Tag Archives: Christ

Have you heard the Parable of “Unwashed Hands”?

Many a Christian turn to Matthew 15 as a proof text to show that we can eat anything that we like. But did you know that this Chapter contains a Parable? And may I suggest that it is one of the most misunderstood Parables of Christ?

So let’s look at the context before we look at the Parable.


An argument about eating with unwashed hands / transgressing the traditions of the Elders
Mat 15:1,2 Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.
At the onset, we must note that the argument between the Pharisees and Yeshua, is about the Traditions of the Elders and not about the Word of God. Actually in the next few verses, we see Christ distinguishing the Commandments of God from the Traditions of the Elders.

Commandments of God vs Traditions of Men
Mat 15:3-6 But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.
We see that Yeshua takes one instance that the Traditions of the Elders (Oral Law) breaks God’s Commandments, thus showing the inconsistency of the Traditions of Men with the Commands of God.

Isaiah 29:13 and Doctrines of Men
Mat 15:7-9 Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.
But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

Yeshua quotes Isaiah 29:13 as a proof-text for Traditions which are taught by men being adhered to with the hopes of honouring God, but falling short.

A Misunderstood Parable
Mat 15:10-11 And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand: Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.
All of us have read the above verses and thought “Does that mean, we can eat whatever we like?”. But note what Yeshua told the Multitude… Hear and understand! But what evidence is there to say that the above is a Parable, and what is its meaning, if it is a Parable?

The Disciples have questions
Mat 15:12-15 Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying? But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch. Then answered Peter and said unto him, Declare unto us this parable.
We see that the words of Christ hit a sore spot with the Pharisees, which was communicated to Him by the disciples. Yeshua’s reply to the conflict was quite harsh. But whatever caused the Pharisees to be offended was not understood properly by Peter (and most probably, the other disciples) who asked the meaning of the “Parable”. This proves the point that “It is not what goes into the mouth that makes a person unclean, It is what comes out of the mouth that makes a person unclean” is a Parable. It is not to be understood on face value. It has a deeper meaning which the Pharisees understood while the disciples didn’t.

The Explanation of the Parable
Mat 15:16-20 And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding? Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.

The Master explains the parable to be comparing the “Command of God” vs the “Traditions of Men”. The Command of God shows us to guard our Heart where all evil thoughts come from (Gen 6:5, 8:21). Sin surely defiles a man, while the traditions of men such as eating with unwashed hands, while having the outward appearance of Holiness does nothing to make a man holy before God, as it is at the end just vain worship commanded by man. Christ speaks nothing about food or the commandments of God about clean/unclean meats given in Leviticus 11, in Matthew chapter 15 or it’s parallel in Mark 7. The Pharisees were offended at this parable as they would have surely understood that Yeshua spoke of them and their hypocrisy.

Conclusion
Matthew 15:15 and Mark 7:17 prove that Christ spoke a parable about the Traditions of Men and the Commands of God which most Christians have taken out of context by reading the surface material while missing the explanation which shows we are to obey the Commands of God to keep ourselves from defilement of Sin while rejecting traditions given by blind human guides.

When you have no argument, name-calling and silencing becomes the only way to deal with those who have opposing views

“Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name?” asked the High Priest from Peter. As a community of believers that were going against the mainstream, the Messiah had already warned the disciples about being rejected saying “They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.” The words of Yeshua ring true today, as it did then – “It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?”.

In an age that “every person does that which is right in their own eyes”, there can be no absolute Truth – only “my personal truth”. Truth in itself cannot be something that changes. If today’s truth changes tomorrow, that means it was not true at all. This is why Paul can say “let God be true, but every man a liar”. God does not change. As Malachi proclaims “The sons of Jacob are not consumed because YHVH does not change”. Just ponder on the thought that God changed His Mind on Israel and chose a new community called Christians – replacement theology – as it is known, calls to question the sovereignty of God and His Omniscience. He first chose Israel, then rejected Israel and chose a new community? (which disagrees with so many of the Prophets and even Paul) What’s next? Maybe He will reject “Christians” today and take a new community tomorrow? This is possible only if He changes. This is why He proclaimed Himself as “I am that I am”.

The Righteous Creator and our Loving Father is “Truth”. As James says “with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning”. But what does the Mainstream believe today? if someone looks at it critically, they will have to conclude that they believe in a God that has changed in some ways. Which is antithetical to what we read in His Word.

So now we are being commanded to proclaim only the version of God that the authorities deem correct. In a world that disseminates most of our information online, the authorities have the power to silence any message that is not agreeable and label it as “Abusive content”. I can guarantee that their is no abusive content, or at least a word of abuse in the comments on this site, but for some reason it has been labeled as such. As a dear Sister, Ruth Meyers informed me, it says “Your message couldn’t be sent because it includes content that other people on Facebook have reported as abusive.”

Paul spoke of times such as this, when he wrote to Timothy saying “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” When you pronounce “The Truth” – which is the complete Word of God – not a jot or tittle less, we end up at the council having to defend ourselves against the authorities that are arbiters of the truth of the day. Our answer today is the same as what it was at Peter’s time “Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye”.

I am not sure whether this is the case for everyone, but let them do what they can to report, defame and block God’s Word; We will keep proclaiming it to “all who have ears to hear”.

Obedience and Unleavened Bread

As we enter the season of Passover and our redemption from slavery to sin (John 8:34) through the blood of the spotless lamb of God (1Pet 1:19), Yeshua – our Savior who died on Passover, we step into the days of Unleavened Bread. 7 days of not eating anything that has Leaven (Yeast) in it, reminds us of purifying ourselves from all things that should not be in our lives as born-again believers. A life which is not puffed up with pride or any other foreign organisms.

Leaven is equated to a lot of things in the Bible

1Co 5:6-8 Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Luk 12:1 In the mean time, when there were gathered together an innumerable multitude of people, insomuch that they trode one upon another, he began to say unto his disciples first of all, Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.

Mat 16:12 Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.

While Paul equates Unleavened Bread to Sincerity and Truth, which is the antithesis of a sinful life, we can also see an interesting connection between Commandments of God and Unleavened Bread when we look at the Hebrew Language.

In Hebrew, a Command is called a “Mitzvah” and the Plural form of it, which is “Mitzvot”. Unleavened in Hebrew is “Matzah”, and it’s plural form is “Matzot”. As we see above, both words carry the same consonants, other than the vowels that change the pronunciation of the two words. So what can we glean from this connection in the Hebrew? The Commands lead to an Unleavened Life! This idea actually agrees with what John says in 1John 3:4 “for sin is the transgression of the law.” If sin is transgression of the Law, Keeping the Law would be a life void of sin. Keeping “Mitzvot” would lead to a life that is “Matzot”. As we celebrate Passover and our Salvation from sin and death, we enter into the week of Unleavened Bread, which depicts an unleavened life void of sin and immersed in obedience to God. A life which is “Holy” after receiving the righteousness of God, as we see many times in the New Testament

2Co 7:1 Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
Rom 6:19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.
Eph 4:24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
1Th 4:7 For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.
Heb 12:14 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:

And that is how a sinless life is connected to walking according to the instructions of God, and Unleavened Bread is connected to Obedience! Shalom!

