Eternal Security: Problem Passages, part 1

There are many so-called “problem” passages on the issue of eternal security that various groups use certain to try to prove that it is possible to lose one’s salvation. We shall deal with these briefly below in multiple parts.[1]

Some passages of Scripture have been “dispensationally misapplied.” Take for example these two passages in Ezekiel. People often use this passage to show that it is possible to lose salvation. However, these passages are not dealing with the individual’s salvation in the Age of Grace, but are dealing with Israel as a nation at some other period of time.

These passages are not actually speaking of the spiritual salvation of individuals. Rather, they concern Israel as a nation under the Mosaic Law, individual accountability, physical life and physical death.

Another passage that has been dispensationally misapplied is Matthew 18:21‑35, in which Yeshua dealt with the issue of forgiving the brother and told the story about the unforgiving steward. He then made the point that if a believer does not forgive others, then he should not expect to be forgiven himself (v. 35). However, in this context the issue is not salvation forgiveness; instead, it is family forgiveness. Salvation forgiveness is the means by which one enters into God’s family, and the only way of receiving salvation forgiveness is by grace through faith apart from works. But once one is in the family, sin in the believer’s life; such as, holding a grudge against a brother, can cause a breakup in the relationship within the family of God. And it can break one’s fellowship with God the Father. The way a believer receives family forgiveness of sins is by means of confession (I Jn. 1:9). The point of this Matthew account is that confessing sins is not going to gain family forgiveness if the confessor is not willing to forgive people who have wronged him or offended him.


[1] This post is a modified version of Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum’s original Messianic Bible Study. The full version may be obtained here.

Eternal Security: Part 4

Another argument for eternal security is based upon the meaning of the word “eternal.”[1] The very meaning of the word “eternal” rules out the possibility of the loss of salvation, because if “eternal” means anything, it means “forever.” If someone could lose his salvation, then it is not eternal, but temporary instead. Involved in our salvation are ten eternal things:

First, there is an eternal plan that God has for our lives (Eph. 3:10‑11).

Second, based upon what the Messiah has done, we now have eternal salvation (Heb. 5:9).

Third, we have eternal redemption (Heb. 9:12).

Fourth, believers have an eternal inheritance (Heb. 9:15).

Fifth, those who have this eternal redemption, inheritance and salvation are destined for eternal glory (II Tim. 2:10; I Pet. 5:10).

Sixth, there is an eternal hope, because we have the guarantee of eternal glory (Titus 3:7; Heb. 6:17‑19).

Seventh, eternal hope, in turn, provides eternal comfort (II Thes. 2:16).

Eighth, God has made an eternal covenant with us, and by virtue of His being the covenant-keeping God, He will keep us saved (Heb. 13:20).

Ninth, we are destined for an eternal kingdom (II Pet. 1:11).

Tenth, we do indeed have eternal life now; we have it presently. It is not something we will receive later upon death, but we have eternal life right now (Jn. 3:14‑16, 36; 6:47; 10:28; Titus 3:7).

It cannot be overemphasized that eternal life must mean what it says: if it is not eternal, if a person could lose it, then it is only temporary life.

[1] This post is a modified version of Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum’s original Messianic Bible Study. The full version may be obtained here.

The Titles of the Messiah

There are a total of twelve different titles given to the Messiah. The first five are general titles relating either to His person or to His work. The remaining seven titles all deal with the aspect of His Sonship.[1]

A.  General Titles

1.  Lamb of God

The first title of the Messiah is found in John 1:29 and 36:

By giving Him the title of the Lamb of God, John connected Yeshua with two Old Testament elements: the pascal lamb of Exodus 12 and the Messianic Lamb of Isaiah 53. The title, Lamb of God, emphasizes that He is the fulfillment of the Feast of Passover and that He will be the final Passover sacrifice.

2.  Mediator

The second title of the Messiah is Mediator. There are two aspects of His role as Mediator. First, He is the Mediator between God and man (1 Tim. 2:5). Secondly, He is the Mediator of the New Covenant. In Hebrews 8:6, He is called the mediator of a better covenant, and in Hebrews 9:15 and 12:24, He is the mediator of a new covenant. This New Covenant is also a better covenant in that it is superior to the Mosaic Covenant.

