Watchmen on the Wall Conference

Brigitte Gabriel Speaks at 2015 Watchmen on the Wall Conference

Published on Jun 17, 2015

ACT for America’s president and founder, Brigitte Gabriel tells her story about how radical Islam changed her life as a child in Lebanon forever. May her story serve as a warning to the rest of the world.

For more videos look up Brigitte Gabriel on youtube or a search engine

Here is the question of the hour.

So I logged into wordpress today to post to my blog and I see a rainbow across the top. That isn’t the theme I choose! The rainbow was not created by anyone nor does it belong to anyone or group. It was created by Elohim (God).

Torahis4Today, is in accord with the National Organization for Marriage. This is an excerpt of its editorial released Friday, June 26, 2015:

“We reject this decision and so will the American people. It represents nothing but judicial activism, legislating from the bench, with a bare majority of the Justices on the Supreme Court exercising raw political power to impose their own preferences on marriage when they have no constitutional authority to do so. It is a lawless ruling that contravenes the decisions of over 50 million voters and their elected representatives. It is a decision that is reminiscent of other illegitimate Court rulings such as Dred Scott and Roe v. Wade and will further plunge the Supreme Court into public disrepute.

Make no mistake about it: The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) [and Torahis4Today] and countless millions of Americans do not accept this ruling. Instead, we will work at every turn to reverse it.

The U.S. Supreme Court does not have the authority to redefine something it did not create. Marriage was created long before the United States and our constitution came into existence. Our constitution says nothing about marriage. The majority who issued today’s ruling have simply made it up out of thin air with no constitutional authority.

In his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” Dr. Martin Luther King discussed the moral importance of disobeying unjust laws, which we submit applies equally to unjust Supreme Court decisions. Dr. King evoked the teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas that an unjust law or decision is one that is “a human law that is not rooted in eternal law or natural law.”

Today’s decision of the Supreme Court lacks both constitutional and moral authority. There is no eternal or natural law that allows for marriage to be redefined.

Today’s decision is by no means the final word concerning the definition of marriage; indeed it is only the beginning of the next phase in the struggle. NOM is committed to reversing this ruling over the long term and ameliorating it over the short term.”

The rainbow means what it means by what meaning YHWH gives it. The following is the meaning He gave it as the creator of it:

Genesis 9:8-17  Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him,  (9)  “Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you,  (10)  and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the livestock, and every beast of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark; it is for every beast of the earth.  (11)  I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.”  (12)  And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations:  (13)  I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.  (14)  When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds,  (15)  I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh.  (16)  When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.”  (17)  God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.”

When you take a stand for God it should always be based upon His Torah.

The Torah became flesh (Yeshua) and dwelt among us!





PSALM 119:160

ISIAH 40:8


For much more information on this VERY important topic please watch “The Error of Dispensationalism” by 119 Ministries.

Backup links to this video: ;

Picking & Choosing

Colossians 2:14: Was God’s Law Nailed to the Cross?

Was the Law Nailed to the Cross, by J.K. McKeeThis article has been reproduced from the paperback edition of The New Testament Validates Torah by J.K. McKee.

“[H]aving canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.”

Colossians 2:14 is a common verse that is quoted by many Christians to assert that “the Law of Moses was nailed to the cross of Jesus Christ.” But is this truly what is being said in Colossians 2:14? Did the Torah truly get nailed to the cross, with its high and holy standard of conduct nullified for the post-resurrection era? Could the idea that “the Law was nailed to the cross,” be little more than a sound byte that fails to take into consideration the actual issues present in the surrounding context?

Many of today’s Messianic Believers struggle with the Epistle to the Colossians, and the wider issues that this letter originally communicated to a group of Messiah followers in this small First Century city in Asia Minor. One of the main thrusts of Paul writing to the Colossians was to get their attention exclusively focused upon Yeshua the Messiah, who was not only the Father’s Agent in creating the universe before time began—but is the One in whom the universe was made, and is the One in whom and for whom the cosmos are held together (Colossians 1:15-20). Yeshua the Messiah is the One in whom “all the fullness of [the] Deity[1] dwells in bodily form” (Colossians 2:9), a definite statement of Yeshua being God. Contrary to this, a false teaching and philosophy had been circulating in Colossae (Colossians 2:8), which was not only discounting the supremacy of Yeshua as the Divine One, but was appealing to various astral powers and spirits (Colossians 2:15), treating Yeshua as just another intermediary force. The false teaching not only included errant actions like angel worship, self-abasement, intense fasting, and asceticism—but had incorporated a misuse of Torah practices like Sabbath observance or the appointed times—all in an effort to appease various spiritual powers (Colossians 2:16-23).[2]

The only way that Paul can get the Colossians’ attention re-focused, onto Yeshua the Messiah, is to understandably explain to them how significant the salvation work He has accomplished actually is! Paul explains,

“When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross” (Colossians 2:13-14).

For the Colossians, tē akrobustia tēs sarkos humōn (τῇ ἀκροβυστίᾳ τῆς σαρκὸς ὑμῶν), paraphrased by the CJB as “your ‘foreskin,’ your old nature” (Colossians 2:13), represented their pre-salvation state. The same power, that resurrected Messiah Yeshua, has now forgiven them and has given them all circumcised hearts and minds. The Colossians have been brought into a realm of life and restored communion with God.

Making the Colossian Believers alive—bringing them to redemption via the work of His Son—God has done something very important on their behalf. As the ESV renders Colossians 2:14, He “cancel[ed] the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.” What is this “certificate of debt,” and what are the “decrees against us, which were hostile to us” (NASU)? All readers of Paul’s letter can agree that Colossians 2:14 represents a damning indictment against people that needed to be dealt with via the sacrifice of Yeshua on the cross. Is this the Torah or the Law of Moses? The Greek nomos (νομός) or “law” is noticeably absent from this verse. The clause of interest is: to kath’ hēmōn cheirographon tois dogmasin (τὸ καθʹ ἡμῶν χειρόγραφον τοῖς δόγμασιν). This is literally rendered as “the handwriting in the ordinances [or, dogmas][3] that is against us” (YLT).

