Tag Archives: Abraham

Examining Paul’s letter to the Galatians

The letter to the Galatians, one of the most misunderstood sections in the bible, have become one of the main sources used to label God’s law as a “curse which was annulled through Christ”. This post will attempt to analyse, review and explain this letter written by Paul, using the overall context and try to put to rest many of the misinterpretations and misunderstandings that are floating around in modern Christianity.

The following study is broken down into these key parts for your ease.
1. Exhortation
2. Background
3. Summary
4. Explanation
5. Conclusion

1. Exhortation
It is important to keep in mind the audience and their background as we read this letter, so that we do not read any of our preconceived notions into the text. We must not pluck verses out of a letter meant to be read as one single document. Even though verses and chapters have been divided for us by translators of the Bible, it is important to remember that there were no such divisions made in Paul’s original letter. Furthermore, it is mandatory to keep in mind Peter’s warning regarding Paul’s writings (2Pe 3:15,16) where he states that some things written by Paul are hard to understand and that they are distorted by people who are unstable and unlearned.

2. Background
Authored by Paul – “the misunderstood Apostle”, this letter was written around 50 – 60AD to the congregation of believers in Galatia, a ancient district in what was known as Asia Minor(modern day Turkey), which was occupied by Celtic tribes, from as far as 3rd century BC. The Gauls – of Celtic origin, who were called “Galatae” (Galatians) by 3rd-century writers, settled in the territory in 3rd century BC, and became part of the Roman protectorate in 85 BC.

Statuette of Cybele on a cart drawn by lions - The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Celts who worshiped nature with the help of their druids, are believed to have worshiped the Phrygian form of the nature deity of all Asia Minor, known as “the great mother of the gods”. Known also as Cybele and Magna Mater, the pagan goddess had a holy week in March and a Festival named “Megalesia” in her honor. Various other pagan deities such as Zeus, Hercules, Hermes and Artemis were also worshiped in Galatia according to Coins found from the province.

Paul who had at least visited Galatia twice in his journeys according to the Acts of the Apostles (16:6, 18:23), writes this letter soon after their conversion, as per his complaints of their speedy apostasy (Gal 1:6). The Galatians had believed the Gospel, but were now being influenced into thinking that they were not truly saved until they were circumcised as per the beliefs of some 1st century Jewish believers of Christ. This question was the main subject matter of the meeting of the Jerusalem Council, mentioned in Acts 15. It is important to note that just like there is a debate today as to whether or not we need to obey God’s Law, in Paul’s day, the main debate revolved around whether a person is truly saved if he is not circumcised. (Acts 15:1-2, 15:5-7, 21:20-24)

While many a time Paul refers to all Jews as “the Circumcision”, (as they were all circumcised on the 8th day after their birth by their parents, unlike the Gentile believers), It is important to note that the group usually known as the “Circumcision Party” were a group of Jewish believers of Christ who held to the view that Gentiles could not be saved unless they were Circumcised. This religious view originated from the Pharisaic sect and their Oral Laws (also known as the Traditions of the Fathers/Elders). Circumcision was a statute given to the parents, starting with Abraham(Gen 17:11-12) and became part of the Mosaic Covenant later(Lev 12:3). Nowhere was it a pre-requisite for Salvation, as Abraham himself walked with God for 25 years before he received the sign of Circumcision as part of the Abrahamic Covenant and was adjudged righteous before the act of Circumcision(Rom 4:3,10,11). Paul is seen standing up against their teachings both in his letters (Tit 1:10,14, Gal 6:12,13, Philip 3:2,3) and in person(Act 15:1,2, Gal 2:11-14). Gal 2:13 proves that not all Jews were of the Circumcision Party. Peter himself had a run in with this group previously(Act 11:2-18). It must be pointed out that Paul did not take issue with the act of Circumcision, circumcising Timothy(Act 16:3) and saying it is of “much value” in Rom 2:25 & 3:1,2. His whole argument revolved against the idea of “Circumcision as an act for justification/Salvation” which will become apparent as we move through the letter to the Galatians.

3. Summary
The main subject of the letter is the question of “whether one should be circumcised to be saved?”. This point will become evident as we start dissecting the letter further. The letter starts off with a greeting (Gal 1:1-5) followed by a brief account of his calling (Gal 1:6- 2:10). Then he proceeds to tackle the issue at hand “does anyone need to be circumcised to be saved” (Gal 2:11- 5:12), and ends with additional guidance, final words and a blessing (Gal 5:13 – 6:18).

4. Explanation
Key areas of importance will be underlined for your benefit.

Gal 1:1-5
Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;) And all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia: Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Short greeting by Paul to the brothers of Galatia, introducing himself and glorifying Messiah Yeshua(Jesus’ true name) with Father God in Heaven.

Gal 1:6-7
I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.

Paul starts by admonishing the Galatians for removing themselves from Christ unto another Gospel. The “Gospel” or “Good News”, as per the apostles was simply that there was life after death through the resurrection of Christ (1Cor Chap 15). Even though he writes of Galatian believers turning to another gospel, he is quick to call it “not another”, in the very next sentence. There are some who have been bringing confusion to the congregation, by teaching them some thing contrary to what Paul had been teaching. These teachers were believers in Yeshua, as they were preaching the same Gospel, but they were also perverting the gospel with their ideas. We will find about these ideas, as we proceed.

Gal 1:8-12
But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Paul explains that anyone (whether it be man or an angel from Heaven) who preaches a gospel contrary to what is taught by the Apostles, would be under a curse. And that He obeys God rather than men – as a true servant of Christ does not try to please the whims of men. Furthermore, he confirms that the Gospel he preached came to him by revelation – pointing to the revelation he had on his way to Damascus (Act 9:3-7, 22:6-10). It is apparent that Paul goes on to explain his calling, because certain people had questioned his ministry and whether he can be trusted to deliver truth. According to Paul,not even an Angel from Heaven can change God’s Word/Good news.

Gal 1:13-24
For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers. But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother. Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not. Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia; And was unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea which were in Christ: But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed. And they glorified God in me.

Paul provides a detailed account of his work as an apostle after he believed in Yeshua as Messiah. It is important to note that he mentions “the Jews’ religion” or Judaism of his day and that he was above many in the faith. (We know that Paul was part of the sect known as the pharisees – Phil 3:5). He also reports that he was “exceedingly zealous of the traditions of the fathers”. The “traditions of the fathers/elders” is a key dynamic which needs to be understood when reading this letter. It is a known fact that the Pharisees observed a set of laws/rules known as the “Oral Law”, in addition to the written Law of God given through Moses. This “Oral Law” is known as the “traditions of the fathers/elders”(Mat 15:2, Mar 7:3,5) . This same set of laws live on to this day, among a sect of Judaism known as “Orthodox” – and is in the form of a book called the Talmud/Mishnah, today. As per the name, “the tradition of the elders” are traditions that have been handed down by the Elders/Fathers/Rabbis which was considered as Law, and equal to, or more important than God’s Law. The importance of knowing this information will become apparent as we proceed through the study. (For further study on this topic, please refer “Who were the Pharisees” & “What are Phylacteries”).

Gal 2:1-2
Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also. And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain. But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised: And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage: To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you. But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man’s person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me: But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter;  (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:) And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision. Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do.

Paul continues his account from the chapter before, explaining that he communicated what he taught, his gospel, his good message to the Apostles of repute, privately. It is clear that he wanted to make sure his work was done according to the Apostles in Jerusalem, as he communicated his gospel with them privately, so that he knew he had not run in vain. This shows that he had the approval of Jerusalem, when it came to what he taught. This becomes even more clearer when you read Acts 21:17-26, where James conveys how some thought Paul taught against God’s Law, but it was only a misunderstanding. James makes it clear that they have passed judgement, proclaiming new believers among the gentiles to be subject to 4 laws before they are accepted into the fold. His judgement was that the rest would be learnt at synagogue, every Sabbath day(Acts 15:21). Please read this study for more information on the judgement given in Acts 15.

The very next sentence takes a sudden turn from all that Paul was explaining so far, and brings us to the issue at hand. “But even Titus, who was with me, was not forced to be circumcised, though he was a Greek”. This sentence needs close examination, as it will reveal the underlying issue of “forced circumcision”. It is apparent that some taught the gentiles that “without being circumcised, one cannot be truly saved”(Act 15:1). This was the addition to the Gospel Paul spoke of, in his introduction(Gal 1:6-9). Some were adding to the Good news of “everyone being saved through Christ”. Their addition was that even though we are saved through Messiah, Gentiles should be circumcised to be truly saved. Jews were circumcised on the 8th day after their birth. Gentiles who underwent no such thing, were uncircumcised – hence the issue of whether one needs to be circumcised or not.

While circumcision is a statute of God, it has never been a prerequisite for Salvation. God’s grace alone saves us – this has been the case, even in the time of the Old Testament. So, where did this teaching of “Salvation not being possible unless you are circumcised” originate? It is not a teaching that originates from the Old Testament Scriptures. Reading Acts 15:1&5, we receive another clue into the origins of this idea. This idea was known as a “custom of Moses” and it was promoted by the believers in Messiah, who belonged to the sect of the Pharisees. The words “custom/manner of Moses” draws direct attention to the “traditions of the elders/fathers” mentioned before by Paul(Gal 1:14), and is evident by the fact that it was backed by the sect known as the Pharisees. It is important to note that “custom of Moses” is clearly different to “Law of Moses”.

Coming back to the study, we see Paul defending the liberty in Christ, which is obedience to God’s Word and no other extra teachings such as the “traditions of the elders”, and accuses of false brothers who are trying to put the congregation back in bondage. The traditional understanding of this verse among today’s Christian is that “God’s Word/Law” is bondage. I would like to challenge this preconceived idea – as per what we have gathered so far from the letter – and present that the bondage Paul is speaking of is, none other than man-made teachings such as the “traditions of the elders”. In other words, “liberty” is obeying God’s Word, while “bondage” is obeying man-made teachings as God’s Word.

Paul then goes onto explain that the Apostles understood that he was entrusted the work of taking the Gospel to the Gentiles/uncircumcised, while the likes of Peter were entrusted the mission to the Jews/circumcised. He goes on further to say that the Pillars in the faith, such as James, Cephas & John had also given Paul the “right hand of fellowship” towards his mission/teaching to the gentiles, asking additionally only that he remember to take care of the poor.

Gal 2:11-15
But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation. But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews? We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles,

As Paul reports a past event where he corrected Peter, the circumcision question is raised again. As Paul describes, Peter and all the other Jews had been eating with the gentile believers in Antioch. This was an unusual act for the Jews, as it was not a social norm at the time. It was considered unlawful for a Jew to keep company with gentiles (Act 10:28). This was a custom which had no root in God’s Word, but had become a norm by the 1st century. In fact, God had shown the error of disassociation with gentiles through a vision to Peter. Additionally, Peter had been accused of eating with Gentiles by the group named the “Circumcision” before (Acts 11:2,3).

