“Not Under the Law” in Galatians

In Galatians, Paul teaches his disciples, “If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law” (Gal 5:18; cf. Rom 6:14-15; 1 Cor 9:20-21). What does Paul mean by “not under the Law”? The traditional answer is that Paul (Shaul) abandoned Torah for an alternative way of living—not a life of legal observance, but a life under “grace” and “faith.” This supposed shift in Paul’s lifestyle assumes that grace and faith are in opposition to God’s Law, but Paul himself denied such an opposition many times over (e.g., Rom 3:31; 4:16; 7:7-16; 10:5). A closer examination of Gal 5:18 shows that Paul does not disdain the Law (far from it), but rather he qualifies the Law’s scope in light of the Messiah’s arrival. I have to warn you, my explanation of the apostle’s words will take you far from the traditional path of reading Galatians.

Shaul’s notion of not being “under the Law” begins earlier in Galatians when he asks, “Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?” (Gal 3:2-3). Clearly, the Spirit works through faith! Paul adds, “But before faith came, we were protected under the law, being enclosed together to the faith which was later to be revealed. Therefore, the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Messiah, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.” (Gal 3:23-25).

First, Paul frequently uses the term “faith” (πίστις; pistis) in Galatians as a shorthand for “faith in Messiah,” and the term “promise” (ἐπαγγελία; epangelía) for the promised inheritance given to Abraham (cf. Gen 12:1-3; 15:18-20). The inheritance or promise is something an heir receives once the child matures. According to Paul, his Galatian disciples already received the “Abrahamic promise/inheritance” by the Spirit, without the involvement of Torah (Gal 3:26-29). Jews can receive the same “promise/inheritance of the covenant” through the Spirit in the process of being guided by the Torah.

Second, Shaul compares the custody of a caretaker or tutor (Greek: παιδαγωγός; paidagogós) over a minor to the custody of Torah over Israel. This is not a perfect illustration (because it highlights only one side of Torah), but Paul introduces an idea of “tutor” as an example from the Roman life his audience would understand. In English, a tutor or pedagogue may imply academic instruction, but in Greek or Hebrew, the terms imply practical training in life skills. In Hebrew (מוֹרֶה; moreh) “teacher” or “instructor”, “someone who points to right direction” is related to the word Torah (תּוֹרָה; torah). Greek “law” (νόμος; nomos) is not the best translation for such relationship but translations are rarely perfect or precise. The issue of Torah comes up because Paul addresses his letter to non-Jews who are contemplating circumcision and formal conversion, which would obligate them to live by the Torah’s commandments.

So, keeping this in mind, what does Paul mean by not being “under the Law” or “under a tutor” in his illustration? The answer can be surprisingly straightforward. Mature heirs know how their father wants them to act and do not require the enforcement of rules by a caretaker who already taught them how to live well in society. Galatians are non-Jews, and technically, they were never “under the law” and thus do not require emancipation from it. So applying this scenario to non-Jews is not entirely proper. Paul merely says there are two paths to the inheritance, one through the Spirit and another through Torah which leads one to Christ. (Gal 3:24). But Galatians did not know Torah. They did not even know God before Paul introduced them to Jesus (Gal 4:8; cf. Eph 2:12) so what law could they be under before Messiah?

Indeed, throughout Israel’s history, Torah served as a guide, as a teacher, and custodian who instructs, corrects and even disciplines. Torah preserved Israel as a people living among pagan nations for many generations, allowing them to finally see the days of the Messiah. Now that Messiah has come, those who embrace him are “mature heirs”, they are ready to receive their inheritance/promise. They are guided by the Spirit and thus not “under the tutor”. Yet this does not mean that Israel as a mature heir can now ignore everything she was taught since childhood and now can live however she pleases without any consequences. Torah’s teaching never ceases to be valid and true. Paul’s illustration should not be pressed too far. Illustrations are rarely perfect and simply exist to clarify an idea. In fact, illustrations are not meant to be scrutinized or made into theology. Paul’s original point is that Galatians, who are Gentiles are not supposed get circumcised and quickly acquire a tutor for themselves. Their journey to the “promise” (ἐπαγγελία; epangelía) is different, according to their teacher (Gal 5:18) and that is why they are “not under the law”.