There are three main views of what “the certificate of debt” represents, which one is likely to encounter in reviewing the Epistle to the Colossians:

  1. The debt or penalties incurred from human sin toward God, condemning people without a permanent sacrifice
  2. Some kind of a book or record in Heaven that kept a roll of condemned people
  3. The Law of Moses, which if not kept perfectly, condemns all people who break it

Traditional views of Colossians 2:14 dating back to the Protestant Reformation often associated the certificate of debt as either the record of human sin, or the guilt of human sin incurred before God.[4] Another common view of Colossians 2:14, similar to this, sees this certificate of debt as the pronouncement of condemnation that hung over Yeshua as He was dying on the cross (Matthew 27:37; Mark 15:26; Luke 23:38; John 19:19). Both would fit within the scope of what is seen in the lexical definition of cheirographon (χειρόγραφον): “a hand-written document, specif. a certificate of indebtedness, account, record of debts” (BDAG).[5]

One suggestion among some interpreters is that the “certificate of debt” is somehow similar to a Jewish apocalyptic view in which a book recording all of one’s evil deeds was to be remitted. The existence of this book is derived principally from passages seen in the Tanach. Moses appeals to God after the Israelites worshipped the golden calf, “But now, if You will, forgive their sin—and if not, please blot me out from Your book which You have written!” and is told by the Lord, “Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book” (Exodus 32:32, 33). The Psalmist indicates how sinners should “be blotted out of the book of life and may they not be recorded with the righteous” (Psalm 69:28). And Daniel prophesies how in the end, “everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued” (Daniel 12:1). Furthermore in the Book of Revelation, Yeshua promises those in Sardis, “He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life” (Revelation 3:5). So, the “certificate of debt” includes a record of human sin that has now been erased or blotted out (Grk. exaleiphō, ἐξαλείφω)[6] by the sacrifice of Yeshua at Golgotha (Calvary).

The most common view of the “certificate of debt” that one will find today among lay readers of Colossians is that it represents the Law of Moses nailed to the cross of Yeshua. It proposes that the Torah as cheirographon was a note of indebtedness that required cancellation. Sometimes, scholars who argue for this view provide external evidence from Jewish literature to support this proposal. Testament of Job 11:9-12 from the Pseudepigrapha is one reference to be considered:

“Sometimes they would succeed in business and give to the poor. But at other times, they would be robbed. And they would come and entreat me saying, ‘We beg you, be patient with us. Let us find how we might be able to repay you.’ Without delay, I would bring before them the note and read it granting cancellation as the crowning feature and saying, ‘Since I trusted you for the benefit of the poor, I will take nothing back from you.’ Nor would I take anything from my debtor.”[7]

Today’s Messianic Believers are of the conviction that God’s Torah is still relevant Instruction for His people. While many contemporary Christians have concluded that Colossians 2:14 relates to the Law of Moses being nailed to the cross, many are not, in fact, convinced that the Law in its totality was nailed to the cross. The following are some important opinions to consider, with the last two theologians notably believing that the Torah is not to be followed in the post-resurrection era:

  • Donald Guthrie: “Paul dwells on God’s method of forgiveness. He uses the metaphor of a bond…a ‘statement of indebtedness’ which had to be signed by the debtor as an acknowledgment of his debt. The debt was impossible to pay. Moreover it was backed by legal demands, since every trespass is a violation of the law of God….Paul imagines God taking the statement of debts and nailing it to the cross of Christ.”[8]
  • James D.G. Dunn: “The metaphor is probably adapted to the earlier Jewish idea of a heavenly book of the living…as developed in apocalyptic circles into that of books whereas deeds of good and evil were recorded with a view to the final judgment…This is most obviously the background of thought here, with καθʹ ἡμῶν (‘against us’) confirming that the document in question was one of condemnation, that is, presumably the record of their ‘transgressions’….[W]e should note that it is not the law which is thought of as thus destroyed, but rather its particular condemnation (κειρόγραφον) of transgressions, absorbed in the sacrificial death of the Christ (cf. Rom. 8:3).”[9]
  • Douglas J. Moo: “In causing him to be nailed to the cross, God (the subject of the verb) has provided for the full cancellation of the debt of obedience that we had incurred. Christ took upon himself the penalty that we were under because of our disobedience, and his death fully satisfied God’s necessary demand for due punishment of that disobedience.”[10]
  • Ben Witherington III: “V. 14 says Christ’s death wiped out the IOU (a record of debts owed written by the hand of the debtor; cf. Phlm 19; Testament of Job11) which stood against believers. While cheirograph is used of a receipt in Tob[it] 5.3 and 9.5, it is not found elsewhere in the NT. Here it seems to be a reference to the heavenly book of deeds in which a record of one’s wrongdoings is kept. In fact in Apocalypse of Zephaniah 3.6-9; 7.1-8 the same word is used for that book (cf. Apocalypse of Paul 17; Rev. 5.1-5; 20.12).”[11]

The view of Andrew T. Lincoln also cannot go without mentioning. In his estimation, “to argue that what is in view is not the law per se but only the law in its condemnatory function is to have read too fine a distinction into the verse.” This he has to say to recognize that there have been many throughout Christian history considering Colossians 2:14 to only speak of condemnation upon sinners, a debt that has been incurred. Perhaps this was caused by human disobedience to the Torah, but the Torah itself as intended by God was not the cause (i.e., Deuteronomy 4:1; 5:33; 8:1; et. al.). In contrast to this, Lincoln concludes, “The document itself is said to be opposed to humanity and, when one brings into play the ascetic regulations mentioned later, the clear implication is that it is condemnatory of humans because of their body of flesh.”[12] But why would the Torah be opposed to people if God gave it for the benefit of people? It is only opposed to people when they violate it—not when they follow it! So, Lincoln is correct when claiming that the Torah condemns people because of their uncircumcised body of flesh (Colossians 2:11), or their sin nature, but is incorrect when claiming that the Torah as a whole was just given to condemn. And, the promise of the New Covenant is God writing the Torah onto the hearts of His people (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 36:16-36) needs to be seriously considered here.

Moo, interestingly enough, points out that the view of “certificate of debt” being the Torah in totality, has some problems. He says “that the word [cheirographon] may refer to the Mosaic law, viewed by Paul as a record of human obligation that has not been met…fits a bit awkwardly with the basic sense of the word, since, of course, an IOU is written not by the one to whom the obligation is due (God, the author of the law), but by the one who is in debt (human beings).”[13] The Lord did not give His people the Torah as a record of what they had done, but rather what they should do to live properly: “All these blessings will come upon you and overtake you if you obey the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 28:2). Severe violation of His Instruction incurred penalties, and so those penalties—which were backed up by certain stipulations that required capital punishment—needed to be dealt with.

What does the work of Yeshua as depicted in Colossians 2:14, with something nailed to the cross, describe for us? Is it the Torah of Moses in its entirety? Or, is it the condemnation upon sinners that He has taken away for us, receiving upon Himself the death that is required of us all? Please consider how of all animal sacrifices specified in the Torah, there is no sacrifice available for intentional sins. Roger Bullard accurately summarizes how, “By forgiving our sins…God erased the record of those sins. What happened on the cross…abolished it and freed us from the grasp of the angelic beings.”[14] The record of sin has been abolished! For this we should all rise in great praise! With the record of sin nailed to Yeshua’s cross and the penalties now remitted, all people have to do is acknowledge this, confessing their sins, and asking the Lord for forgiveness and reconciliation. The Torah has not been abolished, but the capital penalties that stand over those who break it (making unredeemed sinners “under the Law”) have now been paid in full. In nailing the Torah’s condemnation to the cross of Yeshua, we can each realize the full thrust of Isaiah 43:25: “I [the Lord], even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, and I will not remember your sins.”

Could earlier generations of Christians indeed be right in concluding that the condemnation and/or record of sin is the whole issue of what was nailed to the cross in Colossians 2:14?

