Tag Archives: Commandments

Was God’s Law blotted out and nailed to the cross? Misunderstandings regarding Col 2:11-17

Paul’s letter to the Colossians contain one, if not the most famous of verses used to prove that God’s Law is done away with Christ’s death. While many Christians quote this passage, not many of us pay proper attention to the words used by Paul – which ultimately leads us to read our own doctrines into the text. Peter was right to warn believers to be careful when reading Paul’s Letters, as many were distorting his words in their day(2 Pet 3:15,16). Nothing much has changed, as the letters and words of this Misunderstood Apostle are still unwittingly distorted by many. Let’s try to put our preconceived ideas and beliefs away so that we can approach the text afresh, and see the true meaning of Paul’s words to the Colossians.

This study is broken down to the following areas
1. Introduction (Col 1:1-2:9)
2. The meaning of Principalities and Powers (Col 1:16, 2:10,15)
3. Circumcision made without hands (Col 2:11)
4. Buried with Him in Baptism (Col 2:12)
5. The meaning of Handwriting of Ordinances (Col 2:14)
6. Let no one judge you (Col 2:16)
7. A shadow of things to come (Col 2:17)
8. Being subject to Ordinances – the commandments and doctrines of men (Col 2:18-23)
9. Conclusion

Abraxas. Egyptian-Roman amulet, 100-400

Abraxas.
Egyptian-Roman amulet, 100-400

1. Introduction
The congregation at Colosse was most probably established and had not even seen Paul face to face(Col 2:1). Paul greets them and thanks God for their faith, telling the Colossians that his prayer is for them to increase in the knowledge and understanding of God. He then thanks God for making them part of His kingdom through Christ. Paul explains that everything in Heaven and on Earth were created through Him, whether it be thrones, dominions, principalities or powers. (This proclamation of authority whether it be in heaven or earth, being under Messiah will be an important thought to consider when we come to the verses in question, as the letter deals with who has authority over the Colossian believers) He goes onto explain that Christ is above all things, being made the head of the body of believers. His blood made peace, reconciling everything to God. Even though the Colossians were aliens before God, when they were doing things contrary to God, Messiah had reconciled them to God through His blood. Paul then explains his ministry to the gentiles of revealing Christ in each and everyone who believes, which was a mystery revealed in their day.

Gnostic Gem Showing the Lion-Faced Deity Laldabaoth (Sophia’s Son). From L’antiquité Expliquée et Représentée en Figures, by Bernard de Montfaucon (Paris: F. Delaulne, 1719)

Gnostic Gem Showing the Lion-Faced Deity Laldabaoth (Sophia’s Son). From L’antiquité Expliquée et Représentée en Figures, by Bernard de Montfaucon (Paris: F. Delaulne, 1719)

In the second chapter Paul once again speaks of the mystery of God, and how wisdom and knowledge is hidden in Him. He asks them to beware of being deceived by persuasive language – in context of Knowledge and wisdom. It is apparent reading the letter thus far, that the Colossians were being persuaded by some party or parties in the realm of wisdom and knowledge. There is a strong probability that these were Gnostics who believed in “Hidden Knowledge” (Gnostikos in Greek meant “Having Knowledge”) – they were known to shun the physical/material world and wanted to embrace the spiritual world. Gnosticism could also be likened unto the “traditions of the elders” which practiced justification through certain works. Gnostics believed that gnosis (knowledge, enlightenment or ‘oneness with God’) may be reached by practicing philanthropy to the point of personal poverty, sexual abstinence and diligently searching for knowledge/wisdom by helping others. Outwardly, it looked like a good way of life, but inwardly it did nothing to help believers, being just man-made ideas. This will be apparent when we reach the end of Chapter 2.

Paul advises them to be rooted and built up in Christ, and be steadfast & established in the faith they had received. In Col 2:8, Paul once again tells them to beware of philosophy, empty delusions which are according to human traditions and principle of the world. And then proclaims once again that all “principality and power” is under him, as the fullness of divinity resides in Him. In other words, their is no higher authority than the savior and lord of our lives, Yeshua the Messiah.

2. Principalities and Powers
At this juncture, before proceeding to verse 11, we must identify the true meaning of “Principalities and Powers”. The usual explanation is that these are spiritual entities which had authority over humans, before Christ’s atoning sacrifice. Let’s test this against the writings. Paul uses this phrasing 3 times in the letter to the Colossians, denoting a certain importance of said phrase to the point he is trying to make.

Col 1:16  For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
Col 2:10  And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:
Col 2:15  And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.

Principalities – Strong’s Dictionary – G746 – ar-khay’ – From G756; (properly abstract) a commencement, or (concrete) chief (in various applications of order, time, place or rank): – beginning, corner, (at the, the) first (estate), magistrate, power, principality, principle, rule.

Powers – Strong’s Dictionary – G1849 – ex-oo-see’-ah – From G1832 (in the sense of ability); privilege, that is, (subjectively) force, capacity, competency, freedom, or (objectively) mastery (concretely magistrate, superhuman, potentate, token of control), delegated influence: – authority, jurisdiction, liberty, power, right, strength.

The use of the phrase “Principalities and Powers” in the New Testament 
Luk 12:11  And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates(G746), and powers(G1489), take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say:
Luk 20:20  And they watched him, and sent forth spies, which should feign themselves just men, that they might take hold of his words, that so they might deliver him unto the power(G746) and authority(G1489) of the governor.
1Co 15:24  Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule(G746) and all authority(G1489) and power.
Eph 1:21  Far above all principality(G746), and power(G1489), and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:
Eph 3:10  To the intent that now unto the principalities(G746), and powers(G1489)in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,
Eph 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities(G746), against powers(G1489), against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Tit 3:1  Put them in mind to be subject to principalities(G746), and powers(G1489), to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work,

These two Greek words “Arkhay” & “Exooseeah” are mostly used for rule/authority/governance in an earthly sense, as in magistrates, governors, rulers, etc. In the letter to the Ephesians Paul uses the same words to speak of spiritual rule and authority, but he clearly mentions “high places” or “heavenly places” to explain that he is not speaking of it in an earthly sense. Luk 12 and Titus 3 are clearly speaking of earthly rulers and authorities using the same Greek words. Looking at the above evidence, it is most likely that Paul was speaking of an earthly “Arkhay” & “Exooseeah” in the letter to the Colossians. Colossians 1:16 further explains the fact that he was speaking of earthly rulers and authorities as well as the heavenly.

3. Circumcision made without hands
Returning to the Letter to the Colossians, we see Paul suddenly addressing the topic of circumcision. One of the main concerns in the 1st century was whether gentile believers in the faith should be circumcised or not before they were accepted as believers – in other words, some were saying that Gentile believers needed to be circumcised to be saved. The 15th Chapter of Acts shows the conflict and the resolution created by the Jerusalem Council. Many of Paul’s letters directly tackle this idea of “justification by Works” – in other words “being saved because of becoming circumcised”. And it is the same argument that Paul brings to the Colossians. Just after explaining that Christ is above all so called rulers and authorities, he explains that the Colossians have been circumcised with the circumcision made without hands – The circumcision of the heart – both spoken by Paul(Rom 2:29) and God Himslef(Deut 10:16, 30:6, Jer 4:4) in the Old Testament Scriptures. Circumcision of the heart was repentance and turning from your iniquities towards God.

4. Buried with Him in Baptism
After explaining that they have received “salvation” (putting off the body of sins of the flesh) without physical circumcision, Paul then turns to baptism. Explaining that they have died to the old life in baptism (burial in water) and being resurrected through the faith in God, Paul writes that they were dead in sin and uncircumcision – but have now been forgiven their sins.

It is important to note that the Jewish Rabbinic authorities believe a proselyte(convert to Judaism) must engage in Circumcision and Baptism before they are regarded part of the congregation ([A] Refer discussion by Maimonides on Yevamot 47a-b). This is still considered mandatory and is in practice even today. It is proven through archaeology that there were ritual baths (special places for baptism) even before the time of Christ, so it is safe to say Jewish Proselytes were circumcised and baptized before they were accepted into the community, even in the 1st Century. It should now be apparent to you why Paul discusses Circumcision and Baptism in his letter to the Colossians. These were new converts into the faith, and most definitely, the rulers/authorities wanted them to adhere to the customs/traditions of their day. In the eyes of these “principalities” and “powers” a proselyte was to be physically circumcised and then baptized before they were part of the faith. The Jerusalem Council had announced this was not necessary to become part of the congregation as one is saved only by faith and the grace of God. Circumcision was never a requirement to approach God. In fact it was a commandment for parents, as they are the one who circumcised a child on the 8th day.

