Created Wed, Sept. 18, 2002,  updated Feb. 6, 2009

Part 2: The New Testament on the New Covenant


The New Covenant Is Proclaimed
The Passing of the Mantle
First to Israel
New Skins For New Wine

The Apostles Welcome the Nations

From Acts
From Romans

From Galatians
The Sabbath Forever ???

Returning to Galatians
From Hebrews
From Ephesians
From 1 Timothy
From 2 Corinthians
From Colossians

Related Articles

These, of course, are the collection of New Testament scriptures that show we are not under the law any longer. That is, the rituals and observances of the law. We still obey the commands that protect each other from harm and abuse.

It is not uncommon for translators to cross reference New Testament scriptures when the scriptures are quoting Old Testament writings. Of course, I also cross referenced Old Testament scriptures with New Testament references so that as your reading them you are realizing that they are forecasting something to you and where it is. But we are primarily interested in a verse by verse consideration of things the Apostles and Jesus discussed in regards to the law and the new covenant and whether we need to observe the signs and rituals of the law and what those might be. I assume you have already considered the Old Testament scriptures previously.

Also note that in cross referencing Old Testament scriptures, you will encounter an LXX in brackets sometimes, often when the Psalms are referenced, along with an MT followed by a Psalm reference as well. LXX is the Roman numeral 70, which stands for the Greek Septuagint Bible which had a somewhat miraculous translation which was always used by the Apostles as well and said to be approved by them. This seems most likely, given their exclusive use of it to quote from. MT Stands for Masoretic Text, a Hebrew text from which we get the text for most Bibles in print today. But the Septuagint was always the standard used by the Apostles of Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit. The numbering system was different for the Septuagint than it was for the Hebrew text. That is why both are referenced and you will find the numbers of the MT correspond to our Bibles.

I will kick off with a few short but very important citings from the gospels that indicate some very important precepts. The following two scriptural citings have certain words in quotation marks with their Greek equivalent in parentheses. We are going to consider those words after.

The New Covenant Is Proclaimed
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Matthew 11:
11 Truly I say to you, Not has arisen among those born of a woman any greater than John the Baptist.
     But the least in the kingdom of Heaven is greater than he is.
12 But from the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of Heaven "suffers violence" (Greek - Biazo),
     and the "violent" (Greek - Biastes) "seize" (Greek - Harpazo) it.
13 For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John.
14 And if you are willing to receive, he is Elijah, the one about to come.
15 The one having ears to hear, let him hear.

Luke 16:
16 The Law and the Prophets were until John; from then the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is "pressing" (Greek - Biazo) into it.

I am going to try to make sense of these two scriptures by translating them together. First, both references state that the Law and the Prophets exist in Israel only up to John. That is the end of them. From that time onward, a new gospel (gospel meaning good news but having a bit larger meaning to Christians in the context of the Bible) and a new covenant is being announced, only to Israel in Jesus' day. Jesus refers to it frequently as the kingdom of God. This new covenant or deal had been foretold even by Moses as well as the prophets, yet no one was really understanding it, save the followers of Jesus, who he made it clear to. But even they did not get the full meaning till after Jesus died and rose again to explain more.

The next part could be more puzzling until you know the history of the early years. The translators say that the kingdom of the heavens suffers violence and that the violent seize it or they press into it. Knowing how the kingdom of God was persecuted as were its subjects, the disciples of Christ, it is easy to understand how the kingdom of God suffered violence, although the meaning is more like press or squeezed rather roughly or forcefully.

As for the violent seizing it or pressing into it, we need to do some more checking up on the translators.

Biazo: (reflexively) to crowd oneself (into), or (passively) to be seized:-- press, suffer violence.

Biastes: to force, i.e. (reflexively) to crowd oneself (into), or (passively) to be seized:-- press, suffer violence.

Harpazo: to seize (in various applications):-- catch (away, up), pluck, pull, take (by force).

Basically, the kingdom of God is persecuted and so can said to suffer violence. And those who seek the kingdom also suffer violence trying to get in. They struggle, they are pressed, it is a challenging task to get in, for sure. They are not violent. Biastes does not indicate someone who is violent, it indicates someone who is passively seized and suffers a struggle or violence. We might call them the tormented or persecuted. As far as seizing it, harpazo, it is derived from a word that indicates a choice. So harpazo indicates a sort of choice, with some struggle involved, taking by struggle or force.

What Jesus was trying to indicate was that it would not be east to get into the kingdom of God. It would come as a challenge, a difficult challenge at that. And there would be those who would seize the opportunity, but with difficulty and challenge. Everyone who wants to get in will be challenged and struggle with difficulty to get in. Certainly, not only with the world of tormenters but also with our own flesh fighting with our spirit, sin always trying to lead us astray. It is a worthy prize worth fighting for so we must be willing to suffer to get it. Jesus often preached this idea as did the Apostles.

Now as regards the law and the prophets, Jesus, in plain language, made it quite clear that the law and the prophets were until John. Well, we know the law was not done away with until the sacrifice of Jesus was offered and received. And Jesus and his disciples continued to observe the law, though the Pharisees did not think so. So what can it mean?

Quite simply, it was the end of the message and hope of the law and the prophets. Jesus said "from then the kingdom of God is being preached." This was a new message. The law and prophets always held out an earthly resurrection and home. People would come back as people, have children, build homes, plant, grow, harvest, and enjoy peace and prosperity. Isaiah 65 is a very typical example of such promises.

But Jesus was now preaching the kingdom of the heavens, also called the kingdom of God. It was a new covenant, a new deal, a new hope, of going to heaven and reigning as kings and priests with Jesus in heaven. This had been mentioned in hidden and sometimes not so hidden terms in the law and prophets, what we call the Old Testament, but not so clearly that one might not fully grasp what was being said or intended. But now Jesus was making it a little more plain to people, although even to this day, many do not get it.

So the new deal was now being preached, the law and the old covenant no longer being offered as they were soon to be done away with. The early Christian writers after the Apostles also pointed out, and I believe they are right, that John was the last prophet under the law in the nation of Israel until the Son. There would be no more prophets under the law. The prophets and their prophecies would be given to a new nation, a spiritual nation, a spiritual Israel. All miracles, signs, and wonders would take place within the spiritual nation, God's true chosen people. They would receive all God's blessing now and the Jews would receive none. And what is more, they would be called by a new name according to prophecy. This was covered in Part 1 Old Testament Scriptures, or what the Jews knew as the Law and the Prophets, right?

This is what I would call the passing of the mantle from one nation to another, just as the mantle was literally and spiritually passed on from Elijah to Elisha in 1 Kings 19 and 2 Kings 2. John the Baptist or Baptizer says something we want to look at more closely.

John 3:26 And they came to John and said to him, Teacher, the one who was with you beyond the Jordan,
      to whom you have witnessed, behold, this one baptizes, and all are coming to Him.

John replied: (John 3:30) That One must increase, but I must decrease.

John was well aware that now that Jesus had come along and fulfilled the law, John's job and role had also been complete and he was no longer needed, either. So the spirit would be passed on from John to Jesus, and it was when the spirit came down like a dove upon Jesus. Form that time on, Jesus was the anointed, which in Hebrew is messiah, and in Greek, christ. Both words mean anointed. Jesus was now going to take over with a new message that John had started.

John's role was to get the people ready for Jesus and to baptize Jesus. John represented the law and its passing away, and Jesus represented the new covenant being brought to Israel. All things would be finished and completed when Jesus was sacrificed on the day of passover, resurrected, and then offered in heaven at the end of 50 days after the passover, known as Pentecost, indicating 50. At that time, the spirit was poured out on believers in Acts 2.

So I thought it would be helpful to read the account of the passing of the mantle of the prophet from Elijah to Elisha so we can sort of see how it was when John role was passed on to Jesus, the changing of the guard, you might say. The introduction of the new covenant with Israel as foretold by Moses, himself.

The Passing of the Mantle
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So here is the account I call the passing of the mantle. Elijah is near the end of his days and is told by Jehovah to anoint Elisha, who ends up taking his place, although that is not told immediately.

In 1 Kings 19:
15 And Jehovah said to him, Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus, and you shall go in and anoint Hazael as king over Syria;
16 and you shall anoint Jehu the son of Nimshi as king over Israel; and you shall anoint Elisha the son of Shaphat,
     of Abel-meholah, as prophet in your place.

19 And he left there and found Elisha the son of Shaphat; and he was plowing; twelve pairs were before him, and he was with the twelfth.
     And Elijah passed over to him, and threw his mantle upon him.
20 And he left the oxen and ran after Elijah, and said, Please let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.
     And he said to him, Go back; for what have I done to you?
21 And he returned from following him, and took the pair of oxen, and sacrificed them, and boiled their flesh with the yoke of the oxen,
     and gave to the people, and they ate. Then he arose and went after Elijah and ministered to him.

2 Kings 2:
1 And it happened, when Jehovah was to take up Elijah to Heaven in a tempest, Elijah and Elisha went from Gilgal.
2 And Elijah said to Elisha, Please stay here, for Jehovah has sent me to Bethel. And Elisha said, As Jehovah lives, and your soul lives,
   I will not leave you. And they went down to Bethel.
3 And the sons of the prophets in Bethel came out to Elisha, and said to him, Do you know that today Jehovah
   will take your lord from your head? And he said, Yes, I know. Keep silent.

4 And Elijah said to him, Elisha, please stay here, for Jehovah has sent me to Jericho. And he said, As Jehovah lives,
   and your soul lives, I will not leave you. And they came into Jericho.
5 And the sons of the prophets in Jericho came near to Elisha, and said to him, Do you know that today Jehovah will take away
   your lord from your head? And he said, Yes, I know. Keep silent.
6 And Elijah said to him, Please stay here, for Jehovah has sent me to the Jordan. And he said, As Jehovah lives, and your soul lives,
   I will not leave you. And they went on, both of them.
7 And fifty men of the sons of the prophets went on and stood afar off, across from them. And they both stood by the Jordan.
8 And Elijah took his mantle, and rolled it up, and struck the waters. And they were divided here and there,
   so that they both went over on dry ground.

9 And it happened, when they were crossing, Elijah said to Elisha, Ask what I shall do for you before I am taken from you.
   And Elisha said, Then let there now be a double mouth of your spirit on me.
10 And he said, You have asked a hard thing. If you shall see me taken from you, it shall be so to you. And if not, it shall not be.

>> When Elisha speaks of a double mouth of spirit, this very literal translation (GLT) uses the proper translation of the Hebrew word which is mouth. But mouth here is used as in mouthful, meaning a double portion or helping. So Elisha asks a double portion of the spirit that was upon Elijah, a portion typically given to a first-born son in a family. Elijah said that Elisha would have to wait and see if it would be or not. Apparently the decision would ultimately by Jehovah's.<<

2 Kings 2:
11 And it happened, as they were going on and speaking, behold, a chariot of fire and horses of fire came. And they separated
     between them both, and Elijah went up in a tempest to Heaven.
12 And Elisha was watching, and he was crying, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and its horsemen! And he did not
     see him again. And he took hold on his garments and tore them into two pieces.

>> Many people read too much into this event. Elisha did not want to talk about the fact that Elijah was to die. It was sad and too hard to speak of. And when this tempest, also translated as whirlwind, what we call today a tornado. Elisha cried. It was not a happy event bad a deeply sad one. It was a death as happens to us all in time. Elisha did not see him again. He signified his going into mourning by tearing his garments in two. Some say Elijah went to heaven. But heaven is translated from a Hebrew word which can also mean breath, air, sky, demon, angel, power, mind, etc. Heaven meaning the air and sky which is where you go when caught up in a tornado.

I believe this event is much like that of Enoch, who was said to be translated or caught up, taken away and was no more. I doubt that Elijah saw death in a painful way. I suspect he was painlessly put to rest until the time of the resurrection. He was likely caught up in the tornado and disappeared from there. God would not have cause him harm, for sure. But Elijah was seen no more. Jesus makes it clear that the resurrection would be at the last day. Jesus is not a liar.<<

2 Kings 2:
13 And he lifted up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and turned back and stood on the lip of the Jordan.
14 And he took Elijah's mantle that had fallen from him, and struck the waters, and said, Where is Jehovah the God of Elijah, even He?
     And he struck the waters; and they were split in two here and there, and Elisha crossed over.
15 And when they saw him, the sons of the prophets across in Jericho, then they said, the spirit of Elijah has rested on Elisha.
     And they came to meet him, and bowed to the earth to him.

>> I find this incident rather interesting and amusing. Elisha must have figured that if he had received the double mouth/ portion of Elijah's spirit, then he should be able to do what Elijah did by making the waters part with the mantle. Seems logical. So he tries it and behold, it works. The sons of the prophets confirm that Elijah's spirit is upon him, meaning that God has granted him the same portion as Elijah had.

So you see it was a literal mantle that was passed on but the mantle was not what was significant. It was the transferring of the spirit of God from one to the other. That is what happened with John, once Jesus was baptized and receive the spirit from God. It was also the same thing that happened with the fleshly literal nation of Israel with its temple. They had the spirit taken from them and given to the symbolic spiritual nation of Israel, the spiritual temple of God, of which we are all a part of, the Christians, followers of the Son of God.<<

First to Israel
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OK, so we have a new deal, a new covenant, a new hope, to join Christ in heaven as kings and priests, and to behold the face of God. But along with that, we no longer have the old deal to keep or observe. Many do not understand this, many who call themselves Christians, but do not have enough knowledge of the scriptures to accurately understand God's purpose and they should. So I write this article to show them, if they are willing to listen to the word of God. It is time to consider more about the passing of the mantle, the changing of the guard, the institution of a new deal with the people of God.

Jesus was sent only to the sheep of the lost house of Israel as they were called, those of the fleshly descent of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Jesus left the job of ministering to the nations and offering them the privilege of serving as Jesus' brothers to the Apostles. Jesus never dealt with the issue of observing the law since he was introduced by the law and the law was binding upon him and he had to observe it in order to be perfect and present himself as a proper sacrifice for others, being undefiled and free from sin under the law. So He had nothing to say about the law not be required of people of the nations or Jews for that matter. It was required while he was alive.

New Skins For New Wine
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For many people, it escapes their notice that Jesus' illustration of the new wine into new skins (some translations incorrectly say jars) refers to the new covenant, which is a necessarily complete break from the old one. It was intended to be this way from the beginning. Lets consider all 3 accounts for a careful review.

Matthew 9:
14  Then the disciples of John came to Him, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast much, and Your disciples do not fast?
15  And Jesus said to them, Can the sons of the bridechamber mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them?
      But the days will come when the bridegroom will have been taken from them, and then they will fast.
16  But no one puts a piece of new cloth onto an old garment. For its filling up takes away from the garment,
      and a worse tear takes its place.
17  Nor do they put new wine into old skins; otherwise, the skins are burst, and the wine pours out, and the skins
      will be ruined. But they put new wine into fresh skins, and both are preserved together.

