The Crux of the Matter

Deuteronomy 4:2 Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.

1 John 3:4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.

1 Peter 2:21-22 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: (22) Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth.

Matthew 5:17-19 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. (18) For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. (19) Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Translation:

1) The Law of Moses says that no one may change the Law.
2) John said that anyone who violates the Law has sinned.
3) Peter said that Jesus never sinned.
4) Jesus said that he didn’t come to remove even a single ink mark from the Law and that anyone who does will be called the least in heaven.
5) If Jesus came to change the Law in even the smallest way, then he is a liar and a sinner, and he cannot be the Messiah.

I have never heard anything resembling a convincing counter argument. If you’ve got one, I’d love to hear it.

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20 Responses to The Crux of the Matter

  1. Jair says:

    That’s not too hard, everything is predicated on point 2 which is the weak link anyway.
    1 John 3:4 is a peculiarity, the root of the word law in both instances is amonee’ah instead of nom’os, its the only time amonee’ah (for lack of text inserts right now) is rendered that way, in every other case it is rendered iniquity. The term in no case refers to the Law of Moses, though nom’os frequently does.
    Sin may well be lawlessness, iniquity, wickedness ect. You could argue from this passage that Sin is a transgression of any given law that you are bound, but you couldn’t argue that sin is specifically a transgression of Mosaic law.
    Thank God for that, because without cities of refuge, the Levies, the Priesthood, years of Jubilee, and on it is impossible for us to follow the Law of Moses. That was law was for a specific deal which people broke, God totally burned the bridge of following the law of Moses. He made sure we couldn’t pretend the deal was still on by destroying key things required to follow it. I have respect for anyone who tries to emulate its precepts, but no one can obey that law without saying ‘I’ll just do my best here’ and ‘I can’t do that so it doesn’t mater’ there.
    Ironically, in trying to apply that deal to themselves people have to change much more than jots or iotas, they have to ignore or comprise the things they can’t do, and that is an insult to the law.

  2. jay c says:

    Good and thoughtful points, Jair. I’ll respond when I can.

  3. Mark Call says:

    No offense, Jair, but I’m solidly with Jay, and Yeshua, on this one.
    Had He violated His own Written Word, in such places as Deut. 4:2 and 12:32, then He would have been a liar (including not only such references as Matt. 5, but many others, like John 5:47) and could not have been HaMashiach.
    (This is, in fact, a very good reason that so many Torah-knowledgeable Jews reject a “Jesus” who supposedly “did away with” it. Many are thus shocked when they hear what “Yeshua the netzir” — a word they already know — actually said!)
    But I’ve always considered any argument that relies on a Greek understanding which contradicts not only the Hebrew word, but the Torah itself, to be EXTREMELY suspect. “Nomos” is no better a rendering of the word “torah” than the English word “law” is, and it is very likely that many of the texts in the Brit Hadasha or “new” testament are translations of things originally penned in Hebrew as well.
    (Speaking for myself, I will add that such “contradictions” were what originally led me to an agnostic rejection of the Bible as “contradictory”; what else could Mal. 3:6 mean by saying “I change NOT”? It was Greek “gods” who were capricious and untrustworthy, not YHVH Elohim.)
    There are some things that CANNOT be done, Jair – and I see no problem with that, since one of the key principles of Torah understanding is discernment. Since I am not a king, or a wife, some things simply don’t apply to me. Same thing goes for certain sacrifices. (BTW, most of the “law done away” with crowd tend to miss a very important fact about “sacrifices” in general, and the Perfect Lamb in particular:
    there IS no sacrifice in Torah for “rebellion”! The ramifications are profound…since He knew that “from the Beginning”.)
    But good job, Jay; that’s about as good of a one-page summary as I’ve seen.

  4. Jair says:

    It doesn’t rely on Greek, thats just a side note, the point is that 1 John 3:4 does not say Law of Moses, there is nothing that says sin is specifically a violation of Mosaic law, just that it is a transgression of law in general.
    But note that I never said Jesus changed or did away with Mosaic law either, insofar that that is Jays point point 4 stands on its own and the rest is immaterial.
    Much more important than that is the idea that sin is a specifically a transgression of Mosaic law. God doesn’t change, but people do. The Law of Moses and its promises stood binding until all twelve tribes fell and their governments where wiped out due to constantly breaking their end of the deal.
    You see that some things don’t apply because of gender, rank, heritage, or occupation. Why is it then a problem that things don’t apply because you are not a person with whom the deal was made? God made sure pretending to follow the Law of Moses as if it applied to you would be hollow by destroying things that where needed to follow it.
    Part of discernment is knowing who you are and not applying everything the Bible says to yourself, thats what the name it and claim it crowd do with anything they see as being good.

