If you haven’t already, go to the Glossary Intro – Please Read First page. Thanks!
Gematria - From Wikipedia’s article, “Gematria” (Click HERE for complete article): (Rabbinic Hebrew גימטריה gēmaṭriyā), is a system of assigning numerical value to an alphabet. The word Gematria is believed to have been formed from a metathesis of the Greek word grammateia (“play upon letters”), from gramma (letter) and literally means ‘that which is written’. It is extant in English since the 17th century from translations of works of Tanakh and Talmud, notably in those associated with the Kabbalah. Some identify two forms of gematria: the “revealed” form, which is prevalent in many several hermeneutic methods found throughout Rabbinic literature, and the “mystical” form, a largely Kabbalistic practice. [Bolding mine.]
Rabbinic literature is in part a source for Hebrew Roots Movement doctrine. Both Kabbalah and Gematria are occult based. See “Doublemindedness in the Hebrew Roots Movement – the Use of Kabbalah and Gemetria” for additional information. Also see “Kabbalah” below.
Gnosticism: – In an attempt to put an abbreviated definition of Gnosticism here, I faced the fact that defining Gnosticisim is somewhat like trying to nail Jello to a wall. Why is “Gnosticism” even on the list? In one of my discourses with a Hebrew Roots Movement adherant, it was that person’s opinion that the New Testament concepts I was communicating were “gnostic thought”. These concepts were Scriptural New Testament principles coupled with the Scriptural concept of an intrinsic, progressive heart change (sanctification) brought about by the Holy Spirit vs. the HRM view of sanctification via adherence to Mosaic Law. I expand on those concepts in the post, “The Hebrew Roots Movement – So What?”.
Gnosticism, as are all false belief systems, is a counterfeit of what God has established. It distorts the character of God put forth in Scripture, (even putting man on equal footing with God once “enlightened enough”) denies the Deity of Christ and the work of the Cross, and skews the concept of salvation and the doctrines clearly laid out by God through the Apostles in the New Testament.
In modern terms, one could use Gnostic thought as a kind of catch-all for New Age thought – Westernized, you could perhaps say “Hellenized” – Eastern Mysticism, encompassing concepts taught by Buddhism, Hinduism, and other facets of Eastern Mysticism. You begin to see the Jello now, don’t you?
There is evidence that Gnosticism (Gnostic “thought”) existed at least 400 years before Christ, twisting the truths of God as laid out in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament). In point of fact, one could trace Gnosticism and other belief systems like it back to the Original Lie, told by the Serpent to Eve: “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:4,5)
As Christianity dawned, Gnosticism attempted to attach itself to and pervert it as well as the Jewish faith. Both Jews and Christians who held faithfully to Scriptural truths soundly rejected Gnostic thought and protected Biblical forms of Jewish worship and Christianity.
Interestingly, Jews that did succumb to Gnostic thought were also those who had a bent toward Jewish mysticism. Gnosticism and Kabbalah cross paths throughout history and there is Gnostic influence that later manifests itself in Judaism’s Talmud. The Talmud in turn influences many in the Hebrew Roots Movement leadership, and as a result many in the HRM laity are unknowingly subjected to Kabbalistic and Gnostic (both rooted in the Occult) concepts by exposure to their leadership’s teachings.
(See “Doublemindedness in the Hebrew Roots Movement – The Use of Kabbalah and Gemetria” for more information on Kabbalah’s influence on the Talmud.)
There is much more to say on this subject, but as I compiled information here, it became evident (around 2000 words into it) that this issue deserves its own post. That post is in progress and will be linked to HERE as soon as it’s published.
However, all that astute language usage becomes a platform of superiority on which HRM leadership can stand upon above their “students” and on which HRM laity can stand upon above their potential “converts” as they lead them into a Hebrew Roots mindset. That platform delivers in a couple of ways:
1) It’s very impressive and gives one the air of superior knowledge and wisdom, enticing the hearer to place unearned and untested respect and weight in the speaker’s words.
2) It can be a diversionary tactic, distracting the hearer from the false doctrine being delivered amidst the flurry of unfamiliar language.
Folks, the Gospel is simple. It is not complicated. The redeemed in Christ do not need to seek out secret knowledge or hidden revelation to walk in their new life, the free gift of God through the work of Jesus Christ at the Cross. God has been faithful throught the ages to protect and preserve His Word. Many have been brought to new life in Christ with the simple reading of the scriptures. Is it all easy? No. But God has provided for His truth to be understood by the most simple among us as well as the most intellectually gifted.
Hebrew Thought - From The Pristine Faith Restoration Society:
Criterion for Understanding the New Testament – According to many teachers in the Hebrew Roots movement, the Gentile mind is not equipped to properly comprehend Scripture. They draw a distinction between ‘Gentile thinking’ and ‘Jewish thinking.’ This distinction is alleged to be more than merely having different presuppositions, but rather a completely different thought process and basis for understanding. Consequently, Gentiles need a thorough education in ‘Jewish thinking’ in order to understand the New Testament. This includes instruction in the Hebrew language. A converted Gentile cannot normally read the Old and New Testaments and arrive at a proper understanding without a Jewish teacher. Having been taught ‘at the feet’ of some Jewish scholar or rabbi is the claimed credential of several prominent ‘teachers’ of the Hebrew Roots movement.
Being “taught ‘at the feet’ of some Jewish scholar or rabbi is the claimed credential of several prominent ‘teachers’ of the Hebrew Roots movement” is a ciritical flaw in the Hebrew Roots belief system because Jewish scholars and teachers are steeped in the Talmud. This is an issue dealt with in the post “Doublemindedness in the Hebrew Roots Movement – The Use of Kabbalah and Gemetria” here at JGIG. See also “Gnosticism” above for additional reasons whey the Talmud has no place in the Christian’s belief system.