The bottom line is Saul’s statement in Act 24;14 “But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a ‘sect,’ so I worship the Elohim of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Torah and the Prophets.” Shows his mind set that the Galatians were not ready for a new life as Hashem intended i.e. the Way that is His Path for all Mankind. Hashem=Haruach Hakodesh=Torah=Yeshua=Lapid

Parashat Ha’Azinu / פרשת האזינו

Torah Reading: HA-AZINU, Deuteronomy 32: 1-52
THE SONG OF G-D’S JUSTICE

Some songs are happy, some are sad. Some are for entertainment. Some come to tell a story or teach a lesson. Some express the inner heart and soul. Unique among all songs is the song of Moses in our parashah. HA-AZINU is the song of G-d’s perfect Justice — the ultimate reproof to man.

The Hebrew word for song, SHIRAH, is related to the word SHER, which means a chain or necklace. A song is a chain, thread or structure that connects various particulars together in order to make a meaningful order. As the very climax of the Torah, Moses’ song of HA’AZINU gives order and meaning to the history of the people of Israel with its great highs and terrible lows. Everything comes to show the faultless, inexorable justice of G-d. “The Rock — His work is perfect, for all His ways are Justice, the G-d of faithfulness in Whom there is no wrong, He is righteous and straight!” (Deut. 32:4).

This may be easy to say, but it is very hard to actually know and believe in our heart of hearts. Nevertheless, Moses challenges us to join him in this song of testimony, so that we too will know and declare G-d’s justice. The song is “interactive”: Moses chants, calling upon us to respond. “For I will call upon the Name of HaShem — ascribe greatness to our G-d” (ibid. v. 3). This verse is the Torah source for the prayer leader’s call to prayer and the congregational response, both in the synagogue — BAR’CHU — and at the table introducing the blessings after eating bread — NEVORECH (Brachos 45a). HA-AZINU challenges us to respond: to wake up, see and acknowledge G-d’s truth and justice, and to respond in the proper way, by repenting. HA-AZINU is such an important expression of the essence of Israel’s faith and destiny that some communities had the custom of reciting it daily in the morning prayers together with SHIRAS HAYAM (“Song of the Sea”) (Rambam, Laws of Prayer 7:13). In the Temple, successive portions of HA-AZINU were read every Shabbos in a six-week cycle as part of the service accompanying the Shabbos additional offering (Rambam, Temidim Umusafim 6:9).

“Listen, O heavens, and I will speak. Hear, O earth, the words of my mouth” (Deut. 32:1). Moses calls upon the heavens and earth, G-d’s impassive, unwaveringly obedient servants, as his witnesses. For mortal man is too devious and full of ploys to be a valid witness — he has a vested interest: he wants to justify himself. “Why did this happen to me? It isn’t fair.” Moses confronts us — the latter generation that he is addressing — with independent testimony that cannot be denied: the actual history of the people of Israel from the very beginning to the very end, for it is all encapsulated in HA-AZINU. “Remember the days of the universe, understand the years of generation after generation; ask your father and he will inform you, your grandfather and they will tell you…” (v. 7). What has happened in the past and what is happening now to Israel is of significance to the entire world. Israel is at the very center. “When the Supreme gave the peoples their inheritance when He spread out the children of man, He established the boundaries of the nations according to the number of the Children of Israel…” (v. 8).

The history of Israel is the history of Adam writ large. Adam was created out of dust and nothingness and placed in G-d’s sublime garden, but he quickly rebelled and sinned, causing G-d to punish and chasten him, in order to make him repent and to cleanse him. Similarly, G-d “found” the Children of Israel in wild, desolate land and built them into a nation, giving them to ride on the high places of the earth — the land of Israel and Jerusalem. But their very good fortune and prosperity became their undoing. “And Yeshurun became fat and he kicked” — causing G-d to let loose all the evils and terrors of persecution and oppression that have plagued the people of Israel for thousands of years. Only when we internalize the message that rebellion leads to nothing but the pain in the end and that we have no recourse except in G-d — only then will G-d relent and swing everything around to goodness and blessing — VE-ZOT HABRACHAH (the closing parashah of the Torah).

