Did Jesus Add Grace and Subtract Torah?
One of the fundamental teachings of Torah, the Instructions in the Way, Truth and Life, is the prohibition of Adding to, or Subtracting from, YHVH’s Instructions; YHVH is the Eternal Name of our Creator:
This stipulation creates a crucial issue for those who believe Grace abolished, nullified, replaced or set us free from our Creator’s Living Instructions.
One church age doctrine divides Biblical history into Dispensations, for instance there was a period of time mankind was under the “Law” but now it’s “Grace.”
This theology insinuates the “New” dispensation of Grace, given with the Spirit at Pentecost, made the Torah “Old.”
I knew the Torah was the Living Word, so I began to study some of the New Testament verses that appear to support this doctrine and I discovered two things:
First, it doesn’t match up to our Creator’s Plumb-line of Truth; the Torah.
Second, the ambiguous translations of “Law,” “Grace” and “Faith” do not match up to their ancient Hebrew meanings.
To begin with, “Law” is an inadequate translation for Torah which is described in the Bible as Perfect, Complete, Pure, Everlasting, Spiritual, Light, Wisdom, Justice, Righteousness, Truth and Way of Life: Deuteronomy 4:6; Psalm 19:7; Nehemiah 9:13; Psalm 18:30; Psalm 78:5; Psalm 119:98;Psalm 119:130; Psalm 119:160; Proverbs 6:23; Proverbs 10:17…
“Grace” is a translation from the Greek, that originally came from the Hebrew word “Favor”. It’s become known as a gift of “Unmerited Favor,” whereas the Hebrew describes “Favor” as merited.
“Faith” is defined in English as a “Belief,” but unlike English, Hebrew does not separate ones actions of “Faithfulness” from their belief.
Viewing Scripture Through the Hebrew Torah
Here in the first verse the apostle Paul writes about “the debt ascribed to us in the decrees,” which I’ve heard people confuse with Torah:
- “having blotted out the debt ascribed to us in the decrees that stood against us. He took it away, nailing it to the cross!” Colossians 2:14
What was “blotted out?” What stood against us? Lets look at the original Greek words; “Debt ascribed,” meaning Handwritten, (Cheirographon #5498) and “Decrees,” (Dogma #1378).
What Jesus blotted out was the handwritten debt of mankind’s Sin. As defined in Torah, the curse of sin and death stood against us; also referred to as Transgression and Unrighteousness:
“Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your loving devotion; according to Your great compassion, blot out my Transgressions.” Psalm 51:1
“Repent, then, and turn back, so that your Sins may be wiped away,” Acts 3:19
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all Unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
Torah tells us the Way of Righteousness Is Life and Unrighteousness as death. Jesus bore mankind’s sin/death so that we might now Live to Righteousness:
In the second verse Paul uses the same word, “Decrees,” the Greek word Dogma #1378, which is now attached to the phrase “Nomos #3551 Etole” #1785 “the Law of commandments:”
2. “by abolishing in His flesh the Law of commandments and decrees. He did this to create in Himself one new (Renewed) man out of the two, thus making peace,” Ephesians 2:15
What was abolished? “The Law of Commandments and Decrees.” If it had been translated, “the Injunction of Charges and Decrees,“ no one would have confused it with meaning Torah.
Torah Will Never Be Abolished
Jesus made sure no one would misunderstand this, He said He did Not come to abolish the Torah or the Prophets, but to fulfill them:
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law (Torah) or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them.” Matthew 5:17
*For further clarification please read these verses in context. It is also possible to trace most of these Greek words back to the original Hebrew by looking up the reference verses at Biblehub.com.
In number three Paul says no one is justified by “works of the law,” but they are “justified by Faith.”
Paul is referring to what King David said:
“And enter not into judgment with thy servant: for no man living is justified in Your sight.” Psalm 143:2
But then he goes on to say “a man is justified by faith:”
“For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.” Romans 3:28
Now it appears he is saying we are justified by our belief, apart from Torah, but then he goes on to says that is not what he’s saying:
“Do we, then, nullify the Law by this faith? Certainly not! Instead, we uphold the Law.” Romans 3:31
Is Paul double talking or is he talking about two different Laws; a Physical and a Spiritual?
Our English word “Faith” comes from the Greek word Pisteuo, but as I explained earlier, the Hebrew means more than just saying you believe, it requires action.
