BRI/IMCF Yeshiva Lectures On
"THE REAL APOSTLE PAUL"
Les Aron Gosling, Messianic Rebbe
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/IMCF Yeshiva lecture.
Copyright © BRI/IMCF 2002, 2015 All Rights Reserved Worldwide by Les Aron Gosling,
Messianic Lecturer (BRI/IMCF)
Extracts from Yeshiva Notes 1/12/01 – 15/3/03. The Real Apostle Paul Yeshiva notes will form the bedrock of a forthcoming volume on an alternative history on the rise of first century Messianic Assemblies.INTRODUCTION
This present series of lectures is the result of intense labour of love given to students at the BRI/IMCF Shabbat Yeshiva covering a period of 33 months from 1/12/01 through to 15/3/03. I viewed this series of lectures as perhaps the most important I had ever given to that date as I endeavoured to incorporate the great apostle's view of Torah into a modern-day Christian mindset. I attempted to ensure that Rav Shaul's theology of Grace was given paramount attention. I say, a little apprehensively, that this was without doubt a daunting task.
There is, of course, no way I could ever do justice to Paul in such a series of lectures as this, without discussing Yaakov (James), the brother of the Lord Yeshua, and his role in the rise of the primitive church
(and I mean by that expression the ekklesia or “called out assembly” of the “Yeshua Messianic Movement” within the existing “Judaisms” of the late Second Temple Period – if “Judaisms” be the proper term to give to the general belief systems that permeated Judaea in the mid-to-late first century CE and which were held by the common folk as prime teachings of the various sectarian rabbinical authorities).
It ought not surprise too many believers that the Christian world (the entire world for that matter) is deceived about the person and historicity of the one today called “Jesus Christ.” The Dark Lord has done his job very well indeed. The Christian world has been worshipping a Babylonian substitute for over 1700 years – a usurper on the Messianic Throne – and he is today easily recognised... as Jesus (Jupiter-Zeus), born 25th December, visited at birth by 3 wise men, weak visage, was a cross-dresser, mother-dominated, did away with (and freed his followers from) – his father's laws in order to eradicate sin, never laughed, never had a wet dream or experienced normal sexual arousal, never needed to attend to bodily functions, wore a distant serenely sad look at all times and on all occasions, exalted his chosen followers into a hierarchy of control above other men, is associated with the signature of a bleeding weeping heart, preached against what he called “legalism,” was crucified on a cross on Good Friday, resurrected at dawn on a Sunday morning, has his sign embedded on hot cross buns, is celebrated by the fast of Lent, and so on... and so on... and so on. Many of those who call themselves his disciples are of the opinion that a mere priest can change a wafer in the shape of the sun into the actual body of Christ, and he can change wine into the actual blood of Christ too.
No mean feat, that.
What the church did in mythologising Our Lord Yeshua they also did in disparaging respects to the Jewish rabbi Rav Shaul. Today we know very little about the real apostle Paul because he too has been removed from the “In” box of biblical acceptability to the “Out” box of theological inconsistency. Instead of the educated Jewish rabbi and Herodian who became the first brilliant theologian of the Yeshua Party, as a Messianic Movement within the existing Judaisms of the time, we are now graced (small “g”) with a man far removed from Jewish thought and exiled from his Jewish roots. As one dear elderly Christian lady once protested vehemently to me: “What do you mean Paul was a Jew? We all know he was a Gentile!”
Roman Catholics ignored Paul and his theology for centuries granting preference to the teachings of Peter, James and (eventually) John to those of Paul, because they perceived Paul to be a threat to their powerful and corrupt religion. And, of course, he was.
Then came the Protestant revolution called the Reformation which changed almost everything completely. Martin Luther laid enormous emphasis on Paul's article of “Justification by Faith,” adding to the Scriptures the little adjective “alone,” but the Reformation interpreted that faith to be ours
, not the faith of the Messiah
As the decades passed, Protestants dramatically reinterpreted Paul as made in their image and, while they shifted from (and ultimately jettisoned) Paul the Catholic, they kept Paul as the new fully fledged Protestant. Paul the Jew was all but forgotten.