* * *

G-D ALWAYS HAS THE UPPER HAND

We cannot escape from G-d and His Covenant, with its privileges, responsibilities and its terrible sanctions. The stark severity of the message of HA-AZINU may cause discomfort among those in today’s obese, irreverent world who seek a sweet, undemanding spirituality that complements and enhances contemporary lifestyle without causing any radical upsets. People are bewildered by the war, terror, crime, disease and other scourges afflicting us, but we would like to see them as mere aberrations that should be able to be eliminated if only we could apply sufficient human ingenuity. HA-AZINU teaches the futility of trying to overcome these G-d-sent scourges without confronting the rebelliousness and deviousness in our own hearts. G-d always has the upper hand. “For I am He, and there is no god with Me: I kill and make alive, I struck the blow and I will heal, and none can save from My hand” (v. 39).

“If only they would be wise and apply their intelligence to this, and understand their latter end. How could one chase after a thousand and two put ten thousand to flight if not because their Rock sold them and HaShem delivered them?” (vv. 29-30). How could it be that small groups of Nazis were able to uproot thousands from their homes and towns and lead them literally like lambs to the slaughter? How could it be that today a people that are not a people have the whole world dancing to their tune, while small cells of terrorist torment and demoralize the entire population? How can this be if not that it is G-d’s doing?

If it is true that our sins as a nation have brought us great suffering, it must also be true that the stirrings of Teshuvah in our hearts will also prove to be the channel for abundant blessing and peace. Rabbi Nachman of Breslov taught that when Israel accepted the Torah, their essential wisdom lay in their willingness to throw away their own sophisticated wisdom and humbly submit themselves completely to G-d’s superior wisdom. Rabbi Nachman brings proof from Onkelos’ Aramaic translation of the verse in HA-AZINU: “O foolish people and not wise” (Deut. 32:6) — “O nation that received the Torah and was not sophisticated” (see Likutey Moharan I:123).

We cannot redeem ourselves with sophisticated ploys but only through taking the ancient, unglamorous path of Teshuvah — honest self-scrutiny, remorse, contrition, owning up to the foolishness and evil in our own hearts and taking ourselves in hand in order to better fulfill G-d’s commandments. HA-AZINU calls to repent with all our hearts and come home to G-d as we stand before Him in prayer during these Days of Awe. Repentance — Teshuvah — is the hallmark of the true savior, Melech Mashiach, as personified in David, the messianic king of Israel. David came to complete the work of Moses in rectifying the original sin of Adam. The striking fact about David is that he sinned. His greatness lay in the fact that he had the courage to acknowledge it and to repent. The true Messiah is Yeshua, not a flawless, superhuman saint who rides on clouds of glory. He is one who — on his level — knows sin and knows the devices of man’s heart. And he knows that only G-d can rectify It through Yeshua.

“Cleanse me of my sin and purify me from my transgression… O G-d, create in me a pure heart and renew within me a proper spirit… I will teach sinners Your ways and transgressors will return to You” (Psalm 51).

As soon as we learn that there is no other way but to repent, we will be redeemed. And then: “Sing aloud — O you nations — of His people, For He does avenge the blood of His servants and render vengeance to His adversaries, and will make atonement for the land of His people.”

Shabbat Shalom! Shanah Tovah! Gmar ChaTimah Tovah!

Avraham Yehoshua Greenbaum

The Laws of Dwelling in the Sukkah

Since we will not have enough time to discuss the laws of Sukkot between Yom Kippur and Sukkot, we shall therefore begin discussing some of the pertinent laws of the Sukkot holiday now.