It is perfectly legitimate to recognize how the “certificate of debt,” that has been paid by Yeshua’s sacrifice, is the condemnation and record of human sin. The power of this condemnation was found in various “decrees against us,” the stated death penalties for high crimes as specified in the Torah. It is not at all incorrect to recognize that by His death and shed blood, our relationship to the Torah has certainly been changed, but that does not mean that the Torah is to be thrown by the wayside and never studied or meditated upon (Psalm 119:15, 27). The Torah remains relevant instruction that is to be upheld and taught as a standard of God’s righteousness and holiness (Romans 3:31), but the problem of a permanent sacrifice for sin has now been taken care of (Hebrews 10:11-12).

(It is noteworthy that many evangelical Protestant churches today hold services on Good Friday where people can write their sins or transgressions on small pieces of paper, and then actually nail them to a cross in the sanctuary, representative of how the record of human sin has been taken care of by Jesus’ sacrifice. This concurs with Colossians 2:14 representing the condemnation upon human sin.)

With this in mind, though, I have still encountered people in today’s Messianic movement who would argue for a kind of theonomy.[15] They think that the death penalty decreed upon sinners for various crimes in the Torah should still be enacted—even with Yeshua’s sacrifice permanently atoning for the human sin problem. This would mean, at least in principle, that if one were to discover adulterers or homosexuals in the assembly, they should be tried and executed. This does make many, most especially myself, feel very uncomfortable. In 1 Corinthians 5, rather than demanding that the sexually immoral be executed for their sins, the Apostle Paul rules that they be excommunicated from the assembly. This is not because there was no proper Jewish court for them to be condemned by, but as he states it, their sin will get the better of them and they will die as a consequence if they fail to repent (1 Corinthians 5:5).[16] Paul knew the gravity of the cross, and would never promote stoning people as a method of handling sins after the resurrection—since he himself was responsible for errantly stoning or overseeing the deaths of many Jewish Believers (Acts 7:58; Galatians 1:13; 1 Corinthians 15:9) prior to encountering the Lord on the Damascus Road!

History is replete with post-crucifixion examples of where various societies and religious movements have tried to, albeit unsuccessfully, enact capital punishment for every high crime specified in the Torah. There is perhaps no worse example of this then the complicated record of the English Reformation, where Catholic and Protestant monarchs alike would try those of the other side as heretics, believing them to be in violation of God’s Law, and burning many at the stake. About the only significant exception for executing a criminal would be for murder, the death penalty for murderers being a Creation ordinance (cf. Genesis 9:6). And even that has to be done very, very carefully.[17]

Even with the Torah’s death penalty upon sinners now remitted via the sacrifice of Yeshua, this does not at all mean that it is unimportant to know those sins in the Torah that prescribe the death penalty. While all of our collective human sin is what nailed the Lord to the cross, it is those very specific sins that carry capital punishment which ultimately condemned Him. When we review the weekly Torah portions and examine those regulations, which if violated caused ancient persons to be stoned or hanged until dead, we should stop for a moment and recognize that the Messiah came so that those penalties would not need to be enacted any more (cf. Romans 10:4, Grk.). They have all been wiped away by His suffering for us. With final redemption now available, we need to remember how “the kindness of God leads you to repentance” (Romans 2:4). If we should ever suffer for Him, it should only come as we serve Him and are possibly persecuted—not that we have to suffer as He did to attain eternal life.[18]


[1] Grk. to plērōma tēs Theotētos (τὸ πλήρωμα τῆς θεότητος); with the Deity including the definite article.

[2] Consult the author’s article “Does the New Testament Annul the Biblical Appointments?”

[3] This is where the definition of dogma (δόγμα) as “a public decree, ordinance” (LS, 207) prescribing a death penalty, is useful to keep in mind.

[4] For one example, John Wesley, Explanatory Notes Upon the New Testament, 747 says: “This was not properly our sins themselves (they were the debt), but their guilt and cry before God.”

[5] BDAG, 1083.

[6] In a classical context, the verb exaleiphō means “to wipe out, obliterate,” or “metaph., like Lat. delere, to wipe out, destroy utterly” (LS, 269).

[7] R.P. Spittler, trans., “Testament of Job,” in James H. Charlesworth, ed., The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, Vol 1 (New York: Doubleday, 1983), 844.

[8] Donald Guthrie, “Colossians,” in D. Guthrie and J.A. Motyer, eds. The New Bible Commentary Revised (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1970), 1147.

[9] James D.G. Dunn, New International Greek Testament Commentary: The Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996), pp 164, 165, 166.

[10] Douglas J. Moo, Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Letters to the Colossians and to Philemon (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008), pp 211-212.

[11] Ben Witherington III, The Letters to Philemon, the Colossians, and the Ephesians: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on the Captivity Epistles (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007), 158.

[12] Andrew T. Lincoln, “The Letter to the Colossians,” in Leander E. Keck, ed. et. al. New Interpreter’s Bible, Vol 11 (Nashville: Abingdon, 2000), 11:625.

[13] Douglas J. Moo, Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Letters to the Colossians and to Philemon (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008), pp 209-210.

[14] Roger Bullard, “The Letter of Paul to the Colossians,” in Walter J. Harrelson, ed., et. al., New Interpreter’s Study Bible, NRSV (Nashville: Abingdon, 2003), 2111.

[15] D. Thomas Lancaster, Restoration: Returning the Torah of God to the Disciples of Jesus (Littleton, CO: First Fruits of Zion, 2005), 76 indicates, “the strict measures of Torah justice—stoning and the like—are not applicable unless one is in the land of Israel under the authority of a duly ordained Torah court of law like the Sanhedrin.” While he admits that a Sanhedrin court in Israel would be able to stone someone, he thankfully says, “As much as we might sometimes like to stone someone, the Torah forbids us from vigilante justice of that sort,” recognizing how only authorized people could do this. But in holding to this opinion, he does overlook the great significance of Yeshua’s sacrifice for the covering of such sin and how these penalties have now largely been remitted. (Furthermore, even with the possibility of a Sanhedrin court reestablished in Israel sometime in the future, it seems unlikely that the Israeli government would give up control of the criminal justice system.)

Perhaps the only exception, this side of Yeshua’s resurrection, would be the death penalty for murder as a Creation ordinance (cf. Genesis 9:5-6)—and even this should be used quite infrequently.

[16] I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Yeshua” (1 Corinthians 5:5).

[17] For a further discussion, consult Walter C. Kaiser’s remarks in Wayne G. Strickland, ed., Five Views on Law and Gospel (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996), pp 155-156.

[18] For a further discussion of these and the relevant surrounding passages, consult the author’s article “The Message of Colossians and Philemon” and his commentary Colossians and Philemon for the Practical Messianic.

Historic Christianity & Apostolic Judaism: The Core Difference

Historic Christianity & Apostolic Judaism: The Core Difference
by Tim Hegg
(See the Glossary of Terms at the conclusion of the article) • ©2003 All rights reserved


“This world is not my home, I’m just a passin’ through My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue; The angels beckoned me from heaven’s open door, And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.”