Paul the Jew is only now being re-evaluated and appreciated among a new breed of authentic scholars. It is the purpose of this present series of lectures to catapult Paul the Jew back where he rightly belongs.
Let me say this: Religious Jews are understandably antagonistic to the very name of Paul, not because they have necessarily thoroughly studied his letters or the Lukan book of Acts
, but because they have been fed a line about him which is highly fallacious. Some Christians despise Paul for the very same reasons – because he has been horribly misinterpreted by earlier theologians. People who warm Christian pews on a Sunday morning don't realise this, but it is a fact that is undeniable!
Paul only began getting back into “favour” with the church as a result of the Roman Catholic Counter-reformation, when their own scholars were forced to combat Lutherans and Calvinists by dusting off their own unread Bibles and reading the Sacred Scriptures for themselves.
I do admit when we read some of the things Paul wrote, Gentiles schooled in Constantinian theology can get pretty confused. I can say authoritatively that this is due to the fact that most Gentiles are unschooled in Mosaic Torah and unskilled in appreciating Tanack and Targum, and the wealth of arguments and rabbinic advice to be found in a university called the Talmud, let alone Mish'nah and the concept of Midrash.
This is largely because authorities have been writing about
his letters for centuries without going BACK into the first century documents and thoughtforms of the Jews of the Second Temple Period and then relating everything he wrote to that time and age in the same thoughtforms. This is unquestionably a formidable task 2000 years later. But a reappraisal of Paul the Jew is now taking place, and I am honoured to be a small part of such a process of revisionism. Our major trouble is the conditioning we have received for the past 1700+ years. There is a definite need to break free from the chains of negative theological restraint in this regard and to initiate a process of codification of the Messianic Scriptures (the so-called “NT”) and especially Paul's letters in the largely neglected Jewish thoughtform (that which we grasp) of the Intertestamental Period and first century of our common era.
I for one seem to be doing it successfully, as I am getting a lot of flack because of it. Some people love to quote Paul entirely out of context, wrest his statements out of all sense, and make him say what he didn't originally intend to convey. But they have done the same to Our Lord Yeshua, and to me, and so he's in good company.
The main problem with people understanding Paul arises, firstly, out of a lack of knowledge about his use of the word “law.” Secondly, Christians look at the universal church today and see how far it has been jettisoned from the Judaisms of the first century and thus ASSUME that because the church became Gentile that Paul took them on a different course from that of the original Jewish “church.” This central thesis runs right throughout the entire spectrum of the dogmatic writings of Christendom.
As to the second factor, the church reached the climax of its apostasy in the fourth century, and therefore bears little resemblance to the original “church” (even if it was a Gentile one, which it wasn't). The Emperor Constantine wanted to meld the various factions of the fragmented Roman Empire together and he realised only a religion could achieve this aim... so he had a dream of a red cross splashed on his shield and saw the following words emblazoned across the sky: “By this sign shall you conquer!” Constantine adopted Christianity, appointed bishops who would be loyal to his political and economic ambitions and created the Roman Catholic Church replete with an assortment of pagan values and beliefs.
For any reader of the epistles of Paul, it is at once apparent that Paul talks about law occasionally in a negative light. But he should always be taken in context. For, there are a few laws Paul discusses. He talks of the law of God, and he also uses “law” to refer to our human nature, the “law of sin and death,” and the statutes and ordinances and judgments of Moses. He occasionally utilises the term, “under the law.”
