The Sabbath Secrecy

This article follows on, from The Calendar Conspiracy. It is recommended they be read chronologically. 

The Kingdom of Judah used the 1st of Tishri, of the 7th month of the Civil calendar as their new year in September/October and the Kingdom of Israel in turn used the 1st of Abib or Nisan, of the 1st month of the Sacred calendar in March/April for the beginning of their new year. 

The Hebrew calendar months from the 1st to 12th month are: Nisan, Iyar, Sivan, Tammuz, Av, Elul, Tishri, Cheshvan, Kislev, Tevet, Shevat, Adar and Adar II in leap years. The beginning of Spring is the logical time to commence a new year, at a time of re-birth after winter. The use of January 1st in our modern era, two weeks into winter after the winter solstice on 21st December makes little sense from a crop perspective and is based entirely on the Babylonian mystery religion [refer Appendix IX The Calendar Conspiracy]. 

The beginning of a day on the Gregorian Calendar inherited from the Romans, has also been set at a time which makes little sense in the middle of the dark of night. The Jewish custom of beginning a new day at sunset, as a day closes out and fades away with the setting sun is also puzzling. We have learned that the custom of preparing for the ‘Saturday’ Sabbath and desisting from all work, led to observing the seventh day early from the evening, rather than from when a new day actually begins, at sunrise. The additional laws in Orthodox Judaism added burdens in observing the Sabbath that weren’t instituted by the Creator. 

We have established that the seventh day on the Roman calendar called Saturday is not the true biblical Sabbath day of rest as ordained by the Creator; which was originally calculated according to a Lunar cycle of 29 or 30 days, beginning at the conjunction of a New Moon. 

A selection of Old Testament passages about the true Seventh Day may be helpful in understanding the institution of the Sabbath; followed by a survey of New Testament verses in comprehending its role in our  present inter-covenantal period.

Genesis 1:14-19

New English Translation

14 God said, “Let there be lights [H3974 – ma’owr: ‘bright luminary bodies’] in the expanse of the sky to separate [H914 – badal: ‘divide’] the day [H3117 – yowm: ‘sunrise to sunset’ meaning ‘to be hot’] from the night [H3915 – layil: ‘gloom, shadow], and let them be signs [mark] to indicate seasons [H4150 – mow’ed: ‘appointed time, meeting, feast, assembly’] and days and years, 15 and let them serve as lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth.” 

It was so. 16 God made two [H8147 – shnayim: ‘both, double, twofold’] great [H1419 – gadowl:  ‘large (in magnitude and extent)] lights – the greater light to rule over the day and the lesser light to rule over the night. He made the stars also. 

17 God placed [H5414 – nathan: ‘set, put, made, caused, consecrated’] the lights in the expanse of the sky to shine on the earth, 18 to preside [H4910 – mashal: ‘rule, have dominion, reign’] over the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. God saw that it was good. 

19 There was evening [H6153 – ereb: ‘sunset, dusk, night’], and there was morning [H1242 – boqer: ‘morrow, break of day, beginning of day, coming of sunrise’ and ‘daylight, dawn’], a fourth day. 

The greater light begins a new day. How does a sun setting or darkness falling begin a new day? [refer Appendix IX The Calendar Conspiracy] A day draws to a close when the sun sets, as winter ends a yearly cycle and spring begins a new year. Christ was resurrected early, prior to the first day of the week, before its sunrise. If the Jewish reckoning of a day was truly scriptural, then it would still be the seventh day, for morning was about to dawn and the first day had not yet begun. 

In Genesis chapter one, Moses and then Ezra compiled the record of the Creator declaring six times the circle of time, for day one, day two, day three and so forth as marked by a night time of 12 hours, broken by sunrise and a daylight period of 12 hours. Thus, when the seventh day is mentioned in Chapter two, what period of time did the Creator designate as sacred with three witnesses? Was it a full circle of time, such as the night followed by the day and the daylight followed by the night; or was it only to be the daylight hours?

Genesis 2:1-3

Amplified Bible

So the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts (inhabitants). 2 And by the seventh [H7637 – shbi’iy: ‘seven, seventh time’] day God completed [H3615 – kalah: ‘accomplished, finished, determined, fulfil’] His work which He had done, and He rested (ceased) [H7673 – shabath: ‘to cease, desist, celebrate’] on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. 

3 So God blessed [H1288 – barak: ‘salute, congratulate, praise’] the seventh day and sanctified [H6942 – qadash: ‘hallow, dedicate, consecrate, to be observed as holy’] it (as His own, that is, set it apart as holy from other days), because in it He rested from all His work which He had created [H1254 – bara’: ‘shape, form, fashion’] and done.

We learn that the Creator paused after His creating. He took a time out, He stopped and desisted from working. The Eternal literally took a rest from what He had been doing. Not because He was tired, but so that He could think about and draw pleasure from all that He had created. To take stock so to speak and to also step back from the individuality of all things and observe them as a whole. Like stepping away from a tree, to observe the whole forest; as in, ‘Can’t see the forest for the trees’. 

As discussed in the previous appendix, the sacred hours of the Sabbath are during the daylight portion of a 24 hour cycle of time, comprising a day of light, followed by a night of dark. Scripture does not mention night watches occurring on the Sabbath. If the day was to begin at sunset, these verses would declare that the Eternal rested on the seventh night at sunset three times, instead of the seventh day (light) [John 11:9]. The fundamental truth established in Genesis chapter one, verse five, was the permanent division separating day (light) from the dark of night. All creation was performed during the daylight hours. It stands to reason that when the Creator ceased or rested on the seventh day of light, that it was during the exact same period of time that He had formerly performed all His work of creating. 

As Abraham was God’s friend [2 Chronicles 20:7, James 2:23] and kept all of His laws [Genesis 26:5], then this by extension would have included the seventh day Sabbath, one would assume? Though, it is not actually stated. Nor is it for the patriarchs Isaac or Jacob. The next we hear about the Sabbath, is shortly before the commandments are given by the Eternal via Moses to the congregation of Israel [Exodus 32:15-16].

Exodus 20:8-11

English Standard Version

8 “Remember [H2142 – zakar: ‘record, mindful, recall, make a memorial’] the Sabbath day, to keep it holy [H6942 – qadash: ‘sanctify, hallow, dedicate, consecrate, appointed’]. 9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

The Sabbath was instituted as a remembrance of the work the Eternal did in the creation and is listed as the fourth commandment. Like Him, the Israelites were to stop working every seventh day – of a Lunar cycle, not Saturday of the Gregorian calendar [refer Appendix IX The Calendar Conspiracy] – and rest from their weekly activities, so that they could honour the Creator: “Six days you shall do your work, but on the seventh day you shall rest; that your ox and your donkey may have rest, and the son of your servant woman, and the alien, may be refreshed” [Exodus 23:12 ESV]. An act of kindness was imposed on the people of Israel, so that they could rest physically and mentally as well as having a day to focus spiritually. It was a vital anchor for a people who were easily led astray and frequently described as ‘stiff necked’ [Exodus 32:9; 33:5]. 

Aaron and his sons were reminded of the Sabbath rest every seven days, when they were consecrated for the Priesthood. They were also ordained on the actual Sabbath day, the eighth day of the Lunar month: “On the eighth day Moses called Aaron and his sons and the elders of Israel…” [Leviticus 9:1 ESV] “Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work. It is a Sabbath to the Lord in all your dwelling places [Leviticus 23:3 ESV].”

Similarly: “The gatekeepers were on the four sides, east, west, north, and south. And their kinsmen who were in their villages were obligated to come in every seven days, in turn, to be with these, for the four chief gatekeepers, who were Levites, were entrusted to be over the chambers and the treasures of the house of God [1 Chronicles 9:24-26 ESV].”

The counting of the wave sheaf to arrive at the Feast or Day of Pentecost is counted from the day after the Sabbath. As the Sabbath and first Day of Unleavened Bread occurred on the same day, the 15th day of the first month of Abib is the Sabbath in question. Seven Sabbaths are counted and Pentecost is on the fiftieth day, the first day of the week: “You shall count seven full weeks from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering [Leviticus 23:15 ESV]. This was the Pharisee method of counting. The Sadducees and some Churches of God today count from the weekly ‘Sabbath’ and so Pentecost is always on a Sunday. Yet this method is flawed, because it is based on the weekly seven day cycle of the Gregorian calendar. 

At the dedication of the newly built Temple in 959 BCE, King Solomon held a festival celebration for seven days and on the Sabbath, the 8th day of the Lunar month a convocation was kept. Then two weeks later, people departed on the 23rd of the month, the day after the third weekly Sabbath of the month on the preceding 22nd day: “At that time Solomon held the feast for seven days, and all Israel with him, a very great assembly, from Lebo-hamath to the Brook of Egypt. And on the eighth day they held a solemn assembly, for they had kept the dedication of the altar seven days and the feast seven days. On the twenty-third day of the seventh month he sent the people away to their homes, joyful and glad of heart for the prosperity that the Lord had granted to David and to Solomon and to Israel his people [2 Chronicles 7:8-10 ESV].”

The following verses in 2 Chronicles support the seven day weekly cycle and the observance of the Sabbath on the 8th and 15th day of the Lunar month.

2 Chronicles 23:8

English Standard Version

The Levites and all Judah did according to all that Jehoiada the priest commanded, and they each brought his men, who were to go off duty on the Sabbath, with those who were to come on duty on the Sabbath, for Jehoiada the priest did not dismiss the divisions.

2 Chronicles 29:17

English Standard Version

They began to consecrate on the first day of the first month [the New Moon], and on the eighth day of the month [first Sabbath of four] they came to the vestibule of the Lord. Then for eight days they consecrated the house of the Lord, and on the sixteenth day of the first month [the day after the second Sabbath on the 15th day] they finished.

In the Book of Esther [refer Chapter IV Central Asia – Madai & the Medes and Chapter XVIII Elam & Turkey], we learn of a difference in celebration between the peoples of Judah living in Elam’s capital Susa and those in the outlying districts of Persia. Those dwelling in Susa observed Purim on the Sabbath, while those living outside Susa chose the Preparation of the Sabbath on the 14th day. 

Esther 9:16-19

English Standard Version

16 Now the rest of the Jews who were in the king’s provinces also gathered to defend their lives, and got relief from their enemies and killed 75,000 of those who hated them, but they laid no hands on the plunder. 17 This was on the thirteenth day of the month of Adar [12th month, February/March], and on the fourteenth day they rested and made that a day of feasting and gladness. 18 But the Jews who were in Susa gathered on the thirteenth day and on the fourteenth, and rested on the fifteenth day, making that a day of feasting and gladness. 19 Therefore the Jews of the villages, who live in the rural towns, hold the fourteenth day of the month of Adar as a day for gladness and feasting, as a holiday, and as a day on which they send gifts of food to one another.

The Prophet Isaiah brings condemnation from the Eternal to the peoples of Judah with regard to the hypocritical observance they fell into of the New moon, the Sabbath and the Holy Day Festivals: “Bring no more vain offerings; incense is an abomination to me. New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations – I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates; they have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them” [Isaiah 1:13-14 ESV]. Isaiah elaborates further, speaking about ones attitude towards the Sabbath. Something the Israelites continually back slid in, as the Prophet Ezekiel also comments.

Isaiah 58:13

New English Translation

You must observe the Sabbath rather than doing anything you please on my holy day. You must look forward to the Sabbath and treat the Lord’s holy day with respect. You must treat it with respectbyrefraining from your normal activities, and by refraining from your selfish pursuits and from making business deals.

The Sabbath was intended to be a day, where a person did not work to earn a living or meet to discuss business deals; yet not to desist from anything and everything that would make a rest day, a happy day. It is a chance to reflect on the blessings from the Eternal and the good in our lives, to rest our bodies and minds and focus on ones family.

Ezekiel 20:18-21

English Standard Version

18 “And I said to their children in the wilderness, ‘Do not walk in the statutes of your fathers, nor keep their rules, nor defile yourselves with their idols. 19 I am the Lord your God; walk in my statutes, and be careful to obey my rules, 20 and keep my Sabbaths holy that they may be a sign between me and you, that you may know that I am the Lord your God.’ 

21 But the children rebelled against me. They did not walk in my statutes and were not careful to obey my rules, by which, if a person does them, he shall live; they profaned my Sabbaths.

The Evangelist Luke, records that John the Baptist was circumcised not just the eighth day after his birth, but on the eighth day, the Sabbath. Thus we learn that he was born on a New Moon, the first day of the month. We have discussed the birth of Christ [Luke 2:21] and his delivery on the 1st of Tishri, the seventh month – the Day of Trumpets [refer Chapter XXIX Esau: The Thirteenth Tribe and article: Chronology of Christ]. As Christ and John were cousins, born six months apart with John being the elder, we now discover that John was born on the 1st day of the first month of Abib or Nisan, in 3 BCE.

Luke 1:59

English Standard Version

And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child [John]. And they would have called him Zechariah after his father… 

We have learned that the Sabbath was deemed by the Eternal as significant, of great importance and mandatory in the Old Testament. It is elevated as a pivotal sign between God’s chosen people the Israelites and Himself, yet it was often and easily broken. It is of note then, that by the time of Christ, the religious rulers of the day – the Priesthood, Scribes and Pharisees – had added numerous additional rules that had caused the Sabbath to be both restrictive and burdensome. Christ though, went beyond these and showed the disciples that the Sabbath was only as important as in that it reminded people of the Creator and His creation. 

While Jesus was with the twelve disciples, his presence far outweighed how one observed the Sabbath day. Christ was the embodiment of the Sabbath and so getting caught up in the rituals of Sabbath keeping and missing the profoundness of his being with them, would have been an irony in the extreme. Worship on the Sabbath was not to be compared with the worship and honour due to the Son of Man, who was in their very company.

Matthew 12:1-8

English Standard Version

At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. 2 But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath.” 3 He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, and those who were with him: 4 how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? 

The Message translation says: “How [David] entered the sanctuary and ate fresh bread off the altar, with the Chief Priest Abiathar right there watching – holy bread that no one but priests were allowed to eat – and handed it out to his companions?” [Mark 2:25-26] Christ is speaking of the account in the Old Testament.

1 Samuel 21:1-6

English Standard Version

Then David came to Nob, to Ahimelech the priest. And Ahimelech came to meet David, trembling, and said to him, “Why are you alone, and no one with you?” 2 And David said to Ahimelech the priest, “The king has charged me with a matter and said to me, ‘Let no one know anything of the matter about which I send you, and with which I have charged you.’ I have made an appointment with the young men for such and such a place. 3 Now then, what do you have on hand? Give me five loaves of bread, or whatever is here.” 4 And the priest answered David,“I have no common bread on hand, but there is holy bread – if the young men have kept themselves from women.” 5 And David answered the priest, “Truly women have been kept from us as always when I go on an expedition. The vessels of the young men are holy even when it is an ordinary journey. How much more today will their vessels be holy?”6 So the priest gave him the holy bread, for there was no bread there but the bread of the Presence, which is removed from before the Lord, to be replaced by hot bread on the day it is taken away.

