S P R I N G • 2 0 1 6
VOLUME 17, ISSUE 1
Dale Ratzlaff is the founder of Life Assurance Ministries, Inc., and owns LAM Publications, LLC. He served as an Adventist pastor for 13 years, seven at Monterey Bay Academy where he taught Bible. He and his wife Carolyn left the Adventist church in 1981 when he realized he could no longer teach the investigative judgment in clear conscience. He has authored several books on Adventism that are available through his website, LifeAssuranceMinistries.com. The Ratzlaffs reside in Camp Verde, Arizona.
As Peter prophesied in 2 Peter 2:1, there are many “destructive heresies” invading the Christian church. Some are secretly deceptive, and some are boldly confrontive. In this article I will give an introduction to one of these heresies—the Hebrew Roots Movement (HRM). I will list the main assumptions and teachings upon which this movement is based and do an overview evaluation of these teachings.
The Hebrew Roots Movement is growing
Rico Cortes, a former minor league baseball player and scout for the Chicago White Sox, was raised in a Christian community in Puerto Rico. In the 1990s, however, he began “searching his roots” and found out he was a descendant of medieval Spanish Jews. His reaction was anything but predictable.
“When I kept reading the Bible, [Jesus] kept Shabbat, he ate kosher, he kept the faith,” says Cortes. He found himself thinking, “Wait a minute—what’s going on? How come we don’t do what he did? It’s hypocritical.”1
Cortes, 47, decided that the best way to understand the Torah is to “really live it.… It’s the only way.” So he became a self-described “Torah-observant believer in Yeshua,” or member of the Hebrew Roots Movement.
They don’t identify as Christian because they see contemporary Christians as heavily influenced by pagan culture. Now Cortes studies Torah six to seven hours a day and teaches full time. He is also the founder of the popular Wisdom in Torah ministry, which is mainly online.
He says he has followers from more than 130 countries, and he is invited to speak to Hebrew Roots communities all over the world. In the next few months he will travel to Colombia, South Africa, Canada, Costa Rica and multiple cities in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. He recently led a prayer session of 500 followers in China, held in a school gym.2
I believe there is real spiritual danger in the HRM. I have read materials from several different leaders in the HRM, the notes in the Aramaic English New Testament (AENT), and have had conversations by emails and phone with two of these leaders. Without an understanding of the new covenant gospel, biblical hermeneutics, and at least some understanding of the discipline and rules of textual criticism,3 it would be quite easy for one to get swept into this movement. Because it is so easy to be deceived by this movement, I want to share with Proclamation! my reasons for rejecting the HRM.
Because the HRM has no centralized organization, it is hard to evaluate it as a movement. In fact, through my reading and conversations with those in the HRM, I have learned unequivocally that it is a movement of individuals and groups without central leadership.4 Thus, because of the independence of individual congregations, it is hard to establish a universal set of doctrines or beliefs. Nevertheless, I perceive, based on my reading and conversations, that the following are the foundational assumptions and teachings of the HRM regardless of individual variations in detail from group to group. In fact, I encourage you to read the footnotes in addition to the text of this article because some contain important information in addition to source citations.
Hebrew Roots Movement teachings and assumptions
1. The underlying assumption for the HRM is that the New Testament (yes, all the books) were originally written in Aramaic. In fact, the HRM teaches that early in the history of the church, the Greek Christians, influenced by Greek paganism, translated the original Aramaic manuscripts into Greek. Therefore, one cannot trust modern Bibles, as they are based on the Greek text and do not reflect the pure teachings of the authors. Instead, the HRM says, readers should go to the early versions of the New Testament which are in Aramaic.5 The HRM recommends the Aramaic English New Testament (AENT) which is a diglot (Aramaic and English side by side). At the end of the AENT there are about 300 pages of highly biased (in my opinion) notes supporting the HRM. In fact, the whole HRM rests on this one assumption—that the New Testament was originally written in Aramaic. Again, the arguments for this assumption are quite compelling for those who do not understand textual criticism, hermeneutics, and the biblical covenants.
2. We are saved by faith in Christ, but true believers will honor and follow the Torah.6 The focus of the movement’s authority, study, and teaching is the Torah, not the New Testament.7 This belief is the second most important teaching of the HRM.
