Why is John’s Gospel So Different?

If you look on the Internet for an answer to this question, you will find many different viewpoints. I have often read that the other three gospels are synoptic, while John’s is spiritual; this seems to be the main explanation for the significant differences between John and the other three gospels. .

But is that really an explanation?

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One person said that we need to look at the audience, and I think that is somewhat on the right track, in that John is written so differently, with a subtle anti-Semitic tone to it, that I do not believe it was written by the Apostle John, at all. And neither do I believe it was written to Jews.

In fact, I don’t even think it was written by a Jew!

WHOA!! Hold your horses, Steve! How can you even think that?”

I’ll tell you why.

Here are some of the differences I noted in John that do not appear in the other gospels, are exactly the opposite of the other three, or appear (to me, being a Jew) to not have been written by a Jewish person at that time:

  • When talking to the Pharisees, Yeshua often uses the term “your Torah”. Now, for a Jewish person living then, which is no different than for a Jewish person living now, we do not say “your Torah” when discussing the Torah. We say “the Torah” or just, “Torah”. By emphasizing that the Torah is “theirs”, Yeshua implies that it is not his. Now, if John starts out by saying the Word became flesh, and we have to assume the Word is the Torah (since there was no other “Word” then), how can the living Torah separate himself from the written Torah? The sense one gets from this dichotomy is that Yeshua is teaching something different than the Torah, which is wrong. By using the term “your Torah”, the writer is separating Yeshua from the Torah. No Jewish disciple of Yeshua would ever state or even imply that Yeshua taught anything other than what is in the Torah.
  • The writer often refers to the people who were against Yeshua as “the Judeans”. Sometimes we read the writer differentiate the Judeans from the Jerusalemites, but overall the implication is that all Jews were against Yeshua. Of course, this is not true, and not implied in the other gospels, which indicate that it was the Pharisees and Scribes (also called Torah teachers) who were the main impetus behind having Yeshua arrested. They were also the ones who threatened the people with excommunication if they followed him. This subtle anti-Semitic tone leads one to believe that all the Jews rejected Yeshua, when the truth is that thousands accepted him.
  • One of my major complaints about the gospel of John is that of all the New Covenant writings, this gospel is the only one with any indication that Yeshua is God. Whether you are a Unitarian or a Trinitarian, the fact remains that nowhere else in the entire New Covenant does Yeshua even imply he is God; yet, in just this gospel, his language is so overly spiritual, way too metaphorical, and containing confusing double-talk that leads one to think Yeshua says he is God. For example, there are many instances where Yeshua says something to the effect of he knows the Father and the Father knows him, and if they knew the Father they would know him, but they don’t know the Father, so they don’t know him, but he and the Father are one, so when they reject him they reject the Father, who will reject them because…yadda…yadda…yadda! Too much metaphorical mishigas! Throughout history, these types of statements (which we find only in John) have been used to justify that God and Yeshua are one and the same entity. This is one of the major reasons that Jews cannot accept Yeshua as their Messiah– we Jews have one God, and just one God, and he is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He promised to send a Messiah to bring us back into communion with God, gather us back to our homeland, Israel, and re-establish the Temple service. The Messiah, for Jews, is a man with supernatural powers that come from God, but he is not God, himself. The gospel of John is written in such a way as to make it impossible for any Jew to accept Yeshua, and no Jewish disciple of Yeshua would ever write anything like that.
  • Thomas says “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28) when he sees Yeshua after being resurrected. This is not stated in any of the other three gospels.
  • Yeshua gives his disciples the gift of the Ruach HaKodesh by breathing it on them (John 20:22). This happens when he is with them after his resurrection. According to the other three gospels, not only does this not happen, but the complete opposite thing- Yeshua tells them to wait for the Holy Spirit, which will come from God. And in Acts Chapter 2, we are told that the Ruach didn’t come upon the disciples until they were celebrating Shavuot, which was some 50 days after Pesach (Passover).
  • In the other three gospels, Yeshua never clearly states he is the Messiah or the son of God, referring to himself instead as the “Son of Man”. But in John’s gospel, he claims to be the son of God and the Messiah a number of times (John 4:25; 10:36; 18:36).
  • In the other three gospels, Yeshua refuses to help anyone other than the lost tribes of Israel, but in John 4:25 he not only tells the Samaritan woman at the well that he is the Messiah, but stays for two days teaching the people in Samaria!
  • The only gospel that mentions the Apostles going to the grave is Luke, and he says only Kefa (Peter) went. In John’s gospel, it says John and Peter went, and that he got there before Peter (when the writer of John refers to the “talmid that Yeshua loved”, this is a clear reference to John).
  • Finally, we have to remember one of the most important and necessary tools to use in biblical exegesis, which is hermeneutics, and when we review the gospel of John hermeneutically to the other three gospels, the many differences between John’s gospel and the other three MUST indicate that the gospel of John is – at the very least- questionable with regards to its accuracy and trustworthiness.

In fact, the Complete Jewish Bible even points out that many biblical scholars believe one part of this gospel, John 7:53 – 8:11, wasn’t even written by John but possibly by a talmid (student) of his. I say, if the scholars believe that part of this gospel was written by someone else, why stop there?

I think the gospel of John wasn’t written by John, or even by a Jew, because everything about it screams traditional Christian anti-Torah teaching to me!

I don’t think it should even be in the New Covenant.

If it is so wrong, why is it there? I believe it is there because by the time the New Covenant was being canonized, the Christian religion had mutated into a totally anti-Torah religion and the Gentiles putting this “Bible” together needed something to really support their doctrines. The gospel of John does this very well, what with the many references to Yeshua saying that he and God are the same, to “your Torah”, to “the Judeans”, filled with overly spiritual and metaphorically intense sentences designed to confuse the masses, and with a writing style that is so very different from the other Jewish writings that it would appeal to those who are easily fooled into thinking that something sounding spiritual must be true.

I realize that many Christians swear by the gospel of John, and consider it to be the best of the four gospels. When I was first learning about Yeshua, a very spiritually mature Christian I worked with helped me to come to salvation through Messiah Yeshua. However, of all he did to help me, the one thing he did that was not helpful, at all, was to tell me that I should begin my introduction to the New Covenant by reading John’s gospel.

