There are some verses in the Nazarene Writings (so-called New Testament) that frequently create confusion, especially for new believers or those just starting to study Scripture from a Hebraic point of view. We will look at six of these verses in their context in Scripture and prove that the Nazarene Writings do not contradict the Torah, but rather reaffirm it.
1) WHAT DEFILES A PERSON?
Mark 7:18-19 [The Scriptures - TS] 18 And He said to them, “Are you also without understanding? Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside is unable to defile him, 19 because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, (thus purging all the foods?) (Yeshua's words in purple) (The words in grey do not occur in any Aramaic manuscripts or in early Greek manuscripts)
Mark 7 deals with what makes man ‘common’ or defiles him, a concept that is found in the man-made ‘oral law’ and not in the Scriptures of the Eternal, the Torah. (See MARK 7:19 [About the Oral Law]
THE CONTEXT OF MARK 7 AS A WHOLE IS RITUAL PURITY (man-made Oral Law). INTERPRETING MARK 7:19 TO MEAN THAT YESHUA DID AWAY WITH THE FOOD LAWS WOULD DISQUALIFY HIM AS THE MESSIAH OF YISRA'EL
The Scribes and Pharisees believed that ritual contamination occurred when unclean hands transferred contaminated external matter into the body. 1It was mistakenly believed that demons entered the person eating with unwashed hands.
Many use these verses to argue that the dietary laws given in Leviticus 11 are no longer valid in our day. However, the context of these verses is not about food or drink. Yeshua said this in response to the Pharisees and Scribes that accused him and his disciples of eating without washing their hands, which is not a commandment of the Torah but a tradition of the elders (oral law) Mark 7:1-5.
This is not a ‘new instruction’ of the Messiah, rather a rebuke to the Pharisees and Scribes who taught doctrines of men (oral law) as commandments of the Torah. The word translated as food in verse 19 is the Greek word «broma», Strong’s G1033 articles allowed or forbidden by Jewish law. This means that Yeshua in his illustration was only alluding to foods permitted by the Torah therefore, it would be out of context to apply these verses to other types of food like, for example, pork or seafood which are prohibited by the Torah.
1The Scriptures: Footnote Matthew 15:20, page 937
2) NO FOOD PROHIBITION?
Romans 14:2 [TS] One indeed believes to eat all food, but he who is weak eats only vegetables.
This is another verse that is frequently used to defend the position that, at present, there is no prohibition with regard to food; in other words, it is not necessary to observe the dietary laws. Furthermore, this verse is used to brand or classify those who observe the dietary laws, and on occasions the vegetarians, as ‘weak in the faith’.
Again, the key to understanding this verse is in the context. In the preceding verse, Shaul (Paul) says
Romans 14:1 [Hebrew Roots Bible – HRB] Assist the one who is weak in the faith, not to judgments of your thoughts.
The main theme of this verse and specifically the entire chapter 14 of Romans is judging our brethren according to our beliefs. It is very clear in verse 13
Romans 14:13 [TS] Therefore let us not judge one another any longer, but rather judge this, not to put an obstacle or a stumbling-block in our brother’s way.
It is ironic how those who use Romans 14:2 to point to others do not realise that they are committing the same error that Shaul is exhorting us not to commit.
3) NOTHING IS COMMON
Romans 14:14 [TS] I know and am persuaded in the Master יהושע that none at all is common of itself. But to him who regards whatever to be common, to him it is common.
As mentioned earlier, the central topic of Romans 14 is about judging others based on their own beliefs. When Shaul is saying <nothing is common>, he is not saying we can eat anything and forget the instructions of the Torah. Shaul knew and practised the Torah, and he observed the dietary laws as well. What he is saying is within what is allowed by the Torah, nothing is common. This whole argument is in response to a situation that was occurring in the congregation in Rome. Specifically, he makes mention of these things because some believers were abstaining from eating meat, as we see in verse 2 (mentioned earlier). It is probable that some decided to do this due to fear or insecurity because they did not know where the meat they bought came from; whether it was sacrificed to idols or if it had been through a process that rendered it common (Again, something common or defiled is a concept from the Oral Law or traditions of men). If Shaul was promoting the idea that eating anything is correct, what he says in verse 21 would not make sense
Romans 14:21 [Word of Yahweh – WOY] It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.
Basically, he is saying the opposite, that is, it is good to abstain from this food; the exact opposite of the normal interpretation of Romans 14:14. Let us not lose sight of the objective: to avoid judging others because of our eating habits, and in this way showing our love towards our brethren. This is totally different to the topic of the Dietary Law. Shaul is exhorting us not to judge the brethren who decide to abstain from meat. It is a personal decision; it is perfectly correct and does not violate the commandments of the Torah.
4) YAHWEH’S FEASTS OR PAGAN CELEBRATIONS?