3. There is no “new” covenant in Hebrews 8, 9, or anywhere else in the Bible. Instead, they say there is a “renewed” covenant in which the laws of Torah are written on the heart.8
4. It is important to use the sacred (Hebrew/Aramaic) names of God (Yahweh or Elohim), Christ (Y’shua, Yahushuah), The Holy Spirit (Ruach he Kodesh).9 Some teach that the Holy Spirit is a feminine member of the Heavenly Family.10 Similarly, one must use the Aramaic names for NT authors such as Paul (Sha’ul) and John (Yochanan).11
5. One must keep all the Sabbaths and feasts of Torah.12
6. Sunday-keeping is the mark of the beast.13 This belief is true at least for the many former “Completed Adventists” who have joined this movement.
7. The HRM pits Jesus against Paul. The words of Jesus regarding law are more important than the teachings of Paul.14
8. Matthew 5:17-19 is a key text in the HRM: “Y’suhua at no time ‘loosened’ either the Torah or the Prophets!”15
9. The holidays of Christmas and Easter are pagan and should be rejected. Rather, Christians should keep all the celebrations of Torah.16
10. Some HRM leaders follow the teachings of the late Roger Morneau, a Seventh-day Adventist who was involved in “an elite group of Luciferian/demon worshippers in Montreal in the 1940s”17 (please read this footnote).
11. Men should wear beards. 18
12. Some in the HRM stress abstaining from coffee and tobacco and link the use of these addictive things to demon possession.19
Was the New Testament written in Aramaic?
First we will look at four of the main claims of the HRM to support their position that Aramaic, not Greek, was the original language of the New Testament. Then we will show why we believe this argument is unsupportable.
The HRM claims:
1. There is some evidence from early church fathers that Matthew20 and Hebrews21 may have first been written in Aramaic. However, very recent evidence, which will be listed later, supports the understanding that Matthew wrote his gospel in Greek and also wrote it in Hebrew.
2. Some argue that the wording in some of the Greek manuscripts (MSS) appears to reflect Aramaic wording behind it.
3. The HRM claims that Jesus and the disciples spoke Aramaic as their native language and would have written in it.
4. One of the church fathers stated that he had seen (or heard) evidence that the Hebrew text of Matthew did not quote the Old Testament references from the Greek Septuagint translation of the Old Testament, but from the ancient Hebrew.22
I have encountered no evidence that any other New Testament books were first written in Aramaic. Moreover, all the earliest MSS are in Greek. In fact, the earliest full Greek MSS of the New Testament are from the fourth century with hundreds of earlier fragments, whereas the earliest MSS of the Aramaic New Testament are from the fifth century.
New Testament was written in Greek
There is good evidence to support that not only the apostles but Jesus Himself were fluent in Greek. Consider the following: In Biblical Archaeological Review, Pieter W. Van Der Horst states “that no less than 1,600 Jewish epitaphs—funerary inscriptions—are extant from ancient Palestine dating from 300 B.C. to 500 A.D.
Van Der Horst goes on (emphases his):
One of the most surprising facts about these funerary inscriptions is that most of them are IN GREEK—approximately 70 percent; about 12 percent are in Latin; and only 18 percent are in Hebrew or Aramaic.
These figures are even more instructive if we break them down between Palestine and the Diaspora. Naturally in Palestine we would expect more Hebrew and Aramaic and less Greek. This is true, but not to any great extent. Even in Palestine approximately TWO-THIRDS of these inscriptions are in Greek.
Apparently for a great part of the Jewish population, the daily language was Greek, even in Palestine. This is impressive testimony to the impact of Hellenistic culture on Jews in their mother country, to say nothing of the Diaspora.
In Jerusalem itself about 40 PERCENT of the Jewish inscriptions from the first century period (before 70 C.E.) ARE IN GREEK.
Greek was in widespread use in the Roman Empire before 4 BC and was widespread in use in Palestine at that time.23
What about Jesus and the apostles? Did they, too, commonly speak Greek as a second language? The answer is almost certainly yes.
Evidence that Jesus could speak Greek
All four Gospels depict Jesus conversing with Pontius Pilate, the Roman prefect of Judea, at the time of his trial (Mk. 15;2-5; Mt. 27:11-14; Lk. 23:3; Jn. 18:33- 38). Even if we allow for obvious literary embellishment of these accounts, there can be little doubt that Jesus and Pilate did engage in some kind of conversation…In what language did Jesus and Pilate converse? There is no mention of an interpreter. Since there is little likelihood that Pilate, a Roman, would have been able to speak either Aramaic or Hebrew, the obvious answer is that JESUS SPOKE GREEK at his trial before Pilate.24
Jesus’ father was a businessman, with recent scholarship indicating he may have been a stone mason:
Given that Israel’s buildings were constructed of stones and rocks, Jesus likely worked as a stonemason rather than a carpenter. He probably spent hours helping his father shape and cut stones.25
In any event, the language of business in that area and time was mostly Greek. It is not hard to believe that Jesus was introduced to the Greek language in His youth. Furthermore, Nazareth was a town in Galilee, much closer to gentile regions than was Judea.