“O Lord, you know, I have no friend like you,
If heaven’s not my home, then Lord, what will I do? The angels beckoned me from heaven’s open door, And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.”

This old song captures a most profound truth: in common, easy to understand terms it describes the world view of Historic Christianity. What I mean by “world view” is the manner in which Historic Christianity understands the broad plan of redemption. I’ve come to realize, however, that the “world view” of Historic Christianity is not my world view. And because of this, I’ve also come to realize that I am not comfortable in defining myself within the boundaries of Historic Christianity. But let me explain.

Self-identity is always a difficult issue. It’s difficult because often the boundaries that define one group from another are not so clearly drawn. Defining who is “in” and who is “other” is tricky business for a number of reasons. Most obvious is the fact that beliefs and practices (halachah) of opposing groups often overlap. In this respect, for example, there are many things I hold in common with Historic Christianity, not the least of which is that I confess Yeshua to be the Son of God and the long awaited, promised Messiah of the Hebrew prophets. But I have come to realize that there are profound differences between what I understand the Scriptures to teach and the message of Historic Christianity. In other words, I realize that I do not see myself within the boundaries of Historic Christianity. (Bear with me: I’ll define terms below.)

This matter of self-identification has been a sticky wicket for “messianic Judaism” in general. Messianic groups have bemoaned the fact that “we are still trying to find out who we are.” Witness the current debates of “Definition” among leading Messianic groups today. They are throwing their hats into the ring of the long-standing (and still undecided) debate over “who is a Jew.” And it’s obvious that, like the many who have tried to give a definitive answer to this question, the current foray will fare no better: there will not be consensus.


But I’m not concerned in this essay to attempt an answer to this age old question of Jewish Identity. I rather intend to show that the world view of Historic Christianity does not “work” for those of us who are recovering a Torah-centered life. And I would suggest that one’s world view is a key element in self-definition.

This struggle for self-definition was also evident in the era following the destruction of the Temple. Since the Temple was the defining focal point for the primary sects of 1st Century Judaism, the Jewish community that remained after the Destruction sought new ways to maintain her identity without the Temple and priesthood. The Sages at Yavneh solidified their approach in the Mishnah, expanded, defined, and redefined in the later Talmuds. Likewise, the emerging Christian Church sought for ways to define herself. She did this by presenting herself as distinct (“other”) from the Synagogue, and by adopting a world view quite opposite of her Jewish roots. Caught in the middle of all this was the remnanat of “The Way” (cf. Acts 9:2). Still thoroughly Hebraic in her perspective, yet confessing Yeshua as Messiah, the remanant of “The Way” found herself rejected by both of the other groups. Even though “The Way” was thoroughly Hebraic in thought and world view, her acceptance of Yeshua as the Messiah made her persona non grata within Rabbinic Judaism. Likewise, the emerging Christian Church was not comfortable with “The Way” for a number of reasons, but primarily because her thorough going Judaism was clearly outside of the Church’s newly found identity. While Rabbinic Judaism and Historic Christianity were defining themselves as opposite of each other, “The Way” found herself caught in the middle. And it is clear that the current Torah movement identifies itself with “The Way.”

In the era following the Destruction, then, we find three groups seeking self-definition, not two, as is usually taught. The divisions were not merely between Rabbinic Judaism and Historic Christianity, but between Rabbinic Judaism, Apostolic Judaism (i.e., The Way), and Historic Christianity. (I am indebted to Christopher O’Quin for the term “Apostolic Judaism”). We may define these three groups as: 1) Rabbinic Judaism: the theology and halachah which based itself on the teaching of the Rabbis in the Mishnah and Talmuds; 2) Apostolic Judaism: the theology and halachah of Yeshua and His Apostles (i.e., the Torah as interpreted and applied by Yeshua and His Apostles); and 3) Historic Christianity: the theology and halachah of the Greek and Latin Church fathers (i.e., the Bible as interpreted and applied by the Church Fathers).

What Are the Differences?

One does not need to search too far to discover the marked distinctions between Rabbinic Judaism and Historic Christianity! The two are worlds apart. But the question that faces those of us in the Torah movement is how we “fit” within the polar positions of these two opposing groups. Consider this scenario: A modern Orthodox Jew, a Christian and a member of a Torah Community (some might use the label “messianic”) are dialoging about their own theology and halachah. When the modern Orthodox Jew is asked how he differs from the Christian, his immediate response would most likely center upon the issues of “Jesus,” the “New Testament,” and the Torah. He rejects Jesus and the New Testament, and maintains the eternal nature of the Torah as defined by the Sages (that is, including the Oral Torah). The Christian affirms these distinctions: he sees himself as distinct from the Orthodox Jew because he believes in Jesus as

his means of salvation, receives the New Testament, and holds that the Torah has been abolished in favor of the “New Covenant.” Where does this leave the member of the Torah Community? He affirms Yeshua as the Messiah and that He is the only means of salvation; he receives the Apostolic Scriptures as having divine authority, yet he also holds the Torah to be eternal and necessary (that is, the Torah as defined and interpreted by Yeshua and His Apostles).

Rabbinic  Judaism: rejects Jesus; rejects New Testament; affirms Torah (including Oral Torah)
Historic Christianity: accepts Jesus; accepts New Testament; rejects Torah
Apostolic Judaism: accepts Yeshua; accepts Apostolic Scripture; accepts Torah (as defined by
Yeshua and His Apostles)

It may appear that the primary distinction between Apostolic Judaism and Historic Christianity is the issue of Torah. And in fact, this is the case. But the difference is far deeper than one might first expect. Apostolic Judaism is not “Christianity with a tallit” nor is it “Christianity on Shabbat with the Festivals” (for a description of the Festivals, see the glossary at the end of this essay). In the history of the Christian Church, a number of groups have tried this (Seventh Day Adventism, Worldwide Church [Armstrong], and many “messianic” groups). Rather, an acceptance of the Torah as the foundational revelation of God to His people establishes a fundamental difference because it teaches a different “world view.” This means that it comes with a theological presupposition that affects everything else. It is this “world view” and the fundamental difference it embodies that I would like to explore.

The Foundational Difference between Apostolic Judaism & Historic Christianity

When we discuss foundational principles it is difficult (if not impossible) to be comprehensive. Often the starting point of any body of truth is at once the most simple (i.e., unified) while at the same time most profound (i.e., complex). But I would like to suggest that one of the clear differences between Apostolic Judaism and Historic Christianity is the world view that each espouses. I’ll sum up the differences of the two world views by noting three presuppositions and the polar positions each group takes. These are: 1) The Universe as unified vs. the Universe as dualistic; 2) The goal of redemption as God dwelling among men vs. The goal of redemption as a means for the soul to escape this world to dwell with God elsewhere; 3) Miracles as the evident hand of God in everyday life vs. Miracles as a taste of “heaven.”

