Legalism vs Torah
Paul's letters in the New Testament contain a peculiar phrase that only he uses: "under the law" (Greek: "upo nomon"). There are many instances of the use of the word "law" throughout the New Testament but when the word "under" is placed in conjunction with it, it seems that Paul is pointing out a very particular and distinctive concept that maybe hasn't been appreciated by Christian readers. There is also another phrase that is only found in Paul's writings: "works/deeds of the law" (Greek: "erga nomou"). Again, the word translated as "works" coupled with the word "law" narrows the focus of the passage to one particular area. In all instances, these phrases are talking about a wrong understanding of the law that leads to legalism and not about the law itself. Paul never says the law is bad, on the contrary, but does speak negatively about a perverted, mechanical, legalistic viewpoint that is works-based and without trust in God. Paul was confronted with these concepts and was concerned enough about them that he took quite a bit of time to address them and even coined both these phrases to help explain a specific problem faced by the early church. Unfortunately, today's church doesn't seem to have taken any of this to heart; the vast majority of Christians nowadays would tell you that the law has been thrown away and does not apply to them at all. But Paul's main thrust was not talking about doing away with the law (heaven forbid!) but doing away with a legalistic interpretation of it.
Now, before we go any further we'd like to encourage everyone who is interested in getting a thorough grasp of this subject to go out and buy David H. Stern's Jewish New Testament (JNT) (1) and Jewish New Testament Commentary (2). If we could we would just reproduce his Commentary entries on Galatians 3:23b , 2:16b and Romans 3:20b but seeing we can't do that, you're stuck with our feeble attempt at trying to grapple with such an important subject. We are indebted to Mr. Stern's monumental work as the main reference source for this article and for piquing our curiosity enough to get us to study this subject in-depth ourselves in the first place.
Back to the main topic: Paul uses both "under the law" (3) and "works/deeds of the law" (4) to point to a view of the law that is less than ideal. If Paul wanted to speak about a proper understanding of the law (Torah) he uses words like "in law" (Greek: "en nomo") (5) and something to the effect of "en-lawed" (Greek: "ennomos") (6) but interpreters have usually just lumped all these phrases together without bringing the subtle differences to light. Are we splitting hairs? We don't think so, for how do you reconcile Paul's Torah observant life with instances where it looks like he's denigrating the law? For instance Paul: conceded to circumcise Timothy before taking him along in his travels (7); taught in the synagogue on the Sabbath (8); shaved his head because of the Nazarite vow he had taken (9); tried at all costs to be in Jerusalem to celebrate Pentecost (10); was falsely accused, according to church elders, of teaching Jews not to circumcise their children and of not following Jewish traditions (11); was upset that he had spoken evil of a ruler of the Jews (12); defended himself against charges that he had offended Jewish law (13) or customs of "the fathers" (14); still fasted on the Day of Atonement (15); and stated that faith establishes the law (16) all in accordance with some aspect of Torah. So the question is, what parts of the law as understood by the people were considered improper? That's where his coined phrases come into play. He makes a clear distinction between a right understanding of the law and an improper one but in most translations this contrast has not been emphasized as it should.
Paul never speaks of throwing out the law but only throwing out a set of rules that have been set up so that if you follow them step-by-step you will automatically have to be reconciled to God because of your own efforts. This cannot be for nowhere in this system is found faith which is necessary to be declared righteous before Him. Without the re-interpretation of such phrases concerning the law, this will never come out and will never be properly dealt with. It's not that Paul hadn't addressed the issue, it's just that we've all pretty much taken the stance that all these phrases mean the same thing. The Christian world needs to take the time to re-assess these passages and produce a work that clears things up for the average student. We need to change the Christian mindset that says the Torah is somehow inferior to Christ and is therefore considered "bad" and should be ignoredthe improper use of the law needs to be clearly separated from the proper.
