Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Looking at Romans 7 and Paul in context

Many people attempt to use passages such as the ones we see in Romans 7 to show that Paul was a “false Apostle” because he supposedly didn’t uphold Torah, and/or that “the law” was abolished and does not pertain to believers in Messiah Y’shua.

Well, let’s take a look at Romans 7 in context, using the excellent footnotes contained in the Aramaic English New Testament:

Romans 7: 1. Or do you not know, my Brothers (for I am speaking to them that know Torah) that Torah has dominion over a man as long as he is alive?  2. Just as a woman, by Torah, is bound to her husband as long as he is alive: but if her husband should die, she is freed from the Torah of her husband.  3. And if, while her husband is alive, she should adhere to another man, she would become an adulteress: but if her husband should die, she is freed from Torah; and would not be an adulteress though joined to another man.[1] 

4. And now, my brothers, you also have become dead to Torah[2] by the body of Mashiyach; that you might be joined to another, (even) to him who arose from the dead, and might yield fruits to Elohim.  5. For while we were in the flesh, the emotions of sin which are (listed) by Torah, were active in our members that we should bear fruits to death.  6. But now we are absolved from Torah and are dead to that which held us in its grasp: that we might from now on serve in the newness of the spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.[3]  7. What will we say then? Is Torah sin? May it never be! For I had not learned sin except by means of Torah: for I had not known lust, had not Torah said, You will not covet:  8. And by this Commandment sin found occasion and perfected in me all lust: for without Torah, sin was dead. 

9. And I, without Torah, was alive formerly; but when the Commandment came, sin became alive, and I died;  10. And the Commandment of life was found by me (to be) to death.  11. For sin, by the occasion which it found by means of the Commandment, seduced me and thereby killed me.  12. As a result, Torah is Set Apart; and the Commandment is Set Apart, and righteous, and good.  13. Did that which is good, therefore, become death to me? May it never be! But sin, that it might be seen to be sin, perfected death in me by means of that good (Torah); that sin might the more be condemned by means of the Commandment.  14. For we know, that Torah is spiritual;[4] but I am carnal, and sold to sin.  15. For what I am doing, I do not know: and what I would, I do not perform; but what I hate, that I do. 

16. And if I do what I would not, I testify of Torah, that it is right.  17. And then, it is no more I who do that thing, but sin which dwells in me.  18. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) good dwells not: because, to approve the good, is easy for me; but to do it, I am unable.  19. For I do not perform the good which I would perform, but the bad which I would not perform, that I do perform.  20. And if I do what I would not, it is not I that do it, but sin which dwells in me.  21. I find therefore a Torah coinciding with my conscience which agrees to my doing good, whereas evil is near to me. 

22. For I rejoice in the Torah of Elohim, in the inner man.  23. But I see another instruction[5] in my members, which wars against the instruction of my conscience and makes me a captive to the instruction of sin which exists in my members.  24. O, a miserable man, am I! Who will rescue me from this body of death?  25. I thank Elohim by means of our Master Y’shua the Mashiyach (I will be rescued.)  Now, therefore, in my conscience, I am a servant of the Torah of Elohim; but in my flesh, I am a servant of the instruction of sin.[6]


[1]  In these three verses “Torah” is intended as “Instruction” as in the instruction pertaining to marriage alone, not the whole body of the Covenant.  When a marriage partner dies, the surviving spouse is no longer contractually bound to the marriage covenant, but this does not mean that the rules of marriage no longer apply to the survivor, or to the rest us.

[2]   “Dead to Torah” refers to being dead to the penalty for sin, which is death, followed by destruction.  The believer sins (misses the mark) as anyone else does; however, those who are “in Mashiyach” have atonement in him.  From the beginning (Gen. 3:15) YHWH established a defense for His people against haSatan (the adversary).  To be “in” Mashiyach means to live a life pleasing to YHWH and NOT break Torah (see also Romans 8:1-10).  Those who think that they can repeatedly break Torah without consequence, because of Mashiyach died for them, are very deceived.  To “live in the spirit” means that the Spirit of Mashiyach is training up his followers so they can put away the carnal desires of the weak flesh, and that they are overcomers of the flesh. 