Today, if I wanted to help a Jewish brother or sister know their Messiah, I would direct them to Matthew, Mark, Luke, Acts, Hebrews, James, and Revelation. I would tell them not to even look at any other writings until they were sure they knew what Yeshua was teaching and only after I was able to prepare them for the true meaning of the Epistles.

And I would tell them to ignore the gospel of John, altogether.

What I am about to say might stun and possibly offend or upset many Christians, but I fully believe the gospel of John was written by someone who was not Jewish, and whose aim in writing it was to support Christian separation from Judaism.

Christianity seems to just brush off the significant differences between John’s gospel and the other gospels, and ignores the fact that these differences are not just “off” a little, but are totally in opposition to what we read in the other gospels and in the book of Acts.

I’m sorry, but I can’t ignore this! John’s gospel is not trustworthy and I believe it should be ignored, completely, because it is not the true representation of Yeshua’s ministry, but rather a propaganda gospel designed to direct Gentiles away from the Torah, and Jews away from their Messiah.

If any of you now want to leave my ministry or block me, that is your decision, and I am sorry to see you go, but I calls ’em as I sees ’em, and this one is so very clear to me I cannot hold back, any more.

The truth is what sets us free, and more often than not, gaining that freedom can be so uncomfortable as to be painful.

Thank you for being here, and especially now if you’ve decided to stay. Please share these messages, subscribe to my website and YouTube channel, buy my books, and remember that I always welcome your comments.

That’s it for today, so l’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Mark 2:22- New Vs. Old

If you aren’t familiar with this particular passage in the B’rit Chadashah, it is where Yeshua (Jesus) is telling people that new wine cannot go into old wineskins, and a new patch (unshrunk cloth) should not be sewn onto old clothes. Instead, new wine must go into new wineskins.

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In some cases, this passage is used to justify that there is no longer need for Gentile Believers to obey the laws of Moses, in that the Torah is the “old wine” and the “old clothes”. Yeshua’s teachings are the new wine that must go into new wineskins, indicating that any Jew (those are the only people Yeshua was talking to in those days) who still abided with the traditions and commandments as taught by the Pharisees would not be able to accept this new understanding.

But this passage has nothing to do with the law itself because Yeshua wasn’t talking about the performance of the commandments: he was talking about having an open mind to the deeper meaning of the commandments.

There is a Jewish form of exegesis called PaRDeS. The “P stands for P’shat, which is the literal meaning of the laws (i.e., plain language- what you hear is what it is); the “R” is for Remes, a deeper, more spiritual meaning. The “D” is for Drash, a story (or parable, if you will) that has a moral meaning, and the “S” is for Sud, an almost mystical understanding of the law.

Yeshua taught the Remes, which is not what the Pharisees had been teaching. That is why people said that no one ever taught as he did. We see this especially in the Sermon on the Mount when Yeshua said we have been told do not murder (P’shat), but he says do not even hate in your heart (Remes). He also said we have been told do not commit adultery (P’shat), but we should not even lust with our eyes (Remes).

And he taught the people using parables (Drash).

So, when Yeshua talked about not using an unshrunk patch (someone who doesn’t know the existing traditions) on an old cloth (someone who has been indoctrinated into the old ways of understanding) he meant that a new Believer who tried to work within the old traditions would become confused and not be able to maintain his new faith.

I believe this statement was not meant for that time but was a prophecy regarding newly Believing Gentiles who would one day be confused by Jewish Believers who wanted these neophyte Gentile Believers to make a total conversion to both the Torah and the traditions of Judaism overnight (the letter Shaul wrote to the Galatians confirms this problem existed).

The reason you don’t place new wine in old wineskins is that the new wine will continue to ferment, releasing gases that will expand the wineskin. If an old wineskin (one that has been stretched out already) is used for new wine, the expanding gases will burst it and the wine will be lost.

The Jews who knew the Torah only as a set of rules to be followed to the letter (P’shat) are the old wineskins, and what Yeshua was teaching was new wine (the Remes). He never taught anything against the laws of Moses, only the deeper meaning of them- that is the new wine.

What Yeshua was teaching would eventually expand a person’s understanding of the Torah, so if someone was not open to learning this newer, deeper meaning of the law (being a new wineskin), then what will happen is that being an old wineskin (their minds incapable of accepting this newer meaning) they will “burst”, i.e. reject Yeshua and what he taught and revert to their comfort zone of just doing what the Pharisees taught, what is today the Rabbinic rules in the Talmud called Halacha.

If you are wondering why it is so important to know the Remes, read Jeremiah 31:31, which is the New Covenant God promised to make with us: we are to have the Torah written on our hearts, meaning that it isn’t just doing what the Torah says that matters (P’shat), it is wanting to do it (Remes)!

I think we can all agree that when you really want to do something, it is much easier to do, even if it is difficult or requires sacrifice.

When God gave the Torah to Moses to teach to the children of Israel, he knew this would be hard for them. That is why he allowed us to deal only with the P’shat- we were only able to drink milk.

After a few thousand years with the P’shat, God sent Yeshua to teach us the Remes, the real meat of the law, giving us the opportunity to come closer to God and better understand what he meant. This was necessary for us to complete God’s plan of salvation, which is to be his nation of priests (Exodus 19:6) by bringing the full understanding of the Torah to the Gentiles.

The next time Yeshua comes will be to bring to final completion God’s plan of salvation for the world. That is when those who were able to be new wineskins, Jew and Gentile, will be united with God forever.

Thank you for being here and please share these messages with everyone you know, Believer or not, in order to help this ministry grow. Subscribe (if you haven’t already) to both my website and my YouTube channel, and don’t forget to set notifications so you know when I post.

I have written 4 books, and if you like what you get here you will like my books, as well. They are available on Amazon Books or use the link on my website.

That’s it for today, so l’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Matthew 5:17 and The Beatitudes

I suppose we are all familiar with the Beatitudes, or as they are also known, the “Be-Attitudes”.

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Many are also familiar with Matthew 5:17, which is where Yeshua says he did not come to change the law, but fulfill it.

