Should Christians Keep The Law?
Or Does The Torah Have Authority In The New Creation
Or In The New Covenant?
By Jonathan Mitchell

This is a controversial topic throughout all of Christianity, and every denomination or splinter group has its own view on this matter. So I am treading into a hot arena of discussion. This article will present my particular view and will interpret some Scriptural passages to support what I presently see. Whether the reader agrees or not, may the Holy Spirit use it as a catalyst for a clearer understanding on these questions.

In the book of Acts, a question came up within the called-out community at Jerusalem concerning the relationship between the Law and the Gentile (non-Jewish) converts. Acts 15 presents the dispute brought up by "certain men which came down from Judea" (vs. 1), and then in Jerusalem "certain folks of the sect of the Pharisees" (vs. 5). Peter gave the first response, asking the gathered assembly, in vs. 10,

"Therefore, why are you folks at this time (or: now) continuing to test (or: constantly trying; repeatedly examining and attempting to prove) God [by attempting] to put (place; set) upon the neck of the students (disciples) a yoke which neither our fathers (= ancestors) were, nor we ourselves are, strong enough [even] to pick up, [much less] to carry?"

Let us consider the word yoke that Peter uses here. Jesus used this word in Mat. 11:28-30,

28. "So everyone come here, toward Me! - all those constantly weary and exhausted from toil and labor, as well as folks having been caused to carry a load, and continuing burdened down - and I, Myself, will refresh you and cause you folks to rest.

29. "At once lift up My crossbeam (or: the yoke which is Me; the balance beam that comes from and pertains to Me) upon you people, and instantly learn from Me, because I am (or: I continuously exist being) mild-tempered (gentle, kind and considerate) and humble (low) in the heart, and 'you folks will continue finding refreshment and discovering rest in and for your souls (the whole inner person; the mind, emotions and nerves).' [Jer. 6:16]

30. "You see, My crossbeam (or: the yoke which is Me; the balance beam that comes from and pertains to Me) is useful and kindly obliging, and My load (the burden that is Me and which pertains to Me) continues being light (not heavy)."

This teaching was presented "to the multitudes" (Mat. 11:7). He was obviously indicating that what He was teaching was something very different from what they had known and labored under (which was the Law). In the very next chapter the Pharisees accused His disciples of breaking the Law by working on the sabbath day. Jesus' reply to them that David had also broken the Law, and that even the priests "profane the sabbath" by working in the temple on that day, "and are blameless" (Mat. 12:5). Then He goes on informs them,

6. "Now I am saying to you folks that there is now here (in this place) something greater (or: = more important) than the Temple courts and grounds! 7. "But, if you had come to personally (or: by intimate experience or insight) know what [this] is (or: = means),

'I am habitually wanting (desiring), repeatedly intending and continuously purposing mercy, and not sacrifice,' [Hos. 6:6] you folks would not ever oppose fairness, equity and justice, while you degrade the way pointed out in condemning the guiltless ones (the blameless and innocent folks) [cf vs. 5, above: = the priests of the new order].

8. "You see, the Son of the Man (the son of the human; = the son of Adam; = a human being) continues being a lord (master; or: [the] Lord and Owner) of the sabbath."

His yoke was easier than the yoke of the Pharisees. Something new had come on the scene - something greater and more important than the Temple courts and grounds (where the public acts of the Law cultus were performed). The temple had been the very pinnacle of the Law, the very paradigm of keeping the Law. But all was changing, with the Advent of the Messiah.

Paul used the word yoke in Gal. 5 where he associates it with keeping the Law (circumcision, here, is the figure for keeping the whole Law):

1. For the [aforementioned] freedom, Christ immediately set us free (or: [The] Anointed One at once frees us in, to, for and with freedom)! Keep on standing firm, therefore, and do not again be habitually held within a YOKE of slavery (or: a cross-lever [of a pair of scales] whose sphere is bondage) (or: Continuously stand firm, then, in the freedom [to which the] Anointing sets us free, and let not yourselves be progressively confined again by a yoke pertaining to servitude)!

2. See and individually consider! I, Paul, continue saying to you folks, that if you should proceed to being circumcised, Christ will continue benefiting you nothing (or: an Anointing will continue of use to you [for] not one thing)!

