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We now are seeking a deeper understanding of the biblical revelation as the Rebbe toils to educate believers in Yeshua into a deeper knowledge that is revealed through the work of the Biblical Research Institute the educational arm of the International Messianic Community of Faith restoring and publishing the gospel at this pertinent time in world history.You're welcome to join us.

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PAUL'S LETTER TO THE ROMAN CHRISTIANS [15]

Analytical Commentary on Romans

MAN AGAINST HIMSELF (Part B) – “Repression of the Sublime,” Man in the Image of God, and a Reason Why Accidents Occur.

The Audio MP3 of this lecture is available via this link: http://www.bripodcasts.com/Romans/Lecture15.MP3

Copyright © BRI 2016 All Rights Reserved Worldwide by Les Aron Gosling,
Messianic Lecturer (BRI/IMCF)

CAUTION: BRI Yeshiva notes are not available to the general public. They are not for distribution. They are not for reproduction. The notes may also bear little or no resemblance to the actual audio or video recorded BRI Yeshiva lecture.

“The great Rabbi Gamaliel had among his disciples one who, according to a passage in the Talmud, gave his master a good deal of trouble, manifesting 'impudence in matters of learning.' But his name is not given; he is remembered simply as 'that pupil'” (F.F. Bruce, The Spreading Flame, 1958, 81. See also J. Klausner, From Jesus to Paul, 1944, 310f; Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 30b).

“Nothing said to us, nothing we can learn from others, reaches us so deep as that which we find in ourselves” – Theodor Reik

“We've been against ourselves ever since we put on our first fig leaf” – Rebbetzin Glenys Evelyn Gosling



Churchianity tells us that we have to fight against our human nature, and that we must root out sin from our lives. Well and good. But they fail to tell us exactly how this can be done. They take the active volition of the will out of the equation and refill that void with lovely platitudes of “believing in Jesus” and we shall have the victory.

Well, that's essentially true but the active engagement of troop warfare seems to be missing. The fact is we must fight not sin as such but the THOUGHTS that bring forth evil activity. That's what James insists upon when he says “Every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed, then when it has conceived it brings forth sin and sin when it is finished brings forth death” (James 1.14,15). It's called a “chain reaction.”

I'll return to James at the conclusion of this lecture.

I am today discussing that which constitutes a “curse” and in particular what it means to be “self-cursed.”

Let me start with the biblical view that Man was created in the IMAGE OF GOD.

We are the image of God.

But we stand as a fractured IMAGE.

Christianity certainly views man as fractured due to sin.

Judaism goes much deeper and sees man as fractured by a residing yetzer hara – the evil inclination, or animal soul (as derived from our proto-type genus homo). Once we respond to that inclination, or drive, in any instance or circumstance, we have diminished our God-like qualities.

Of course, the truth of the matter is ultimately discovered (or, better, uncovered) if we stand in front of a mirror and view ourselves for we will be confronted by the fact that our left side is actually our right side and our right side becomes our left.

It is wise to contemplate this fact because its ignored by Christians who want to play “church” and who do not like to tackle the harder realities of living as disciples. In fact, this is precisely what happened (by God's will) when we were created as the IMAGE of God. We became by virtue of our creation as an image of Deity and in the necessity of the case, the exact opposite of God. Like Him but contrary as well. So, from earliest times man became (as we have seen through Adam and Eve in the choices they made) a “god” (little “g”) in their capacity to exercise free will. But this fracture was the intent of a Sovereign God all along.

Yes... God wants us to be His children, both sons and daughters, but we need to use this present life to inculcate into our characters right THOUGHT and right ACTION – to “qualify” (as it were) to bear the NAME of God. This was understood by the early church Fathers but the astonishing concept was waylaid around the 4th century – even though its clearly stated in the biblical revelation itself if we have eyes to plainly see.

When humankind sinned – gave in to their inner Opponent the yetzer hara they forgot the God-connection and have been searching for their origins and speculating about their destiny ever since. This is what Paul means when he states that we were “darkened in our comprehension”! (Col 1.21).

“Having made peace through the blood of his cross [stauros] by him to reconcile all things BACK TO [Gk] himself, by him whether things on earth or things in the heavens, and you that were at one time alienated and enemies in comprehension [KJV: “in your mind”] by wicked works yet now has he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight...” (Col 1.20-22 Greek).

Paul is telling us that in his belief, man's separation from Deity was essentially a matter of perception or comprehension (Col 1.21).

OUR comprehension was darkened: WE lost the knowledge of who WE are, WE forgot who WE are – just as Adam forgot who HE was. Adam also was alienated by wicked works in his comprehension. His children were enemies of God in comprehension – separated from God in comprehension and blinded in comprehension.

Paul tells us more about this darkness in Eph 4.17,18 “This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, having their comprehension darkened, being alienated [Gk., SELF-BANISHED] from the life of God through IGNORANCE that is in them, because of the BLINDNESS of their heart.”

INTRODUCING MAN'S JUDICIAL NATURE
I concluded our last lecture by noting the following:

“The love of power, when it is transformed into the power of love, will usher in blessing which will flow from the all-encompassing Consciousness of Anochi I-Source straight into the collective consciousness of humanity like the crest of a breaking wave.

“This is what it means to BLESS. What then does it mean to CURSE? Do our students realise the depth of our judicial nature – do they realise just how far WE will go to condemn ourselves in this life? Many of us cry out to God for blessings not having comprehended the degree to which in life we stand self-condemned. That's SELF condemned... not condemned by God.

“Why do accidents occur? Could they be the outworking of our own negative natures? There exists plenty of evidence that we can be our own worst lawyer, jury and judge. For, we exist as judicial creatures made in the Image of God. When we see ourselves as “failures” – failing to measure up to some preexisting standard of acceptable behaviour [as expected from our own self or confidently anticipated by others] – we resort to punishing ourselves. We can be, and oftentimes are, far harsher toward ourselves than is God the FatherMother of us all.”

Let me commence this present lecture by announcing that the Bible tells us that “time, and chance [and we might add, circumstance] happen to us all” (Ecc 9.10-12).

Solomon's observation should be examined in its context. Even allowing for further expansion in biblical understanding relative to progressive revelation by God's Spirit in respect of the Afterlife, he notes:

“Whatever your hand finds to do, do with all your might; for there is no work or planning or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going. Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the warriors, nor bread to the wise, nor wealth to the intelligent, nor favour to men of expert ability; but time and chance happen to them all. For no one can anticipate the time of disaster. Like fish taken in a cruel net, and like birds caught in a snare, so mortals are snared at a time of calamity, when it suddenly falls upon them” (Ecc 9.10-12).  

So accidents come (and they DO come) as a consequence of “chance.” But accidents can also come (and they DO come) because WE are our own worst lawyer, jury and judge when it comes to our unconscious drive to execute judgment and justice on ourselves for what we deem to be negative harmful thoughts toward others, actual active misdoings, and in issues concerning self-failure. Solomon got very close to the truth of the matter when he so particularly and eloquently articulated that “as a man thinks in his heart so is he” (Prov 23.7). He was well aware that he was discussing an equation of sorts... hence, “as” and “so.”

DANGER OF “PROOF TEXTS”
Having said this, we all need to be extremely astute when we read specific biblical texts and attempt to apply them invariably in one way and in one way only. The fundamentalist and often sectarian offerings of doctrinal “proof texts” – lists of Scriptural texts compiled to give evidence of so-called biblical authority to substantiate doctrinal belief systems and theological views – can lead us astray from a total balanced understanding of the entirety of the biblical revelation depending on the “authorities” and the motives of those same people in sharing those texts with their readers. I have accented this fact time and again, and have actually used the study of man's immortality/mortality as a valid case in point to illustrate this overused proclivity in Christian evangelism and so-called “education” (actually, indoctrination). You can access my arguments on the specific matter of immortality in my lecture series Is Man the Phoenix? A Study in the Biblical Doctrines of Mortality & Immortality, (1994).

There are even proof-texts compiled and devoted in some circles of “faith” to demonstrate that psychiatry is an evil of our times. One of the texts included in such a doctrinal list happens to be Eph 5.29.

The apostle Paul is on record for telling us in no uncertain terms, that “no man yet ever hated his own flesh” (Eph 5.29).  

Oh? Is Paul serious? Modern psychologists and psychiatrists would seriously question such a statement. Those who espouse such a position as this apparent disavowal of the great evangelist in matters of medicine (and who happen to conveniently overlook the fact that Paul had as a constant companion a qualified physician called Luke!) would then, of course, point their righteous self-opinionated fingers at such reactions to their so-called “Bible position,” and feel personally vindicated with the opposition of such evil men and women who have become their persecutors. That is how the mind of a delusional cultist fanatic functions and operates.

This is, of course, only one of a number of “proof-texts” that could be cited to establish that man's innate biological and psychological “normal” human nature is essentially sound. Of course, we need to be reminded that Paul lived in the later Second Temple period and his judgments and assessments concerning human beings were strained and restrained by the constraints of his day and age. I will go along with an infamous carnal 20th century sectarian evangelist who espoused his cultish dogmatic doctrines with the force of his extraordinary powerful personality but who nevertheless rightly stressed that “the Bible is the foundation of all knowledge” – which is also correctly emphasised in the writings of the Moody Bible Institute. But the holy Bible isn't the repository of all knowledge. It was not intended by God to be a modern scientific textbook, although it has interesting scientific, medical, natural and historical inclusions and disclosures which were way ahead of our time. Modern knowledge is finally catching up with the contents of the Bible. And these, my students, are facts.

Certainly, in the Ephesian context, the apostle Paul is focusing his attention on the need for husbands to love their wives. Love is not love unless it is revealed in action. We can all say we love our wives or husbands, but what do our actions say about that professed love? Do we say we love someone but then seek to control that individual to our way of thinking? If we do so we are not truly loving that person (See 1 Cor 13 for proof of this assessment). Such is not love but manipulation. It's carnal to its core.

Naturally we all care for our body even if it is (more often than not) at a very surface level.

And so, Paul is merely stressing that as we almost instinctively care for our body so we need to care for our wives (and of course the principle also applies to wives in relation to their husbands). The Christian life is about self-sacrifice.

“Husbands, love your wives even as Messiah also loved the ekklesia, and gave himself for it” (Eph 5.25).

One modern writer expresses Paul's obvious intent in Ephesians to instruct men about our love for our wives in this way, “Once again, comparison is made with Christ's relationship with believers [in Paul's letter to the Ephesians]. The standard is Christ, not some human relationship which is prone to failure. This includes the idea of continual learning and growth. There is never a point at which a husband can claim he perfectly loves his wife and has no room to improve. Loving one's wife is a lifelong pursuit that resembles the lifelong pursuit of personal spiritual growth.”

This being so, we cannot escape the obvious fact of Paul's constraints of his day and age and the fact that his judgments were entirely without a 21st century medical and psychiatric appreciation.  

WE ARE COMPLEX CREATIONS OF GOD
The fact is we are torturous, complex creations of God. This is best described (in my opinion) by Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, currently the Executive Vice President, Emeritus of the Orthodox Union. He writes on just this subject of human complexity. I am quoting him at length but emphasis throughout is my own:  

“It was advertised as one symposium at a major psychology conference. It was to be a discussion about memory and forgetfulness. But it turned out to be one of the most intense and instructive days that I have ever witnessed.  

“The first speaker began by insisting that the fact that we remember things is obvious. What requires explanation, he argued, is why we forget. We are hardwired to recall every event that occurs in our lives. The mechanisms of forgetfulness are a mystery and call for a program of scientific research.  

“The second speaker took a position diametrically opposed to the first. He believed that it is only natural that we forget. It is one of nature’s wonders, he maintained, that we remember anything at all.  

“The third speaker took a middle of the road position. For him, the major challenge to the science of the psychology of memory was not why we remember. Or why we forget. Rather, it was why we remember certain things and forget others. And why we distort even those matters which we do remember, so that our memories are grossly inaccurate and unreliable.  

“It is the position of this third speaker that has kept my interest over the many years since that conference. And it was just recently, as we commemorated the tragic events of September 11, 2001, that my interest in this subject was revived.  

“Very many of my acquaintances were on or near the scene of the collapsed World Trade Center Towers on that fateful day. To this day, some have clear recollections of every moment of their experiences. Others claim that they only remember certain vivid episodes, fleeting ones, and can only draw a blank when it comes to the majority of the time they were exposed to the tragic scene.  

“Some have memories which are as accurate and as clear as the “flashbulb memories” that psychologists have studied as far back as World War II. For others, the memories have been partially, and sometimes substantially, repressed and can no longer be recalled. Their powerful and poignant emotional reactions have wrought havoc with the ability to accurately remember the events of that day.

“Remembering and forgetting are major themes in our Jewish religious tradition. We are commanded, for example, to remember the Sabbath, to remember the lessons to be drawn from the life of Miriam, and not to forget the enmity of Amalek. In this week’s Torah portion, Ha’azinu, there are at least two verses which relate to these themes. One reads, “Remember the days of yore, understand the years of generation after generation.” (Deuteronomy 32:7) and the other states, “You ignored the Rock who gave birth to you, and forgot G0D who brought you forth.” (Ibid. 32:18)  

“I have always been intrigued by the notion of forgetting G0D. Earlier in the book of Deuteronomy, we were admonished to be careful, lest “our hearts become haughty, and we forget the Lord our G0D.” (Deuteronomy 8:14) I can understand agnostic disbelief, and I can empathize with those who have lost their faith, but I have always found it puzzling to contemplate forgetting G0D. Either one believes, or one does not believe, but how are we to understand forgetting Him?

“Many years ago, I came across the writings of a psychologist named Robert Desoille, and it was in those writings that I’ve discovered a concept that helped me come to grips with the notion of forgetting G0D.  

“Desoille coined the phrase “the repression of the sublime.” He argued that we have long been familiar with the idea that we repress urges and memories that are uncomfortable or unpleasant. We repress memories of tragedy, we repress impulses which are shameful, or forbidden. It can even be argued that this power of repression is a beneficial one to individuals and society. If individuals would not be able to forget tragedy and loss, they could potentially be forever emotionally paralyzed and unable to move on with their lives. A society whose members act on every hostile impulse, rather than repressing them would be a society which could not endure for very long.  

“It was Desoille’s insight that just as we repress negative memories, we also repress positive aspirations. We are afraid to excel. There is a pernicious aspect to us that fears superiority and avoids the full expression of our potential. This is especially true in the area of religion and spirituality, where we dare not express the full force of our faith and, in the process, limit our altruistic tendencies. Perhaps it is the dread of coming too close to the divine. Perhaps it is a false humility that prevents us from asserting our inner spirit. Or perhaps it is simply that we do not wish to appear “holier than thou” to our fellows.  

“However one understands the reasons for this phenomenon, for me, the concept of “repression of the sublime” explains the notion of forgetting G0D. It is as if we have faith in Him, but do not have faith in ourselves to express our faith in him in our relationships and life circumstances. We repress our sublime potential.

“There are many impediments to thorough personal change and self-improvement. Desoille demands that we consider an impediment that never before occurred to us: we are afraid to actualize the inner spiritual potential that we all possess. We are naturally complacent, satisfied with a limited expression of our religious urges. We repress the sublime within us.

“As we now have concluded the High Holidays and their truly sublime liturgy, we have allowed our spiritual emotions full range. We have dared to express the religious feelings that welled up within us during the moments of inspiration that we all have surely experienced during this sacred season.

“Now is the season during which our faith demands that we loosen the bonds of the repression which limits us, take the risks of more fully expressing our religious convictions, and thereby no longer be guilty of “forgetting the G0D who brought us forth.”

“May we be successful in our efforts to free the sublime within us, to act courageously upon our religious convictions, and thereby merit the blessings of the Almighty for a happy and sweet new year.” [http://www.jewishworldreview.com/1016/weinreb_repression_of_the_divine_Haazinu.php3]

We are created in the Image of God. We are informed, in the mystical traditions of the Second Temple period, that God's character of justice (din) is balanced by God's character of mercy (hesed). Indeed, the beauty (tiferet) of God's character harmoniously exists half way between the extremes of both mercy and justice. A little reflection of the character of God recognises that the universe would cease to exist if it were founded only on God's justice or only on God's mercy. God is above all else a God of beautiful balance in all HisHer ways. Yes, we are made in God's image but we are necessarily a fractured image due to sin and therefore the beauty (tiferet) alludes us and it will continue to allude us until the resurrection at Messiah's advent. It is only then that we will be found to be permanently ashine and awash with the GLORY of God – true beauty indeed (2 Cor 3.18; Jn 3.1,2; Heb 2.10 etc).

And herein lies the reason for our daily struggle to find the balance in all we put our hands to achieve and to experience. And we will go out of our way to engage in establishing extreme justice at all costs in and for ourselves often with the negation of mercy (which is then aggressively subdued as a mental undercurrent).

ACCIDENTS
In a series of lectures I conducted back in 2014 concentrating on Kingdom Authority I noted the following:

“The CAUSE of our anxiety is the way we think.

“Solomon said, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he” (Prov 23.7) and he added, “As in water, face reveals face, so a man's heart reveals the man” (Prov 27.19). We can peer over the bank of a river and see our image in the water, as Solomon suggested, and we can more easily stand in front of a mirror and see our reflection in vivid detail. But we rarely, if ever, spend enough time looking into our subconscious mind, let alone attempt to see into our unconscious. The closest most of us come to reading our unconscious is remembering a dream that is most insistent in our memory long after we have experienced it because it hangs around long enough as a constant agitation for us to explore it more deeply. We have all had such dreams, but most of us simply ignore them or jokingly share a few details with others who may show an interest, until the details finally and inevitably dissipate.

“The “heart,” when spoken of in the Bible, is not simply representative of the emotional life of man. It is symbolic of the entire inner self, the unconscious – the seat of our personality.

“According to Solomon, our highest priority is to GUARD our heart. The heart, according to King Solomon, must be granted special attention. “Guard your heart with all diligence; for out of it spring the issues of life” (Prov 4.23).

“There is nothing more precious than our heart or MIND. The heart of man is defined as being comprised and understood through the aid of artificial mental constructs, called the conscious mind, the subconscious mind, and the unconscious mind. Of course, there are no actual distinct divisions in the MIND. It's all one strangely indefinable THING concerning which all attempts at description and definition have failed and will continue to fail. The MIND is most certainly NOT the brain. The mind uses the brain like a computer. We associate it with the brain, but it exists in the head only as a means to utilise the brain. Its location may not even be in the physical body. We just assume that it has its residence somewhere inside our material being.

“So guarded should our hearts be that Yeshua himself stated that the “pure in heartshall see God (Mt 5.8) indicating, if it indicates anything, that the impure of heart shall not see God. In contradistinction, Our Lord Yeshua tells us that out of the heart of human beings proceed – naturally, as far as the flesh is concerned – evil thoughts and inclinations covering a multitude of negative traits (Mt 15.19). Jeremiah informs us that the heart of a human being is wicked to the point of desperation – it cannot wait to devise evil strategies to get the best of you (Jer 17.9).

Listen! God is not in the least interested in the conformity of the external outward appearance of humankind. God wants your heart. In fact, God goes so far as to write the New Covenant on the heart of men and women of faith – and by activating His Spirit within the heart God's internalised will is ultimately worked out in His finished production: the New Man (Jer 31.33).

WARNING: Sin is deceptive. Paul speaks of sin indwelling us in our “flesh” – the downward pulls of human nature which is created with two major instincts: the erotic instinct and the death instinct. The heart is deceptive. It is so deceptive it can convince us that black is white and white is orange, that wrong is right and right is wrong – especially is this the case when our emotions (the soul) are involved. This is the reason so-called “harmless distractions” can seduce the heart into leaving its first love: distractions occurring in business, in family relationships, in a wife or husband's needs, friends, parties, leisure, hobbies, recreations, sex – any host of things can take our hearts away from following God. This is just so true but many shy away from the truth of the matter with all sorts of self-justifications when they are distracted from accomplishing the things dictated by God's Spirit. Don't think otherwise! (Rev 2.4). An “evil heart of unbelief” can easily become “hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Heb 3.12,13).

“Paul, an evangelist, was acutely aware of this disposition of the heart's intentions and he wrote that he was really terrified at being cast away – disengaged from – further Christian service (1 Cor 9.27). Being discarded from God during the rest of one's life after repeated efforts by God's Spirit to desire repentance within should make all of us a little apprehensive in a positive way. (And, I might pose the question, how long do we think we can remain on earth after being discharged from God's salvific work of continued service?)

“In my lectures on discipleship I have encouraged all my students to have our subconscious and unconscious will “transformed by the renewing of our minds” (Rom 12.2) – that is, to create new neural pathways in order to facilitate new knowledge, ideas and purposes. We ought to be in a state of 24/7 renewal. Those things that are true and noble, of good report and pure, just and lovely (Phil 4.8) must “dwell in our hearts richly” (Col 3.16) which is another way of stating the same thing.” [End of quote]

Again, in my past lectures on the Gospel of John I wrote, “Brilliant psychiatrist Karl Menninger [1893-1990] grasped what most fail to understand: man is a judicial creature who will bring about, actually engineer, his own self-destruction as a punishment for his sins even in the form of self-perpetuating illness, and “accidents” (let alone suicide attempts) as adults in order to gain the love – in the comfortable form of sympathy and aid – that they experienced in their childhood, and for which their hearts yearn to return.

“His brilliant tome Man Against Himself reports incident upon incident of men and women bringing about their own disastrous self-judgment, in the forms of suicide, self-mutilation, and accidents. He also gives prime examples of self-induced illnesses. Let me quote a little of Menninger's findings. Speaking of mind over matter in psychological disorders prevalent amongst some of his patients he writes:

1. Hysterical lesions sometimes become chronic and structuralised.
2. Actual, visible tissue-destructive lesions can be and have been produced by suggestion
3. The same motives may be demonstrated to exist in both types of illness, hysterical and organic. Study of the personality often shows that the “organic” disease is only a part of the total personality disease and fits into a pattern which seems to have the definite purpose of destroying the self. It may even happen that a functional and an organic disease may exist side by side, both serving the same need as it were, or that one may replace the other as the malignancy of the self-destructive impulse waxes or wanes.

“These three facts destroy the comfortable illusion of the separation of mind from matter which prevails in popular and medical thinking, whereby a doctor feels relieved of responsibility if a symptom can be shown to have psychological roots. He likes to think that the “self-preservative instinct” would not tolerate biological mayhem; that whatever the “crazy” mind of the patient might do, the “sane” body processes can be depended upon to be corrective, constructive, and defensive against malignant environmental and psychological forces. He likes to think that the patient comes to him for help when overtaken by fate, ill-fortune, bacteria, or some other invader against which he is fighting single-heartedly in an effort to preserve his body intact. The doctor would like to shut his eyes to the fact that sometimes the foe with which the patient fights is not something outside of him but something inside, a part of himself, and that this part is willing enough to have the doctor assume the responsibility of the combat, and often does its best to oppose his efforts. Bacteria, bad food, and sharp corners do exist and do inflict injuries, but it is often observed that such injuries are invited.

“The foregoing remarks might lead one to the inference that the author is attempting to deny external reality in its contribution to human illness. This is not the case. My purpose is rather to call attention to the facility with which one may forget or neglect the unconscious purposes of the individual on one's efforts to evaluate his disease. We know that often what appears to be an accident is a definite intention of the victim; it will be recalled that even such a non-psychoanalytic body as the National Safety Council wonders if there are really any “accidents.” People elect misfortune – they elect misery – they elect punishment – they elect disease. Not always, not all people, not all diseases; but this is a tendency to be dealt with and one which is not ordinarily considered by medical science and which masquerades under various plausible but incorrect or inadequate explanations.

“Take, for example, that well-known type of local, organic destruction known as a boil. As physicians, we have been educated to think of disease in terms of physics and chemistry; hence if a patient presents himself to us with a boil on the neck, we think of all sorts of things that we have learned from research and experience. We think of the bacterial flora, the mechanical complications, the blood sugar concentration; we think of the participation of chemical forces of immunity and resistance; we reflect upon the leukocytes, the antigens, the hydrogen ion concentration of the blood; we consider the distension of the skin, the fever, the pain, and best time and method for relieving it. But I venture to say that the feelings, or wishes, or disappointments of the person whose neck bears the boil would never enter our minds (as physicians) as a practical consideration. No one, I suppose, seriously believes (offhand) that there exists a “psychology of the boil” or that emotional factors contribute to its existence.

Man Against Himself, 1938, 312-314).

“Page after page of this volume gives account after account in example form of Menninger's observations of self-induced illness – for a variety of reasons where hope had disappeared and the psychological coping mechanism had failed in relation to patient affliction with their associates, neighbours, family and enemies. The case he has cited shows how a woman had boiled inwardly with a severe affliction of an experience of in-laws who were to her a pain in the neck. Her internal feelings literally externalised boils on the neck.

“There is little doubt we all as human beings carry within us an Opponent, a satan, and we must be on our guard daily for its manifestation as anger, self-doubt, hatred, malicious malevolence, and depression or depressive illness... Menninger, the celebrated American psychiatrist, came to the conclusion that moral values constituted a vital aspect of the practice of psychiatry for he viewed mental health and moral health as identical. Menninger perceived, quite correctly, that “sin” has an “I” in the middle of it (Karl A. Menninger, Whatever Became of Sin?, 1973). Yet today some psychiatrists have not only dismissed codes of morality in relation to mental health issues, they have also become little more than “agents” of the pharmaceutical industry (James Davies, Cracked: Why Psychiatry is Doing More Harm Than Good, 2013). We are confronted by the practice of burying negative drug trial results; the push for even more antidepressants that are no better than placebos; and manipulated research for the love of Mammon and medical status.” [End quote]

Menninger also had a great deal to share with his students and his readers concerning “purposive accidents.” He writes,

“The paradox of a purposive accident is more difficult for the scientific-minded person to accept than for the layman who in everyday speech frequently refers sardonically to an act as done “accidentally on purpose.”

“Indeed, it is probably upon the basis of an intuitive recognition of this paradox that superstitious fears have arisen in respect to certain “accidents,” e.g., spilling salt, breaking mirrors, losing wedding rings... These have become conventionalised and hence no longer capable of specific interpretation although they are sometimes taken seriously. The philosopher Zeno is said to have fallen down and broken his thumb at the age of 98, and to have been so impressed by the significance of this “accident” that he committed suicide (from which we might guess the unconscious meaning of the accidental fall and injury).

“We must exclude from this category any conscious deception i.e., pretended accidents. But quite aside from this there exists the phenomenon of apparent (i.e.,consciously) absent intention in acts which gratify deeper hidden purposes.

“I recall that I was once seated at a formal dinner by a woman for whom I had some dislike, which, however, I resolved to blanket completely so as not to spoil the conviviality of the party. I believe I succeeded quite well until an unfortunate piece of clever clumsiness on my part resulted in upsetting a glass of water over her gown into her lap. My dismay was the greater because I knew that she knew that accidents [to quote from a recent insurance advertisement] don't happen; they are caused.

“In many of these accidents the damage is inflicted not upon someone else but upon one's own self. The body then suffers damage as a result of circumstances which appear to be entirely fortuitous but which in certain illuminating instances can be shown to fulfill so specifically the unconscious tendencies of the victim that we are compelled to believe either that they represent the capitalisation of some opportunity for self-destruction by the death-instinct or else were in some obscure way brought about for this very purpose” (ibid., 278,279)

Sigmund Freud, the founding father of psychoanalysis, informs us in his Psycho-pathology of Everyday Life (1914, 198-216) of the case of a young woman who gave an exhibition of dancing one night for a group of relatives. Her jealous husband was greatly annoyed and later reproached her by declaring that she had behaved like a common prostitute. “After the incident she spent a restless night and the next morning decided to go driving. She chose the horses herself, refusing one team and demanding another. She refused vehemently to allow her sister's baby with its nurse to accompany her. During the drive she was very nervous and warned the coachman that the horses were getting skittish and finally when the animals 'really produced a momentary difficulty she jumped from the carriage in fright and broke her leg, while those remaining in the carriage were uninjured'” (quoted from Menninger, 279 Note 2). As pointed out by Freud this accident prevented her for a lengthy period from dancing.

It is interesting that Menninger reflects on purposive accidents that the ego “refuses to accept the responsibility for... self-destruction... If one thinks of his own occasional hazardous blunders in street navigation, he is apt to ascribe them (if not to carelessness) to impulsiveness, absorption in other lines of thought, distraction, etc. But, after all, if one permits himself to so far relinquish interest in his own personal safety in favour of contemplating the stock market or the purchase of a new dress, one is certainly betraying self-destructive indifference to reality. And, as for impulsiveness, a volume could be written about the disastrous consequences of this symptom. It has ruined many a business, many a marriage, and many a life. The tragedy of Romeo and Juliet is, of course, a dramatic exposition of the way impulsiveness combines with hate to produce self-destruction. Romeo's impulsiveness lost him his sweetheart just before he met Juliet in the same mood. His subsequent impulsiveness first resulted in the death of his best friend (he started to intervene in the duel and did so in such a way as to allow his friend to be stabbed) and then, in the avenging of this death his own exile. Finally, had he not been so impulsive in jumping to conclusions after he observed Juliet in the tomb and so precipitous in resolving upon suicide, neither his suicide nor Juliet's would have been necessary” (280).

There can be no doubt that “impulsiveness arises from an ill-controlled, partially disguised aggressiveness. This is almost transparently so in certain individuals who rush at their tasks or opportunities as if to sweep everything before them and, as they themselves put it, “to tear into it” only in the end to abandon the task prematurely or to make a botch of it in some way. They often appear to have the best of intentions but friends come to regard these as inconsequential bluffings. In love-relationships viewed both from the psychological and the physical standpoint such prematurity is often extremely disappointing to both parties and its unconscious aggressive intent often suspected” (281).

There is little doubt in my own mind that the super-ego may dictate to an individual to evade and override his ordinary ego that finds it difficult to accept the responsibility for self-destructive tendencies worked out through purposive accidents. Succumbing to the super-ego's drive to outwork the self-destructive tendencies of an individual can be illustrated in the following true account of the outcome of a domestic quarrel between a husband and wife. I admit this report carries some humour with it, but the seriousness of the situation should not be lost on any of us.

“In Detroit, Mich., Mrs John Kulcznski said to John Kulcznski: 'I wish you'd go out and have an accident.' He was run over, lost part of a foot. Then Mrs John Kulcznski said to John Kulcznski: 'I wish you'd lose the other foot.' He did. To stop Mrs John Kulcznski from wishing a third wish, John Kulcznski is seeking a divorce.” (Time, March 26, 1934).

ENTER THEODOR REIK
Theodor Reik (1888-1969) was an accomplished and prominent Jewish psychoanalyst who fled the Nazis and settled in New York. Reik trained under Sigmund Freud as one of his first students in Vienna, Austria, and was a pioneer of lay analysis in the United States.

