the Feast of Unleavened Bread begins on Nisan 15, the eating of unleavened bread begins on Nisan 14, with the slaughtering of the Passovers.

I favor the second explanation, and so I dive into what is probably the most controversial part of this essay.

Between the Sunsets

…and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight.
Exodus 12:6

The phrase “at twilight” is curious. In Hebrew, it is ben ha’erevim, which literally translates to “between/among/at the sunsets”. Note that it is plural. In most cases, where Torah says to do something at or near sunset, it says b’erev, at evening.

I’m not an expert in Biblical Hebrew–someday I’d like to rectify that, but I have a fairly demanding day job–but the only other place in Torah I could find that uses this same phrase is concerning the morning and evening sacrifices in Exodus 29:39 and Numbers 28:4. In both cases, every day’s sunset is intended, not mid-afternoon. I believe it means the same thing here in Exodus 12:6.

The Passover is to be killed “at the sunsets”, not between 3 and 6 PM.

I realize that the Jewish tradition during the second Temple period appears to have been to kill the Passovers at the Temple between 3 and 6 in the afternoon, but if that’s they way they did it, I believe the did it incorrectly.

I used to enjoy stirring the pot, so to speak, but for the last decade, I much prefer to resolve controversy than create it. So I don’t casually say that the entire Jewish religious system and almost everyone since the first century got something this major wrong.

Besides the unusual phrase in Exodus 12:6, I offer you two other proofs.

First, Deuteronomy 16:6 specifies that the Passover must be killed “in the evening at the going in of the sun”. (Young’s Literal Translation is especially helpful.) Not just in the evening (afternoon), but in that part of the evening during which the sun is passing below the horizon.

The Last Supper

Second–and far more importantly–three of the four Gospels say that the disciples “prepared the Passover” at the beginning of Nisan 14, not at the end when Josephus and the Talmud say it was done. Remember that the Passover is not a day, but the lamb itself. In the first century, the day might have been sometimes referred to as Passover, but there is only one thing that Matthew 26:19, Mark 14:16, and Luke 22:13 could mean when it says that the disciples “prepared the Passover”, they mean that they killed and cooked it.

I don’t think there’s any other reasonable interpretation of that phrase. All of the usual protestations of “that’s not how the Jews did it” are irrelevant if that’s the way that Yeshua did it. The Passover wouldn’t be the only doctrine that he corrected.

Two Sunsets

Having said all that, I don’t really think the Jewish establishment had the timing of the Passover completely wrong. I have explained why I believe that the phrase ben ha’everim refers to the time at which the sun crosses the horizon, but recall that it is also plural, as in two or more sunsets, just as the daily evening sacrifices also occur ben ha’everim, day after day.

Recall also that the biblical day begins at sunset, not at midnight or sunrise. (See the section entitled “In the Face of the Sabbath” in the article Will the Real Sabbath Please Stand Up.) At the moment that the sun is partly below the horizon and partly above, the day itself is half between one date and the next. The significance, I believe, is that the Passover must be killed while the sun is crossing the horizon on the 14 of Nisan, but it might not matter whether it is crossing the horizon into Nisan 14 or out of it.

Yeshua and his disciples were right to kill their Passover at sunset at the end of Nisan 13 going into Nisan 14, and those who killed their Passovers at the Temple in the final moments as the sun was setting at the end of Nisan 14 were also right. Those who killed it while the sun was still up were not so right.

A Twilight Sacrifice

The Passover doesn’t fit neatly into either category of holy sacrifice or common meat. In some ways the Passover is like the sacrifices made at the altar:

  • It is killed at the command of God and eaten under strict conditions.
  • It must be unblemished (Exodus 12:5).
  • It can be killed and eaten only in Jerusalem (Deuteronomy 16:2).
  • It appears to be related to the peace offering, and the rules of the peace offering concerning who may touch or eat it apply (Leviticus 7:19-20, Numbers 9:6, 2 Chronicles 30:17).

But it is also like any other animal slaughtered for food:

  • It can be killed by any ritually clean person, not just a priest, a Levite, nor even the person who provided or selected the animal as with other sacrifices (Exodus 12:6, 2 Chronicles 30:17).
  • Neither the Passover nor the blood ever touch the altar.
  • It must be killed in Jerusalem, but not necessarily at the Temple (Deuteronomy 16:5-7).

Eating the Passover is a community event. No one is allowed to eat it alone. If your family is too small to eat a whole lamb, you are to join with some other family, eating the Passover under one roof, even if it isn’t your own. No part of the Passover may be kept past the morning. If there are leftovers, they are to be burned up. And as you eat, you are to maintain a physical and spiritual attitude of readiness to leave Egypt, whatever Egypt you are in.

The Motive

This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to YHWH; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast.
Exodus 12:14

God said to keep the Passover as a memorial. In the context of Exodus 12, that means a memorial of that night in Egypt when all the firstborn of Israel who were covered by the blood of the lambs were spared, while the firstborn of Egypt died.

However, God’s memorials never memorialize just one thing.

All of God’s appointed times are prophetic of events past and future, like stones thrown into a pond, sending ripples across time. There are, for example, hints of the Passover in the story of the three angels who visited Abraham and Lot in Genesis 18-19:

  • God meets a prophet in the wilderness
  • A meal prepared in haste with unleavened bread
  • The righteous in the house are saved, while the wicked outside are struck down.
  • Escape from the place of oppression
  • Doubt and rebellion in the wilderness

The Passover pattern also shows up in the binding and near sacrifice of Isaac in Genesis 22 and Peter’s escape from jail in Acts 12. If you pay attention as you read the Bible, I’m sure you’ll see more connections.

The Plot Twist

The lamb itself has numerous thematic connections with Yeshua himself.

For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.
1 Corinthians 5:7b

Consider these parallels:

  • The original Passover was selected on Nisan 10. Yeshua entered Jerusalem just before the 10th of Nisan and went to the Temple where he was examined by the priests, religious teachers, and common people.
  • The Passover must be unblemished. Yeshua is the only man who ever lived a sinless life.
  • No bones may be broken on the Passover during preparation or the feast. None of Yeshua’s bones were broken despite the severe beating and crucifixion.

Those aren’t minor things. They contribute to the prophetic confirmation of Yeshua’s identity as Messiah and the Son of God. They aren’t the most important parallels, though.