3. Now I continue solemnly asserting (attesting; affirming; witnessing), again, to every person (or: human) proceeding to be circumcised, that he is, and continues being, a debtor (one under obligation) to do (to perform; to produce) the whole Law [= the entire Torah]!

4. You people who in union with (or: centered in; [remaining] within) Law continue being liberated and rightwised, from grace (or: placed in the Way pointed out and included in the new covenant of grace; being given an eschatological transformation, which is favor), were at once discharged (made inactive, idle, useless, unproductive and without effect; or: voided, nullified, exempted) away from Christ - you at once fell out from [the grace and favor]!

The topic of Gal. 4 spoke

"to the end that He could (or: would) buy out (release by purchase; redeem; reclaim [from slavery]) those under [the] Law" (4:5a).

He went on to use the metaphor of the freewoman and the bondmaid (4:22), which he then identified as TWO COVENANTS, and,

"one, on the one hand, from Mount Sinai, habitually (repeatedly; continuously) giving birth into slavery (or: bondage) - which is Hagar. [cf Ex. 19:17 (LXX)] Now this Hagar is (= represents) Mount Sinai, within Arabia, and she continuously stands in the same line (or: keeps step in the same rank; marches in a column; walks or stands in a parallel row; or: is habitually rudimentary together; = corresponds to) with the present Jerusalem, for she continues in slavery (or: bondage) with her children. (Gal. 4:24b-25).

Here, Mount Sinai represents the Law, in this allegory. In 4:30 he instructs them to Cast out (or: At once expel) the servant girl [i.e., the Law] and her son [i.e., what the Law produced - its works and its slavery].

Now let us return to Acts 15. Following Peter's remarks to the Jerusalem assembly, James responded in what was taken to be decisive on the matter. In vss. 19-20 he gives a decision:

"Hence (or: Because of which), I myself am now judging and deciding not to continue making it more difficult for, or to be troubling or harassing, the folks from the ethnic multitudes (the nations; the non-Jews) [who] are progressively turning upon (= turning around to) God, however (or: but yet), to send word by a letter for them to be habitually holding themselves away from (constantly abstaining from) the effects of ceremonial pollution from (or: belonging and pertaining to) the idols - as well as from the prostitution ([note: may also have reference to temple idol worship]; or: sexual immorality; [p45 omits this phrase]) - and from [something that was] strangled [i.e., where the blood was not drained out], also from blood."

In vs. 24, in the body of the letter that was to go out to the nations (non-Jews), we read,

"Since we hear (or: heard) that certain folks going out from among us disturbed (agitated; troubled; perplexed) you folks with words (or: by messages; in thoughts) progressively dismantling (breaking up the camp of; bankrupting by removing the furniture of; remodeling) your inner lives (souls) [CE??and others add: repeatedly saying to be circumcised and keep the Law] - to whom we of ourselves gave no distinctive decision, thorough arrangement, determined instruction or assignment." Then he explains in vs. 28b-29,
"to have not even one more burden to be placed upon you folks - besides these necessary and essential things: to habitually abstain and hold yourselves away from idol sacrifices (or: things [i.e., foods] sacrificed to idols) and from blood, and from things that were strangled, and from sexual immorality (fornication; prostitution; = infidelity) - out from which things, by practice carefully keeping and habitually thoroughly guarding yourselves, you folks will perform well (be well-engaged; prosper)."

Notice that he used the word burden. It harks back to Jesus' use of the word burden, cited above. These "essential things" were in the realm of ethics and social norms of the Jewish culture. They were a far cry from "keeping the Law," of which circumcision was the foremost identity marker. There was no talk of sabbath keeping, food purity laws (e.g. "clean foods" versus "unclean foods"), no talk of the Ten Commandments, no mention of keeping the Jewish feasts or even of ceremonial washings. This was the first decision of the Jerusalem group during the transition period between the two ages while the physical Jerusalem was still standing, within the generation (the "THIS generation" of which Christ spoke) that led up to the end of Israel as a nation and as an exclusive "people of God," which was finalized in AD 70.