We see Paul reporting that Peter had withdrawn from having fellowship with the gentile believers, fearing this “Circumcision” group. Other Jews had also followed suit (this shows that the “circumcision” does not refer to all Jews, but only a specific group in this case just as in Acts 11;2,3). Paul writes that he saw them going astray from the “truth of the gospel”. By disassociating with the Gentile believers, Peter was effectively promoting that “Circumcision” played a key part in Salvation. The “truth of the Gospel” was that a believer was saved through the Grace of God. Peter and the Jewish believers were exhibiting that the Gentiles who had not being circumcised were not truly part of their fellowship and were not walking uprightly according to the Gospel. This had led Paul to admonish Peter by explaining that Paul & Peter who were both Jews by birth, born to the faith of God in Heaven, were different from the Gentiles who are sinners as they did not have God. Paul goes on to say that if he was a true Jew(A Circumcised Child of God), he would not act as a Gentile(Uncircumcised Sinner) and try to compel Gentiles to live as Jews. In other words, he would not compel (through his disassociation with Gentile believers) the Uncircumcised Gentiles to be Circumcised – as his actions gave the idea that without Circumcision, the Gentiles were not truly part of the congregation.

Gal 2:16-21
Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid. For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

In the previous section, Paul went on to challenge Peter for his lapse in judgement where Peter indicated that an “uncircumcised Gentile was not saved” through disassociating with the Gentiles. In this section, Paul explains this teaching to the Galatians. No man is justified through the “Works of the Law”. No man achieves salvation through the “obedience to God’s Word”. Salvation is a free gift given through the faith we place on God and the sacrifice of Messiah. Turning God’s Law/Word into a set of rules that can be obeyed to achieve righteousness/salvation was what Paul stood against, calling it “Works of the Law”. In other words you were working to attain salvation through the Law, by saying a Gentile is saved through the act of Circumcision. There is no backing for this idea in the Old Testament Scriptures. No one achieved salvation through Circumcision. No one is justified/made righteous/ saved through the observation of Law.

Paul explains that the “uncircumcised gentiles” who are seeking justification/salvation through Christ, does not mean that the Messiah serves a sinful congregation(because the uncircumcised gentiles were seen as sinners still in need of salvation which could be achieved through the observation of circumcision). Paul talks next about not building again which he destroyed. This is surely “the traditions of the elders” mentioned in Gal 1:14, which he says he was extremely zealous for. The “Work of the Law” in discussion in this letter which is “Salvation through Circumcision” is a “tradition of the elders” which Paul says he “destroyed” in himself.

Taking the the above as context, it is clear that Paul speaks of two Laws in the next verse. “Gal 2:19  For I through the law(God’s Law) am dead to the law(Oral Law/Traditions of the elders) , that I might live unto God”. Both the Oral Law and Written(God’s) Law were considered Law in the 1st Century, especially by the “Circumcision Party” who seeked to enforce it on Gentiles. Verse 13 provides the context, to which Law was destroyed by the Other. True Salvation was from God and not by Works done by the individual.

If a person was seeking salvation through obedience to the Law, he ideally neutralizes the Grace given by God freely, which comes through the death/sacrifice of Messiah. The Grace of God is what makes all righteous – and is a free gift which cannot be earned.

Gal 3:1-6
O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain. He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

Paul admonishes the Galatians for being led astray by these vain teachings. He questions the Galatians whether any of them received the Holy Spirit through the obedience of Law or the faith they had in God? He questions them asking whether after they have received the Spirit of God, they believe “circumcision” could make them perfect/righteous/justified. It is clear that the Galatians have suffered some sort of persecution, and Paul asks them to make sure that it was not in vain. He wants the Galatians to ponder on the question of “Circumcision for Salvation” by looking at the physical signs/miracles done by the Spirit amongst them. If they were not saved, how could the Spirit of God be working miracles in their congregation?

Gal 3:6-9
Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.

Paul brings the example of Abraham and how he was justified through faith(Gen 15:6). As God promised that the nations would be blessed through Abraham who was made righteous through Faith, Paul makes the case that the Galatians who are part of the “uncircumcised gentiles” would also be blessed through faith.

Gal 3:10-14
For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

A critical misunderstanding must be addressed and resolved in this section. Most Christians believe that the Law is a Curse. Nothing can be further from the truth. Please read this study if you want to know more about the “Curse OF the Law”.  Paul tells the Galatians that whoever wants to achieve salvation through “Works of the Law” are under a curse, as the Law says that whoever disobeys the law is under a curse(Deut 27:26). Paul quotes Habakkuk 2:4 saying that we are justified before God through faith. No one can be justified before God by the Law, as all have fallen short(Psa 143:2, Ecc 7:20). The Law is there for 3 reasons – to show what sin is, to curse us when we break it & to bless us when we obey it. Faith is what brings you into favour with God. Faith is all you need to receive salvation. Law is there to guide you afterwards, on how to live life. That is why Paul says “And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.” Faith first, Law second. Since no one can keep His Law perfect, we are bound to be cursed with the curses written in the Law. These curses written in the Law are what Messiah took on Himself. So as we have faith in God, He moves us from death to life, and as we obey Him, if we are to fall short, Christ has already taken the curses meant for us.

♦ Blessings & Curses of the Law: Deu 11:26-28, Deu 30:15,19, Deu 29:21 Dan 9:11, Jos 8:34
♦ List of Blessings for obedience(keeping His Covenant by obeying God’s Law) in Deut 28:1-14 & Lev 26:1-13
♦ List of Curses for disobedience(breaking His Covenant by disobeying God’s Law) in Deut 28:15-68 & Lev 26:14-39

Gal 3:15-18
Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man’s covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto. Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise.

It can never be emphasized enough here of the reason for the Galatians to consider Circumcision as a valid reason for salvation. When they were taught (much like in Antioch – Acts 15) that without circumcision you are not saved, they were scared that the promise comes after circumcision. The belief was that “Circumcision” comes from Moses – indeed it was given to the people by Moses – but it was instituted through Abraham(Joh 7:22). But nowhere did it say that it was a requirement for Salvation. Abraham himself walked with God for 25 years and received the promises before circumcision. So Paul used Scripture to explain this truth to the confused Galatians. (It is important to note that we must not think less of the Galatians, as this was a genuine doctrinal issue which was not easily settled. Paul and Barnabas had a hard time settling this matter in Acts 15:1,2 which is why they had to get the issue settled in Jerusalem)

In Gal 3:15, Paul makes an important point which is missed by many readers. He says that “even when it pertains to a man-made covenant, no one can add or take away from it”, and then explains that the Covenant made by God through Moses cannot be dis-annulled by the  Covenant God made through Abraham. The Abrahamic Covenant will not be broken because of the Mosaic Covenant which followed. Food for thought, for whomever believes that the Mosaic Covenant is broken because of the New Covenant.

Paul continues explaining that the Promise of Salvation came through the Abrahamic Covenant and that the “terms” were given through the Mosaic Covenant. One did not cancel the other. Abraham, and the nations through him, were to be blessed – which was a promise made before the Mosaic Covenant, to which the believing Gentiles were now qualified through Christ – the Promised Seed of Abraham. The Inheritance or heir-ship in the Kingdom came through the Abrahamic Covenant and not through the Law.

Gal 3:19-22
Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator. Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one. Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.

Since Paul has now said that the inheritance and heir-ship comes through the promise made to Abraham, he then explains the reason for God’s Law. He says that it was given because of transgression. In other words, it showed how to not live contrary to God’s ways. In the same stroke, Paul declares that the Promise is not against the Law either! He says “God Forbid” such a thing! According to his words which restates Scripture, he says that God’s Law was never meant to give life or make us righteous. The Scriptures themselves say that all are under sin(1Kin 8:46, Ecc 7:20, Psa 130:3). No man can make himself righteous through the Law as the Scriptures correctly conclude. Righteousness comes through the promise made to the Faithful. The Promise made to Abraham. That promise was Christ, and Abraham also had faith in Him(Joh 8:56).

Gal 3:23-29
But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Before faith came, that is Christ – the promised one, who even Abraham put his faith on, everyone was kept under the care of the Law. They were guarded by the Law. (Some emphasize how “kept under the Law” showcases the harshness of the Law and how it kept us under its thumb – I would like to point out that the word “kept” used here is “G5432 – froo-reh’-o”, meaning a watcher, to mount guard, to hem in, protect.)

The next verse explains Paul’s words further. The Law was a Schoolmaster who brought us to Christ, till we were justified by Faith. After Christ gave us the promised justification through faith, we are no longer accountable to the Schoolmaster but Christ Himself. (Some point at this verse as proof that we are no longer this harsh Schoolmaster which is the Law. It is advantageous to know that the word used by Paul was “G3807 – pahee-dag-o-gos’ (Thayer Definition – a tutor, i.e. a guardian and guide of boys. Among the Greeks and the Romans the name was applied to trustworthy slaves who were charged with the duty of supervising the life and morals of boys belonging to the better class. The boys were not allowed so much as to step out of the house without them before arriving at the age of manhood). As per Paul we were entrusted to the guardian of the Law till Christ came. The Law was a tutor which supervised and guided the life and morals of the Children of God till the promise of God came to fruition. We were supposed to learn from the tutor till we were old enough to put the learning to practice without supervision. It is erroneous to say that “the Law is done away”, using such a verse when Paul himself said that the Law was never against the Promise a few pen strokes before.

Paul concludes the first section of his teaching by saying, that we become Children of God through faith in Messiah. For whoever is baptized into Christ puts on Christ, becoming one body, so that there is no more division such as Jew/Greek, etc. If we are part of Christ, we are part of Abraham (from who’s seed Christ came), which means we are partakers of the promise of our Father Abraham.

Gal 4:1-7
Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world: But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

Paul has already made the case that Gentile converts are heirs through the promise made to Abraham – who is Christ. Now he explains that an heir is under guardians and overseers, nothing but a servant – till he/she come of age. Paul explains that all (inclusive of himself) were under worldly principles when we were yet children in the faith – being under various teachers and overseers as we did not know any better. (It is important to note that “elements of the world” denote worldly teachings and not the word of God. As we read the next few verses, it will become clear that these “principles of the world” included
1.”traditions of the elders/fathers” for the Jew (from which the idea of Salvation through Circumcision comes)
2. “Pagan worship” for the Gentile

Paul goes on to say that when the Father discerned it was time, he sent Christ, who was also under the supervision of the Law, so that He could redeem/buy us, so that we could be justified through faith (which the Law could never do). In Gal 3:19-22 Paul had already explained that the Law, which is not against God’s Promise, could never make anyone righteous. “Justification/Salvation/The Promise” was through Faith all along.  If we were to stay under the supervision of the Law, no one could ever be justified, as the Scriptures say that “all are under sin”. Our adoption happens not by keeping of Law, but through Faith in Messiah – which is the Promise. The Law is there to only let us know what Sin really is. Remember, that the core theme is still justification through the Law – especially Circumcision.

The Holy Spirit, was the guarantee of this fact. Paul explains that the Galatians who had seen the power of the Holy Spirit were to know that they had already received justification/son-ship through Faith, and had no need to justify themselves through the Law – especially Circumcision.

