Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Sheik Palazzi and the apostle Paul

This was written years ago, but its truth remains the same:

Dear Sheik Palazzi:

Congratulations on your FrontPage Magazine interview! I'm very happy for you to receive such conservative coverage. It's great. That being said, please permit me to correct a misunderstanding you have of my Jewish Christian brother, Paul.

You wrote:
"When Paul of Tarsus converted to Christianity, he started understanding Christianity in a very different way. There was no need of circumcision anymore, no need of Temple services and no need to observe the ritual commandments of Torah. The entire Jewish tradition was considered to be a temporarily valid religion, as a preliminary stage for the advent of the Messiah. Now that the Messiah has come, Judaism was rejected and meaningless. Jews were the Chosen People since the Messiah was going to be born among them, but since they rejected the Messiah, they were changed from Chosen People into an accursed People."

The strict Pharisee Paul, who continued to call himself a Pharisee AFTER his Christian conversion, saying, "Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee; concerning the hope and resurrection of the dead I am being judged!" (Acts 23:6), NEVER said there was no need of circumcision anymore, of Temple services or ritual commandments of the Torah for the JEWS, but he did say many of these holy things weren't required of GENTILE converts to Christianity, agreeing with the Jerusalem Council that decreed:

Acts 15:19-29
19 Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the GENTILES who are turning to God, 20 but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality,from things strangled, and from blood. 21 For Moses has had throughout many generations those who preach him in every city, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath.
22 Then it pleased the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas, namely, Judas who was also named Barsabas, and Silas, leading men among the brethren. 23 They wrote this, letter by them:

The apostles, the elders, and the brethren,
To the brethren who are of the GENTILES in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia:

24 Since we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you [Gentiles] with words, unsettling your souls, saying, "You must be circumcised and keep the law"--to whom we gave no such commandment-- 25 it seemed good to us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who will also report the same things by word of mouth. 28 For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: 29 that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well."

So you see that Paul taught that the GENTILES should keep the minimum requirements of abstaining from immorality, obeying the dietary laws, keeping the biblical Sabbath and festivals!
The early Christian fellowship in Jerusalem, led by James the brother of Jesus (Yeshua), tried to correct this STUBBORN STIGMA AGAINST PAUL that continues to this day and advised him:

Acts 21:20-26
20 And they said to him, "You see, brother, how many myriads of Jews there are who have believed, and they are all zealous for the law; 21 but they have been informed about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs. 22 What then? The assembly must certainly meet, for they will hear that you have come. 23 Therefore do what we tell you: We have four men who have taken a vow. 24 Take them and be purified with them, and pay their expenses so that they may shave their heads, and that all may know that those things of which they were informed concerning you are nothing, but that you yourself also walk orderly and keep the law. 25 But concerning the GENTILES who believe, we have written and decided that they should observe no such thing, except that they should keep themselves from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality."
26 Then Paul took the men, and the next day, having been purified with them, entered the temple to announce the expiration of the days of purification, at which time an offering should be made for each one of them....

So here the Jewish-Christian leaders in Jerusalem praised the zeal and devotion of the Jews, but were acknowledging that wild rumors and false allegations, disinformation, had been spread against Paul. To prove such charges were groundless, that Paul continued to follow halacha, Jewish traditions and Torah, they encouraged him to go sacrifice with Jews under a Nazarite vow, which he did! Paul sacrificed in the Temple, but then another misunderstanding and rumor spread that he had taken a Gentile into the Temple! Oy veh!

Paul never taught that the Jews' rejection of Jesus changed their status as the Chosen People! He taught that the prophesied partial blindness had happened, but that it was all for the mysterious purpose of God bringing in converted Gentiles into the Israelite fold, the Israelite root and branch of the Jewish Church of God!

Romans 11:1
1 I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.

Romans 11:25-36
25 For I do not desire, [Gentile] brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:
" The Deliverer will come out of Zion,
And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob;
27 For this is My covenant with them,
When I take away their sins."
28 Concerning the gospel they are [presently] enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. 29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 30 For as you were once disobedient to God, yet have now obtained mercy through their disobedience, 31 even so these also have now been disobedient, that through the mercy shown you they also may obtain mercy. 32 For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all. 33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!
34 "For who has known the mind of the LORD? Or who has become His counselor?"
35 "Or who has first given to Him And it shall be repaid to him?"
36 For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.

Paul acknowledges the animosity between Judaism and biblical Christianity, but believes, according to his God-given understanding of the prophecies, that all's well that ends well, and that it's all for a great purpose that God is working out in the lives of all mankind. Paul reminds his Gentile audience that they're grafted into ISRAEL, the Jews aren't grafted into a Gentile root and branch - that is counterfeit Christianity represented by the Roman wolves in sheep's clothing!

I know Paul's writings concerning this veiled mystery of partial blindness and ultimate restoration of all Israel (all Twelve Tribes) is difficult to grasp, but at least we should clearly see that Paul NEVER taught that Jews should stop circumcising their children, forsake the Temple services (he participated in them!) or abandon the ritual commandments of the Torah. He merely taught that such things were not necessary for GENTILE converts to Christianity, as God is witness.

Most sincerely yours,
David Ben-Ariel

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