Paul explained that the Colossians had been circumcised with a circumcision done without hands, and with baptism to Christ – so that they did not need any further acts to be done in accordance to the principalities and powers of their day.

5. The meaning of Handwriting of Ordinances
As we step into the main verses in question, the context leading to this verse becomes all the more important. Christians are quick to say that the phrase “Handwriting of Ordinances” refers to the “Law of God” or “Law of Moses” or “The Old Testament Scriptures”. Nothing can be further than the truth.

Handwriting – G5498 – khi-rog’-raf-on – Neuter of a compound of G5495 and G1125; something hand written (“chirograph”), that is, a manuscript (specifically a legal document or bond (figuratively)): – handwriting. This word can only be found in Col 2:14

Ordinances – G1378 – dog’-mah – From the base of G1380; a law (civil, ceremonial or ecclesiastical): – decree, ordinance.
Luk 2:1  And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree(G1378) from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.
Act 16:4  And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees(G1378) for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem.
Act 17:7  Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees(G1378) of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus.
Eph 2:15  Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances(G1378); for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;

The phrase “handwriting of Ordinances” is only seen in the letter to the Colossians. The word “Ordinances” (Dogmah) is seen 5 times in the New Testament and 3 of those occasions clearly refer to “man-made Decrees”.

Eph 2:15 stands out amongst them, as Paul connected it to the “middle wall of partition” (also known as the soreg). While God had given Commandments and His Law, the word Dogmah stood for man-made Decrees/laws/ordinances. If Paul was indeed speaking of God’s Law & Commandments, he would not have needed to use the word “ordinance”/”decree”(dogmah) in his letter. These “ordinances” which were prescribed by the principalities and powers, were hostile to the worship of God, as they restrained anyone other than “Jews” (as per their definition) from worshiping God. These ordinances made a clear separation between Jew and Gentile, by elevating one above the other, to the extent where gentiles were looked down upon and disassociated, by Jews everywhere (Joh 4:9,27, 7:35, Act 10:28, 11:2,3, Gal 2:12).

Coming back to Col 2:14, we see that which is blotted out and nailed to the cross is “Dogmah” or man-made decrees, and not any parts of the Scriptures. Just as Paul explains in Eph 2:15, these were hostile towards us. He repeats those words to the Colossians by saying that those decrees were against and opposed to believers of God. In the same breadth Paul explains these rulers and people of authority(principalities and powers) who create and subject others to these man-made decrees had been made powerless by Christ, as He alone held authority over all.

6. Let no one judge you
One of the most misunderstood and misused verses in the New Testament, this verse is commonly used as a proof text to say that the Sabbath and feast days that God called “His Feasts” are now discarded after Christ. Let’s look at the verse a little closer.

Col 2:16  Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:

Paul writes that “therefore”, hinting at the so called rulers & authorities (principalities and powers) who are powerless because of the true person who has authority over all of God’s children; For this reason the Colossians should not let anyone judge/condemn them. They were under a higher authority. But what were these Principalities and powers condemning the Colossians for? This verse can be read in the following ways:

A) Let no man therefore judge you FOR NOT ADHERING TO Food Laws, Holydays, New Moon days and Sabbath days.
B) Let no man therefore judge you FOR ADHERING TO Food Laws, Holydays, New Moon days and Sabbath days.

The majority of Christians understand this verse to be read according to “reading A” in which Paul is asking the Colossians to let no one judge them for not keeping God’s Law. The inverse maybe true as well. As per “reading B”, Paul could also be asking them to not let anyone judge them for adhering to God’s Law.

According to the context, it is clear that these gentile believers were being influenced by the Jewish authorities of their day in the realm of adherence to their man-made laws and authority. Paul had already explained that these “dogmah” ordinances/man-made laws were done away in Christ. It is likely that these “principalities and powers” were judging these new Gentile believers for keeping Food Laws, Holy days, New Moons and Sabbath days without proper adherence to their laws which were made for proselytes. In their eyes, these proselytes were keeping the ways of God before being officially accepted into the fold. They were acting outside their authority, and that was not acceptable.

7. A shadow of things to come
Paul concludes the advice about not letting anyone judge them by saying that the Food Laws, Holy days, New Moons & Sabbaths “are” a shadow of things to come. Note that Paul did not say “were” but “are” indicating they are still a shadow of things to come. The next part of the verse is written “But the body is of Christ”, which can also be translated as “and the body is of Christ”. However it is translated, it is apparent that Paul is saying that the Shadow is cast by a body which is Christ. Meaning that these Laws “are” a shadow of the coming Christ and His Kingdom.

8. Being subject to Ordinances – the commandments and doctrines of men
Paul completes his advise on coming under authority/rule of men and obeying their man made laws/doctrines/commandments by speaking of the Gnostic influence on the Colossians once again. We saw that he had mentioned the pursuit of wisdom at the start of the second chapter possibly indicating influence by Gnostics. Now paul speaks of asceticism (a lifestyle characterized by abstinence from worldly pleasures, often for the purpose of pursuing spiritual goals), worship/religion of angels, pride in wisdom and intrusion into the unknown. These were all Gnostic ideas/teachings, making it obvious that one of the main parties trying to influence the Colossian believers were indeed the Gnostics.

Paul reminds them to be firmly connected to Christ, the head of authority, who nourishes all believers in faith. And also to not be in subjection to principles of the world or doctrines/commands of men that say do not touch, taste, handle – which appear to be wise, but is self-made religion and asceticism which neglect the body, but do nothing to stop the indulgences of the flesh. In other words, they seem to be spiritual commands but are man-made ideas which does nothing to bring you closer to God. Some see these verses to be speaking of God’s Law, such as the food laws… but Paul is very clear in saying that these are “commandments and doctrines of men”.

9. Conclusion
The Colossians were a group of new believers who were being influenced and criticized by certain authorities. These “principalities and powers” as Paul put them, were in places of power but had no authority over the Children of God, as Christ was the head of the body. Through His sacrifice, He had put those man-made ordinances/doctrines to shame by triumphing over them. There was no more barrier for Gentiles to approach God in repentance. These proselytes need not be subject to the ways of man anymore. The second influencing factor were the Gnostic thoughts in their day. These ideas rejected the earthly life altogether for Spiritual knowledge and wisdom, in worshiping angels and in asceticism.

The Colossians who were most likely being pushed, bullied and rejected by both Jews who held onto the “Traditions of the elders” and the Gentiles who were peddling Gnostic thought, were being influenced in the middle – to which Paul writes to strengthen them in the Gospel they have heard and to advice them to separate God’s Word from the Word of man. Separate God’s eternal Law from the temporary man-made commands and doctrines. Separate Christ who has full authority over them to the powerless “principalities and powers” of their day.

It is important to dissect Paul’s words carefully, and to always remember that we do not fully know the backgrounds of the assemblies he wrote to, nor the troubles and conflicts they faced. We must understand that Paul adhered and walked according to God’s Law, and that his common rebuke was against justification/salvation through the doing of the Law. When taken in context there is no doubt that Paul was speaking of man-made doctrines being nailed to the cross and being blotted out, and not God’s eternal Law.

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[A]”By three things did Israel enter into the Covenant: by circumcision, and baptism and sacrifice. Circumcision was in Egypt, as it is written: ‘No uncircumcised person shall eat thereof’ (Exodus 12:48). Baptism was in the wilderness, just before giving of the Law, as it is written: ‘Sanctify them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their clothes’ (Exodus 19:10). And sacrifice, as it is said: ‘And he sent young men of the children of Israel which offered burnt offerings’ (Exodus 24:5)…When a gentile is willing to enter the covenant…He must be circumcised and be baptized and bring a sacrifice…And at this time when there is no sacrifice, they must be circumcised and be baptized; and when the Temple shall be built, they are to bring a sacrifice…The gentile that is made a proselyte and the slave that is made free, behold he is like a child new born.”

Should we stone sinners, if we obey God’s Law?