Paul continues to make a distinction between those who boast in their physical “works,” because they only pointed to our “Renewed” or “Spiritual” Faithfulness:
“If Abraham was indeed justified by works, he had something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham Believed God, and it was credited to him as Righteousness.” Romans 4:2, 3; 1 Corinthians 1:31; 2 Corinthians 10:17; Ephesians 2:9; Jeremiah 9:24
This is a great example of Paul referencing Genesis 15:6 so we can compare the Greek to the original Hebrew:
“Abram Believed, (Aman #539) the LORD (YHVH #3068) and it was credited to him as Righteousness.” Genesis 15:6
“Aman #539” is the Hebrew verb meaning to be firm, secure, established, supported and unwavering; like an immovable tent-peg. It was Abram’s loyal, steadfast Faithfulness to YHVH that was credited to him as Righteousness.
For more understanding of the concrete thinking of the Ancient Hebrews click this link: https://www.ancient-hebrew.org/articles_aman.html
Does Spiritual Faithfulness nullify the Spiritual Torah?
“Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Certainly not! Instead, we uphold the Law.” Romans 3:31
“Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing (it had nothing to do with Salvation). Keeping God’s commandments is what matters.” 1 Corinthians 7:19
Imagine Paul trying to describe this Spiritual mystery to those who may not have understood that Jesus Is YHVH’s Word and the Spiritual reality of our Righteousness:
“…And this is His Name by which He will be called: The LORD (YHVH #3068) Our Righteousness.” Jeremiah 23:6; 33:16
“It is because of Him that you are in Christ/Messiah Jesus/Yehoshua, having become for us Wisdom from God/YHVH: Our Righteousness, Holiness, and Redemption.” 1 Corinthians 1:30
Click Here to read more about Is Jesus YHVH?
“A man is not a Jew (Israel) because he is one outwardly, nor is circumcision only outward and physical. 29 No, a man is a Jew (Israel) because he is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code (gramma #1121). Such a man’s praise does not come from men, but from God.” Romans 2:28; Jeremiah 4:4; Jeremiah 9:24, 25
“For as many as are from works of the Law are under a curse. For it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” 11 And it is clear that no one is justified before God by the Law, because, “The Righteous will live by Faithfulness.” 12 The Law, however, is not based on (Spiritual) faith; on the contrary, for “The man who does these things will live by them.” Galatians 3:11; Romans 10:5; Galatians 3:12; Philippians 3:9 quoting:
“You rebuke the arrogant–the cursed who stray from Your commandments.” Psalm 119:21
So there’s no confusion, the Torah defines the Blessing of Life and the Curse of Sin, which is death, (separation from YHVH’s Spirit):
“There will be Blessing if you obey the commandments of the LORD (YHVH #3068) your God that I am giving you today, but a Curse if you do not obey the commandments of the LORD (YHVH) your God and turn aside from the path…” Deuteronomy 11:27, 28; 30:19
Paul knew the difference between “physical” works and “Spiritual” Faithfulness that is expressed through Love:
“…All that matters is Faithfulness, expressed through Love.” Galatians 5:6
This expression of love is what James (Ya’acob) so brilliantly writes about in James Chapter 2. If you see someone in need of clothing and food and all you do is say, “stay warm and well fed,” you’ve got dead faith.
“As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without action is dead.” James 2:26
All The Torah and Prophets Hang on Love
When Jesus was asked, what is the Greatest commandment? He began His answer by saying the Shema (Hear and Do):
When we Love YHVH wholeheartedly, and Love one another as ourselves, we fulfill all the Instructions defining Righteousness:
Number four says we are not under Law, but under Grace:
4. “For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.” Romans 6:14
Then Paul goes on to say:
16 Do you not know that when you offer yourselves as obedient slaves, you are slaves to the one you obey, whether you are slaves to sin leading to death, or to obedience leading to Righteousness?