1.      The Universe as Unified vs. The Universe as Dualistic

What do I mean by “The Universe as Unified?” Usually, in the dualistic viewpoint of Historic Christianity, the universe is viewed as divided into two realms: the material and the immaterial. This is often described by such opposites as “material vs. spiritual,” “earthly vs. heavenly,” “human vs. divine,” etc. But even more important in understanding the dualism of Historic Christianity is that the two realms also define “good vs. evil.” The material realm is evil or at least fraught with evil; the earthly is bad or at least not as good as the heavenly; the human realm is evil while the divine realm is holy. Of course, there are varying shades of these

emphases in the multifaceted theologies of Christianity, but in general Historic Christianity holds a dualistic perspective. In contrast, the unified view holds that there is good and evil but this is
not divided along “material vs. spiritual” realms. A unified view of the universe recognizes both the material and non-material realities of our existence. But it sees these two realms as a unified whole within God’s creative purpose, not as pitted against each other.
For instance, the opening account of the Torah, describing as it does the creative work of the Almighty, knows no such dualism. God creates the material universe and calls it “good.” Even after the fall of Adam and Chavah (Eve) into rebellion against their Creator, the promise of salvation comes within the material realm (the “seed of the woman”), not outside of it. Furthermore, the on-going revelation of God’s redemption has as its goal the dwelling of God with man (the Tabernacle), not the elevation of mankind out of and away from the very world into which he was created. Indeed, the entire book of Exodus has as its theme the dwelling of God among His people. It becomes the duty of Israel, not to escape her “this-world-existence,” but to prepare a dwelling place for God within it.
It was the introduction of Greek philosophy into the early Christian Church that set her on a different path, and this Greek philosophy was primarily introduced from the writings of Plato. In fact, the difference between the unified worldview and the dualistic worldview can rightly be called a difference in hermeneutics—that is, the manner in which the universe as a whole is understood. Plato had developed a philosophy or worldview that was dualistic and had given mankind a hermeneutic based upon this dualism for interpreting the world in which he lived.
The simplest way to describe this Platonic viewpoint is to use Plato’s own analogy of The Cave. He describes a cave dug into a hillside. The floor of the cave descends to the very back wall of the cave where some people live in the darkness. Unable to see the reality of their existence, they are unaware of the real situation in which they live. For them, the dark extremity of the cave is their world. However, when the sun shines through the cave’s opening, they see their shadows on the back wall of the cave. This, they believe, is the reality of their existence. They believe the shadows to be “real.” But it is not until they turn around, see the light coming from the cave’s opening, and crawl their way up out of the cave that they realize the whole of the universe is far different than they could have ever imagined. For Plato, the light of the sun was the Demiurge, a non-personal “wisdom” that projected ideas down upon the realm of human existence. The things that mankind “sees” are actually only shadows as far as Plato is concerned. The reality is the idea itself, not the “shadows on the cave’s wall.” The idea of any object is the reality; its “existence” in our own realm is only the shadow.
Such a perspective gave way to a dualistic view of the universe. Mankind’s nobility is seen, therefore, when he musters the courage to see the “light” and to live in the realm of the intellect, escaping the material world (shadows) for the real world (intellect; thought; ideals).
You may find it hard to believe that a Greek philosopher who lived hundreds of years before Yeshua came could have such a profound affect upon Historic Christianity. But whether one wants to admit it or not, Platonic thought has affected the whole of Western Civilization, primarily because his basic worldview was adopted into the Christian Church.
How did this dualistic, Platonic perspective become the foundational hermeneutic for the Historic Christian Church? Primarily through one of her most important fathers, St. Augustine (354–430 CE). St. Augustine, bishop of Hippo, was a student of Plato before his conversion to Christianity. While he finally rejected the Manichaeans who taught an even more strict dualism,


he never fully rejected the Platonic philosophy of which he was so fond. In fact, in his Confessions he credits Plato as providing the intellectual foundation for his faith. For instance, in the Confessions, book 7, chapter 9, Augustine relates that many of the important doctrines of Scripture he learned from Plato before he ever read the Bible. Granted, he goes on to say that these same truths as found in the Bible went beyond Plato (especially in revealing the incarnation), but my point is simply that St. Augustine did not find the Scriptures and Plato to be at odds. Instead, he saw the basic hermeneutic of both to be the same. Markus (“Plato” in The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, [MacMillian] 1:198) notes: “Later in life Augustine came gradually to see a deeper cleavage between philosophy and Christian faith; but he never ceased to regard much of philosophy, especially that of the Neoplatonists, as containing a large measure of truth and hence as capable of serving as a preparation for Christianity.”
This hermeneutic was therefore set in Historic Christianity: there were two worlds, one
seen (the materialistic world) and one unseen (the spiritual world). The former is a “shadow,” the latter the reality. The former is that of “works,” the latter of “faith.” (Doesn’t faith lay hold of what one cannot see?) The goal of the Christian, therefore, is to mature in such a way as to live more in the spiritual world and less in the materialistic one. And the Scriptures, particularly the Apostolic Scriptures (New Testament) were interpreted through this hermeneutic. Thus, when Paul speaks of the “earthly” and the “heavenly;” the “natural” and the “spiritual,” (1Cor 15:43ff), it was interpreted as describing the dualistic world of Greek philosophy. But Paul, in using such terms, is not suggesting that the earthly is bad and the heavenly good, or that the natural is evil while the heavenly is holy. Far from it! He is describing two realms within a unified world in which God works, two realms which coalesce in the life of the believer .
In fact, it is in the hermeneutics of Historic Christianity (dualism) that the very word “spiritual” has been misunderstood. Since for Historic Christianity the material world is essentially evil, that which is “spiritual” must likewise be “non-material.” But in the Greek Scriptures, the word “spiritual” does not necessarily describe something of non-material reality. “Spiritual” means “having to do with the Spirit,” so that Paul can presume both eating and drinking to be spiritual exercises: “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1Cor 10:31). This world, the here-and-now, is the place of divine presence, for God has entered our world and taken up His abode among His people. Our daily existence in this physical world is therefore one of high value and purpose, for we are constrained to constantly make a place for His dwelling among us—to “sanctify His Name” in our world. We do not despise the material things we have, nor our own physical existence. Rather, we find in our world the purpose for our very creation. In short, we were not created for “heaven,” we were created for this earth, and it is here that we find our close and deepening relationship with the Almighty.
It seems clear that Apostolic Judaism, like the other sects of Judaism in the 1st Century, had a unified worldview, not a dualistic one. This meant that both material and non-material were good and could be sanctified as holy; that life in this fallen world and life in the world-to- come were not essentially different, but were distinct only in terms of the effects of sin in this world and the absence of sin in the world-to-come. Yet the world-to-come is within the same universe as the present world (though created anew, cf. 2Pet 3:11-13), and is likewise composed
of the material and non-material. The resurrection of the righteous is proof positive that God still considers this physical world to have sanctifying value, to be “good” in its essential creative


structure, and to be that which God desires for us.

What Does This Mean for Us?

