Copyright 1994 - 2017 Bill's Bible Basics
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June 15, 2013
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June 20, 2013
Jewish Legalism Seriously Encroaching On Our Christian Faith, Apostle Paul Disapproves Of Imposing Circumcision On Gentile Believers, Paul's Stinging Rebuke To The Galatian Brethren, Jerusalem Was In Bondage To Mosaic Law, Jesus Died To Free Us From Sin Death And Bondage To Laws Of Moses, Apostle Peter Is Criticized By Jewish Legalists, Paul Attends Church Meeting In Jerusalem To Resolve The Issue Regarding Jewish Legalism, Peter James And John Were Jesus' Inner Circle, The Apostle In Jerusalem Only Impose Four Restrictions On Gentile Converts, Faith In Jesus And Nothing Else, Church Elders In Jerusalem Never Mandated That Gentile Believers Must Keep Mosaic Law, Sabbath Observance Was Not Enforced On Gentile Believers By The Jerusalem Church, Our Faith Has Been Politicized By The Christian Legalists And Zionists, Our Kingdom Is Not Of This Present World, We Are God's Ekklesia Or The Called Out Ones, Mosaic Law Was Not Intended For Gentile Nations, The Laws Of Moses Represented God's Covenant With The Children Of Israel, One Legalist's Attempt To Twist Meaning Of Verses In Exodus, "One Law For All" Deception, Strangers Who Dwelt Amongst The Children Of Israel Were Required To Adhere To The Mosaic Law, Definition Of "Sojourn", Obligation To Obey The Laws Of One's Host Country, Due To Rebellion And Sin Jews Were Dispersed To Gentile Nations By Way Of Three Diasporas, Circumcision Was Mandatory For Foreigners Who Partook Of Passover Meal And Was Path To Citizenship For Strangers Who Dwelt Amongst Children Of Israel, Story Of Dinah And Shechem, Every Man In The World Must Be Circumcised According To Legalist's Interpretation Of Exodus, Spiritual Circumcision Of The Heart Through Faith In Christ Is All That Matters, Some Judaizers And Legalists Hate Apostle Paul And Condemn His Epistles, Bondage To Mosaic Law, List Of Known Legalists Judaizers Zionists And Sabbatarians
As I candidly mention in the article called "Jesus Christ or Yeshua Messiah?: More Christian Zionist Legalism", as well as in the controversial series entitled "Welcome to the Greater Israel, USA!", one rather disturbing development which I have observed within our Christian faith in recent years, is the fact that many of my brethren have succumbed to a spirit of Jewish legalism. This problem -- which is really like a type of spiritual disease -- manifests itself in different ways. It can be as simple as observing the Sabbath, in lieu of the traditional Christian custom of attending church services on Sunday. With more diehard legalists and Christian Zionists -- who I generally refer to as Judaizers -- it can also include observing the various Jewish feast days, maintaining a kosher diet -- meaning to only eat foods which are approved by God in the Scriptures of the Old Testament -- referring to both God our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ by their Jewish designations, and of course, being a strong supporter of the state of Israel.
For all I know, some Christian Judaizers may have even fallen under the deception that they need to be circumcised as well. However, as I mention in other articles, the Apostle Paul was strongly against imposing circumcision on those Gentiles who had newly converted to our Christian faith. This becomes very evident by the following verses which are taken from several of Paul's Epistles:
"Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all."
Colossians 3:9-11, KJV
"For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God."
Romans 2:28-29, KJV
"For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love."
Galatians 5:6, KJV
"For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature."
Galatians 6:15, KJV
"Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision."
Philippians 3:2, KJV
"Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake."
Titus 1:9-11, KJV
As you can see by some of the previous verses, when those false Jewish brethren tried to convince the new Disciples in Galatia that circumcision was still necessary, the Apostle Paul wrote a very strong letter to them in which he rebuked them for allowing themselves to be persuaded by those false brethren, and thus being brought back under that legalistic bondage of the flesh, as we can see by the following set of verses as well:
"And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage:"
Galatians 2:4, KJV
"O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain."
Galatians 3:1-4, KJV
"But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? . . . Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law? For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all."
Galatians 4:9, 21-26, KJV
"Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage"
Galatians 5:1, KJV
As a point of clarification, the reason why Paul mentions Jerusalem in the previous verses, and how she is still in bondage, is because the false brethren who arrived in the region of Galatia came from Jerusalem, which was the actual center of the First Century Church. You see, the legalism of the Mosaic Law was still extremely strong in Jerusalem, despite the fact that Jesus had already died on the Cross, and set us free from the same, exactly as He told the Jews in the following verses:
"Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free . . . If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed."
