Christian Churches of God

No. 271

 

 

 

PAUL:

Part 1 Paul and the Law

(Edition 1.0 20090909-20090909)

 

This paper is the first of a series of papers in number parts which deal with the position of Paul and an overview of what he teaches and the historical framework in which he operated. Paul was the founding father of the modern church. A dynamic leader, often persecuted and attacked for his teachings, he led the church through tumultuous times. Without Paul’s teachings and guidance many would never be able to understand the complexity and wondrous nature of God and the son/Messiah He sent to us. In this part we deal with Paul and the Law.

 

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Christian Churches of God

PO Box 369,  WODEN  ACT 2606,  AUSTRALIA

 

E-mail: secretary@ccg.org

 

 

(Copyright ă 2009 Storm Cox and Wade Cox)

 

 

This paper may be freely copied and distributed provided it is copied in total with no alterations or deletions. The publisher’s name and address and the copyright notice must be included.  No charge may be levied on recipients of distributed copies.  Brief quotations may be embodied in critical articles and reviews without breaching copyright.

 

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Paul and the Law

 


Paul, the Man

Paul's name was originally Saul.

Acts 13:9 Then Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at Elymas and said....

(RSV used throughout unless otherwise stated.)

 

Acts 9:11 And the Lord told him, "Rise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for a man of Tarsus named Saul;

 

The first mention of Saul is in the book of Acts, prior to his conversion in relation to the stoning of Stephen.

Acts 7:58 Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him; and the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul.

 

Acts 8:1a And Saul was consenting to his death.

 

From the tribe of Benjamin, Paul was raised an Israelite. He was of the sect of the Pharisees.

Philippians 3:4b-5 If anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more: [5] circumcised on the eighth day, a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee;

 

Paul was trained to be a tentmaker.

Acts 18:1-3 After this Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. [2] There he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them, [3] and, because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them, and they worked together—by trade they were tentmakers.

 

Paul had citizenship in Tarsus of Cilicia, and was educated in Jerusalem (Acts 26:4).

Acts 22:3 ‘I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, educated strictly according to our ancestral law, being zealous for God, just as all of you are today. (cf. also Acts 9:11; 21:39)

 

He was a Roman citizen as well.

Acts 22:25-27 But when they had tied him up with thongs, Paul said to the centurion who was standing by, ‘Is it legal for you to flog a Roman citizen who is uncondemned?’ [26] When the centurion heard that, he went to the tribune and said to him, ‘What are you about to do? This man is a Roman citizen.’ [27] The tribune came and asked Paul, ‘Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?’ And he said, ‘Yes.’ (cf. also Acts 16:37)

 

He was also a member of the Jewish council.

Acts 26:10 And that is what I did in Jerusalem; with authority received from the chief priests, I not only locked up many of the saints in prison, but I also cast my vote against them when they were being condemned to death.

 

Paul persecuted and scattered the church and many were imprisoned.

Acts 8:1b,3And on that day a great persecution arose against the church in Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the region of Judea and Sama'ria, except the apostles.

[3] But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.

 

Acts 9:1-2 Meanwhile Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest [2] and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any who belonged to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.

 

Acts 22:4-5 I persecuted this Way up to the point of death by binding both men and women and putting them in prison, [5] as the high priest and the whole council of elders can testify about me. From them I also received letters to the brothers in Damascus, and I went there in order to bind those who were there and to bring them back to Jerusalem for punishment.

 

Paul was very zealous for the traditions of Judaism which were advanced by the sect of the Pharisees and which Christ had condemned. No doubt this was the basis of his hatred of the Christians because it struck at the very beliefs of the Pharisees regarding the traditions which contradicted a great deal of the Spiritual word of the Law of God.

 

Galatians 1:14 I advanced in Judaism beyond many among my people of the same age, for I was far more zealous for the traditions of my ancestors.