The problem with most traditional teaching is they end the verse here, but that is not the end of the verse- Yeshua went on to say nothing in the law will change, not a single stroke or yud until all things have come to pass. This part they like to leave out because it defeats the improper interpretation that Christianity has imposed on their members, that being that to fulfill the law meant it was completed, and thereby, done away with.

So let’s look at that verse in Matthew and identify the true meaning.

First off, whenever we interpret something from the Bible we need to use three tools of exegesis: Hermeneutics, Circles of Context, and the proper historical and cultural usage of the words and terms used.

Hermeneutics is, simply stated, the idea that whatever it says in the Bible here, it also says the same thing there, and everywhere. For example, we are told that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is the one and only true God, which is confirmed, hermeneutically, because this is stated again and again throughout not just the Tanakh, but the entire Bible.

If, at some point, someone quoted a verse from the Bible and interpreted that as proving there was another God (not a man-made statue, but an honest-to-goodness real God different from Adonai) then, hermeneutically, we could argue against the validity of that interpretation.

The tool called Circles of Context means that when we interpret a verse or passage, it must be done so within the context of the sentence, the context of the paragraph, and of the entire passage.

With regard to the Epistles in the New Covenant, we also have to include the context of who is writing the letter, to whom, and why.

The third tool, proper cultural usage of the words and terms, brings us back to Matthew 5:17 and the word, “fulfill“.

During the First Century, when the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Scribes talked about “fulfilling the law” it had nothing, whatsoever, to do with performance. It meant interpreting the law correctly.

Just as the use of the word “trespassing” with regard to the law had nothing to do with actually walking on someone’s property, but to misinterpret the law.

In the worst-case scenario, to trespass the law meant to sin.

In this message, I am saying my interpretation of Matthew 5:17 is that Yeshua said he came to properly interpret the law. And, that proper interpretation has nothing to do with performance but to give the people a deeper, spiritual understanding of the law.

Now, I have to justify that interpretation culturally, contextually, and hermeneutically.

Culturally, as I explained above, the word “fulfill” in this usage meant to interpret the law by teaching its spiritual meaning, and had nothing to do with the performance of the law.

Next, let’s look at the context of what Yeshua was saying. Matthew 5 begins with the Beatitudes, where he is telling the people that the meek and the humble will be blessed. Also, those who make peace and who suffer as a result of their pursuit of righteousness.

One very important (contextually, that is) statement Yeshua makes is Matthew 5:6, which says that those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will also be blessed. This is important because the use of “fulfill” as a spiritual understanding of the law would, by its very nature, make the desire to obey part of one’s inner being. It would be more than just performance, it would be a deep, spiritual desire: it would feel like a thirst and hunger to obey.

Lastly, a hermeneutic justification can be found in Jeremiah 31:33, where we are told that the Torah will be written on our hearts. As such, the desire to obey would be integral to our being, like our heart pumping blood or breathing.

Not only that, but in Matthew Yeshua goes on to teach about adultery and murder, stating that we heard it said not to do these things, but he went on to say we shouldn’t even WANT to do these things.

Yeshua also talks about how uncleanliness comes from the heart, not what we eat (Mark 7:18), again teaching the law from a spiritual understanding and not just some physical activity.

Can you see how the meaning of “fulfill” in Matthew 5:17 makes sense when we consider it to be the spiritual understanding of the law? Yeshua’s statement about fulfilling the law as meaning he will teach us the proper, spiritual understanding is demonstrated throughout his teaching during the Beatitudes and is confirmed by the prophecies in the Tanakh (Jeremiah 31:31 and Ezekiel 36:26), as well as Mark 7:18 and other places throughout the Gospels.

Hopefully, going forward when you hear people say that Yeshua completed and did away with the law in Matthew 5:17, you will be able to help them see the truth. Culturally, hermeneutically, and contextually it is obvious that Yeshua taught the Remes, the deeper, spiritual meaning and understanding of the Torah. That is why so many people said no one ever talked as he did, and that he talked like someone with authority.

There are three types of authority: legal, technical, and assumed.

Yeshua was the son of God and the Messiah- that covers the legal authority.

He knew the Torah, inside and out, and not just what it says but why it says it- that’s as technical as you can get.

And finally, he had an assumed authority because he did miracles that only someone empowered by God could do.

As you continue to study the Bible, no matter how long you have already been at it, if you aren’t already very familiar with the tools I have talked about today (and I would also include learning the Jewish system of exegesis called PaRDeS), then please go to my website and look under the Blogs tab called Series Teachings for a lesson I posted a while ago about how to properly interpret the Bible.

Thank you for being here and please share these messages with everyone you know. Subscribe to my website and YouTube channel, buy my books and join my Facebook group called Just God’s Word (please make sure to read and agree to the rules).

That’s it for today so l’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Paul and the Prophets- Final Lesson

In the previous two lessons, we discussed the similarities and the differences between Paul and the prophets of the Tanakh, and now I am going to try to bring it all together.

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All of these activities are written down in the Bible and are considered scripture. But what is scripture? Is it what God says? Is it what Yeshua says? Or is it also what any human may say?

Well, according to Webster, scripture is what is included in the Bible, or simply “a body of writings considered sacred or authoritative.” So, if someone includes some writings in a book as an authoritative narrative (such as the Gospels or the Torah), that is all it needs to qualify as “scripture.”

The Bible was put together by men (sorry, no women were involved) and these men decided, looking at all the different writings available to them, which should be considered “scripture”.

Of course, we are told that they were divinely inspired to choose the right things.

From what I could find in researching the Internet, the first “Bible” (all 66 books) was put together by St. Jerome sometime around 400 CE. The Tanakh books are considered to have been written by the people the books are named after, except (of course) for the Torah, which was written by God, dictated through Moses.

As for the New Covenant, there were many scrolls that were available, and the general consensus is the Canon of Trent (1546) is where the Christian canon was first accepted, based on the Synod of Hippo Regius, held in North Africa in 393 AD.

So, why all this hubbub about scripture?

The reason is that what I am about to say may upset some people who consider the entire Bible the word of, or should I say the word from, God.

