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Was the Law changed? Misunderstandings regarding Hebrews 7:12

change-lawMany Christians turn to Hebrews 7:12 to point out that God’s Law has changed. After all, that is what our English Translations say. But is this an accurate translation? It certainly fits in with the dominant Theology of mainline Christianity which assumes that God’s Law has been changed, abolished or done away. In this study, we will investigate whether the Greek Originals offer evidence to challenge this translation, and whether we can conclusively prove if this verse speaks of God’s Law being changed or not.

A. The Greek word for “Change”
B. The Greek words translated as “change” in Hebrews 7:12
C. Other words that are connected to “change” in our English translations
D. Conclusion – Was there a necessity to “change” the Law or to “transfer” it?

A. The Greek word for “Change”

Change is defined as “make or become different” and “take or use another instead of”. The Greek word used in the New Testament for such an act is “allasso” (Strong’s Greek Concordance number 236). This word is used 6 times in the New Testament writings as showcased below.

G236 – ἀλλάσσω – allassō – change
Act 6:14  For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change(G236-allasso) the customs which Moses delivered us.
Rom 1:23  And changed(G236-allasso) the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
1Co 15:51,52  Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed(G236-allasso), In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed(G236-allasso).
Gal 4:20 I desire to be present with you now, and to change(G236-allasso) my voice; for I stand in doubt of you.
Heb 1:12  And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed(G236-allasso): but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.

B. The Greek words translated as “change” in Hebrews 7:12
The Greek words that stands in place of “change/changed” in Hebrews 7:12 are “Metathesis/Metatithemi”. Metathesis which is also used in English Vocabulary (Originating from the Greek) is defined as ‘transpose, change the position of’. We could say that it means “changing places” or “transferring”, but it surely is different from “allasso”.

Heb 7:12  For the priesthood being changed(μετατίθημι-metatithemi-G3346), there is made of necessity a change(μετάθεσις-metathesis-G3331) also of the law.

The usage of these words in the whole of the New Testament, are given below for your reference. Comparing how the same word is translated to English in different verses, surely provides us a clearer picture of what these words really mean.

G3346 – μετατίθημι – metatithemi – transfer
Act 7:16  And were carried over(G3346) into Sychem, and laid in the sepulchre that Abraham bought for a sum of money of the sons of Emmor the father of Sychem.
Gal 1:6  I marvel that ye are so soon removed(G3346) from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:
Heb 7:12  For the priesthood being changed(G3346), there is made of necessity a change also of the law. 
Heb 11:5  By faith Enoch was translated(G3346) that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated(G3346) him: for before his translation(G3331) he had this testimony, that he pleased God.
Jud 1:4  For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning(G3346) the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.

G3331 – μετάθεσις – metathesis – transference
Heb 7:12  For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change(G3331) also of the law. 
Heb 11:5  By faith Enoch was translated(G3346) that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated(G3346) him: for before his translation(G3331) he had this testimony, that he pleased God.
Heb 12:27  And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing(G3331) of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.

In Hebrews 11:5, we see Enoch is “translated” from earth to heaven. He is transferred. His position is changed. The same word “metatithemi” is seen in Gen 5:24 in the Septuagint (LXX) as well. Using the same meaning in place of the words “change” in Heb 7:12, provides a much different meaning to what it is usually understood to be. It is not that the priesthood “changed” as in, it was “replaced”. It is that the Priesthood has been “transferred”/”changed places” from earth to heaven. From an earthly Aaronic High Priest to Yeshua(Jesus’ true name), the High Priest of the Heavenly Temple. The necessity of a “change” in the Law, does not mean that God’s Law was replaced here on Earth. Rather that there is a transference also of the Law. This transference is speaking of the priesthood – of an Aaronic Priest on earth to a Priest in the line of Melchizadek in heaven. Not that the Aaronic priesthood is expunged, but that the Melchizadek Priest would receive preeminence standing before God with a far superior offering.

C. Other words that are connected to “change” in our English translations
There is also a need to see that our English Translations carry “change/changed” in place of other Greek Words from the Original Manuscripts which have diverse meanings to “allasso”.

G3337 – μεταλλάσσω – metallasso – exchange
Rom 1:25  Who changed(G3337-metallasso) the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
Rom 1:26  For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change(G3337-metallasso) the natural use into that which is against nature:

G3339 – μεταμορφόω – metamorphoo – transform
Mat 17:2  And was transfigured(G3339-metamorphoo) before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.
Mar 9:2  And after six days Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves: and he was transfigured(G3339-metamorphoo) before them.
Rom 12:2  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed(G3339-metamorphoo) by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
2Co 3:18  But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed(G3339-metamorphoo) into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

G3345 – μετασχηματίζω – metaschēmatizo – transfigure/disguise
1Co 4:6  And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred(G3345-metaschematizo) to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.
2Co 11:13-15  For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves(G3345-metaschematizo) into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed(G3345-metaschematizo) into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed(G3345-metaschematizo) as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
Php 3:21  Who shall change(G3345-metaschematizo) our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.