(cf. also Phil. 3:5; Acts 22:3; 23:6; 26:5)

 

Christ had this to say of these traditions of the elders that were advanced by the Scribes and the Pharisees: “Why do you also transgress the Commandments of God by your traditions”; and then said: “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘This people honour me with their lips but their heart is far from me.  In vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men’” (Mat. 15:3; Mk. 7:6-7; Isa. 29:13). God has said through Isaiah that He would do away with these traditions. Paul did not yet understand the intention of God through Christ and the church. For that reason, and error of doctrines, he persecuted the church contrary to the law of God yet thinking he was blameless in the law of God. His statement that he was “blameless under the law” taken in isolation might indicate to some that he did not understand that he had transgressed the law. He was like many Jews today that think they are blameless under the law but sin and reject the Christ that redeemed them. When he was called he then understood his calling. He had considered he was blameless under the law yet then realised he had transgressed the law through tradition and hatred. This view is mirrored and demonstrated in his teachings in Romans 3:9,10,19,20,23 and Galatians 3:10-12.

 

Nevertheless, where it was convenient Paul used his strict Pharisaical background.

Acts 23:6 When Paul noticed that some were Sadducees and others were Pharisees, he called out in the council, ‘Brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. I am on trial concerning the hope of the resurrection of the dead.’

 

Paul’s Conversion

Paul’s conversion was not a conversion to the understanding of the necessity to keep the Law. He was already a zealous keeper of the traditions but he had to be shown the relationship of the faith to the law and that was the reason for the writing and the meaning of the text of Galatians. 

 

His conversion was to the understanding of the higher spiritual obligation of the faith. The primary aim and end of the entire Law of God was expressed in the Two Great Commandments.

 

Matthew 22:37-39 And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. [38] This is the great and first commandment. [39] And a [the] second is like it, You shall love your neighbour as yourself.

 

Paul understood the intent. The purpose of his ministry, and therefore ours, was to preach those two commandments because if we keep them both we will not sin and the law is then irrelevant to us.

 

If we do not steal from our neighbour because we fear being arrested and jailed, we are still thieves but just not practicing ones. If we love our neighbour we would not think of stealing from them because we would not have them suffer. Therefore, if we love our neighbour the laws against theft, slander, covetousness and violence, etc. are irrelevant because they do not enter into the equation. Hence the statement, being “dead to the law”.

 

Many people seek to justify their transgression of the law by arguing that Paul once kept the law and was a sinner and persecutor of the brethren only to be converted. They then argue that Paul ceased to keep the law and taught others to do so. These people are guilty of a serious error.

 

Paul and the Law

Acts 20:5-16 states: 

[5] These went on and were waiting for us at Tro'as, [6] but we sailed away from Philip'pi after the days of Unleavened Bread, and in five days we came to them at Tro'as, where we stayed for seven days.  [7] On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the morrow; and he prolonged his speech until midnight. [8] There were many lights in the upper chamber where we were gathered. [9] And a young man named Eu'tychus was sitting in the window. He sank into a deep sleep as Paul talked still longer; and being overcome by sleep, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead. [10] But Paul went down and bent over him, and embracing him said, "Do not be alarmed, for his life is in him." [11] And when Paul had gone up and had broken bread and eaten, he conversed with them a long while, until daybreak, and so departed. [12] And they took the lad away alive, and were not a little comforted. [13] But going ahead to the ship, we set sail for Assos, intending to take Paul aboard there; for so he had arranged, intending himself to go by land.  [14] And when he met us at Assos, we took him on board and came to Mityle'ne. [15] And sailing from there we came the following day opposite Chi'os; the next day we touched at Samos; and the day after that we came to Mile'tus. [16] For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus, so that he might not have to spend time in Asia; for he was hastening to be at Jerusalem, if possible, on the day of Pentecost.

 

Here we see Paul and his companions keeping the Feast of Unleavened Bread then travelling back to Jerusalem in order to keep Pentecost there. That was an interesting move for someone who supposedly has done away with the law!

 

Paul’s detractors seek to use this scripture to show that Paul was worshipping on a Sunday, but what does it actually say?

 

The King James version states at Acts 20:7:

And upon the first [day] of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.

 

This version is written to infer that it was a church meeting and that Paul was preaching and that the breaking of bread was as a communion service. However, the word rendered preaching is the Greek word dialogue meaning a conversation between two or more people.

 

The breaking of bread was simply a meal. The word for week is sabbaton which can refer to any seven-day period. So, simply, Paul was having a meal on Sunday evening with his companions and their conversation continued until midnight, as he was leaving the next morning.

 

People also try to assert that because Paul did not force new converts to be circumcised that he preached against circumcision and hence the law. But what was Paul’s response to this?