I am made all things to all men – misunderstanding regarding 1Corinthians 9:19-22

Many Christians use the following verse to say that we have to fit in with whatever culture, practice, society, tradition, etc so that we may win people to Christ. Many believe that Paul acted like a Greek among unbelievers and like a Jew in Jerusalem. But is this what Paul means? Let’s examine this idea.

1Co 9:19-23 For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.

The Context
Paul is speaking of “Food sacrificed unto Idols” in this particular section which started at 1Cor 8:1 and finishes in 1Cor 10:33. In the 9th Chapter he touches on making himself a servant even when he has authority over the congregation. This particular section shows the Corinthians an example from Paul’s life, on how he put others before himself. But who were these others? and how did he put them before himself?

The Groups
Checking what the referenced groups in this particular section are, will further help us understand what Paul means.

1Co 9:20 And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law;
1Co 9:21 To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law.
1Co 9:22 To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.

At first glance, there seems to be 4 groups above. But actually Paul speaks of only 2 groups as shown below.

The Jews = them that are under the Law
them that are without law = The Weak

The Jews that are spoken of here, are those who are still in the understanding of being saved through the works of the Law. These are those who Paul calls them that are under the Law. If so, who are those who are without Law? They are called Weak, here as well as in 1Cor 8:10. These are people who are weak in the Faith – new converts who are still not grown in their walk. Hence, they do not know God’s Law fully, and are not living yet according to the whole Law.

A Jew unto a Jew and Weak unto the Weak
Paul was a Jew (Acts 21:39, Rom 11:1, Phil 3:5) and identified as one. He had no need to become a Jew in the midst of Jews. This is why becoming a Jew is connected to being as “one who is under the Law”. He had been careful to not do anything against even the traditions of the elders (Oral Law) all throughout his life (Acts 25:10, 28:17). Tradition is not an issue even for Messiah, upto the point where traditions start overruling the Word of God, as seen in Matthew 15 & Mark 7.

Being under the Law
As Paul understands, we are not “Under the Law”, for whoever is under law is under dominion of Sin(Rom 6:14). Although we are not under the law, does not mean we are free to sin(Rom 6:15). Since the Law defines what Sin is (Rom 3:20, 7:7, 1Jn 3:4), it is then important to understand what being “Under the Law” really means. Being under the Law is trying to be justified by the Law. In other words, having faith in ourselves to be able to receive salvation through adhering to the precepts of the Law. By doing this, we not only discard God’s Salvation & Grace, but because we cannot keep the Law perfectly – we fall into condemnation and stand judged by the Law, and under the Curse written in the Law which comes to all who transgress – Death. (Gal 3:10,11, Rom 7:5). So, to recap, being under the law is how Paul defined the mainline teaching of the Jews (Act 13:39).

Being as one who is under the Law, that I may gain those who are under Law
Paul is obviously not saying that he kept the Law for Salvation. But we know that he lived a life adherent to the Torah/Law (Acts 21:24). So he lived according to the Law after being made righteous through faith, among people who believed were saved through the Law. Wherever Paul travelled to, his first stop was the synagogue, so that he may speak to his fellow kinsmen. This is what he means by saying “being as one who is under the law”.

Being without Law
A person without Law would not know what sin is (Rom 7:7). If the knowledge of Sin is through the Law (Rom 3:20), then a person who lived without Law, would ultimately live in sin, as he/she does not know what God calls good & bad / holiness & sin. All who were new to the faith would be like this, and would learn about the Law every Sabbath (Act 15:21).

Not without law to God
Paul did not live a lawless life as he himself testifies (Acts 24:14, 25:8). James also says all of the rumours about Paul teaching against the Law was false and that he walks according to the law (Acts 21:24). So Paul’s mention of not living “without the law of God” is apt inclusion to make here.

Under the law to Christ
Even though he says that he is not under the law, he expands the idea of adherence to the law here, by saying being under the law TO christ. Note that it is not under the law OF Christ, so that we may think this is some other law. As Christ is the End-Goal (Telos) of the Law (Rom 10:4), Paul considers himself coming under the jurisdiction of Christ when he is living according to the Law.

Being as without law that I might gain them that are without law
Paul is obviously not saying that he is living a lawless life – which is a life of sin (1Jn 3:4). as seen above, we know that he lived a life adherent to the Torah/Law (Acts 21:24). So just as he lived according to the Law, among people who believed were saved through the Law (the Jews), he also lived according to the law in the midst of people who did not yet know of the Law properly. In light of all of the above, we can conclude that Paul is not saying he lives a hedonistic lifestyle among people who don’t know the Law. He attempts to say that he lives with understanding of all people and their weaknesses, in trying to place himself in their shoes.

I am made all things to all men
Paul does not say that he pretends to be all things to all men, or that he acts one way in front of one group and another way in front of another group. If he was pretending or acting, it would make him a double hypocrite, as he rebuked Peter for the exact same thing in Gal 2:11-14. Paul was not trying to please anyone(Gal 1:10) or act in a certain way in cunning (2Cor 4:2). “I am made” simply means I have lowered myself down to each man’s level, so that I may win them over to Christ. If Paul lowered his standards, swayed in certain places or blurred the lines when it was convenient, we would have a hard time believing anything he says.

Conclusion
This passage speaks of Jews who were “under the Law” and the Weak (new converts) who were “without the Law” and how Paul would lower himself to understand them from the place they come from. This does not mean that he was a chameleon, changing colours whenever it suited him best. He was not without Law to God, as he himself says, and was in subjection to the Law to Christ. The context of the chapter further proves the point of Paul speaking of lowering one self even when they have power and authority over others, so that they may become strong in their walk with God.

I leave this discussion with an interesting question. If the “weak” are called “those who are without law”, who are the “strong”?

God Forbid! May it not be! Paul’s advice not to misunderstand his words

Most of the divisions and denominations in Christianity stem from differences in understanding certain verses in the Bible. Paul’s words are no different. Peter gives his famous warning to his readers about taking Paul out of context, this way:

2Pe 3:15,16 And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.

It is a fact that many had misunderstood him and his writings, and there were many rumours about his teachings:

Act 21:21-24 And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs. What is it therefore? the multitude must needs come together: for they will hear that thou art come. Do therefore this that we say to thee: We have four men which have a vow on them; Them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law.

Many question Paul’s writings, asking why he could not make things clearer in a way people would not misunderstand. But it is a fact, that Paul has gone to great lengths to make it clear for someone who could and would take him and his writings out of context. This is what we will focus on today:

God Forbid! Heaven Forbid! May it not be!
Such an expression is often used by a person to highlight the importance of something and clearly say that “this should not ever happen”! We see this expression used often in Scripture.