D. Conclusion – Was there a necessity to change the Law or to transfer it?
Looking at the Original Greek wording, we can see that the “change” spoken of in Hebrews 7:12 is not the same “change” spoken of in Acts 6:14. Different words with different meanings have been used in the Original Greek Manuscripts, in these instances for a reason. Even though our English Translations use the same word “change” in place of these different Greek Words, the meaning is far different to what most Christians think it is. “Change” in Heb 7:12 cannot mean “replaced”, “make different” or “use another instead of”. The “Change” here denotes movement from one place to another. The necessity is to transpose or transfer to another place, which fits in line with the transference of the Priesthood from an Earthly one to a Heavenly one. This is the theme of the Book of Hebrews as the Author rightly sums up in Hebrews 8:1. The verse in question, Hebrews 7:12 in its Original Greek version does not speak of a “change” but a “transference” – hence it cannot be used as a proof text to say that God’s Law has changed.

Further Reading :
Old Covenant abolished by New Covenant? Part II – Does the Book of Hebrews prove that the Old Covenant is no more

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Can the Old Covenant be abolished if the Ten Commandments are not?

Most Christians view the Old Covenant as an archaic agreement which was done away in Christ. Even though there are many issues with this theological interpretation, it has become the understanding of the majority and is not even given a second thought in Christian circles. However many still agree that the Ten Commandments still holds validity over their lives. There are some who question the legitimacy of the Ten Commandments, and may even suggest that the Golden Law replaced the Ten Commands, even though the evidence suggests otherwise.

arkIf we do agree that the Ten Commandments have not come to an end, then we are met with a crisis in our theology. How can the Old Covenant be abolished if the Ten Commands are still valid over our lives? Some may say that the Ten Commandments supersede or are unrelated to the Old Covenant. The Scriptures say otherwise:

Exo 34:28  And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments. 

Deu 4:13  And he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, even ten commandments; and he wrote them upon two tables of stone. 

Deu 9:9-11 When I was gone up into the mount to receive the tables of stone, even the tables of the covenant which the LORD made with you, then I abode in the mount forty days and forty nights, I neither did eat bread nor drink water: And the LORD delivered unto me two tables of stone written with the finger of God; and on them was written according to all the words, which the LORD spake with you in the mount out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly. And it came to pass at the end of forty days and forty nights, that the LORD gave me the two tables of stone, even the tables of the covenant.

Deu 9:15 So I turned and came down from the mount, and the mount burned with fire: and the two tables of the covenant were in my two hands.

Heb 9:4 Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant;

The above verses prove that which was written on the Tablets of Stone, were indeed the Covenant. It is a well known fact that the Ten Commandments were written on these tablets of stone with the Finger of God. If what was written on the Tablets are also called the Covenant, how is it that the Covenant is done away?

Conclusion
The Ten Commandments are obviously valid in our lives to this day. This is yet another reason for us to perceive that God’s Covenant done through Moses still stands to this day. The Ten Commandments are part and parcel of the Mosaic Covenant and we cannot have one without the other.

Further Reading
Old Covenant abolished by New Covenant? Part I
Old Covenant abolished by New Covenant? Part II – Does the Book of Hebrews prove that the Old Covenant is no more
Is Love, all that matters? – Was the Ten old Commandments overuled by Two new Commandments?
Can God, His Word or His Covenants change?
Law of God & Law of Moses – 2 Laws or 1?

 

Is it Law vs Grace and Faith vs Works?

Modern Christianity pits Law against Grace and Faith against Works. Is this doctrine Scriptural? Was this the plan and wish of our Heavenly Father? Did our Messiah put an end to Law and Works? It is important for us to understand the biblical definitions for each of these terms as well as learn the connections between these 4 biblical terms. If you are seeking the roots of our faith, and you are a person ready to be reproved, corrected and instructed by Scripture, I invite you to test the following study.

Definitions of Law, Grace, Faith & Works

Law – God’s Law lets us know what Sin is, in His eyes. Breaking God’s Law, is considered Sin.

  • Rom 3:20  Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
  • Rom 7:7  What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.
  •  1Jn 3:4  Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law

Grace – Grace is God’s unmerited favor on our lives. We are saved and made righteous by His Grace towards us

  • Eph 2:8  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
  • Rom 3:24  Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
  • Tit 3:7  That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Faith – We gain God’s Grace through our Faith in Him. It is the belief that “He is the Creator & Redeemer, and there is no Life in us, without Him”

  • Heb 11:6  But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
  • Eph 2:8  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
  • Rom 4:5  But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

Works – Works Is all that we do. Our obedience to his Word/Law brings us blessings. We will be judged according to our Works

  • 2Ti 3:16,17  All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:  That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
  • Jas 1:25  But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.
  • Rev 20:12,13  … and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

Is Law against Grace?

Many presume that God’s Law is against Grace, and that by keeping God’s Law, we fall from Grace. These are common misconceptions which have risen from misunderstandings of Pauline Letters. Let’s look at some of these verses which have been taken out of context and study them further.

