Ebionites "thought that it was necessary to reject all the epistles of [Paul], whom they called an apostate from the Law." Eusebius, Church Hist 3:27 325 AD

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Roberto's Questions on Whether Jesus Put Down Obedience to Law, Changing Its Principles

Dec 15, 2012

Dear Doug.

I just finished downloading your e-book JWO on Salvation and I´m eager to read it. THANKS AGAIN for putting this wonderful material online free of charge for all to read. God will certainly bless you for it.

 

I´ve reading the feedback on your writings from ‘PROBLEMS WITH APOSTLE PAUL’ page, and I find vey inspiring to see how many people are hungry for the truth and for the real Spirit sent from Above. Only the truth satisfies the soul, doesn´t it?

 

Anyway, I have some questions I wanted to ask you about the subject of THE LAW since it´s a subject you´ve been studying long before I ever ever discovered it (you know I´ve been working on another subject for years: WHO is the Holy Spirit), so since I´m kind of new on this, I´d like to save some time asking someone who knows more than me on this. I´ve started to investigate but thought you may have some answers to my questions already somewhere on your articles, that´s why I´m asking.

 

The questions I’m looking for some help on are these:

1)   What are you specifically talking about when you say ‘the principles from THE LAW which Jesus was simply elucidating, restating’? The 10 commandments? Or Moses law as a whole?

2)   Since Jesus mentioned THE NEW COVENANT at the last supper, which modifications or changes this new covenant brings to the old one, since God couldn´t have introduced a new covenant without touching the old one... right? 

3)   I couldn´t read the articles you mentioned on your mail, but I suppose the gentiles you were talking about would be those who lived inside the nation of Israel. Logically the law of that nation applied to those who lived inside that nation. But I don´t recall Jehovah telling Moses to take the law to all nations as Jesus did when the kingdom was at hand. (You never answered me on that point though, about the apostles not being sent to the whole world with a message to the gentiles until the Holy Spirit arrived, and with Her the kingdom).

4)    If Jesus said we would be judged BY HIS WORDS that means his words ARE THE LAW for all peoples. What happened then to Moses Law? (Again, when we say THE LAW are we talking only about the 10 commandments or Moses law as a whole?) If Jesus mentioned HIS WORDS would be the standard for judgment that means he MUST HAVE INTRODUCED SOME NEW THINGS to Moses’ law, some new commandments and principles. Did he ever do that?We both know he did on Matthew 5 when he says: “You have heard that it was said… But I tell you…”.

5)   I searched the words ‘The Law’ on the Gospels and discovered that every time Jesus mentioned the law he didn´t limited himself to quote it telling people to keep it, but every time he ADDED SOMETHING NEW to teach people on how to apply it as if he was teaching or revealing THE HEART OF THE LAW more than preaching the law itself. (You can check this by yourself if you haven't done it already). If THE TEPMLE GUARDS who were used to hear people teach about the law said of him: "No one ever spoke the way this man does" (John 7:46), obviously Jesus message wasn´t the same old messsage they were used to hear every sabbath.
7)  Ii seems Moses' Law WAS NOT PERFECT: "Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery" (Matthew 19:8). Jesus stated clearly tahat MOSES (NOT GOD) PERMITTED something against the original plan of God. Isn´t Jesus by this PERFECTING THE LAW by adding a new teaching at the end? 

6)   Interesting enough, when Jesus said: “anyone who sets aside one of the least of THESE COMMANDS and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches THESE COMMANDS will be called great in the kingdom of heaven”, if you look at what he had said before, THERE´S NO COMMANDMENTS nor any mention to Moses, but if you read what he said AFTER that sentence, you find a lot of what I mentioned before: “You have heard that it was said… But I tell you…” It seems when he said “whoever practices and teaches THESE COMMANDS” he wasn´t talking about Moses’ law, but TO THE COMMANDS HE WAS ABOUT TO GIVE!!! (JWO, isn´t it?)

