Dead Sea Scrolls & Apostle Paul
by Baruch Ben Daniel © 2001
Apostle Paul in no way diminishes Torah while preaching Yeshua Mashiyach, but Rav Sha'ul (Apostle Paul) frequently uses two idiomatic terms "works of the law" and "under the law" to expose false religion. These two terms "works of the law" and "under the law" have been very poorly translated and are being taught erroneously in most Christian and Messianic settings. These two terms if understood as Paul intended, have the potential to greatly reform* our current understanding of Paul and his teaching, thus bringing far greater understanding of Mashiyach and Ha'Mishchah (the Anointing) of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit).
"Works of the Law" in the Dead Sea Scrolls
The term "works of the law" predates Paul and the Christian world by hundreds of years, here are two quotations from the Dead Sea Scrolls:
Quoted from: A Sectarian Manifesto 4QMMT:4Q394-399.
The Dead Sea Scrolls: A New Translation by Michael Wise, Martin Abegg JR. & Edward Cook p.359, 364.
"Works of the law" (Ma'aseh ha Torah) is referring to halachic observance of the Essene community. This community had such rigid halacha they would rather watch a person drown on Shabbat rather than attempt a rescue and risk working or "breaking the Shabbat". It would be unthinkable for a Pharisee to let a person drown on the Shabbat without doing ones best to rescue them. All other Jewish schools applied halacha in a way that protects life, this is very "Jewish law", but not so with the Essenes. For the Essenes their halacha or "works of the law" was a binding legal requirement that demanded absolute compliance. In other words their religious tradition overruled basic Torah principles. Knowing how this phrase "works of the law" was used by the Essenes and their converts, we can now correctly apply this in Apostle Paul's letters.
Paul argues it is not the "works of the law" (ie religious halachic observance) that makes one tsadiq (righteous). "Works of the law" has erroneously been interpreted to mean "works of the Torah", this is very misleading, one could then assume then that "works of Torah" are not required in Mashiyach. This would mean that it would be ok to steal, lie, commit adultery, and violate Torah because no one in Mashiyach is under the "works of Torah". But Paul is referring to the "Works of Tradition" and referring to those who trust in the "works of Tradition" to establish their righteousness, outside of Mashiyach. Righteousness comes about through Faith, Faith grows through learning and observing the things of YHWH, not the things of man's traditions. Many Christian denominations have developed their own "Christian laws" the names of many Christian denominations depicts important and unique doctrines of that organization. The Baptists, Seventh Day Adventists, Catholic, Jehovah's Witness, Pentecostals, Charismatics, Presbyterians, Anglicans, Uniteds, Mennonites, Mormons, and Orthodox each have niche "branding" making themselves unique, each religion has their own internal "works of traditions". These unique "works of the law (tradition)" have wide ranging ramification, in the Christian world most branding is doctrinally based and it controls how a person thinks about G-d. For instance the Seventh Day Adventist church holds to the "advent" or return of Messiah and that the 7th Day is Sabbath instead of Sunday. But to maintain good standing in the church adherents must accept the authority of E.G. White, this is one of the "works of the SDA tradition". The "works of the law" is a reference to "branding" a religion. Even though the SDA prophet has been proven to be a false prophet who was mentally incompetent, and a wholesale plagiarist, yet "SDA works of the law" deem her to be their guide, traditions established back in the mid 1800's are extremely hard to break. The SDA church would utterly crumble if their people knew the truth about their false prophet. Therefore the "works of the SDA church" are to hold their prophet above the authority of Scripture. The Scripture is defined and understood through the traditions of the churches. However Paul taught that Mashiyach and His Word, the Torah, are the ultimate authority that we should follow, not tradition.
The Word of YHWH engages us through the power of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) to welcome righteous character qualities enter into our souls. By the grace and mercy of YHWH we abstain from sin and get the victory over the carnal sinful flesh. It is YHWH Himself that provides this strength in us, it is not our own strength that we can rely on by saying prayers or trying to "do Torah" in our flesh, it is the Spirit of Mashiyach inside of us that establishes righteous conduct in His people. The "works of the law" ideologies are religious formulae that adherents would rather accept than to work out their own salvation with Fear and Trembling. If you haven't already noticed, religious traditions are mostly corruptions because they detract from relationship with YHWH and His Mashiyach. We are to compare ourselves to Yeshua Mashiyach, we are not to compare ourselves with other religions or people. As we look to Yeshua we see that we have great need to grow in love, wisdom and discernment, and tradition is not going to get is to where we want to be in Him.
The faith of Avraham is rooted in YHWH and in obedience to His Word (the Torah), according to Genesis 26:5 all legitimate "children of Abraham" will also observe Torah which is instruction in righteousness. The Essene "oral and written tradition" demanded absolute obedience to the tradition of men, many of the followers of Mashiyach Y'shua were ex-Essenes. Most Essenes lived outside the Qumran community, in the days of Paul the Essenes had very far reaching reputation for their "works of the law (tradition)".
Paul addresses many contemporary needs, his teaching corrects everything from homosexual perversion to the "works of the law" (religious traditions), his letter to the Romans has gone to the ends of the world. Romans 1:8 "...your faith is heard in the entire world." It was expedient for Paul to address the matter of "works of the law" in his letter to the Romans as well as those who live in Galatia. Paul uses the term in such a way that each one who reads his letters can ask ourselves whether we are following some "works of the law" or HaMashiyach. Those who use Paul to point their fingers have entirely missed the point of Paul's teaching, the pointed finger is evidence of one's own "works of the law".
Contrary to what many theologians teach, Paul never diminishes Torah Observance or defines it as "works of the law". On the contrary he establishes Torah Observance as "holy, just and good" the Torah that Paul teaches is given by or through Mashiyach. Mashiyach as the Word of YHWH, gave Torah to Moshe, and The Spirit of Mashiyach guided our forefathers! Those who speak against Torah can neither know Mashiyach or Paul. Unfortunately, modern Christian religion teaches that Paul was a Jew who became Hellenized, modern Christianity was born through Church Founders who were themselves Hellenists, not righteous Jews, as such they projected Hellenism into their translations of the Word of YHWH. All who teach that souls are free to violate Torah are clearly doing the work of anti-messiah, these are in the same category as the first preacher who told Eve, "thou shalt not surely die" Genesis 3:4.
Paul teaches that it is YHWH Who makes an individual righteous. If a person does not have the intent in their heart to live a righteous life, but demonstrate outward religion only, they achieve nothing in Yeshua. This is a most fundamental aspect of faith that we are to become "new creations" in Mashiyach!
Sha'ul never teaches Gentiles to abandon TORAH, he teaches that Torah must be observed "by Faith", not by "religious tradition" or "religious works" or "works of the law". Before accepting Y'shua as Mashiyach Sha'ul was a "Pharisee of Pharisees" who adhered strictly to Pharisaical observance and tradition. Once he came to know the Mashiyach he was able to discern between religious observance and faith. There is no evidence in the Jewish world that begins to suggest that Paul abandoned his Faith as a Jew and became a Hellenist! Paul did no such thing, but it is Hellenists who have remade Paul into their own image. To the Hellenized Christian world, Paul jumped ship and became a champion of Hellenism. The Hellenized world teaches that Paul changed the Shabbat from the 7th day to Sunday, ate treif (pork, frogs, lizards and bacon) and put up Christmas trees and did Easter egg hunts. Paul the Apostle supposedly did these things according to Christianity? Why? This is what pagan Christianity does.
Peter and Paul were at odds over a halachic decision regarding the Gentiles and circumcision, both men had a very clear understanding of the Kingdom of Elohim, yet even Peter was inspired to write about Paul that, "As also in all [Paul's] epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable twist, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction." 2 Peter 3:16 How do we know that Paul never abandoned Torah and became a Hellenist? Because a mans morality dictates his religion, Paul never goes on a rampage against the Torah of YHWH, NEVER! In other words it is a man's spiritual connection with YHWH that will dictate if he will be holy unto YHWH. Yeshua Mashiyach Himself clearly called Paul into the Kingdom of Elohim to follow Him, Paul did not invent a new Hellenized religion, Paul followed Yeshua Mashiyach. Yeshua said that HE came from the Father, which means Yeshua Mashiyach certainly wasn't Hellenized either.
Paul taught that a man is far better off to be circumcised of the heart, than to put on an outward show of the flesh to others. Why go through the "religious motions" for someone else's benefit? they will only glory in YOUR flesh because you voluntarily gave them authority over you. NO, don't do it, do Torah and seek approval from YHWH. Paul says,
Paul upheld Torah,
Paul upheld the commandments
Paul upheld circumcision of both the heart and flesh.
Paul never said that circumcision in itself was wrong, but he did teach that if you get circumcised to make yourself righteous then you're wasting your time. Circumcision was and still is a big thing both by Torah and by Jewish Tradition. We can liken circumcision to the Jew and baptism to the Christian. Many Christians feel an allegiance to the church or pastor who first baptized them, but then as they grow in knowledge and grace they realize there is much more to learn and be as a disciple of Yeshua. Many Christians get re-baptized at different junctures of their life, but it's impossible to be re-circumcised. The Jewish religious sects were very quick to circumcise men so they could include them in their numbers as their converts. No longer was circumcision the choice of a convert to make an oath to YHWH and walk in Faith, it became an onerous legalistic opportunity for Jews to jump on someone and quickly circumcise them so they could glory over a new convert. A Christian magazine stated that within two years of becoming a new Christian convert, as many as 98% of new Christians do not live as born again Christians. Obviously they were convinced by someone to make a declaration of belief, but they were not necessarily called.
Paul writes that those who are "filled with... debate" are "without understanding". These are also called "covenant breakers". Paul is a Righteous Jew who himself walked orderly and kept Torah, Acts 21:24. The Hellenized religious ideas surrounding Paul are manifold today, Paul himself fought against these Hellenized pagans during his time among the Gentiles but the pen of the scribes works falsehood Jeremiah 8:8).
"And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius,
because he was the chief speaker."
"For while one says, I am of Paul;
and another, I am of Apollos;
are you not carnal?"
1 Corinthians 3:4
Paul called for a high-court ruling regarding the "Gentiles" who were coming to know Yeshua. The Jerusalem Counsel convened on the issue of Circumcision and Torah Observance. Paul witnessed the prophecies of Isaiah being fulfilled by the Mashiyach Y'shua first hand. The "Light" had come to the Gentiles and the Gentiles were responding and seeking The Light. The many religious issues and values which distinguished Jews and Greeks are fundamental to life and understanding YHWH and His Word. Jews and Gentiles both had to learn to observe the halacha of Mashiyach Y'shua, not the traditions of men that each were accustomed. For Jews and Gentiles Y'shua proved the Way of YHWH is merciful and compassionate, treating all people with great dignity and respect. It is as improper to say that we are "under Yeshua" as it is to say that we are "under Torah", the connotation of be "under" something expresses oppression not freedom. We are IN Yeshua and if we are IN Him we are also IN Torah, which is the Word of YHWH, as the "New Covenant" is to write the Torah upon our hearts.
The greatest false teaching in Christendom is that Israel was brought from the slavery of Egypt to the slavery of Torah Observance, this is classic pagan thinking.
YHWH is Freedom!
Torah is freedom!
YHWH breathes Torah into His people by the work of the Ruach HaKodesh. Torah is the Word of YHWH, Torah reveals the Character of YHWH in us or the lack of His character in us. Torah is YHWH's Will for our lives, the Torah of YHWH is perfect converting our souls. To say the Torah is old or outdated or to call the Torah part of the "Old Testament" is evidence of carnal Hellenism at work, YHWH is not "old" and His Word is not "old". The task given to Sha'ul and to each follower of Mashiyach is to do in Yeshua, what Rabbinical Judaism failed to do, YHWH's mandate is to establish universal righteousness and justice for all souls. The Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed because of senseless and baseless hatred between Jews, vain attempts were made to validate religion instead of establishing the Righteousness of Mashiyach and His Word. The Torah judges the carnal ways of man and brings the carnal man under submission to the will of YHWH. The Torah is not about pleasing man but about pleasing YHWH.
None of Paul's writings or teaching makes him into an unrighteous Hellenized Jew who set about to please men and start another religion. Paul was commissioned to bring the Good News of Mashiyach and Torah to both Yehudim and Goyim, this being the "ancient path", or the "old wine" that has been from the beginning of time. Paul taught extensively from the Torah, the Prophets and the Writings, he is a righteous Jew who taught the Way of YHWH is merciful and compassionate, treating all people with great dignity. Many of his own in Israel rejected the message of Yeshua being Mashiyach, but hundreds of thousands came to know Yeshua as Mashiyach (historians say as many as 300,000). Jews have been enticed into Hellenistic lifestyles since the very beginning, there are many "token Jews" today who attend Church on Sunday, put up Christmas trees, paint Easter Eggs and have been fully assimilated into Hellenism. To be a Jew is to live in and acknowledge a Heritage in YHWH and His Torah, not "backslide" into Hellenism. YHWH did not call Jews or any of His followers to endorse the ways of paganism. Token Jews are they who of Jewish blood deny their heritage in Torah and endorse the cultures and traditions of Hellenism. Hanukkah is a time we are reminded to dedicate ourselves to follow Truth, seek the Ancient Paths, but even the celebration of Hanukkah itself has become entrapped by forms of Hellenism.
Clearly, Hellenistic values are being "projected" on Paul, this is a deadly cancer of the false "Church"***. The Church as we know it today, was started by Gentiles who threw off righteousness to maintain an identity as Hellenists and pagans. In the days of Paul, the followers of Mashiyach met in synagogues, celebrated the Shabbat and learned the Way of the Torah Mashiyach. It 190 C.E. Marcion built the first "church" and he birthed the theologies of the "Old and New Testament", Dispensationalism and Replacement Theology became a Christian value as it remains to this day.
Today the Christian church at large has adopted the pagan festivals Christmas, Easter and Sunday which where introduced into Christianity many years after Paul, yet Paul is credited for bringing this paganism into "the church"? NO, the fact of the matter is that the Gentile "Church Fathers", like Tertullian and Marcion are responsible for the Hellenism, not Paul.
Paul clearly took a beating from the Romans and the Jews for presenting Mashiyach to the world, but the beating he took back then, is nothing compared to the gang warfare against him today from false religion and Hellenized Christianity. Paul is a righteous Jew who worked with his own hands to support the Good News he brought to the world. Precious few Pastors, Professors, Rabbis or Clerics work with their own hands to financially support others while working to advance the Kingdom of Elohim. Precious few leaders support themselves financially without relying on regular donations from others. But it is these men in leadership, and their Hellenized institutions who have remade Paul into a Torahless soul like they themselves.
Paul never heard the word "Justification" in his life, today "Justification" has become a foundational doctrine of Christianity. Justification has become a religious license for millions to live carnal, unfaithful lives under the label of a "Christian". You can be sure Paul was not living as a carnal man, you can also be certain the laggards who remade Paul into a Hellenist are living carnal lives and teaching others to do the same. Why not consider to live like Paul the Apostle, who observed the Shabbat and the Moedim, and sanctified the Word of YHWH in his life. Whether Jew or Gentile, we are called in one hope to live as our Master lived, Yeshua and all who walk in Him will honor His Word and let the Holy Spirit write Torah upon our hearts!
YHWH be with you,
Baruch Ben Daniel
*One of the worlds foremost Dead Sea scholars, a Christian man, mentioned to me personally, that Christian scholars have long missed the mark when understanding the terms "works of the law" and "under the law". It was his opinion that a correct understanding of Paul's writings carries the potential of bringing about the biggest renewal and reformation of the church since it's very earliest days. I totally agree that as men and women live righteously their actions bring about spiritual forces and authority in the spiritual world that presents YHWH's will on earth, as it is in Heaven. The time is now that we all should Live for Yeshua and put away carnal religious ideas that do not profit the spiritual man!
*Consider also that Paul was a prominent Rabbi who was destined to be a head Rabbi of Israel, he was not the "average" Jew.
Rav Shaul knew well that Yehudim (Jews) are specifically called by YHWH into perpetual covenant.
It is dangerous to interpret Paul's letters by Hellenistic cultural paradigms!
Paul was a Torah Observant Jew, and a "ringleader" of Netzarim Judaism.
****One should note, that the term "church" was derived from "Circe or Circ", pronounced "Kirch". Circe was the daughter of Helios, a Greek goddess and sun deity. Circe also denotes the halo of light one sees over the heads of the Christian images of the "saints". Even tho these symbols are age old, the fact is that they are purely pagan, purity and holiness (Set Apartness) is not a religious icon, but is according to being in YHWH and His Mashiyach.
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