It is part of God’s Law – So, should we? As a means of showing the impracticality of God’s Law, many pose the question, “if we are keeping God’s Law, why don’t we stone adulterers and other sinners specified by the Law?”. A recent comment I received from a dear brother read “If we cannot pick and choose which ceremonial law applies to us, then when keeping the OT law after being saved, we should be sure to stone adulterers.” He went on to ask why Christ forgave the woman who was accused of adultery. And to reiterate the point by commenting that “We should stone. Stone, stone, stone.” While I completely understand the point of view, and the hint of frustration in this brother’s words, I believe this common view among Christians is quite a misinformed one at best. The “issue of stoning” is taken as one of the easiest argument against keeping God’s Law – in a haphazard way, with little to no understanding of how the Law functions.

StoneBut is it a pointless question to ask? Absolutely not. In fact, understanding this subject could bring any Christian who can look at theology in a critical fashion, a bit closer to God’s Word. While this post will focus on the “issue of stoning”, if you would like to read into God’s Law a bit further – please go here.

First of all, I must explain that I, myself as a Christian who was taught that God’s Law was done away in Christ, had the same opinion as the brother whom I mentioned earlier. I had little understanding of the Old Testament Scriptures, even though I had read parts of it – And was ready to defend my faith against who I believed to be “Judaizers” with comments such as “We don’t need to keep God’s Law. If we do, then we need to stone people”. So enough about me – on to the question in hand!

Capital Punishment
When God led the Children of Israel out of Egypt and gave them His Law, many commandments were set forth. There were commandments for land owners, men, women, soldiers, fathers, levites, aaronic priests, judges, witnesses, etc. – much like the laws that govern us in our own respective countries. Many countries have laws, that if broken can lead to capital punishment. This was the case with God’s Law. There were certain acts which were punishable by death – according to God’s Law. And it involved stoning as an act of putting fear in the Godless.

Can anyone stone a sinner?
Imagine a land which is run on a law that specifies that anyone can give the lethal injection to a person accused of murder or adultery. No trial? No judge? No witnesses? Immediate punishment! What sort of land would that be? But this is exactly how Christianity views the Land of Israel under God’s Law in the time before Christ. Barbaric. It is such a pity that we have been taught to view God’s Law which was called liberty by David(Psa 119:45) & James(Jas 1:25), in such a way. The critical question which needs to be asked is “can anyone stone a sinner?”. And as we will see below, similar to the Law of the secular world, God’s Law (when it came to public matters) was to be put to effect through a system of Law.

The making of a ‘system of Law’
When God led His people out of Egypt, at the helm was Moses. He was the only judge at that time, and did his duties from morning to evening (Exo 18:13). It was his duty to enact fair judgement according to God’s Law and statutes (Exo 18:16). Heeding the advice of his father-in-law, Moses chose God-fearing men of truth, and appointed them rulers of thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens – teaching them God’s ordinances and Laws (Exo 18:19-21). These rulers were to judge the people under them, and bring any case which was hard for them to resolve, unto Moses (Exo 18:22). Moses in turn would bring any matter he was unsure about before God for resolution(Exo 18:23, Lev 24:12). This was the system of Law at the time – the god fearing rulers/judges would try the easy cases while bringing hard ones to Moses – the head judge, who in turn went to God, when he was unsure of a matter(Exo 18:26). God was supreme ruler and judge of the children of Israel at the time.

After Moses, the mantle of judge passed onto Joshua (Deut 31:14,23) and then to the judges mentioned in the book of judges(Judg 2:16-18) until the time of Samuel, when God gave the people a king at their request. From Saul onward, the kings acted as the head judge – to whom all hard cases were brought to(1King 3:16-28). This system established at the time of Moses was to continue(Deut 16:18) with the help of the priests according to God’s own command (Deut 17:8-12), and was even in effect after the return from the Babylonian exile(Ezr 7:25, 10:14).

The office of the judge
In the book of Deuteronomy, we see Moses recollecting the event where the judges were selected(Exo 18:13-26) with some more detail. In it, he makes an important statement (highlighted in bold with underlining for emphasis)

Deu 1:12-18 How can I myself alone bear your cumbrance, and your burden, and your strife? Take you wise men, and understanding, and known among your tribes, and I will make them rulers over you. And ye answered me, and said, The thing which thou hast spoken is good for us to do. So I took the chief of your tribes, wise men, and known, and made them heads over you, captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, and captains over fifties, and captains over tens, and officers among your tribes. And I charged your judges at that time, saying, Hear the causes between your brethren, and judge righteously between every man and his brother, and the stranger that is with him. Ye shall not respect persons in judgment; but ye shall hear the small as well as the great; ye shall not be afraid of the face of man; for the judgment is God’s: and the cause that is too hard for you, bring it unto me, and I will hear it. And I commanded you at that time all the things which ye should do.

Moses clearly states that the judges should judge righteously, for the judgement would come from God, if they acted/judged according to God’s Word/Law. This same idea is echoed again in 2Chr 19:6. The fact is that judges were to dispense the Law, when it came to public cases. We see this abundantly in the Scriptures – a few examples follow:

Exo 21:22  If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.
Exo 22:8 If the thief be not found, then the master of the house shall be brought unto the judges, to see whether he have put his hand unto his neighbour’s goods.
Exo 22:9 For all manner of trespass, whether it be for ox, for ass, for sheep, for raiment, or for any manner of lost thing, which another challengeth to be his, the cause of both parties shall come before the judges; and whom the judges shall condemn, he shall pay double unto his neighbour.
Deu 19:17,18 Then both the men, between whom the controversy is, shall stand before the LORD, before the priests and the judges, which shall be in those days; And the judges shall make diligent inquisition: and, behold, if the witness be a false witness, and hath testified falsely against his brother;

The judge who dispenses sentences according to God’s Law needs to be a properly appointed God fearing, righteous person with a thorough knowledge of the Law. Every person could not act as a judge, as it was a position of authority presented to a person, similar to the appointment of a King.

The calling of Witnesses
A judge could not simply put someone to death without hearing a case against him/her. There had to be witnesses called forth, especially in the case of capital punishment. NO ONE COULD BE PUT TO DEATH WITHOUT HEARING 2 TO 3 WITNESSES.

Num 35:30  Whoso killeth any person, the murderer shall be put to death by the mouth of witnesses: but one witness shall not testify against any person to cause him to die.
Deu 17:6  At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death.
Deu 19:15  One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.

Not only was a judge to hear the case with adequate evidence before putting someone to death, the witnesses had to cast the first stone, when it came to punishment.

Deu 17:7  The hands of the witnesses shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterward the hands of all the people. So thou shalt put the evil away from among you.

Following proper procedure
Each case was to be judged according to God’s Law – and proper procedure was to be followed for each case. For example, in the case of adultery, both the man and woman had to be punished (Deut 22:22, Lev 20:10) – the case would be heard with 2 to 3 witnesses present, and if found guilty by the judge, both of them would be stoned. If the man had forced himself on the woman, the man would be stoned, while the woman was set free. If the woman was not betrothed or married to another, the man would have to marry her and not be permitted to divorce her till his death. (Deut 22:23-29). Without adequate witnesses or following of proper procedure, the Judge would not be able to give a proper sentence.

The verdict
With the above information in hand, we can see that stoning or any other punishment could not have been dispensed without the use of the proper authorities. According to God’s Law, the common man could not take any action against a sinner without the judge and proper witnesses. Two to three witnesses needed to provide testimony for a judge to dispense proper justice. Anything outside these boundaries would have been “vigilantism”, which was not approved by God. No person could take the Law unto his/her own hand, much like the law of the secular world today. Just like we cannot give a ticket to a drunk driver or put a murderer on the electric chair, God’s Law did not allow everyone to judge & punish the guilty.

Why did Christ let the woman accused of adultery go free?
Many Christians believe that Yeshua(real name of Jesus) reinterpreted or changed God’s Law against adultery, when he let the woman accused of adultery go free. Let us review the words in John 8:2-11.