Gal 4:8-16
Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods. But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain. Brethren, I beseech you, be as I am; for I am as ye are: ye have not injured me at all. Ye know how through infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel unto you at the first. And my temptation which was in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected; but received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus. Where is then the blessedness ye spake of? for I bear you record, that, if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me. Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?

Next, Paul explains being in bondage under the elements/principles of the world in the sense of the Gentile first. He says that when you (Galatians) did not know the one true Creator, they served them that are not gods (Trees/Sun/Statues/etc). Then Paul questions how they are turning back to the same weak and worthless worldly principles of pagan worship after they came to know the true creator. Paul is alarmed that they have started observing days, months, times and years. Some rush to say that these are Sabbaths and Feast days from the Scriptures. The context is clear that the Galatians were Gentiles involved in Pagan Worship, and after they came to be known by God, they have returned back to their old ways. Could this be the Festivals and Holy weeks celebrating Magna Mater/Cybele, to which the Galaltians were participating?). Paul is afraid that all his work has been in vain, and begs the Galatians not to think that Paul is speaking through anger or offense. He explains that they had done nothing wrong against him and that they had showed him kindness and being a blessing to him, even helping him through his infirmities. So, Paul questions, just because he speaks truth and admonishes the congregation – whether he has become an enemy unto them.

Gal 4:17-25
They zealously affect you, but not well; yea, they would exclude you, that ye might affect them.
But it is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing, and not only when I am present with you. My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you, I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I stand in doubt of you. Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law? For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.

Next, Paul moves onto explain being in bondage under the elements/principles of the world in the sense of the Jew. Unlike the Gentile, the Jew was brought up knowing the Creator, but they were still in bondage because of the way they handled the Law. Through their own traditions, known as the “Traditions of the Fathers/Elders” they had made the Law into a mode of reaching justification/righteousness/salvation. And they were now imposing the same on the confused Galatians. Paul starts by saying that they(the Circumcision Party who taught that Gentiles could not be saved unless they are circumcised) are affecting the Galatians in Zealousness – much like the zealousness Paul had(Gal 1:14). But they themselves refuse to hear/learn or be affected by the Galatians. Paul explains that it is a good thing to be affected by zealous teachings if they were good, whether he be present with them, or not.

Coming back to the main point in concern, he says that it is like he is experiencing birth pains till these children – his children, the Galatians come to maturity in Christ. He questions why they desire to be guarded by the Law, when we should be subject to Christ, and why they do not understand the Law of God. He then relates a story from the Law (Torah or the 5 books of Moses) to explain why we should not be justified by the Law and to show them the bondage, the Circumcision party is trying to put them in. His example from Gen 16 & 21, is as follows:

Abraham had 2 sons. one from a servant(Hagar) and one from a freewoman(Sarah). Isaac, the one from Sarah was born according to the promise of God, while Ishmael was born from Hagar according to the will of Abraham & Sarah because of their lack of faith. Paul explains that this has a hidden meaning, and was a picture of things to come. He explains further, that Isaac through Sarah and Ishmael through Hagar were symbols for the two Covenants. The Covenant which was given at the mount of Sinai gave birth to bondage – this was Hagar. Hagar was the mount of Sinai in Arabia (where most of the Ishmaelites dwelt) and corresponds to Jerusalem on earth, and its children – all the inhabitants who were the Jews. Paul says that just like Hagar, they are in bondage, while the heavenly Jerusalem is the mother of us all, and is free. (The majority of Christians use this example to show how God’s Law brings bondage, and how the New Covenant mentioned by Jeremiah and the author of Hebrews is what frees us from Law. This is a misunderstanding in several fronts, as the whole objective of Paul is to show that we are not justified by Law. Not that the Law is done away. In his own words “Is the Law against God’s Promise? God forbid!”. So what did he mean by this example?)

First of all, we must understand that the two covenants Paul is speaking of, are the Mosaic and Abrahamic. He had previously in Chapter 3, spoken in length, about the 2 covenants and how the Mosaic does not cancel the Abrahamic. His whole premise throughout has been that we are justified by faith through the promise given to Abraham, and not through the Law – especially circumcision, as the Galatians had been taught that they cannot be saved unless they get circumcised – as per the Circumcision party.

Paul explains that the Mosaic Covenant had given birth to Fleshly children who are still in bondage with their mother – earthly Jerusalem. Jews who were trying to be justified through the Law, and who were teaching “salvation through Circumcision” were the ones that symbolized Ishmael – born of flesh, and not promise, who were now under bondage with Jerusalem, as the Law could not save anyone. It must be stressed here that Paul is NOT saying that God’s Law is Bondage. He is saying that the current state of bondage that the religious Jews are in, has come about from the Law – The Mosaic Covenant. This does not mean, it is a fault of God or the Covenant itself, but of the ones who received it and put it into practice.

The Abrahamic Covenant was what gave birth to the children of Promise, who are free with their mother – heavenly Jerusalem. Believers, whether Jew or Gentile, who came to be justified through the faith they put in God and the work of Messiah resembled Isaac, born of faith and promise of a freewoman.

In simpler terms:-

Mosaic Covenant

Abrahamic Covenant

Mother of Flesh – Hagar = Earthly Jerusalem

Mother of Promise – Sarah = Heavenly Jerusalem

Ishmael = Ones who try to be justified through Law

Isaac = ones who are justified through faith

Has given birth to children in bondage

Gives birth to children of promise (heirs)

Gal 4:26-31
For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband. Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.

Paul, then quotes Isaiah’s words in Isa 54:1, which speaks of the 2 houses of Israel. The House of Israel which was said to have been divorced (Isa 50:1) and was exiled for their adultery was the desolate woman. The House of Judah, who was punished with a 70 year exile period was the one with the husband. Isaiah prophesied that there would be many more children of the desolate House of Israel than of the married House of Judah. The return of the House of Israel was prophesied, and the gentiles who were coming into the fold of the Messiah were part of that woman who was called desolate. (For an in-depth study into the 2 houses of Israel, read this study)

As promised to Abraham, the nations or the Gentile world were to be blessed by the Abrahamic Covenant. Paul explains that just as Isaac was of promise, we are also of promise. And that just as Ishmael (the flesh) persecuted Isaac (the spirit), the fleshly Jews, who are trying to justify themselves through the Law are persecuting the Gentiles who are trying to be justified through faith. Paul goes further on quoting Gen 21:10-12 speaking of how the servant and her son was put out without receiving heirship with the freewoman and her son. He explains that in the same way, the Galatians are to put out the teachers and teachings of “salvation through Law”/”salvation through circumcision” as those will not receive heirship along side the ones who claim “Salvation through Faith”/”Salvation through promise”. Paul exclaims that we are not justified by Law but by faith – we are not of the servant, but of the free.

Gal 5:1-5
Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.

Bondage came through making the Mosaic Law into a way for salvation. God’s Law was simply the way to know what sin is, the way to obey Him. God entrusted the Law to bless who obey Him with Life and Curse who disobeys with death. This was the curse that Messiah took upon himself. This was the liberty we received. A person who tries to keep God’s Law perfectly, will still fall short and be cursed according to His Word. We can be released from such a curse only through having Faith that he will forgive us through the sacrifice of Messiah. A person who believes in himself to keep God’s Law for Salvation is in bondage, as there is no way he can redeem him/herself from the curse of death. Paul tells the Galatians not to try and receive salvation through the Law (specifically circumcision in their case) after they have been redeemed from the curse of death through Christ. Paul makes himself crystal clear by telling them that whoever practices circumcision for the reason of justification (as he says Justified by the Law) has made Christ’s sacrifice worthless. Moreover, if you are circumcised so that you believe you will receive salvation, that means you are trying to be justified by the Law, which means you must keep the whole law perfectly, without error – as one mistake, and it is in vain, as you are judged a transgressor and cursed with death. A person who puts his/her faith in the Law for salvation makes Christ’s sacrifice a vain thing thereby falling from God’s Grace. Paul explains that all we can do is have hope through the Spirit that we will be judged righteous through faith, as we are unable to save ourselves.

Gal 5:6-12
For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love. Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. I have confidence in you through the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise minded: but he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be. And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased. I would they were even cut off which trouble you.

After explaining the reason for the Law and explaining the justification through faith, Paul now gets back to the point in question – Circumcision for salvation. He declares that circumcision does not add anything to whoever is justified through Christ – nor does it take away anything from the uncircumcised. Paul questions the Galatians about the person who is bringing these unsettling doctrines to them, and states that he will be accountable for what he teaches. He warns that just as a little leaven puffs up the whole dough, these wrong doctrines can affect the whole congregation. Paul is confident that the Galatians will consider his words and turn back to correct doctrine. Paul who had believed and taught these principles of “Circumcision for salvation” through the “traditions of the elders” as a pharisee, questions the Galatians, “If I am still preaching Circumcision, why am I still persecuted?” In other words, if he was preaching the religious doctrines of the Pharisees according to the “Traditions of the fathers” there would be no need for him to be persecuted. If he was preaching the same doctrine as the “Circumcision party”, then there is no need of preaching salvation through Christ. Paul hopes that these trouble makers would be removed swiftly from the Galatian congregation.

Gal 5:13-18
For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.

Even as at one extreme Law is used for Salvation, the other extreme is to say there is no Law. So Paul warns the Galatians about using the freedom received through faith in Christ, wisely. To never make it an opportunity to be subject to the flesh/sin, but to love and serve each other. And to remember that the whole Law pertaining to each other, hangs on Love thy neighbor, as thyself. Paul begs them to stop arguing and being at each others’ throats on these matters. He asks to follow God’s Holy Spirit, as it will lead you away from the flesh/sin. And if you are in harmony with God’s Spirit, that means you are obedient to Him in every way – which means the Law does not need to guard you, as you know what is right from wrong. In other words you are not under the supervision of the Law, if you have God’s Spirit in you, as you will be obedient anyway.

Gal 5:19-26
Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

Paul makes himself clear that people who engage in sin/fleshly desire such as adultery, fornication, uncleanness and the like, would not be allowed entrance to the Kingdom of God. He urges them to practice love, joy, peace and the like which are the fruits of the Spirit. Towards all good and obedient things towards God and man, there is definitely no Law, as the Law shows Sin, and is against sin. The Law is never against righteousness, that is why there is no law against all good fruits which proceed from God. He explains further that fleshly lusts and affections are put to death by those who are truly Christ’s. Paul urges the Galatians not to provoke or envy each other, and not to desire vain glory, such as that comes from saying “I am Circumcised, so I am better than you”.

Gal 6:1-10
Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden. Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things. Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

Paul comes to the end of his letter and gives advise in several matters, asking the congregation to bring back a person in sin or wrong doctrine back in love, being careful not to be tempted by the same. He asks them to become part of each other’s lives fulfilling the path that Messiah took. He implores them not to be high minded, thinking of themselves above others. Paul asks each of them to test their own doctrines and ministry, so that no one rejoices in the effect they have had on others, but in his/her own life. Teachers should teach the goodness of the word. Paul asks none to be deceived. Who engages Sin will receive rewards of Sin – which is death, and who engages in Spirit receives rewards of Spirit – which is Life.  He asks the Galatians not to be weary of doing good – especially towards believers in Christ.