[{ Matthew is the least detailed account, which is unusual for it is usually the most detailed. But as it is with the next two accounts, the disciples of John and the Pharisees were carefully observing the law and were a bit upset the Jesus was not doing the same. In essence, Jesus informs them that new wine must be kept in new wineskins. That is, a new way of doing things and a new way of thinking about it all. }]

Mark 2:
18  And John’s disciples, and those of the Pharisees, were fasting. And they came and said to Him, Why do John’s disciples
      and those of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?
19  And Jesus said to them, Can the sons of the bridechamber fast while the groom is with them? What time they have
      the groom with them, they cannot fast.
20  But the days will come when the groom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.
21  And no one sews a patch of unmilled cloth on an old garment, else it takes away its fullness, the new from the old,
      and a worse tear occurs.
22  And no one puts new wine into old skins, else the new wine will burst the skins, and the wine pours out,
      and the skins will be destroyed. But new wine is put into fresh skins.
23  And it happened, He went along through the grain fields in the sabbaths. And His disciples began to make way,
      plucking the heads of grain.
24  And the Pharisees said to Him, Behold, why do they do that which is not lawful on the sabbaths?
25  And He said to them, Did you never read what David did when he had need and hungered, he and those with him,
26  how he entered the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the Loaves of Arrangement,
      which it is not lawful to eat, except for the priests, and he even gave to those being with him?
27  And He said to them, The sabbath came into being for man’s sake, not man for the sabbath’s sake.
28  So then the Son of man is Lord of the sabbath also.

[{ Mark's account, with Peter largely behind it, highlights more of why Jesus and his disciples seemed to break with the law. It was not so much that they broke with the law as that they were carrying out a special function within the law, one which excluded them from the normal observance of the law, even in the way that showbread was given to David and his men on a holy mission from the king and thought not said here, who the priests did not observe the Sabbath but kept working on it and other festivals and observances.

So, too, Jesus and his disciples were functioning all the time in the service of God, even as the priests did in the temple so that they were not ignoring the Sabbath but fulfilling a greater purpose. Christianity would assume a greater role and mantle and require a new set of instructions, observances, and other such regulations for a new situation. No longer would they have their own nation and other circumstances would change, too, after the "bridegroom" went away.

It was also pointed out by Jesus that the Sabbath was created to benefit man, not man serving the Sabbath for its own sake. And given that Jesus created the heavens and the earth in the beginning and was responsible for giving the law to Moses but also writing a clause into the law allowing for a new deal in time by a new "prophet" like Moses, only better! So Jesus was the author of the Sabbath and had the right to abolish it if he so saw fit to, and he did, long before he ever even created the first law covenant. He truly is the Lord of the Sabbath. What do you trinitarians say about that one? }]

Luke 5:
30  And their scribes and the Pharisees murmured at His disciples, saying, Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?
31  And answering, Jesus said to them, Those who are sound have no need of a physician, but those who have illness.
32  I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
33  But they said to Him, Why do John’s disciples fast often, and make prayers, and likewise those of the Pharisees, but those close to You eat and drink?
34  But He said to them, You are not able to make the sons of the bridechamber fast while the bridegroom is with them.
35  But days will come, even when the bridegroom is taken away from them, then in those days they will fast.
36  And He also told a parable to them: No one puts a piece of a new garment on an old garment; otherwise both the new will tear, and the old does not match the piece from the new.
37  And no one puts new wine into old skins; otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins, and it will be poured out, and the skins will perish.
38  But new wine is to be put into new skins, and both are preserved together.
39  And no one drinking old wine immediately desires new; for he says, The old is better.

[{ Luke adds a little twist in his account. Whoever gave this accounting to Luke remembered a detail that some of the others forgot to note, namely, verse 39. Jesus did note the people favored the old, aged wine even as some love the old established rituals of the past and can not and will not accept a new way of doing things. They will cling to the old ways even as some cling to old wine. I find this myself. Those who insist strongly on the law and the Old Testament Hebrew do not grasp that everything was changed with the new covenant. Here is a partial list of the new circumstances.

  1. God's people would no longer maintain a priesthood to facilitate animal sacrifices for Jesus was the better intended sacrifice from the beginning.

  2. God's people would no longer have their own nation to maintain and defend but would live in amongst all the other peoples and nations.

  3. God's people would serve God each and every day and not just one day a week. The "law," so to speak, would be written on their hearts and kept constantly.

  4. The old emblems, symbols, and rituals would be replaced by new emblems, symbols, and rituals representing far more and far better.

  5. God's people now had a great mission to carry out, one of keeping and spreading the message of the gospel to the world, rather than tending to a now lame and obsolete temple for sacrifices that never actually atoned for sin, anyway.

  6. The new needs would require a new game plan, a new strategy and direction. New institutions would be required to carry it all out.

  7. God's people would be made up of and administered to, many different languages and nations, who all needed to be united in the same religion.

The Pharisees of old, as well as modern day Pharisees and Judaizers, such as Seventh Day Adventists, Sacred Name movements, and other such law promoting groups who call themselves Christians, could not and do not see how the needs of God's people after the sacrifice of Christ and His ascent into heaven, with a command to preach the good news to the whole world, created a whole new circumstance and set of needs. But some can not adapt and change. Some are stuck in their ways and blind to the completely new situation at hand. Some prefer to ignore God and embark on their own direction. They do not care what God wants. But it was made clear in the law that anyone who would not listen to this new prophet like Moses must be destroyed. }]

The Apostles Welcome the Nations
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It would be and is, up to the Apostles, starting in Acts, to bring the nations to God and to lay the proper commands upon us to observe. The Law would no longer be required of Christians, whether Jew or Gentile as the nations are called. Now that Christ had been offered as a perfect life buying sacrifice, a corresponding ransom for the sins of Adam, the law was no longer relevant. It had been fulfilled and done away with. The Apostles would be the ones to preach that message to all the earth, as Jesus had foretold in the following scriptures.

John 10:
15 Even as the Father knows Me, I also know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.
16 And I have other sheep which are not of this fold. I must also lead those, and they will hear My voice;
     and there will be one flock, one Shepherd.

John 14:12 Indeed, I tell you truly, He that believes in Me, the works which I do, that one shall do also, and greater than these he will do, because I go to My Father.

Matthew 28:
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age."

Matthew 16:
17 And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you,
     but my Father who is in heaven.
18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it.
19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven,
     and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."

I do not know for sure, but I do not think that Peter and the rest fully understood at that time what Jesus meant here. But I will explain it more when Peter brings it up in Acts which we are now about to cover. Jesus was using a play on words, quite common for the Greek in which this account comes to us in. Whether Jesus originally spoke in Greek, I don't think can be honestly determined. He probably spoke several languages in all probability, given that many Jews knew some Greek or Latin, as well as Aramaic.

But in Greek, Peter is Petros and rock is Petra, so Jesus said this in such a way as to make a play on words, something popular among the Greeks and Greek speakers. "You are Petros and on this Petra . . ." But the rock referred to Jesus, mentioned in prophecy as a rock and chief corner stone, a perfect foundation. What ever took place or was intended in heaven or from heaven, would be delivered through Peter, to also become binding on earth, more specifically, the people. More coming up shortly.

So now I give you a nearly verse by verse examination of certain parts of the Apostle's Acts and Letters dealing with the Law and whether we need to observe it or not.

From Acts
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Acts chapter 9 contains the conversion of Saul of Tarsus, a great persecutor of the Christians, but now a servant of God and called Paul now. He spends some time learning about the Lord after his abrupt conversion and we can read about this in detail in Galatians chapters 1 & 2. Then in Acts 10, Peter had the Holy Spirit reveal to him that people of the nations such as Cornelius who the spirit sent Peter to in Acts 10, were now welcome into the house of God as His sons, along side the faithful Jews as predicted from the prophets long ago. Paul, never having anything to do with the Apostles when he was confronted by the appearance of Christ, began his ministry at the direction of Christ, independent of the Apostles and began performing many great miraculous works in the name of Jesus, preaching his name near and far among the nations.

But many began to resist Paul (and God, ultimately), saying that you still had to keep the law, which Paul, guided by the Holy Spirit, knew was not so. So by revelation, Paul says in Galatians, he went up to Jerusalem to have the 12 Apostles and older men of Jerusalem such as James, a son of Mary and the fleshly (half) brother of Jesus, give their blessing to Paul's ministry and make it clear the law is not required. This is that gathering which follows in Acts 15, which I shall give a nearly verse by verse commentary on.

Acts 15:
1 And going down from Judea, some taught the brothers, saying, If you are not circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.
2 Then dissension and not a little disputation with them having taken place by Paul and Barnabas, they appointed
   Paul and Barnabas and some others of them to go up into Jerusalem to the apostles and elders concerning this question.

>> It says here that "they," the Judaizers, appointed Paul and Barnabas, along with some of the opposite view, no doubt, to go up to Jerusalem to have the recognized Apostles who used to be with Jesus settle the matter. Paul went up, not because of their appointment, but because the spirit must have urged him to go along with it. It is just as it was with Elijah who kept calling down fire from heaven on generals sent to arrest him until one approached Elijah very respectfully and begged him to understand after which God told Elijah to go along with him. Not doubt because this one recognized the power that was with Elijah and showed the proper due respect.

In this situation, God, through His spirit, made it known to Paul that God's best interests would be served by this gathering in Jerusalem so Paul went along with it for that reason. Otherwise, he might have called fire down on the Judaizers himself. Well, not really, but who would have found fault with him if he did? But the spirit of God is more restrained than that, at least for now.<<

Acts 15:
3 Then, indeed, having been sent forward by the church they passed through Phoenicia and Samaria, fully narrating
   the conversion of the nations. And they were producing great joy among all the brothers.
4 And having arrived in Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and the elders.
   And they reported what things God did with them.

>> The church, the apostles, and the elders were all delighted to hear what was going on with Paul throughout the nations, seeing the nations embrace the word of God. They recognized that God was behind Paul and Barnabas, given what they were doing and how the spirit was working through them. And certainly Peter would know about the nations now being welcomed for it was through him that this way had been opened up to people of the nations.<<

Acts 15:
5 But some of those rose up from the sect of the Pharisees who had believed, saying, It is necessary to circumcise them
   and to command them to keep the Law of Moses.
6 And the apostles and the elders were assembled to see about this matter.

>> It is kind of funny that even of the Pharisees who accepted Jesus, they continued to cling to the law and cause trouble, still blind to what Jesus really was and how that affected the law.

Acts 15:
7 And much disputation having occurred, rising up Peter said to them: Men, brothers, you recognize that from ancient days,
   God chose among us that through my mouth the nations should hear the Word of the gospel, and to believe.
8 And the heart knowing God testified to them, giving them the Holy Spirit, even as also to us.
9 And He made distinction in nothing between both us and them, having purified their hearts by faith.

10 Now, then, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers
     nor we had strength to bear?
11 But through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, we believe to be saved, according to which manner they also believed.

>> Really, Peter was scolding the Judaizers for trying to put the yoke of the law around the necks of the disciples. He points out that none of them could bear up to the law, a code too perfect for fallen men. Peter says it was he, himself, who was responsible for the nations hearing the word of God, according to a revelation given to him. And even before that revelation, Jesus had given the "keys" of the kingdom to Peter, a well known account in the Bible.

When Jesus said keys, he was referring to a sort of lock that existed, meaning that the nations were locked out of the kingdom of God/ Heavens at the time of his ministry, but that the time would come when the lock would be undone and the door opened to the nations and Peter would be the one through whom this would take place. Peter would unlock the door and open it with figurative keys. Peter was recognized as an outstanding servant and so the privilege was given to him.

Sometimes, we look at Peter's denying the Lord 3 times and maybe think poorly of him. But all the others also ran and were scattered. Peter was just a little outspoken and overly confident, that's all. But Peter was also a bold man of great faith and impulsively, due to it coming from his heart and being strong, declaring Jesus to be the Christ, the son of the living God, for which he received his reward for the strong declaration of his heart. But like us all, he was a man with weaknesses and imperfections. We should not expect anything else. But he was, just the same, a great servant of God.

Acts 15:12 And all the multitude kept silent and were hearing Barnabas and Paul recounting what things God did
     through them among the nations, even the signs and wonders.

>> Paul and Barnabas told about all the miracles, called signs and wonders. Those works were evidence of God being behind them, as the other Apostles clearly recognized.

Acts 15:
13 And after they were silent, James responded, saying, Men, brothers, hear me:
14 Simon recounted how even as at first God oversaw to take a people out from among the nations for His name.
15 And with this agree the words of the prophets, as it has been written,
16 After these things "I" will return and "will build again the tabernacle of David which has fallen," "and I will build again
     the things which have been demolished," and I will set it up, [Amos 9:11,12].
17 so as the rest of men may seek the Lord, "even all the nations on whom My name has been called, says the Lord,
     who is doing all these things." [Amos 9:11, 12].
18 All His works are known to God from eternity.

>>James admits that Peter spoke the truth and points out the prophets all agree with what was being said by Peter and Paul, that the nations were to be welcome and not obligated to keep the law as he continues.

Acts 15:
19 For this reason I judge not to trouble those from the nations turning to God,
20 but to write to them to hold back from the pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and that strangled, and blood.
21 For in every city from ancient generations Moses has those proclaiming him, having been read in the synagogues on every sabbath.

>> James does not believe the law should be required, not of personal opinion but because of what the spirit indicates by its manifestations. So he mentioned 4 things that were essential, although this was not the full requirement, but was among the most important of the laws and precepts in the law which were still binding upon all men.

It should be understood that there were two aspects to the law. One was the laws and precepts governing the behavior of men everywhere to keep them from harming each other. And then there were things that were specific to the nation of Israel only as a covenant or deal between God and Israel. These were things such as the signs and festivals, the temple and its accompanying worship. These all were figures and types, shadows of the heavenly things to come as we shall see from a further consideration of the scriptures. When those spiritual heavenly things should come along and fulfill the law, then the temple and other things connected with that form of worship and law would be done away with, having served their purpose.

This was recognized by the Apostles and older men in Jerusalem. And so the message was to go out to the nations to announce this with the consent and approval of all the leaders of the church and house of God.

Acts 15:
22 Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with all the church, to send chosen men from them to Antioch
     with Paul and Barnabas, Judas having been surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, leading men among the brothers,
23 writing by their hand these things: The apostles and the elders and the brothers, to those throughout Antioch,
     and Syria, and Cilicia, brothers from the nations: Greeting.

24 Since we heard that some of us having gone out have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying,
     Be circumcised and keep the Law, to whom we gave no command;
25 it seemed good to us, having become of one mind, to send chosen men to you along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul,
26 men who have given up their souls on behalf of the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
27 Therefore, we have sent Judas and Silas, they by word also announcing the same things.
28 For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to put not one greater burden on you than these necessary things:
29 To hold back from idol sacrifices, and blood, and that strangled, and from fornication; from which
     continually keeping yourselves, you will do well. Be prospered.

>> It could no longer be doubted or disputed as to where those, blessed of and appointed by Jesus and the Holy Spirit in an extraordinary way, stood. The law was not required to be observed by the nations in order to be approved by God. Sadly, even today, many do not understand this. They still insist on the parts of the law that were done away with and not required of the Christian congregation. They were and are under a new covenant or deal or they otherwise reject Christ in insisting on observing the old deal. The old one was fulfilled and done away with. Observe a few important things and have love for God and men.

Acts 15:
30 Then they indeed being let go, they went to Antioch. And gathering the multitude, they delivered the letter.
31 And reading it, they rejoiced at the comfort.

>> The message was received with delight by all. Of course, this did not stop the Judaizers. The Apostles still had to continually denounce living according to law. And those who came after the Apostles would still have to keep up the fight against those who would yoke us again under the law. It would never stop. And as time would go by, people would forget everything the Apostles ever taught on the matter. Now many to day continually insist on the Sabbath or the festivals, tithing, avoiding certain foods, and things of this nature.

