At the very beginning of the New Testament the false concept that the sin-embracing Jews were special in God’s eyes, because they were descendants of Abraham, was fiercely opposed. John the Baptist was first to combat this faulty and deadly concept:
But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire” (Matt. 3:7-10).
John the Baptist was a Hebrew yet taught that stirring truth because it was God’s truth.Paul wrote:
You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3:26).
Furthermore, Paul, just like John the Baptist and the Lord Jesus, contested the belief that being a Jew by natural birth had any value for individual salvation:
A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man’s praise is not from men, but from God (Rom. 2:28, 29).
It is not as though God’s word had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham’s children. On the contrary, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” In other words, it is not the natural children who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring (Rom. 9:6-8).
Dear friend, do you believe it is not the natural children who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring?
The Jews magnified circumcision, but not the right kind—circumcision of the heart. All who receive circumcision of the heart are the real Jews and heirs of God’s promise—not the natural children, unless they also received circumcision of the heart:
Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham (Gal. 3:7).
In the New Testament, unlike in the Old Testament, any person can be Abraham’s child, without circumcision, and by faith in Christ Jesus. This vital Christian concept is not apparent in the Torah as it is in Paul’s epistles. The Scriptural emphasis for Christians should, therefore, be in the New Testament where we will learn what the Lord and his apostles taught:
He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit (Gal. 3:14).
The blessing given to Abraham comes to the non-Jews (Gentiles or Greeks) through faith in Christ Jesus. Natural ancestry doesn’t help or hinder. It is by faith in Messiah Jesus that we receive the promise of the Spirit and become God’s children. Do not be deceived by those that magnify Jewish feast days, ancestry, customs, the Saturday Sabbath and try to get you to observe the law of Moses. They might claim they are just like the early Christians but they are not as has already been proven.
The Apostle Paul also cited advantages the Jewish people had in the past:
What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision? Much in every way! First of all, they have been entrusted with the very words of God (Rom. 3:1,2).
The people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen (Rom 9:4, 5).
But none of those advantages can change the aforementioned facts about salvation. Furthermore, in spite of all of those advantages the fact remains that the Jews still killed the Lord Jesus and are still enemies of the gospel because of their doctrines and unbelief:
As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies on your account; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable (Rom. 11:28,29).
While it is certainly true that the Bible writers (perhaps with the exception of Luke) as well as the Messiah (Jesus) and his apostles were Jewish, it is also true (as just stated) that the Jews killed Jesus, God’s prophets, apostles and Christians in general. They displeased God:
For you, brothers, became imitators of God’s churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own countrymen the same things those churches suffered from the Jews, who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out. They displease God and are hostile to all men in their effort to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. In this way they always heap up their sins to the limit. The wrath of God has come upon them at last (1 Thess. 2:14-16).
We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen (Acts 10:39,40).
It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. When he saw that this pleased the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also. This happened during the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Acts 12:1-3).
The unbelieving Jews during the early Christian church were God-hating, Christ-rejecting, Christian-persecuting enemies of the gospel. They would sometimes travel many miles to persecute Paul and conspired to kill him on more than one occasion. What was Paul’s crime that brought about such murderous desires? Paul obeyed God and faithfully spread the same message of salvation to both Jew and Gentile:
First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles also, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds. That is why the Jews seized me in the temple courts and tried to kill me. (Acts 26:20,21)
● The Levitical priesthood has been abolished (Heb. 7:18-27)
● All true Christians are part of the royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9)