And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them. And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

A few important facts to point out:
1. The pharisees say that the woman was taken in the act of adultery – but the man with whom the act of adultery was committed is not present (both man and woman should be produced before the judge for proper sentencing – Deut 22:22/Lev 20:10)
2. They point to God’s Law given through Moses, and the connected punishment of death by stoning, as part of punishment for adultery – even though without a proper hearing it cannot be determined what action should be taken (the woman would be stoned if it was consensual along with the man/ the woman would be set free, while the man was stoned if she was forced upon / the woman would be given in marriage to the man with no ability of divorce if she is not betrothed to anyone – Deut 22:23-29)
3. Yeshua asked the one without sin to cast the first stone (the one who is familiar with God’s Law would have known that the person to cast the first stone needed to be the witnesses – Deut 17:7) – in light of this, whether any real witnesses were present would have been questionable, and even if they were present, the fact that they were sinful as much as the woman, made it impossible for them to judge anyone.
4. Yeshua asks whether no one passed sentence on the woman, and tells her that neither will He – to go and sin no more (The fact is that Yeshua was not an appointed judge who could carry out a death sentence, let alone punish anyone. He even denies to being any kind of judge in Luk 12:14. This was not the court, the partner who should be accused alongside the woman was missing and whether there were any real witnesses is questionable. It is important to highlight that the Pharisees and Scribes could not put anyone to death under Roman rule anyway, as it was prohibited by Roman Law(Joh 18:31) – this would have been why this situation was used as a way of finding fault with Christ. If Yeshua said “no”, He would have gone against God’s Law. If He said “yes”, He would have gone against Roman Law. Just as with the case of “paying taxes to Rome”, in this situation He showcased God’s Wisdom, in unraveling the plot and silencing the hecklers while putting them to shame by their own acts.

Conclusion
Stoning the guilty, much like the rest of God’s Law, is misunderstood by most. While this specific part is used to make God’s Law look ancient, impractical and even barbaric – it must be noted that dispensing of God’s Law when it came to a public matter, was not open for everyone. People could not stone each other haphazardly for every accusation. There was a system in place for this purpose with witnesses providing testimony and judges determining the verdict – all done according to specifics pointed out in God’s Law. If we stoned someone outside these instructions, our actions would go against God’s Law. For example, Stephen was stoned against God’s Law, as they produced false witnesses(Acts 6:11-14) against him and stoned him without a proper trial or verdict (Acts Chapter 7). While there were many such instances of kangaroo courts, mob attacks & vigilantism – none of it is in accordance to God’s Law, which systematically produces righteous judgement and unbiased punishment. Let us be thankful that Christ has taken on Himself the punishment for sins, which we should be stoned for, and have granted us to live a life full of Grace through walking in His ways/Words/Laws.

Further Reading:
Could anyone in Old Testament times, take “an eye for an eye”?
Is God’s Law a curse?
Defining the terms Sin, Law & Grace

Once Saved Always Saved? Learnings from the Parable of the Sower

The topic of salvation is a massive subject, with varying opinions. One of the most controversial issues regarding salvation is, whether the idea of “once saved, always saved” is true or false. Some say that you are eternally secure and that you cannot lose the salvation which has been freely provided, in anyway. Others say that there is a chance of falling away, and losing your salvation if you do not continue in the faith. Which of these contrasting opinions is true? Can we or can we not lose the “life” given to us by God?

This study consists of the following sections
1) 4 categories of terrain that reflect 4 different kinds of people and outcomes
2) Once saved always saved? Is it Scriptural?
3) Salvation is conditional
4) But what is the right path? The path of Righteousness?
5) Who is really saved?
6) Testing the Scriptural proof provided for the doctrine of “Eternal Security”
7) Conclusion

parable of the sowerAnswering the questions posted above and figuring out whether the doctrine of “Eternal Security” (Once saved, Always saved) is Biblically accurate, will be the objective of this study. And for this purpose, we will use the help of, one of the most famous parables communicated to us by Messiah Yeshua(Jesus’ true name) ; The Parable of the Sower.

The Parable
Luk 8:5-8 A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it. And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold.
The Meaning
Luk 8:11-15 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.

1) 4 Categories of Terrain that reflect 4 different kinds of People and outcomes
This famous parable which is even taught to the youngest of Christians, is of special importance to us. We see Christ explain that the “Seed” is the “Word of God”, and then move on to the different terrains which this seed falls on, explaining the meanings as given below:
1. Way side: They hear, but do not believe and are not saved
2. Rocky: They hear, believe, but fall away when confronted with temptation
3. Thorny: They hear, believe, but bear no fruit because of cares and pleasures of this life
4. Good Soil: They Hear, keep the Word and bears fruit

God’s Salvation through Messiah, is available for all of the 4 categories of people mentioned above. But it is clear that, some reject this salvation through unbelief. Some believe, but wither away as they do not continue in faith. Some believe, but bear no fruit as they are choked with the worries and pleasures of this life. Only some keep the word they heard through faith and bear fruit. It is clear that the word which went into the ears of the people mentioned as “rocks”, heard, believed, but still fell away. So can there be people who hear, believe and still are not saved? according to Yeshua – the answer is a yes!

When we say “we are saved”, what we actually mean is that we believe in receiving “eternal life” and being saved from “eternal death”. Even though we call ourselves “saved” right now, when will we be really saved from eternal death which is the lake of fire(Rev 20:15)? Is it not at the end of time, when we receive the promised everlasting life(Rom 6:22)? Don’t get me wrong; we have been given the guarantee of salvation, but we will receive it only when we stand in front of the judgement seat of God. When we come to believe God through Messiah in repentance and obedience, our names are written in the book of life. But if we are like the rocky terrain or the thorny terrain, we must remember that God has the power to blot out our names, as we read “Rev 3:5  He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels” (also read Psa 69:28).

Only the ones who hear God’s Word and obey it, bear much fruit as the ones called “good soil”. To bear fruit, we must abide in Messiah(Joh 15:4-6) or be burned as fruitless branches(Luk 13:9) at the day of judgement (Mat 13:41,42). Hearing is worthless if you do not keep/obey His Word(Mat 7:24, Luk 11:28, Joh 14:23, Heb 5:9, Jam 2:24).

2) Once saved always saved? – Is it Scriptural?
Just because a person believes in God, does not guarantee him/her salvation. If that was the case, then the seed which fell on rocky terrain should not wither away, nor should the seed that fell among thorns be choked. We must remember that, in the kingdom of heaven there are no fruitless branches/trees(Joh 15:2). The Word of God that is deposited in your being must bring forth fruits that shows the seed which has sprouted in your heart(Mat 7:16,17). Let’s look at a few other examples of Scripture, that cements the fact that all who believe are not assured of Salvation. (If you are a believer in the doctrine of “eternal security”, please test it against the following Scriptures, and may the Holy Spirit show you the truth)

Mat 7:21-23 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity(transgress the Law).
Mat 24:13  But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
Luk 12:45,46 But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken; The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.
Rom 2:6-9 Who will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; 
Rom 11:22  Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.
1Co 9:27  But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
2Co 13:5  Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates(rejected)?
Gal 5:19-21 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. 
Col 1:22,23 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;
Php 3:11,12 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.
Heb 3:14  For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;
Heb 5:8,9 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;
Heb 6:4-6 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.
Heb 10:26  For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,
Jas 5:19,20 Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.
2Pe 2:21  For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.
Rev 2:5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.
Rev 2:23  And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.
Rev 21:7,8 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
Rev 22:14  Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.
Eze 18:24 But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die.

3) Salvation is Conditional
Some would disagree with me on this point. But a simple review of the basic principles taught by Messiah, is enough to understand this fact. The free gift of salvation depends on a change in lifestyle. Turning towards God from the sinful path we were in – which is known as “repentance”(Luk 13:5, Mar 1:15). Repentance is not only a thought, but an act – it is not merely being sorry and asking forgiveness for the sins we have done, but correcting our ways not to repeat the same again. True repentance brings about a wrestling in one’s inner being(Rom 7:19-24). Without true repentance, no person can have true salvation(Act 2:38, 3:19, Rev 2:5). It is not only repentance, but continuing on the right path till the end, that assures Salvation(Heb 3:14).

4) But what is the right path? The path of Righteousness?
A person who is truly “saved” or has received “salvation” is a person who has left the old sinful self behind(Rom 6:13-16). This person knows the difference between sin and righteousness, and is on a corrective path(2Tim 2:21). He/she does not engage in willful sin(Rom 6:1,2). Which brings us to the question, what is sin?

1Jn 3:4-6 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin. Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.