John 8:31-32, 36, KJV
"And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord."
Luke 4:17-19, KJV
To demonstrate how powerful of a hold Jewish legalism still had on some of the Disciples in Jerusalem, consider that when the Apostle Peter returned to Jerusalem after visiting Paul in Galatia, the circumcised Jews criticized Peter for having eaten with uncircumcised Gentiles, as we see by these verses:
"And the apostles and brethren that were in Judaea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God. And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him, Saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them."
Acts 11:1-3, KJV
I have pointed out before that this problem regarding Jewish legalism in the Church became so great, that the Apostle Paul was finally forced to go to Jerusalem in order to come to an agreement with the Church Elders there. As you can see by the following verses, the Apostles in Jerusalem agreed with Paul that circumcision -- and other Jewish laws, traditions and customs -- were not applicable to the Gentile converts, and were not necessary for Salvation. As we know from the four Gospels, Jesus personally appointed Peter, James and John as His inner circle of leaders. Thus, they are also the central leadership in the Book of Acts, and it is in fact Peter and James who voice their opinions in the following verses. Let me mention here that for the sake of brevity, I have only included the key verses below. I encourage you to read the entire chapter, as your time permits:
"And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren . . . Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they."
Acts 15:7, 10-11, KJV
"And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me . . . Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood."
Acts 15:13, 19-20, KJV
"And they wrote letters by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia: Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment . . . For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well."
Acts 15: 23-24, 28-29, KJV
Allow me to call your attention to a few things in that set of verses. First of all, notice that Peter says "But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved." You can't get any clearer than that. Peter is saying no other laws, customs, traditions or conditions; just Jesus. Next, the Apostle James only outlines four things -- and not hundreds of statutes of the Mosaic Law -- from which Gentile Believers should abstain themselves. They are idolatry, food which contains blood, meat from animals that are strangled, and fornication. These four things -- and only these four things -- are included in the letters which they send to the Gentile brethren, insofar as any kind of laws are concerned.
Furthermore, the core leadership of the Church in Jerusalem makes it clear that they personally never issued any kind of order stating that Gentile Believers had to be circumcised. They write "we gave no such commandment". But that isn't all. Notice what else their short letter states. Not only do the Apostles clear their own name by stating that they never gave an order for Gentile converts to be circumcised, but we also see that they gave no commandment to "keep the law". It is right there in black and white. What law are Peter, James and John referring to? Obviously the Mosaic Law. They are clearly writing that they never gave any order for Gentile Believers to keep the Laws of Moses. They in fact refused to place that burden on Gentile Believers, as Peter clearly states above.
Now, besides the hundreds of statutes that form a part of the Mosaic Law, do you notice anything important that is missing from the Apostles' letter that is heavily stressed by so many Christian legalists and Judaizers today? If not, as I mention in "Are Christians Obligated to Keep the Sabbath?", it is the Sabbath. So that we have no doubts regarding what was said to the Gentile Believers, those four abstentions are mentioned twice in the previous verses, and not once is observing the Sabbath mentioned among them. The three individuals who Jesus appointed as His inner circle, and who became the leaders of His First Century Church, did not enforce Sabbath observance on First Century Gentile converts. So where did this modern legalism come from? Certainly not from Jesus or the Apostles.
Christian Judaizers sometimes inform me that one reason why they like to observe the Sabbath and other Jewish feast days, follow kosher laws, and do all of the other things that they do, is not because they believe that it saves them, or helps God to save them, but because they are convinced that they are pleasing God by obeying Him. Quite frankly, my personal impression is that the real reason why they bow to so much Jewish legalism is because they are trying to improve their Jewishness -- even though they are Gentiles in the flesh -- and show how much they love and support the state of Israel.
As I have mentioned before, in the USA at least, the problem with Jewish legalism and Zionism encroaching on our faith has become so great -- due to a number of popular preachers and pastors who promote this particular point of view -- that a lot of Christians now hold the view that if a person does not support Israel in her war against the Muslim nations, he is really not even a Christian. In short, they have politicized our faith, which is something which Jesus never intended in the least.