They clearly recognize (usually) that circumcision is not required and neither the sacrifices, the temple, or the priesthood. But they do not see the Sabbath as being included in that. Some also see the festivals as included to be observed. Some even continue to require that the modern "priests" still receive tithes or a tenth of all income, which was a requirement to support the priests performing at the temple in Jerusalem. But none of those things mean anything any longer.

The ultimate sacrifice, the only real one, has been offered, that being God's son. Having fulfilled the law; the temple, priesthood, and all things connected with it have been done away with. The Sabbath and circumcision were part of the covenant between God and Israel only. It did not concern the nations. God did not make a deal with the nations when He made one with Abraham and later Jacob and David. But the new deal replaces the old one, as was predicted by the prophets, both for Jews and for the nations, too. Finally, the nations also receive a covenant and attention from God. They receive a brand new one and not the old. Even as Jesus said, you can not put new wine into old wine skins.<<

From Romans
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Romans 2:
12 For as many as sinned without Law will also perish without Law. And as many as sinned within Law will be judged through Law.
13 For not the hearers of the Law are just with God, but the doers of the Law shall be justified.

>>Whether you know the law or not, you will perish if you sin. Law only makes the sin more obvious. It is not enough to know the law, you must also obey it. I know that probably goes without saying, but Paul had to point it out so I will, too.

Romans 2:
17 Behold, you are called a Jew, and rest in the Law, and boast in God,
18 and know the will, and approve the things excelling, being instructed out of the Law,
19 and persuading yourself to be a guide of blind ones, a light to those in darkness,
20 an instructor of foolish ones, a teacher of infants, having the form of knowledge and of the truth in the Law.

>>Paul is addressing the Jews of Rome here. They seem to think they are quite smart and are great teachers of enlightenment. Paul concedes that they do know the law to some degree and in some manner. That brings up the next question.

Romans 2:
21 Then the one teaching another, do you not teach yourself? The one preaching not to steal, do you steal?
22 The one saying not to commit adultery, do you commit adultery? The one detesting the idols, do you rob temples?
23 You who boast in Law, do you dishonor God through transgression of the Law?

>> Again, it does no good to know the law if you do not obey it. Obedience is the whole point of the law.

Romans 2:
24 For the name of God is blasphemed among the nations through you, even as it has been written: [Isaiah 52:5].
25 For indeed circumcision profits if you practice the Law, but if you are a transgressor of Law,
     your circumcision becomes uncircumcision.
26 If, then, the uncircumcision keeps the demands of the Law, will not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision?
27 And will not the uncircumcision by nature by keeping the Law judge you, the one who through letter and circumcision
     becomes transgressor of Law?

>> The Jews had made a bad name and reputation for themselves among the nations for they did not live up to the law they preached. It does no good to observe the circumcision, if they do not observe the rest of the law, too. And those who are not circumcised but observe the rest of the law, not doing harm to others, make the hypocrites look bad. And by obeying the law otherwise, those not circumcised in the flesh, fulfill the real essence of the law. Circumcision was a sign between men of Israel and God that they were obedient to God's law and behaved righteously. If they do not obey God, then the circumcision is for nothing. It is no sign at all.<<

Romans 2:
28 For he is not a Jew that is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that outwardly in flesh;
29 but he is a Jew that is one inwardly, and circumcision is of heart, in spirit, not in letter;
     of whom the praise is not from men, but from God.

>> Paul is trying to help us understand the intent of the law, that we mold our hearts to God's ways. The outward circumcision is not the important part. It was the obeying of God's laws in loving God and loving your fellow man. It is the circumcision of the heart, the inner person, that is the goal. Those who do that are the real Jews and spiritual descendants of Abraham. This is a big point. Those of the nations were the "Jews" foretold in some prophecies. God was not referring to literal fleshly Jews. We shall see fairly soon how there is a figurative Israel, Jerusalem, and a figurative temple, too.

But sadly, many Christians do not grasp this concept in the prophecies they read and they interpret all prophecies in a literal way, which contradicts much of what Jesus and the Apostles teach regarding those things. Clearly, the word of God does not seem to register in their hearts and minds. That can only mean one thing, right? Surely I do not need to spell it out for you.<<

Romans 3:
1 What then is the superiority of the Jew? Or what the profit of circumcision?
2 Much every way. For first, indeed, that they were entrusted with the oracles of God.

*When Paul says superiority, he really means benefit or advantage or honor. What was the advantage or honor in being a Jew? They were the keepers of the oracles, the words and prophecies of God, our Bible. That indeed, is an honor and benefit. They were entrusted with something very great and honorable. That is something to be proud of in a reasonable way. But that brings up the next point. Does this make the Jews better than the rest?

Romans 3:
9 What then? Do we excel? Not at all! For we have charged both Jews and Greeks before, all with being under sin;
10 according as it has been written, "There is none righteous, not one!"
11 There is none that understands, there is "not one that seeks after God.
12 All turned away, they became worthless together, not one is doing goodness, not so much as one!" [LXX-Psalm 13:1-3].

>> That LXX you see in brackets is the Roman number equivalent of 70. It is how the Greek Septuagint Bible is referred to, just as we use KJV to refer to the King James Bible or RSV for the Revised Standard Version or GLT which I use a lot for Green's Literal Translation. The Septuagint Bible uses a different numbering system so that the Psalms are off by one chapter between the Greek and Hebrew versions.

Paul quotes the Psalms from the Septuagint Bible to prove there is no real superiority in standing before God. This is a different type of superiority or benefit. Despite their privilege of caring for the Bible, it does not benefit them before God. They are still sinners and die like we all do. Paul quotes many more scriptures below to show the Jews were saturated with sin and clearly superior to no one.<<

Romans 3:
13 "Their throat is an opened grave;" "they used deceit with their tongues; the poison of asps is under their lips;
14 whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.
15 Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16 ruin and misery are in their way;
17 and they did not know a way of peace;
18 there is no fear of God before their eyes."
13-18 are quotes from the following:
LXX-Psalm 5:10; 139:4; 9:28; Isaiah 59:7, 8; Psalm 35:2;
MT-Psalm 14:1-3; 5:9; 140:3; 10:7; Isaiah 59:7, 8; Psalm 36:1]

Romans 3:
19 But we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those within the Law, so that every mouth may be stopped,
     and all the world be under judgment to God.
20 Because by works of law not one of all flesh will be justified before Him, for through law is full knowledge of sin. [Psalm 143:2].

>> This is a theme that will be repeated time and again by Paul and the other Apostles. No one can live up to the high standard the law sets. It is impossible and all under it receive the sentence of death for not being able to obey it perfectly as it requires. The law spells out our sin to us, makes us consciously aware that we sin. All Christians and all Judaizers need to understand this. The law spells doom for any who live under it, because we do not have the ability to live up to it, without falling short of it, sinning, and meriting death as a result. So how do we escape the curse of the law brought about by Adam? We will see.

Romans 3:
21 But now a righteousness of God has been revealed apart from Law, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets,
22 even the righteousness of God through faith of Jesus Christ toward all and upon all those believing;
     or there is no difference,
23 for all sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption in Christ Jesus,
25 whom God set forth as a propitiation through faith in His blood, for a showing forth of His righteousness
     through the passing by of the sins that had taken place before, in the forbearance of God,
26 for the showing forth of His righteousness in the present time, for His being just and justifying
     the one that is of the faith of Jesus.

>> A righteousness apart from the law? Yes, we are redeemed by righteous blood, which the law prescribes. Kind of an irony isn't it. The way out of the law is by fulfilling it another way, by means of the sacrifice of a righteous man and righteous blood. Those who insist on the law do not recognize that the law does accept a corresponding, sometimes called a "propitiatory" sacrifice, which is nothing but an outdated word meaning the same or corresponding.

So if a proper sacrifice is made for sin, then the sin is no longer charged to the sinner. The sin that we all inherited was Adam's and that is the sin that is paid for in a sacrifice so that our sin can no longer be held against us, the descendants of Adam. It is blotted out and erased from the record. The sacrifice that paid for Adam was Jesus, the Christ and Son of God. By him we are all justified by the escape clause of the law which releases us from the law. That's not a bad thing, that's a good thing. Most Judaizers don't seem to grasp that, though.<<

Romans 3:
27 Then where is the boasting? It was excluded. Through what law? Of works? No, but through a law of faith.
28 Then we conclude a man to be justified by faith without works of law.
29 Or is He the God of Jews only, and not also of the nations? Yes, of the nations also,
30 since it is one God who will justify circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.
31 Then do we make law of no effect through faith? Let it not be! But we establish law.

>> Now given that Jesus paid for our freedom from the law, we have no reason to brag or boast. We did nothing and were not righteous. But our sins were paid for. It was a free gift from God and His son. Our faith in that sacrifice, our acceptance of that sacrifice and its terms, which are faith and obedience, save us. So faith releases us from the law. That is what Paul is saying. And it is not for Jews only. The nations are also bought and freed, just as slaves could be bought and released from captivity. Faith justifies us whether circumcised or not. It is not that the law is no good, but that it is fulfilled. That is why Paul says we actually establish law.

Romans 4:
1 What then shall we say our father Abraham to have found according to flesh?
2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has a boast, but not with God.
3 For what does the Scripture say? "And Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness." [Genesis 15:6].

>> Because of Abraham believing, God counted it to him as righteousness. His faith and obedience to God were reason enough for God to give him a blessing and a promise. It was not that Abraham was without sin, but with that sin due to be paid in sacrifice at a future date, God could see Abraham as worthy of that sacrifice by reason of his obedience and trust.

Romans 4:
4 Now to one working, the reward is not counted according to grace, but according to debt.
5 But to the one not working, but believing on Him justifying the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
6 Even as also David says of the blessedness of the man to whom God counts righteousness apart from works:

7 "Blessed are those whose lawlessnesses (crimes) are forgiven, and whose sins are covered;
8 blessed the man to whom the Lord will in no way charge sin." [LXX-Psalm 31:1, 2; MT-Psalm 32:1, 2].

>> The one working, meaning he is keeping the law, the works of the law, the reward of life is not a result of grace or forgiveness. The man earned life by obeying the law. It is owed to him by reason of his righteousness. A debt owed to him is incurred, so to speak. But to one not living under the law by means of being paid for in sacrifice of another, his faith in that ransom being paid and faith in those who paid it, he is considered righteous and lives out of grace and forgiveness. The faith is counted as righteousness. How so?

God is confident that if Adam had not passed on that sin, then those exercising faith and obedience would be without sin. The sin they commit is not out of a deliberate desire but out of the condition passed on by Adam. So God attributes righteousness to us, based on our faith and willingness to obey to the best of our ability as fallen humans. See how it works? If you do, then you know more than Judaizers know.

Romans 4:
9 Is this blessedness then on the circumcision, or also on the uncircumcision? For we say the faith "was counted
   to Abraham for righteousness." [Genesis 15:6].
10 How then was it counted? Being in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision!
11 And he received a sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness of faith while in uncircumcision, for him to be
     a father of those believing through uncircumcision, for righteousness to be counted to them also,
12 and a father of circumcision to those not of circumcision only, but also to those walking in the steps of the faith
     of our father Abraham during uncircumcision.

>>Abraham was counted righteous by God before he was circumcised. So circumcision was not the issue that made Abraham righteous. It was his obedience to God and faith in God that made him righteous in God's eyes. Abraham would not even hold back his only son from God. So as a sign of dedication and obedience, a token gesture of obedience, God had Abraham and his household get circumcised.

For a man, and a baby, too, this can be a painful experience for a few days or a week or two. It is not something you take lightly as a man. It is a sensitive area as I am sure you can appreciate. But Abraham's obedience, in what could be viewed as a rather arbitrary and unnecessary command, was willingly and faithfully carried out by Abraham as a sign and testament to his faithful obedience to God, always willing to do anything God asks.

Romans 4:
13 For the promise was not through law to Abraham, or to his seed, for him to be the heir of the world,
     but through a righteousness of faith.
14 For if those of Law are heirs, faith has been made of no effect, and the promise has been destroyed.
15 For the law works out wrath; for where no law is, neither is transgression.

>> Don't let the language fool you. Paul is simply making it clear that law had nothing to do with Abraham receiving a promise and blessing from God. Not at all. Being born under the law or trying to live by law do not do anything for you. If being born under the law was all it took for salvation, then what good would faith be? Law works out bad things, namely death, in due time.

Romans 4:
16 On account of this, it is of faith, that it be according to grace, for the promise to be made sure to all the seed,
     not to that of the Law only, but also to that of the faith of Abraham, who is father of us all,
17 according as it has been written, "I have appointed you a father of many nations;" before God, whom he believed,
     the One making the dead live, and calling the things that are not as if they were. [Genesis 17:5].

>> The promise was made for those who were under the law, to be freed from the law. But it was also intended for those who were not under the law covenant, the nations. It had always been God's will that all men of Adam should be saved.

But the messiah had to be introduced properly and plenty of lessons had to be taught before he could be received properly. God acted through a specific group of people in accordance to a promise made to a most worthy forefather, to establish a priesthood that would carry out things designed to help us recognize and understand what Jesus fulfilled as well as to take care of the scrolls of the Bible. In addition, to set up a set of circumstances that would identify Jesus as the true and worthy messiah of God so that we would know to look for him and obey him.

Giving the care takers first rights to joining Jesus in heaven as kings and priests of a very high honor; if more were needed and not enough obtained through Israel, then those outside of the care takers, Israel, could be offered the chance and opportunity. That would be the nations. Having accomplished those things, then salvation could also be offered to the nations. And once the heavenly number is reached, then the rest could fill the earth with righteousness and live forever as God had intended in the garden of Eden with Adam and Eve. God always finishes what He starts or He would not have started it.

Romans 4:
18 He against hope believed in hope, for him to become a father of many nations, according to what has been said, "So shall your seed be." [Genesis 15:5]. 19 And being about a hundred years old, not weakening in faith, he did not consider his body to have died already, nor yet the death of Sarah's womb, 20 and did not stagger by unbelief at the promise of God, but was empowered by faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully persuaded that what He has promised, He is also able to do. 22 Because of this, "it was also counted to him for righteousness." [Genesis 15:6].

*Paul is telling us how far-fetched the promises made to Abraham were. Yet Abraham believed them and did not doubt. This is the righteousness counted to Abraham and it is outstanding, for sure.

Romans 4:23 But it was not written for him only, that it was counted to him, 24 but also on account of us, to whom it is about to be counted, to the ones believing on Him who has raised our Lord Jesus from the dead, 25 who was delivered because our offenses and was raised because of our justification.

*So the promise is as much to us as it was to Abraham.

Romans 9:1 I tell the truth in Christ, I do not lie, my conscience bearing witness with me in the Holy Spirit, 2 that my grief is great, and a never ceasing pain is in my heart, 3 for I myself was wishing to be a curse from Christ on behalf of my brothers, my kinsmen according to flesh, 4 who are Israelites, whose are the adoption and the glory, and the covenants, and the Lawgiving, and the service, and the promises; 5 whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to flesh, He being God over all, blessed forever. Amen.

*Paul, if he could, would give himself to save his fellow Jews. But as he states next, with all they are passing up, God's word has not failed. But they have. Find out why next.