David had God’s Holy Spirit and was Holier than the Holy bread which he and his companions ate [Psalm 51:11, Matthew 22:43 (Psalm 110:1)]. Were they to go hungry? Their need was greater. The Apostle Peter says of the true Saints: ‘… but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy” [1 Peter 1:15-16 ESV].’

5 Or have you not read in the Law how on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath andare guiltless? 6 I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. 7 And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. 8 For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.”

The Book of Mark adds: “… The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” [Mark 2:27 ESV] and the New Century versions says: “… The Sabbath day was made to help people; they were not made to be ruled by the Sabbath day.” Even Christ himself said of man’s destiny: “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’?” [John 10:34 (Psalm 82:6) ESV] 

The four gospels include the chronology of events surrounding Christ’s final days before his death. Though we have discussed previously [Chronology of Christ and The Calendar Conspiracy], it is beneficial to look at some of them again. Not only does an understanding of a day beginning at sunrise, reconcile a long dispute amongst many Sabbath keepers regarding the timing of the Passover on the 14th Nisan and the First day of Unleavened Bread on the 15th Nisan; but as well, the chronology of Christ’s death and his resurrection.

John 19:31

English Standard Version

Since it was the day of Preparation [the 14th], and so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath [the next day at sunrise] (for that Sabbath was a high day) [A double Sabbath: the 15th day of the month and the First Holy Day of Unleavened Bread], the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away.

Mark 15:42

English Standard Version

And when evening had come [sunset, then dusk], since it was the day of Preparation [the day before the Sabbath, that is either the 7th, 14th, 21st or 28th of the Lunar month – in this case the 14th day of Nisan, the Passover], that is, the day before the Sabbath [the 15th day of the month and in this case the First Day of Unleavened Bread, which would begin at sunrise]…

Matthew 28:1

English Standard Version

Now after [G3796 – opse: ‘after a long time, long after, late (in the day)’] the Sabbath [which had technically ended at sunset], (as it began) toward [G1519 – eis: ‘before’] the dawn [G2020 – epiphosko: to grow light, to dawn] of the [‘of, the’ not in the Greek] first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb.

This verse has not been translated clearly, in that it says it began to be dawn – as if the dawn was part – of the first day of the week. Whereas, the original Greek says: “… began to grow light, before first day week…” In other words, dawn preceded the first day of the week which began at sunrise. Mark the Evangelist renders the sequence of events more clearly.

Mark 16:1-2

English Standard Version

When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. 2 And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen [G393 – anatello: ‘spring up, be up, to rise’], they went to the tomb.

The Messiah himself, was clearly risen before sunrise, on the first day of the week, or Sunday. It is important for Sunday worshippers to prove that the first day is the Lord’s Day; having substituted the Sabbath or seventh day. This verse does not support or prove such a massive doctrinal shift [refer The Calendar Conspiracy]. Similarly, Saturday keepers, also find it necessary to support a Sabbath resurrection. Yet, this verse cannot be used in this context either, as Christ would have risen during the night time portion of the seventh day and not during the daylight portion which was the Sabbath [The Calendar Conspiracy]. 

The Evangelist Luke also describes the timing of the two Mary’s arrival at Christ’s tomb and in the English it appears to support Matthew’s incorrect translation. In the original Greek though like the Apostle Matthew, it is in fact saying that they arrived at daybreak, as the sun was rising. The word risen in Matthew is not a clear rendering and as the sun was rising would be accurate.

Luke 24:1

English Standard Version

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn [G3722 – orthros: ‘daybreak, sunrise, rising of light’], they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared.

Finally, the Apostle John appears to contradict the other three Gospel accounts, or does he? 

John 20:1

English Standard Version

Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early [G4404 – proi: ‘at dawn, day-break’], while it was still [G2089 – eti] dark [G4653 – skotia: ‘dimness, due to want of light’], and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.

John mentions only one Mary, Mary Magdalene. Did she arrive before the other Mary? One would assume if it was pre-sunrise and still dark before dawn, that at that hour they would travel together and that John has just omitted the other Mary from his recollection. It would seem then according to John, that the two Mary’s arrived just prior to sunrise as the light was still dim, between night time and sunrise, to discover the open tomb. John actually corroborates Matthew’s account, in that they arrived with spices just before sunrise. 

But both Mark and Luke also say the same thing in that the two Mary’s were still at the tomb at sunrise. This would make sense, for if the tomb was open, they would both go in and investigate. Even if they had a torch flame, they would both see better in daylight and must have lingered past sunrise in awe that Christ had risen and also to inspect his burial chamber more closely. 

One final point on this verse, is the word still, eti in the Greek. The King James translates it as yet [51 times], more [22], any more [5], still [4], further [4] and longer [3]. Interestingly, it connotes something not necessarily still happening but something changing, ‘of a thing which went on formerly, whereas now a different state of things exists or has begun to exist.’ It could also be translated as ‘no longer’ or ‘no more’, so that the verse could legitimately read: “… Mary Magdalene came to the tomb at daybreak, while it was no longer dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away…” 

The observance of the New Moons, Sabbaths and Holy Day Festivals was an integral half of the system of worship established by the Eternal for the ancient Israelite peoples. 

The other, being the sacrificial rituals and statutes, coupled with the Temple  ordinances maintained by the Levitical Priesthood. Both these twin components were clearly still in effect during the time of Christ. The transitional period between the Messiah’s death in 30 CE and the Roman destruction of the second Temple in 70 CE saw the ending of the Levitical Priesthood, the sacrificial system and with it, tithing [refer Chronology of Christ]. 

What is not so clear and a paramount question which divides a proportion of fundamentalist Sabbatarian Christians from the rest, is the issue of whether the observance of the Sacred Calendar, the New Moon and the Holy Days were still required in the New Testament dispensation or whether they have passed away because they pointed to the fulfilment in the Messiah’s Atonement. 

In the Book of Acts, we read of the Apostle Paul keeping the Festivals, being reprimanded of sorts by the Church hierarchy in Jerusalem for appearing to teach ‘Jews to forsake’ the law of ‘Moses’, taking part in a purification which included an offering, presumably an animal sacrifice and being apprehended by the Jews for the same accusation. Paul had already shown that he comprehended the transitional period within which he lived and in ‘becom[ing] all things to all people’ when he circumcised the Evangelist, Timothy [1 Corinthians 9:22].

Acts 16:1-5, 20:5-6, 16, 21:17-

English Standard Version

Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra. A disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek. 2 He was well spoken of by the brothers at Lystra and Iconium. 3 Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him, and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. 4 As they went on their way through the cities, they delivered to them for observance the decisions that had been reached by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem. 5 So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and they increased in numbers daily. 

Paul was attending or keeping the Festivals; though the question remains whether he was doing so because they were still in force, or because the Jews were still keeping them.

5 These went on ahead and were waiting for us at Troas, 6 but we sailed away from Philippi after the days of Unleavened Bread… 16 For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus, so that he might not have to spend time in Asia, for he was hastening to be at Jerusalem, if possible, on the day of Pentecost.

It was during the Days of Unleavened Bread that Peter was imprisoned by King Herod after the execution of James, the brother of John in 62 CE [Acts 12:1-5]. 

Acts chapter twenty shows that the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost was still being kept after the first observance following Christ’s resurrection. If the Day of Pentecost had been fulfilled in this spectacular one time event, why was it continued? Was it really fulfilled in Acts chapter two, or is the prophesy in the Book of Joel, the final fulfilment of Pentecost?

‘When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit… But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: 

“Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words… this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel [Joel 2:28]: 17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh…’ [Acts 2:1-4, 14, 16-17 ESV] 

An additional example of Paul hastening to return to Jerusalem for a festival, possibly the Feast of Tabernacles: “When they [the brethren at Ephesus] asked him to stay a longer time with them, he did not consent, but took leave of them, saying, “I must by all means keep this coming feast in Jerusalem; but I will return again to you, God willing.” And he sailed from Ephesus” [Acts 18:20-21 NKJV]. Also: “Now when much time had been spent, and sailing was now dangerous because the Fast [G3521 – nesteia: ‘fasting’ on the ‘day of atonement’ 10th day of the seventh month, Tishri] was already over [Leviticus 23:27-32]…” [Acts 27:9 NKJV].

Paul arrives in Jerusalem, where a number of eminent apostles and elders were headquartered, including the Lord’s brother, James.

17 When we had come to Jerusalem, the brothers received us gladly. 18 On the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present. 19 After greeting them, he related one by one the things that God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. 20 And when they heard it, they glorified God. And they said to him, “You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed. They are all zealous for the law, 21 and they have been told about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or walk according to our customs

What was Paul teaching to the Gentiles exactly? [Galatians 2:7-8] The Law had been fulfilled in Christ and was no longer an obligation; or that sacrifices and circumcision were no longer required? The very visible and outward manifestations of the Judaic religion, not to be confused with later Judaism. 

Did Paul Sin in Submitting to the Temple Ritual? Wayne Jackson 

‘Here was the problem: a report had been circulated widely that Paul went about constantly teaching that Jews, especially those who lived in Gentile lands, should “forsake,” (apostasia – cf. “apostasy”) Moses. “Moses” stands for the Old Testament economy. They apparently had concluded that Paul opposed any sort of connection with the Hebrew system, which was not true. The apostle himself had circumcised Timothy in order to prevent offense to the Jews (16:3). Paul had not opposed observing certain elements of the law – provided the intent was not to seek justification on that basis.’

22 What then is to be done? They will certainly hear that you have come. 23 Do therefore what we tell you. We have four men who are under a [Nazarite] vow [Numbers 6:1-21]; 24 take these men and purify yourself along with them and pay their expenses [considered an act of piety at the time], so that they may shave their heads [officially end their vow]. Thus all will know that there is nothing in what they have been told about you, but that you yourself also live in observance of the law. 

It was the wisdom of the Jerusalem Council, to advise Paul to outwardly purify himself, partially for the benefit of putting the minds to rest of the new Jewish converts to the Way, though principally for the Jewish religious community at large. Paul himself, had recently ended a similar vow [Acts 18:18]. 

For Paul was born of the tribe of Benjamin and thus as the House of Judah, counted as a Jew [Acts 22:3, Philippians 3:5]. It is not clear if Paul made an offering at the Temple. One could assume that he did not [Hebrews 10:10, 14, 18]. 

25 But as for the Gentiles who have believed, we have sent a letter with our judgment that they should abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols [1], and from blood [2], and from what has been strangled [3], and from sexual immorality [4].” 

It is worth noting that the word Gentile has a broad application and has to be read against the context it is used. It is generally not a good translation of the Greek word ethne, singular and ethnos, plural. A better translation is nations, representing either 1. the nation of Israel; or 2. the dispersed northern tribes; sometimes 3. non-Israelites; and 4. even everybody, as in all nations. Pauls’s commission included the Gentile nations and the ‘Gentile’ Israelites: “But the Lord said, “Go and do what I say. For Paul is my chosen instrument to take my message [Ephesians 2:17-18] to the nations and before kings, as well as to the people of Israel” [Acts 9:15 Living Bible].

26 Then Paul took the men, and the next day he purified himself along with them and went into the temple, giving notice when the days of purification would be fulfilled and the offering [G4374 – prosphero: ‘to bring a present’] presented [G4376 – prosphora: ‘a sacrifice, whether bloody or not’] for each one of them. 

The Apostle Paul took part in the purification ritual, because during this unique period, there wasn’t an equation of right or wrong for those who were coming into the truth of the Way, when certain elements of the Mosaic system were passing away. Each convert had different perspectives of understanding regarding the Messiah’s oblation which now made animal sacrifices obsolete. For many of the Jewish converts this understandably took longer for them than others. 

For Paul in this one-off situation, it was expedient to acquiesce to the decision of the Elders and set an example which was motivated by peace and love [Acts 24:18]. Some commentators teach that Paul sinned by taking part in the vow; if it included offering an animal sacrifice. Only the Eternal knows the heart of Paul and his reasoning for doing so, if he did. Conversely, if Paul had offered blood sacrifices regularly, contrary to his own teachings and as written in the Book to the Hebrews; only then would he have been culpable of denying the Messiah’s sacrifice and be guilty of sin. Wayne Jackson – emphasis & bold mine: 

“It should be noted in passing that ceremonial “purification” did not necessarily involve atonement for personal sin. A Jewish woman had to be “purified” following the birth of a child (cf. Leviticus 12:1ff; Luke 2:22), even though the act of bearing a child is not sinful. Paul’s act of “purification,” therefore, need not suggest that he was seeking personal forgiveness by means of an animal sacrifice. Clearly that was not Paul’s purpose in this temple ritual.”

It is worth noting that the animal sacrifice may have been omitted, if the four young men were new converts to the Way and understood the animal sacrifice was now obsolete and rather, the four men had merely brought their shaven hair as the sacrifice.

27 When the seven days were almost completed, the Jews from Asia, seeing him in the temple, stirred up the whole crowd and laid hands on him, 28 crying out, “Men of Israel, help! This is the man who is teaching everyone everywhere against the people and the law and this place. Moreover, he even brought Greeks [Gentiles] into the temple and has defiled this holy place.” 29 For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian with him in the city, and they supposed that Paul had brought him into the temple.

Evidence Unseen states: “Nothing in the text suggests that this was a wise move. It doesn’t lead to Jewish evangelism, and in fact, a lynch mob stops this event from happening… Whatever the case, God seems to have interrupted this event, perhaps showing that Paul shouldn’t have put himself in this situation in the first place.” 

The Apostle Paul was somewhat misunderstood by the leaders of the Way in Jerusalem, influenced by their continued bias towards the Mosaic heritage that was understandably deeply ingrained in their psyche and national culture. Paul, whether by mindset and personality or because of his unique calling and mission, more quickly embraced the new path and Way of Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 9:19-23

English Standard Version 

19 For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under [G5259 – hupo] the law [G3551 – nomos] I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. 21 To those outsidethe law [G459 – anomos] I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. 23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.

The Greek word for under is defined by Strong’s concordance as: “… under… of place (beneath), or with verbs (the agency or means, through)… or where [below])… among, by, from, in, of, under, with… of inferior position or condition, and specially covertly or moderately.” Paul is referring to the Jews who were under or bound by the Law. Which Law? The Greek word for law is inclusive of the “… Mosaic law, and referring… either to the volume of the law or to its contents… the name of the more important part (the Pentateuch), is put for the entire collection of the sacred books of the OT… (of Moses {including the volume}; [and] also of the Gospel)… [and] the Christian religion: the law demanding faith, the moral instruction given by Christ, esp. the precept concerning love.” Thus the Law includes the Old and New Testament aspects, but does it delineate between one or the other according to context in the Bible? 

The Greek word for without law is translated by the King James version: transgressor [2], wicked [2], lawless [1] and unlawful [1]. It means one who is ‘destitute of (the Mosaic law), not subject to (the Jewish) law, departing from the law, a violator of the law, of the Gentiles.’ Thus anyone not a Jew was considered without the law; though what did this mean for new believers in the Way, whether Jew, Israelite or Gentile? 