The Passover’s blood was painted on the doors of the Hebrew homes so that God would see that covering, that atonement, and withhold his judgment from those houses. The next morning, the Hebrews walked through those blood stained doors into freedom and God’s presence in the wilderness. Yeshua’s blood washes away our sins so that when God looks at us, he doesn’t see our sinfulness, but Yeshua’s perfect righteousness. He became the door that we can walk through to escape from slavery to sin into freedom in the presence of the Father.

The Passover in Egypt died so that the firstborn sons of Israel could live, even as the firstborn sons of Egypt died. Yeshua died so that we could all live, and then he became the firstborn of the resurrection of the righteous dead into eternal life.

Without Yeshua voluntarily giving his life, we would have no hope of true freedom. We would be bound in Egypt, living short, meaningless lives, enslaved to sin until we die, when we would be condemned to the second, eternal death of the Lake of Fire. No advocate and no defense.

If you trust him enough to believe his words and follow his instructions, he has become your Passover and your Salvation.


1 Philo also reported that the Passover was killed by individual Israelites without the need for a priest: “…The Pasch on which the whole people sacrifice, every member of them, without waiting for their priests, because the law has granted to the whole nation for one special day in every year the right of priesthood and of performing the sacrifices themselves.” Philo, The Decalogue, Book I, chapter XXX.

Does the Bible Say Not to Eat a Rare Steak?

Does Leviticus 17 say it's a sin to eat rare meat?

“It is impossible to remove all blood from your food. Microscopic traces will remain. Unless you eat your steaks well done, to remove all the blood… Sorry, still some left in there.” -Anti-Torah Guy

Anti-Torah Guy is right that it is impossible to remove all of the blood from an animal. I don’t care how thorough your butcher is or how many times you soak, salt, and wash that steak, there will still be trace amounts of blood.

On the other hand, he’s wrong about cooking it well done. Unless you’re prepared to incinerate it, no amount of cooking will remove all the blood. It will just be cooked blood.

So, what do we do with commands like this one?

For the life of every creature is its blood: its blood is its life. Therefore I have said to the people of Israel, You shall not eat the blood of any creature, for the life of every creature is its blood. Whoever eats it shall be cut off.
Leviticus 17:14

In addition to all of these: Genesis 9:4, Leviticus 3:17, 7:26, 19:26, Deuteronomy 12:16, 12:23, 15:23. Not to mention Acts 15:20 and 21:25.

God really, really does not like his people eating blood, and no matter what Anti-Torah Guy and his compatriots might say, the Apostles clearly reiterated that commandment for all believers in Yeshua, Jew and Gentile. They considered abstaining from blood to be the absolute bottom rung of acceptable behavior for gentile converts, right beside idolatry and sexual immorality.

For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements: that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well.
Acts 15:28-29

[Read more on this passage in Acts 15 here.]

If it’s impossible to remove every drop of blood from meat and God hates it when people eat blood, does that mean it’s impossible to obey God in this matter? Definitely not! God wouldn’t command us to do something that we were completely unable to do. He told Israel that obedience was not too hard for them (Deuteronomy 30:11), so unless God was lying to them, it is not impossible to obey the command not to eat blood. All you have to do is ask him how.

Ta-da! Asked and answered.

Leviticus 17:13 “Any one also of the people of Israel, or of the strangers who sojourn among them, who takes in hunting any beast or bird that may be eaten shall pour out its blood and cover it with earth.”

Well….that’s just another iteration of the command not to eat blood. How does that tell us how to keep the commandment?

Draining the blood from an animal that was shot with an arrow or pierced with a spear–the primary ways that animals were hunted at the time Leviticus was written–will never remove every drop of blood from the tissue. A butcher will cut the animal’s throat and let the still-beating heart pump the blood out, but you can’t do that with an animal that has been hunted. Of course, it will still lose a significant amount of blood–must hunted animals die from blood-loss, after all–but the process will never be as thorough.

In both cases–the butcher and the hunter–draining the blood from the animal will only remove blood from arteries and veins, mostly the former. Draining the blood will never remove blood from capillaries and other tissues.

Yet, God still said we may eat an animal that was hunted as long as it is drained before the blood has a chance to coagulate.

The only possible conclusion is that God never expected anyone to get every drop of blood out of an animal’s tissues. He only expects us to remove the blood that can be drained by opening the major blood vessels!

As long as the animal was bled properly, most of the red fluid that oozes from a fresh cut of meat is myoglobin, not hemoglobin, which is what gives blood its red color. They are chemically similar, hence the similar color. A rare, bloody steak isn’t actually so bloody at all.

Bleeding the animal either at the time of death or immediately after is sufficient to remove the blood for the purposes of the commandment, and almost all animals butchered commercially in the United States meet that requirement. If there is still some blood in the animal after bleeding it–as there always will be–and other fluids that resemble blood, then that is God’s problem to deal with. Your job is to obey his instructions. It’s his job to deal with the consequences of that obedience. Anything more than that is a tradition of man, not a commandment of God, so don’t be afraid to take your steak off the grill before it’s shoe leather, because that’s another kind of sin in itself.

(The production of a healthy product fit for human consumption and the humane treatment of animals are important issues too, but beyond the scope of this article.)

Matthew 9:14-17 and the Three Fasting Parables

Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not? And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast. No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse. Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved. Matthew 9:14-17

Yeshua was frequently confronted by members of the leading, Jewish, religious groups of the day, but the conversation in Matthew 9:14-17 wasn’t one of those times. In this passage, it wasn’t the Pharisees or the Sadducees, but the disciples of John the Baptist.

Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch tears away from the garment, and a worse tear is made. Neither is new wine put into old wineskins. If it is, the skins burst and the wine is spilled and the skins are destroyed. But new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.”
Matthew 9:14-17

Fasting has has been an integral part of religious practice in almost every religion throughout history. There’s a place for it in every theological system. Even atheists fast for the positive effects on mental and physical health. Religious Jews in the first century fasted at least one day each week, and religious Christians followed their example. But…back to John and his disciples…

Frequently, when the Pharisees asked Yeshua a question, he didn’t answer them directly. He gave them a roundabout answer, or he challenged them back, or he answered some other question that they didn’t ask. But these weren’t Pharisees and they weren’t trying to trap Yeshua with their question. They were sincere believers who really wanted to understand why they fasted frequently, while Yeshua and his disciples didn’t. So, Yeshua answered plainly through the use of three analogies: one about a wedding and the groom, one about patching an old garment, and one about putting wine into wineskins.