Gen 18:23-25 And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked? Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein? That be far (Chalilah – חללה) from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?
Gen 44:7 And they said unto him, Wherefore saith my lord these words? God forbid (Chalilah – חללה) that thy servants should do according to this thing:
Gen 44:17 And he said, God forbid (Chalilah – חללה) that I should do so: but the man in whose hand the cup is found, he shall be my servant; and as for you, get you up in peace unto your father.
Jos 22:29 God forbid (Chalilah – חללה) that we should rebel against the LORD, and turn this day from following the LORD, to build an altar for burnt offerings, for meat offerings, or for sacrifices, beside the altar of the LORD our God that is before his tabernacle.
Job 34:10 Therefore hearken unto me, ye men of understanding: far be it (Chalilah – חללה) from God, that he should do wickedness; and from the Almighty, that he should commit iniquity.

The expression “Chalilah” is used throughout the Bible to show that the statement made with it, should not be, not come to mind, should not happen. It is the strongest negative statement which can be made in Scripture and is often translated as “God Forbid” or “Far be it”. The same statement also appears in the New Testament.

Luk 20:16 He shall come and destroy these husbandmen, and shall give the vineyard to others. And when they heard it, they said, God forbid.

In the above verse, Christ speaks of a Parable against the Keepers of the Vineyard – the Jewish leadership and authority of the day, and how it would be destroyed… to which the response of the horrified leaders was “God forbid – May it not be!”.

God Forbid! Heaven Forbid! May it not be! in Paul’s writings
Paul uses this phrase the most in the New Testament Writings, 10 times in the letter to Romans, twice in the letter to the Galatians and once to the Corinthians. But why does he use this expression so often? 13 times in all? It is to make a point in saying “DO NOT MISUNDERSTAND ME”, “THIS IS NOT WHAT I MEAN!”. Let’s look at all of these instances and what Paul was trying to or rather not trying to say to his readers.

Rom 3:3,4 For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.
The faith of God does not become futile, just because some of His creation had no faith in him.

Rom 3:5,6 But if our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance? (I speak as a man) God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world?
God is not unrighteous because His own unrighteous creation shows forth His ultimate Righteousness.

Rom 3:31 Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.
We are made righteous (justified/saved) because of Faith which is “counted as” righteousness, and not by any commands that we keep. But we do not regard the Law as not needed and void for us. We confirm that the Law is required after we are justified, to live a holy life.

Rom 6:1,2 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
Because of the greatness of sin, we have seen greater Grace. Just because we have seen greater grace because of sin, does not mean we should continue in sin, and misuse the grace shown towards us.

Rom 6:15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.
We cannot go on Sinning (Breaking God’s Law – 1Jn3:4, Rom 7:7) just because we are not under the Law(not made righteous/justified through the Law) but are under Grace(Justified through faith which is counted as righteousness through Grace).

Rom 7:7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.
We have been released from sin and the judgement which comes through the Law for the sins we have done. This does not mean that Sin is equated to the Law. There is no way to know what sin is, if we do not know the Law – as it is the knowledge of Sin.

Rom 7:13 Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.
Sin which is the breaking of God’s Law brought about judgement and death. This does not mean that the Law is death. Sin brings about death. The Law which is Holy, Just and Good shows what sin is, and how sinful our actions against God are.

Rom 9:14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.
Just because God shows mercy to whomever He wishes to show mercy, does not mean that He is unrighteous.

Rom 11:1 I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.
God has not abandoned His chosen people that descend from Abraham.

Rom 11:11 I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.
Israel has stumbled by not receiving the Messiah, but they have not stumbled in a way that they will wholly fall away, but as a means that the Gentiles will also have an opportunity to receive Messiah, and through it the descendants of Abraham may also find Messiah.

1Co 6:15 Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid.
We cannot even think of engaging in licentious behaviour after we have become part of the body of Christ.

Gal 2:17 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.
We who are justified(declared righteous) through Faith and Grace which we have received because of the payment made by Christ, still sin unintentionally. This does not make Christ and “aider and abettor” of Sin.

Gal 3:21 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.
God’s Law cannot give us eternal life and make us Righteous(justify) in front of God. But this does not mean that the Law is not against the promises of God.

Study all of the above instances carefully, and you will see the lenghts that Paul went to, to make himself clear even to audiences that knew him. He did not want anyone to misunderstand his letters and think that he was against the Law of God and teaching something against God’s Law/Word. Nonetheless, there were many false rumours of such teachings about Paul (as testified by James in Acts 21) and many misunderstandings about deep things he had written (as testified by Peter in 2Pet3).

I believe it is high-time that we broke away from these misunderstandings and false ideas about Paul’s teachings & turned back to God and His Word which has no contradiction or variance. Shalom!

Changing the Feasts of God – The Sin of Jeroboam

God’s Word does not change. His plans and ways stand the test of time, and what He wills, He accomplishes without any variation. The Appointments of our Creator highlighted in Leviticus 23 are a good example of this. Each of these “Feast Days” have a prophetic significance which is fulfilled and is yet to be fulfilled in Messiah Yeshua. They, just as the rest of His Word, cannot be changed, annulled or added to, till the Heavens and Earth themselves pass away. While many celebrate a variety of different Feasts and special days around the year, such as christmas and days venerating different saints, etc, God’s Holy days seem to be casted to the side as Old, Jewish and lacking. Nothing can be further from the truth. Casting His Word and “His Feasts”(as they are called in Lev 23:2) aside for days and traditions made by man was the exact “Sin of Jeroboam”, and one of many reasons that God sent “The House of Israel” into Assyrian Exile.

Jeroboam – The First King of the House of Israel
It all started with Solomon, son of David when he married many wives making covenants with the lands around them(1Kin 11:1,2). In his old age, Solomon was moved away from God by these many foreign wives(1Kin 11:3-8). And God, in His anger let many enemies rise around Solomon(1Kin 11:14-27). Furthermore, He would speak through Ahijah about His intentions to give 10 Tribes of the 12 to Jeroboam who Solomon had appointed ruler over the House of Joseph(1Kin 9-13 & 28-39). Only 2 Tribes consisting of Judah and Benjamin would be left for Solomon’s Son – Rehoboam(1Kin 12:21,23). So Jeroboam a man from the tribe of Ephraim would become the King of the 10 Tribes in the North known as the House of Israel/Ephraim/Joseph.

The Sin of Jeroboam
At the beginning of Jeroboam’s reign itself he did what he felt was right in his heart and before his eyes. As it reads,

1Ki 12:26-30 And Jeroboam said in his heart, Now shall the kingdom return to the house of David: If this people go up to do sacrifice in the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn again unto their lord, even unto Rehoboam king of Judah, and they shall kill me, and go again to Rehoboam king of Judah. Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.And he set the one in Bethel, and the other put he in Dan. And this thing became a sin: for the people went to worship before the one, even unto Dan.

Not only did he appoint a place of his own making, as a worship place for God, he also made priests of anyone he deemed fit, making himself also a priest.

1Ki 12:31 And he made an house of high places, and made priests of the lowest of the people, which were not of the sons of Levi.
1Ki 13:33 After this thing Jeroboam returned not from his evil way, but made again of the lowest of the people priests of the high places: whosoever would, he consecrated him, and he became one of the priests of the high places.

But his sin did not stop there; he went on to consecrate and make special feast (Appointed) days of his own.