7)   Another interesting thing I found on this is these two declarations Jesus made on the law and on his words related to heaven and earth passing away: “until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished” (Doesn´t it sound like once fulfilled, the law will pass away or disappear along with heaven and earth?). But on the other hand, look what Jesus said about his words: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away”! Sounds like Jesus’ words are greater than the Law, doesn´t it? “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me” (John 5:39). Jesus said HE IS GREATER THAN THE SCRIPTURES. In other words, the law is what God once gave to Israel thorough Moses, but the gospel of the kingdom was what God was now giving the whole world through Jesus’ words.

8)   Jesus said the Holy Spirit would work through his words bringing them to our remembrance. He never mentioned the Spirit reminding us of Moses’ law.

9)    “The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing their way into it” (Luke 16:16). “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence, and violent people have been raiding it. For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John” (Matthew 11:12-13). Isn’t clear enough Jesus was sent by God to bring SOMETHING NEW and BETTER than Moses law? Why would he call his message ‘Good News’ unless they really were good? If staying under the same old law of Moses was the right thing to do, where were the good news? Why announcing THE KINGDOM as GOOD NEWS? Israel (ruled by Moses law) was a nation, NOT THE KINGDOM OF GOD. The kingdom that first proclaimed John The Baptist, then Jesus and later on his apostles and disciples was A DIFFERENT MESSAGE from just staying under all of Moses precepts. I don’t mean APART from the law, but encompassing it. In other words, Moses Law didn’t include THE KINGDOM OF GOD, but THE KINGDOM OF GOD includes the 10 commandments.

 
Well Doug, I don´t want to take all of your valuable time, so I think it´s enough for now.

If you already have the answers to these questions or conclusions on your site, I´d really appreciate you could lead me to the right pages so I can read on these.

You know I’ll be always grateful for the effect your book had on my life. As I once told you, I was converted to Jesus already, but through your book I got converted to Jesus’ doctrine on salvation.

 

God bless you Doug.

 

Your brother

Roberto

 


My Reply To Roberto

Roberto

I will cut up your questions, to answer them:

 

The questions I’m looking for some help on are these:

1)   What are you specifically talking about when you say ‘the principles from THE LAW which Jesus was simply elucidating, restating’? The 10 commandments? Or Moses law as a whole?

 
Answer. The Law as a whole.
 

2)   Since Jesus mentioned THE NEW COVENANT at the last supper, which modifications or changes this new covenant brings to the old one, since God couldn´t have introduced a new covenant without touching the old one... right? 

 
A New Testament could mean a replacement, as if the other is old and gone. Or New can mean an additional promise that is compatible with an older promise, with no intent to abrogate. Jesus' words in Matt 5:17-19 imply it is the latter option, as I will explain when I address your arguments about that passage.
 
Also, if we examine the prophecies of a New Testament - yes, there are many of them, it is clear it is a revived and involves a more intense proximity to the Law because the Messiah would make it better known and understood. I explain this in JWO's Conclusion toward the middle. See topic in the conclusion entitled "Prophecies Of Messiah Require Him To Reinvigorate The Law."
 

3)   I couldn´t read the articles you mentioned on your mail, but I suppose the gentiles you were talking about would be those who lived inside the nation of Israel. Logically the law of that nation applied to those who lived inside that nation. But I don´t recall Jehovah telling Moses to take the law to all nations as Jesus did when the kingdom was at hand. (You never answered me on that point though, about the apostles not being sent to the whole world with a message to the gentiles until the Holy Spirit arrived, and with Her the kingdom).

 

 
In the Gentiles article linked in the prior email I sent, Jesus' last words before the Ascension was for the apostles to teach everything He had commanded. Israel are a people in the kingdom of God. It was a theocracy until the people rebelled and demanded a human king. This is in 1 Samuel. God told Samuel the people rejected God, not Samuel. Samuel pled for the people not to do this. But eventually God relented, but warned the king they chose would be abusive, etc. The purpose of Messiah is to provide a human king who by obedience is annointed and becomes God's son whom God fully approves. Thus, a theocracy, not a government, of this world was always in view. The kingdom of the New Jerusalem, == Israel, comes down from heaven and will be physical, made up of the spiritual sons of the kingdom, both Jew and Gentile. The Law was not specifically for a temporal earthly realm that would vanish. It was the first step in bringing God's kingdom to earth. It is called the nation of Israel which in Hebrew means "Wrestler with God." Thus,God is wrestling us to the ground until finally His kingdom comes on earth. Poetic, isn't it!
 