I must insist right at the outset of this Introduction that if Paul was AGAINST the Torah he would have said so plainly. But he did not. If he was against God's Torah, it would be recorded by Luke in his account of the “Acts
” but nothing of the kind is conveyed, despite the protests of intellectual gnomes in self-appointed ministries who joyously intone that we are “freed from the law,” and “thus sin no longer exists.” Certainly, Paul grasped that there was a higher Torah
to obey, and this disclosure is corroborated by other “NT” documents written during that same period. We shall discuss this issue later in this lecture series. Indeed, John R.W. Stott, the famous past Rector of All Souls Church, Langham Place, London, and a Cambridge tie, ordained in 1945 and appointed in 1959 an Honorary Chaplain to the present Queen, has written in defence of Paul in his use of certain expressions:
“Why...does Paul say that Christians are 'not under law'? It is true that he uses this expression several times, but never as a suspended negative. He always supplies (or at least implies) a contrast... you can never understand the meaning of a negative unless you know with what it is being contrasted... Paul never expressed his negatives in isolation... 'not under law' never meant that the category of law has been abolished for him, but rather that he does not look to the law for... his justification... 'God has done what the law WEAKENED BY THE FLESH could not do.' [Rom 8.3
] It will be seen from this that the weakness of the law is not in itself but in us... God has done for us and in us what the law could not have accomplished. And He has done it by the sending of both His Son and His Spirit. He justifies us through the death of His Son and sanctifies us through the indwelling of His Spirit. That is, GOD'S WAY OF ACCEPTANCE is not our striving to obey the law but the finished work of Christ... Understand [Paul's] negative from its positive counterparts ... our justification depends not on law but on Grace... but this repudiation of law... as the ground for our justification... does not dispense with it as the standard of our conduct. The contrary is the case... God justifies us 'in order that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us'... Thus the observance of the law... is the result of [our justification]. Samuel Bolton ... summed up Paul's teaching about the law and the Gospel in this epigram: 'The law sends us to the Gospel, that we may be justified, and the Gospel sends us to the law again to enquire what is our duty being justified'” (J.R.W. Stott, Christ the Controversialist
, 1970, 152-154).
Luke was Paul's disciple and an educated man (he was a doctor) so he would not have been ignorant of Paul's view of the Torah. He lived with him for years and accompanied Paul on his many evangelistic journeys all around the Mediterranean. Instead of antinomianism, we find that Paul...
taught the GENTILES from the Torah (which – as Gentiles – they did not naturally know; otherwise why take the time and effort to educate them?),
gave illustrations from the prophets (which as Gentiles they did not naturally know; otherwise why take the time and effort to educate them?),
and instructed them out of the Writings (which as Gentiles they did not naturally know; otherwise why take the time and effort to educate them?).
, the Prophets (N'viim
), and the Writings (K'tuvim
) of course is what constitutes Tanack
. The first letter each of Torah, N'viim
, and K'tuvim
– TNK – give us the acronym Tanack
Of course, this PRESUPPOSES that they – the Gentiles – must have had access via Paul, or local synagogues, to Jewish Scriptures or they would have had no idea of what Paul was talking about.... and the Torah must have been (at least in Paul's mind) vitally important for the Gentiles, for him to have spent so much time educating them into biblical patterns of intellectual apprehension and comprehension.
I only find Paul sourcing, on extremely infrequent occasions, pagan literature as the basis of reaching and teaching Gentiles. Indeed, the very texts that mention his usage of pagan sources do so as militant authorities brought in by the sharp witted rabbi like so many armed troops to buttress up a biblical case being articulated eloquently by the “apostle to the nations.”
So, he must have also instructed them to have access to the local synagogue where these texts were obviously available. Either that, or he brought tons of scrolls with him for personal distribution among them, which seems highly unlikely to have been the case. What we find recorded by Luke in his “Acts of the Ruach HaKodesh
” are instructions to the Gentiles, by Paul, to gather to hear him speak about the things of God on the seventh day Sabbath. This is nothing more than an admission by Luke of the existence of Sabbath-observing Gentile assemblies! Remember, if the Gentiles in the early Messianic Movement were being taught to keep the Sabbath holy, they HAD TO HAVE BEEN OBSERVING the Torah too – and taught by Paul to do so! And, again I ask, why even mention these things out of the Hebrew Scriptures if they weren't relevant to them?
We must ask in this Introductory lecture in this series, and as I have enquired on many occasions in public lectures and in written material prior to this, What did Paul have to say himself about the value of the Torah?