Our faith is supposed to be based on faith in Jesus Christ alone, and not on some secular political or military agenda. After all, as I have clearly explained so many times before, our Kingdom is not of this present world. As a result, we are not supposed to engage ourselves in the affairs of this life any more than what is absolutely necessary. We are supposed to remain God's "called out ones"; that is, His "ekklesia". If you doubt that this is so, then please seriously consider what both Jesus and the Apostles of the First Century taught regarding this same issue. There is no denying what these verses state, because their meaning is sufficiently clear:
"If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you."
John 15:19, KJV
"I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil."
John 17:14-15, KJV
"Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence."
John 18:36, KJV
"Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,"
2 Corinthians 6:17, KJV
"If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth."
Colossians 3:1-2, KJV
"No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier."
2 Timothy 2:4, KJV
"These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city."
Hebrews 11:13-16, KJV
"Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God."
James 4:4, KJV
"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world."
1 John 2:15-16, KJV
However, the real irony of the Jewish legalism which has now infiltrated the modern Christian Church is found in the fact that -- just as the Apostles clarify above -- the Scriptures clearly reveal that the Mosaic Law was never even meant for the Gentile nations. The Apostles must have known this, and that is why they limited their letter to mentioning only four abstentions to the Gentile brethren. If you doubt that this is so, then please consider the following verses, and notice how we are repeatedly told that this covenant -- that is, the Laws of Moses -- was only made between God and the children of Israel. The covenant was not made, and the Laws were not given, to the Gentile nations:
"And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee. And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel."
Exodus 25:21-22, KJV
"And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the LORD that doth sanctify you. Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed."
Exodus 31:12-17, KJV
"These are the statutes and judgments and laws, which the LORD made between him and the children of Israel in mount Sinai by the hand of Moses."
Leviticus 26:46, KJV
"These are the words of the covenant, which the LORD commanded Moses to make with the children of Israel in the land of Moab, beside the covenant which he made with them in Horeb."
Deuteronomy 29:1, KJV
"There was nothing in the ark save the two tables of stone, which Moses put there at Horeb, when the LORD made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they came out of the land of Egypt."
1 Kings 8:9, KJV
"There was nothing in the ark save the two tables which Moses put therein at Horeb, when the LORD made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they came out of Egypt."
2 Chronicles 5:10, KJV
"The LORD therefore hath performed his word that he hath spoken: for I am risen up in the room of David my father, and am set on the throne of Israel, as the LORD promised, and have built the house for the name of the LORD God of Israel. And in it have I put the ark, wherein is the covenant of the LORD, that he made with the children of Israel."
2 Chronicles 6:10-11, KJV
"He sheweth his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel. He hath not dealt so with any nation: and as for his judgments, they have not known them. Praise ye the LORD."
Psalms 147:19-20, KJV
Despite what the previous verses clearly say, I came upon one particular Christian Judaizer -- and I wouldn't be surprised to discover that there are others just like him -- who still tries to place Gentiles under the heavy yoke of the Laws of Moses by intentionally twisting the meaning of certain verses which are found in God's Word. In particular, this legalist quoted the following verse that is found in the Old Testament Book of Exodus:
"One law shall be to him that is homeborn, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you."
Exodus 12:49, KJV
According to the misguided person who intentionally corrupted what this verse states, it is supposedly proof that the Laws of Moses were likewise meant for the Gentile nations as well. In other words, one law for all, according to the way that he interprets the verse. However, to interpret the verse in that way is to totally contradict what all of the previous verses state. God is not the author of confusion, so what does this verse in Exodus actually mean?
The first thing you need to know is that this person -- who also appears to be a Sabbatarian -- is intentionally being a bit sneaky and dishonest. Why? Because he purposely does not include the verse which appears right before the one which I quoted above. By adding the previous verse, the real meaning of what is actually intended becomes even more clear, as we see here:
"And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof. One law shall be to him that is homeborn, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you."
Exodus 12:48-49, KJV
To me personally, there is no confusion whatsoever regarding what these two verses mean. They are quite clear. It is only when one purposely tries to pervert their real meaning that confusion sets in. As you can plainly see, in those verses Moses states "when a stranger shall sojourn with thee" and "the stranger that sojourneth among you". What do these two phrases mean?
Derived from the Hebrew word "guwr", the word "sojourn" means to abide, to dwell in, to dwell with, or to inhabit according to the Brown, Driver, Briggs, Gesenius Hebrew Aramaic English Lexicon. In other words, if foreigners -- meaning Gentiles -- came to live amongst the children of Israel, then they were obligated to live by the same laws -- meaning the Mosaic Law -- as the Hebrews. This is no different from when a foreigner arrives in the United States, becomes a naturalized citizen, and must abide by American laws, learn English, get a Social Security number, pay taxes, etc. As long as that individual remains in his own country, is he obligated to respect and obey American laws? Of course not. It would be ludicrous; yet that is basically what this Christian Judaizer is saying. He is stretching what those verses actually mean, and applying them to the entire world, which is wrong and out of context.