He is much quoted, and a few of the more notables are...

“Women in general want to be loved for what they are and men for what they accomplish.”

“Work and love; these are the basics. Without them there is neurosis.”

“In our civilization, men are afraid that they will not be men enough and women are afraid that they might be considered only women.”

“The lover is a monotheist who knows that other people worship different gods but cannot himself imagine that there could be other gods.”

Reik penned over 20 books, but early in his career he brought forth a little volume that negatively stirred the entire medical fraternity. Yet it later proved to be invaluable in the pursuit of criminal cases. This book was called The Unknown Murderer (1925) and in it Reik insisted that society frequently sacrifices an innocent person or frees a guilty one due to our innate fear of facing our own suppressed criminal tendencies. But its core argument was that we can psychologically profile an unknown killer who unconsciously leaves behind even subtle clues to his identity because of his repressed feelings of guilt. It is this profiling that has been the most controversial feature of his works and yet which has proven to be an authentic gauge in the identification and arrest of hitherto entirely unknown criminals and especially serial murderers. Profiling criminals prior to their sometimes violent crimes and hideous acts has raised a blazing warning sign above the halls of moral and ethical justice systems and has been a major theme in a number of modern movies.

Whatever the case, a criminal often betrays himself and ushers in his own self-punishment by a convenient purposive accident. Again, I want to emphasise that we are talking here of the intention of the unconscious mind to bring about a self-judgment in the form of an accident. We are not discussing accidents that occur as a consequence of “time and chance” which “happens to us all.”

“Reik quotes the case of Franz Gal, who heard that his neighbour Varga had sold his oxen for 900 kronen. He waited till Varga and his wife had left the house, then he stole the money. Their little girl of six was alone at home and Gal determined to do away with the unwelcome witness. He tied a rope to a beam in the ceiling, made a noose, and asked the child to put her head into it. She asked him to show her how to do it, so he climbed a chair and showed her. Suddenly, the chair slipped from under him and he was caught in the noose. The frightened child ran out of the house. When the parents returned the man was dead. This... is an instance of a faulty act appearing as an accident, of suicide disguised as clumsiness” (Menninger, op.cit., 287, 288).

Again, Menninger describes psychoanalytically-studied cases in which anyone can see for themselves how “precisely [an] accident serves to punish the individual for guilty acts or wishes. In those cases which are not fatal... this punishment serves not only as the price of atonement but as a permission for further indulgences in the same guilty acts or fantasies... The guilty act stimulates the conscience to demand of the ego a price. In some instances this price is a (self-inflicted) death penalty. In other instances... it seems to be less severe and yet, curiously enough, to be an overpayment. This can only be accounted for in terms of psychological economy if we assume that the local self-mutilation is in some way or other a ransom and protects the ego against the imposition of the death penalty. This offering for a part for the whole, not alone for past atonement but for future protection, is as well known in American politics and racketeering as in the old Jewish religious rituals of sacrifice. The proprietor of an illegitimate business pays “hush money” or “protection” to the police in his district who, in order to retain this graft, pay a portion of it to the officials higher up, and so on. Occasionally... this entire system breaks down; for example, if the proprietor refuses to pay the price. In such a case the external forces of law and order are invoked and the illegitimate business is snuffed out” (289).

That the same mechanisms can be found in the ordinary affairs of men and women is substantiated by the following histories.

According to Time magazine (March 19, 1934) a particular gentleman (according to this report) was struck by lightning three times; had been buried alive in a coal mine; had been blown through the air by a cannon suffering the loss of an arm and an eye; had been buried alive under two tons of clay; next he fell thirty feet off a cliff; later he was thrown by a horse and dragged through a barbed wire fence. Then he fell from a speeding bob sled fracturing his skull. At the age of eighty he recovered from double pneumonia and at 81 he was downed by a paralytic stroke. At 82 he was run over by a horse and a wagon. At 83 he was run over by an automobile. The same year he slipped on the ice and fractured his hip.

That the “unconscious mental content of a personality that is forced into repeated contests with death but is able each time to emerge victorious, though at the cost of great suffering” expresses the reality of the depth of the depraved human mind when it comes to being subjected to the power of that judicious unconscious in terms of self-judgments that deliver their inner verdict of presumptuous guilt. I have said that we are our own worst enemy, and that is an incontestable absolute fact whether any of us want to readily accept it or not. How true the biblical axiom: “The heart [the unconscious mind] is deceitful above all things, and wicked to the point of desperation” (Jer 17.9).

Wicked? But why? For the simple reason that while we are made in the image of God because we are a fractured image (mirror) we are in constant rebellion against God “and the laws of God” – according to the apostle Paul in Romans 8 – and without the Spirit of God (the SPIRIT OF SALVATION) it is utterly impossible to obey Him (Rom 8.7,8). Moreover, rather than obey God and submit to His Atonement through the death of Christ we will take the position and power of our God and replace God's Kingdom Authority with perversions of our own self-estimation. Our inner Opponent delights in our carnal sinful measures to serve on ourselves the sentence of condemnation in one form or another... i.e., death or accidents. Indeed, it is on record in psychiatric journals that we humans can even become addicted to accidental self-destruction. (Read again the case I have quoted above and reported in Time magazine March 19, 1934.)

Another case in point: At the tender age of 11 days a baby fell from its crib and shattered the left arm. At age four he fell off a horse and broke his right arm. At age 6 “while trying to drive a stake with a hatchet, he cut his left foot to the bone. A year later a bull gored him so badly he was nearly killed, one arm, four ribs, a collar bone and both legs being broken. Then he had a few years of immunity. In his early teens he joined a circus. One of his tasks was to dive over three elephants – into a net. Once he fell while doing this and broke his much fractured leg again.

“His prize accident came in 1906 while he was brakeman on a freight train. Running along the top of a moving train, he stepped on a rotten footboard and fell to the track. Thirty-seven cars passed over him but none hurt him until the caboose came along, when his clothing caught in the wheels and he was dragged for three miles. His left arm was cut off, nine toes were severed, his skull was fractured, and his left side was crushed. But he lived.

“It was 1925 before another serious accident occurred. Then, riding in a passenger coach, he tripped in the aisle and broke a vertebrae in his spine, getting temporary paralysis. Recovering, he went for an auto ride. The auto went over a 45-foot bank into a river and he was nearly drowned.

“This year [1927] he again tripped in a Pullman aisle, wrenching his spine and spraining both ankles. Then he got scarlet fever and spent six weeks in the hospital. During his convalescence he got inflammatory rheumatism and did not walk for 19 weeks.

“This was followed by the explosion of a gas stove in a tent in a tourist camp. He was enveloped in flames and only prompt attention by friends saved him from being burned to death.

“Despite his many accidents he is cheerful.

“'You have to taste the bitter part of life to enjoy the sweet,' he says” (Topeka Daily Capital, Nov 21, 1927).

Menninger addresses the issue stating “more men die daily in accidents than from any single disease except heart disease... every five minutes someone is killed in the USA in an accident and a hundred others are being injured... from the time he is three years old until he is forty a man is more likely to die of an accident than in any other way... It seems to me that... the self-destructive element [is lurking] unseen behind many accidents” (Man Against Himself, 291-193).

I could go on bringing more and more stories of accidents into this lecture but I will refrain myself except for one very important account. And that happens to be my own. Here I was creating this lecture on Man Against Himself (Part B) “Repression of the Sublime,Man in the Image of God, and a Reason Why Accidents Occur, and I had almost completed it when my fingers inadvertently touched two keys by “accident” and I lost the lecture. Thinking quickly I did what I had to do and was able to retrieve it minus about an hours work which I had not saved. No matter, I thought, I will redo that section with little difficulty. And I did. But then as I typed in a flurry of moving fingers I actually repeated the same problem I had just experienced – but instead of shutting LibreOffice Writer down (long story why I presently use this system) as I previously had done, I responded to Libre's suggestion to save or discard by accidentally depressing the discard icon. Result? I lost it all! The entire lecture. And, I might add, all previous lectures I had done up to this juncture plus all the notes I had accumulated for future lectures on Paul's Letter to the Roman Christians. My entire file was GONE.

It took my son Reuben to save the day, losing precious time at his place of employment to rush over to see me and after he prayed earnestly and confidently that God would open a door to fix the issue he was able to restore the entire “lost” file. I was then faced with the task of rewriting entirely from memory about four or five hours of lost material.

I happen to know why it was that I behaved as I did and why the accident happened. And I do not mean my thick fingers depressing keys. I know the underlying nature of this incident because I know just how carnal my flesh actually is! With Paul I can say “I am sold under sin” (Rom 7.14). And you can also confess the self same thing. Most accidents do not “just happen.” Most are CAUSED by a determined carnal entity called SIN that inhabits our fleshly nature (Rom 7.17-20).

We can ALL REJOICE in the SALVATION of our God. We are saved from sin, we are saved from death, we are saved from haSatan and his evil world system, and we are saved from ourselves – from our carnal human mind which is at war with the purity of God. This is why we have been given God's precious holy Spirit, the Ruach HaKodesh, to fight for victory over the evil propensities of our unconscious wherein resides the yetzer ha'ra. After all, the normal everyday carnal human mind can come up with THOUGHTS that would embarrass a demon. Don't try to convince yourselves otherwise.

The holy Spirit is a down-payment of the MIND of GOD. It has merged with our own minds at conversion and God expects us to develop that MIND to the exclusion of our natural thought processes. In Peter's second epistle he speaks throughout of two minds, but the Christian is expected to choose one above the other. One mind is ACCIDENTAL in its impulsive and lustful lifestyle, and the converted mind is DELIBERATE especially in its capacity to be reminded and which mind is more than able to “recollect” or “remember.” This is why Peter can say powerfully to believers, “STIR UP your PURE MINDS by way of remembrance that you may be MINDFUL of the words which were spoken in times past by the holy prophets and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour” (2 Pet 3.1,2).

Without Our Lord Yeshua living within us we cannot be saved from our own inherent filthy wretchedness, and this is part of the message Paul has brought to us in his Letter to the Roman Christians.  

There is only ONE way to be saved and that is through God's uniquely begotten Son, Our Lord Yeshua the Messiah. As it is clearly written in Jn 3.16 in the correct Greek tense of the text: “For God so loves the world that he gives his uniquely begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him, trusts in him, clings to him, relies on him, should not be perishing, but be having everlasting life.”  

His Son confirms it:  

“Yeshua says unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes unto the Father, but by me” (Jn 14.6).

Yeshua spoke of people who would, by virtue of being cursed, find themselves eventually facing a terrible destruction by “fire.” Yeshua refers to them as “cursed.” But I have spoken of them as not cursed by God, for the Greek text just speaks of them as “cursed.” So, in light of Paul's later revelations, I have interpreted the statements of Yeshua as talking of these people as “self-cursed.” I stand on this interpretation because of what Paul wrote in Eph 4.18. There are some who have become self-cursed by virtue of being “self-banished from the life of God” (See the Amplified Version for evidence of this fact).  

I said at the beginning of this lecture that we would return to the letter of James the brother of Yeshua at its conclusion. My advice is for all my students to peruse again the entire letter from James and carry the thought with you that he is underscoring in almost every passage that it is our opposing thoughts that entice us. Therefore to conquer sin we must replace those thoughts with better uplifting and more positive thoughts before those thoughts are entertained as possible productions of a negative theatrical nature.

We are bound for GLORY. We are saved to inherit – to share – GOD'S very own GLORY. In our next lecture we shall pursue this dream-image of God and see how we can be brought closer together with Him.
 

Further Reading

Freud, Sigmund., Psychopathology of Everyday Life, 1914

Greenwald, Harold., Great Cases in Psychoanalysis, 1959, 1973

Kinderman, Peter., The New Laws of Psychology, 2014

Menninger, Karl., Man Against Himself, 1938

Reik, Theodor., The Unknown Murderer, 1925

Szasz, Thomas S., The Manufacture of Madness. A Comparative Study of the Inquisition and the Mental Health Movement, 1970

Szasz, Thomas S., The Myth of Mental Illness. Foundations of a Theory of Personal Conduct, 1961


THIS CONCLUDES LECTURE FIFTEEN

 2 
 on: March 26, 2017, 03:21:09 AM 
Started by Rebbe - Last post by Rebbe
PAUL'S LETTER TO THE ROMAN CHRISTIANS [14]

Analytical Commentary on Romans

MAN AGAINST HIMSELF – “HEARTS, CONSCIENCE, THOUGHTS” (Part A)

The Audio MP3 of this lecture is available via this link: http://www.bripodcasts.com/Romans/Lecture14.MP3

Copyright © BRI 2016 All Rights Reserved Worldwide by Les Aron Gosling,
Messianic Lecturer (BRI/IMCF)

CAUTION: BRI Yeshiva notes are not available to the general public. They are not for distribution. They are not for reproduction. The notes may also bear little or no resemblance to the actual audio or video recorded BRI Yeshiva lecture.

“The great Rabbi Gamaliel had among his disciples one who, according to a passage in the Talmud, gave his master a good deal of trouble, manifesting 'impudence in matters of learning.' But his name is not given; he is remembered simply as 'that pupil'” (F.F. Bruce, The Spreading Flame, 1958, 81. See also J. Klausner, From Jesus to Paul, 1944, 310f; Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 30b).

“In seeking wisdom the first step is silence. The second, listening. The third, remembering. The fourth, practicing. The fifth, teaching others” (Rabbi ibn-Gavrioel)

“I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions” – Stephen Covey (American educator, businessman, keynote speaker)

“When the student is ready, the Teacher comes” - Buddha


We have finally and painstakingly plodded to Romans 3. Now, at this stage in our progression through Paul's Letter to the Roman Christians I wish to return a little way to Romans 2. For, at our previous Yeshiva we were confronted by an attitude of hostility cushioned by a very deeply troubled and divided mind, one which both accused and excused, in inner conflict. Because of this disturbance I deem it timely and well to give some serious reflection on Romans 2.11-16.

TEXT
“For God does not show favoritism. All who have sinned outside the Torah will die outside the Torah; and all who have sinned within the framework [sphere] of Torah will be judged by Torah. For it is not merely the instructed in Torah whom God considers righteous; rather, it is the doers of what Torah says who will be justified in God’s sight. For whenever Gentiles, who have no Torah, do habitually by nature what the Torah requires, then these, even though they don’t have Torah, for themselves are Torah! For their lives show that the conduct the Torah dictates is written in their hearts. Their consciences also bear joint-witness to this, for their conflicting thoughts sometimes accuse them and sometimes defend and excuse them in the day when God passes judgment on people’s inmost secrets. According to the Good News as I proclaim it, he does this through the Messiah Yeshua” (Rom 2.11-16).

BIBLICAL TEACHING ON RESPECT OF PERSONS
There is no respect of persons with God. The Pharisees knew how to flatter with their lips and they tried it more than once with the Lord Yeshua even to the extent of collaborating with their religious enemies – and he refused to have a bar of them!

“Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel together on how they might entangle him in his talk. And they sent out unto him their students with the Herodians [Herod's secret police who were trained in loopholes in the Torah] saying, Master [or, Teacher], We know positively that you are true, and that you teach the Way of God in truth, and that you do not kowtow to anyone, for you do not show partiality to anyone because of his standing or appearance. So, tell us please, what do you think about....” (Mat 22.15,16).

Yeshua was God in flesh. And, as I have already emphasised, God (Yehoveh) is no respecter of persons. This was grasped not only by the religious leaders of his day but by the early Messianic Movement in all its spheres of apostolic influence. The great pity is that carnal churchmen and women DO show partiality. While this proclivity occurs in the historic church, this is especially apparent in sectarian circles and in personality cults. As those “elevated by Office” strut about an assembly like so many little strait-backed Napoleon's gazing down upon humble and sincere “Christian hostages” – to their manic and obsessive temperaments of these self-appointed dictators – certain more “pliable” sheep are singled out for subordinate duties which kindle their own religiously ambitious fire. And the cycle of this agonising death-dance drags on. Danse macabre!

“And, you [Christian] slaveholders, do the same things unto them [your servants: see vvs 5-8] forbearing threatening, knowing that your Master also is in heaven – neither is there respect of persons with him” (Eph 6.9).

“Servants... you serve the Lord Messiah. But he that does wrong shall receive for the wrong that he has done. And there is no respect of persons” (Col 3.22,24,25).

James, who can be found at the opposite end of the Pauline theological spectrum, had this to say:

“My brothers, practice the faith of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah, Lord of glory, without showing favoritism: for if there come unto your synagogue a man with a gold ring in splendid apparel, and a poor man also come in, in vile apparel, and you look upon him who wears the splendid apparel, and say, Take the best position, and then say to the poor, You stand stand over there, or sit here under my footstool: have you not made a difference among yourselves, and become judges having evil thoughts? Hear, my beloved brothers: Has not God chosen the poor as to the world, rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to them that love him? But you have despised the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you, and do not they drag you before the tribunals?And, do not they blaspheme the excellent name which has been called upon you? If indeed you keep the royal law according to the scripture, You shall love your neighbour as yourself, you do well. But if you have respect of persons, you commit sin, being convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever shall keep the whole law and shall offend in one point, he has come under the guilt of breaking all” (Jam 2.1-10).

James, the alternative High priest of the later Second Temple Jewish nation, went on to elucidate his political orientation, “Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have rusted, and their rust will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up for yourselves treasure for the last days. Behold, the wages of the labourers who mowed your fields, which you have kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Master of Legions. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter” (Jam 5.1-6).

Clearly, from Genesis to Revelation, respect of persons – failing to be impartial – is a negative character trait that needs to be replaced with genuine humility and equality of appreciation toward all humankind. Small reason many scholars have recognised in James (Yaakov) the manifestation of an authentic socialist. This should not be a big surprise to any of our students at the BRI/IMCF. After all, James was rooted firmly and sternly in the Sinai Torah. Indeed, my own father Amos (after whom one of my sons is named) was himself a socialist instructed from the “Book of the Law.” And what does it teach?

Here are just a few of the biblical commandments, concerning which none of us should baulk.

LEVITICUS
“You shall not oppress your neighbour... but you shall love your neighbour as yourself: I am the Lord” (Lev 19.13,18).

DEUTERONOMY
“He [HaShem] executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. Love the sojourner therefore; for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt” (Deut 10.18–19).

“When you reap in your harvest in the field, and have forgotten a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it... When you beat your olive trees, you shall not go over the boughs again... When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not glean it afterward; it shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless and the widow. You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt; therefore I command you to do this” (Deut 24.19-22).

ECCLESIASTES
“It is God's gift to humankind that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all their toil” (Ecc 3.13).

That's specifically humankind as a whole and “everybody” leaves none out.

PSALMS
“Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked” (Ps 82 (81).3, 4).

“Spiritually prosperous is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in his commandments!... He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever; his horn is exalted in honour” (Ps 112 (111).1, 9).

AMOS
“Alas for those who lie on beds of ivory, and lounge on their couches, and eat lambs from the flock, and calves from the stall; who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp, and like David improvise on instruments of music; who drink wine from bowls, and anoint themselves with the finest oils, but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph!” (Amos 6.4-6).

“Hear this, you that trample on the needy, and bring to ruin the poor of the land, saying, ‘When will the new moon be over so that we may sell grain; and the sabbath, so that we may offer wheat for sale? We will make the ephah small and the shekel great, and practice deceit with false balances, buying the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals, and selling the sweepings of the wheat’ (Amos 8.4-6).  

“The eyes of the Lord God are upon the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from the face of the earth – except that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob, says the Lord... I will restore the fortunes of my people Israel, and they shall rebuild the ruined cities and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and drink their wine, and they shall make gardens and eat their fruit” (Amos 9.8,14).

ISAIAH

“Even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood... cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow” (Isa 1.15-17).

SIRACH
“He who loves gold will not be justified, and he who pursues money will be led astray by it. Many have come to ruin because of gold, and their destruction has met them face to face. It is a stumbling block to those who are devoted to it, and every fool will be taken captive by it” (Sir 31.5–7).

Yeshua himself identifies with the hungry, the poor, the sick, and with prisoners.

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” Then he will say to those at his left hand, “You that are [self-] cursed, depart from me into the aeonian fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.” Then they also will answer, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?” Then he will answer them, “With all honesty I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” And these will go away into aeonian punishment, but the righteous into eternal life”  (Mat 25.31-46).

BASIL OF CAESAREA
Basil was an early Greek church father (c. 330-379 CE) who penned a sermon entitled The Rich Fool in which he castigates the object of his derision. He writes,

“Who is the covetous man? One for whom plenty is not enough. Who is the defrauder? One who takes away what belongs to everyone. And are not you covetous, are you not a defrauder, when you keep for private use what you were given for distribution? When some one strips a man of his clothes we call him a thief. And one who might clothe the naked and does not – should not he be given the same name? The bread in your hoard belongs to the hungry; the cloak in your wardrobe belongs to the naked; the shoes you let rot belong to the barefoot; the money in your vaults belongs to the destitute. All you might help and do not – to all these you are doing wrong.”

THE REAL REASON GOD BLESSES HER CHILDREN
There is a reason why God the Father/Mother blesses heaven's children. And it is decidedly not for the recipient to heap that blessing on themselves. Rather, and contrary to nature – recall that the wild kingdom is nothing more than an orgy of blood self-sacrifice for the survival of the greater ecosystem as one species preys on another species to satisfy hunger and/or to maintain territorial status and an ongoing progeny – humankind is created to share with others who have need. God blessed Abraham. Yes, that is very true. But God then told Abraham, the Father of the Faithful, that in receiving God's blessing of prosperity he was to BLESS in turn. Notice it now:

“I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing” (Gen 12.2 NRSVA).  

As the rabbis acknowledge, the latter expression “and you shall be a blessing” while acceptable, ought more properly be translated from the Hebrew as “and you be a blessing.”

Abraham was called to be a number of things, including the founder of many nations. And the “Father of the Faithful” did become the founder of many nations – as well as over a half dozen world religions, and numerous royal dynasties. But primarily he was chosen to become the medium of blessing to others. Certainly this procedure of blessing others has the approval of the One who became Yeshua the Messiah. Paul tells us that Christ once articulated the following quotation, drawn from a Yeshua-list of sayings that were circulating in his time. “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20.35).

But its nowhere recorded anywhere in the four Gospels.

Remember that we are told by the apostle John in Jn 20.3: “And many other signs truly did Yeshua in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Yeshua is the Messiah, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.”

Note, “but these are written” which by implication means that there were some things not written down until later (Jn 21.25) and were initially shared through oral tradition. These quickly became so-called “Jesus-lists” (or Yeshua-lists of quotations) which circulated throughout the assemblies in the Yeshua Messianic Movement.

BUT WHAT DOES BLESS MEAN?
Let me ask everyone a simple question. Are we afraid of freedom? Are we timid when it comes to taking responsibility for our own thoughts?

Understand this about discipleship, about following Christ. Discipleship involves a cost (Lk 14.25-33). Yeshua had 82 students at one time (Lk 10.1). But in one single instance he had something to say and as a consequence he lost all but the original twelve (Jn 6.66-68).

Kenneth Wuest, the Greek scholar, recognised these disciples as Yeshua's “pupils” (Jn 6.66) and noted it was “their manner of life” they did not want to change.

We cannot remain a disciple and keep doing the things we used to do. And the things we DO are the active elements of the way we THINK. With our thoughts we make our world (Buddha) and as Solomon later agreed “As a man thinks in his heart, SO is he.” Its an equation, you see. Our thoughts create our “manner of life.”

Our freedom of speech VOICES our THOUGHTS. If our thoughts are disciplined we can exercise and bring about – bring into fruition – enormous changes in our life (no matter how young or old we happen to be) and in the lives of others for GOOD.

Above all else our freedom of speech reflects our freedom of thought and in no way should we FEAR such freedom and liberty and shrink from exercising it.

The Constitution of the Word of God overrides all man-made ordinances. No husband or wife should curtail their partner's freedom of speech (which is really freedom of thought) and no “authority” – self-styled or otherwise, real or imagined – has the right to deny any of us the privilege of sitting and feasting and rejoicing at the banquet of God.

And, believe me students, some people have so acted in the lives of God's little children.

In Hebrews 3.6 in the Greek we read, “We are the House of that One, IF we make fast our hold on our freedom of speech and our boasting over the Hope firm unto the consummation.”

And again, in Hebrews 10.35 from the Greek: “Cast not away therefore your freedom of speech which has great recompense of reward.”

For any who would argue with me over translation of the Greek into English please refer to Strong's Exhaustive Concordance 3954 “parrhesia – all out-spokeness, ie., frankness, bluntness, publicity by imp. Assurance:- bold (X-ly), -ness, -ness of speech)...”

Discipleship is about changed lives, and it necessarily involves changed attitudes, changed motives, changed habits. From negative to positive, from corruption to deathlessness, from carnal to spiritual, and from spiritual poverty to the abundance of spiritual prosperity. Only by changing our thoughts to positive ones can we be enabled to BLESS.

According to the dictionary, to bless means:

“To make holy or whole by spoken words, by pronouncements.
To ask divine favour for some situation or condition, to glorify it.
To wish a person or situation well, to evoke divine favour.
To make joyous, happy or prosperous.
To extol and will to gladden, glorify, praise.”

In other words, to bless means to bring forth – or, to will forth – only GOOD in a situation, condition or personality whether there seems to be any good to be brought forth or not.

God can do these things. God can do anything. Can we do such things? Should we do such things? The answer is straightforward, according to Paul's Letter to the Roman Christians – a letter which is our passport to the Kingdom of God, and a vital section of our instruction manual pertaining to the principles of discipleship and the art of spiritual warfare.

Paul tells us simply, “Bless... bless and do not curse” (Rom 12.14).

This in itself ought to reveal something of God's patient love and Grace. For, it is the apostle Paul who never truly “put the brakes on” when it came to voicing curses. He is on record for pronouncing curses on others when he felt justified in so doing at times during his ministry. He was fragile like so many of us in this same training ground – our time NOW for affecting change and productive growth in authentic transformation of the natural man/natural woman.

John Wesley, although incurably Arminian in his theology, comprehended the truth of blessing as the force of Kingdom Authority. And look at what he achieved! He has been called “the most successful reject since Jesus Christ.” The Religious Establishment treated Wesley with utter contempt, yet in his lifetime he traveled an astonishing quarter of a million miles on horseback across Britain, armed only with his Bible, a handful of books, and a few songs. He single-handedly converted hundreds of thousands and changed the entire course of a nation. Concerning blessing, he exhorted fellow believers,

“Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can."

Wesley wrote a great deal about the blessing of service to others.

He well knew that when we bless we make contact with, and tap directly into, the greatest power on earth – the living power of the ALL-GOOD GOD. That power will unleash from around us, and from within us. It is power directed toward the formation and materialisation of blessing that is uttered by our mouth.

But it is blessing in service to others. Ironically, as used today, the word “service” seems to indicate a freely given exchange between equals. But the roots of the word betray its significance: it is found in serf, servile, servitude and slave.

The higher blessing of God is expressed in these remarkable terms: “I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the ground shall be blessed” (Gen 12.3). “And blessed... in YOU shall be all the families of the ground.” Truly, “All the families” constituting humankind shall ultimately enter into the enjoyment of this UNBOUNDED blessing.
The love of power, when it is transformed into the power of love, will usher in blessing which will flow from the all-encompassing Consciousness of Anochi I-Source straight into the collective consciousness of humanity like the crest of a breaking wave.

This is what it means to BLESS. What then does it mean to CURSE? Do our students realise the depth of our judicial nature – do they realise just how far WE will go to condemn ourselves in this life? Many of us cry out to God for blessings not having comprehended the degree to which in life we stand self-condemned. That's SELF condemned... no condemned by God.

Why do accidents occur? Could they be the outworking of our own negative natures? There exists plenty of evidence that we can be our own worst lawyer, jury and judge. For, we exist as judicial creatures made in the Image of God. When we see ourselves as “failures” – failing to measure up to some preexisting standard of acceptable behaviour – we resort to punishing ourselves. We can be, and oftentimes are, far harsher toward ourselves than is God the FatherMother of us all.

We shall explore this perversity in our nature in our following lecture.

THIS CONCLUDES LECTURE FOURTEEN

 3 
 on: March 25, 2017, 04:46:26 PM 
Started by Rebbe - Last post by Rebbe
PAUL'S LETTER TO THE ROMAN CHRISTIANS [13]

Analytical Commentary on Romans

On Jewish Hypocrisy in the Second Temple Period [3]
Jews Need Salvation

The Audio MP3 of this lecture is available via this link: http://www.bripodcasts.com/Romans/Lecture13.MP3

Copyright © BRI 2016 All Rights Reserved Worldwide by Les Aron Gosling,
Messianic Lecturer (BRI/IMCF)

CAUTION: BRI Yeshiva notes are not available to the general public. They are not for distribution. They are not for reproduction. The notes may also bear little or no resemblance to the actual audio or video recorded BRI Yeshiva lecture.

“The great Rabbi Gamaliel had among his disciples one who, according to a passage in the Talmud, gave his master a good deal of trouble, manifesting 'impudence in matters of learning.' But his name is not given; he is remembered simply as 'that pupil'” (F.F. Bruce, The Spreading Flame, 1958, 81. See also J. Klausner, From Jesus to Paul, 1944, 310f; Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 30b).

“I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. It is now time to change the things I cannot accept” – Angela Davis


It was my mother who introduced me to the synagogue in Sydney when I was a child. When I departed the synagogue and opened a copy of the Christian “New Testament” and read through Paul's Letter to the Roman Christians I had no issues with anything he wrote. Here I was a Jew, reading what a Jew from the Second Temple period in Jewish history had penned concerning issues facing the (still largely Jewish) Yeshua Messianic Movement in the city of Rome. I had no difficulties about anything Paul wrote in this letter. I already knew academically that what was called twentieth century “Christianity” bore little (if any) resemblance to the original “church” “Jesus” had established. I already was well-versed in the Dark Age of Constantine, and was fully aware of the changes and reforms the Roman emperor had made to eradicate all things Jewish from the universal church. My understanding at that time (which has remained unchallenged) was that Constantine had almost single-handedly created a new church altogether – the new Roman Catholic Church. Those who remained “Jewish” in their continued observance of the seventh day as the Sabbath of the Decalogue and circumspect in their daily dietary regime were persecuted, with myriads killed or driven across the Parthian borders of the Roman empire. Many authentic followers of the Lord Yeshua resettled in the Balkans and in Armenia. My education at this point took a radical turn, but much of what I learned in the decades since has merely proven my original grasp of ecclesiastical history to have been well-grounded in truth.