Romans 9:6 Not, however, that God's word has failed. For not all those of Israel are Israel, 7 nor because they are Abraham's seed are all children, but "In Isaac a Seed shall be called to you." [Genesis 21:12]. 8 That is: Not the children of flesh are children of God, but the children of the promise are counted for a seed.

*This is a major lesson to learn. The promise to "Israel" or "Abraham's seed" is not to the fleshly ones of those forefathers. It is a spiritual Israel or seed of Abraham that is being referred to. Those are Paul's words from God. Many times when Israel or Jerusalem is mentioned in the prophets, it is not the literal fleshly Israel or Jerusalem. It is the Israel or Jerusalem of God, a figurative spiritual city and nation. And we are a spiritual temple. This is what I mentioned earlier that I would explain more.

This is often missed by those trying to interpret prophecy. They do not understand the spiritual sense of something. They do not grasp that it is spoken in figures, allegories, types, and parables; mysteries if you will. So they look to a fleshly fulfillment as they did in expecting a messiah to restore an earthly kingdom to Israel or when the disciples ran around looking for bread with leaven when Jesus told them to look out for the leaven of the Scribes, Pharisees, and Sadduccees. They did not discern he was speaking of the doctrine of those wicked ones.

Romans 9: 9 For the word of promise is this, According to this time I will come, and a son will be to Sarah. [Genesis 18:10] 10 And not only so, but also Rebekah conceiving of one, our father Isaac, 11 for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of the One calling, 12 it was said to her, "The greater shall serve the lesser;" [Genesis 25:23] 13 even as it has been written, "I loved Jacob, and I hated Esau." [Malachi 1:2, 3].

*It is not because of our being good or bad, and somehow earning a blessing, but that it is a gift of which we are not deserving as the next verses will show. Since we are all sinners, God does not owe anyone. If He chooses someone, it is out of undeserved kindness and mercy. Much the same could be said about evil ones, since to some degree, we are all guilty of sin and worthy of destruction. So If He chooses to judge some ahead of time, it is His right and prerogative.

Of course, we want to understand that God is telling us how to view something, what we might say today as telling us what sort of sin we should put on it, a Godly righteous spin. When we receive something, perhaps out of obedience, we do not want to let it go to our heads and get puffed up with pride. We are full of sin and only get saved by the same sacrifice that rescues all who are saved. Our obedience is only relative and not a big deal. God's extraordinary kindness is the real big deal. We need to keep that in mind. This is what Paul tries to communicate to us as well as the rest of scripture.

Romans 9:14 What then shall we say? Is there not unrighteousness with God? Let it not be! 15 For He said to Moses, "I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will pity whomever I will pity." [Exodus 33:19]. 16 So, then, it is not of the one willing, nor of the one running, but of the One showing mercy, of God.

Romans 9:22 But if God, desiring to show forth wrath, and to make His power known, endured in much long-suffering vessels of wrath having been fitted out for destruction, 23 and that He make known the riches of His glory on vessels of mercy which He before prepared for glory, 24 whom He also called, not only us, of Jews, but also out of nations.

*It was with a purpose that God put up with "vessels of wrath." It was to emphasize his mercy upon others, "vessels of mercy" as Paul calls them, namely a number of Jews and also many from the nations as well. Oh, but its more than that, too. Several verses after these need to be considered to fully understand what Paul is saying. But the Jews were considered vessels of wrath. But not for no reason as we shall see.

Romans 9:25 As also He says in Hosea, I will call those not My people, My people! And those not beloved, Beloved! [Hosea 2:23]. 26 "And it shall be, in the place where it was said to them, You are not My people, there they will be called, Sons of the living God." [LXX- Hosea 2:1; MT-Hosea 2:23]. 27 But Isaiah cries on behalf of Israel, "If the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, the remnant will be saved."

*No matter how large and numerous Israel was, "he" was so bad that only a remnant, a comparative few, would be saved. Of the nations, those who were not originally God's people, who were not in a covenant relationship with Him, they would be quite numerous in comparison and would benefit from the vessels of wrath having been shown mercy which the nations, the vessels of mercy, would gain much more benefit than the original sons of Israel.

However, in percentages, they are not likely any more greater a percentage than perhaps the Jews were. But it must be admitted that Christianity, even if in corrupted form, was much more widely embraced, becoming the religion of the state and of kings, which was a much more hearty acceptance than what the nation of the Jews embraced.

Romans 9:28 For He is bringing the matter to an end, and having been cut short "in righteousness," "because the Lord" "will do a thing cut short" "on the earth." [Isaiah 10:22, 23]. 29 And as Isaiah has said before, "Except the Lord of hosts left a seed to us, we would have become as Sodom, and we would have become as Gomorrah." [Isaiah 1:9].

God's great patience and long-suffering mercy has been of great benefit to the nations. For 1500 years God put up with a stubborn rebellious people who would not obey. That is a lot of patience. But a small remnant of fleshly Israel does inherit the promises intended for them and the nations in large numbers truly saw the benefits of what God seemed to be doing for Israel, but not most of fleshly Israel, in reality. It was more of a figurative symbolic representative Israel of which Paul has already spoken of before, with only a small remnant of the fleshly Israel being a part of it.

Romans 9:30 What then shall we say? That the nations not following after righteousness have taken on righteousness, but a righteousness of faith; 31 but Israel following after a law of righteousness did not arrive at a law of righteousness? 32 Why? Because it was not of faith, but as of works of Law. For they stumbled at the Stone-of-stumbling, 33 as it has been written, "Behold, I place in" "Zion a Stone-of-stumbling," "and a Rock-of-offense," "and everyone believing on Him will not be put to shame." [LXX and MT-Isaiah 28:16; MT-Isaiah 8:14].

*Here we have that rock upon which the spiritual temple of God is built. It is Jesus which is the rock from which Peter is given the keys of the kingdom. Just wanted to remind you of that. Of course, that is a figurative rock, right?

The Jews failed to receive the promise intended for them. They did not see beyond the law to why God made the law. They got hung up on the works rather than the meaning behind those works. Much of the law was to point to Jesus. But when he arrived, the Jews did not recognize him. He was a cause of stumbling and offense to them, to their own demise.

Romans 10:1 Brothers, truly my heart's pleasure and supplication to God on behalf of Israel is for it to be saved. 2 For I testify to them that they have zeal to God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, they did not submit to the righteousness of God.

Romans 10:4 For Christ is the end of law for righteousness to everyone that believes. 5 For Moses writes of the righteousness which is of the law: "The man doing these things shall live by them." [Leviticus 18:5].

*The Jews sought to justify themselves, and thought highly of themselves. They were conceited and arrogant without justification. They performed the rites, rituals, and ceremony and perhaps imagined that this made them holy. But it certainly did not. The Christ was the purpose of the law and the fulfillment of the law. Christ freed us from having to live up to the law. But the Jews did not understand that they failed to live up to the law. That would require an honest, objective, even courageous look at our selves.

We need to have courage because it is certain that none of us will like what we se and find. It won't be pretty because that is the nature of being human and imperfect. There is lots of foul stuff in us all. We need not feel ashamed before other men since they are no better. But before God, we should all feel humble and ashamed. But due to the sacrifice of God's son, we can have a clean conscience, knowing that the sin we inherited is not held against us, but against Adam and paid for by Christ. We are free as long as we continue to try live righteously by the spiritual law of God.

Romans 10:6 But the righteousness of faith says this: "Do not say in your heart, Who will go up into Heaven?" (that is, to bring down Christ); 7 or, "Who will go down into the abyss?" (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).

*Paul is describing a haughty arrogant kind of spirit in someone who thinks they are so great that perhaps they might go up to heaven in the presence of God to be a rival of Christ or go down to the "abyss" to bring Christ up, resurrect him, as if the person were God or damn close. The Hebrews/ Jews were great for their exaggerations and facetiousness to convey an idea, which is the technique Paul employs here, even as Jesus and the prophets frequently used it, too.

Romans 10:8 But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith which we proclaim) [Deuteronomy 9:4; 30:12-14]. 9 Because if you confess the Lord Jesus with your mouth, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

*It is our confession and declaration that we believe in Jesus and that he was resurrected and rules as king that declares we have faith which justifies us before God. That along with our desire and effort to live as God wants us to live, to obey His commands to the best of our ability, wishing that we were perfect and able to live up to His rules. Paul makes a point of confession because at that time and many times throughout the next 300 years of so, people could often lose their lives for confessing to believe in Jesus and be called Christians. So it definitely took faith to confess that in the face of death.

But Paul was also referring to the fact the Christians do need to share their faith and not be ashamed of telling about it. That doesn't mean we shove it in people's faces or announce it every 2 minutes to the world. That would not be loving or considerate. But if the opportunity presents itself, we should not hold back what is clearly good news.

Romans 10:15 And how may they preach if they are not sent? Even as it has been written, "How beautiful" "the feet of those announcing the gospel of peace, of those announcing the gospel of good things." [Isaiah 52:7]. 16 But not all obeyed the gospel, for Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed our report?" [Isaiah 53:1]. 17 Then faith is of hearing, and hearing through the Word of God.

*It is very important to hear! The good news has been announced by the prophets, Christ, and the Apostles, and many other servants of God. But not many hear. The Jews did not hear. Faith is of hearing says Paul. No doubt about it, then.

Romans 10:18 But I say, Did they not hear? Yes, rather, "into all the earth their voice went out, and to the ends of the world their words." [LXX-Psalm 18:5; MT-Psalm 19:4]. 19 But I say, Did not Israel know? First, Moses says, "I will provoke you to jealousy by those not a nation, by an unwise nation I will anger you." [Deuteronomy 32:21] 20 But Isaiah is very bold and says, "I was found by those not seeking Me; I became known to those not inquiring after Me." [Isaiah 65:1]. 21 But to Israel He says, "All the day I stretched out My hands to a disobeying and contradicting people." [Isaiah 65:2].

*Again, we are also seeing and about to see more clearly how vessels of wrath and those of mercy, too, both benefit from God being so incredibly patient in carrying out His purpose.

Romans 11:1 I say then, Did not God thrust away His people? Let it not be! For I also am an Israelite, out of Abraham's seed, of the tribe of Benjamin. 2 "God did not thrust away His people" whom He foreknew. [Psalm 94:14]. Or do you not know what the Scripture said in Elijah, how he pleaded with God against Israel, saying, 3 Lord, "they killed Your prophets," "and they dug down Your altars," "and only I am left, and they seek my life." [1 Kings 19:10].

Romans 11:4 But what does the Divine answer say to him, "I reserved to Myself seven thousand men who did not bow a knee to Baal." [1 Kings 19:18 5]. So then, also in the present time a remnant according to election of grace has come into being. [Isaiah 29:10, Deuteronomy 29:4] 6 But if by grace, no longer is it of works; else grace no longer becomes grace. But if of works, it is no longer grace; else work is no longer work.

*While most of Israel was admittedly bad, there has always been a number, quite small by percentage, but significant all the same, who remained faithful to God. So even in days of Jesus there were those who were faithful and accepted him when he arrived and preached the good news to them.

Romans 11:7 What then? What Israel seeks, this it did not obtain, but the election obtained it, and the rest were hardened; 8 even as it has been written, "God gave to them a spirit of slumber, eyes not seeing and ears not hearing" until this day. [Isaiah 29:10; Deuteronomy 29:4] 9 And David said, "Let their table become for a snare and a trap, and for a stumbling block," and a repayment to them; 10 "let their eyes be darkened, not to see, and their back always bowing." [LXX- Psalm 68:23, 24; MT-Psalm 69:22, 23].

Romans 11:11 I say, then, Did not they stumble that they fall? Let it not be! But by their slipping away came salvation to the nations, to provoke them to jealousy. 12 But if their slipping away is the riches of the world, and their default the riches of the nations, how much more their fullness?

*Here it becomes more distinct and clear as to how vessels of wrath became of benefit to vessels of mercy. We see how the Jews allowed a great opportunity to pass them by. That was great for those of the nations who were not Jews, which many if not most of us are. But the nations are blessed, whether Israel slips away or some come back. However, Paul adds a twist. Let's allow him to make his point in the next verses.

Romans 11:13 For I speak to you, the nations, since I am an apostle of the nations, (I glorify my ministry), 14 if somehow I may provoke to jealousy my flesh, and may save some of them. 15 For if their casting away is the reconciliation of the world, what the reception, except life from the dead? 16 Now if the firstfruit is holy, also the lump. And if the root is holy, also the branches.

Romans 11:17 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree were grafted in among them, and became a sharer of the root and the fatness of the olive tree, 18 do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, it is not you that bears the root, but the root bears you. 19 You will say then, The branches were broken off that I might be grafted in. 20 Well! For unbelief they were broken off. And you stand by faith. Do not be high-minded, but fear. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, fear that it may be He will not spare you either.

*Paul is trying to keep the nations from getting haughty and bragging like the Jews had done. He wants us to have the right view. We should not condemn the Jews and persecute them as apostate Christianity later went on to do, repaying the evil of the Jews with evil of their own, and becoming no better than the Jews had been and adding flames to the fire of enmity that would continue between the two.

Paul uses the illustration of an olive tree by which natural branches were broken off and foreign branches, "wild" branches, were grafted in, the olive tree and its roots being from God. We should not boast against the fallen Jews. Paul does not encourage the attitude, a boastful one, that other branches were broken off for me, doubtless because I am better. They were broken off because of not believing in the son of God. We stand by faith and not because we are great. Paul says not to be high-minded, right? If He found fault with the natural branches, it would not be hard for Him to find fault with us, either. We want to be humble and modest at all times. We should be nothing but grateful that we are accepted and not use it as a reason to brag or mock others.

Romans 11:22 Behold, then, the kindness and severity of God: On those having fallen, severity. But on you, kindness, if you continue in the kindness. Otherwise, you will also be cut off. 23 And those also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in. For God is able to graft them in again. 24 For if you were cut out of the natural wild olive tree, and against nature were grafted into a good olive tree, how much more these being according to nature will be grafted into their own olive tree?

*God can be both severe and mercifully kind. So we want to be careful and not be haughty. Besides, there is yet a hope and chance that some who are fleshly Jews will also come to accept the yoke of Christ and the salvation that goes with that. If wild branches are grafted in, would it not be even easier to graft in the branches that were native to the tree? It would according to Paul.

Romans 11:25 For I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be wise within yourselves, that hardness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the nations comes in; 26 and so all Israel will be saved, even as it has been written, "The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob. 27 And this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins." [Isaiah 59:20, 21].

*Paul says that "all" Israel will be saved when the fullness of the nations comes in. We know that much of Israel was rejected by God, sinning against the holy spirit that manifested itself through Jesus. And there is no forgiveness of sin against the Holy Spirit. So when Paul says "all," He can not mean all past and present, but all as in the full number appointed. So there will always be more Jews to be saved and come back to God, even in our day. The scriptures will still apply to some of them as regards salvation. But the majority have been cast off, likely forever.

Romans 11:28 Indeed, as regards the gospel, enemies for you, but as regards the election, beloved for the sake of the fathers. 29 For the free gifts and the calling of God are without repentance. 30 For as you then also disobeyed God, but now have obtained mercy by the disobedience of these, 31 so also these now have disobeyed, so that they also may obtain mercy by your mercy. 32 For God shut up all in disobedience, that He may show mercy to all.

