As I read Scripture, it is apparent to me that we have to have a background in Torah in order to properly interpret all of the Scriptures. This is especially true of Paul’s writings.
One of the most important foundational things to understand in order to interpret Paul’s writings is to understand:
- The covenants in the Scriptures build upon one another; they are not separate entities. In addition, the covenant at Mount Sinai has been renewed due to the breaking of the covenant by God’s people at different times.
- The Torah defines righteousness and unrighteousness; righteousness is lawfulness and unrighteousness is lawlessness. Righteousness/obedience is the same as walking in the Spirit. Unrighteousness/disobedience is walking according to the desires of the flesh.
- The terms of the covenant must be understood and observed by God’s people. Obedience brings blessing and life. Disobedience brings cursing and ultimately death.
How do we know these are true statement? We can look at the past and what we’ve been told about the future. We can see this single thread running through the entire Scriptures. Once we know this is true, we can see what’s really going on in Galatians.
Leviticus 18:4-5 is a core teaching: You shall observe My judgments and keep My ordinances, to walk in them: I am the Lord your God. 5 You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, which if a man does, he shall live by them: I am the Lord.
The phrase “which is a man does, he shall live by them” is a common phrase in the Tanach (Old Testament) to refer to YHVH’s judgments, ordinances, and commandments. Notice that YHVH’s people are to “walk in them.”
In Deuteronomy 11:26-29 and 30:19-20, Moses sets a choice before the second generation that came out of Egypt:
- A blessing, including dwelling in the land, if they obey YHVH’s commandments and cling to Him, for He is their life.
- A curse, if they disobey YHVH’s commandments to go after other gods.
It was not only for them, but all of their descendants and for whoever chooses to enter into the same covenant with YHVH.
God always intended for the obedience to the covenant to bring life. When God’s people went astray from the covenant, He sent prophets to call them to repentance, that is to return to the terms of the covenant.
All along, YHVH has been fulfilling His promise to Abraham, but His descendants have to keep the covenant in order for the fulfillment of the promise to continue into perpetuity.
Judges 3:1-4 indicates God would test the faithfulness of future generations to Him and His covenant by leaving certain people groups among them. Sure enough, they failed the test over and over again.
1 Kings 9:6-8 YHVH has to give a reminder of previous warnings concerning the covenant.
But if you or your sons at all turn from following Me, and do not keep My commandments and My statutes which I have set before you, but go and serve other gods and worship them, 7 then I will cut off Israel from the land which I have given them; and this house which I have consecrated for My name I will cast out of My sight. Israel will be a proverb and a byword among all peoples.
Jeremiah 21:8-10 Due to the people’s disobedience and refusal to heed His warnings, YHVH made a decision on how to punish the disobedience of His people and still have a remnant of the children of Abraham for the future:
“Now you shall say to this people, ‘Thus says the Lord: “Behold, I set before you the way of life and the way of death. 9 He who remains in this city shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence; but he who goes out and defects to the Chaldeans who besiege you, he shall live, and his life shall be as a prize to him. 10 For I have set My face against this city for adversity and not for good,” says the Lord. “It shall be given into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire.”‘
Jeremiah 26:4-6 continues to emphasize the importance of the terms of the covenant and warns of a coming curse: And you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord: “If you will not listen to Me, to walk in My law which I have set before you, 5 to heed the words of My servants the prophets whom I sent to you, both rising up early and sending them (but you have not heeded), 6 then I will make this house like Shiloh, and will make this city a curse to all the nations of the earth.”‘”
Nehemiah 9:29 shows that YHVH wanted to bring His people back to the terms of the covenant, but they would not hear: And testified against them, That You might bring them back to Your law. Yet they acted proudly, And did not heed Your commandments, But sinned against Your judgments, ‘Which if a man does, he shall live by them.’ And they shrugged their shoulders, Stiffened their necks, And would not hear.
Jeremiah 25:4-6 uses the word repentance for returning to the terms of the covenant: And the Lord has sent to you all His servants the prophets, rising early and sending them, but you have not listened nor inclined your ear to hear. 5 They said, ‘Repent now everyone of his evil way and his evil doings, and dwell in the land that the Lord has given to you and your fathers forever and ever.
Ezekiel 14:6-7 also uses the term “repentance” for returning to the terms of the covenant: “Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Repent, turn away from your idols, and turn your faces away from all your abominations.
Ezekiel 18:30-32 uses the term repentance in the same way. He does not want them to suffer the consequences of their iniquity. He wants them to have a new heart and spirit, and life that can only be gained by repentance. “Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways,” says the Lord God. “Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin. 31 Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel? 32 For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,” says the Lord God. “Therefore turn and live!”