Now Peter had spoken up (in Acts 15) due to what he had just learned through the vision that he had recently seen that is recorded in Acts 10:10-16, and then through the lived-out meaning of the vision that is recorded in the verses that immediately follow in that same chapter. What he saw in the vision contradicted the food codes of the Law (Lev. 11:4; 20:25; Deut. 14:3, 7-19) and yet the Voice in the vision is telling him to eat such things. The response of the Voice to Peter's understandable objection (from the teaching of the Torah) tells Peter,

"You are not to continue making, or considering, common [the] things which God cleansed (or: cleanses) and made (or: makes) clean!" (10:15).

We see the meaning of this vision explained in the remainder of Acts 10, and in vs. 28 Peter made it clear to the house of Cornelius,

"You folks continue well versed [in the fact] and are well aware of how illicit and inappropriate (forbidden by [our] Law and contrary to [our] established order) it is for an adult man [who is] a Jew (or: is of the Jewish culture) to be intimately joined to, or to regularly come to (or: visit and associate with), a man from another race. And yet God pointed out and demonstrated to me not to continue saying [that] even one human [is] common (= socially or ceremonially unhallowed or defiled) or unclean."

Now in Acts 11:2-3 we see that the Jewish Christians objected to Peter's behavior with Cornelius, but as we read on we see that they accepted this change that contradicted the Law, and in vs. 18 we are instructed that these same Jewish Christians "gave glory to, and enhanced the reputation of, God" over the new situation.

Later on, Paul received the revelation which he shares in the letter to the Galatians. In the incident at Antioch concerning Peter first eating with non-Jews but later changing his behavior back to the customs from the Law, he explains to Peter,

"For if I should continue building up again (or: would repeatedly reconstruct) these things which I loosed down and demolished, I myself continue standing together with a transgressor (or: I proceed to exhibit myself as one who steps out of the Way and to the side). You see, I myself through [the] Law died by [the] Law (or: to [the] Law; in [the] Law; with [the] Law), to the end that I could and would live by God, in God, for God, to God and with God!" (Gal. 2:18-19) We read in Eph. 2:14-15a about what Paul's teaching had "loosed down and demolished,"
"You see, He Himself is our Peace (or: continuously exists being our harmony [= Shalom]) - the One making (forming; constructing; creating; producing) The Both [to be] one, and within His flesh (= physical being; or: = system-caused crucifixion) is instantly destroying (unbinding; unfastening; loosing; causing to collapse) the middle wall of the fenced enclosure (or: the partition or barrier wall): the enmity (cause of hate, alienation, discord and hostility; characteristics of an enemy), rendering useless (nullifying; rendering down in accord with inactivity and unemployment) the Law (or: the custom; = the Torah) of the implanted goals (or: concerning impartations of the finished product within; from commandments; which was inward directives) consisting in decrees (or: prescribed ordinances)..."

The "middle wall, the partition, or, barrier wall" was the Law (as 15a confirms), for it was the Law that separated and set Israel apart from all other nations. Removing the Law was what allowed The Both to be one, and as 15b states, "frame (create; found and settle from a state of wildness and disorder) The Two into One New [p46 & others: common] Humanity."

Ben Witherington III insightfully points out,

"Nothing is said here about only the ceremonial law being the focus. It was the Torah as a whole that separated Jews from Gentiles. This entire Law, says Paul, has been annulled by the death of Christ, and the enmity and distance between peoples that it created has been destroyed." (The Letters to Philemon, the Colossians, and the Ephesians: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on the Captivity Epistles, WM B Eerdmans, 2007 p 260). He footnotes (ibid n 54): "As MacDonald, Colossian, Ephesians, pp 244-45, rightly points out, there is little or no basis in early Jewish literature for not taking the Law as a package deal... This is why [Paul] speaks of the Law in the singular and not about 'laws'." (brackets added)

Paul instructs us in Gal. 2:21,

"I make it no habit to displace (shove aside; upset; thus: reject; thwart; repudiate; nullify) God's grace and favor! For if rightwising deliverance into justice, equity and freedom from guilt with right relationships within the Way pointed out (= transforming-inclusion into the new covenant) [is] through Law (= by legalism or religious works), then as a consequence Christ died as a mere gratuity (= for nothing; to no purpose)."