Gal 6:11-18
Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand. As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh. But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God. From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus. Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.

Paul points to the long letter he has written to them, and concludes his answer to the question of “Salvation through Circumcision”. He explains that “they” are compelling you to be circumcised for outward reasons, so that they will not be persecuted by the Jewish religious authority, as Paul is. They desire Gentiles to be circumcised so that they can boast about the people they have brought into their doctrine, and not because they keep God’s Law (as they were breaking most of it through their oral law – the traditions of the fathers/elders). Paul says that he does not glory in anything that he has done or the countless congregation he initiated, but in Christ’s sacrifice and the justification he receives through grace from God. Paul once again pronounces that in Christ what benefits is a new man who has changed his ways, and that being circumcised or being uncircumcised adds nothing to this redeeming work. He bids peace and mercy of God towards them who would stick to this ruling. And asks the Galatians not to trouble him further on this question. With final salutations, he completes his writing.

5. Conclusion
Reading the Letter written to the Galatians as such, a letter, from start to end – helps clear out many misconceptions and misunderstandings that have risen up through Paul’s words. Peter was correct in warning the believers to be careful of Paul’s Letters, as many were misinterpreting his words even in the 1st Century. Is circumcision required for justification? is it a pre-requisite to being accepted as part of Messiah’s Congregation? These were the questions raised in Acts Chapter 15 as well as this letter to the Galatians. Paul dissects the Abrahamic Covenant and explains the essence of the sign of Circumcision as well as the theme of faith and righteousness. If righteousness came through a personal act, one could boast in receiving salvation through what he had done. Paul explained the error of this idea which was being taught by the Circumcision Party being a religious ritual coming down through the Oral Law (Traditions of the Fathers/Elders), existent even today. Erroneous teachings such as “The Law is a curse“, “If you obey the Law, you fall from Grace“, “the Law is done away” and “Law is bondage” are all exposed, while the true purpose of the Law, which was never given for Salvation, but was a light towards the path of Obedience comes out in the arguments of the Misunderstood Apostle – Paul, who was falsely accused of teaching against the Law of God.

Gentiles have to obey only 4 Commandments? Misunderstandings regarding Acts 15

As Christians, we have been taught that we are no longer under the “Old Testament”, and that the commandments of old have no bearing on us. But what if I told you that the decision made by James in Acts 15 is also from the Old Testament? Acts 15 is most often used as a clear indication that we are free from the Old Laws. And it is generally taught to all Christians that Gentiles, unlike Jews, need to only abstain from the four things decreed in Acts 15:20. If these 4 abstentions were proved to be from the Old Testament, would we see things differently?

In this study, we will attempt to look at the context of Acts 15 and the origins of these four abstentions, making it clear to all of us that James and the Jerusalem Council did not set Gentile converts free from God’s Law, but gave them a good starting point. The four Abstentions are as follows.

Act 15:20  But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.
(Abstain from    1.Pollutions of Idols    2.Fornication    3.Things strangled    4.Blood)

If you want to skip the lead up and the context of the Abstentions, and want to know about the origins of the 4 requirements and their connection to the Old Testament Scriptures, please move on to point no.7 given below. But I highly recommend you follow through, if you have the time on your hands for serious study.

1.Context of the events leading to this decision (Acts 14)
Leading upto Acts 15, we see that Paul and Barnabas sail in their missionary journey, ending up at Antioch (Act 14:26). It is here, in Antioch, that men from Judea come and teach the brothers as written in Acts 15:1.

2. What was the teaching that led to this Jerusalem council meeting? (Acts 15:1)
It is very important to know what exactly these men from Judea were teaching the congregation of Antioch.

Act 15:1  And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.

The teaching was that, “Whoever is not circumcised according to the custom of Moses, cannot be saved”. In other words, “you need to get circumcised to be saved”. This is obviously an unbiblical doctrine which Paul and Barnabas both opposed(Acts 15:2). Nowhere in the Scriptures do God require anyone to get Circumcised as a requirement for Salvation. Even the patriarch Abraham got called by God when he was 75 years old(Gen 12:1-4) but was given Circumcision as only a “sign” of the covenant between God and himself, when Abram was 99 years old (Gen 17:1,11). In a similar fashion, Joshua circumcised the Children of Israel before entering the promised land, as none of them had gotten circumcised along the way in their wilderness journey for 40 years(Jos 5:3-6). Circumcision was a commandment given by God, but nowhere does keeping any of God’s Commandments guarantee us salvation. Salvation, was, is, and ever will be, a free gift of God.

These men from Judea were making a claim that you needed to do a specific act to earn Salvation. It’s like someone saying to new converts that unless you’re baptised, you cannot be saved. Baptism is a commandment, but it does not guarantee us salvation.

3. Paul and Barnabas go to Jerusalem (Acts 15:2,3)
This dispute led the believers in Antioch to send Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem, so that they could return back to them with a favorable answer.

4. A question of what basic requirements are needed from a new convert (Acts 15:4-6)
After Paul and Barnabas were welcomed by everyone at Jerusalem, some of the believers of Christ who were from the Sect of the Pharisees (Yes, there were pharisees who believed!) expressed there views on what a new convert should be “required” to do.

Act 15:5  But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.

The view of some of the believers from the sect of Pharisees, was that they should indeed circumcise them and command them to keep God’s commandments. Zealous as this sounds, making or forcing anyone to obey God’s Law does not bring true obedience. This is why the Apostles and Elders considered this question and came to discuss what the basic requirements of a new convert should be (Act 15:6).

5. Peter’s Speech (Acts 15:7-11)
After there were disputes regarding the matter, Peter addresses the council proclaiming how through him, God declared the Gospel to the gentiles and how God did not see any difference between the Jew and the Gentile giving them the Holy Spirit, referring to Cornelius’ household as we see in Act 10.

Acts 15:10 is of special importance as we must clarify what Peter is talking about. He says “Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?”. Some Christians believe that the “yoke” Peter is talking about in this verse is the Law/Commandments. This does not make sense as Peter talks about tempting God by placing this yoke on disciples. If the yoke was God’s Commandments, this would mean that Peter is saying that they were tempting God by placing God’s Commandments on the disciples. furthermore, the next verse clarifies what Peter meant. Peter says “But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.” So the yoke can mean only one thing. Peter was saying that we should not make adherence to God’s Commandments a prerequisite to Salvation. In other words, we are saved through Grace and not through any commandment we keep. (Please note that this does not mean that Peter or any other member of the Council agreed or ever thought that new converts do not have to obey God’s Commandments. The issue was in keeping laws for salvation)

The other part of the statement he made, reads “which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear”. What does Peter mean by this? The religious establishment of his day believed that one could be saved only by keeping God’s Law. This is the yoke he is saying neither their fathers or they could bear. It is Obeying God to earn Salvation. (This fact is true in Orthodox Judaism even today. If someone wants to convert to Judaism, that person must prove that he is keeping God’s Law and be Circumcised prior to being accepted as a follower of Orthodox Judaism)

6. James’ speech and judgement/decision (Acts 15:13-20)
James makes it clear that God indeed had plans to bring Gentiles back to him, giving proof to the council from the Scriptures by quoting Amos 9:11,12 and paraphrasing Isa 45:21(read Isa 45:22 as well to understand James’ point). Finally, James makes his decision known. Firstly, he says that no one should trouble the Gentiles who are turning to God. But that they write asking them to abstain from Pollutions of Idols, Fornication, Things strangled & Blood.

7. Why these specific 4 abstentions and where do we see these in the Scriptures
We must spend a bit of time studying these 4 abstentions and where it comes from. The reason for these 4 abstentions would have originated because of the society they lived in. The abstentions themselves originate from the Old Testament, more specifically Lev Chapter 17&18. Let us read through each of the abstentions looking at the Old Testament origins of these as well.

1.Pollution of idols/Meat offered to idols
The Greek speaking world of the first century was known to be a culture that had many gods. A particular person at that time would worship many gods, depending on the day, season or circumstance. For some YHVH(God Almighty’s name) would have been another god that they could believe in. A restriction on sacrificing and partaking in any rituals to other gods was an understandable abstention. And the origins of this commandment is clearly from Lev 17 where God specifically says not to offer sacrifices to foreign gods, and that whoever does so would be cut off from being one of His people.

Lev 17:7-9  And they shall no more offer their sacrifices unto devils, after whom they have gone a whoring. This shall be a statute for ever unto them throughout their generations. And thou shalt say unto them, Whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers which sojourn among you, that offereth a burnt offering or sacrifice, And bringeth it not unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, to offer it unto the LORD; even that man shall be cut off from among his people.

2.Fornication
Fornication or sexual immorality was rampant in the 1st century Greek society. The Congregation in Corinth is said to have a big problem with fornication as it is recorded in 1Cor 5:1. This makes it clear, why James would mention “Fornication” as one of the 4 things to abstain from. And just like the other 3 abstentions, this is also found in the Scriptures. The whole of Leviticus Chapter 18 is descriptive of what sort of sexual activity is abominable to God. (Please read the whole chapter to go through each description. I have provided a shorter version highlighting a few, so as to prove the point. There are many more abstentions described in this portion of Scripture)

Lev 18:6-24  None of you shall approach to any that is near of kin to him, to uncover their nakedness: I am the LORD. … Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. Neither shalt thou lie with any beast to defile thyself therewith: neither shall any woman stand before a beast to lie down thereto: it is confusion. Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you:

3. Things Strangled
Just like in the society today, most of the butcheries in the 1st century did not know or adhere to killing an animal in the way which is stipulated in the Scriptures. “Strangled” by it’s mere definition means that it was not bled to death, letting the blood drain out of the meat. God made it clear in the Scriptures that no one was to eat blood. And even gave clear orders on how a person should kill an animal so that its meat could be consumed. Christians erroneously believe that they are free to eat what they like. Not only do we have to eat what is stipulated in the Scripture as “clean”, this abstention of things strangled, means we need to eat things which are prepared according to how it is commanded in Scripture. This abstention is also clearly described in Lev 17.

Lev 17:13  And whatsoever man there be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, which hunteth and catcheth any beast or fowl that may be eaten; he shall even pour out the blood thereof, and cover it with dust.

4. Blood
Eating meat of animals which have been “strangled” is closely connected with “Blood”. If the blood is not drained out properly, the consumer of the meat will inadvertently be consuming blood. This abstention, just like all the others proclaimed by James came from the Scriptures in Lev 17 as shown below. Historians say that most of the ancient pagan rituals even had people consuming blood of animals, to attain strength (such as from a bull). These practices of the first century might have also led James to bring out this abstention specifically.

Lev 17:10-12  And whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, that eateth any manner of blood; I will even set my face against that soul that eateth blood, and will cut him off from among his people. For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul. Therefore I said unto the children of Israel, No soul of you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger that sojourneth among you eat blood.

8. Final words from James (Acts 15:21)
Now some of us will have a hard time believing the evidence shown above in the 4 abstentions and their connection to Lev 17&18. Some would say, that it still does not prove that we need to keep any other commandments from the Old Testament. This is why the following verse is of so much importance. James finishes his speech and his decision with why he thinks it is enough to command these 4 abstentions only. He says “For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.” Why would he use such a statement to finish his speech? We should look at his judgement again, reading it altogether.

