Those in the Hebrew Roots Movement like to tell Christians that they should ‘be like the Bereans’, who had ‘only the Torah’ by which to measure what Paul taught. But what was it that Paul was teaching the Bereans that they were checking against the Scriptures that they had at the time?
Torah folk would have you believe that the Bereans were checking to see if the doctrines that Paul was teaching to those in Christ were against Torah. But is doctrine what Paul was actually teaching the Bereans according to Acts 17, the only place the Bereans are mentioned in the Scriptures?
2 As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead. “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ,” he said.
As was to become a common occurrence, the Jews began to stir up trouble against Paul because of his preaching about Christ Jesus. Paul and his party were driven away, and sent by brothers in Thessalonica to Berea.
10 As soon as it was night, the brothers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.
Again, what was the message that Paul was bringing to them at that point?
Paul was explaining and proving from the Scriptures that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead: “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ,” he said.
The Bereans were determining from the Scriptures – the Torah, the Prophets and the Writings - whether or not Jesus was Who Paul said He was.
12 Many of the Jews believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men.
After measuring what Paul told them about Jesus, many put their faith and trust in Christ.
For those who put their faith and trust in Christ, how they live is not determined by the Old Covenant, but determined by the New Covenant because of who they are in Christ – His Death, Resurrection, Ascension, and the imparting of His Holy Spirit. While not contradicting in any way the Old Covenant, the New Covenant teachings written to the Body of Christ after Pentecost were not all-inclusive of the instructions given to Moses at Sinai.
2 Corinthians 3
Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you? 2 You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. 3 You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
4 Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. 5 Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. 6 He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant —not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
7 Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, fading though it was, 8 will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? 9 If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! 10 For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. 11 And if what was fading away came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!
12 Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. 13 We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away. 14 But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. 15 Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. 16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
13 You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. 14 The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.
19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
11 And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12 The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. 14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.
Does that mean that we don’t need to be like the Bereans and search the Scriptures to test what we are being taught?
Of course not! We are told to
1 Thessalonians 5:21-22
21 But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; 22 abstain from every form of evil.
We have the Torah, the Prophets, the Writings, AND the Scriptures written after Pentecost – given to the Body of Christ for Her instruction, exhortation, and edification!
After instructing His disciples regarding keeping His commandments to love one another in John 15, Jesus went on to say this:
12 “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. 14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. 15 All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.
And the Holy Spirit did just that. After the completed Work of Christ He revealed through the Apostles what life in Christ should look like, giving to the Body of Christ the New Covenant Scriptures through His Apostles during their ministries. Letters written by the Apostles were copied and distributed amongst the local churches, the fledgling Body of Christ.
So many manuscripts survived over time because so many copies were made and distributed – recognized as Scripture by fellow Apostles and by the early Body of Christ. Within one generation of Apostolic teaching, early Church Fathers, in their own writings, cited as authoritative every New Testament book that we have today. (From “Council of Nicaea Myth Debunked” on JGIG’s YouTube Recommendations list.)
There is also evidence from within the New Testament itself that Apostolic writings and the Gospels were considered to be Scripture in the early Body of Christ. Referring to Paul’s writings, Peter wrote this, indicating that Paul’s letters were considered to be Scripture:
2 Peter 3:14-16
14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. 15 Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. 16 He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.
On the flip side, in Paul’s letters, which we see from the above passage were considered to be inspired Scripture, he also quotes from the Gospels’ accounts of Jesus and His Work in several of those letters. In 1 Timothy 5:18, Paul quotes both the book of Deuteronomy and Luke’s Gospel, referring to both of them as Scripture:
1 Timothy 5:18
18For the Scripture says, “Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.”
So we can see that the early Body of Christ DID have writings written after Pentecost, which WERE considered to be Scripture at the time, and those writings WERE available to them during in the first century!
Not only that, but the Spirit of God became active in the lives of all believers in Christ, imparting gifts for areas of service in which they could function as part of the now-established Body of Christ – the Church:
22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11 according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. 13 I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.
14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge —that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
So if you are ever encouraged to ‘be like a Berean’ by someone in the Hebrew Roots Movement or other Law ‘keeping’ sect, be sure to take the WHOLE counsel of Scripture into account. Keep in clear view who you are in Christ according to the New Covenant Scriptures written to the Body of Christ - the Church – after Pentecost.
Watch a somewhat condensed video version of this post here:
May God grant you wisdom and discernment as you consider all of these things.
Other articles of interest:
- Millennial Prophecy – Measuring Unrevealed Prophecies in Light of Revealed Truths
- Hebrew Roots Movement – Are They Judaizers?
- Hebrew Roots Movement – “Prove to Me That God Does Not Want Us to Keep ALL of His Word”
- God’s Covenants With Man – From Christinyou.net. Excellent resource in outline form regarding covenants. The Last half of the document has a
side-by-side comparison of the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. Highly recommended.
- Old Testament Believers and New Testament Christians – From the Articles Page – Addresses the issue of how OT saints were ‘saved’ vs. how NT saints are saved, i.e. what salvation meant and how it was obtained before and after the actual work of Christ on the timeline. It clarifies several points that we see Law keepers bring up in debate over and over again as they misapply the phrase from Scripture, “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” and couple that with the claim that the Church (ekklesia, Body of Christ) also existed in the Old Testament. It did not, and this article clarifies the difference between OT believers and NT Christians. Excellent study. Highly recommended.
For more resources regarding the Hebrew Roots/Messianic movements see the Post Index and the Articles Page. General study helps, discernment, and apologetics sites can be found HERE. Make use of the tabs with drop-down menus found at the top of this site – there’s tons of info there, and it’s very navigable.
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