Not only that, but the situation which is described in those verses is completely reversed in our modern times. In other words, rather than a few foreigners living amongst the Jews, as a result of the three Diasporas which were instigated by the Assyrians, the Babylonians and the Romans due to the sins and rebellion of the Jews, the Jews were in fact dispersed amongst the Gentile nations of the world, where they became the minority populations. In other words, they are the ones who are obligated to obey the laws of the countries in which they now reside.
So those verses are definitely not saying that the Mosaic Law was meant for the entire Gentile world, contrary to what that misguided legalist is trying to force them to mean. They are very clearly saying that the Mosaic Law only applied to those foreigners who chose to dwell amongst the children of Israel.
But here is the most interesting part of this person's subtle deception. Why did he not include verse forty-eight and only quote verse forty-nine? I can tell you why. I just explained to you how when a person enters the United States of America, there is a path to US citizenship called naturalization. In these verses which we find in the Book of Exodus, we are told twice that strangers had to be circumcised if they wished to eat the Passover meal. Furthermore, these verses appear to be saying that the path to citizenship for foreigners was by way of circumcision. Strangers -- or Gentile foreigners -- had to be circumcised in order to be able to live among the children of Israel, to marry among them, etc. This is made evident by the story of Jacob, Dinah, Shechem and Hamor, as we see by the following verses:
"And the sons of Jacob answered Shechem and Hamor his father deceitfully, and said, because he had defiled Dinah their sister: And they said unto them, We cannot do this thing, to give our sister to one that is uncircumcised; for that were a reproach unto us: But in this will we consent unto you: If ye will be as we be, that every male of you be circumcised; Then will we give our daughters unto you, and we will take your daughters to us, and we will dwell with you, and we will become one people. But if ye will not hearken unto us, to be circumcised; then will we take our daughter, and we will be gone. And their words pleased Hamor, and Shechem Hamor's son."
Genesis 34:13-18, KJV
In other words, if that Christian legalist had quoted those two verses together -- as he should have -- then he would be forced to conclude that, based upon his understanding of the verses, all males in the world must be circumcised according to the Laws of Moses. Obviously, not only would this be very unpopular, but more importantly, it would contradict all of the New Testament verses which I shared with you earlier that plainly reveal that circumcision profits absolutely nothing. As we have seen, what matters is spiritual circumcision of a person's heart through spiritual rebirth by faith in Jesus Christ. That is why this person did not quote both verses. He knew that he would not be able to sustain his argument if he did; because the verses clearly show that the Laws of Moses were only to be applied to those foreigners who chose to live amongst the children of Israel. They were not for the entire world. To reiterate, the "one law for all" argument is simply false.
Let me mention here, as I do in a few other articles, that I have discovered that some of these Judaizers and legalists do not like the Apostle Paul. Some of them in fact hate him, and accuse him of being a false apostle and a false prophet. In their spiritual blindness and rebellion against the freedom which we obtain through the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ, they claim that Paul invented modern Christianity, and they do not hesitate to heavily and viciously criticize him, and condemn his Epistles as being heretical. They view Paul as a traitor to his own people -- the Jews -- and his scholarly letters in which he so eloquently expounds on the difference between Law and Grace as blasphemous.
Please also be warned that such legalists love to continually quote from the Books of the Old Testament -- and particularly from the Torah, or five Books of Moses, which is also known as the Pentateuch -- because they are in fact in bondage to the Mosaic Law, and to the past, so much like the legalistic Jews of First Century Jerusalem who rejected Jesus' message of spiritual freedom. If you happen to encounter any of these Judaizers and legalists online, I advise you to avoid them at all cost, because all they will do is seek to argue with you, confuse you, condemn you if you do not agree with their point of view, and waste your time. Personally, I have encountered the following ones online, but there are no doubt more:
• Hebraic Roots Movement - there are many different flavors
• Sacred Name Movement - there are many different flavors
• 119 Ministries
• John Hagee's CUFI - Citizens United For Israel
• Seventh Day Adventist Church and other Sabbatarians
• Worldwide Church of God and its many offshoots
Please go to part two for the continuation of this series.
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