Act 15:19-21  Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.

His judgement hinges on a simple fact. For Moses is preached in every city being read in the synagogues every Sabbath. In other words, he is telling the council that they should not trouble the Gentiles, but only ask them to abstain from 4 things as the rest of the commandments can be heard in every city on every Sabbath. This statement proves two important facts and clears up a major misunderstanding.
1. The Jerusalem Council did not decide that the Gentiles are free from obeying God’s other Commandments
2. They knew all of the Gentile converts would attend synagogue and listen to the Old Testament (Moses) on the Sabbath

If this was not so, there would be no reason for him to make such a statement at the end of his speech as it is recorded in Acts 15:21.

Conclusion
Acts 15 and the decision made by the Jerusalem Council is one of the biggest misunderstood chapters in the New Testament today. I hope you have clearly understood the reason for this decision, the origins of these abstentions in Scripture and that it does not give us freedom to throw out all of God’s other commandments. No one should keep His commandments to earn salvation (which is impossible), but we must obey Him and His Commandments because we love our Heavenly Father. Just because “Thou shalt not kill” or “Thou shalt not steal” was not mentioned in the decision of James, does not mean Gentiles were exempt from obeying those Commandments. We cannot pick and choose what we obey and what we don’t from God’s everlasting Word, which will not loose even a jot or tittle, till heaven and earth pass away.

Do we need to Tithe? and who do we give our Tithes to?

A much debated subject in Christian circles today, is whether we need or need not tithe. Some say it is one of God’s Commandments. Others say that it is an important act of obedience, while this controversial subject is not talked about directly in other assemblies.

It is a well known fact that “Tithing” was instituted with the Law given through Moses (Mosaic Law). The same congregations & denominations that believe and teach that the Law in the Old Testament is “done away with”, somehow still enforce “tithing”. Even the ones who do not enforce Tithing, still stick to the belief that it is valid for today unlike the other Old Testament Laws.

Today, we will read into this topic and get to the bottom of the “Biblical Tithe”, answering the questions “whether we need to tithe” and if we do, “who do we give our tithes to?” (Please note that this study is not intended to be used as an excuse to stop giving to Our Heavenly Father. He neither requires or desires to collect material treasures that we bring to Him. On the contrary, this study is done to better understand the Biblical Tithe system and whether and how we should give a portion back to our God who supplies all our needs)

Tithing before the Law of Moses
The Truth is that Tithing is even mentioned before the Mosaic Law. Just like “Animal Sacrifices” and “Clean/Unclean Animal separation” which were part of the Mosaic Law; are mentioned before the giving of the Law, in the book of Genesis, Tithing was also done many years before Moses.

Abraham’s Tithe
In Gen 14:20, it is mentioned that Abraham gave tithes of all he had to Melchizedek, the priest of God Almighty.
Jacob’s Tithe
In Gen 28:22, Jacob also makes a promise to God, to give a tenth of all that God gives him.

The Commandment of Tithing, through the Law of Moses
Before we get into the Laws regarding Tithing, it is necessary for all of us to understand a few fundamental aspects of the priestly system which tithing was part of.

  • God instituted the Tribe of Levi to work in the Temple/Tabernacle that was instituted after Moses (Num 1:49-54, 3:6-10, 18:2-4)
  • Aaron was also of the tribe of Levi (Num 26:59, Jos 21:10)
  • God chose Aaron and his sons to be Priests in the Temple/Tabernacle forever (Exo 27:21, 28:1,41,43, 29:9, 40:13,15, 1Chr 23:13)
  • All Levites were not Priests. Only the line of Aaron could be appointed as Priests (Num 16:8-11, 1Chr 6:48,49, 23:28, 2Chr 35:14, 2Chr 13:9,10). Even John the baptist descended from the lineage of Aaron, just as his father Zecheriah (Luke 1:5 – compare the course of Abijah/Abia 1Chr 24:10,19)
  • Everyone from the tribe of Levi, (other than Aaron and his descendents who were the priests) did all the other work in the Temple/Tabernacle (1Chr 23:27-32)
  • The tribe of Levi did not have any inheritance in the Land (Num 18:23, Deut 10:8,9, 18:1,2, Jos 13:14,33)
  • Levites were only given cities to live in (which they did not own), in each of the portions of land divided amongst the other tribes (Num 35:1-3 & 7-8)

There are 4 types of Tithes mentioned in the Scriptures
Lev 27:30-33 is the first time the “Tithe” is specifically spoken of, by God Almighty. In this portion of Scripture, God mentions that the Tithe or Tenth of everything, whether seed, fruit, herd or flock, that the people “Israel” procures from the Land, which God gives them, is owned by Him. God says that it is also Holy/Consecrated to Him. But there is no further instruction regarding the Tithe mentioned in the Book of Leviticus. Accounting all of Scripture, we see that there was not 1, but 4 types of “Tithes” and specific instructions regarding these. Let us look at the 4 types of Tithes and try to clearly understand this Commandment regarding the Tithe.

1. The Levitical Tithe
The tithe which is commonly known by all, is actually the Tithe which was separated for the Levites. This Tithe was to be brought by all of Israel, and was to be given to the Levites. The Tithe which was brought was the inheritance set apart by God for the Levites (Num 18:21-24). All the tithes were given unto the Levites (Neh 12:44). It was the portion of the Levite (Neh 12:44), and was supposed to be divided amongst the Levites (Neh 13:10-13). God warns His people not to forsake the Levite (Deut 12:19). The Levites enjoyed the Tithes and whatever was left was stored in the treasury (2Chr 31:10). The fact that the Tithe went to the Levite, is even mentioned in the New Testament (Heb 7:5)

2. The Tithe given to the Aaronic Priests
God commanded that the Levites who received the Tithe would be required to give a tenth of it to Sons of Aaron, who were the priests (Num 18:25-32). This was also known as the “Tithe of Tithes” (Neh 10:38) It was the payment that they and their families got for the service they did in the Tabernacle (Num 18:31). The Tithe of the Tithe, that the priests who were in the lineage of Aaron received, was the best part of the Tithe which was acquired by the Levites who served the Priests (Num 18:29,32)

3. Tithe given to the Poor
On top of the Tithe brought to the Levites, every third year was also called the “Year of Tithing”(Deut 26:12). Every third year there was a separate Tithe which was supposed to be brought and given to the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless and the widow. It was basically given to the less fortunate, the poor and the people who could not fend for themselves (Deut 14:28,29). This Tithe is also mentioned by the Prophet Amos who talks to the idolatrous Israelites in a sarcastic manner (Amos 4:4)

4. The Tithe separated for God’s Appointed Times/Festivals/Feasts
God’s Appointed times which are commonly known as Feasts of God, which are mentioned in Leviticus 23, required everyone to come to Jerusalem 3 times a year (Exo 23:14,15,17, Deut 16:16, 2Chr 8:13). God specifically commanded everyone to bring a Tithe, that they themselves would use to celebrate before God (Deut 14:22-27). God wanted this Tithe to be used for rejoicing before Him (Deut 12:6,7). This Tithe could be only used to rejoice in Jerusalem along with the Levite (Deut 12:17,18). It could not be used in any other place.

Tithes were supposed to be brought to Jerusalem only
Just as no sacrifices or offerings could be made anywhere other than at the Temple/Tabenacle in Jerusalem, Tithes were also supposed to be brought to the place that God chose to “place His Name” (Deut 12:5,6,11, 14:23). Jerusalem is the only place that God placed His divine name Forever (1Kin 9:3, 11:36, 2Kin 21:4,7). It is called God’s Habitation (Isa 33:10, Ezr 7:15, 2Chr 29:6)

Is the Tithe valid for today?
The first thing to notice according to the 4 types of Tithes mentioned in the Scriptures, is that the Tithes that could be valid for us are only the “Levitical Tithe”, “Poor Tithe” & “Feast Tithe”. The Priests Tithe was a Tithe made by the Levites, and is excluded to us unless you are from the tribe of Levi. The “Levitical Tithe” was to be given to the Levites for their livelihood, as they did not have an inheritance. The “Poor Tithe” was to be brought to the Temple/Tabernacle in Jerusalem and distributed amongst the poor. And the “Feast Tithe” was to be enjoyed by oneself at the Feasts/Appointed times when they came to the Temple/Tabernacle in Jerusalem.

The problem today, with these 4 types of Tithes mentioned in the Scripture is, that the Temple built in Jerusalem is not there anymore. In the same manner that no Sacrifices or offerings can and has not been made at the Temple, since it’s destruction in 70AD, Tithing also cannot be done in any other place according to the Commandments of God. But according to all the Prophets and the Book of Revelations, The Jerusalem Temple will be built again. On such a day, the Tithes according to the Scriptures would be valid again.

Mixing Tithes with Offerings
Most Christian circles have mixed up the Offering (known as the “freewill offering” in the Old Testament) with Tithing, saying Tithing is valid for today, while it is actually not. Even if Tithing was valid, Pastors, Ministers & Leaders of congregations cannot receive the Tithe which God has separated for the Tribe of Levi. While offerings were collected and received to help the poor or the preaching of the Gospel, nowhere did Paul or any other Author receive or approve of taking Tithes.

In fact, Paul himself says that whoever that serves should receive an offering, (1Cor 9:9-14) but that he has never written or asked for anything in return for his service (1Cor 9:15). Receiving or giving an Offering, is not wrong or against God’s Word at all, as Paul is clearly proving through the use of the Old Testament Scriptures.

Can anyone who serves God, request Tithes?
Some take the stance that whoever serves God should receive the Tithe making themselves equal to the Levites. But we see no such event taking place in the New Testament. The Tithe was specifically separated for the Levite, the Poor and all who came for the feasts. Even though there were many synagogues in the time of Yeshua(Jesus’ true name) and even afterwards, as well as many congregations at houses throughout the 1st Century Church, there is no indication that anyone excepted Tithes, other than the Levites who worked in the House of God in Jerusalem.

Malachi 3:7-10
One of the proof texts used by many to say God wants you to Tithe, is Malachi 3:7-10. In this passage of Scripture Malachi prophesies to the Israelites saying they have robbed God by not giving the necessary Tithes and offerings. Verse 10 reads, “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” As a piece of Scripture that is connected to a promise, we must first of all, ask a few important questions regarding this verse. 1)What is the Storehouse? 2)Why does God want food in His House? 3)What is God referring to as My House?

The Storehouse mentioned in this verse is the treasury of the Temple (Neh 10:38, 12:44). God does not require food to eat, but the reason He mentions food in His house is that the Levites who serve would be given all of this (as per His Commandment) so that they can keep on serving at the Temple without hindrance. And the place God mentions as “My House” is the Temple which was built for Him in Jerusalem. This verse, read in context cannot mean that God is ordering believers today, to give Tithes to their Church Leaders.