After this brief philosophical discourse, you might be saying, “so what does this mean in terms of my everyday life?” It means a great deal! Instead of giving excuses regarding the material things we have, we can look at them as part of God’s blessing. Instead of thinking that “poverty” is closer to “spirituality” while “wealth” is a sign of “worldliness,” we must come to the biblical perspective that all we have can be sanctified for the Master’s glory. In fact, neither material wealth nor material poverty should be used as an indication of God’s blessing or withholding blessing. What is proof of God’s blessing is the manner in which we sanctify our world as a place fit for His dwelling. If Paul had learned to be content both with little and with much (Phil 4:11f), we must reason that from his perspective both were realms of God’s blessing.
This has enduring significance. Why do we think that those who are rich are blessed by God, but those who are poor are not? We only adopt such a stance if we have also accepted the dualistic hermeneutic. Or we can say it the other way: why do we think that someone who is wealthy could not be as “spiritual” as the one who is poor? Because we have fallen prey to the idea that the things of this world are inherently evil. (Of course it is true that riches can be a temptation to pride, cf. Matt 19:23f). But once we have realized that the Scriptures teach a unified approach, we also recognize that material things can be either good or bad, but not because they partake of the material world, but because their value is gained in the owner’s ability to sanctify his world for the dwelling of the Almighty in his midst. This will make a huge difference in our perspective on work, on recreation, on relationships, and how we use our time. In short, it will urge us toward a biblical perspective on every aspect of life.

2.      The goal of redemption as God dwelling among men vs. The goal of redemption as a means for the soul to escape this world to dwell with God elsewhere.

The Scriptures paint a unified picture of God’s redemption of sinful man. Both in the Tanach as well as the Apostolic Scriptures, the victory of God in redemption is seen when He dwells among His people. This story begins in the garden of Eden where God walks with Adam. And it continues when God comes looking for Adam and Chavah after the Fall. God comes to man—into the created realm. He does not bring man into the ethereal realm of the eternal. This same picture continues in the Torah narratives of the Tabernacle (Exodus) and the worship of God in the sanctity of the Holy and Most Holy (Leviticus). Likewise, the history of Israel is shaped by the motif of God dwelling in Israel’s midst, and ultimately in the Land in which He promised to plant her (Numbers/Deuteronomy). In short, the victory of God in redemption is incarnational, not escapism. “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Messiah; and He will reign forever and ever” (Rev 11:15).  Indeed, the millennial picture of the prophets is Immanuel reigning in Jerusalem. In Ezekiel, this final and ultimate victory of God is seen in the building of the eternal Temple:  “They will live on the land that I gave to Jacob My servant, in which your fathers lived; and they will live on it, they, and their sons and their sons’ sons, forever; and David My servant will be their prince forever.  I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will

place them and multiply them, and will set My sanctuary in their midst forever” (Ezek. 37:25–
26). The Scriptures do not give us the idea of an eternal state which is an escape from this earthly existence. Such a teaching followed easily from the dualistic hermeneutic of Historic Christianity but it finds no basis in Scripture.
This is not to deny the difference between mortality and immortality. Surely we are mortal (given to death) and will be resurrected immortal (never to die). But immortality is not opposed to our present physical world. Yeshua, after His resurrection, lived upon this earth for 40 days as proof that the immortal, resurrected body can be “at home” in the physical universe. Indeed,
Adam was created to live forever. It was only the introduction of sin that changed this. Our hope, then, is not set upon a belief that we will escape this world, but that in overcoming sin, our Redeemer has given us the ability to live out the purpose for which were were created. The goal of redemption is not to allow the soul to escape this world, but to enable the soul to make this world a place for God’s dwelling. Rabbi Schneerson taught: “The purpose of life lived in Torah
is not the elevation of the soul: It is the sanctification of the world” (Torah Studies, [Kehot Pub. Society], p. 248).
Historic Christianity taught just the opposite: the purpose of redemption is that man should leave this world, that the soul should take flight to heavenly realms. Consider the product of Historic Christianity in the cathedrals of the medieval Church. The worship service was an attempt to replicate the imagined heavenly scene, with “other-world” architecture, “other-world” music, and “other-world” services. Christianity came to the masses as a means of escape from
the sorrow and woes of their fallen world. Worship was possible only in the abode of the cathedral, and the common man could expect joy and blessing only in its shadow.
In contrast, Apostolic Judaism taught the glory of the indwelling Spirit in the “here-and- now” and the realization that the Messiah was with His people, dwelling in their midst. Instead of the cathedral, we rejoiced in the Sukkah (the temporary hut or tabernacle built at the Festival of Tabernacles, called Sukkot). The full and complete dwelling of God with man, a still future reality, had invaded the present in the incarnation of our Messiah, and by the indwelling of the Spirit. Eternal life was already a reality for those who are in the Messiah, having been given a
foretaste of the final and eternal dwelling of Messiah in His Kingdom.  “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age,  looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Messiah Yeshua, who gave Himself for
us to redeem us from every anti-Torah deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds” (Titus 2:11–14).

What Does This Mean for Us?

The contrast between the worldview of Apostolic Judaism and Historic Christianity in this regard is profound. Faith in Yeshua (Jesus) as our Savior and Messiah sets us on the path of sanctifying this world for His dwelling, not offering us an escape from this world. We find our mission therefore to be that of sanctifying our marriages, families, community, and world. Our eyes are not cast upon the possibility of escaping this world, but on our God-given calling to sanctify it for Him. Granted, the hope of His return “purifies” us (sanctifies us) all the more, but not because we will escape this world, but because we are preparing our world for His dwelling.

We have an awesome task and we have been given the message of redemption, the power of the Spirit, and the truth of the Torah (His revealed Scripture) by which to complete it. When He returns, will He find faith (faithfulness) upon the earth (Luke 18:8)? Yes, He will, for He has determined to complete the work in us which He has begun (Phil 1:6).
This incarnational perspective (God dwelling with us) as over against the escapism of Historic Christianity thus gives a proper perspective on every aspect of our lives. Our work, occupation, recreation, relationships, community, and all that we do takes on a sacred dimension for us. For us there is no such thing as the “sacred” and “secular,” only “sacred” and “profane.” Everything we do; all aspects of our earthly existence are sacred, and transformed into the sacred work of sanctifying His Name in our world.