The idea that these phrases need to be made more specific is not new but it hasn't gained any momentum in Christian circles. Mr. Stern quotes from "two distinguished Gentile Christian scholars without any Messianic Jewish axe to grind" who came to the same conclusion, one as far back as 1921:"...it will be well to bear in mind the fact that the Greek language of Paul's day possessed no word-group corresponding to our 'legalism,' 'legalist' and 'legalistic.' This means that he lacked a convenient terminology for expressing a vital distinction, and so was surely seriously hampered in the work of clarifying the Christian position with regard to the law. In view of this, we should always, we think, be ready to reckon with the possibility that Pauline statements which at first sight seem to disparage the law, were really directed not against the law itself but against that misunderstanding and misuse of it for which we now have a convenient terminology. In this very difficult terrain Paul was pioneering. If we make due allowance for these circumstances, we shall not be so easily baffled or misled by a certain impreciseness of statement which we shall sometimes encounter." (C.E.B Cranfield, The International Critical Commentary, Romans, 1979, p. 853). (17)and"Nomou is here evidently used... in its legalistic sense, denoting divine law viewed as a purely legalistic system made up of statutes, on the basis of obedience or disobedience to which men are approved or condemned as a matter of debt without grace. This is divine law as the legalist defined it. In the apostle's thought it stands for a reality only in that it constitutes a single element of the divine law detached from all other elements and aspects of divine revelation; by such detachment it misrepresents the will of God and his real attitude towards men. By erga nomou Paul means deeds of obedience to formal statutes done in the legalistic spirit, with the expectation of thereby meriting and securing divine approval and award, such obedience, in other words, as the legalists rendered to the law of the Old Testament as expanded and interpreted by them. Though nomos in this sense had no existence as representing the basis of justification in the divine government, yet erga nomou had a very real existence in the thought and practice of men who conceived of the divine law after this fashion.... The translation of this phrase here and constantly... by 'the works of the law'... is a serious defect of [versions that have it]." (E. Burton, The International Critical Commentary, Galatians, 1921, p. 120) (18)
Jesus came to "fill full" the law.
Jesus did not come to destroy the law, or the prophets, but to fulfil them:Matthew 5:17-20Fulfilling in some cases means transforming. For instance: the sacrificial system takes on a deeper meaning with the death of Jesus Christ (Heb 7-10); our just punishment for sin has been imputed to him (19); the role of the Holy Spirit has been made explicit (20); Gentile inclusion in the community is spelled out (21); and a new covenant is established (22). However, most of the ordinances dealing with civic, ceremonial and ethical standards remain. In Jesus' life and teaching (Torah) as contained in the New Testament is found the perfect synthesis of old and new which ultimately is absolute obedience to the will of God. There is no way that anything he did was divorced from Toraheverything he did fit into the framework of the law.
KJV Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
This concept of a bit of flexibility and fluidity to the exact fulfillment of parts of the law is not unknown in rabbinic Judaism. There are many instances in the Talmud where a discussion on a certain subject is deferred until Elijah comes. (23) It is their contention that one of the functions of Elijah as he precedes the coming of Messiah is to clear up all doubts on unanswered questions. But one greater than Elijah has come and dealt with those and loftier topics and everything he did and said was in accordance with a proper understanding of the law.
There is also within Judaism the thought that the Messiah himself when he comes will explain the Torah more fully and even change some aspects of it. We will cite a few examples here to show that what Jesus did is something that some Jews today are still anticipating to happen in the future.
One of the collections of commentaries on the Torah is called the Midrash Rabbah. The following is the section that deals with expounding the text found at Genesis 49:11:(Genesis 49:11 Binding his foal to the vine, and his ass’s colt to the choice vine; he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes;)As you can see, footnote #6 pretty much spells it out precisely that the Messiah will expand and alter what is considered acceptable within the law. Another section of the Midrash Rabbah that deals with Leviticus 7:11-12 states:
The Rabbis interpreted: ‘I,’ [said God], ‘am bound to the vine and the choice vine [Israel]. HIS FOAL AND HIS COLT intimate: when he will come of whom it is written, Lowly, and riding upon an ass, even upon a colt the foal of an ass (Zech. IX, 9). HE WASHETH HIS GARMENTS IN WINE, intimates that he [the Messiah] will compose for them words of Torah; AND HIS VESTURE IN THE BLOOD OF GRAPES-that he will restore to them their errors. R. Hanin said: Israel will not require the teaching of the royal Messiah in the future, for it says, Unto him shall the nations seek (Isa. XI, 10), but not Israel. If so, for what purpose will the royal Messiah come, and what will he do? He will Come to assemble the exiles of Israel and to give them [the Gentiles] thirty precepts, as it says, And I said unto them: ye think good, give me my hire; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my hire thirty pieces of silver (Zech. XI, 12).