Certainly, my initial understanding of the historical background of the Messianic Scriptures and early ecclesiastical history – and first century Jewish traditions – has brought forth an abundance of right knowledge which I share with any and all who have open minds and hearts in respect of today's Jewish-Christian Messianic Movement. I make no apology for having learned much gleaned from the writings of the late Dr Hugh Schonfield and I greatly treasure his contributions to a reconstructed history of the original followers of Yeshua. Sadly, Dr Schonfield later became apostate. It was also through Schonfield that I came to a broader, fuller grasp of the plan of God in relation to those who had never ever heard of “Jesus.” I grasped the meaning of the festival of Shemini Atzeret back in the '60s, but in 1985, like a man dying of thirst, I voraciously swallowed Schonfield's grasp of the Greek telos. His honest and uncompromising translation of telos in the text of 1 Corinthians 15.24 substantiated my greater vision of eternity. To clarify what I am sharing with all my students Rav Shaul wrote the following. I am using Hugh Schonfield's translation and I will also appeal to his notes on the subject of telos.

“But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead as the first fruits of those who have gone to their rest. For since by man came death, so by man, came also resurrection from the dead. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ will all be brought to life, though each in his proper order, first Christ, followed at his coming by those who belong to Christ, then the remainder when he has handed over the Kingdom to God, to the Father, after abolishing all other government, authority and power. For he himself must rule until “he has put all enemies under his feet.” The final enemy to be abolished is death, for everything is to be brought into subjection beneath his feet...” (1 Cor 15.20-27 emphasis is his own).

Schonfield rightly translates telos not as “end” but as “remainder” in this context. As he stresses in his notes “Gk., telos, here used not in the sense of 'the End' but the 'tail end' who are the vast majority. The order is processional, the general, his staff, and then the main body of men bringing up the rear” (Hugh J. Schonfield, The Original New Testament, Edited & Translated from the Greek by the Jewish Historian of Christian Beginnings, 1985, 321).

JEWS LARGELY SELF-RIGHTEOUS
Arguably, the mid-to-later Second Temple period of Jewish history was the most deplorably corrupt period experienced at any time by the Jewish people, with the possible exception of our present modern age. The conditions that abounded at the time of Christ overreached those of the immediate pre-Nebuchadnezzar period when God sealed the doom of Jerusalem and sent the Jews into Babylonian exile. In the opinion of this lecturer the sinful condition of the Jewish people in the days of Our Lord Yeshua and Paul were far worse than even the time-period prior to the Assyrian invasions of the Northern Ten-tribed Union that saw the actual eclipse of Israel (Ephraim/Samaria) and the obliteration of that Nationhood. The great sin of the Second Temple rabbins was that of self-righteousness (Lk 18.9-12).

There are records extant from the bygone era of the Second Temple milieu but admittedly they are few and far between. The Christian corpus known as the NT (or Messianic Scriptures) almost uniquely spells out a description of an age which proceeded to produce a devaluation of human character, an epoch of political chicanery, bribery, lies, deceit, assassinations, and the use of immense cruelty on the part of Roman power with Jewish Sanhedrin collaborative cooperation in the pursuit of the Pax Romana on Jewish soil. Crucifixions were a daily event. The apostle John in his Apocalypse writes that not only had Jerusalem sunk into the immoral fabric of Sodom and Egypt (Rev 11.8) but describes the Jewish Commonwealth as the “land creature” intimately in league with the “Sea beast” – Rome. As articulated so concisely in the Gospel accounts of the trial of Yeshua, “We have no king but Caesar!” (Jn 19.15).

The Jews today still have no king but Caesar – and some will do anything to get the approval of this rotten, degenerate, God-rejecting world.

The Sanhedrin coldly and eagerly sought to profit from Rome at every level, and Rome's political representatives purchased Sadducee treason in a bid to outnumber Pharisaic placements in the Jewish ruling body. The Pharisees were more popular with the Jewish masses and wore out Roman pretensions at various “peaceful party negotiations.” In a word they couldn't be bought at any price.

At any event, Herod's consumptive utilisation of secret police in professional covert intelligence operations, with the aim of rooting out dissidents and dissentients from the Jewish masses, has only recently been forthcoming in serious studies of that age. Herod was second only to the infamous J. Edgar Hoover in such an administration. The latter excelled in blackmailing his “opponents” as a consequence of wiretapping and surreptitious photographic surveillance, while Herod used the Torah with its myriads of extra-biblical rules, regulations and expectations against his apparent opposition.

This procedure of surveillance is mentioned in passing by Peter in Acts 15.10. It will once more be repeated when the Antichrist rules from Jerusalem (Mt 24.20). And yet, Judaea – and certainly Jerusalem – was the showcase (if you will) of the entire Roman empire. It was the very centre of immense exploitable wealth and power as far as Rome was concerned, but it was established with mistrust, political manipulation, and the constant threat of retaliative military might which hung over the Jewish Commonwealth. Recall that Jerusalem was internationalised in 6 CE when Roman troops marched in to Jerusalem as a programmed peace initiative to “protect” both Roman and Jewish interests in the region.

Of course, the major and minor prophets of Israel and Judah scathingly rebuked the State of Israel which was to exist at the end of the age, and the apostles of the Messianic Movement all believed to a man that they were living at the time of the end and therefore the descriptions given by the prophets of a debauched Israelite people under a curse from God was already realised as far as they were concerned.

Be this as it may, we are now living in the days predicted by the prophets and it will not be long before the ax of heaven falls on the entirety of the world, including the Jewish State.

RECAPITULATION
So, at the beginning of this 13th lecture into Paul's Letter to the Roman Christians let us recapitulate for a moment our journey thus far in relation to the outline of the letter.

1. Paul condemns the entire Gentile world in Romans 1.18-32 with special attention given to the idolatrous debauched sexual deviancy of a pagan Mediterranean Mystery Religion that had entered Rome itself, involving bestiality.

2. Paul condemns the moralist or humanist in Romans 2.1-16. At this juncture Paul takes an approach which he drew on from that of the prophet Nathan in a pronounced circumvention with King David (2 Sam 12.1-7) and also perhaps using the example of the indirect approach of Amos in Am 1&2. The prophet Amos condemns the Gentile nations surrounding Israel, and it is only when the Jews join in on this orgy of vehement denunciation that Amos turns the tables on the Chosen People and incorporates them into his message of impending destruction and doom. Self-righteousness prevents people from seeing their need of salvation, of apprehending their need of the Gospel. They put their trust in their own intellectual prowess and powers to change, their own abilities to self-approve, and at the same time they look down their righteous noses at others blaming them as the real cause of their troubles and travails.

But have you noticed that in Romans 1 Paul speaks often of “they” and when he gets to Romans 2 the rabbinic scholar changes his emphasis from “they” and substitutes “YOU.” He is speaking eyeball to eyeball with his own national and racial and cultural kindred.

3. Paul then proceeds to condemn the Jew (Romans 2.17-3.8). In Romans 2.17 Paul says, “Behold, you are called a Jew.” In Romans 2.28 the term “Jew” is repeated in the phrase, “For he is not a Jew...” repeated in Romans 2.29: “For he is a Jew...” and again in Romans 3.1, “What advantage then has the Jew?” Paul has mentioned the Jews four times in this section of Romans. It is clear that he is now speaking to Jewish Christians in Rome. This is the group he is addressing in this section of his text. He is decidedly not referring to Gentiles as so-called “spiritual Jews”!

Hypocrisy is an enormous sin, but it is negatively birthed from the soil of a yet greater sin – that of self-righteousness. Lecturer Alva McClain makes the point: “When Paul started to condemn the world [in his Letter to the Roman Christians], the Jew claimed to be exempt from condemnation on three grounds. Paul knew this, for he himself was a Jew. These were the three grounds:

1. Because he was a son of Abraham. When Christ was condemning those Jews, they replied, “We are Abraham's seed” (Jn 8:33)...

2. Because he had the law. The Jew rested his hope on possession of the law.

3. Because he was circumcised. The old rabbinic writings of the Jews contain such statements as this: “No circumcised man will be lost.” In the days of Paul there was a saying that Abraham stood at the Gates of Hades [Sheol]... seeing that no circumcised man was ever cast into hell...” (Alva McClain, Romans: The Gospel of God's Grace, 1973, 81).

But these three claims did have a basis of truth – they can be found in the writings of the rabbis of the Second Temple Period and based on their interpretative emphasis in Hebrew Scripture. And so Paul needed to deal with each of these three arguments. But his warning to the Jew is clear enough: he was saying, in effect, “Unless you repent of your self-righteous hypocrisy you are going to be judged. There WILL be a day of judgment – and you will not survive it!

That day of judgment fell upon the Jewish Commonwealth in 70 CE.

McClain continues,

“Three words are the key words. In the first section the emphasis is on the law: “resteth in the law” (v.17); “instructed out of the law” (v.18); “the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law: (v.20); and “Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonorest thou God?” (v.23).

“In the second section the emphasis is on circumcision: “circumcision verily profiteth... thy circumcision is made uncircumcision” (v.25). Paul uses this word in verse 26 and 27, too.

“The third section emphasizes lineage: “He is not a Jew...” (v.28), “but he is a Jew...” (v.29).

“Now then, take those three ideas, and with them let us make [an outline]. It would be something like this:

1. The law cannot save the Jew (vv. 17-24)
2. Circumcision cannot save the Jew (vv. 25-27)
3. Birth cannot save the Jew (vv. 28-29).”

So much for any argument that we cannot possibly locate and establish doctrine from Paul's writings! Such a view is simply laughable.

The Jewish Commonwealth was populated by, on the one hand, ignorant masses who did not live by the Sinai Torah and, on the other hand, those few thousands who claimed a loyalty to the Law but who lived their lives in contempt toward those who seemingly failed to measure up to the Torah's high standards. Intriguingly, the Essenes separated from the religious cultists who had become ritualised as well as mechanically ceremonial considering them as entirely hypocritical and belonging to an apostate Temple system – a view Paul himself also later adopts.

Let us regard the text as it stands in Romans 3.1-8 which flows on from the end of chapter 2. We have already discussed Romans 2.17-29.

TEXT
“Therefore you have no defense, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are practicing the very same things... Then what advantage or preeminence has the Jew? Or, what is the value of being circumcised? Much in every way! In the first place, the Jews were entrusted with the very divine utterances of God. If some of them were unfaithful, so what? Does their faithlessness cancel God’s faithfulness making it ineffectual? Heaven forbid! God would be true even if everyone were a liar! — as the Scripture says, 'so that you, God, may be proved right in your words and win the verdict when you are put on trial.” [Psalm 51.6 (4)] Now if our unrighteousness highlights God’s righteousness, what should we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict his anger on us? (I am speaking here the way people commonly do.) Heaven forbid! Else, how could it be possible for God to judge the world? 'But,' you say, 'if, through my lie, God’s truth is enhanced and brings him greater glory, why am I still judged merely for being a sinner?' Indeed! Why not say (as some people slander us by claiming we do say), 'Let us do evil, so that good may come of it'? Against them the judgment is a just one!” (Romans 2.1; 3.1-8).

Firstly, Paul, in addressing the Jew, begins with a profound “therefore.” Some scholars find this difficult to connect with what has gone previously as Paul sums up an argument meant to disable his Jewish readers who are receiving his letter. My view is that he is referring back to his introduction wherein he addresses relational sins concerning which every single one of us is guilty in some measure (Rom 1.29-31).

Indeed, its astonishing how the law of karma actually works when we consider upon reflection the number of televangelists who have condemned people from the pulpit for adultery and sexual promiscuity and then its been discovered that they themselves have been “frequent flyers” in relation to massage parlours (really, brothels) or as promiscuous gays caught out in public toilets. One famous Australian radio talk-back shock-jock was arrested by London police for lewd behaviour in a public toilet and it took our then Labor PM Bob Hawke to secretly negotiate to bring him home without charges laid. And he's back on the radio waves as pious as ever – and an anti-Labor pro-Liberal at that.

Secondly, and this point is important, please take note that Paul does not discourage circumcision as such. He insists it has a value for the Jewish race, in his own words: “What is the value of being circumcised? Much in every way!

Concordant writer A.E. Knoch has written, and with which comment we are in agreement: “The rite of circumcision was the outward sign, in the first place, of an inward faith, but it degenerated into a mere mark of privilege. But misused privilege is of no avail at the bar of God. In the judgment the outward visible tokens will count for nothing. Only that which is vital, in spirit, which will meet the scrutiny of God, will receive recognition. Men may applaud many an action which God detests, and may condemn that which God approves. Human standards and outward appearances will weigh little in the judgment” (A.E. Knoch, Concordant Commentary on the New Testament, 1968, 232).

FIVE IDENTIFYING MARKS OF HYPOCRISY
It took decades after Paul wrote his epistle To the Roman Christians for the destruction of Jerusalem to occur, with the loss of over a million Jewish lives and the deportation as slaves of almost a hundred thousand from this lost generation. Jewish immorality finally took the life of the Saviour and then his brother James – and a frightening curse came crashing in on the Jewish race in 70 CE. Two thousand years of exile ended in 1948, and the Fig Tree began to blossom in 1967 when the Jews retook Jerusalem.

But the fact remains that the laws of karma WORK. They work for good (2 Cor 9.6; Lk 6.38; Prov 11.25) and they work equally for evil. “What a man sows he shall also reap” said Paul (Gal 6.7 cf Prov 1.31; 11.18,24; 14.14; 21.13; 22.8).

Steven J. Cole, a non-denominational minister and graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary (Th.M., 1976 in Bible exposition) and California State University, Long Beach (B.A., philosophy, 1968) has written extensively on five identifying marks of a hypocrite.

Note well what he exposes:

In Romans 2.1 “Paul is not saying that it is wrong to judge others. Rather, he is saying that it is wrong self-righteously to judge others, while at the same time you’re practicing the sins that you’re judging. We could come up with more, but let me give you five marks of a self-righteous hypocrite by which to evaluate yourself. (If you apply these to your spouse, then you are one!)

(1) A self-righteous hypocrite judges the sins of others while overlooking his own sins. As Jesus says in Matt 7:5 “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Someone has defined a hypocrite as the guy who complains that there is too much sex and violence on his DVD player! (Reader’s Digest, Oct., 1991, p. 183; I changed VCR to DVD.)

(2) A self-righteous hypocrite judges others based on selective standards, not on all of God’s Word. One of the most helpful chapters for understanding the sin of self-righteousness is Jesus’ indictment of the Pharisees in Matthew 23. The Pharisees picked out certain parts of the Law and prided themselves on their obedience, but they neglected the weightier parts of the Law (Matt 23:23). They tithed their table spices, but they neglected justice, mercy, and faithfulness. They invented loopholes around keeping the Law. They said that if you swore by the temple, you were not obligated to keep your word, but if you swore by the gold of the temple, you were obligated (Matt 23:16-21).

“We laugh at how stupid that sounds, but many Christians do the same thing. God’s Word tells us that God hates violence (Ps 11:5) and that we should not even talk about immorality, impurity, or greed (Eph 5:3). We should be innocent in what is evil (Rom 16:19). But somehow it’s okay to fill our minds with TV shows and movies that are filled with profanity, violence, and sexual immorality. The self-righteous person picks parts of the Bible that he likes and prides himself on keeping those parts. And he condemns as “legalists” those who seek to obey all of God’s Word.

(3) A self-righteous hypocrite is more concerned about external conformity than with true, inner godliness. Jesus said (Matt 23:28), “So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” The Pharisees were concerned that they not defile themselves for the Passover by going into Pilate’s Gentile court (Jn 18:28) at the same time that they were seeking to crucify the innocent Lord Jesus! Self-righteous hypocrites want to keep up outward “Christian” appearances, but they don’t judge their own sins on the heart level. They put on the happy Christian face at church, but use abusive speech with their families at home.

(4) A self-righteous hypocrite is not interested in helping others grow in godliness, but only in gaining a following. Jesus said (Matt 23:13,15), “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in…. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.” They didn’t care about the people or their hearts before God. They just wanted to gain followers so that they looked good.

(5) A self-righteous hypocrite justifies himself by comparing himself with others or by blaming others for his own sins. Jesus told the parable of the proud Pharisee who went to the temple and prayed, “God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get” (Lk 18:11,12). He wasn’t comparing himself with God’s Word, which condemns pride. Rather, he was comparing himself with others who, in his mind, were worse than he was. In his mind, he kept some of the Law; the tax collector didn’t keep any of it. So, on the curve, he is accepted by God, while the tax collector is rejected. But, God doesn’t grade on the curve!”

In conclusion, I would encourage us all to examine ourselves as Paul also recommended (2 Cor 13.5) for if we are not sincere in our pursuit of the Faith which was “once and for all time delivered to the saints” (Jude 3) then we stand as hypocrites and that is THE ONE PERSON with whom Our Lord Yeshua himself could not stand to be associated.

It was due to the one great sin of hypocrisy – insincerity – that ultimately destroyed the Jewish State and exiled the Jewish people from their own Land for 2000 long and awful years.

It is the one great sin that will dwarf our growth and finally “pull the plug” on any personal pursuit of God's holiness in character. Yet, we can change our world by first changing ourselves.

“Life has no remote. Get up and change it yourself” – Anonymous

THIS CONCLUDES LECTURE THIRTEEN


 4 
 on: March 23, 2017, 09:41:38 PM 
Started by Rebbe - Last post by Rebbe
PAUL'S LETTER TO THE ROMAN CHRISTIANS [12]

Analytical Commentary on Romans

On Jewish Hypocrisy in the Second Temple Period [2]

The Audio MP3 of this lecture is available via this link: http://www.bripodcasts.com/Romans/Lecture12.MP3

Copyright © BRI 2016 All Rights Reserved Worldwide by Les Aron Gosling,
Messianic Lecturer (BRI/IMCF)

CAUTION: BRI Yeshiva notes are not available to the general public. They are not for distribution. They are not for reproduction. The notes may also bear little or no resemblance to the actual audio or video recorded BRI Yeshiva lecture.

“The great Rabbi Gamaliel had among his disciples one who, according to a passage in the Talmud, gave his master a good deal of trouble, manifesting 'impudence in matters of learning.' But his name is not given; he is remembered simply as 'that pupil'” (F.F. Bruce, The Spreading Flame, 1958, 81. See also J. Klausner, From Jesus to Paul, 1944, 310f; Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 30b).

“A world without reward and punishment is a world of utter indifference, and indifference is the ultimate rejection. One cannot serve indifference. In order for there to be a relationship between God and man, God must react to man's actions. Our awareness of this reaction, reward or punishment, informs us that the Almighty cares, that our actions make a difference. Without reward and punishment life has no meaning – for what man would or would not do would make no difference” (Rabbi Yakov Weinberg, Fundamentals & Faith, Insights into Rambam's 13 Principles, 1992)


THE TEXT
“Therefore you have no defense, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are practicing the very same things. ‘We know that God’s judgment on those who do such things is impartial.’ Do you thus reason, whoever you are, that when you judge those who do such things and yet do them yourself, you will escape the judgment of God? Or are you perhaps contemptuous of the wealth of his kindness and forbearance and patience? Do you not realise that God’s patient kindness is meant to lead you to turn from your sins? But by your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up anger for yourself on the day of anger, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. For he will recompense according to each one’s works: [Prov 24.12; Ps 62.13 (12)] to those who by perseverance do good seeking for glory and honour and immortality – eternal life; while for those who are self-seeking and who are not persuadable in respect of the truth [or, obey not the truth] but who pursue evil intentions [or, obey wickedness], there will be anger and fury. There will be anguish and distress for everyone who accomplishes evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honour and peace for everyone who accomplishes good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For the presence of God shows no partiality. All who have sinned outside the framework of Torah will also perish outside the framework of Torah, and all who have sinned within the framework or sphere of Torah will be judged by the Torah. For it is not merely those who are instructed in Torah who are righteous in God’s sight, but the doers of the Torah who will be justified. When Gentiles, who do not possess the Torah, habitually do naturally what the Torah requires, these, though not having the Torah, are themselves Torah. They show that what the Torah requires is written on their hearts [cf Jer 31.33,34] to which their own conscience also bears joint-witness; and their conflicting thoughts and reasonings sometimes accusing or perhaps excusing one another on a day when, according to my gospel, God, through Yeshua the Messiah, will judge the secret thoughts of all. But if you call yourself a Jew and possess a blind and mechanical reliance on Torah and boast of your relation to God and have an experiential knowledge of his will and determine what is best because you are instructed in the Torah, and if you are personally persuaded that you are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, an instructor of the spiritually unaware, a teacher of the immature, having in the Torah the embodiment of knowledge and truth, you, then, that constantly teach others, will you not teach yourself? While you constantly preach against stealing, do you steal? You that constantly forbid adultery, do you commit adultery? You that constantly abhor idols, do you commit idolatrous acts? You that take pride in the Torah, do you dishonour God by breaking the Torah? For, as it is written, ‘The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.’ [Isa 52.5; Eze 36.20] Circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the Torah; but if you break the Torah, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. So, if those who are uncircumcised keep the requirements of the Torah, will not their uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? Then those who are physically uncircumcised but keep the Torah will condemn you that have the written code and circumcision but yet violate the Torah. For a person is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is true circumcision something only external and physical. Rather, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly, and real circumcision is a matter of the heart—it is spiritual and not literal. Such a person receives praise not from others but from God” (Romans 2).


PAUL'S INDICTMENT ON THE JEWS
In his opening diatribe and denunciation on the perils of Gentile idolatry, Paul condemns  the Gentile world and specifically the Mystery Cults of the Mediterranean which gave such degenerate idolatry lucid expression, an expression which had saturated the Roman empire and dug its filthy roots deep down into fertile soil of the capitol of the empire, Rome. Pagan homosexual writers of the same time period were revolted by the extreme dissipation and lascivious lubricity that had gripped the largely bored Roman aristocracy.

Jewish readers, naturally enough, would immediately equate with Paul's attitude. But then Paul indicts the people of Israel for the same kind of idolatrous behaviour (Rom 2.17). In the opening verse of chapter 2 Paul writes: “You have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge another, for in passing judgment upon him you condemn yourself because you do the very same things.”

Were the Jews of Rome following depraved pagan Gentile bestiality? Could addicts of Torah-observance be so decrepit that they could wantonly indulge in such nauseous, obnoxious, toxic, sexual behaviour with apes, reptiles, goats, pigs, dogs and geese?

Hardly!

So what were Jews doing which Paul stated were “the very same things”? We have to largely discard Christian commentaries on this matter, as sexual perversions were not on this provocative list. For, Paul had indicted the Gentiles as being guilty of “every kind of injustice, evil, avarice and vice; stuffed with envy, murder, quarrelling, dishonesty and ill-will; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God; they are insolent, arrogant and boastful; they plan evil schemes; they disobey parental authority and disappoint their expectations of them; they are brainless, faithless, heartless without natural affection and ruthless. They KNOW well enough God’s righteous decree that people who do such things deserve to die; YET not only do they keep habitually doing them, but they applaud and take immense pleasure in others who do the same” (Romans 1.18-32 Tentative BRI/IMCF Version).

These are the “qualities” – the characteristics and attributes of idolatrous Gentile apostates – that, according to the great apostle, identified the natural dispositions of many a Jew of Rome. This is Paul's focus, and not (in the case of the Jews), sexual dissolution, dissipation and profligacy.

“Do you thus reason, whoever you are, that when you judge those who do such things and yet do them yourself, you will escape the judgment of God? Or are you perhaps contemptuous of the wealth of his kindness and forbearance and patience? Do you not realise that God’s patient kindness is meant to lead you to turn from your sins? But by your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up anger for yourself on the day of anger, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. For he will recompense according to each one’s works” (Rom 2.3-6).

THE LANGUAGE AND IMAGERY OF CREATION
What Rav Shaul has written here is common to the literature of the Second Temple period. He then elaborates: “To those who by patience in well doing seek for glory, honour, and immortality, [He will give] eternal life.” Here Paul reverts to the language and imagery of Creation because Adam was given life as a free gift.  

I want to make something abundantly clear!

One of the great lies of the Dark Lord is that there was a covenant of works in the Garden of Eden – that there was also a covenant of works under Moses.

The truth of the matter is the exact opposite! And the proof is right there in the Hebrew Scriptures themselves. Ask any rabbi what the “covenant of works” in Eden, or under Moses, was all about! He will look at you as if you were an idiot. And frankly, in my opinion, if you had to ask a rabbi this question – you would be! But people believe this drivel! I happen to know some quite popular ministers of the “gospel” (small “g”) who are sincere in this belief, but are sincerely wrong!

One minister of God once emailed me that under Moses the Jews had to earn their salvation in such a covenant of works but since “Jesus” came we now have a “new covenant” of Grace. Personally I think he's had far too many daughters and they've driven him nuts. Listen! He may talk about Grace, and believe in a universal salvation, as do some others, but to link “Grace” with the “New Covenant” or ANY covenant for that matter, and to speak of Moses in this manner, is the height of sheer Tom Foolery! Its fallacious in the extreme. It entirely “misses the mark” and therefore stands as SIN.

Consider Psalm 8. It tells us that Adam was crowned with glory and honour. This was true. Nevertheless, Adam was to seek for glory and honour as he lived under God, bearing God's image – the image of the Ad'am Kad'mon, the Universal Man, the Sky Man. He would have finally inherited salvation (defined as the quality of divine immortality – incorruptibility at every level of the conscious, subconscious and unconscious mind) because there is an eschatology built into creation itself when we acknowledge Paul's idea which he calls the soma psychikon – the natural body, the Adamic body. After that there would have been a transformation – a QUANTUM LEAP if you will – to a SPIRITUAL body, so that ETERNAL LIFE would have been confirmed.  

God intended all along that Adam would go through a time of probation, or testing. This was ultimately for God's greater glory in Adam's realisation of THE GRACE and beauty of God Himself, His character (Name) into which Adam was destined to enter.

This time of trial was not intended to “show God” if Adam would apostate or persevere in obedience, for the Lord knew all along what lay in store for our human forefather. And indeed, the LORD knows full well what lays in store for each of us who also seek to strive for “glory, honour and immortality,” and we too will receive eternal life (we possess it in a germinal form, now) at the end of our quest.  

Having said this, Paul warns that, on the other hand, for those who are factious and do not obey the truth – please notice the term “obey the truth” (Rom 2.8) for this is not about a simple “faith” or mere assent or “belief” to it, but involves our obedience to it – but obey “wickedness,” there will be an ultimate facing of the consequences: namely, “wrath and fury.” There will be “tribulation and distress” for every human being who does evil (breaks Messiah's Torah), to the Jew first and also the Gentile, “but glory and honour and peace for everyone who does good” (i.e., obeys Messiah's Torah).  

Paul's use here of peace is intriguing in itself for it is a term of creation – “shalom.” Peace is not merely the absence of violence and warfare. “Shalom” goes back to Paradise. Shalom points forward to Paradise, and beyond Paradise into GOD Himself. It is the Torah's word for harmony and order, the peace of the creation, the authentic indivisible Unity of Creative Intelligence and Love in the sense espoused by the Sh'ma – and so very much in line with Adam's original glory, honour and peace.

And so, “The doers of the law will be justified.”

None of us can deny that Paul's operative word in Romans 2 is “DO.”

The Jew first and also the Gentile, for God shows no partiality.  

There are scholars that believe that no-one actually can DO the truth, and therefore nobody actually does seek for glory, honour, and immortality. Therefore, Paul is simply saying hypothetically that if someone did this, then they would receive eternal life. But the text just doesn't read that way. There is not an “if” to be found in the entire passage, in Greek or English! It is not stated in hypothetical terms, it is stated in concrete.  

When he speaks of those who disobey Torah which he refers to as “obeying wickedness,” there is nothing hypothetical about it, and so seeking incorruptibility must be just as factual as obeying wickedness: bottom line – we either obey the truth or we obey wickedness. Thus, Rav Shaul continues that those who obey the truth are the ones who will be justified. He states in verse 12, “All who sin outside the law will also perish outside the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law: for it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law will be justified.”  

Incidentally, the very first place that Paul uses the word dikaioo or “justify” is in Romans 2.13 where he speaks of a future justification at the Final Day of Judgment that is yet to take place. We know it will on the Final Day of Judgment because Paul tells us so... “In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Yeshua HaMashiach according to my gospel” (Rom 2.16).

The Jewish rabbi is making an eschatological point. Pointing forward to the future judgment, there are those who are the doers of the law and they, and they alone, will be justified.  

I know I keep coming back to this point but I need to precisely because it needs to be hammered home.  

There is NO place in the authentic Gospel record for antinomianism no matter what garb such a filthy doctrine wears – universalist or otherwise.

It is not good enough simply to be “instructed.” Just as Jerusalem's alternative High Priest, and brother of Yeshua, said: “we have to be doers of the Word and not hearers only.”

Now let me explain something about Jewish thoughtform. In the thinking of the Jews, if you rightly hear something, you are DOING it.  

“HEAR! O Yisrael” (Deut 6.4) – hearing is with the view to doing, with obeying the Sh'ma, recognizing that there is only one God. Gentile scholars today would drive a wedge between “hearing” and “accomplishing,” and the same issue was raising its ugly head back when Paul penned Romans, so much so was that the case that Paul spent time addressing the issue.

From a Lutheran perspective the phrase “doers of the law” is interpreted as an attempt to earn salvation. There is no argument that in medieval times it meant “to partake of the sacraments” or even to purchase indulgences in order to buy your way out of purgatory. But this phrase in Paul's Letter to the Roman Christians is not Lutheran or Catholic, but Hebrew – a Jewish phrase, a covenantal phrase.  

Lev 18.5 is a verse that Paul quotes in Romans and Galatians. “You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, which if a man does, he shall live by them.”

Paul is not contradicting himself when he quotes from the Sinai Torah as though he has changed his position about its abrogation. In no way! But he is simply utilising a basic principle, and the principle always applies – no matter from what section of the Sinai Covenant and Sinai Torah he borrows.

This extraction from the Torah comes in a context regarding sexual sins. Israel is not to perform any of the abominations of the Gentiles as can be seen in Lev 18.1-3: “And the Lord said to Moses, Say to the people of Israel, I am the Lord your God. You shall not do as they do in the land of Egypt, where you dwelt, and you shall not do as they do in the land of Canaan, to which I am bringing you. You shall not walk in their statutes.”  

Pagans, no matter what breed they represent, have statutes. They have laws. They have practices. They have customs. And God made it very plain indeed that Israel was not to walk in those ways. But He says, “You shall do my ordinances and keep my statutes and walk in them. I am the Lord your God.”  

The context is vital because Israel is being forbidden from following Egyptian and Canaanite idolatrous practices. In every context where you have an exhortation for Israel to keep the Torah, it is always an oblique reference, not an explicit reference. To keep the statutes of the Canaanites, then, is to be involved in their abominable practices – especially sacred cultic prostitution, which was the worst sin of all of them.  

