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Paul Taught A Pharisee Doctrine to Condemn

Gentiles Who Tried to Follow Torah  

 

Paul's doctrine in Galatians that Gentiles who try to obey Torah damn themselves, and are cursed, was a Pharisee doctrine, as we will now prove.  We will also prove Jesus in Mathew 5:17-19 intended to condemn this teaching.

 

Paul Terrorizes Galatians Who Follow the Law

 

In Galatians, Paul bemoans Galatian Christians who wish to 

keep sabbath as provided in the Ten Commandments -- a

command specifically applicable to all Gentiles in community

with Israel. See Deut. 5:12-15 ("sojourner within thy

gates"); Lev. 25:6 ("sojourner settling with thee"); Exo

23:12 (sojourner). 

 

Paul then says "anathema" -- cursed -- are those who wish to

be just / justified by keeping such parts of the Law, i.e.,

sabbath, etc. For otherwise, Paul argues, they will have to keep

"all" of the Law, and not selected parts. (Gal. 1:6-12Gal. 2:14-

16 (cursed if not continue in all points of law); Gal. 3:9-

12 (under a curse, misquoting Deuteronomy, as explained at

this link), Gal. 3:21.  


(Paul thereby misrepresented the Law was all or nothing

for a Gentile, rather than tell Gentiles they were a

discreet category called sojourners in the Law which  

had a few provisions which they had to abide by. See

The Law Applicable to Gentiles.)

 

As Bart Ehrman, a professor on the New Testament, explains:

“Paul is absolutely clear [in Galatians] that he thinks non-Jews are not to do these things [i.e., keep Sabbath, holidays, etc.] once they believe in Christ. In fact, in his most vitriolic letter, the one to the Galatians, he lays a curse on anyone who thinks that Gentiles who come to believe in Jesus should engage in such practices. (1:8-9; 2:15-16; 3:10-14.” (Bart D. Ehrman, Peter, Paul & Mary Magalene (2006) at 117.)

 

Hence, Paul curses those Gentile Christians who obey Sabbath for a Biblically-valid reason (i.e., Exodus 20:6 - mercy to those who love and obey commandments of Yahweh).

 

Paul extends the same curse implicitly to Jews by saying that anyone who believes one is justified before God by "keeping the law" is actually lost if they did so.  Gal. 2:15-16 ("no one" is justified by keeping the law.). Thus, implicitly Paul is saying Moses himself was a false prophet for in Deut 6:24-25 KJV Moses said:

 

"[YHWH] commanded us to observe all these statutes...Then it will be righteousness [i.e., justification] for us if we are careful to observe all these commandments...."

 

Paul's views are particularly ironic that Gentiles are

supposedly cursed by obeying Sabbath and being

circumcised when in very narrow circumstances the Law

required circumcision (e.g., for a gentile to enter the 

Temple if he chose to enter which was optional) so as to

be righteous and continue as salvation-worthy in God's

eyes. 


It is 
especially noteworthy that Paul emphasizes 

dissuading Sabbath observance among Gentiles by

laying a curse on  Gentiles when their attitude is to keep

a right standing with God mandated in Deut 6:24-25 

quoted above. The irony is because Paul claims Gentiles

are the focus of Paul's ministries. Yet Paul appears unaware of

the verses on the promised new covenant, and the

conditions for the entry of Gentiles into it.

 

The promise in Isaiah 56 of salvation to Gentiles ("my

salvation is about to come", 56:1) through God's

suffering servant in Isaiah 53 (whom was obviously

Jesus) was predicated on two things: "keep the Sabbath

from profaning it and keep his hand from doing evil."

(Isaiah 56:2) or "who keep My Sabbaths, and choose

things that please Me, and take hold of my covenant."

(Isaiah 56:4,6). The word covenant means the ten commandments,

such as in the Ark of the Covenant, i.e., the box holding the tablets of

the Ten Commandments. 