3.  Intercessor

The third title of the Messiah is Intercessor (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25). Being an Intercessor is part of His high priestly ministry in that He intercedes on behalf of the believer before God. The picture is that, as Mediator, He represents God to man and, as Intercessor, He represents man to God.

4.  Advocate

The fourth title of the Messiah is Advocate (1 Jn. 2:1). The term Advocate has the concept of being a lawyer. The reason that believers need Yeshua as Advocate is because of Satan’s title as the accuser of the brethren (Job 1:1‑12; 2:4‑5; Zech. 3:1‑2; Rev. 12:10). Satan still has access to Heaven to appear before the very presence of God. He does so for one reason, to accuse the brethren. If a believer falls into a state of unconfessed sin, sooner or later Satan will appear before God the Father to accuse that believer. This is the exact reason why believers still need the ministry of Yeshua as an Advocate. Whenever Satan has any grounds to accuse a saint, then Jesus can say, “Lay that sin upon My account. I have already paid the penalty for that sin when I died for that person on the cross.” By way of application, believers should live the kind of spiritual lifestyle that will not give Satan any basis for accusations.

5.  Savior

The fifth title of the Messiah is Savior. This particular title emphasizes His work of salvation in that He is the One who saves. As the person of the Messiah, He is able to save; by the shedding of His blood, He has provided the basis of salvation. He is viewed as the Saviourthroughout the New Testament: Luke 2:11; John 4:42; Acts 5:31; Ephesians 5:22; I Timothy 1:1; Titus 2:13; II Peter 1:1, 2:20, 3:2, and 18.

B.  The Sonship Titles of the Messiah

1.  The Son of Abraham

The first Sonship title of the Messiah is the son of Abraham (Mat. 1:1). When Jesus is called the Son of Abraham, it means two things. First, it emphasizes the Jewishness ofYeshua. Second, it emphasizes that he is both under the Abrahamic Covenant and is the One who will fulfill all the blessings and promises of the Abrahamic Covenant that have been made to the Jewish people.

2.  The Son of David

The second title of the Messiah is the son of David (Mat. 1:1). When Yeshua is called the Son of David, it emphasizes two things. First, it emphasizes His royalty by teaching thatYeshua is a King. Second, it emphasizes that, as a direct descendant of David, he is under the Davidic covenant and that He will be the One to finally fulfill it. He will fulfill it when He sits upon David’s throne and rules over Israel from the City of Jerusalem. This relationship of the Messiah as the Son of David to the Davidic Covenant is taught in Isaiah 9:6‑7; Jeremiah 23:5‑6; and Luke 1:30‑33.

3.  The Son of Adam

The third Sonship title of the Messiah is the son of Adam (Lk. 3:38). The title of the Son of Adam emphasizes His humanity; Jesus was a man. It relates the Messiah to the Adamic Covenant as the Last Adam (Rom. 5:12‑21).

4.  The Son of God

The fourth title of the Messiah is the son of God (Lk. 3:38). When He is called the Son of God, it emphasizes the fact that Yeshua Himself is God. The term Son of God in reference to Jesus is used in three different senses in the New Testament. The first is the nativistic sense that emphasizes His human nature as a product of the work of God (Lk. 1:35). Because Mary conceived by the overshadowing work of the Holy Spirit, therefore, thatwhich is begotten shall be called the Son of God. The second usage of the Son of God is as a Messianic title. This was one of the titles of the Messiah in the Old Testament, so it is used as one of His Messianic titles (Mat. 8:29; 14:28‑33; 24:36). The third way that Son of God is used is in its trinitarian sense. In this sense, He is distinguished from the Father and from the Holy Spirit (Mat. 11:27; 16:16; 22:41‑46; Jn. 5:18).

There were two particular occasions when Jesus was declared to be the Son of God. This was not when He became the Son of God; He always was the Son of God for all eternity. But He was declared to be the Son of God on two occasions. The first occasion was at His baptism (Mat. 3:16‑17; Mk. 1:10‑11; Lk. 3:21‑22; Jn. 1:32‑34). The second occasion was at the Transfiguration (Mat. 17:5; Mk. 9:7; Lk. 9:35; II Pet. 1:17). Furthermore, the Bible also points out that He was proven to be the Son of God by means of resurrection. This was prophesied in Psalm 2:7 and fulfilled in Acts 13:32‑33 and Romans 1:3‑4. Jesus is the Son of God, He was declared to be the Son of God by God the Father, and He was proven to be the Son of God by virtue of His Resurrection.

