Maybe I’m the only person this happens to, but have you ever read a verse that you’ve read a 100 times, but suddenly you ‘see’ it totally differently? Like a bolt of lightning, or a V-8 moment, you suddenly understand it in a whole new light?
Sometimes seeing one can become an impediment to seeing the other, yet both are cleverly there.
Theologically, we can be told a certain paradigm or traditional understanding so many times that we can’t ‘see’ something else that is obviously there. Yet, taking time to ponder and refocus, can suddenly open whole new worlds of understanding that utterly shift our paradigm.
Here are ten such verses that are paradigm shifters. I pray you are as challenged as I was the first time these verses ‘hit’ me. They open doors to big blessings.
1. Jesus/Yeshua said,
Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:19
Right here, Yeshua tells us exactly how to be LEAST in the kingdom. Ever notice that? He says, “Here’s how to be Least in the Kingdom, annul one of the least of the commandments and teach others to do the same.”
Who wants to be LEAST in the kingdom? Any takers? No hands?
Believe it or not, 99% of all Christian denominations, from Rome to the uttermost parts of the earth, teach not that ‘least commandments’ are ‘done away with’ but whole chapters no longer apply… Most Reformed Presbyterian denominations abide by the Westminster Confession of Faith. Chapter XIX, iii says, “All which ceremonial laws are now abrogated, under the New Testament.” The dictionary says that ‘abrogated’ means ‘annulled,’ therefore this document, drafted by men directly contradicts the words of Yeshua.
Who do we believe? The Westminster divines? Or, the Divine Messiah?
Do we want to be LEAST in the kingdom? Or, GREAT? Hmmm… seems like a no-brainer, but then verses like this one demand that we use our brain and swim against the tide of theological tradition. This requires a paradigm shift!
2. In Acts chapters 6 and 7 we read the story of the first martyr, Stephen. Have you ever payed attention to why he was martyred? Exactly how did he wind up before the Sanhedrin? This verse will shake up some theology.
They put forward false witnesses who said, “This man incessantly speaks against this holy place and the Law; 14 for we have heard him say that this Nazarene, Jesus, will destroy this place and alter the customs which Moses handed down to us.” Acts 6:13-14
Stephen was stoned to death for ‘teaching against the Temple and against the Torah!’ HOWEVER, the Sanhedrin had to use false witnesses to bring the charges. False witnesses!! Let that sink in.
Do you know what that means? Yep, it means Stephen, a man filled with the Holy Spirit, in the months or year immediately following the resurrection of Messiah was NOT teaching against the Law. In fact, he was zealous for Moses as we’ll see in a minute.
Ironically, 99% of Christendom today could be charged with ‘teaching against the Temple and the Torah’ and the charges would be TRUE! Hmmm…
By implication of the testimony of these false witnesses, Yeshua did NOT “alter the customs which Moses handed down to us.” Paradigm shifter!
3. The Apostle Paul, in coming up to Jerusalem to give a report, tells of the wonders being worked in Asia Minor among the Gentiles. Acts 21:20 relates to us the excited response about those who believed in Jerusalem,
And when they heard it they began glorifying God; and they said to him, “You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed, and they are all zealous for the Law Acts 21:20
Belief in Messiah does not negate or nullify the Torah. Rather, it should increase our zeal for obedience out of love!
Here’s a question: Do theologians, 1000 to 2000 years removed from Jerusalem and the Apostles know more than James and Paul and all the elders who are standing here witnessing this meeting? … I didn’t think so. This verse is paradigm-shifting.
4. Just a couple verses later may be the single most shocking verse in the New Testament for most Christians. As a pastor, when I read and fully understood this verse, it totally rocked my world.
Then Paul took the men, and the next day, purifying himself along with them, went into the temple giving notice of the completion of the days of purification, until the sacrifice was offered for each one of them. Acts 21:26
Yep, you just read that Paul, the Apostle and possible author of Hebrews, was ‘in the temple’ offering ‘sacrifices’ some 20+ years after the Damascus road experience. He was seized, not for offering sacrifices, but for ‘allegedly’ bringing Gentiles into the Temple courts. (False witnesses again…)
Paul was offering sacrifices in the Temple. Ponder the significance to most theology that says ‘the sacrificial system has been done away with’…. Yes, this is really heavy, but it is a reality in Scripture that MUST be dealt with. Zechariah 14:21 speaks of future sacrifices. So does Ezekiel 43 and 44. Parts of Isaiah allude to the same… Here is one post digging deeper into this paradigm-shifting topic.
5. Having read and wrestled with the previous question, many come to the conclusion that Paul was just acting according to custom and meant no theological harm. While this would make him out to be a liar, let’s just go to one of four of his legal testimonies,
After Paul arrived, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood around him, bringing many and serious charges against him which they could not prove, 8 while Paul said in his own defense, “I have committed no offense either against the Law of the Jews or against the temple or against Caesar.” Acts 25:7-8
Ahhh, the presence of false witnesses. Paul, by his own testimony clearly states that he has not committed offense against the Torah or the Temple.