In truth, the Bible is a compilation of many writings, some of which are the direct word of God, such as the Torah. As we discussed earlier, that’s the only place in the entire Bible where we are being told directly from God what we should do.

The books of the Nevi’im (Prophets) contain both what God said (to the prophets to tell the people) and a historical narrative of the events that occurred during those times.

The other writings in the Tanakh called the Ketuvim (Ruth, Job, Song of Songs, etc.) were originated from men. There is, unquestionably, some divinely inspired wisdom, but still and all, it is scripture only because it is included in the Bible.

This is where some of you may be feeling a little discomfort, having been taught by everyone you know, love, and respect that every single part of the Bible is God-breathed, God-ordained, or God-inspired.

I am of the opinion that it isn’t. The only place in the entire Bible (Genesis through Revelation) where God dictates exactly what he wants us to do is in the Torah and the writings of the Prophets, specifically what he tells the prophet to say to the people, and nowhere else.

This is the main similarity between Paul and the prophets: they were both divinely called to bring people into communion with God.

This is the main difference between Paul and the prophets: what the prophets said was directly from God but what Paul said was not.

The bottom line is this: Paul’s letters are considered scripture because men said they should be included in the Bible, and whatever is in the Bible is, by definition, scripture. The important thing to note here is that scripture is NOT necessarily direct from God. In fact, most of the Bible is an eyewitness narrative of events that occurred, recorded by men, and determined to be authoritative by men.

Paul’s letters are originated from Paul and were nothing more than managerial directives to Gentile Believers, first learning about the Torah, to get them back onto the path of righteousness without forcing them to totally convert all at once.

When we read what the prophets told the people, we are hearing from God, but when we read the letters Paul wrote to his congregations, we are hearing from Paul.

Christianity has, for the most part, rejected what God said in the Torah and through the prophets; instead, they have used Paul’s letters as the foundation of their religion, along with the many Christian holidays, rituals, ceremonies, canon, and laws that are ALL man-made.

What we call “Judaism” is directly from God, and what we call “Christianity” is from men misusing Paul’s letters, which he wrote on his own initiative.

The final lesson about Paul and the Prophets is this: the prophets spoke God’s word which they received directly from God; Paul quoted what God told Moses and the prophets, but he tweaked it so that the Gentiles he was teaching only leaned a little at a time.

The biggest similarity between Paul and the prophets is that they both tried to bring people into communion with God so they could be saved; the biggest difference is that the prophets spoke what they heard from God, and Paul spoke what he knew from the Tanakh.

You know, as we finish this lesson, the one thing that Paul and the prophets had in common, more than anything else, is that they were both doing God’s work in the world, and both being rejected and persecuted for doing so.

Maybe, going forward, that is the best thing for us to take from this teaching series: when you do God’s work, whether you hear it directly from God or are working from your own knowledge of what God has already told others, expect to be rejected and persecuted by the ones you are trying to save.

Thank you for being here throughout this teaching, and I hope it has been edifying to you.

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That’s it for now, so l’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Paul and the Prophets- Part 2

Having seen all the similarities between Paul and the prophets in Part 1, let’s now look at what was different between them. You may be surprised to find out that some of their similarities are also the basis for their differences.

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Both had a calling, but the prophets were called by God to bring the people back to the proper form of worship, whereas Paul’s calling was not by God but by Yeshua, and it was to bring the Good News of the Messiah. What is interesting is that during the First Century, although the pagan practices that the prophets addressed weren’t happening within the Jewish population, that era was rife with political corruption. However, God didn’t send Paul to deal with that, nor did Yeshua call him to deal with it. The difference between Paul’s calling and the prophet’s calling was both the subject matter and the ultimate target audience: the prophets were sent exclusively to the Jews to bring them back to proper worship but Paul was sent to the Jews to prove Yeshua was the Messiah, and to also bring that “light” to the Gentiles.

The prophets, as mentioned above, were to bring people back into the proper form of worship, as defined in the Torah. The people that the prophets talked to knew what the Torah said, for the most part, but Paul had a different goal. The Jews knew the Torah but the Gentiles didn’t. So, whereas the prophets were not teaching how to worship God properly, Paul had to teach the Gentiles about God, the Messiah, AND the Torah. To do that, Paul (as well as the Elders in Jerusalem) knew that they couldn’t turn hedonistic, sexually-perverse and sinful pagans into righteous, humble, and sexually pure Jews overnight; so, they introduced the Torah to them slowly, bit-by-bit, so that they wouldn’t be turned away from the righteousness they were being taught. That is why they wrote the letter we read about in Acts 15, which was never meant for those 4 rules to be the only rules for the Gentiles, but the first baby steps. As for Paul’s letters, they have been misused and misinterpreted: Paul knew the idea behind Yeshua’s parable about the seed being sown and how some of it was choked by the weeds. His slow introduction to the lifestyle demanded by God in the Torah was his attempt to prevent his newly sown seed from being choked.

One major, and fairly obvious, difference is that the prophets talked of the Messiah to come, but Paul talked about the Messiah who came.

The prophets had a clear and precise message- return to God and he will return to you. Paul, on the other hand, did not ask anyone to return to anything. He wanted them to move on, to take the next step and accept Yeshua as the Messiah God promised to send. And because he was teaching the Gentiles about the Torah slowly, his letters to the congregations he had created were not God-dictated instructions (as with the prophets), but merely managerial directives to get the people in those congregations back on track. When we read those Epistles from Paul, we can see that every one of them went to a congregation having either interpersonal or spiritual issues which were turning them away from proper understanding of how to live their new lifestyle. So, in a way, the prophets and Paul were both calling people to proper worship, but whereas the prophets were dealing with Jews who already knew right from wrong, Paul was dealing with ex-pagans who had to first learn right from wrong. The prophets ran an advanced review course, but Paul was teaching Introduction to the Torah and the shame of it is that because he had to do it slowly, his letters have been misused in order to take people away from the Torah.