(5) Sc. the Messiah. It will then be seen how God is knit (‘bound’) to Israel.
(6) Propound new meanings and interpretations of the Torah.
(7) He will point out where they have misunderstood the Torah. v. infra. XCIX, 8 on this verse.
(8) For Israel will receive its teaching direct from God.
(Genesis 98:9, Soncino Midrash Rabbah, CD-ROM, Davka Corp.)(Leviticus 7:11-12 And this is the Torah of the sacrifice of peace offerings, which he shall offer to the Lord. If he offers it for a thanksgiving, then he shall offer with the sacrifice of thanksgiving unleavened cakes mixed with oil, and unleavened wafers anointed with oil, and cakes mixed with oil, of fine flour, fried.)Here we see the sacrificial and prayer systems being overhauled (which might help to explain exactly what is going to go on in the Ezekiel Temple?) Continuing with Ecclesiastes Rabbah on Ecclesiastes 11:8 we see how the days of the Messiah will usher in a new appreciation of the Torah:
R. Phinehas and R. Levi and R. Johanan said in the name of R. Menahem of Gallia: In the Time to Come all sacrifices will be annulled, but that of thanksgiving will not be annulled, and all prayers will be annulled, but [that of] Thanksgiving will not be annulled. (Leviticus 9:7, Soncino Midrash Rabbah, CD-ROM, Davka Corp.)(Ecclesiastes 11:8 And if many years lives a man, let him rejoice in them all; yet let him remember the days of darkness; for they shall be many. All that comes is vanity.)To quote from other sources besides the Midrash Rabbah on this theme, we'd like to present three texts that are cited in the Jewish New Testament Commentary which are taken from The Messiah Texts by Raphael Patai (24):
The Torah which a man learns in this world IS VANITY in comparison with the Torah [which will be learnt in the days] of the Messiah. (Ecclesiaste 11:7, Soncino Midrash Rabbah, CD-ROM, Davka Corp.)1. "In the future the Holy One, blessed be He,... will expound to [the pious] the meanings of a new Tora which He will give them through the Messiah." (Alphabet Midrash of Rabbi Akiva)Jesus' parables and sayings cannot be discounted merely on the fact that they were a bit different than what the people were used to hearing. He delved into the heart of each problem he tackled and brought out a deeper understanding and that is quite consistent with what is expected of the Messiah.
2. [The new Tora] "means the secrets and mysteries of the Tora which have remained hidden until now. It does not refer to another Tora, heaven forfend, for surely the Tora which He gave us through Moses our Master, peace be upon him, is the eternal Tora; but the revelation of her hidden secrets is called 'new Tora.'" (Midrash Talpiyot)
3. "In the future the Holy One, blessed be He, will seat the Messiah in the supernal Yeshiva ["House of Study"], and they will call him 'the Lord,' just as they call the Creator.... And the Messiah will sit in the Yeshiva, and all those who walk on earth will come and sit before him to hear a new Tora and new commandments and the deep wisdom which he teaches Israel... [A]nd the Holy One, blessed be He, will reveal... rules of life, rules of peace, rules of alertness, rules of purity, rules of abstinence, rules of piety, rules of charity.... And no person who hears a teaching from the mouth of the Messiah will ever forget it, for the Holy One, blessed be He, will reveal Himself in the House of Study of the Messiah, and will pour his Holy Spirit upon all those who walk the earth, and His Holy Spirit will be upon each and every one. And each one in His House of Study will understand the Halakhot [laws, rules] on his own, the Midrashot [studies, interpretations, legends] on his own, the Tosafot [annotations, often referring to the 12th-14th-century commentaries on the Talmud and Rashi] on his own, the Aggadot [stories, folk tales] on his own, the traditions on his own, and each one of them will know on his own.... And even the slaves and the slave-women of Israel who were bought for money from the nations of the world, the Holy Spirit will rest upon them, and they will expound on their own." (Yemenite midrash)
Is Christ the "end of the law"?