Giving to the Widow, the Fatherless and the Stranger
Out of the Tithes mentioned in the Scriptures, the only clear category of people who could receive it today would be the poor. Throughout the Scriptures right up to the writings of the Apostles, the people who cannot fend for themselves have been asked to be taken care of (Deut 24:19-21, Psa 146:9, Jer 7:6,7, Zec 7:10, Mal 3:5, James 1:27). Using the portion that is separated for God to help the poor and helpless could be the closest we could get to a Biblical Tithe, in this day and age. It is not only acceptable, but is also an act that is surely noticed by God and approved throughout the Bible (Acts 10:4, Mat 6:4, Luk 12:33, Acts 9:36, 24:17)

Conclusion
It is clear that no one can point to Scripture to prove that they should rightly receive a Tithe from anyone, as the 4 types of Tithes mentioned in Scripture were given to the Levites, Priests, Poor and whoever came to celebrate the feasts of Yehovah. Leader, Pastors & Ministers have no authority to request or insinuate that the Tithe must be given to them and the institution that they are part of, when there is a clear set of rules made by Our Heavenly Father regarding this ordinance.

If someone does want to give a Tenth of what they earn to a Minister or a leader, it would be considered an “Offering”, which is not the same as the Tithe mentioned in the Scriptures. This does not mean that we should not and cannot separate or give a Tenth of our earnings to the Poor or the people who serve God Almighty. It is important though to make these decisions with discernment and help the people who are in need, the most. The portion we give, whether big or small, whether it is one tenth or not, should be done with Love and obedience to Our Father, so that it brings praise to Him and Him alone.

The meaning, the Character and Pronunciation of Almighty God’s Name YHVH

In one of the previous studies I presented to you, the evidence that the name of our Father, the Creator of Heaven & Earth, was clearly communicated to us through His Word ; and that this name appears throughout the Scriptures (more than 6000 times) even though it has been changed to LORD in our English translations. Wherever you come across the word “LORD” printed in CAPITAL letters in your English bibles, it is an instance where God’s name is expressly mentioned. (For a better understanding, please read the first part of this study)

Wherever you see “LORD” in the English translations, the Original Hebrew Manuscripts read “יהוה“ ; or the equivalent in English, which is “YHWH” or “YHVH”. But how do you read “YHVH”? or better yet, pronounce it? The earliest Hebrew manuscripts did not have a vowel system. The readers of that day knew exactly how to pronounce each of the words without having vowels. Today, “YHVH” also known as the “Tetragrammaton” (A fancy word which means “four letters” in Greek) is considered by some, to be too holy to utter, and unpronounceable by others.

In this study, I will attempt in helping you understand the meaning of God’s Holy Name and provide you with the clearest evidence at hand for pronouncing this Eternal Name.

The below study is broken down into 5 parts

  1. Names that have meaning
  2. The Meaning of God’s Name & His Divine Character
  3. Does God really have a name? and is it really YHVH?
  4. Pronouncing the name YHVH
  5. The facts behind my belief of YHVH being pronounced as Yehovah
  6. Conclusion


1. Names that have meaning

In my culture, when most parents name their kids, they look at the first letter of their own names and use that letter to come up with a name for their newborn. For Example, if the parent’s name is Roger, the child will be named with a name that starts with the letter R, such as Richard. This was not the case in Biblical times. In the Old Testament & the New, we see parents naming their kids according to what the child represented, or what they wanted the child to represent. The name stood as a witness to the persons character. In fact, their is hardly any name that did not have any meaning, in the Old Testament.

For Example,
Gen 3:20
  And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living. (H2332 – חוּה – chavvâh – Lifegiver)
Gen 17:5  but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee. (H85 – אברהם – ‘abrâhâm – Father of a multitude)
Gen 25:26  And after that came his brother out, and his hand took hold on Esau’s heel; and his name was called Jacob: (H3290 – יעקב – ya‛ăqôb – Heel Catcher)
Gen 29:35  And she said, Now will I praise the LORD: therefore she called his name Judah; and left bearing. (H3063 – יהוּדה – yehûdâh – Praise/Celebrate)
Exo 2:10  And she called his name Moses: and she said, Because I drew him out of the water.
(H4872 – משׁה – môsheh – Drawing out)
Mat 1:21  And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. (H3091- יהושׁע – yehôshûa‛ – Yehovah Saves)


2. The Meaning of God’s Name & His Divine Character

Just as people in the Scriptures, indicated the meaning of a name or character of the person, alongside the given name (as shown in the examples above), God also indicated the meaning of His name to Moses in much of the same fashion.

Exo 3:13-15 And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you. And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.

Moses asked God a legitimate question in the above verse. “When the people ask me who sent me, what shall I say Your name is?” To which God answered with “His character” or “Meaning of His name“,I AM THAT I AM. But He did not stop there. He then went onto say, You shall tell the people YHVH (LORD in English Capital Letters have been substituted wherever “יהוה“ [YHVH] is written in the Original Manuscripts) God of your Fathers, Abraham, Isaac & Jacob has sent me to you.

The meaning of  YHVH – I was that I was, I am that I am, I will be that I will be
Just as Eve means Lifegiver, Abraham means Father of Multitude, Jacob means Heel catcher, Judah means Praise, Moses means Drawn out, Yeshua(Jesus’ real name) means YHVH Saves, the meaning of YHVH is in the statement “I AM THAT I AM” or at least the Hebrew words which are היה(I AM) אשׁר(THAT) היה(I AM).

H1961 – היה – hâyâh – Read explanation given below
H834 – אשׁר – ‘ăsher – Translated as “that”, “which” or “whom” most of the time
H1961 – היה – hâyâh – Read explanation given below

H1961 – היה – is sometimes translated as I Was or He Was (Examples given below)
Hos 11:4  I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love: and I was to them as they that take off the yoke on their jaws, and I laid meat unto them.
Isa 63:8  For he said, Surely they are my people, children that will not lie: so he was their Saviour.

H1961 – היה – is sometimes translated as I Am or He is (Examples given below)
Jer 31:9  They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them: I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way, wherein they shall not stumble: for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn.
Isa 55:6  Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:

H1961 – היה – is sometimes translated as I Will be or He Will be (Examples given below)
Hos 14:5  I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon.
Isa 8:14  And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

This shows that the statement made by God in Exo 3:14 היה(hâyâh) אשׁר(‘ăsher) היה(hâyâh) could mean “I was” that “I was”, “I am” that “I am”, “I will be” that “I will be” all at the same time. He was saying that He is the Eternal One. And that His Name “YHVH” encapsulated this character of being the beginning and the end.


3. Does God really have a name? and is it really YHVH?

There is no doubt that His Name is YHVH, as the Scriptures witness to this over and over again – A few examples are given below
Hos 12:5  the YHVH, the God of hosts, YHVH is his memorial name
Isa 42:8  I am YHVH; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.
Jer 16:21  “Therefore, behold, I will make them know, this once I will make them know my power and my might, and they shall know that my name is YHVH.”
Eze 39:7  “And my holy name I will make known in the midst of my people Israel, and I will not let my holy name be profaned anymore. And the nations shall know that I am YHVH, the Holy One in Israel.
Zec 13:9  They will call upon my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘They are my people’; and they will say, ‘YHVH is my God.’
Psa 135:13 Your name, O YHVH, endures forever, your renown, O YHVH, throughout all ages.
Psa 9:10  And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O YHVH, have not forsaken those who seek you.
Micah 4:5 For all the peoples walk each in the name of its god, but we will walk in the name of the YHVH our God forever and ever.


4. Pronouncing the name YHVH

Among those who understand the importance of His name, there are many theories on how to pronounce the name of our Almighty God, of which Yahweh, Yehovah, Yahuwah, Jehovah are some of the more famous ones.

With this being said, there is a need to explain why there are so many different opinions about this name amongst believers. Vowels were not used in ancient Hebrew, which the Scriptures were written in, and as such, when scribes at that time wrote God’s name on scrolls, they wrote the four Hebrew Letters,  Yodh – Hey – Vav – Hey (“יהוה“). At that time, as everyone knew how to pronounce God’s Holy name, this was not an issue. But somewhere down the line, after the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 70AD, pronouncing the name of God was banned. After this event, the pronunciation has been a well guarded secret handed down from Jewish Rabbi to disciple. Instead of addressing God by the name He wanted to be addressed by, the Jewish Rabbis started using titles such as Adonai (Lord), which was then passed down to the English Translators of the Old Testament (who learned Hebrew from these teachers). As a result, today, we do not know the pronunciation of the name nor have an English Translation that clearly communicates God’s name in print. This is the reason for so many, to have a hard time coming to terms with the idea of God Almighty, having a name.

When I first started to study into God’s Divine name, I believed that one of the prevalent pronunciations used by many Christians which were “Yahweh” or “Jehovah”, could be the correct pronunciation.

Jehovah actually appears in the KJV Bible in Exo 6:3, Psa 83:18, Isa 12:2 & Isa 26:4. “Jehovah” was a credible pronunciation other than the fact of the “J” sound, which is not part of the Hebrew Language. All of the Hebrew names we see in the New Testament which start with “J” actually start with a “Y” sound in the original form, which is Hebrew. (For Example, Judas – Yehudah / James – Yaakov / John – Yohanan / Jesus – Yeshua / Joseph – Yosef) So, if at all, the name should be pronounced “Yehovah” and not “Jehovah”. As I discovered, Yehovah became the most likely candidate, as it lined up with many facts that I found in my research.


5. The facts behind my belief of “YHVH” being pronounced as Yehovah

1.Composition of Hebrew Names
Compound names(Hebrew names that were made of two words) in the Old Testament which included YHVH as one of the words, always started with the pronunciation “Yeho” or ended with the pronunciation “Yahu”. The “Yeho”/”Yahu” part of those names stood as a short in form for God’s name. (I have provided a few names as examples below)

Yehoshua – Yeshayahu – YHVH Saves (Joshua – Exo 17:9 / Isaiah – 2Kin 19:2)
Yehochanan – Chananyahu – YHVH Favours (Johanan – 2Kin 25:23 / Hananiah – 1Chr 3:19)
Yehonatan – Netanyahu – YHVH Gives (Jonathan – Judg 18:30 / Nethaniah – 2Kin 25:23)
Yehozabad – Zabadyahu – YHVH Endures (Jehozabad – 2Kin 12:21/ Zebediah – 1Chr 8:15)

Hebrew names that praise or reveal a characteristic of YHVH always start with “Yeho”. This is a valid clue that the first part of “YHVH” would be pronounced “Yeho”. Hence the pronunciation “Yeho”vah.

2. The Leningrad Codex and the Aleppo Codex
After God’s name was banned from being pronounced around 140AD, the Scribes who copied the Old Testament left out vowels in the name, so that no one would mistakenly read it out. The 2 most oldest, most reliable and most complete Hebrew Manuscripts of the Old Testament to date, which are named “The Leningrad Codex” & “The Aleppo Codex” both contain God’s name with the full vowel set dozens of times, which helps us read YHVH as Yehovah. (The list of these instances is recorded in the book His Hallowed Name Revealed Again by Keith Johnson
alongside links where you can download the photographs of the original and check it for yourself, which I have done! Thank you Keith!)