Gal. 3:19 addresses the question,

"Why, then, the Law [= Torah] of The Transgressions? It was at one point set aiming at, and thus provided a view to, grace and favor (or: Why, then, the Law? It was placed close and applied {imposed; added} on behalf of the walks to the side of [the path]; or: What, therefore [is] the Law [= Torah]? Something set, as a favor, face-to-face with the over-steppings and transgressions to the side of and beyond [the Way])

- being precisely arranged and thoroughly prescribed and mandated by injunction through means of agents (or: messengers; folks with the message) within the midst of [the] hand of a mediator (or: in an umpire's hand; within [the] hand of an arbitrator or an intermediary in a middle position) - as far as to where (or: until which place or time) the Seed would (or: should) come, to Whom, for Whom, with respect to Whom and by Whom the promise had been made (or: in Whom He had been promised)."

Notice that the Law's place and function was "as far as to where the Seed (i.e., the Messiah) would come. Then vs. 23 explains,

"So before the [time, or, event for] the Faithful One to come (or: prior to the coming of this faith, trust, assurance, conviction and loyalty), we were being continuously restrained, confined and held in custody under the watch of a guard, being folks constantly encircled, enclosed, shut up and locked together by and under Law..."

And vs. 24 adds,

"consequently, the Law (= Torah) had come to be (had been birthed into existence) and continued being our supervising guardian and attending escort unto, with a view to, and [pointing] into Christ..."

But the conclusion is seen in vs. 25,

"So now with the coming of the Faithful One, we no longer continuously exist (or: are) under [the] supervising guardian or an attending escort [comment: = the Law; Torah]!"

Gal. 3:10 had given a solemn warning:

"You see, however many people continue their existence from the midst of observances and works of Law (= Everyone who lives by deeds and actions based upon the Torah) are continuously under a curse (a negative, down-focused or adversarial prayer; an imprecation), for it has been and now stands written, namely that, "A curse (or: an adversarial prayer; imprecation) [is settled] upon all (or: [is] added to everyone) not constantly remaining within all the things having been and standing written within the scroll of the Law [= Torah], in order to do them." [Deut. 27:26]

But Paul has good news,

" folks are not under Law (or: do not exist being subject to [Torah] or custom), but rather under Grace (or: the Act which produced happiness, which was granted as a favor)" (Rom. 6:14b).

Heb. 7, because there is

"a Priest on into the midst of the Age, according to (down from) the station (order; placement; arranging; succession) of Melchizedek"

(vs. 17), instructs us in vs. 12 that,

"it follows that with the priesthood being presently place-changed (or: progressively after-placed and transferred), out of necessity (or: compulsion) even a change of law [= Torah] is being born (or: also an after-placement transference of custom is coming into existence)."

Then in Heb. 8 we find more light on the subject:

"He continues being a Medium (an agency; an intervening substance; a middle state; one in a middle position; a go-between; an umpire; a Mediator) of a SUPERIOR (stronger and better) arrangement (covenant; settlement; disposition) which has been instituted (set by custom; legally [= by/as Torah] established) upon superior (stronger and better) promises! For if that first one was being unblamable (without ground for faultfinding; beyond criticism; satisfying), a place of a second one would not have continued to be sought" (vss. 6-7).

Reading down to vs. 13 of this same chapter, we are told,

"In thus to be saying 'new [in kind and quality],' He has made the first (or: former) 'old,' and that [which is] progressively growing old and obsolete (failing of age; ageing into decay), [is] near its disappearing (vanishing away)." Paul informed us in 2 Cor. 5:17 that, "[there is] a new creation (or: [it is] a framing and founding of a different kind; [he or she is] an act of creation having a fresh character and a new quality): the original things (the beginning [situations]; the archaic and primitive [arrangements]) passed by (or: went to the side). Consider! New things have come into existence."

With all these declarations of Scripture in mind, let us turn to passages that may seem to say otherwise. It has been suggested by some the Paul kept the Law, since we see in Acts 21:20 that, "many tens of thousands there are among the Jews of those having trusted and are continuing in believing - and they all continue humbly from their beginning being zealots of the Law (or: zealous about the Law)," and furthermore, they had heard that he had been,

"repeatedly (or: habitually) teaching all the Jews down through the ethnic multitudes (or: nations; non-Jews) an apostasy away (a revolt; a standing away) from Moses, constantly telling them not to be circumcising [their] children, nor even to be living their lives (continually walking about) in (by; with) the customs" (vs. 21).

