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1. Brothers, suppose someone is caught doing something wrong. You who have the Spirit should set him right, but in a spirit of humility, keeping an eye on yourselves so that you won’t be tempted too.
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2. Bear one another’s burdens — in this way you will be fulfilling the Torah’s true meaning, which the Messiah upholds.
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Pursuing this line of thought, the article continues,
"With the rise... of Christianity and Islam, which argued that particular injunctions of the Torah had been abrogated, the question of the eternity or "non-abrogatability' of the Torah became urgent. Saadiah Gaon... interpreted the verses, 'Remember ye the Torah of Moshe.... Behold, I will send you Elijah (Malachi 3:22-24(4:4-6)), as teaching that the Torah will hold valid until the prophet Elijah returns to herald the resurrection (Beliefs and Opinions 3:7)."
Luke, making use of the same passage in Malachi, wrote that Yochanan the Immerser came "in the spirit and power of Elijah to 'turn the hearts of fathers to their children'" (Lk 1:17): so that Yeshua could say that "Elijah has come already, and people did not recognize him" (Mt 17:12). In the light of these verses, the reasoning of this tenth-century sage is consistent with a Messianic Jewish approach.
But is it true that even "particular injunctions of the Torah," as opposed to the Torah as a whole, were abrogated by the New Testament? Some branches of Christianity teach that the ethical Law remains, while the civil and ceremonial statutes have been done away with. For Gentiles this may seem a satisfactory solution to the problem of the Torah, but for Jewish believers it isn't so simple as that. In my view, all supposed particular abrogations can be otherwise explained within the Jewish framework for understanding Torah. Some rules were transformed by their fulfillment; this is a process found already in the Tanakh, for example, when the Tabernacle was superseded by the Temple. In the New Testament, Yeshua's own sacrificial death fulfilled the function of the Temple sacrifice for sin and either superseded it or changed it into a memorial, as explained in Messianic Jews 7-10 (see especially MJ 7:12&N). Other rules were not abrogated but were re-prioritized — the obvious instance in the book of Galatians is kashrut (see 2:12bN). The biblical holidays (in a sense the term "Jewish holidays" detracts from their importance) were not abolished but were given new significance (Mt 26:26-29, Yn 7:37-39). Still other rules specify punishments for disobedience; for those united with Ihe Messiah, these have not been abrogated but have been executed already (3:IO-13&NN; Ro 6:2, 8:1).
Although non-Messianic Judaism does not recognize Yeshua's Messiahship and therefore necessarily must have some mistaken ideas about Torah after he has come, it seems to me that Messianic Judaism should take up at once the task of reconciling its view that the Torah includes the New Testament with such non-Messianic Jewish notions about Torah as are not mistaken. From this kind of study it may emerge that no "particular injunctions of the Torah" were actually "abrogated," in the sense that this term should be used in halakhic discussions.
The article notes that Maimonides, whose creed underlies the Yigdal hymn quoted above,
"...contended that the eternity of the Torah is stated clearly in the Bible, particularly in Deuteronomy 13:1 ('thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it') and Deuteronomy 29:28(29) ('the things that are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this Torah')."
But, far from being universally upheld, his opinion was criticized by two other prominent medieval Jewish philosophers, Chasdai Crescas and Joseph Albo. Similarly, the Kabbalah (the mystical, occult stream within Orthodox Judaism) produced an alternative view:
"In the 13th century Sefer ha-Temunah, a doctrine of cosmic cycles or shemittot (cf. Deuteronomy 15) was expounded, according to which creation is renewed every 7.000 years, at which times the letters of the Torah reassemble, and the Torah enters the new cycle bearing different words and meanings. Thus, while eternal in its unrevealed state, the Torah, in its manifestation in creation, is destined to be abrogated. This doctrine... was exploited by the [17th century Messianic pretender and] heretic Shabbetai Zevi and his followers, who [taught] that 'the abrogation of the Torah is its fulfillment!'"
The Shabbeteans' view was close to the erroneous Christian doctrine that takes Ro 10:4 to mean that Yeshua brought the Torah to an end (see note there). In the 19th century,
"Achad Ha-Am called for the Torah in the Heart to replace the Torah of Moshe and of the rabbis, which, having been written down, had, in his opinion, become rigid and ossified in the process of time."