*The Jews as a whole have always been an enemy and abuser of Christians because of the gospel of Christ. But there always had and always will be those among the Jews who will come to salvation for the sake of their forefathers who God loved. Just as our ancestors were disobedient to God before we became sons of God, so also among the Jews will be those whose ancestors disobeyed God, while later ones accept Christ and reject the wicked course of those before them even as we did. We should be happy about that and rejoice. It should be our desire that as many be saved as is possible.

Romans 15:8 And I say, Jesus Christ has become a minister of circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises of the fathers, 9 and for the nations to glorify God for mercy, even as it has been written, "Because of this I will confess to You in the nations, and I will give praise to Your name." [Psalm 18:49]. 10 And again He says, "Rejoice, nations, with His people." [Deuteronomy 32:43]. 11 And again, "Praise the Lord, all the nations, and praise Him all the peoples." [Psalm 117:1]. 12 And again Isaiah says, "The Root of Jesse shall be, and He rising up to rule the nations; on Him nations will hope." [Isaiah 11:10].

*So we all want to be one big happy family, both Jews and people of the nations, Gentiles according to how some translate the Hebrew and Greek scriptures. We can be grateful for the great riches we inherited while continuing to welcome those of the Jews who will continue to joint the united flock of God under Christ.

Summary of Romans

From Galatians
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The Problem that Paul was encountering with the Galatians was that they were going back to observing the law again, at the urging of one or some who believed it was necessary to observe the law. It clearly was not necessary as Paul is going to show us in his letter to the Galatians. I shall only quote the important passages of relevance.

Galatians 1:
6 I wonder that you are so quickly being transferred from Him having called you by the grace of Christ to another gospel, 7 which is not another; only there are some troubling you and desiring to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel out of Heaven, should announce a gospel to you beside what we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, and now I say again, If anyone announces a gospel to you beside what you received, let him be accursed.

>> The Galatians quickly forgot what they had been taught and learned. Paul makes it clear that they should not listen to anyone or any message contrary to Paul's first message, which was delivered with great and powerful works from God to prove the message was from God as well.

Galatians 1:
11 And, brothers, I make known to you the gospel preached by me, that it is not according to man. 12 For I did not receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but by a revelation of Jesus Christ.

Paul next points out that he was once a devout keeper of the law, and persecuted Christians for not observing the law. This will become important.

Galatians 1:
13 For you heard my way of life when I was in Judaism, that with surpassing zeal I persecuted the church of God and ravaged it. 14 And I progressed in Judaism beyond many contemporaries in my race, being much more a zealot of the traditions of my ancestors. 15 But when God was pleased, "He having separated me from my mother's womb" and having called through His grace, [Isaiah 49:1] 16 to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the nations.

>> In verses 16 to 24, the end of that chapter, he makes it clear that he did not receive his "gift" from flesh and blood, but from God and he did not confer with the prominent ones of Jerusalem. And he was not known to the churches of Judea. They heard of him but would not recognize him by his face.

Starting in chapter 2, he relates the big incident that took place where by revelation, and not by the command of men, he went up to Jerusalem with Barnabas and Titus with him to settle the dispute over whether men should get circumcised as Christians. This account can also be found in Acts 15, which we read earlier. The next verses are relevant.

Galatians 2:
3 But not even Titus, the one with me, a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised. 4 But it was because of those false brothers stealing in, who stole in to spy on our freedom which we have in Christ Jesus, they desiring to enslave us, 5 to whom not even for an hour we yielded in subjection, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you. 6 But from those seeming to be something (of what kind they were then does not matter to me; God does not accept the face of man), for those seeming important conferred nothing to me.

>> Titus was not compelled to be circumcised and was not. But it was due to the Judaizers among the churches that the spirit had directed Paul to Jerusalem to settle this. These Judaizers are called false brothers, as they do not listen to the Apostles, full of the Holy Spirit and performing great signs and wonders. So these false brothers were actually sinning against the Holy Spirit of which Jesus said there was no forgiveness. Paul also mentions that the prominent brothers of status such as Peter, John, James, etc, conferred or gave nothing to Paul. Paul got his orders from Christ and the spirit, not men.

Galatians 2:
7 but on the contrary, seeing that I have been entrusted with the gospel of the uncircumcision, even as Peter to the circumcision, 8 (for He working in Peter to an apostleship of the circumcision, also worked in me to the nations), 9 and knowing the grace given to me, James and Cephas and John, those seeming to be pillars, gave right hands of fellowship to Barnabas and to me, that we go to the nations, but they to the circumcision.

>> The brothers at Jerusalem, the other Apostles, recognize Paul as being assigned by the spirit to the uncircumcised and wish him well, as he does in wishing them well and recognizing their assignment was also from God to the circumcised, the Jews. The other Apostles would later also be sent to the nations, the Gentiles, as they are also called, as well. Peter, soon after, came to Antioch of Syria.

Galatians 2:
11 But when Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was to be blamed. 12 For before some came from James, he ate with the nations. But when they came, he drew back and separated himself, being afraid of those of the circumcision. 13 And also the rest of the Jews dissembled with him, so as even Barnabas was led away with their dissembling.

14 But when I saw that they did not walk uprightly with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before all, If you being a Jew, live as a non-Jew and not as the Jews, why do you compel the nations to Judaize? 15 We, Jews by nature, and not sinners of the nations, 16 knowing that a man is not justified by works of law, but that it is through faith in Jesus Christ (we also believed in Christ Jesus, that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of law, because all flesh will not be justified by works of law). [Psalm 123:2]

>> Paul confronts Peter, who Paul knows does not live as a Jew, meaning that Peter does not observe the law. But by Peter draws back from those of the nations who are Christians out of fear or respect for those from James who were Jews. James was a fleshly brother of Jesus, another son of Mary, and was highly respected by all. He was the one who spoke out in Acts 15, not requiring circumcision or the law. But Peter oddly now acts as if he were observing the law again. So Paul accuses him of compelling the nations to convert to Judaism and observe the law, by the way he acted and treated them.

But as Paul points out, those like himself and Peter, formerly Jews in practice, well knew that a man was not justified by the law but by faith in Jesus and works of the spirit, not law. So Paul further emphasizes how wrong it is to require anyone to observe the law.

Galatians 2:
19 For through law I died to law, that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ, and I live; yet no longer I, but Christ lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith toward the Son of God, the One loving me and giving Himself over on my behalf. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness is through law, then Christ died without cause. [end of chapter 2].

>> Paul says he died as to the law. For the law says that he who sins, dies, and we all sin, even Paul. But through baptism, we symbolically die with Christ, being crucified Paul calls it, and are raised up, so we live with Christ and he lives in us as he did in Paul. Paul and we now live according to faith and according to the spirit, and not according to law. If righteousness is through law, then Christ's death and sacrifice mean nothing, they are voided out and that is not possible. So the law is no longer a requirement. It is the law and not Christ that is void and without cause.

Galatians 3:
1 O foolish Galatians, who bewitched you not to obey the truth, to whom before your eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed among you, crucified? 2 This only I desire to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by works of law or by hearing of faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, do you now perfect yourself in the flesh? 4 Did you suffer so much vainly, if indeed it also was vainly? 5 Then He supplying the Spirit to you and working works of power in you, is it by works of law or by hearing of faith?

>> Paul points out how Christ was related as having been crucified with all that went with that, including his resurrection and ours in the future, along with freedom from judgment of the law and well as from the observance of the law. So Paul asks them directly, how did they receive the spirit? By law or faith? They began in the spirit. What now, completed in the flesh? Indeed, as in all places, they not doubt were persecuted as Paul mentions they suffered. But was it all for nothing since they are now living like the Jews who likely caused their persecution. Then Christ supplied spirit and worked works of great power in them. Having reminded them of that, Paul asks again, by works of law or faith? Good question for them to give thought to. It was also intended to make us think, too. Paul next quotes a number of Old Testament scriptures.

Galatians 3:
6 Even "as Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness." [Gen 15:6]

>> Abraham was declared righteous because he believed God and had faith in God. It was through faith that Abraham was declared righteous, right? Paul next points out in verse 7 that those who show faith in God and His son of promise by means of Abraham, constitute themselves sons of Abraham, since the one who we imitate is, in essence, our father as Jesus pointed out in John 8:39.

John 8:
39 They answered and said to Him, Abraham is our father. Jesus said to them, If you were children of Abraham, you would do the works of Abraham. 40 But now you seek to kill Me, a man who has spoken the truth to you, which I heard alongside of God. Abraham did not do this. 41 You do the works of your father . . . 42 Then Jesus said to them, If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I went forth and have come from God. For I have not come from Myself, but that One sent Me. 43 Why do you not know My speech? It is because you are not able to hear My Word. 44 You are of the Devil as father, and the lusts of your father you desire to do. That one was a murderer from the beginning, and he has not stood in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own, because he is a liar, and the father of it.

>> Our father is that one whom we imitate and learn from. It can be God and Abraham, or it could even be the devil as was the case for some. Father is not father in the literal or fleshly sense. Some mistakenly believe Jesus to be the literal Father in heaven, because he is called "Father" on several occasions. But he is "father" only in a relative and sometimes figurative sense. Ultimately, there is only one Father of all which is the God of Jesus as well, and Father of Jesus, too.

It should be clear if you have read all things in these articles about the law and new covenant up to here that figurative language is actually quit the standard operating procedure for God and His prophets. Between Jesus and his Apostles, that should be quite plain and obvious to us all, like handwriting on the wall. If we can not see it, I would suggest that maybe we do not want to see it because it is everywhere and plainly declared. Maybe we do not like the fact that it interferes with our current beliefs and we do not want to have to change them, even if the facts might merit a change.

Galatians 3:
7 Know, then, that those of faith, these are sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture foreseeing that God would justify the nations by faith, preached the gospel before to Abraham: "All the nations will be blessed" "in you." [Genesis 12:3]

>> In addition to imitating Abraham's faith so as to become his children, it was also according to the promise of Genesis 12:3 that we would receive the blessing that would come through Abraham, as the Christ indeed, came through Abraham, according to promise and believing in and having faith in that promise.

Galatians 3:
9 So that those of faith are blessed with the faithful Abraham.

>> We share with Abraham in the great promise made to him as well as us.

Galatians 3:
10 For as many as are out of works of law, these are under a curse. For it has been written, "Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all the things having been written in the book of the Law, to do them." [Deuteronomy 27:26]

>> We can not keep the law perfectly so we are condemned under it. We do not want that, do we?

Galatians 3:
11 And that no one is justified by law before God is clear because, "The just shall live by faith." [Habakkuk 2:4]

>> If we could live by the law, we would not need the sacrifice of Jesus. We would be perfect. We are not so we are better off under faith than we are under law as the next verses also makes clear.

Galatians 3:
12 But the Law is not of faith, but, "The man doing these things shall live in them." [Leviticus 18:5] 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us; for it has been written, "Cursed is everyone having been hung on a tree;" [Deuteronomy 21:23] 14 that the blessing of Abraham might be to the nations in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

Galatians 3:
15 Brothers, I speak according to man, a covenant having been ratified, even among mankind, no one sets aside or adds to it. 16 But the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his Seed (it does not say, And to seeds, as of many, but as of one, "And to your Seed," which is Christ). [Genesis 12:7, 13:15; 17:7, 8; 24:7] 17 And I say this, a covenant having been ratified before to Christ by God, the Law coming into being four hundred and thirty years after, does not annul the promise, so as to abolish it.

>> Paul points out that even among men and nations, when something is agreed upon, they do not change it. It only follows that what God promised to Abraham is still valid and is not changed, which is even what men on earth would do. And likewise, Paul also points out that a promise was also made to Christ. Christ was the one being referred to in God's promise to Abraham when God referred to a singular seed as you can see in verse 16. So the law that came some 430 years after the promise to Abraham and Christ, does not invalidate that earlier promise. It still stands.

What Paul is trying to point out is that the promise to Abraham and Christ came before the law and takes precedence over the law. The law is not superior, it is inferior and subject to previous promises, one of which we inherit in receiving the sin atoning sacrifice of Jesus, we being the nations that are blessed by means of Abraham and his "seed."

Galatians 3:18 For if the inheritance is of law, it is no more of promise; but God has given it to Abraham through promise.

>> If the inheritance was of the law, then we would have to earn it, which as sinners, would not be possible. It would no longer be according to a promise. Having a promise is much better than having to earn it through some law code that is impossible to live up to. That is like a game that has been rigged so that you can't win. How fair is that? Is that the kind if game you want to play?

Galatians 3:19 Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, until the Seed should come, to whom it had been promised, being ordained through angels in a mediator's hand. 20 But the Mediator is not of one, but God is one.

Here are 2 alternate readings of verse 20:
(RSV) 20 Now an intermediary implies more than one; but God is one.
(KJV) 20 Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one.

As we know from Romans, law makes transgression and sin apparent, rubs it in our faces so to speak. And in the presence of sin, a law is created to try to stop it, to let us know it is wrong. If we were perfect and did not sin, there would be no need for any law, right? That would seem to be the meaning of the first part of 19. When the "seed" arrived, that sin and that law would be wiped out. Verse 20 would seem to indicate that this mediator would not be a mediator of just one, one person that is. He would be a mediator of many people but to only one God.

Galatians 3:21 Then is the Law against the promises of God? Let it not be! For if a law had been given which had been able to make alive, indeed righteousness would have been out of law.

>> The law is not against the promise. It had a purpose and reason as we will see. That purpose and reason would help bring about the promise that would free us from the law. The law foreshadowed the coming promise. Christ was a fulfillment of the law and what it required, something we could not do. As a result living up to the law and fulfilling it, Jesus became an acceptable sacrifice to pay for our sinful condition we got from Adam.

Galatians 3:22 But the Scripture locked up all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to the ones believing. 23 But before the coming of faith, we were guarded under law, having been locked up to the faith being about to be revealed. 24 So that the Law has become a trainer of us until Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

>> Paul says we were locked up under the law. It pointed out our sin and by its code, condemned us for our sin. But the irony is that while we were held captive by the law, it also foreshadowed and would reveal a hope which would free us from its captivity. The promise was revealed by the law. It must be admitted that Paul is perhaps assuming some knowledge among his original audience here. But with a little study and help, we can grasp what Paul, by direction of the Holy Spirit, wanted us to know. If we want to take the time and make the effort, it can be understood.

What is clear is that the law is said to be a trainer. It gave us the principles in figures and types that would help us understand the role that Jesus would fulfill as the real and ultimate sacrifice to God in behalf of men. But while it leads us to Christ, it can not continue with him. When the law is fulfilled, then it is no longer needed.

Galatians 3:25 But faith coming, we are no longer under a trainer; 26 for you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many as were baptized into Christ, you put on Christ.

>> Of course, this is all much more understandable if one has read and understands Paul's letter to the Romans and other of Paul's letters. But we can manage here. Faith relieves us of the law in verse 25. We are now sons of God by reason of our faith in Jesus, even as Jesus pointed out in John 8 quoted earlier. We are sons of Abraham and sons of God by adoption and faith.

I should make the point and here is as good as place as any. Paul mentions the word faith a lot. As you might be able to tell, he doesn't define it strictly and it has no strict definition as is the case with other words such as spirit, heavens, and the like. But faith is trust and faith is obedience. When we obey, we show that we believe God and that we believe we will live again. Faith produces fruits, works, results. If we did not believe, then we would not obey God. Obedience shows that we want to live as perfect people, even though we are not currently perfect, but born in a sinful condition given by Adam.