As an observant Jew, what was Paul's attitude to the Torah? Please look these texts up and mark them in your own Bible, so you never ever forget them. This way you can memorise them and use them against pastor, preacher, or rabbi who mocks the apostle Paul – in whose footsteps I decidedly walk.Romans 7.12
“The Torah is holy. That is, the commandment is holy, righteous and good.” Romans 7.14
“The Torah is spiritual.” Romans 7.16
“The Torah is good.”Romans 7.22
“I delight in God's Torah.” Romans 7.25
“I myself in my mind am a slave to God's Torah.” Romans 2.12,13
“It is not those who hear the Torah who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey the Torah who will be declared righteous.”Romans 3.31
“Does it follow that we abolish Torah by our trusting? Heaven forbid! On the contrary we confirm [uphold, establish] Torah.”Romans 7.7
“What shall we say then? Is the Torah sin? Absolutely not! Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the Torah.”Romans 10.5
“Moses describes in this way the righteousness that is by the Torah. 'The man who does these things will live by them.'” Romans 13.8-10
“He who loves his fellow man has fulfilled the Torah. The commandments 'Do not commit adultery,' 'Do not murder,' 'Do not steal,' 'Do not covet,' and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: 'Love your neighbour as yourself.' Love does no harm to its neighbour. Therefore love is the fulfilment of the Torah.”
Why was the Torah given? There are a number of reasons because God always is multiconceptual when it comes to His intentions in all things. But essentially, the Torah was given to HABITUATE human behaviour in line with God's expectations of character. As it is written:
“The Torah of God is perfect, RESTORING the whole person” (Ps 19.7
The purpose of the Torah was to teach human beings to LOVE one another. That is, to LOVE one another according to God's expectations of [His rules of conduct for] humankind.
Now, under the “New Covenant,” God's holy Spirit enables believers in the Mashiach to keep the Torah as it was intended. Does this sound like Paul is antinomian? [“antinomian” is a theological term which is taken from the Greek language. “Anti” = against, “nomos” = law; Therefore 'antinomian' = against law.]
In other words, lawless Christianity is a contradiction in terms.
The bottom line in any antinomian ministry is that these people see themselves as 'free from the law' but they expect everyone else to 'obey' certain commandments so as not to interfere in that which they determine is their freedom of expression.
They want restrictions on everybody else but not on themselves.
That's the bottom line and I care not who it is that will argue with me over it. It's the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, despite clever arguments about the “indwelling Spirit of God” living in them as expressions of “God's love.” I repeat – lawless Christianity is a contradiction in terms.
Moreover, modern church teachings are ridiculously inconsistent. While many churches promulgate the belief that the law of God has been abrogated, they feel it in their interest to reincorporate, revive, and re-establish certain commandments and statutes and ordinances for observance in fellowship and as a sectarian standard of appropriate behaviour (and let's not overlook another motivation, control
). So all the commandments found in Moses are eliminated now, except for laws and perceived
laws against sexual immorality, homosexuality, prohibitions relative to intercourse during menstruation, tithing, and common-sense cleanliness principles. But everything else is “done away.”
After all, didn't Yeshua come to give us entirely new laws about loving one another?