In his ministry Jesus often used the word, “hypocrite,” in describing the Pharisees and Sadducees as in Matthew 23. This comes from the Greek word hypokrites, (ὑποκριταί). This is a compound word with the Greek preposition hypo for “under” and krites, meaning “judgment.” This form is wholly lacking in Semitic languages. The word hypokrites basically means, “one who answers” (i.e., one who always has an answer, or excuse), but came to mean over time not only “expounder” or “interpreter,” but “orator,” “actor,” “stage actor,” or one who spoke from behind a dramatic mask on stage. From this it came to mean “pretender,” “dissembler.” But this Greek word, so familiar in the denunciations of Christ, has no counterpart in Hebrew or Aramaic.26
In Mark 7:24-30 we have the record of a Gentile woman of the Syrophoenician race who kept asking Jesus to cast the demon out of her daughter. They communicated in several sentences with no indication of an interpreter, thus lending supportive evidence that Jesus spoke Greek.
In John 12:20-23 we have this record:
Now there were some Greeks among those who were going up to worship at the feast; these then came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and began to ask him, saying, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip came and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip came and told Jesus. And Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.”
From this we can infer that Philip knew Greek and probably communicated in Greek at least some of the time in Jesus’ disciple group. We can also infer that Jesus spoke with these Greeks who were seeking Him.
Another incident that implies Jesus spoke Greek we find in Matthew 8:8-13.
But the centurion said, “Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.” Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled and said to those who were following, “Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel. “I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” And Jesus said to the centurion, “Go; it shall be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed that very moment.
The majority of the Old Testament quotes used by Jesus in the Gospels are loosely quoted from the Greek Septuagint, not the old Hebrew.
Of the places where the New Testament quotes the Old, the great majority is from the Septuagint version. Protestant authors Archer and Chirichigno list 340 places where the New Testament cites the Septuagint but only 33 places where it cites from the Masoretic Text rather than the Septuagint…
But, since you ask, here is an example where the Greek gospels present Jesus as quoting the Septuagint: In Mark 7:6–7, Jesus quotes the LXX of Isaiah 29:13 when he says, “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; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’”27
There is evidence that when Jesus was quoting Old Testament passages, he often quoted from the Greek translation, the Septuagint.28
Considering the evidence listed above, it seems very likely, if not a certainty, that Jesus spoke both Aramaic and Greek.
The Apostles were given the gift of tongues
The account of the Pentecostal outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost is very insightful and has direct application to the issue of whether or not the disciples were capable of writing their gospels in Greek.
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance. Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the crowd came together, and were bewildered because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language. They were amazed and astonished, saying, “Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born?” Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya around Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs— we hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God. (Acts 2:4-11, my emphasis).
If the Holy Spirit could help these apostles, some of whom were unlearned fisherman, speak clearly the mighty deeds of God in the languages of peoples listed above, is it too much to conclude that they could also write fluently the mighty deeds of God in the same languages?
Accuracy of modern literal Bibles
There are thousands more New Testament Greek manuscripts than there are for any other ancient writing. Moreover, the internal consistency of the New Testament documents is about 99.5% textually pure. In addition, there are 19,000 New Testament manuscripts in languages besides Greek: Syriac, Latin, Coptic, and Aramaic. In fact, the total supporting New Testament manuscript base is over 24,000.29
There is a recent discovery of a very early fragment from Mark’s gospel in Greek. One scholar says this about the fragment:
…But, if this Mark fragment is confirmed as from the first century, what a thrill it will be to have a manuscript that is dated within the lifetime of many of the eyewitnesses to Jesus’ resurrection!30
In addition, a recently-found fragment of the book of Matthew has elicited this comment from A. W. Argyle, “We may have direct access to the original utterances of our Lord and not only to a translation of them.” Others’ comments follow:
The London Times reported that the evidence on an early form of writing paper was a potentially “important breakthrough in biblical scholarship, on a level with the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947”.31
But earlier this year, Thiede visited Oxford and inspected the papyrus. He concluded, “The Magdalen fragment now appears to belong to a style of handwriting that was current in the 1st Century A.D., and that slowly petered out around the mid-1st Century. Even a hesitant approach to questions of dating would therefore seem to justify a date in the 1st Century, about 100 years earlier than previously thought.”