1Ki 12:32 And Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah, and he offered upon the altar. So did he in Bethel, sacrificing unto the calves that he had made: and he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places which he had made. So he offered upon the altar which he had made in Bethel the fifteenth day of the eighth month, even in the month which he had devised of his own heart; and ordained a feast unto the children of Israel: and he offered upon the altar, and burnt incense.

From this point onwards, the Sin of Jeroboam is mentioned more than 20 times in the Books of Kings till the end of the Kingdom of Israel in 722BC.

1Ki 13:34 And this thing became sin unto the house of Jeroboam, even to cut it off, and to destroy it from off the face of the earth.
2Ki 17:22,23 For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they departed not from them; Until the LORD removed Israel out of his sight, as he had said by all his servants the prophets. So was Israel carried away out of their own land to Assyria unto this day.

Appointing our own ways of worship and ordaining our own special days was a detestable thing in the eyes of our Father in Heaven. If He and His Word does not change, maybe we should be much more hesitant at joining the ranks of Jeroboam in changing the ways God has ordained in His heavenly wisdom.

Also Read
The Parable of the Prodigal Son & the 2 Houses of Israel
What’s “out of place” in this picture of the Birth of Christ?
Was Christ born in December?
What was celebrated on December 25th before it became Christmas?

Is Yeshua the Promised Messiah?

By the mere fact that this question is being raised, some Christians may feel uncomfortable or become enraged even. But this is a legitimate question when it comes to a person who is yet to accept Yeshua (Jesus’ true Hebrew name) as the Messiah. In my personal journey, I like many other Christians believed in the Old Testament because I believed in Jesus. But now I can confidently say that I believe in Yeshua because of the Tanakh (Old Testament).

The Scriptures were the basis for the New Testament writers to prove that Yeshua was truly the promised Messiah. Over and over, throughout the Gospels, we see the writers bring references from the Torah, Writings & Psalms to show how Yeshua fulfilled specific Prophecies, thereby proving to the reader that He is the promised One.

To the most part, Christians have grown up with the belief that Yeshua is this promised Messiah, and have had no need to question its authenticity.

Those who claimed to be or was pronounced to be Messiah

  1. Todah (Theudas) mentioned in Acts 5:36
  2. Judah HaG’lili (Judas of Galilee) mentioned in Acts 5:37
  3. Bar-Kosiba pronounced as Messiah by Rabbi Akiva in 132AD and given the name Bar-Kochva
  4. Sabbatai Zevi pronounced as Messiah in 1666
  5. Jacob Frank who proclaimed to be a Messiah in 1759
  6. Menachem Mendel Schneerson (1902-1994) who is believed to be the Messiah among the “Chabad” movement, and is said to be coming again.
  7. and many others…

Why believe Yeshua is the promised Messiah?
There are many prophecies about the Messiah in the Scripture, of which some prophecies are significant and clear while others are not. The clearest way to convincingly answer whether Jesus/Yeshua could be the promised Messiah would be to compare these Scriptures against His story. This story is laid out in detail throughout the 4 Gospels and some of the other Books and Letters of the New Testament. The main purpose of the Gospels were to prove to the reader that Yeshua is this promised Messiah. So let us compare the Prophecies and the fulfillments of the prophecies mentioned in the New Testament writings according to the witness of these writers who laid their lives for what they believed.

PROPHECY (Messiah must…) Scripture Reference Fulfillment
Be the Seed made of a woman
bruise the head of the serpent
Gen 3:15 Gal 4:4, 1Jn 3:8
Be the Seed of Abraham Gen 12:3 Mat 1:1, Gal 3:16
Be the Seed of Isaac Gen 17:19, 21:12 Mat 1:2, Luk 3:34,
Heb 11:17-19
Be the Seed of Jacab
Be the Star of Jacob
Gen 28:14,
Num 24:17-19
Mat 1:2, Luk 3:34,
Rev 22:16
Descended from Judah Gen 49:10 Mat 1:2-3, Luk 3:33,
Heb 7:14
Descended from David
Heir to the Throne
2Sam 7:12-13, Jer 23:5,
Isa 9:6,7, 11:1-5
Mat 1:6, Rom 1:3,
Luk 1:32
Exist Forever Micah 5:2 Joh 8:58, Col 1:15-19
Be the Son of God Psalm 2:7, Pro 30:4 Mat 3:17, Luk 1:32
Bear the Name of God (YHVH) Jer 23:5,6 Philip 2:9-11
To appear 69×7 Yrs after
rebuilding the Wall of Jerusalem
Dan 9:25,26 Mat 2:1,16,19.
Luk 3:1,23
Born in Bethlehem Micah 5:2 Mat 2:1, Luk 2:4-7
Be born of a Virgin Isa 7:14 Mat 1:18-25,
Luk 1:26-35
Be Revered by Kings Psa 72:10,11 Mat 2:1-11
Follows a messenger who
prepares the way
Isa 40:3-5, Mal 3:1 Mat 3:1-3,
Luk 1:17, 3:2-6
Be anointed by the
Spirit of God
Isa 11:2, 61:1, Psa 45:7 Mat 3:16, Joh 3:34
Act 10:38
Be a Prophet like Moses Deut 18:15,18 Act 3:20-22
Liberate the afflicted, proclaim
freedom to the prisoners and
proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
Isa 61:1,2 Luk 4:18,19
Engage in a Healing Ministry Isa 35:5,6, 42:18 Mat 11:3-5
Lead a Ministry in Galilee Isa 9:1-2 Mat 4:12-16
Be Caring, Compassionate,
Meek & Humble
Isa 40:11, 42:1-3 Mat 12:15-21, Heb 4:15
To be Sinless Isa 53:9 1 Pet 2:22
Bear the Transgressions of others Psa 69:9, Isa 53:12 Rom 15:3
Be a High Priest after the order
of Melchizedek
Psa 110:4, Heb 5:5,6, 6:20, 7:15-17
Enter Jerusalem riding on a Donkey Zec 9:9 Mat 21:1-11, Mar 11:1-11
Enter the Temple with authority Mal 3:1 Mat 21:12 – 24:1,
Joh 2:13-22
Be hated without a cause Psa 69:4, Joh 15:24-15
Undesirable and rejected by
His own people
Isa 53:2, 63:3, Psa 69:8 Mar 6:3, Joh 1:11, 7:3-5
Rejected by the rulers Psa 118:22 Mat 21:42, Joh 7:48
Rejected by Jews & Gentiles alike Psa 2:1,2 Act 4:25-27
Betrayed by a friend Psa 55:12-14 Act 1:16-18
Mat 26:21-25, 47-50;
Be sold for 30 Pieces of Silver Zec 11:12 Mat 26:15
Pay the price for the Potter’s field Zec 11:13 Mat 27:3-10, Act 1:18,19
Must be abandoned by His disciples Zec 13:7 Mat 26:31,56
Be beaten with a Rod Mic 5:1 Mat 27:30
Be Beaten and Spat upon Isa 50:6 Mat 26:67, 27:30,31
Have His Feet and Hands Pierced Zec 12:10, Psa 22:16,17 Mat 27:35, Luk 24:39
Joh 20:25,27
Be craving of Thirst Psa 22:15 Joh 19:28
Be given Vinegar to Drink Psa 69:21 Mar 15:36, Joh 19:29
Have none of His bones broken Psa 34:20, Joh 19:33-36
Be Considered a Sinner Isa 53:12 Mar 15:28, Luk 22:37
Be put to death after 69×7 Yrs after
rebuilding the Wall of Jerusalem
Dan 9:24-26 Mat 2:1, Luk 3:1,23
1Pet 3:18
Be a whose Death will be
atonement to all mankind
Isa 53:5-7,12 Mar 10:45, Joh 1:29, 3:16,
Acts 8:30-35
Be Buried among the Rich Isa 53:9 Mat 27:57-60
Rise again from the dead Isa 53:9-10, Psa 16:10,
Psa 2:7
Mat 28:1-20, Act 2:23-36,
Act 13:33-37
Be lifted up to the right hand of God Psa 16:11, 68:18, 110: 1 Luk 24:51, Act 1:9-11,
Act 7:55, Heb 1:3
Perform priestly duties in Heaven Zec 6:13 Rom 8:34, Heb 7:25, 8:2
Be the Cornerstone of
God’s Congregation
Isa 28:16, Psa 118:22,23 Mat 21:42, Eph 2:20,
1Pet 2:5-7
Be the Person to whom even
the Gentiles will turn to
Isa 11:10, 42:1 Mat 12:21, Rom 15:12,
Act 10:45
Be accepted by the Gentile Nations
as Ruler
Isa 49:1-12, Psa 18:49,
Deut 32:43, Psa 117:1
Rom 15:9-11
Fulfill God’s Appointed Days Lev 23 View the graph