3.      Miracles as the evident hand of God in everyday life vs. Miracles as a taste of “heaven.”

In the dualism of Historic Christianity, miracles fall into the realm of the “heavenly” and transport man into a world in which he does not presently dwell. In contrast, miracles are seen by Apostolic Judaism as the evidence of God in our midst. Surely Historic Christianity would agree that the birth of a child, for instance, is in fact a miracle. But these “common” miracles are not given their due because they are just that, common. Apostolic Judaism, however, confesses that the miracles of God are with us everyday, evening, morning, and afternoon (cf. the Shemonei Esrei, 18th Benediction – for an explanation of the Shemonei Esrei, see the glossary at the end of this essay). One might argue that if the common events of life are in fact miracles, then the very concept of “miracles” has lost its meaning. But such an argument betrays the very difference I’m attempting to point out. For the biblical record accords all of man’s existence to the miraculous hand of God: “in Him we live and move and exist” (Acts 17:28). Biblical faith gives the believer the eyes to see that what others call “common” is, in fact, the miraculous hand of God. It is for this reason that Apostolic Judaism finds the necessity of blessing God for everything: “pray without ceasing” (1Thess 5:17); “in everything give thanks” (which means, “pronounce a blessing,” called a b’rachah in Hebrew [1Thess 5:1]). Historic Christianity views life as
mundane and hopes to be elevated by the miraculous; Apostolic Judaism lives life as sacred and expects the presence of God’s miraculous hand because He dwells with us. Indeed, the call of faith upon God’s children is that they should live with the expectation that God will bless them as He has promised He would. Our hope is not that God will act out of the ordinary (i.e., give us miracles) but that since God dwells with us we may anticipate His miraculous hand in the everyday events of our lives. Growing in faith means the ability to see God’s miracles in what others only call common.

What Does This Mean for Us?

Believing that God dwells with us, and that the return of our Messiah will complete and fulfill this dwelling in our midst means that we live out our lives with praise and thanksgiving for the “normal” events: a child, a hug, an erev Shabbat (evening of the Sabbath which begins the
day of rest), a friend, the food we eat, the joy of song, the beauty of the creation, the intimate relationship of husband and wife, laughter, tears, the sublime truth of Scripture—and on, and on. In each aspect of life we pause to praise the Doer of Miracles and bless His Name for life itself,

“l’chaim!” (to life!).
This changes us. Instead of focusing on the woes and sorrows of this fallen world (though of course we willingly admit and face these), we set our hearts to give thanksgiving for the untold myriad of blessings that God grants us every day. We’re not adopting a kind of “positive attitude” in spite of the trouble around us, somehow sticking our heads in the sand, unwilling to face the sadness of this mortal life. But we find at the same time so much of God’s hand in our lives that our sorrow and tears are offset by our many opportunities for thanksgiving. Every day is a gift because God dwells with us, and thus every day offers us a platform to sanctify His Name upon the earth and to basque in the reality of His presence with us.


The “messianic movement” in our modern times has suffered from an inability to find the group’s self-definition. We have tried to show our commonalities with Historic Christianity on
the one hand, and with the traditional Synagogue on the other. We’ve attempted to convince both of these groups that in some measure we fit with each. We have not wanted our Christian
brothers and sisters to reject us as heretical, nor have we wanted the Synagogue to reject us as idolators—as those who have forsaken the Torah. Yet we must face this reality: both the traditional Synagogue as well as Historic Christianity have moved away from the position of Yeshua and His Apostles, and have defined themselves in some terms that are clearly unacceptable to us. It is time for those of us who have accepted the Torah as normative, yet who have also confessed Yeshua to be the Son of God and His Messiah, to recognize that we will not find our definition in either Rabbinic Judaism or Historic Christianity. While we surely have affinities to both, and in some areas of theology and halachah greater affinity to one or the other, we have come to believe that the Judaism of Yeshua and His Apostles is also distinct from both. We are attempting to live out the life of “The Way”—we’re trying to recover Apostolic Judaism. As such, we must set ourselves to rediscover and put into practice the worldview of our Master, and the life of faithful obedience to which He calls us.


1.   b’rachah – the Hebrew word ‰ָכTְבּ, meaning “blessing.” It is used in the sense of offering a blessing to God for every event of life.
2.   erev Shabbat – literally, “the evening of Sabbath.” Since the Sabbath is reckoned from sunset to sunset, Friday evening is the “evening of Sabbath” and is celebrated as the beginning of the day that God commanded to be set apart from the six days of work.
3.   Shabbat – Hebrew for Sabbath (תָבָּשׁ), that is, the seventh day of the week.
4.   Festivals – the Torah (first five books of the Bible) detail five yearly festivals: Pesach (Passover), Shavuot (literally “weeks,” called Pentecost in the Greek Scriptures), Rosh HaShannah (called Yom Teruah, “day of blowing the trumpet,” and called Feast of Trumpets in many English translations), Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), and Sukkot


(called Feast of Booths or Tabernacles in many English Translations). To these Torah Festivals were added Purim (literally “lots,” the commemoration of the Esther story) and Hanukkah (literally “Dedication,” called the Feast of Dedication in John 10:22) which commemorates the victory of the Maccabees in regaining the Temple in the centuries preceding the coming of Yeshua.
5.   halachah – from the Hebrew word halach (_ַלָ‰), “to walk.” Halachah means “the way we live according to the bible and traditions we have received.” Thus, for instance, the Christian Church has various kinds of halachah when it comes to baptism: some immerse while others sprinkle. For each group, their halachah determines how they baptize those who come into their community. The common use of the word “walk” to describe one’s life of faith derives from this Hebrew concept of “walking.”
6.   l’chaim – Hebrew םיִיָחְל, meaning “to life” or “for life,” a jubilant exclamation at a time of joy or festivity.
7.   Manichaeans – a religious movement begun in the 2nd Century CE by its founder, Mani, which incorporating Gnostic principles (strict dualism which found all material things to be infused with evil, and strove for a pure, non-physical reality in which truth and piety existed) as its foundation. Mani proclaimed himself as the “apostle of light,” the final and only true prophet, bringing the true religion which would unite all of mankind. Manichaeism was rightly considered heresy by the early Church, but its influence upon the Church (both Eastern and Western) is well documented.
8.   Rabbi Schneerson – the latest “Rebbe” (highest teacher) in the hasidic movement (represented by the Chabad or Lubavitch movement in Orthodox Judaism today). He was proclaimed to be “the messiah” by some within the Chabad. He died in 1994.
9.   Shemonei Esrei – the Eighteen Benedictions (there are actually 19, since one was added in the 2nd Century CE) which form the core of the Daily and Shabbat Synagogue Liturgy. The essential elements of the many of the Eighteen Benedictions date to the 1st Century CE and were well in place in the time of Yeshua.


Jesus didn’t die so you can eat ham.

Mark 7 deals with what makes a person common, a distinction that finds its origins in man-made tradition, and is not found in the Law of God. by Rob Roy

A mistake people often make when looking at the topic of food in the New Testament, is that they jump straight to Mark 7:19 without first attempting to understand the context preceding this verse.  Mark 7:19 is actually part of a larger teaching that begins in Mark 7:1 and continues all the way to Mark 7:23.  Mark 7 begins:

1 Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, 2 they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were common [κοινός / koinos], that is, unwashed.3 (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands, holding to the tradition of the elders, 4 and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches.) 5 And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with common [κοιναῖς / koinais] hands?” [Mark 7:1-5]

In these first five verses we see that the Pharisees took issue with Yeshua’s disciples because they ate bread (a clean food) with “common” hands – a manmade tradition of the elders that went far beyond what the Law of God required.  The Pharisees believed that hands, bowls, plates, utensils, and even dining couches, could become “common” through ordinary use, and thus had to be washed (presumably because it could make a person “common” if he/she ate with them, cf. Acts 10:28).  Thus, we can think of “commonness” as a tertiary or higher level of defilement that went beyond what God had instructed in the Law.  So in effect, the pharisees were blurring the line between that which God commands, and that which is commanded by men – thus elevating their traditions to the status of God-given commandments, and using those traditions as a basis upon which to judge Yeshua’s disciples.