● The animal sacrifice system is abolished (1 Peter 1:18,19; Heb. 10:1-4)
● Jesus is the lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world and is the one-time-for-all sin sacrifice (John 1:29; Heb. 9:26; 10:10-14)
● Jesus is now our one and only high priest (Heb. 4:14; 6:20)
● The new covenant is superior to the old covenant and based on better promises. The old covenant is also obsolete (Heb. 8:6-13)
● Jesus is our Passover lamb (1 Cor. 5:7)
● Jesus expanded the meaning of adultery to include lusting in the heart (Mt. 5:28,29)
● Jesus declares an illegitimate marriage to be adultery (Mt. 5:32; Mark 10:11,12)
● Jesus taught we must forgive people who sin against us to have our own sins forgiven after initial salvation (Mt. 6:14,15; 18:23-35)
● Idolatry is expanded to now include greed (Eph. 5:5-7; Col. 3:5)
● Paul stated Godly women are not to wear gold, unlike in Old Testament times (1 Tim. 2:9 cf. Gen. 24:22; 24:30)
● In Old Testament days, those who would sin sexually with their step-mother were put to death, but now excommunication is taught instead (Lev. 20:11 cf. 1 Cor. 5:11-13)
● Hate is equal to murder, according to John (1 John 3:15)
● In the New Testament, we now have water baptism, which never existed in the Old Testament (Mt. 21:25,26; Acts 10:43-48)
● In the Old Testament, physical circumcision was extremely important and carefully practiced but now it is not and has no religious significance (Gen. 17:9-14 cf. Rom. 2:28,29)
● The house of God and temple of God in the Old Testament was in a man-made structure, but now it is the physical flesh and blood bodies of real present-tense Christians (Judges 18:31; 1 Chron. 6:48 cf. Heb. 3:6; 2 Cor. 6:16)
● In the Old Testament they took oaths and did swear, but swearing is now forbidden (1 Sam. 24:21,22 cf. Mt. 5:34-37; James 5:12)
● In the Old Testament certain foods were considered clean or unclean, but not anymore (Lev. 11:47 cf. Mark 7:15-19)
● In the Old Testament, one could become unclean by touching a dead body, but not anymore (Num. 11:19 cf. Mk. 7:20-23)
● In the Old Testament a false prophet was put to death, but not in our day (Deut. 18:20 cf. Mt. 24:10,11)
● In the Old Testament a blasphemer was stoned to death, but not in our day (Ex. 24:23)
● In the Old Testament a Saturday Sabbath breaker was stoned to death, but not in our day (Num. 15:32-36)
● In the Old Testament the whole assembly was to stone to death a Saturday Sabbath breaker, but not in our day (Num. 15:36; Joshua 7:25)
● In the Old Testament the Sabbath was Saturday and always the special week day of rest, but now we have a choice of a particular day to set aside to honor God (Dt. 5:12-15 cf. Rom. 14:5,6)
● In the Old Testament the Passover was carefully observed, but now God’s children have no such regulations to follow (Ex. 12:14-20 cf. 1 Cor. 5:7)
Some of the lesser errors embraced by these people are:
● They say the New Testament was written in Hebrew. The truth is the New Testament was written in Greek not Hebrew.
● They say the God of the Old Testament and the heavenly Father is Yahweh. The truth is Jesus is actually the God of the Old Testament. Jesus is not the Father, but is a separate person from the Father. (See our other material.)
● Some of the Jewish Christian ministries worship God on Sunday.
● Ceremonial food has no value now:
Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by ceremonial foods, which are of no value to those who eat them (Heb. 13:9).
ANSWER: That passage declares that Jesus didn’t come to overthrow or dissolve the law and prophets as some might have been thinking back then. Instead, he fulfilled them. This, however, doesn’t mean we are under the law of Moses today as the teaching of the New Testament shows repeatedly. (Some of the very ones that declared we are not under the law of Moses in our day were Hebrews and probably heard Jesus in person speak the words recorded in Mt. 5:17-20.)
QUESTION 2. How can you explain Luke 23:56 referring to early Christians, if you reject the Jewish Sabbath?
Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.
ANSWER: Christianity was in a state of change that started to unfold especially in Acts 10 and afterwards. Before that time, and even before Jesus died for the sins of every person who ever lived, the disciples did observe resting on the Saturday Sabbath. Some of the same Christians that must have done that very thing at that point later openly opposed this whole concept, as already shown.
QUESTION 3. Jesus was teaching about his return to his disciples in Mt. 24 and mentioned the Sabbath. Why, if we aren’t under the OT Mosaic laws and regulations?
Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath (Matt. 24:20).
ANSWER: The whole context of that passage begins several verses sooner:
So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the roof of his house go down to take anything out of the house. Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath (Matt. 24:15-20).