 

Acts 21:17-26

[17] When we had come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly. [18] On the following day Paul went in with us to James; and all the elders were present. [19] After greeting them, he related one by one the things that God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. [20] And when they heard it, they glorified God. And they said to him, "You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed; they are all zealous for the law, [21] and they have been told about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or observe the customs. [22] What then is to be done? They will certainly hear that you have come. [23] Do therefore what we tell you. We have four men who are under a vow; [24] take these men and purify yourself along with them and pay their expenses, so that they may shave their heads. Thus all will know that there is nothing in what they have been told about you but that you yourself live in observance of the law.  [25] But as for the Gentiles who have believed, we have sent a letter with our judgment that they should abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from unchastity." [26] Then Paul took the men, and the next day he purified himself with them and went into the temple, to give notice when the days of purification would be fulfilled and the offering presented for every one of them.

 

Here we have James, Christ’s own brother, together with the Elders, requesting that Paul undertake purification in the Temple according to law to prove to the Jews that he was a keeper of the law. This story is one of the most powerful witnesses of the upholding of the law in the New Testament.

 

The church was not released from the requirement to obey the law by the death of Christ but rather the sacrificial system was fulfilled in him. The Sign of Jonah was still to run 40 years from John the Baptist and Christ’s ministry and ended when the Temple was destroyed on Judah’s failure to repent of the continued profaning of the law by their oral traditions after the 40 years of grace they had been given. Judah’s Temple system ceased at the Temple’s destruction in 70 CE.

 

Christ said in Matthew16:4:

An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign shall be given to it except the sign of Jonah." So he left them and departed.

 

We know that Jonah’s work with Nineveh entailed one day’s journey (the ministry of John the Baptist within one year) and two days preaching (Christ’s ministry of two years) with 40 days to repent (30 CE to 70 CE) when the sacrifices ceased. The prophesies of Daniel concerning the 70 weeks of years and Christ’s reference to the Sign of Jonah did not end until the Temple was destroyed, therefore, the system was not judged until their period of grace (40 years) was up (see the paper The Sign of Jonah and the History of the Reconstruction of the Temple (No. 013)).

 

The Jews were judging righteousness by physical symbols such as circumcision, and as Paul rightly states: “If circumcision was enough then we had no need for Christ”. Did Paul preach that circumcision was unnecessary or redundant as a practice? No. He simply said that gentiles who were called as adults were not required to be circumcised but their children born after their conversion would by law have to be circumcised, and they were. See also the paper Purification and Circumcision (No. 251).

 

James’ activities in the Temple were correct and according to law. Paul was under instruction by the council to keep the Law of God by chapter and verse. (Acts 21:17-40)

 

In Acts 21:24 the apostles (almost certainly James) told him to take the four men and purify himself along with them and pay their expenses so that they may shave their heads (in other words, complete their vows under the law, as would Paul, completing his vows taken at Cenchrae (cf. Acts 18:18)). Why was that? Thus all will know that there is nothing in what they have been told about you but that you yourself live in observance of the Law (RSV) (see also KJV: Keep the Law).

 

This whole episode was counted as righteous by Christ from Acts 23:11 which states:

The following night the Lord stood by him and said, "Take courage, for as you have testified about me at Jerusalem, so you must bear witness also at Rome."

 

For someone who is argued to have done away with the law, he is going to great lengths to keep it.

Paul and Marriage

Churches that teach a celibate priesthood seek to use Paul to argue that he was against marriage. These people are also guilty of a grave inaccuracy. Paul preached against a celibate priesthood and the housing of single women in convents.

 

In Paul’s 1st letter to Timothy 5:9-16 it states:

[9] Let a widow be enrolled if she is not less than sixty years of age, having been the wife of one husband; [10] and she must be well attested for her good deeds, as one who has brought up children, shown hospitality, washed the feet of the saints, relieved the afflicted, and devoted herself to doing good in every way. [11] But refuse to enrol younger widows; for when they grow wanton against Christ they desire to marry, [12] and so they incur condemnation for having violated their first pledge. [13] Besides that, they learn to be idlers, gadding about from house to house, and not only idlers but gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not. [14] So I would have younger widows marry, bear children, rule their households, and give the enemy no occasion to revile us. [15] For some have already strayed after Satan. [16] If any believing woman has relatives who are widows, let her assist them; let the church not be burdened, so that it may assist those who are real widows.

