Part One: Torah or Law?
by haRold Smith
a citizen of the Commonwealth
"Do not think that I have come to abolish 'the Law' or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not a jot, not a tittle, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:17-20
"So, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good." Romans 7:12
"And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, YHVH made alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This He set aside, nailing it to the cross." Colossians 2:13-14
Consider this: if Yeshua's words above are Truth, saying that He did NOT come to "abolish" the law; and if Sha'ul, (Yeshua's follower and disciple) upholds the law as good and holy and righteous – why, then, would it be necessary to "nail" something to the cross given by the Creator Who Never Changes as good and has not been "done away with" (Malachi 3:6 click on highlighted words to view scripture)? Or is that what those words actually mean? Is the "record of debt" spoken of the same thing as "the law"? Could it be that there has been another agenda at work to blind us to His Words - to separate us from them (Mark 7:13 - the only thing Yeshua EVER pointed to that had the power to render the Word null and void, of "none effect", see Who's Word Is It?).
Words mean things, so let us look at the original meanings of some of the words used in the verses above. The Greek word translated as "law" in the NT is nomos and means "a rule of law or regulation". But, this word is specifically of Greek, not Hebrew, origin. While nomos (or "the law") is generally used when referring to the Torah (the first five books of the bible), this word or its equivalent is not found in the Hebrew definition of Torah. Why should that make a difference to us in our understanding? Because, once we recognize that ALL of the books contained in the bible were written by Hebrews (including the NT - there were no "Christians" around when these letters were written), from a Hebrew perspective out of a Hebrew mindset influenced by a Hebrew culture and primarily addressed to a Hebrew audience; then if the words we read are altered from the original, even slightly, even with possibly good intentions - we come away with a different meaning than from what they were originally intended to convey. For this reason, it is important that we approach these Hebrew books from the same Hebrew perspective they were originally written in order to gain an appreciation for the true meaning of the words that are used (read My Big Fat Greek Mindset, part one and part two for an in-depth look at how most come to see the scriptures from an altered viewpoint). So, then, how did "the Torah" in Hebrew come to be replaced by "the law" in Greek?
The Hebrew language contains words for a "statute", a "ruling" and, of course, a mitzvah, a "commandment"; but none of those define the word torah which means "instruction" or "teaching". Hence, when Sha'ul says in 2Timothy 3:16 that all scripture is profitable "for teaching, for reproof and for instruction in righteousness", he is speaking of the words of Torah – the only scriptures available since the New Testament was yet to be written and certainly was several centuries away from being canonized when he penned this letter.
The name of the fifth book of Torah in the original Hebrew language it was written in is Devarim, which means "Words", and (as with all of the books of the OT) is taken from the first words of the opening statement, "These are the words spoken to the Israelites across the Jordan..." - notice that they are not written, but spoken words. In the Greek translation of the bible, however, the book's title was changed to Deutero-nomos - derived from the Greek words deutero (meaning "second" or "revised") and nomos (meaning "law"). The translated English title "Deuteronomy" now carries with it the implication of a "revised law", supposedly because in it the Ten Words (now popularly called commandments, see Exodus 20:1-17 with emphasis on verse one) are not only repeated but expanded, or deepened. This title revision now describes its contents as a review of law which is completely incompatible with what the original was intended to convey - only now, that thought has become the basis of definition subsequently carried over and superimposed upon the words of the NT and expanded to include all the five books of Torah. It is imperative to understand the Greek nomos is NOT the equivalent of the Hebrew word Torah which it replaced - leaving us with an altered meaning from the intent of the original language. This is just one example of how the words of scripture get altered and should quench the "infallibility of the Word of God" doctrine. Now that we have looked at what Torah is not, let us look at what "Torah" means.
"JUST AS the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.|
If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love,
JUST AS I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love ." John 15:9-10
Yeshua abides with the Father because He keeps His Father's Words. What Words are those?
"If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 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 ." John 14:24
At what point do we stop altering the Words of Yeshua and consider them just for what they say? In YHVH's Words we see the manifestation of the Nature of YHVH's Spirit. Consequently, we see in Genesis 26:5 where the Nature of Spirit was manifested because Abraham kept YHVH's "charge, commandments, statutes and laws", 430 years before they were written down. We also see how Moses was able to teach YHVH's "statutes and laws" in Exodus 18:13-16 - two chapters before those statutes were handed to him written down in tablets of stone. In each case, it was because these men had come to intimately KNOW the Nature of Spirit captured in and manifested through the practice of His Words (John 17:3, see what it means To Make Manifest)
While Torah has been mistakenly translated as "written law", it does not mean "precept", "statute", "rule" or "law". The word torah is a noun derived from the verb yara meaning to "throw, shoot or cast at; as with an archer, to hit the mark". The Greek word most commonly translated as "sin" in the NT is hamartia and means to "miss the mark". Can you see the picture being painted here? What, then, is the "mark"? It is the mark of holiness inscribed upon an individual's life. The Torah is not "the law" - it is the instruction Book given by the Father about what "behavior" allows us to come into His Most Holy Presence without being consumed - to be holy, even as He is Holy (Leviticus 20:26, 1John 4:17).
