The Apostle Paul was Torah observant, taught it to others
Q. If the Apostle Paul was Torah observant as you say, why do his writings say otherwise?
A. One of the things that I have been constantly confronted with is the fact that many people believe that the Apostle Paul was not a Torah observant Jew and that his writings prove it.
They then quote Galatians or Romans to show that they are correct.
The truth is, Paul was not only Torah observant but he taught others to do so as well.
People who believe that Paul was not Torah observant and believe that his writings also reflect that have a fundamental misunderstanding of the Scriptures.
That misunderstanding will reflect back on how they interpret the Bible and this false premise is very hard to point out unless the person is open to studying and investigating the real Saul of Tarsus.
So, over the next several weeks I am going to show you that the Apostle Paul not only was Torah observant but he taught it to other believers.
First of all, Torah observance was never for salvation or righteousness.
The Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation are very clear about that.
Righteousness is a gift from God and it is by faith that we receive it. But the Lord wants us to be obedient to His commands and that is where the Torah comes in.
Torah is Hebrew for “teaching, instruction, guidance” and it is an archery term for “hitting the mark.”
The term for sin in Hebrew is “Chata’at” and it is also an archery term for “missing the mark.”
What Paul did not teach was the man-made laws of the Rabbi’s of his day.
He did not teach people to offer animal sacrifices outside of the Temple, in fact, he offered animal sacrifices himself at the Temple 30 years after Yeshua (Acts 21.17-26).
He did not teach people to punish people by stoning.
That could only be done by properly appointed judges. Most of Paul’s teaching was not recorded because it was done verbally, face to face. His instructions for new believers was not included in his letters.
In several synagogues he remained for over a year teaching from the Torah (1 Thes 4.2; 2 Thes 2.15, 3.6; 2 Tim 1.13; 2.2).
According to Paul, all his teachings agreed with his own lifestyle ( 1 Cor 4.16-17). Other Jewish believers remained Torah observant after their conversion and so did Paul (Acts 22.12; Acts 21.20).
When one investigates the lifestyle of first century believers according to historical records we find that Torah observance was normal and not done when only in the presence of other Jews.
That would have been hypocritical and Paul did not approve of that sort of behavior. 1 Cor 9.20 is interpreted by many to say just that but what he means there is that he accommodated Gentile customs that were not in direct violation of the Torah.
Paul rebuked Peter for this type of behavior in Gal 2.11-14 and so so say that Paul acted like a Jew with Jews and a Gentile with Gentiles is not only a bad interpretation but down right hypocritical.
In Acts 21.24 Paul is coming out of a Nazarite vow and not only offered his own sacrifices but paid for the offerings of four other messianic believers to show he was Torah observant, contrary to some of the rumors going around about him.
He came to Jerusalem to keep a festival and offer sacrifices according to the Torah instruction about coming out of a Nazarite vow (Num 6; Acts 24.17).
When on trial, Acts 23.6 says that Paul was a Pharisee (present tense) and said he was in “good conscience” in doing so (Acts 23.1).
Some try to refute this but there was enough evidence to show that Pauls claim was valid because other Pharisee’s stood and said that they found nothing wrong with him(Acts 23.9).
In Acts 24.14 he says that he serves the Lord, believing everything that is in accordance with the Law (Torah) and the Prophets.
In Acts 26.Paul is still on trial and is brought before King Agrippa.
He says in verse 5 that his enemies have known about him for a long time and if they are willing to testify (which they didn’t) that he lived as a Pharisee according to the strictest sect of our religion. Notice he says “our” religion, not “their” religion!
Paul’s words and deeds led people to believe that he was living according to the Torah (Acts 28.17). Paul also taught the Gentiles to follow his lifestyle ( 1 Cor 11.1-2; Phil 3.17, 4.9; ! Cor 4.16-17; 1 Thes 1.5-7; 2 Thes 3.6-9). He wanted them to follow him as he followed the Messiah and wanted others to be like him ( Acts 26.28). So far, we have seen that Paul’s own lifestyle and teachings show that he wanted others to follow the Torah. Next week we will continue with this all important premise that will help you interpret the Scriptures correctly. You have to see the writers of the New Testament for who they were. In other words, they were Torah observant believers in Yeshua saved by grace and so their writings could not have reflected anything otherwise. They weren’t doing one thing and writing another. They were consistant in what they did and what they wrote. The confusion came in later when people who were anti-Torah began to to take their built-in biases and make the New Testament fit into their own preconcieved theological misconceptions.