It shows where our heart and desire is. Therefore, the sin of Adam is not held against us as we try with difficulty and sometimes failure, to obey God perfectly. We show by our actions that we have faith in the promise of resurrection and life. Paul assumes we understand this and simply uses the word faith without explaining it very thoroughly. In our dumbed-down society, where little is known or learned anymore, especially as regards to the word of God, things can not be taken for granted so I explain them here for you, if you haven't figured it out already.

I know I have explained this before, but I feel repetition is important in order to retain ideas. Seldom used ideas don't last in the memory very long. So I immerse you (baptize you?) in these ideas that they may find a permanent home in your mind.

Galatians 3:28 There cannot be Jew nor Greek, there is no slave nor freeman, there is no male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are of Christ, then you are a seed of Abraham, even heirs according to promise.

>> Paul says there is no distinction between Jew or Greek, slave or freeman, or anyone else. All people are equal in the eyes of God. All are one, that is to say, united, in Christ, of course. And we, too, are a seed of Abraham, the nations who are blessed because of his faith in God and the reward God promised through him for his faith. This is the end of chapter 3. What was promised to Abraham would benefit everyone over time which was what God had always intended, even before He created the world and us.

The first 3 verses of chapter 4 speak of Christ and us awaiting the fulfillment of the law, the time when Christ would come as a man, preach, and give his life in ransom for us. Verse 4 picks up from there. Verses 25-28 of chapter 3 become more clear in the next verses of chapter 4.

Galatians 4:4 But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, having come into being out of a woman, having come under Law, 5 that He might redeem the ones under law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. 6 And because you are sons, God sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba! Father! 7 So that you no more are a slave, but a son, and if a son, also an heir of God through Christ.

8 But then, indeed, not knowing God, you served as slaves to the ones not by nature being gods. 9 But now, knowing God, but rather being known by God, how do you turn again to the weak and poor elements to which you desire again to slave anew? 10 You observe days and months and seasons and years. 11 I fear for you, lest somehow I have labored among you in vain.

>> Those Galatians were once slaves under the law. They were freed from the law, redeemed and adopted as sons and heirs. But now they were putting themselves back into the slavery of the law again. They turned again to observing the days, months, and seasonal observances of the law, such as the Sabbath or the various festivals prescribed by the law. Why would someone do such a thing, after having been freed? They seemed to have went into a coma and lost all reasoning ability.

But look at us today. Many of us have long forgotten over time (many centuries) why we do or do not do what we do. We have forgotten the past and how we got to where we are. We do not even have much of a clue about where we should be. Most do not know a lot about the Bible today to know what is right or not. So many think we are observing the Sabbath on the wrong day when actually, we never observed the Sabbath at all.

We meet on Sunday as that was what the Apostles started, at the direction of the Holy Spirit; one, because meeting together was important. But God's reason for choosing Sunday as that it was the day Jesus was resurrected from the grave, the first day of the week, which on any calendar is Sunday. So we need to awaken and seek knowledge so that our minds are not dull as the Galatians had become. They had a good start and they lost it. We need to get it and keep it. We have their example to learn from.

Galatians 4:12 Brothers, I beg of you, be as I am, because I am as you. You wronged me in nothing. 13 But you know that because of weakness of the flesh, I announced the gospel to you before; 14 and you did not despise my temptation in my flesh nor disdained it, but you received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus.

>> When Paul first came to the Galatians, he was well received, practically as an angel or God or Christ Jesus, he says. His weakness of the flesh and his temptation in the flesh did not seem objectionable to them. Some have speculated that his weakness, most commonly translated as infirmity where the Greek word appears in the Bible, was a physical ailment, which is certainly possible. But given the mention of temptation in the next verse, it would seem to me that Paul was referring to his general weakness of the flesh which all men possess, the inclinations, desires, etc. Paul evidently did not put on any great pretenses and presented himself as he was, hiding nothing of his quirkiness common to all men.

Typically today, men of prominence who lead churches or appear on TV or radio, try to pass themselves off as holier than thou, or nearly perfect. They put on a good face for everyone, being on their best behavior, and then act more like themselves with their family and close friends and associates. I believe this is wrong. It is true that some will judge you when you show them your true self, but it is more honest and those who judge you do not have realistic expectations of how a man of God is to behave. They expect him to be free of the normal passions and desires we all have. He is not free of those things in anyway. I suspect Paul did not hide those things as most "actors" do today.

One thing for sure, it was no doubt understood by the Galatians what Paul was referring to. And they did not find fault with him but recognized the great power and miraculous works that took place through him as coming from God, so they recognized his words and authority also came from God. They did not hold it against him that he was as mortal and sinful as they were.

Galatians 4:15 What then was your blessedness? For I testify to you that if you were able, plucking out your eyes, you would have given them to me. 16 So then did I become your enemy speaking truth to you?

Some suspect that maybe Paul had eye problems as an infirmity or weakness of the flesh. But it could just as easily be common response to describe their heart felt sympathy just as we might say that we would tear our heart out for someone or give the shirt off our backs. We are not really taken literally but using a sort of figure of speech. That is not to say he did not have an eye problem. But I suspect his "eye" problem was the same eye problem we all have. Eyes signify a lot in the Bible and often used in place of the word "perceive." Our eyes are where most of our desires are stimulated and come to birth. But we can not be quite sure what the case was for Paul.

But knowing how Paul, like all God's other servants of the time and previous, spoke quite commonly in more metaphorical, allegorical, figurative, symbolic terms, we should at least recognize this as a good possibility, maybe even a likely one.

The Galatians obviously responded to Paul with great love and acceptance. They would have done nearly anything for him. Yet now they were following those who contradicted Paul and what he taught. So Paul asks them if somehow he has become their enemy now, since they embrace his enemies which are also enemies of God, since Paul acts in God's behalf. I don't believe Paul really thought that. He was being facetious. But he was trying to get them to think about what they were doing. Though not the intended result, perhaps, they had, in essence, turned their backs on him by embracing the Judaizers.

Galatians 4:17 They are zealous for you, but not well; but they only desire to shut you out, that you be zealous to them. 18 But it is good to be zealous always in a good thing and not only in my being present with you.

>> Paul here points out the corrupt motives of the Judaizers, who wanted everyone to follow them so that they would be the center of attention. They likely saw themselves as Paul's rivals and superiors as was the case in Corinth in his 2nd letter to them. So Paul said they should be desirous of good things all the time, and not just when Paul was there, and then turn their backs on good things afterwards. They had to make up their minds and stick with the good. They were rather fickle, weren't they?

Galatians 4:19 My children, for whom I again travail until Christ should be formed to you, 20 even now I desired to be present with you and to change my voice, for I am in doubt as to you.

>> Put short and sweet, Paul was rather puzzled by them and wished he could have been there in person to straighten things out. It gets real good now.

Galatians 4:21 Tell me, those desiring to be under Law, do you not hear the Law?

>> The Judaizers, who preached the law, really didn't know the law too well. That is often the case, even today. Those who talk the most often know the least. Paul is about to show how the law and the prophets foreshadowed the new covenant and those who would embrace that new covenant or contract, the new deal.

Galatians 4:22 For it has been written, Abraham had two sons, one out of the slave woman and one out of the free woman. 23 But, indeed, he of the slave woman has been born according to flesh, and he out of the free woman through the promise, 24 which things are being allegorized, for these are two covenants, one, indeed, from Mount Sinai bringing forth to slavery (which is Hagar, 25 for Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, and she slaves with her children), 26 but the Jerusalem from above is free, who is the mother of us all.

>> Now at the time the law was written by Moses, no one probably saw that Sarah and Hagar were going to be symbolic of two covenants. But that was God's intention which He fulfilled with Isaiah giving mention to it as follows.

Galatians 4:27 for it has been written, "Be glad, barren one not bearing; break forth and shout, the one not travailing; for more are the children of the desolate rather than she having the husband." [Isaiah 54:1]

>> The prophet Isaiah alludes to Sarah and Hagar, although not literally those two women but of who they represented in a figurative way, the fleshly seed and the spiritual seed, even as Abraham had been promised a spiritual seed, as well as fleshly descendants. Abraham was constituted by God to bear these figures, images, and types, himself being the father of those spiritual seeds. God often used the prophets and others to do this. Hosea was told to marry a wife who was going to play around on him, to represent how Israel as unfaithful to her owner, God. I could list many more but will not here. You could try reading the Bible yourself to find more of these, though. Hint! Hint!

Galatians 4:28 But, brothers, we are children of promise according to Isaac. 29 But then, even as he, born according to flesh, persecuted the one according to Spirit, so also now.

>> Paul points out another interesting aspect of this whole scenario. Even as Ishmael, son of Hagar, persecuted Isaac, so now, in Paul's time, the fleshly children, the Jews, were persecuting the spiritual children, the Christians.

But who would have ever guessed that Abraham and his situation would have symbolized so much. It is quite apparent, looking back on it all now with Paul's help and the help of the spirit allowing great works to take place through Paul and the other Apostles. But if this understanding is not firmly implanted in our minds, as it is obviously lacking in the minds of many today, then we could make the same mistakes as the Galatians, running back to the observing of the law, with its days of observance, circumcision, sacrifices, the Sabbath, and the like.

Galatians 4:30 But what says the Scripture? "Cast out the slave woman and her son, for in no way shall the son of the slave woman inherit with the son of the free woman." [Gen. 21:10] 31 Then, brothers, we are not children of a slave woman but of the free woman. [end of chapter 4].

>> The fleshly descendants, the Jews, were to be cast out of the house of God, rejected by God, excluded from the new covenant. They would have no inheritance. That would certainly mean death and destruction from God, at least by judgment day. Christians are the true legitimate children and heirs of God, and not the slave woman, the law and its fleshly adherents.

Galatians 5:1 Then stand firm in the freedom with which Christ made us free and do not be held again with a yoke of slavery. 2 Behold, I, Paul, say to you that if you are circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. 3 And I testify again to every man being circumcised, that he is a debtor to do all the Law, 4 you who are justified by law are deprived of all effect from Christ, you fell from grace.

>> Circumcision, or any other observance of the law, is not a requirement of the new deal with Christ. To insist that it is, is to reject the new deal and stay with the old one. That will only result in the condemnation the old law covenant brought, requiring death for sin, which we are all guilty of. When we reject the new deal, we reject Christ and all that comes with him, including forgiveness of the sin we inherit from Adam and the life and resurrection that come through Christ. So which do we want, judgement from trying to live up to the law and failing to and dying; or forgiveness, life, and resurrection from Jesus? You can't have both although the Judaizers will tell you otherwise.

Modern day Judaizers do not understand the issues well. It is no doubt often due to ignorance of the scriptures and the issues. So they see aspects of the law, at least as far as the Sabbath goes, as important to keep. They are wrong. The Sabbath was a sign between the Jews under the Mosaic law. We are under a new deal and the old deal is done away with as Christ was done away with on the cross.

The Sabbath Forever???
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It is true that the wording in regards to the Sabbath is that it should be kept forever. On that scripture alone, it would be necessary to keep the Sabbath. But surely we can see that God had foretold a new covenant and that the old was fulfilled in Christ. So what we interpret as forever, is really a mistranslation anyway.

The original Hebrew word translated as forever is defined by Strong's dictionary as follows:

05769. 'owlam o-lawm'; or 'olam o-lawm'; from 05956; properly, concealed, i.e. the vanishing point; generally, time out of mind (past or future), i.e. (practically) eternity; frequentatively, adverbial (especially with prepositional prefix) always:-- alway(-s), ancient (time), any more, continuance, eternal, (for, [n-])ever(-lasting, -more, of old), lasting, long (time), (of) old (time), perpetual, at any time, (beginning of the) world (+ without end). Compare 05331, 05703.

And from Brown Drivers Briggs Lexicon:

05769 `owlam o-lawm' or `olam o-lawm' from 05956; TWOT - 1631a; n m; KJV - ever 272, everlasting 63, old 22, perpetual 22, evermore 15, never 13, time 6, ancient 5, world 4, always 3, alway 2, long 2, more 2, never + 0408 2, misc 6; 439

1) long duration, antiquity, futurity, for ever, ever, everlasting, evermore, perpetual, old, ancient, world

1a) ancient time, long time (of past)

1b) (of future); 1b1) for ever, always; 1b2) continuous existence, perpetual 1b3) everlasting, indefinite or unending future, eternity.

Forever could be translated, if one excepts the context that the covenant would be replace by God in time, as always or evermore but those are close to forever.

It was intended that we understand the context, knowing God's promise of another deal to come that it is meant - for as long as this covenant shall last, or until the next one arrives. But those who insist there is no context and who choose to ignore the new covenant mentioned, they make the Bible contradict itself. They are acting like modern day lawyers, twisting the words of the law as they prefer and not as God intended.

Further, we have the clear words of Paul telling us not to let anyone judge us according to the days we observe or whatever. So he erases doubt in our minds about this if we were uncertain. Now back to Galatians.

Returning to Galatians
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Galatians 5:5 For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness out of faith. 6 For in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any strength, but faith working through love.

>> What is important to Jesus is not whether you are circumcised or not, or whether some particular day is important to you or not, such as your birthday, your marriage day, or whatever. What is important to him is our faith, through which we are rich in works of love. Love is not love unless it is backed by actions. The book of James can tell you more about that as can an article on the subject by me in Related Articles.

Galatians 5:7 You were running well; who held you back that you do not obey the truth? 8 The persuasion is not from Him calling you. 9 A little leaven leavens all the lump. 10 I trust as to you in the Lord that you will think nothing else, but that the one troubling you shall bear the judgment, whoever he may be.

>> Paul lets them know they are not obeying the truth and that they should punish the one who is recommending the law again, whoever he may be. I gather Paul has not been told his name or maybe he prefers not to name him so as to give him a chance to repent and save face.

Galatians 5:11 But I, brothers, if I proclaim circumcision, why am I still persecuted? Then the offense of the Cross has passed away.

>> Paul makes the point that if circumcision were important to observe, then Paul would not be tormented and persecuted by the Jews for not observing the law. Not observing the law is what was upsetting to the Jews in the first place. That was what was offensive about the cross. If the Galatians had given this an thought at all, they should have been able to see the obvious error being preached to them by this Judaizer.

Galatians 5:12 I would that the ones causing you to doubt will cut themselves off.

>> You will note in verse 12 how Paul speaks of the Judaizers, wishing they would cut themselves off, as it is worded in the GLT, Green's Literal Translation. I supplied several other translations to try to make it clear what was being said there. In essence, Paul in his sarcasm, and yes, the Apostles and other servants of God were certainly familiar with sarcasm; Paul wishes that they would not stop at a mere circumcision but would perhaps cut their male genitalia off completely.

(RSV) Galatians 5:12 I wish those who unsettle you would mutilate themselves!

(ASV) Galatians 5:12 I would that they that unsettle you would even go beyond circumcision.

>> The original Greek word from which they get "cut off," "mutilate," or whatever, means literally to mutilate or amputate. I definitely like Paul's style. He clearly has a good sense of humor here. I wonder if this will not catch some Christians by surprise that Paul might express himself in such a way. Christians today, seem to object to such expressions. Clearly, they are unfamiliar with their own holy men and their own Bibles.