YHVH’s people were not heeding Him. He was determined for His people to keep the terms of His marriage covenant with Him. See what YHVH says in Jeremiah 31:31-33: “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new (chadashah: new, renewed) covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah — 32 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord. 33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
Note how Ezekiel 20:10-20 continues to describe YHVH’s statutes and judgments: “Therefore I made them go out of the land of Egypt and brought them into the wilderness. 11 And I gave them My statutes and showed them My judgments, ‘which, if a man does, he shall live by them.’ 12 Moreover I also gave them My Sabbaths, to be a sign between them and Me, that they might know that I am the Lord who sanctifies them. 13 Yet the house of Israel rebelled against Me in the wilderness; they did not walk in My statutes; they despised My judgments, ‘which, if a man does, he shall live by them’; and they greatly defiled My Sabbaths. Then I said I would pour out My fury on them in the wilderness, to consume them. 14 But I acted for My name’s sake, that it should not be profaned before the Gentiles, in whose sight I had brought them out. 15 So I also raised My hand in an oath to them in the wilderness, that I would not bring them into the land which I had given them, ‘flowing with milk and honey,’ the glory of all lands, 16 because they despised My judgments and did not walk in My statutes, but profaned My Sabbaths; for their heart went after their idols. 17 Nevertheless My eye spared them from destruction. I did not make an end of them in the wilderness. 18 “But I said to their children in the wilderness, ‘Do not walk in the statutes of your fathers, nor observe their judgments, nor defile yourselves with their idols. 19 I am the Lord your God: Walk in My statutes, keep My judgments, and do them; 20 hallow My Sabbaths, and they will be a sign between Me and you, that you may know that I am the Lord your God.’
Ezekiel 20:21-26 gives the historical results of disobedience. “Notwithstanding, the children rebelled against Me; they did not walk in My statutes, and were not careful to observe My judgments, ‘which, if a man does, he shall live by them’; but they profaned My Sabbaths. Then I said I would pour out My fury on them and fulfill My anger against them in the wilderness. 22 Nevertheless I withdrew My hand and acted for My name’s sake, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the Gentiles, in whose sight I had brought them out. 23 Also I raised My hand in an oath to those in the wilderness, that I would scatter them among the Gentiles and disperse them throughout the countries, 24 because they had not executed My judgments, but had despised My statutes, profaned My Sabbaths, and their eyes were fixed on their fathers’ idols. 25 “Therefore I also gave them up to statutes that were not good, and judgments by which they could not live; 26 and I pronounced them unclean because of their ritual gifts, in that they caused all their firstborn to pass through the fire, that I might make them desolate and that they might know that I am the Lord.”‘
Habakkuk 2:4 brings the element of faith into the equation: “Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; But the just shall live by his faith.
Matthew 3:1-2 John the Baptist continues the same message and definition of repentance. In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”
Matthew 4:4 Yeshua explains that the word of God, His statutes and judgments, is what brings life. But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’“
Matthew 4:17 Yeshua preaches the same message and definition of repentance: From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Matthew 5:17-18 Yeshua states when the law will finally pass away. “Do not think that I came to destroy (katalusai [inf. aorist active of kataluo]= dissolve, bring to an end) the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill (play-ro-sai [inf. aorist active of play-ra-o] to give the true or complete meaning/real significance to something). 18 For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled (gen-ay-tai [subjunctive aorist middle 3rd person sing. of ginomai] may come to pass).
Matthew 11:20 Yeshua rebukes those that refuse to repent: Then He began to rebuke the cities in which most of His mighty works had been done, because they did not repent.
Matthew 19:16-17 Yeshua explains that in order to have eternal life, people must obey the commandments. Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” 17 So He said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.
Luke 13:5 Yeshua agrees with the concept that disobedience to the law brings death. I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”
Peter preaches the same message and definition of repentance.
- Acts 2:38-39 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
- Acts 3:19-20 Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,
Paul preached the same message and definition of repentance.
- Acts 17:30-31 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”
- Acts 26:19-21 “Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, 20 but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance.
Works befitting repentance is keeping God’s commandments.
In my last post, Doers of the Law Will Be Justified, we went over Romans 2:13 and 3:20. As these verses are actually written, they seem to contradict each other. We know that can’t be right. Recall that I pointed out both verses contain ellipses that must be filled in based on the context of the surrounding text. We have to be careful to follow the text of Romans and Galatians carefully because Paul assumes his readers have the same Torah foundation and know what he means.
Basically, Romans 2:13 says the doers of the law of YHVH will be justified. For not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law (of YHVH) will be justified.