Keeping these definitions in mind, let us take another look at just what is sin. Everybody loves to pluck John 3:16 out of context and quote it as the "salvation" message while ignoring the rest of the passage that speaks of the means of obtaining that "salvation". Yeshua says in John 3:17-21 that the condemnation that has come into the world is that Light has come into the world and men loved darkness more than they loved the Light because their deeds were evil. When most people read this verse, they don’t consider their deeds to be evil because their standard of measurement for evil deeds is normally viewed from a worldly, moral perspective rather than from the definition of evil given us by YHVH. But, if we look at these words just for what they say and what they mean, we find the first Greek word translated as "evil" in this passage, poneros, actually means "full of labors, full of toils". The passage continues by saying that everyone who does evil actually hates the Light and, thereby, is unable to come into the Light. This second time, a different Greek word, phaulos, is used for the word translated as evil and means "wicked, worthless, of no account, ordinary." In Psalm 50:16-17 we are specifically told who YHVH considers to be "wicked" - those who put His Words behind them. "Deeds of evil", therefore, is scripturally defined as an attempt to pursue righteousness apart from His Words - under our own revised defintion of what those Words are, our own "labors". Considering that Light and darkness are unable to abide in the same space at the same time, it becomes apparent Yeshua was speaking about another dynamic - a universal "law". What it means to believe in His Name, then, becomes not just verbal rhetoric - but demonstrable action (see what it means to be Abiding In His Name).
|Torah - defining the Nature of Spirit|
The definition of righteousness in both the Hebrew (tsaddiyq) and the Greek (dikaios) is behavioral in conduct and character - deed based behavior (as in acts of righteousness, see the Righeousness of the Law for more definition). Those who would put forth the traditional argument of man that "Jesus has become my righteousness" thereby relieving them of any further responsibility to behave righteously need to re-read 2Corinthians 5:21 upon which that argument is based. YHVH made Yeshua to become sin so that IN Him or THROUGH Him (i.e., living as He exampled, behaving as He did) we might also BECOME the righteousness, the Light, of YHVH (see the reason for His Atonement as the redemption of the family of YHVH - not personal salvation). Sin then becomes, not some dark, malicious malady; but principally, a separation from the Nature of YHVH, the Source of Light, caused by our own attempts to redefine the Nature of Light wickedly, ie, apart from the Words of Life (Light) He has given defining His Name (see what is the Glory of His Name).
So, in looking at all these words from the context of their proper definitions, it becomes apparent that what separates men from Light is not bringing their own labors or deeds into the Light of YHVH's Words of Life for reproof to see if those deeds are wrought in the Nature of His Sprit - or not. YHVH's Words are the Standard by which we might know His Nature. The Life of Yeshua is the benchmark by which our deeds, our behaviors are measured against that Standard - including other scripture (Revelation 19:10b). If what we think those scriptures say or mean is not found in the words or life of Yeshua - at the very least they should be held highly suspect. Even though men may be thinking and telling themselves that they are in the Light because they believe in what they think some scriptures say, Yeshua said it is their deeds measured against YHVH's Words that determine where they abide. It is imperative that we view the Words of the Holy One from His Perspective, not our own – IF we are to dwell in, abide in the Light, the Source of Life (learn about His Perspective).
Since Yeshua upheld what is taught in Torah that our actions are what determine what we worship (Deuteronomy 11:16, Luke 4:8) and, if the common thread that defines the Nature of YHVH's Words is self-denial; sin, therefore, becomes a worship of self - a justification of any behavior that results in a separation from the Light, the Words of YHVH. So, how do I know that what I am embracing behaviorally (believing in) is His Nature? Yeshua said in Matthew 19:17-19 that, if you would enter into LIFE - keep the Words of the Father (what have popularly come to be known as the commandments). The Words He is referring to are the Ten Words spoken by YHVH in Exodus 20:1-17 (with emphasis on verse one). He even repeated them so there would be no mistaking which ones He was referring to. The religious tradition of men would say, "well, that was before He was resurrected. After the Resurrection, He created a new religion." Where does scripture say that? In fact, what scripture does say about the promise of the new covenant, is that His Words will now be written on the hearts of those who embrace those words instead of being written on tablets of stone - but they are still the same Words and they do not change (Jeremiah 31:31-33, Malachi 3:6).