Galatians 5:13 For, brothers, you were called to freedom. Only do not use the freedom for an opening to the flesh. But through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, in this: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." [Leviticus. 19:18]

>> Paul here seems to refer only to general counsel now. We are free but not to misuse that freedom. We are to love one another as this was the real purpose and fulfillment of the law code to begin with. Paul goes on to address the battle between the flesh and spirit, urging all to continue in the spirit and not in the lusts of the flesh. Paul's discussion about the law ends here so we need not consider Galatians any more for this topic.

What should we have learned from Galatians?

From Hebrews
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Hebrews is a good book for understanding the figures and types of the law and how they foreshadowed the more perfect spiritual things. It was addressed to the Hebrews, whether in Jerusalem and Judea or throughout the Roman Empire, I do not know. Judea would be the most likely target. Chapters 7-10 were most significant in regards to the law and the new covenant, along with a few verses from 12.

Starting in 7, we are introduced to Psalm 110:4 where Melchizedek is referred to, who we first and only hear about early in the book of Genesis.

Hebrews 7:1 For this "Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the most high God," the one meeting Abraham "returning from the slaughter" "of the kings," "and blessing him;" 2 to whom also Abraham "divided a tenth from all" (first being interpreted, king of righteousness; and then also king of Salem, which is, king of peace, [Genesis 14:17-20] 3 without father, without mother, without genealogy, nor beginning of days, nor having end of life, but having been made like the Son of God, he remains a priest in perpetuity).

>> Paul is going to explain the mystery of the reference to Melchizedek. He starts by pointing out how we know nothing about him other than he was a priest to Abraham. Melchizedek was king of Salem, meaning king of peace, as well as a priest. These would become keys to understanding how Christ was a priest in a manner similar to Melchizedek.

Hebrews 7:4 Now behold how great this one was, to whom even the patriarch Abraham gave a tenth of the spoils; 5 and indeed those of the sons of Levi receiving the priesthood have a command to tithe the people according to Law, (that is, from their brothers, though coming forth out of Abraham's loins), 6 but he not counting his genealogy from them has tithed Abraham, and has blessed the one having the promises. 7 But without contradiction, the lesser is blessed by the better.

>> Melchizedek was a great priest according to Paul. After all, he did received tithes (a tenth of all one's harvests, you might say, a 10% tax) from Abraham. We note how the Levitical priests received tithes by law as well. And so the lesser, Abraham, is blessed by the greater, Melchizedek.

For all we know, Melchizedek was a symbolic name, just as Immanuel was symbolic name of Jesus. I say this because Melchizedek was both a king and priest, a very high position and Abraham recognized him as a priest of God. The question is, who, possibly in the line of Abraham, would qualify for such an honor. I have heard it suggested that it might be Shem, since his life overlaps with Abraham's. But their lives only overlap by 50 years and Abraham did not leave Haran until 75, so it could not be Shem. Neither could it be his father, Terah, who was dead by that time.

The only one who was alive after Abraham was 75 years old was Eber (also Heber), from which the Hebrews get their name, from Eber-u Heber-u (the u pronounced as a short "oo" as we would in the word boot!). The e is removed in the second syllable to get Hebru and then the u is replaced by ew, although the sound remains the same. Eber was born 285 years before Abraham and lived 4 years beyond Abraham. To be identified as Hebrews, Eber must have been a significant figure. Having lived as long as he did would have earned him a great reputation all by itself. He no doubt had many descendants, all of whom were identified by his name. He seems the most likely possibility in Abraham's line. In addition, we know Abraham had a great faith in the true God. That had to come from somewhere. Eber is a possibility, though by no means certain.

It can not be ruled out that someone from Japheth's line could have been involved. But nothing is mentioned. Neither have we eliminated other lines of Shem. But I think Eber is a reasonable candidate if we stick to Shem's line down to Abraham. Eber's many descendants were identified with him rather than some other ancestor. Eber was 6 generations removed from Abraham. But this is not an important issue by any means. Just some playful guessing.

Hebrews 7:8 And here dying men indeed receive tithes, but there it having been witnessed that he lives; 9 and as a word to say, through Abraham, Levi also, the one receiving tithes, has been tithed. 10 For he was yet in his father's loins when Melchizedek met him.

>> So the priestly Levites, fallen men who die, by descending from Abraham, are also said to be tithed to Melchizedek. By pointing out that Levitical priests die, Paul emphasizes their fallen nature and poor qualifications for their job as priests. That will be important shortly.

Hebrews 7:11 Truly, then, if perfection was through the Levitical priestly office (for the people had been given Law under it), why yet need for another priest to arise according to the order of Melchizedek and not to be called according to the order of Aaron? 12 For the priestly office having been changed, of necessity a change of law also occurs. 13 For the One of whom these things are said has partaken of another tribe, from which no one has given devotion at the altar.

A very good point is made here. Why would there be a need for a priest in the manner or order of Melchizedek if perfection was obtained through the Levite priests? It would make no sense. It was a definite indication that something better was required and would come to be. In addition, if the priestly office was to be changed, then there is most certainly going to be a change in the laws as well, a new covenant, right? And this priest of the order of Melchizedek was to be from another tribe which did not minister at the temple; that tribe being Judah, naturally.

Hebrews 7:14 For it is clear that our Lord has risen out of Judah, as to which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood. 15 And it is still more abundantly clear that if another priest arises according to the likeness of Melchizedek, 16 who has not become so according to a law of a fleshly command, but according to the power of an indissoluble life.

>> Indissoluble basically means indestructable or endless, eternal, which the life of Jesus would have been in the flesh had he not been killed and was as a resurrected spirit who ascended to heaven from where he originally came from.

Hebrews 7:17 For it is testified, "You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek." [Psalm 110:4] 18 For a voiding of the preceding command comes about because of its weakness and unprofitableness. 19 For the Law perfected nothing, but a bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.

>> The previous law and covenant was voided as it could not really help the situation, that of mankind bearing sin in the flesh due to the sin of Adam. It perfected nothing and what was needed was a way to perfect mankind. A better hope was needed and was coming.

Hebrews 7:20 And by how much it was not apart from the swearing of an oath; 21 for they have become priests without the swearing of an oath, but He with the swearing through Him who says to Him, "The Lord swore, and will not repent, You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek;" [Psalm 110:4] 22 by so much Jesus has become Surety of a better covenant.

>> The Lord, in this case referring to the almighty God and Father, Jehovah, swears, not to David as some could think, but to Jesus. We might not have understood this Psalm but Paul, by the Holy Spirit, was given a precise understanding of what it referred to. It was told in a sort of mysterious riddle like way to get us thinking and wondering. Then is due time, the time of Paul, it was unveiled and revealed to us. The Levitical priests did not receive their office by an oath as Jesus did. So in this, Jesus is superior to those earlier priests, who were merely primitive types and representations of what Jesus would be. In Jesus, the mystery of manner of Melchizedek is solved.

Hebrews 7:23 And they truly are many priests, being hindered from continuing because of death; 24 but He has the priesthood not to be passed on, because of His continuing forever. 25 From this also He is able to save to perfection those who come to God through Him, ever living to intercede on their behalf.

>> The Levite priests are continually replaced due to their dying. But Jesus is a priest forever, never to die. This, along with so much more, allows Jesus to be able to bring people to perfection, something Levite priests were never able to do. How much greater is that?

Hebrews 7:26 For such a High Priest was fitting for us: holy, harmless, undefiled, and separated from sinners, and having become higher than the heavens; 27 who has no need, as do the high priests, to offer sacrifices day by day, first for His own sins, then for those of the people. For He did this once for all, offering up Himself. 28 For the Law makes men high priests who have infirmity, but the word of the swearing of an oath, after the Law, appoints the Son forever, having been perfected.

>> Priests had to offer sin sacrifices for themselves as well as for those who came to them. How good could such priestly officiating be with such a circumstance? A sinful man offering sacrifice for sinners? And priests continued to offer sacrifices for such people every year, day in and day out. Jesus offered a perfect sacrifice in himself, only needing to be offered once for all time, because it was the right and proper sacrifice truly required by law. What the Levite priests offered was obviously not. And after Jesus dies in perfect flesh as the perfect sacrifice, he then becomes a spiritual priest in heaven to serve forever.

Hebrews 8:1 Now a summary over the things being said: We have such a High Priest, who sat down on the right of the throne of the Majesty in Heaven, [Psalm 110:1] 2 Minister of the Holy of Holies, and of the true tabernacle which the Lord pitched, and not man.

>> Jesus was the real deal, the purpose of the law, the fulfillment of the law. He was the ultimate High Priest who went into the real Holy of Holies, which was before the Father. The true tabernacle (Tent-like temple), the spiritual heavenly one.

Hebrews 8:3 For every high priest is set in place to offer both gifts and sacrifices; from which it is necessary for this One also to have something which He may offer. 4 For if indeed He were on earth, He would not even be a priest, there being those priests offering gifts according to the Law, 5 who serve the pattern of and shadow of heavenly things, even as Moses was divinely warned, being about to make the tabernacle: For He says, "See that you make all things according to the pattern shown to you in the mount." [Exodus 25:40].

>> Now there can be no more obvious statement regarding the patterns of the law and temple worship than what is stated there. They are patterns and shadows of heavenly things. The heavenly things were the object, the purpose, the goal of those types and patterns, to point to the true heavenly things. And Paul has explained many of them clearly to us. So when God set up the Levitical priesthood, He did it in a way that would be in many respects, like Jesus was going to do it in the future.

Hebrews 8:6 But now He has gotten a more excellent ministry, also by so much as He is a Mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises. 7 For if that first was faultless, place would not have been sought for a second. 8 For finding fault, He said to them:

"Behold, days are coming, says the Lord, and I will make an end on the house of Israel and on the house of Judah; a new covenant shall be, 9 not according to the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day of My taking hold of their hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I did not regard them, says the Lord. 10 Because this is the covenant which I will covenant with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord, giving My laws into their mind, and I will write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be My people." 11 "And they shall no more teach each one his neighbor, and each one his brother, saying, Know the Lord; because all shall know Me, from the least of them to their great ones. 12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousnesses, and I will not at all remember their sins and their lawless deeds." [LXX-Jeremiah 38:31-34; MT-Jeremiah 31:31-34].

>> It is not just Paul telling us there was going to be a better covenant and a better mediator, but Jeremiah also foretold the very same thing.

Hebrews 8:13 In the saying, New, He has made the first old. And the thing having been made old and growing aged is near disappearing.

>> If there is a new deal, then there must be an old one. Not just old, but disappearing. Jerusalem had not been destroyed yet, but that time was not far away. Then it would completely disappear. The old deal served its purpose and was no longer needed. Sort of like a log on the fire. After it has given forth its heat to warm, it is no longer of any value, being nothing but ashes. Its purpose in this case was used up and served.

Hebrews 9:1 Truly, then, the first tabernacle also had ordinances of service, and the earthly holy place. 2 For the first tabernacle was prepared, in which was both the lampstand and the table, and the setting out of the loaves, which is called holy. 3 But behind the second veil is a tabernacle, that called Holy of Holies, 4 having a golden altar of incense, and the ark of the covenant covered around on all sides with gold, in which was the golden pot having the manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant; 5 and above it the cherubs of glory overshadowing the mercy-seat (about which now is not time to speak piece by piece). 6 And these having been prepared thus, the priests go into the first tabernacle through all, completing the services. 7 But into the second the high priest goes alone once in the year, not without blood, which he offers for himself and the ignorances of the people.

>> Paul describes all the many things that appear in and around the temple. Most significant is the inner most room in the tabernacle, later the temple, the Holy of Holies, the 2nd of two rooms divided by a curtain. The high priest would go into the Holy of Holies once a year to offer blood before the Ark of the covenant. The Ark represented the presence of God in heaven, to whom the sacrifice was being offered for sins of the people of Israel.

Hebrews 9:8 The Holy Spirit signifying by this that the way of the Holies has not yet been made manifest, the first tabernacle still having standing; 9 which was a parable for the present time, according to which both gifts and sacrifices are offered, but as regards conscience, not being able to perfect the one serving, 10 but only on foods and drinks, and various washings, and fleshly ordinances, until the time of setting things right has been imposed.

>> The first tabernacle is said to be a parable for something greater in the future. With the tabernacle, originally tents in the days of Moses, but a temple since the days of Solomon in Jerusalem, up to Paul's day, but that temple was not far from being destroyed. I gather that when Paul says the way of the Holies not yet manifest, he must be referring to the Jews, as Christians already "knew the way." But as long as the temple stands, it is not obvious to the Jews, for to them, there is still hope of a messiah coming.

But when the temple is done away with, so is their hope of seeing a messiah come and they will be forced to consider the one already having come, or they will have to give up on the scriptures all together. That is my best understanding of what Paul refers to.

Hebrews 9:11 But Christ having appeared as a High Priest of the coming good things, through the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation, 12 nor through the blood of goats and of calves, but through His own blood, He entered once for all into the Holy of Holies, having procured everlasting redemption. 13 For if the blood of bulls and goats, and ashes of a heifer sprinkling those having been defiled, sanctifies to the purity of the flesh, 14 by how much more the blood of Christ (who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God), will purify your conscience from dead works for the serving of the living God!

>> Christ is the real high priest of a better greater spiritual temple in heaven before God, offering his own blood, far greater than that of animals, and obtaining a far greater redemption of us, whereby we can look forward to living forever perfected by him. It should be much more apparent now how the old temple or tabernacle worship was made to represent the greater worship to come in Jesus. The law was not the goal, it was the means to the real goal, the greater goal, Jesus Christ, Son of God, savior of mankind.

Hebrews 9:15 And because of this He is Mediator of a new covenant, so that, death having occurred for redemption of transgressions under the first covenant, those having been called out might receive the promise of the everlasting inheritance. 16 For where a covenant is, the death of him having covenanted must be offered. 17 For a covenant is affirmed over those dead, since it never has force when he who has covenanted is living. 18 From which neither the first covenant was dedicated without blood. 19 For when every command had been spoken according to Law by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of the calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and he sprinkled both the scroll and all the people, 20 saying, "This is the blood of the covenant which God enjoined to you." [Exodus 24:8] 21 And he likewise sprinkled both the tabernacle and all the service vessels with the blood. 22 And almost all things are cleansed by blood according to the Law; and apart from shedding of blood no remission occurs.

>> The law requires blood to atone for sins. Moses sprinkled everything with blood to validate it, just as we might sign a document or contract to validate it. Without blood and something killed in sacrifice, the covenant is no good, not valid. But a better blood and covenant was to come as Paul next relates.

Hebrews 9:23 Then it was needful for the figures of the things in the heavens to be cleansed with these; but the heavenly things themselves by better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ did not enter into the Holy of Holies made by hands, types of the true things, but into Heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf, 25 not that often He should offer Himself even as the high priest enters into the Holy of Holies year by year with blood of others; 26 since He must often have suffered from the foundation of the world. But now once for all, at the completion of the ages, He has been manifested for putting away of sin through the sacrifice of Himself.

Hebrews 9:27 And as it is reserved to men once to die, and after this Judgment; 28 so being once offered "to bear the sins of many," Christ shall appear a second time without sin to those expecting Him for salvation. [Isaiah 53:12].

>> Christ, the far greater sacrifice and priest, having once been offered and only once and never again to bear the sins of many, if due to appear a second time to judge the earth on what is typically called the last day in the Bible or Judgment day by Christians, which Paul simply calls Judgment.