The prophets talked about both present and future events, but Paul was all about the here and now. The prophesies that God gave to the prophets had both immediate and future implications, which is why many of the messianic prophecies have been denied as such by mainstream Judaism, rejecting the idea that some prophecies are dual in nature: they are about the immediate future and also the distant future. But Paul, except for his few references to the Acharit HaYamim (End Days), dealt mainly with what people need to do now. Of course, both the prophets and Paul wanted the people to change now- prophets saying come back to proper worship and Paul saying learn proper worship- but their methods were very different.

To put it in a nutshell, the main difference between the Prophets and Paul was in their methodology and the origin of their message. The prophets went to the Jewish people with the message that they were to return to God by rejecting paganistic worship and doing what God said to do in the Torah, which the people already knew about.

Paul dealt with Gentiles who had no idea about proper worship, had never known the Torah, and were surrounded by both Jews and Gentiles who were giving them different messages. That was the main issue in Paul’s letter to the Galatians- the believing Jews were trying to get 100% conversion all at once, which Paul knew would be more damaging than helpful.

The bottom-line difference between the prophets and Paul is that the prophets brought the word of God to the people directly from God, and Paul brought the word of God to the people, quoting from the Tanakh.

In the next lesson we will bring this teaching to a conclusion.

Thank you for being here and please share these messages with everyone you know. Subscribe to both my website and my YouTube channel, and if you like what you get here, you will definitely like my books, as well- they are available through my website or on the Amazon Books site. You can get them in paperback or Kindle format.

That’s it for now, so l’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Paul and The Prophets- Part 1

This is the first part of a three-part teaching series in which we will explore the similarities and differences between the prophets of the Tanakh and the Apostle Paul.

In this first part, we will look solely at the similarities between what they did and how they did it.

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  • Both the prophets and Paul had a calling from above. The prophets were chosen by God to take his message to the people, whereas Paul was chosen by Yeshua (Acts 9) to be his spokesman in order that people may come to know Yeshua is the Messiah.
  • Both served to bring the people into closer communion with God. The prophets would warn the people regarding their sins and that they must return to God by being obedient to the Torah. Paul would prove to the people that Yeshua was the Messiah through his extensive knowledge of the Tanakh.
  • Both the prophets and Paul talked extensively about the Messiah. The prophets prophesied about what the Messiah would do and how to recognize him, and Paul showed the people, by reviewing Yeshua’s ministry and teaching, as well as the many miracles he performed, that Yeshua was, indeed, the Messiah, having done what the prophets said the Messiah would do.
  • All of the prophets were Jews, representative of different tribes from both the Northern and Southern kingdoms. Paul was also a Jew, being from the tribe of Benjamin (Romans 11:1).
  • The prophets and Paul all knew the Torah and were able to teach the people, many of whom may not have been that learned about the Torah, what it said they were required to do.
  • It is obvious that the prophets were influential in changing the attitudes and behavior of the people, although not always. Paul, as well, was very influential in proving the truth about Yeshua, as well as changing the behavior of people, especially in his ability to minister to the Gentiles (although this will be covered in part 2 of the series.)
  • One of the unfortunate similarities between the prophets and Paul is that they both often suffered persecution by those they were trying to save. Some of these forms of persecution were to be thrown into a cistern (Jeremiah 38), ridiculed (2 Kings 2:23), slandered (Amos 7:10; Romans 3:8), ignored (Isaiah 30:10; Acts 21:36), physically abused (1 Kings 22:24; 2 Corinthians 11:24), beaten (Jeremiah 37:15; Acts 16:22), and even stoned (Acts 14:19– fortunately, Paul recovered.)
  • The prophets and Paul performed miracles to show that they were, in truth, empowered supernaturally by the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit). Some of these miracles included changing poisoned water into drinkable (2 Kings 2:19), making it rain after years of draught (1 Samuel 12:18), bringing the dead back to life (1 Kings 17; Acts 20), and healing from sickness (2 Kings 5; Acts 28), to name a few.
  • Both the prophets and Paul also were given understanding of the Acharit HaYamim (End Days) and were able to tell the people what to expect when God’s Day of Judgement was upon them.
  • The prophets and Paul also chided the people for their lack of proper worship, instructing them in the way they should worship the God of their Fathers, and not to do as the local people’s did.
  • Finally, both talked extensively about salvation. When they talked about proper worship, living as God wanted them to live, and about the Messiah, the bottom line of all they preached was about salvation.

You may be thinking that the other disciples of Yeshua also had many, if not all, of these things in common with the prophets, and that is true. However, Paul is the only one we read about who traveled extensively throughout the territory of both the Jews and the Gentiles, bringing this word of God to them and teaching everyone about the Messiah. This is one other thing that Paul and the prophets had in common- they were never always in one place, traveling all over the known world, bringing the Word of God and knowledge of the Messiah to everyone who would listen- even to those who wouldn’t.

The next lesson in this series will look at the differences between the prophets and Paul, and I think that many of you will find that a little disturbing, but I ask you to please review it with an open mind, not relying on the traditional teachings of your religion or denomination. Try to be open to the idea that what has always been considered scripture has, in truth, always been what a group of men said is scripture.

That being said, I look forward to our next lesson.

Thank you for being here and please subscribe to both my website ministry and my YouTube channel. Share these messages with everyone you know, and while you are on the website, check out my books. I am sure you will find them both edifying and entertaining.

That’s it for today, so l’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

When Do We Stop Trying?

At the end of the Gospel of Matthew, as Yeshua was lifted up to heaven, he told his disciples to go and make disciples of everyone.

This is known to many as “The Great Commission”, and Yeshua was, essentially, telling his talmudim (students, or in this case, disciples) that they should begin missionary work in order to grow the ministry that Yeshua started.

If you prefer to watch a video, click on this link: Watch the video.

It is a shame that the ministry of Yeshua eventually became perverted and has mutated into modern Christianity, which has nothing at all to do with what Yeshua taught, but that’s a different message.

The issue I want to talk with you about today is when we are trying to spread the Good News of the Messiah to people (especially to Jews) and unquestionably run into those who refuse to accept what we say as true, when do we stop trying to convince them?

When people refuse to listen to you, that’s OK- if everyone became a Believer, who would Yeshua have to fight against in the End Days, right?