5.  The Son of Man

The fifth title of the Messiah is the Son of Man. This title has four specific emphases. First, it stresses His human nature; He is called the Son of Man to emphasize His humanity (Mk. 2:27‑28; Jn. 5:27; 6:53, 62). Secondly, it emphasizes His sufferings; it speaks of His sufferings in His humanity (Mat. 12:40; 17:22; 20:18‑19, 28). The third emphasis of His title as the Son of Man is unique to the Gospel of John. When John uses the term Son of Man, he uses it to emphasize the superhuman character of the Messiah and His pre‑existence. His superhuman character is emphasized in John 1:51, 3:13-14. The fourth emphasis of this title is in reference to His Second Coming. Prophetically, this is the way the term is used in Daniel 7:13. This is also where the term Son of Man originates, and it is also where the term is given its prophetic meaning. In the New Testament, this is applied to Jesus in Matthew 16:27‑28; Mark 8:38; and 13:26.

6.  The Son of Mary

The sixth Sonship title of the Messiah is the Son of Mary. When He is called the Son of Mary, it emphasizes His human origin, or more specifically, the origin of His humanity in that His humanity came from Mary. Mary was His real mother, and this makes Him a member of the House of David through her.

7.  The Son of Joseph

The seventh and final Sonship title of the Messiah is the Son of Joseph (Jn. 1:45, 6:42). This title emphasizes who His human father was by means of adoption and gives Him legal paternity. It does not give Him natural paternity, because Yeshua did not have a natural father.

[1] This post is a modified version of Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum’s original Messianic Bible Study. The full version may be obtained here.

The Lord’s Supper

An ordinance can be defined as a rite or ritual or practice prescribed by the Messiah to be performed by the Church as an outward sign of the saving truth of the believer’s faith. Rather than seeing the ordinances as conveying grace, as with the sacraments, it is better to see them as visible signs of saving truth.

There are two ordinances of the Church: the Lord’s Supper and baptism. This post will consider the meaning, the Scriptures, the names, the qualifications, the purposes, the practice, the prerequisites, and the dangers of partaking unworthily, of the Lord’s Supper.

1. THE MEANING

There have been four major views of the meaning of the Lord’s Supper in the history of Christianity.

A.  Transubstantiation (Roman Catholicism)

Transubstantiation is the view of Roman Catholicism. This view teaches that the elements—the bread and the wine—are actually changed into the body and the blood of the Messiah by priestly consecration. Thus, whenever the Lord’s Supper is served it is a new offering of the Messiah’s sacrifice by means of Transubstantiation. The bread was made available to all, but until recently, the wine was limited to the priesthood only because of the danger of spilling the real blood of the Messiah.[1] This belief is based on the statement made by Yeshua in Luke 22:19‑20, “This is My body; this is My blood.” Therefore, it is claimed that the bread and the wine become the real body and the real blood of Yeshua (see also John 6:53‑56).

However, this is not the biblical teaching or the meaning of the Lord’s Supper for the following reasons:

  • Yeshua used the present tense when He made the statement, “This is My body; this is My blood,” so He could not have meant that these elements became His real body and His real blood.
  • While He did say, “This is My body” in verse 19, He did not say, “This is My blood” in verse 20. Verse 20 states: This cup is the new covenant in my blood. If Transubstantiation is true, then this statement becomes totally senseless.
  • Jesus did not speak of eating His body and drinking His blood in John 6 in the context of the Communion service. In fact, Yeshua never spoke of the Lord’s Supper nor did He even mention it until the last Passover of His earthly life.
  • Transubstantiation denies the completeness of the Messiah’s sacrifice. The point of the Book of Hebrews is that the Messiah died once and for all, and no sacrifice needs to be repeated.

B.  Consubstantiation (Luther)

Consubstantiation is the Lutheran view. This position admits that the elements themselves, the bread and the wine, do not change as taught by Transubstantiation, however, the body and the blood are physically present in the elements. That is why it is not “trans‑substance” in that the substances change; rather, it is “con‑substance” in that the body and the blood are actually within the substances themselves.

The basis for this view is the same as Transubstantiation. The arguments used by Catholics to teach Transubstantiation are the same as the arguments used by Lutherans to teach Consubstantiation; therefore, the response and refutation would also be the same.