Paul was at this time in Jerusalem, and the Jewish Christians there thought that his presence might cause trouble with the Jews and perhaps with other Jewish Christians. So they persuaded him to join with four men who were under a vow and purify himself so that,

"everyone will proceed in coming to know that what they have been orally instructed concerning you (= that the rumor about you) is nothing, but to the contrary you yourself are also habitually observing the elements and keeping in line, constantly watching, guarding and maintaining the Law!" (vs. 24).

Paul acquiesced to their request and joined those men in the ritual. Did this mean that he regularly kept the Law, or was this an exception to submit to the request of those Jewish Christians who were still keeping the Law? In Acts 18:21, some MSS add as statement by Paul,

"[Now it continues binding for me to by all means do (or: perform) the feast - the one periodically coming into Jerusalem]."

The earlier MSS do not have this statement, but if we take it to be original, we are not told whether this is because he regularly follows the Law, or that the Holy Spirit had simply directed him to be there for this feast and participate with the Jewish Christians who would be celebrating it. When he gets there (21:15), Paul comes into trouble with the Jews.

Now prior to his arrival, we notice in 21:4 that there were disciples at Tyre,

"who through means of the Breath-effect (or: Spirit) repeatedly told Paul not to continue stepping on [board] (or: embarking) unto Jerusalem."

Were they right? Did the Spirit NOT want Paul to attend this feast? In 21:10 we encounter the prophet Agabus who, in the next verse gives Paul a second witness,

11. after coming to us and picking up Paul's girding attire (sash or leather belt; girdle with which he wraps himself) [and] upon binding his own feet and hands, he said,
"Thus is the Set-apart Breath-effect now saying (or: Now the Holy Spirit is progressively laying out these things), 'In this way will the Jews in Jerusalem proceed binding the man who owns this girding attire - and they will continue in turning [him] over into [the] hands of [the] ethnic multitudes (or: nations; people groups that are non-Jewish)!'"

The folks who were there, "began entreating him not to continue walking up into Jerusalem" (vs. 12). Were they right? But more importantly for our study, does this indicate that they favored keeping the feast in Jerusalem?

One of the accusations against Paul by the Jews from Asia (21:27ff) was,

"repeatedly crying out, "Men! Israelites! Come help [us]... now (Run immediately to our cry)! This man is the person who is constantly teaching all people everywhere against the People [= Jews or Israelites] and the Law and this [Concordant text adds: holy] Place!" (vs. 28).

So, did they speak the truth? If not, why were they so enraged against Paul? In 23:12 we read of a conspiracy to kill Paul. It does not give the reason, here, so we do not know whether they wanted to kill him because he preached Jesus as the Messiah (after all, many thousands of Jews believed this), or because of his stance regarding the Law. Nevertheless, these passages do not make a decisive case for Paul being one who continued keeping the Law, and his letters mitigate against him doing so. In 1 Cor. 9:19-22 Paul informs us,

"You see, continually being free from out of the midst of all things and from all people (or: from everything), I enslave myself to all people (or: everything and everyone), to the end that I can (may; would) gain [all] the more folks. So I come to be (or: became) as a Jew for (or: to; with) the Jews, to the end that I can (would; may) gain Jews; as under Law for (or: to; with) those under Law, to the end that I can (or: would; should; may) gain those under Law; as without law (or: as lawless) - [though] not continually being without a law pertaining to God, but to the contrary, within a principle which is Christ (or: Christ's law; the custom which has the character and quality of Christ; or: [the] law which is [the] Anointing) - to those without law (for and with the lawless ones), to the end that I will progressively [other MSS: can; may; would] gain the folks without law (the lawless ones). To (For; Among) those without strength (the weak ones), I become (or: came to be) as without strength (weak), to the end that I would (can; may) gain those without strength (the weak ones). I have become and continue to be all things for (to; among) all folks (or: peoples), to the end that I can (would; may) by every means (in every way; under all circumstances) save (rescue; deliver; restore to health, wholeness and their original condition) anybody!"

Now what about Jesus? Did He instruct the people in His day and in His culture to keep the Law? Yes, because He was there to fulfill the Law. He had not yet gone to the cross; He had not yet buried humanity with Him. He lived under the Law, but we do see evidence that He also moved beyond the Law in following what the Father was doing and in bringing God's reign close at hand to the people. It was only after His resurrection and the giving of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2) that the new covenant was implemented.

How about His statements in Mat. 5?