  5. jay c says:

    I haven’t had time to compose a response to your initial comment, Jair, so forgive me for skipping ahead…
    For several years (5 or 6?) after realizing that the Torah still applied to the Jews, I said pretty much what your saying: The Law is still in effect, but what does that have to do with me?
    Jeremiah 31:31-37 and the writings of Paul changed my mind. The New Covenant is the great hope of the gentiles. It is our way to adoption as sons of God. However, God told Jeremiah that he would make the New Covenant only with the houses of Judah and Israel: no gentiles allowed! Paul, relying on prophecies about “a people who are not a people” and “dry twigs” wrote that the gentile converts are grafted in to the tree of Israel. In the Messiah there is no Jew or Gentile–so far as salvation or entrance to the New Covenant is concerned–because they are all on an equal footing as citizens of Israel.
    When a person becomes a citizen of a new nation, he adopts that nation’s laws. He cannot take his old nation’s laws with him and expect his conduct to be excused by the new government.
    If the Torah still stands for Jews, then it still stands for all believers.

  6. Mark Call says:

    I like Jay’s explanation, Jair, but would add another observation.
    I’m not particularly fond of the limitation implied by the very terminology, “Law of Moses”, and think it is misleading. (In part, but not only, because of the occasional use of the term ‘torah’ to refer to the Pentateuch. Depending on context, “torah” can mean more.)
    “Torah” literally is ‘teaching and instruction’. Yeshua used words translated into English as “torah and prophets” when He referred to what “is Written”. But note that Adam walked with God, and that Noah obviously knew which animals were “clean” and which were “unclean” long before that teaching and understanding were even Written down.
    I contend that the “Law” (think “Law of Gravity”) was in place when the “Foundations were laid”. His “teaching and instruction” are a function of His design, and what He has Written about all of it is for our blessing, if we have “eyes to see”.

  7. Jair says:

    Jay,
    But thats the thing, I can’t see how the legal system of Israel laid down in the time of Moses actually applies even Rabbinic Jews. They cannot honour it, they have to leave out chunks that they simply can’t do and in observing here and leaving out there they force that Law to change, and that is exactly what Jesus said not to do as per point 4 and Deuteronomy said not to do as of your first quotation.
    I have no quibble with with the doctrine of adoption as you laid it out here.
    Mark,
    Yes, teaching and instructions goes beyond the Law of Moses. But the term Law of Moses was used in point 1. For clarity by the Law of Moses I mean specifically the legal system laid down for Ancient Israel by God and the promises tied directly too it. I should double check with Jay to see if that is close enough to what he means by the term. There are eternal ethics (or, eternal laws), but that does not mean that there are temporal or case by case ethics as well. The Law of Moses was a deal with a specific people under specific conditions. The histories and the Prophets detail those people violation those conditions, and the captivities show the deal ending. God promises to make another deal if they turn to him, but it is a different deal.
    Your point about Noah knowing clean animals goes to show that cleanliness of animals goes beyond that time and government, I would say that is along the lines of an eternal law, though even then I would make exceptions in the case of starvation.

  8. Mark Call says:

    I don’t necessarily disagree, Jair.
    I just note, however that often the specific term, “Law of Moses”, is used to mean “that which does not apply to ME”.
    Since I have come to regard ALL of His Torah, meaning “teaching and instruction”, as valuable for things like reproof, correction, instruction in righteousness, and a lamp to my own feet, I can do so far less legalistically. 😉

  9. jay c says:

    There are definitely parts of the Law that cannot be obeyed today. Those who would try are in the same basic situation as the Jews of the Babylonian exile. The Temple had been destroyed, and they were not allowed to travel Jerusalem anyway. But that shouldn’t be a deterrent.
    Perfect obedience was probably always impossible. We just try to play the best game we can with the cards we’ve been dealt. Our salvation is through faith in God’s forbearance and not in strict obedience to the codified Torah.

  10. jay c says:

    Finally getting around to responding to your initial comment, Jair. I’m enjoying the dialog!

    That’s not too hard, everything is predicated on point 2 which is the weak link anyway.

    No, point 4 is the most important. Even if John’s reference to sin and law is irrelevant, Yeshua would still be a liar if he actually did come to remove anything from the Torah.

    1 John 3:4 is a peculiarity, the root of the word law in both instances is amonee’ah instead of nom’os, its the only time amonee’ah (for lack of text inserts right now) is rendered that way, in every other case it is rendered iniquity. The term in no case refers to the Law of Moses, though nom’os frequently does.

    Anomia isn’t translated “law” here either, not even in the KJV. It’s translated “transgression of the law,” which is essentially the same thing as lawlessness or iniquity. Therefore, sin = lawlessness. To what law could John have been referring but the Law of God? In every case, both anomos and anomia refer to breaking God’s commands found in Torah, i.e. the Law of Moses. I would have checked every instance of nomos also, but there were 195 of them listed in the KJ Concordance! The first dozen or so bore out the same pattern.