Conclusion
While there are many claimants to the Messiah-ship of God, there is only one person in history who fulfilled a large array of Scriptures to prove that He is indeed the Messiah. Any person who is unsure whether He truly matches this position must read and compare the Scriptures with the writings of the New Testament to see whether these match up. To those of us who firmly believe that Yeshua is indeed the promised Messiah, we should also know the reason for that belief is all of the evidence laid out in the New Testament pointing at the Scriptures. The Scriptures and the many pieces of evidence it puts forth is why we believe that Yeshua, unlike other claimants, is the real “Messiah Ben Joseph” who will return someday as “Messiah Ben David”.

Was Christ born in December?

With December comes celebration and merry-making. The celebration of the birth of Christ, one which was non-existent in the early church. In earlier studies, we have taken a look at the origins of Christmas:

The Chronography of 354 – What was celebrated on December 25th before it became Christmas?
Pagan influence on Christmas – Where did Christmas come from?

We have also seen the present “Christmas story” is critically flawed, as the “Magi” appeared close to two years after Christ’s birth according to the Gospel accounts:

The flawed Christmas story – What’s out of place in this picture?

Today, let’s attempt to narrow down the month of Christ’s Birth using only the Old Testament Scriptures and the New Testament Writings. Was He born in December? Let’s look at the Biblical evidence.

People of Interest and the YEAR of His Birth:
There are a few key figures that are linked to history, mentioned in the Gospel accounts of Chris’t Birth. Using the following historical dates and the Gospel accounts we have studied, we can narrow down Christ’s Birth to 7BC to 5BC.

Caesar Augustus (Luk 2:1) – Augustus was a Roman statesman and military leader who was the first Emperor of the Roman Empire, controlling Imperial Rome from 16 January 27 BC until his death in 19 August AD 14.

Publius Sulpicius Quirinius (Luk 2:2) – In 6 CE Quirinius, the newly-appointed Imperial Legate (governor) of the province of Roman Syria, was tasked to carry out a tax census of the new province of Judea, one of the three territories into which the kingdom of Herod the Great had been divided on his death in 4 BC.

Herod the Great (Mat 2:1) – Herod was a Roman client king of Judea, who reigned from 37BC to 4BC.

Herod Archelaus (Mat 2:22) – Archelaus his son was ethnarch (Govenor) of Samaria, Judea, and Idumea (Edom), including the cities Caesarea and Jaffa, from 4 BC to 6 AD.

We know that Herod died in 4BC, at which time Joseph returned from Egypt according to Mat 2:20-23. We also know that Yeshua was close to two years old, when the Magi visited(Mat 2:16). If Herod died the same year he ordered the killing of the children, that would place Yeshua‘s birth 2-3 years before Herod’s death. Which gives us an approximate 7BC – 5BC as His birth.

The Priestly courses and the MONTH of His Birth:
To calculate the month of Christ’s birth, we must look into the Birth of John much closely, as Luke provides some key details in his Gospel.

Zecheriah, father of John, was a Priest in the course of Abijah(Luk 1:5). Which was the eighth course out of 24(1Chr 24:7). Each of these priestly courses worked at the Temple for a period of one week(Josephus, Antiq 7, Chapter 14, Verse 7). And all 24 priestly courses were present at the 3 main feasts of Passover/Unleavened Bread, Pentecost & Tabernacles(2Chr 5:11, 2Chr 8:12). The Luni-Solar year according to the Scriptures consist of 51 weeks (A Lunar Cycle is 29.53 days X 12 Months). When you add the 3 weeks that all the priests work at the feasts to the 2 revolutions of 24 Priestly courses, you end up at 51 courses [(24×2)=48 +3 = 51].

Luk 1:5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth.

1Ch 24:7 Now the first lot came forth to Jehoiarib, the second to Jedaiah, The third to Harim, the fourth to Seorim, The fifth to Malchijah, the sixth to Mijamin, The seventh to Hakkoz, the eighth to Abijah, The ninth to Jeshua, the tenth to Shecaniah, The eleventh to Eliashib, the twelfth to Jakim, The thirteenth to Huppah, the fourteenth to Jeshebeab, The fifteenth to Bilgah, the sixteenth to Immer, The seventeenth to Hezir, the eighteenth to Aphses, The nineteenth to Pethahiah, the twentieth to Jehezekel, The one and twentieth to Jachin, the two and twentieth to Gamul, The three and twentieth to Delaiah, the four and twentieth to Maaziah. These were the orderings of them in their service to come into the house of the LORD, according to their manner, under Aaron their father, as the LORD God of Israel had commanded him.

Josephus, Antiq 7, Chapter 14, Verse 7 He divided them also into courses: and when he had separated the Priests from them, he found of these Priests twenty four courses: sixteen of the house of Eleazar, and eight of that of Ithamar: and he ordained that one course should minister to God eight days, from sabbath to sabbath. And thus were the courses distributed by lot, in the presence of David, and Zadok, and Abiathar the High Priests, and of all the rulers. And that course which came up first was written down as the first: and accordingly the second; and so on to the twenty four.

Mishneh Torah, Chap 3, Verse 9 – Samuel the prophet and David the king divided the Levites into twenty-four divisions; each division served for one week. The chief of a division divided the men of his division into subdivisions [family groups].— — The chiefs of the subdivisions distributed assignments among those serving on their particular day, each man performing his own task.