The Jerusalem Elders decision, highlights the fact that the Apostle Paul showed patience and restraint with the Apostle James. Paul was now accustomed to the proclivity towards conservatism by the Jerusalem based church hierarchy and to cling to the Judaic, Old Testament legalism which Christ had released new believers from. Paul and Barnabas had to contend with Pharisee converts who were misleading and confusing other believers, particularly Gentiles saying that they had to be circumcised to be saved. The issue became so contentious that a conference was convened in Jerusalem in 49 CE.

Acts 15:1-12

English Standard Version

But some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” 2 And after Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem [Jerusalem located at altitude] to the apostles and the elders about this question… 4 When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they declared all that God had done with them. 5 But some believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees rose up and said, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to order them to keep the law of Moses.”

6 The apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider this matter. 7 And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. 

8 And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, 9 and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith. 10 Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? 11 But we believe that we will be saved through thegraceof the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”12 And all the assembly fell silent, and they listened to Barnabas and Paul as they related what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles. 

It was the Apostle Peter, who had been given the responsibility of final decisions regarding doctrinal issues or disputes [Matthew 16:19], who sliced through the debate  with the sword of the spirit and truth [Ephesians 6:17, 2 Timothy 2:15] and reminded all attending, that the Gentiles were one and the same with the Jews regarding salvation [Romans 10:12]. The Council wrote a letter to Gentile converts, making it clear that circumcision was not required by the Law or a path to salvation. 

Acts 15:23-24

New King James Version

23 They wrote this letter by them: The apostles, the elders, and the brethren, To the brethren who are of the Gentiles in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia: Greetings.

24 Since we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, “You must be circumcised and keep the law” – to whom we gave no such commandment – 25 it seemed good to us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Apostle Paul had always been viewed on the outside by the church establishment. His progressive interpretation of the Gospel, his unique commission, his persecution of the early followers of the Way, literally blinded so that he could truly see, and then his dramatic idealogical reversal; with his subsequent unparalleled conversion and teaching from the ascended Son of God for three years, meant he was never as ‘one of us.’ [Acts 22:1-22, Galatians 1:11-24] 

Saul before he became Paul, was a formidable force of fear for the early followers of the Way.

Acts 9:1-31

English Standard Version 

But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. 3 Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. 4 And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” 5 And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 6 But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” 7 The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. 

8 Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. 9 And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank. 10 Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” 11 And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, 12 and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” 

13 But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. 14 And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.” 15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. 16 For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” 17 So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight andbe filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; 19 and taking food, he was strengthened.

For some days he was with the disciples at Damascus. 20 And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” 21 And all who heard him were amazed and said, “Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem of those who called upon this name? And has he not come here for this purpose, to bring them bound before the chief priests?” 22 But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ. 23 When many days had passed, the Jews plotted to kill him, 24 but their plot became known to Saul. They were watching the gates day and night in order to kill him, 25 but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a basket.

26 And when he had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples. And they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus. 28 So he went in and out among them at Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord. 29 And he spoke and disputed against the Hellenists. But they were seeking to kill him. 30 And when the brothers learned this, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus. 31 So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.

Galatians 1:11-24

English Standard Version

11 For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. 12 For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. 13 For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. 14 And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. 

15 But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, 16 was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.

18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days. 19 But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord’s brother. 20 (In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie!) 21 Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. 22 And I was still unknown in person to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 23 They only were hearing it said, “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they glorified God because of me.

The believers in Jerusalem were afraid of Paul and with good reason. This would have been 34 CE, for Paul had spent three years in Arabia, beginning 31 CE. The Messiah died and rose again in April, 30 CE [refer article Chronology of Christ]. Thus we can deduce that the early Churches beginnings and Saul’s persecution ran parallel from 30 to 31 CE until his conversion.

Paul describes another visit to Jerusalem prior to the Council in 49 CE, recounting it to the church in Galatia. As we have discussed in length [refer Chapter XXXI Reuben, Simeon, Levi & Gad – the Celtic Tribes], the Galatians were Gentiles, but in reality, part of the ‘lost sheep of the House of Israel.’ 

Galatians 2:1-16

English Standard Version

Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem [48 CE] with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. 2 I went up because of a revelation and set before them (though privately before those who seemed influential) the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure I was not running or had not run in vain. 3 But even Titus, who was with me, was not forced to be circumcised, though he was a Greek. 4 Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in – who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery – 5 to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. 

Fourteen years after his first visit to Jerusalem, the issue regarding circumcision particularly for Gentiles had escalated to the degree that it had become a serious stumbling block for many brethren. The cause being the infiltration of non-believers seeking to destroy the fledgling movement of the Way. 

6 And from those who seemed to be influential (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality) – those, I say, who seemed influential added nothing to me. 7 On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised 8 (for he who worked through Peter for his apostolic ministry to the circumcised worked also through me for mine to the Gentiles), 9 and when James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. 10 Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.

Remembering the poor’, may be in reference to the famine which had been foretold and corroborated by a number of secular sources including the fourth century historian Orosius. 

Acts 11:27-30

English Standard Version

27 Now in these days prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28 And one of them named Agabus stood up and foretold by the Spirit that there would be a great famine [44-48 CE] over all the world (this took place in the days of Claudius) [41-54 CE]. 29 So the disciples determined, every one according to his ability, to send relief to the brothers living in Judea. 30 And they did so, sending it to the elders by the hand of Barnabas and Saul.

The fact Paul visits Jerusalem with relief for the brethren in 48 CE, at the tail end of the famine, while mentioning the circumcision issue, but not the Jerusalem Council or its decision, dates the writing of the Book of Galatians in the minds of most scholars, to between 48 to 49 CE. 

11 But when Cephas [the Apostle Peter] came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. 13 And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?” 15 We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16 yet we know thata person is not justified [G1344 – dikaioo: ‘freed, innocent, rendered righteous’]by works [G2041 – ergon: ‘act, deed, labour, toil’] of the law [G3351 – nomos]but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

We will return to the question of faith versus works.

The most important question is whether the seventh day Sabbath – as calculated by the Lunar cycle and not the day, we call Saturday – which is included with, yet still outside the Holy Day and sacrificial system, as part of the Ten Commandments; is still a sign between the Eternal and his people. Or whether it has been fulfilled in Christ, and the Saints who comprise the embryonic Kingdom of God, with citizenship now in Heaven [Philippians 3:20], and in perpetual rest with the Creator? 

We will survey the New Testament in approximate order of the biblical canon, in seeking an answer, to a very big question. There are three aspects to this inquiry. First, the Law, second the Holy Days and three, the weekly Sabbath. Most Christians affirm that the Law – whether in its entirety or our keeping of it – has been done away and that Christ has fulfilled the Law, in that we are not required to keep it imperfectly, for Christ now keeps it perfectly for us. Christ stated: “Do not think that I have come to abolish [G2647 – kataluo: ‘destroy, annul, dissolve’] the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill  [G4137 – pleroo] them.” [Matthew 5:17 ESV] 

Did Christ end the Law? He certainly was the perfect embodiment of the Law. The Greek word for fulfil is translated by the KJV as fulfil [51], fill [9], be full [7], complete [2], end [2]. The word means: ‘to fill up, consummate, render perfect, accomplish, carry through to the end, ratify, bring to pass, to make replete, execute, finish, verify, expire, perfect.’ 

Jesus set the perfect example in obeying the law as it was intended to be kept. This verse does not support Christ annulling the Law, or provide justification that the law is no longer applicable. Does this verse support our not being under the same obligation or condemnation as required by the Old Covenant? This is not completely without consideration. 

In the future, just prior to the return of the Son of Man, the Bible states: “Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus [Revelation 14:12 ESV].” One wonders which commandments these might be? [Exodus 20:3–17] Though the commandments are undoubtedly the central core of the Law; do they remain somehow distinct from the rest of the Law? What really is required of a believer during this inter-covenantal period. 

Though the words testament and covenant are superficially linked and can be interchangeable; it invariably is not correct usage to do so. A careful reading of the two words shows that a testament is a written will or instruction, which may include a covenantal clause or agreement. A covenant is not the same as a testament for it is strictly an agreement between two parties to perform a specific function. 

Thus, calling the two portions of the scriptures Old and New Testaments, accurately describes the written record of the era before Christ and the one following. Each Testament is a compiled written testimony of the Prophets, Apostles and Evangelists sermons, letters, messages, histories and prophecies. Contained within the Old Testament is the Old Covenant. The agreement between the Eternal and the sons of Jacob, whereby one promised to be righteous and the other promised to bless and protect. Once the Israelites showed that reneging on their side of the agreement was to be a habitual occurrence, the Eternal in His patience did allow them to go into slavery, but only hundreds of years later. 

The Old Covenant was flawed because it was made with carnal, unconverted people and because the offering up of animals as sacrifices was a messy, time consuming substitute. The New Testament records the Messiah as the Lamb, would be sacrificed once, and for all humanity who has ever lived. It neatly disposed of the Old Covenant and prepared the way for the New Covenant. What many christians profoundly do not realise, is that we are in an inter-covenantal, transitional period [Hebrews 8:8–12; Acts 2:17–21]; for only a very few of the many that are called actually choose the path or Way [Matthew 24:14; Luke 12:32]. 

They are called first fruits in the scriptures [James 1:18, 1 Peter 4:17], pictured by the Day of Pentecost, of which Christ was the first of the first fruits [1 Corinthians 15:23]. It will only be when the Son of Man returns and ushers in the Kingdom of God on earth that the New Covenant will fully kick in, as it will be offered, with the Holy Spirit to everyone at that time. 

In Hebrews 8:6, the Greek word for covenant means a contract or pact. In Revelation 12:7 true believers are described as keeping the commandments and testimony [or testament] of Christ. The Greek word is different and means the evidence of his witness and words. It is not referring to the agreement or pact, as constituting the New Covenant. 

The contention regarding the status and obedience of the Law surrounds almost entirely the verbal and written words of the Apostle Paul. As is the case with doctrinal disputes, the Bible can be quite successfully used to support either side in an argument. The truth only emerges once the weight of evidence leans towards one view or the other. We will investigate what Paul says and what he does not say and also the apostles James and John.  

Romans 3:20, 23

King James Version

20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge [G1922 – epignosis: ‘recognition, discernment, precise and correct knowledge’] of sin. 23 For all have sinned [G264 – hamartano: ‘miss the mark, tresspass, violate’], and come short [G5302 – hustereo: ‘be in want, to fail, be behind’] of the glory of God;

Paul confirms that our keeping the law does not justify or save us. The Law is in place so that we know right from wrong. If it was about just keeping the law blamelessly, then all humans have failed. Paul’s audience at Rome was to Roman citizens and therefore Gentiles [Chapter XXVIII The True Identity & Origin of germany & Austria – Ishmael & hagar]. His other audience at Rome, were the converts of the British Royal family living in Rome [Appendix VIII When the Creator came to dwell with His Creation]. They were from the tribes of Israel, yet could also be viewed as Gentiles. Paul states: “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” [Romans 6:23 KJV]. 

When we die, we are dead and do not live in Heaven or Hell but await a resurrection from the dead [refer article, Heaven & Hell]. We would remain dead though, if it were not for the sacrifice of the Messiah, which frees each and every human from eternal death. Should they choose to accept His sacrifice and follow Him in obedience. Obedience to his Law and commandments.

Romans 4:4-5, 7-9, 13-16

English Standard Version

4 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. 5 And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, 6 just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: 

7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; 8 blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”

9 Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? 13 For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through therighteousness of faith. 14 For if it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. 15 For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression. 16 That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring – not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham…

Paul is saying that one does not work for their salvation. It is rather, a blessing to have one’s sins covered and forgiven because of their faith. The consequences of breaking the law – the penalty of death – does not exist for a convert who through faith believes in the saving grace of the Eternal. For there is no punishment, no transgression, no law for one who has truly accepted and faithfully believes in the sacrifice and shed blood of the Saviour.

Romans  6:9-23

English Standard Version

9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

In other words, the death penalty is no longer hanging over our heads or applicable because Christ has released us from the punishment for sin.

12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 Forsin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but undergrace [G5485 – charis: ‘favour, pleasure, delight, benefit, gift’].15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 

Though we are set free and the death penalty for sin has no rule over a converted believer; it does not then present a licence to sin flagrantly because we are no longer judged by the Law and spared through God’s favour. 

16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness… 20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification [G38 – hagiasmos: ‘holiness, consecration, purification’] and its end, eternal [G166 – aionios: ‘everlasting, never to cease, without beginning and end’] life.

The death penalty, is not applicable to those who have accepted Christ’s sacrifice by faith. For one is saved by God’s grace or favour; yet as we shall discover, rewarded and justified according to their actions and works.

Romans 7:1-2, 4-7, 14-15, 17-18, 22- 25

English Standard Version

Or do you not know, brothers – for I am speaking to those who know the law – that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? 2 For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage.

4 Likewise, my brothers, you also have died [G2289 – Thanatoo: ‘put to death, to make to die, render extinct, to be liberated from the bond of anything, literally to be made dead in relation to (something)’] to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. 5 For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. 6 But nowwe are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so thatwe serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way [G3821 – palaiotes: ‘oldness, the old state of life controlled by ‘the letter’] of the written code [G1121 – grammatos: ‘bill, bond, a debt, scriptures, the sacred writings (of the OT)’].

7 What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. 14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. 15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 … For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 

22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin… 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

The conversion of a believer releases them from the bondage of the letter of the Law with its punishment of death – ‘it has no more power over us to condemn [or] damn’ – to then belonging to the resurrected Christ instead and the opportunity of Eternal life. Even so, the spirit is willing and the flesh is weak and thus a continual war is waged against our carnal human nature, our flesh which relentlessly serves the law of sin instead of the Law of God.

Romans 10:4-5, 9

English Standard Version

For Christ is the end [G5056 – telos: ‘termination, conclusion, the last in any succession or series, that by which a thing is finished, the end to which all things relate’] of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. 5 For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. 9 [but], if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

The Apostle Paul is explaining that Christ is the end of the law in the context that he has superseded the Old Covenant; which pointed to him in the first place. Paul does not say that the law has ended but rather that Christ has concluded or terminated the animal sacrificial system.

Romans 14:1-3, 5-6, 13-15, 21-23

English Standard Version

14 As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. 2 One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. 

3 Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. 

5 One person esteems [G2919 – krino: ‘judge, determine, approve, choose, decree, distinguish,  an opinion concerning right and wrong’] one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike.* Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. 

The Living Bible

Some think that Christians should observe the Jewish holidays as special days to worship God, but others say it is wrong and foolish to go to all that trouble, for every day alike belongs to God. On questions of this kind everyone must decide for himself

The Message 

Or, say, one person thinks that some days should be set aside as holy and another thinks that each day is pretty much like any other. There are good reasons either way. So, each person is free to follow the convictions of conscience.

Clarke’s Commentary – emphasis & bold mine:

‘Perhaps the word ημεραν, day, is here taken for time, festival, and such like, in which sense it is frequently used. Reference is made here to the Jewish institutions, and especially their festivals; such as the passover, pentecost, feast of tabernacles, new moons, jubilee… The converted Jew still thought these of moral obligation the Gentile Christian not having been bred up in this way had no such prejudices. And as those who were the instruments of bringing him to the knowledge of God gave him no such injunctions, consequently he paid to these no religious regard.