Sin is breaking God’s Law as seen above. Without God’s Law, we cannot know what “sin” is(Rom 7:7). The knowledge of “sin” is through God’s Law(Rom 3:20). Many of us misunderstand what the Law is, saying “if you follow God’s Law, you have fallen from Grace”. This is not what Paul wrote in his letters. His words were “whoever is JUSTIFIED by the Law, is fallen from Grace“(Gal 5:4). In other words, no one can attain righteousness for themselves by following the Law. Grace is a free gift given by God because of our faith in Him(Rom 5:2). He is the one who let’s us enter into life from death. He is the one who saves us because of His grace. But after we are “saved”, how do we know what is right from wrong? That is what the Law is there for. As a guide, to help us become obedient to Him. If a person claims to be saved, but still disobeys God’s Law(which is not the curse) – he/she is committing sin whether it is deliberate or unintentional.

5) Who is really saved?
To recap, a person who is saved(attained salvation from death) cannot be a sinner(one who dwells in sin/breaking God’s Law). If a person claims to be saved, and continues in willful sin, his/her “salvation” is questionable at best. He/she has not repented truthfully, and may not be saved even though they believe so. This does not mean to say, that a true believer who is saved can never fall short of God’s standards and commit sin. A person who falls short, will admit his failure and correct himself in repentance. A good example for such a person is David – who is known as “a man after God’s own heart” (Act 13:22, 1Kin 15:5). In our personal walk with God, there might even come a time when each of us find out(through reading His Word/Commandments/Laws), that we have been doing something that God resents. At such an occasion, we will ask for His forgiveness for continuing in that sin, and change our ways from that day onward. Such an example can be seen with King Hezekiah in 2Chr chapter 29.

6) Testing the Scriptural proof provided for the doctrine of “Eternal Security”
Many proof texts are put forth as evidence for the doctrine of “once saved always saved”, which do not agree with the entirety of Scripture. It is therefore necessary for us to test these scriptures and see whether the interpretation derived from them are true or false. While there are quite a number of verses quoted as proof, we will test some of the most famous scriptures given as evidence of this doctrine. (Please read and test the examinations provided for each of the text, given in red color subsequent to the said passage)

Rom 8:38,39 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Paul is right to say that no external force on heaven or earth can separate each of us from the love of God. But this does not mean that we can be assured of His love, His Grace or His Salvation, if we choose to go back to our old ways of living in sin. External forces cannot effect our salvation, however we are able to affect it by how we live our lives)

Joh 3:16  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (Each person who believes in Messiah is given the free gift of everlasting life. But we also need to understand that a true believer needs to put his/her faith into action. Having faith without keeping His word is an empty endeavour – Jas 2:19,20)

Joh 10:28,29 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. (Christ is clear when He says that no one who He gives eternal life to, can be plucked from His hand. The only thing we need clarification on is, who He is speaking about. He is speaking of His sheep who hear His voice and follows Him. This comes back to the argument that we made previously about the good soil – whoever keeps His word/follows Him till the end, will for sure be saved from eternal death) 

Jud 1:24  Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy (Christ is able to present us faultless through His blood and also help us keep from falling through the example he has left us. As verse 23 states, the believer needs to hate the things of the flesh which is sin. A person who is on the right path, is who He will present faultless before the Father [Rev 3:5])

Rom 8:29,30 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
Eph 1:5  Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
Eph 1:11  In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: (Is it true that God has predetermined or that He knows of all the true believers who will come to Him? Definitely! But this does not mean every person who professes to believe or believes and falls away afterwards, would have been in God’s list in the first place. Time does not affect Him, and because of this reason He already knows whether each of us will make it to the Kingdom or not. In His eyes we have made those decisions already.)

There are many more verses that are utilized to prove the doctrine of “once saved, always saved” which, when examined in light of the whole Word of God, does not stand as sound pieces of evidence.

7) Conclusion
While we remember that salvation is a free gift of God which is provided to every living soul, we must also keep in mind that, we alone have the power to (1) reject it as the “way side” terrain, (2) believe but fall away as the “rocky” terrain, (3) believe but get caught up with this life as the “thorny” terrain, or (4) believe and put the word to practice thereby bearing fruit like the “good soil” terrain. The simple fact is, that a person who believes today, and falls away tomorrow to never come back in repentance, would most assuredly lose the salvation promised by God, as it is their own choice to abandon it. Only the ones who continue in the righteous path would get to the gates of the Kingdom of God to receive the promised Salvation(Mat 7:13,14).

Not all who say “Lord, Lord”, not all who prophesy in His name, not all who cast devils in His name, not even all who do many other wondrous works in His name, will enter into His Kingdom (Mat 7:22,23). What makes us so sure to promise unwitting believers that the moment they believe in Christ, they are assured of receiving Salvation? We must first ask them to transform their lives and start following God’s Word(Rom 12:2). We must ask them to reach for perfection which starts from Scripture itself (2Tim 3:16,17). We must preach and teach them, warning them, so that they are presented perfect to Christ (Col 1:28). And to hold onto the faith till the end(Heb 3:14). We need them to prepare their lives as “Good soil” which is ready to receive the seeds of “God’s Word” which grow and bare much fruit, so that when the owner of the field returns, He will be happy with the harvest yielded, and would gather them into His Barn(Mat 13:30).

Mat 22:14 For many are called, but few are chosen.

Sinning in ignorance : How long can we hide behind “God sees my heart”

heart-shaped-pages-wallpapers_28398_1920x1200A deep rooted belief in Christianity today, is that “God sees one’s heart”. “If I’m doing something with a clear conscience to please God – wouldn’t He accept it?” This is a good question. And there is no doubt that God sees the Hearts of us all.

But the real question that needs pondering on, is whether a person can do something,  which is wrong in God’s eyes, thinking it is the right thing to do in his/her own heart, and still be deemed obedient to God, in His sight. The essence of the question is whether we look at things through our eyes, or try our best to look through the viewpoint of God Almighty.

God sees my heart
Many of us know the following verses of Scripture which prove God sees and understands the intentions of our hearts and our deepest thoughts.

  • 1Sa 16:7  But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.
  • 1Ki 8:39  Then hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and do, and give to every man according to his ways, whose heart thou knowest; (for thou, even thou only, knowest the hearts of all the children of men;)
  • 1Ch 28:9  And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the LORD searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever.
  • Eze 11:5  And the Spirit of the LORD fell upon me, and said unto me, Speak; Thus saith the LORD; Thus have ye said, O house of Israel: for I know the things that come into your mind, every one of them.

We cannot put our trust on our own thoughts and feelings or our hearts!
Just because God sees our Hearts, does not mean that everything we do, will be in accordance with His thoughts and ways. Everyone who believes in God, do what they do, thinking they do the right thing. This does not mean everyone who believes God, will be deemed perfect by God.

  • Pro 16:2  All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the LORD weigheth the spirits.
  • Pro 21:2  Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts.
  • Jer 17:9,10  The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.

So how can we know what is right in His eyes?
There needs to be a measuring stick which we can use to discern between right and wrong in God’s eyes. And the complete “Word of God” is that instrument that weighs all things, showing us right from wrong.

  • Heb 4:12  For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

What will we be Judged on?
It is important to note that, when we stand before the judgement seat of God (as everyone will), we will be not judged on what is in our hearts, but on all the works we have done – on whether we have obeyed Him, or disobeyed.

  • Rev 2:23  And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.
  • Rev 20:12  And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
  • Rev 22:14  Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city
  • Mat 7:21  Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 

Ignorance is not bliss
Some are under the impression, that if you “sin” not knowing that God regards that act a sin, you are exempt from judgement. The word of God has a different view on this. Sinning through ignorance is still regarded sin. While you would have to answer for “sinning knowingly”, “sinning through ignorance” would also have its consequences.

  • Num 15:29  Ye shall have one law for him that sinneth through ignorance, both for him that is born among the children of Israel, and for the stranger that sojourneth among them.
  • Lev 4:27  And if any one of the common people sin through ignorance, while he doeth somewhat against any of the commandments of the LORD concerning things which ought not to be done, and be guilty;
  • Act 17:30  And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:
  • Hos 4:6  My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children. 

There are so many people around the world doing things their own way, to please God. One of the reasons this is prevalent is because of the belief that God’s Law is no more. If that was the case, we could not know what “Sin” is anymore, as “Sin” is the “breaking of God’s Law” (1Joh 3:4). God’s Law sets the parameters for knowing what “Sin” is (Rom 7:7). And when we know what “sin” is, in the sight of our Heavenly Father, we know how to please Him.