Teaching that the truths of God can only be communicated to one after one has learned to think with a Hebrew mindset is insulting to God. Did Jesus say to go out into all the world, teach the tribes and nations the Hebrew language and customs, and then make disciples of them??
I encourage you to go to an article written by a missionary translator that deals with the issue of the restrictions of communicating the Law vs. communicating the Gospel to a specific unreached people group. The article shows in a very practical way how where the Law cannot translate into all cultures, the Gospel can. Click HERE for “Bible Translator’s Problem” by Gil Prost.
Hellenism (Greek Thought) - From JewishEncyclopedia.com – for complete article click HERE: “Word used to express the assimilation, especially by the Jews, of Greek speech, manners, and culture, from the fourth century B.C. through the first centuries of the common era. Post-exilic Judaism was largely recruited from those returned exiles who regarded it as their chief task to preserve their religion uncontaminated, a task that required the strict separation of the congregation both from all foreign peoples (Ezra x. 11; Neh. ix. 2) and from the Jewish inhabitants of Palestine who did not strictly observe the Law (Ezra vi. 22; Neh. x. 29). This separation was especially difficult to maintain when the victorious campaign of Alexander the Great had linked the East to the West. The victory was not simply a political one. Its spiritual influence was much greater. The Greek language became a common language for nearer Asia, and with the language went Greek culture, Greek art, and Greek thought.”
Excerpts from Focus on the Faulty’s article entitled, “Was Early Christianity Corrupted by ‘Hellenism’?”:
What are we to make of this criticism? Is there evidence of wide-spread ‘Hellenism’ within the early church? If so, does this mean that central doctrines of the Christian faith were corrupted in the process?
What we do know is this: ‘Hellenism’ was a cultural force that touched most areas in the ancient Mediterranean world. Thus, since Christianity arose in the Mediterranean world, it is not surprising that early Christians had to deal with its effects. We know that there were various reactions to Hellenistic philosophy among early Christians. For example, Tertullian claimed that Christianity and Greek philosophy has nothing in common at all. On the other hand, Justin Martyr felt quite comfortable making comparisons between Christianity and Greek philosophy in order to attract Hellenistic pagans to the Gospel. Justin was not alone in trying to create bridges from Greek philosophy to Christianity. Like Justin, many early Christians were willing to borrow certain terms and ideas from the cultural world of their day in order to communicate the Gospel to those around them. Does this mean that, in the process, Hellenistic ideas were allowed to creep into the Gospel message and distort its true meaning? Although this is a common criticism of orthodox Christianity, it can be shown that, in fact, it is an argument with no real foundation. The following four points will serve to reveal the weaknesses of this view.
1.) The Jewish world, from which Christianity arose, had already been touched by Hellenism prior to the birth of Christ.
Critics who use this argument often make it sound as if the life and culture of Jesus and the first disciples was untouched by Hellenism, and that only in later centuries was it allowed to ‘infect’ the church. However, we know from history that this is simply not the case. In his groundbreaking study, Judaism and Hellenism, Martin Hengel has shown that, from the middle of the third century BC, Jewish Palestine had already experienced the effects of Hellenism in various ways. For example: (1) under Ptolemaic rule, the Jews were forced to deal with Hellenistic forms of government and administration; (2) as inhabitants of an important coastal land, Palestine served as a crossroads for international trade, which brought many Hellenized merchants through the area; (3) the Greek language–the common language of the Roman Empire–became a part of Jewish culture (and became the language of the New Testament!); (4) Greek educational techniques were adopted, in part, by the Jews. Thus, the idea of a pristine Judaism, untouched by Hellenism, giving rise to an equally untouched early Christianity that was later ‘corrupted’ by Hellenism is simply a false historical picture.
2.) Recent studies have shown that the influence of Hellenism on various peoples in the ancient world was largely superficial, and primarily attracted the ruling class and those with political and administrative hopes.
3.) Although Judaism and early Christianity were affected by the surrounding culture in certain ways, they diligently guarded their religious beliefs and practices from Hellenistic pagan influences, even to the point of martyrdom.
4.) Many of the central elements of the Gospel are diametrically opposed to the Hellenistic mind-set.
Some have noted similarities between certain Greek systems of ethics and New Testament teachings on morality. However, even here there are significant differences. While one can identify certain common features, such as literary styles and basic moral codes, there are prominent differences in the motivation (Christians are motivated by regard for God and His call to holiness; the Greeks by self-evident ‘reason’) and means for living a moral life (Christians are empowered by the Holy Spirit; Greeks rely upon their own innate wisdom and ability). Finally, unlike the Greek philosophical view, the hope of heaven provides the foundation for Christians to persevere under moral pressure.
In conclusion, although the claim that early Christian belief and practice was corrupted by Hellenistic influence is commonly argued by critics of orthodox Christianity, the historical evidence does not support this claim. Rather, like the Judaism from which it arose, the Christian faith rigorously guarded its unique religious identity in the midst of the religious and philosophical diversity of the ancient Mediterranean world.
The above is an excellent article with extensive references for further study. Again, that article can be found HERE (Won’t link you directly to the article for some reason – When you get to the page, click on “Focus on the Faulty”, then on “articles” in the left-hand sidebar, then scroll down to and click on “Was the Early Church Corrupted by ‘Hellenism’?”).
Edited to add: Since this entry was written, I’ve added a post here at JGIG entitled, Hebrew Roots Movement – The Issue of “Hellenization” which addresses this issue more in depth.
Hermeneutics - The short definition:
1. the science of interpretation, especially of the Scriptures.
2. the branch of theology that deals with the principles of Biblical exegesis.