3. Biblical Hebrew vowel systems
As I am not an expert in Biblical Hebrew, I present a paper done by Nehemia Gordon, who holds a Masters Degree in Biblical Studies and a Bachelors Degree in Archaeology from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and has worked as a translator on the Dead Sea Scrolls and as a researcher deciphering ancient Hebrew manuscripts. This paper delves into the vowel systems of God’s name and concludes that the pronunciation should be Yehovah. You can read the paper here. Thank you Nehemia for sharing your knowledge with us!

4. The use of Iehovah in the KJV Bible printed in 1611
The KJV Bible, first published in 1611 carried God’s Name YHVH as Iehovah in 4 places, namely Exo 6:3, Psa 83:18, Isa 12:2 & Isa 26:4 (use the links to examine it for yourself). The KJV translators of 1611, would have wanted to transmit the correct name with pronunciation in the 4 places they allowed the name to be printed, as is. The KJV “Iehovah” & “Yehovah” are both identical in pronunciation. This is another clear reason, that the pronunciation “Yehovah” could be correct. As mentioned above, even the later versions of the KJV Bible use an anglicized version of “Yehovah”, which is “Jehovah”, even though the “J” sound clearly is an English invention.

5. The use of Iehouah in the Pentateuch(5 Books of Moses) printed in 1530 & in the “Great Bible”, which was the 1st complete English version of the 66 Books printed in 1540
One of the earliest versions of an English Translation of the Bible was done by William Tyndale in the year 1530. This translation which dates about 80 years before the 1611 King James Version records God’s Name as “Iehouah” in Exo 6:3 (use the link to examine it for yourself) which is identical to “Yehovah” in Pronounciation. The same can be said of the “Great Bible” printed in 1540. Just as in Tyndale’s Translation, the “Great Bible” also recorded God’s Name as “Iehouah” in Exo 6:3 (use the link to examine it for yourself).

6. Conclusion
Our Father in Heaven, has a name that he made known through Scripture which is “יהוה“ or “YHVH”. This name, like all other names in Scripture, has a meaning that shows the Character of God Almighty. The famous statement in Exo 3:14 which is translated as “I AM THAT I AM”, actually means “I was that I was, I am that I am, I will be that I will be” all at the same time. This shows God’s character of being the beginning and the end, and that He is Eternal, and is outside of the limitations of time. The name which He reveals to Moses in Exo 3:15, is none other than “יהוה“ or “YHVH” which is also known as the tetragrammaton. Among those who understand the importance of His name, there are many theories on how to pronounce the name of our Almighty God, of which Yahweh, Yehovah, Yahuwah, Jehovah are some of the more famous ones. With the information and evidence at hand, we can conclude that the pronunciation of this name should be done as “Yehovah”. Whichever way we decide to pronounce God’s Eternal Name, we must remember, that it is far better for us to know that He HAS a name, rather than being ignorant of this important fact.  

Recommended reading
His Hallowed Name Revealed Again by Keith Johnson
Shattering the Conspiracy of Silence by Nehemia Gordon

Does God have a name?

We find lots of foreign gods mentioned by name throughout the Bible, while God Almighty is almost exclusively mentioned as “LORD God” in our English Translations.

Some of the foreign deities mentioned in the Bible include Tammuz (Ezek 8:14), Baal (1Kin 18:25,26), Dagon (1Sam 5:2), Baalpeor (Psalms 106:28), Chemosh (Judges 11:24), Ashtoreth & Milcom (1Kings 11:5), Nisroch (2Kin 19:37), Nergal / Ashima / Nibhaz / Tartak / Adrammelech / Anammelech (2Kin 17:30,31), Rimmon(2Kin 5:18), Baalzebub (2Kin 1:2), Zeus & Hermes (Acts 14:12), Artemis (Acts 19:24).

But is it true that God Almighty, who we believe made the Heavens and Earth did not have a name among men? Was He always known by a title such as “God” or “Lord”? Or did He have a name? Not one that man had made up for Him, but one that He made known to man?

Some would question whether it is of any importance to know such a name or whether it really matters. From the beginning of time mentioned in the scriptures, we read that God named people from Adam(Gen 5:2), Abraham(Gen 17:5), Sarah(Gen 17:15), Isaac(Gen 17:19), Jacob/Israel(Gen 35:10) and a number of others upto John(Luke 1:13) and even our Messiah “Yeshua” – Jesus’ true name (Mat 1:21). All of the names which God gave people had meaning, purpose and a prophetic nature in them. For example, Abraham meant “Father of a multitude” & Yeshua meant “God’s Salvation”.

If names given to humans were of such importance to God, wouldn’t His own name have even a little significance in our lives? And if such a name does exist, why do we not know, or use this name?

God speaks of His name throughout the Bible
Exo 9:16  But for this purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth.
Num 6:27  “So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.”
Jer 23:27  who think to make my people forget my name by their dreams that they tell one another, even as their fathers forgot my name for Baal?

Our English translations portray His NAME as “the LORD
Hos 12:5  the LORD, the God of hosts, the LORD is his memorial name
Isa 42:8  I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.
Exo 3:15  God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.
Exo 33:19  And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The LORD.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.
Lev 19:12  You shall not swear by my name falsely, and so profane the name of your God: I am the LORD.
Lev 22:2  “Speak to Aaron and his sons so that they abstain from the holy things of the people of Israel, which they dedicate to me, so that they do not profane my holy name: I am the LORD.
Jer 16:21  “Therefore, behold, I will make them know, this once I will make them know my power and my might, and they shall know that my name is the LORD.”
Eze 39:7  “And my holy name I will make known in the midst of my people Israel, and I will not let my holy name be profaned anymore. And the nations shall know that I am the LORD, the Holy One in Israel.
Zec 13:9  They will call upon my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘They are my people’; and they will say, ‘The LORD is my God.’
Psa 135:13 Your name, O LORD, endures forever, your renown, O LORD, throughout all ages.
Psa 9:10  And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you.
Micah 4:5 For all the peoples walk each in the name of its god, but we will walk in the name of the LORD our God forever and ever.

So is God’s name “LORD”?
Confusing as it sounds, wherever “LORD” (in capital letters) is mentioned in our English Bibles, the Original Manuscripts of the Scriptures, which were written in Hebrew, read “יהוה“.
(Strong’s Hebrew Concordance – H3068 – יהוה – yehôvâh – yeh-ho-vaw’)
These 4 Hebrew letters can be equaled to “YHVH” in English. Pronounced as Yahweh, Yehovah or Jehovah. (Although we will not get into the correct pronunciation, which we will tackle in a future study, my personal studies have shown the most accurate pronunciation would be “Yehovah”. I will share my findings on this, with you on a later date as I am still collating enough evidence.)

What does all of this mean? It means we have been calling the creator of heaven and earth as “Lord” and “God” which are mere titles, when He clearly showed that His name is “YHVH”(Yehovah). In Exodus 3:15, our Creator, introduced Himself to Moses saying “Say this to the people of Israel, Yehovah”, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.

“YHVH” is used over 6000 times in our bibles, and each time it has been changed to “the LORD”. Whenever you see “LORD” in capital letters in your English Bibles, it should actually carry “YHVH” instead. (“LORD” should not be confused with “Lord”. The word “LORD” in our English Bibles has replaced “YHVH”, while “Lord” is amongst many titles given to “YHVH”. You can clearly see the difference here, when Moses refers to God as “YHVH” and calls Him, his “Lord” –  Exo 4:10  But Moses said to the LORD, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.”)

The Hebrew word “יהוה“(YHVH) which appear as “LORD” in English capital letters over 6000 times in the Bible, has also been preserved as “Jehovah” in 4 places in our English versions.
Exo 6:3  And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them.
Psa 83:18  That men may know that thou, whose name alone is JEHOVAH, art the most high over all the earth.
Isa 12:2  Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.
Isa 26:4  Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the Lord JEHOVAH is everlasting strength:

Even though the exact pronunciation should have been “Yehovah” (the “Ja” sound is not in the Hebrew vocabulary), we should be happy to at least see the holy name for ourselves printed in our bibles in some way.

The Poetic form of God’s Name, in HALLELUYAH!
If you have ever sung or said “Halleluyah!”, you have already proclaimed God’s name in it’s poetic Form “YAH”. The word we use as “Halleluyah” is actually a combination of 2 Hebrew words. (H1984 – הלל – hâlal – haw-lal’ which means “Praise”) and (H3050 – יהּ – yâhh – yaw which is the first part or first 2 letters of “יהוה” YHVH). Whenever you say “Halleluyah”, you are not merely saying “Praise be to God”. You are in fact praising His name, saying “Praise be to Yehovah”.

This poetic form “YAH” can be seen close to 50 times in the scripture (Mainly in Psalms used along side הלל – “HALLAL” which means “Praise”) It is even preserved in our English version in, Psa 68:4  Sing unto God, sing praises to his name: extol him that rideth upon the heavens by his name JAH, and rejoice before him. (A better way to read and write this word would be “YAH”, instead of “JAH” as the “J” sound is not in the Hebrew vocabulary)

In the Scriptures, God’s name “Yehovah” was combined with other words to give him more glory, such as

  • Gideon built an Altar to God calling it Yehovah is Peace – Jdg 6:24  Then Gideon built an altar there unto the LORD, and called it Jehovahshalom: unto this day it is yet in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.
  • Moses built an altar to God calling it Yehovah is my BannerExo 17:15  And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Jehovahnissi:
  • Abraham called the mountain top where he went to sacrifice Isaac as Yehovah will See (as in “see” to it)Gen 22:14  And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen.

In conclusion, I want to make a few points clear. I am not part of the denomination called “Jehovah’s Witnesses” nor do I approve of their doctrines. But the fact is, that they have come very close to the original name of God “YHVH” (The correct pronunciation should be  “Yehovah” and not “Jehovah”, which I will not get into right now).

A person who believes in God Almighty, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is in no way sinning by calling YHVH, by His titles which are “Lord” and “God”. But the fact is God’s name is “YHVH”, and it is better for us to know it, and use it, just as everyone in the Scriptures did. Which children do not know of their Father’s true name? Do we really want to fall into that category?

The answer to the question of whether the God of the Bible has a name is a clear “Yes”. And it is not merely LORD, as there are many “Lords” in the world. His name is not “God”, as there are many God’s in every nation. His Name has been, is, and will be, only “YHVH” (Yehovah).

Old Covenant abolished by New Covenant? Part I

One of the biggest arguments in Christianity is, whether the Old Covenant is in effect today or whether it is abolished and no more. I would like to pose a different question in the midst of all this confusion and misunderstandings.

Which Old Covenant?
Some are in the belief that there are only 2 Covenants in the Scriptures. Contrary to this belief God has made several Covenants with man from the beginning of creation. Before we can say that any Covenant is abolished, let us understand what these Covenants are and what God has said about them.

First of all, we need to understand what a Covenant means. A Covenant is an agreement between two parties. The party which has more authority/power could make a Covenant with the other party which includes or does not include certain conditions. After the other party in return agrees upon the Covenant, it is in effect. Blood was spilled as a sign of these contracts in ancient times.