C.  Spiritual Presence (Calvin)

Spiritual Presence was the view of John Calvin and it is the view of the Reformed Church. This view teaches that the body and blood are spiritually present in the elements, but not physically present.

The basis for this teaching is the concept of the Lord’s Supper as a sacrament. A sacrament always conveys a means of grace. So, while those who teach Spiritual Presence say that the elements do not change, nor are the real body and real blood present with the elements, they do teach that the body and blood are spiritually present in the elements. Again, the basis of this view is the concept of a sacrament as a means of grace; because it is a sacrament, it therefore must have the Spiritual Presence.

The refutation of this view is that the Lord’s words do not imply a spiritual presence any more than they imply a physical presence.

D.  A Memorial (Zwingli)

The most obvious biblical view is that the Lord’s Supper is to be observed as a memorial, a remembrance of Jesus. Among the Reformers, this view was held by Zwingli. This is seen in Luke 22:19 and 1 Cor 11:24-26.

…and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. 1 Cor 11:24-26 NASB

Believers show forth the Lord’s death by means of the Lord’s Supper. And by showing forth the Lord’s death till He comes, they are fulfilling the commandment to do this in remembrance of Him. The correct view is that the Lord’s Supper is a memorial to His death.

 2. THE SCRIPTURES

Five main passages from which the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper is derived are: Matthew 26:26‑29; Mark 14:22‑25; Luke 22:19‑20; 1 Corinthians 10:16‑17; and 11:23‑26.

3.  THE NAMES

All together, there are seven different names for this ordinance, but only the first six are biblical:

  • the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor 11:20)[2]
  • the Table of the Lord (1 Cor 10:21)[3]
  • the Breaking of Bread (Acts 2:42)[4]
  • the Eucharist (Matthew 26:27, Mark 14:23; Luke 22:17, 19; I Cor 11:24)[5]
  • the Eulogia (1 Cor 10:16)[6]
  • Communion (1 Cor 10:16)[7]
  • Mass. This is the only name that has no biblical support whatsoever. As mentioned earlier, the Mass itself implies a re‑sacrifice.

4. THE QUALIFICATIONS

Normally, three qualifications must be met to qualify as an ordinance. First, it had to be commanded by Jesus. Secondly, it was observed in the Book of Acts. And thirdly, it was expounded upon in the Epistles as to its theological significance. All three of these qualifications were met in the Lord’s Supper. First, it was commanded by Yeshua in Luke 22:19‑20. Secondly, it was practiced in the Book of Acts in Acts 2:42, 46; and 20:7. Thirdly, its theological significance was expounded upon in the Epistles in 1 Corinthians 10:16‑17 and 11:23‑31.

5.  THE PURPOSES

Four purposes can be deduced from the passages that deal with this ordinance.

  • It is a memorial and a remembrance of the life and death of Jesus in Luke 22:19.
  • It announces the basic facts of the gospel in that it proclaims the Lord’s death in 1 Cor 11:26.
  • Because believers are to observe this ordinance until He returns, it quickens an anticipation of the Messiah’s return (1 Cor 11:26).
  • It has the purpose of reminding believers of their oneness with all other believers (1 Cor 10:17).

6.  THE PRACTICE

A.  The Frequency

It is obvious that the practice among members of the early church differed. For example, in Acts 2:46 they seemed to practice it on a daily basis, while in Acts 20:7 they observed it only weekly. There is no specific command that states whether it should be done daily, weekly, or on the first Sunday of the month as many churches practice. Compare 1 Cor 11:26 and Jesus’ words in Luke 22:19b (this do in remembrance of me). The point is: “As often as you do this, do it in remembrance of Yeshua.” In other words, the frequency should be decided by each local congregation.

B.  The Mode

Concerning the mode in which the Lord’s Supper should be practiced, four things should be noted.

  • The Setting – The Lord’s Supper should be practiced when the local body of the church is assembled (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor 11:18, 20, 33 and 34). When Yeshua instituted the Lord’s Supper, it was part of a group participation of the Jewish Passover. Consequently, it should be done with the assembled congregation, not privately between a few individuals.
  • The Elements – There are two elements used in the Lord’s Supper. The first element is bread,[8] which represents the body of the Messiah, and the second element should be a red liquid, because it symbolizes the Messiah’s blood.[9]
  • The Order – The elements should be served in the following order: first, the bread, followed by the wine. This is the order that Yeshua used when He instituted the Lord’s Supper.
  • The Participants – The biblical practice is that the believer should partake of both elements, the bread and the wine.