In relation to the Hebrew Roots Movement, I’ll refer to number 10 in the post, 12 Undeniable Truths That Drive Law ‘Keepers’ Crazy:
10. The hermeneutic (a method or principle of interpretation) used by those teaching HRM/MJ doctrines is fluid. There is no stable underlying framework from which those in Law ‘keeping’ sects interpret and teach Scripture. They make use of eisegesis over exegesis, transliteration, Midrash, proof texting, and shift back and forth between ‘Hebraic’ thought and Western thought when it suits their purposes.
Some will even go so far as to use ‘re-translated Scriptures’ - those translated from what they claim is the original Hebrew or Aramaic New Testament writings. In other words, they reject the Greek Primacy of the New Testament Scriptures, opening up all kinds of new interpretations of the writings to the Body of Christ as they purpose to substitute specific Greek language that the Apostles actually used in their writings with what HRM/MJ teachers consider to be Hebrew or Aramaic ‘equivalents’. Key Biblical doctrines affected by this practice are those hinging on words such as justification, repent/repentance, Word, commandment, fulfill, etc.
If it (HR/MJism) were indeed truth, the belief system would be able to stand on a plain reading of Scripture and not have to build all kinds of theological interpretive contraptions to get Scripture to mold to their way of thinking.
- we are to obey the Torah
- we are to teach the Torah
- we are to talk of the Torah
- we are to show that we love God through obedience to Torah
- we are to LIVE the Torah by sincerely striving to obey the God we claim to love.
- we are given the chance to accept the Mark of God, which is undeniably the Eternal Teachings given through Moses – THE TORAH!!!
- Despite this, there is literally a hatred of Torah – or at the very least apathy – within Christianity.
Compare the above Hebrew Roots Movement view with the instructions of Jesus:
Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
He answered: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”
“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
In reply Jesus said:“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
The “Law Keepers” in the above story not only did not help the half-dead man, but when they saw him they actually passed by on the other side of the road! Considering their positions as Priest and Levite, I’ll assume that they considered the man who lay dying on the side of the road to be unclean, as not only did they not want to help (touch) him, they went to the other side of the road to avoid any possible contact with him. They were more concerned for their own “clean-ness” than they were for the very life of the man bleeding, obviously needing aid, lying at the side of the road. Who did Jesus say to imitate? The consummate Law Keepers, a Priest and a Levite? No! He instructed the expert in the law to imitate the unclean man, a Samaritan.
It’s a perfect example of the change and the freedom in behavior Jesus was ushering into the world with the New Covenant forged in His blood. No longer was one to be bound by the restrictions of the Law, which, in the hands of humans could not be possibly be met by any stretch anyway, because Jesus met the requirements of the Law on our behalf (Romans 7:4-6) .
Under the New Covenant, the Law of Christ, the believer is now free to love their neighbor without restriction. We are able to bend down into the dirt of life and minister to those in need and love them with the love that comes from the very Holy Spirit of God.
Why? Because we are cleansed with the Blood of Christ, not merely covered by the blood of animals. Our state of redemption and “clean-ness” is permanent and irrevocable – incorruptable – enabling us to obey both parts of the commandments (instructions) of Jesus – Love God, Love others, whatever the circumstance.
Kabbalah (Kabalah, Caballa, Qaballah) -
***Note to readers: It is my intent to NOT detail too much about the occultic aspects of the Hebrew Roots Movement. Not wanting this site to be a potential gateway for exposing someone to facets of the occult, references to and descriptions of Kabbalah, etc. will be limited. Part of the reason for this is that *I* choose not to expose myself to the in-depth study of such things. For me, this is discernment at a very basic and important real-life level of application. There is no value in passing on information beyond something along the lines of “this doctrine/practice is rooted in Kabbalah/Gemetria” and leaving it at that. Those practices are from the Pit, and while we need to recognize them when they cross our paths, a quick recognition and prompt rejection of such things is what God calls us to.
That said, basic definitions to facilitate that recognition will be provided here at JGIG.***
From Wikipedia (full article available HERE): Kabbalah (Hebrew: קַבָּלָה, lit. “receiving”) is a discipline and school of thought discussing the mystical aspect of Judaism. It is a set of esoteric teachings meant to define the inner meaning of both the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) and traditional Rabbinic literature, as well as to explain the significance of Jewish religious observances.
- Peshat (lit. “simple”)—the direct meaning.
- Remez (lit. “hint[s]“)—the allegoric meaning (through allusion).
- Derash (from Heb. darash: “inquire” or “seek”)—midrashic (Rabbinic) or comparative meaning.
- Sod (lit. “secret” or “mystery”)—the inner meaning—a foundation of the kabbalah.
Kabbalah is considered, by its followers, as a necessary part of the study of Torah – the study of Torah (the Law of God) being an inherent duty of observant Jews. Kabbalah teaches doctrines that are accepted by some Jews as the true meaning of Judaism while other Jews have rejected these doctrines as heretical and antithetical to Judaism.
The origins of the actual term Kabbalah are unknown and disputed to belong either to Solomon ibn Gabirol (1021 – 1058) or else to the 13th century CE Spanish Kabbalist Bahya ben Asher. While other terms have been used in many religious documents from the 2nd century CE up to the present day, the term Kabbalah has become the main descriptive of Jewish esoteric knowledge and practices. The Kabbalistic literature, which served as the basis for most of the development of Kabbalistic thought, divides between early works such as Heichalot and Sefer Yetzirah (believed to be dated 1st or 2nd Century CE) and later works dated to the 13th century CE, of which the main book is the Zohar representing the main source for the Contemplative Kabbalah (“Kabbalah Iyunit”).
According to Kabbalistic tradition, knowledge was transmitted orally by the Patriarchs, prophets, and sages (Hakhamim in Hebrew), eventually to be “interwoven” into Jewish religious writings and culture. According to this tradition, Kabbalah was, in around the 10th century BCE, an open knowledge practiced by over a million people in ancient Israel, although there is little objective historical evidence to support this thesis.