Either, he is lying, or he is telling the truth.
If Paul is lying, can we trust anything else he has written?
If he is telling the truth, how can we claim he taught against the Law?
Teaching against the Torah is an offense against the Torah that is punishable by death!! Cue Deuteronomy 12:32-13:11!
Seriously, if Paul was teaching against the Torah, why didn’t his accusers simply go get a copy of the letter to the Galatians? According to Christendom it was his defining work against the Torah… D’uh! There’s all the proof his accusers needed… And, just for the record, that was a letter he likely wrote before Acts 15, therefore, it was widely available to his accusers in the nearly ten years prior to his arrest..
Long story short, Galatians is NOT about ‘doing away with the Law.’ It is about the misuse of the Law for salvation. [I do not think it means what you think it means!]
Paul says, ‘I have committed no offense against either the Law of the Jews or against the Temple….’ Ponder deeply. …. no offense against the Law…. Paradigm-shifter.
6. Paul wrote many of the epistles and often verses are taken out of context to prove an antinomian, or ‘anti-Torah,’ bias. Here is something the Apostle Paul said that theologians love to ignore or completely tap dance around,
Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law. Romans 3:31
Busted! In one verse, Paul declares, ‘through faith we establish the Law, we do not nullify it!‘
Most Pauline theology (mis)uses proof texts to demonstrate that he ‘did away with the Law.’ Yet, Paul affirms the Torah over and over. If in some passages he overturns the Law and in others he affirms the Law, then we have a schizophrenic Apostle on the loose!!
Maybe, just maybe, we have misunderstood or willfully misused some of his writing to be stiff-necked and rebellious just like our fathers!!
Meditate on this: Paul said, ‘By faith we establish the Law.‘ Paradigm-shifter.
7. So how did Paul ever get so misunderstood and ‘whacked out?’ The Apostle Peter tells us and issues a warning,
Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. 16 He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.
17 Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. 2 Peter 3:15-17
Peter tells us plainly,
- Paul’s letters can be hard to understand
- the ignorant and unstable distort him
- the result is lawLESSness
We would easily agree that Paul can be hard to understand, but what does this verse mean by ‘ignorant and unstable?’
The ignorant and the unstable are those who do not have a firm foundation in the Torah. Other translations call them ‘unlearned’ or ‘untaught.’
We have already seen that Paul upheld the Torah and we see here that the error these ‘unlearned’ teach leads to lawlessness! Paul was steeped in the Torah and was zealous for the Torah. He would not dare, or even dream of teaching against the ‘perfect Torah.’
The error of twisting Paul is lawlessness. Does modern theology teach lawfulness, or lawlessness? Does your understanding of Paul lead to lawfulness or lawlessness?
Peter warns, ‘be on your guard that you not be carried away by the error of the lawless!’ Paradigm-shift ahead!
8. In fact, what is the error of lawlessness?
Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. I John 3:4
The Law, the Torah, defines sin. Breaking the Law is sin. Therefore, lawlessness IS sin.
‘Doing away with the Law’ is doing away with the definition of sin, and indeed, the act is sin itself!
- Annul a commandment? Sin.
- Teach against the commandments? Sin.
- Avoid/ignore the commandments? Sin.
See? This is why Yeshua could NOT have changed the Law or abolished anything, before or after His atoning sacrifice. Doing so would be sin!
9. Yeshua did not change the Law! How do we know besides His own declaration that ‘I did not come to abolish the Law?’ The author of Hebrews declares,
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8
The Apostle John tells us that Yeshua is the Word and He was in the beginning. A study of the Rabbinic understanding of the Messiah being the Word, or Memra, reveals the clear connection that not only was Yeshua present at creation, but He was present at Mount Sinai and likely was the One who met Moshe on the Mountain. Thus, He gave the Torah!!
He is ‘the same yesterday and today and forever!’ When we truly understand His eternality and involvement at every level of Scripture, then we realize, the Memra, the Word doesn’t change. The Law doesn’t change.
Isn’t that what Yeshua said? ‘Until heaven and earth pass away not one jot or tittle will pass from the Law and the prophets?’
Not one jot!! Not a single consonant! Not ONE!! Paradigm-shift!
10. What we absolutely have to come to grips with is that Yeshua and the Father are One (echad/united). They are not in opposition. Yeshua ONLY taught what the Father gave Him and nowhere is the Law ever prophesied to be done away with or in any way reduced. Never!
My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. John 7:16
Yeshua ONLY taught the Word of His Father.
Time for a paradigm shift!
There are many, many more verses that support what we have seen here in this post… These are not isolated, cherry-picked verses, but they reveal the need to re-evaluate the errant doctrines and traditions of men that teach against the Torah.
“Be on guard that you not be carried away by the error of lawless men!!”