Some Bible translations will translate the Greek word koinais as “unclean” or “defiled,” but these are misleading translations of the Greek. The noun form of this word, κοινή (koinē), is the same word used in the phrase “Koine Greek” (Common Greek) – thus the most literal English translation of koinais would be “common.”

Importantly, the Greek word koinais (common) does not connote the same thing as the Greek word for “unclean,” and misunderstanding these two terms has caused a great deal of confusion amongst interpreters of this verse.  There is a completely different Greek word used in both the New Testament as well as the Septuagint (the first-century Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible) to refer to “uncleannes” and “defilement,” but Yeshua does not use this word anywhere in Mark 7, nor in its synoptic parallel Matthew 15.   In the Septuagint, the word for “unclean” is always ἀκαθαρσία (akatharsia / unclean), not κοιναῖς (koinais / common).

Continuing in Mark 7, Yeshua leaves little doubt that the “commonness” he is referring to is a manmade concept in his subsequent rebuke:

6 “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; 7 in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ 8 You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” 9 And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition!” [Mark 7:6-9]

The Pharisees, by putting manmade traditions on par with the word of God, were sinning according to the scriptures (see Deut. 4:2, 12:32). Just imagine for a second how hypocritical it would be for Yeshua to then turn around and nullify God’s commandments regarding clean/unclean animals, in the very same chapter where he condemns the hypocrisy of the Pharisees for nullifying God’s commandments.

It’s important to point out here that after His rebuke, the narrative does not shift to a new topic or teaching.  Rather, Yeshua continues his teaching on what makes a person “common” in the following verses saying:

14 And he called the people to him again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: 15 There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can make him common [κοινῶσαι / koinōsai], but the things that come out of a person are what make him common. [κοινοῦντα / koinounta]” [Mark 7:14-15]

Note that the same Greek word that was used in Mark 7:2 and 7:5 (koinos / common) is also used in Mark 7:14-15 (koinōsai / koinounta / to make common).  This makes sense because Yeshua is simply continuing the teaching that he had already begun in verses 1-13.  This is critical to understand because in verses 1-13 he is dealing with this concept of “commonness,” which was a tradition of the Pharisees, and in verses 14-23 he is dealing with this exact same concept – essentially explaining to the people what really makes a person common.

Most Bible translations do not read this way.  Many translations will either insert “defiled” or “unclean” for the bolded terms above.  Nevertheless, as mentioned regarding Mark 7:2 and 7:5, these words are poor translations of the Greek word koinos/koinoo, which is closest to our English word “common.”

So in verses 14-15 Yeshua directly contradicts this particular tradition of the Pharisees, saying that there is nothing outside of a person that can go into him and make him common – after all, “commonness” is not the same thing as unclean, because it is based in human tradition.  And Yeshua does not stop here: he actually uses this category of “commonness” in order to make his own ruling on this matter, stating that it is not what goes into a person that makes him common, but what comes out of a person that makes him common:

21 “For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they are what make a person common.

Here is the main point of Yeshua’s teaching: an evil heart brings forth evil: evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting, wickedness, deceit, etc.  These are the things that ultimately make a person common – not eating bread (a clean food) with unwashed hands.

Romans 14 by John O. Reid
Romans 14, may be the most difficult one because of the way it is translated in the King James Version and in most other translations. As in the other difficult scriptures, the subject is not clean and unclean foods but eating meat versus vegetarianism (verse 2). Paul admonishes Christians not to pass judgment on others for eating meat or for eating only vegetables (verse 3).

The question that confronted Paul was not that God’s people were suggesting that somehow unclean animals had now been made clean, but the belief of some that no meat—even meat that had been created to be eaten with thanksgiving—should be eaten at all. The apostle points out that it would be wrong for the vegetarians to eat meat if they had doubts about it, as it would defile their consciences (verse 23). He concludes, “For whatever is not of faith is sin.”

Verse 14 is a proof text used by the world to conclude that all meat is now fine to eat: “I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean.” This is another verse that has been poorly translated to conform to preconceived notions.

The problem is with the word “unclean,” which does not appear in the Greek text. To mean “unclean,” Paul would have used akarthatos, but instead, the text reads koinos, which means “common,” “ordinary,” “defiled,” or “profane (as opposed to holy or consecrated).” Peter uses both “common” and “unclean” to describe meats in Acts 10:14, so there is obviously a difference between the terms.

We know that the Bible defines “unclean” meat in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14, but when is meat considered “common”? The only circumstance in which clean meats are common or defiled is when a clean animal dies naturally or is torn by beasts (Leviticus 22:8) or when the blood has not been properly drained from the meat (Leviticus 17:13-14; 3:17). Such animal flesh was called common because it could be given to strangers or aliens in Old Testament times if they wished to eat it (Deuteronomy 14:21). Similarly, in Acts 15:20, 29, the apostles forbade the Gentiles to eat the meat of a strangled animal or meat that had not been drained of blood.

In the case of Romans 14:14, it is likely that “defiled” would be the best term, as the meat under discussion was probably that offered to idols then sold in the marketplace for public consumption. To paraphrase, then, the verse should read: “. . . there is nothing defiled of itself; but to him who considers anything to be defiled, to him it is defiled.” The meat was not defiled in fact, just in the minds of various church members, whom Paul had earlier called “weak” (verse 2). These “weak in the faith” Christians believed that, because the meat had been offered to a pagan idol, it had become spiritually defiled.
Paul explains in I Corinthians 8:4-7 that the demon behind the idol is nothing, for “there is no other God but one” (verse 4).

Thus, there is no “spiritual” taint to the meat.

However, there is not in everyone that knowledge; for some, with consciousness of the idol, until now eat it as a thing offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. But food does not commend us to God; for neither if we eat are we the better, nor if we do not eat are we the worse. (verses 7-8)

So we see that in these verses that Paul is not in any manner doing away with God’s laws concerning clean and unclean meat. The topic does not even come up! He is discussing meat defiled or profaned due to its association with a pagan idol.

In fact, all the scriptures we have reviewed confirm that the law concerning clean and unclean meats is still in effect today.

Two foundational verses are good to remember when questions over the doing away with God’s law arise.

» Malachi 3:6: “For I am the Lord, I do not change; therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob.”

» Hebrews 13:8: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”

God has good reasons for the laws He gives, and James reminds us, “. . . with [God] is no variation or shadow of turning” (James 1:17). Rather than assume that an Old Testament law is done away, we should trust that our Maker knows what is good for His creatures and put it into practice in our lives, unless it has been specifically set aside in the New Testament. At least its principle is still valid, which will help us to live abundantly.