But what about Romans 10:4? It reads:Romans 10:4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.Translation of the word "end" is very unfortunate in this instance. A surface reading of this verse could leave someone with the idea that it means "termination." But the Greek word "telos" is used about 42 times in the New Testament and arguably has to mean "finish/cessation" in a couple of instances but the majority of times its meaning is "goal, aim, purpose" or something along the lines of the outcome of a process. (25) The Jewish New Testament renders this verse:Romans 10:4 JNT For the goal at which the Torah aims is the Messiah, who offers righteousness to everyone who trusts.In Jesus is found the Torah perfected and there is no way to uphold one and cut the other out. He came at that time with that system in place and took it as far as it needed to go. If you are in Jesus then you are still very much associated with Torah.
We hope you can use this small article as a stepping-stone to a greater understanding of the concept of the law within Christian circles. This by no means exhausts the subject but is just a beginners' guide to learning about the correct application of Torah. Indepth study and prayer is needed to fully grasp this extremely important Biblical concept and we wish you a fruitful and blessed time as you pursue it.
- Jewish New Testament by David H. Stern
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- Jewish New Testament Commentary by David H. Stern
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- "under the law" (Greek: "upo nomon")
KJV For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.
JNT For sin will not have authority over you; because you are not under legalism but under grace. Therefore, what conclusion should we reach? "Let's go on sinning because we're not under legalism but under grace"? Heaven forbid!
1 Corinthians 9:20
KJV And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law;
JNT That is, with Jews, what I did was put myself in the position of a Jew, in order to win Jews. With people in subjection to a legalistic perversion of the Torah, I put myself in the position of someone under such legalism, in order to win those under this legalism, even though I myself am not in subjection to a legalistic perversion of the Torah.
KJV But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.
JNT Now before the time for this trusting faithfulness came, we were imprisoned in subjection to the system which results from perverting the Torah into legalism, kept under guard until this yet-to-come trusting faithfulness would be revealed.
KJV But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.
JNT but when the appointed time arrived, God sent forth his Son. He was born from a woman born into a culture in which legalistic perversion of the Torah was the norm, so that he might redeem those in subjection to this legalism and thus enable us to be made God's sons.
KJV Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law?
JNT Tell me, you who want to be in subjection to the system that results from perverting the Torah into legalism, don't you hear what the Torah itself says?
KJV But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.
JNT But if you are led by the Spirit, then you are not in subjection to the system that results form perverting the Torah into legalism.
- "works of the law" (Greek: "erga nomou")
KJV Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
JNT For in his sight no one alive will be considered righteous on the ground of legalistic observance of the Torah commands, because what Torah really does is show people how sinful they are.
KJV Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
JNT Therefore, we hold the view that a person comes to be considered righteous by God on the ground of trusting, which has nothing to do with legalistic observance of Torah commands.
KJV Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
JNT ...we have come to realize that a person is not declared righteous by God on the ground of his legalistic observance of Torah commands, but through the Messiah Yeshua's trusting faithfulness. Therefore, we too have put our trust in Messiah Yeshua and become faithful to him, in order that we might be declared righteous on the ground of the Messiah's trusting faithfulness and not on the ground of our legalistic observance of Torah commands. For on the ground of legalistic observance of Torah commands, no one will be declared righteous.
KJV This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
JNT I want to know from you just this one thing: did you receive the Spirit by legalistic observance of Torah commands or by trusting in what you heard and being faithful to it?
KJV He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
JNT What about God, who supplies you with the Spirit and works miracles among youdoes he do it because of your legalistic observance of Torah commands or because you trust in what you heard and are faithful to it?
KJV For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.
JNT For everyone who depends on legalistic observance of Torah commands lives under a curse, since it is written, "Cursed is everyone who does not keep on doing everything written in the Scroll of the Torah."
- "in law" (Greek: "en nomo")
KJV For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law;
JNT All who have sinned outside the framework of Torah will die outside the framework of Torah; and all who have sinned within the framework of Torah will be judged by Torah.