Again, Stott find himself jumping to the defense of the Messiah Himself:
“To say that sanctification is a natural consequence of regeneration, is not to say that it is an automatic consequence. The really regenerate Christian can still behave badly and thoughtlessly, sin grievously, fail in personal relationships, and get into marriage problems. This is evident in the New Testament and in the lives of our fellow-Christians, yes, and we know it in our own lives also. Hence the detailed moral instructions we are given in the Epistles [based on Moses]... But were these not Christian people, regenerate people, to whom the apostles addressed these admonitions? Yes, they were! But the apostles did not take the holiness of the regenerate for granted; they worked for it by detailed instruction, by exhortation, example and prayer... It is widely supposed [in Christian circles and all denominations] that Jesus [inaugurated] a new law, and that in doing so He was contradicting and repudiating the old. Nothing could be further from the truth... that He should do this is antecedently so improbable as to be impossible. Not only would this run counter to His lifelong attitude of reverent assent to [Torah] but He had just asserted that He had not 'come to abolish the law and the prophets... but to fulfil them'... He then solemnly added that 'till heaven and earth pass away not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished'... and warned His hearers that anybody who 'relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven.'... it is absurd to argue that Jesus was disagreeing with the law.. "Jesus was contradicting... [in his conflicts with the religious authorities]... not what 'is written' but what 'was said,'... the [oral] interpretations [by the Pharisees]... the Pharisees... were attempting to reduce the challenge of the divine law in order to suit their convenience, either by restricting what it commanded or by extending what it permitted... while... the Pharisees were tampering with the law to make it less exacting [or more, as the case may be] the disciple must accept its full force and all its implications... The [new church teaching] goes further [than the Pharisees] and insists that the category of 'law' has been altogether abolished for the Christian. He is not 'under law' they say, in any sense. Only one law has not been abrogated, namely the comprehensive law of love... It is essential to be fair [to those teaching this idea]. They are not... encouraging moral license... [However] what the biblical Christian would wish to affirm is that... love and law are not incompatible, still less mutually exclusive. FOR LOVE NEEDS LAW TO GUIDE IT. It is rather naive to claim that love has no need of any direction outside itself because it has a built-in moral compass enabling it to 'home' intuitively upon the deepest need of the other... Love is not infallible. Indeed, it is sometimes blind. So God has given us commandments to chart the pathways of love... Love is not the finish of the law in the sense that it dispenses with it; love is the fulfilment of the law in the sense that it obeys it. What the New Testament says about law and love is not 'if you love you can break the law' but 'if you love you will keep it' (ibid.,145, 148, 150-152).
It is the opinion of this Messianic lecturer that there is absolutely NO WAY that Christians can divorce the Lord Yeshua from the Torah, no matter how hard some may try, because the Mashiach Himself makes it startlingly plain that He came not to abolish the Torah but to personally fulfill it. That was His aim, that was His purpose, that was His objective.
He EARNED salvation so that we could be saved by GRACE.
And indeed He did achieve His objective. He fulfilled it. He added, that “the heavens and the earth would first be dissolved before one little dot or dash from the Torah be taken away.”
Isaiah prophesied that when the Messiah arrived, one of His expectations would be: “Bind up the testimony; seal the Torah among my disciples” (Isa 8.16
Rather than abolish the Torah, Messiah magnified it and made it honourable as predicted by the prophet Isaiah. “He will magnify the Torah and make it honourable” (Isa 42.21 cf Mt 5 & 6
). Instead of doing away with Torah, Our Lord laid emphasis on the importance of grasping what attitude and spirit lurked behind any act of sinful behaviour. If anything, Messiah placed a vastly different emphasis upon the Torah than previously grasped by the rabbis of his day and age.
And so, unable from the Gospels to reduce Messiah's sovereignty regarding the issue of Torah, and despite an unhealthy and lengthy process of disparaging the Synoptics – Matthew, Mark and Luke – as being somehow inferior and thus suitable only for the “lower classes” – but especially unfit for those of higher spiritual attainment (and thus their wholehearted embrace and acceptance of John's Gospel plus the epistles of the “Protestant” apostle to the Gentiles) – the rebels and haters of God turned to Paul, who has been interpreted by Gentiles as doing away with the Torah, to seal their case with an affirmative cry, “Free as last! Free at least! Thank God Almighty I'm free at last!” as they boldly jump into the bog of aionian
stench, not realising that God “justifies those who are Torah observant” (Rom 2.13
And I will come to the correct interpretation of that verse a little later in this series of lectures.
For those who fail to understand that Paul's letters are instructions to Gentiles on how to best utilise Torah to their advantage in alignment with the Archetypal Heavenly Man, Rav Shaul made a startling statement regarding righteousness which involved a major issue concerning the original creative purpose of God (Rom 8.4
According to the apostle to the Gentiles, man's purpose was to fulfill God's righteousness as revealed in the Torah.
Surprisingly, here the word “righteousness” is the Greek dikaioma
. This is not the usual word for “righteousness” (dikaiosune
) used by Paul. In other places it is translated “ordinances” (Lk 1.6; Heb 9.1
Here the apostle is referring to the righteous demands of the Torah, obedience to the just requirements of God's ORDINANCES in which he “delighted” (Rom 7.22
) and of which he also approved (Rom 7.12
), although the Christian church proclaims arrogantly that the ordinances of Torah have been abolished.
Consider the commandment, “You shall not steal” (Ex 20.15; Deut 5.19
). What happens when we do? Well, obviously, a number of things – especially if we're caught! But, above all, God expects us to repent. That's a primary fundamental: repentance.
Now most churches will just teach that if we sincerely repent we are forgiven by God the Father, because Messiah Yeshua died for our sins. And yes, that's quite true.
But the Messianic Scriptures (erroneously referred to as the “New Testament”) include an illustration of something performed by Zacchaeus who was guilty of extortion in the form of unjust taxation (Lk 19.2-9
). In this account, there is a typical Jewish play-on-words for “salvation” (Hebrew = yeshua
), in the person of Yeshua, coming to his house after his declaration of an intention to make full restitution!
His repentance involved restoring that which was stolen.
Indeed, restitution is clearly in view in the Sermon on the Mount. “Therefore if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother, then come and offer your gift. Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on The Way, or he may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. Absolutely! I tell you the truth, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny” (Mt 5.23-26
Now we can argue and say, “Well, wait a minute! That's what Matthew and Luke record, but they were writing to the saints of the circumcision – to the Jews! Does Paul as the apostle to the Gentiles (nations) have anything to say about the ordinances of the Torah in relation to restitution?”
Yes, he most certainly does. “...do not give the Devil a foothold. He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need” (Eph 4.28
Paul shows the Gentile Ephesians
(really, the Colossians
) in no uncertain terms how the principle of restitution was to be extended. He who had been a thief must first of all cease from stealing. That's number one. Number two: He must also labour with his hands that he might restore what he had wrongfully taken away.
Why? To “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” – the Golden Rule – which if applied would reverse karmic debt (which the Bible does
teach) in the body of our flesh (our human body).
If Paul did not teach the Torah, did not believe in the Torah, rejected the Torah – as church-influenced Rabbis also claim along with spokesmen of popular Christian ministries – why is he here teaching the statutes, ordinances and judgments TO THE GENTILES? (and remember, these statutes, ordinances and judgments are apart from the simple 10 commandments, obviously!!!).
Those who would decry a Christian necessity to observe a proper regulated lifestyle have never properly read Paul's writings. Those who decry the 613 commandments of Torah, fail somehow to grasp that Paul contributed prolifically to the 1050 laws, statutes, ordinances, commandments, regulations, decrees, recommendations and good old plain sound advice contained in the pages of the “NT” – indeed, most of the legal aspects of morality found in the “NT” were even written by Paul himself!
As we progress in this series on Paul we will look at the Conference in Acts 15
, and consider its ramifications for Gentile believers today. We shall also examine the New Covenant and compare it with Paul's later teaching on the One New Man and the Cosmic Christ.
If you would like to continue studying the lecture series “The Real Apostle Paul” we would encourage you to become a member of the International Messianic Community of Faith (IMCF). The way to become a member is to get behind this ministry and Work of God by sharing your financial blessings as frequently as God desires of you. Our very survival depends on the generosity of our students/members.
We are not subject to any church or religious organisation of men, and are not under any authoritarian church board of any church, denomination, or sect. We are entirely free in the Mashiach Yeshua, and will not be muzzled by so-called religious pastoral “coverings.” We are not asking for a “tithe.” The paying of a Levitical tithe based on “net” or “gross” is illegal as far as God the Father, Yeshua (and the Torah) are concerned. Even though churches, and certain Messianic organisations, say they have a claim to a tithe of your increase God says the exact and precise opposite! (Please see our lecture on The Tithing Paper located under the Library header on this site.)
Please feel free to access the donation icon on the front page of this public site and send an email notifying us of your generosity and your identification so that you may be immediately admitted as a member of the International Messianic Community of Faith (IMCF).
We thank you for allowing us to serve you in this manner.