This notably anti-Christian apostle of cultural Zionism, alluding to the very passage in the Tanakh on which the New Covenant is founded (Jeremiah 31:30-33(31-34). quoted in MJ 8:6-12), actually repeated the argument Christian theologians used for centuries against Judaism!
After noting that the ideologists of Reform Judaism considered "the abrogation of parts of the traditional Torah... not a heresy at all but... necessary for the progress of the Jewish religion," the article concludes,
"[I|t is not entirely untenable that the main distinction between Orthodox Judaism and non-Orthodox Judaism [today] is that the latter rejects the literal interpretation of the ninth principle of Maimonides' Creed that there will be no change in the Torah."
In my view, the Torah of Moshe and the Torah of the Messiah are the same. What is called "the perfect Torah, which gives freedom" (Ya 1:25, 2:12), "Kingdom Torah" (Ya 2:8), "the Torah... summed up in this one sentence: 'Love your neighbor as yourself "(5:14: compare Ro 13:8-10, Mk 12:28-31), the "Torah that has to do with trusting" (Ro 3:27; compare Ro 9:32), and the Torah written on hearts by the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:30-33(33-34), MJ 8:8-12) is the same Torah that Moshe received and promulgated. Apparent changes are not abrogations, but applications of the eternal Torah to the new historical situation resulting from the Messiah's first coming. The central requirement of the Torah remains unchanged, "trust and faithfulness expressing themselves in love" (5:6). Yes, there is a Law of Love; Moses brought it to God's people. What Yeshua said about it was, "If you love me, you will keep my commands" (Yn 14:15; compare 1 Yn 3:22); and Yeshua's "commands" are God's mitzvot, Torah to be obeyed.
One considers the United States constitution to be "the same" as when it was promulgated, although it has been amended many times, and specific provisions have even had their meaning reversed by court interpretation. Similar processes — normal legal processes — have taken place within Judaism. One can say, for example, that the Torah was "amended" in the Tanakh itself when Purim was made a required festival centuries after Moshe. Rabbinic interpretation outlawed polygamy in most Jewish communities, made chalitzah (not taking a brother's childless widow as wife) the norm instead of the exception (see Mt 22:24&N), turned Sabbatical-year cancellation of debts into their protection (by the prosbol of Hillel; see Deuteronomy 25:9-11), and so on. Many of these changes were beneficial, by no means the kind Yeshua condemned when he criticized "your tradition" (Mk 7:5-13&NN).
It is tendentious to call the New Covenant's applications of the Torah "changes" or "abrogation" while not so regarding those of the rabbis. Not even the Orthodox Jewish ideology that the Oral Torah was given to Moshe at Mount Sinai along with the Written Torah can mask the inconsistency. For if there is any truth in that claim, then the Oral Torah given to Moshe must have included the fact that the New Covenant would itself be "given as Torah" (MJ 8:6b&N; possibly one should say, "be revealed as Torah"); perhaps this is the import of the "abuse [Moshe] suffered on behalf of the Messiah" (MJ 11:26). If one pursues this thought, then what passes now for Oral Torah must be checked for consistency with the New Testament, since the existing non-Messianic Jewish Oral Torah was produced by people who did not believe all of what the true Oral Torah contains — that is, the rabbis did not believe in the New Covenant and in Yeshua the Messiah. If there is anything in the existing Oral Torah not consistent with the New Testament, it will have to be modified or discarded. The time has come for Jews to ignore anti-Torah Christian theology developed by people with an anti-Jewish bias, and to acknowledge instead that Yeshua the Messiah and the New Testament have not abolished, abrogated or "exchanged" the Torah of truth "for another" Law.
Instead of bringing a new Torah, Yeshua upholds the Torah's true meaning. 1л so expounding it, he "fulfilled" it, that is, he "filled it full" (Mt 5:17&N). He insisted that the Torah not be subverted by human tradition (Mk 7:1-23&NN), that God's original intent be preserved (Mt 19:3-9), that its spirit take precedence over its letter (Mi 5:21-48, 12:1-15; Lk 10:25-37, 13:10-17; 2C 3:6), and that obedience to it now implies both following him (Mt 19:21) and being guided by the Holy Spirit (Yn 14:26,15:26,16:13). Sha'ul too made these same points (Ro 3:31; 7:6,12,14; 8:3; 2C 3:6; Ac 21:20-24).