The words “Covenant” and “Testament” written in the bible are the same. In the Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, only one word is used wherever “Covenant” or “Testament” is seen in our English translations (Strong’s Greek Concordance – G1242 – διαθήκη – diathēkē – dee-ath-ay’-kay – a disposition, that is, (specifically) a contract (especially a devisory will): – covenant, testament).

Covenants God made with His creation

  • Covenant with Adam (Gen 2:16,17) (Hosea 6:7) –
    This Covenant had conditions. If Adam obeyed, he would have eternal life. Disobedience would cause him to die.
  • Covenant with Noah (Gen 9:9-17) –
    This is an Everlasting, Unconditional Covenant made with Noah, his seed & all living creatures. God promised that He will never again destroy the whole earth with a flood. The sign of this covenant was the Rainbow.
  • Covenant with Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3, 6-7; 13:14-17; 15; 17:1-14; 22:15-18)
    This was an Everlasting, Conditional Covenant. God asked Abraham to leave his Country first. Then He required him to believe in the promises. He made sure Abraham knew about the slavery of Israel for 400 years. God gave him and his seed the land of Israel. God wanted him to walk before Him and be perfect. The sign of this Covenant was that every male of his seed and every servant bought with money, was to be circumcised. All the blessings which were promised were certified as Abraham obeyed even unto the degree of sacrificing his only son.
    This Covenant was renewed with Isaac (Gen 26:3-5, 24) and Jacob (Gen 28:13-15, 46:2-4)
  • Covenant with Israel through Moses (Exo chapter 19-24)
    This Covenant was a Conditional Covenant with many Everlasting Commandments/Laws(Exod 12:17,24, 21:6, 28:43, 30:21, Lev 3:16-17, 6:17-18, 20-22, 10:9, 15, 16:29, 34, 23:14, Num 19:21). While the person who kept these Commandments would be blessed, the person who broke it would be cursed (Deut 11:26-28). The sign of this Everlasting Covenant was the Seventh Day Sabbath (Exo 31:12-18)
  • Covenant with Aaron ( Exo 40:12-15, Num 25:12,13, Neh 13:29)
    God made an Everlasting Covenant with Aaron and his descendants to be the priests alongside the Tribe of Levi which was also consecrated for priestly duties.
  • Covenant with David (2Sam 7:8-16, 23:5, 2Chr 13:5, Jer 33:20,21)
    God made an Everlasting Covenant with David, where His people would always be ruled over by a descendant of David hinting to Messiah Yeshua(Hebrew name of Jesus) who will reign and rule over “His People – Israel”(Luk 1:32,33).
  • Covenant with the 2 Houses of Israel through Yeshua (Heb 8:8-10) (Jer 31:33,34) (Heb 13:20)
    The New Covenant which we are all familiar with, was spoken of by the prophet Jeremiah in chapter 31. In verse 31, He says that He will make a New Covenant with The House of Israel & The House of Judah. In verse 33, He says that He will write His Law on peoples hearts. This is the same Covenant spoken in the Book of Hebrews chapter 8. According to verse 34, This Covenant will come to fulfillment when God’s kingdom is established with Yeshua ruling as king, as no one will need to teach another about God anymore.

Blood of the Covenant
Major Covenants with His People were always put into effect by shedding of blood.
1. Noah sacrificed animals before God made the Covenant (Gen 8:20)
2. Abraham sacrificed animals before God made the Covenant (Gen 15)
3. When God made the Covenant at Sinai, Moses sprinkled the Blood of the Covenant
(Exo 24:8, Heb 9:19,20)
4.Yeshua renewed the Covenant as per God’s Word in Jer 31 through shedding His blood (Mat 26:28, Mar 14:24, Luk 22:20, Heb 10:29, 12:24, 13:20)

Now that we understand a bit more about the Covenants in Scripture, lets look at what is commonly known as the Old and New Covenants.

Old Covenant vs. New Covenant
As you see above, there are many Covenants God made with His creation. Many of these Covenants were made by God as Everlasting Covenants as the Scriptures show us. What people generally mean by “Old Covenant” is the Covenant God made through Moses (The Mosaic Covenant) at Mount Sinai, while the Scriptures have also been broken into and commonly known as “Old Testament” & “New Testament”.

As our focus is on this Mosaic Covenant, and whether it is done away with, let us look at some important facts about this Covenant before we make our conclusions and find answers for any of the persisting misunderstandings.

  • The Mosaic Covenant is called an Everlasting Covenant and God says that He will not break His Covenant (Judg 2:1, Lev 26:44, Psa 89:34, 105:8-10, 111:7-9, 1Chr 16:15-17, Deu 5:29, 12:28)
  • The Mosaic Covenant was written with the finger of God (Deut 4:13) (Exo 31:18, 32:16)
  • The Mosaic Covenant was made with all 12 Tribes of Israel (Exo 19:5,6, 24:4)
  • The Mosaic Covenant was there for 3 reasons.
    1) It would bless the person who obeyed (Deut 11:26-28)
    2) It would curse the person who disobeyed (Deut 11:26-28)
    3) It would show right from wrong, sin from righteousness (Rom 7:7)
  • The Ten Commandments are the conditions, and part and parcel of the Mosaic Covenant (Deut 7:9, 4:13, Neh 1:5, Dan 9:4)

If the Old Covenant (Mosaic Covenant) is abolished after Yeshua, then we can no longer have the 10 Commandments. Jesus himself said we cannot break the least of the commandments, and that not the minutest detail will pass from it as long as heaven and earth exists (Mat 5:18,19).

The questions arise when you read some of the epistles of Paul, The Book of Hebrews and some verses in the Gospels. Paul and other writers of the “New Testament” seem to be saying that the Law and the Old Covenant is done away with, in some places.

We have a serious problem with our Bible if there are contradictions in the Scriptures. One verse cannot disagree with another. One author cannot disagree with another Author. All Scripture has to be in perfect harmony, as our God is not a God of Chaos, but of perfect order and peace.

As we saw earlier, The Mosaic Covenant as well as the New Covenant mentioned in Jer 31 & Heb 8 are both Everlasting Covenants. So how can one abolish the other? The New Covenant could be better understood as a “Renewed” Covenant. One does not abolish the other, but the “Older Covenant” is renewed by the “New Covenant”. This renewal happened by the shedding of the blood of Yeshua. If the Old Covenant was taken away, there would no longer be any Commandments. We would no longer need to adhere to God’s Laws, which mean there would be no yard stick for judgement. All of us will receive judgement at the end of time, according to Scripture. And God will not judge by our standards, but His own. If we were free from God’s Commandments, to do as each of us see fit, how would the righteous judge be able to judge us?

What about all the verses that say the Old Covenant is done away with?
Doesn’t Heb 8:13 say that the Old Covenant is ready to vanish away? Didn’t Jesus say the Law is Finished in Joh 19:31? Are we not free from the Law, and under Grace? Isn’t the Law a Curse? Wasn’t the Law nailed to the cross? Some even say that we do not have 10 Commandments any longer, and that we have only the 2 new Commandments that Yeshua gave us. In the next part of this study, we will delve into the meaning of “Law” and try to understand some of these misunderstood verses and see whether we can unravel the true meaning in them.

My request to you, is this. If you believe in a certain doctrine, Test it. See whether it is in perfect harmony with all of the verses in the Bible. If there are contradictions, most probably, something is wrong with the understanding you have. I hope this study has given you something to think about, and that it will help you to better understand the Word of God.

God’s Commandments, Laws & Statutes. Before or After Moses?

Many Christians tend to believe that God’s Commandments were not there(not available, not adhered to, not instituted) before Moses and the Covenant God made at Sinai. This is what I also used to believe, as this was what was taught to me, all my life.

Reading the Bible though, gives a completely different picture to this story. There are so many instances, we see the patriarchs keeping God’s Commandments, way before it was ever written down and passed down through Moses.

Today, we will try to get to the bottom of this subject and iron out some of the misconceptions it carries.

Cain & Abel
When did God require sacrificial offerings? Apparently, Long before Moses, Both Cain & Abel brought offerings to God Almighty. And it is a known fact that Cain’s offering was rejected while Abel’s offering was accepted. This story teaches us two important things. Firstly, There are offerings that are accepted and there are offerings that are rejected. And secondly, why was Abel’s offering accepted while Cain’s rejected? The reason “most probably” was that even though The commandments were not written down, Abel’s offering was in accordance with the Offering written down in chapter 3 in the Book of Leviticus by Moses and later adhered to, by all(1King 8:63,64). The Commandment was to offer the animal and it’s “Fat”.

Noah
We have all been taught that Noah took Animals of each kind into the Ark, two by two. Most people teach this to their kids, We even sing songs to that extent in our gatherings. But what is the truth? I would have read this passage a dozen times, but I never noticed this fact, till recently. In Gen 7:2 God tells Noah, “Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female”. When I first “saw” this verse, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I had read this chapter a dozen times, but I failed to see that God’s classification of “Clean” and “Unclean” animals, written down in Leviticus 11 had been there even at Noah’s time.

Furthermore, what’s interesting is that, in Gen 8:20,21, Noah built an altar an offered “Clean” animals to God. Again, where was it ever commanded to offer animal sacrifices to God before it was communicated through Moses?

Abraham
Gen 26:5, Highlights an amazing point. God promises Isaac to multiply his seed, “Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws”. For Abraham to know God’s Ordinances, Commandments, Customs and Precepts, someone would have had to teach it to him. He did not only know them, this verse says Abraham kept all of it, a long time before Moses.

Abraham, in Gen 14:20, also gave tithes of all he had to Melchizedek, the priest of God Almighty. This was also long before Moses wrote down the laws of tithing.

In Gen 22, Abraham is asked to offer a Burnt Sacrifice by God, as well.

Jacob
In Gen 28:22, Jacob also makes a promise to God, to give a tenth of all that God gives him.

Walking with God, and being Perfect
In Gen 5:22, 24, It is said that Enoch walked with God. And similarly, in Gen 17:1, Abraham was asked to Walk before God and be Perfect. In Gen 6:9, Noah was called a just and Perfect person. Might there be a connection between obeying God(His Commandments, His Words) and Walking with Him and being perfect? (This is a study for another day)

So what does all of this mean?
Looking at the evidence in Genesis and the fact that God and His Word does not change
(Mal 3:6, Isa 44:6, Heb 13:8, Luke 16:17) Could it be, that the patriarchs kept God’s Commandments, His statutes & His Laws, even though it is not specifically mentioned? We know that Abraham definitely did. As Yeshua(Hebrew name of Jesus) said in John 10:35, If something is written in the Bible, “the Scripture cannot be broken”. In reference to Gen 26:5, no one can say that Abraham did not keep God’s Commandments, proving that Commandments were there long before Moses was even born.

I believe the Commandments would have been passed down from Father to Son. From Adam to Seth, and so on. God did instruct people to teach His words to their sons and the sons of their sons(Deut 4:9)

In conclusion, I believe, according to what we have read, what God did at Sinai through Moses, was to write down the Commandments, Statutes & Laws – The Word of God – so no one could say, that we do not know the ways of God Almighty. (Deut 30:11-13) His ways have always been known by His children from Creation.