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Praised are You, ADONAI our G-d, King of the universe, Who gives the Torah of truth and the Good News of Salvation to His people Isra'el and to all peoples through His son Yeshua the Messiah, our L-rd. 

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Reggie White  Messianic Believer

Understanding Galatians, Torah and Sha'ul (Paul)

What did Rabbi Sha'ul (Paul) really mean in Galatians

Many misunderstand the writings of Rabbi Sha’ul (Paul) in his letter to the Galatians. This misunderstanding has created doctrines that pit the clear teachings of Messiah Yeshua (Jesus the Christ) that Torah is still to be taught and followed (Matt 5:17-19 – “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”)

Pitting Sha’ul against Messiah is a totally untenable position due to two facts: 1. Their teachings do not contradict when understood in the contextual, cultural and historical setting, 2. If the did contradict, Messiah, who is the living Torah and the Elohim himself, would always be correct, and Sha’ul would have been a false teacher.

Let’s look at one of the passages from Galatians to help clarify. First we must understand that the scriptures Sha’ul refers to are the Tanakh (Christians tend to call it the Old Testament, Messianics prefer the First Covenant), as the B’rit Chadasha (New or renewed Covenant) had not be written at this time. We must also understand, that the only Gospel they had in Galatia, would be either a letter, or word of mouth from a believer or Emissary (Apostle), such as Paul (Sha’ul). Galatia was a region in Turkey, roughly where modern Ankara is. It was settled in 325 BCE\BC by Gauls. The predominate ethnic background was mixed Gaul & Greek. There was a Jewish presence in Galatia.

The letter
When reading Galatians, it is very important to keep the facts listed above in mind, and to remember this is a literal letter, written to a literal church, suffering from the addition of a false doctrine. The letter is written specifically to Gentiles, who contrary to Acts 15 are being taught that they must be circumcised, and rigorously keep the entire Torah (referred to as Law in the text) to be saved. The main point of discussion is circumcision, with many teaching circumcision, which is required to convert to Judaism, was required of Gentile believers. This teaching clearly violates the teachings in Acts 15, as laid down by the Jerusalem Elders (Yochanan (John), Kefa, (Peter), and Ya’akov (James)).

Below is a selected text using the Complete Jewish Bible.   I think you will agree, that Sha’ul and Messiah are in complete Harmony. 

But they didn’t force my Gentile companion Titus to undergo b’rit-milah. Indeed, the question came up only because some men who pretended to be brothers had been sneaked in — they came in surreptitiously to spy out the freedom we have in the Messiah Yeshua, so that they might enslave us. Not even for a minute did we give in to them, so that the truth of the Good News might be preserved for you.

Moreover, those who were the acknowledged leaders — what they were makes no difference to me; God does not judge by outward appearances — these leaders added nothing to me. On the contrary, they saw that I had been entrusted with the Good News for the Uncircumcised, just as Kefa had been for the Circumcised; since the One working in Kefa to make him an emissary to the Circumcised had worked in me to make me an emissary to the Gentiles. So, having perceived what grace had been given to me, Ya‛akov, Kefa and Yochanan, the acknowledged pillars of the community, extended to me and Bar-Nabba the right hand of fellowship; so that we might go to the Gentiles, and they to the Circumcised. 10 Their only request was that we should remember the poor — which very thing I have spared no pains to do.

11 Furthermore, when Kefa came to Antioch , I opposed him publicly, because he was clearly in the wrong. 12 For prior to the arrival of certain people from [the community headed by] Ya‛akov, he had been eating with the Gentile believers; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, because he was afraid of the faction who favored circumcising Gentile believers. 13 And the other Jewish believers became hypocrites along with him, so that even Bar-Nabba was led astray by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that they were not walking a straight path, keeping in line with the truth of the Good News, I said to Kefa, right in front of everyone, “If you, who are a Jew, live like a Goy and not like a Jew, why are you forcing the Goyim to live like Jews? 15 We are Jews by birth, not so-called ‘Goyishe sinners’; 16  even so, we have come to realize that a person is not declared righteous by God on the ground of his legalistic observance of Torah commands, but through the Messiah Yeshua’s trusting faithfulness. Therefore, we too have put our trust in Messiah Yeshua and become faithful to him, in order that we might be declared righteous on the ground of the Messiah’s trusting faithfulness and not on the ground of our legalistic observance of Torah commands. For on the ground of legalistic observance of Torah commands, no one will be declared righteous.a

17 But if, in seeking to be declared righteous by God through our union with the Messiah, we ourselves are indeed found to be sinners, then is the Messiah an aider and abettor of sin? Heaven forbid! 18 Indeed, if I build up again the legalistic bondage which I destroyed, I really do make myself a transgressor. 19 For it was through letting the Torah speak for itself that I died to its traditional legalistic misinterpretation, so that I might live in direct relationship with God. 20 When the Messiah was executed on the stake as a criminal, I was too; so that my proud ego no longer lives. But the Messiah lives in me, and the life I now live in my body I live by the same trusting faithfulness that the Son of God had, who loved me and gave himself up for me. 21 I do not reject God’s gracious gift; for if the way in which one attains righteousness is through legalism, then the Messiah’s death was pointless.

a Psalm 143:2

Below is the same text using the KJV (King James Version). Where the text uses Law, substitute Legalistic keeping of Torah (for Salvation). I think you will agree, that it now makes perfect sense, and Sha’ul and Messiah are in complete Harmony. Note also the use of compelled, further making the point, as it is the Legalistic forcing of adherence to Torah that is being discussed, not the walking in Torah to please G-d, and emulate His perfect son, that Messiah told us would not pass away.

But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised: 4 And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage: 5 To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you. 6 But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man’s person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me: 7 But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; 8 (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:) 9 And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision. 10 Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do.
11 But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. 12 For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. 13 And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation. 14 But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews? 15 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, 16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law (Legalistic Torah Observance), but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law (Legalistic Torah Observance),: for by the works of the law (Legalistic Torah Observance), shall no flesh be justified. 17 But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid. 18 For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. 19 For I through the law (Legalistic Torah Observance), am dead to the law (Legalistic Torah Observance), that I might live unto God. 20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. 21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law Legalistic Torah Observance), then Christ is dead in vain.

The only other way to reconcile the verses is to claim Messiah did away with the Torah, which contradicts Matt 5:17-19 (and others statements by Messiah), or to “Dispensationalize” scripture, which is dividing it up into pieces, saying only this part is for today, which violates the fact noted in the Intro that only the Tanakh existed when this was written, and violating Sha’uls teaching that “all scripture is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction”.

Sha’ul is clearly teaching Legalistic keeping of Torah does not save, and that is 100% true, only Messiah saves. He clearly is also not teaching the Torah is done away with (which would contradict Messiah).


Blessings, BeShem Yeshua!
Cameron, Messianic Minister

Understanding Scripture in the original Literal, Contextual, Historical & Cultural meaning.
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