Romans 3:20 teaches that the works of the law do not bring justification. Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law (of YHVH) is the knowledge of sin. This seems to indicate the opposite of what was said in Romans 2:13.
We need to examine these two verses carefully. Doing the law does not bring justification; doing the law is evidence of faith. Those who have faith for salvation should be doing the law, and these people will be justified. Doing the law is for sanctification, not salvation.
If we were ever in doubt, Paul underscores that the law of YHVH is not abolished in Romans 3:31: Do we then make void the law (of YHVH) through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.
Romans 10:1-13 tells us the beginning of righteousness is the law of YHVH, the end is Messiah. Israel is ignorant of God’s righteousness, they’ve sought to establish their own with their oral traditions. The righteousness of YHVH, which is the law of YHVH, is a righteousness of faith. Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. 2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. 5 For Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the law, “The man who does those things shall live by them.” 6 But Moreover (de; conjunctive particle to denote further thought development) the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?'” (that is, to bring Christ down from above) 7 or, “‘Who will descend into the abyss?'” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But (alla) what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For (gar) with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For (gar) the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” 12 For(gar) there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for (gar) the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 13 For (gar) “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Here, Paul is making a midrash based on Deuteronomy 30:12-14 to remind us that it is within our power to be obedient to YHVH’s commands: “For this commandment which I command you today is not too mysterious (niphlet, a niphal participle of pala; be beyond one’s power, difficult to do) for you, nor is it far off. 12 It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend into heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 13 Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 14 But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it.” This is the yoke Yeshua wanted the people to take upon themselves, not the yoke of oral tradition that had become too difficult to bear (Matthew 11:29-30).
There was no New Testament during Yeshua’s time and that of the apostles. All God’s people had was the Torah, Writings, and Prophets. Yeshua taught proper interpretation of the Scriptures and encouraged obedience to the terms of the original covenant.
In Revelation, Yeshua’s message continues in:
- Revelation 2:5: Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place — unless you repent. The same is true of Revelation 2:16: Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.
- Revelation 3:3: Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you.
- Revelation 9:20-21: But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk. 21 And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.
- Revelation 14:12 The faithful will be keeping God’s commandments (the terms of the covenant). Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.
With this understanding as the backdrop to Paul’s understanding of the Scriptures and to what was being said by his contemporaries, let’s look at Galatians.
Galatians is not sent to just one assembly, it was sent to more than one assembly in the region of Galatia. There were people who were preaching another gospel to them. The letter does not specify exactly what was meant by that.
Paul tells them that he was more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of his fathers. Certainly, he is referring to the oral Torah that existed at the time of this writing. He had to be extremely familiar with the written Torah as well. These things formed his understanding of righteousness prior to meeting Yeshua on the road to Damascus. He left Damascus for Arabia where he was re-educated and given a more correct understanding of the Scriptures. Following this, he finally met with Peter and James, and began preaching the belief he once tried to destroy.
A confrontation took place between Peter and Paul over the hypocrisy that was taking place. Peter had been eating with Gentiles, which was certainly not a sin, but it was an issue of purity for those believers of the house of Shammai or those of the circumcision party. However, Peter withdrew when the Jews of the circumcision were around because the oral Torah frowned upon Jews fellowshipping with Gentiles due to the fear of contracting ritual impurity. His hypocrisy was being equated with sinning like the Gentiles. Paul asked Peter, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”
I think Scripture leaves out much of the story here. Peter must have been influenced by the practices of the circumcision party — the teachings of the house of Shammai at some point. Some suggest this has to do with 4QMMT — one of the Dead Sea Scrolls. This is the only place outside of Scripture where we see the phrase “works of the law” — miqsat ma’ase ha-Torah. These laws are primarily laws concerning ritual purity. They have nothing to do with kind things you do for others or what is in Torah.
The Lord used the vision in Acts 10 to address part of that problem. After all, Peter was no longer worried about contracting ritual impurity. However, based on Paul’s statement, it seems Peter still may have been expecting the Gentiles to embrace certain oral traditions of the Jews who were tied to the house of Shammai. Paul, if you recall, was a student of Gamliel — the grandson of Hillel the elder, and it was Hillel who often opposed Shammai. Paul was implying these practices were not necessary.
The text shifts from this to what Jews by birth should already know — to something similar to the verbiage of Romans 2:13 and Romans 3:20.
I believe Paul is showing a parallel between the teachings of the circumcision party and the law of YHVH. Neither one of them — oral traditions regarding ritual purity or the written law — in themselves brings justification. Remember, justification is by faith and grace; it is a separate issue from obedience to the law.