From the same Wikipedia article regarding Gematria:
Among its many pre-occupations, Kabbalah teaches that every Hebrew letter, word, number, even the accent on words of the Hebrew Bible contains a hidden sense; and it teaches the methods of interpretation for ascertaining these meanings. One such method is as follows:
As early as the 1st Century BCE Jews believed that the Torah (first five books of the Hebrew Bible) contained encoded messages and hidden meanings. Gematria is one method for discovering its hidden meanings. Each letter in Hebrew also represents a number; Hebrew, unlike many other languages, never developed a separate numerical alphabet. By converting letters to numbers, Kabbalists were able to find a hidden meaning in each word. This method of interpretation was used extensively by various schools.
There is no one fixed way to “do” gematria. Some say there are up to 70 different methods. One simple procedure is as follows: each syllable and/or letter forming a word has a characteristic numeric value. The sum of these numeric tags is the word’s “key”, and that word may be replaced in the text by any other word having the same key. Through the application of many such procedures, alternative or hidden meanings of scripture may be derived.
See “Doublemindedness in the Hebrew Roots Movement – the Use of Kabbalah and Gemetria” for additional information.
Law (Law of God, Mosaic Law, Law of Moses) - This entry is a long one, necesarily. I want to preface its definition and pupose by including part of a continuing discourse I had with a friend, clarifying my view of the Law. The discourse will speak for itself (used with permission) . . .
JJ – Hi there,
After reading through your last set of exchanges on your blog, I had this thought – do with it what you want! :-P
Reading through your response to Sean about the law left me with the impression that your view of the law is a negative one. It was something broken, impossible – just wrong. I’m not saying that is or isn’t your view of the law, that was just my impression from reading your response.
JGIG – I view the Law in light of Hebrews 8 (a lot of the rest of Hebrews, too =o)) . . .
1The point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, 2and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by man.
3Every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices, and so it was necessary for this one also to have something to offer. 4If he were on earth, he would not be a priest, for there are already men who offer the gifts prescribed by the law. 5They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: “See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” 6But the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, and it is founded on better promises.
7For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. 8But God found fault with the people and said:
“The time is coming, declares the Lord,
when I will make a new covenant
with the house of Israel
and with the house of Judah.
9It will not be like the covenant
I made with their forefathers
when I took them by the hand
to lead them out of Egypt,
because they did not remain faithful to my covenant,
and I turned away from them, declares the Lord.
10This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel
after that time, declares the Lord.
I will put my laws in their minds
and write them on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
11No longer will a man teach his neighbor,
or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest.
12For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more.”
13By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear.
Those in the HRM put the Law above the work of Christ. They put their primary focus on the Law, and not on Christ. There are some that actually teach that Jesus is Torah incarnate . . . that He, himself is the Law in the flesh (an amazing twisting of John 1). The Law is central to everything they believe, not just the purpose of the Law, and certainly not what Jesus did to bring about the New Covenant.
JJ – My thought was, the Jewish people loved the law – it showed them how much they needed God to be righteous and how to reconcile themselves with God. It showed them how to live lives that pleased Him.
JGIG – Yes and no. Though the Law did show them what they needed to do to reconcile themselves to God and what was pleasing to (also required by) Him, it was like taking a test that they had no possible chance of passing. They could do what they could do . . . then they had to rely on the mercy and grace of God. Those who realized that fact were justified by their faith. Hebrews 11 chronicles this both before and after the giving of the Mosaic Law. Those who strive to keep the Law in the light of the New Covenant put themselves under its curse, according to Paul. If you put yourself under the Law, you subject yourself to the penalty of the Law.
JJ – I know that as a people they did not live that out, but I do think there was as deep love for God’s law. Having said that, the beautiful thing about Christ is that he completed the work of the Law on the cross when he reconciled God’s people with God forever. No more separation! No more animal sacrifices! It’s all done. So, while the law was good, Christ is better.
JGIG – Amen!
JJ – I just wondered if it might help those who presently revere the law to hear, yes, the law was a wonderful gift, but God has more for us. Don’t stop at the Law! Keep going!
JGIG – Re-read my “So What?” post . . . I do talk about how the Law is upheld as the standard. And I do understand the love of the Law . . . for the Jew it is direct revelation from and their connection to YHWH. My view of the Law is not a negative one . . . I just see it relative to Jesus and who He is and what He did. Understand that the HRM view is heavily skewed in that regard, and part of the purpose of the blog is to put the Law and Christ in their proper contexts.
As for Sean, also understand that he IS NOT a Jew . . . So when I speak to him, in particular, I am not minimizing his culture, or his birthright, or his heritage . . . He has learned an inappropriate view of the Law from Rabbinic (and probably Kabbalistic) sources that have no rightful place in determining Christian doctrine. I’m not even minimizing the Law . . . just keeping it in perspective relative to the work of Christ . . . which is where the HRM gets way off track.
When I read Psalm 119 I see the wonderful images of the Law as written on the heart of the believer and the working of the Holy Spirit to bring those things about in the life of a believer. The redeemed heart is where those things progressively take place, not by obedience to the written Law, as the HRM teaches. So the Law that I love is the fleshy written-on-the-redeemed-heart Law rooted in what the Holy Spirit renews in us through the completed work of Jesus Christ, not the do-this-this-way-and-that-that-way Law, which relies on the work of the flesh.
An excerpt from THIS ARTICLE, “Isn’t Grace a Licence to Sin?” clarifies what I think JJ was trying to say and what I was trying to agree with:
To say that the Christian is not under the law is not to insult the law or say that it is bad. For those who lived in the Old Testament period, being a member of God’s Covenant people was an unspeakable blessing. The entire world had sunk into deep spiritual darkness, ignorance, and paganism. But in that world, one nation – Israel – knew the true God. Because they had God’s Word, they knew the truth about God, themselves, right and wrong, and the future. God intended them to be a light in a dark world. The Old Covenant did indeed “come with glory” (2 Corinthians 3:7).