17. "You folks should not infer from customary presumption or from established supposition that I came to loosen-down or demolish the Law (or: Torah) or the Prophets. I did not come to loosen-down or demolish, but to the contrary, to fulfill (or: fill up; make full; bring fullness),

18. "for assuredly (or: amen; it is so), I am here saying to you people, until the heaven and the earth (or: the sky and the land) could ever go by and pass away, one iota (the smallest Greek letter) or one horn-like projection (diacritical mark, such as an accent or breathing mark, or part of a Heb. letter; a serif; = the smallest detail) can by any means pass away from the Law [= Torah] - UNTIL all things can birth themselves (or: should occur; may happen)!

19. "Whoever, then, should loosen [even] one of the least of these the implanted goals (impartations of the finished product within; inward directives) - and should teach humans (people) to that effect - he will repeatedly be called "least" (or: a least one; or: = insignificant) within the reign of the heavens (or: the kingdom which pertains to the atmosphere and [reaches] the sky). Yet, whoever may practice (or: should perform and do) as well as teach - this person will continue being called "great" within the reign of the heavens (the kingdom which pertains to the atmosphere and [reaches] the sky).

20. "You see, I am here saying to you people that if your fairness and equity ([covenantal] justice, rightwisedness, and right relationships which conform to the Way pointed out) should not habitually exceed and abound more than [that] of the scribes (experts in the Law; scholars; theologians) and Pharisees, in no way can you folks enter into the reign of the heavens (or: the kingdom which is, and pertains to, the heavens; the sovereign rule of the atmospheres)!

But what does this mean? A literal and future reading of this passage contradicts the above passages by Paul and the writer to the Hebrews. But is this how this passage should be read?

Let us first consider vs. 19. Keep in mind that when this "sermon" was given all the Jews were still under the Law, and thus it ruled over them. Even though "the strength of sin was the Law" (1 Cor. 15:56), and "Law and custom at one point entered in alongside (or: intruded into the situation by the side) to the end that the effect of the fall to the side (or: so that the result of the offense and the stumbling aside) would INCREASE to be more than enough (should greatly abound and become more intense)" (Rom. 5:20a), it was in force over Israel "until the Seed would come" (Gal. 3:19) Who would be made a curse for those under the curse of the works of the Law (Gal. 3:13, 10),

"wiping out the handwriting in the decrees (bonds; bills of debt; ordinances; statutes) put down against (or: with regard to the effects of the thoughts or suppositions, and the results of the appearances of what seemed [to be], corresponding to) us, which was continuing to be under, within and set in active opposition to us, and He has picked it up and lifted it from out of the midst, nailing it to the cross (or: on the execution stake)" (Col. 2:14).

Until the cross, Israel was required to keep the Law, which is what the Messiah, as Israel and for Israel, did. He was faithful to it, unto death.

The question that now must be asked is, Did Jesus, the Messiah, fulfill the Law? I think that all will answer, Yes. His coming was to fulfill, not to loosen-down or demolish. But if we take what Jesus did in Lu. 24:27 as the central point of the Torah and the Prophets, we see that they were the things that "concerned Him."

Verse 18, above, indicates that a time would come when the Law would indeed pass away. When "heaven and earth go by and pass away," then so can the Law.

In Mat. 24, Jesus spoke of something else that would not pass away UNTIL:

34. "It is true (Amen; Truly; Count on it), I now say to you folks, that this generation can by no means pass by until all these things can happen (should occur; may be come to be)."

Then in the next verse He informed them that,

35. "The heaven and the earth (or: The atmosphere and sky, as well as the land,) will pass on by..."

In Rev. 21:5, the risen Lord informed John,

"And then the One (or: He [who is]) continuously sitting upon the throne said, 'Consider this! I am presently making all things new (or: habitually creating everything [to be] new and fresh; progressively forming [the] whole anew; or, reading "all" as masculine: periodically making all humanity new; progressively creating every person anew; constantly constructing [as corporate being] all people fresh and new; continuously renewing everyone)!'..."

Then, in the next verse He says,

"They have come into being (been born; come to be) and stand accomplished (are produced)." Upon His resurrection, He made all things new - and this included "the heaven and the earth."

