How can We Love?
In the first blog of this series, Nancy explained why Torah is still valid in YHVH’s Kingdom on Earth today. Last week’s blog talked about becoming all that YHVH intends for us to be in this life, including following the loving instructions He gave in His Torah. This week, I would like to show you why faulty Scripture translation and unclear terminology can confuse us and distort our perception of the truth.
Many Christian churches and denominations use Ephesians 2:8 as their banner verse and state at the core of their doctrines that we are “saved by grace and not by works, lest anyone should boast”. In many cases, they have taken these words out of context and to such an extreme that they no longer believe we should follow the law (Torah) as that would mean that we are trying to earn our salvation by our works.
However, when we remember that Torah is better translated as instruction than law, we realize that Torah was something God created to help guide us through life in a more joyful, fulfilling way, not something He designed as a set of laws to burden or frustrate us. Using a more accurate translation of Ephesians 2 (CJB), and moving down from Verse 8 to Verse 10, we see that YHVH has a purpose for our lives that goes far beyond salvation. Verse 10 says: “For we are His workmanship, as we have been created in Messiah Yeshua for good works, which God prepared beforehand, so that we would walk in them, the good works”.
From this verse and many others in the Scriptures, we know that these good works relate to following God’s will and keeping His commandments (Torah). Remember what Yeshua said: “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15). And what are Yeshua’s commandments? They are the same as Abba Father’s commandments (the Torah), as Yeshua said He only does what the Father does. We also know that Yeshua did not do away with the Torah, which Nancy explained well in the first blog of this series – she paraphrased Matthew 5:18 “…until heaven and earth pass away, not one jot or tittle of the Torah will pass away”.
She did a great job of explaining why the Torah is still in effect, but she asked me to go a little deeper into the history of the Scripture translations and interpretations. To point out one of the many areas of the New Testament where there are glaring differences among different translations, let’s look at Romans 10:4, which is often cited as justification for the law being done away with. In the original King James Version, this verse reads “For Christ (Messiah) is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth”. This indeed could be (and has been) interpreted to mean that when Messiah Yeshua came on the scene, he replaced the law so that it is now obsolete. However, let’s look at a Messianic translation (the Complete Jewish Bible) which has re-translated the ancient scrolls from a Jewish cultural and religious perspective. Here is the CJB translation of Romans 10:4: “For the goal at which the Torah aims is the Messiah, who offers righteousness to everyone who trusts”. This sheds a very different light on this passage.
Earlier in Romans Chapter 10, Sha’ul was talking about how Israel had set up their own system of righteousness, based on what they referred to as the “Oral Law”, but which was actually created by Rabbis who interpreted the Torah based on their own point-of-view and biases. What Sha’ul is saying in Verses 1-4 of Romans 10 is that the Jewish people (directed by the leaders) had made up their own form of righteousness, whereas Yeshua came to show them the true righteousness they could have by following Him.
Now we can see the vast differences in doctrine from one translation to another; but the burning question is: why are they so different in their spiritual concepts and principles? I certainly do not profess to be an authoritative expert on Bible translations or exegesis, so I have consulted true scholars in this area. In “The Jewish Gospel of John”, author Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg helps us dig deeper into the meaning of John 1:17, which in the ESV says: “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ”. From his studies, Eli gives us new insights into the dichotomy of law and grace as we know it today from mainstream Christian doctrines. He says that up until the time of the Reformation, Christian leaders debated among themselves the importance of keeping the Torah (law). However, when the Protestant Christian movement started, they wanted to emphasize the truth that salvation comes to the believer by faith alone, and not by their works.
The reason for this at the time was because they wanted to contrast this new doctrine with the Catholic dogma that burdened members with so many requirements that it seemed almost impossible to be truly forgiven from their sins. This was very similar to the religious leaders at the time of Yeshua, who weighed the people down with so many of their man-made laws that they could never hope to be truly righteous before YHVH. Mr. Lizorkin-Eyzenberg says that the Protestants were so insistent about their new doctrines that many Scriptures (both in the Gospels and in Sha’ul’s letters) were actually re-translated into very different interpretations than were originally intended. About the passage in John 1:17, Eli says that it would be more accurate to translate it as: “For the Torah was given through Moses and grace and truth came through Jesus Christ”. The obvious difference is the addition of “and” between the two phrases, now giving the meaning that Torah came through Moses, and Yeshua has now given us grace to keep the Torah, because He has taken away the penalty of the Torah by forgiving our sins and sending them off into the desert to be forever forgotten.
If we were to summarize what Yeshua added to our ability to keep the Torah in one word, it would be “love”. In teachings such as the “Sermon on the Mount”, he clarified and explained the Torah so it would be easier to understand and follow. And then with His incredible sacrifice on the Cross, He saved us from all our sins and set us free from bondage to hasatan. As it says in Scripture, He first loved us, so let us love Him by keeping His commandments (John 14:15).