Many times people who are trying to spread the gospel will find it hard to convince some who argue, often vehemently, against Yeshua being the Messiah or that there even is a God.

So what do we do when we run into a brick wall? How do we convince someone they are wrong and we are right? How do we get the truth out to those who refuse to listen?

The answer is: we don’t, we can’t, and we need to know when to stop.

While he was still alive Yeshua sent his disciples out into the world to preach and told them to be as wise as serpents and gentle as doves (Matthew 10:16).

But even before that bit of advice, he told them when they need to stop. He said (in Matthew 10:14) when any town they are in refuses to accept what they say, to leave that place and shake the dust off their sandals as a warning to those people.

We learn from Yeshua that we cannot force people to accept Yeshua; as for me, when someone doesn’t want to hear what I have to say about Yeshua, God or the Bible, I am more than happy to leave them alone.

God gave us all Free Will to make our own decisions about how we will live, which includes what we do, what we say, and what we believe. Faith is not something we come to because of proving, scientifically, that God exists and that Yeshua is the Messiah. Truth be told, proof is the antithesis of faith because faith MUST be a choice based on belief and not on irrefutable evidence!

People who chose not to have faith in either God or Yeshua as the Messiah have the right to make that choice, and we are not to force or coerce them into changing their minds.

You may ask if we cannot provide irrefutable evidence, which for Believers is the Bible, then how do we fulfill the challenge of making disciples?

We do it by being examples of what God wants us to be, and as we obey God’s commandments we will be blessed (Deuteronomy 28), which will be evident to others.

We read how the people that lived around Abraham recognized God was with him by the number of blessings he received. We also see this with Isaac, when Abimelech made a treaty with him (Genesis 26:28). And when we read of Joseph, we are told that he prospered, even though he was a slave and (later) a prisoner because people recognized that God was with him.

When we are obedient we are “with” God, God will be with us, and that will be evident to people. That is, for me, the greatest missionary work we can perform- to be an example.

Now, back to what to do when we run into a brick wall.

When someone argues against you, the first thing to do is to ask them questions that they cannot answer, which are specifically designed to use what they say to show them their statements make no sense. Doing this takes more than just a good knowledge of the Bible: you need to know the objections people generally give you (most objections are the same) and already have questions prepared that show them the “holes” in their logic.

You need to ask questions and not give answers because in a discussion the one who is asking questions is the one controlling the discussion.

The questions must be in a logical order to make them realize, on their own, that what they are saying doesn’t make sense, and the way to do that is to have them hear themselves not know the answers- which they should know- if what they are saying is correct.

I know what I just said sounds like a bunch of double-talk, and I could give you many examples of what I mean, but I won’t because whatever ministry you have, it has to be your ministry. I am sorry, but the way I minister to people cannot be the way you do, and vice-versa.

Remember that Yeshua told his talmudim, which goes for us, too, that when they need to say something to trust the Ruach haKodesh (Holy Spirit) to give them what they need to say. I recommend that as the best way to go, but there’s nothing wrong with having prepared questions and answers, either.

We should trust in God, but that doesn’t mean leaving it entirely up to him.

Here is how you know when to stop: if you find yourself getting frustrated, that is pride trying to take over, and your signal that it is time for you to stop.

Or, when the person you are talking to begins to get frustrated and starts to attack you, verbally (hopefully, that’s as far as the attack goes), that is another signal it is time for you to stop.

We should do whatever we can to help people know the truth, but we need to know when it is time to shake the dust off our sandals, and that time is when either side of the discussion goes from passionate to frustrated.

Leaving someone in a state of frustrated anger because you tried to ram the truth down their throat not only damages your attempt to teach them but makes it exponentially harder for the next person God sends to them.

Thank you for being here and please share these messages with everyone you know. If you haven’t already subscribed, please do so on both my website and YouTube channel (they are different lists), and while on my website check out my books.

And remember that I always welcome your comments.

That’s it for today so l’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Does Yeshua Hear Prayers?

I have often written about how Christianity has idolized Jesus.

In many of the different sects within Christianity, he is considered not just the son of God, but God, himself, and as such, he is prayed to; he is asked for healing, and he is considered to be the one and only Savior.

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However, Yeshua never even implied any of this. In fact, throughout the Gospels, for every healing and miraculous act he performed, he gave the credit to either the faith of the person or to God the Father. Yeshua never took credit for any of the miraculous acts he did, and always gave all glory to God.

So, if Yeshua himself never took credit for what he did, and always gave glory to God, this is why I am wondering whether or not Yeshua actually hears our prayers.

If he is God, then he (obviously) hears them and answers them.

TIME OUT: Please do not respond arguing whether or not Yeshua and God
are one and the same because that is NOT the issue in this message.

If he is only the Messiah, sitting at the right hand of God (which is where Stephen said he saw him), and he takes our prayers to God, does he hear them before God does?

Is it possible Yeshua hears our prayers but God doesn’t? Wouldn’t that mean God only hears the prayers of those who do not accept Yeshua as the Messiah?

How about this? If we are to pray in Yeshua’s name, doesn’t that imply someone else is hearing the prayer? Isn’t that why we have to invoke the name of Yeshua, because the prayer is not going to Yeshua but someone else?

And who else could that be? Obviously, it is God, the Father.

Unless, of course, you are a member of one of the Christian religions that prays to saints. Now, instead of praying to the one who can answer our prayer, we are going to a retailer (saint), to bring it to the wholesaler (Yeshua), to bring it to the manufacturer (God).

This is why Jews could never be good Christians- we will never do retail when we have a direct line to the manufacturer.

In each of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and John, Yeshua tells his disciples, in one way or another, that when they pray in his name, whatever they ask for they will receive. This seems to imply that Yeshua does hear prayers; after all, how can he assure their prayers will be answered if he doesn’t even hear them, right?

But he also says that the prayers will be answered so that the son can glorify the father, which means even if he does hear them, he doesn’t answer them; instead, he intercedes for us so that God will answer them.

Maybe we need to understand what Yeshua meant when he said to pray in his name?