7.  THE PREREQUISITES

All together, three major prerequisites must be fulfilled before one partakes of the Lord’s Supper, salvation, water baptism, and self-examination.

As noted above, only believers should partake in the Lord’s supper. The second prerequisite, that one should be water‑baptized, is somewhat questionable. In the days of the early church, a person was baptized on the day he believed. But in those days, people knew what baptism meant. Today, with so much confusion concerning baptism, it might be wise to refrain from participation in the Communion service until the new believer has had a chance to be taught what baptism means and what it does not mean. The third prerequisite is self‑examination. While the first restriction is that the Lord’s Supper is served to believers only, another restriction is that it should be served to believers who have examined themselves (1 Cor 11:27-28).[10]

8.  THE DANGERS IN PARTAKING UNWORTHILY

In 1 Cor 11:29-31 there are four dangers of partaking in the Lord’s Supper unworthily. God will discipline those who treat the Lord’s Supper lightly. The dangers in this passage are: (1) chastisement, which is a judgment of discipline in verse 29; (2) physical weakness in verse 30a; (3) illness or sickness also in verse 30a; and (4) physical death in verse 30b.

This post is a modified version of Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum’s original Messianic Bible Study. The full version may be obtained here.

[1] And because of this belief, it was often used as a basis for anti‑Semitic campaigns throughout Jewish history. Jews were accused of sneaking into a church and stealing the bread after it had been consecrated, and nailing it to a tree; and by so doing were re‑crucifying the Messiah. Priests often used this to enrage the mobs to attack the Jewish parts of the town. Many Jews throughout history were killed because of the doctrine of Transubstantiation.

[2] Greek kuriakos (κυριακός), so 1 Cor 11:20. This name is probably a reference to the agape feast that used to precede the Communion service. In the early church period, they first had a supper, and the supper would end with a Communion service, known as the Lord’s Supper. Obviously, when only a small piece of bread and a thimbleful of juice are served, it could hardly be classified as a supper in most churches today.

[3] Greek “of a table of the Lord,” and as such, this may not be a definite reference to Communion.

[4] See Acts 2:42: the breaking of the bread; also Acts 20:7 to break bread.

[5] Greek eucharisteo (εὐχαριστέω) “to give thanks.” This is based on what Yeshua did at His last Passover.

[6] Greek eulogeo (εὐλογέω) “to ask God’s blessing.” See 1 Cor 10:16: The cup of blessing which we bless. There was a cup of wine during the Passover, known as “the cup of blessing.”

[7] Greek koinonia (κοινωνία) “participation in.” It is used of both elements: the body and the blood, the bread and the cup. This is perhaps this author’s favorite name for this service.

[8] It should be unleavened bread, because unleavened bread is a symbol of sinlessness, and the body of Yeshua was a sinless body. Whenever leaven is used symbolically in Scripture, it is always a symbol of sin. God would not permit even the symbol of sin to be in the Jewish home for the Passover.

[9] Most churches in America traditionally use grape juice, but it should be real wine, because that is also what Jesus used at the Passover. A substitute, such as grape juice, should be provided for those who do not feel free to partake of the wine, but the weaker brethren must not be allowed to decide the rules for the body as a whole.

[10] Before a believer allows himself to partake of Communion, he should undergo self‑examination. He should himself ask the question, “Am I walking an orderly spiritual life?” He should ask himself, “Do I discern and appreciate that the bread and the wine represent God’s atonement accomplished for me on the cross?” He should confess all of his known sins. There should be a real sense of honor, a real sense of awe, when participating in the ordinance of Communion.

The Biblical View of Death

The Origin of Death

The Bible addresses three different types of death (physical, spiritual or eternal), each of which originated with the Fall of man.[1] It is considered a penal evil. That is to say, death is a penalty for sin (e.g. Gen 2:16-17, 3:19; Ezek 18:4; Rom 5:12, 6:23; 1 Cor 15:22).

The Meaning of Death

The best way of defining death, biblically speaking, is by the concept of separation. The word “separation” covers every usage of the word “death,” both literal and symbolic. This means that death is not a cessation of existence or even of consciousness. Take for example the rich man and Lazarus (Lk. 16:19‑31). In this passage the rich man, Lazarus, and Abraham are all “dead,” and yet they can carry on a conversation replete with feelings of pain and sorrow.