Paul's so-called 'gospel' thereby eviscerated one of the

key conditions of salvation for Gentiles -- the weekly 

time out from work -- despite Paul claiming he had the

correct path of salvation for them. Oh what man cannot

be led to believe!  

 

In the same vein, Paul says to the Galatian Christians

about those who obeyed God's commands as Christians

to stay in God's grace: "You have been severed from

 Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by Law; you

have fallen from grace." (Gal. 5:4 NASB.)  

 

So Paul acknowledges he is talking about true Gentile

Christians. They are severed from Christ by obeying

Sabbath rest as a condition of salvation as expressed by

God in Exodus 20:6 KJV. That verse says God grants

"mercy to those who love me and obey my

commandments."

 

Thus Paul teaches you are saved by faith alone, but 

become damned by obeying one of God’s commands

in the Ten Commandments if motivated to satisfy the

requirement in Exodus 20:6— part of the Ten

Commandments too. Paul is talking about the Sabbath

command in context -- a command that was specifically

extended in the Law to Gentiles aka  foreigners /

sojourners who dwelled among the sons of Israel.

  

And again on the parallel topic of circumcision (which

the Law necessitated a Gentile have done only if they

wished to enter the Temple at Jerusalem per Ezekiel 44:9

or wished to participate in passover per Exodus 12:49),

Paul says in the same context:

 

"Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let

yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no

value to you at all." (Gal. 5:2 NIV.)

 

Or as the KJV says, "Christ will profit you nothing." (Gal. 5:2 KJV.)   

 

Thus, even a Gentile Christian who wanted to be

circumcised solely to enter the temple to avoid being

damned by defiling the Temple's holiness standard,  Paul

says would actually lose their salvation for such clear

sin-avoidance. Hence, Paul warned a Gentile Christian

would be eternally separated from Christ by that act of

obedience to a  command  that the Law said a

Gentile must follow if they wanted to enter the

Temple at Jerusalem and pray.   

 

Paul's statement is clearly a ludicrous principle -- you are supposedly damned for obeying a principle which the Law said you must obey so as not to  be damned. How ridiculous!   

Where did Paul get this non-Biblical and silly idea from?

 

The Pharisees.

 

But Paul twisted it even further as we shall see.

 

Pharisee Doctrine on Torah for Gentiles

 

Did the Pharisees Warn Damnation to Gentiles Who Studied Torah?  

 

Jesus gives us a clue to the answer in Matthew 23:23 when Jesus said the Pharisees neglected and did not teach the Law on its judgments (right from wrong), mercy (Exodus 20:6, mercy for obedience and loving Yahweh) and PISTIS - which can mean obedience (aka 'faithfulness') or faith. The Pharisees, Jesus similarly said in Matt 16:6, turned their pupils into twice the sons of hell as they were. Their Law-ignoring doctrine damned their students.

 

But which students was Jesus concerned about? Jews or Gentiles? Or both?

Paul says as a Jew he learned strict obedience as a Pharisee, right? See Acts 26:5 KJV ("I conformed to the strictest sect...the Pharisees.")

If that is true, and meant adherence to Torah (which Paul does not say clearly), then one way to reconcile Jesus and Paul is to ask the question whether Jesus meant here to condemn the Pharisee sects' doctrine toward only the Gentiles if they taught them not to learn Torah.

 

Let's see if that may explain Paul's experience versus what concerns Jesus in Matthew 23:23 about the Pharisee sect.  Umm. Our detective story turns to this next question:

 

Who did the Pharisee sect neglect to teach Torah other than tithing? Jews, Gentiles or both?

 

Jesus Cites Specific Deficient Teaching to Jews.  

  

As to Jews, Jesus gave us an example of how the Pharisees used their Korban doctrine - a temple payment - to excuse the duty understood from the fourth commandment to "honor" one's parents. This is in Matthew 15:6. For full discussion, see Korban. (The fourth command was construed that you must support your parents if they fall into poverty so they do not suffer dishonor. Jesus addressed the Pharisees' allowance that a certain Korban payment to the Temple -- which they could get their hands on? -- excused the duty to support your parents if they fell into poverty.)