So what does the Law got to do with what is in someone’s heart?
God has expressly said that His Laws/Commandments should be in one’s heart. And this was part of the new covenant where, God would write His laws in our hearts. If what we do is all of his commandments/laws/will, then we have nothing to be worried about.

  • Deu 6:6  And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:
  • Pro 3:1  My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments
  • Heb 8:10  For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: 
  • Deu 8:2  And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no.

Examples from the Scriptures
Following are a few examples in which people did things for God, which was right in their hearts, but were considered “sin” in the eyes of our Heavenly Father.

  1. The Molten Calf
    Many presume that the Children of Israel were worshiping the molten calf, when they created it at the base of Mount Sinai. But in reality, they were worshiping “YHVH” through the manmade idol.
    Exo 32:4,5 And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, To morrow is a feast to the LORD.
    Neh 9:18  Yea, when they had made them a molten calf, and said, This is thy God that brought thee up out of Egypt, and had wrought great provocations;
    The simple truth is, that they were trying to have a feast to God. In God’s eyes, what was in their hearts were irrelevant, as they had broken His commandment of bowing down to idols, even if it was in His name.
  2. Nadab & Abihu’s offering
    When Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, who had accompanied Moses up the mountain and seen God in His majesty(Exo 24:9-11), offered a sacrifice which was not prescribed by God, they were consumed in an instant.
    Lev 10:1,2 And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD.
    As per Exo 30:9, nothing other than the prescribed offerings could be made to God. Even-though Nadab and Abihu were rightful priests who were making and offering to God, it was rejected with sore punishment because it went against His Law/Commandment/will.
  3. Saul’s victory over the Amalekites
    In 1Sam chapter 15, we read how Saul was ordered to kill every living thing in the land of the Amalekites. Saul who is victorious over the Amalekites bring home animals as an offering to God, which is rejected by God because he disobeyed God’s instructions
    1Sa 15:15  And Saul said, They have brought them from the Amalekites: for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed.
    1Sa 15:20  And Saul said unto Samuel, Yea, I have obeyed the voice of the LORD, and have gone the way which the LORD sent me, and have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. 
    Even-though Saul was obedient to God in his own heart, and was bringing these sacrifices to please God, the situation was not the same in God’s eyes. And for what Saul saw as a sacrifice, God saw as disobedience – rejecting him as king altogether(1Sam 15:26)
  4. Uzza touches the Ark of the covenant
    In 1Chr chapter 13 we read that the Ark was to be transported from Kirjathjearim, under David’s orders. Two men named Uzza and Ahio transported the Ark on a cart, when the oxen stumbled, Uzza touched the Ark, to keep it from toppling. For this, God struck Uzza dead. Now most people would see this as an unjust death, and for certain – we read that even David was displeased for what had happened. But later He understood, as we read below
    1Ch 15:2  Then David said, None ought to carry the ark of God but the Levites: for them hath the LORD chosen to carry the ark of God, and to minister unto him for ever. 
    1Ch 15:13  For because ye did it not at the first, the LORD our God made a breach upon us, for that we sought him not after the due order.
    Even though Uzza was doing a good thing by trying to save the Ark from toppling, the Ark was never supposed to be carried by anyone else other than Levites, specifically the family of Kohath. Even then they could not touch the Ark, on the punishment of death (Num 4:15). This is why David asked the Levites to carry the Ark, after Uzza’s death, as he recognised, any other way was wrong in the eyes of God.
  5. Paul’s transformation
    On several occasions, Paul made speeches to mobs who attacked him, proclaiming that he persecuted believers in Christ, because of the zeal he had towards God. This does not mean, all that he did was accounted as good before God. Paul understood that he had been wrong, even-though he was doing all of it for God.
    Act 22:3,4  I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day. And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women. (Also read Act 26:9-11, Php 3:6, 1Tim 1:13, 1Cor 15:9)
    When Paul understood his fault, he asked for repentance for all that he had done in God’s name, as he knew it was not right in God’s eyes, even-though he had thought it was right in his own heart.
  6. Christ’s words
    The apostles were forewarned by Yeshua(Jesus’ true name) that people would attack them, thinking they were doing God a service.
    Joh 16:2  They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.
    This shows us that a certain person could do something thinking he/she is serving God, when that person is disobeying God in reality.

God’s grace towards sinners who turn towards Him
It must be specially mentioned, that God shows mercy to people who have been disobedient, but have turned towards Him, and are trying to learn His ways. This was the case at the time of King Hezekiah. When King Hezekiah learned about God’s law regarding Passover, he gathered everyone to celebrate this appointment of God. As we see in 2Chr chapter 30, many people heeded this call, and Hezekiah prayed for the people who had not sanctified themselves properly to celebrate this occasion, as they were still learning the ways of God and how to be obedient towards Him.

2Ch 30:18-20 For a multitude of the people, even many of Ephraim, and Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun, had not cleansed themselves, yet did they eat the passover otherwise than it was written. But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, The good LORD pardon every one
That prepareth his heart to seek God, the LORD God of his fathers, though he be not cleansed according to the purification of the sanctuary. And the LORD hearkened to Hezekiah, and healed the people.

A similar occasion arose in the book of Acts, when James made the proclamation that the new believers should keep away from four critical sins, as they would learn the rest, as they go. (Please read “Gentiles have to obey only 4 Commandments? Misunderstandings regarding Acts 15″ for more information on this topic)

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.

God is patient with us, showing Grace towards us, when we start our walk in obedience. We may slip, we may fall. But we need to stand up and keep walking, not repeating those mistakes over and over again. This can only be done through learning His Word, and what He sees as Sin & Righteousness.

Conclusion
The point I would like to make is, that it does not matter what is in our hearts. What matters is whether our hearts are acceptable to God. Even if we do things to please God, if those things are not right in His eyes – they will not be accepted. We cannot disobey His Words, and hope that he accepts the disobedience done in all sincerity. God will, and does, have much Grace towards us and the ones who sin in ignorance. But it is not an eternal Grace. It is not a Grace that will keep us completely unaccounted for. We will all have to give account for what we have done, whether it be done knowingly or unknowingly – as all of it is written down in the Book of Works(Rev 20:12). The ones who disobey in ignorance will have fewer stripes, but they will receive stripes nonetheless (Luk 12:48).

God sees all of our hearts, including persons who live life contrary to what God has proclaimed in His Word. He will show grace towards everyone, so that everyone comes in repentance to Him. After we repent and turn towards Him, through the matchless blood of Messiah, we need to lead a sinless life. We cannot afford to keep sinning in ignorance. We need to learn what “sin” is, and what “righteousness” is in God’s eyes – not our own. He will not change His word till heaven and earth pass. We, on the other hand must change our hearts to be an acceptable offering before God. And when He does look at our hearts, He should see His Laws written on them as per the New Covenant(Heb 8:10).

The middle wall of partition – Misunderstandings regarding Eph 2:14-16

Ephesians 2:14-16 is one of the many verses used to say that God’s Commandments/Law written down in the Old Testament has now been abolished, in Christ. It is popularly taught that the “middle wall” that separated us from God, is God’s Commandments/Laws, and that they were taken down through Christ’s sacrifice, because they were hostile towards us.

Today, we will test this theory, taking archaeological evidence alongside historical context, to understand the true meaning of Paul’s words. It is this authors belief that this verse, like countless other statements made by Paul, has been misunderstood by mainstream Christianity today. And now let’s move on to the verse in question.

Eph 2:14-16 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition (between us); Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, (even) the law of commandments (contained) in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:

In this study, we will break down this verse and research into what Paul is describing, to better understand what he is trying to teach the Ephesians. This study will focus on the following:
1. Context and background of the verse
2. What is the middle wall of partition/separation?
3. What is the “law of commandments in ordinances” which is called “enmity” by Paul?
4. Connecting the “law of commandments in ordinances” with the “middle wall of partition”

5. What are the “two” that are reconciled (made into one) through Messiah?
6. Conclusion

1. Context and background of the verse
Starting at the beginning of chapter 2, we see Paul making these following points:-
Eph 2:1-3 We were all living in sin and disobedience as Gentiles
Eph 2:4-7 But God who loved us, showed us mercy, by saving us through His grace
Eph 2:8-10 And through grace alone, are we saved – and not by anything that we do
Eph 2:11-14 You were all gentiles, called “uncircumcised” by the “circumcised” (Jews), without God and Christ, aliens to the citizenship of Israel, strangers to the covenants of promise – but now have been brought close to God through Christ.