 

Here Paul forbids the keeping of single women under 60 years of age together in convents because they should seek marriage or re-marriage, as they may otherwise fall into sin. This is a direct condemnation of the convent system.

 

1Timothy is clear in regard to the desirability for the ministry to be married.

 

1Timothy 3:2 and 12

 [2] Now a bishop must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, sensible, dignified, hospitable, an apt teacher,

[12] Let deacons be the husband of one wife, and let them manage their children and their households well;

 

Paul here is adamant regarding this:

1Timothy 3:4-5 He must manage his own household well, keeping his children submissive and respectful in every way; [5] for if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how can he care for God's church?

 

This teaching is for very good reasons. Bishops will tend to their church in the same way that they tend to their wives and children. If they brutalise their family they will brutalise the church.

 

Likewise, if they are lackadaisical in governing their families, allowing their children worldly freedoms, they will allow the people of the church the same freedom.

 

Paul’s comments regarding not being married need to be put in context.

 

1Corinthians 7:8-9

[8] To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is well for them to remain single as I do. [9] But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion.

 

These verses are used by the celibate priesthood as ones of righteousness. However, the law states that he who fails to provide for his family is worse than an unbeliever.

 

1Timothy 5:8

[8] If any one does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his own family, he has disowned the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

 

Paul believed, probably because Christ was present in his conversion, that he too would be crucified as Christ was. He had no concept that his ministry would go on for as long as it in fact did. He simply felt that those in the church charged by Christ to die, would not be as committed to their charge if distracted by family commitments.

 

Not all the ministry were charged to be martyrs and were encouraged to marry as previously shown, and was in fact a prerequisite to their office.

 

Paul actively encouraged marriage by all members of the community with dispensation to those being sent amongst the gentiles in high-risk situations.

 

The NT indicates that Paul probably did marry from some of the comments in his letters.

 

In Romans 16:13 Paul says: “Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine”.

 

It is argued by the celibates that this comment was merely an indication of a tender relationship with Rufus and his mother, but it is also argued that Rufus was his brother-in-law and that Paul did later marry and that was the basis of his later comments regarding travel with the wife.

 

In 1Corinthians 7:39 Paul states clearly that the wife is bound by the law until the death of her husband. Clearly he upheld the law of God regarding marriage.

 

In 1Corinthains 9:1 he specifically refers to himself as an apostle and states that he is doubtless an apostle to the Corinthians. He says in 9:3-5: My answer to them that examine me is this; Have we not power to eat and drink? Have we not power to lead about a sister as a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas?

 

Clearly he was at least contemplating marriage if not actually married otherwise the example was rather pointless. Cephas definitely was married as Paul says here.

 

From verses 6-8 he specifically relies on the law to support his argument. In verse 9 he quotes the Law of Moses regarding the forbidding of muzzling an ox while it treads the grain (Deut. 25:4) in support of his argument regarding the entitlement to be sustained by the church in the work.

 

Church Unity 

The biblical position on unity in the church is very clear among the apostles. Paul is no different.

 

1Corinthians 1:10-17

[10] I appeal to you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no dissensions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. [11] For it has been reported to me by Chlo'e's people that there is quarreling among you, my brethren. [12] What I mean is that each one of you says, "I belong to Paul," or "I belong to Apol'los," or "I belong to Cephas," or "I belong to Christ." [13] Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? [14] I am thankful that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Ga'ius; [15] lest anyone should say that you were baptized in my name. [16] (I did baptize also the household of Steph'anas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) [17] For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

 

Paul here is discussing the rise of personality cults which has been a factor of the church and our communities since the beginning. We see here that the Corinthians were putting importance on the person who baptised or ordained them, thus taking the focus away from their new spiritual status and showing partiality towards the one who baptised them. The gift is from God, not the person who baptised them. Modern churches of God have fallen into this trap, particularly in the last twenty-odd years, and follow the command of an individual and that individual’s interpretation. Such views affected the Churches of God from the rise of the Radio Church of God and destroyed the theology of the Adventists.

 

Paul says in verse 10 that we all speak the same thing and let there be no contentions among you.  This refers back to the law.