The Mitzvah of Dwelling in the Sukkah
The Torah (Vayikra 23) states: “You shall dwell in the huts for seven days; all the home-born in Israel must sit in the huts. In order for your generations to know that I have made the children of Israel dwell in huts when I took them out of the land of Egypt.” Our Sages in the Gemara in Masechet Sukkah (11b) teach us that these “huts” were actually the Clouds of Glory that Hashem sent to surround the Jewish nation so that the sun did not bear down on them (Hashem did not actually sit them in actual huts as we do).

Thus, when one sits in the Sukkah, one should have in mind to fulfill the Mitzvah that Hashem has commanded us to dwell in the Sukkah in commemoration of the Clouds of Glory that Hashem surrounded the Jewish nation with. The Midrash tells us regarding the verse “The cloud of Hashem was upon the throughout the day” that there actually seven clouds: Four corresponding to the four directions of the world (i.e. north, south, east, and west), one above them, one below them, and one in front of them which would level out the mountains and valleys before them, kill the snakes and scorpions on the way, and clean and arrange the path before them. We have therefore been commanded to dwell in the Sukkah for seven days.

The Reason Why Sukkot is Celebrated in Tishrei
The Tur writes that the reason we were commanded to make the Sukkah during the month of Tishrei and not during the time of year when we actually left Egypt which was during the holiday of Pesach is because the month of Nissan marks the beginning of the summer months and it is common to make shaded lounging areas during this time and it would not be noticeable that the Sukkah was actually a commandment from Hashem. Hashem therefore commanded us to make the Sukkah during the month of Tishrei which marks the beginning of the winter months which is the cold and rainy season when people usually enter their homes at this time. We, on the other hand, leave our homes and enter the Sukkah, for this shows everyone that we are doing so in order to fulfill the commandment of the King of all kings who has commanded us to do so.

When Should the Sukkah be Built?
Dedicated individuals begin performing Mitzvot early, thus, it is correct to begin working to erect the Sukkah immediately on the day following Yom Kippur. It is likewise a Mitzvah for one to perform this Mitzvah on his own as opposed to through a messenger. However, if one cannot do it himself, one should try to at least lay the Sechach (overhead covering of the Sukkah) on top of the Sukkah himself. If one cannot even do this, one can have someone else do everything on one’s behalf, but one should tell him, “You are my messenger to erect the Sukkah”. The primary aspect of the building of the Sukkah is placing the Sechach on top of the walls of the Sukkah, for this is what validates the Sukkah. There are several detailed laws regarding how the Sukkah should be made and we shall, G-d-willing, discuss them in the following Halachot.

Behavior in the Sukkah
One should try as much as possible to refrain from speaking idle chat in the Sukkah and to increase one’s speaking words of Torah and singing songs of praise to Hashem, for the sanctity of the Sukkah is very great. There is no limit to the greatness and reward for one who speaks many words of Torah and fear of Heaven in the Sukkah and behaves with great love and peace with the members of one’s household while in this holy setting.

Parashat Nitzavim-Vayeilech / פרשת נצבים־וילך

In this week’s Parsha, Moshe continues to address the Jewish people and to impress upon them the importance of keeping the Torah properly, and the reward which will be afforded to those who do, and on the flip side, the severity of the recompense a person will receive for not adequately abiding by the Torah’s holy laws.  However, there is one particular equation in this week’s Parsha which does not seem to add up correctly.  The Torah says that if a person says to himself, “I will go upon my path, everything will be okay”, Hashem will not forgive him and the verses go on to say the terrible punishment he will receive.  I believe that this “non-commensurate” response requires a bit of explanation.

The famous Mashgiach, R’ Chazkal Levenstein explains beautifully that when a person says to himself that he will embark on his path and everything will be fine, he is lacking the most rudimentary and fundamental trait that a Jew is required to possess – the fear of Heaven.  A person who fosters a cavalier attitude about his life and his actions has no hope of ever returning to Torah observance, whereas a person who visualizes the consequences of his actions assumes a true level of responsibility for his misdeeds, and will do everything in his power to ensure that his mistakes are not repeated.  It is specifically for this reason that the Torah tilts all the punishment dials to the right when it comes to this kind of stance.  It is to show us how far we need to stay away from this casual approach and how necessary it is for us to work on our level of fear of retribution for our actions.  We have to always drive home the reality that if we sin, there will be very real and very unpleasant countermeasures for that sin, and allow the fear of those countermeasures to always motivate us to do the right thing.