The Limits of Analogies

Whenever you’re dealing with analogies, you always have to be careful that you’re not taking the analogy further than the author intended. If an analogy was perfect, it wouldn’t be an analogy anymore. It would be the very thing that you’re analogizing.

Let me take an example from another Gospel passage.

Yeshua used another analogy when he was speaking with Nicodemus.

The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.
John 3:8

The Spirit is like the wind in that you can’t see it directly, even though you can see its effects. The Spirit doesn’t behave like a gas, expanding to fill the available physical space. It doesn’t behave like matter, effected by gravitational forces, inertia, temperatures, etc. If the Spirit was exactly like the wind in every respect, then it would quite literally be the wind. At some point, every analogy breaks down, so if you try to carry it further than the author intended, you’ll also come to all kinds of unwarranted conclusions.

Matthew, Mark, and Luke all talk about this conversation and all three accounts include all three analogies together, so we can be certain that they are all part of the answer to the original question about fasting. I think understanding the meaning depends on keeping each analogy within the context of why Yeshua’s disciples didn’t fast.

The Bridegroom and His Friends

Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.
Matthew 9:15

The wedding analogy seems fairly obvious. Weddings are festive occasions with food, drinks, and dancing. In today’s terms, if you were invited to a bachelor party or a wedding rehearsal dinner, would it be appropriate to fast at the event? Of course, not. It would be rude.

Consider the wedding at Cana in John 2. It was such a big party that the bridegroom ran out of wine! It would have been a social disaster for him, if Mary had not convinced Yeshua to work a miracle, turning six jars of water into the finest wine. It might seem like a minor thing to you and me, but in that culture, the host’s honor could have suffered severe damage. And just as it would be dishonorable for a wedding host to fail to provide sufficient food and wine for his guests, it would also be dishonorable for a wedding guest to refuse his hospitality.

Weddings and the preliminary festivities just aren’t the right time for fasting, and in this analogy, Yeshua’s disciples are like bridegroom’s friends celebrating his imminent marriage.

It’s tempting to push the analogy further and make comparisons to the church being the bride of Christ, and maybe that’s why Yeshua chose that particular analogy, but it wasn’t the point Yeshua was trying to make at the time. Remember that he was answering a question about fasting, not about eternal salvation, the messiah, or the end times.

The Patched Garment

No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch tears away from the garment, and a worse tear is made.
Matthew 9:16

The connection between fasting and patching a garment is less obvious, but set aside all the sermons and Sunday school lessons that you’ve heard about this “parable”, and focus on what it actually says.

In ancient cultures, cloth was expensive. The average person might own a total of two sets of clothes, frequently only one. When a garment began to wear out, they didn’t throw it away and buy a new one. They patched it and patched it and patched it again. There is no reason to suppose that the person in this analogy would do any differently. The goal is to preserve the old garment, not replace it.

I’m sure you know that new clothes–especially ones made of natural fibers, and there was no other kind in the first century–can shrink significantly when you first wash them and sometimes continue to shrink for a few subsequent washes. If you were to take a piece of brand new cloth and sew it onto an older, cotton shirt, the patch will shrink the first time you wash it, and cause the shirt fabric around it to bunch up or possibly tear even worse than before. The right way to patch an older garment is with cloth made of the same material and then shrunk to the same degree. That way, when you wash it, the patch won’t shrink again.

Likewise, if you have a brand new garment that needs to be patched, you can either patch it with a matching, brand new piece of cloth, or you can wash the new garment until it is fully shrunk and use a pre-shrunk patch.

Just as there is a time to fast and a time not to fast, there is a kind of cloth to use as a patch on an old garment and another kind to use on a new garment. If you don’t patch a cloth correctly, you could do more harm than good.

Wine and Wineskins

Neither is new wine put into old wineskins. If it is, the skins burst and the wine is spilled and the skins are destroyed. But new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.
Matthew 9:17

Keep reminding yourself that the point of all three analogies is to answer the question of why Yeshua’s disciples didn’t fast. There is nothing wrong with either the new wine or the old wine, the new wineskins or the old wineskins.

Think of the wedding at Cana again. When Yeshua turned the water into wine, the master of the feast remarked that the best wine is always served first, and the lesser wine served after everyone is at least a little intoxicated. The best wine in this context is the oldest, most fermented wine. In Luke’s account of Yeshua’s conversation with John’s disciples, Yeshua makes this point explicit:

No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith, The old is better.
Luke 5:39 KJV

Clearly there’s no fault in the wine, whether new or old. The goal in this story is to preserve all the wine and all the wineskins.

As wine ferments, it releases gases. The vessel needs to be able to expand or release the gas. In this case, skins were the normal method of storing. New wine would be put into new pliable wineskins. The wineskin expands and eventually hardens as the wine matures. Once the skin has aged in this way, you can’t use it for new wine again, because the expanding gases will burst the wineskin. That doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with the old wineskin. It’s still perfectly suitable for storing old wine, water, or any number of other substances.

New wine goes into new wineskins. Old wine goes into old wineskins. If you swap those around, you’re liable to break something.

For Everything There Is a Season

Yeshua frequently taught using parables, simple stories used to illustrate a theological idea. Recall the parables of the sower, the prodigal son, and the lost coin.

Luke 5:36 calls the analogies of the garments and wineskins “a parable”, and that’s technically correct since the Greek word really only means “metaphor”. However, although these analogies certainly illustrate an idea, there’s no real story in them. They aren’t a parable in the way we normally think of that term. They are simple analogies.

It’s tempting to ascribe deep meanings to every tiny element of a parable, but we can get ourselves into all kinds of unnecessary theological complications by doing so. The point of all three of the analogies in Matthew 9:14-17 (and Mark 2:18-22 and Luke 5:33-39) is really very simple: There is a time and place for everything, including fasting.

You fast in times of sorrow, when you’re troubled, when you’ve got a big decision to make, and you need some spiritual focus and insight. A king might fast when he’s deciding whether or not to go to war, but he stops fasting once the troops are on the march. They all need their strength for the hard work ahead. A man might fast when he’s deciding whether or not to marry a woman, but once the decision is made and the marriage arranged, the fasting ends and the celebrating begins.