David Chilton, in his book, The Days of Vengeance, quotes John Owen (Works, Vol. 9) where Owen makes reference to Isa. 51:15-16,

"But I am the LORD thy God, that divided the sea.... And I have put My Words in thy mouth, and I have covered thee in the shadow of mine hand, that I may plant the heavens, and lay the foundations of the earth, and say unto Zion, Thou art My people!"

Chilton says,

"Owen writes: 'The time when the work here mentioned, of planting the heavens, and laying the foundation of the earth, was performed by God, was when he 'divided the sea' (vs. 15), and gave the law (vs. 16), and said to Zion, 'Thou art My people' -- that is, when he took the children of Israel out of Egypt, and formed them in the wilderness into a church and state. Then he planted the heavens, and laid the foundation of the earth -- made the new world; that is, brought forth order, and government, and beauty from the confusion wherein before they were.

"Owen continues: 'And hence it is, that when mention is made of the destruction of a state and government, it is in that language that seems to set forth the end of the world. So Isa. 34:4; which is yet but the destruction of the state of Edom.... the prophetical idiom and manner of speech, by 'heaven' and 'earth,' the civil and religious state and combination of men in the world, and the men of them, are often understood. So were the heavens and earth that world which was then destroyed by the flood.' "

That the dividing of the sea, in Isa. 51:15, refers to the events of Ex. 14:21 agree both Bullinger (the Companion Bible) and the commentary of "Jamieson, Fausset and Brown."

Foy Wallace, Jr., in his book, The Book of Revelation, gives and interesting interpretation of Rev. 21:1.

"The new conditions of the earth and of the sea did not signify abolition of the old order of governments, nor the formation of new secular and political powers. The earth throughout the apocalypse referred to the place of the nations, with particular reference to Palestine; and the placid or tossed sea referred to the state of society; and the word heaven denoted the existing authorities of government. The new heaven and earth, and the troubled sea, having passed away and represented as being no more, indicated the changed conditions within the existing governments and society to make them favorable for the prosperity of the cause of Christ and his church throughout the empire. The old system of Judaism had been removed and the opposition of heathenism had been overcome; and the vision represented new conditions to surround the church in the changed world.... The OT prophets referred to Israel's return from Babylon and their restoration to their own land of Judea as to them a 'new heaven and new earth'."

This expresses the way that I perceive the terms "heaven and earth" as being used in ancient Jewish world-view.

In referring to the soon coming destruction of Jerusalem in Lu. 21:8-36, Jesus frequently uses the plural pronoun "you folks." This passage was spoken to folks in the 1st century, and what He said applied to them. Note His words in vss. 20-22,

"Now later, when you folks see Jerusalem being continuously surrounded by encamped armies, at that time realize and know from that experience that her desolation has drawn near and is now present. At that point, let the people in Judea progressively flee into the hill country and mountains; then let the people within the midst of her [i.e., Jerusalem] proceed departing out of that place, and don't let (or: let not) the folks in the country or the district continue coming (or: going) into her, because these are days of executing justice - of bringing about what is fair and right and of establishing what accords with the Way pointed out - with a view to have fulfilled ALL THE THINGS HAVING BEEN WRITTEN (or: for all that is written to be FULFILLED)!"

That happened in AD 70. The parallel prophecy in Mat. 24 referred to the same time and the same events. The world (heaven and earth) of the Jewish nation passed away with that event, and so did the Law which had made them a nation. The old passed away, and the new had come (2 Cor. 5:17b). A new creation had come about (2 Cor. 5:17a). There came to be "One New Humanity" (Eph. 2:15). The new arrangement (or: covenant) operates under the direction of,

"the principle and law of, from and which is the spirit and attitude of 'The Life within Christ Jesus' (or: the Law of Life's spirit, joined with [the] Anointing of Jesus; or: the Spirit's law of life within Christ Jesus; or: the Law [= Torah] from the Breath-effect, which is Life in union with [the] Anointed Jesus) [which] frees you away from the Law of the Sin (or: the principle of failure and the missing of the target; the code of behavior that produces error; the principle of deviation from the goal) and the Death (or: immediately set you [other MSS: me] at liberty from the law that deals with and has the character of sin and death)." (Rom. 8:2) [comment: = the principle of the old Adamic life, and Israel's Torah]

Thus, it is my conclusion that the answer to both questions which I set forth at the beginning of this article is an emphatic, "No!"


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