The converted Gentile [esteemed] every day… [and considered] that all time is the Lord’s, and that each day should be devoted to the glory of God; and that those festivals are not binding on him.

We add here alike, and make the text say what I am sure was never intended, [that is] that there is no distinction of days, not even of the Sabbath: and that every Christian is at liberty to consider even this day to be holy or not holy, as he happens to be persuaded in his own mind.

That the Sabbath is of lasting obligation may be reasonably concluded from its institution and from its typical reference. All allow that the Sabbath is a type of that rest in glory which remains for the people of God. Now, all types are intended to continue in full force till the antitype, or thing signified, take place; consequently, the Sabbath will continue in force till the consummation of all things. The word alike* should not be added; nor is it acknowledged by any [manuscript] or ancient version.

6 The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. 13 Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. 14 I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. 15 For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died. 

21 It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble. 22 The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves. 23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.

It is difficult to surmise what the Apostle Paul is actually saying. One wonders if he wrote this chapter exactly as we have it before us today? Is he speaking about all meat including unclean [Leviticus 11:1-47], or clean meat as opposed to a meat free diet. One would assume clean meat, yet why would a plant based diet be described as weak. Would it not be the other way around? [refer article Red or Green] One can understand not flaunting eating meat and drinking wine to one new in the faith with different dietary views. But, why would one abstain from meat or eat meat for religious reasons; unless, it is tied to the annual Feast and Holy days? 

If such is the case, then Clark’s Commentary regarding the festivals would be a plausible explanation. If converts to the Way had differing understanding and views regarding the Holy Days, it would explain the variety of dietary opinions. For some must have been keeping the festivals and some were not. The history of observing these days included the act of feasting, in eating meat and by extension, drinking wine. Some new believers were coming into the truth seemingly with a diet that was plant based, not wishing to eat meat. Other believers, knew meat had been sanctioned to be eaten on the festival Holy days and therefore had no qualms in doing so. 

As Clarke’s makes the point, this passage may not include the Sabbath as ‘esteemed as one day better than another, while another esteems all days.’ We learn that the Holy Days appear to have become optional according to one’s past as either a Jew or a Gentile. Does this mean the same for believers today? 

Yet Paul is clearly expressing that some converts, for instance Jewish brethren were placing importance on a specific day, for example a Holy day or perhaps the seventh day Sabbath; whereas Gentile converts were treating every day as equal. This raises a question mark not on the continuation of the Sabbath necessarily, but at least in the manner of its observance up until that time. 

We are at an early stage with regard to Paul’s writings – not counting the Book of Acts most plausibly authored by Luke and written circa 59 to 61 CE [for the death of James, the Lord’s brother in 62 CE is not mentioned, yet Paul’s first imprisonment is stated from 56 to 58 CE] – in quoting from his Epistle to the Romans, written 56 CE [refer Appendix VIII When the Creator came to dwell with His Creation]. Turning now to Paul’s instructions to the church at Corinth and the two letters we have [out of the four in total] written to the church a year earlier in 55 CE. 

When did Paul write 1 Corinthians, before or after his 1st trial? Excerpt from Dating The New Testament – emphasis & bold mine: 

“There is scholarly consensus that the letters of 1 and 2 Corinthians were written by Paul during his third missionary journey, which encompassed the years 52-57 A.D. [rather between 51 to 56 CE] There is sufficient biographical information in both the letters to the Corinthians and in the book of Acts to allow these letters to be dated very accurately. The sequence of events is described below: 

Paul visits Corinth for the first time and establishes a church there (Acts 18:1-17).” 

‘11 And he stayed a year and six months [51 CE], teaching the word of God among them. 12 But when Gallio was proconsul of Achaia [an inscription at Delphi reveals that Gallio entered his office in Corinth in 51 CE], the Jews made a united attack on Paul and brought him before the tribunal, 13 saying, “This man is persuading people to worship God contrary to the law.” 14 But when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, “If it were a matter of wrongdoing or vicious crime, O Jews, I would have reason to accept your complaint. 15 But since it is a matter of questions about words and names and your own law, see to it yourselves. I refuse to be a judge of these things.” 16 And he drove them from the tribunal. 17 And they all seized Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, and beat him in front of the tribunal. But Gallio paid no attention to any of this.’

“Among his converts were Sosthenes, who is listed as a co-author of 1 Corinthians (1 Cor 1:1). Paul travels to Ephesus, where he stays for three years [during 52 to 55 CE]. It is here that he writes his first letter to the Corinthians, however, this letter is not our canonical First Corinthians, it is called “the previous letter”(1 Cor 5:9). We will call this letterCorinthians A.” 

Paul receives news from various sources about trouble at Corinth (1 Cor 1:11, 1 Cor 7:1, 1 Cor 16:17). In response he writes “Corinthains B“,the letter we know as1 Corinthians.This is written from Ephesus (1 Cor 16:8) and is apparently sent by the hand of Timothy. 

Paul apparently visits Corinth for a second time, although we have no record of this visit. We know it occured because Paul says in 2 Cor 12:14 and 2 Cor 13:1-2 that he intends to visit for a third time. Things seem to have worsened in the aftermath of the visit, leading Paul to write the “severe letter”, which we will call “Corinthians C“. Paul mentions this letter in 2 Cor 2:4 and 2 Cor 7:8. Paul was worried about the severe letter and overall situation. He hurried to meet Titus, who was returning with a response (2 Cor 2:13, 7:5, 7:13). 

Paul was encouraged by the news from Titus, and wrote”Corinthians D“,the letter of2 Corinthians.Some scholars believe the other letters of Paul may have been added into our canonical 2 Corinthians. For example the “severe letter” may have been added, now forming 2 Cor 10-13, and a portion from Corinthians A may have been tucked into 2 Cor 6:14-7:1. 1 Cor 5:7-8 seems to say that Passover season is imminent. The time frame for both letters then is quite narrow, with 1 Corinthians being written just before Passover in 55 A.D. [Spring 55 CE] and 2 Corinthians being written in 56 A.D [rather Autumn 55 CE]. ” 

Paul’s first missionary journey was conducted from circa 45 to 47 CE; his second from circa 48 to 51 CE; his third from 51 to 56 CE; his first imprisonment in Rome lasted from 56 to 58 CE; his between imprisonment years, including a fourth missionary journey occurred between 58 to 64 CE and finally; his second imprisonment began in 64 CE until the time of his death in 66 CE [Appendix VIII When the Creator came to dwell with His Creation]. 

Aside from chapter nine discussed, Paul states the following in 1 Corinthians:

1 Corinthians 6:9-11, 12, 14-15, 17, 19-20

English Standard Version

9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? … 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 12 “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything… 14 And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? … 17 But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him 19 … do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

1 Corinthians 10:23, 31-33

English Standard Version

23 “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. 24 Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor… 31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 32 Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, 33 just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved. 

Website Bible Ref comments: 

‘It is true that nothing – including sin – can ever separate a forgiven Christian from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:38–39). However, it’s possible the Corinthians were practicing sin and using this idea to justify their actions. Paul writes that this is a wrongheaded standard for believers. Christian liberty is not an open excuse for any behavior or attitude. Whether participating in something will “send me to hell” is not a sufficient question for the born-again believer. Instead, we must ask, “Will this help me and other people?” 

“Will this activity master me, cause me to lose control of myself?” Paul is urging the Corinthians to live up to who they are now in Christ. He is encouraging them – and by extension, all Christians – to make this the standard for their choices. This contrasts with “living down” to the standards of what is acceptable in a sin-drenched culture.’

Following the first two chapters from the Book of Galatians addressed, one of the important texts used to establish the abolishment of the Law are the next two chapters in Galatians. 

Galatians 3:1-6, 10-14, 19, 21-28

English Standard Version

O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched [G940 – baskaino: ‘charm, fascinate, malign, slander, evil eye’] you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. 2 Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? 4 Did you suffer so many things in vain – if indeed it was in vain? 5 Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith – 6 just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?

A believer does not receive the Holy Spirit by keeping the Law, for one would need to keep it blamelessly and this is impossible. The Holy Spirit is received only through faith in Christ, the same type of faith as that exemplified by Abraham. The Galatians were being caught up in the works of the law, particularly the physical rite of circumcision. 

10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written,“Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” 12 But the law is not of faith [G4102 – pistis: ‘belief, conviction, assurance, persuasion’], rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us – for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree” – 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.

One is cursed with death if relying on keeping the Law perfectly, for they are doomed to fail. Christ took upon himself the curse of the death penalty, so that a believer can be released from the penalty of death resulting from imperfectly keeping the Law. Faith in Christ makes one righteous; justifies a believer before the Eternal; and is the only source of the Holy Spirit.

19 Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions [G3847 – parabasis: ‘violation, breaking’], until the offspring [seed] should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary [mediator]. 21 Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. 22 But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. 

23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian [G3807 – paidagogos: ‘instructor, tutor, schoolmaster’] until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus

The Law had its place, meaning and time. The Law was a necessary precursor, as a way of knowing right from wrong, righteousness from sin. Even so, it holds one in bondage to the curse of death for breaking the law; requiring Christ’s sacrifice to release a true believer from the bondage of the death penalty and thereby receiving everlasting life through faith in Christ.

Galatians 5:1-13, 16-26

English Standard Version

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.2 Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. 3 I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. 4 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. 

5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.

Paul is very clear in writing to the brethren in Corinth when he says: “Was anyone at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. Was anyone at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision. For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God. Each one should remain in the condition in which he was called” [1 Corinthians 7:18-20 ESV].

7 You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from him who calls you. 9 A little leaven leavens the whole lump. 10 I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view, and the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is. 11 But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. 12 I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!

These are strong sentiments from Paul and it is clear that though the Law had not been taken away, there was a change in the Law. Circumcision ceased from being a mandatory act signalling agreed obedience between the Creator and Israel, to not being required at all for salvation. Thereby becoming an optional choice, predicated on one’s view of any intrinsic health benefits and any spiritual advantage, of none effect. 

13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom [G1657 – eleutheria: ‘liberty, licence, true liberty is living as we should not as we please’] as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another… 16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law

19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality [G3430 – moicheia: adultery (in marriage)], impurity [G4202 – porneia: ‘fornication, sexual intercourse, harlotry, homosexuality, lesbianism, bestiality’], sensuality [G167 – akatharsia: moral and physical uncleanness, lustful, impure’], 20 idolatry [G1495 – eidololatreia: ‘worship of Mammon (riches or material wealth, Matthew 6:24, Luke 16:9, 11, 13 – a personification of riches as an evil spirit or deity)’], 

Luke 16:13-17

English Standard Version

13 No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

14 The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed [Christ]. 15 And [Jesus] said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.

sorcery [G5331 – pharmakeia: ‘witchcraft, magical arts, magic, medication, pharmacy, the use or the administering of drugs’], 

Revelation 21:8

English Standard Version

But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers [G5332 – pharmakeus: ‘one who prepares or uses magical remedies, (a drug, [that is] spell-giving potion), a druggist (“pharmacist”) or poisoner, a magician’] , idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

‘enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies [G2970 – komos: ‘revelling, carousal, drinking parties that are protracted till late at night and indulge in revelry’], and things like these. 

I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

When a believer is led by the Holy Spirit through faith in the risen Jesus, they are not held to ransom by the Law or under its power. A believer is free and washed clean by Christ’s sacrifice [1 Corinthians 6:11, 1 John 1:7-9, Revelation 1:5]. 

Galatians 4:2-11

English Standard Version

2 … when we were children, [we were] enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. 4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts… 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

The physicalness of the Law, does not compare with the spirituality of Christ. A converted mind comprehends the immeasurable difference. No longer slaves to corruption and fallibility, but servants of incorruption and infallibility. The sentence of death abrogated and the promise of eternity guaranteed.

8 Formerly, when you did not know God [Ephesians 2:12], you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods [fallen angels, elemental spirits and demons who are the powers behind the physical universe]. 9But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back againto the weak and worthless elementary principles* (of the world?) [2 Peter 3:10-12], whose slaves you want to be once more? 

Returning to deception and forsaking enlightenment. The Apostle Paul is incredulous. What is it that the Galatian brethren have returned to, which has so astounded Paul? Christian Greek: “Clemen reasoned that what St. Paul intended were astral deities,* the spirits dwelling in the physical elements and in the heavenly bodies… St. Paul’s ‘we’ may well include Jewish readers who in fact practiced astrology, even though it was forbidden them.” 

10You observe [G3906 – paratereo: ‘to watch assiduously, insidiously, keep scrupulously, observe carefully’] days [G2250 – hemera: ‘time’, daylight hours and or 24 hour day] and months [G3376 – men: ‘month’ as in the time of the New Moon and first day of each month]and seasons [G2540 – kairos: ‘measure of time, occasion, set or proper time’] and years! 11I am afraid[G5399 – phobeo: ‘startled, amazement, alarmed’] I may have labored over you in vain.

J B Phillips New Testament

Your religion is beginning to be a matter of observing certain days or months or seasons or years. Frankly, you stagger me, you make me wonder if all my efforts over you have been wasted!

New Century Version

You still follow teachings about special days, months, seasons, and years…

The Message 

… you are intimidated into scrupulously observing all the traditions, taboos, and superstitions associated with special days and seasons and years…

New Living Translation

You are trying to earn favor with God by observing certain days or months or seasons or years. I fear for you…

The definitions of the Greek word for observe are interesting, as they convey an unhealthy approach. Assiduously means: ‘with careful and consistent effort; diligently or tirelessly, constantly, ceaselessly.’ Scrupulously means: ‘in a way that shows strict regard for moral standards or principles, care or precision.’ Insidiously means: ‘intended to trap or beguile, stealthily treacherous or deceitful, operating in an inconspicuous or seemingly harmless way but actually with grave effect.’ 

The expressions, days and years do not reveal much on first reading, though the words for month and seasons can be used for the Festivals and Holy days. 

Harold & Donna Kupp – capitalisation theirs, emphasis & bold mine:

“When Paul said: “ye observe days”, it could not mean The Sabbath Day because Gentiles couldn’t “turn back” to Sabbath observance. Therefore that verse has to refer to some Gentiles in the Galatian churches who were falling away from the obedience of the faith. They were going back to their old way of life when they served demons with their idolatry, witchcraft – and ASTROLOGY. Astrology is the practice and system of predicting events by the position and occult influence on human affairs of the sun, moon, and planets. Observers of times, horoscopes and fortune-telling are an abomination to God. (See Deuteronomy 18:9-14 “observer of times”) That is why Paul speaks with so much concern when he says: “… I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.”