However, “What was glorious [the law] has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory” [of the New Covenant] (2 Corinthians 3:10). Again, to say that we are not under the law is not to downgrade the law; it is to maintain that something better has come!
More specifically, God used the law to manage His chosen people in the centuries before Christ. But ever since the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost, we live in a different age. Rather than managing His people by law, God now wants His people to grow in grace through the leading of the Holy Spirit. This is why Galatians 5:18 says, “If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.” To be “led by the Spirit” means that we Christians have the privilege of walking in a loving, trust relationship with our heavenly Father! His goal is to grow us in grace as a result of our personal relationship with Him, not to “keep us in line” under the law.
It is important that we emphasize what God has provided above and beyond the removal of the law. To release someone from the captivity of law without adding something in its place is like letting a city dog out of his pen. He’ll just take off running as fast as he can to get away. God’s method of releasing us from the law is by replacing it with His indwelling life. Why does a country dog stay near the front door when he has miles of freedom? Because he knows and loves his master! His freedom is not freedom from bondage, but freedom to be with the one he loves.
In the same way, as I grow to know and love Jesus Christ more intimately I find myself experiencing incredible freedom and hardly think about the law at all. The issue is not what I can or cannot do. I am free to know my heavenly Father in an unhindered personal relationship. That’s what I concentrate on. Then through that relationship, God reaches my mind to think His thoughts. When I am wrong, He reasons with me. He doesn’t lock me behind some backyard fence!
People say some of the most thoughtless and foolish things in response to the message of God’s love and grace. “If you teach people that they are totally forgiven,” many say, “then they will go out and sin like the devil.” I reply, “When did the law ever stop people from sinning?” Others ask, “If what you are saying is true, that God accepts us in Christ regardless of our actions, then why shouldn’t I just sin up a storm?” In response to such foolishness I feel like replying, “If that really is your attitude, go ahead. Then in a little while you can come back and tell me why not!”
What questions like these clearly reveal is the slender, meager experience, which the questioner has had of the indwelling abundant life of Jesus Christ. Asking if we should sin because we are under grace is like someone facing an endless cafeteria line and asking permission to go eat out of garbage cans!
God cares about you. There is nothing you can give Him, there is no service you can perform, there is no self-discipline you can apply, that He wants more than He wants you. He wants to reveal Himself and His love to you, and He wants you to grow to love Him in return. This is how we grow in grace.
However, for this to happen, it is essential that we abide in the truth of God’s Word – particularly in those truths, which deal with our total acceptance, forgiveness, righteousness, and life in Jesus Christ. Only by abiding in the truth that Christ has done it all can we have the boldness to approach God and get to know Him in a personal way. If we have a law mentality, it will never happen. We must abide in His grace in order to grow in His grace. [Emphases mine.]
On to the definition and purpose of the Law . . .
Excerpts from Bible.org, (complete article available HERE):
In the Old Testament, the word “law” is used to translated the Hebrew word torah, “instruction.” The Hebrew word for “law” probably comes from the causative form of the verb yarah, “to throw,” “to shoot (arrows).” In the hiphil stem, the verb horah means “to point, guide, instruct, teach.” Hence, the law is that which provides authoritative guidance. In the New Testament, the Greek word used for law is nomos. Nomos means “that which is assigned,” hence, “usage, custom,” and then “law,” or “a rule governing one’s actions.”
The Nature and Content of the Mosaic Law
It is common to divide the Mosaic Law into three parts as illustrated below, but though this is helpful for analysis and the study of the Mosaic Law and the way it functions, such a division is never stated as such in Scripture. Rather it is seen as a unit. Arguments for this will be given below.
- Part 1: The Moral Law or the Ten Commandments. This part of the Law governed the moral life giving guidance to Israel in principles of right and wrong in relation to God and man (Exodus 20:1-17).
- Part 2: The Judgments, or the Social Law. This part of the Law governed Israel in her secular, social, political, and economic life (Exodus 21:1–23:13).
- Part 3: The Ordinances or the Ceremonial Law. This was the religious portion of Law which guided and provided for Israel in her worship and spiritual relationship and fellowship with God. It included the priesthood, tabernacle and sacrifices (Exodus 25:-31: Leviticus).
The Recipients of the Mosaic Law
The Mosaic Law was a bilateral covenant made specifically for Israel alone to govern her life in the promised land. From the Abrahamic Covenant (Gen.12) we see Israel was a chosen nation, an instrument of God to become a channel of blessing to all nations. Yahweh was her Theocratic King who was to rule and guide the nation in her destiny that she might not become polluted or contaminated by other nations and could thus fulfill her purpose. For this the Mosaic Law was instituted to direct Israel as a nation in all spheres of her life—morally, socially, politically, economically and religiously.
The Characteristics of the Mosaic Law
(1) The foundation and basis of the Mosaic Law is the covenant God made with the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. In several places in Exodus and Deuteronomy, there a references to the Abrahamic Covenant which establish the fact that the giving of the Law at Sinai was based on the covenant with Abraham and God’s continuing plan for the nation of Israel as a priesthood nation (cf. Ex. 19:4-6; Deut. 4:4-8 with Ex. 2:24-25; Deut. 4:36-38; 29:31; 1 Chron. 16:15-19). God had promised to bless the descendants of Abraham and through them, the world. This was a promises reiterated and expanded to Abraham and to Isaac and Jacob. God would bless Israel and through them, bring blessing to the world (Gen. 12:1f; 15; 17:1ff; 26:24f; 28:13f). The Abrahamic covenant is a unilateral covenant. Its ultimate fulfillment is dependent on God’s sovereign and steadfast faithfulness to His promises to Abraham regardless of Israel’s continued disobedience (cf. Ezek. 20:1-44).