KJV Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.
JNT Moreover, we know that whatever the Torah says, it says to those living within the framework of the Torah, in order that every mouth may be stopped and the whole world be shown to deserve God's adverse judgment.
- "en-lawed" (Greek: "ennomos")
1 Corinthians 9:21
KJV To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law.
JNT With those who live outside the framework of Torah, I put myself in the position of someone outside the Torah in order to win those outside the Torahalthough I myself am not outside the framework of God's Torah but within the framework of Torah as upheld by the Messiah.
- Acts 16:3 KJV (Timothy) Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek.
- Acts 17:1,2 KJV Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures,
- Acts 18:18 KJV And Paul...having shorn his head in Cenchrea: for he had a vow
- Acts 20:16 KJV For Paul had determined to sail by Ephesus, because he would not spend the time in Asia: for he hasted, if it were possible for him, to be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost.
- Acts 21:21 KJV And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs.
- Acts 23:5-6 KJV Then said Paul, I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest: for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people. But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question.
Exodus 22:28 KJV Thou shalt not revile the gods [rulers, judges], nor curse the ruler of thy people.
- Acts 25:8 KJV While he answered for himself, Neither against the law of the Jews, neither against the temple, nor yet against Caesar, have I offended any thing at all.
- Acts 28:17 KJV And it came to pass, that after three days Paul called the chief of the Jews together: and when they were come together, he said unto them, Men and brethren, though I have committed nothing against the people, or customs of our fathers, yet was I delivered prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans.
- Acts 27:9 KJV Now when much time was spent, and when sailing was now dangerous, because the fast was now already past, Paul admonished them,
- Romans 3:31 KJV Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.
- The Epistle to the Romans 1-8 (Vol. 1) (International Critical Commentary Series) by C.E.B. Cranfield
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The Epistle to the Romans: Romans 9-16: A Critical and Exegetical Commentary (International Critical Commentary) by C.E.B. Cranfield
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- A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians (International Critical Commentary) by E. Burton
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- Galatians 3:13. KJV Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:
- John 14:26 KJV But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
John 15:26 KJV But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:
Romans 8:1-16 KJV There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
- Acts 15:1-29 KJV And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question. And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren. And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them. But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses. And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter. And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they. Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them. And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things. Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world. Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day. Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren: And they wrote letters by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia: Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment: It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who shall also tell you the same things by mouth. For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.
Ephesians 2:11-22 KJV Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
- Hebrews 8:6-13 KJV But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.
- We found these in the Talmud by doing a simple search on the word "Elijah" using our CD-ROM edition of the Soncino Talmud. We're going to quote quite a few instances, but not all of them, to show just how many times this concept is spoken of in the Talmud. If you'd like to see passages cited within their setting in the Talmud, please click on links (not all tractates of the Talmud are online as-of-yet).
Berachoth 35b: When Elijah comes he will tell us whether it can really serve as a basis; at present, at any rate, no man thinks of such a thing.
Shabbath 108a: If Elijah comes and tells [us] whether its foul smell evaporates or not.
Pesachim 13a: Then on your reasoning, he retorted, even those in suspense should not be burnt, lest Elijah come and declare them clean?13
Footnote (13): One of the functions ascribed to Elijah was the clearing up of all doubts.
Pesachim 15a: But how can we burn that which is in suspense together with that which is unclean? Perhaps Elijah will come and declare it [the former] clean!
Chagigah 25a: footnote: (16) Rashi reads, 'Maybe Elijah will come'. For the concept of Elijah as the solver of all religious controversies and legal disputes v. Men. 45b; Ab. R. N. xxxiv; Num. l lab. III, near the end. For the general Rabbinic concept of Elijah v. J.E. pp. 122-127.
Yevamoth 102a: (10) According to Rabbah it is improper to use a foot-covering shoe. Its use would be permitted only if Elijah came and declared it to be permissible. According to R. Joseph, however, its use is and remains permitted unless Elijah should come and declare it to be inadmissible.
Gittin 40b: R. Hisda says the donor is entitled to the produce, whereas Rabbah says that the produce is entrusted to a third party.7
Footnote (7): Who puts it on one side till the 'coming of Elijah', i.e., till the truth of matter is ascertained.