The famous Tosafos in Shabbos (88) ask a fantastic question.  The Gemorah teaches us that in order for Hashem to have ensured that the Jews would accept the Torah properly, He held a mountain over their heads and said, “If you accept the Torah, then fine, and if you don’t, you will now be buried”.  Needless to say, they accepted the Torah.  Tosafos ask if the Jews accepted the Torah at Sinai with the famous remark “נעשה ונשמע” – “We will do, and then we will hear”, why was it necessary for Hashem to then go and hold a mountain over their heads?  Tosafos give their own answer, but The Maharal from Prague answers that although the Jews at Sinai were enthused with a predominant desire to do the will of Hashem forever the moment they uttered that famous declaration, we all know that when the inspiration which led to that moment would begin to die down with time, their resolve may not hold as strong as it once was.  I am sure that many of us can testify to the truth of this statement of the Maharal in our own lives.  It was precisely for this reason that Hashem held a mountain over their heads.  It was to teach them that although inspiration is wonderful, it is not enough.  We need to always maintain a constant level of trepidation at the thought of transgressing the word of the Torah.  This fear and this alone will be instrumental in helping us to keep our lusts in check during a time of temptation.  When we feel a pull toward a particular sin, there is a specific commandment in the Torah to arouse ourselves to feel terrified about the retribution we will receive if we cannot hold our excitement for that sin at bay, and the Torah is teaching us that only this type of fight will truly be effective at curbing our passions.

R’ Yitzchak B’lazar asks a fascinating question.  He proposes that if fear of Heaven is so integral to our service, then it should have been hardwired into our system, much the same way fear of danger or survival instincts is.  Why wouldn’t Hashem have built us with these components if He expected us to succeed in our service of Him?  R’ Yitzchak explains that had we possessed the same fear of Hashem that we do of worldly dangers, we would essentially be robots.  The factor which makes us human, and differentiates us from every other inhabitant of this earth, is our ability to choose right from wrong.  If we would fear Hashem like we do a shark, there would be no room for us to err.  You don’t find many human beings swimming in shark infested water.  Although it is difficult to reach this level of fear, this is exactly what we were created to do.

What are some practical methods a person can use to achieve a higher plane of consciousness in this area?  Firstly, it goes without saying that learning Mussar with great enthusiasm and fervor is certainly effective in increasing one’s general level of awareness of Hashem.  Another powerful tool one can implement is to boost his feeling during the prayer and blessings he recites during the day.  But I would like to share with you something R’ Nachum Zev from Kelm used to do.  He would go every week to visit the sick people in the hospital in order to help enhance his fear of Heaven.  He would explain that although we all know that Hashem is running the world, and we could be sick or healthy at any time of day based on His say so, Chazal says we cannot compare knowing something to seeing it.  When one sees the terrible disfigurements and suffering a human being can become exposed to based on no bad choices of his own, one will certainly begin to inculcate a very real sense of reward and punishment, and how vulnerable we really are at any given time.