It’s not appropriate to fast at a party, sew a new cloth patch onto an old garment, or put new wine into old wineskins. Fasting is good and celebrating is good. You just don’t mix the two, or you risk ruining both.

Gentiles and the Law in Romans 2

For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. Romans 2:13

In another attempt to say that Christians have no obligation to keep the Law of Moses (aka God’s Law), Freddy wrote, “Paul tells us in Romans that the Gentiles who have no law do by nature what law empells them to do so they are a law unto themselves.”

Here is the passage to which Freddy is alluding:

For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.
Romans 2:13-16 ESV

Clearly there is nothing here that implies that being “a law unto themselves” excuses Gentiles from keeping the Law. In fact, Paul said exactly the opposite in this very passage: God will judge them according to their obedience of what they understand of his Law, even if they don’t know that it is his Law. Let me paraphrase and expand this passage to clarify what I believe Paul intended:

Nobody is righteous in God’s eyes merely because he knows the Law. The righteous, those who are justified by God’s mercy, are not those who know what the Law says, but those who actually do what the Law says. Consider Gentiles who have never heard Moses taught in a synagogue. When they instinctively do what God commanded us to do in the Law, even though they know nothing of Moses, it is as if they are Moses, the stone tablets, and the scrolls in themselves. Their actions show that, in their hearts, they already know the basic dos-and-donts of the Law. Not just their visible deeds, but also when their consciences prompt them to do good or make them feel guilty for doing wrong. Since at some level they know what is right and wrong, that knowledge will serve as a witness to their obedience or disobedience to the Law when God, through Jesus Christ, judges all of our hidden deeds and thoughts, as the good news of the Kingdom of Heaven requires.
Romans 2:13-16 (Paraphrased and Amplified)

In other words, at the final judgment, God will hold everyone–Jew or Gentile–accountable for their disobedience to what they instinctively understand of his Law, whether they have read the Bible or not. As Paul pointed out in the previous chapter, Romans 1, everyone is born with a basic understanding of right and wrong as defined by God’s eternal Law. By refusing to heed our conscience, we gradually silence it, but our willful deafness will not be a defense. We can’t claim ignorance of the Law today when we knew yesterday.

The Law Ended with the Temple

No part of God's Law has been abrogated, canceled, annulled, or whatever synonym you prefer. All of the commandments are simultaneously moral, civil, and ceremonial.

The ceremonial laws were ultimately abrogated when the Temple was destroyed in AD70. -Freddy

I’m not really sure what to think of Christians basing their theology on extra-biblical historical events rather than on the clear statements of God. Is it appropriate to call yourself a Christian when you don’t even believe what Christ said?

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.
Matthew 5:17-18

I can see interpreting “until all is accomplished” to mean “until I have been crucified and resurrected”. I disagree with that interpretation, but I can see the logic in it. I can’t see how it could apply to the destruction of the Temple.

What was the “all” that was accomplished in 70 AD? An extreme preterist would say that all prophecy was completely fulfilled in or prior to that year, including the second coming of Yeshua, the total destruction and recreation of heaven and earth, and the resurrection and judgment of all the dead. Extreme preterism is so bizarre, in my opinion, and its adherents so far removed from solid scriptural understanding, that I don’t think they would accept any argument I might make, even if I were inclined to make them. So I won’t.

The “all” that was accomplished can’t be the destruction of the Temple itself, because that happened once before when Solomon’s Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians around 586 BC. Herod’s Temple never had the presence of God the way that Solomon’s Temple did, so if the destruction of the Temple was enough to do away with “ceremonial laws”, then surely it would have happened when that first, greater Temple was destroyed.

Which laws are the ceremonial ones that Freddy believes were abrogated? Only those that pertain to the Temple? That would be consistent with his statement, at least, but which laws are those exactly?

It is common among many Bible teachers to divide the Law into three categories: civil, ceremonial, and moral. Since this division is purely manmade and entirely foreign to the Bible, nobody can agree on which laws are in which category. Is circumcision ceremonial or moral? The command to circumcise our sons on the eighth day preceded the Levitical priesthood by about 430 years, so it can’t reasonably be tied to the Temple. The commands to keep the weekly seventh day Sabbath, the Passover, and the week of Unleavened Bread all preceded Sinai and any hint of the Levitical priesthood, as did the practice of giving the firstborn of the herds to God. If “ceremonial laws” are those that pertain to the Temple, then these can’t be ceremonial.

The bottom line is that people just don’t want to keep God’s commandments, so they search for excuses and invent rationalizations for their disobedience. The destruction of the altar is a very good reason not to offer blood sacrifices since God commanded that they must be done at the altar in Jerusalem, but that still doesn’t mean the commandments themselves have been abrogated. It just means that our circumstances preclude full obedience, so we’ll have to rely on God’s grace to forgive us. Ultimately, 70 AD a semi-arbitrary point in time that can be used to superficially justify expiring any obligation to keep the more awkward and “Jewish” of God’s instructions.

If one were to point to a historical event and say “the Law ended here” Calvary would make a little more sense, but still not enough to pass Scriptural muster. Somebody forgot to tell the Apostles, who continued to attend worship and offer sacrifices at the Temple throughout the book of Acts. When asked how new converts should behave, they said (heavily paraphrasing), “Don’t commit sexual immorality, don’t eat blood, and, oh by the way, Moses is read in every synagogue of the Empire, so go listen and keep learning.

No part of God’s Law has been abrogated, canceled, annulled, or whatever synonym you prefer. All of the commandments are simultaneously moral, civil, and ceremonial. All of the commandments express love for both God and mankind, whether we understand exactly how or not. The Truth has never depended on our comprehension of it.

Yeshua said that anyone who sets aside even the smallest commandment and teaches others to do likewise will be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven. Those who keep the Law and teach others to keep it will be called great in the Kingdom. (Matthew 5:19) I don’t know about you, but I can’t imagine a higher endorsement of keeping the whole Law.

That’s why I’m here, encouraging Christians and all believers in Yeshua, whatever label they apply to themselves, to study and learn to keep the Torah out of love and respect for the Heavenly Father and Messiah Yeshua.

Galatians and the Abuse of Paul

What did Paul mean by "weak and worthless elementary principles of the world" in Galatians 4:9?

Someone named Daniel made the following argument against believers in Yeshua being obedient to God’s Law as given through Moses:

Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.

It doesn’t get any clearer than that.

How is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?