So if you keep Torah's ordinances, it means that you will flee from idolatry and follow the will of our Creator as revealed in the Torah. That is your rule of life; that is your walk. Israel has been redeemed, because they were given a full abundant life at the time of the Exodus. They didn't have to earn a thing, but they were expected to PERSEVERE in the life that had been given them. That is why it is said that the one “who does the law will live.” That is, go on living within the covenant relationship ENJOYING God's blessing in the land, BECAUSE you remain His people. And so, the principle applies – very much so – in relation to the New Covenant.

Hekim berith is a Biblical phrase meaning “to maintain the covenant,” as translated in the Septuagint (LXX) by histemi in Greek. This verb literally means “to stand.” When it is translated hekim it means to maintain the covenant. Israel was given a covenant, given life, given blessing, which they were to maintain by staying within the parameters of the Torah and not going over to pagan religion. Throughout Deuteronomy you have the recurring refrain, “this do and live.” Not to keep these statutes in order to earn your salvation, but so that you may continue to enjoy God's life and blessing as you are within the covenant. So the key word becomes PERSEVERANCE and that is the issue in these Jewish texts.

And, I might add, it is the identical imperative issue in the writings of the NT corpus: perseverance in the New Covenant as against apostasy. From Paul to James and including everyone else in between, it is the same issue. Not individual sins committed, but the overall advance toward perfection. Yeshua said: “Be(come) you therefore PERFECT [spiritually mature] EVEN AS your Father in heaven is perfect [spiritually mature]” (Mt 5.48).

I am called a legalist by the no-bodies of this world. I have been called it many times in the past. I expect to be called it many times in the future before I receive the “Victor's Crown.” And why am I labeled a legalist? Because of my devotion to the enlarged MESSIANIC Torah. Because my enemies (and make no mistake, they ARE enemies) make the claim that I expect people to earn their salvation by works. Unbelievable! Listen! Please! The doers of the law...

are not those who earn anything, AND...

they are not those who seek to establish some claim upon God, AND...

MOREOVER they don't seek to work out a merited salvation or righteousness of their own.

They are simply those who persevere within the will – the expectations – of God.  

LOYALTY, PERSEVERANCE, CONFORMING
According to Paul, it is precisely in the Mashiach that we become “the doers of the law”....

To be precise, the DOERS of the Torah are those who are loyal to Yeshua, the fulfillment of Torah.

The DOERS of the Torah are those who persevere in Him, the fulfillment of Torah.

The DOERS of the Torah are those who are being conformed to His image, the fulfillment of Torah.

And this is why Paul referred to Christians of his day in the Messianic Movement of the Yeshua School as those who personally “fulfill the Torah” (Rom 3.31 cf Mt 3.15; Gal 6.2; 2 Thes 1.11; Col 1.24,25; cf Jam 2.8. All of these texts are to be seen within a Messianic context).  

It is they who will be VINDICATED in the last day as God's faithful people: those who have persevered and remain steadfast to the Messiah. This is true, and remains true, even in the area of physical trials and travails at the End of Days. In the words of Our Lord Yeshua Himself, “He who endures [in trials and struggles] to the end will be [physically] saved [delivered].”

“The doers of the law” as an exact Greek phrase occurs in 1 Maccabees 2.67 where it refers to those who are loyal to the Jewish religion, as opposed to those who fall away from it because of persecution. Paul was very well-versed in this scroll. Get a copy of 1 Maccabees – available in the Apocrypha – and read chapter 2 and verse 67 for yourself! In fact, read the entire book!

These are the doers of the law: not earning salvation, but maintaining covenant faithfulness. That's Covenant faithfulness – not a Covenant of Works!

In the Essene Manual of Discipline the Hebrew equivalent is found, which could fairly be translated into Greek, “the doers of the law” or into the English, the same way. There again the reference is to the sect's covenantal duty. They are seen to be doers of the law who performed the law simply because they were in covenant relationship.

We have allowed the four hundred years prior to this century to dictate the context and the terms of the contents of the so-called “NT” rather than the four hundred years just prior to the first advent of Our Lord Yeshua.  

The Messianic Scriptures weren't written to us; they weren't written to Luther and Calvin. They didn't grasp the precise, historical milieu of the Second Temple Judaisms. And it is within that context that phrases like “doing the law” and so forth refer to perseverance: abiding within the covenant, not earning anything.  

The bottom line to everything is that single word “perseverance.” True Christians have been justified by faith and by faith alone. No Torah observance is involved in our justification, our redemption, our salvation in Grace, our Vindication. And I am not merely addressing the Sinai Covenant, but the new Covenant as well. I freely utilise the word “vindication” because it is that to which justification boils down. It is a courtroom term, a forensic term, but it means to vindicate those who have maintained faith in the Messiah.

Bear in mind that while the entire world has been justified at the death of Messiah, an actual reality of legal justification has become ours only by virtue of our acceptance or recognition of its availability by virtue of our Firstfruit election in GRACE. In other words by GRACE our minds have been opened to an awareness of what was accomplished 2000 years ago. And, it is God who has opened out minds to this fact. It had nothing at all to do with our free will or free choice or our right attitudes or anything of that nature. Salvation is ALL of God. Not of GRACE? Then not of God!

Take a good look at Lk 8.4-15. Rav Shaul is no stranger to the parable traditions handed down by the disciples of Yeshua, his Lord. Recall that it is Luke, Paul's companion who includes this particular parable with its emphasis on perseverance. Again, Paul had absolutely no qualms about encouraging the terrified Philippian gaoler to activate his life in Mashiach! And in Phil 2.13 Paul writes: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling [better, with positive anticipation and ecstatic exhilaration].”  

“Fear and trembling” in Jewish thoughtform really carries the meaning of “joyous exhilaration and genuine excitement” or similar. It fails, in Jewish thoughtform, to carry a single note of anticipated terror.

Why? “Because GOD IS AT WORK IN YOU both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Phil 2.13).  

FROM THE LESSER TO THE GREATER
Ultimately, IT IS ALL OF GRACE from beginning (alpha) to end (omega). We can do nothing without Him. Even in our regenerate state we can do nothing without Him. And so again, the tension between the already and the not yet – God has begun something.
“He who began in you a good work will bring it to completion” – will perfect it on the day of Messiah (Phil 1.6).

We have it again in Romans 5.9-10, where Paul follows that argument that the Rabbis call qal wa homer – “from the lesser to the greater.” The very terms that we are dealing with are here. Verse 8 speaks of the way that Messiah died for us while we were yet sinners. In verse 9, “Since therefore now we are justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved by Him from the wrath of God?”  

You see the argument from the lesser to the greater; you see from the perspective of this passage that the great thing is yet to be done.  

While justification by his blood is a great thing there is something which from a certain point of view is FAR greater!  

That is the completion of the work.  

When Paul makes reference to the life of Messiah he means the resurrected Messiah. In terms of the epistle to the Hebrews, this is Messiah who is the interceding High Priest, who prays for his people. And he saves us eschatologically, by virtue of His resurrection life.

“For if when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more” – again, the principle of the lesser to the greater – “now that we are reconciled shall we be saved by His life” (Rom 5.10).

Yeshua lived His life perfectly in the flesh for each one of us. And while we are expected by Him to be overcomers (look up all the references in Revelation to establish this beyond any doubt) we are all secure in the fact that He overcame even for us.

As a consequence of His own overcoming (Rev 3.21) He has EARNED a NAME in which NAME (1 Enoch 48.7) all things are to be restored to GLORY. Notice it now:

“1 And in that place I saw an inexhaustible spring of righteousness and many springs of wisdom surrounded it, and all the thirsty drank from them and were filled with wisdom, and their dwelling was with the Righteous and the Holy and the Chosen. 2 And at that hour that Son of Man was named, in the presence of the Lord of Spirits, and his name brought to the Head of Days. 3 Even before the Sun and the constellations were created, before the Stars of Heaven were made, his name was named in front of the Lord of Spirits. 4 He will be a staff to the righteous and the Holy, so that they may lean on him and not fall, and he will be the Light of the Nations, and he will be the hope of those who grieve in their hearts. 5 All those who dwell upon the dry ground will fall down and worship in front of him, and they will bless, and praise, and celebrate with psalms, the name of the Lord of Spirits. 6 And because of this he was chosen, and hidden in front of Him, before the World was created, and forever. 7 But the wisdom of the Lord of Spirits has revealed him to the Holy and the righteous, for he has kept safe the lot of the righteous, for they have hated and rejected this world of iniquity. And all its works and its ways they have hated in the name of the Lord of Spirits. For in His name they are saved and he is the one who will require their lives. 8 And in those days the kings of the Earth, and the strong who possess the dry ground, will have downcast faces because of the works of their hands, for on the day of their distress and trouble they will not save themselves. 9 And I will give them into the hands of my chosen ones; like straw in the fire, and like lead in water, so they will burn in front of the righteous, and sink in front of the Holy, and no trace will be found of them. 10 And on the day of their trouble there will be rest on the earth and they will fall down in front of him and will not rise. And there will be no one who will take them with his hands and raise them for they denied the Lord of Spirits and his Messiah. May the name of the Lord of Spirits be blessed!

We can now better comprehend the thoughtform behind Paul's admonition to the Philippians...

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Messiah Yeshua: Who, being in the form of God” [as the Ad'am Kad'mon, the Universal Man or Sky Man] thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even death by crucifixion. Wherefore God also has highly exalted him, and given him a NAME WHICH IS ABOVE EVERY NAME: That at the NAME of Yeshua” [as the Restored Ad'am Kad'mon, the Universal Man – GOD] “every knee should bow, of things in the heavens, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Yeshua HaMashiach is LORD, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2.5).

Are any of us who love the Lord and the biblical revelation earning our salvation because we obey God and His enlarged Messianic Torah?

Such a claim, my students, is utterly ridiculous.

As we progress through the second chapter of Paul's Letter to the Roman Christians we shall be confronted by the deplorable apostate spiritual condition of the Jewish Sanhedrin under Rome's dominance. We shall see candidly and with clarity just how filled with hypocrisy Jerusalem actually was during the Second Temple Period. And we shall have a much clearer understanding of what it was Paul was condemning in this section of the epistle.

Part 3 will continue in the next lecture.

THIS CONCLUDES LECTURE TWELVE


 5 
 on: March 23, 2017, 09:02:51 PM 
Started by Rebbe - Last post by Rebbe
PAUL'S LETTER TO THE ROMAN CHRISTIANS [11]

Analytical Commentary on Romans

On Jewish Hypocrisy in the Second Temple Period

The Audio MP3 of this lecture is available via this link: http://www.bripodcasts.com/Romans/Lecture11.MP3

Copyright © BRI 2016 All Rights Reserved Worldwide by Les Aron Gosling,
Messianic Lecturer (BRI/IMCF)

CAUTION: BRI Yeshiva notes are not available to the general public. They are not for distribution. They are not for reproduction. The notes may also bear little or no resemblance to the actual audio or video recorded BRI Yeshiva lecture.


“The great Rabbi Gamaliel had among his disciples one who, according to a passage in the Talmud, gave his master a good deal of trouble, manifesting 'impudence in matters of learning.' But his name is not given; he is remembered simply as 'that pupil'” (F.F. Bruce, The Spreading Flame, 1958, 81. See also J. Klausner, From Jesus to Paul, 1944, 310f; Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 30b).

Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler wrote: “When you have a true ambition for something, you will not give up hope. Giving up hope is a sign that you are lacking ambition to achieve that goal” (Michtav MaiEliyahu, vol. 1, 60; Gateway to Happiness, 375)



The quotation from R. Dessler sums up the character of the apostle Paul. There can be no doubt at all that Rav Shaul was afire with ambition with outreach in the Gospel. Hope – a real depth of burning within his human heart and anchored in a solid biblical hope – never diminished. His dying cry before his final adventure in “crossing over” was summed up in that which he penned to Timothy: “I have fought the good fight, completed my course, and I have kept the Faith like a soldier on constant alert with untiring vigilance” (2 Tim 4.7 Tentative BRI/IMCF Version).

Working as a ministerial deputationist for the world's largest international missionary radio organisation some years ago exposed me to the sad realisation that myriads of sincere Gentile Christians held to a variety of views as to what constituted the “New Covenant.” Some suggested it was all about love in the heart, and others postulated that it had to do with Grace. Still others preambled the thought of the New Covenant as that which turned Gentiles into “spiritual Jews.” They were all united in the belief that it in no way had anything to do with “law.”

Yet in Messiah's enlarged Torah of the New Covenant we are confronted on every page with God's high expectations of each of us as His children. Made in God's IMAGE we all as parents have high expectations of our own children, and of ourselves. Of course, sometimes we tend to have unrealistically high expectations and this, of and by itself, can open the doors to monumental disappointments all round as our children flounder and struggle to become more mature as they reach adulthood.

Our enthusiasm in seeking to obey God the FatherMother, can occasionally give rise to the accusation from antinomians – fueled by the Dark Lord – that we are earning our salvation because we obey God and His enlarged Messianic Torah (Midrash Kohelet 83.1 cf 1 Cor 9.21; Gal 6.2; Mt 5,6,7).

THE TEXT
“Therefore you have no defense, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are practicing the very same things. ‘We know that God’s judgment on those who do such things is impartial.’ Do you thus reason, whoever you are, that when you judge those who do such things and yet do them yourself, you will escape the judgment of God? Or are you perhaps contemptuous of the wealth of his kindness and forbearance and patience? Do you not realise that God’s patient kindness is meant to lead you to turn from your sins? But by your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up anger for yourself on the day of anger, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. For he will recompense according to each one’s works: [Prov 24.12; Ps 62.13 (12)] to those who by perseverance do good seeking for glory and honour and immortality – eternal life; while for those who are self-seeking and who are not persuadable in respect of the truth [or, obey not the truth] but who pursue evil intentions [or, obey wickedness], there will be anger and fury. There will be anguish and distress for everyone who accomplishes evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honour and peace for everyone who accomplishes good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For the presence of God shows no partiality. All who have sinned outside the framework of Torah will also perish outside the framework of Torah, and all who have sinned within the framework or sphere of Torah will be judged by the Torah. For it is not merely those who are instructed in Torah who are righteous in God’s sight, but the doers of the Torah who will be justified. When Gentiles, who do not possess the Torah, habitually do naturally what the Torah requires, these, though not having the Torah, are themselves Torah. They show that what the Torah requires is written on their hearts [cf Jer 31.33,34] to which their own conscience also bears joint-witness; and their conflicting thoughts and reasonings sometimes accusing or perhaps excusing one another on a day when, according to my gospel, God, through Yeshua the Messiah, will judge the secret thoughts of all. But if you call yourself a Jew and possess a blind and mechanical reliance on Torah and boast of your relation to God and have an experiential knowledge of his will and determine what is best because you are instructed in the Torah, and if you are personally persuaded that you are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, an instructor of the spiritually unaware, a teacher of the immature, having in the Torah the embodiment of knowledge and truth, you, then, that constantly teach others, will you not teach yourself? While you constantly preach against stealing, do you steal? You that constantly forbid adultery, do you commit adultery? You that constantly abhor idols, do you commit idolatrous acts? You that take pride in the Torah, do you dishonour God by breaking the Torah? For, as it is written, ‘The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.’ [Isa 52.5; Eze 36.20] Circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the Torah; but if you break the Torah, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. So, if those who are uncircumcised keep the requirements of the Torah, will not their uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? Then those who are physically uncircumcised but keep the Torah will condemn you that have the written code and circumcision but yet violate the Torah. For a person is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is true circumcision something only external and physical. Rather, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly, and real circumcision is a matter of the heart—it is spiritual and not literal. Such a person receives praise not from others but from God” (Romans 2).

AN EVER-PRESENT DANGER
Gentile Christians are not alone in their ignorance of the New Covenant. The great heresy of the present Messianic Movement is the unhealthy regard in emphasis on the Sinai Covenant and Sinai Torah (the two, as they stand, are inseparable). I have addressed the folly of this illicit teaching over the years because the Sinai Covenant itself is being looked upon in certain legalism circles as “New” in the sense of it being considered the “Renewed Covenant.” There are some popular Messianic teachers who have spoken of the Renewed Covenant as being simply a renewing of Israel’s original marriage vows.

Students – I said this teaching is illicit. It is more than this. It is illegitimate. It is highly inaccurate. Indeed, it is totally erroneous. The Sinai Marriage Contract is OVER. It is FINISHED. The original contract is not under some temporary marital tension. God divorced His wife (Israel) – actually His TWO WIVES (Eze 23; Jer 3.6-10) giving each a bill of divorcement – and if that was not enough to END the covenant (really, the marriage contract), Israel ended up murdering her ex-husband which most certainly did torpedo any hope of a “renewal of the original marriage vows”!

The formal ratification of the Sinai marriage agreement is recorded in Exodus 24.4-11. The wife (Israel) agreed to obey her husband (God) and as a consequence would be showered with diversified blessings as any wife should be (Ex 24.3; 19.5-6; 23.22-23, 25-31). If the contract was treated with disdain (and it certainly proved to be the case) then Israel would bring upon herself all the curses listed in Deut 28.

But now on the still and icy seas of the cold Theological Atlantic Ocean, those in the few surviving lifeboats are being urged to head back to the Sinai “Titanic” as if it were indeed unsinkable. How BLIND are the eyes that can see this vessel stern up in the water and yet believe we ought to re-board the doomed vessel not wanting to admit that its importance will ever pass from both visibility and applicability.

SPECIFIC AREAS OF DISAGREEMENT WITH TORAH IN RELATION TO OUR MODERN AGE
There are a number of areas in the Sinai Marriage Contract (and Torah laws) which are shown to be utterly barbaric in our modern understanding. Barbaric is not too strong a word to use here. For, one of these areas of disagreement includes the angelic policy of outright extermination of the Canaanites. Such a policy is reflective of the intense Nazi operation to exterminate the Jewish people in Europe in recent years. No matter which way we wish to “cut it” (covenant in Hebrew means to cut) this program was part and parcel of the Sinai marriage contract (Ex 23.23-33; Deut 20.17,18). But, in the days of Abraham, according to the contents of Genesis, the patriarch made treaties with his Canaanite neighbours (Gen 14.13). He never thought of a policy of extermination! And, we are confirmed in the biblical revelation to be authentic children of Abraham our Father! As such we all ought to become more appreciative of the qualities, rather than the demerits (real or imagined), of modern racial typecasts (Gal 3.28).

When Yeshua came and brought us “New Covenant” teaching, extermination of races was disallowed, and his emphasis was on showing HaShem’s FatherMotherly love to all humankind (Mt 5.43-48). There will be protestations from some regarding this grasp of God’s accommodation doctrine, but I stand by my assessment, that it is correct and appropriate for the Kingdom of God into which we are about to enter. I produce as proof of the efficacy of my stand Paul’s description of love (1 Cor 13.4-13). Try to align this text in any manner to the Sinai Marriage Covenant. It can’t be done.

We have witnessed in previous lecture series on the Covenants that God later changed two of the prime ten commandments. One of these changes involved generational curses (Ex 20.4-6). Pentecostal associations that incorporate this fallacious notion of generational curses need to become more familiar with the biblical revelation and rid themselves – exorcise themselves – of familiar spirits posing as the holy Spirit. It is they who need a “deliverance ministry” – for themselves.

God makes it candidly clear that He will “visit the iniquity  of the fathersupon the children of the third and fourth generation.” However, only about a generation later (as it is recorded in the last scroll of the Torah) God made a qualifying stipulation concerning this commandment. “The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin” (Deut 24.16).

(There is somewhat of a contradiction here, however, for the editor of the Scriptures – Ezra/Malachi – failed to “update” the specific Deuteronomic text which relates to “visiting the sins of the fathers” in Deut 5.9,10.)

Be this as it may, by the time of Jeremiah, HaShem had changed the latter application of the second commandment.

“In those days they shall say no more: The fathers have eaten sour grapes and the children’s teeth are set on edge.” Yes, my father and grandfather were Freemasons and I am now as a consequence suffering under a generational curse. Oh? Indeed? Who said so? Jeremiah predicts a change:

“But every one shall die for his own iniquity; every man who eats the sour grapes, his teeth shall be set on edge. Behold, the days are coming, says HaShem, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah” (Jer 31.29-31).

Ezekiel agreed entirely with Jeremiah!

“Does not the son bear the iniquity of the father [as stated in the second commandment – and which applies to the idea of generational curses]? When the son has done that which is lawful and right, and has kept all my statutes, and has done them, he shall surely live. The soul that sins, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him” (Eze 18.19,20).

The view espoused by so many Messianics (and Christian Fundamentalists) that the Law of God cannot be changed or altered – that it is immutable – can be seen to be hardly the case! No, when we especially consider the Ten commandments of HaShem we find they possess a fluidity about them and are not necessarily set in concrete. Whatever the case in the days of Moses, and later in the period of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, by the time of the Second Temple period Rav Shaul had this understanding about the second commandment. (And please recall that the rigid keeping of the Torah in all its 613 stipulations was an integral factor in the observance of the Sinai Covenant or Marriage Contract.)

“And the woman who has a husband that believes not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: if this were not the case, your children would be unclean; but now are they holy” (1 Cor 7.13,14).

No generational curses here!

The second major alteration to the prime Ten Commandments came when Our Lord Yeshua changed completely the curse associated with the third commandment – the law against blasphemy. Yeshua made it plain that ALL MANNER OF BLASPHEMY would be forgiven to men (Mt 12.31) – except for the sin of blasphemy against the Ruach HaKodesh. That sin, as horrible as it was, would only be forgiven during the period of the Great White Throne Judgment. The total lack of forgiveness for this sin was limited to this age and the age to come – the Millennium (Mt 12.31,32).

How can anyone put a limit on God’s GRACE?

Part Two of this current Lecture 11 will be continued at our following Yeshiva. The reason this written post is so short is due to the fact that the audio lecture, with my usual asides, went for the anticipated length of one and a half hours in duration in order to cover important aspects relative to the attendance of new students at our local assembly. The audio therefore contains much more information than is recorded here in written form.

Please continue on to Part TWO.



 6 
 on: March 22, 2017, 05:39:33 PM 
Started by Rebbe - Last post by Rebbe
PAUL'S LETTER TO THE ROMAN CHRISTIANS [10]

Analytical Commentary on Romans

Paul Introduces a Major Change in God's Administrations

The Audio MP3 of this lecture is available via this link: http://www.bripodcasts.com/Romans/Lecture10.MP3

Copyright © BRI 2016 All Rights Reserved Worldwide by Les Aron Gosling,
Messianic Lecturer (BRI/IMCF)

CAUTION: BRI Yeshiva notes are not available to the general public. They are not for distribution. They are not for reproduction. The notes may also bear little or no resemblance to the actual audio or video recorded BRI Yeshiva lecture.


“The great Rabbi Gamaliel had among his disciples one who, according to a passage in the Talmud, gave his master a good deal of trouble, manifesting 'impudence in matters of learning.' But his name is not given; he is remembered simply as 'that pupil'” (F.F. Bruce, The Spreading Flame, 1958, 81. See also J. Klausner, From Jesus to Paul, 1944, 310f; Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 30b).

“The Torah which a man learns in this world [the Mosaic or Sinai Torah] is vanity, in comparison of the Torah of the Messiah” --  Midrash Kohelet (83.1).

“To him who does not work but who places his trust upon the One who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness” (Romans 4.5)


L'Shana Tova brethren! The agricultural festivals of ancient Israel outline the intent, plan and purpose of God for the entirety of the human race, and indeed the universe. As I have stressed many times over the past 40 years or so, Leviticus 23 is the festivals chapter of the Bible, and yet – due to the fact that the Jewish people continue to experience a veil covering their eyes concerning God's reproductive cosmic designs and resolute determinations, so in that respect they join their Gentile counterparts in that same blindness –  humankind remains in gross darkness and ignorance as to their import and significance. Paul told his editorial aid Timothy to “preach the word, in season, and out of season” (2 Tim 4.2) which was a direct command to orient or constellate his teaching engagements around the seasonal Jewish festival lectionary. I have remained faithful to this edict.

Because this particular weekend coincides with the festival of Yom Teruah or Rosh HaShanah I will introduce this lecture with an emphasis on the joyful meaning of this festival. And joyful it really is! When the sun sets this Sunday evening the “Fall festivals” begin with The Day of Joyful Shouting and Blasts to Yehovah. The “blasts” speak of the blowing of the shofar (Num 29.1) announcing a time of unparalleled crisis – a warning to the people of God to realign themselves closely to the really sweet living God who is about to send His Messiah to save humanity and the planet on which we locate ourselves. Yes, indeed, this period communicates God's JOYFUL NATURE being assigned and committed to us. We are to be participants in the Divine Nature and have NO EXCUSE not to be optimistic (2 Pet 1.4). For this reason we maintain the Jewish tradition of serving up apples dipped in honey (along with other sweet dishes) as a reminder of festival optimism.

Yom Teruah (day of trumpet blasts) or Rosh HaShanah (meaning the head or start of the year) pictures human beings coming face to face with God. Such an experience is exemplified by, and amplified with, loud wild shouts and the blasts of trumpets and ram's horns.

These trumpets, or clarions, were composed of pure silver (Hebrew, chatsotserah) and could produce a rich variety or frequency of musical notes reflecting the sounds of a newly created galaxy or universe (which scientists regularly monitor) and these are to remind us of the harmonics of God’s creative power in continually accomplishing “new things.”

The shofar, or ram’s horn, was also blown on this day, and that frequently (Rosh HaShanah, Mishnah 26b). Jewish traditions tell us that this day also pictured the “Birthday of the World” and all Jews turned a year older on Yom Teruah; it is the day that celebrates the Lord Yeshua’s human birth, which was sometime between 6.15pm and 9.30pm on 9/11 in the year 3/2 BCE. It is also the day that looks forward in anticipation for Mashiach's return to rule the planet with a shepherd's iron staff for a thousand years (notice the mention of the shofar blast in Mt 24.31 & 1 Cor 15.51,52).

In contrast to the silver trumpets which were anciently blown on this day, the shofar produced only a piercing blast. This piercing blast is often referred to in the Bible as a shout, or intolerable noise. The ram’s horn certainly has no musical connotation. And, I might just add, it symbolised impending war: a wake-up call!

Make no mistake! We are rapidly heading for a period of intense ferocious warfare of an horrific, unspeakable nuclear nature. None of us will remain untouched by it. None of us will escape it.

I have mentioned that Yom Teruah was the day Our Lord Yeshua was birthed into this world as a human being (Rev 12.1,2). The Lord Yeshua came into the world, not to destroy sinners, but to save them (Lk 19.10). At the very least this was Paul's opinion! He wrote:

“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Messiah Yeshua came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst” (1 Tim 1.15).

In order to grant such a salvation that would accord with HisHer Salvific nature and will, God purposed a legal justification. That justification came upon the entirety of the world. “For ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His Grace through the redemption that is in Messiah Yeshua” (Rom 3.24). Also John notes, “My little children, these things I am writing to you in order that you might not commit an act of sin. And if anyone commits an act of sin, One who pleads our cause we constantly have facing the Father, Yeshua the Messiah the righteous One. And he himself is an expiatory satisfaction for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the whole world” (1 Jn 2.2 See Wuest Expanded Greek). We shall consider that occasion when we arrive at the appropriate section of this Letter to the Roman Christians.

We are heading toward the Pauline doctrine of Justification by Faith, and its a wonderful and exciting truth indeed. The kind of truth that exhilarates and makes one want to SHOUT for JOY. Yom Teruah is a very special festival indeed.

Paul works toward his insight into Justification by Faith through the first three chapters of his Letter to the Roman Christians emphasising that the whole world is best described as guilty before God, and thus both Jews and Gentiles stand condemned before Heaven on the basis of creation and conscience. We shall cover Romans 2 & 3 anon. But before we proceed further, it is (I think) vitally imperative to take time out in reflection concerning that which I have commented on prior to this series of lectures in my essays on the various Covenants of God. Especially is this the case where I contrast the Sinai Covenant (or contract/marriage agreement) with the New Covenant which the Christ bequeathed to us.

You may be rightly wondering why I have chosen to do this at this juncture. There exist contentious issues which I have with certain Sinai regulations (edicts and expectations which the angels of God enforced upon the Chosen People in the days of Moses). Let me remind you of them again, so that our students will anticipate THE MAJOR CHANGE which Yeshua, through his channel Paul, brought to light in this Letter to the Roman Christians.

Modern religious Jews attempt to substantiate the Sinai Torah regulations in respect of inculcating certain antiquated rules into our modern technocratic world, and they exert plenty of effort trying to convince everyone of their conscientious behaviour in so doing. They ought really to be congratulated for their persistence although its incredulous that the rabbis have utterly failed to convince their congregations of the fact that God tore up the Sinai Marriage Covenant and it no longer exists! The reality is these same rabbinic authorities just simply sidestep the abrogation and rescission of the Marriage Contract with Israel and Judah and they keep their people totally in the dark concerning the ramifications of God's actions.

I do have objections to some of the inclusions of Sinai.

In Deut 23.2 we find the law prohibiting a mamzer – and his descendants – entering the precincts of the religious cultus of Israel: as if its his or her fault for being illegitimate. The mamzer under Mosaic statutes constantly bears the shame of his existence. To my 21st century mindscape this does not appear to be at all acceptable. Not only so in the case of someone born out of a marriage relationship – if you were a dwarf, or had a testicle that had not descended, or you were a eunuch the same DISCRIMINATION was applied. I fully realise and appreciate the holiness and perfection aspect of the Sinai economic strata of expectation concerning which God was intent on teaching ancient Israel. Still, having said this (and I do not know about you) I would have absolutely no objection to people with testicle problems, and I have personally known epicene or intersex people (they used to be called hermaphrodites) and I have found them to be altogether nice people. Sinai bred prejudice of a devastating sort.

Again, in Deut 25.11,12 a woman is forbidden to crush the genitals of an assailant who is involved in a life and death struggle with her husband. The would-be killer, after all, may not have any children and his future may therefore be quite dim if he loses the use of the crown jewels! If this poor woman used these proscribed tactics, in her attempt to aid her husband, it was she who would suffer the lasting indignity of having her hand removed by order of angelic brutality – “the (ad)ministration of death” as Paul rightly spoke of it. Of course, there are some sincere folk (and rabbis) who would argue that this was really never instituted and a mere payment monetarily as compensation was what Moses actually intended by his inordinately worded legislation. I won't buy it!

Progeny was everything back then. In contrast, I have taught my daughters to fight to the death if necessary if they are being raped or strangled by some drug-screwed maniac or serial killer – and to use any such force as they feel is necessary to get away from such an evil individual. If it means crushing his genitals (if the mongrel has any!) or tearing out his eyes – DO IT. No holds barred.