4)    If Jesus said we would be judged BY HIS WORDS that means his words ARE THE LAW for all peoples. What happened then to Moses Law? (Again, when we say THE LAW are we talking only about the 10 commandments or Moses law as a whole?) If Jesus mentioned HIS WORDS would be the standard for judgment that means he MUST HAVE INTRODUCED SOME NEW THINGS to Moses’ law, some new commandments and principles. Did he ever do that?We both know he did on Matthew 5 when he says: “You have heard that it was said… But I tell you… 

 

 
Jesus reaffirmed the Mosaic law in Matt 5:17-19. (More on that later.) His comments that "you have heard it said, but I tell you" are references in several instances in correcting the wrong impression or use of a passage. I will go over them one by one.
 
For example, the Jews had a doctrine (and still do) that as long as you don't do the evil deed you contemplate, your thoughts are not sin when you think them. Dennis Praeger is a Rabbi on the radio who explains normative Judaism does not criminalize thoughts or believe that thoughts without actions that follow ever involve sin. (He ignores the 'coveting' commands.) So now with that in view, listen to this first of 'but I tell you' passages from the Original Gospel of Matthew  which you can find at my site:
 
You have heard it was said to them who lived long ago, `You shall not murder; and whoever murders is guilty of a judgment of death.' (22) But I say to you, that every one who has caused sorrow to the spirit of his brother and angers his companion shall be in danger of the judgment.
 
So this says just because Moses condemned murder does not sanction evil hateful thoughts, as the Rabbis of that era had misconstrued the passage. Jesus did not add anything here. He just corrected their misconstruction of the passage.
 
Next, the same thing is true of the adultery command from Command #7 in v. 28 etc. As I explain in depth in JWOS ch.9, the Jews said as long as you did not commit the act of adultery, the adulterous thoughts were not sinful. But Jesus says no, and that is wrong. That  command #7 is one of the 10 commandments, but there is another against coveting your neighbor's wife (#10). So Jesus corrected their misconstruction that claimed if one did not actually commit adultery, but merely thought about it, that was supposedly ok. Jesus did so by applying command #10 (coveting / lusting for a married woman) against that prevalent misconstruction of command #7.
 
Next, as the Original Gospel of Matthew reads (and this has a key correction where the word "falsely" was dropped out in the 300s), Jesus corrected a misconstruction of the command not to take a false oath:
 
(33) Again, you have heard that it was said to them of long ago, `You shall not take an oath by my Name falsely but shall perform your oath to Yahweh.' 
 
The Pharisees developed a doctrine that you could take a false oath if you swore by anything other than God's name, and thus they led the credulous to accept lies and deceit by swearing by the Temple, the hair on their head, etc., that they were telling the truth. Again, Jesus was just correcting a misconstruction, and was not correcting the Law itself. 
 
Finally, the one that causes some people to believe Jesus abrogated the law, is this one:
 
 (38) You have heard that it was said in the Torah, `An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.' (39) But I tell you, do no repay evil for evil but whoever strikes you on your right cheek, turn to him the left and you shall thus be perfect. 
 
But this is easy to understand. The Jews taught you could strike back if someone hit you and had stopped hitting you. They said retaliation was justified even if no self-defense was necessary. They cited the eye for an eye principle. But that was a principle utilized in legal cases. The Law and prophets (Jesus quotes the Prophet Jeremiah) had commands for the citizenry not to take the law into their own hands, and not exact vengeance. "Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord." Let the authorities do it. And hence, Jesus was actually reinforcing those commands. The Rabbis had taken out of context the eye for an eye principle, and applied it to individual encounters, and erred in reading the Law. Hence, Jesus was not correcting the Law given Moses, but rather the misapplication of it.
 
In each of these, Jesus fulfilled the promise in Jeremiah that the Messiah would make the Law more clear and better understood. See JWOS ch. 28.
 