 

Thus, by a commandment of men, i.e., the Pharisees, a commandment of God had been negated. Because Gentiles had no duty to make Korban payments in the Law (see link), Jesus was talking only about a command the Pharisees gave the Israelites. Jesus said the Pharisees thereby revised a command only intended for Israelites on the Korban so it negated their obligations under the fourth of the ten commandments.

 

Hence, that lesson from Jesus specified a deficient rule of the Pharisees towards their Jewish listeners' obligations after paying a Korban gift.

 

By contrast, Jesus does not say who was being mistaught in Matthew 23:23 to neglect the principles of right-and-wrong, mercy and PISTIS (faithful-obedience or faith).

 

Could Jesus have meant a teaching-failure by the Pharisee sect in relation solely to the  Gentiles?

 

What Did Pharisees Say on Whether Gentiles Can Study Torah?  

 

What if we looked into the Pharisees' teaching to the Gentiles on whether to read the Torah? Could Jesus in Matthew 23:23 be addressing the Pharisees for entirely excluding Torah-teaching to Gentiles, just as Paul perpetuated?

 

Let's listen to Orthodox Jews today explaining the Mishna and Sanhedrin tractate from the Talmud which reflects Pharisaic teachings of Christ's era on this topic. This will help answer the question.

 

Why does the Mishna help? Because the Mishna from the early 200s contains the Pharisee doctrines at the time of Jesus.

 

How so?

 

First, the Mishna portion of the Talmud was written in the early 200s to codify the teachings of Judaism at that time. This is a mere 170 years after Christ's appearance.

 

Second, within the Mishna is the Sanhedrin tractate -- records of a judicial body that operated during the Roman era, including the time of Christ. See link. The Pharisees were influential members of the Sanhedrin in that era.

 

(Incidentally, the Talmud's other section, the Gemara, is from 500 AD. See link.)

 

Third, at the time the Mishna-Talmud was written, the Pharisees -- the Rabbinic class -- was the only institution of Judaism from the time of Christ which survived the 70 AD destruction of Jerusalem by Roman armies. Prior to that destruction, the Sadducees and Levites had each a role as leaders of official Judaism, but their roles almost exclusively were tied to the Temple. Its destruction in 70 AD made those parties effectively defunct. This left the Pharisees as the sole effective remaining leg of a once three-legged table of Judaism. Hence, the Mishna written in early 200s reflected a Judaism as largely designed by the Pharisee sect.

 

Finally, the Mishna-Talmud embodies passages quoting known Pharisaic teachers from Jesus' era, such as Gamaliel. Hence, we can determine that the Mishna likely preserved Pharisaic doctrine. If Paul the Pharisee teaches the same thing we find in the Mishna-Talmud or the Sanhedrin-tractate in the Talmud, this proves Paul's view in Galatians simply reflected contemporary Pharisaic doctrine. The same doctrine Jesus condemned in Matthew 23:23.

 

Incidentally, it is generally understood that in time this controlling group from the 200s came to be known to us today as the Orthodox.  By now the Orthodox have become a sect again within Judaism. Now there are divisions of teachers, some of whom are known as Reformed, besides those known as the Orthodox. Yet Nehemiah Gordon in his YouTube on the Our Father proclaims his family belongs to the Orthodox sect, which Nehemia said means they understand themselves as the same as the Pharisee sect at the time of Christ.

 

The Pharisees Generally Bar Gentiles Studying Torah  

 

In line with Orthodox doctrine, Avram ben Yaakov has a topic entitled 'Should Gentiles Study the Torah?' in his article in the Jornal Mitsva at this link. The answer is surprisingly similar to Paul's horror at the Galatians wishing to study Torah. And Avram cites Mishna era teachings to support this.