In Deut 21.1-6 we find a very unfair situation favouring an employer right down the line... women were owned like livestock and they had a production value, and therefore his children were also utilised for their breeding value. They needed slaves back then! The employer owned the man’s wife, and the man’s children. Put that into a 21st century perspective!

Question: Why did it occur to the Jewish religious authorities to wonder aloud if the Lord Yeshua would make aliyah to Jerusalem to observe an important upcoming festival (Jn 11.56). After all, attendance of males was required at festivals by the Torah of God three times a year. But for them to even wonder if he would attend reveals a great deal in itself. If Yeshua had always religiously attended the festivals the question would never have been put. Believers who are Torah observant oftentimes sidestep this ingredient that appears in the life of the Mashiach. Allow me to reiterate a great truth: Yeshua was sinless, not in what he did or did not DO, but in WHO – WHAT – he was!

Then we have the story of the “Good Samaritan” – a despised race in the eyes of the Jewish people in the Second Temple Period. Why was he good? Why would Yeshua use the example of a despised Samaritan? Could it be the case that it was because of the view of the Torah concerning despised Canaanites? The Sinai Covenant intended for them to be eradicated from the earth. The New Covenant, by way of contrast, did not differentiate on racial grounds at all (Gal 3.28). Whatever the case, Yeshua extolled the actions of the unloved and scorned Samaritan gentleman who went right out of his way to help his enemy – a brutalised Jew (Lk 10.25ff).

Now in this matter listen please! The highest religious authorities of the land, to whom the people looked for spiritual guidance, were the priests and the Levites. In the story Yeshua is sharing, both leaders of the Jewish people walked right around their injured brother, not necessarily because they wanted to naturally avoid him, but because they were commanded to do so under the terms and conditions of the Sinai marriage agreement. To come into contact with an injured brother Israelite would have caused them to be considered ceremonially “unclean” for a period of seven days which would have restricted them in their religious vocation of doing good for the majority of the people (See Num 19.11-16; cf Lev 15). The injunctions of the Torah are explicit concerning this – it was a commandment which could not in any way be avoided. So both the priest and the Levite went their way doing what God had commanded them. Here was a prime example of Yeshua’s teaching in which HE CREATES AN ENTIRELY NEW THEOLOGY and a new Torah teaching eclipsing the original based profoundly upon His Father HaShem’s authentic sentimental morality toward humankind rather than the mere observance of rules and regulations – which were brought into an existence by the angelic powers of God even at God’s original covenantal command.

What of love? Actual and genuine outgoing, outflowing concern and koinonia for our fellow man? I am assured by a number of Messianic believers (both in Australia and overseas) that Sinai promoted, advocated, encouraged TRUE LOVE toward humankind. Oh... really?

Yes, Sinai did expect Israelites to love fellow Israelites. As a prime example of active obedience to the seventh commandment of the Decalogue, the Covenant expected Israelites not to commit adultery – but it did not prohibit Jewish men from copulating with other women, if they were non-Jews!

Yes, and moreover, Sinai did demand Israelites to love their fellow Jewish shadow. But it was expected that Israelites were to HATE non-Jews if that was required of them in situations and under circumstances that were not befitting the Chosen People. We can argue all we want to the contrary, but consider the following:

All rabbis – no matter which division of Judaism under discussion – know that the Torah only commanded us to love our own fleshly brethren. The Torah is understood by them to therefore allow us to hate our fellow man who has wronged us and who is not an Israelite (Lev 19.18). Check on Google. Ask Google: Do rabbis say Jews can hate their enemies? The answer is a resounding YES. If you wish to ask a rabbi directly, then go ahead and do so. This is backed by the Torah teachings. We can insist that this is a misunderstanding of rabbinic authorities about the principal idea of love versus hatred. But my answer is to check and see how David viewed hatred of enemies. Turn to Ps 139.21,22. It says plainly enough:

“Do not I HATE THEM, O HaShem, who hate you? And am I not grieved with those who rise up against you? I HATE THEM with perfect hatred. I count them my enemies.”

David most certainly knew what the Torah taught. Yeshua countered this spirit in Mt 5.43-45. These NEW commandments reveal that the view of HaShem which Yeshua had (has) points to a much higher level of understanding and appreciation of God than the angels of God shared with humankind back there in the Sinai period.

Understand this fact about Yeshua – not merely because he was “that Prophet” spoken of by Moses in ancient times (Deut 18.15-19) and also because HE WAS GOD in human flesh – was considered by heaven as sinless (as I have already argued and I repeat for those of my students with deaf ears) not because of what he did or did not DO but because of WHO he was. Our Lord Yeshua typified LOVE for humanity more than seeing a need to carry out a ritualistic life regulated by rules and laws. What he was showing us is that sometimes, and more often than not, we can get bogged down in keeping regulations and the minutiae of the law to the point that we end up obeying laws of God and – at the same time – failing to obey GOD. The parable of the Good Samaritan establishes this fact to be the case. The showing of mercy and love toward humankind is a compelling HIGHER LAW that needs to be considered more often than we take the time to do.

FACT: Sinai spoke of slavery and regulated it – and this evil has been eclipsed.

FACT: Women under Sinai have very few rights in the Torah – that too has been eclipsed.

FACT: Prostitution is condemned outright in the Torah – yet by the time of Isaiah, the prophet noted that the hire of a particular prostitute was considered “holy to the Lord” because that “hire” was used to purchase food and durable clothing for HaShem’s people (Isa 23.17,18). The prophet Hosea was commanded by God to marry a harlot (Hos 1.2) and Samson had a taste for ladies of the night (Judg 16.1) which predilection, like all his problems, “was of the LORD” (Judg 14.4). Jephthah was not only a great judge but he was the son of an obscure whore (Judg 11.1) and Judah’s whorish daughter-in-law was looked upon as being more righteous than the father of the Jewish nation (Gen 38.26). The latter story is located in the first book of Torah, Genesis – a scroll which details God’s accommodation to humankind.

FACT: The death penalty associated with certain sins is a stated fact in the Torah – but Rav Shaul notes in his letters, and this in the face of Judaisers – that such condemnation has passed. Well might well recall that had “our Father Abraham” lived in the days of Moses he would have been stoned to death for marrying his half-sister.

Those who cannot accept that God has been known to change His administrations need to be reminded that the Lord changed the Torah regulations concerning the 2nd commandment – we have provided appropriate literature on this very subject –  as well as holding in contempt His own command and rule against marrying two sisters when he went ahead and married two sisters. God changed the Torah commandment about a divorced wife returning to her first husband and he did so because of His own immense love for Israel. He changed His curse concerning an “abomination” that “causes the land to sin” in an exchange of intended MERCY and blessing. His example is the one we all need to follow. Yeshua is HaShem who came in flesh as a human being and he himself had a great deal to say in Matthew 5-7 in his advance notifications about the New Covenant. In fact Mashiach, when he was here on earth, fulfilled what Isaiah prophesied about his coming ministry:

“HaShem is well pleased for his righteousness’ sake; he will magnify the Torah, and make it honourable” (Isa 42.21).

You mean it wasn’t all that “honourable” before Yeshua came? No, it wasn’t. Otherwise there would be no reason in predicting that Mashiach would indeed make it so. I have established this as a fact in previous lectures I have given on the Sinai (Mosaic) Covenant.

To recap, we have found that God married two sisters (which His own Torah forbids) but equally that He confessed to a failed marriage – needing to divorce both of those wives for adultery.

“She will chase her lovers, but not overtake them; Yes, she will seek them, but not find them. Then she will say, I will go and return to my first husband, For then it was better for me than now. For she did not know that I gave her grain, new wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold – which they prepared for Ba'al. Therefore I will return and take away my grain in its time and my new wine in its season, and will take back my wool and my linen, given to cover her nakedness... Therefore, behold, I will allure her, will bring her into the wilderness, and speak intimately with her... And it shall be, in that day, says HaShem, That you will call me 'My Husband,' [Ishi] AND NO LONGER CALL ME 'MY MASTER' [BA'ALI]” (Hos 2.7-9,14,16).

God Himself was admitting through a prophet that one of the principal reasons His marriages initially broke down was due to the fact that He expected His wives to speak to Him only as “Lord” – as MASTER, POSSESSING His wives as valuable property – and not as an intimate, loving, gentle and kind husband. Under the terms of the New Covenant Israel will call God Ishi – “my husband.”

I might add that HaShem also failed miserably at child rearing – his kids contributed to a deeply dysfunctional family and this indeed is God’s great lament through the pages of the prophet Isaiah.

Now these comments and this analysis are not some Gentile Christian postulations and we read nothing of this in NT teaching. I am simply admitting as a Jew what I read quite plainly in the Hebrew Scriptures and these same texts are available to all rabbis. But they keep very silent on this information and for very sound reasons (for them).

FACT: Israel was divorced in circa 721/718 BCE when the Assyrians finally defiled her body, and again in circa 587/586 BCE when Judah was divorced and she became the possession of the Babylonians. God participated in divorce.

Because of HaShem’s intense love for Israel and Judah He sent His son Yeshua (HaShem in the flesh) to the Jewish nation to attempt to woo her back and that contrary to Torah expectations but she not only spurned His love, she murdered her husband.

Divorce should have ended the marriage, but if it failed to do so (because of God’s pursuit of faithless wife Israel despite unrequited love) the death of the ex-Husband at Israel’s hands certainly brought the Sinai Contract to an abrupt conclusion. The curses of Deut 28 were then invoked, and the persecution at the hands of Israel’s enemies has been relentless.

FACT: Sinai is finished. It’s over. It was a marriage contract which no longer has any existence. The marriage is negated. Anybody who has been divorced knows that a marriage (and the contract upon which it was based) is through, totaled, demolished, ruined, dynamited, torpedoed, spent, washed-up, done-for, OVER! It has CEASED to exist; it is CONCLUDED.

But somehow in the minds of many of my Messianic brothers and sisters who wish to be controlled by Jewish and pro-Israeli megalomaniacs it yet has a continued existence. I cannot get my head around the thinking of such people.

Do we follow HaShem as Yeshua revealed Him to us? Or do we follow angels who had the Name of God burning in their Being?

In the event, there is right now a New Covenant. It already exists. Paul spoke of it as an ever present reality. And his understanding accords with the late Second Temple expectations of the rabbis who duly recognised that a New Covenant demanded/required a New Torah. For, the Torah of Moses formed a bedrock of the Sinai Covenant.

It is written: “The Torah which a man learns in this world [the Mosaic or Sinai Torah] is vanity, in comparison of the Torah of the Messiah” --  Midrash Kohelet (83.1).

Paul refers to his recognition of the authority of this Midrash (which was in circulation in his day) in stating that his own rabbinic ministry was based squarely on Torah – but it was the Torah OF MESSIAH! Very few have noticed this admission. Notice it now, in two references:  

1 Cor 9.21 “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 Torah – although I myself am not outside the framework of God’s Torah but within the framework of Torah as upheld by the Messiah!

Gal 6.2 “Bear you one another's burdens, AND SO FULFIL THE TORAH OF MESSIAH.”

Paul’s various early ministerial letters to the Gentiles were commentary on the Sinai Torah – on precisely how spiritual, converted Gentiles were to observe the Torah principles as they applied to them. Paul then became suddenly aware that he was living during a transitional period in which the New Covenant and New Messianic Torah was being implemented. This explains why it is that his later letters are not in any way remarkably inclusive of Sinai or its representatives. The later epistles of Paul confront each of us with Paul's spiritual maturity and expansive mindscape.

What “Great News” (Gospel) is this! It could not be any plainer! The early Messianic believers in the Messianic Community of Faith adhered to the Torah as exemplified by the Living Torah, Yeshua haMashiach. Even the religious classes of the day – the Pharisees especially – could not fault the Jewish followers of Yeshua! True, there were persecutions against the disciples that occurred because of their association with the Messiah, but they were not indicted for their loyalty to, and obedience toward, an ENLARGED Torah. In no way.

But I am getting way ahead of myself. The foregoing facts about Sinai are important to remember because at this stage as Paul comes to grips with the implications of the NEW WORLD ORDER of Messiah he does (almost) the unthinkable as a rabbi. Paul in a sweeping argument demolishes God's previous administrative position concerning a legal justification.

In the Sinai Torah it is written: “If there be a dispute between men, and they enter into litigation, and the judges decide between them; then they shall justify the righteous and condemn the wicked” (Deut 25.1).

This is virtually repeated in the Solomonic Proverbs. “He that justifies the wicked, and he that condemns the just, even they both are ABOMINATION to Yehoveh” (Prov 17.15).

Anochi I-Source reveals Himself, through Paul, to be a God who has altered HisHer administration in relation to that which was previously considered to be an “abomination” in the sight of heaven. For Anochi is a Creative Intelligence who now justifies the ungodly (Rom 4.5). Here is further evidence of God trampling all over Sinai! Recall the Marriage Contract was torpedoed! There can be no two ways about this fact. Indeed, I have previously spoken of God reversing administrative decisions relating to what were then considered (in Mosaic terms) “abominations” under the terms of the Mosaic or Sinai agreement (marriage contract) in specific terms that a man who divorces his wife can never again return to her. We ought to take time out to again rehearse the startling change of God's previous administration. Notice it now:

“When a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some uncleanness in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house, when she has departed from his house, and goes and becomes another man's wife, if the latter husband detests her and writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house, or if the latter husband dies who took her as his wife, her former husband who divorced her must not take her back to be his wife after she has been defiled; for THAT IS AN ABOMINATION BEFORE HASHEM, AND YOU SHALL NOT BRING SIN ON THE LAND which HaShem your God is giving you as an inheritance" (Deut 24.1-4).

Such a practice of disavowal of a bill of divorcement under these circumstances is termed an ABOMINATION. It is emphasised “YOU SHALL NOT CAUSE THE LAND TO SIN.” So it's pretty heavy stuff when you consider the ramifications of this commandment.  

“This is what HaShem says: Where is the certificate of your mother's divorce, whom I have put away? Or which of My creditors is it to whom I have sold you? For your iniquities you have sold yourselves, And for your transgressions your mother has been put away” (Isa 50.1).

It appears to be an open and shut case.

Having said this, consider God's own loving attitude:

“They say, If a man divorces his wife, and she goes from him and becomes another man's, may he return to her again? Would not that land be greatly polluted? [here's the “abomination” of Deut 24.1-4 again under review] But you have played the harlot with many lovers; Yet return to Me, says HaShem” (Jer 3.1).

“Return, O backsliding children, says HaShem; for I am married to you. I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you [again] to Zion” (Jer 3.14).

“You are an adulterous wife, who takes strangers instead of her husband [behind my back]. And I will judge you as women who break wedlock or shed blood are judged; I will bring blood upon you in fury and jealousy” (Eze 16.32,38). But compare this with the ultimate outcome for Israel. "For this is what HaShem says: I will deal with you as you have done, who despised the oath by breaking the [marriage] covenant. Nevertheless I will remember my [previous] covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish an everlasting covenant [a New Contract] with you. Then you will remember your ways and be ashamed, when you receive your older and your younger sisters; for I will give them to you for daughters, but not because of my covenant with you. And I will establish my covenant [the New Covenant] with you. Then you shall know that I am HaShem, that you may remember and be ashamed, and never open your mouth anymore because of your shame, when I provide you an atonement for all you have done, says HaShem your God” (Eze 16.59-63).

“Behold, the days come, says HaShem, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah [the two sisters God married and later divorced]: not according to the covenant I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt [the Sinai covenant]; which my covenant [marriage contract] they broke, although I was a husband to them, says HaShem: but this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel; after those days, says HaShem, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know HaShem: for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says HaShem: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more” (Jer 31.31-34).

Here is an example of what is termed an “abomination” in the eyes of God (really, in the eyes of the angels of God) “causing the land to sin” and yet HaShem is shown to CHANGE THE LAW and the MARRIAGE CONTRACT to accommodate to His personal need for His previously divorced wife. One cannot help but ponder on some other things considered by believers to be “an abomination that causes the land to sin.” If HaShem changes His mind on the matter of divorce, will He not also change His mind administratively in relation to other matters contained in the Sinai Covenant? I believe He not only will, but already has.

Paul himself knows that the angelic Sinai Covenant is no longer of any relevance to us and that it is HaShem who is our prime example to follow. We can see this in Paul's new found revelation – which turns the entirety of the world on its head – that God justifies the ungodly. Although we have gotten ahead of ourselves in this lecture, and we need to examine Romans 2 in our next address, this background understanding is vitally important in order for us to gain an appreciable insight into the workings of Paul's creatively unbound intellect and to further gain a grasp of both Paul's views and his vision of the biblical revelation.


In relation to previous Lecture 8, expand your education.
Recommended Reading.

Vern L. Bullough & Bonnie Bullough, Women and Prostitution: A Social History, 1987
Vern L. Bullough, Brenda Shelton, Sarah Slavin, The Subordinated Sex: A History of Attitudes Toward Women, 1988
Edgar Gregersen, Sexual Practices. The Story of Human Sexuality, 1982
A. Kosnik (Ed), Human Sexuality. New Directions in Catholic Thought, 1977
Ray Laurence, Roman Passions: A History of Pleasure in Imperial Rome, 2010
Marilyn B. Skinner, Sexuality in Greek and Roman Culture, 2nd ed., 2014
Lenore E.A. Walker EdD, The Battered Woman Syndrome, 3rd ed., 2009

THIS CONCLUDES LECTURE TEN


 7 
 on: March 21, 2017, 05:15:28 PM 
Started by Rebbe - Last post by Rebbe
PAUL'S LETTER TO THE ROMAN CHRISTIANS [9]

Analytical Commentary on Romans
QUESTION OF HOMOSEXUALITY

The Audio MP3 of this lecture is available via this link: http://www.bripodcasts.com/Romans/Lecture9.MP3

Copyright © BRI 2016 All Rights Reserved Worldwide by Les Aron Gosling,
Messianic Lecturer (BRI/IMCF)

CAUTION: BRI Yeshiva notes are not available to the general public. They are not for distribution. They are not for reproduction. The notes may also bear little or no resemblance to the actual audio or video recorded BRI Yeshiva lecture.


“The great Rabbi Gamaliel had among his disciples one who, according to a passage in the Talmud, gave his master a good deal of trouble, manifesting 'impudence in matters of learning.' But his name is not given; he is remembered simply as 'that pupil'” (F.F. Bruce, The Spreading Flame, 1958, 81. See also J. Klausner, From Jesus to Paul, 1944, 310f; Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 30b).

The historian Tacitus describes the city of Rome as “the common sewer into which everything infamous and abominable flows like a torrent from all quarters of the world” (Tacitus, Annals XV, 44).

“I hope everyone will pay keen attention to the moral life of earlier times, to the personalities and principles of the men responsible at home and in the field for the foundation and growth of the empire, and will appreciate the subsequent decline in discipline and in moral standards... down to the present day [Livy died 17 CE]. For we have now reached a point where your degeneracy is intolerable” (Livy [Titus Livius])


I would doubt very much that most modern church pew warmers who use Paul's Letter to the Roman Christians (and especially the contents of the latter section of the first chapter) to crusade against the democratic rights of people who proclaim themselves to be other than heterosexual, do so in gross ignorance of the history of the ancient world. This becomes an apparent problem when they forcibly articulate (better, dictate) how others ought to behave sexually (that is, according to their own particular view of church-oriented morality). Had they examined the history of human sexuality in the ancient world (even that of a fairly recent 2000 years past) they would realise, very possibly, that there were many writers who would have agreed (and did agree) with the content of the first chapter of Paul's Letter to the Roman Christians. We have noted already what Livy exclaimed. “We have now reached a point where your degeneracy is intolerable.”

That Rome was littered with loveless sexual degeneracy cannot be argued against, any more than we can turn our eyes from reports of the “vulgar ostentation and [widespread] sexual promiscuity [especially] of the wealthy class” (James Neill, The Origins and Role of Same-Sex Relations in Human Societies, 2008, 206) reflected in the sophisticated satire Satyricon of Petronius Arbiter. This document contains a description of rampant sexual excess that was so deplored by “Juvenal, Livy and Tacitus” (ibid). In fact, when one reads their accounts, and the literature of that excessively immoral and degenerate period, they would have been in total agreement with Paul in his lucid expose of idolatrous behaviour scripted so clearly and candidly in Romans 1.

But Juvenal, Livy, Tacitus and even Martial did not include homosexual orientation in their otherwise mass of moral condemnation. And, as we shall see, neither did Paul. I may well be a lone dove – for lack of a better term – in the exercise of this perspective, but unless or until my arguments are found to be biblically unsound and unwarranted then I will stick by that which the Ruach HaKodesh has revealed to my understanding over the past 50+ years of studious research.

But before we continue into this subject lets gain an insight into the text itself, the consensus interpretation/opinion of which has caused such oppressive heartache, emotional and psychological distress, and monumental tragedy over the last few centuries.

THE TEXT
“What is revealed is God’s anger from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people who in their wickedness keep suppressing the truth; because what is known about God is plain to them, since God has made it plain to them. For ever since the creation of the universe his invisible qualities — both his eternal power and his divine nature — have been clearly seen, because they can be understood from what he has made. Therefore, they have no excuse; because, although they know who God is, they do not glorify him as God or thank him. On the contrary, they have become futile in their thinking, in their reasoning; and their undiscerning, stupid atheistic hearts have become darkened. Asserting themselves to be wise, they have become fools! In fact, they have exchanged the glory of the immortal God for mere images, like a mortal human being, or like birds, animals or reptiles! This is why God has given them over to the vileness of their hearts’ cravings, to bestial profligacy [Kenneth Wuest translation], which had for its purpose the dishonouring of their bodies among themselves; who were of such a character that they have exchanged the truth of God for falsehood, and worshiped and rendered religious service to the creation, rather than the Creator — praised be he for the aeons. Amen. This is why God has given them up to degrading passions, to disgraceful sexual appetites; so that their females [freely] exchange natural sexual relations for that which is beside nature; and likewise the males, giving up natural relations with the opposite sex, burned out with passion for one another, males committing shameful obscene acts with other males and receiving in their own bodies and personalities the penalty of that retribution which was a necessity in the nature of the case because of these deviations from the norm – which was their fitting retribution. In other words, since they have not considered God worth knowing, God has given them up to a disapproved mental state, to a mind void of moral discernment; so that they do improper things” (Romans 1.18-28 Tentative BRI/IMCF Version).

“Improper things.” Was Paul specifically thinking of their sexual expression? He may well have been, and those deviations may well have involved issues of a sadomasochistic nature pertaining to extreme torturous bondage and erotic disciplinary sadism. Or, he may not have had such things in mind. For, doesn't Paul go on to delineate and to speak of these “improper things”? Why stop at Rom 1.28? Why not continue? What are some of these “improper things” to which Paul alludes?

“They are filled with every kind of injustice, evil, avarice and vice; stuffed with envy, murder, quarrelling, dishonesty and ill-will; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God; they are insolent, arrogant and boastful; they plan evil schemes; they disobey parental authority and disappoint their expectations of them; they are brainless, faithless, heartless without natural affection and ruthless. They KNOW well enough God’s righteous decree that people who do such things [N.B., those things Paul has just enumerated] deserve to die; YET not only do they keep doing them habitually, but they applaud and take immense pleasure in others who do the same” (Romans 1.18-32 Tentative BRI/IMCF Version).

You can see now just how perverse has been traditional homophobic emphasis and modern disturbed translation of the sacred text. Honestly! If you personally know a homosexual or lesbian, do these people (whether friends, neighbours, business associates or family members) display these wretched negative characteristics? I would suggest, at all costs, probably not! And this is because Paul is decidedly not engaged in describing today's gay people, but rather a select cabal of filthy, dirty, rotten, subversive, hate-filled, atheistic-at-heart, religious demoniac deviates who purposely rejected the truth of God in exchange for the teachings of the mystery cults of that same period – the idolatrous foundation rooted in the belief that WE of ourselves are the pinnacle of Godhead and that as such WE can create in ourselves the Christification of the Logos within, without and apart from the shed blood of Yeshua and indwelling of the Ruach HaKodesh!

In effect, we are talking about the Christification of the human creature in his final progressive evolutionary pursuit of “perfection” – without God's SPIRITUAL enabling. THIS is what the Mediterranean Mystery Cults of the mid-to-late Second Temple period were all about. Essentially: How to become PERFECT without God. And it was sheer narcissism.

SLAVERY – THE GREATEST EVIL THAT EVER EXISTED – AND GOD'S ACCOMMODATION TO HUMANKIND
I wish to encourage all my students in Australia and around the globe, to broaden both their perspectives and perceptions relating to their accumulating knowledge of the biblical revelation. Now I am about to cover some things which I am fully cognisant will be creating more than a little unease with a few of my students. I am trusting, however, that the vast overwhelming majority of our Messianic believers will be able to acknowledge and appreciate, as a correct understanding and application, THAT which is plainly found in what is called “The Word of God.”

We so often hear from the Christian church that there is a great need for believers to accommodate to the will of the living God. And, indeed, we should all be attempting to align ourselves to God's expectations of us as human beings. But, when we open the first pages of the Torah – in the first book or scroll of the Torah, Genesis – we find that more often than not it is God Himself who is accommodating to human beings.

This is so often overlooked by believers, both Messianic and traditionally Christian, and it needs to be stressed that God is an accommodating God, and that this is nothing more than a reflection of His innate character. God IS love. God is infinite love. And that infinite love is unconditional. That is what the world needs to hear more about at this time.

A prime example of God's accommodation to humankind is that of our Father Abraham. Certainly God accommodated to the patriarch, and in quite a surprising way! Turn to Genesis 12.

“Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get you out of your country, and from your kindred, and from your father's house, unto a land that I will show you; and I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, and you be a blessing. And I will bless them that bless you, and curse him that curses you. And in you shall all families of the earth be blessed” (Gen 12.1-3).

Quite a covenant (contract)! If Abraham complied with the commandment of God in its three sections, wonderful blessings would be his! And what were those three requirements of God concerning our Father Abraham?

Firstly, he had to leave his country which was in the region of Chaldea.

Secondly, he had to depart from his relatives.

Thirdly, he had to renounce his father's house, and all for which it stood.

Comments Rashi – the great Jewish rabbinical scholar and commentator – on this section of Abraham's call, “In this land of idol worship thou art not worthy to rear sons to the service of God.”

In other words the evil surroundings would contaminate them. The Midrash takes pains to explain that this jettisoning of his past would be for the benefit of all Abraham would meet. “When a flask of balsam is sealed and stored away, its fragrance is not perceptible; but, opened and moved about, its sweet odour is widely diffused.” Abraham had “to cut himself adrift from all associations that could possibly hinder his mission” (Pentateuch & Haftorahs, III, Lech Lecha, Chapters XII-XVII, 45).

Abraham is called by Paul “the Father of the faithful” for the period prior to the inauguration of the Mosaic economy. The great Apostle aligns Messianic believers with him. Yet, and here is the point, Abraham was far from obedient to the Lord's command! For, in verses 4 and 5 of chapter 12 it is written, “So Abram departed, as the Lord has spoken to him, and Lot went with him... And Abram took Sarai his wife... and Lot his brother's son.”

Not only did Abraham disobey God in regards his nephew Lot, Stephen tells us that when God first called Abraham and told him to depart from his relatives (and thus from his father's idolatrous house) that Terah his father went with his son (Acts 7.2-4).

Not only was this the case, Abraham's life was one huge mistake after another (Gen 12.10-13,17-20; 20.1-14). In an overall sense Abraham was obedient to the heavenly vision. But that obedience was most assuredly an incomplete obedience. Nevertheless, the record states flatly that God did bless Abraham, and in a mighty and wonderful way. It is written, inspired by the Spirit of God, “Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws” (Gen 26.5).

In a word, God was accommodating to Abraham's humanness.

And Lot, who fled with his uncle Abraham from Chaldea, was certainly no paragon of virtue! No, not by any means! A man of immeasurable greed (Gen 13.1-11), involved in the official affairs of the infamous city of Sodom (Gen 19.1), who even offered his two virginal daughters to brutish rapists (both heterosexual and homosexual – an open invitation to all the horrors of pack rape – Gen 19.4-9), and who finally committed incest with the two girls (Gen 19.30-36) – this man is referred to as “RIGHTEOUS Lot” by no less an authority than the Apostle Peter himself! Not only did Peter consider Lot “righteous” but he also called him “just” and “godly” (2 Pet 2.7-9). Almost needless to say, I do not share this view of Lot. I live in the 21st century of our era, and my views do not agreeably coincide with those of Peter who considered this nephew of Abraham to have been “righteous.”

But here again, in the case of Lot, we find the doctrine of accommodation. God fully is aware of man's needs, not only physical and material, but emotional and psychological. God accommodates to man. Perhaps this is why even those priests and priestesses, as representative of a particular religious order with whom Paul is preoccupied in Romans 1, are never spoken of as sinning (Paul is entirely circumspect and avoids the word “sin” and it does not appear in any ancient Greek ms of the text covering this episode) although derogatory language is justifiably utilised by the apostle. Equally, these religious devotees are nowhere in the text promised the blazing fires of hell as punishment. Yet these are religious people who firstly exchanged the glory of the immortal God for a creative process initiated in ancient physics by Venus the goddess of love “whose coming in the spring has scattered the clouds, flooded the sky with light, and filled the entire world with frenzied sexual desire” (Stephen Greenblatt, The Swerve. How the Renaissance Began, 2011, 1), and then added to the fire by exchanging the truth about God for a lie concerning created things and moreover followed this by exchanging natural intercourse for a cohabitation preference for “chickens, quadrupeds, and snakes” (Rom 1.23). Intriguingly, the violent Mau Mau during the Kenyan uprisings of the early '50s of the past century, also included the latter in their revolting rites of passage.

Three EXCHANGES are met with Paul's retaliation of three REACTIONS of FatherMother God Anochi toward them. Notice especially the sequence.

[1] “God gave them up” (Rom 1.24). God surrendered them in their hearts to their own idolatry.

[2] “God gave them up” (Rom 1.26). God surrendered them in their bodies to their own idolatry.

[3] “God gave them up” (Rom 1.28). God surrendered them to a reprobate mind in their own idolatry.

God abandoned these idolaters when they embraced fully their idolatry in the deceitfulness of their own heart. The Lord Yeshua had said, “For from within, out of the heart of humanity proceeds evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander...” (Mt 15.19). Notice it now:

“God surrendered them to the passionate cravings of their own hearts to bestial profligacy” (Rom 1.24). To be profligate means to be characterised by licentiousness or dissipation; shameless dissoluteness. For males and females (Paul in this context does not refer to them as men and women) to turn to animals for sexual release reveals just how dark their minds had become. Indeed, “natural” as in “natural use” in Rom 1.26 is the Greek phusis which Greek scholar Marvin Vincent explains is “the nature of things, the force, laws, order of nature, as opposed to that which is monstrous, abnormal, perverse.” “Against nature” is para phusin “that which is against nature's laws.” Is it against nature's laws for human beings to copulate with animal-kind? Yes, it most certainly is!