[3]  This is because faith in Mashiyach and Torah observance brings eternal life, but the consequence of sin is death.  It does not mean Torah is “released” because, with or without Mashiyach, the penalty for willful sin still remains.  If the penalty for sin remains, then Torah also remains.  The “oldness of the letter” speaks of old religious ways which do not recognize Mashiyach as bringing the Living Word of YHWH to mankind.  Y’shua brought the correct understanding of Torah which is to be written upon the heart, so we don’t continue in sin.  See also 6:12.  Some might say they have Faith and claim to be “Believers,” but if they continue in sin their faith/belief is irrelevant.

[4]  Paul says “Torah is spiritual”; therefore, while those without Torah might be very religious, they are not “spiritual” according to Paul and Mashiyach!  Mashiyach is the goal and we are to be like him, which means that when our spirits are awakened to Mashiyach we will proceed to welcome Torah to be written upon our hearts.

[5]  Namusa could refer to the Tanakh, particular instruction within Tanakh, or an earthly instruction from the heart of man that may or may not be righteous, as it does here. The key context here is “in my members”; i.e., the flesh.

[6]  Two instructions; one from YHWH, the other from flesh, are in direct opposition to one another.

What we must remember when reading Paul’s epistles is that he was desperately attempting to get difficult Hebrew concepts across to the Greek mindset!  Paul was an amazing servant, but yes, he WAS hard to understand.
Even Peter warned us that people would misinterpret/misunderstand the writings of the Apostle Paul:

2 Peter 3: 15 And think of our Lord's patience as deliverance, just as our dear brother Sha'ul also wrote you, following the wisdom God gave him. 16 Indeed, he speaks about these things in all his letters. They contain some things that are hard to understand, things which the uninstructed and unstable distort, to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.

And even the anti-Semite Martin Luther (1483-1546), said: "If I were younger I would want to learn this language [i.e. Hebrew], for without it no one can properly understand the Holy Scripture.... For that reason they have said correctly: 'The Jews drink out of the original spring, The Greeks drink out of the stream flowing out of the stream, The Latins, however, out of the puddle.'"

The scriptures of Rabbi Sha'ul (Apostle Paul) whose native tongue was Hebrew, have been mistranslated or misunderstood since the advent of the "church age." This is because people are viewing his teachings through a "Greek" as opposed to a "Hebrew" mindset. Paul never went against Yeshua's teachings, nor did he forsake the Torah. The following article shows that Paul's declarations have either been misunderstood, mistranslated, or wrongly interpreted - not to mention, used by some Gentile churches as an excuse to negate God's Torah and thus continue the age-old, anti-Semitic stance against the Jews.

Many people tend to forget that Paul was a Jew whose teachings NEVER contradicted Torah (God's original teachings/instructions). If he had, he would have rendered Scripture contradictory.

Acts 21:15-21 - which was written after Paul had written the Galatians - clearly reveals Paul was Torah observant. It is commonly misunderstood that Paul's teachings - especially the idea that Paul said in Galatians, "if one is led by the Spirit, he or she is not under law..." - that the authority of the law has been abolished for believers in Yeshua and that the Torah has been superseded. Many people are confusing legalism (man's requirements) with Torah observance.

When Paul speaks of being "under the law" or the "works of the law", he is speaking against legalism, and not against the Torah. There is no Hebrew word for the concept of "legalism" or "legalist" so Paul was hindered in his attempt to explain to the Gentiles that legalism was not what God intended. Paul was not teaching against Torah observance by believers of Yeshua; rather, he was being careful in his language to make it clear that Torah was not given by God to be used in a legalistic manner.

Some people insist that there is no explicit text in the New Testament that commands us to "walk in Torah" or in any way continue to adhere to any of the commands of the old covenant. However, Romans 3:31 clearly says:  Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law....

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