The Mosaic Covenant, however, was a bilateral covenant. Though its ultimate fulfillment is dependent on God, for any generation to experience the blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant, there had to be faithfulness to God. Thus, enters the Law, a bilateral covenant given to Moses for the nation of Israel after their redemption out of the land of Egypt. It was through obedience to the Mosaic Covenant (the Law) that Israel would be able to experience the blessings of the Abrahamic covenant in the promised land. For obedience there would be blessings; for disobedience, cursing (cf. Deut. 28-30).
(2) The Mosaic Law is holy, good, and spiritual (Rom. 7:12, 14). It was, however, only temporary as the book of Hebrews so clearly teaches. As such, the Mosaic Law was designed to maintain a proper relationship between God and His people Israel (blessing versus cursing), but only until the coming of Messiah and the establishment of a New Covenant. The Law was never designed to be a permanent rule of life. It was merely a tutor or guardian to guide Israel in all areas of her life until Christ (2 Cor. 3:7, 11; Gal. 3:23-24; Rom. 10:4).
(3) The Mosaic Law is weak because it is dependent on man’s ability. It is especially weak when adopted as a system of merit (Rom. 8:3).
(4) The Mosaic Law was an indivisible unit, and is that which was terminated by the Lord Jesus. Though the Law is usually divided into three parts, as described above, it is important to see that it was an indivisible unit. Thus, when Paul stated that we are not under the Law, this included all three parts, including the Ten Commandments. Some will agree that parts of the Old Testament Law have been done away, but assert the Ten Commandments are supposedly still in force today. But all three parts of the Law were designed to function as a unit to guide Israel in all of its life. The Ten Commandments cannot be separated from the rest. Further, even though most recognize this three-fold division, the Jews so numbered all the commands that they approached the Law as a unit. Ryrie notes that,
“…the Jewish people either did not acknowledge it (the three-fold division) or at least did not insist on it. Rather they divided the 613 commandments of the Law into twelve families of commandments which were then subdivided into twelve additional families of positive and twelve additional families of negative commands.”10
Further, that it is a unit is evident by the fact that the recognition of any of its features, i.e., as a meritorious system of righteousness with God, obligates the person to fulfill the entire Law, as we are taught by both Paul and James (cf. Gal. 3:10, 12; 5:3; Jam. 2:8-11).
Further evidence that the Law is a unit is the penalty of death for disobedience is attached to all three parts of the Law.
Noticing the penalties attached to certain commands further emphasizes the unitized character of the Law. When the command to keep the Sabbath (one of the “commandments”) was violated by a man who gathered sticks on that day, the penalty was death by stoning (Num. 15:32-36). When the people of Israel violated the command concerning the Sabbatical Year for the land (one of the “judgments”), God sent them into captivity where many died (Jer. 25:11). When Nadab and Abihu offered strange fire before the Lord (one of the “ordinances”), they immediately died (Lev. 10:1-7). Clearly these commands from various parts of the Law were equally binding and the punishment equally severe. The Law was a unit.11
Finally, three times in 2 Corinthians 3:6-13 Paul declares that the Mosaic system is done away or abolished (vss. 7, 11, 13). In commenting on 2 Corinthians 3:7-13, Chafer wrote:
It is the law as crystallized in the ten commandments which is in view; for that law alone was ‘written and engraven in stones.’ In the midst of the strongest possible contrast between the reign of the teachings of the law and the teachings of grace, it is declared that these commandments were ‘done away’ and ‘abolished.’ It should be recognized that the old was abolished to make place for the new, which far excels in glory. The passing of the law is not, therefore, a loss; it is rather an inestimable gain.”12
(5) The Mosaic Law stands in contrast to the grace of God as now manifested in the coming of Christ (Rom. 6:14; 7:6; 8:3; Gal. 3:12).
The Purpose and Function of the Mosaic Law
The Purpose and Function Explained
What then is the purpose of the Law? Though given to Israel to govern her life in the promise land for blessing instead of cursing, there was an attendant purpose in the giving of the Mosaic Law to Israel—a purpose that still stands today. Simply put, its proper use is to show man his total helpless and hopeless condition before a righteous and just God.
1 Timothy 1:8-10 But we know that the law is good if someone uses it legitimately, 1:9 realizing that law is not intended for a righteous person, but for lawless and rebellious people, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 1:10 sexually immoral, sodomites, kidnappers, liars, perjurers—in fact, for any who live contrary to sound teaching.
In the study of the Bible, there are three specific purposes that surface in the proper use of the Mosaic Law.
(1) In a general sense, it was given to provide a standard of righteousness (Deut. 4:8; Psalm 19:7-9). In the process, the Mosaic Law revealed the righteousness, holiness, and goodness of God (Deut. 4:8; Lev. 11:44-45; 19:2; 20:7; Rom. 7:12-14). The Law at Sinai was given to Israel to reveal who God is and to shed light on the reality of an infinite gulf that separates God from man.
Romans 3:19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world may be held accountable to God.
Romans 3: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
(2) The Law was given to identify sin and reveal man’s sin and bankrupt condition as guilty before God (Rom. 3:19f; 7:7-8; 5:20; Gal. 3:19). God’s holy Law reveals to man just who and what he is—sinful and separated from God by an infinite gulf that he is unable to bridge in his own human strength.
Romans 3:19-20 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 3:20 For no one is declared righteous before him by the works of the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin.
(3) The Law was given to shut man up to faith, i.e., to exclude the works of the Law (or any system of works) as a system of merit for either salvation or sanctification and thereby lead him to Christ as the only means of righteousness (Gal. 3:19-20, 20-24; 1 Tim. 1:8-9; Rom. 3:21-24). The ceremonial portion of the Law did this by pointing to the coming of a suffering Savior, “for without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness” (Heb. 9:22).