The lines on the fragments are from Matthew 26 and include the oldest written reference to Mary Magdalene and the betrayal of Christ by Judas. This fragment, written soon after the death of Christ, in the first century, is written in the Greek language, putting in the trash compacter once and for all the notion that the apostles did not speak or write Greek!32 (My emphasis).
The Magdalene fragment from the Gospel of Matthew has been identified as coming from a document dated to the middle of the first century A.D.—during the very lives of the apostles! This fragment is written in GREEK, and could even be a fragment from an original monograph written by the apostle Matthew himself! This amazing new discovery is powerful evidence, obviously, that the writer, evidently the apostle Matthew, was very familiar with the Greek language and was capable of writing intelligently in it.33
Given the evidence available, we can draw the following conclusions about the language of the New Testament manuscripts:
1. The Greek language was widely used in Palestine during the life of Christ and the apostles. It was the language of business and commerce.
2. The Apostles were given the gift of tongues and could accurately speak in other languages, including Greek. There is good reason to believe this same gift equipped them to write accurately the mighty deeds of God in their gospel accounts using the Greek language.
3. Jesus and the apostles likely spoke both Aramaic and Greek.
4. In the New Testament the majority of quotations from the Old Testament are from the Septuagint Greek translation, not from the Hebrew Masoretic text.
5. All the earliest extant fragments of the New Testament are in Greek, including the recent fragment of Mark and the one from Matthew which could actually have been written by the Apostle Matthew.
Should Christians focus on the Torah?
Now we turn to the second most important assumption supporting the HRM: focusing on the Torah. As noted in the opening story, Rico Cortes spends six to seven hours a day studying the Torah. While all Scripture is God-breathed and “is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16), studying in context with a correct hermeneutic is mandatory in order to rightly divide the word of truth. Is Cortes’s focus on the Torah the correct focus for the Christian? Our study of an important text in John will help us answer this question.
John 5:45-47 states that we will be judged by Moses. Doesn’t this mean that we ought to honor and keep all the laws, judgments and statutes of the Torah as the Hebrew Roots Movement teaches? They say “Yes”. I say “No!”
John 5:45-47 reads as follows:
Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; the one who accuses you is Moses, in whom you have set your hope. For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote of Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words? (Jn. 5:45-47).
This verse carries more insight than it might first appear. It is obvious that Jesus is holding up Moses, not as Savior, but as Judge. Therefore, the opening question is valid. Are we, along with the Jews of Christ’s day, going to be judged by the writings of Moses, the Torah? If so, then we need to embrace these as our authority as the HRM recommends.
In John 5, Moses is pictured as a present accuser for those who did not believe his writings. To what part of the writings of Moses did Jesus refer when He said, “The one who accuses you is Moses,” and “he wrote of Me”? What part of the Torah would accuse the strict law-keeping Jews to whom Jesus was speaking?
Deuteronomy 18:15-19 indicts the unbelieving Jews:
The LORD your God will raise up for you [Israel] a prophet like me [Moses] from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him….I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And it shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him (my emphasis).
The New Testament writings show that Jesus understood that He was this “Prophet”.34 Several times in the gospels, the people inquired if Jesus was “The Prophet”35 or proclaimed Him to be “The Prophet” of whom Moses spoke.36 Peter, in his sermon to the people after the healing of the crippled man at the gate of the temple, applied this passage from Deuteronomy to Christ:
But the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ should suffer, He has thus fulfilled….Moses said, The Lord God shall raise up for you a prophet like me from your brethren; to Him you shall give heed in everything He says to you. And it shall be that every soul that does not heed that prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people (Act. 3:18, 22-23, my emphasis).
In quoting this passage, author Luke drew from the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament Hebrew Scriptures, and this quotation is evidence that Luke wrote in Greek, not Aramaic. Moreover, notice that in context it is not laws, curses, or commands that Moses delivered in the Torah that accuse the listeners of Jesus. Rather, Moses’ condemning words were that the Prophet would come speak to them, and it would be what this Prophet would say that would be required of them. In other words, if they did not heed every word of the promised Prophet, they would be destroyed.
Comparing John 5:45-47 with Deuteronomy 18:15-19 leads us to a greater understanding of what is required of the Christian. It also provides some insight into why the Hebrew Roots Movement has the wrong focus. If we have interpreted the verses correctly then there ought to be plenty of evidence from the gospels regarding the sayings of Christ. The following passages37 show beyond a shadow of doubt that it is the sayings of Christ to which Christians will be held accountable and not the laws, judgments, and statutes of the Torah.
Read again the salient part of the Deuteronomy passage below and then note the many parallels in the sayings of Jesus that follow.