Please note the geographical location of that statement about praying that your flight won’t be (in winter or) on the Sabbath is in Judea. Furthermore, there is nothing in that verse that requires a belief and practice in the Saturday Sabbath for Christians for it to be reasonable. We aren’t given all the specific details about why they were to pray that way. Perhaps the unbelievers would persecute them more if it was on the Sabbath. We don’t know! But this we do know, people are reading into that verse something that is not there to falsely support Saturday Sabbath keeping.
QUESTION 4. If Paul really opposed keeping the law of Moses, then why do we read the following:
When they heard this, they praised God. Then they said to Paul: “You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews have believed, and all of them are zealous for the law. They have been informed that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn away from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to our customs. What shall we do? They will certainly hear that you have come, so do what we tell you. There are four men with us who have made a vow. Take these men, join in their purification rites and pay their expenses, so that they can have their heads shaved. Then everybody will know there is no truth in these reports about you, but that you yourself are living in obedience to the law” (Acts 21:20-24).
ANSWER: Paul conducted himself in such a way as to win Gentiles when with the Gentiles and to win Jews when with the Jews. Regarding the latter, it appeared as though he was under the law like the Jews when he really wasn’t:
To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some (1 Cor. 9:20-22).
Peter was also a Jew that lived like a Gentile and not like a Jew:
When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?” (Gal 2:14)
Paul was not under the law as the Jews were, but at times became like a Jew under the law to win the Jews. If Paul lived under the law of Moses himself he would have always lived like that and could never have changed even when he would be with the Gentiles (but that was not the case).
QUESTION 5. Isaiah 66:23 speaks of eternity and they are still observing new moons and Sabbaths then:
From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me, says the LORD.
ANSWER: That verse does not say they were observing the new moon and Sabbath regulations as given in the Torah. It simply mentions them to designate a period of time. Moreover, even if it did say the Sabbath, etc. was observed then, the context shows it is in the future and is not our period of time now. Hence, that Scripture is no support for Saturday Sabbath keeping at this time.
QUESTION 6. Paul said he agreed with all that is in the Law and that is written in the Prophets:
However, I admit that I worship the God of our fathers as a follower of the Way, which they call a sect. I believe everything that agrees with the Law and that is written in the Prophets (Acts 24:14).
Then Paul made his defense: “I have done nothing wrong against the law of the Jews or against the temple or against Caesar” (Acts 25:8).
When they had assembled, Paul said to them: “My brothers, although I have done nothing against our people or against the customs of our ancestors, I was arrested in Jerusalem and handed over to the Romans” (Acts 28:17).
Doesn’t that prove that he apparently practiced the dietary laws, feast days, Saturday Sabbath, circumcision, etc.?
ANSWER: No it doesn’t. If we consider other Scriptures, it becomes crystal clear that Paul didn’t mean he still practiced the ceremonial laws, dietary laws, etc. as he did before his salvation and as given to Israel. His teachings and actions clearly deny that. He said he worships God as a follower of the Way, not as a Pharisee.
QUESTION 7. The Lord Jesus and Paul both went into the Synagogues to be with the Jews. They meant on Saturday. Isn’t that proof?
ANSWER: No it is not. The reason the Lord went into the synagogues was not just to sit back and partake in the typical things that went on there. He would teach and heal there, which often got him in trouble.
Paul also went into the synagogues, but it was for the purpose of sharing God’s truths about the Lord Jesus to those present. (In other words, he went there to evangelize.) He never went there either just to partake in Jewish worship.
The people magnifying and practicing the Law of Moses are claiming to reestablish the early church, but the truth is they are dangerously deceived and deceiving others by their teachings.
Sincere people who are trying to draw near to God need to desperately learn what God wants from us now. The only way they can know the up-to-date truths, commands and practices from God is to carefully read/study the entire New Testament for themselves. (Don’t just trust another person to teach you the New Testament. Read it yourself and change accordingly.) The changes just cited are significant, but sadly many remain unaware of their existence.The Sacred Name, Yeshua, Messianic Jew and Hebraic Root Movement are not only lacking, but often spiritually wrong and dangerous. To be more precise, their emphasis on Old Testament practices has been detrimental to true Christians to the degree that certainly some have lost their salvation by trying to be justified by the law of Moses (Gal. 5:2-4). This same type of problem existed in first-century Christianity and is now present again with us. God bless you.
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