Comment lifted from ‘Christians Who Want to Keep God’s Law Righteousness Sake” (Old Adam)
“I don’t think Paul got all his theology fron the Torah and the Prophets. I think He got a lot of it directly from the creator Himself” (Steve)
Logically, there is no way Paul does not get all his theology from Torah and Prophets.
Philippians 3:5-6 “circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless.”
Everything Paul seems to know about God comes from his background in Torah and Prophets – his Jewish studies. In Paul’s teachings he references (as authority) the teachings within the Torah/Prophets – as proof his message has validity – concerning Jesus.
I am not saying God was not involved with Paul’s change and choices afterwards – I think God was involved. However, the way the church interprets Paul makes for some very questionable things Paul is saying – which I am thinking he himself struggled with – and law was right up there.
Paul’s view of the law seems to be in the ritual keeping of it – to the tee – and this is the measure of a person’s faith (as a Pharisee). Well that view has all but vanished from Jewish circles (and was only one of many views even in its day) – and I am not sure how strongly held this belief is anymore (in Conservative Jewish circles anyways). But all of Paul’s works/letters come from this stringent view of the law – and that’s all we know about the law…but the law is a lot different in Jewish circles than in Christian circles – why? Cause Paul only gave us one limited view of it.
“We just don’t rely on the law for our righteousness. That comes directly from God (Jesus).” (Steve)
Oddly enough – so does the law/Torah. I will ask ‘who do you think the Law comes from?’ Man? If the law comes from God – then how can one say we can be righteous aside from it? What standard or measure are we comparing to that we can say ‘yes, this is the right/just thing to do’? Jesus? Jesus is rabbinical in nature and even teaches on Torah law.
“Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, was lining up for us all the ways in which we are to behave that are virtually impossible for us to live up to as sinful creatures” (Steve)
This line of reasoning is illogical. Let’s say me and you are taking a class in math. All the teacher does is lay down teachings that show the errors in math or math so advanced we cannot even fathom where to start. Then he says ‘well I know it so you can all pass the test based on my knowledge’. Is this a good teacher?
Matt 10:24 “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master”
Jesus lays this teaching down to his disciples – who I may add actually do the same things as Jesus when asked. If we are to follow the example Jesus laid down teachings we cannot follow (only he could) then this teaching above is a ‘lie’. The disciple is a student to the teacher – this is accurate Jewish terminology – and Jesus is asking his students to be like him and this is good enough (if they exceed what he taught even better).
Matt 5:20 “For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”
(a) What about Paul – does his life exceed that of his former Pharisee lifestyle concerning righteousness? I would contend it does.
(b) Jesus is seen battling with Pharisees a lot in the gospels – namely in Matthew. He has some harsh words for those guys at times – but what one term does he always fall back on when addressing them? In Matthew alone Jesus calls the Pharisee’s ‘hypocrites’ or what they do ‘hypocritical’ 14 times (that’s once every 2 chapters on average). This is his favorite term for them.
(c) It is no accident Jesus picks Paul to knock of a horse into the dirt – and show him his blindness. Paul is well known to be a zealous Pharisee – an extremist if you will. Paul is the classic example of Jesus picking out a Pharisee that used an extreme interpretation to justify all his actions (including murder).
In essence, Jesus does not do away with the law – which is the point of Matthew 5:17-20 – but chooses to uphold/fulfill it (its true form). The Pharisees are set-up as the antagonist in the gospels – as the people that were against Jesus all the time. What were they really against except the way Jesus taught? Jesus was not being hypocritical in his teachings – nor making it too hard for others to follow his teachings (which was the essential knock on the Pharisee’s – so they could prove how much better they were than others by following their own interpretations).
If you think about the irony in all this – Christians are now falling into the same trap. They are holding up Jesus as this perfect example that no one can mimic – and he followed all his own teachings – but us poor slobs could never do that – we just don’t have that ability. We have created a teacher that is better than us – and better than everyone else – we are now the antagonists – the Pharisee’s of the gospels.
“The whole thing is that the law is good, but Jesus is better. The law helps us, but can never save us. Jesus alone can save us.” (Steve)
Jesus is better than God given Law/words to humanity? Even if Jesus were the ‘word of God’ as some take from John 1:1 – he would have to uphold what the words of God were to Moses at Sinai – or he’d be lying (he would be going against his own words apparently – which is also hypocritical).
The law is not meant to save – it is meant to provide one with the choices to make a good/just lifestyle (to find life) – and to protect/guide society. In one sense it does save – it can save one from making some seriously bad choices in life (ie: like murder or stealing or adultery). It serves as a guide to one’s life – which is how most people use the bible.
The action of saving – is a God thing – like in the Exodus. But salvation and law are not really that closely connected when you think about it. God does not determine His salvation based on the teachings of the law – since there is no law about God’s salvation and when and where it can happen. But what is clear – if there is salvation – it will lead one to respect God and the law/Torah (the words of God). This seems like the inevitable path concerning ‘leaving’ and ‘coming’ to God in the prophets.