Romans 3:21-24 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God, which is attested by the law and the prophets, has been disclosed— 3:22 namely, the righteousness of God through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.3:24 But they are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
Galatians 3:24-26 Thus the law had become our guardian13 until Christ, so that we could be declared righteous by faith. 3:25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian. 3:26 For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God through faith.
Summary: Keeping the Law in the True Sense
By keeping the Law, we are speaking about the true sense as God intended it, not as Israel and man tend to take it. The Ten Commandments showed the Jew his sin (and so all mankind) and that he was shut up under that sin. The Ten Commandments were designed to guide him, indeed to drive him to the Ceremonial Law (the tabernacle, priesthood, and sacrifices) for forgiveness through faith in the sacrifices which pointed to Christ. Then, the Social Law, regulated his life by showing him how to live socially, not to give him merit before God, but to enable him to experience the blessings of the covenant rather than the cursing as God warned in Deuteronomy.
The Limitations of the Mosaic Law
When approached as a meritorious system, the Law cannot justify (Gal. 2:16), give life (Gal. 3:21), give the Holy Spirit (Gal. 3:2, 14), sanctify (Gal. 3:21; 5:5; Rom. 8:3), make perfect, or permanently deal with sin (Heb. 7:19). It was designed to be a temporary guardian until the coming of Christ, the Suffering Messiah Savior.
The Effects of the Mosaic Law
The reasons for the effects listed below lie in the wrong reaction of Israel and people today, i.e., approaching the Law as a system of merit, shifting from a faith basis to a works basis (Exodus 19:8; Rom. 10:3). People often try to use the Law as a means of establishing their own standing before God. But Scripture emphatically teaches us that the Law brings a curse (Gal. 3:10-12), brings death, it is a killer (2 Cor. 3:6-7; Rom. 7:9-10), brings condemnation (2 Cor. 3:9), makes offenses abound (Rom. 5:10; 7:7-13), declares all men guilty (Rom. 3:19), and holds men in bondage to sin and death (Gal. 4:3-5, 9, 24; Rom. 7:10-14). This is because man in his sinful state can never fulfill the righteousness of the Law, especially in the spirit of the Law. He always falls short as Romans 3:23 tells us, and becomes condemned or guilty before a Holy God (Rom. 3:19).
The End of the Mosaic Law as a Rule of Life
The Fact Established
Several passages of Scripture clearly establish that the coming of Christ has brought an end to the Mosaic Law. Paul specifically states that “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Rom. 10:4). This instituted a new law or principle of life, i.e., the law of the Spirit, the one of liberty and grace (Rom. 8:2, 13). This fact was also clearly settled by the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15. A council was convened in the church at Jerusalem to look into the issue of the Law and its place in the life of believers because some were saying “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved,” and because even certain of the Pharisees who had believed were also saying “It is necessary to circumcise the Gentiles and to order them to observe the law of Moses.” The conclusion of the council, consisting of apostles and elders, was to reject the concept of placing New Testament believers under the yoke of the Law (15:6-11). The only thing the Jerusalem Council asked was that Gentile believers control their liberty in matters that might be offensive to Jewish believers, but they did not seek to place the believers under the yoke of the Law for they realized the Law had come to an end.
Finally, the book of Hebrews demonstrates that the old covenant of the Mosaic Law was only temporary and has been replaced by the coming of Christ whose ministry is based on (1) a better priesthood, one after the order of Melchizedek which is superior to Aaron’s, and (2) a better covenant with better promises (see Heb. 7-10). The old covenant was only a shadow of heavenly things, and if it had been able to make men perfect before God there would have been no occasion for a second or new covenant (see Heb. 7:11-12; 8:1-13). This change in the priesthood also necessitates a change in the Law. Such a change shows the Law has been terminated or done away.
The Problem of Mosaic Laws as Commands for New Testament Believers
A careful reading of the New Testament shows us that nine of the Ten Commandments are repeated as obligations for believers. The one exception is the command to keep the Sabbath. If the Mosaic Law has been done away, then why are these commandments repeated in the New Testament? Further, some commandments outside the Ten Commandments are even repeated in the New Testament. For instance, as a motivation for loving others, Paul referred to four of the Ten Commandments because they demonstrate this principle, but then, to summarize, he mentioned one from Leviticus 19:18, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” So in what sense has the Law been done away?
Part of the purpose of the Law was to point men to the coming Savior through its shadows and types. Through the moral law, man could see God’s holy character as well as his own sinfulness and the infinite gulf that separates God and man. Through the ceremonial part of the Law (the priesthood, sacrifices, and tabernacle), man could find the solution to his sin by faith in what this part of the Law represented, a suffering Savior, one who would die as the Lamb of God. But even though no one could perfectly keep the Law, it was also designed for Israel’s immediate blessing by setting forth righteous principles that would show them how to love God and their fellow man. This would produce a stable and secure society as well as a testimony to the nations (Deut. 4:6-8).
Thus, in 613 commands the Mosaic Law represented an ethical code given by God to Israel to govern the nation until the coming of Messiah, but at their heart, they represented the moral law of God—righteous principles vital to humanity. Today, we are not under this code, but many of its righteous principles, the eternal laws of God, have been carried over and are part of the law of the Spirit of life in Christ (Rom. 8:2) or the law of Christ (1 Cor. 9:21; Gal. 6:2). In this, some of the former commands are carried over (Rom. 13:9), some new commands and guidelines are added (Eph. 4:11f; 1 Tim. 3:1f; 4:4), and some have been revised, as in the case of capitol punishment which is to be exercised by human government (Rom. 13:4).