Mishneh Torah, Chap 4, Verse 3 – Our teacher Moses divided the priests into eight divisions, four from the family of Elazar and four from the family of Ithamar. They functioned that way until the time of Samuel the prophet, when he and King David divided them into twenty-four divisions. A chief was named over each division. One division a week would go up to Jerusalem for service. The divisions would change every Sabbath day, one leaving and the next one entering, until the cycle was completed. Then they would begin the cycle over again.

2Ch 5:11 And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place: (for all the priests that were present were sanctified, and did not then wait by course:

2Ch 8:12 Then Solomon offered burnt offerings unto the LORD on the altar of the LORD, which he had built before the porch, Even after a certain rate every day, offering according to the commandment of Moses, on the sabbaths, and on the new moons, and on the solemn feasts, three times in the year, even in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles. And he appointed, according to the order of David his father, the courses of the priests to their service, and the Levites to their charges, to praise and minister before the priests, as the duty of every day required: the porters also by their courses at every gate: for so had David the man of God commanded.

Looking at the above information, we can attempt to create a depiction of the events that took place in their approximate time periods, as given below:

 If Zecheriah was engaged in his duties in the 9th Week of the year, he would have had to also work on the 10th week and would have gone home to Elizabeth in the 11th Week. If we estimate that Elizabeth conceived in the 12th Week, she would have given birth to John approximately at the en of the year. As Mary conceived 6 months after Elizabeth’s conception, we can then narrow down Mary’s conception to around the 39th Week of the year. If so, our Saviour Yeshua would have been born fairly close, if not right on the Day of Sukkot, also known as the Feast of Tabernacles.

There are a few reasons to believe that the Birth of Christ happened on Tabernacles
1. Emmanuel
Matthew quotes Isaiah 7:14 in Matthew 1:23 as he explains “Emmanuel” which means “God with Us” in Hebrew was a prophecy that came true, this day. The Feast/Appointment of Tabernacles was the one feast which commemorated “God Dwelling/Tabernacling among His people”. Furthermore, John 1:14 speaks of Messiah the same way using the word “Dwelt”(Skaynoo- G4637) which meant Tent or Encampment in Greek.

2. Perfect time for a Census
Luke speaks of a Census for the purpose of Taxation which was carried our by Rome. At the time of the 3 main Feast Days, all Jews come to Jerusalem to participate. So it would make perfect sense to keep a Census at this time

3. Locality of Bethlehem
Bethlehem was situated less than 10Km away from Jerusalem and a 2 hour walk away. This would have been an ideal situation for Joseph and Mary, as they could register with Roman authorities as well as attend the Feast which is close to where they would have stayed.

4. No room at the Inn
Lodging would be hard to get by in the time of a Feast, as many Jews travel back to Jerusalem at this time. This makes perfect sense with Luke’s account as many pilgrims would have already occupied all the establishments which were available.

5. Born on the 1st Day, Circumcised on the 8th
The Feast of Tabernacles is an 8-day feast(Lev 23:39). The 1st day and the 8th day are special/high Sabbath Days. Could it be that Yeshua was born on the 1st Day of Tabernacles and circumcised according to the Law(Lev 12:3, Luk 2:21) on the 8th Day of Tabernacles?

6. Shepherds grazing sheep in the cold?
As Luke mentions in Luk 2:8, there were shepherds grazing their flock in the night as Christ was born. It is highly unlikely that this would have been possible in the cold of December. It may have been possible around the 7th Feast as the fall rains would have made the pastures lush for the sheep to graze on. But would not have been too cold for them as close to the 9th Month (November/December) when the atmosphere is most cold.

The above clues may point to Yeshua’s Birth happening right on the Day of Tabernacles(Sep/Oct in our Gregorian Calendar). One other reason is that Yeshua’s Death happened on Passover (a feast day), He resurrected on Firstfruits (a feast day), He sent His Holy Spirit on Pentecost (a feast day). So it is very likely that God intended His Birth also on a Feast Day.

Other Possibilities
But we should also inspect a few other possibilities as well according to the above graph. Every Priestly course worked 5 times a year ; twice according to their course and thrice at the main feasts along with all other priestly courses. So there maybe 4 other possibilities as well. Let us see whether eith of them can lead to a December 25th Birth.

i) If Luke’s account of Zecheriah working in the temple was in Pesach/Passover, Christ’s birth would have taken place around the 22nd Week which is the end of the 5th Month (July/August in the Gregorian Calendar).

ii) If Luke’s account of Zecheriah working in the temple was in Shavuot/Pentecost, Christ’s birth would have taken place still on Sukkot/Tabernacles as it would have not changed the time he returned to Elizabeth.

iii) If Luke’s account of Zecheriah working in the temple was in Sukkot/Tabernacles, Christ’s birth would have taken place around the 45th Week which is the 11th Month (January/February in the Gregorian Calendar).

iv) If Luke’s account of Zecheriah working in the temple was in the 35th Week, which is his 2nd course for the year, Christ’s birth would have taken place around the 3rd Week which is in the 1st Month around Pesach/Passover (March/April in the Gregorian Calendar).

Conclusion
According to Luke’s account, we can make an approximation of Christ’s Birth to Sukkot, which makes sense in several different ways when looking at prophecies such as Isaiah 7:14 or the other particulars in the story. I would not disregard any of the other possibilities as well, but it would be more probable that He was born on Sukkot. But it is certain that he could not have been born in December.

Is making Oaths prohibited? Misunderstandings regarding the Sermon on the Mount

It is a common teaching that as Christians, we should not make oaths or swear in the name of God, and that Messiah taught explicitly against swearing in His Sermon on the Mount. At face value it seems that Christ said making oaths/swearing which was a precept from the Law of God was evil. Have we misunderstood Christ’s words in Matthew 5:33-37 ? further study maybe needed to check the validity of this claim.

Oaths in the Law of God
While Oaths and vows seem to be the same, a vow is a “solemn promise” made between two entities, while an oath is a commitment one makes towards telling the truth or any other matter usually by calling towards something greater than him/herself.

The law is clear that words of an oath cannot be broken and that false Oaths should not be made in God’s name. The amalgamation of these two laws are what Yeshua mentioned in Matthew 5:33.

Lev 19:12 And ye shall not swear by my name falsely, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD.
Num 30:2 If a man vow a vow unto the LORD, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond; he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth.

In the Law of God, it was expressly stated that if one makes an Oath, it should be made in the name of no other entity or pagan god, but YHVH‘s name.

Deu 10:20 Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God; him shalt thou serve, and to him shalt thou cleave, and swear by his name.
Deu 6:13 Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name.

There was also other laws which governed breaking of oaths and being a witness of such acts.

Lev 5:1 And if a soul sin, and hear the voice of swearing, and is a witness, whether he hath seen or known of it; if he do not utter it, then he shall bear his iniquity.
Lev 5:4 Or if a soul swear, pronouncing with his lips to do evil, or to do good, whatsoever it be that a man shall pronounce with an oath, and it be hid from him; when he knoweth of it, then he shall be guilty in one of these.