-Daniel

Context, context, context. Modern Christians hear too many sermons and don’t do enough studying and thinking.

Daniel is alluding to a couple of Paul’s statements in the Letter to the Galatians, but he ignored the context and re-interpreted these statements to mean something other than what Paul intended. This isn’t entirely Daniel’s fault. His teachers all likely did the same thing. Here is the original passage:

Galatians 3:21-29  Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law.  (22)  But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.  (23)  Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed.  (24)  So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith.  (25)  But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian,  (26)  for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.  (27)  For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.  (28)  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (29)  And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

Galatians 4:1-11  I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything,  (2)  but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father.  (3)  In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world.  (4)  But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law,  (5)  to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.  (6)  And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”  (7)  So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.  (8)  Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods.  (9)  But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?  (10)  You observe days and months and seasons and years!  (11)  I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain.

Paul Is Easy to Take Out of Context

By reading and quoting small bits of this letter out of context, Christians are able to say that the Law is irrelevant to them. Paul wrote that no one can be saved by keeping the Law, and many Christians point to that and say, “See? Paul said we don’t need to keep the Law.”

This is nonsense. It’s like saying we don’t need pens and paper to do our jobs because we didn’t need them to get to the office. Just because you don’t need to keep the Law to be saved, doesn’t mean you don’t need to keep the Law after you are saved. The conclusion simply doesn’t follow from the argument.

I am going to deconstruct this passage, paraphrasing and amplifying one piece at a time. First, I want to establish the reason that Paul included this discussion in his letter at all.

Galatians 1:6-7 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel– (7) not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.

After Paul had introduced the Galatians to faith in Yeshua, some other people came and began giving them a false teaching. But what was the false teaching? Rather than stating it outright, Paul summarized his own ministry of the past 20 years. He wrote of how he had once persecuted the Christians, but was converted by a miraculous encounter with Yeshua, after which he began preaching the gospel to gentiles. Many years later, some Pharisees had infiltrated the Christian congregations and were insisting that the gentiles should be circumcised and keep the whole Law before they could be considered true members of the congregation. Again he traveled to Jerusalem to confer with the apostles, and they agreed that salvation was not by circumcision and works, but by faith. James, Peter, and the other Disciples wrote a letter to the new Gentile congregations with four rules just to get them started in the right direction because “Moses is read aloud in every synagogue”.

That controversy was not about whether gentiles should keep the Law or learn it; it was only about justification, or salvation from sin. (See “Does Acts 15 Say We Can Ignore God’s Law” for a more detailed discussion of that event.) Later, Peter visited the congregation in Antioch. While there, he sat and ate with gentiles and Jews alike, but when some Jews arrived from Jerusalem, he stopped eating with the gentiles. Paul confronted him about it because Peter’s own vision had shown him that he should not hesitate to fellowship with gentiles. Besides that, there was nothing in the Mosaic Law to prevent a Jew from eating with a gentile. That was only a rule that had been invented by men and was never from God.

Galatians 2:15-21 We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; (16) yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. (17) But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not!

At this point Paul clearly established that he was not writing about living a good life of upright behavior, but about eternal spiritual justification, about salvation: “We know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Yeshua the Messiah.”

Paul said that, even though he and the apostles were Jews, they knew that they were saved in the same way as the gentiles: through faith in Yeshua, and not by works of the law. But as James pointed out, this did not stop them from keeping the Law, only in relying upon it for their salvation (James 2:18).

Galatians 2:18-19  For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. (19) For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God.

This thing that Paul is writing against is the same thing that he had previously torn down, but what was that thing? Not the Law itself as he repeatedly pointed out in the Letter to the Romans, but rather the legalism of attempting to earn salvation through obedience to the Law, especially to man-made laws that frequently ran counter to God’s Law. To go back to depending on the Law for salvation when it was never sufficient either before or after the cross would be counterproductive in the extreme.

Having established that the controversy in Galatia was not about how people ought to live, but how they are to be saved, let’s skip ahead to the passage that Daniel quoted.

What Was Galatians Really About?

Galatians 3:21  Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law.

There is no conflict between Law and Grace if they are both used properly. God’s promise of salvation is alluded to in the Law, but is not provided for by the Law. Put another way, the Mosaic Law was never intended to save anyone from sin that has already been committed. There are provisions in it for enabling sinners to approach God despite their sin, but there is no provision to permanently remove that sin. That was never its purpose.

Total righteousness–the complete absence of sin–is not possible under the Mosaic Law and never was. Of course, there is another kind of righteousness that comes from obedience to the Law, unless Moses was lying in Deuteronomy 6:25, but that is not the righteousness that Paul was addressing here. It is has value, but all of the law-abiding righteousness in the world can’t erase a single instance of law-breaking. In Galatians 3:21, Paul was discussing to a greater righteousness that goes beyond mere actions of the flesh.

(22)  But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

The Scriptures written on stone and parchment would not have been necessary if we were able to maintain God’s standards perfectly. It’s very existence proves that we are imperfect. Because we are sinners, God gave us the Law to teach us how to behave, and also to serve as a witness and judge against us in our sins. When we sin, the Law testifies against us, and we come under its authority to condemn. If it weren’t for the written Law, many people would not even know that they were “imprisoned” by it because of their sin and would be unaware that they needed a savior. For those who become aware of their need, God has also made promises of redemption in the same document.

(23)  Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed.

Paul did not mean that faith came at a particular moment in time for all people everywhere. Faith did not come after Yeshua’s crucifixion or even after Pentecost. If it did, then Abraham’s faith could not have been counted as righteousness (Galatians 3:6). Faith has come to individuals in all ages. Enoch, Moses, David, and Paul were all saved by faith and set free from the condemnation that came from their guilt under the Law. Those who have not yet found faith in Yeshua are still held captive to the Law because their failure to obey it, keeps them under its authority to condemn.

The Law As a Schoolmaster

(24)  So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith.

The Greek word paidagogos is translated as guardian, schoolmaster, or tutor, depending on the translation you’re reading. According to David Stern (Jewish New Testament Commentary), the paidagogos functioned as a disciplinarian who ensured children arrived at their school safely and on time. Because the paidagogos does not exist in our culture, none of those translations are quite right. Young’s Literal Translation renders it as “child-conductor,” which is probably as accurate as one could hope for.

I think the King James Version is very instructive here.