During this period we find ourselves in, fear of Heaven is probably the most precious commodity a human being can have in his possession.  Although it is somewhat difficult to come by, let us look to the Gedolim for some examples of outstanding success in achieving fear of Hashem.  The famous Rebetzin Yaffe writes about her father the Beis Halevi; “During the month of Elul, my father was virtually inaccessible.  There was a palpable fear in the air as if there were some capital court case about to happen, and my father was on trial, and if he lost, he would be taken out to the gallows to be hung publicly.”  One of the Brisker Rav’s students once asked him whether or not all the scary feelings Chazal write about the month of Elul are to be taken literally.  The Brisker Rav responded, “of course they are.  In fact, two week’s before Rosh Hashana, I can’t even taste any of my food!”  Once another student met the Rav on the street shortly before Rosh Hashana and asked him how he was feeling.  The Rav responded that he was feeling a little scared about the upcoming judgment and that he needed to repent.  The student asked the Rav in surprise if even the Rav needed to repent.  The Rabbi looked at the man like he was crazy, and asked his Gabbai to check if the student had suffered any sort of brain injury, and remained upset at that question the rest of the day.  Although these giants clearly were able to attain an extremely heightened sense of fear of Heaven, and we are perhaps just taking baby steps to make inroads into our development, it behooves us to do everything in our power to avoid the attitude we described above in this week’s Parsha that everything will be fine, regardless of our actions, and instead replace it with one of genuine concern that our behavior is not quite up to par, and return to Hashem with all of our hearts.

May we all merit to work on our level of fear of Heaven and earn a wonderful sweet new year filled with every blessing!

Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah- Rabbeinu Chaim ben Atar

Rosh Hashanah is the Day of Judgment when all of the creations of the world pass before Hashem Almighty, King of Justice. On this fateful day, anything that is to occur to an individual during this coming year and even in following years is decided. One must therefore must arouse one’s self to repent fully before Hashem and rectify one’s deeds so that one and one’s family may merit being inscribed and sealed in the Book of the Righteous and enjoy a good and sweet new year.

Some think to themselves, “How is it possible to perform Teshuva when this is such a difficult task?”

Regarding the above question, Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l once exclaimed that it is told over that Hagaon Rabbeinu Chaim ben Atar (the saintly Ohr Ha’Chaim) was once lecturing on the topic of Teshuva in the Bet Midrash to throngs of people. A non-Torah-observant individual was passing by at that time and asked, “Why are so many people gathered here?” They told him, “Go in and listen!” They made way for this individual and he sat before the saintly Ohr Ha’Chaim as he spoke breathtakingly about the topic of Teshuva

This individual was so touched by these words that he began to weep. When the sage concluded his sermon and the congregation dispersed, this individual approached the Rav and said, “Honored rabbi! Your words made a tremendous impact on me. I hereby accept upon myself complete Teshuva. However, since this is so difficult, I ask that you pray for me that when I go to sleep tonight, I should not wake up tomorrow morning, for I cannot endure a life of Torah and Mitzvot observance. Therefore, let me at least die innocent and not guilty.”

The venerated sage replied, “G-d-forbid, I will not do this! However, you should know, there was someone in history who requested the same thing as you have. The wicked Bilam stated, ‘Let my soul die the death of the straight and let my end be like his,’ Bilam knew that he could not live the ‘life of the straight’ so he asked only to die as they do!”

“We, on the other hand,” continued the saintly Ohr Ha’Chaim, “are the children of Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov and Hashem promised us that if we open for Him an opening the size of a needle’s head, He shall open for us an opening the size of a banquet hall. Did you realize how much Heavenly assistance is provided to one who wishes to repent? The Sages said, ‘One who comes to purify himself shall be aided by Heaven!’ You are only being asked to make an opening the size of a needle’s head, that’s all. Go study Torah; rise from strength to strength and I will be with you!” The individual took the holy Rav’s advice, repented fully, married a G-d-fearing woman, and raised a wonderful Jewish family.

We must realize that those individuals who were very far from Hashem and His Torah and have since merited to repent fully are extremely beloved by Hashem. For instance, the great Rav Uri Zohar Shlit”a, once steeped in the materialistic world being at the helm of non-religious Israeli culture several decades ago, put forth much effort for a period of time to perform authentic Teshuva. Heaven saw his tremendous self-sacrifice in this area and he was granted the merit of growing tremendously in Torah and fear of G-d amid immense joy and he eventually became one of the greatest symbols of Torah study and service of Hashem in our times. There were many other similar individuals in our times and in previous generations. This is certainly true regarding those individuals who are not completely removed from the Torah and Mitzvot and merely need to correct their ways in that they are guaranteed that if they open an opening the size of a needle’s head, Hashem shall open for them an opening the size of a banquet hall.