Notice that Yeshua does not say "eternal life" in this passage from Matthew 19 - just "if you would enter into LIFE...". As we have already seen, the LIFE of YHVH is the LIGHT of men (1John 1:5), The Light that has come into the world are YHVH's Words manifested in the Life of Yeshua as the example for any to follow (John 17:6-8, see the Power In His Name). Yeshua said He came to fulfill the law, not to abolish the law. To fulfill something does not mean to dispense with it – it is not an either/or proposition. The Greek word translated as "fulfill" in Matthew 5:17 above is pleroo and means "to complete; to fill to the top: so that nothing shall be wanting, to full measure, fill to the brim". Nothing in that definition suggests an abandonment of what was before. When a glass is filled to the brim with water it means the container is full, it is complete, nothing else can be placed into it - it does not mean to throw the container away for, then, there would be no way to drink of the refreshment the container holds (see the Law of 100% for an in-depth look).
The term "record of debt" from Colossians 2:14 at the top of this article is loosely translated as "handwriting of ordinances" by most modern versions but comes from the Greek word cheirographon which actually means "a note of writing by one’s own hand acknowledging the necessity of a repayment; a certificate of debt" and is the only place in scripture where it appears. What was nailed to the cross is the record of our deeds, the actions committed through our own determination that caused us to become separated (condemned) from the Nature of Light - not what defines His Nature. Yeshua took away that documentation of our own doing that said, "You Owe". However, reading this verse in most translations, there is shown to be a significant change in wording and, thus, meaning. Mostly, they say something to the effect of "having canceled the written code with its regulations". According to these translations, it was the Torah that was nailed to the cross, not the debts accumulated due to actions contrary to, our disobedience to, the Words that sets His Nature apart from the world – what makes Him Holy. Instead, these translators would have you to believe it is the regulations, the definitions themselves that were done away with! That is the same as saying the Creator has cancelled Himself, the very Nature of Who He Is, out of existence - which is absolutely absurd (see the Word for more explanation).
Most of the time when people are speaking of "the law", what they are really speaking to is the legalistic manner by which they are administered through the tradition of men who appear to be religious by their much doing. Here again, just because some mishandle the Words YHVH has given us does not mean the Words themselves are worthless. In all of Yeshua's countering with the religious of His Day, not once did He ever tell anyone to "do not the law" - in fact, what He consistently said was just the opposite. What He spoke to was the hypocrisy in the manner by which many were practicing those Words - rewriting their definitions. (Matthew 23:13). Unless our righteousness EXCEEDS what the Pharisee considers righteous through his hypocrisy, there will not be found a way into the (Kingdom of YHVH. Taking away the Words of YHVH that define His Nature is to take away and replace His Standard by which conduct, holiness, is measured (see the One Covenant Series).
Many who consider themselves to be "believers" think they are keeping the Ten Words - until you ask them about the Fourth Word Then, they begin to wiggle and squirm, making excuses and quoting some other reference to justify why they do not have to honor this Word. It is because they have been taught the Torah to be irrelevant to their lives today, thereby excusing their behavior in their own eyes. "Do not commit adultery" takes on the addendum "unless he/she is pretty" or "my current spouse does not love me" - then behavior becomes excusable. "Do not steal" becomes obscured in the justification of "everybody else does it" - so petty theft becomes winked at. "Worship no other god to serve them" only applies to religious figurines but not to trees or eggs (see No Other God). In so doing, we re-write these definitions to suit our own purposes. It is important to understand that nowhere in scripture can it be found where YHVH has ever rescinded, altered or changed this Fourth Word. or any of the others - He can't because that would mean He would have to change His Nature and He cannot deny Himself (2Timothy 2:13, see what it means to keep the Sabbath).
In John 1:12 the word translated as "power" is eksousia and means the "power of choice". Understanding the Truth these words mean cause their meaning to be rendered as: to those to choose to embrace the Nature of His Words in their lives – they are those considered to be "Sons of YHVH" Who Is the Word.
Part One - Torah or "the Law"
Part Two - the Curse of the Law?
Part Three - Under the Law?
Part Four - Legalism
"Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary,
we uphold the law
the apostle Paul in Romans 3:31
Please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. While not claiming to have all the answers, it would be an honor to partake with you of what the Spirit is uncovering.