Based on Revelation 14:12, the faith of Yeshua (the end of the law) goes hand in hand with obeying YHVH’s commandments, which is the beginning of the law. The teachings of the circumcision party have no place with the law of YHVH.
Consider the following verses with the ellipses filled in:
Galatians 2:19-21: “For I through the law (of YHVH) died to the law (of sin and death) that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law (of sin and death), then Christ died in vain.” Note the parallel of these verses with Romans 8:2-13.
Galatians 3:2-4 “This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law (of sin and death), or by the hearing of faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? Fulfilling the desires of the flesh is clearly following the law of sin and death — not laws regarding ritual impurity suggested by the house of Shammai. The Spirit was given as a result of hearing about and trusting in the Messiah, not anything else.
Galatians 3:5-9: Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law (of sin and death), or by the hearing of faith? — 6 just as Abraham “believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness (here, belief is equated with righteousness which is defined by the law of YHVH).” 7 Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.” 9 So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.
Galatians 3:10-14: For as many as are of the works of the law (of sin and death, the flesh) [– For those who are outside (ex) the works of the law of YHVH–] are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law (of YHVH), to do them.” 11 But that no one is justified by the law (of sin and death) in the sight of God is evident, for “the just shall live by faith (as they walk according to the law of YHVH/the terms of the covenant).” 12 Yet the law (of sin and death) is not of faith, but (rather) “the man who does them shall live by them.” As we saw earlier, this last phrase was repeatedly used in the Old Testament for YHVH’s statutes and judgments).” We now see that YHVH’s statutes and judgments not only bring life, they are of faith.
Again, “the works of the law” mentioned here have nothing to do with laws to prevent ritual impurity that may have been promoted by the circumcision party. We know that because there was no curse written in the book of the law concerning these oral traditions.
Galatians 3:13-14 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law (of sin and death), having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), 14 that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. Romans 8:2-4 is a parallel to this; it says that the law of the Spirit of the life in Messiah Yeshua has set us free from the law of sin and death.
YHVH commanded Abraham to walk before him and be blameless. He promised Abraham would be the father of many nations, and that His covenant would be with Him and Abraham’s descendants. This would also be an everlasting covenant in which all of the land of Canaan would be their everlasting possession, and that He would be their God. As part of this covenant, Abraham’s descendants were to keep the way of YHVH, to do righteousness and justice, that YHVH could bring to pass His promise to Abraham. Abraham had faith that God would fulfill His promise of land and blessing to him and his seed (Genesis 17:1-18:19; 22:18; 26:4; 28:14).
Yeshua explained that if the Pharisees were Abraham’s children, they would be doing the works of Abraham, and not the deeds of their father the devil (John 8:38-44). Clearly, Abraham knew what righteousness looked like; however, Abraham was justified by his faith and not by works of the flesh/unrighteousness (Romans 4:1-3). The covenant made on Mt. Sinai defined righteousness and justice so that Abraham’s descendants could know how to keep the covenant between YHVH, Abraham, and each other. This covenant had blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience because of transgressions of the flesh. It doesn’t annul the previous covenant with Abraham, it fully supports it. Transgressions are what hinders the fulfillment of the promise. In order for YHVH to keep His promise to Abraham, there had to be a way to deal with these transgressions. The covenant had blessings that began with Abraham that would continue as long as righteousness and justice was practiced. Unrighteousness and injustice brought curses instead of blessings. Messiah redeems us from the curse of the law of sin and death which resulted from the transgressions of the flesh so that YHVH’s promise to Abraham could reach its fullness.
Yeshua intended the Promise of His Father, the Spirit, to come not only upon His disciples at Shavuot, but also on all who would demonstrate faith in Him, just as Abraham placed his faith in YHVH to keep His promise (Luke 24:46-49; Acts 1:4-5, 2:33, 39). Messiah’s death allowed Abraham’s blessing to come upon the Gentiles in Messiah so we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. We are now sons of Abraham and heirs of the promise. Only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham; these sons come from all of the nations, and they will share in the blessings of Abraham.
The law of YHVH, our external tutor, is not contrary to the promises of God, especially the promise of the Spirit of God. We’re to integrate the law into our hearts so that it is automatic. Think of the law as the guidelines a parent uses to train up a child in the way he should go. At first, the teachings (law), blessings, and consequences are external. There are consequences for misbehavior. Hopefully, the child will gradually internalize these teachings so that they are a permanent part of him. By that point, there should no longer be a need for the external consequences.