Rom 6:14  For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.
For one who quotes the above verse as proof of God’s Law is against His Grace, we have to read the very next verse to understand Paul’s thoughts. “What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid”. (Remember that Sin = Breaking God’s Law : 1Jn 3:4). So effectively, what Paul is saying is “What then? shall we BREAK GOD’S LAW, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid”. But why then did he say we are not under the Law? this will be addressed in the next point.

Gal 2:21  I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.
Gal 5:4  Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.
The above verses in Paul’s letter to the Galatians explains what his whole ministry revolved around. Contrary to popular belief, Paul never said God’s Law is done away with. The misunderstanding lies in the concept of “Righteousness by the Law” or “Justification by the Law”. Paul is not saying that the “Law is against Grace”, or that whoever that obeys the Law has fallen from Grace. He is simply saying that “Righteousness” / “Justification” cannot be attained through the Law. He is saying that whoever tries to “attain righteousness” by the Law, has fallen from Grace. A good example of this, is the doctrine of the Circumcision Party which taught that a person needs to be circumcised to be saved/ receive salvation/ attain righteousness/ be justified. We are not made righteous through the Law, which is there to guide us. This is why we are not under it. But does this mean the Law is done away with? by no means. If that was so, what would we be judged by? God’s Law was never meant to be against His Favour/Grace.

Grace enables us to live according to God’s Law

The Grace of God clearly cannot be against the Law of God. This idea is further endorsed by Paul as we see in the verses below

Rom 6:1  What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
Remember that Sin = Breaking God’s Law according to 1Jn 3:4. So effectively, what Paul is saying is “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in BREAKING GOD’S LAW, that grace may abound?”. Grace came to us through Messiah’s blood Sacrifice because we were “Law Breakers” or “Sinners”. What Paul explains here is whether we can say, that we are no longer under Law and continue in Sin, because Grace has been poured on us. Grace has been poured on us, so that we no longer continue in Sin (Breaking God’s Law). (Refer Rom 6:15 as well)

Is Works against Faith?

Similar to the notion that God’s Law is against Grace, some presume that Faith is all that we need. The common misconception here is that works is “dead” where faith is “alive”. Many of these thoughts have also sprung up through misunderstandings of Pauline Letters. Let’s look at some of these verses as well, and study them further.

Gal 2:16  Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
As per the definition of the word “Works” given above, “Works” of the Law, means what you do in obedience to God’s word. For example not committing Adultery or Murder are Works of the Law. Just as we saw in the verses regarding Law & Grace, Paul again focuses his attention in telling the reader that you are not justified through your obedience to God’s Law, but by the Faith you have in God.

Rom 3:28  Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
Here again, Paul’s focus is justification through “Works”. He is not saying that one should not Obey God’s Law, but he is simply saying that one is not Justified through the good/obedient works he does. We are saved/ made righteous/ justified because of our faith – because we believe that God will give us the Grace we need to move from death to life. Just because we believe in God’s graciousness, can we now say that we do not need to be obedient to Him? To keep and do the Words of God? Obedience to God’s Words was never supposed to be against the Faith we have in God.

Works is what perfects our Faith

Even though no one is justified through “Works” alone, obedience to God’s Word or Works of the Law as it is known, does perfect our Faith in God. In other words. when we obey Him, we show the amount of Faith we have in Him. Let us see the explanation given by James in this regard.

Jas 2:21-24  Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.
James explains the connection between Works and Faith in a few words. He shows how Abraham’s Faith became perfect in the eyes of God, when he was willing to do what was commanded by God, even to slay his only son. In Gen 15, when God promised him an heir and a countless amount of descendants, Abraham believed. Gen 15:6 reads “And he believed in YHVH; and he counted it to him for righteousness.” God counted Abraham’s Faith as righteousness the moment he believed in God. But James shows how this verse of Scripture was fulfilled only when Abraham obeyed God in offering up his son. (And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness:) As much as we have faith in God, without obedience to Him, that faith is not perfected. In other words, if we say we have Faith in Him, but keep on disobeying Him, how can we prove our faith like our father Abraham did? Let us obey Him and show how much faith we have in Him.

Conclusion

As we have seen through the passages above, we cannot pit “Law” against “Grace” and “Works” against “Faith”. We are not made righteous through the “Law” or our “Works”. It is only through our “Faith” and His “Grace” that we are saved. This doe not mean that God’s Law is done away with and we do not have to do the Works of the Law. God’s “Law” shows us how to be obedient in doing the “Works”, as much as “Faith” in Him, produces “Grace” or His Favor towards us. “Grace” in turn helps us keep his “Law” as well as our “Faith” becoming perfect in His sight through the Obedient “Works” we do.

We have to break down the wrong doctrines taught to us and start reading God’s Word through the help of His Spirit. Let us be perfect before God (2Cor 13:11, 2Ti 3:17, Heb 13:21, Rev 3:2) adding Works to our Faith and keeping His Law because of His abundant Grace.

There are many more misunderstood verses regarding this subject which we will study in the coming days. Meanwhile, I also invite you to read this study for more clarity on this topic.