Psychiatrist Dr Murray Banks used to relate a story of a man seeking help who came into his office and shared that he had a sexual love for horses. The Dr asked, “Stallions or mares?” The patient responded, “Mares of course! What? Do you think I'm queer?”

This is why Alva McClain in his lectures on Romans says “They became depraved in heart [Rom 1.24] when God gave them up. First it is the heart, then it is the body [Rom 1.26]. Next, “God gave them up to a reprobate mind.” [Rom 1.28] A depraved heart, a depraved body, a depraved mind. The word reprobate means 'tested and found to be no good' – like a piece of tested steel in a machine shop. God tested man and gave him up. Men vied with one another to invent new forms of vice in the days of Paul” (Alva J. McClain, Romans: The Gospel of God's Grace, 1973, 67,68).

Recall Tacitus (d. 117 CE) describing the city of Rome as “the common sewer into which everything infamous and abominable flows like a torrent from all quarters of the world” (Tacitus, Annals XV, 44). And Livy's (d. 17 CE) comments about Rome in his day: “We have now reached a point where your degeneracy is intolerable.”

But rather than a judgment of hellfire, these participants are spoken of as “receiving in their own bodies and personalities the penalty of that retribution which was a necessity in the nature of the case because of these deviations from the norm – which was their fitting retribution” (Rom 1.27). Disease in their bodies, and the development of a largely effeminate disposition so that anybody could identify them as who and what they really were! Remember, we are talking about a cabal of religious identities who lived in the later Second Temple era. We are not talking about (and neither is Paul) modern day ordinary “run-of-the-mill” gays. Indeed, the IMCF is one place on earth where authentic spiritually-oriented gays, and gays in monogamous relationships, can be included in our membership without any reservations or negative judgmental attitudes expressed toward them. Again, lust in any of its forms is to be avoided. Lust is wrong, wrong, wrong. God wants us to be loving ALL people, not lusting after them. We all need to be on the alert to be as accommodating to fellow believers as we are able to be. In no way should our Gospel be one of alienation, but reconciliation. That is reconciliation IN Christ, not reconciliation in accord with our views of “right” versus “wrong” sexual expression.

This doctrine of accommodation is found all throughout the biblical revelation and finally is seen in Yeshua's accommodation to the spirits of the righteous dead by his descent into that gloomy area of Sheol itself to empty it. I have written extensively in another lecture on this matter.

We all need to go forth ourselves into the loving embrace of the God who accommodates to human need. That accommodation of God extends even into some of the most unworthy and horrendous practices that continues to abound today all over the world. That issue I am speaking about specifically is slavery.

The world in which Paul found himself was one of a harsh Pax Romana dictatorship and the common-day occurrence of slavery – and surprise, surprise, nowhere did the intelligent Jewish rabbi discount the right of people to engage in slavery and/or to possess slave holdings. And, I might just add, that in my view slavery is the most heinous and destructive form of subjugation and captivity that has ever existed. I speak not just about slavery in its common understood form, but also in the category of captive wives who as domestic slaves labour for very little return (even in regard to respect let alone love) from husbands or children. But in God's accommodation to humankind there is not one word in the entirety of the biblical revelation that speaks out against slavery. True, Paul had written that slaves had to obey their masters (Eph 6.5-9) and yet if a Christian slave could gain his freedom then he or she ought to take the risk of attempting to obtain it (1 Cor 7.21-24). But having said this, Paul nowhere encourages the sentiment of liberty and freedom for slaves. Nowhere.

Paul's silence has been used in fairly recent times to give slaveholders every right to possess and use, and cruelly abuse and even murder, slaves. There was, I might remind some folk who are not US citizens, a God-awful Civil War fought in America and while it was fought on economic grounds one of its fundamental activities was to free the African slaves who were captive in what became the Confederate States. In fact, Abraham Lincoln made halting expansion of slavery his campaign issue for election to the Presidency. It was his election in 1860 which initially triggered seven states to secede from the Union and to form the Confederate States. Four more states seceded when war broke out. The awful truth is that the Bible was more often than not used to prove slavery to be entirely permissible and further that it had God's approval. What was mistaken was the notion among anti-abolitionists that just because God was accommodating to something or other did not necessarily mean that God approved of it.

This is why we all must be cautious as to how we actually use the contents of the Bible which contains the Word of God. I have stated many times that I not only love the Bible, but that it is my whole life's work to enthusiastically promote a proper evaluation of that ancient compilation and embodiment of texts which point to God's Salvific intentions for the entirety of the human race, and indeed the universe. The holy Bible, although inspired by the holy Spirit, was written onto the parchments by fallible human beings subject to the constraints and restraints of their own day and age.

While the Bible contains the Word of God and is inspired by the Ruach HaKodesh it remains, however, a very human literary garment that both hides – and reveals – spiritual infallibility. (See my article, Are There Contradictions in the Bible? On our public BRI/IMCF site.)

In any event, it is high time somebody taught this fact of God's accommodation to humankind with the authority of the Mashiach Himself.

Having spoken about the evil of slavery and some people's view of what constitutes “righteous behaviour” (as in the case of Abraham's nephew Lot) I now wish to speak on Paul's considerations regarding sexual activity that is profoundly frowned upon in certain Christian quarters.

WOULD PAUL SUPPORT THE LGBTI MOVEMENT TODAY?
It might surprise some reading (or hearing) this lecture that nowhere does the great apostle to the Gentiles actually speak out against men and women who orient preferentially in homosexual, or homogenital, behaviours. It is my personal belief that Paul – had he lived in our modern largely democratic society – would have been supportive of the modern LGBTI movement. Of course, his concern would be toward those of his followers who were Christians, and not necessarily those who were one with the world. Again, this is merely an opinion but I am free in our democracy to express it.

Rather, Paul has a particular people in mind when he pens his introduction to his Letter to the Roman Christians, and this fact is usually overlooked in modern Christian exegesis. The sexual depravity and decadence of the emperors – including Caligula who had sex with his sisters in front of his frightened wife – is well documented (Suetonius, The Twelve Caesars). The homosexuality of these same men was not looked upon by the authors of Roman history as anything other than normal and I include emperors Trajan and Hadrian in this list. In fact homosexuality as such was looked upon by those same ancient authorities as “normal” while their depravity displayed itself in extreme forms of sexual license and oftentimes sadistic afflictions and tortures. It horrified the apostle Paul that while the Roman emperors subjected their slave-girls, wives and other women to different forms of bestiality the women Paul had in mind freely chose to “change the natural use into that which is against nature” (Rom 1.26). Lesbianism is not at all under discussion, as documents of the time reveal, but the horror of depraved copulation (and other forms of sexual perversion) with goats, pigs and ponies most assuredly is what rightly nauseated Rav Shaul!

And where did this dreadful decadence come from? Where did it originate? How did it invade Rome, the capitol of the world? Let Juvenal answer: “The river Orontes has long flowed into the Tiber” (lll, 62). The Orontes originates in Lebanon and flows through Syria and Turkey before it empties into the Mediterranean Sea. Juvenal long recognised the region from which the degeneracy and decadence that preoccupied Rome for some centuries had originally stemmed. It came from the slave stocks which Roman troops had imported from Lebanon and Syria and Babylonia into Italy. The slaves multiplied so rapidly and brought with them their sick “Mystery religions” that the original stock of Latins eventually were overrun and they ultimately disappeared from Italy having emigrated enmasse (due to the perversions and decadence these slaves brought with them) into the regions of northern Scandinavia and certain areas of eastern Europe.

CURSE OF IDOLATRY
In the very start of his epistle to the Christians at Rome, Paul sweepingly condemns the entirety of the world. He calls down the judgments of God. But he begins with Gentile idolatry. The reason he does so is due to the fact that he is writing to the Christians in Rome, the world centre of the Pax Romana, the Roman Peace. He starts with the condemnation of God toward (and on) widespread decadent idolatrous practices which had permeated the entirety of the Mediterranean region, and these Babylonish “mystery cults” with their horrendous secret rites and ceremonies had saturated even Caesar's court.

“What is revealed is God’s anger from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people who in their wickedness keep suppressing the truth” (Rom 1.18).

These particular idolatrous religious authority figures were the worst kind of sexual perverts, debasing females as little more than sex objects to use and abuse at their pleasure – but promising eternal life for those who indulged their wildest, ungoverned fantasies. Women of all sorts – whether free, slaves, aristocratic or peasant “fish wives” – were “elevated” to priestess status and were readily available for the pleasure of any man (or patrician high-born woman) at a price. Anything could go as long as the client had the money to pay for it.

This sort-of reminds me of today's world, and (still) largely hidden and “dark” sex clubs where (for a price) a woman or child can be purchased, pleasured, sexually tortured, and then killed in a padded room at the exclusive club. No questions asked. In Belgium in recent years an exclusive club for homosexuals was uncovered, where a naked sex slave could be beaten to death with baseball bats or sliced into pieces with a sharp machete or with knives after the client had received the sexual favours he sought. It came of course at a very high price. And so, Paul speaks of these abominations saturating Rome. And, please keep in mind, that where our English word “abomination” or “abominable” is used it is always a translation of a Hebrew or Greek term intended to speak of cultic or religious activity. (Hebrew, toevah; Greek, bdelugma). “Abomination” is not utilised in association with otherwise “normal” sexual activity devoid of ritualistic or ceremonial religious significance.

You may well be thinking: What kind of CHARACTER would such a person have, if any? Paul takes pains to inform us:

“They are filled with every kind of injustice, evil, avarice and vice; stuffed with envy, murder, quarrelling, dishonesty and ill-will; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God; they are insolent, arrogant and boastful; they plan evil schemes; they disobey parental authority and disappoint their expectations of them; they are brainless, faithless, heartless without natural affection and ruthless. They KNOW well enough God’s righteous decree that people who do such things deserve to die; YET not only do they keep habitually doing them, but they applaud and take immense pleasure in others who do the same” (Romans 1.18-32 Tentative BRI/IMCF Version).

This is not a descriptive appraisal of normal human beings whether they be heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, transgender or whatever the case may be. These descriptions are aimed at the characteristics of these particular peculiar religious apostates. Short and simple. They were intelligent enough to have the RIGHT understanding of God only to reject it and to transplant it with a load of Babylonish Hermetic rubbish and rot. Notice Paul says that they did not like to retain the proper knowledge of God in their thoughts, but rather SUPPRESSED the truth about the living God (which they obviously knew) and to REPLACE it with sexual deviancy which constellated around sexual activity with animals. These priests and priestesses were still popular in Alexandria in Egypt during the First World War and were instrumental in the physical and personality destruction of many an allied soldier who visited their brothels.

THE “WISDOM OF SOLOMON” – PAUL'S SOURCE FOR HIS CONDEMNATION OF RELIGIOUS IDOLATRY
If you are a long-time student of the biblical revelation you will be familiar with the Wisdom of Solomon which is quoted as Scripture throughout the Messianic Scriptures, although not by name. It is located in the set of secret mystical volumes the church has categorised as The Apocrypha. It is and remains Jewish Scripture. I would recommend that our students take time out and read Wisdom 13.1-14.31 and then re-read Romans 1. It is almost identical. It is quite apparent that Paul has rewritten, in edited form, these two chapters for the purpose of making his point to the Roman Christians concerning the present idolatrous evil he knew that they faced in the capitol of the Roman empire at any time of day or night. It also remains a very present warning for us today in our depraved western world. (For lack of time and space I cannot include Wisdom here, but I recommend all our student body to obtain a copy of the Apocrypha – it is Scripture – and to educate oneself with this material.)

Denying the true nature of God Almighty – and please bear in mind that we human beings are made in the IMAGE of God – has led to a perverted understanding of the living Creator and HisHer intentions for humankind. We have witnessed this in the Talmudic “takeover” of the religion of Moses which has become what is called today “Judaism.” It is witnessed in what is now known as Christianity, really... Churchianity. It takes little intellect or acumen to grasp that if we fail to understand the nature of GOD, we will be led to a failure in ultimately understanding ourselves.

The Messianic Movement today is in its infancy. It will certainly bring into a fulfillment that which Paul revealed in Romans 9,10,11. But there is an imperative need for an authentic education throughout the Messianic Movement, beguiled as much of it is with Sinaitic legalism promoted by teachers who are far too fond of a corrupt Talmudic Judaism. As the Messianic Movement flourishes, the pagan world is rapidly facing a coming travail that will bring about the most horrific “End of Days” as delineated and forewarned in the Apocalypse. In our world today we are daily faced with a literal flood of lost people, largely disoriented and without (as Jeremiah promised) “a future and a hope.” They are a hurting people, a discouraged people, a people without ambition because they have no fresh ideas, dreams and goals. And God lays the blame, the accountability, on the heads of priests. “My people,” he declares, “are destroyed for lack of [authentic] knowledge” (Hos 4.6).

It is our calling to reach out to those in need, and to impress upon them an appreciation of truth, RIGHT knowledge, directed from a RIGHT teaching ministry available for their needs and concerns with appropriate answers to life's larger questions. A bankrupt Churchianity has failed them. A largely legalistic mindset in the Messianic Movement will fair such people no better. We have been in the re-education business for the past 40 years.

It is high time this Gospel of God's Salvific unconditionally loving will to save all humanity and indeed the universe is given a wider audience. We know the historic church has lost its power and this is because it early lost the Gospel.

I have proclaimed for decades that the entire Gentile Christian community got the intent, purpose and plan of God for humankind wrong very early in its history. This was due to the insistence of the established Christian Community that they had, as a universal church, replaced the Jewish nation, the community of Israel, as the Chosen People of God. Therefore, and upon this premise...

The church got the beginning of the story wrong.

The church got the eschatological ending of the story wrong.

And the church got the Gracious story-plot itself wrong.

If the church has lost the original Gospel and is therefore powerless it is primarily due to the fact that THE GOSPEL IS THE POWER. God has invested His power in the truth we teach. As a song proclaims, “our God is marching on.”

The question is, are we keeping up with Him?

THIS CONCLUDES LECTURE NINE



 8 
 on: March 21, 2017, 03:21:02 AM 
Started by Rebbe - Last post by Rebbe
PAUL'S LETTER TO THE ROMAN CHRISTIANS [8]

Analytical Commentary on Romans
The Truncation of the Pauline Letters

The Audio MP3 of this lecture is available via this link: http://www.bripodcasts.com/Romans/Lecture8.MP3

Copyright © BRI 2016 All Rights Reserved Worldwide by Les Aron Gosling,
Messianic Lecturer (BRI/IMCF)

CAUTION: BRI Yeshiva notes are not available to the general public. They are not for distribution. They are not for reproduction. The notes may also bear little or no resemblance to the actual audio or video recorded BRI Yeshiva lecture.


“The great Rabbi Gamaliel had among his disciples one who, according to a passage in the Talmud, gave his master a good deal of trouble, manifesting 'impudence in matters of learning.' But his name is not given; he is remembered simply as 'that pupil'” (F.F. Bruce, The Spreading Flame, 1958, 81. See also J. Klausner, From Jesus to Paul, 1944, 310f; Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 30b).

“In Romans we have the answer to the question, 'What is Christianity?' by the strongest thinker in the early church” (A.M. Hunter, Toward Understanding Romans, 1962, 37,38).

“The history of the Christian church is consequently witness to the fact that the Epistle to the Romans has in a peculiar way been able to supply the impulse for the renewal of Christianity. When man has slipped away from the gospel, a deep study of Romans has often been the means by which the lost has been recovered” (Anders Nygren, Commentary on Romans, 1949, 3).


Paul's Letter to the Roman Christians begins with eleven chapters of awesome theology about salvation. This is a salvation by God's GRACE through FAITH apart from the Torah. Then in Romans 12 we find the Jewish Rabbi suddenly switch gears and starts what we can call an instructive application of that which he has been propounding – how a person being transformed by the holy Spirit of RIGHT KNOWLEDGE will live.

Over the past seven lectures we have discovered that this Pauline document is in fact a letter. It is not a book. There is no such document called the “Book of Romans.” Again, its a letter and its not addressed to “the Romans.” Its addressed to the Roman Christians. And those believers are not called to become saints, but are called saints, for they ARE saints.

Paul has written a theological ms. That is true. But it is MORE than this! This letter is a political manifesto. This will become very evident by the time we reach Romans 16.20. That the pre-Christ Nazoreans were a political entity has been established in our previous lectures so that there is no longer any shred of doubt about it.

In fact, as I have shared with our global student body already, Rav Shaul opens his epistle with his bold-faced declaration that Nero is about to be deposed. The expanded Greek speaks of the Lord Yeshua as the emperor of the world. But we have also seen that Paul is shockingly naïve in some respects – as well as headstrong – for he then includes the names of prominent Christians in Rome. After committing high treason and placing his head on the chopping block by invoking Yeshua as emperor I do not think these Christians would have been too appreciative of being identified for Nero's agents to come knocking on their doors.

We have also covered the fact that this letter possesses a variety of structures in early ms format. Indeed, we do not now know for certain where Romans begins and where it actually concludes. This is primarily due to the procedure that many of his writings were truncated for the purposes of a wider circulation around the various ekklesias of the late Second Temple Period. I have also covered when it was most likely that each epistle was penned. In achieving this we have come to realise that the two letters of Paul to the Corinthian Greeks were originally four in number and we have now reconstructed them as they would have originally appeared. Having recapitulated for necessary reasons we are now prepared for lecture 8.

FINAL WORDS CONFIRMING TRUNCATION OF PAULINE LETTERS
The lower order of Jewish priests backed by the Zealots sparked the first insurrection against Rome when they refused the daily Temple sacrifice required for the Emperor Nero and all foreigners. Eleazer, a priest, who was to see the slaughter of the high priests by the Zealots – again, with aid from the lower priesthood – refused to offer the sacrifice on behalf of Nero, and thus plunged the Jewish Commonwealth into a formidable darkness from which the Jews as a nation never recovered until 1948. Immediately prior to the time of the open outbreak of Jewish-Roman hostilities in 66 CE the apostle Peter had written of Paul's circular letters as being both acknowledged and accepted as “Scripture” – as the Word of God – along with the Torah, Writings and Prophets. Please note the phrase “the rest of the Scriptures” in 2 Peter 3.15-17:

“Consider also that our Lord’s patience brings salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom God gave him. He writes this way in all his letters, speaking in them about such matters. Some parts of his letters are hard to understand, concerning which those who are unschooled and intellectually challenged distort from their proper meaning, just as they do the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. Therefore, divinely loved ones, since you already know these things, be on your guard not to be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure standing.”

The writings of Rav Shaul, according to Peter, were being widely assessed as inspired by the Ruach HaKodesh. Paul admitted as much when he wrote to Timothy that “all [Paul's] writing [Gk, graphe) is inspired of God, and is profitable for teaching, etc” (2 Tim 3.16. See also verse 15 where “Scripture” is the Greek, gramma). Further evidence that Paul accepted the early circulation of the Gospels – at least the Gospels of Matthew and Luke – as on a par with the Hebrew Scriptures can be seen by his quotation from Mt 10.10 and Lk 10.7 in 1 Tim 5.18 in which text he speaks of this quotation as “Scripture.” Almost needless to say, Paul thus grants evidence of the very early creation of at least these two Gospels, and therefore we can heartily reject antichrist views of a second century composition for them! (See R.A. Ward, Commentary on 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus, 1974; Burton James Coffman, Commentary on 1 & 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, & Philemon, 1986, esp., 270). Bottom line: many of the Messianic Scriptures were already in circulation circa 15 years prior to his penning of 1 & 2 Timothy!

Not only is this the case but Paul virtually admitted in 2 Tim 2.15 that his letters (or some of them) were being circulated around the Messianic assemblies in edited form, and he urged Timothy as an editor to appropriately and rightly “partition [or, cut] the word of truth” (Greek). Of course, he may have had the Hebrew Scriptures in mind and this consensus probability has been “stressed to the max” concerning various doctrinal formulations, and emphasised as accepted dogma in all Christian circles. However, it is my opinion that he may also have been speaking about his own letters (which as we have seen were already being acknowledged as “Scripture” among Messianic congregations). Certainly we have seen that Paul's letter to the Galatians was early interfered with and not only so, but his four letters to the Corinthians were dovetailed for reasons of circulation as being two in number. So by realising that the Greek for “rightly dividing” or “correctly partitioning” is orthotomeo carrying the basic meaning, according to scholar Young of “cutting straight,” we may be entertained by an entirely new vision of what Paul had in mind in relation to this expert “cutting” or heavily editing of his inspired workmanship. Whatever the case, this approach has its merits and really needs the attention of scholarly evaluation concerning this new biblical insight.

PAUL INVENTS A NEW LITERARY FORM
I might mention at this early juncture that it is not widely recognised that Paul was ahead of his time in being a creative letter writer. Indeed, as scholar Robert H. Grundy points out, “In the Graeco-Roman world private letters averaged close to ninety words in length. Literary letters, such as those by the Roman orator and statesman Cicero” and I follow the late Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam's hard “C” pronunciation as opposed to the soft “c” variant Sisero in common use today “and by Seneca the philosopher, averaged around two hundred words. As the usual papyrus sheet measure about 9.5” x 11”... and could accommodate 150-250 words, depending on the size of writing, most ancient letters occupied no more than one papyrus page. But the average length of Paul's epistles runs to about 1,300 words, ranging from 335 words in Philemon to 7,101 words in Romans... Paul's epistles are several times longer than the average letter of ancient times, so that in a sense Paul invented a new literary form, the epistle – new in its prolongation as a letter in the theological nature of its contents, and (usually) in the communal nature of its address” (R.H. Grundy, A Survey of the New Testament, 1970, 257).

Grundy continues, “... Since the course grain of papyrus made writing tedious, it was usual to dictate letters to a professional scribe, called an amanuensis, who used shorthand during rapid dictation. The ruggedness of Pauline literary style – seen, for example, in numerous incomplete sentences – suggests that at times Paul dictated too rapidly for close attention to careful sentence structure and that his amanuensis found it difficult to keep up. Sudden breaks in thought similarly suggest temporary suspension of dictation, perhaps overnight or for shorter or longer periods. Sometimes an author simply left oral instructions, a rough draft, or notes for his amanuensis to follow. Under such circumstances the amanuensis himself molded the exact phrasing, a factor which may account for some of the stylistic differences among epistles by the same author. The author finally edited the letter. We know for certain that Paul used amanuenses from the fact that his amanuensis once identifies himself by name (Tertius – Romans 16:22). Also, Paul's frequent statements that he is writing the final greeting with his own hand imply that the major portions of the epistles were written through an amanuensis (1 Corinthians 16:21; Galatians 6:11; Colossians 4:18; 2 Thessalonians 3:17; compare Philemon 19)” (Survey, ibid, 257,258).

And you thought how “free flowing” and “articulate” Romans was read by you in English!

So, at this juncture let us return to the text of Paul's Letter to the Roman Christians.

THE TEXT
“First, I thank my God through Yeshua the Messiah for all of you, because the report of your trust is spreading throughout the whole world. For God, whom I serve in my spirit by spreading the Good News about his Son, is my witness that I regularly remember you in my prayers; and I always pray that somehow, now or in the future, I might, by God’s will, succeed in coming to visit you. For I long to see you, so that I might share with you some spiritual gift with the intent to establish you — or, to put it another way, so that by my being with you, we might, through the mutual shared faith be of encouragement to one another. Brothers, I want you to know that although I have been prevented from visiting you until now, I have often planned to do so, in order that I might have some fruit among you, just as I have among the other Gentiles. I owe a debt to both civilized Greeks and uncivilized people, to both the educated and the ignorant; therefore I am eager to proclaim the Good News also to you who live in Rome for I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Messiah, since it is God’s powerful means of bringing salvation to everyone who keeps on trusting, to the Jew especially, but equally to the Gentile. For in it is revealed how God declares people righteous in his sight; and from beginning to end it is through trust — as the Tanakh puts it, “But the person who is righteous will live his life by trust.” What is revealed is God’s anger from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people who in their wickedness keep suppressing the truth” (Romans 1.8-18).

MEETING WITH MARK TRONSON
I first met Baptist sports chaplain Dr Mark Tronson over a dozen years ago when he discovered that I was a “Messianic Jew” living in his vicinity in the Northern Rivers Region of New South Wales. [Mark is a well-known Australian Baptist pastor and evangelist working in the field of sports mainly as a Chaplain. Trained at Morling Baptist Theological College in Sydney (1977-80) his life is outlined on Wikipedia on the Internet. In the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics Mark was invited to attend as the Chaplain by the Australian Olympic Committee President, and in subsequent Olympic Games Tronson himself has appointed Australian Olympic Chaplains. In 2000 my friend was invited to the IOC Lausanne Switzerland to assist in the development of an Olympic Villages Religious Services protocol. Mark, his own ancestry Jewish, has engaged in evangelism in the US, UK, South Korea, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Israel, Turkey, Italy and France. In 2005 he was voted as one of Australia's 25 most influential Evangelicals by the national Evangelical newspaper New Life. Carl Lewis (“Olympian of the Century”) presented Mark (along with his wife) with Gold Medals in 2009 in Dallas Texas for their 27 years of sports and Olympic Ministry.]

In any event, Mark contacted me and wanted to meet. At our first meeting he asked immediately, “What as a Messianic Jew is your understanding of salvation in relation to the Covenant?” He was most pointed in his question, and mildly aggressive. I knew why. His sub-text was very clear to me: “Are you as a Jew saved by the Covenant or by some other means?”

My forthright reply was given without any hesitation. “None of us, whether Jew or Gentile, can be saved without the shed blood of Yeshua the Jewish Messiah (and God manifest in human flesh) being applied to us, to our sins – as the Foundation of God's Gracious intent for humankind. I am not saved as a Jew because of any covenant or contract, Sinai or New Covenant, Mark.” I then quickly added: “For any covenant or contract exists because of SIN. I am saved by GRACE, which is God's character and Nature, by His love and always forgiving desire for all of humankind to enter into all that pertains to Deity. Salvation in Jewish thoughtform is not merely an attempt to escape the savage fires of an eternal damnation – which is an entirely negative view of salvation –  but IS about humankind entering into ALL that God is. As Rav Shaul states candidly we are reconciled to God by the death of His Son, MUCH MORE being reconciled we are saved by His life – by Christ living His resurrection life over again in us by His Spirit, and all that pertains to this spiritual exercise by Messiah on our behalf exists and occurs precisely and only because of GRACE.”

He seemed very satisfied with my answer, and has attended IMCF meetings in the past, which distance has discouraged because of his failing health, but we have experienced a very refreshing relationship over the years. His meeting with me brought forth my crystallization of thought response to that same question that has dogged my steps for many years as Messianic Jews have come through our doors, usually en-route from Jerusalem, repudiating the shed blood of the Mashiach and elevating their spiritual (read, religious) superiority of salvation through the Covenant and the Sinai Torah.

I do not tolerate legalism, and like Paul, will resist it to my dying breath.

Paul opens his epistle extolling the Messiah as the emperor of the world, disparaging Nero Caesar, and then speaks (as we have seen) of his love for the Roman brethren, most of whom he has never met. It is with the introduction to his letter that we catch a glimpse of Paul's personal feelings for the ekklesia – and we discover the fact that he is not backward in revealing his heart to others. But Paul is circumspect! He has revealed his heart but then seeks to protect that same heart by leaving his sentiments behind him. This is the last heart-revelation until he states his preoccupation with the negative side of his character and personality in Romans 7.

Paul's introduction encourages their trust (Gk, pistis) in the Messiah and frankly wherever we locate pistis in the NT we ought to translate it as trust rather than by our English words faith or belief which fall far short of the intention of the Greek. For, one of the charges brought against Gentile Christians by Jews over the years has been that faith or belief of itself doesn't finally or necessarily provoke good acts in life or good works in obedience to God. And of course they're right in this matter. For, as history records, antinomianism has been a charge leveled at the Constantinian Church for 2000 years. As far as pistis is concerned “the present tense of a Greek verb implies ongoing activity, not a once-and-for-all event” (David Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary, 1992, 329).

This is substantiated by the Amplified Version's comments on “belief” (pisteuo). “To adhere to, cleave to; to trust, to have faith in; to rely on... summed up in, 'Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved', means an absolute personal reliance upon the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour” (The Amplified New Testament, Introduction).

Paul adds that he seeks to establish the Christians in a structured way. He wishes to impart spiritual gifts to the end that they may be “established.” The spiritual gifts to the ekklesia which he desires to impart to them are manifest in other of his writings (e.g., Eph 4.11; 1 Cor 12.4-11; Phil 1.1; Titus 1.5,7; cf Acts 14.23). He insists it is his lack of opportunity to visit the Christians in Rome which scholars propose (and in my opinion they do so correctly) brought accusations against the apostle and from which he needed, not to distance himself, but to defend himself.

But Paul's emphatic love for God and for the spiritual brethren of Christ (aptly demonstrated in his letter), can be an occasion for the temptation of distancing oneself from Paul's view of the stern judgments of God. If we attempt to do such a thing we are being decidedly foolish. Indeed, shortly after speaking of his love of (and for) the brethren Paul launches in this very epistle into a virtual tirade of general condemnation on all of humankind.

BE CAREFUL HOW YOU READ BRI/IMCF MATERIAL
There have been numerous BRI/IMCF students (as well as frequent visitors to our sites) who, over the decades, have delighted in consuming my teachings on universal salvation and the true Gospel and on my emphasis on God's Self-sacrificial love for humankind. Many have appreciated experiencing a great burden being lifted off their shoulders kindling and relishing within themselves their new birth into a positive theology expressed in terms of a vibrant new and healthy relationship in the REALISED-incarnation of Christ in the heart. But – so often in so doing – they unfortunately turn a blind eye to ALL that Anochi I-Source IS, in this His/Her character and Nature. For, if nothing else is true this one thing remains FIRM: God holds ALL human beings entirely accountable for the truth they receive.

True, God's judgments and justice are rooted in Grace and love and are thus expressed with a basic attitude toward SALVATION. God is, by His/Her very NATURE, Salvific. In Jewish thoughtform justice is equivalent to God's Salvific intention. God's intention and God's will are one and the same. God's justice found a complete satisfaction in His Son's travail on the bloodied tree of Golgoleth (Isa 53.11). Hell can never satisfy the divine justice. Christ alone can and Christ alone does.

What is disregarded with immature impunity by many believers is the realisation that God can and does get angry, just as a human Father and Mother can and do express anger concerning negative and hurtful acts their children often perform and/or indulge in to the harm of both themselves and others. After all, I have majored for decades on the FACT that we human beings (or, better, human doings) are the creative IMAGE – the MIRRORED REFLECTION – of God. This anger of God Almighty CAN and DOES on occasion flare (FIRE-up) into an explosive rage concerning which Yeshua warned.