Galatians 4:10-11 [TS] 10 You closely observe days and months and seasons and years. 11 I fear for you, lest by any means I have laboured for you in vain.
Anybody that reads these verses on their own, that is, without reading the context, will immediately think that they are referring to the Levitical Feasts, the Feasts of Yahweh. However, in reality, they are referring to pagan festivities. We can know this by examining the preceding verses
Galatians 4:8-9 [Moffatt New Testament - MNT] 8 In those days, when you were ignorant of God, you were in servitude to gods who are really no gods at all; 9 but now that you know God — or rather, are known by God — how is it you are turning back again to the weakness and poverty of the Elemental spirits? Why do you want to be enslaved all over again by them?
When Shaul is talking about days, months, seasons and years, he is not referring to the Levitical Feasts but to pagan celebrations. Through the context, we can infer that the believers of this congregation were having difficulties in abandoning the celebrations of pagan festivities. Shaul is simply exhorting them to abandon those celebrations which violate the Torah.
5) YAHWEH’S LAWS NAILED TO THE CROSS?
Colossians 2:14-16 [MNT] 14 He cancelled the regulations that stood against us — all these obligations he set aside when he nailed them to the cross, 15 when he cut away the angelic Rulers and Powers from us, exposing them to all the world and triumphing over them in the cross. 16 So let no one take you to task on questions of eating and drinking or in connexion with the observance of festivals or new moons or sabbaths.
These verses are used by many to try to prove that the Messiah ‘nailed the Torah to the cross’ and that we do not have to observe it any longer. Again, their error is the failure to pay attention to the context. We have to establish the context before making any analysis. For this, we have to read, at the very least, from the beginning of the chapter. In verse 8 we find a very important detail that sheds light on the matter.
Colossians 2:8 [HRB] Watch that there not be one misleading you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the elements of the world, and not according to Messiah.
The subject covered by Shaul in this written discourse is not the Torah itself, but the philosophies or traditions of men. This was not a new problem; Yeshua himself rebuked the Pharisees and the Scribes for their eagerness to add their vain traditions to the commandments of Yahweh, which distorted the message of the Scriptures and made the commandments impossible to obey
Luke 11:46 [TS] And He said, “Woe to you also, you learned in the Torah, because you load men with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers.
Once we understand that the main subject of the verse is about the traditions of men and not the abolishing of the Torah, then we can understand the verses mentioned in their context. Moreover, it is important to note that Shaul is advising the Colossians not to allow to be judged by those who do not keep Yahweh’s Torah.
As you can see, examining Scripture with preconceived ideas and only with isolated verses, leads one to believe the opposite of what is really meant. When Shaul writes about <the regulations that stood against us> he is not referring to the Torah, rather to ordinances and traditions of men which made it hard or impossible to observe the Torah. Yeshua made us free of those ‘regulations’ of men when he died at the stake. In the process, he also cancelled our violations and sins, many of them a consequence of our ignorance due to the multiple traditions of men that we learned. When Shaul says < let no one take you to task on questions of eating and drinking or in connexion with the observance of festivals or new moons or sabbaths>, he is not saying we do not need to observe the Biblical celebrations. What he is staying that we should not permit anyone to impose their vain philosophies and/or traditions over what Scripture says. In other words, it is an exhortation to follow the instructions of the Torah, following the example of Yeshua and forgetting the traditions of man.
6) IS IT THE TORAH OR THE PRIESTHOOD THAT IS RENEWED?
Hebrews 8:13 By saying, ‘renewed,’ He has made the first old. Now what becomes old and growing aged is near disappearing.
This is yet another verse that some use to justify the abolition of the Torah. Again, it is used out of context to create a pretext.
The beginning of the chapter indicates the main topic of this verse
Hebrews 8:1 Now the summary of what we are saying is: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Greatness in the heavens,
It is clear that the main topic of the chapter is the priesthood and not the Torah, specifically the role that Yeshua plays as High Priest. What is being renewed is the old Levitical system of priesthood and sacrifices. Obviously, Yeshua’s sacrifice rendered all of that unnecessary because it was done once and forever.
Hebrews 7:27 [HRB] who has no need, as do the high priests, to offer sacrifices day by day, first for His own sins, then for those of the people. For He did this once for all, offering up Himself.
So what was abolished is not the Torah, but the ancient system of Levitical priesthood and victim sacrifices to atone for sin. In Yeshua we have a much more efficient system.
All the confusion that some verses cause can be resolved by looking at the context. Any verse out of context can cause confusion. But when we analyse Scripture within the proper context, guided by the Holy Spirit of Yahweh, all confusion disappears, and we understand that there is no contradiction in the Word of Yahweh. We must remember that faith in Yeshua does not nullify the Torah; on the contrary, it introduces us to a deeper understanding of it.
Romans 3:31 [TS] Do we then nullify the Torah by faith? Far be it. On the contrary, we establish the Torah!