Physical Death

Physical death is “separation” of the immaterial part of a person from the material part of a person (Eccl. 12:7; Jas. 2:26), not a “cessation” of existence (e.g. nihilism) or of consciousness (e.g. “soul-sleep”). For the believer, however, death is no longer viewed as a punishment, but rather as the means for entering into Heaven. In fact, the Bible describes death as “sleeping” (Mk. 5:39; 1 Thes. 4:13‑14), but “sleep” in these instances refers to the body, not the soul. As an analogy, in physical sleep there is a temporary cessation of physical activity, but not spirit‑soul activity. Likewise, physical death is also a temporary suspension of physical activity, but not spirit/soul or mind/heart activity. The remedy for physical death will be a physical resurrection (Rom. 5:17; 8:23; 1 Cor. 15:22).

Spiritual Death

Spiritual death is separation from God in time (Mat. 8:22; Jn. 5:24; 8:51; Eph. 2:1-5; 5:14; 1 Tim. 5:6; Jas. 5:20). In Gen 2:17 God warned Adam that, on the day that he disobeyed the commandment, he would surely die. Obviously, Adam did not die physically the day he sinned, but he did die spiritually. When Adam and Eve sinned, they died toward God. Their nature had become contrary to God’s nature, because it was fallen. And because it was fallen, it could no longer share the same level of fellowship that it had before the Fall. As a result, all the descendants of Adam are born spiritually dead (1 Cor 2:14). Although the “natural man” may not feel spiritually dead, he is. The remedy for spiritual death is to be made alive or “to be quickened” by faith in the Messiah (Jn. 5:24; Eph. 2:5‑6; Col. 2:13).

Eternal or Second Death

“Eternal” death or the “second death” (Rev 20:14, 21:8) is a separation from God in eternity (Mat. 10:28; 25:41; 2 Thes. 1:9; Jude 13; Rev. 14:11) and it is permanent. This type of death is a result of not believing on the Messiah as one’s Savior (Jn. 3:17‑18; 8:24; Acts 4:12). The place of eternal death or the second death, the place where the separated ones will be for eternity is the Lake of Fire (Rev. 20:11‑15; 21:8).

In the next installment, we shall consider death in relation to the work of the Messiah.


[1] This post is a modified version of Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum’s original Messianic Bible Study. The full version may be obtained here.

Messianic Bible Study #2 (Part 3 of 3): The Law of Moses & the Law of Messiah

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. (Rom 8:2, NASB)

The Law of Moses has been abolished and believers are now under a new law.[1] This new law is called the law of Christ in Galatians 6:2 and the law of the Spirit of life in Romans 8:2. The Law of the Messiah contains all the commandments applicable to a New Testament believer. The reason there is so much confusion over the relationship of the Law of Moses and the Law of the Messiah is that there a many overlapping commandments, and many believers have concluded that certain sections of the Mosaic Law have therefore been retained. But it has already been shown that this cannot be the case, and the explanation for the sameness of the commandments is to be found elsewhere.

This explanation can best be understood if it is realized that there are a number of codes in the Bible (e.g.  the Edenic, Adamic, Noahic, Mosaic, and Christian). A new code will always contain some of the same commandments of the previous code, but this does not mean that the previous code is still in effect. While certain commandments of the Adamic Code were also found in the Edenic Code, this did not mean that it was still partially in force. The Edenic Code ceased to function with the fall of man. The same is true when we compare the Law of the Messiah with the Law of Moses. There are many similar commandments. For example, nine of the Ten Commandments are to be found in the Law of the Messiah, but this does not mean that the Law of Moses is still in force.

The Law of Moses has been nullified and believers are now under the Law of the Messiah. There are many different commandments. Under the Law of Moses, one would not be permitted to eat pork, but under the Law of the Messiah, he may. There are many similar commandments, but they are nonetheless in two separate systems. Therefore, if one does not kill or steal, this is not because of the Law of Moses but because of the Law of the Messiah. On the other hand, if one does steal, he is not guilty of breaking the Law of Moses but of breaking the Law of the Messiah.

