Pauls negative statements were not about the Torah but about the people and mans misuse
Q. Why does your interpretation of Paul’s writings seem to differ from mainstream Christianity?
A. I want to make this clear that it is not my interpretation only and that I had many teachers and scholars who passed on their knowledge to me over the years.
To know the Lord is a commandment and that comes through knowing His word primarily and that takes a lot of work.
Many people have told me what God said, but few could tell me what He meant and there is a difference.
So, let me pass on to you some ways to help you understand Paul (and the rest of scri pture).
There are several things to understand when you are reading Paul that just aren’t taught in seminaries or churches, so I’ll go over some of those things to give you some idea on how to understand the difficult words of Paul.
Paul was a second Temple period Pharisee and was also an expert in the Torah.
His teacher was the grandson of Rabbi Hillel.
His writings contain many deep and mystical Hebraic concepts about the Lord.
Most people who read the New Testament know very little about the Pharisaical understanding of the scri ptures.
Most people know little or nothing about PARDES ( the 4 levels of interpretation called Peshat, Remez, Drash and Sowd) and the Seven Rules of Hillel in interpreting scri pture.
Paul uses both of these in his writings.
Anyone trained in these levels and rules will recognize them immediately when they read Paul.
And if they don’t know the four levels (PARDES) they will not understand the deeper, mystical aspects of Paul’s writings and the writings of the other New Testament writers for that matter.
Another problem is the that the Hebrew concepts do not carry over well into the Greek.
There are several good books on this subject like " Understanding the Difficult words of Jesus" by Roy Blizzard and David Bivin.
For instance, how does Paul convey the meaning of legalistically following the commandments without faith?
Well, a phrase had to be invented called "erga nomos" in Greek which means "works of the Law" because there was no equivalent concept in Greek.
Now if some of Paul’s meanings were lost from Hebrew to Greek, it got worse from Greek to English.
Another problem is people read Paul’s letters with an instilled bias from their own theology and backround.
They already think Paul was teaching "we are not under the Law" before they even start reading.
Peter taught that Paul was hard to understand and that was before some of the above problems (2 Pet 3.16).
Peter said there would be "lawless" people who would twist what Paul said into error.
He did not mean people who are were without Roman or American law, but "lawless" is to be understood as "without Torah (anomos in Greek)."
He is saying that those who twist Paul’s writings do not follow God’s Law, the Torah ( the teaching, the instruction, the bull’s eye, the commandmants).
They may do it ignorantly or on purpose, it really doesn’t matter.
The fact is they will have incorrect interpretations because their "plumb line" is crooked.
So, how should Paul be understood?
You must understand the overall biblical and historical context. Be aware of Peter’s warning in 2 Pet.3.16.
Remember what Yeshua said in Mt 5.17-19 when He said "Do not think that I have come to destroy (misinterpret) the Law, but to fulfill (interpret it correctly)."
Today there are people who not only think it but teach it!
Paul had positive statements about the Torah (Rom 7.12;22,25;1 Tim 1.8;Rom 3.31; 1 Cor. 7.19; Acts 25.8;28.17).
Even Paul’s negative statements were not about the Torah but about the people and man’s misuse.
Lastly, Paul himself was Torah observant (Acts 21. 15-26) and he taught others (1 Cor. 11.1-2; 2 The 2.16, 3.6).
Eventually his writing’s would be used not only against the Jews by Gentile Christianity but used to deter anyone from following the Torah.
They "redefined" his writings into what has developed into Replacement Theology (exactly what Peter warned us about) and that is where we find ourselves today.
But, God wrote the scri ptures and inspired Paul and it is God who will teach us the same truth He conveyed to Paul so it is not hopeless.
Many are being taught of the Lord through teachers He has raised up and they are rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem like Nehemiah and finding out that Paul is not difficult to understand at all.
Try to keep these things in mind when you read his writings the next time.
One of the questions I always ask myself is "How would this have been understood in the first century?"
When Paul said what he said, how would his listeners have understood him.
Don’t look at the scri ptures through the Church Fathers or the Rabbis, look at scri pture as if you were a first century Jew or Gentile and you will see what the writers were trying to say.
It takes work and going back in history but God has not asked us to do something that is impossible.
He wrote the book and He will show you what He meant.