 

Those who would cause a schism in the church are held accountable for the schism. Unity of the body is a critical aspect of the faith. People who split the body on administrative grounds are held accountable for that fact. False prophecy is an indicator of whom God is dealing with in the body. It is true that there are many administrations but one Lord as Paul taught.

 

Understanding of the body is revealed through its officers and achieved through collective operation in the Spirit.

 

1Corinthians, right up to chapter 4, deals with the unity of the faith within a unity of doctrine. There is only one truth. Paul condemns idolatry from Romans 1:22-25.

[22] Claiming to be wise, they became fools, [23] and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man or birds or animals or reptiles. [24] Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, [25] because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

 

The worship of the One true God features prominently in Paul’s writings, as does adultery. The primary objective of the faith is the marriage of the creation to Christ.

 

This unity of one bride and one groom is paralleled by the unity of one doctrine. Individual men cannot allow and must not allow opinions and interpretations to splinter the church. Christ tightened the marriage laws so that divorce was only allowed for adultery. Christ could not prepare a wedding of which he was the groom and be a proponent for divorce. Likewise, adultery is an attack on the marriage and thus cannot be tolerated in the church.

 

1 Corinthians 6:9-10,13,18:

[9] Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, [10] Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

[13] Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body. 

[18] Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. (KJV)

 

Galatians 5:19:

[19] Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (KJV)

 

1Thessalonians 4:2-5:

[2] For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus. [3] For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: [4] That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; [5] Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God:

 

Our capacity to be faithful to our physical partners is directly proportionate to our ability to be faithful to Christ. The matters listed above are all aspects of the Law of God. The classes of prohibitions stem directly from the law. Christ kept the law that he personally gave to Israel at Sinai. It is not the Law of Moses but the Law of God, given through Christ.

 

Paul said in 1Corinthians 11:1 (RSV):

Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.

 

The KJV translates this passage as:

 Be ye followers of me, even as I also [am] of Christ.

 

The word mimētēs (Strong’s G3401) is usually translated as followers but the RSV translates it as imitators.

 

Being a member of a church means that you are a follower of that religion, or a supporter of that faith. If you are a Buddhist it means you follow Buddha but you do not necessarily imitate him.  You can be in a Christian church and not actually imitate Christ.

 

2Th 3:7 For 1063 yourselves 846 know 1492 how 4459 ye ought 1163 to follow 3401 us 2248: for 3754 we behaved 812 0 not 3756 ourselves disorderly 812 among 1722 you 5213;

2Th 3:9 Not 3756 because 3754 we have 2192 not 3756 power 1849, but 235 to 2443 make 1325 ourselves 1438 an ensample 5179 unto you 5213 to 1519 follow 3401 us 2248.

Hbr 13:7 Remember 3421 them which have the rule 2233 over you 5216, who 3748 have spoken 2980 unto you 5213 the word 3056 of God 2316: whose 3739 faith 4102 follow 3401 , considering 333 the end 1545 of [their] conversation 391.

3Jo 1:11 Beloved 27, follow 3401 not 3361 that which is evil 2556, but 235 that which is good 18. He that doeth good 15 is 2076 of 1537 God 2316: but 1161 he that doeth evil 2554 hath 3708 0 not 3756 seen 3708 God 2316.

 

The word that correctly translates as follows is as follows:

Strong’s Greek Dictionary (SGD) 190 is akoloutheō which means:

 1)  to follow one who precedes, join him as his attendant, accompany him  2)  to join one as a disciple, become or be his disciple, a)  side with his party.

 

We behave as Christ behaved, imitating him so that those imitating us imitate Christ.

 

People say that Paul did away with the law. This passage shows the opposite. Christ said in John 14:15:

"If you love me, you will keep my commandments.

 

To which commandments was he referring? He was referring to Matthew 22:37-39 as discussed above.

 

1Corinthians 10:1-6 (KJV)

[1] Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; [2] And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; [3] And did all eat the same spiritual meat; [4] And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. [5] But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. [6] Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.

 

The NT states clearly that the Law was given to Moses by Christ. Thus we know that Paul and the disciples were clear in their understanding of the pre-existence of Christ. Paul states clearly that he keeps the same law that Christ did. Christ kept the Sabbath and so did Paul.