Certainly, observing days, months, times and years in the verse above has absolutely nothing to do with The Sabbath – or even the feast days of the Jews because we have… historical records of Paul observing feast days …”

This interpretation of Galatians chapter four verses eight to eleven contradicts the standard explanation by orthodox Christianity. Another commentator states that the “Galatian Christians were Gentiles who were going back to what they had come from (verse 9). They were returning to pagan observances. God nowhere made any months holy, and He condemned the observance of times [astrology] in Deuteronomy 18:10[-11], so these could not refer to biblical festivals and Holy Days. Verses 8 and 9 of Galatians 4 refer to the practices of the Galatians before they knew the true God. Then they are shown to be returning to the weak and beggarly elements. To say that God’s laws are weak and beggarly elements is blasphemous.”

One point to note, is that the context of chapter four in the verses preceding verse ten and those afterwards, let alone the other chapters of Galatians does not appear to address a return to astrology as it does a return to the obligatory Old Covenant laws, statutes and ordinances of the Holy Day festivals, which were intrinsically tied to the ceremonial sacrifices, feasting of animals and New Moons. This is not far removed from the physical rite of circumcision and a fleshly adherence to the Law. These physical acts do not provide justification before the Eternal or salvation towards eternal life; it is only through Christ’s sacrifice and our faith in Him which justifies, sanctifies, pardons, makes holy and ultimately provides salvation. 

Bible Ref – emphasis & bold mine: 

“The Galatian Christians had initially responded to Paul’s message of salvation by grace, through faith (Galatians 1:6). However, a certain group, known as the Judaizers, had begun to claim that salvation also required adherence to the law of Moses (Galatians 2:4). Paul has been pointing out how “foolish” it is for the Galatians to turn from a gospel of faith, to a gospel of works. 

Paul now points to some specific works of the law that these Galatian Christians have begun to follow. They have started to observe specific “days and months and seasons and years.” He means that they have started to observe and celebrate all the special days and holidays Israel was commanded to observe under the law of Moses. These days would have included the weekly Sabbath with all of its restrictions, beginning Friday at sunset and lasting until Saturday at sunset. 

It would have included specific festivals and fasts and days of remembrance. From the time of Moses until the time of Christ, all Israelites were required to obey God by observing these days. Failing to observe them was reason enough for God to remove His blessing under His covenant with Israel.”

A valid point is made regarding the ceremonial and restrictive trappings of the Sabbath day, made more burdensome by the Jews. These were removed, though a case for the Sabbath being annulled is not conclusive. 

“Is Paul saying that it is always wrong for believers to observe any special “holy days”? Not necessarily, but one does need to be aware of motives… The problem was that these Christians were observing all the special days, not to honor the Lord, but to be honored by Him. They hoped to be more fully justified and holy as followers of Christ. They believed this because they were listening to the group of false teachers known as the Judaizers. In doing so, the Galatian Christians showed they were not convinced God had already fully justified them by their faith in Christ. They were making themselves slaves to sin again by expecting God to approve of their works instead of simply accepting them, in love and by His grace, as His children in and through Christ.”

Exposition of the Bible, John Gill – emphasis & bold mine:

“Lest the apostle should be thought to suggest, without foundation, the inclination of these people to be in bondage to the ceremonies of the law, he gives this as an instance of it; which is to be understood, not of a civil observation of times, divided into days, months, and years, for which the luminaries of the heavens were made, and into summer and winter, seedtime and harvest, which is not only lawful, but absolutely necessary; but of a religious observation of days not of the lucky and unlucky days, or of any of the festivals of the Gentiles, but of Jewish ones. By “days” are meant their seventh day sabbaths; for since they are distinguished from months and years, they must mean such days as returned weekly; and what else can they be but their weekly sabbaths? These were peculiar to the Israelites, and not binding on others; and being typical of Christ, the true rest of his people, andhe being come, are now ceased.”

It could be argued that the word days applies to the seven Holy days of Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, Trumpets, Atonement, the Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day. 

“By “months” are designed their new moons, or the beginning of their months upon the appearance of a new moon, which were kept by blowing trumpets, offering sacrifices, hearing the word of God, abstaining from work, and holding religious feasts; and were typical of that light, knowledge, and grace, the church receives from Christ, the sun of righteousness; and he, the substance, being come, these shadows disappeared

By “times” are intended the three times in the year, when the Jewish males appeared before the Lord at Jerusalem, to keep the three feasts of tabernacles, passover, and pentecost, for the observance of which there was now no reason; not of the feast of tabernacles, since the word was made flesh, and tabernacled among us; nor of the passover, since Christ, our passover, is sacrificed for us; nor of pentecost, or the feast of weeks, or of the first fruits of the harvest, since the Spirit of God was poured down in a plenteous manner on that day upon the apostles; and when the firstfruits of a glorious harvest were brought in to the Lord, in the conversion of three thousand souls. 

And by “years” are to be understood their sabbatical years; every seventh year the land had a rest, and remained untilled; there were no ploughing and sowing, and there was a general release of debtors; and every fiftieth year was a jubilee to the Lord, when liberty to servants, debtors was proclaimed throughout the land: all which were typical of rest, payment of debts, and spiritual liberty by Christ; and which having their accomplishment in him, were no longer to be observed; wherefore these Galatians are blamed for so doing; and the more, because they were taught to observe them, in order to obtain eternal life and salvation by them.

Sabbatical years may or may not be intended by Paul. It would produce better crops and allow soil to remain nutrient rich if the land was left fallow as prescribed by the Bible. Of course, humankind has been consumed with avarice and such a procedure would never be contemplated. As an aside, the year 5782 on the Jewish calendar [September 7, 2021 to September 26, 2022] was the most recent Sabbatical year.

Bridgeway Bible Commentary – emphasis mine:

“Before they believed in Christ, most of the Galatians were pagans, in bondage to idols of wood and stone. Now that they have come to know the true God, they are foolish to get into bondage again by trying to keep the Jewish law. By doing so they are not going forward in their Christian lives; they are going backwards (8-11). The Galatians should live as those free from the [penalty of the] law, just as Paul does. He feels sorry for them, not angry with them. He does not consider their error to be an attack on him personally, and he still has the most pleasant memories of their kindness to him when he was ill while visiting them (12-14). They would have done anything for him then, and he hopes they will not turn against him now because of his attempts to correct their error (15-16). Part of the Judaisers’ tactics in trying to gain control over the Galatians was to turn them against Paul personally. Paul is certainly not jealous when others show interest in his converts after he has gone, provided they have pure motives (17-18). He is concerned only for the Galatians’ good and he is prepared to put up with any suffering to help their Christian lives grow and develop. If it were possible he would visit them rather than write, for he is worried about them (19-20).”

Coffman’s Commentaries on the Bible – emphasis & bold mine:

“Sabbatarians have done their best to eliminate the meaning of this passage, but as Huxtable tells us, the words used here “were used by Josephus for the keeping of sabbath days”; and when read in conjunction with Colossians 2:16 there cannot be any doubt that the sin of the Galatians was simply that of keeping, after the Jewish manner, the sabbaths, festivals and special days of the Old Covenant, which if persisted in, would mean their total loss to Christianity. The whole thesis of this epistle is that “Judaism and Christianity do not mix.”

Dr. Constable’s Expository Notes – emphasis & bold mine:

“The Judaizers had urged Paul’s readers to observe the Mosaic rituals. Here the annual feasts are in view. Paul despaired that they were going backward and that much of his labor for them was futile. They were not acting like heirs of God… Paul was always against any idea of soteriological [the study of religious doctrines of salvation] legalism-i.e., that false understanding of the law by which people think they can turn God’s revelatory standard to their own advantage, thereby gaining divine favor and acceptance. 

This, too, the prophets of Israel denounced, for legalism so defined was never a legitimate part of Israel’s religion. The Judaizers of Galatia, in fact, would probably have disowned ’legalism’ as well, though Paul saw that their insistence on a life of Jewish ’nomism’ [a religious system that is strictly governed by rules and regulations with the idea that one can become acceptable to God by such observance] for his Gentile converts actually took matters right back to the crucial issue as to whether acceptance before God was based on ‘the works of the law’ or faith in what Christ had effected…

Yet while not legalistic, the religion of Israel, as contained in the OT and all forms of ancient and modern Judaism, is avowedly ’nomistic’- i.e., it views the Torah, both Scripture and tradition, as supervising the lives of God’s own, so that all questions of conduct are ultimately measured against the touchstone of Torah and all of life is directed by Torah

… Judaism speaks of itself as being Torah-centered and Christianity declares itself to be Christ-centered, for in Christ the Christian finds not only God’s law as the revelatory standard preeminently expressed but also the law as a system of conduct set aside in favor of guidance by reference to Christ’s teachings and example and through the direct action of the Spirit. (Note: Longenecker, pages 176, 177.)

Paul himself observed the Jewish feasts after his conversion (1 Corinthians 16:8; Acts 20:16). However he did so voluntarily, not to satisfy divine requirements. He did not observe them because God expected him to do so but because they were a part of his cultural heritage. He also did so because he did not want to cast a stumbling block in the path of Jews coming to faith in Christ (1 Corinthians 9:19-23; Romans 14:5-6). In other words, he did so to evangelize effectively, not to gain acceptance from God.

In recent years some have argued that all or at least most of the laws that these interlopers were pressing on the Galatians were the legislative pieces that established ’boundary markers’- the practices that differentiated Jews from other people, in particular circumcision, food laws, and Sabbath. Paul wants those things dropped because he wants to build a unified church composed of Jew and Gentile alike, and theboundary markers inevitably provoke division.Certainly Paul is constantly at pains to unite Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians. Nevertheless, this ‘new perspective’ on Paul is too narrow.’

The author presents a viable reason for Paul maintaining the keeping of the festivals. Paul was steeped in this tradition and it was part of his being all things to all people, aimed at the significant Jewish component of the influx of new believers. It was an unprecedented transitory period between Christ’s revelation and the foretold destruction of the Temple, when the forced conclusion of the Levitical priesthood and the sacrificial system transpired. The context of the Book of Galatians clearly states circumcision and possibly the Festivals in reflecting a return to Judaic bondage and fallibility; yet the Food Laws and Sabbath are not categorically included by Paul. Even with a persuasive argument for the relaxing of eating unclean meats, a common sense approach due to the dangers of eating too much meat would still be wisely applicable [Article: Red or Green?]. 

‘Paul cast the function of the law in more sweeping terms than boundary markers (especially chapter 3), not least its capacity to establish transgression (Galatians 3:19), and he ties the heart of his debate to the exclusive sufficiency of the cross of Christ to see a person declared ‘just’ before God.”(Note: Carson and Moo, page 466. See also pages 470-472)’”

Barne’s Notes on the Whole Bible – emphasis & bold mine:

“Ye observe – The object of this verse is to specify some of the things to which they had become enslaved.

Days – The days here referred to are doubtless the days of the Jewish festivals. They had numerous days of such observances, and inaddition to those specified in the Old Testament, the Jews had added many others as days commemorative of the destruction and rebuilding of the temple, and of other important events in their history. 

It is not a fair interpretation of this to suppose that the apostle refers to the Sabbath, properly so called, for this was a part of the Decalogue; and was observed by the Saviour himself, and by the apostles also. It is a fair interpretation to apply it to all those days which are not commanded to be kept holy in the Scriptures; and hence, the passage is as applicable to the observance of saints’ days, and days in honor of particular events in sacred history, as to the days observed by the Galatians. There is as real servitude in the observance of the numerous festivals, and fasts in the papal communion and in some Protestant churches, as there was in the observance of the days in the Jewish ecclesiastical calendar, and for anything that I can see, such observances are as inconsistent now with the freedom of the gospel as they were in the time of Paul. We should observe as seasons of holy time what it can be proved God has commanded us, and no more.

And months – The festivals of the new moon, kept by the Jews. Numbers 10:10; Numbers 28:11-14. On this festival, in addition to the daily sacrifice, two bullocks, a ram, and seven sheep of a year old were offered in sacrifice. The appearance of the new-moon was announced by the sound of trumpets.

And times – Stated times; festivals returning periodically, as the Passover, the Feast of Pentecost, and the Feast of Tabernacles.

And years – The sabbatical year, or the year of jubilee.

In support of Barnes’ comments regarding the Sabbath, this day or period was instituted by the Creator at the time of the Creation [Genesis 2:1-3]. It was beyond and before the Law, including the ten commandments. But, even though the Eternal observed a Sabbath rest, there is no command for man to observe the Sabbath. In fact, there is no evidence of anyone keeping the Sabbath prior to Moses and the giving of the Law at Mount Sinai – Exodus 16:27-30. 

Abel, righteous Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Issac, Jacob and Joseph express no biblical record of their observing the Sabbath or being reminded to do so. The Old Testament reveals covenants have signs; thus the Noachic covenant was sealed by a rainbow [Gensis 9:8-17], while the Abrahamic covenant was sealed with circumcision [Genesis 17:1-14]. Similarly, the Sabbath was a sign of the Creator’s agreement with ancient Israel, the Mosaic Covenant [Exodus 31:13, Nehemiah 9:14, Ezekiel 20:12]. They were commanded to rest and the penalty for breaking the Sabbath was death [Exodus 20:8-11; 31:12, 14-17; 35:2].

Therefore the Sabbath was given to Moses encased in the ten commandments; which of themselves are a summary or condensing of the Law. As the Sabbath existed prior to the Law, even if the Law has been taken away, annulled or perfectly kept by the Saviour, it would appear at this point to remain and continue as if almost, outside the Law. Yet in what context? 

For the new signs associated with the ushering in of the New Covenant included baptism [Acts 2:38] and the ceremony of bread and wine [1 Corinthians 11:23-26]. Therefore the question is raised regarding the sign of the Sabbath applicable for Old Testament Israel, whether it was transferable and finds the same application for the New Covenant Christian?

In connection with the Mosaic covenant, Justin Taylor states in an article entitled, Is the Sabbath Still Required for Christians, 2010 – emphasis & bold mine: 

“We would expect the Sabbath to no longer be in force since it was the covenant sign of the Mosaic covenant… it is clear that believers are no longer under the Sinai covenant. Therefore, they are no longer bound by the sign of the covenant either. The Sabbath, as a covenant sign, celebrated Israel’s deliverance from Egypt, but the Exodus points forward, according to New Testament writers, to redemption in Christ. Believers in Christ were not freed from Egypt, and hence the covenant sign of Israel does not apply to them.”

Calvin’s Commentary on the Bible – emphasis & bold mine:

“10. Ye observe days. 

He adduces as an instance one description of “elements,” the observance of days. No condemnation is here given to the observance of dates in the arrangements of civil society. The order of nature out of which this arises, is fixed and constant. How are months and years computed, but by the revolution of the sun and moon? What distinguishes summer from winter, or spring from harvest, but the appointment of God, – an appointment which was promised to continue to the end of the world? (Genesis 8:22.) The civil observation of days contributes not only to agriculture and to matters of politics, and ordinary life, but is even extended to the government of the church. Of what nature, then, was the observation which Paul reproves? It was that which would bind the conscience, by religious considerations, as if it were necessary to the worship of God, and which, as he expresses it in the Epistle to the Romans, would make a distinction between one day and another. (Romans 14:5.)