What the Torah is not, either by God's intent or by its own nature, is legalism (see 2:16bN, 3:23bN). Rather, those who bear one another's burdens, thereby loving their neighbors as themselves (5:14), are fulfilling the Torah's true meaning, which the Messiah upholds and does not abrogate. This is not a new Torah, "not... a new command. On the contrary, it is an old command, which you have had from the beginning" (1 Yn 2:7).
3. For if anyone thinks he is something when he is really nothing, he is fooling himself.
4. So let each of you scrutinize his own actions. Then if you do find something to boast about, at least the boasting will be based on what you have actually done and not merely on a judgment that you are better than someone else;
5. for each person will carry his own load.
As explained in vv. 3-4, each person will have to carry his own load of guilt if he has failed to do the work which the Messiah has given him to do. There is no conflict with the exhortation in v. 2 to "bear one another's burdens"; there a different Greek word is used in urging the Galatians to act lovingly toward fellow-believers burdened by griefs, worries and illnesses.
6. But whoever is being instructed in the Word should share all the good things he has with his instructor.
Teachers of the Good News are to be supported by their fellow-believers. But Sha'ul himself made use of his entitlement only when he was certain that his doing so would not inhibit response to the Gospel itself (see Ac 18:3&N, 1С 9:1-18&NN, 2C 11:7-12&N).
7. Don’t delude yourselves: no one makes a fool of God! A person reaps what he sows.
8. Those who keep sowing in the field of their old nature, in order to meet its demands, will eventually reap ruin; but those who keep sowing in the field of the Spirit will reap from the Spirit everlasting life.
The law of the harvest is not only that a person reaps what he sows, whether good or bad, but that the harvest is always greater than the planting — "thirty, sixty or a hundred times as much" (Mt 13:8, 23).
9. So let us not grow weary of doing what is good; for if we don’t give up, we will in due time reap the harvest.
10. Therefore, as the opportunity arises, let us do what is good to everyone, and especially to the family of those who are trustingly faithful.
Especially to the family of those who are trustingly faithful (on "trustingly faithful" see 2:l6cN). Love for neighbor means even love for enemies and for the unloveable (Lk 10:30-39, the parable of the Good Samaritan); at Yn 13:34-35&NN Yeshua enjoined his followers "to love one another as I have loved you." Such love only believers can give and receive, since it grows out of having the Holy Spirit.
11. Look at the large letters I use as I close in my own handwriting.
12. It is those who want to look good outwardly who are trying to get you to be circumcised. The only reason they are doing it is to escape persecution for preaching about the Messiah’s execution-stake.
13. For even those who are getting circumcised don’t observe the Torah. On the contrary, they want you to get circumcised so that they can boast of having gained your adherence.
Even those Gentiles who are getting circumcised, becoming non-Messianic Jewish proselytes, and thus putting themselves upo потоп, "in subjection to the system which results from perverting the Torah into legalism" (see 3:23bN and 1С 9:20NN), obligating themselves "to observe the entire Torah" as a Jew (5:2-4&N) don't keep the Torah, even thusly misunderstood. On the contrary, they don't follow that system's rules; the only reason they want you to get circumcised is not so that you will obey the Torah, but so that they can boast of having gained your adherence to them, personally (literally, "so that in your flesh they may boast").
14. But as for me, Heaven forbid that I should boast about anything except the execution-stake of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah! Through him, as far as I am concerned, the world has been put to death on the stake; and through him, as far as the world is concerned, I have been put to death on the stake.
15. And as many as order their lives by this rule, shalom upon them and mercy, and upon the Isra’el of God!
Neither being circumcised nor being uncircumcised matters, repeated from 5:6 above (compare 1С 7:18-20) so that Sha' ul can bring in the new idea that has come to him in his white heat (see v. 1 IN), that what matters is being a new creation of God's because you trust Yeshua (compare 2C 5:17) and respond to the Holy Spirit (5:5, 16-25).