Note that Paul makes a clear statement that the Ephesians were gentiles without hope, living in Sin, till God saved them through His Grace. He says that they had no part in the citizenship of Israel and the covenants of promise, till they were brought near by Christ. In other words, through Christ and God’s Grace, they have been given citizenship of Israel and also ability to partake in the covenants of promise. This is the background and context of the verse in question.

2. What is the middle wall of partition/separation?
Even though most Christians believe that the “middle wall” mentioned in this verse is a metaphorical expression used to speak of God’s Law, this is far from the truth. The context of this verse, lets us know that Paul was speaking of the division of Gentiles and Jews(uncircumcised & circumcised), and how gentiles had no part in Israel before Messiah.

The interesting fact that many Christians are unaware of, is that there was a physical barrier(a middle wall) that separated gentiles and Jews in the days of Paul, at the Temple in Jerusalem. Known as the “soreg”, this partition prohibited gentiles from entering into the temple courts. We will look at a few pieces of evidence on this fact below.

It is important to note at this point, that “Jews” are only a part of Israel – and hence, all Israel cannot be called Jews. Please read the articles, “The Parable of the prodigal Son & the 2 Houses of Israel” , “Defining the terms Jew & Gentile” & “Defining the term Israel” for a better understanding on the above statement.

ESV-temple

Archaeological Evidence
The soreg was a low wall surrounding the Temple in Jerusalem, which served as a boundary/partition wall.

Museo della civiltà romana a Roma (Eur) - Room 15 (Christianity) # 4 - Cast of the plaque forbidding any non-Jews to enter the second precinct of the Temple of Jerusalem. The original stands in the National Archaeological Museum in Istanbul.

Museo della civiltà romana a Roma (Eur) – Room 15 (Christianity) # 4 – Cast of the plaque forbidding any non-Jews to enter the second precinct of the Temple of Jerusalem. The original stands in the National Archaeological Museum in Istanbul.

Beyond this point, entry was permitted only to Jews who were not impure through exposure to death.

The soreg featured signs, in a number of languages, that warned these unauthorized people against entering the area of the Holy Temple.

Some of the signs which were placed on the “soreg” have been discovered, of which one is pictured to the left. The inscription says “No outsider shall enter the protective enclosure around the sanctuary. And whoever is caught will only have himself to blame for the ensuing death” – (Translated by K. C. Hanson & Douglas E. Oakman)

Biblical Evidence
A) It is a known fact, that there were Gentiles who went up to the Temple in Jerusalem to Worship God.
Joh 12:20  And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast:
Act 8:27  And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship,

B) The fact that the Gentiles were kept separate from the Jews is also apparent
Act 21:28  Crying out, Men of Israel, help: This is the man, that teacheth all men every where against the people, and the law, and this place: and further brought Greeks also into the temple, and hath polluted this holy place.

Historical Evidence
In the “Wars of the Jews” written by the scholar Josephus Flavius around 75AD, he says the following:
When you go through these [first] cloisters, unto the second [court of the] temple,
there was a partition made of stone all round, whose height was three cubits: its construction was very elegant; upon it stood pillars, at equal distances from one another, declaring the law of purity, some in Greek, and some in Roman letters, that “no foreigner should go within that sanctuary” for that second [court of the] temple was called “the Sanctuary,” and was ascended to by fourteen steps from the first court. (A description of the temple – Book 5, Chapter 5, Verse 2)

Considering all of the above facts, it is safe to say, that Paul was referring to this “partitioning wall” in his letter to the Ephesians, as it was a prominent feature of the Jerusalem Temple at that time, which restrained gentiles from entering in. It is also important to note that this wall was not part of the design God had given, but was a later addition made by the Jews in authority, to keep gentiles from entering the temple precinct. Nowhere in the Old Testament would you be able to find of such a structure that separates people into two groups. But this had become the norm in the 2nd Temple times, and no Gentile could enter into the Temple precinct because of it. As such, this was a man made barrier, and a man made commandment which kept Gentiles from coming to God’s Temple.

3. What is the “law of commandments in ordinances” which is called “enmity” by Paul?
Most Christians would jump to the conclusion that the “law of commandments in ordinances” mentioned by Paul, is none other than the Law which was given through Moses, in the Old Testament by our Heavenly Father. What most of us fail to see is that this term is completely different to “The Law of God” and “The Commandments of God”. To understand this difference, we must look into the meaning of the word translated as “Ordinances”.

In the Original Greek Manuscripts, the English word translated as “Ordinances”, comes from the following : G1378 – δόγμα – dogma – From the base of G1380; a law (civil, ceremonial or ecclesiastical): – decree, ordinance. This word is seen only 5 times in the New Testament in the following verses:
Luk 2:1  And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree(G1378) from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.
Act 16:4  And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees(G1378) for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem.
Act 17:7  Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees(G1378) of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus.
Eph 2:15  Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances(G1378); for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;
Col 2:14  Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances(G1378) that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;

Looking at the above verses, one thing should become apparent to you. The word “ordinance”, means and can even be translated as “Decree” – which means “an official order that has the force of law”. While God had given Commandments and His Law, Decrees were laws that were man-made. If Paul was indeed speaking of God’s Law & Commandments, he would not have needed to use the word “ordinance”/”decree” in his letter. Paul could have only been referring to man-made orders, in this verse through the term “Ordinance”. These “ordinances” were indeed hostile, as they restrained anyone other than “Jews” worshiping God. These ordinances made a clear separation between Jew and Gentile, by elevating one above the other, to the extent where gentiles were looked down upon and disassociated, by Jews everywhere (Joh 4:9,27, 7:35, Act 10:28, 11:2,3, Gal 2:12)

4. Connecting the “law of commandments in ordinances” with the “middle wall of partition”
It is a clear fact that Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, spoke of the broken down “middle wall of partition” to be connected solely to the “law of commandments in ordinances”. As we have seen above, if Paul was speaking of the physical wall of partition at the temple, and man-made decrees that enforced such separations, this makes perfect sense, as the partition wall was a man-made decree which separated the Jew from the Gentile. In other words, the Jews in authority at the time of Paul, had made a decree that was regarded as official Law and a Commandment, that Gentiles could not enter into God’s sanctuary, even though it was allowed for Jews. Paul was merely saying that this separation that men had imposed on people was now no more because of Messiah. To understand more about the decrees (which were regarded as Law) imposed on the 1st century people by the ruling Jews such as the pharisees, please watch the this teaching.

5. What are the “two” that are reconciled (made into one) through Messiah?
What puts this argument completely in place, is the idea Paul speaks about in connection with the broken down wall of partition. Paul says that Christ has “made both one” and again, that “twain one new man”. What or who are these two parties which are made one?

Let’s review the facts that we know already
1. The context of the Chapter speaks about how, gentiles had no part in the covenants of promise and they were excluded from the citizenship of Israel, before they were saved through God’s Grace and sacrifice of Christ.
2. History proves that there was indeed, a physical partitioning wall at the Temple which kept Gentiles separate from Jews. Paul spoke of this wall to have been broken down through Christ’s sacrifice.
3. The original Greek wording seen in the verse in question, is specifically speaking of man-made decrees, and not God’s Law. There were many such laws/decrees imposed on people by the ruling parties, such as the pharisees.

If Paul is speaking of this partitioning of Gentiles and Jews, and that this “man-made” partitioning or “middle wall” was not in effect because of Messiah, what are these 2 parties he is referring to? Is he not saying that there is no more division? there are no more jews & gentiles? that no one can keep the covenants of promise from the gentiles? that gentiles are now fellow citizens of Israel?

Consider the following:
1. Christ came to gather Jews & Gentiles into one nation
Joh 11:49 And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad.

2. Christ said there would be one flock under one shepherd
Joh 10:16  And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.

