First Century followers of The Way differed from today
The Dallas MJ Examiner
The Apostle Paul is narrowly focused in most of his writings. His central message is to preach the salvation that has come through Messiah Yeshua.
Over centuries of subjective interpretation, his central message has morphed into the only message of the Christian church: salvation is by grace and therefore we do no good works (Torah-abidance.)
Yet this is neither what Paul taught nor lived in his own life.
For example, the accusations brought against him by the high priest Ananias in Acts 24 include general troublemaking, stirring up riots among the Jews, leading the Nazarene sect, and desecrating the Temple by bringing a Greek into the inner courts (vs 5-6, based on Acts 21:28).
Paul defends himself in verses 10 and following, asserting that the accusations are false. He does admit to worshipping God as a "follower of the Way," believing in the resurrection of the dead, keeping his conscience clear before God, and he says, "I believe everything that agrees with the Law and that is written in the Prophets (verse 14)." These are the words of a Torah-observant individual. Furthermore, his words are supported by his actions. He presents offerings at the Temple, brings gifts for the poor, and observes the laws of cleanliness (verse 17-18).
So what, then, is an accurate summary of Pauls message? In verses 24 and 25, Paul speaks with Felix about faith in Yeshua, living righteously with self-control, and the coming eschatological Day of Judgment.
Faith in Yeshua provides Gods righteousness, which grants eternal salvation; abiding by Gods commandments (Torah) provides the righteousness of daily living; and these things will be important when we stand before God to give an accounting on the Day of Judgment.
Therefore, we have indeed been saved by grace, for the purpose of following God. God frees us from sin; God does not free us to sin.
Elisa Norman, MTS, is ordained pastor of The Living Word: Jewish Christian Congregation of DeSoto, Texas, and author of Sacred Living: Interpreting and Applying the Bible. Find out more or contact her at www.LivingWord-JewishChristian.com