16. For neither being circumcised nor being uncircumcised matters; what matters is being a new creation.
This controversial verse, with its expression, unique in the New Testament, "the Israel of God," has been misinterpreted as teaching what Replacement theology wrongly claims, namely, that the Church is the New Israel which has replaced the Jews, the so-called "Old Israel," who are therefore now no longer God's people. But neither this verse nor any other part of the New Testament teaches this false and antisemitic doctrine. Nor, in my view, does it teach, as has been proposed (perhaps in reaction), the contrary doctrine that the phrase refers only to Jews and that "Israel" can never mean Gentiles. To discover what it does teach, we must examine its Jewish background, the use of the word "Israel" in Sha'ul's time, and Sha'ul's purpose at this point in his letter. But we begin at the beginning.
And as many as order their lives by this standard. "As many as" means "all who" (see any lexicon); by context, the "all" Sha'ul has in mind are all those in Galatia, both Messianic Jews and Messianic Gentiles, who order their lives by the standard of being "a new creation" (v. 15), whose trusting faithfulness to God and Yeshua (2:16-3:9; 3:14, 22, 26-29) expresses itself freely (4:21-31, 5:13) in love (5:6, 13-15) by the Spirit (3:2,5; 5:5,16-25; 6:8). These alone constitute God's people in Galatia, God's Messianic Community. Others are self-excluded.
Shalom upon them. On "shalom" which means so much more than just "peace," see Mt 10:12N. "Shalom upon them" (Hebrew Shalom 'aleihem) also means "Greetings to them." Thus, up to this point, the verse says little more than, "Greetings to the Messianic community in Galatia," and corresponds to similar sentiments which conclude his other letters.
Nothing remarkable so far, but the word sequence is odd. One would have expected, "Shalom and mercy upon as many as order their lives by this rule...." Sha'ul places the phrase, "as many as order their lives by this rule," at the beginning so that he can maximize the impact of what follows, namely, an allusion to the the main synagogue prayer, the 'Amidah (Standing Prayer) or Shmoneh-Esreh (Eighteen Benedictions); it is the key to this verse. The 'Amidah was then and is now the central element of synagogue worship. "Sim shalom" ("Grant peace") was definitely one of the 'Amidah prayers already in use in Yeshua's day; Abraham Millgram says it was part of the Temple liturgy, following immediately upon the priestly benediction of Numbers 6:24—26 (Jewish Worship, Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1971, pp. 74, 103).
Sha'ul's Messianic Jewish readers and the Judaizers would have spotted the allusion immediately. And many of his Gentile readers would have noticed it too, because as "God-fearers" they had spent much time in synagogues. (See Ac I3:I6&N, 46-48; 14:1,6-7 for the evidence that many of the Gentile believers in Galatia had already been "God-fearers"; see Ac 10:2N, 13:I6N on the term "God-feariMs" itself.) Moreover, they probably continued using some of these prayers in their Messianic worship; if not, the Judaizers may have refreshed their memories.
In the following literal rendering of the first sentence of "Sim shalom" the 'Amidah's final blessing, the words quoted by Sha'ul are in boldface: I'm shalom. goodness and blessing, grace and kindness and mercy upon us and upon all Israel, your people.
By citing just these seven highlighted words, Sha'ul, with utmost economy, guides the reader's attention directly to the intended meaning of the verse. Further, his skill in wordplay is that of a virtuoso. He starts with the expected greeting, "Shalom" and skips to "upon us" (substituting "them" for "us"), thereby connecting the aforementioned greeting with the prayer, which becomes the new context. Only with the words, "and mercy," does the reader realize that Sha'ul has pivoted from greeting to Amidah; but, with rabbinic brevity (see Mt 2:6N) he does not quote the whole list of six blessings, just the first and last. Finally, the sequence of the words, "Shalom upon them and mercy," differs from that in the 'Amidah in order to preserve the integrity of the customary greeting, "Shalom upon them" ("shalom 'aleihem").