The biblical basis for this freedom to keep the Law can be seen in the actions of Paul, the greatest exponent of freedom from the Law. His vow in Acts 18:18 is based on Numbers 6:2, 5, 9, and 18. His desire to be in Jerusalem for Pentecost in Acts 20:16 is based on Deuteronomy 16:16. The strongest passage is Acts 21:17‑26, where Paul, the apostle of freedom from the Law, is seen keeping the Law himself.

The believer is free from the Law of Moses, but he is also free to keep parts of it. Thus, if a Jewish believer feels the need to refrain from eating pork, he is free to do so. The same is true for all the other commandments. However, there are two dangers that must be avoided by the messianic believer who volunteers to keep the commandments of the Law of Moses. One danger is the idea that by doing so he is contributing to his own justification and sanctification. This is false and should be avoided. The second danger is in expecting others to keep the same commandments that he had decided to keep. This is equally wrong and borders on legalism. The one who exercises his freedom to keep the Law must recognize and respect another’s freedom not to keep it.

[1] This post is a modified version of Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum’s original Messianic Bible Study. The full version may be obtained here.

Messianic Bible Study #2 (Part 1 of 3): The Law of Moses & the Law of Messiah

How the Law of Moses relates to believers is of critical importance.[1] Not only is the issue unclear for many people, but one’s life choices are affected by it, including how one approaches Jewish missions and evangelism. However, more than anyone else, the Jewish believer must contend with the issue of his or her relationship to the Law of Moses. Generally speaking, it could be said that the average American messianic believer concurs with a partial keeping of the Law, while the average Israeli believer concurs with the keeping of all of it, excluding those parts dealing with the Temple and its functions. But regardless of the extent, the dilemma is the same: to what extent is the messianic believer to keep the Law of Moses?

Two factors have contributed to the creation of this problem. One is the practice of dividing the Law into ceremonial, legal, and moral commandments. On the basis of this division, many have come to think that the believer is free from the ceremonial and legal commandments, but is still under the moral commandments. The second factor is the belief that the Ten Commandments are still valid today, while the other six hundred three commandments are not.[2]

One might ask, “So what was the purpose of the Mosaic Law?”

A.  To Reveal the Holiness of God

The first purpose was to reveal the standard of righteousness that God demanded for a proper relationship with Him. At no time is it taught in Scripture that the Mosaic Law was the means of salvation; it was always by grace, through faith.

B.  To Provide the Rule of Conduct for Old Testament Saints

The Mosaic Law provided the rule of conduct for Old Testament saints. Romans 3:20 and 3:28 state:

20 because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin…

28 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.

 C.  To Reveal Sin

The Mosaic Law revealed sin (Rom 3:19-20; 5:20; 7:7), to show exactly what it is. Thus Paul and other Jews became aware of the fact that they fell short of the righteous standards of the Law and became very aware of the fact that they were indeed sinners.

D.  To Make One Sin More

The fourth purpose is a strange one, but its purpose, as will be seen, is to make one sin more. Paul speaks of this in the Book of Romans. For example, see Rom 4:15 and 5:20:

4:15 for the Law brings about wrath, but where there is no law, there also is no violation.

5:20 The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.

The picture Paul presents here is that the Law came in to actually make one sin more. In 1 Cor 15:56 and Rom 7:7‑13 Paul contends that the sin‑nature needs a base of operation, and the Law is used as such a base. When Paul stated in Romans 4:15, “Where there is no Law, there is no transgression,” he did not mean, of course, that there was not any sin before the Law was given. The term “violation” (“transgression”) is a specific type of sin in violation of a specific commandment. People were sinners before the Law was given, but they were not transgressors of the Law until the Law was given. Once the Law was given, then the sin nature had a base of operation. For, as soon as the Law said, “you shall not do this” or “you shall do that,” the sin nature said “oh yes I will” or “oh no I won’t,” respectively. Suddenly all these new commandments (i.e. the Law) were given, and the sin nature “went to town” so to speak, and started doing what it could to cause the individual to violate these commandments, thereby sinning all the more.

E.  To Lead Us to Faith

The fifth purpose of the Law is to drive one to faith, and specifically faith in Yeshua the Messiah. See Galatians 3:24‑25:

24 Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.

Because of our sin nature, as much as one may try to keep the Law perfectly, he will never do it. As Paul stated in Romans 7, “as much as I tried not to covet, suddenly, I found myself coveting everyone and everything. And I found myself full of the sin of coveting.” It caused him to sin more until it drove him to utter faith.