In my quarter-century (plus) experience as a Believer and student of the Bible, I have found that the use of the word “name” throughout the Bible has been misunderstood by so many people. There are many, many times that God talks about his “name”, and the only time I can recall where he actually used the word “name” to mean his actual name, which for us would be what we are called by our friends and family, is when he talked to Moses at the burning bush. In Exodus 6:3, God told Moses that he appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as El Shaddai, but not as יהוה (the Tetragrammaton.)

Almost every other time the “name of the Lord” is used is not to reference the Tetragrammaton but in the cultural meaning of the term “my name”, which was not the word we use to identify a specific person but a reference to that person’s reputation and renown.

When God talks about his “name” or about others knowing his “name”, he doesn’t mean how to pronounce the Tetragrammaton, but who God is in relation to humanity: knowing his “name” is to know he is the God of Israel, he is all-powerful, and he is supreme. Knowing his “name” means knowing the wonders he performed and giving him the respect he deserves.

Now, when Yeshua says to pray in his name, is it possible he means the same thing that God meant? Is it possible that Yeshua never really meant for us to physically speak the words “In the name of Yeshua”, but rather because we are a believer in Yeshua that we are praying under his authority as the Messiah? Maybe we don’t have to actually pronounce his name? Maybe because we are one of his sheep, we are automatically praying “in his name”, i.e. under his renown and authority as the Messiah?

I don’t know. The more I try to understand this, the more complicated it becomes.

What I do believe, and (as always) this is what I believe from my understanding of the Bible and I am not telling you you have to agree, is that Yeshua is not the one we pray to or the one who hears our prayers: Yeshua is the Intercessor for our prayers, not the Interceptor of them.

And even though he is our Intercessor, that doesn’t mean he is in the loop- it means that as his, when we pray, we are praying in his name, i.e., under his authority as the Messiah.

Yeshua doesn’t have to handle our prayers as they go from our hearts to God.

I believe God is the only one who hears our prayers and the only one who answers them; when we pray in Yeshua’s name, it is telling God that we are one of Yeshua’s sheep, and as such God will give us, oh- how do I say this? – extra credit? Maybe our prayers get to go to the front of the line?

For whatever reason, when we pray in Yeshua’s name, God will do as we ask (so long as it is within his will) because it is what his son promised would happen. And by honoring his son’s promise, God glorifies himself, just the same way Yeshua glorified him every time he answered Yeshua’s prayers.

Praying in Yeshua’s name doesn’t mean he hears our prayers, and I also believe that whether or not we pronounce his name, God knows who we are and he knows what is in our heart, and he also knows we are Yeshua’s sheep.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt anything to say “In Yeshua’s name, I pray” because that is literally what he told us to do.

But if you ask me, I don’t think it is necessary to get God’s attention.

Thank you for being here and please share these messages with everyone you know to help this ministry continue to grow. I would also ask that you subscribe to this ministry on my website and my YouTube channel, and while you are on the website please consider buying my books.

If you like what you get in these messages, you will like my books, as well.

Das ist alles for today, so l’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

The Bible is Just a Book

I once talked about how the Bible is just a book when I was giving a message at the place I used to worship, and not only did I get some pretty passionate disagreements, but one person actually walked out on me.

If you prefer to watch a video, click on this link: Watch the video.

Many people argued that the Bible is THE word of God, but it isn’t, really- it contains the words God told to Moses and the Prophets, and it contains what many people wrote. It contains the writings (Ketuvim), such as Esther, Judges, Psalms, and the Proverbs.

It contains the teachings of Yeshua, and the letters that were written to the (mostly) Gentile congregations of new Believers to help them stay on track, spiritually, with what they were learning about Yeshua and God and how God wants us all to live.

But when it comes down to it, the Bible can’t be the exact words from God simply because the words in the Bible have been interpreted from the original Hebrew and Greek so many times, in so many different versions of the Bible, that there is no way each interpreter interpreted the words exactly the same.

In fact, did you know that under Copyright law, each version of the Bible must have (literally) hundreds of words different from any other version, otherwise it is a copyright infringement?

I asked the most trustworthy source of information that exists today- Wikipedia- how many different versions of the Bible exist, and this is what I got:

“As of September 2020 the full Bible has been translated into 704
languages, the New Testament has been translated into an additional 1,551
languages and Bible portions or stories into 1,160 other languages. Thus at
least some portions of the Bible have been translated into 3,415 languages.”

And when I specifically asked how many English versions there are, I was told there are more than 100 complete translations in English.

So, nu? How can anyone think that the Bible they are reading is an exact and verifiable rendering of what God told Moses, or what Shaul wrote to his congregations, or what Yeshua said when he gave his Sermon on the Mount?

The closest thing anyone will come to the exact words God used when he talked to us, which he only did in the Torah, is to read the Hebrew Torah. And, to tell the truth (which is all I ever try to do), even though the Torah written today will have exactly the same words as the Torah written a hundred years ago (because of the strict standards used when copying the Torah), the way we interpret that Hebrew will be different from one person to another.

And here’s the real kicker! Even when we read the same version, different people may be given, through the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit), a different understanding of those very same words!

And both understandings may be valid.

If you don’t believe me, or maybe you don’t want to believe me, then let me give you the gospel truth, from the Gospel of Luke, itself (Luke 1:1-4):

Dear Theophilos:
Concerning the matters that have taken place among us, many people have undertaken to draw up accounts based on what was handed down to us by those who from the start were eyewitnesses and proclaimers of the message.  Therefore, Your Excellency, since I have carefully investigated all these things from the beginning, it seemed good to me that I too should write you an accurate and ordered narrative, so that you might know how well-founded are the things about which you have been taught.

Here we have the writer of the gospel usually thought to be the most accurate and trustworthy account, and he is saying that he has composed this based on what he heard from others who witnessed the events.

Have you ever told a joke in a group of people and then heard that same joke come back to you, later on? I’ll bet it wasn’t even close to the way you told it, was it? It may have had a similar lead-in and the punch line may have gotten the same point across, but it wasn’t the same, exact joke, right?

Or have you ever had to witness something that other people saw? The same event, seen by 5 people, will have 5 different versions. They may be similar, generally, but many of the specific details (height of the person, hair color, clothes worn, etc.) will be different.