When certain days are represented as holy in themselves, when one day is distinguished from another on religious grounds, when holy days are reckoned a part of divine worship, then days are improperly observed. The Jewish Sabbath, new moons, and other festivals, were earnestly pressed by the false apostles, because they had been appointed by the law.When we, in the present age, intake a distinction of days, we do not represent them as necessary, and thus lay a snare for the conscience; we do not reckon one day to be more holy than another; we do not make days to be the same thing with religion and the worship of God; but merely attend to the preservation of order and harmony. The observance of days among us is a free service, and void of all superstition.”

It would seem that Galatians 4:10 as a proof text of and by itself is open to question, with regard to an annulment or choice of observing the festivals. In fact thus far, Romans 14:5 is a stronger text for that purpose. Turning now to the Apostle Paul’s letters to the churches at Ephesus and Colossae, each located in western Asia Minor. 

Both these churches are of interest and import, for Ephesus was a founding headquarters church, where the Apostle John purportedly spent most of his life [John 19:26-27], where Paul lived for two to three years [Acts 19:8, 10; 20:31] and which embraced the first era of believers in the Way [Revelation 2:1-7]. 

The Colossians are interesting in that they are linked via a missing, yet similar letter to their neighbouring brethren in Laodicea [Colossians 2:1; 4:13, 15-16]. Now, the Church of Laodicea was chosen to represent the seventh and final age of the church prior to the return of the Son of Man [Revelation 3:14-22]. These two letters with the Letter to the Philippians and to Philemon are known as Paul’s prison epistles, for they were penned during the two years of Paul’s house arrest in Rome, during 56 to 58 CE [Acts 28:30-31].

Ephesians 2:1-22

English Standard Version

And you were dead [spiritually] in the trespasses [error, offence] and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience – 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ by grace you have been saved – 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus [Philippians 3:20], 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith.And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9not a result of works, so that no one may boast.10For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. 

11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands – 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15by abolishing [G2673 – katargeo] the law [G2551 – nomos]of commandments [G1785 – entole] expressed [G1722 – en: ‘by, with, among, through, in’] in ordinances [G1378 – dogma],that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.

Verse 15 in the Message translation: 

He tore down the wall we used to keep each other at a distance. He repealed the law code that had become so clogged with fine print and footnotes that it hindered more than it helped. Then he started over. Instead of continuing with two groups of people separated by centuries of animosity and suspicion, he created a new kind of human being, a fresh start for everybody.

Verse 15 in the Living Bible: 

By his death he ended the angry resentment between us, caused by the Jewish laws that favored the Jews and excluded the Gentiles, for he died to annul that whole system of Jewish laws. Then he took the two groups that had been opposed to each other and made them parts of himself; thus he fused us together to become one new person, and at last there was peace.

The Greek word for abolish is translated by the King James Version: destroy [5], do away [3], loose [1], cease [1]. It means: ‘to render idle, inactivate, inoperative, to deprive of force, influence, power, to put an end to, annul, to be severed from, make void.’ Something to do with the law is very clearly ending, but what exactly? 

The Greek word for commandments or precepts means: ‘an order, charge, injunction’ and an ‘authoritative prescription.’ It has the connotation of ‘a prescribed rule in accordance with a thing to be done, a precept relating to lineage’ or ‘of the Mosaic precept concerning the priesthood.’ Also, ‘ethically used of the commandments in the Mosaic law or Jewish tradition.’ 

The Greek word for ordinances means: ‘decree, doctrine’ and specifically, ‘the rules and requirements of the law of Moses (carrying a suggestion of severity and of threatened judgement).’ 

The Apostle Paul in speaking to the Gentile converts at Ephesus is reminding them that they have been ‘brought near to the commonwealth of Israel’ through the ‘blood of Christ.’ The dividing wall of separation between them and the Jews was the Mosaic law  of ‘commandments’ pertaining to the sacrificial system; with all its ‘ordinances’ as administered by the Levitical priesthood. It is this ‘hostility’ which has been ‘done away, made void’ and ‘abolished’ through the blood of the Lamb. 

This has been a truly liberating act of kindness by the Creator. Paul describes the Law – as encapsulated by the ten commandments – as a guide. The Law of itself did not hold a believer in bondage, but rather the death penalty for breaking the Law did. The penalty of death was removed and the believer is liberated further in not being under the law. The believer as a new spiritual creation, lives according to the Law, though through faith in Christ’s atoning sacrifice, understands they are washed clean and therefore without blemish before the Eternal. The law in effect, is of no consequence for Christ has perfected it for the true believer. Therefore, the gift of Eternal life is just that, a gift given through the Creators’s favour or grace towards us. 

There is another aspect to the subject of salvation and that is the acts of obedience, works and reward. We will study these when we arrive at the inspired words of the apostles James and John. Before looking at the crucial Book of Colossians, Paul also addresses the issue of the Law and legalism in the Letter to the church at Philippi, where he does not mince his words.

Philippians 3:2-14, 18-21

English Standard Version

2 Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. 3 For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh – 4 though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. 7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith – 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect,but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 … forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ [Ephesians 2:6], 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

Paul continues in this letter to address the very real problem of Judaizers – a faction of the early Jewish Christians [both of Jewish and non-Jewish origins], ‘who regarded the Levitical laws of the Old Testament as still binding on all Christians’ – trying to enforce Jewish circumcision upon the early Gentile converts to the Way. Paul offers his own credentials as a zealous Jew, yet acknowledging that it counted for nought after the perfection of Christ. Any righteousness from the Law, invalid compared to the righteousness of the perfect Christ. But Paul also speaks of his own falling short of the mark and the continual race or battle in seeking mastery and perfection over the self and growing in true righteous character. 

Colossians 2:4, 6-8, 11-21

English Standard Version

4 I say this in order that no one may delude [G3884 – paralogizomai: ‘beguile, deceive, misreckon’] you with plausible arguments. 6 Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, 7 rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught… [Jude 3-4, 8] 8 See to it that no one takes you captive [G4812 – sulagogeo: ’spoil, lead away as booty’ or ‘from the truth’] by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.

The context of the chapter is introduced, where Paul has seemingly returned to the book of Galatians chapter four and is exhorting the Colossians to not fall back into deceptive pagan, esoteric and occult teachings. Today, they may include New Age and spiritualist ideas which have as their same source, elemental or demonic spirits. 

We surmised that the Apostle Paul was speaking more towards the Old Covenant festivals and Holy days as opposed to pagan days – for example, the solstices, Easter, May Day, Halloween, Christmas – or astrology. Yet the message to the Philippians is similar to the Galatians letter and clearly speaking of false pagan holidays and observances. 

11 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 And you [Gentiles], who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 

Here we arrive at a pivotal verse, which is used as a proof text for the abrogation of the Law. So now looking at it closely.

14 by canceling [G1813 – exaleipho: ‘blot out, wipe away, erase, to obliterate’] the record [G5498 – cheirographon: ‘hand writing, manuscript (legal document or bond)’] of debt [G1378 – dogma: ‘ordinance’] that stood against [G5227 – hupenantios: ‘opposite to, opposed to, contrary to, an adversary’] us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing [G4338 – proseloo: ‘to fasten with nails, to peg to, spike’] it to the cross. 

Living Bible 

… and blotted out the charges proved against you, the list of his commandments which you had not obeyed. He took this list of sins and destroyed it by nailing it to Christ’s cross.

New Century Version

… He canceled the debt, which listed all the rules we failed to follow. He took away that record with its rules and nailed it to the cross.

New International Reader’s Version

… He wiped out what the law said that we owed. The law stood against us. It judged us.But he has taken it away and nailed it to the cross.

The Apostle Paul in verse fourteen of Colossians chapter two is clearly stating that a believer’s sins, the commandments of the Law he or she has broken, incurs a debt [of death]; it is this list of transgressions and its required debt, which has been defeated by Christ on the tree of the cross, when he died after perfectly observing the Law [Appendix VIII When the Creator came to dwell with His Creation]. The Law was not ‘against us’, the Law was not ‘cancelled’, the Law was not the ‘record’, but the list of each and everyone’s sins was. The Law was not ‘nailed to the cross.’ 

15 [Christ] disarmed [despoiled] the rulers [G746 – arche: ‘beginning, first, leader, principality, magistracy’ of angels and demons] and authorities [G1849 – exousia: ‘power, strength, potentate, magistrate’] and put them to open shame, by triumphing [conquering] over them in him.

New Century Version

God stripped the spiritual rulers and powers of their authority.With the cross, he won the victory and showed the world that they were powerless.

Living Bible

In this way God took away Satan’s power to accuse you of sin, and God openly displayed to the whole world Christ’s triumph at the cross where your sins were all taken away.

In so doing, Christ defeated Satan and his minions the angels of death, who rule humankind and have established their Way of good and evil on the Earth [Genesis 3:4-5, Ephesians 6:12].

16 Therefore let no one pass judgment [G2919 – krino: ‘call in question, condemn, to dispute, pronounce an opinion concerning right or wrong’] on you in questions of food [G1035 – brosis: ‘meat, act of eating’], and drink [G4213 – posis: ‘(the act of) drinking’], or with regard to a festival [G1859 – heorte: ‘holy day’] or a new moon [G3561 – noumenia: ‘the festival of the new moon’] or a Sabbath [G4521 – sabbaton: ‘the seventh day’]. 

17 These are a shadow [G4639 – skia: ‘an image cast by an object and representing the form of that object, outline, adumbration’ (a foreshadowing of a precursor to something, a faint image of something)] of the things to come, but the substance [G4983 – soma: ‘body, mystical body, that which casts a shadow as distinguished from the shadow itself’] belongs to Christ. 

Paul speaks about eating and drinking and though meat could be included it is not specifically mentioned in the Greek; nor is alcohol or wine. The context does fit with eating and drinking during festivals, Holy Days, New Moons and the Sabbath. Paul does not appear to be condemning the actual keeping of such days, but rather those outsiders who are criticising the manner by which true believers were conducting themselves on these days. 

‘Let no one pass judgement, call into question, condemn’ or influence your understanding of what is appropriate eating and drinking on each of these days. A case for not keeping them at all, does not seem to be the thrust of Paul’s words. We have established already, that an optional stance is likely on the festivals and Holy Days and probably extending to the New Moon of and by itself. Though the New Moon was important from the perspective of calculating the seventh day Sabbath [refer The Calendar Conspiracy].

New Life Version

Do not let anyone tell you what you should or should not eat or drink. They have no right to say if it is right or wrong to eat certain foods or if you are to go to religious suppers. They have no right to say what you are to do at the time of the new moon or on the Day of Rest. These things are a picture of what is coming. The important thing is Christ Himself.

The Voice

So don’t let anyone stand in judgment over you and dictate what you should eat or drink, what festivals you should celebrate, or how you should observe a new moon or Sabbath days – all these are only a shadow of what shall come. The reality, the core, the import, is found in the Anointed One.

New International Reader’s Version

So don’t let anyone judge you because of what you eat or drink. Don’t let anyone judge you about holy days. I’m talking about special feasts and New Moons and Sabbath days. They are only a shadow of the things to come. But what is real is found in Christ.

Living Bible

So don’t let anyone criticize you for what you eat or drink, or for not celebrating Jewish holidays and feasts or new moon ceremonies or Sabbaths. For these were only temporary rules that ended when Christ came. They were only shadows of the real thing of Christ himself.

These other translations only appear to support this premise. The Living Bible has more loosely paraphrased Paul’s sentiments to say that all of them have ended. Whereas scripture so far in our study, does not corroborate the ending of the Sabbath. With regard to these observances foreshadowing the real fulfilment of them through Christ, again they may be pointers to Christ and they may be inferior to the Messiah; yet Paul does not categorically stipulate their removal, irrelevance or annulment. To understand this, Paul continues to the Colossians. 

18 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism [‘rigorous self-denial, extreme abstinence, self-mortification’ to ‘attain a high spiritual and moral state’] and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.

20 If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations [G1379 – dogmatizo: ‘to decree, command, enjoin, lay down an ordinance’ (an authoritative rule, ordained by a deity or destiny, an established rite or ceremony)]  – 

21 “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” 22 (referring to things that all perish as they are used) – according to human precepts [commandments] and teachings [doctines]? 23 These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.

Paul concludes the chapter by returning to the esoteric and spiritualist beliefs which were obviously affecting the church brethren at Colossae. It is these that he is combating and not the Old Covenant festivals or the seventh day Sabbath. 

Paul is condemning humanistic and demonic teachings and only including the festivals in light of their not being affected by these infiltrating precepts from the proponents of paganism and gnosticism. 

A commentator online says – emphasis & bold mine:

“Why would Paul be telling the Gentile Colossians not to follow practices of asceticism on these festive days? Because they were following the commandments and doctrines of men, not God. By no stretch of the imagination could one find anything in the Bible labeling the annual Holy Days as doctrines of men. They are God’s feasts. Quite obviously, the Colossians were being led away from the proper observance of the Holy Days… [and not] following the examples set by Christ and Paul. Paul here cautioned the Church not to be dissuaded by the condemnation of others regarding these festivals, which are a shadow of things to come. Some people like to say they were a shadow of Christ, and once Christ came, the shadow disappeared. That’s not what the scripture says. They are a shadow of things yet to come in God’s plan. This was stated many years after Christ was crucified.”

The two letters to the Thessalonians are considered early works of Paul. They were likely written between the Book of Galatians in 49 CE and the Book of Romans in 56 CE. Most scholars place them circa 52 to 53 CE and some earlier during 50 to 51 CE. The brethren assumed Christ’s return was imminent and a sustained work was not required; though Paul countered with the understanding that a prominent antichrist figure would appear first, before the end of the age [Revelation 13:11-18]. What is significant about this person is that they are associated with sin, lawlessness and are in opposition to the Law [refer Chapter XXI The Incredible Identity, Origin & Destiny of Nimrod]. The Thessalonians were known for their faith and had turned from worshiping ‘idols to serve the living and true God’ [1 Thessalonians 1:8-9].

2 Thessalonians 2:1-13, 15

English Standard Version

Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, 2 not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 

3 Let no one deceive [beguile] you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion [G646 – apostasia: ‘falling away, to forsake, defection from truth’] comes first, and the man [G444 – anthropos: ‘man-faced, human-being’ or ‘of the angels’] of lawlessness [G266 – hamartia: ‘sin’] is revealed [make manifest], the son of destruction [G684 – apoleia: ‘perdition, damnable, perish, die, eternal misery in hell’], 4 who opposes [G480 – antikeimai: ‘adversary, be contrary, be adverse to, withstand, to be set over against’] and exalts [G5229 – huperairomai: ‘be exalted above measure, be haughty, to lift one’s self up, to behave insolently towards one’] himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat [G2523 – kathizo: ‘to set, appoint, to confer a kingdom on one, to have fixed one’e abode’] in the temple [G3485 – naos: ‘used of the temple at Jerusalem… the sacred edifice (or sanctuary)… the Holy place and the Holy of Holies, the spiritual temple consisting of the saints of all ages joined together by and in Christ’] of God, proclaiming himself to be God. 

Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? 6 And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time. 7 For the mystery [G3466 – musterion: ‘hidden purpose, secret will, confided only to the initiated and not to ordinary mortals’] of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming. 