But God's anger is rarely ever a sudden flare up, although God is on record as volleying what I can only describe as “emotionally passionate displeasure,” which both arises and subsides rapidly, as was the case when God wanted to destroy Israel and build another race, another Chosen People, as descendants of His servant Moses. God's anger usually is described as “a strong and settled opposition to all that is [morally and ethically] evil” and that “arising out of God's very nature” (Leon Morris, The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross, 1955, 1965, 180).

None of us can afford to “duck for cover” behind semantics and a defiant refusal to acknowledge and accept the fact of the existence of “wrath” when it is ascribed to God. To do so is to charge Yochanan the Immerser with idiocy when he warned of “the wrath to come” (Mt 3.7; Lk 3.7) and to charge John the priestly apostle with short-term memory loss when he spoke of “wrath abiding on” the disobedient unbeliever (Jn 3.36). Yeshua himself stated explicitly that there are some who stand in danger of a hell of fire (Mt 5.22). Certainly Messiah addressed the fact that his Father God was to be feared (trepidatiously appreciated) for God “after he has killed has power to cast into Gehenna” (Lk 12.5). In most of Messiah's parables a negative judgment is a stressed and persistent theme (Mt 13.42,50; 18.34;21.44; 22.7,33). While there are many ministers of the Christian religion, and many believers, who would lately jettison any mention of God's wrath from their conception of Deity (and biblical scholar C.H. Dodd comes readily to mind as does the equally unscholarly Derek Flood), “anger” as righteous indignation is decidedly linked to the all-rounded positive balanced Nature and character of the Father of the Lord Yeshua. Both Paul and John as apostles of Christ would assess my ascription as worthy of merit (Jn 3.36; Rev 6.16; 16.19; 19.15; Rom 1.18; Eph 5.6; Col 3.6). The unknown author of the circular book of Hebrews states it perfectly, in his reflection upon the Torah: “Our God is a consuming fire” (Heb 12.29).

While the Dodd's and Derek Floods of this world cast aside the personalised anger of God in favour of impersonal retribution, or as Dodd puts itHis anger” (Emil Brunner, The Mediator, 1942, 518).

We cannot sweep this character-attribute of God under our neat theological carpet, denying it exists, any more than we can disbelieve in our own hostility toward the things of God, on the one hand, and our negative reactions to those who would do us and our loved ones harm, on the other. Again, I speak as one who actually believes humankind is created in the IMAGE of God. In other words, to deny this aspect of God is to detract from Anochi I-Source in the fact that this same proclivity is to be found acutely in God's IMAGE, humankind.

God above all else has the RIGHT to be RIGHT and to bring about, in HIS plans and purposes for the universe – in His intention – to usher in a STATE of perfection or “RIGHTNESS.” If God must eventually crush obstinate man in order for a full, total surrender of a hostile will in Salvific redirection (and I cannot say this casually), then so be it (Rev 20.11-15).

I could go on, but I think the point has been made. Certainly I do not often speak of the negative side of the judgments of God involving humanity. The reason I do not do so is because this factor of judgment has been used for centuries to control a fragile humankind by a select cabal occupying priestly office, and I think two millennia has been long enough without the balance of the true meaning of God's justice, in a restored lost Jewish thoughtform, being theologically exercised. In any event, Yeshua never disregarded nor discarded the conception of the anger of God.

As we persevere through the next few chapters of Romans we need to be prepared for the revelation given to Paul by Messiah in respect of the judgment of God on the world. This world has been judged as in need of salvation! God, according to Paul, has judged the world and has utterly condemned it. As we will come to appreciate in the following section of Romans 1, Paul's thoughts flow into an expansive vision reflected and articulated in his opening words, “What is revealed is God’s anger from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people who in their wickedness keep suppressing the truth.”

H. Wheeler Robinson states, “this wrath of God is not the blind and automatic working of abstract law – always a fiction, since 'law' is a conception, not an entity, till it finds expression through its instruments. The wrath of God is the wrath of divine Personality” (H. Wheeler Robinson, Redemption and Revelation, 1942, 269).

Paul is intent on revealing the anger of God. He starts with a revelation of God's wrath but unlike many other teachers I take a greater overview of Romans than do they. Studying the letter I can agree with these men that there is a startling revelation here propounded. BUT while Paul speaks of this as a revelation, we shall see later that he goes on to another three revelations. He does not stop with the revelation of God's anger. As we progress please note the three further revelations that flow freely in this epistle.

There is, as already described...

[1] the REVELATION of the wrath of God followed by...

[2] the REVELATION of the righteousness of God.

[3] Then there is the REVELATION of the wisdom of God, and finally...

[4] the REVELATION of the will of God.

This is why the Jewish Rabbi gets quite excited in the summing up of his entire treatise to the Roman Christians with his exclamation “What a wise God He is! To Him belongs the glory through Yeshua the Messiah forever!” (Rom 16.27).

“I AM NOT ASHAMED OF THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST”
Paul is adamant about the Gospel he preaches. “For I am not ashamed of the GOSPEL [the evangel – the great news] of Mashiach: for it is the power [dunamis – from which we get our word dynamite] of God unto salvation to every one that believes; to the Jew emphatically, and equally [or, along with] the Greek [really, Gentile]” (Rom 1.16).

The great Greek scholar Kenneth Wuest (d. 1962) said of the Greek dunamis, that “it means power in the sense of that which overcomes resistance. Our English word 'dynamite' comes from this Greek word. The gospel is God's spiritual dynamite which breaks the granite-like heart of the sinner into rock dust, pulverising it so that it becomes rich soil in which the seed of the Word finds root and grows. The gospel is the most powerful thing in all the world. When it is unloosed in the Spirit-empowering preaching of the Word, souls are saved” (Kenneth S. Wuest, Golden Nuggets From the Greek New Testament in Wuest's Word Studies From the Greek New Testament, 1973 edition, Vol.lll, 95,96).

We must not lose sight of the fact that as Paul writes his Letter to the Roman Christians he always has the Gospel in the forefront of his mind when addressing the Christians over various issues. And we must never forget that we today usually need to jettison biased and hostile “traditional” Gentile Christian interpretations of Romans the first chapter – in particular vss. 21-32  –  from our minds. In doing so, however, it is highly imperative to immediately replace these aggressive homophobic suggestions and dogmatic postulations and overtones with a restored Jewish thoughtform from the Second Temple Period. Perhaps we also have the duty to remember that we live in the 21st century and ought not to necessarily carry over into our culture and democracy the cultural values of certain Mediterranean societies of the Second Temple period as being applicable to our age now. Recall that if Paul had ever met a barbaric German warrior in his day, I have little doubt that he would have modified his views on the hair-length of males as constituting a sign of rampant effeminacy (see 1 Cor 11.14). He would also have ditched his ideas of what consisted of “nature.”

We shall see in our next lecture that the issue of Romans 1.21-32 in Paul's introduction is IDOLATRY, and not the question of everyday run-of-the-mill homosexuality, or any other “-ality.” Please note that cultic or religious homosexual practices of Egyptian Alexandria are here linked to bestiality (priestesses and animals) which should make Paul's point and objective plain enough. Rabbinic scholars readily admit that Rav Shaul is speaking of religious abominations that oriented around temple worship of demonic gods. We must always be on our guard to disallow modern views and trends and prejudices to overlap in our interpretations of documents penned two thousand (and more) years past. If a document was written in the first century of our common era, we need to approach it from a first century CE-coloured cultural, social, racial, religious and political viewpoint. If a text that is 3000-4000 years old happens to be under discussion we must utilise the same textual regard in relation to it and decidedly not approach it with, and apply to it, a 21st century modern European “sensitivity” or lack thereof.

According to the “Gospel of God,” “the Gospel of Christ,” “my Gospel,” as Paul understood it, humankind is to share in the glory of the Infinite Creative Intelligence that brought us all forth in the first place. We are to experience a new body, a spirit body, and a totally new identity. But this expectant body is ultimately nothing but an intensification of our spirit. We will not be naked (2 Cor 5.3,4) – we will have an exceeding and eternal weight of glory in the intensification of our being.

In the final judgment of God we shall see our spirits released into God’s very glory, and we shall partake of that same glory, intensifying our own (and therefore God’s) experience of the Self. This Gospel of God's Salvific intention should always be held in the forefront of our mind whenever we reflect on the judgments of God. They are ever, always and invariably judgments leading to one goal – that of Salvation.

THIS CONCLUDES LECTURE EIGHT


 9 
 on: March 21, 2017, 01:17:31 AM 
Started by Rebbe - Last post by Rebbe
PAUL'S LETTER TO THE ROMAN CHRISTIANS [7]

Analytical Commentary on Romans
Dating the Pauline Letters & the Question of Galatians

The Audio MP3 of this lecture is available via this link: http://www.bripodcasts.com/Romans/Lecture7.MP3

Copyright © BRI 2016 All Rights Reserved Worldwide by Les Aron Gosling,
Messianic Lecturer (BRI/IMCF)

CAUTION: BRI Yeshiva notes are not available to the general public. They are not for distribution. They are not for reproduction. The notes may also bear little or no resemblance to the actual audio or video recorded BRI Yeshiva lecture.


“The great Rabbi Gamaliel had among his disciples one who, according to a passage in the Talmud, gave his master a good deal of trouble, manifesting 'impudence in matters of learning.' But his name is not given; he is remembered simply as 'that pupil'” (F.F. Bruce, The Spreading Flame, 1958, 81. See also J. Klausner, From Jesus to Paul, 1944, 310f; Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 30b).


I wish to state at the very outset of this particular lecture, that none of us can make the claim that we understand Paul unless we admit to the doctrine of progressive revelation. God never reveals all His truth at once on any one subject. Rather, God has chosen to sporadically and periodically reveal elements of His “Way, Truth and Life” gradually in stages to those He has chosen to share in such a magnitude of spiritual understanding. I can demonstrate this reality biblically in a number of ways, but due to time restraints I would suggest that any new students refer to our BRI/IMCF search engine on the private Members Forum and submit the term “progressive revelation” and follow the leads that can be located there, for I have referenced this concept on a number of occasions. But I will mention one glaring example (and there are a number of others) which involves Paul's recommendation that married couples restrain from having children because “the time is short” and he fully expected the Lord's Advent at any moment (1 Cor 7.29):

“The time is short: it remains that both they that have wives be as though they had none [sexual relations with the risk of ensuing pregnancy was outlawed].... for the fashion of the world passes away” (1 Cor 7.29, 31).

Paul penned this proscription based on the teaching of the Lord Yeshua, for had not the Messiah himself advised his talmidim (disciples) against having children as the end time dawned (Mt 24.19)?

Again, finally realising that Christ was not returning in the near future as he had previously thought, Paul rescinded his earlier proscriptions in 1 Corinthians 7 against the proposition of marriage. He wrote to Timothy, “I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house” (1 Tim 5.14).

It can also be further pressed that Paul believed he and the Christians to whom he wrote in the later Second Temple Period would live until the return of the Lord Yeshua in the clouds of the heavens. He stated that this knowledge was directly shared by the “word of the Lord.” Note please, “For this we say unto you by the WORD OF THE LORD, that WE who are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord etc.,” (1 Thes 4.15). He then needed to write a second epistle to these same people because of his altogether enthusiastic but erroneous perception.

There are some Christians really shocked to learn that their knowledge of the formulation of their beloved “NT” is not “up to scratch” – and not all it seems to be. If they knew the major issues (as another example of difficulties in Scripture) that exist among scholars over the original Letter from Paul to the Roman Christians – such as where it actually starts and when it actually concludes – they would be aghast at this knowledge. I will not at this juncture discuss these issues but a trip to the library or accessing GOOGLE would be in order if our students would like to stretch their mindscape to accommodate a new understanding of a few of the issues involved. I would recommend accessing Harry Gamble, Jr., The Textual History of the Letter to the Romans, A Study in Textual & Literary Criticism, 1977, in (ed. Irving Alan Sparks) Studies and Documents, Vol. 42. I recommend this volume, not to “shake” the faith of any of our students but rather to enable a deeper spiritual maturity among them and a greater appreciation for the awesome Ground of All Being who has called us into an educational program befitting our future. After all, much water has passed under the Christian Bridge over the past 2000 years, and we all should want (even crave for) a more authentic apprehension of the Holy Bible especially as it was inspired by the Ruach HaKodesh. This brings us to the dating of the epistles of Paul.

DATING THE PAULINE LETTERS

Scholars are divided as to [1] the dating of Paul's various letters, and certainly they remain contentious as to [2] the order in which they should be located, in the Greek Codex of the New Testament mss. I will not even attempt to outline the various arguments for and against both of these issues, because my input will not throw any further light on the subject – and nor do I find it necessary. What I will share with everyone is the overall consensus views as to the dating of the mss, and the place of origin (ie., where the letters were penned). A knowledge of dating is important because it allows us to view the progressive nature of God's revelations given to the great rabbi during his ministry to the Gentiles.

Although there are some who wish to subscribe to the notion that Galatians was the first letter Paul penned, I am of the opinion (with a host of scholars) that 1 Thessalonians was Paul's first epistle. Below is a list which will be of assistance to those who want to follow through with further research into the subject of ms chronology. You will note that there are in each case two dates for the writing of Paul's epistles. I have provided these dates from the two most influential consensus approaches.
                                            
1 Thessalonians 51/52 CE probably written from Corinth
2 Thessalonians 52/53 CE probably written from Corinth
Galatians 53/57 CE the latter date for its similarity to Romans. Probably penned in Antioch
1 Corinthians 55/57 CE from Ephesus
2 Corinthians 55/57 CE from Ephesus   
3 Corinthians 56 CE from Ephesus
4 Corinthians 56 CE from Philippi
Romans 57/58 CE from Corinth
Philippians   61/62 CE from Rome
Ephesians 61/62 CE from Rome
Colossians   61/62 CE from Rome
Philemon 62 CE from Rome
Titus   62/67 CE from Ephesus   
1 Timothy 63/67 CE from Macedonia
2 Timothy 63/68 CE from Rome   

Certainly you will all have noticed my inclusion of 3 and 4 Corinthians. This is a most unpopular stand, and I well admit that this is the case. However, even though Professor Hugh Schonfield was distanced from his colleagues because of his grasp of what he called “the Messianic vision” of first century Nazarene Christianity and his daring attempts to speak of Yeshua's “human side” as a normal human being, I maintain that he was correct in his assessment that Paul actually penned four letters to the Messianic Assemblies in Corinth. In view of this allow me to take the time to point out precisely how we are to read these Pauline Corinthian epistles by numbering each chapter and text as they would have appeared in the late Second Temple period. For, the two epistles to the Corinthians were originally four. Schonfield states:

“The first letter is referred to in 1 Cor 5:9, the second is largely represented by 1 Cor. The third is mentioned in 2 Cor 7:8, and the fourth corresponds to the greater part of 11 Cor. The original first letter dealt in part with the theme of association with immoral persons” (footnote in Hugh Schonfield's The Original New Testament, 1985, 297). Like Bible scholar and translator Moffatt (and a number of other biblical scholars and expositors) who realised there was an imperative need to realign textual mss with common themes, Schonfield not only succeeded in such a realignment of the Pauline letters but his efforts were rewarded with epistles that read more sensibly than they do now in our present Bibles.

1 CORINTHIANS
Excerpt One begins at 1 Corinthians 9.1-27; 10.1-22 and Excerpt Two begins at 2 Cor 6.14-18; 7.1

2 CORINTHIANS
1 Corinthians 1.1-8.13; 10.23-16.24

3 CORINTHIANS
Commencement is lacking. 2 Corinthians 10.1-13.14

4 CORINTHIANS
2 Corinthians 1.1-9.15 with conclusion lacking.

What I am illustrating here is how disjointed, distanced and dissociated we become when we actually restore the original writings of the apostles – due to the fact that we are so conditioned to the way our own personal Bible readings have programmed each of us.

It should also be recognised that in recreating or restoring the original four letters to the Christians at Corinth, we discover that Paul answers questions posed by the Greeks at certain intervals within the two restored mails to Corinth which scholars otherwise have to postulate as unknown letters to the Corinthian Christians which have now simply disappeared. But the holy Spirit does not jettison the answers to those questions – nor the original questions to which Paul gave answers – from the biblical record at all.

I also illustrated in the past existing problems confronting scholars who have thrown their hands up in despair concerning massive issues in Paul's letter to the Galatians. In my Real Apostle Paul series of lectures in which I stressed that the apostle's letter to the Galatians was penned by (perhaps) a disciple some years down the track as a compilation of extracts taken from previous mail Paul had sent to the assemblies in Asia Minor. (See Lectures 6 & 7 of the Real Paul.) Sadly this failed to suit everyone associated with the IMCF, but many responded at just how much better sense the letter made when Paul's thoughts were strung together. I have since found that other organisations have subtly copied some of my unique research work and put it up on their own competing sites absence accreditation. The Real Apostle Paul series went public for some years on our previous webmaster's own site – a mistake I will never ever again make.

ANALYSING GALATIANS... AGAIN

Let me explain! Back in 2001 through to mid-2003 I gave our students a series of lectures called The Real Apostle Paul. Lectures 6 & 7 covered an issue concerning Galatians and we posed the question of who actually wrote it. In those lectures I gave our students an extra-curricular activity that (I hoped) would stretch their minds a little bit into possessing a more curious desire to research some of the heavier issues in current (and past) biblical research. I am not afraid of the truth, but alas, many others are! I wrote:
“Without doubt the epistle under discussion contains some of the most profound Pauline sentiments ever put together in one document. Let me share one or two of these inspirational utterances.

“Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Yeshua the Messiah, Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: To whom be glory for the aeons of the aeons” (Gal 1.3-5).

“Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Yeshua the Messiah, even we have believed in Yeshua the Messiah, that we might be justified by the faith of the Messiah, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified” (Gal 2.16).

“I am crucified with the Messiah: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but the Messiah lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then the Messiah is dead in vain” (Gal 2.20,21).

“But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. And the law is not of faith: but, The man that does them shall live in them. The Messiah has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangs on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Yeshua the Mashiach; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith” (Gal 3.11-14).

“For as many of you as have been baptized into the Messiah have put on the Messiah. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Messiah Yeshua. And if you belong to the Messiah, then are you Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Gal 3.27-29).

“Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differs nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world: 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 Sonship. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore you are no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through the Messiah” (Gal 4.1-7).

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith the Messiah has made us free” (Gal 5.1).

“Messiah is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; you are fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Yeshua the Messiah neither circumcision avails anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which works by love” (Gal 5.4-6).

“For, brethren, you have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; You shall love your neighbour as yourself.... Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulation's, wrath, strife, sedition's, heresies, envying, murders, drunkenness, reveling, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Messiah's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another” (Gal 5.13-26).

“Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness; considering yourself, lest you also be tempted. Bear you one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Mashiach. For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden. Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teaches in all good things. Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap. For he that sows to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that sows to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith. But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. For in the Messiah Yeshua neither circumcision avails anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God. From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Yeshua. Brethren, the grace of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah be with your spirit” (Gal 6.1-18).

“Brethren, these sentiments are Pauline through and through. They are sentiments largely verifiable from other letters the great apostle wrote.

“Now I want you to attempt an experiment... Reread Galatians in its entirety.

“Then read aloud the quotations we have utilised here in this lecture.

“Thirdly, LEAVING OUT of your reading all the above quotations..... read out of context the remainder of the letter starting right back at chapter 1 and don't stop until you've reached the end. But, I repeat! Remember to JETTISON from the letter all the above quotations (which are clearly and decidedly Pauline).

“And you are going to get the surprise of your life. You will find, as I did, that the writing style and the sentiments expressed are decidedly NOT Paul's. They are expressions authored by an alien hand. They are a clever argument inserted into the original document (or documents which may have been strung tightly together). Whatever the case with this latter proposition, the fact remains that the residue of the letter – fragmented apart from the authentic Pauline sentiments we have already noted – reveal a sinister hand, and it's not Paul's. Not in my opinion anyway.

“Whoever it was had a background knowledge of first century Jewish law, and used expressions currently in vogue during the same period which are, unfortunately, little understood in today's “Christian” supermarket. For instance, the phrase “under the law” meant “under the administration of the death penalty” which was a consequence of breaking or transgressing the law (or at the very least, walking on thin ice). It never meant what later Protestants and Catholics claim it meant: “keeping the commandments.”...

 “While it is highly doubtful that Jews in the first century would misunderstand such terminology the very fact the author uses certain phraseology that arguably could convey another meaning or intent to those unskilled in appreciating Jewish thoughtform – i.e., Gentiles – makes these inclusions diabolic.

“I know of nobody who has ever conducted this experiment, other than myself. And I have done this because I was told to restore the truth about the real apostle Paul, warts and all, and I am obeying God in this matter (lately, with relish, and with much less apprehension and trepidation).

“Again, I am not suggesting for one minute that we throw the letter to the Galatians out of the Canon – for it is a valuable document reflecting the tensions and problems of the first century Jewish world of which James and Paul were very much an integral part.

“I am saying that we need to treat Galatians with the utmost caution. Indeed, we all need to approach the Word of God with a view to receiving a well-rounded biblical education, and not to read the Bible merely for a feeling of spiritual well-being and emotional comfort, which of course is needful but that ought to be of a secondary nature.

“Again, whoever wrote Galatians in its present form was aware of the tension which existed between two factions of disciples – those of James and those of Paul – which recognition surfaces again in early extra-canonical literature. Indeed, the German school of the 19th century went so far, based on these primitive extra-biblical writings, to espouse that Paul was the “wolf” concerning whom Yeshua had often warned.

“Now I have read a number of books by well-intentioned Christian authors which have the intention of resolving all the difficulties that I have already discussed... but it seems the rule rather than the exception that to solve these difficulties one has to mentally swing from a chandelier and perform other wondrous mental convolutions and gymnastics in order to squeeze all the conflicting details into a perfect little schema. We need to face reality: the difficulties one faces in Galatians are insurmountable.

“We cannot just sweep aside such conflicting information as Paul saying in Gal 2.21 that he visited Jerusalem with Barnabas and Titus while Luke records that the Messianic Community of Faith in Antioch SENT Barnabas and Paul “as well as others” to Jerusalem. They were “brought on their way” or “escorted” (Ac 15.3) – an indication they had little say in the matter. This emphasis is most important to note, yet it is often overlooked or exempted as a potential problem.

“Paul says he went up “by revelation” while Luke claims the reason his attendance was warranted at Jerusalem was a theological controversy in Antioch instigated by some Jerusalem Messianic believers.

“In Gal 2.4 pseudo-Paul proffers false believers who “sneaked in” to “spy out” Antioch's freedom with the aim of bringing them into bondage to the Temple-oriented rituals and ceremonies. In Acts 15.24 James plays with words saying (literally in the Greek): “we gave no express injunction on the points [raised]” (See Vincent, Word Studies, Vol 1., 526).

“In Gal 2.10 James expects Paul to remember the poor and he recognises Paul's apostolate. Luke, strangely enough (or perhaps, as to be expected) mentions neither.

“Perhaps, more importantly, Luke narrates the imposition of a set of restrictions on the Gentile believers as an introduction for new believers for induction into the Community of Faith, and his mention of the availability of Moses in each city strengthens the case that God is vitally concerned about growth in character (holiness, in other words). See again Acts 15.20,29 for proof of this assessment. Yet pseudo-Paul claims nothing was imposed on his apostolate (Gal 2.6 Gk).

“James' final pronouncement is promulgated at the conclusion of the meeting, according to Luke, but pseudo-Paul insists that the Messianic Rabbinic Council was followed by Paul's complaint concerning Peter's behaviour in Antioch. Both Luke in Acts and pseudo-Paul in Galatians agree that the Rabbinic Council concluded with an acceptable agreement, and according to pseudo-Paul this went so far as to have the “right hand of fellowship” extended to the apostle to the Gentiles. Ooops, problem! The “right hand of fellowship” is a Roman custom, and I cannot for the life of me imagine the alternative High Priest of the Jewish nation (who controlled the Zealot and Messianic Movements) adopting the customs of rank idolatrous pagans and Romans to boot! His own brother, we recall, refused to even glance at a coin presented to Him with the portrait of Caesar inscribed thereon. It is at once apparent that Acts does not endorse Paul's claims of apostleship to the extent that Paul claims for himself.

“Whatever the case at our next Yeshiva we will look at some interesting information about James and his connection with the Zealots, and a surprising major event in the life of Yeshua which authorised James to later become the alternative High priest of the Jerusalem Temple. It is an event so shocking it sent Yeshua to His death. As a result of this event, the Zealot revolution was hammered into an explosive Roman alert. It's quite plainly recorded in the Bible, yet Christians have missed its significance entirely.

“We shall also review Paul's need for everyone to recognise his credentials. We will be staggered at the implications of restored early church history for the emerging Messianic movement in Gentile nations today. We shall preview the prophetic word and see what the future holds for a restored Nazarene Christianity in the state of Israel in these End of Days.” (end quote)

I find it intriguing that we are now at this present time examining the Letter of Paul to the Roman Christians. Its intriguing because of the central fact that the rabbi believed he was living at the end of the age when he expected Yeshua to return in a blaze of glory to topple Rome and establish the Government of God over the earth. The time frame is remarkable as we here at this place are now living in the very time of the end, and we are analysing the letter which brought into a theatre of collision two warring parties – Y'hudah and Esau – for world domination. On the sidelines stands Ishmael ready for the slaughter which it has largely instigated to prepare for the final “War between the Sons of Light and the Sons of Darkness”!

Whose side are we really on? Do we fund, and support, Satan's Kingdom or the Kingdom of Anochi I-Source in the Person of Yeshua the Messiah?

This is the question Paul's Letter to the Roman Christians also frankly asks.

Only we each individually can privately answer it.

THIS CONCLUDES LECTURE SEVEN

 10 
 on: March 21, 2017, 12:21:39 AM 
Started by Rebbe - Last post by Rebbe
PAUL'S LETTER TO THE ROMAN CHRISTIANS [6]

Analytical Commentary on Romans
A Question of Faith & the Faithful

The Audio MP3 of this lecture is available via this link: http://www.bripodcasts.com/Romans/Lecture6.MP3

Copyright © BRI 2016 All Rights Reserved Worldwide by Les Aron Gosling,
Messianic Lecturer (BRI/IMCF)

CAUTION: BRI Yeshiva notes are not available to the general public. They are not for distribution. They are not for reproduction. The notes may also bear little or no resemblance to the actual audio or video recorded BRI Yeshiva lecture.


“The great Rabbi Gamaliel had among his disciples one who, according to a passage in the Talmud, gave his master a good deal of trouble, manifesting 'impudence in matters of learning.' But his name is not given; he is remembered simply as 'that pupil'” (F.F. Bruce, The Spreading Flame, 1958, 81. See also J. Klausner, From Jesus to Paul, 1944, 310f; Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 30b).

By the execution of Christ “the sect of which he was the founder received a blow, which for a time checked the growth of a dangerous superstition; but it broke out again and spread with increased vigour, not only in Judaea, the soil that gave it birth, but even in the city of Rome, the common sewer into which everything infamous and abominable flows like a torrent from all quarters of the world”
(Tacitus, Annals XV, 44 Emphasis mine).

“First, I am persistently thanking my God through Yeshua the Messiah for all of you, because your faith is constantly proclaimed throughout the world. For God, whom I serve in my spirit in announcing the Gospel of his Son, is my witness that without ceasing I remember you always in my prayers, asking that by God’s will I may somehow at last succeed in coming to you. For I am longing to see you so that I may share with you some spiritual gift to establish you – or rather so that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. I want you to know, brethren, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as I have among the rest of the Gentiles. I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians [Wuest: those who do not possess Greek culture], both to the wise and to the foolish – hence my eagerness to proclaim the gospel to you also who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Gentile. For God's righteousness in it is revealed on the principle of faith to faith; as it is written, ‘And the one who is just, on the principle of faith shall live'” (Romans 1.8-17).

The Letter of Paul to the Roman Christians has a text. Paul is quoting from the prophet Habakkuk. “The just shall live by his faith” (Hab 2.4). Or, as the Greek unfolds, and as I have just quoted, “The one who is just, on the principle of faith shall live.” This text also finds its way into Paul's composite Letter to the Galatians in Gal 3.11, with a slightly different stress: “The righteous man shall live by means of faith.” And, the unknown author of the circular Letter to the Hebrew Christians in Heb 10.38 also quotes from the prophet: “Now, my righteous person shall live by faith” and as we can appreciate it takes on again a more significantly intense variation of the passage. Slight differences, but a striking affirmation nevertheless.

In Romans the holy Spirit has emphasised the first two words, the just. In Galatians, the Spirit has emphasised the second two, shall live. The Ruach HaKodesh in Hebrews emphasises the last two, by faith. Did you take notice of the fact that Paul in Romans stresses an essential sequence which categorises the daily Christian walk?

First, justification. Secondly, faith. Thirdly, life. And this Pauline expression concerning eternal life (and its constituents) follows through in Romans, Galatians and in the unknown author who penned Hebrews.

So, in the start of our research into Romans we have discovered that the letter has a text: Habakkuk 2.4.

The letter also has a theme. “I am not ashamed of the Gospel of the Messiah” (Romans 1.16).

Alva McClain speaks of this sequence when he states, “Around these two things, the text and the theme, the [letter] is written, and [his] exposition will unfold from these two focal points” (Romans: The Gospel of God's Grace, 1973, 16).

Paul is peculiarly single-minded in the aim and intention of his letter to the Christians in Rome. Recall that he is not writing to an ekklesia. He is penning his communication to Christians known to each other, and who form a loose communal-association. But it is in no way an organised community or assembly. Peter did not found the so-called Roman church! It was not as yet established as Paul admits in his letter, and it is Paul who desires to establish the community in an organisational sense as dictated to by the Ruach HaKodesh with apostles, prophets, teachers, etc (Romans 1.11).  Note again what he wrote in his conclusion in Romans 16.25: “Now to him who is of power to establish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Yeshua the Messiah....”

So the great apostle is set to reach Rome in person, but first has taken occasion to communicate with them. But in so doing he inadvertently alerts Caesar to them by including in his letter the identities of those prominent believers in the Roman city. This, with a little thought, was not one of his most remarkable, intelligent moments. Even John, writing to Christians about the same time-frame, confided “I had many things to write but I will not with ink and pen write unto you: But I trust I shall shortly see you, and shall speak face to face. Shalom be to you. Our friends salute you. Greet the friends by name” (3 John 13,14).