Kiddushin 71a: Such as these, Elijah will come to declare unclean or clean, to expel and admit.
Baba Metzia 3a: Therefore let the whole amount be retained [by the Court] until 'the coming of Elijah'?3
Footnote (3): Elijah the prophet, the herald of the Messianic era who is to make the truth known. The phrase is a technical term meaning 'indefinitely'.
Baba Bathra 83a: The matter stands undecided.28
Footnote: (28) תיקום = תיקו 'let it stand'. An expression used when no definite answer could be given to any question or inquiry. Others regard z q y t as formed from the initials of "Elijah the Tishbite will solve all difficulties and enquiries."
Sanhedrin 48a: Footnote #30 Elijah the prophet glorified in the Haggadah as a messenger charged with various tasks, one of which is to be the precursor of the Messiah, when he will solve all questions in doubt. (Cf. B.M. 29b; Pes. 15a).
Menachoth 45a: R. Johanan said, This passage will be interpreted by Elijah in the future.16
Footnote (16): This means that it is beyond our power to reconcile this verse with the ordinance of the Torah and will be explained by Elijah the Prophet, the herald of the Messianic era, who is to make the truth known.
- The Messiah Texts: Jewish Legends of Three Thousand Years by Raphael Patai
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- 5056 telos; neut. usually with to, the definite art, end, goal. The limit, either at which a person or thing ceases to be what he or it was up to that point or at which previous activities ceased (2 Cor 3:13; 1 Pet 4:7). It does not, as is commonly supposed, mean the extinction, end, termination with reference to time, but the goal reached, the completion or conclusion at which anything arrives, either as issue or ending and including the termination of what went before; or as a result, acme, consummation, e.g., when we speak of the end of the war, we speak of victory. When we speak of telos andros, the end of man, we speak of the full age of man; also used of the ripening of the seed. It never denotes merely an end as to time, a termination in and for itself, for which another word, teleute (5054), death, is always used. The issue, end, conclusion (Matt 24:14, 26:58; Mark 13:7; Luke 21:9; Acts 2:17; 1 Cor 10:11; 2 Tim 3:1; James 5:11; 1 Peter 4:7,17) in which case telos means the termination of the present course and condition of the world. In 1 Cor 15:24; Heb 7:3 it means the goal reached, the beginning of a new order of things. The adv. phrase eis telos means to the last or to the conclusion of that spoken of, as in John 13:1 where reference is made to Christ's work of love (see also Matt 10:22, 24:13; Mark 13:13); or it may mean at last or in the end, finally (Luke 18:5). In the gen. meaning until, with heos (2193), achri (891), mechri (3360) and the gen. telous, until the end (1 Cor 1:8; Heb 3:6 T.R., 14; 6:11; Rev 2:26). To, the, telos finally (1 Peter 3:8). Refers to the goal reached, the end (Rom 6:21,22, 13:10; 2 Cor 11:15; Phil 3:16; 1 Tim 1:5; Heb 6:8; 1 Peter 1:9). In Romans 10:4 (see also vv. 3,5; Acts 13:39) telos denotes the final end, the conclusion which the dominion of the law has found in Christ. Adv. phrases, eis telos, in 1 Thess 2:16 means completely; heos telous in 2 Cor 1:13 means completely as contr. with apo merous (3313), (in part, not completely in v 14). Telos, also means toll or tax (Matt 17:25; Rom 13:7).Lexical Aids to the New Testament - The Hebrew-Greek Key Study Bible, NASB, S. Zodhiates
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5056 telos, from a prim. tello (to set out for a definite point or goal); prop. the point aimed at as a limit, i.e. (by impl.) the conclusion of an act or state (termination [lit., fig. or indef.], result [immed., ultimate or prophetic], purpose); spec. an impost or levy (as paid): + continual, custom, end (-ing), finally, uttermost. Comp. 5411.Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible
5411 phoros; from 5342; a load (as borne), i.e. (fig.) a tax (prop. an individ. assessment on persons or property; whereas 5056 is usually a gen. toll on goods or travel):tribute.Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible