Law in the New Testament

Law in the New Testament

an article by Joel Allen

There seems to be a huge misconception with what the New Testament has to say about LAW or more correctly said, Torah. What about the Apostles and early believers in the Messiah? Did they follow the Torah? Yes! They were Jewish apostles (sent ones) that were obedient to the Torah or the instructions of God. They did not see the Law or Torah as burdensome or bondage but a way of life that was pleasing before the Lord.

Let’s take a look at some New Testament (Brit Chadasha) references to the Law or Torah:

Mat 5:17 KJV – Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.

Mat 5:18 KJV – For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

Mat 5:19 KJV – Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach [them], the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Yeshua states in Matt. 5:17/ Luke 16:17 that He did not come to “destroy or abolish the Law and the Prophets but to fulfill.” Many erroneous teachings state that the word “fulfill” means to end or abolish in the sense of it not being needed anymore. Fulfill does not mean to destroy or abolish as it would contradict what the Messiah already said that He didn’t come to do. The word fulfill in the Greek, PLEROO means, “to fill up full of meaning or to render perfect.” In fact, the Greek word for destroy that is used in this passage, KATALUO, translates as meaning “to dissolve or disunite what was already put together.” This shows us the great error of dividing our modern day understanding of the Bible into an “Old Testament and New Testament” way of thinking. What the Messiah came to do was recorded by men and their accounts or Gospels were compiled into the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). The rest were letters and accounts written by early Apostles recording the activities and struggles of the early assemblies. Somehow the modern day understanding of the Bible has led many into thinking that the Messiah came to do a “New Thing” and that these Gospel accounts and letters somehow became the sole basis of doctrine and the origination of faith. Messiah makes it very clear that He was not going to bring disunity, separate or do some “new thing” but rather bring unity, perfect and fill up the Torah and the Prophets full of meaning.

Mat 5:17 KJV – Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.

Mat 5:18 KJV – For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

Mat 5:19 KJV – Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach [them], the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Law inthe New Testament Let me ask you a question. Go outside and look up in the sky, is there clouds, stars, sun and moon? Is there dirt and grass on the ground and trees and plants and animals? If you answered yes then it would be safe to say that the Torah has not been done away with either. “Till heaven and earth pass,” Yeshua stated. This is solid evidence that the Torah and all of its details (jots and tittles) are still in effect and significant in the new covenant believer’s life. Let’s look at some more examples in the Brit Chadasha (New Testament).

Stephen was a Messianic Jewish Martyr recorded in the book of Acts. Stephen was a faithful servant of YHVH and performed many miracles as a result of his obedience and strong devotion to Him. A group of the Pharisees who did not believe in Yeshua the Messiah wanted to silence Stephen and his message so they brought up FALSE accusations against Stephen to the Sanhedrin council who according to this false testimony ordered his death sentence by stoning. You need to take careful note as what this FALSE accusation was to truly get a picture as to what Stephen believed and taught.

Acts 6:12-14 And they (the Pharisees) stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council, And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place (the temple), and the law (Torah): For we have heard him say, that this Yeshua of Nazareth shall destroy this place (the temple), and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us (Torah).

Now can we assume that anyone that teaches today that Yeshua of Nazareth came to destroy the temple and temple service and to do away with the Law and customs of Moses are indeed FALSE witnesses and according to the Torah and the writer of Hebrews in chapter 10 and verse 28, “He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:” These are very scary accusations and one should feel fearful to tread on such doctrine. Teaching and making doctrines that say that the Torah is legalism and bondage is no different than the FALSE reports of the FALSE witnesses. These teachers, pastors, priests, rabbis today that teach such nonsense are indeed false witnesses and false teachers and we have to be ready to defend our faith just as Stephen had done, as he was being stoned to death for standing on his faith which included the testimony of Yeshua and keeping the commandments of God. This will also be the last generation spoken of in HIT’GALUT (Revelation).

Rev 12:17 KJV – And the dragon (HaSatan) was wroth with the woman (Eve), and went to make war with the remnant of her seed (the Bride of Messiah), which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Yeshua Messiah.

Peter also wrote of these false teachers and false prophets that they would lead people to deny Yeshua and to go away from the “way of truth,” which we learned earlier is Torah (Psalm 119:142).

2Pe 2:1-2 KJV – But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them (Yeshua), and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth (Torah) shall be evil spoken of.

The Apostle Paul was by his own admission a Hebrew among Hebrews and studied under the great Torah scholar and teacher Gamaliel (Acts 22:3). In a letter to the believers in Philippi, Paul boasts of his background and lineage but to emphasize the point that it means nothing without faith in the Messiah.

Phil 3:5- Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;

Paul was not ashamed of being a Pharisee or teacher of the Torah. He was in fact Zealous for the Law and in His writings confirmed this very devotion to keeping and living the Torah.

Acts 24:14 But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets:

Acts 28:23 And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into [his] lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Yeshua, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening.

Romans 2:17-18 Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God, And knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law;

Romans 7:12 Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.

Romans 7:22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:

Romans 7:25 I thank God through Yeshua the Messiah. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God;

Romans 8:7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.

Romans 9:4 Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises;

Romans 10:4 For Messiah is the end (Greek word TELOS which means the aim or purpose) of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth.

law in the new testamentThis is just to mention a few examples of Paul’s writings that advocated the Torah even after the work of the Messiah. Many false teachers today say that Paul advocated the Torah being abolished through the atonement of Yeshua Messiah but it is abundantly clear that he emphatically supported the Torah and customs of Moses while adhering to his faith in Yeshua as the Lamb of God. There were other “New Testament believers” that kept the commandments of God while having the testimony of Yeshua. Let’s just take a look at a few examples:

Acts 21:20 And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law:

Acts 22:12 And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelt there,

Act 18:24-25,28 KJV – And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, [and] mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus.This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publicly, showing by the scriptures that Yeshua was Messiah.

2Tim 3:8 Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.

2 Timothy 3:8 is in a letter from Paul to his student in the faith, Timothy, warning him of what to expect in the last days. He likens those that live in the last days as to Jannes and Jambres so that he could understand and get a clear picture as to what Paul is talking about. They “withstood Moses” Shaul states in his epistle and they resist the truth (Torah). Jannes and Jambres historically were looked at as the magicians of Egypt that conjured up similar tricks to defy the signs of YHVH before Pharoah (Exodus 7:10-12). According to the Jewish traditions in the Targums, Jannes and Jambres supposedly left Egypt with the Israelites in the Exodus and very likely perished along the way in the wilderness as tares among the wheat. Now according to Paul those that resist the truth (Torah/Psalm 119:142) have corrupt minds and are reprobate concerning the faith. Clearly he is not advocating the rejection of Torah and even goes as far as warning Timothy to stay clear of those that fall into this mold. Paul goes on in his epistle to Timothy to further warn him of such tares among the wheat:

2Tim 3:13-17 But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures (the Tanakh), which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Messiah Yeshua. All scripture (the Tanakh) is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect (spiritually mature), throughly furnished unto all good works.

We cannot hope to attain spiritual maturity, build sound doctrine or hope to bring correction to a lost and dying world without a balanced walk with our God. For some, the Torah was taught as far back as you could remember and the message of the Messiah offered a completed picture. For others, like myself, we have stumbled through snippets of scripture and half-truths trying to see the whole picture and desperate to find our roots. The Door is open. The Way has never been clearer. According to Paul, Timothy grew up reading and knowing the scriptures making him “wise unto salvation.” The New Testament did not exist yet so the scriptures that Paul is referring to is the Tanakh or Old Testament consisting of the Torah and the Prophets. Tanakh is a Jewish acronym which stands for:

T= Torah / The five books of Moses

N= Neviim/ The books of the Prophets

K= Ketuvim/ The other writings (Proverbs, Chronicles, Ecclesiastes, etc.)

It is through the scriptures (Tanakh) that the disciples were able to confirm that Yeshua was indeed the promised Messiah.

Jhn 1:45 KJV – Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Yeshua of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.

Yeshua himself used the Tanakh after He arose from the dead when the two men were walking to Emmaus, troubled at the death of the one they thought was a great prophet. He did not reveal Himself directly to them as the Messiah but instead opened up their understanding with the Torah and the Prophets, making them wise unto salvation.

Luk 24:25,27 KJV – …O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken…And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.

The fascinating thing is that the two men already announced to Yeshua that they knew the Messiah had died and that they saw the tomb empty and knew of the reports of angels present at the tomb and that the Messiah was to be risen on the third day. For many new covenant brethren that is the entirety of the “gospel.” But Yeshua called them fools and slow of heart and used the Tanakh to add a richness and fullness to the gospel that they had received. It is through His teaching (Messianic Teaching) of the Tanakh that made them wise unto salvation and the fiery law burned in them as they listened to Yeshua.

Luk 24:31-32 KJV – Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight. And they said to one another, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the scriptures (Tanakh) to us?”

These two men ran back to Jerusalem and announced to the 11 Disciples what they just experienced and Yeshua shows up in the midst of them and does the same thing to them.

Luk 24:44-45 KJV – Then He said to them, These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the scriptures (Tanakh).”

You can see here very clearly the breakdown of Torah, Prophets and other writings.

It is very clear both in the words of Yeshua and the teachings of Paul that the New Testament or Brit Chadasha does not teach against the observance of Torah but reaffirms the understanding of the Patriarchs and Prophets that the Torah was and is life giving instruction from the Father. This instruction pointed to the Messiah and that is how the Disciples knew Him and how the Apostles preached the Gospel to Jerusalem and the nations. It is through the Jewish Tanakh (Torah, Neviim, Ketuvim) that doctrine, instruction and correction and be attained according to Paul, a Torah observant Jew.

The Spirit of Adoption

 The Spirit of Adoption

Romans 8:14-17 “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. (15) For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. (16) The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: (17) And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.”

In the letter to the believers in Rome, Shaul (Paul) explains the work of the Holy Spirit in confirming who you are in the Messiah. There were apparently Gentiles and those of the lost sheep of Israel among the Jewish believers that questioned whether they were a part of YHVH’s family or not. Shaul wanted to calm their fears and encourage them that there is a way that they could know without a shadow of a doubt that they were considered the Sons of God. It required walking in the Spirit and walking in the Truth / Law or Torah of God. How do we know this?

Starting with verse one in Romans chapter eight Shaul lays down the understanding that there are two natures or two opposing laws that are either drawing people toward the Messiah or away from him. Romans 8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Messiah Yeshua, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

  1. The Law of Sin and Death- This is described as the Flesh or to be carnally minded.
  2. The Law of the Spirit- This is the Law of YHVH or Torah written on our hearts. It is also referred to as the Law of God, walking in the Spirit or being in the Spirit.

Romans 8:2 “For the law of the Spirit of life (Torah written on our hearts) in Messiah Yeshua hath made me free from the law of sin and death.”

Romans 8:3 “For the law (of sin and death) being powerless, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and concerning sin, condemned sin (the law of sin and death) in the flesh:”

Romans 8:4 “That the righteousness of the law (Torah/Law of the Spirit) might be fulfilled (come to maturity or fullness) in us, who walk not after the flesh (the law of sin and death), but after the Spirit (Torah/Law of the Spirit).”

Romans 8:5 “For they that are after the flesh (the law of sin and death) do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit (Torah/Law of the Spirit).”

Romans 8:6 “For to be carnally minded (lawlessness) is death; but to be spiritually minded (living Torah) is life and peace.”

Romans 8:7 “Because the carnal mind (lawlessness) is enmity (war/rebelliousness) against God: for it is not subject to the law of God (Torah/Law of the Spirit), neither indeed can be.”

Now having laid this foundational truth, Shaul explains that they were adopted by YHVH into His family and therefore they need not worry about living in slavery and fear because of their lawless deeds of the past. The chain of sinful or lawless living (1 John 3:4) that produces death has been broken because of the Spirit of Adoption.

Romans 8:15 “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage (sin and death) again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.”

What is this Spirit of Adoption? When a child is adopted by a father the adoptive parents go through legal channels to get the child “legally adopted” or the act of becoming a true member of the adoptive parents’ family. When the child is received into the family they receive all of the love and benefits of the natural born children but they also are expected to keep the “rules of the house” as well. For example; if they had a bedtime curfew of 11:00pm with their other family and the new adoptive family had a bedtime curfew of 9:00pm then does that adopted child keep the old curfew or will they be expected to follow the new curfew along with the natural born children? Of course, the adopted child would have to keep all of the rules of their new household or they would be considered a rebellious child and punished. It is also notable that the natural parents of the child would have to release their rights to have custody or legal ownership over the child before the adoptive parents could even claim the child legally as their own. Yeshua the Messiah came in sinful flesh and put to death this enmity toward the Father that all flesh has by nature because of the sin of Adam. Through his sacrifice the legal ownership of the Law of sin and death (our former Father) has been broken so that our NEW Father can legally adopt us into His family (the Commonwealth of Israel).

Ephesians 2:11-12 “Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; (12) That at that time ye were without Messiah, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:

Gentiles were, by Shaul’s admission, strangers and aliens to the covenants and promises of YHVH. These are those that are under the Law of sin and death and without the Spirit of adoption who will not be a part of the “household of God” unless they repent and turn toward the Messiah and live under his rules of the house.