F.  To Serve as a Wall of Partition

The sixth purpose of the Law is to serve as a wall of partition to keep the Gentiles as Gentiles away from enjoying Jewish spiritual blessings (Eph 2:15)

In the Old Testament, if a Gentile wished to become a recipient of Jewish spiritual blessings, he would have to take upon himself the entire obligation of the Law; be circumcised; and live as any other Jew had to live. Only a Gentile as a proselyte to Judaism could enjoy the blessings of the Jewish covenants; Gentiles as Gentiles could not. If the Mosaic Law were still in effect, there would still be a wall of partition to keep Gentiles away. But the wall of partition, the Mosaic Law, was broken down with the death of the Messiah. On the basis of faith, Gentiles as Gentiles can and do enjoy Jewish spiritual blessings by becoming fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus. While Gentile believers do not benefit from the physical blessings, they do benefit from the spiritual blessings.

For the sake of space, we will continue this discussion in a second post.


[1] This post is a modified version of Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum’s original Messianic Bible Study, the full version of which can be obtained here.

[2] When confronted by a Seventh Day Adventist, for example, the individual taking this approach runs into problems concerning the fourth commandment on keeping the Sabbath. At that point, “fudging” begins, and results in inconsistency.

Messianic Bible Study #1: God’s Righteousness & The Theology of Israel (Romans 9-11)

Rom 11:25-29

 25 For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; 26 and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, “The deliverer will come from Zion, he will remove ungodliness from Jacob.” 27 “This is my covenant with them, when I take away their sins.” 28 From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers; 29 for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.  (NASB)

Israel today is largely a population in a state of unbelief. This may seem strange to some since God made certain promises to Israel in the Old Testament. These included, among other things, their national salvation and worldwide restoration. In light of this, one wonders what God is doing with Israel today. In Romans 9-11 Paul explains the program for the Remnant of Israel in the present age and how the remnant relates to both Israel and the Church.[1]

In the first eight chapters of the Book of Romans, Paul deals with the theology of the righteousness of God by emphasizing that everyone has fallen short of God’s righteous standards (chs. 1-3). Paul’s conclusion in Romans 3:19‑31 is that all have sinned, both Jew and non-Jew alike, and have come short of the righteousness of God. Because of this, Paul describes how God has provided righteousness for people through salvation in Yeshua the Messiah. Salvation in Paul’s letter includes justification (chs. 4-5), sanctification (6:1‑8:18), and glorification (8:19‑39) for believers. At the end of chapter 8, he emphasizes that there is absolutely nothing that can separate believers from the love of God.

Before proceeding to treat the “practice” of God’s righteousness in chapters 12-16, however, Paul inserts three important chapters (9-11) that deal with God’s righteousness in his relationship to Israel. After all, by the end of chapter 8 one might wonder what, if anything, was to become of Israel’s promises from God. It does not seem that God’s promises to Israel had been kept in Paul’s day, much less 2000 years later, in our day. If this was/is true of Israel, how can anyone really believe that there is nothing that can separate them from the love of God (Rom 8:38-39)?

Asked differently, if what Paul wrote in Romans 1:16 is true—that the gospel is to the Jew first—why are there so few Jews being saved? What’s more, how do the Gentiles know they can trust God when his promises to Israel have not been fulfilled?

First, despite Paul’s expressed love and sorrow for his kinsmen according to the flesh, Israel (9:1-5), her rejection of Yeshua’s Messiahship was not a failure of God’s promises (9:6‑13) or justice (9:14‑29); it was Israel’s rejection of the righteousness of God (9:30‑10:21). However, inasmuch as this was true, it was all according to the divine plan God; his plan had never at any point been thwarted. Rather, God had elected a remnant (i.e. Jewish believers, 9:27; 11:1‑10) and accepted Gentiles (11:11‑32; Isaiah 49:1‑13) in the present age. Finally, Paul contends that all Israel will believe and be restored in the future (11:23‑32) as evidence of the wisdom and the glory of God (11:33‑36).

Second, Israel’s failure is related to spiritual pride and self‑sufficiency; it is not a fault with God. Further, Israel’s rejection is neither complete, total, nor final. There were Jewish believers in Yeshua’s day and there will be a time when Israel as a nation will receive him as Messiah.




[1] This post is a modified version of Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum’s original Messianic Bible Study. The full version may be obtained here.