 

 

5)   I searched the words ‘The Law’ on the Gospels and discovered that every time Jesus mentioned the law he didn´t limited himself to quote it telling people to keep it, but every time he ADDED SOMETHING NEW to teach people on how to apply it as if he was teaching or revealing THE HEART OF THE LAW more than preaching the law itself. (You can check this by yourself if you haven't done it already). If THE TEPMLE GUARDS who were used to hear people teach about the law said of him: "No one ever spoke the way this man does" (John 7:46), obviously Jesus message wasn´t the same old messsage they were used to hear every sabbath.
 
Jesus took away the errors that the people had heard each week. That is what 'you have heard of old' -- that is for a long time, that x, y, z is true, but I tell you.... That said, I do agree Jesus added new commands, and was as a law-giver too. But they do not contradict or gainsay the Law given Moses. If they did, Jesus would violate the prophecy of Messiah I discuss in Ch. 28 of JWOS and Deut. 13:1-3. One must tread carefully or otherwise inadvertently disqualify Jesus from being the true Messiah.
 
7)  It seems Moses' Law WAS NOT PERFECT: "Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery" (Matthew 19:8). Jesus stated clearly tahat MOSES (NOT GOD) PERMITTED something against the original plan of God. Isn´t Jesus by this PERFECTING THE LAW by adding a new teaching at the end?
 
Well, did Jesus change the law? Abrogate it? No. For please answer this question: did Jesus permit divorce just as Moses had done? Yes, He did for adultery, just as Moses had done. If you read the Mosaic law, that was the exception. There was some dispute because the Law given Moses said an "unseemly" thing was what you could divorce your spouse over. But Jesus made it clear that this was about adultery. So is there any abrogation or change? No. Just a clarification.
 
Then what does Jesus mean that it was not this way from the beginning? God regards divorce as an evil, and God does not want to permit it, but to be just, the victim of adultery should be excused and can divorce. So what does "Moses permitted" mean? Moses evidently asked God for this allowance, much like the prophet Samuel came to God and asked if the people could have a human king, even though God did not want anything but a theocracy from the beginning. God speaks of things that are not part of God's original plan, but which He agrees at the request of a human mediator, such as Moses or Samuel, as "Moses permitted." It does not mean it was wrongly permitted, for indeed, Jesus reaffirmed exactly what Moses permitted.
 
Hence, one must not lift a few words out of context, and not examine carefully the Law at issue, and then compare this to what Jesus is saying. That said, if Jesus purported to "correct" any part of the Law, abrogate it, then we would have an issue, but Jesus did not do so, and that is the bottom line.
 

6)   Interesting enough, when Jesus said: “anyone who sets aside one of the least of THESE COMMANDS and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches THESE COMMANDS will be called great in the kingdom of heaven”, if you look at what he had said before, THERE´S NO COMMANDMENTS nor any mention to Moses, but if you read what he said AFTER that sentence, you find a lot of what I mentioned before: “You have heard that it was said… But I tell you…” It seems when he said “whoever practices and teaches THESE COMMANDS” he wasn´t talking about Moses’ law, but TO THE COMMANDS HE WAS ABOUT TO GIVE!!! (JWO, isn´t it?)

 
Roberto, you are saying that prior to Matt 5:17 Jesus has not referred to the Mosaic Law. But it is clear in context that such Law is in view. The word NOMOS is the word synonymous with the Hebrew term Torah (the Law which God gave Moses). Also, Jesus refers to it twice. By combining NOMOS with "prophets," -- the "Law or the Prophets," it is indubitably the Torah given Moses that Jesus is identifying. It is not some generic law or other law. For the main Scriptures in that era were not called Scriptures, but instead were called "the Law and the Prophets." So your assumption is incorrect.
 
Then you cite as further proof again the "but I tell you," yet in each instance Jesus was correcting misanalysis of the Law by the religious leaders, as explained above.
 

 

7)   Another interesting thing I found on this is these two declarations Jesus made on the law and on his words related to heaven and earth passing away: “until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished” (Doesn´t it sound like once fulfilled, the law will pass away or disappear along with heaven and earth?). But on the other hand, look what Jesus said about his words: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away”! Sounds like Jesus’ words are greater than the Law, doesn´t it? “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me” (John 5:39). Jesus said HE IS GREATER THAN THE SCRIPTURES. In other words, the law is what God once gave to Israel thorough Moses, but the gospel of the kingdom was what God was now giving the whole world through Jesus’ words.