John was, as usual, more circumspect than was a rather impulsively headstrong and in some ways – naïve – Paul. The shadow of impending persecution hung heavily in the air. This intensified as the Jews began to clamour for a severance of the Jewish province from the Pax Romana.

As I pointed out in the last lecture, Paul was viewed as a “pestilent revolutionary” and a “mover of sedition among the Jews” being a “ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes” (Acts 24.5) who in his opening announcement in his Letter to the Roman Christians had all but stated that Nero was no longer qualified to rule the Roman empire. There was only one Emperor and that was the Jewish Messiah, Yeshua. And, Paul was not alone in his assessment of Yeshua as the emperor of the world. His view was quickly adopted by the priestly John and in his Apocalypse Yeshua is called emperor or “King of kings” which is what an emperor actually is! This expression is repeated in the Pauline communication to his disciple Timothy (1 Timothy 6.15).

Needless to say, the Roman authorities were on constant alert, especially during this period of instability and Jewish agitation, for any communiques that made reference to this new “superstition” regarding a new emperor emanating from the vicinity of Jerusalem (cf Acts 17.6,7). The Romans considered the Messianists as intent on overthrowing the ordered system of things (Acts 17.6) with their proclamation (kerygma) that the newly appointed Jewish emperor would soon reappear and bring with him a New World Order. They insisted that it was high time allegiance was transferred from the Imperial Cult of emperor worship to that of the rightful emperor the resurrected Davidic Pretender, Yeshua the Nazarene. As expected, the Romans were prompt to curtail such matters where they located them with the use of immediate swift and violent measures.

COULD YOU IDENTIFY THE ORIGINAL CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY?

When I was attached to the world's largest missionary radio organisation, taking “Christ to the World by Radio,” I had the privilege of visiting with many churches and denominations raising finance for missionary endeavours. I was their “token Jew.” In any event, on one such occasion I was scheduled to preach in an Anglican church in an “outback” town in NSW. Over the ensuing week I was invited to an interdenominational Bible Study which was overseen by a lay preacher from the local Baptists. About fifty people were in attendance, mostly young folk. This for a country town was especially remarkable, as far as interested Christian numbers are concerned. Still, the point to which I am leading is that the subject matter that evening revolved around the rise of the early church as recounted by Luke in the Acts. Skillfully, the lay preacher manipulated his audience with a step-by-step correlation of similarities between the congregations of the first century and those of today's age. Bottom line: the churches of the late Second Temple period were united in doctrine, Sunday observant in commemoration of the Lord's Sunday resurrection, with a wonderful exulting appreciation of “special Christian days” such as Xmas, Easter, and other special significant periods in the “sacred Christian calendar.”

I was especially mortified. None of this was true, yet all those gathered in that place were enthusiastic about his deliverance and powerful analysis of Scripture. That his delivery was filled with blatant distortions and traditional Christian drivel, and potted here and there with what I would call “religious sentimental slobberdrool” escaped them all. But I was not there to differ in my opinions – even if based upon historic facts – with these sincere people, but to raise finance for the furtherance of Christian radio ministry to the “lost and unsaved.”

The truth is Paul was called a ringleader of the Nazarenes. The Nazarenes were the first Christian believers, and Christians today in Arabic-speaking populations around the Near East (and Middle East) are still referred to by this appellation. Today, however, the universal Christian church is entirely unrelated to any identification with the original Nazarenes.

What do scholars share with us concerning the Nazarenes, with whom Paul was attached? It is a sad fact that very early ecclesiastical history is basically ignored in modern church history exploration.

To begin with Dr Jesse Lyman Hurlbut (1843-1930), an American Methodist Episcopal minister, in his The Story of the Christian Church (1918) tells his readers accurately:

“We name the last generation of the first century, from 68 to 100 AD, ‘The Age of Shadows.'... For fifty years after St. Paul’s life, a curtain hangs over the church, through which we strive vainly to look; and when at last it rises about 120 AD with the writings of the earliest church fathers, we find a church in many aspects very different from that in the days of St. Peter and St. Paul” (42. Emphasis mine).

We are reliably informed by Edward Gibbon in the fifteenth chapter of his The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire that there was indeed “a dark cloud” that hung over the original church age. In his own words, “The scanty and suspicious materials of ecclesiastical history seldom enable us to dispel the dark cloud that hangs over the first age of the church” (Decline and Fall Vol. II.,93 The Folio Society 1984 edition).

Gibbon continues with a short version of what he understood about the Nazarenes. “The Jewish converts, or, as they were afterwards called, the Nazarenes, who had laid the foundations of the church, soon found themselves overwhelmed by the increasing multitudes that from all the various religions of polytheism enlisted under the banner of Christ: and the Gentiles, who, with the approbation of their peculiar apostle, had rejected the intolerable weight of Mosaic ceremonies, at length refused to their more scrupulous brethren the same toleration which at first they had humbly solicited for their own practice. The ruin of the temple, of the city [of Jerusalem], and of the public religion of the Jews, was severely felt by the Nazarenes; as in their manners, though not in their faith, they maintained so intimate a connection with their impious countrymen, whose misfortunes were attributed by the Pagans to the contempt, and more justly ascribed by the Christians to the wrath, of the Supreme Deity. The Nazarenes retired from the ruins of Jerusalem to the little town of Pella beyond the Jordan, where that ancient church languished above sixty years in solitude and obscurity.”

At this juncture in his retelling of the largely correct account of the Nazarenes, Gibbon speaks about Hadrian (more correctly, Adrian) and his erection of the new city named after him that grew out of the ruins of Jerusalem. Rapidly he mentions in passing the second (really, the third) revolt of the Jews against Rome (132-135 CE) under the false Messiah Bar Kokhba and the subsequent forced distancing of the Jews from the city under penalty of instant death before taking up again his account of the Nazarenes.

“The Nazarenes had only one way left to escape the common proscription, and the force of truth was on this occasion assisted by the influence of temporal advantages. They elected Marcus for their bishop, a prelate of the race of the Gentiles, and most probably a native either of Italy or of some of the Latin provinces. At his persuasion the most considerable part of the congregation renounced the Mosaic law, in the practice of which they had persevered above a century. By this sacrifice of their habits and prejudices they purchased a free admission into the colony of Hadrian” – the new city erected by Hadrian above the ruins of Jerusalem, Aelia Capitolina, which was a combination of his name (Publius Aelius Hadrianus) and that of his god Jupiter Capitolinus –  “and more firmly cemented their union with the [primitive] Catholic church” (emphasis mine).

Gibbon is right in his assessment that the Nazarenes were the original Jewish Christians, an item essentially ignored by Christian historians, and that the Catholic church was an aberrant sect that early apostated from the ekklesia which Yeshua built. “I will build my ekklesia,” stated Christ. “And the Gates of Hades [Sheol] will not prevail against it!”  (Matthew 16.18).

One of my mentors, Dr Ken Chant, wrote years ago concerning the ekklesia, or community of Christ, that this spiritual dominion is the toughest establishment on earth! For, in it “the insecure find unshakeable security, the weak find invincible strength, the nameless find a divine identity, the lonely find unfailing fellowship, the dying find imperishable life, the disgraced find endless glory, and the separated find unbroken union with Christ.”

What Edward Gibbon unearthed was an admission that the original community of Messiah was a commandment-keeping band of disciples who maintained allegiance to God's expectations of them. While they actually rejected the rituals, ceremonies and sacrificial cultus of the Mosaic Torah they retained a firm belief in Yeshua as Lord and Saviour, and they kept up an observance of the seventh-day Sabbath and (due to their northern hemisphere location) the annual festivals. The majority of the Nazarenes, however, desired to return to Jerusalem and as Gibbon informs us, they did so in their election of a Latin bishop. In other words they compromised with the world. Hadrian (Adrian) had prohibited any public assemblies where instruction on Torah observance was taking place, and along with these prohibitions threatened even human life if Sabbath observance was found to be maintained (S.W. Barron, Social and Religious History of the Jews, 1952, Vol.2, 107). The Gentile Marcus Christianised the heathen Sunday and railed against what was termed “Jewish legalism.” In other words he promulgated modern “Christian” doctrine draped in second century CE regalia.

Despite the tight noose being placed around the necks of the obedient, a small disadvantaged group made the decision to stand firm in their obedience to the Messiah rather than to go in with the expectations of the Roman state! And God protected them. However, retaining their identity as Nazarenes these became known among the new Catholics as schismatics and heretics. This was an anticipated reaction to anything and everything considered “Jewish” in the Roman world. After all, Romans had become vehemently disaffected toward Jews after the third insurrection. First they put down the 66-73 CE revolt, followed by another in a variety of Mediterranean countries and throughout Mesopotamia, that was launched in 119 CE. Not learning their lesson the Jews again revolted under Bar Kokhba in 132 CE. That was the last straw! From then on any who identified with the Jews, or observed the seventh-day Sabbath, were either killed by the State or exiled across its borders into pagan “barbaric” regions in the East. It was during this time that the Catholic church distanced itself from the traditional 14th Nisan Passover observance by introducing the Sunday Passover celebration which would later be called Easter.

This is known in church history as the “Quartodeciman Controversy” – those Christians (Nazarenes) who refused to adopt the new Sunday observance for the Passover maintaining the tradition of the 14th Nisan “Lord's Passover” celebration were labeled “Quartdecimans” (which is Latin for 14th). Most of the Nazarenes by that time were centred in Asia Minor. It was in Asia Minor that the priestly John was headquartered, and where we locate the seven assemblies of Roman Proconsular Asia to which congregations John specifically wrote (Rev 2 & 3). Irenaeus (late 2nd century) informs us that one of the overseers of the ekklesia in Smyrna was a pastor named Polycarp.

Polycarp... was also, by apostles in Asia, appointed bishop of the Church in Smyrna... always taught the things which he had learned from the apostles, and which the Church has handed down, and which alone are true. To these things all the Asiatic Churches testify, as do also those men who have succeeded Polycarp down to the present time” (Irenaeus, Adversus Haeres, III, 4, 3; 3, 4).

Likewise ecclesiastical historian Eusebius reliably stated: “...the parishes of all Asia, as from an older tradition, held that the fourteenth day of the moon, on which day the Jews were commanded to sacrifice the lamb, should be observed as the feast of the Saviour's Passover” (Eusebius, Ecc. Hist., V, XX111, 1).

In the Life of Polycarp (also referred to as the Medicean Manuscript only a single mutilated Greek copy of which exists) – an early spurious work of unknown origin – carries within its pages a number of ancient traditions. Notice its admissions:

“In the days of unleavened bread Paul, coming down from Galatia, arrived in Asia, considering the repose among the faithful in Smyrna to be a great refreshment in Christ Jesus after his severe toil, and intending afterwards to depart to Jerusalem. So in Smyrna he went to visit Strataeas, who had been his hearer in Pamphylia, being a son of Eunice the daughter of Lois. These are they of whom he makes mention when writing to Timothy, saying; Of the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois and in thy mother Eunice; whence we find that Strataeas was a brother of Timothy. Paul then, entering his house and gathering together the faithful there, speaks to them concerning the Passover and the Pentecost, reminding them of the New Covenant of the offering of bread and the cup; how that they ought most assuredly to celebrate it during the days of unleavened bread, but to hold fast the new mystery of the Passion and Resurrection. For here the Apostle plainly teaches that we ought neither to keep it outside the season of unleavened bread, as the heretics do, especially the Phrygians...” (Pionius, Life of Polycarp, 11).

This ancient document, even though thought to be spurious, makes mention of Paul stressing that the blood and unleavened bread of the New Covenant celebration of the Lord's Passover was to be taken during the days of unleavened bread at the Passover – a once a year celebration! Moreover, the Catholic Irenaeus spells out the stand which Polycarp took against the bishop (overseer) of Rome.

“And when the blessed Polycarp was sojourning in Rome in the time of Anicetus, although a slight controversy had arisen among them as to certain other points... For neither could Anicetus persuade Polycarp to forego the observance [on the 14th Nisan], inasmuch as these things had been always observed by John the disciple of our Lord, and by other apostles with whom he had been conversant; nor, on the other hand, could Polycarp succeed in persuading Anicetus to keep [the 14th Nisan], for he maintained that he was bound to adhere to the usage of the presbyters who preceded him. And in this state of affairs they held fellowship with each other; and Anicetus conceded to Polycarp in the Church the celebration of the Eucharist, by way of showing him respect; so that they parted in peace one from the other, maintaining peace with the whole Church, both those who did observe [this custom] and those who did not” (Irenaeus, Fragments from the Lost Writings of Irenaeus, ANF, Vol. 1).

A 15th century CE Jewish historian admits that Polycarp was in actual fact a Nazarene (David Hoffman, Chronicles from Cartaphilus: The Wandering Jew, 1853, 636. Digitised 2007).

The beginnings of authentic Christian history have been focused, not on the Nazarenes, but on the Gentile churches of Greek/Roman, Coptic and Assyrian/Syriac origin. As we should already realise, the various accounts of the Nazarenes are more often than not penned by their Christian enemies – enemies of the true Gospel and enemies of anything and everything labeled as “Jewish.” Reinforcing our understanding, Hurlbut adds this intriguing momento about the Nazarenes (and other so-called “heresies”):

“With regard to these sects and so called heresies, one difficulty in understanding them arises from the fact that (except with the Montanists, and even there in large measure), their own writings have perished, and we are dependent for our views upon those who wrote against them, and were undoubtedly prejudiced. Suppose, for example, that the Methodists as a denomination had passed out of existence with all their literature; and a thousand years afterward, scholars should attempt to ascertain their teachings out of the books and pamphlets written against John Wesley in the 18th century, what wrong conclusions would be reached, and what a distorted portrait of Methodism would be presented” (Dr Jesse Hurlbut, The Story of the Christian Church, 1918, 66).

Yet this is precisely what occurred in respect of the Nazarenes! It is to these commandment-keeping people of God that we should be looking in recognising that association of Messianic believers, called Nazarenes, to be the foundation of the ecclesiastical power which Christ himself established in the Second Temple period TO BE THE FOUNDATION upon which his authentic nucleus of the Kingdom of God would be constructed, grow and thrive. It is to these people alone that we ought to give hearty recognition, and not as so many Christian scholars have mistakenly ingratiated, to Greek and Roman apostates. The Nazarenes remain the earliest documented Christian/Messianic organism that was produced in the Second Temple period.

B.G. Wilkinson in his Truth Triumphant (1944) shares with his readers that the Nazarenes were also known as “Beni-Israel” or sons of Israel, and also “Messiahans” (chapter 4, page 43) thus linking them to the Second Temple volatile Jewish revolutionary movement. Of course, as I have previously pointed out in other lectures over the decades, the Messianists (Christians) were in a providential alignment with the Zealot movement (as the military arm of the Qumran sectarians) and what actually bound the Zealots and the Nazarenes together was the fact that Rome was the prophesied EndTime Edomite power hostile to God!

We are told by Hugh Schonfield, “The Emperor Claudius (AD 41- 54) actually wrote to the Jews of Alexandria warning them not to entertain itinerant Jews from the province of Syria (of which Judaea was a part) if they did not wish to be treated as abettors of 'a pest which threatens the whole world' (i.e., the Roman Empire).” [Letter of Claudius to the Alexandrians.] “He ordered the expulsion of foreign Jews from Rome 'who were continually making disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus' (i.e., engaging in messianic agitation)” [Suetonius, Claudius XXV; Dio Cassius, lx. 6; cf Acts 18.2]

All of this historical reconstruction of early Christianity, in our rejection of “Athens” and more appropriate refocused attention on “Jerusalem,” allows us to more properly grasp why it was that in Thessalonica the local Jews pleaded with the magistrates to take legal actions to prevent Christians from making inroads into their city primarily due to the fact that “these subverters of the Empire have now reached here... and they are all actively opposed to the Imperial decrees, saying there is another Emperor, one Yeshua” (Acts 17.6,7).

NAZARENES PREDATED CHRIST... AND NAZARETH

For decades we have been virtually alone in our argument that the town or city or village of Nazareth did not exist until centuries AFTER the earthly life of Yeshua. This is because scholars had to scramble to locate a town by that name in order to link the appellation Nazarene to a place rather than to an order or religious establishment. Centuries after the crucifixion and resurrection, Catholic scholars imposed on an isolated unimpressive and obscure village the name of “Nazareth.” Greek texts in the Gospels which mention Nazareth as Yeshua's home or place of residence are garbled and ought to be translated more properly as Nazarene/Nazarenes according to context (See Glenys Evelyn Gosling, Messiah's Mum, 2009, 105,106).

It would surprise myriads of Bible students (and their church scholars) to learn that Nazoreans (Nazarenes) was a sectarian term of which the Hebrew is notsrim and unconnected to the mythical Nazareth. Equally, in my opinion, the appellation in association with nezer (branch/Branch) from the roots of Jesse should be jettisoned (Isaiah 11.1). Jewish rabbis readily grasp that notsrim signifies “those who keep” or “those who preserve.” In other words they keep and preserve the secret Name of God and The Way of God – the expectations of God for His people. The Notsrim relished receiving enlightenment and keeping those things committed in secret to them. This involved the correct interpretation of sacred texts, and the proper methodology to be exercised in the day-to-day applications of commandments.

Listen! The pre-Christian sect of Nazareans (Aramaic Natsaraya) which is described by Epiphanius in the Panarion are spoken of as continuing to exist in his day (late 4th century). Surprisingly, the Mandaeans (the baptising sect) in Syria and lower Euphrates are non-Christian and disciples of Yochanan the Immerser whom they firmly believe was, and is, the Messiah. They promulgated this view early in the days of the priestly John (John the apostle or emissary of Christ) and he vehemently rejected both their beliefs and their messianic stand regarding the baptiser (John 1).

What this reveals is that both the disciples of Yochanan the Immerser and the followers of Yeshua were known as Nazoreans. They were differentiated only by their specific identity to whom they granted their Messianic allegiance. The first chapter of John's Gospel allows us traces of the antagonism that aggressively emanated from the author toward the disciples of the baptiser. For those who have shown an interest in an alternative history of the early Christian community, and have questioned the origins of The Clementine Recognitions let me just say that it is my opinion that this ms has survived as an authentic Nazorean document.

Again, Schonfield assures us that “it is clear from the Christian records that the Nazoreans had established in Jerusalem a Council for the government of all the followers of Jesus, which was in fact an opposition Sanhedrin, consisting of the Apostles and Elders under the presidency of James [the brother of Jesus]. The Nazoreans saw themselves as loyal Israel which gave allegiance to Jesus as the rightful Jewish king. They were therefore justified, pending the return of Jesus to take the throne, to create a government exercising supreme authority and jurisdiction over all believers at home and abroad. Thus the Council had a political as well as spiritual significance, being set up in express rejection of the governmental body which had taken action against Jesus and which owned Caesar as lord. The appointment of James to the presidency had been in no small measure a political appointment, since he was of the blood royal and brother next in age of the absent monarch. This explains why he rather than Peter had been chosen” (Hugh Schonfield, Those Incredible Christians, 1968, 112f).

This is the only way we can make sense of the apparent necessity for the successors of James – as president over the Nazorean ekklesia – to have been actual blood relatives of Yeshua, the Nazorean King of the Jews and Emperor of the world.

Schonfield adds, “From what we learn of the Nazorean Sanhedrin it was similarly constructed [on the Sadducean Sanhedrin model] and had similar functions. The ruling body consisted of seventy Elders. It is said that Jesus appointed these after the twelve Apostles; but in the actual Council it would seem that the twelve were part of the seventy, or at any rate also ranked as Elders, though they formed the inner cabinet. In the same way as the president of the Sanhedrin was the high priest, so James, according to tradition, was invested with the high priestly office, and had Peter and John as his deputies, the three constituting 'the pillars' referred to by Paul in Galatians. Later Nazorean records style James 'the supreme Overseer, who rules Jerusalem, the holy Community of the Hebrews, and the communities everywhere excellently founded by the providence of God.' [Epistle of Clement to James, prefacing the Clementine Homilies.] He was of the line of David, being the son of Joseph, 'and moreover we have found that he officiated after the manner of the ancient priesthood... Furthermore, he was empowered to wear upon his head the high priestly diadem.' [Epiphanius, Panarion, lxxviii,]

When we read the normative church history, particularly that with which we have all been groomed, namely the contents of elements, events and personalities constellating around a 'western' orientation, we are ever only invited into the inner sanctums of Athens and Rome and Constantinople. But here and there in that same history we occasionally find an eastern invasion with its accompanied shock value of new ideas and radical stances usually labeled as Jewish legalism as surges of heresy from the outer fringes of “the geographical wild” and especially the Balkans. But it is precisely with this sporadic movement that we should all be open in gaining a more appreciable balance in the story of the “church” (if we are compelled to use that term).

I have included in this essay the valuable contributions made by Dr Hugh Schonfield.  I have done so purposely, though he has been viewed by the Christian church with immense disfavour and contempt. But in his own words, and relative to this series:

“Gentile Christianity has been intelligibly enough preoccupied with its own rise to power and influence, and in the first flush of that power it sought by anathema, suppression and wholesale destruction of documents to overthrow the witness of Jewish Christianity. If there was a death at all, which there is good cause to doubt, it was not a natural one; it was matricide. Far from becoming a futile anachronism its spirit and human activity has persisted until the present day, and is even now undergoing a revival on a scale unknown since apostolic times. Jewish Christianity has always existed to supply that of which the Church has stood in need – the Messianic vision” (Hugh Schonfield, The History of Jewish Christianity from the First to the Twentieth Century, 1936, 5).

The Messianic Vision indeed! The BRI/IMCF stands in that unique tradition bequeathed to us from the Nazarene assemblies of the Second Temple Period. And it takes enormous FAITH to stand.

IN THE MEANTIME… BACK TO PAUL
                                                                                                                                        
Paul wrote to the Corinthian Greeks, “Be constantly alert! Stand firm in the Faith. Keep on being courageous and strong” (1 Cor 16.13).

One cannot be firm in THE faith unless they are already firm in their own personal faith. Actually, this text in accordance with some ancient mss, can be translated either “the Faith” or simply “your faith” and some versions have adequately followed this rule of translation in accordance with mss numbers, by following the latter.

It is written: “The just shall live by his faith” (Hab 2.4).

It is a fact of history that when Paul wrote his introduction to Romans, and spoke of faith, quoting the prophet Habakkuk, there existed a Roman goddess of faith. In fact she was actually called “Faith.” (Fides in Latin is the English equivalent, Faith). As in the days of Paul, so in our EndTime period now. There are myriads who claim to follow Christ; myriads who pretend they have faith; myriads who call on the Name of the Lord, and to whom he responds... “I never knew you.” The Lord does not respond, “I knew you once but you fell away.” Or, “I know you a long time ago but you never measured up to my brilliant personal overcoming ability – and you never ever qualified!” Oh no! Rather Yeshua understands our fragility, our weaknesses, and our failures. But NONE of this is ever placed on the heavenly record book. None of it! So great a salvation is what Yeshua has provided for each and every one of his brothers and sisters.

Example: Peter was crossing the sea of Galil when the disciples in the boat saw the Lord Yeshua walking on the water. Peter cried out (impetuously as always): “Lord if this is you, tell me to come to you on the water.” Peter leaped out of the boat and actually walked across the surface of the sea. Now listen! I don't know about any of you, but I have personally attempted on two occasions to walk on the water. Needless to say, I failed on both attempts! I have never tried to do so since. But for all his faults, he walked on the water. As soon as he became mentally aware of what it was he was accomplishing he started to sink – rapidly! He screamed into the gale: “Lord save me!” (Matthew 14.28-31).

Peter cracked under the immediate strain. How many of us have cracked under personal strain and natural anxiety? But Peter's discipleship did not end there. He went on to do great things for the Lord. And what happened to Peter? He repeatedly failed to measure up to the high calling of Anochi I-Source in “Messiah Yeshua” culminating in his personal rejection, and betrayal, of his loving and lovable Lord Yeshua (John 18).

After his betrayal of Yeshua as LORD he went on to great things in his personal outworking of the Gospel (Acts 3 entire chapter).

Where I am heading in this dissertation is that in Hebrews 11 – the FAITH chapter of the Word of God – we have a list of people who FAILED to measure up TO God's standards of holiness and character development. Read about their life stories. The chronologies of their life are all about how they failed to measure up to the expectations of God. Yet NONE OF THESE FAILURES are ever mentioned in Hebrews 11. They are ALL called men and women of FAITH.

Anochi I-Source is keeping track, not of our personal failures in measuring up to the high calling of God in Messiah Yeshua, but only of our victories of faith. The Lord does not look at our isolated failures but at our overall picture of our developing faith.

This is known as GRACE, not mercy.

“The just shall live by faith.” Habakkuk stated it first, and the apostle Paul repeated it in various forms. Others followed him in his free interpretations. Paul, in this letter, uses an expression directly based upon the Habakkuk passage. He says, “from faith to faith.” The NIV (which I usually call the “Non Inspired Version”) speaks of this phrase as meaning “faith from first to last.” But is this a correct interpretation? Consider scholar N.T. Wright's slant on this passage:

“...its most natural meaning is 'from God's faithfulness to human faithfulness.' When God's action in fulfillment of the covenant if unveiled, it is because God is faithful to what has been promised; when it is received, it is received by that human faith that answers to the revelation of God in Jesus Christ, that human faith that is also faithfulness to the call of God in Jesus the Messiah” (N.T. Wright, Romans, NIB Vol. X., 2002, 425).

In other words, writes Jason Overman, in From Faith to Faith, “God's own faithfulness is in view with the first of Paul's faiths. This is a progression 'from [God's] faith, to [our] faith.' Notably, Paul's next reference to faith in Romans is of 'the faith of God' (Romans 3:3 KJV). Paul asks rhetorically, 'Does the unbelief, or faithlessness, of the Jews nullify God's faithfulness?' Paul adamantly replies: God forbid! Human beings as Paul has already concluded in chapter 1 – and even God's own people, Israel (in chapter 2) – are fundamentally faithless because of sin.

“What then is to become of us? The good news of the Gospel is that God's faith can be counted on. He acts. And it is exactly his faithfulness that is at work to save in the 'faith of Jesus Christ' (vs. 21-26).

“This viewpoint highlights a little-appreciated fact about the Greek word pistis. Both faith (trust) and faithfulness (trustworthiness) are within its semantic range. It is like two sides of a coin: The thing trusted in must itself first be trustworthy. Of course, God's faith does not indicate His trust in us but rather His trustworthiness. And our faith indicates empty-handed trust in Him, as well as that faithfulness that follows from being in relationship with Him” (Jason Overman, From Faith to Faith, 2016).

Overman then adds a thought with which I am in total agreement. “The 'faith of God' is prior to all. It is the fundamental faithfulness that undergirds the covenant and creation itself... But the revelation of God's righteousness is not just personal but cosmic. The prophet Isaiah virtually equates God's righteousness with His salvation, which will act for the whole world. 'Thus says the Lord: Keep justice, and do righteousness, for my salvation is about to come, and my righteousness to be revealed' (Isaiah 56:1; cf. Psalm 98:2,3).”

In his recognition that Isaiah “virtually equates God's righteousness with His salvation” Overman is very close to acknowledging a universal salvation in Christ. For in Jewish thoughtform God's “justice” or “righteousness” is to be equated entirely with “salvation.” For, God by Nature and in His essential character IS salvation: His will is nothing less than Salvific. And, with the exercise of a little thought, God would not be God were He not salvific.

Moreover, Our Lord Yeshua – as the unknown author of Hebrews knew, and as Paul knew, and the Nazarenes were well aware – Yeshua is not only the author of our faith (Hebrews 12.2) but the finisher of our faith as well (same verse). I might add, Yeshua is the finisher of faith itself. Yeshua the Messiah was entirely faithful in his whole life's journey with humankind – he was faithful to men and to God. Indeed, Yeshua as God incarnate revealed God's faithfulness toward the pinnacle of His creative activity, Man as the destined IMAGE of Deity.

But even more than this, which is awesome enough in itself, Yeshua as REPRESENTATIVE MAN reveals in his Self-revelation and Self-expression the altogether faithful response of humanity toward God. For ALL humanity, and ALL of creation, are to be found IN the Messiah. This is what Catholic theologian Hans Kung and Lutheran theologian Wolfhart Pannenberg have especially attempted to stress, in the Pauline tradition, and which churches and their attendants have utterly failed to grasp.

In any event, if we are not of faith we are apart from God. That is why it is the faith of Christ that saves us. And as such when Paul uses the expression from “faith to faith” is it obvious that he does not intend our own progression in faith, our own advance in faith – as hapless in faith as we really are – but that Christ's faith supplements our own, embraces it, swallows it up, and proclaims it in the heavenlies to be victorious.

And it is THAT faith which was so evidently expressed by the original Nazarene Community of Faith and which brought it into a terrible collision with the apostate Christians of the third and fourth centuries and which faith Catholic Rome tried desperately to destroy.

We will return to the Letter of Paul to the Roman Christians and the alternative history of the Christian Church shortly.

THIS CONCLUDES LECTURE SIX


Additional Notes on Romans Lecture: Questions of Faith and Faithfulness.

Text: Habakkuk 2.4
Theme: “I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Messiah” (Romans 1.16).


Paul's political and psychological description is found in Acts 24.5: “pestilent revolutionary,” “mover of sedition among the Jews,” and “ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes.”

Gentile History of the first 200 years of the Christian Church:
Church founded – chief document, the Lukan Acts.
Darkness descends on church, circa 66 CE.
Dark cloud rises circa 120 CE with the first writings of the Gentile Church “Fathers.”

Alternative History of the first two centuries of the “Church”:
Messianic Movement begins with Yochanan the Immerser and his cousin Yeshua.
Essene Nazarenes (predating Christianity) constitute first Christians.
“Christians” first called as such is an intended repugnant appellation originating in Antioch in Syria.
Simon Magus, a follower of Yochanan the Immerser, apostates and establishes a counterfeit Christian movement.
Destruction of Jerusalem 70 CE.
Nazarenes flee to Pella and surrounding mountainous districts.
Anti-Jewish polemics emanate from Rome after three abortive revolutionary attempts, viz., [1] 66-73 CE, [2] 119 CE, [3] 132-135 CE.
Enormous persecutions of Christians (particularly Jewish believers) to the 4th century and beyond.
Nazarene texts destroyed.
Clementine Homilies and Clementine Recognitions, as Nazarene documents, survive.
Nazarenes flee borders of Roman empire into Parthia and the Balkans and from thence into Europe.
Original Jewish Christianity resurfaces through every century (4th – 21st) in the West.

On the Issue of Salvation by Faith
We are saved, not according to our faith of and by itself, but the faith of the Messiah Yeshua which was, is and will remain perfectly steadfast on our behalf. While it is the faith of God imputed to us, we are nevertheless saved entirely, wholly and only by HIS faith.
-- Les Aron Gosling


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