Parents know that you don’t have to teach your children to sin. It’s practically natural from an extremely early age. We are essentially born under the law of sin and death because we tend to sin from the beginning. The more we sin, the more we are in bondage to sin. Many of these sins can be addictive. We need a way to be set free from this bondage. It is Yeshua to came to redeem us and set us free from the bondage of this world. God sends us the Spirit of His Son into our hearts so that we can cry out Abba, Father! (Galatians 4:1-8)
Our faith in Yeshua allows for our justification. We are all sons of God and of Abraham through our faith in Messiah. We still are being prepared to be the bride of Messiah by practicing holiness which is a result of obedience to the law of YHVH.
The covenant at Mount Sinai connects us to the original covenant made with Abraham.
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets will be in the kingdom of God, while others will be thrust out. (Luke 13:28)
Galatians 4:10 says, “You observe days, and months and seasons and years. I am afraid for you, lest I have labored for you in vain.” These cannot refer to YHVH’s appointed times that reveal God’s typological plan for the ages. We are not to observe pagan holidays that have become syncretized with Christianity. We are to participate in the holy convocations that YHVH has ordained for those who are in covenant with Him.
In Galatians 4:21-31, Paul offers a midrash where he discusses 2 covenants. He begins by saying, “Tell me, you who desire to be under the law (of sin and death), do you not hear the law (of YHVH)? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. 23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise, 24 which things are symbolic. Here, Paul is about to take two people who are known to is readers and teach them and us something important to understand.
For these are the two covenants:
|the one from Mount Sinai (where the people broke covenant with YHVH when they entered into a covenant with the molded gold calf by worshiping it – Exodus 32:4-8) which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar — 25 for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children||— 26 but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all. 27 For it is written: “Rejoice, O barren, You who do not bear! Break forth and shout, You who are not in labor! This refers to Isaiah 54:1-6 that recalls YHVH as Israel’s Maker, Husband, Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, God of the whole earth. He is the One who was with Moses on top of Mount Sinai, and He is the One with whom the original marriage covenant was made.|
|“… For the desolate has many more children Than she who has a husband.” There are more people who are not in covenant with YHVH than those who are.||28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise. We are children of promise because we are walking in covenant with YHVH.|
|29 But, as he who was born according to the flesh||then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now.|
|30 Nevertheless what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heirThe lawless will be separated from the lawful and cast into the lake of fire.||with the son of the freewoman.” James 1:25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty (law of YHVH) and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.|
|31 So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman In John 8:34 Yeshua explains, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.”||but of the free.” John 8:33 continues: Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.|
|What brings bondage? Is it not living according to the flesh? Is it not lawlessness/unrighteousness?||What brings freedom? Is it not living according to the terms of YHVH’s covenant? Is it not lawfulness/righteousness?|
Paul continues in Galatians 5:1-2: Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free (Torah observance), and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage (sins of the flesh and/or oral tradition). Circumcision was the means by which the house of Shammai caused Gentiles to be converted to Judaism. The circumcision party was a sect of Judaism that believed in Yeshua and felt new Gentile believers had to convert to Judaism via circumcision in order to be saved; they also believed these new converts needed to keep the whole law which included oral tradition. Paul did not agree.
Paul did not oppose circumcision. He wanted it to be done in proper order — covenant/promise first, then circumcision as a sign of the covenant — and for the right reason — to fulfill the commandments, not for entering the covenant.
Galatians 5:11a says, “But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted?” I believe it was because he was misunderstood and/or misrepresented by his enemies. Paul didn’t like being persecuted, and he didn’t want believers arguing with one another either. He wanted believers to walk in the Spirit — not in the flesh.
Walking in the Spirit
Fulfilling the Lust of the Flesh
|You are NOT under the law of sin and death.||You are under the law of sin and death.|
|The fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.||Works of the flesh: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like.|
|And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.||Those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.|
|He who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. Do not grow weary while doing good.||He who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption.|
1 John 3:4-5: “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.”
As you can see, ultimately Galatians — from beginning to end — is really about 2 options that can be stated in various ways:
- obedience vs. disobedience
- righteousness vs. unrighteousness
- lawfulness vs. lawlessness
- walking in the Spirit vs. fulfilling the desires of the flesh
The choice we make has everlasting consequences. It’s the same choice Moses set before the people in the book of Deuteronomy. We must choose wisely.
Matthew 7:22-23: “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ “
Matthew 13:41-42: “The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, 42 and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.”
Romans 6:19: “I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.”
This is what Yeshua came for. Romans 8:2-4 says: “For the law of the Spirit of life in Messiah Yeshua has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. As you can see, God still wants the righteous requirements of the law to be fulfilled in our lives.
You must make a choice. What you decide is up to you. No one can make this choice for you. Like Moses, I suggest you choose life.