Nazarene Space


What do You Mean... Works the Law?
By
James Scott Trimm



Often when I share with Christians that the Torah is everlasting, for all generations, they respond by saying, "But we are not saved by "works of the law."

The phrase "works of the law" (which is sometimes rendered "deeds of the law" in the KJV) appears only nine times in the New Testament and only in Paul's writings:

Therefore by the deeds of the law
there shall no flesh be justified in his sight:
for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
(Rom. 3:20 KJV)

Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith
without the deeds of the law.
(Rom. 3:28 KJV)

Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith,
but as it were by the works of the law.
For they stumbled at that stumblingstone;
(Rom. 9:32 KJV)

Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law,
but by the faith of Jesus Christ,
even we have believed in Jesus Christ,
that we might be justified by the faith of Christ,
and not by the works of the law:
for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
(Gal. 2:16 KJV)

This only would I learn of you,
Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law,
or by the hearing of faith?
(Gal. 3:2 KJV)

He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit,
and worketh miracles among you,
doeth he it by the works of the law,
or by the hearing of faith?
(Gal. 3:5 KJV)

For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse:
for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not
in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.
(Gal. 3:10 KJV)

(In Gal. 3:10 the Aramaic has "works because of the law" rather than "works of the law".)

This phrase, "works of the law", is best understood through its usage in Gal. 2:16. Here Paul writes:

Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law,
but by the faith of Jesus Christ,
even we have believed in Jesus Christ,
that we might be justified by the faith of Christ,
and not by the works of the law:
for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
(Gal. 2:16 KJV)

If we consider this passage carefully we can see that Paul uses this phrase to describe a false method of justification which is diametrically opposed to "faith in the Messiah". To Paul "works of the law" is not an obsolete Old Testament system, but a heresy that has never been true.

The term "works of the Torah" has shown up as a technical theological term used in a document in the Dead Sea Scrolls called MMT which says:

Now we have written to you some of the
works of the law, those which we determined
would be beneficial for you...
And it will be reckoned to you as righteousness,
in that you have done what is right and good before Him...
(4QMMT (4Q394-399) Section C lines 26b-31)

And that this is an amazing inverse literary parallel to Gal. 2:16; 3:6:

 

Now we have written to you some of the
works of the law, those which we determined
would be beneficial for you...
And it will be reckoned to you as righteousness,
in that you have done what is right and good before Him...
(4QMMT (4Q394-399) Section C lines 26b-31)

 

Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Yeshua the Messiah, even we have believed in Yeshua the Messiah, that we might be justified by the faith of Messiah, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified....

Even as Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him for righteousness.

(Gal. 2:16; 3:6)

This heretical doctrine laid out in MMT is based on twenty-four purity regulations about which the Essenes held a stricter halacha than their Pharisaic counterparts, and which they believed would be reckoned to them as righteousness. Apparently Paul’s opponent takes “righteousness/justification” in this passage of MMT to mean “salvation”. Paul however argues that it is faith in Messiah and not these “works of the law” by which we are saved:

When Paul speaks out against "works of the law" it is like a Baptist preacher speaking out against "Latter Day Saints", he does not mean the words according to their literal meaning, he has nothing against "Saints" who live in the "Latter Days" he is using the Mormon's theological technical term to refer to their theology.

There can be no doubt that Paul sees "works of the law" as categorically bad, yet Paul calls the Torah itself "holy, just and good" (Rom. 7:12), certainly Paul does not use these phrases to refer to the Torah itself as obsolete, but to a heresy, a false theology that was never true.

HaSatan wishes "to steal and to kill and to destroy" (Jn. 10:10) and he knows the time is short and has stepped up his war with those who proclaim both Torah Observance and Faith in Messiah (the two pillars of Nazarene Judaism) (Rev. 12:12, 17; 13:7). But no weapon forged against us will prosper (Is. 54:17).


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Views: 251

Comment by J-M Mustchin on July 26, 2018 at 9:54pm

Very interesting info.