In the 'Amidah, "us" refers to the congregation reciting the prayer; they are part of "all Israel," but by saying, "and upon all Israel," they ask God to extend the requested blessing of peace beyond themselves to the entire people of God. (The prayers in the synagogue liturgy are typically not merely for oneself or one's friends, but for all God's people.) The congregation is not "all Israel," but it is included in all Israel. Likewise, in this verse, "them" refers to the Messianic Community in Galatia, which is included in (i.e., is a subset of), but not identical with, the Israel of God. By adding, "and upon the Israel of God," Sha'ul extends his prayer to other believers outside Galatia.
He does not quote the words "your people" from the 'Amidah, because it is unnecessary. As explained below, the word "Israel" itself already implies "God's people"; since Sha'ul is exercising "utmost economy," he has no need to belabor the obvious. Likewise, he does not have quote the word "all," because he is not focusing on whether the blessing should extend to "all" or only to "some" of God's Israel; without doubt he wished shalom and mercy upon all the Israel of God. whoever they are. But who is God's Israel? This is the question Sha'ul touches on by quoting from "Sim shalom" in such a way as to direct his readers' attention to a new application of the word "Israel," while stopping short of actually redefining it.
Israel. Before we can understand Sha'ul's purpose in changing the 'Amidah's "all Israel" to "the Israel of God," we must examine the crucial word "Israel." In Sha'ul's time this term was current only among those acquainted with Jewish writings, which means, for most practical purposes, that it was known only to Jews. Both Jewish and Gentile Greek-speakers said "loudaioi" when referring to the Jews (or "Judeans"; see Yn 1:19N) as a geographic, ethnic, national, political or socio-religious entity. But Jews reserved the word "Israel" to refer to themselves as God's people, the people of promise, whereas Gentiles did not use the term "Israel" at all —just as today the world uses the term "falashas" (actually a derogatory word in Amharic) to refer to the Ethiopian Jews, but they call themselves "Beta Israel" ("house of Israel"). For more see Ro 1 l:26aN; for a scholarly discussion with references, see G. Kittel, ed., Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Volume 3, pp.356-391.
Thus "Israel" was Jewish jargon. The Judaizers exploited this fact in a crude appeal to the Gentiles' pride, so that their Gentile followers would think that by getting themselves circumcised they were joining God's fashionable elite. God's "in crowd." Therefore, as I see it, Sha'ul is teaching nothing at all here about what "the Israel of God" is. He is not defining it to be the Church, or the Jews, or some Jews and not others. Rather, he is using the word "Israel" as a synonym for "God's people," with "the Israel of God" being best defined as "those who are genuinely God's people," "God's "Israel,' so to speak," in contrast with the Judaizers who may in some sense be "Israel" but are not "of God," not God's Israel. As insistently as possible I call attention to this metaphorical aspect of Sha'ul's use of the word "Israel," to the fact that he is not teaching but inveighing. In a sense, then, I agree with Today's English Version (The Good News Bible), which translates the last half of this verse, "mercy be... with all God's people," and with the Living Bible, which has, "mercy... upon those everywhere who are really God's own." But for the Jewish New Testament I would not want to omit the explicit reference to Israel or cloud the allusion to the Amidah.
The entire momentum of Sha'ul's thought in the book of Galatians, rising to what I have called "white heat" (v. 11N), reaches its climax here. Even without a more precise definition for "the Israel of God," we may be certain that the central point of the verse is this: "The Judaizers want you Gentiles to think you must get circumcised in order to become part of God's people (5:3). But I say that Gentiles have only to trust in and remain faithful to God and his Messiah; if you are doing this, then, without circumcision, you are already part of God's people; you are already, so to speak, included in God's 'Israel.'" Using the "most Jewish" language possible, the phraseology of the Amidah, he demolishes the Judaizers' last point of persuasion — finito! The tone of v. 17 shows that Sha'ul is fully aware of his accomplishment; and since nothing more of substance needs to be said, v. 18 ends the letter.
But interpreters have not been satisfied to let the matter rest. They have looked for a "deeper meaning,'' some deep truth concerning the nature of "the Israel of God." And that is their error. There isn't any deeper meaning! But we must pursue the matter as if there were in order to expose the mistakes. And upon the Israel of God. "And" is Greek kai, which could, in theory, be understood as epexegetical, to be translated, "that is" or "in other words." In this case the traditional Christian misunderstanding would be correct; the verse would say: "Peace and mercy upon those who order their lives by this standard, that is, upon the Israel of God," namely, the Church. English versions which say essentially this in their rendering include the Revised Standard Version, the Phillips Modern English Version, and the Jerusalem Bible.