(24)  Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

Notice that “to bring us” is in italics, which means that those words were not in the original Greek text. They were inserted by the translators to help the reader understand what they believed the passage to be saying. The added words don’t detract from the meaning in the KJV, but the English Standard Version, from which I have been quoting throughout this series, is misleading in this case, especially because it doesn’t include the italics. The ESV translators (as well as the International Standard translators) took a huge liberty with this verse, contrary to almost every translation before them. The Rheims New Testament, Bishops Bible, and Geneva Bible (all 16th century) agree with the KJV. So does the American Standard, Darby, and Young’s translations (all 19th-20th century).

The Law was not a paidagogos until Christ, but unto Christ. The difference in prepositions is very important. The Law leads us to the Messiah by illustrating the principles that require a savior, by demonstrating our inability to save ourselves, and by prophesying of his coming, not to mention the many, many allusions to the Messiah’s role in the physical and spiritual salvation of Israel. To this day, the Law continues to function as a “schoolmaster unto Christ” for everyone who doesn’t yet know him.

(25)  But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian,  (26)  for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.

Paul’s illustration of the paidagogus is a metaphor, and it’s always important not to add more meaning to any metaphor than the author intends. Since Paul only said that the Law is like a paidagogus in the sense that it leads us to Christ, we abuse the text by trying to make it say that the Law functions as a paidagogus in every conceivable circumstance.

Now that the Law has demonstrated our need for salvation and shown us the way to obtain it, we no longer need it for that purpose. This is not to say that we don’t need the Law for other purposes. Having come to faith, we are not to go on sinning.

We know that the Law defines sin.

Peter, John, and Paul all explained that one of the purposes of the Law is to show us our sin. If it didn’t define sin, how could neither convict us or inform of our need for a savior? If something was a sin before faith, it makes no sense to think it somehow becomes not sin after faith. Having “put on Christ” (v27), we are not allowed to rely on his covering to hide continuous sin. We are required to continue striving for perfection, not to earn salvation, but because righteous behavior is pleasing to God.

The great benefit of faith in this regard is that it removes any worry of failure. We obey out of love for our Savior, but we don’t need to be terrified of instant condemnation if we fail in any small point, because we know he will forgive us when we sin.

I am going to skip a few verses to make a couple of final points.

Elementary Principles of the World

Galatians 4:8-9  Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods.  (9)  But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?

What are these “weak and worthless elementary principles of the world” to which the Galatians were once enslaved? We can’t know the specifics of what they were, but we can know for an absolute certainty that they were not God’s Laws as Daniel implied in his comment. The Galatians were very much enslaved to the Law, but only because they were sinners, not because they were trapped in Pharisaical Judaism.

The answer is only a single sentence away, and I am astonished that any Christian who has actually read Galatians can think Paul was referring to Torah! Those “weak and worthless elementary principles of the world” were false gods and religions, not God’s Law! Verse seven says, “Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods.”

Indeed, Daniel, it doesn’t get any clearer than that.

The Galatians were pagans before they came to faith in Yeshua, not Jews. How could they return to a Judaism that they had never known? When Paul wrote that they were turning back to those former principles, he meant that by attempting to earn their salvation by works, they were returning to the same principles that had informed their former idolatry. When they were idol worshipers they appeased their gods by speaking the right incantations and offering the right sacrifices on the right days.

What Is the Law to a Christian?

There was never any eternal salvation in such things whether they originated in pagan idolatry or in God’s perfect Law. You cannot be saved through the rigorous observance of days, months, seasons, and years no matter what days or seasons they are.

You can, however, learn a great deal about who God is and how he relates to you by keeping his commands, including his holy days.

Hosea 4:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.

So this Spring, try removing unleavened bread from your house during the week of Passover. This Fall, get yourself a family sized tent and find a group of people celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles. Or build yourself a sukka.

Love God and love your neighbor. God’s Law, the Torah, shows you how to do that.

Study, do, and live. Obeying God’s instructions will never steer you wrong. By definition, keeping the commandments can never be sin.

There’s No Rest without Submission

Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Matthew 11:29-30

Years ago, when Robert was in college, one of his more socially awkward classmates, Bennie, showed up at his dorm room–this was before cell phones were ubiquitous–eager to make a new friend and maybe hang out for awhile. Unfortunately, Robert already had all the friends he wanted and told Bennie to get lost; he wasn’t wanted there. He still remembers the look on Bennie’s face.

Nicole had three children, but she was never a mother to them. She had a nanny who took care of their daily needs, took them to school, and read stories to them at bedtime. When her daughter had an abortion at sixteen, Nicole didn’t find out until six months later. When her son was arrested for drug possession, her husband bailed him out and she pretended nothing happened. Today, her daughter hasn’t spoken to her in over a decade, and she has three grandchildren she’s never met.

We all have regrets. We all harbor guilt. Some of us more than others, deservedly or not.

Matthew 11:28-30 contains a chiasm on finding rest in Yeshua (aka Jesus).

  • A – V28 – Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden
    • B – I will give you rest
      • C – V29 – Take my yoke upon you
        • D – Learn from me
      • C – I am gentle and lowly in heart
    • B – You will find rest for your souls
  • A – V30 – My yoke is easy and my burden is light

I have heard people say that “Jesus is my Sabbath”, and that’s not a bad sentiment as long as it’s only meant metaphorically. Some people want to take an idea like that too literally, as if believing in Yeshua alleviates all other physical and spiritual needs. The Sabbath is a day of the week, and Yeshua isn’t a day of the week. He does give us rest, but not the kind of rest that eliminates the need for a day off from work.

The rest that Yeshua gives is spiritual and emotional in nature. He alleviates our fears, heals our wounds, and enables us to develop a full relationship with our Heavenly Father.

The labors and burdens that Yeshua spoke of in Matthew 11:28 are not physical. He wasn’t speaking only to manual laborers, but also to tax collectors, entertainers, and CEOs. Suffering is relative. From the outside, it might appear that a brick layer carries a heavier burden than a house wife, but inner burdens can’t be measured by weight or volume. A harsh word at the wrong moment can often cause a deeper, more lasting wound than a knife that slips and cuts the flesh. The worries of a parent can be more damaging in the long run to a person’s health than the repetitive stress of hammering nails. These are the burdens that Yeshua primarily meant and that he wants to help us with.