Sin does not rule over us when we walk in the Righteousness of Torah:
“Establish my steps through Your promise; let no sin rule over me.” Psalm 119:133
Number five says we are released from the “Law” (Nomos #3551). Which law kept us in bondage, the Spiritual Torah or the Letter? Lets take a look at what Paul means by “the old way of the Letter:”
5. “But now, having died to what bound us, we have been released from the Law, so that we serve in the new (renewed) way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the Letter, (gramma #1121).” Romans 7:6
Torah’s record of our sin had us bound, entrapped, entangled and enslaved. So having died to “the Old way of the Letter” we are able to serve the “Renewed” way of the Spirit:
“The iniquities of a wicked man entrap him; the cords of his own sin entangle him.” Proverbs 5:22
“Jesus replied, “Truly, truly, I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.” John 8:34
Paul continues by clarifying any misunderstandings:
What then shall we say? Is the Law sin? Certainly not! Indeed, I would not have been mindful of sin if not for the Law. For I would not have been aware of coveting if the Law had not said, “Do not covet.” Romans 7:7
Then he make sure we don’t think he’s referring to Holy, Righteous and Good Torah:
“So then, the Law is holy, and the Commandment is Holy, Righteous, and Good.” Romans 7:12
Paul clearly understood that Jesus freed us from the Law of the curse of sin and death. He also knew that Jesus became the curse, so that in His Spirit we might become the Righteousness of YHVH:
“God made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that in Him we might become the Righteousness of God,” 2 Corinthians 5:21
Moving on to verse number six. I want to point out another obscure translation that makes it appear “Grace” is “New,” and the “Torah” is “Old.” We can even see this inferred in the naming of the “New” Testament and the “Old” Testament:
6. “And He has qualified us as ministers of a New Covenant, not of the Letter (gramma #1121) but of the Spirit; for the Letter (gramma #1121) kills, but the Spirit gives Life.” 2 Corinthians 3:6
The Hebrew word translated “New” is Chodesh #2320, it’s also the name of the “New Moon.” Now obviously the moon isn’t “New,” it’s “Renewed” by the light of the sun. Each lunar month is determined by the sighting of a sliver of light spotted on the right side of the dark moon.
I hope we’ve established “the Letter” is referring to Torah’s “curse of sin and death,” that kills. The physical was “Renewed” by the Light of the Spiritual Covenant:
“In Him was Life, and that Life was the Light of men.” John 1:4
First the Physical Then The Spiritual
The Bible contains physical Examples and Covenants that reveal the Spiritual. We are told that Moses was shown the Spiritual and he was instructed to make physical copies:
“So it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.” Hebrews 9:23
These were only patterns, or copies of the heavenly realities and also referred to as “the Law.” They were a “Shadow” of the good to come, not the Spiritual Realities:
“The Law is only a shadow of the good things to come, not the realities themselves. It can never, by the same sacrifices offered year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship,” Hebrews 10:1
Paul revealed the physical, or natural, came first and then the Spiritual:
“The spiritual, however, was not first, but the natural, and then the spiritual.” 1 Corinthians 15:46
He also said, “We know the Torah is Spiritual:”
“We know that the Law is spiritual; but I am not spiritual, sold as a slave to sin.” Romans 7:14
Notice the Law is called both a “Shadow” and “Spiritual.” What did the physical copies foreshadow? From beginning to end, our Creator’s Word points us to the Good News of mankind’s Spiritual Salvation:
Click the link for; What is the Good News?
The seventh verse will make more sense as we understand this Spiritual mystery. The physical priesthood was the Copy of the Spiritual, set in place by Moses. The physical was “changed” when Jesus became our Spiritual High Priest:
7. “For when the priesthood is changed, the law must be changed as well.” Hebrews 7:12
This does not mean the “Law” was changed to “Grace.” “Law” here is referring to the physical priesthood changing to what it foreshadowed, the Spiritual priesthood.
Verse eight uses the word “Law” to refer to legalism or self-justification. Is it legalism to keep Torah?
In context, Paul is scolding Peter for his hypocrisy and falling back into the religious “Legalism” of the Jews:
8. “I do not set aside the Grace (Favor) of God. For if Righteousness comes through the law, (what man does) Christ/Messiah died for nothing.” Galatians 2:21
Does our understanding of Grace line up with the original Hebrew? Our English word “Grace” comes from the Greek word Charis #4585, and Charis comes from the Hebrew word Chen #2580 meaning “Favor.”
Grace and Favor are used interchangeably, but as I mentioned previously the Hebrew word Favor is not “unmerited.”
To learn more about the Ancient Hebrew meaning of Favor click the link below: https://www.ancient-hebrew.org/articles_grace.html
Our Righteousness comes by Faithfulness, that means living by what YHVH says is Right:
“Look at the proud one; his soul is not upright— but the Righteous will live by his Faithfulness—Habakkuk 2:4
Righteousness is Everlasting and Torah Is Faithfulness
“Your Righteousness is an Everlasting Righteousness, and Your Law (Torah #8451) is True/Faithfulness (Aman #571).” Psalm 119:142
“So too, Faithfulness by itself, without any action, is dead.” James 2:17
“As the body without the spirit is dead, so Faithfulness without deeds is dead.” James 2:26
The confusion over exactly what keeping Torah meant, after Jesus fulfilled the physical representations of Himself, escalated with the flood of gentiles who now bear YHVH’s Name; Acts 15:17
Between the added legalism of the Jews, and the gentiles who had no knowledge of Torah, It became necessary to hold a Council at Jerusalem in order to define the essential requirements of Torah. We read about their conclusion in Acts 15:29:
“You must abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals, and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things.”