Comment by Jake Wilson on July 27, 2018 at 9:37am

Gal 3:10 shows that Paul refers to the Torah, so I hope no one thinks that they will be saved by obeying the Torah plus having faith in Yeshua. Paul nowhere says that the "works of the law" are bad, but that they won't save anyone. That didn't save Israel in the OT either - God saved them out of Egypt and then they received the Law. 

Unless one is born from above one won't enter the Kingdom of God (JN 3:5). The recipe for this is given in ACTS 2, and to ignore this means that Yeshua died in vain for you - the Rock was smitten in vain, because no one wanted the living water wish gushed forth. 

I am on my way to Israel and won't have time to reply in the next days, but I am attaching an update on a file about that "recipe" once more. 

Shalom, 

Jake

The Case for Tongues

Comment by James Trimm on July 27, 2018 at 9:47am

Jakee, you are confusing Torah with Torahlessness,  Galatians 3:10 says:

For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse:
for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not
in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.
(Gal. 3:10 KJV)

Notice that the "curse" here is not from the Torah but from continuing not in the Torah,

Continuing not in the Torah is the opposite of Torah,

This very statement is laying out a dichotomy between the "Works of the Law" and the "things which are written in the book of the law"

Comment by James Trimm on July 27, 2018 at 9:50am

In other words, Gal. 3:10 equates being "of the works of the law" teaching with "continuing not in the things which are written in the book of the law", therefore the "works of the law" teaching is contrary to what is written in the Torah

Comment by Jake Wilson on July 27, 2018 at 10:12am

You don’t seem to understand the basics of salvation, James.

Believers in Yeshua should of course continue to do everything what is written in the law - but that alone will save no one. Yehovah put the curse for man disobeying the law onto His Son Yeshua. He died, so that mankind can make a fresh start, but this time with the Torah written on their hearts and the Ruach Hakodesh inside of them in order to keep the Torah.

You can keep Shabbat, and wear Tsitsits, etc. (like me), and it will never impute righteousness to you - you remain in sin. And as long as you reject to have your sins washed away, and your dead spirit revived, you are not saved.

Comment by Jake Wilson on July 27, 2018 at 10:18am

That born again believers who blatantly disregard the Torah, won’t be saved either is another matter.

Comment by Jake Wilson on July 27, 2018 at 2:54pm

One last remark: We are all sons of the first Adam who transgressed God’s Law and passed on spiritual death to us (ROM 5:12). Now, we can either embrace that heritage and remain spiritually dead (despite our Torah observance) or we can embrace the second Adam who obeyed God’s Law but was put to death for our disobedience of God’s Law. Embracing the first Adam means spiritual and eternal death, embracing the second Adam means spiritual and eternal life - everyone has the choice.

Allowing Yehovah to revive you and to put His Spirit & Law into your heart will make you want to keep His Law - not in order to be saved, but because you are saved. Keeping the Law cannot bring back your spirit to life, and therefore it cannot save. You need to be born of God - that which is born of Spirit is spirit, and that which is born of flesh is flesh (the latter cannot inherit the kingdom of Eloah).

Comment by James Trimm on July 27, 2018 at 7:45pm

Jake,

You seem to be reading a lot into the article about "the basics of salvation" when it says very little about the subject.  The point of the article is that of the historical and contextual meaning of the phrase "works of the law" as used by Paul. And I think that case is made from documented historical sources,

Comment by Jake Wilson on July 27, 2018 at 8:59pm

The Bible states that Torah obedience cannot save us, a fact which the troublemakers of Galatians didn’t agree with (they were the extremists who wanted to circumcise Gentiles for salvation, see ACTS 15). Your article attempts to discredit the Bible with one quote from the DSS after just having listed half a dozen Bible passages which negate salvation by works. And now you are telling me that the article has little to do with salvation?

Comment by James Trimm on July 27, 2018 at 9:21pm

Jake,

1. I have never taught that salvation is earned by works.

2. You completely misunderstand the meaning of Galatians.  You should go through my line by line study of the book complete with handouts:

http://nazarenejudaism.com/?p=1597

3. No the group of unique Pharisees in Antioch in Acts 15  was completely different from the Essene based group in Galatians, though they held similar notions.

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