There are many cases in the Old Testament where an oath is made. It was strictly adhered to (Jos 2:12-14; 6:25) even if it was later revealed to be disadvantageous (Josh chap 9).

Missing the point of Matthew 5:34
When Christ says “Do not swear at all”, it is juxtaposed against the precept from the Mosaic Law “Do not swear falsely in God’s name, but complete any oaths you make”(Lev 19:12, Num 30:2). The Law was against swearing falsely in God’s Name. So here Messiah is simply saying do not swear falsely in any other matter or in any other entity whether it be Heaven, Earth, Jerusalem or your own head. The highlight remains on “falsehood”, not swearing itself.

Mat 5:33 Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.

Verse 37 where the phrase “Let your yes be yes and no be no” is often the reason why many misunderstand this teaching. To state it simply, so far Christ has essentially only said that “you have heard it being said don’t swear falsely in God’s Name and that you should keep your oaths, but I say to you don’t swear by anything else falsely either”. He then adds the fact that swearing is not needed at all if you are a person who keeps his/her word. If you say yes and do it or no and don’t,(If you are a man/woman of his/her word) essentially there is no reason for swearing in God’s name or any entity.

Further proof that Messiah’s reasoning was only about swearing falsely in any matter
There is other evidence which can shed light on this passage, of which the Hebrew Matthew stands out. The Hebrew version of Matthew’s Gospel perfectly preserves the fact about falsehood as you can see below:

Mat 5:33 (Shem Tob – Hebrew Gospel of Matthew translated by George Howard) Again you have heard what was said to those of long ago: You shall not swear by my name falsely, but you shall return to the Lord your oath. But I say to you not to swear in vain in any matter, neither by heaven because it is the throne of God, nor by earth because it is the footstool of His feet, nor by (Jerusalem) because it is the city of God, nor by your head for you are not able to make one hair white or black. But let your words be yes yes or no no. Everything in addition to this is evil.

The Biblical Apocrypha book Sirach (200-175BCE) also carries the same theme of making oaths very conservatively, and keeping oneself altogether from making oaths which once you break, amount to sin and unrighteousness.

Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 23:9-11 Don’t let your mouth get used to making solemn pledges,and don’t get accustomed to saying the name of the holy one. Just as a household slave who is constantly examined won’t be lacking bruises, so also the person who always swears and speaks the Lord’s name will never be cleansed from sin. People who make many solemn pledges will be full of lawlessness, and a scourge won’t depart from their house. If they break their solemn pledges, their sin is on them, and if they disregard it, they sin doubly, and if they swear falsely, they won’t be justified, but their houses will be full of misery.

Philo of Alexandria (20BCE – 50CE) who’s works influenced many church fathers had the same to say about oaths.

Philo: The Decalogue 84 That being which is the most beautiful, and the most beneficial to human life, and suitable to rational nature, swears not itself, because truth on every point is so innate within him that his bare word is accounted an oath. Next to not swearing at all, the second best thing is to keep one’s oath; for by the mere fact of swearing at all, the swearer shows that there is some suspicion of his not being trustworthy.

Matthew 5:37 is oddly similar to a passage in the central text of Rabbinical Judaism which also carries the same theme of keeping ones word and not making commitments which one does not intend on fulfilling.

Talmud, Bava Metzia 49a The Gemara raises an objection: Rabbi Yosei, son of Rabbi Yehuda, says: What is the meaning when the verse states: “A just ephah, and a just hin, shall you have” (Leviticus 19:36)? But wasn’t a hin included in an ephah? Why is it necessary to state both? Rather, this is an allusion that serves to say to you that your yes [hen] should be just, and your no should be just. Apparently, it is a mitzva for one to fulfill his promises. Abaye says: That verse means that one should not say one matter with his mouth and think one other matter in his heart. It is prohibited for one to make a commitment that he has no intention of fulfilling.

Conclusion
Words are connected to actions, and the power of words can be seen in the Laws of Oaths among others. When we say yes or no, we should all adhere to keep our word and as Philo explained; aim to be a person who is trustworthy enough to not need an oath from. As our Messiah showed us, we should not falsely swear in any name or entity although we are still able to make an oath if we need to, as long as we stay committed to fulfilling it by all and any means. It is better for us to be Christians who keep their word and be considered trustworthy enough to never have to or need to make an oath. Let us all keep away from evil by being true to our words.

Corinthian Prostitution, Headcoverings and Authority

In the Letter to the Corinthians, Paul speaks of the head covering. As most of Paul’s writings, it is important to look at the Historical evidence and the context behind what he is writing. Knowing the audience and their surroundings will help us get a better understanding of what Paul speaks of. Did Paul confirm that women should wear a head covering? Why was this matter even discussed? Let’s investigate.

1Co 11:1-2 Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ. Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.

Paul starts by commending the Corinthians on keeping to the traditions set forth by the Apostle. What he is about to speak of, had to be a new instruction as Paul praised them for remembering him “in all things” and keeping everything the way he had instructed.

1Co 11:3-5 But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head. But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven.

In the above section, woman(G1135-Goonay) can be better translated as “wife” and man(G435-Anayr) as “husband”, as it is speaking of individuals who are bonded together. Because of this reason, Paul’s instructions are limited to the boundaries of marriage. The hierarchy which Paul provides can be summarized as per the below graphic:

A Husband has authority over a wife, while Christ has authority over both. God as the ultimate authority head, is in the top of the hierarchical structure, having authority over Christ, the Husband and Wife.

Verse 6, where it says “Every man praying or prophesying having his head(G2776-Kefalay) covered(G2596-Katah-on)”, can be better translated as “Every man praying or prophesying having anything on his head”… dishonors his head. In this instance, Paul is obviously speaking of authority as we saw in the previous verse, he said that a Man’s head is Christ. In other words Christ has authority over a man. Now he is saying that if a man has something on his “head” (which is Christ), it dishonors his “head” (which is Christ). Paul is obviously talking of something or someone superseding Christ’s authority over the husband. In relation to the previous verse, and as we will see in the verses up ahead, Paul is simply saying that if a wife usurps authority over a husband it can dishonor the rightful owner of that authority, who is Christ. Were there wives in the Corinthian congregation, which overuled their husbands publicly, leading to discord? Let’s read on.

Paul goes onto explain the exact opposite instance, where the wife uncovers her “head”(who is her husband) bringing dishonor to her “head”(who is her husband). Paul is simply saying if the wife does not recognize the authority of the husband, she brings dishonor to her husband. Paul equates such an act to being a woman who has her head shaved. The shaving of a wives’ head clearly is a picture of dishonor according to Paul. This is corroborated by Historians as there is evidence that women who had little to no hair were considered slaves, adulteresses or prostitutes.