3. Paul says Gentiles are fellow heirs and partakers of the promises given to Israel
Eph 3:6  This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

4. Paul says that the gentiles are grafted into the Olive tree which is Israel
Rom 11:17  But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, (Please read the whole of Chapter 11)

5. Paul says that there are no more divisions such as Jew & Gentile – we are all one in Christ
Gal 3:28  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

In short, this is what Paul is trying to say:
As sinful gentiles, we had no part in the covenants of promise, and were also excluded from the citizenship of Israel. But when Christ came and saved us through God’s Grace, the partitioning wall that kept us outside, was broken down. No man-made decree can keep us away from enjoying the covenants of promise or the Citizenship of Israel, as all who believe in God are now made into one people. We were once hostile to God, but now through the blood of Messiah, we have been drawn into His sanctuary, not to be separated ever again.

6. Conclusion
Even though Eph 2:14-16, is usually used as a proof text for “the Law of God being done away”, we have made every effort in the above study to understand this passage in its original historical and biblical context. This has led us to the conclusion that Paul was speaking of a separation of God’s People, rather than an abolishing of God’s Law. Paul used a physical wall of separation to show how Gentiles had no part with God, before Christ. He further showed the Ephesian congregation, that the man-made decrees of separation were no more in power, because of God’s grace, as he had drawn believers, both Jew & Gentile unto Him, to make both one in Him. There are no more gentile. No more Jew. No separate flocks or peoples. Only His people “Israel”. If we consider ourselves His people, we are “Israel” – let us not separate, what God has made one, through the sacrifice of Yeshua.

Essential Reading:
The Parable of the prodigal Son & the 2 Houses of Israel
Defining the terms Jew & Gentile
Defining the term Israel
The betrothal, Divorce & Re-Betrothal of God’s People through Messiah

Is the “mark of the beast” a microchip?

Microchip-Mark-of-the-BeastLike many other Christians, I was also taught that the “mark of the beast” mentioned in Rev 13:16, could most probably be a microchip which gets inserted to someones forehead or hand. Not only do many Christians believe in this story, there are so many articles and emails that fly around on this subject today, that it is unlikely for you to have not heard or received such an email from a friend or fellow believer.

Rev 13:16  Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead,

While I do not completely discard the idea of the “mark” being a “microchip”, I would like to provide you with some clarifications using the Scriptures itself. Could it be that this mark is not a physical mark? Could it be, that John was writing about a metaphorical “mark”? Let us see what the Scriptures reveal on the matter.

Exo 13:9  And it shall be to you as a sign on your hand and as a memorial between your eyes, that the law of the LORD may be in your mouth. For with a strong hand the LORD has brought you out of Egypt.
Exo 13:16  It shall be as a mark on your hand or frontlets between your eyes, for by a strong hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt.”
Deu 6:8  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.
Deu 11:18  “You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.

The above verses speak of God’s Commandments/Laws and how they should be marked on our hands and bound on our foreheads. In other words, God expects us to keep His Commandments/Laws in our mind (between our eyes) and act accordingly (bound on our hands). Binding them as a sign on our hands and as a memorial between our eyes, was not a physical act, but a metaphorical way of saying that we should keep them in remembrance and that our actions should follow suit.

Coming back to the verse in concern, Rev 13:16 speaks of the “image of the beast” which makes all humans have a “mark” on the hand or forehead. The resemblances between this verse and the ones given above are quite interesting. In both cases, a “mark/sign” is mentioned. In both cases, the “hand & forehead” are mentioned.

Just as the mark of God set upon the “hands” & “in between the eyes” are “God’s Commandments/Laws”, it could very well be that the “image of the beast” also sets its “Commandments/Laws” as a mark on the “forehead” or “hands” of all who worships it. In other words, just as whoever obeys God’s commandments have placed His Word as a mark on his/her hand or forehead, whoever obeys the “beast” will carry its mark on his/her hand or forehead.

While most Christians look for a “microchip”, it is possible that people will be taken by surprise if no such thing comes to pass. It is necessary to keep our eyes open as well as our spirits, and diligently read God’s Word seeking out interpretation using Scripture itself. Not every news item on the web is true.chip2 There are many hoaxes spread (such as the image on the right) by unwitting people, as they themselves believe things without clarification. We must remember that we need to interpret Scripture with Scripture. As I mention in many of the posts on this blog, you are not to believe any interpretation of any person including what is written here, without testing it against God’s Word.

May God’s Word, His Commandments and laws be a “mark” on your hand and your forehead! Pro 7:2,3  Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye. Bind them upon thy fingers, write them upon the table of thine heart.

What is the Biblical definition of the phrase “Word of God”.

Some Words AbolishedAll of us, as Christians believe that we must obey the Word of God. But what exactly is the Biblical Definition for the “Word of God”? Is it the whole Bible? Or is it part of the Bible? Can parts of God’s Word, even be done away? What did Christ refer to as the “Word of God”? As followers of Christ, we must have a clear understanding of this definition, and this is exactly what we hope to research in this short study.

In an earlier post (What does it mean to be like a “Berean”?) we learned that Christ, His disciples and all of the writers of the New Testament agreed that “Scripture” in their eyes was what we call, the “Old Testament”. A basic knowledge of History would allow anyone to know that the New Testament writings were compiled almost 3 Centuries after the time of Christ. If this is so, what did Christ and all His disciples refer to as the “Word of God”. Let’s look at the evidence.

1. Christ said that Man lives not by food alone, but by the “Word of God” quoting Deut 8:3

Mat 4:4  But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
Luk 4:4  And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.
Deu 8:3  And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.

We can conclude that every Word that proceeds from the Mouth of God is known as the “Word of God” by comparing Mat 4:4 with Luk 4:4. We can also understand that the “Word of God” referred by Christ in these verses, is the same as what was referred to by Moses in Deut 8:3, as this is the exact verse quoted by Messiah.

2. Christ confirms that God’s Commandments given through Moses is the “Word of God”

Mar 7:9-13  And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death: But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free. And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother; Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.

In the above passage, Yeshua(Jesus’ true name) rebukes the Pharisees telling them that they are breaking God’s Commandments by keeping their own traditions (Please read about the Pharisees for a clearer explanation on what they believed). One of the most important things that many glance across in this reading, is that Christ calls the Commandments of God, given through Moses as the “Word of God”.

3. Christ preached the “Word of God”

Luk 5:1  And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret,

Christ preached the Word of God as clearly stated in the above passage. If the “Word of God” was (by His own definition), the writings of Moses, then this means that what He preached came from what we now call the Old Testament. (Much of the misunderstandings, such as Christ abolished the Law, comes from a weak knowledge of what He preached. Read an example here)

4. Christ called whoever hears the “Word of God” and does it, “Blessed” and also part of “His own Family”

Luk 11:28  But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.
Luk 8:21  And he answered and said unto them, My mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it.

5. The “Word of God” stands forever according to Isaiah and Peter

Isa 40:8  The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.
1Pe 1:24,25  For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.

We see Peter quoting the words written by Isaiah agreeing with him, that “God’s Word” stands forever, which means it cannot fade away or be abolished.

6. Christ says that “Scripture” (which is the Old Testament) cannot be broken, and refers to it as the “Word of God”

Joh 10:34,35  Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;
Psa 82:6  I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.

In the above verse we see Christ quoting Psalms 82:6, and goes on to say that Scripture cannot be broken (done away/abolished). Furthermore, He calls the people who received this Word (which is in Psalms, which is part of the Old Testament) as the ones to whom the “Word of God” came. Thereby making “The Word of God” equal to “The Scriptures” or “Old Testament” as it is known today.

7.Conclusion
Yeshua saw every word that proceeded from God’s Mouth as “The Word of God”, and clearly equaled it to the writings of Moses in the Old Testament. In the Old Testament we see clear phrases such as “The LORD (Yehovah) spoke”(Exo 25:1) or “The Word of the Lord came”(Gen 15:1) that refers to “God’s Word” or the “Word of God”.

Even though much of today’s believers are taught that some parts of the Bible are no longer valid for them, and that the “Word of God” is the New Testament Writings, looking at the evidence, we can conclude that “The Old Testament” was regarded as the “Word of God” by our Messiah. If anyone teaches or believes that the Old Testament is done away, they are inadvertently saying that God’s Words are abolished.

It is time that we ask ourselves important questions such as, can parts of God’s Word be abolished, done away or removed?… When Peter and Isaiah both say that “The Word of God” endures forever. Through Yeshua’s own Words and testimony it is clear that this cannot be, and that He regarded “The Scriptures” which is “the Old Testament” as the authoritative “Word of God”. As a follower of Christ, what do you believe?