The Law of the Lord is Good – Understanding Paul

Though it may seem to be a huge endeavor to deal with the difficult issue of understanding the words of Paul/Rav Shaul as it deals with issues related to the Torah, but this endeavor is guided by a simple axiom that I was taught by Dr. Mark Nanos, one of the premier scholars of the writings of Paul, including the books The Mystery of Romans and The Irony of Galatians.

First off in understanding Paul you must realize that he was writing primarily to Gentile churches.

With the first understanding clear then when reading Paul’s writings telling believers that they were not bound to Torah commands like circumcision and Jewish rituals then each of these statements per Nanos add “for non-Jews” to each statement.

In so doing it helps to clarify the point that Paul was telling the non-Jews that he was writing to that they were not bound to the Torah.  This is the same opinion that any mainstream Rabbi will give that non-Jews are not required to observe Torah and more to Paul’s stand should not observe Torah.  The special place of Torah as the Jewish people’s rights and privilege can be seen that potential converts to Judaism are to do one act that violates Shabbat so as to keep them from completely observing Shabbat before they were Jewish.

But for Paul himself as a Jew, A life observing Torah was his responsibility and the only way for him to live, even in his final speech Paul declared himself to be “as in relation to the Torah, a Pharisee”. This showing that even at the end of his life he still considered his life of Torah observance to be living to the standards of his Pharisaic training with the sage Gamaliel.

So then if we understand that Paul in addressing his non-Jewish audiences was saying that the non-Jews are not bound to the Torah’s commands (which is the same thing understood in Judaism today) this should help in understanding his philosophy. Paul as a Jew lived a life of Torah faithfulness, even after becoming a follower of Yeshua.  His harsh words in Galatians being pointed at those non-Jews who came to believe in Yeshua and were told that their new faith was inadequate without becoming Jews or becoming “super-believers” by observing Torah.  Both these views are wrong and were rightly condemned by Paul.

Hopefully this will be of help in understanding Paul/Rav Shaul…


One thought on “The Law of the Lord is Good – Understanding Paul

  1. Shalom,
    How are we to understand Paul’s teaching to follow the commandment in Torah(Eph 6:1-3) with a promise.

    Surely he knew that promise was for Jews like The Commandment of Sabbath observance before Exodus 20:12. The context as a whole in Exodus is for Jews to follow. How is he justified in making Shabbat non-universal with HaShem in Isaiah 56 and Messiah in Mark 2:27 say otherwise, I.E., it’s for mankind?

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