The consequence of this wrong interpretation has been immeasurable pain for the Jews. The conclusion was reached that the Church is now the "New Israel" and the Jews, the so-called "Old Israel," no longer God's people. If the Jews are no longer God's people, isn't it appropriate to persecute them? There are four reasons why this antisemitic conclusion is false and is not taught by this verse or any other:
(1) the Greek grammar,
(2) the Jewish background,
(3) Sha'ul's purpose here, and
(4) Sha'ul's teaching elsewhere.
(1) Greek grammar. The Greek grammar mitigates against translating this kai by "that is," because earlier in the verse the word "каГ appears twice where the context allows only the translation "and." It is unlikely that Sha'ul would use "kai" twice to mean "and" and once to mean "that is." The King James Version, the New Jerusalem Bible and the New American Standard Version correctly have "and."
(2) Jewish background. The Jewish background is Sha'ul's allusion to the 'Amidah. In the 'Amidah the phrase corresponding to "and upon the Israel of God" is "and on all Israel." The Hebrew particle "ve-" in the 'Amidah can only mean "and." Sha'ul would not use in the position where "and" appears in the Hebrew of the 'Amidah a Greek word which has "and" as one of its possible meanings while expecting his readers to understand "that is" instead.
(3) Sha'ul's purpose here. Sha'ul's purpose in the book of Galatians is polemic, not didactic. He is destroying the arguments of the Judaizers, not teaching about the nature of Israel. This is clear from the fact that the word "Israel" appears only here in the whole book of Galatians. Thus whatever we learn in this verse about Israel is a byproduct, gleaned in passing and to be set alongside his reasoned discussion of the subject, which is found not in Galatians but in the book of Romans.
(4) Sha 'ul 's teaching elsewhere. In Romans, Sha' ul devotes three chapters to the subject of Israel (Chapters 9-11). There all eleven instances of the word "Israel" refer to the Jewish people, never to the Church. The climax of his teaching is that "all Israel" — the Jewish people as a whole — "will be saved" (Ro 11:26a; the note there shows that "Israel" in that verse does not mean the Church). And his purpose in those chapters is to prove that God can be counted on to keep his promises, both to the Jewish people and to all believers in Yeshua — which is precisely the opposite of the theology that says the Jews are no longer God's people, no longer the people of promise.
Traditional Roman Catholicism, Lutheranism and Covenant theology (Presby-terianism) are among the branches of Christendom that have perpetuated the idea that the Christians have replaced the Jews as "the New Israel." "the True Israel," "the Israel of God." But in reaction, the branch of fundamentalist Protestantism known as Dispensationalism has erred in the opposite direction. Taking the "and" before "upon the Israel of God" to mean that "those who order their lives by this standard" are entirely distinct from "the Israel of God," they propose a schema in which "the Israel of God" refers to Jews, but the Church and the Jewish people are forever separate in their histories and destinies.
The Jews are seen as having a physical, non-spiritual, earthly destiny, while the Church is seen as having a heavenly, spiritual, non-earthly destiny. Intended to restore the Jewish people to a place in God's plan, the "separate but equal" status accorded them tends here, as in interracial contexts, toward "separate and inferior." Further, in the case of a Jew who has accepted Yeshua as the Messiah, Dispensationalism has the curious effect of demanding that he decide whether he belongs to his own Jewish people, Israel, or to the Church. The psychological conflict is exacerbated by Dispensationalism's teaching that (here will be a "Pre-Tribulation Rapture" of the Church, in which Christians will one day be removed to heaven from the scene of world history, while the Jews, Israel, will be left behind to suffer through "the time of Jacob's trouble." Is a Jewish believer, then, going to flee with the Christians or stay behind to suffer with the Jews? Is his fate to be "Jewish" suffering or "Christian" escape? For more on this, see 1 Th4:l3-18N.