Ephesians 2:18-19 “For through him we both have access by one Spirit (the Spirit of adoption) unto the Father. (19) Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners (under the law of sin and death), but fellow citizens with the saints (commonwealth of Israel), and of the household of God;”

It is very shocking to hear New Covenant believers in the Messiah today that they are a part of his family BUT they do not regard his people (Israel) or the “rules of the household” (Torah/ Law of YHVH). There were examples for us even in the Torah (first 5 books of the Bible) where those of other nations (Gentiles) were coming into the faith of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. YHVH made it very clear that these sojourners and strangers were to be treated and subject to the same laws that they were living by. He did not have a separate law for the stranger or a separate set of expectations. Read for yourself:

Exodus 12:49One law shall be to him that is homeborn (Israel), and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you (Gentiles/ Goyim/nations).”

Leviticus 24:22 “Ye shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger (Gentiles/ Goyim/nations), as for one of your own country (Israel): for I am YHVH your Elohim (God/authority).”

Numbers 15:16One law and one manner shall be for you (Israel), and for the stranger that sojourneth with you (Gentiles/ Goyim/nations).”

It is very clear that YHVH wants a united house with one Father, one king, one house, one people, living under one law. You do not want to be a disobedient son/child who has rejected the loving instructions of a father presuming that your end will still be blessed and secured by the Father. This is a false presumption that will cause great anguish and loss in the Kingdom of our Messiah for those that rebel against the “rules of the household of God.”

Matt. 7:22-23 “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? (23) And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity (lawlessness).” They professed to be His children but His instructions or laws were not kept and the judgment that He gives is that of a father who brings his wayward son to the gates of the elders and pronounces that his child is rebellious.

Deut. 21:18-21 “If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father (Torah), or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: (19) Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; (20) And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. (21) And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones (tablets of stone/Torah), that he die: so shalt thou put (burn or consume with fire) evil away (burn or consume with fire) from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.” This is the same language used by the Messiah when speaking of the rebellious children that claim to have been a part of His household, eating and drinking with Him. The passage in Deuteronomy calls the rebellious son a glutton and a drunk, but the parallel passage of Matthew 7:22-23 speaks of it as eating and drinking…

Luke 13:26-27 “Then shall ye begin to say, we have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. (27) But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity (lawlessness/rebellious children).”

Shaul speaks of adoption and being grafted in describing the same process and uses these analogies to describe the relationship between Unbelieving Israel, Believing Israel and Gentiles (those of other nations) coming into the faith.

Romans 11:16 “For if the first fruit (Messiah) be holy, the lump is also holy (Believing Israel): and if the root (Believing Israel) be holy, so are the branches (Believing Gentiles).”

Romans 11:17 “And if some of the branches be broken off (Unbelieving Israel), and thou, being a wild olive tree (Believing Gentiles), wert grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root (Believing Israel) and fatness (Messiah) of the olive tree;”

It is shocking to me when I hear that New Covenant believers and those that claim to be believers in the Messiah will agree that they are adopted but they refuse to submit to the rules of the household of God. The real interesting fact is that the only real evidence you have as to whether you are adopted or not is the Law. It is the Law that shows that you are “legally adopted” and nothing else. If you are adopted in the United States the only thing that shows that you belong to a different family is a legal document stating that you are now part of a new family. Isn’t that exciting?! Instead of fighting against the Torah/Law New Covenant believers should be celebrating the Torah because it is the legal document that says you are adopted into the family of God. We can see this taking place with Jacob when he adopts Ephraim and Manasseh, the sons of Joseph and an Egyptian mother (not legal in the State of Israel today as being “Jewish”). You can clearly see that they are not only adopted into Jacob’s (Israel’s) family but they are treated or looked at as Ruben and Simeon! Ruben and Simeon were the first born! So what Jacob is declaring is that this adoption makes the adopted sons equal to the natural born sons. It is not replacement theology or replacing the natural born sons because we read about their blessings later on and that they are shamed but still part of the family.

[Gen 48:5 KJV]5 And now thy two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, which were born unto thee in the land of Egypt before I came unto thee into Egypt, [are] mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine.

You could take a blood test but it wouldn’t show if you were a part of your new family. An adopted son will not have the same DNA however that is not the deciding factor in the court of law…only the legal document that says you are adopted matters! Gentiles and those lost tribes of Israel may not be able to take a blood test to prove their lineage. You must hold onto the Torah written on our hearts which is the Spirit of adoption. That is the only evidence we have as to the validity of our adoption into the family of God.

[Gal 4:4-7 KJV]4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. 6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. 7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

[2Ti 2:19 KJV]19 Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity(lawlessness).