Responding to Some Common Hebrew Roots/Torah Observance Arguments on Facebook

I wrote an article on Acts 21 recently. My Facebook post about this article garnered a series of comments from one person arguing for Torah observance. While the comments weren’t particularly insightful or challenging, the questions asked did lead me to write a response that I think would be useful to you. My comment is below.

Some Answers to Hebrew Roots Questions

Samuel, I find your comments to be disjointed and not relevant to my article you are posting screenshots of. I appreciate that you read it and that you believe everyone is supposed to do those things God specifically told Israel in order to set them apart as an ancient nation from other nations. And you have expressed that belief.

What is odd is that you seem to just be citing things you don’t agree with in the screenshots and “submitting” your beliefs in their place. What you aren’t doing is dealing with what I wrote. As you can see if you read your own comments, nothing you wrote has any connection to Acts 21. Instead, you’ve chosen to put forward other things, not really supported by a careful reading of Scripture, as if they are somehow relevant. 

My article had a very simple purpose. It was to carefully exegete Acts 21 in order to learn, from the text, what was actually happening. That done, we can see just how different that is from what modern Hebrew Roots teachers say it means. The differences are stark. 

My article was not meant to be an in-depth argument against every Hebrew Roots theological point or an answer to every argument you might want to bring up. So it is interesting that you chose the way of responding that you did. I see that frequently. When I see it I know I have made the plain meaning of the text clear, since it has not been touched by someone arguing from the other side.

Now, you did ask some questions, and I want to address those.

You asked: Holy means to be set apart. How can one be set apart if they do not live a set apart lifestyle?

Of course we are to be set apart, but the context of that holiness is different than it was for Israel. With them, God set one physical nation apart from other nations by telling them to dress a certain way and eat a certain way and perform rituals a certain way. Every time God gave these kinds of laws, He reminded them why He was doing so. Because they were a nation with a special relationship with God. As you said. They were set apart. That is why it is completely impossible that God wanted all the other nations to do the same things. That would be the exact opposite of what He was doing with Israel.

In Christ, we are not a physical nation. We are the church, spreading God’s kingdom to all nations through the Gospel. We have a New Covenant that is, as the prophet Jeremiah and the writer of Hebrews said, is “not like” the covenant God made at Sinai with those who left Egypt. I’ll give a link to a short video series I made on distinguishing the covenants here. It could help you.

God is the one making us Holy, and He has perfected us through the one sacrifice of Christ. (Hebrews 10:14)

You asked: I am curious how you interpret what it says Jacob/James original judgement was in Acts 15?

I did a very thorough exegesis of the text here:

I will point out a few things that many Hebrew Roots teachers say, without merit, some of which you repeated in your comment. They treat Acts 15 as if it has something to do with new converts. The passage never mentions new converts, and in fact we know that the believers in Antioch had been with Paul for, at minimum, over a year. Then in Acts 21, many many years later, the same four instructions are still being given, not to new converts, but to Gentiles. The text never says the Christians would be attending synagogue to learn the Law. In fact, it never mentions learning the Law at all. 

What it does say is that the communities in which these Gentile believers (not new believers) live have synagogues and have since ancient times. They are Jewish communities. They are told to do what they are told to do for the sake of the Jews, not as some kind of “starter law”. We know this because it doesn’t depend on making up new things to add to the story, but also because in the next chapter, where we have the one and only recorded instance of a Christian getting circumcised, it is not because of learning the Law or obedience to God. It is “because of the Jews”. It was to remove roadblocks to evangelism to Jews. That is what the four instructions are about. Everything in the context points to it. It was never about the Torah. That is what some at the council were pushing. They did not succeed.

In fact, I think you have been so convinced by these teachers that you are mis-citing the biblical text. You quoted: “For (important preposition) will they not hear Moses read in the synagogue every sabbath just as he has since the ancient generations?”

This is not what is said. Here is the actual verse: For Moses from ancient generations has in every city those who preach him, since he is read in the synagogues every Sabbath.” (Acts 15:21)

No future-tense verb exists in the Greek of this verse. It is not about what anyone “will” do. It doesn’t say any of these Gentiles will “hear” Moses. Rather, it says that Moses is read and has been preached from ancient times. That’s all. The rest is adding to the story. James is pointing out the Jewish nature of the cities, not what will happen with the Gentiles.

You asked: And yet i wonder if you would agree with churchanity interpretation that says because Paul started a teaching during oneg on Sabbath and continued into Sunday that now Sunday is a sabbath?

No I don’t. The Sabbath was a sign that points ahead to salvation through faith and not works. It points to rest in Christ. I’ve discussed this a few times, but I think this will give you a good overview.

You asked: I am curious where you see this change occurring?

I believe, as the writer to the Hebrews said, that where there is a change in the priesthood, there is a change in the law also. The priesthood changed when Jesus offered Himself and presented that sacrifice once for all. Jesus is our high priest forever, and it revealed the true sons of God to be those who rest in Him by faith, not just people of a certain physical nation or lineage. That was a shadow. The reality is in Christ. 

Of course, I said it happened with the work of Christ in the article, within the part you highlighted, so I’m not sure why you’re asking.

I hope this helps.