I want to include the entire context so we can gain a feel for what Pharasaic Judaism allowed to be taught, and how it evolved into this current Orthodox position explained by Avram Yaakov.

Here are his five points at this link. They reflect a position that the Talmud-Mishna, including the Sanhedrin Tractate, told Gentiles they would be executed (killed) if they should study Torah. Thus, Gentiles studied at risk of death if they studied Torah. The only exception was if they convert -- a code-word for those who became circumcised. This exception likewise fits that "certain men" in Acts 15:1-2 insisted Gentiles must be circumcised to be saved. No doubt these were Pharisees. However, they lost that point in the Jerusalem Conference under bishop James.

 

With that introduction, here are Yaakov's five points verbatim:

 

Should gentiles study the Torah? by

Avram Yaakov 

  

The Torah was specifically given to the Children of Israel to guard and observe, and many of its commandments apply only to those who are members of the people of Israel, whether by birth or through voluntary, lawful conversion. At the same time the Torah is full of teachings that apply to all mankind, especially the Seven Universal Laws, and it is a treasury of eternal wisdom, guidance, love and compassion for all.

 

1. Every gentile is obligated to learn and understand the Seven Universal Laws, which apply to all people. Under Noahide law a gentile may be executed for unintentionally violating one of the Seven Laws through ignorance, because he should have learned (Talmud, Maccot 9; Bava Kama 91).

 

2. Every gentile is commanded to know HaShem (Introduction to Talmud by Rav Nissim Gaon, 990-1062). [NOTE: This means a Gentile must know THE NAME - the name of God, namely YHWH.]

 

3. It is forbidden for a gentile to study those portions of the Torah that apply only to the people of Israel as members of the Covenant obligated to observe all 613 Commandments of the Torah specifically given to Israel. According to the Talmud, a gentile who studies those portions would be liable to death from Heaven (Sanhedrin 59a). This would apply to in depth study of the Talmud and Kabbalah, for the proper understanding of which years of preparation are required. Without these, such study can be dangerous for the student and possibly for many others around him or her. Any gentile who sincerely wishes to make a deep study of Talmud or the original Kabbalistic texts should first convert.

 

4. It is permitted for a gentile to study those of the 613 commandments for Israelites that a gentile may observe voluntarily without converting. Later commentaries in this series will set forth what these commandments are.

 

5. Other Torah and works that gentiles may study with benefit and without danger would include the Bible and works on the fundamentals of Torah faith, belief and ethical self-improvement by acknowledged rabbinical authorities, including Rabbi Moses Maimonides ("Rambam", 1135-1204), Rabbi Moshe Chayim Luzzatto ("Ramchal", 1707-47), Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the first Lubavitcher Rebbe (1745-1812), and Rabbi Nachman of Breslov (1772-1810).

 

Paul Compared to This Pharisaic-Orthodox View.

 

Immediately, one should see a striking coincidence between  Orthodox-Pharasaic records from Christ's era or very close which reflect a Gentile brought condemnation on himself by reading the Law, and Paul's similar notion in Galatians.   

 

The Pharisaic records make one exception from this rule:

 

The Gentile can only study those portions he or she is permitted to voluntarily choose to perform.

 

The only two such categories are (in my study)

1. observing Passover; and

2. seeking to bring atonement offerings for atonement.

 

Gentiles could voluntarily submit themselves to those two procedures, but had no duty to do so. See our article The Law Applicable to Gentiles.

 

Paul, on the other hand, makes only an exception for a single Torah-based rule for Gentiles to obey, namely that Gentiles supposedly must financially support figures like Paul and teaching elders based upon Deut 25:4 (the ox is entitled to feed from the grass as it treads out the field.)

 

In 1 Cor 9:9, Paul construes its rule that an ox has a right to eat from the field as it treads the grain to mean instead that such church figures as Paul are entitled to payment for preaching / teaching from those they sowed the spiritual seed. (On the apostate rewrite involved, see Shocking Rewrite of Deut 25:4 by Paul.)