This is why no two people understand the same thing the same way: we all filter the stimulus we receive through our senses in accordance with our own experience and knowledge. Therefore, it is impossible for any two people to understand and interpret what is heard, seen, or written the same exact way, and even more so when trying to interpret it from one language to another.

That is why I say the Bible is just a book.

“Okay, okay, so the Bible is a book. What’s your point, Steve?”

My point to all this is simple: when we read the Bible, we need to know that what we are reading is somewhat accurate, but not exact. It is someone’s understanding of the language that the narrative was written in, whether in the original Hebrew or Greek, and which will always be affected by that individual’s personal understanding and experience.

Now, given that my Bible, no matter which version or which language I have, is not an accurate accounting of what God or anyone else said, why should I believe any of it?

Because it is close enough to the truth to be trusted when we ask God to show us HIS truth! (read that again)

Every time you read your Bible, pray to God to lead you through his Holy Spirit to understand his truth. That way you can read any version you want to and trust that you will glean from it what God wants you to know.

And that works because we can ALWAYS trust God to teach us what he wants us to know about him.

Thank you for being here and please share these messages with everyone you know; subscribe to my website and Youtube channel, buy my books and after reading them share them with others, and remember this: I always welcome your comments.

That’s it for today so l’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Does Jesus Forgive Sins?

Back from a week off, driving up to visit Donna’s family in Philadelphia. The drive was full of problems with traffic, taking us nearly 40% longer than it should have, but the trip, overall, was good and we enjoyed being with family.

Now back to work.

As far as the question, “Does Yeshua forgive sins?” goes, the answer seems obvious, doesn’t it?

In Matthew 9, Yeshua tells the Pharisees and Torah teachers that he has the authority to forgive sins on earth.

(Keep this in mind: he specifically said he was able to forgive sins on earth. )

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John writes in his first letter (1 John 2:2) that when we sin, Yeshua “pleads our case with the Father”, and that he (Yeshua) is the Kappurah (covering) for our sins.

How do these two opposite statements, Yeshua says he can forgive sins but John says he pleads our case with God, be reconciled? How does Yeshua go from forgiver to intercessor? C’mon, you guys- does Yeshua forgive our sins or not?

I believe the answer is that he was able to forgive sins when he was walking the earth and spreading the Good News to prove he was (and still is, of course) the Messiah.

We need to remember that in those days, a physical impairment such as deafness or blindness, paralysis, etc. was considered often to be the result of one’s sinfulness. So, healing that infirmity demonstrated not just God-given power to perform miracles, but also the authority to forgive sins.

The healing that the Messiah did was proof of his authority ON THE EARTH to forgive sins.

Let’s look at another side of this: In John 20:23, Yeshua breathes the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) on his disciples and tells them that whomever they forgive the sins of, those sins will be forgiven, and whomever they do not forgive, will not be forgiven.

This is not just giving his disciples the authority to forgive sins, but the authority to prevent forgiveness!

Now, wait a minute here! Is it really what it seems to be? Did Yeshua tell mere mortals that not only can they forgive the sins of people, but they can override God by preventing those sins from being forgiven?

Is God unable to forgive a sinner because some human being didn’t?

I really don’t have an explanation for this, but it doesn’t make sense when comparing this one statement to the entirety of the Bible (this is an exegesis system called Hermeneutics) because no one outranks God. Period! So, even though Yeshua told his disciples they could forgive sins, I believe this had to be a one-time event and to be understood as Yeshua granting them this authority specifically in order to continue the spreading of the Good News, in his place.

Even if by some chance Yeshua did grant that authority to them, it was to them- not to their descendants or people who took over their job, but just to them.

In fact, in John 20:21, just before he breathed the Ruach HaKodesh on them, he told them that just as God sent him, he is now sending them. This seems to justify my interpretation, in that it was meant for those specific people in order to continue proving that they, just as Yeshua, had God-granted authority through the Holy Spirit, and to prove the validity of the ministry.

Catholicism has stated that from the Pope down to the “greenest” Priest fresh out of Seminary school, these anointed leaders of the faith are allowed to forgive sins. I suppose their justification for that is based on the statement Yeshua makes here, in the Gospel of John. Too bad it doesn’t hold water, because it is clear from the rest of the Bible that no mere mortal is allowed to override God when it comes to forgiveness.

We have a similar issue with Yeshua’s statement that Kefa (Peter) holds the keys to the kingdom and whatever he does, the same will be done in heaven (Matthew 16:19). Again, it just doesn’t hold true to the rest of the Bible that a mere mortal can tell God what he will or will not do.

My interpretation is that the things Yeshua told Kefa he would do were not binding on God, but on people and that whatever he decided was a proper form of worship would be honored in heaven.

In other words, Yeshua told Kefa that he would be establishing the Halakah (Way to Walk) for the Believers, which we see happening later. It happened when Kefa went to the house of Cornelius and opened up the Kingdom of God to the Gentiles, as well as through his authority (with the other Elders in Jerusalem) he authorized the letter to the new Gentile Believers in Acts 15.

That delegation was specifically to Kefa and was not transferable to anyone else.

My answer to the original question of whether or not Yeshua forgives sins is that he did have that authority when he was on the earth, which was specifically given to prove he was the Messiah.

But now? No!

At that time Yeshua forgave sins but now he is the means by which our sins are forgiven. His sacrificial death replaced the need to bring an animal to the temple in Jerusalem (which no longer existed after 73 AD) and his position as Messiah is to plead our case before God, who is now the only one who can forgive sins.

As I have said many, many times: Yeshua is the Intercessor of prayer, not the Interceptor of it.

The same goes for the forgiveness of sins: Yeshua’s death is the means by which we are able to be forgiven, but he is not the one to pray to for forgiveness: that comes only from God, the Father.

Thank you for being here and please share these messages with everyone you know. Also, please subscribe to my website, my YouTube channel, and join my Facebook discussion group called “Just God’s Word”.

I have written 4 books which I believe you will also find edifying and educational, as well as even a little bit entertaining. Check them out on my website.

And lastly, remember that I always welcome your comments.

Das ist alles, so l’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!