Tag Archives: theology

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

Did God tell Peter that he is free to eat unclean animals which He had banned before? Acts 10:1 – 11:18

A lot of people read the events around Peter and the vision he saw, to say that “God revoked the Food Laws”. Is this true? Can we come to the conclusion that God was trying to communicate to Peter that the Food Laws were no more after Christ’s death through this Vision? The objective of this study is not to conclude whether the Food Laws are valid for today, or not. (This will be a separate study, hopefully in the near future). The objective of this article is to study the said passage, so that we can figure out what it means, and what it does not mean. Whether God really did tell Peter to start eating all animals without separating clean and unclean, or whether God’s message was something else.

Let us start at the beginning of the Chapter and work ourselves down step by step. Since this is a verse by verse commentary, I have underlined the critical verses, if you want to get the facts, fast.

Acts 10:1
We know a few things about Cornelius. He was a Centurion of the Italian Regiment. He was posted in Caesarea, a place in Palestine. Mar 8:27, says that Yeshua Himself visited Ceasarea.

Acts 10:2
He was a godly man. He feared God with all his household, helped the poor and prayed constantly to God.

Acts 10:3
It says that he saw a vision about the 9th Hour. Later in verse 30, he confesses that he was fasting and praying at the 9th hour in his house. This was a separated time of prayer as seen in Acts 3:1. In this vision he saw, an Angel of God speaking to him.

Acts 10:4
And the Angel says that his “prayers” and the “compassion he had towards the poor” has reached God.

Acts 10:5,6
He is given direction to send men to Joppa(another place in palestine) to bring Simon Peter to him, so Peter could direct Cornelius as to what must be done.

Acts 10:7,8
When the Angel had left Cornelius, he called two servants and a god-fearing/devout soldier and told them what had happened and sent them to Joppa, as he was commanded.

Acts 10:9
While Cornelius’ men were approaching Joppa the next day, Peter went upstairs to pray around the 6th hour of the day.

Acts 10:10
It says Peter was very hungry, but the food was still being prepared. And he suddenly fell into a trance.

Acts 10:11,12,13
Peter saw the Heavens open up, and a great sheet with all kinds of animals let down to earth. And Peter heard a voice saying “Rise, Peter, Kill and Eat”.

Acts 10:14
Peter says “Not So, Lord”, meaning “may it not be”, I have “never” eaten anything which is unclean or common/unholy. This poses and interesting question. If, as some believe, Yeshua(Real name of Jesus) had taught the Disciples that all things are Clean, and everything can be eaten, why is Peter rejecting this “commandment” from heaven? So, it is safe to say, that Yeshua would have never taught any disciple to break God’s Food Laws.

Acts 10:15,16
Then the voice replies Peter saying, “What God has cleansed, do not call common/unholy”. This happens 3 times and the sheet was taken up back to Heaven. In this vision, did God revoke his food Laws and say God has cleansed all food, and not to call or segregate foods as clean and common/unholy or unclean? It is very clear. But, let us read on before jumping to any conclusions.

Acts 10:17
It says that Peter was unsure of what the vision meant. Why? it was so clear. God had told him to eat all things. But, Peter was not so sure what all of this meant. God had commanded not to eat unclean animals before, and now suddenly, He is asking Peter not to call Unclean animals Unclean! While all of these thoughts were in Peter’s mind, the men from Cornelius had reached the gate of the house where Peter stayed.

Acts 10:18,19,20
While the people asked for Peter, He was still thinking what the Vision meant, when the Holy Spirit spoke to him saying “3 men are looking for you, Arise, Go with them, without doubting anything, I have sent them”. Is this vision somehow connected with the arrival of the 3 men from Cornelius’ house? Let us read on.

Acts 10:21,22
Peter goes downstairs and declares that he is Peter and asks for what reason they are looking for him. They tell him that Cornelius, a Centurion, a God fearing just man, who is known by even the Jews with good report, saw an Angel asking him to send for Peter, to hear what he has to say.

Acts 10:23,24
Peter asked them to stay with them in Joppa, and left Joppa the next day with some of the other believers. The next day, they entered Ceasarea, and Cornelius was waiting for Peter in his house, and he had invited his friends and relatives as well.

Acts 10:25,26,27
As Peter was entering the house, Cornelius rushed to him, fell down, and worshiped him. But Peter “took him” up saying “Stand up, I am also just a man”. And then Peter entered the house to see many who had gathered.