I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And it shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him.
“I will put My words in his mouth.”
Jesus therefore said, when you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me” (Jn. 8:28).
For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me commandment, what to say, and what to speak (Jn. 12:49).
And I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me (Jn. 12:50).
Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works (Jn. 14:10).
The word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me (Jn. 14:24).
“Whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him.”
For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels (Mk. 8:38; Lk. 9:26).
But the one who has heard, and has not acted accordingly, is like a man who built a house upon the ground without any foundation; and the torrent burst against it and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of that house was great (Lk 6:49).
He who rejects Me, and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day (Jn. 12:48).
He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me (Jn. 14:23-24).
He who does not love Me does not keep My words (Jn. 14:24).
Reward for those who listen and keep Christ’s words
Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words shall not pass away (Mt. 24:35; Mk. 13:31; Lk. 21:33).
Everyone who comes to Me, and hears My words, and acts upon them, I will show you whom he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation upon the rock; and when a flood rose, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built (Lk 6:47).
Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death (Jn. 8:51).
Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life” (Jn. 6:68).
Remember the word that I said to you, “A slave is not greater than his master.” If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also (Jn. 15:20).
Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make Our abode with him.
Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life (Jn. 5:24).
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God (Jn. 3:5).
It is beyond the scope of this little study to cover all the sayings and words of Jesus. Nevertheless, John lists 26 occurrences where Jesus says, “Truly, Truly I say unto you”. The above references show clearly that it is the words and sayings of Jesus to which we are to be accountable.
You are My friends, if you do what I command you….This I command you, that you love one another (Jn. 15:14-17).
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. (Joh 13:34).
And by this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked. Beloved, I am not writing a new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning;38 the old commandment is the word which you have heard.39 On the other hand, I am writing a new commandment to you, which is true in Him40 and in you,41 because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining. The one who says he is in the light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. The one who loves his brother abides in the light and there is no cause for stumbling in him (1 Jn. 2:3-10).
Reviewing once again the key passage from Deuteronomy 18 will lead us to the summary of our findings.
I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And it shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him.
The commandments in the writings of John can best be defined as a summary of the words and sayings of Jesus. We keep His commandments by listening to and following the words and sayings of Jesus. They do not point us back to the Torah; rather, they reveal the Lord Jesus as the One who fulfilled the Torah. Furthermore, in Paul’s writings these same words and sayings are called the “law of Christ”.
To those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, that I might win those who are without law (1 Cor. 9:21).
Bear one another’s burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ (Gal. 6:2).
The gospel of John was written so that his readers would believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing, they would have life in His name.42
John uses the word “law” (νόμος) 13 times in his gospel. Yet never once in this gospel are Christians directed to keep or focus on old covenant law or the Torah. John uses the words, “your law” (in reference to the Jews) three times; “Their law” once, but never “our law”. Rather, throughout John’s gospel it is belief and trust in the sayings, words, teachings and person of Jesus that determine salvation, eternal life, fellowship with God, being judged righteous, and all the many blessings associated with being a Christian.
In his gospel, John uses “commandment” six times and “commandments” four times, but never once do these commandments refer to the Ten Commandments or any other laws in the Torah. Rather, these words always refer either to the commandments that the Father gave specifically and only to Jesus or the commandment to love.
On the Mount of Transfiguration, Peter tried to place Jesus on the same level as Moses and Elijah, representatives from the Law and Prophets, yet the Father would have none of it:
And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. And Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and behold, a voice out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!” And when the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were much afraid. And Jesus came to them and touched them and said, “Arise, and do not be afraid.” And lifting up their eyes, they saw no one, except Jesus Himself alone (Mt. 17:2-8).
If we believe that God watched over His written revelation given to the apostles, one must reject the fundamental assumption of the HRM. Instead of our modern Bibles being untrustworthy and corrupted by Greek paganism, they are about 99.5 percent accurate in every detail compared to the oldest Greek manuscripts.
The writers of the New Testament are united in teaching that Christ and His gospel of grace are to be the focus of the believer. With Jesus came a major shift in salvation history.
The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John; since then the gospel of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it (Lk. 16:16).
Christians are not judged by the laws, statutes, and judgments of Torah but by the complete atonement provided on the cross by the Perfect Sacrifice and Substitute.
The Torah was a shadow pointing toward Jesus; now the Reality has come, and we live eternally only in Him. He has fulfilled the law. †
Copyright 2016 Life Assurance Ministries, Inc., Camp Verde, Arizona, USA. All rights reserved. Revised June 7, 2016. Contact email: email@example.com