The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders [lying],10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 

11 Therefore God sends them a strong [supernatural] delusion [G4106 – plane: ‘deceit, one led astray from the right way, a mental straying’], so that they may believe what is false [G5579 – pseudos: ‘a lie, perverse, impious, whatever is not what it seems to be’], 12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness [iniquity]. 

13 But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth… 15 So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter [Jude 3-4].

Paul states that the son of perdition must rise up before the return of the Son of Man, who will defeat ‘him’ at his second coming. This is no small event, but a profound worldwide experience which will deceive nearly everyone. Paul is reiterating what the Messiah had already warned in a companion passage in the Gospel of Matthew. 

Matthew 24:11-16, 20-27

English Standard Version

11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray [1 John 2:18]. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

15 “So when you see the abomination [G946 – bdelugma: ‘a foul thing, a detestable thing, of idols and things pertaining to idolatry’] of desolation [G2050 – eremosis: ‘making desolate’] spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), [Daniel 11:30-34] 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains… 20 Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath

21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. 22 And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. 

23 Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you beforehand. 26 So, if they say to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. 27 For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.

Both Paul and Christ gravely warn about the Son of Perdition; the False Prophet of whom the Apostle John spoke [Revelation 20:10]. This personage is in direct opposition to the Eternal One and His Law, yet masquerades as 1. the Saviour of the Saints; 2. the Head of the Body of Christ; and 3. of the true Church of God. If the elect could be deceived and fall, how much more so the rest of the world? The central thrust of this arch-deceiver, is one of antinomianism and their denial of the real Messiah; the  precise definitions of an antichrist [Matthew 5:17, 1 John 4;3, 2 John 7]. The Man of Lawlessness and Iniquity stands against the Law of the Creator and seeks to obtain the allegiance of humankind in serving him and the Beast, in direct opposition to the Ancient of Days and His eternal Law of Righteousness. 

It is worth noting that Jesus, when prophesying the yet future abomination of desolation urges a prayer requesting to be spared from the burden of fleeing on the Sabbath day. This would be a curious saying indeed, if the seventh day rest were to be done away completely or annulled fully upon Christ’s death. 

The final letters written by Paul are the poignant letters to his faithful evangelists, Timothy and Titus. These are widely held to have been written when Paul returned to Rome after his six year absence during 58 to 64 CE between his two imprisonments. This would place the writing of 1 Timothy, Titus and lastly, 2 Timothy in the final two years of his life between 64 and 66 CE. The Apostle Paul discusses the Law to Timothy, which has remained a pressing topic.

1 Timothy 1:3, 6-9

English Standard Version

3 As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine… 6 Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, 7 desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions. 8 Now we know that the law is good,if one uses it lawfully, 9 understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane…

As Paul has already touched upon in other letters, the Law is a faint shadow in the background for a saint who is striving to live by its precepts. It is tantamount to a believer being either above the Law, or as if the Law didn’t exist. If one does not break the Law, it is invisible. Only if one trespasses against the Law, does it come into sharp focus like a neon flashing light with a very loud siren. The Law is for the sinner; not the righteous. 

Paul writes to Titus, saying believers are to live upright lives. The Eternal’s grace does not cover wilful licentiousness after conversion. His favour is extended to a faithful and obedient servant as evidenced by their good works. Though we are spared or saved by God’s grace, it does not mean it cannot be revoked.

Titus 2:11-14

English Standard Version

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

We now arrive at the enigmatic Book of Hebrews. It is credited as the fourteenth book of Paul by some, though for others, his authorship of this book is open to question. The Apostle Paul’s customary salutation which is common to his other works is missing and coupled with this is the fact that the writer of the epistle, relied upon testimony from others who were actual eye-witnesses of Christ’s ministry [Hebrews 2:3]. Potential authors in order of likelihood include: Apollos, Barnabas, Luke the physician who wrote the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts, Silas, Philip the Deacon, or Aquila and Priscilla. 

As Timothy was still alive at time of writing [Hebrews 13:23], though Paul was not, and coupled with the absence of any evidence of the end of the Old Covenant sacrificial system at the time of Jerusalem’s destruction in 70 CE, indicates a date prior to this for when the Epistle to the Hebrews was penned, in perhaps 65 CE. 

A unique angle of the book is the fact that the writer to the Hebrews constantly adheres to the theme of the inadequacies of the Old Testament sacrifices, compared to the completion in Christ, the perfect High Priest. A role for the Messiah, which Paul interestingly never alludes to in his other letters, where he the author. Whereby the Old Covenant required continual sacrifices, with a dramatic once-a-year Atonement for sin, offered by human priests; the New Covenant agreement provides a once and for all sacrifice through Christ [Hebrews 10:10]. The Book of Hebrews is the only New Testament writing to expound on the Saviour as the Great High Priest and ultimate sacrifice. 

Further evidence that the book was not authored by Paul is that the style of Hebrews, except in the closing verses [Hebrews 13:18-15] is decidedly unlike any other writing  which has survived from the Apostle Paul. It does not convey the abruptness, digressions or personal experiences as typical of the Apostle Paul. The Greek of the Book of Hebrews is literary and very ornate; in keeping with the style of a person well educated in formal rhetoric. Added to this, the vocabulary is sophisticated; including one hundred and fifty words that are not found elsewhere in the New Testament and another ten words which do not occur in any other Greek writings that have survived for study and scholarship. 

A strong argument for its authorship is the friend of Paul, Barnabas who accompanied Paul on his first missionary journey [Appendix VIII When the Creator came to dwell with the Creation]. Church historian Tertullian [150-220 CE] records that Barnabas authored the Letter to the Hebrews. 

The association of Barnabas with Hebrews may stem from the fact he was described as a ‘son of encouragement [Acts 4:36], and Hebrews 13:22 describes the letter as a word of encouragement or exhortation. Additionally, Barnabas is referred to as an ‘apostle’ [Acts 14:14] and as a Levite, he would have had the interest in and knowledge regarding the priesthood and temple ritual, which dominates the whole thread of the Book. 

The strongest argument for Hebrews authorship is Apollos. 

1 Corinthians 3:4-6

English Standard Version

4 For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another,“I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human? 5 What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth [1 Corinthians 1:12].

The truth of the Way reached Alexandria at a very early date. A turning point arose in Jerusalem following the stoning of Stephen when great persecution broke out and believers began to scatter [Acts 7:54-60; 8:1-3]. 

Zondervan Academic – emphasis & bold mine:

“When Acts 6:1 mentions both Hellenistic and Hebraic Jews, the phrase pros tous hebraious is used in that context, the exact phrase by which Hebrews is later known. One twentieth-century scholar named William Manson suggested that Christians who were of the same mind as Stephen brought the Christian message to Alexandria, noting several elements common to Stephen’s speech in Acts 7 that are also shared by the book of Hebrews – its high rhetorical style, its use of the Septuagint, and its possible conceptual constructs. These connections make it very likely that the author was originally from the Alexandrian church, regardless of where he was when he penned the letter, and regardless of to whom it was originally sent.”

Acts 18:24-28

English Standard Version 

24 Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, competent in the Scriptures. 25 He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. 27 And when he wished to cross to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him. When he arrived, he greatly helped those who through grace had believed, 28 for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus.

Apollos is a very likely and probable candidate as the author of Hebrews. He was from Alexandria, was a highly educated Jew who would not only have been conversant with the sacrificial system but also schooled in the literary style as exemplified in the epistle. Apollos would have had thorough knowledge of the Old Testament Scriptures in their Greek LXX version, which the book of Hebrews exclusively uses. He was not only a close associate of Paul’s [1 Corinthians 16:12], he also became a leading servant of Christ as renowned as the Apostles Paul and Peter [1 Corinthians 1:12; 3:22; 4:6]. The Corinthian brethren viewed Apollos as an Apostle [1 Corinthians 1:10-4:21]. Paul did not contradict their perception and therefore must have shared the same view, seeing Apollos as a fellow apostle  [1 Corinthians 4:8-9]. 

Hebrews 2:14-15, 17-18

Common English Bible

14 Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, [Christ]also shared the same things in the same way. He did this to destroy the one who holds the power over death – the devil – by dying. 15 He set free those who were held in slavery their entire lives by their fear of [the] death [penalty]… 17 Therefore, he had to be made like his brothers and sisters in every way. This was so that he could become a merciful and faithful high priest in things relating to God, in order to wipe away the sins of the people. 18 He’s able to help those who are being tempted, since he himself experienced suffering when he was tempted.

Hebrews 4:1-16

English Standard Version

Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest [G2663 – katapausis] still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. 2 For good news [the Gospel] came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened. 3 For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said, “As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest [Hebrews 3:11, 18-19],’” although his works were finished from the foundation of the world. 

Living Bible

For only we who believe God can enter into his place of rest. He has said, “I have sworn in my anger that those who don’t believe me will never get in,” even though he has been ready and waiting for them since the world began.

The Voice 

We who believe are entering into salvation’s rest, as He said, That is why I swore in anger they would never enter salvation’s rest, even though God’s works were finished from the very creation of the world.

4 For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested [G2664 – katapauo] on the seventh day from all his works.” 5 And again in this passage he said, “They shall not enter my rest.”

The Greek word for rest means: ‘a putting to rest, a resting place, a calming of the winds.’ It is also a metaphor for ‘the heavenly blessedness in which God dwells, and of which he has promised to make persevering believers in Christ partakers after the toils and trials of life on earth are ended.’ Katapausis derives from G2664 – katapauo, meaning: ‘restrain, cease, to make quiet, to grant rest, to lead to a quiet abode.’ 

This word in turn derives from G2596 – kata, meaning: ‘down from, throughout, according to’ and G3973 – pauo, meaning: ‘refrain, desist, ‘release from sin – no longer stirred by its incitements and seductions.’ 

The author of Hebrews, let’s call him Apollos, is explaining that those who ‘believe enter  a rest. Is it the next life after the resurrection, or now after conversion? If the former, it is a life in stark contrast to this one, endured on an implacable Earth. Though if now, it is a life that has ceased from willingly or habitually transgressing the Law and entering into an existence of rest from sin due to God’s grace.   

6 Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, 7 again he appoints a certain day,Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted, “Today[Hebrews 3:7, 13, 15], if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts [Matthew 22:14].”

Notice it says Today. A true believer enters rest with the Creator today and for them, according to a number of scholars, every day is one of Sabbath rest. Ceasing from our own works or labor and finding rest in the salvation of the Lord as Apollos describes later in verse ten. Christ affirmed that we would find rest in him.

Matthew 11:28-30

English Standard Version

28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. 9 So then, there remains a Sabbath rest [G4520 – sabbatismos: ‘blessed rest from toils and troubles… in the age to come’ derived from G4521 – sabbaton: ‘seventh day sabbath’] for the people of God, 10 for whoever has entered God’s rest [Katapausis] has also rested [katapauo] from his works [physically: business and employment; spiritually: sin and transgression of the Law] as God did from his.

Apollos says the entering of the promised land after the Israelites forty year sojourn in the wilderness was not a fulfilment of the rest. The rest is yet to be fulfilled in its entirety for all [Revelation 20:4-6; 21:1-4; 22:1-5]. 

1 Corinthians 15:50-56

English Standard Version

I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 

51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” 55 “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” 

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law

Thus the rest to which Apollos refers is not the rest that the believer enters into at death. The promised land was not meant to represent the afterlife. The sons of Jacob, led by Joshua and Caleb entered a land replete with enemies and challenges. They entered with faith in the Eternal who would work on their behalf [Exodus 14:14, Numbers 14:9]. As the Sabbath is equated to a rest, it would be odd for Apollos to make this comparison if the Sabbath were no longer required? There is the consideration that while the Sabbath pictures the rest a believer enters now and so as spiritual citizen’s of Heaven and of the embryonic Kingdom of God, a believer is in a type of millennial rest; thus either making the physical Sabbath day of less consequence or obsolete.

It is worth noting that the New Testament never commands believers to observe the Sabbath even though other commandments are stated such as in Matthew chapter nineteen and Romans chapter thirteen. Nor was it constrained on the Gentile converts at the Jerusalem conference. The Apostle Paul warned against a great number of transgressions in his epistles, though never once speaks of breaking the Sabbath. ‘In the gospels the word Sabbath occurs 50 times. In the book of Acts it occurs 9 times. In the epistles (Romans through to [Jude]) this word occurs only once (Colossians 2:16).’ Interestingly, throughout the book of Acts the Sabbath is set forth not as a day of worship or rest but in contrast, it was exploited as a day of evangelism [Acts 13:14-16; 13:42; 16:13; 17:2; 18:4]. An insight into an early meeting of followers in the Way is found in the Book of Acts.

Acts 20:5-7, 11

English Standard Version 

5 These went on ahead and were waiting for us at Troas, 6 but we sailed away from Philippi after the days of Unleavened Bread* [G106 – azumos: ‘unfermented, free from leaven or yeast’], and in five days we came to them at Troas, where we stayed for seven days. 

7 On the first [G1520 – heis: ‘one’] day of the week [G4521 – sabbaton: ‘Sabbath day, week’], when we were gathered together to break [G2806 – klao: ‘breaking of bread or communion {Lord’s Supper}] bread’*[G740 – artos: ‘bread (as raised) or a loaf, (shew-) bread’], Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next** day [the new day that begins at sunrise], and he prolonged his speech until midnight. 

11 And when Paul had gone up and had broken bread and eaten, he conversed with them a long while, until daybreak** [G827 – auge: ‘dawn, radiance, brightness, daylight’], and so departed [the day after the first day].

We learn a number of salient points from this passage. Firstly and unknown to the great majority of Christians and Jews who observe communion or Passover, is that the Bread of Affliction, or unleavened bread is not the same bread used in the Lord’s supper as instituted by the Messiah the night prior to the Passover and discussed by Paul [Deuteronomy 16:3, Mark 14:20, 22-24]. 

This bread like the Bread of the Presence with which David ate and the Shewbread within the Tabernacle was leavened [Exodus 25:30, Leviticus 24:5-9, 1 Samuel 21:4]. For though leaven symbolised sin prior to the Saviour’ sojourn; after his sacrifice, leaven symbolises the risen Christ and is likened to the Kingdom of God [Matthew 13:33, John 6:23, 32-34, 40]. 

The phrase ‘first day of the week’ means the day after the seventh day. Though the Greek word sabbaton means the Sabbath, it also delineates a cyclical seven day weekly period of time. The word for first or one shows it was not the Sabbath. 

The fact that it was nearly two weeks after the Days of Unleavened Bread shows that it was not the beginning of the seven-week count for Pentecost either. This 50 day count began the day after the first day of Unleavened Bread as per the Pharisee method of counting. Those that support the Sadducee count from the weekly Sabbath within the Feast of Unleavened Bread instead, do so because Pentecost then falls on a different date of the calendar each year, even though it is always a Sunday instead of falling on the 6th of Sivan, the 3rd month. What those who advocate this method do not realise is that the Pharisee method of reckoning Pentecost or the Feast of Weeks, only falls on the same date each year because it is based on the Gregorian Solar calendar. If the original Lunar calendar was utilised, then Pentecost after a seven week, 49 day count would fall on a different date due to the irregularity of the Lunar cycle being either 29 or 30 days long. 