Acts 10:28,29
Peter talks to the assembly, and says “You know, that it is unlawful for a Jew to keep company with, or visit foreigners”. Let’s stop here for a minute and study what Peter really meant, before we proceed. First of all, we should see that it was a known fact by all, that Jews did not keep company with foreigners. Otherwise, Peter would not start his speech by saying “You know”. We see this separation throughout the bible(John 4:9) So much so, that Jews did not even talk with non-Jews (John 4:27). They tried to even refrain from stepping into buildings that foreigners were in(John 18:28). Had God Almighty, instituted such a Law? God has always advised Israel not to go after the nations, and their ways, but never to not keep company with them or talk to them. in Deut 4:6-8, God even advised Israel to keep His Laws so Gentiles will see the good things of God and obey God. This law, of division between Jew and Gentile, like many other laws, were forced on Israel by their teachers and rulers, such as the Pharisees. (More about them in a future study). So, in short, It was a custom, or man made law, that no Jew could visit or keep company with a Gentile.

Now we finally get some solid answers to the questions we asked in Acts 10:15,16. Peter goes on to say, “but God has showed me that I should not call any man “common/unholy” or “unclean”. That is why I came promptly to you, as soon as I was asked to come”. It is very clear, by reading this admission, that Peter understood his vision the moment the 3 men asked him to come with them to Ceasarea. He understood that “God had showed” him the vision concerning not calling any man “Common/Unholy” and “Unclean”. Putting no difference between a person who knows God, and a person who is searching for God. Remember, ultimately, all are children of Noah, a child of God.

Peter goes onto ask why they asked him to come.

Acts 10:30-33
Cornelius explains what happened to him and tells Peter that they are present, to learn what God has commanded them to do.

Acts 10:34,35
Then Peter says that he “understands” that God does not respect any particular individual or nation, and that He has accepted all who “fear Him” and “does what is righteous”, in all nations.

Acts 10:36-43
Then Peter goes onto witness about Yeshua and preaches the Gospel to the people.

Acts 10:44-48
Then something fantastic happen. While Peter talks to the people, the Holy Spirit falls on the people. And some of the believers who were of the “Circumcision party”, who had come with Peter, were astonished. (We will check who “the Circumcision party” was, shortly). The Gentiles spoke in tongues, and magnified God. Then, Peter asked “Can anyone forbid these people who have received the Holy Spirit to get baptized? And Peter commanded them to get baptized in the name of the Lord. And he stayed with them for sometime.

Acts 11:1
The apostles and believers in Judea had heard that the gentiles received the Word of God.

Acts 11:2,3
When Peter came to Jerusalem, “those from the Circumcision” opposed Peter. Notice, that it was not the “Apostles” and “all the believers” who opposed him. It was only those of “the Circumcision”. Some think that “the Circumcision” is, all Jews. Not so. (Gal 2:12,13 showcases how Peter was scared of the Circumcision, and how the “other Jews”, who were not of “the Circumcision Party/Group” also followed him). They believed, as per the name which is used to call them, that you needed to be circumcised to be saved.

What was the accusation brought forward against Peter? That Peter went to “men who are not Circumcised” and ate with them.

Acts 11:4-15
To this, Peter replied by conveying the whole story which happened to him, not starting with the 3 men who came to Joppa, but starting with the vision he saw. He tells them the vision, and how as he was having the vision, the 3 men were looking for him at the house, and how 6 believers, present with him, went with him to Caesarea. How Cornelius had seen an Angel, and how the Holy Spirit fell, while he spoke.

Acts 11:16-18
Peter also says that he remembered what Yeshua said “John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit”. He told everyone, that God had given the Holy Spirit to the gentiles who believed in Yeshua, and asked them, who was he to withstand God. When “the Circumcision party/group” heard this, they kept quiet and glorified God, saying that God had granted repentance unto the gentiles as well.

So, in conclusion, as we have seen throughout this reading, the Vision was connected to the Gentiles and not regarding them as unholy or unclean. It could not have been about the food. If it was so, “The Circumcision Party” who accused Peter of eating with gentiles, would have ripped him to shreds for breaking “God’s Food Laws”. The key to understanding this misunderstood part of the Word, is Acts 10:28, where Peter said “God has showed me that I should not call ANY MAN “common” or “unclean”.