It needs to be emphasized that the end of the Mosaic law, including the Ten Commandments, does not cancel or detract one iota from the eternal moral law of God. The moral principles of the ten laws did not begin with Sinai but are as eternal and immutable as the character of God. To understand this should dispel the fears of those who think the abolition of the Mosaic law leaves only a state of lawlessness.
The moral principles embodied in the law of Moses Paul calls “the righteousness of the law” (Rom 8:4), and shows that such principles are the goal of the Spirit-directed life in the same context in which he teaches the believer is not under the Mosaic law (Rom 6—8).
This should be no more difficult to understand than the fact that a citizen of the United States is not under the laws of Canada, even though the moral principles underlying the laws of the two countries are the same. When a citizen of the United States becomes a citizen of Canada he does not remain under ten of the best laws of the United States. Nor does the fact that some of the laws of the United States are quite similar to some of the laws of Canada confuse or compromise his new exclusive responsibility to Canada. So the believing Jew of the first century moved entirely from the Mosaic economy of law into the new economy of grace instituted by Jesus Christ (John 1:17).14
The Lawful Use of the Mosaic Law
The Law is still good from the standpoint of its main function and purpose as seen above in The Purpose and Function of the Law (1 Tim. 1:8-10; James 2:1-10; Gal. 5:1-3; 6:1). This is how James uses the Law, to reveal sin (James 2:9), to get believers out of self-righteous legalism, and move them into a walk by faith in a living Savior.
The Relationship of New Testament Believers to the Mosaic Law
1. He is never saved by keeping the Law (Gal. 2:21).
2. He is not under the Law as a rule of life, i.e., sacrifice, Sabbath keeping, tithing (Rev. 6:14; Acts 15:5, 24).
3. Thus, he does not walk by the Law but by the Spirit, which is the new law for the New Testament saint (Rom. 8:4; Gal. 5:5). This is law of liberty through faith in the power of God.
4. He is dead to the Law (Rom. 7:1-6; Gal. 2:19) by virtue of his union with Jesus Christ who fulfilled the Law.
5. He is to fulfill the righteousness of the Law, i.e., the spirit of the law as seen in Christ’s words in Matthew 10:37-40 love for God, and love for one’s neighbor (James 2:9). But this can only be fulfilled through a knowledge of Bible truth and the filling of the Holy Spirit, which furnishes the power or ability needed to live the Christian life according to the eternal moral law of God. So we are under God’s new law, the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:2-4).
Christ, the Fulfillment of the Mosaic Law
Christ fulfilled the Ten Commandments by living a perfect and sinless life. Thus, when man trusts in Christ, Christ’s righteousness is imputed to that individual so we have justification. We have Christ’s righteousness so the Law can’t condemn us (Rom. 8:1; 7:1-6; Rom. 5:1; 4:4-8).
Christ fulfilled the ceremonial ordinances, the shadows and types of His person and work, by dying on the cross for us and in our place. This showed that God was also perfect justice and sin must be judged, but God provided His Son, the precious Lamb of God. The penalty which the Law exercised was paid. Again there is no condemnation because the believer is “in Christ” (Col. 2:14; Rom. 3:24-25).
Christ also fulfilled the Social Law, but now He replaces it with a new way of life fitting to our new salvation. He gives provision for the inner man—the indwelling Holy Spirit—who enables us to experience true sanctification so that we may experience also the righteousness of the Law (Rom. 8:2-4).
1. Christ is the end of the Law and believers are not under the Mosaic Law. New Testament believers are not under Law but under grace (Rom. 6:14).
2. Since the Lord Jesus Christ fulfills the Law by His person and work, believers are under a new law; the obligation to walk by the Spirit of Life through faith (Rom. 8:2-4). If we are led by the Spirit, then we are not under the Law (Gal. 5:18).
3. Against such, i.e., the fruit of the Spirit, there is no law because the believer is then operating under the highest law, the standards are met as we walk by the Holy Spirit and grow in the Word (Gal. 5:22).
Warning Against Entanglements with the Law as Believers Today
After salvation by grace there has always been the grave danger of reverting to Law or legalism by taboos and tactics of coercion, or some form of human manipulation (Gal. 3:1-3). To go back to the Law as a way of life puts one under the control of the flesh, it nullifies true spirituality by faith in the Holy Spirit, and defeats the believer. It results in human good and domination by the sin nature or the flesh (Gal. 5:1-5; Col. 2:14f). The fact that the Christian is not under the Mosaic Law does not mean, of course, that there is lawlessness or no proper sense of morality or ethics in the Christian life. Quite the contrary is true. But in dealing with the subject of morality or ethics, it must be understood that the clear teaching of the New Testament is that the moral life the Christian is responsible for is that (1) no one can be saved by virtue of his own works (Tit. 3:5; Eph. 2:8-9), and (2) that the morality of the Christian life is to be the result of the Christ exchanged life by faith and submission to the ministry and power of a Spirit-controlled life.
The Threefold Duties of the New Testament Believer
In the New Testament, then, completely adequate teaching is provided as to the principles of conduct the Christian will follow if he truly presents his body “a living sacrifice” (Rom 12:1) and walks “in the Spirit” (Eph 5:9). In Titus 2:11-14 is to be found a convenient outline around which to group these principles. First in this passage it is majestically stated that God’s grace brings us salvation. But His grace then teaches us to live soberly, righteously and godly. These are three important lines of responsibility: the believer is to live soberly with regard to himself (Rom 12:3); righteously with regard to his fellow men; and godly with regard to the Lord. The same truth can be more or less expressed in a somewhat different way: We should seek to live in accordance with the precepts of grace because (1) this will please God (Heb 13:16) and will demonstrate our love for Christ (John 14:15); (2) it will help others (Matt 5:16; Titus 3:8,14); (3) it will bring true joy and blessing to our own hearts (John 15:10-11). 15