It does not really bear any significance necessarily that the group took Bread and Wine on the first day of the week, it is just worth noting that they did not feel compelled to commemorate the ceremony on the Sabbath. Also, as discussed in the article, The Calendar Conspiracy, Luke confirms a new day begins at sunrise or daybreak and not at sunset or sun down. 

There was no transition from the Sabbath to a “Lord’s Day’. Sunday is not the Sabbath. Christians may choose to meet on a Sunday in remembrance or honour of the risen Christ from the dead, but there is no mandate anywhere in scripture. This came much later as instigated by the Universal Church [refer article Arius, Alexander & Athanasius and The Calendar Controversy].

Yet, the Sabbath is not just a shadow of another rest, it is also to be ‘remembered’, a memorial of the creation and when the Creator ceased from His creating. Could one give that injunction greater justice, if ceasing from work and resting on the seventh day, computed as per the Lunar calendar and not the Gregorian Solar calendar. Yes, but perhaps even more so as a believer who has entered the sabbath rest every day. 

Each day a servant of the Eternal is mindful of His grace and of ceasing from ones own sinful works, participating in righteous works through faith instead [Philippians 2:13, Hebrews 13:21]. This new life is not our own but lived by and through the power of Jesus Christ. When discussing chapter two of the Book of Galatians we did not include Paul’s summation. 

Galatians 2:19-21

The Message

What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me

The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that. 

Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to repudiate God’s grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily.

The Middleton Bible Church in an article entitled The Sabbath and the Lord’s Day contrast the Old and New Covenantal requirements of the Sabbath:

The Sabbath Under LawThe Sabbath Under Grace
The believer was to rest on the seventh day (Exodus 20:8-10)The believer is to rest seven days – “today” and every day! (Hebrews 4:1-11).
God’s work of creation took 6 days (Exodus 20:11).God’s work of the new creation (redemption) took approximately 6 hours — the time that Christ spent on the cross (see Mark 15:25,33- 37).
After His finished work of creation God rested (Genesis 2:1-3).After His finished work of redemption Christ rested and “SAT DOWN” (John 19:30; Hebrews 1:3).  Note: Contrast the priests in the tabernacle who could never sit down because their work was never finished (Heb. 10:11-12).
The Old Testament believer was to stop working on [the Sabbath] (Exodus 20:10).The New Testament believer is to stop working and to cease from his own works every day of the week (Heb. 4:1-11). It is a Faith-Rest Life based on the finished work of Christ, in the power of God the Holy Spirit

Justin Taylor comments – emphasis & bold mine: 

‘I do not believe the Sabbath is required for believers now that the new covenant has arrived in the person of Jesus Christ. Strictly speaking, Jesus does not clearly abolish the Sabbath, nor does he violate its stipulations. Jesus’ observance of the Sabbath does not constitute strong evidence for its continuation in the new covenant [why not?]. Believers are called upon to honor and respect those who think the Sabbath is still mandatory for believers. 

But if one argues that the Sabbath is required for salvation, such a teaching is contrary to the gospel and should be resisted forcefully. It is wise naturally for believers to rest, and hence one principle that could be derived from the Sabbath is that believers should regularly rest. The Sabbath pointed toward eschatological rest in Christ, which believers enjoy in part now and will enjoy fully on the Last Day.’

Returning to Hebrews chapter four.

11 Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience… 14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

A believer strives to enter the rest by being obedient: keeping the commandments and performing good works. Though this will not save us; disobedience will certainly un-save us. We can only claim the Eternal’s grace through Christ’s sacrifice, if we remain obedient. In so doing we then grow in both grace and knowledge according to the Apostle Peter [2 Peter 3:18]. 

In Hebrews chapters five and six, Apollos reminds us that Christ, like Aaron did not choose the role of High Priest. The difference being that Christ from the tribe of Judah was ‘designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek’, for he could not be of the Levitical priesthood who were descended from the sons of Aaron and the tribe of Levi. 

Hebrews 6:19-20

English Standard Version

19 We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, 20 where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.

Hebrews 7:1-16, 18-28

English Standard Version

For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, 2 and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything. He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace. 

3 He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling [G871 – aphomoioo]* the Son of God he continues a priest forever.

The origin and identity of Melchizedek has been investigated and it was ascertained that he was probably not the pre-incarnate Christ [refer chapter XXVII Abraham & Keturah – Benelux & Scandinavia]. The Greek word for resembling, persuades that Christ was copied from Melchizedek, not that he was the, or an exact copy. 

It means: ‘make like, to be made like, render similar, to cause a model to pass off into an image or shape like it, to express itself in it, to copy’. Though, as the person of Melchizedek remains an enigma, it is perhaps unwise to categorically rule out the possibility of a connection.

4 See how great this man was to whom Abraham the patriarch gave a tenth of the spoils! 5 And those descendants of Levi who receive the priestly office have a commandment in the law to take tithes from the people, that is, from their brothers, though these also are descended from Abraham. 6 But this man who does not have his descent from them received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. 7 It is beyond dispute that the inferior is blessed by the superior. 8 In the one case tithes are received by mortal men, but in the other case, by one of whom it is testified that he lives. 9 One might even say that Levi himself, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, 10 for he was still in the loins of his ancestor when Melchizedek met him. 11 Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law),what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchizedek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron? 12 For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change [G3331 – metathesis: transfer] in the law as well

Apollos confirms a change in the law of the priesthood, or its removal. He is not speaking of all the Law, or its annulment. Orthodox christians claim, using verse twelve with Colossians 2:14-17, that the Sabbath law was not addressed to christians, but rather applied to Israelites living under the Old Covenant. Thus, the law was not changed or removed for them; inferring that it was for Gentiles. This is stretching Apollos’s statement, which in this context, is speaking of the priesthood and its associated functions of circumcision, tithing and it would seem the festivals and Holy days. 

13 For the one of whom these things are spoken belonged to another tribe, from which no one has ever served at the altar. 14 For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. 15 This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness [G3665 – homoiotes: ‘similitude, resemblance’]* of Melchizedek, 16 who has become a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life. 

The word similitude is an interesting one and lends to the understanding that Melchizedek and Christ are two different personages. It means: ‘a person… that is like or the match or counterpart of another’ and ‘semblance’ or ‘image.’ The word resemblance means a ‘similarity’.

18 For on the one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness 19 (for the law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God.

Notice it is commandment in the singular, not plural. Not all the commandments have changed; just the one being spoken of regarding the Priesthood, changing from Aaron to Christ. 

20 … For those who formerly became priests were made such without an oath, 21 but this one was made a priest with an oath by the one who said to him: “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, ‘You are a priest forever.’” 22 This makes Jesus the guarantor of abetter covenant.23 The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, 24 but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. 25 Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

26 For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. 27 He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself [Hebrews 9:1-14].28 For the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever.

In Hebrews chapter eight, Apollos writes of the New Covenant the Eternal will enact with the Houses of Israel and Judah [Hebrews 8:8-12], which is yet future, for we are  in an inter-covenantal period and “In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away” [Hebrews 8:13]. This is a poignant statement if written a few short years prior to the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE.

Hebrews 9:15, 18-20, 22, 24-26

English Standard Version

15 Therefore [Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant

18 … not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood. 19 For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 20 saying, 

“This is the blood of the covenant that God commanded for you.” 22 … under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

24 … Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.  25 Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, 26 for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. 

Hebrews 10:1, 4, 14, 15-18, 26-29, 

English Standard Version

For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form [the Messiah] of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near… 

4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins… 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

15 And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying, 16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,” 17 then he adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.” 18 Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.

26 … if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace

Apollos in verses twenty-six to twenty nine is very clear in the fact that sinning – which is the ‘transgression of the Law’ – will end in the lake of fire [Revelation 21:8]. Thinking that the Law is done away, that one is exempt because Christ has perfected the Law for us, that one can wilfully flout the law or from doing good works, will not cut it with the Eternal. Grace from the Creator which is lovingly extended to the faithful, can be withdrawn from the dis-obedient.

Now that we have surveyed Paul’s letters to the churches as well as the Book of Hebrews, it should be noted that scholars debate the authorship of three epistles, Ephesians, Colossians and 2 Thessalonians. The argument against 2 Thessalonians is that it contradicts the content of the first letter. The Book of Ephesians uses convoluted and elaborate sentences in contrast to Paul’s ‘short, punchy sentences’ as well as containing theological differences. The Book of Colossians is seen in a similar vein, with differences in ‘stylistic features’ and ‘usage of grammatical constructs’ yielding a ‘very different profile from the epistles widely accepted as authentic.’

In addition to the Book of Hebrews, other scholars have cause to consider both letters to Timothy and the letter to Titus as not being written by Paul at all. Yet, these pastoral epistles are clearly written by the same person, though admittedly the style, vocabulary, pet phrases and content ‘markedly differ from what is’ usually ‘accepted as authentically’ authored by Paul. 

The Book of James is the first of the books known as the general epistles, that is those not written by Paul. The author of James does not identify himself as to whether he is the brother of John or the brother of Christ. As the first James was martyred in 44 CE by King Herod, it is assumed that the Lord’s brother is the author. This James was martyred in 62 CE according to Josephus. As there is no mention of the Jerusalem Council by James and similarly his letter is not mentioned at the Council, where he played a prominent role, it appears that the epistle was written by 48 CE.

James 2:10-17, 19-22, 24

English Standard Version

10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it. 11 For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. 13 For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy.Mercy triumphs over judgment.

14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works… 24 … a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 

New Century Version 

14 My brothers and sisters, if people say they have faith, but do nothing, their faith is worth nothing. Can faith like that save them… faith by itself – that does nothing – is dead. 18 Someone might say, “You have faith, but I have deeds.” Show me your faith without doing anything, and I will show you my faith by what I do… Abraham’s faith and the things he did worked together.His faith was made perfect by what he did… people are made right with God by what they do [their works], not by faith only… 26 Just as a person’s body that does not have a spirit is dead, so faith that does nothing is dead!

The Apostle James is not contradicting Paul, but rather confirming and emphasising the fact that faith in Christ is in tandem with obedience to the Law, which is manifested  by good works. One without the other is impossible and would lead to loss of salvation. For those in any doubt about the continuity or relevance of the Law, James actually says: “faith [and grace] apart from works [and obedience to the Law] is useless”. James also affirms that keeping the Law without faith is a waste, for even if one kept the whole law and failed in only one point, they have then transgressed the whole law. James goes on to say that showing mercy far outweighs judgement which is measured by the Law.  

A Christian is still obligated to have works and obey the Law. Why? Because we are ultimately rewarded according to our obedience expressed in good works [Romans 2:6, 1 Corinthians 3:68, 2 Timothy 4:14]. The Son of Man says: “And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be” – Revelation 22:12 KJV.

Matthew 19:16-19

English Standard Version

16 And behold, a man came up to [Christ], saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” 

17 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good.If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” 

18 He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder [6th], You shall not commit adultery [7th], You shall not steal [8th], You shall not bear false witness [9th], 19 Honor your father and mother [5th], and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself [10th].”

The words of the Son of Man could not be plainer. The commandments are still in force and are to be obeyed if one desires to lay hold of eternal life. Christ quoted the last six commandments which are all focused on loving other people. The context of the question did not require the first four which express love towards the Eternal and the fourth commandment – to remember the sabbath day.

James 3:13; 4:11-12

English Standard Version

13 Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom… 11 Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. 12 There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?

The Apostle John is outspoken on the matter of keeping the commandments and leaves no doubt as to their relevance and requirement. 

1 John 2:1-8

English Standard Version

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. 3 And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. 4 Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, 5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: 6 whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

7 Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning.The old commandment is the word that you have heard. 8 At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness [Old Covenant] is passing away and the true light [the Saviour] is already shining. 

John clearly states that a believer should ‘walk in the same way in which [Christ] walked.’ That is, keep the commandments. As Christ perfected the Law, we too are perfected in keeping the Law. If we do not keep the commandments, for they are ‘done away’ then we do not know Christ and are a liar. John states the commandments are the old ones, that they are familiar with. They have not been done away with, nor replaced by new ones. Though by virtue of Christ, they are new in that they are to be kept in the spirit of the Law and not just by the letter of the Law. 

1 John 3:4-6, 22-24

English Standard Version

4Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. 22 … whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. 24 Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him…

There is no room too manoeuvre for those who say the Law is done away. The body of evidence in Paul’s teachings as well as James and John are explicit and conclusive beyond any shadow of a doubt.

Revelation 14:12

King James Version

Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the [Ten] commandments [the Law] of God, and the faith [or testimony] of Jesus

Revelation 20:4-6

New English Translation

4… I also saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of the testimony about Jesus [Gospel of salvation and the Kingdom of God] and because of the word of God [the law]. These had not worshiped the beast or his image and had refused to receive his mark on their forehead or hand. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 5 (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were finished.) This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is the one who takes part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ…

What has ended, was the death penalty hanging over every human beings head for the sins they have committed. Until Christ offered himself as a perfect sacrifice once and for all; the people of Israel and Judah had to endure an imperfect sacrificial system of atonement which was bloody, messy and incredibly inconvenient. It was a heavy burden and this was removed [Matthew 11:30, Hebrews 10:1–13]. The Law was not removed. It is still required to be met. It is there for our benefit and as a guide and not for our hurt or hindrance.

The father of the faithful, Abraham “obeyed my voice and kept my charge [moved to Canaan], my commandments [Sabbath], my statutes [circumcision, tithing], and my laws [clean and unclean meat].” [Genesis 26:5 ESV] The Law Abraham kept was well before the sacrificial system imposed on the Israelites. It surely included the precepts of the ten commandments which would then not be new at the time of Moses, but rather a reiteration and expansion upon what righteous Abel had known and obeyed from the very beginning [Matthew 23:35].

“What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.” [Romans 3:9–11 KJV] 

“The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces [clamours to make] his way into it. But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass [G3928 – parechomai: ‘perish’] away than for one dot [G2762 – keraia: ‘tittle, point, apex, extremity’ (“not even the minutest part of the law shall perish”)] of the Law to become void [G4098 – pipto: ‘fall, fail, collapse’] Luke 16:16 ESV.

The commandments can be condensed into two great laws.

Deuteronomy 6:5

English Standard Version

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might [Matthew 22:37].

Mark 12:30-31

English Standard Version

30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” [Luke 10:27]

Leviticus 19:18, 34 

English Standard Version

You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord… You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt…

Luke 6:31

English Standard Version

as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

John 13:35

English Standard Version

By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” 

Romans 13:8-10

English Standard Version

8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery [7th], You shall not murder [6th], You shall not steal [8th], You shall not covet [10th],” and any other commandment [5th, 9th], are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” [Matthew 19:18-19] 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law

Galatians 5:14

New English Translation 

For the whole law can be summed up in a single commandment, namely, “You must love your neighbour as yourself.”

James 2:8

English Standard Version

If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well.

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