Reading Acts chapter 15 in context Peter, Paul and Barnabas make the point that the gentiles were given the Spirit just as they were. YHVH made no distinction when He cleansed their hearts because He knows the heart and He gave them Favor because of their Faithfulness.
“For Moses has been proclaimed in every city from ancient times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.” Acts 15:21
James made the judgement because Torah was read in every city from ancient times; every Sabbath in the synagogues. It was possible to hear it all within a year.
Peter points out that parts of Paul’s letters are hard to understand and some had already distorted his words, like ignorant people do to the rest of the Scriptures:
“He writes this way in all his letters, speaking in them about such matters. Some parts of his letters are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.” 2 Peter 3:16
Then he warns us to be on our guard so we won’t be carried away by the error of the “Lawless,” meaning Torahless:
“Therefore, beloved, since you already know these things, be on your guard so that you will not be carried away by the error of the Lawless and fall from your steadfastness…” 2 Peter 3:17
Our True Source of Eternal Life
“He follows My statutes and faithfully keeps My ordinances; he is Righteous; surely he will Live,’ declares the Lord GOD…” Ezekiel 18:9
“But if the wicked man turns from all the sins he has committed, keeps all My statutes, and does what is Just and Right, he will surely Live; he will not die. 22 None of the transgressions he has committed will be held against him. Because of the Righteousness he has practiced, he will Live. 23 Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Lord GOD. Would I not prefer he turn from his ways and Live?” Ezekiel 18:27,28,30
“but Israel, who pursued a law of Righteousness, has not attained it.” Romans 9:31
So Torah contains the words of Life, and it defines Righteousness which is called the Way of Life, yet even after Jesus revealed it was speaking about Him, they did not faithfully come when He called them:
“And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was written in all the Scriptures about Himself.” Luke 24:27
Number nine is my final verse and the only one that does not come from one of Paul’s letters. Here John appears to be saying the “Law” came through Moses, “Grace” and Truth came through Jesus:
9. “For the Law was given through Moses; Grace/Favor and Truth came through Jesus Christ/Messiah” John 1:17
The physical copies of the Spiritual were given through Moses; the reality of Grace/Favor and Truth came to be, or exist, through Messiah.
The word Came is the Greek verb Ginomai #1096 can also be translated “came to be, or became” The word Through is the Greek preposition Dia #1223 meaning the channel of an act.
Grace Keeps Torah
In conclusion, the Torah has been misunderstood by people, like me, who lacked the Spiritual insight to see the physical examples revealing our Creator’s Salvation.
Jesus’ full Hebrew Name, before it was shortened to Yeshua, Salvation, was Yehoshua; YHVH Is Salvation.
Salvation, Righteousness, Favor and our Faithfulness in keeping the commandments are signs of our Spiritual Life. They only went from stone to Live in our hearts:
“This is the covenant I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord (YHVH). I will put My Laws (Torah) in their hearts and inscribe them on their minds.” Hebrews 10:16
“Now this is eternal Life, that they may KNOW You, the only TRUE God,
and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.” John 17:3
“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” John 14:15
“If you keep My commandments, you will remain in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and remain in His love.” John 15:10, 20
“And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the very commandment you have heard from the beginning, that you must walk in love.” 1 John 1:6
“By this we can be sure that we have come to KNOW Him: if we keep His commandments.” 1 John 2:3
“If anyone says, “I Know Him,” but does not keep His commandments, he is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” 1 John 2:4
“But if anyone keeps His word, the love of God has been truly perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him:” 1 John 2:5, 6, 7
“No one who remains in Him keeps on sinning, (sin is defined by Torah). No one who continues to sin has seen Him or KNOWN Him.” 1 John 3:6
“and we will receive from Him whatever we ask, because we keep His commandments and do what is pleasing in His sight.” 1 John 3:22
“Whoever keeps His commandments remains in God, and God in him. And by this we know that He remains in us: by the Spirit He has given us.” 1 John 3:24
“By this we know that we love the children of God: when we love God and keep His commandments.” 1 John 5:2
“For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome,” 1 John 5:3
“And the dragon was enraged at the woman, and went to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God, holding to the testimony of Jesus. And the dragon stood on the sand of the seashore.” Revelation 12:17 (and 22:14)
But Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let your brothers listen to them.’ Luke 16:29
“If you want to enter Life, keep the commandments.” Matthew 19:17
But whoever looks into the perfect Law of liberty, (Torah) and continues to do so, he being not a forgetful hearer, but does what it says, this man shall be blessed in all he does. James 1:25
“Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the Law that gives Freedom.” James 2:12