    Sin may well be lawlessness, iniquity, wickedness ect. You could argue from this passage that Sin is a transgression of any given law that you are bound, but you couldn’t argue that sin is specifically a transgression of Mosaic law.

    No, you couldn’t argue that sin is the transgression of any law. (Well, you can argue it, but that doesn’t make it true.) That might be a literal interpretation of the word, but that is clearly not the way it is used throughout the NT writings. It is always used in reference to Torah.

  11. jay c says:

    Thank God for that, because without cities of refuge, the Levies, the Priesthood, years of Jubilee, and on it is impossible for us to follow the Law of Moses. That was law was for a specific deal which people broke, God totally burned the bridge of following the law of Moses. He made sure we couldn’t pretend the deal was still on by destroying key things required to follow it. I have respect for anyone who tries to emulate its precepts, but no one can obey that law without saying ‘I’ll just do my best here’ and ‘I can’t do that so it doesn’t mater’ there.

    God said that he would never reject Israel nor his covenant with them. It doesn’t matter that they broke it. God still promised to keep it. He said that he would never forget them and never destroy them, but that if they would repent, he would be waiting to accept them back.
    Leviticus 26:44-45 Yet for all that, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not spurn them, neither will I abhor them so as to destroy them utterly and break my covenant with them, for I am the LORD their God. (45) But I will for their sake remember the covenant with their forefathers, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations, that I might be their God: I am the LORD.”

    Ironically, in trying to apply that deal to themselves people have to change much more than jots or iotas, they have to ignore or comprise the things they can’t do, and that is an insult to the law.

    I don’t know if the law can be insulted or offended by one who is under the covering of Yeshua. We do not owe our allegiance to the commands, but to the commander. Obeying his commands, which he has never retracted and never can without breaking his word, as well as we are able can only honor him.

  12. Jair says:

    Mark,
    With that said we are saying pretty well the same thing, cool.
    Jay,
    I think the shortest way to reply would be to point out that Leviticus 26 isn’t talking about our forefathers but the forefathers of Israel, Abraham, Issac and Israel himself. All of whom lived before the Law of Moses was given. Gods Covenant with the children of Israel goes beyond that specific legal system, it existed before it and continues to exist after it. Just to be clear I never said God rejected Isreal.
    I’m very sure that the law can be offended by people covered by Christ, its no doubt plagues could have been minimized by valuing the precepts concerning sanitation. But one way or the other we are not talking about retracting commands, we are talking about trying to follow commands given to other people. Our standing orders are different than those of pre captivity Isreal, and he made sure we knew it by making sure we couldn’t actually follow the wrong set of orders.

  13. jay c says:

    “Offending” was a poor choice of words on my part. “Insulting” was better. I didn’t mean to imply that the commands couldn’t be broken. I was thinking more along the lines of being accountable to the law as an entity in itself.
    I agree that the Torah is not the covenant itself, and that it existed before Mt. Sinai.
    I disagree that we are talking about commands given to other people. God was clear that the New Covenant is only with the houses of Israel and Judah (together being the nation of Israel) and no one else. If anyone becomes party to that covenant, then they become one with Israel also, sons of Abraham, just like the mixed multitude who came out of Egypt in the Exodus.

  14. Mark Call says:

    Very good, Jay. I often ask folks, “well, would you like to be ‘grafted in’, or not?”

  15. Jair says:

    If we aren’t talking about being accountable to the law as an entity in itself I’m not sure we are actually disagreeing anywhere.
    To be clear I agree that all of Israel in all time including those ‘grafted in’ are under the Covenant with Abraham, which is neither new nor old, but just is. However only those who lived in the Nation of Israel from the time of Moses to the captivity are bound to say, observe Jubilee as a moral obligation to that covenant.

  16. jay c says:

    “As a moral obligation to the covenant…”
    I would call it a moral obligation to the God with whom we have covenanted. I do not believe that God’s Law is unique to a particular covenant, but rather it is the standard to which he holds his people. When we come into covenant with God, his standards, as the rules of his house, automatically apply.

  17. Jair says:

    But you can’t have a moral obligation to do things that you can’t do.
    His rules are constant but specialized to the person and circumstance a decision is made in. Hence the different rules for different people that are even written into the Law of Moses.

  18. jay c says:

    You’ll get no argument from me there. Laws about saddles don’t apply to me because I don’t have any animals that wear saddles. Laws about sacrifices don’t apply directly to me either, because there is no Temple at which a sacrifice could be made. There are definitely valuable lessons to be drawn from those laws, but the laws themselves don’t apply. Many laws did not apply to Moses even after he had written them. He wasn’t a woman. He didn’t have a stone house. He wasn’t a king.

  19. Jair says:

    In turn I will readily agree that Jesus did not do away with or change what most modern Christians supposed him too, and that your argument against said change is to my knowledge unbeaten.

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