 

The Sabbath

Acts 18:4

[4] And he argued in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded Jews and Greeks.

 

Passover/Unleavened Bread

Christ kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread, so did Paul and the others, therefore, so do we.

 

Acts 12:3

[3] and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. This was during the days of Unleavened Bread.

 

Acts 20:6

[6] but we sailed away from Philip'pi after the days of Unleavened Bread, and in five days we came to them at Tro'as, where we stayed for seven days.

 

1Corinthians 5:8

[8] Let us, therefore, celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

 

New Moons

Colossians 2:16

[16] Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a sabbath.

 

In regards to the New Moon, here we see Paul telling the gentiles not to be ashamed of keeping what were once Jewish festivals but are now theirs also. Christ adhered to the New Moons also as a matter of logic, because if Paul mimicked Christ and Paul kept the New Moons then it dictates that Christ had done so also. He kept the law and the Feasts, and the New Moons were kept faithfully by all Judaism up to the destruction of the Temple, and Christ was the King and the replacement High Priest without sin. To assert that this text does away with the Sabbaths, New Moons and Feasts is a complete misuse of the language both of the Greek and the English.

 

Feast of Tabernacles

John 7:2

[2] Now the Jews' feast of Tabernacles was at hand.

 

As Christ kept the Feast of Tabernacles, so did Paul and therefore so do we.

 

Acts 18:18-21

[18] And Paul after this tarried there yet a good while, and then took his leave of the brethren, and sailed for Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila; having shorn his head in Cenchrea: for he had a vow. [19] And he came to Ephesus, and left them there: but he himself entered into the synagogue, and reasoned with the Jews. [20] When they desired him to stay a longer time with them, he did not consent." [21]: "But bade them farewell, saying, I must by all means keep this feast that cometh in Jerusalem: but I will return again unto you, if God will. And he sailed from Ephesus." (KJV)

 

This is the vow that had to be fulfilled at Jerusalem when he went there as we saw above.

 

Since the vast majority of the readers of John’s gospel were non-Jewish, it was necessary to use the phrase “the Jews’ Feast of Tabernacles” (Jn. 7:2). Christ’s actions solidify the command to keep the Feast as He charged his physical family to keep it in John 7:8, and in verse 10 we see that he also went to keep the Feast. Even though the religious leaders of the time sought to kill Him, this did not deter Jesus from keeping it and going in to the Temple and he was teaching (Jn. 7:14). This fact leaves us without any excuse to not observe these important days.

 

The Feast to which Paul was referring could have only been the Feast of Tabernacles. A reconstruction of the timeline of Paul’s travels shows this to be so. He arrived in Corinth (Acts 18:1) and stayed at the home of Justus for 18 months (Acts 18:11). He then travelled to Jerusalem, where he arrived in the autumn of 52-53 CE. Paul clearly saw the need and the importance of keeping the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem, which was the headquarters of the Church at that time.

 

Atonement

Acts 27:9

 [9] As much time had been lost, and the voyage was already dangerous because the fast had already gone by, Paul advised them,

 

Bullinger states in his notes to verse 9 this fast, was the tenth day of the seventh month, the Day of Atonement. He thinks it was about Oct. 1 in that year (Companion Bible).

 

It is clear that Paul kept the law as Christ did, thus imitating Christ. We know that the Law was not done away with because Christ says in Matthew 5:17-18 that:

[17] "Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them. [18] For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished.

 

 Revelation 22:6

[6] And he said to me, "These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place.

 

Until these events do take place all is not fulfilled

 

Sin is the transgression of the law (1Jn 3:4). If Paul did not keep the law then he sinned. If he was sinning then as an imitator of Christ, we say that Christ was a sinner also. An attack on Paul and the law is an attack on Christ.

 

Who are the saints of God? These are they that keep the Commandments of God and the faith or testimony of Jesus Christ (Rev. 12:17; 14:12).

 

And when is all fulfilled? The completion of the Resurrection and the Judgment and the coming to earth of the City of God is the fulfilment of the plan. Yet even then when we have fulfilled the plan and put an end to the rebellion and brought all of the creation to God heaven and earth will not have passed away and the law will stand. We have another task ahead of us which will require our life and faith to continue within the Laws of God as they emanate from His nature which we will inherit.

 

See The Law of God (No. L1).

 

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