Just so Cyprus too had its Demonassa, a woman gifted in both statesmanship and law-giving. She gave the people of Cyprus the following three laws: a woman guilty of adultery shall have her hair cut off and be a harlot — her daughter became an adulteress, had her hair cut off according to the law, and practised harlotry; Dio Chrysostom Discourse 64, section 2-3

But now that I see this maidservant, bearing a weight of water on her shorn head, let us sit down, and inquire of this slave girl, if we may receive some word about the matter,
Euripides Electra Line 109-110

Corinth was known to be a city run rampant with Prostitution. In Greek “I Corinthianise”(Κορινθι-αστής) was used to mean “I practice prostitution”. The 4th Century BC plays by Philetaerus, Ath.13.559a, and Poliochus, Id.7.313c were named Κορινθι-αστής “whoremonger”. Plato in The Republic 404c also equates “Corinthian girl” to a “Prostitute”.

After Antisthenes’ death he moved to Corinth, since he considered none of the others worth associating with, and there he lived without renting a house or staying with a friend, but camping out in the Craneion. For he observed that large numbers gathered at Corinth on account of the harbours and the hetaerae(“female companions.” The name was applied to a wide class of women, ranging from those whose marriages lacked legal sanction all the way to the lowest harlots), and because the city was situated as it were at the cross-roads of Greece. Dio Chrysostom – Discourses 8, Section 5

And the temple of Aphrodite was so rich that it owned more than a thousand temple slaves, courtesans, whom both men and women had dedicated to the goddess. And therefore it was also on account of these women that the city was crowded with people and grew rich; for instance, the ship captains freely squandered their money, and hence the proverb, “”Not for every man is the voyage to Corinth.””Source unknown Moreover, it is recorded that a certain courtesan said to the woman who reproached her with the charge that she did not like to work or touch wool: “Yet, such as I am, in this short time I have taken down three webs.” That is, “finished three webs.” But there is a word play in καθεῖλον ἱστούς “finished three webs” which cannot be reproduced in English. The words may also mean “lowered three masts,” that is, “debauched three ship captains.” Strabo – Geographika Book VIII Chap 6 Sec 20

Now Comana is a populous city and is a notable emporium for the people from Armenia; and at the times of the “exoduses” of the goddess people assemble there from everywhere, from both the cities and the country, men together with women, to attend the festival. And there are certain others, also, who in accordance with a vow are always residing there, performing sacrifices in honor of the goddess. And the inhabitants live in luxury, and all their property is planted with vines; and there is a multitude of women who make gain from their persons, most of whom are dedicated to the goddess, for in a way the city is a lesser Corinth, for there too, on account of the multitude of courtesans, who were sacred to Aphrodite, outsiders resorted in great numbers and kept holiday. And the merchants and soldiers who went there squandered all their money so that the following proverb arose in reference to them: “
Not for every man is the voyage to Corinth.” Such, then, is my account of Comana.
Strabo – Geographika Book XII Chapter 3 Section 36

He also mentions the following sayings of Gnathaeniŏn, who was the grand-daughter of Gnathaena(Athenian Courtesan): It happened once that a very aged satrap, Full ninety years of are, had come to Athens. And on the feast of Cronus he beheld Gnathaeniŏn with Gnathaena going out From a fair temple sacred to Aphrodite, And noticing her form and grace of motion, He just inquired “How much she asked a night?” Gnathaena, looking on his purple robe, And princely bodyguard, said, “A thousand drachmas.” He, as if smitten with a mortal wound, Said, “I perceive, because of all these soldiers, You look upon me as a captured enemy; But take five minae, and agree with me, And let them get a bed prepared for us.” She, as the satrap seemed a witty man, Received his terms, and said, “Give what you like, – Athenaeus Book 13 Page 581 section 44

Veiling of married women in public was common practice because of this reason. This may have been the reason Paul picked this particular tradition to explain the need for proper use of authority.

When someone inquired why they took their girls into public places unveiled, but their married women veiled, he said, “Because the girls have to find husbands, and the married women have to keep to those who have them!” – Plutarch Moralia 232c

So as we have seen with all of the historical evidences, Paul may have used the Covering/uncovering of the head as a metaphor because it was a common practice in places such as Corinth. With the heavy inclination towards debauchery in Corinth, Wives dressed modestly to show that they were unattainable. In this sense, the head covering acted as a sign of marriage (much like the wearing of a ring in our present time).

1Co 11:6 For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered.

As we saw earlier, shaving of the head was a sign of a slave, adulteress or prostitute. A wife who uncovered her head in public, uncovered her husband by showcasing that she could be unmarried. This surely brings dishonor to the husband. In this way, Paul’s metaphor is spot on! He is saying that a woman who does not regard that her husband has authority over her in a Godly marriage, brings shame to herself and her husband, becoming like the Prostitutes, adulteresses and slaves of Corinth.

1Co 11:7-9 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.

If we use the same argument in the case of the man, A man who uncovers his head, or disregards Christ’s authority over him, dishonors Christ and in turn dishonors God. Paul mentions here that Man was created in God’s image, while woman was created in Man’s image, relating back again to the hierarchical structure he presented before.

1Co 11:10 For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.

This particular verse confirms the theory set forth in this study, by speaking of wives having power(G1849 – also translated as authority) on their heads. The reason Paul gives is, “because of the angels”. Many see the Angles mentioned here, to be heavenly angels, although the same word (G32 – Angelos) can be used as earthly messengers (see Mat 11:10, Mar 1:2, Luk 7:24,27, 9:52, Heb 2:2, James 2:25). The latter interpretation makes more sense, as and when messengers from other congregations come to the Corinthian congregation, they should see that wives submit to their husbands(Eph 5:22, Col 3:18) and not a show of dishonor towards authority and hierarchy.

1Co 11:11-12 Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord. For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God.

Most of the time when hierarchy and authority is spoken of, people tend to think that the Husband can rule over the wife however he pleases. Paul quickly makes this clarification by showing that the wife and husband are equals before God, but only that the husband is responsible to care and lead the wife, while the wife is supposed to help the husband with their walk towards God.

1Co 11:13-15 Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered? Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.

A wife who prays to God with an uncovered head is a person who does not submit to her husband’s authority. How will a wife who cannot submit to her own earthly husband, ever rightly submit to her heavenly husband? Finally Paul uses a metaphor from nature, showing how women are naturally given long hair as a covering while men are not.

1Co 11:16 But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.

As Paul closes his argument he speaks to “anyone” who may dispute his claims. The word man is not present in this verse, denoting that maybe there are some women who may dispute the Apostles claims that the wife must be under the authority of the husband. Paul closes the argument saying such a practice where the woman disregards the authority of her husband is not seen in any of the congregations, putting an end to the debate.

Conclusion
Corinth which was known for it’s prostitution, led married women to keep their heads veiled and being modest thereby showing that they were unattainable. Among the many problems in the Corinthian Congregation, there seems to be one where some wives were acting out of term bringing dishonor to their husbands and discord to the congregation. Paul used the metaphor of the head covering which was known by all married women, to teach them about authority and the hierarchical system inside the congregation. While there is no law which states a wife or woman must cover their heads, Paul himself is not asking wives to cover their heads in the above passage. Women are free to dress as they please, as long as they are modest. Wives can choose to cover their heads or not, as long as they submit to the authority of their own husbands; and in turn Christ the head of them all.

Also read: Do men have authority over women according to the Scriptures?