Hebrews 10:1 For the Law had a shadow of the coming good things, not the image itself of those things. Appearing year by year with the same sacrifices, which they offer continually, they never are able to perfect the ones drawing near. 2 Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, because those serving did not still have conscience of sins, having once for all been cleansed? 3 But in these there is a remembrance of sins year by year, 4 for it is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. 5 For this reason, coming into the world, He says, "Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but You prepared a body for Me. 6 You did not delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices concerning sins."

>> The law was a mere shadow of the good things to come. It paled in comparison to those good things, didn't it? The law could not save or perfect, could it? They did not stop sacrifices did they? What is more, God Himself says that He did not delight in offerings and sacrifices. They were carried out so that people would recognize the real deal when it came along. They did nothing to please God. What God really wanted was love and obedience from His people. That He could not get. He knew He would not get but a remnant of them to do that and that He would have to go to the nations to get more to fill His heavenly temple.

Much of the rest of chapter 10 kind of explains and repeats itself as I often do. I'll jump in when I see fit.

Hebrews 10:7 "Then I said, Lo, I come, in the heading of the Book, it was written concerning Me, to do Your will, O God." [LXX-Psalm 39:7-9; MT- Psalm 40:6-8] 8 Above, saying, "You did not desire nor were pleased with sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and sacrifices concerning sins," (which are offered according to the Law), 9 then He said, "Lo, I come to do Your will, O God." He takes away the first in order that He may set up the second; 10 by which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

11 And indeed every priest stands day by day ministering, and often offering the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But He, offering but one sacrifice for sins, "sat down" in perpetuity "at the right hand" of God, 13 from then on expecting "until His enemies are placed as a footstool" of His feet. [Psalm 110:1] 14 For by one offering He has perfected in perpetuity the ones being sanctified.

>> Paul is pointing out that Jesus has enemies and will subdue them in due time.

Hebrews 10:15 And the Holy Spirit witnesses to us also. For after having said before, 16 "This is the covenant which I will covenant to them after those days, says the Lord: Giving My laws on their hearts, and I will write them on their minds;" 17 also He adds, "I will not at all still remember their sins" and their lawless deeds. [LXX- Jeremiah 38:33, 34 MT-Jeremiah 31:33, 34] 18 But where remission of these is, there is no longer offering concerning sins.

>> And of course, our sins are blotted out, erased, because of the righteous blood of our savior, Jesus. And since we have been cleansed of sins by this blood, Paul states the next verses.

Hebrews 10:19 Then, brothers, having confidence for the entering of the Holy of Holies by the blood of Jesus, 20 which He consecrated for us, a new and living way through the veil; that is, His flesh; 21 and having a Great Priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, our hearts having been sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our body having been washed in pure water; 23 let us hold fast the confession of the hope without yielding, for He who has promised is faithful.

24 And let us consider one another, to incitement of love and of good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling together of ourselves, as is the custom of some, but exhorting, and by so much more as you see the Day drawing near.

>> It is missed by many that Christians of like minds should draw together, assemble together, regularly. We know from history that this was every week in the early centuries. Should we not do the same now, if we care about each other and the commands of God? Especially so since the days to judgment draw to a close. We are going to be living with these people in God's kingdom. If we do not want to live with them now, why then, either? We must show God and each other where our hearts really are. How can we show love to our brothers when we have nothing to do with them and remain isolated from them. Just something to think about.

Hebrews 12:18 For you have not drawn near to the mountain being touched, and having been lit with fire, and to gloom, and darkness, and tempest, 19 and to a sound of trumpet, and to a voice of words, which those hearing begged that not a word be added to them; 20 for they could not bear the thing enjoined: "Even" "if a beast" "touches the mountain, it will be stoned, or shot through" with a dart. [Exodus 19:12, 13] 21 And so fearful was the thing appearing, Moses said, "I am terrified and trembling." [Deuteronomy 9:19].

>> We have not dawn near Mt. Sinai, which was very scary to the people. We have drawn near to something great and wonderful as the next verses show. So lets by all means do as Paul says.

Hebrews 12:22 But you have drawn near Mount Zion, even the city of the living God, to a heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, 23 and to an assembly, a church of the first-born ones having been enrolled in Heaven; and to God the judge of all, and to spirits of just ones who have been perfected; 24 and to Jesus the Mediator of a new covenant, and to blood of sprinkling speaking better things than that of Abel.

What did we learn from Hebrews?

From Ephesians
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Ephesians 2:11 Because of this, remember that you, the nations, were then in the flesh (those having been called Uncircumcision by those having been called Circumcision in the flesh made by hand) 12 that at that time you were without Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers of the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now, in Christ Jesus you who then were afar off came to be near by the blood of Christ.

>> Because of the sacrifice and blood of Jesus in our behalf, we of the nations, once without God or hope, are now welcomed by God. Great, huh? Let's see the results.

Ephesians 2:14 For He is our peace, He making us both one, and breaking down the middle wall of partition, 15 in His flesh causing to cease the enmity, the Law of the commandments in decrees, that He might in Himself create the two into one new man, making peace, 16 and might reconcile both in one body to God through the cross, slaying the enmity in Himself.

>> Paul in Ephesians seem to focus on the certain amount of enmity or separation that had formerly existed between the nation of Israel and those of the nations who had no covenant with God until after Jesus. Jesus broke down the wall between them, getting rid of the law of decrees and bringing both groups into one flock with one shepherd, united together in the faith and unison with God, as indicated by Jesus in John 10:13.

So now there is no distinction between the Circumcised and the Uncircumcised, between the Jews and the Nations. They are united as God had always intended.

From 1 Timothy
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1 Timothy 1:1 Paul an apostle of Jesus Christ according to a command of God our Savior, even the Lord Jesus Christ, our Hope, 2 to Timothy, a true child in the faith: Grace, mercy, peace from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

>> We know here, who is writing and who he is writing to.

1 Timothy 1:3 Even as I called on you to remain in Ephesus, (I going to Macedonia), that you might charge some not to teach other doctrines, 4 nor to give heed to fables and to endless genealogies, which occasion doubts, rather than a stewardship of God in faith, 5 but the end of the commandment is love out of a pure heart and a good conscience, and faith not pretended, 6 from which having missed the mark, some turned aside to empty talking, 7 wishing to be teachers of law, neither understanding what they say, nor about that which they confidently affirm.

>> Paul speaks of things pertaining to the law and that the end of the law is love out of a pure heart and good conscience. He also speaks of faith pretended but obviously not real at heart, wishing to teach the law as necessary. But this is because they do not really understand what they are talking about, as is often the case today. It is sometimes said by us today, that those who don't know . . . teach!

1 Timothy 1:8 And we know that the Law is good, if anyone uses it lawfully, 9 knowing this, that law is not laid down for a righteous one, but for lawless and undisciplined ones, for ungodly and sinful ones, for unholy and profane ones, for slayers of fathers and slayers of mothers, for murderers, 10 for fornicators, for homosexuals, for slave-traders, for liars, for perjurers, and if any other thing opposes sound doctrine, 11 according to the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I was entrusted.

>> The law is not altogether useless if used right. But Paul does point out that laws are not made when people are doing nothing wrong. But when a problem begins to arise, then a law is passed to prevent it or punish it. So it was with the law of God. When Israel under Moses showed themselves to be hard hearted and rebellious, then many laws were made to restrain them and convict them. The instructions to Timothy were basically to look out for Judaizers and their vain teachings.

From 2 Corinthians
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2 Corinthians 3:4 And we have such confidence through Christ toward God; 5 not that we are sufficient of ourselves to reason out anything as out of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God, 6 who also made us able ministers of a new covenant, not of letter, but of Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit makes alive.

>> The theme pops up clearly here. There is a new covenant given to us, of the spirit and definitely not of the law. The law kills as Paul makes certain we know in his many letters.

2 Corinthians 3:7 But if the ministry of death having been engraved in letters in stone was with glory, so as the sons of Israel could not gaze into "the face of Moses" because of the glory of his face, which was to cease, [Exodus 34:34] 8 how much rather the ministry of the Spirit will be in glory! 9 For if the ministry of condemnation was glory, much rather the ministry of righteousness abounds in glory. 10 For even that which has been made glorious has not been made glorious in this respect, because of the surpassing glory. 11 For if the thing done away was through glory, much rather the thing remaining is in glory.

>> Paul calls the law a ministry of death, due to its pronouncing death to those who can not live up to it, which is all of us, of course. But it was engraved with glory all the same. So that when Moses came down from the mountain after having receive the stone tablets, his face glowed and he covered his face with a veil so that people would not stare.

So if that old death dealing law was glorious, how much more so the ministry of spirit which was prefigured by the law. So that which remains, the glorious ministry of the spirit, is much more glorious, right?

2 Corinthians 3:12 Then having such hope, we use much boldness. 13 And not as "Moses, who put a veil over his face," for the sons of Israel not to gaze at the end of the thing being done away. [Exodus 34:35]. 14 But their thoughts were hardened, for until the present the same veil remains on the reading of the Old Covenant, not being unveiled, that it is being done away in Christ. 15 But until today, when Moses is being read, a veil lies on their heart.

>> Even up to that time, and today, too, the veil over the law remains when the Jews read the Old Covenant so that they do not do away with the law in favor of Christ. Their hearts remain veiled and uncircumcised. They must acknowledge and obey the Son of God before the veil can be removed, as Christ is the fulfillment of the law, as well as its abolishment.

2 Corinthians 3:16 But whenever it turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. [Exodus 34:34]. 17 And the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 But we all with our face having been unveiled, having beheld the glory of the Lord in a mirror, are being changed into the same image from glory to glory, as from the Lord Spirit. [Most translations render this as "Spirit of the Lord," which is as it should be. This could be an error of printing rather than the translator, though].

>> The original Greek word in verse 16 translated as "it," is most frequently translated in the KJV as "whosoever." There is no exact equivalent word in English. I would say Paul was referring to when anyone or anyone's heart turns to the Lord, then the veil is taken away. Their eyes and heart are opened and they are able to understand. Paul refers to our faces being unveiled to Christ, likely as sort of symbolizing a bride unveiling her face to her husband, as Christ is also figured as a bridegroom. But we still only behold the glory of the Lord as in a mirror. Our vision is still a little bit cloudy until after he should return. That wraps up 2 Corinthians.

From Colossians
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Colossians 2:8 Watch that there not be one robbing you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the elements of the world, and not according to Christ.

>> This could seem like it is possibly speaking against, among other things, Greek philosophy. But if we read the next 3 verses, it does become more certain as to what he refers to, though Greek philosophy is not ruled out, even if there are other applications as well.

Colossians 2:9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; 10 and having been filled, you are in Him, who is the Head of all rule and authority, 11 in whom also you were circumcised with a circumcision not made by hands, in the putting off of the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 being buried with Him in baptism, in whom also you were raised through the faith of the working of God, raising Him from among the dead.

>> First, in verse 9, we see the word Godhead, which is an inaccurate translation of a word that in Greek, meant divine, divine nature, or divinity. Call it doctrinal prejudice, whereby they insert what they believe for doctrine, even though it is not supported in Greek terms. But beyond that, we have received a spiritual circumcision from Christ, rather than a fleshly one, taking off the sins of the flesh and being buried symbolically as well through baptism. The key words here are symbolically and spiritually, which things were represented in the law by fleshly types and figures, shadows of the spiritual things. I should point our that we were raised, too, in figure and promise, so that we can be assured of a resurrection as well.

Colossians 2:13 And you, being dead in the offenses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all the offenses, 14 blotting out the handwriting in the ordinances against us, which was contrary to us, even He has taken it out of the midst, nailing it to the cross; 15 having stripped the rulers and the authorities, He made a show of them in public, triumphing over them in it.

>> We are no longer uncircumcised in a spiritual sense, pursuing the flesh and sin. The law was blotted out, nailed to the cross no less.

Colossians 2:16 Then do not let anyone judge you in eating, or in drinking, or in respect of a feast, or the new moon, or of Sabbaths, 17 which are a shadow of coming things, but the body is of Christ.

>> This is one of the biggest, most important statements from Paul or anyone as regards to the law. We are not to be judged, nor are we to judge others by whether they keep the law in regards to what we eat, drink, or observe for festivals, feasts, new moons, OR OF SABBATHS, which are what? Shadows of coming things, but the real body and substance of which is Christ, the ultimate fulfillment of the law.

So if someone suggest that you observe the Sabbath on the wrong day, meaning Sunday, tell him or her that you do not observe the Sabbath at all and neither did any of the early Christians properly instructed by the Apostles. Meeting on Sunday has nothing to do with observing the Sabbath. The Sabbath was done away with, along with the rest of the law. We met on Sundays because that is how the Apostles instructed us to do about 1950 years ago and has been done ever since. And it is to commemorate the Lord's resurrection on the first day of the week. The first day was observed to make a drastic distinction between how the Jews observed on the last day, but God's true servants on the first day, as part of the observance and keeping of the new covenant between God and men.

Colossians 2:18 Let no one condemn you, delighting in humility and worship of the angels, pushing into things which he has not seen, being puffed up by the mind of his flesh without a cause, 19 and not holding fast the Head, from whom all the body having been supplied through the joints and bands, and having been joined together, will grow with the growth of God.

>> Some delight in mock humility, possibly referring to things like fasting, inflicting punishment and pain on one's self, asceticism, and the worship of angels, speaking of things they have not actually seen as if they had seen them, thinking they are so smart and insightful, without any real evidence to back that evaluation up, and not obeying the head, Christ, and remaining in his word and the words of the ones he sent forth, the Apostles.

We need not feel condemned by them, including the Judaizers. But I do think Paul is aiming more at true philosophers like the Greeks and heretics like the Gnostics since what Paul describes here sounds much like the Gnostics and others who speculated about things they did not know about and make up stories and characters never mentioned by God or His servants, which included angel worship, and as time would pass, the worship of saints as well.

Colossians 2:20 If, then, you died with Christ from the elements of the world, why are you under its decrees, as living in the world? 21 Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch, 22 These things are all to rot away in the using, according to the "injunctions and teachings of men." [Isaiah 29:13]. 23 Which things indeed have a reputation of wisdom in self-imposed worship and humility, and unsparing severity of the body, not in any honor with respect to gratification of the flesh.

>> 20 & 21 are definitely referring to the law again. The law and philosophy are rotting away. They are from men, having been created by them and taught by them. They did not remain loyal to the Bible. Many of the early Christian writers would become guilty of that to varying degrees, themselves. But in 23, it would seem that Paul is covering both the law and various philosophies of men, neither of which is any profit to Christians.

Yet it is amazing how much we have retained of the teachings of men over the centuries so that the beliefs of mainstream common popular Christianity have little in common with the scriptures. That could be why they are not bitterly persecuted in the USA for they are no different from those of the world, alienated from God. The world loves its own and as long as so called Christians eagerly embrace the secular doctrine of war and participation in the politics of Satan, I mean, world (really, I mean both), they will be seen as part of the world, just as they truly are.

From these many discourses of Paul, the Apostle to the nations, we should be able to see that the law definitely is not required of us any longer. That is, the law of observances and rituals. we have new rituals to observe now. We have baptism, the Lord's supper or passover, meeting on the first day of the week for a consideration of the scriptures, observing the Lord's covenant meal, and sharing what we have, and showing love to all always, but especially to ours in the faith. These are the symbols and observances we are commanded to keep. These will be dealt with in another article where both a consideration of the scriptures on these matters will take place, as well as what early post-apostolic Christian writers had to say about such things.

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