If, as the Dispensationalists teach, the Church is not "the Israel of God," then precisely which Jews could Dispensationalists consistently understand to be "the Israel of God"? Messianic Jews? This would be consistent with Sha'ul's teaching that "not everyone from Israel is truly part of Israel," so that "only a remnant" will be saved (Ro 9:6, 27; 11:5). But Messianic Jews are already among "as many as order their lives by this standard," so that there is no need to mention them a second time. Non-Messianic Jews? Possibly, since Sha' ul's heart so ached for his unsaved brothers that he would have put himself under God's curse if it could have helped them (Ro 9:3-4, 10:1). But nothing in the letter to the Galatians prepares us for such a sentiment here; it simply doesn't fit into place. All Jews? Then there would have been no need for Sha'ul to invent the phrase, "the Israel of God"; he could have quoted "all Israel" from the 'Amidah without modification.
The Dispensationalists are wrong; neither the Jewish people as a whole nor any subgroup of them constitute what Sha'ul means by "the Israel of God." This is clear from Ro 11:16-24, where Gentile believers are portrayed as wild olive branches grafted into the rich root of the cultivated olive tree which is Israel, the Jewish people. Since Gentile believers "have shared with the Jews in spiritual matters" (Ro 15:27), they are in some sense no longer "excluded from citizenship in Israel" (Ep 2:12&N); while unbelieving Jews, who are now broken-off branches, constitute some sort of "Israel in suspended animation," since they are capable, through trust, of being grafted back into their own olive tree. But none of this rather complex and subtle teaching about Israel is brought up in Galatians, and it is unreasonable to pack all this meaning into a single use of the word "Israel" (for more see Ro 11:23-24&N). In fact, since Sha'ul wrote Galaiians before he wrote Romans, we cannot even be sure that he had yet thought all of this through.
The article on "Israel" in Kittel's Theological Dictionary of the New Testament referred to above says that "the expression [Israel of God in Ga 6:16] is in a sense to be put in quotation marks" (p. 388). I didn't do it in the JNT, but it's not a bad idea. Quotation marks would signal the reader that Sha'ul is not humorlessly declaring the Church to be the New or True Israel, having supplanted the Old; nor is he, with similar heavyhandedness, declaring the Church and Israel to be two different peoples of God. (It must be added that Sha'ul would also disagree with non-Messianic Jews who consider the Jewish people the only Israel there is, and the Church not Israel in any sense whatever.) Rather, he is indeed talking about genuine believers, both Jewish and Gentile — the Messianic Community — but polemically (not didactically), as a concerned pastor writing against the Judaizers who threaten his work for the Gospel. What he does teach about Israel here, in passing, contains elements of both the rejected views without agreeing with either. Believers are the Israel of God, God's people, God's "Israel," so to speak. Nevertheless, "Israel" refers to the Jewish people, not the Church. Only in Romans does he elucidate the anatomy of this paradox.
17. From now on, I don’t want anyone to give me any more tsuris, because I have scars on my body to prove that I belong to Yeshua!
18. The grace of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah be with your spirit, brothers. Amen.
Brothers. As in eight other places in this letter, Sha'ul closes by reminding his hearers that they are all brothers in the Messiah. Therefore they should mend their doctrinal errors and become reconciled with one another. The Amen at the end, like the one at 1:5, indicates that Sha'ul wants the congregation to respond to his final sentiment by saying, "Дотел," the Hebrew word that means, "Let it be so." See Ro 9:5N.
My own handwriting. See 1С 16:21-24N. Normally Sha'ul's handwritten greeting is short, since its purpose is to assure his readers that the letter is really from him; this is proved by his calling attention to the large letters he uses and by 2 Th 3:17 in the light of 2 Th 2:2-3a&N. Here, however, after dictating the body of the letter and authenticating it, it seems that, with papyrus or parchment before him and quill in hand, he was moved by the intensity of his feelings to express once more (vv. 11-18) what he thought of the Judaizers and the evil they were doing. In these verses he is using highly charged, emotion-ridden language. This is important to keep in mind, because the very controversial v. 16 can be understood correctly only if it is remembered that Sha'ul was writing at white heat.
- chapter 1
- chapter 2
- chapter 3
- chapter 4
- chapter 5
- chapter 6