 

(Paul was unaware obviously that Jesus taught the twelve that when they preach the kingdom and minister, they should not burden their listeners with paying to listen, for "freely you received, so freely give." Matt 10:7-8.)

 

Otherwise, Paul declares that any effort by a Gentile to read  and follow the Torah to satisfy God's requirements will lead necessarily to their personal condemnation by God, and severance from Christ, and Christ will profit them nothing.

 

Paul was thus virtually identical in every way to Pharisaic teaching that did away effectively with the Law / Torah for Gentiles except one provision that was financially advantageous for himself. Otherwise, Paul simply disagreed with the Pharisees that male circumcision was necessary to get saved.

 

Paul took it one insulting and blasphemous step further when he explained why. For Paul effectively forbid Gentiles from reading the Torah because its letter supposedly spiritually kills you to read. How so?

Paul claims the Law against coveting another's goods when read thereby incites the sin to steal them, as just an example. See Example #1 Law Incites Sin in our article Paul & Blasphemy.

 

Instead of our reading the letter of the Law, Paul claims we now only follow the spirit. Paul defined twice that principle to mean that all things are lawful but not all things are expedient. That is, you refrain from action only when the negative costs of action outweigh the gain it brings. It is all relative on the benefits versus the costs. See heading "A New Morality In Its Place," in Jesus' Words Only Chapter Five.

 

This is how Paul rationalized lying to promote the gospel in Romans 3 verse 7 -- when the benefits of lying for the gospel outweigh the fact you lie. Expediency justifies your conduct. In fact, Paul, in reference to why he lies to advance his gospel, excuses himself by asking "why am I yet called a sinner?" for doing so with good intentions. See our article Paul and Blasphemy.

 

This Explains Why Among Jews Post-Fall of The Temple That Only Ebionites Declare Paul an Apostate.

 

I have long wondered why there is no Jewish record post-fall of the Temple from official voices of Judaism condemning Paul. Yes, today, Slobec will criticize Paul. But we now live in a diverse culture once more similar to the pre-Temple-fall  Jewish culture. But the Pharisees after the Temple-fall, and as they morphed into the Orthodox, controlled the narrative post-Temple-fall.

 

But for what we learn above about the Orthodox' position on Gentiles and Torah, you would think some forerunner of Tovia Singer or Slobec of yesterday would attack Christianity for having Paul's words in its canon. Until this very day, the voices in Judaism that show Paul an apostate are very few.

 

But no Jewish authority ever spoke up to attack Christian Gentiles for following Paul. Only the Ebionites who were the original Jerusalem church did so. They declared Paul an apostate, and excluded reading Paul's writings. See Ebionites Declare Paul's Writings Are From Apostate. Now we know why. They agreed with Paul not to teach the Law to Gentiles.

 

A Second Mystery Solved?

 

The explanation for such silence from Judaism about Paul is obviously what we learned above. The Ebionites reflected the non-Pharisee position that Gentiles could learn Torah, and be God-fearers welcomed at synagogue. They spoke against Paul as an obvious apostate.

However, when the Temple fell, and the Levites and Sadducees lost their positions, and Paul became the teacher to the Gentiles in denominations like Roman Catholics, the remaining voice of Judaism - the Orthodox - agreed with Paul.  The Orthodox agreed with his conclusion that there is no Torah for Gentiles. And thus apostasy by Paul directed at Gentiles was tolerated by Judaism post-Temple fall because the succesors in charge of Judaism were the Pharisees-Orthodox who shared the same view as Paul. The Pharisees-Orthodox post-Temple would not teach Gentiles the Law either, making exception only for Gentiles who became circumcised first. A legacy teaching which Avram's article above proves never died.

 

The veil is being lifted as legitimate voices are now speaking up within Judaism that Paul indeed fits the label of an apostate under Deuteronomy 13:1-5, as the Ebionites long ago determined pre-fall of the Temple.

 

Doug