Guilt, regret, worry… they weigh heavily on everyone, but God can give us relief if we will put our faith in Yeshua. Having faith in him means trusting his promises and teaching, but most of all it means being faithful to him, submitting ourselves to his sovereignty over our lives.

“Take my yoke upon you”, he said. He wants to take the yoke of sin and self that has enslaved us, but it’s impossible to live without a master. It’s part of the nature of being human. The old yoke cannot come off our shoulders unless it is immediately replaced with Yeshua’s. We have to be willing to take his yoke in its place or he cannot take ours.

This passage says, “If you are burdened, come to Yeshua, who will give you rest through a lighter burden.” But at the very center of the chiasm, Yeshua says “Learn from me.” In other words, become his disciple and learn by studying and following his example.

Once you have decided to put our faith in Yeshua, to believe what he told us, he will accept you into his house. Once you are in his house, learn from his words and deeds, and become an imitator of Yeshua, as Paul instructed the believers at Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 11:1.

Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. -The Apostle Paul

There is no expiration on the teachings of our Master. In Matthew 24:35, he said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” Everything he taught to the Twelve Disciples and the people of first century Judea is applicable to us now:

  • Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
  • Love your neighbor as yourself.
  • Be slow to anger and quick to forgive.
  • Don’t worry about the future and all that the world might do to you.
  • Trials and persecution are inevitable, but so is salvation for those who trust in him.
  • Keep the instructions of God as given through Moses and the Prophets.

Do you want rest for your soul? Then put your faith in Yeshua, take the yoke of his discipleship on your shoulders, and learn to live and love as he did. Your difficulties and labors won’t disappear, but as you learn more of his character and incorporate it into your own life, those troubles will grow lighter and lighter over time.


A brief video teaching on the same passage…

Resurrection and Eternal Life in the Bible

What does the Bible say about the resurrection and eternal life?

As you read, you might want to refer back to these two articles:

Resurrection in the Bible is a very big deal. Yeshua (aka Jesus) is our savior and the only way to be reconciled to our Heavenly Creator and Father, but resurrection is central to the very meaning of salvation. When Yeshua saves us, he saves us from the eternal consequences of our sins and allows us to be resurrected into eternal life in God’s presence. The Bible talks about resurrection from beginning to end. It is described or discussed in many passages, and hidden by metaphor and allegory in many more.

On one hand, what we believe about our own resurrection and what happens afterward has very little bearing on our eternal salvation. We will be resurrected whether we understand that it will happen or not, and we will receive eternal life if we have lived believing in Yeshua and the promises of God whether we completely understand all of those promises or not.

On the other hand, our understanding of the resurrection will effect our understanding of much of the rest of Scripture, including what it means to believe in Yeshua. A person can be saved from his sins and resurrected to eternal life without ever hearing that there will be a resurrection, but his spiritual life will suffer because he doesn’t have a full understanding of his relationship with God and his place in God’s eternal plan.

Remember that the Sadducees didn’t believe in the resurrection, and that led them into many other errors. Yeshua and the Apostles thought that teaching about the resurrection was important enough that they repeatedly came into conflict with the Sadducees over it, risking imprisonment, beatings, and even death!

And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.
Acts 4:1-2

Now when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, “Brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. It is with respect to the hope and the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial.”
Acts 23:6

In my previous article on the afterlife, I established from Scripture a rough idea of what happens to a person after he dies: his spirit goes to one of the regions or chambers of Sheol to await resurrection. In this article, I’m going to pick up where that one left off and examine what Scripture says about the resurrection itself and what happens after that.

Many Temporary Resurrections

There are many resurrections recorded in the Bible, but most of them were temporary. A person died, was brought back to life, and then presumably died again sometime later.

  • Elijah and Elisha both brought children back to life in the Old Testament.
  • Yeshua raised at least three people from the grave before his own crucifixion.
  • Many people buried in Jerusalem came back to life about the same time Yeshua was resurrected.
  • The Apostles raised some from the dead after Yeshua returned to Heaven.

There is no indication in Scripture that any of those people are still alive today or that their resurrected bodies were incorruptible as Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 15. If they had been made immortal or if they had ascended into Heaven like Yeshua, I’m certain that some mention would have been made of that. It’s much more likely that their spirits were returned to their former bodies, which were healed of any injuries and corruption and then grew old and died again as do the bodies of all other people.

Yeshua’s resurrection was different. He was raised from the dead in a glorified body and then rose through the clouds to heaven in his physical form. Unlike the rest of us, his body didn’t return to the dust of the earth.

For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption.
Psalms 16:10

He left the grave with the same body that was crucified, but it was transformed. As I will show, this allowed him to prefigure two groups of believers at the end.

Appointed unto Men Once to Die

If those who were resurrected in years past were destined to die again, how should we understand this verse in the Letter to the Hebrews?

And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment…
Hebrews 9:27

This is a statement of general principle, not an absolute law. It’s similar to saying that “what goes up must come down”, but we all know that some things go up and never come back down. Numerous spacecraft have left the earth and never come back. Those few exceptions don’t negate the principle that anything thrown into the air will be pulled back to the ground by gravity. Without some continuous force keeping it from falling, it will fall.

In the same way, all those resurrected before Yeshua’s return have been thrown up from the grave, but the inevitable effects of entropy and the continual pull of Sheol eventually bring them back down again. They returned to life and their families, but continued to age until they died and were buried once more.

Scripture itself describes a “second death” in Revelation 21:

But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.
Revelation 21:8

We can’t read both Hebrews 9:27 and Revelation 21:8 in a strictly literal sense or else they contradict each other. The one describes the usual–though not universal–end of our mortal flesh–while the second is a description of the end of the resurrected, incorruptible flesh of the wicked after the final judgment.

The writer of Hebrews meant that there is no reincarnation. Everybody gets one life, not two or a hundred. Nobody will live, die, and then be born again as a baby to do it all over. This life is not a dress rehearsal. With very few exceptions, men are given one mortal body that lives once, dies, and returns to the earth.

Wait… Backup. “The incorruptible flesh of the wicked”!?

Yes, but more on that later. I’m sorry if this is getting confusing, but I will try to pull it all together at the end.

The First Resurrection

I am not going to speculate on when, but sometime in the future, Yeshua will return to earth in glory and power with a noise something like a great trumpet or the shout of a multitude.

Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war.
Revelation 19:11

As Revelation 19 indicates, this will happen after the Beast and the False Prophet have spent some years persecuting and murdering God’s faithful during a period known as The Great Tribulation. When Yeshua returns, “the dead in Christ shall rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:16). These aren’t all those who died prior to Yeshua’s return, but only those killed by the Beast and his minions.

Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years….This is the first resurrection.
Revelation 20:4-5

These martyrs of the Beast are the first wave of the Final Resurrection, long before the second wave. I don’t believe that their former bodies will be brought back to life, because they will have been killed over the course of several years and their bodies will have decomposed. Instead, these martyrs will gain newly created bodies that will never decompose.

And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body.
1 Corinthians 15:37-38

These new bodies will be immortal. Although they have a beginning, they will have no end, reigning at Yeshua’s side for a period of one thousand years (commonly known by some variation of the word “Millennium”) and living beyond that.

The Great Resurrection

At the end of the Millennium, Yeshua will put down a rebellion of the nations, destroy all of the physical universe, and raise all the dead who remain in Sheol. Everyone–great and small, righteous and wicked–will be resurrected and given brand new bodies. Yes, even the wicked will be resurrected at the end.

The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended…
Revelation 20:5

Sheol will be completely emptied of all who have died between Adam’s Fall and the destruction of the Earth. Those countless souls will be given new bodies and made to stand before the Throne of God to learn whether their names are written in the Book of Life. If their names are found in the Book, they will keep their new bodies and remain alive forever in the presence of God. If their names are not found, they will be condemned.

Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done.
Revelation 20:11-12

Sheol itself will be cast into Hell and the wicked who have just been resurrected and judged will follow.

Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
Revelation 20:14-15

The Transformation of the Survivors

All those who were still alive at the time of the Final Judgment will be transformed. They won’t die, but their bodies will be glorified like Yeshua’s. He died and was resurrected, but he didn’t receive a new body. Rather the body he inhabited when he walked the earth was refined and glorified, made immune to death. In this, Yeshua’s resurrection prophesied both the resurrection of the dead and the glorification of the living before the Final Judgment.

Those who are alive at the end will stand judgment alongside the newly resurrected. The faithful among them will go on to eternal life, while the unfaithful will go down to Hell and the Second Death, having passed by the First Death altogether.

The End and the Beginning

Death and resurrection have been with us since Adam first sinned and they are central to God’s plan to refine mankind and restore us to full relationship with him as we once had in the Garden. A few have died and been resurrected temporarily, but everyone who has ever died will be resurrected and everyone who has ever lived will stand together before the throne of God to be judged for eternity.

Those whose names are found in the Book of Life will see a new heaven and earth. What happens after that has not been revealed and has barely even been hinted at so far as I know. I suspect that the time we spent on the first earth is merely trial, a proving ground for our Great Continuation. Life is a furnace and we are all silver ore being refined into something beautiful and useful. The dross will be discarded and the silver retained. What use the Creator will put us to is a mystery that I can’t wait to discover!

Note: You might also appreciate Tony Robinson’s teaching series on Resurrection in the Old Testament.

Did Paul Behave Differently with Jews and Gentiles?

To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. 1 Corinthians 9:20

During a lengthy argument between pronomians and antinomians in an online forum, one Torah-keeper asked “Why did Paul go with other Christian brothers and sacrifice sheep at the Temple?”

Someone on the other side of the argument replied…

Why? That easy: 1 Corinthians 9:20

“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. “

-NorOb

In other words, NorOb believes that Paul was a good actor. He was just pretending to do Jewish things to trick the Jews into thinking he was just like them. When Jews complained that Paul was teaching other Jews to abandon Torah, he took a Nazirite vow and made a blood sacrifice at the Temple, paying for several other men to do the same thing to demonstrate that those Jews were in error. If NorOb’s interpretation is correct, then Paul only did this to pretend that he still kept the Law. As soon as he was back among gentiles, he resumed eating pork chops.

This is not a reasonable interpretation. Once again, it is a misunderstanding based on one statement taken out of its original context. Here’s the same verse with the surrounding text:

For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.
1 Corinthians 9:19-23

Unless NorOb is a true antinomian and libertine, I seriously doubt that he believes that “I have become all things to all people” means Paul fornicated in order to witness to fornicators. He didn’t starve himself and cause his muscles to atrophy so that he could become weak in order to win the weak over to Christ. His intended meaning should be very clear to those who have done actual street ministry or door-to-door witnessing.

Paul didn’t become lawless so that he could win the lawless or legalistic to win the legalistic. Instead he did the same thing that Yeshua did with prostitutes, tax collectors, fishermen, and rabbis: he spoke to them where they were and in terms they could understand. He did not pretend to be something he was not. In order to convince deeply religious Jews that Yeshua is the Messiah, Paul wrote of the priesthood and tabernacle (the Letter to the Hebrews, probably). In order to introduce Greeks to the Creator, he spoke to them of their own Unknown God (Acts 17:21-34).

I am certain that Paul did not mean what NorOb asserted, and Paul himself confirmed it. First, in the very same passage, Paul said that he did not operate outside of God’s Law.

To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law.
1 Corinthians 9:21

Second, only a few sentences later, he wrote that he kept his body under strict discipline so as not to compromise his witness.

But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
1 Corinthians 9:27

In other words, he strictly monitored and controlled his own behavior so that nobody would have cause to call him a hypocrite. He was consistent in lifestyle, morality, worship, and theology, not changing his behavior based on the company at hand. Paul called Peter on the carpet for the very thing that NorOb accused him of:

But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”
Galatians 2:11-14

Third, he said that he remained a Pharisee in regards to the Law his entire life. He always kept the Law no matter where he was or who was watching.

My manner of life from my youth, spent from the beginning among my own nation and in Jerusalem, is known by all the Jews. They have known for a long time, if they are willing to testify, that according to the strictest party of our religion I have lived as a Pharisee.
Acts 26:4-5

Either Paul lied to Agrippa or else he continued to live as a Pharisee at all times during his many missionary trips among both Jews and Gentiles recorded in the book of Acts. 

It is abundantly clear from Paul’s own extensive testimony that he did not sacrifice at the Temple only so that he could appear to be a Jew in the eyes of other Jews. He sacrificed at the Temple because he really was a Torah-observant Jew in every way and continued as such throughout his entire life.

And he wrote…

Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
1 Corinthians 11:1

Be obedient like Paul and like Christ. Be straightforward and consistent in your moral behavior, like Paul and like Christ.