We at “Netzari Emunah” would like to wish our members, readership, and the entire Jewish nation a good, sweet, and blessed new year, from the depth of our hearts. May you all merit growing higher and higher in Torah and fear of Heaven and may you be blessed with all of the blessings written in the Torah. May Hashem fulfill all of your hearts’ wishes for the good in order to be able to excel in the service of Hashem.

LESSON NINE: 1&2 CORINTHIANS

Let all that you do be done with love.
1 Corinthians 16:14

You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am HaShem… The stranger [ger] who dwells among you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am HaShem your G-d.
Leviticus 19:17-18, 34

Introduction

  • Romans set the stage for the epistles which we will look at. It laid out the continuing theme of redemption in an organized way. It also expounded on the 2 major conflicts addressed in the Apostolic Scriptures:
  • The Kingdom of Light vs the Kingdom of Darkness
  • Gentile inclusion into Israel without ritual conversion vs Gentiles included only by ritual conversion.

1Corinthians, Rebuke – 2Corinthians, Instruction and Encouragement

  • Serious problems existed in the congregation in Corinth. Paul’s first letter to them was a somewhat harsh rebuke. They had gotten some very important things completely wrong – and their actions proved their immaturity.
  • The second letter was written to respond to their obedient response to his first letter. His second letter is meant as an encouragement.
  • The biggest issues addressed can be understood by understanding the redemption message. They were acting like they did not know this about redemption:
  • The Problem (sin in the Garden and following)
  • The Solution (a Redeemer leading us back in righteousness)
  • The Purpose (to be restored to the Presence of G-d, for praise, fellowship, and glory)

1Corinthians – What Are You Doing !!!?

  • The congregation in Corinth were quite confused about redemption. Some acted like they had joined a club, instead of becoming followers of the Righteous Messiah.
  • Confused About Identity.
  • Did not understand the Solution (a Righteous Redeemer to lead us back) (1Cor 1:11-13)
  • Our identity is not in a “club membership” (1Cor 7:17-24)
  • Passover is not a pagan party – it is about our identity as the Redeemed (1Cor 11:20-31)
  • Confused About the Problem.
  • Immorality promoted (1Cor 5:1-2; 6:9-10, 15-18)
  • Love obscured by false love. Love is the summation of the righteous life-style of the Torah. Love considers a brother (meat, wine in the market) (1Cor 8, 10).
  • Confused About the Purpose.
  • The supernatural – instead of love and service to G-d. (1Cor 12, 13, 14)
  • As mere “club members” they were content with “supernatural” gifts, false love, unrighteous living, and did not consider the goal – to return to the “Garden” – what is the point if there is no resurrection of the Dead?  (1Cor 15:12-17). This lack of trusting G-d had led them to immorality, false identity, and lack of true love.

2Corinthians – Keep On Doing

  • Following the instructions of Lev 19:17, and 1Cor 5, the assembly in Corinth showed true love and rebuked the immoral among them (2Cor 2:3-8).
  • You are a letter written on our hearts (2Cor 3:1-2)
  • We are being transformed into Messiah’s likeness (2Cor 3:6-18) Note: not pejorative of the Torah or Moses, instead using it as an encouragement – use of Hebrew kal v’chomer (light to heavy).
  • Fellowship with believers… but not with unbelievers (2Cor 6:11-18)
  • The correct response to rebuke – godly sorrow and repentance (2Cor 7:1-13)
  • Be generous (2Cor 9)

Summary

  • The congregation in Corinth had begun to separate themselves from the root. Their practices revealed that they had not understood completely what they were redeemed from, and for what purpose. Their lack of righteous living was the result of their assimilation and lack of trusting G-d regarding the resurrection… from that came all manner of weird teaching and practice.
  • Stay attached to the root – avoid pagan assimilation. Remember Who redeemed you, and for what purpose!