 
Yes, one day the Law will pass away, but the words of Jesus will never pass away. Good reader. But the point in time that the Law passes away is when the heavens and the earth pass away. As said in the Original Testament many times, the Law is "eternal for all generations," which ceases when the Heavens and Earth pass away. Only when there is no longer marriage / procreation (i.e., generations), the Law ceases.
 
Thus, Roberto you have answered all your own questions from above. Jesus has a distinct meaning for His commands from the Law - Nomos to which he referenced in Matt 5:17-19, and that Law is different than Jesus' NOMOS / Law / Commands. They are disjunctive. Jesus' commands will continue as from our King once the heavens and earth pass away. This event happens at the END of the Milennium according to the book of Revelation.
 
So now apply this to your prior point, and you have disproved on your own that NOMOS in 5:17-19 meant Jesus' words / commands. Jesus in 5:17-19 reaffirmed the Mosaic law -- no doubt about it. No scholar has ever read it any other way, for there is no way to dispute it. 
 
But you are correct Jesus has commands that survive that expiration of the Law. An example of an eternal command is: "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved youyou also are to love one another."  (John 13:34.) Jesus loved us to the point of sacrificing His welfare for us. That command was not in the Law. Is it better? an improvement? or simply a simple new command with no implication on the Law given Moses? I choose the latter.
 

 

8)   Jesus said the Holy Spirit would work through his words bringing them to our remembrance. He never mentioned the Spirit reminding us of Moses’ law.

 
Jesus did not have to tell us the Spirit would remind us of Moses' words. Those words were in writing. A writing which Jesus said not one jot or title would disappear until the heavens and earth pass away.
 

9)    “The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing their way into it” (Luke 16:16). “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence, and violent people have been raiding it. For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John” (Matthew 11:12-13). Isn’t clear enough Jesus was sent by God to bring SOMETHING NEW and BETTER than Moses law? Why would he call his message ‘Good News’ unless they really were good? If staying under the same old law of Moses was the right thing to do, where were the good news? Why announcing THE KINGDOM as GOOD NEWS? Israel (ruled by Moses law) was a nation, NOT THE KINGDOM OF GOD. The kingdom that first proclaimed John The Baptist, then Jesus and later on his apostles and disciples was A DIFFERENT MESSAGE from just staying under all of Moses precepts. I don’t mean APART from the law, but encompassing it. In other words, Moses Law didn’t include THE KINGDOM OF GOD, but THE KINGDOM OF GOD includes the 10 commandments.

 
 
Yes, Jesus brought a lot of new commands, no doubt about that. I think they are superlative and address thoroughly a moral plane which the Law did not as thoroughly address.  
But new does not mean "abrogate," or do away with what preceded the new. This is key. You unintentionally proved above Matt 5:17-19 is Jesus reaffirming the entire Law given Moses. Because as to the NOMOS given Moses, you previously agreed that Jesus said that NOMOS would not expire until heaven and earth pass away, but Jesus' words would never pass away. Thus it necessarily must be the NOMOS given Moses which remains until the heaven and earth pass away, while Jesus' words / commands continue.
 
Hence, Jesus reaffirmed all of the Law, and had to or Jesus could not be Messiah. See the reasons explained in JWOS ch. 28
 
Those prophecies told us that Messiah would make "better" known and understood the Law, and "put it on our hearts" -- that was Messiah's purpose. Messiah would never wish to make us think Messiah has such a special set of 'better' commands that we should forget or forsake God's commands given Moses. You should read JWOS ch. 29 to see the passages I am alluding to.
 
Well Doug, I don´t want to take all of your valuable time, so I think it´s enough for now.

If you already have the answers to these questions or conclusions on your site, I´d really appreciate you could lead me to the right pages so I can read on these.

You know I’ll be always grateful for the effect your book had on my life. As I once told you, I was converted to Jesus already, but through your book I got converted to Jesus’ doctrine on salvation.

 
Well, Roberto, I am pleased about JWOS impacting you.  
Shalom of Yah, and enjoy your Sabbath.

 

Doug