To assist you in your Bible studies, this book excerpt provides an excellent explanation of Jesus, Torah, sin, and salvation:
“The Jews were quite particular about who was allowed into the Temple. For instance, Gentiles were restricted to the outer court (the least holy place.
Although a Jew who was an agnostic (but continued to follow the Jewish customs) might be allowed to enter the Temple, a Jew who worshipped a foreign god or was living in overt sin, or in an unclean state, could be banned from much of the Temple area. He would only be allowed into the court of the Gentiles. The Jews who believed in Jesus at the time of the story in Acts 3 were not considered to be members of a separate religion. They were looked upon as a sect of Judaism and as such were able to freely gather together daily in the Temple courtyard and there they were preaching that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah of the Jews.
Acts 6.7 “And the word of G-d kept on spreading. And the number of the disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem. And a tremendously vast throng of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith.”
It is apparent from this verse that there was no functional conflict between being a priest in the Temple in Jerusalem and having faith in Jesus as Messiah number of those who became disciples of Jesus continued to function as priests in the Temple. And beyond that, these priests were not secret believers because the Scripture calls them disciples.
11 Then they induced men to say, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and G-d.”
12 And they stirred up the people, the elders and the scribes, and they came upon him and dragged him away, and brought him before the Sanhedrin.
13 And they put forward false witnesses who said, “This man incessantly speaks against this holy place, and the Torah.
14 “For we have heard him say that Jesus the Nazarene will demolish this place and alter the customs which Moses handed down to us.”
Shortly after the great spiritual revivals that occurred earlier in Acts a problem arose in the young church. The Hellenistic Jews, who had become believers in Jesus, felt that their widows were not being given the same care and food benefits that the widows among the other believing sects received. Therefore the Apostles appointed seven wise and spiritual men to look after the widows. One of these men was Stephen.
Stephen was also going about performing great healings and miracles. His actions upset the leaders of the Jews who arranged for false witnesses to testify against Stephen. The false witnesses, who had been secretly induced to accuse Stephen, made charges against him that could honestly apply to most of today’s Jews who believe that Jesus is the Messiah. Stephen was falsely accused of not practising the Torah of Moses. Since this accusation was false, the logical conclusion is that Stephen must have been observant of the Torah of Moses.
The early believers did not call themselves Messianic Jews, but referred to themselves as “The Way”. The idea that Jews who believe in Jesus should be called Messianic Jews is a very modern Temple Rules
According to the Torah of Moses, anyone that failed to observe certain customs of Jewish practice (Passover, Day of Atonement, abstaining from blood, circumcision, etc.) was to be cut off from the Jewish people and counted as a foreigner. This does not mean they could no longer be Jews, but readmission into the congregation of Israel required repentance and immersion in the mikvah (ritual baptism). The very fact that the early Believers in Jesus continued to attend the Temple service indicates that neither they, nor the Temple authorities considered the Way to be contrary to or deviant from the requirements of the Torah.
In fact, if there was any change in the theology of the Jewish believers, it would have occurred among those who had formerly been Sadducees, because they had to embrace the hope of the resurrection of the dead, the belief in angels and view the Scriptures as being totally relevant to their day. Others Jewish believers had been agnostics, or Hellenists, but now because of their belief in Jesus as the Messiah, had been brought home to the faith and customs of their fathers. The tenants that the Jewish believers retained, in no way eliminated grace from their lives, nor should it from ours. Grace is not a concept that is unique to the Apostolic Writings, but was an established belief from the Jewish Scriptures. We certainly see an example of G-d’s grace/favour operating in the life of King David.
Obedience to the Torah of Moses or adherence to the customs of the Jews can never bring us salvation and were never meant for that purpose. Only faith in Jesus and His atoning blood, shed on our behalf, can give us eternal life. Justification only comes through faith, “The just shall live by faith.”
Jesus the Jew
From the Gospels we can see that Jesus was not a “Christian,” but a Jew, who abided by the statutes of the Torah. Everything that Jesus did was in total obedience to the Torah of Moses. Jesus also followed the traditions of the Jews, as long as they did not contradict the Torah.
Jesus was born to parents who observed the Torah and were also led by the Holy Spirit. It is evident from the Gospels that Joseph and Mary heard from the Holy Spirit, received dreams from the Lord and were visited by angels. In short they were good Orthodox Torah Observant Charismatics.
Because Jesus was circumcised on the eighth day, in accordance with the provision in the Torah, He entered into the covenant of the Jews. Because He was the first-born child of His mother the appropriate sacrifices for His redemption were offered.
Both Jesus’ parents regularly travelled to Jerusalem to celebrate the feasts and Jesus accompanied them.
Jesus kept the Sabbath and observed the rules of kashrut (food).
He dressed in the customary manner of the Jews of His day, which meant that He wore tsitsit and tefillin. Jesus kept His beard untrimmed and wore payot, the traditional sidelocks. Jesus not only supported the observance of Torah, but demanded of His disciples that they follow even more exacting requirements from the Torah.
Jesus trained His disciples according to the standard method used by the Pharisees of His day, even giving His disciples their own special prayer. Jesus expected His Jewish disciples to follow His example in every area of their lives.
Jesus was righteous in all His ways, but He did not receive righteousness by observing the Torah. No disciple of Jesus can receive righteousness by observing the Torah. Righteousness was not imputed to the saints because they observed the Torah. The Torah was given to the Children of Israel seven weeks after they were redeemed by the lamb’s blood, and six weeks after they received the Holy Spirit and were baptised in the sea and therefore seven weeks after they became righteous.
The Torah was given to the redeemed community of Israel so that, by observing its regulations, they could maintain fellowship with their G-d.
Sin and Salvation
The relationship of any Jew to the Torah of Moses depends on his relationship to sin and salvation. When we are born, we are alive spiritually. Eventually we reach a point where we become aware of G-d-given laws. We may actually hear G-d’s Word, or we might make a law for others to live by, or nature teaches us about G-d’s laws. Once we break one of G-d’s laws, the process of death takes over in our lives because of the existence of that law. When we confess our sin and accept the payment of Jesus’ blood that brings us forgiveness, we are no longer under that law or subject to the spiritual consequences for breaking it. This principle in no way exempts us from G-d’s laws. It is still wrong for us to steal or commit adultery, etc. If we truly believe that the Torah of Moses was nullified, we would be free to live in any manner we pleased without fearing G-d or worrying about the consequences of our actions. We would be lawless. The Scriptures make it plain that lawlessness is the same as rebellion. If we respect and delight in the Torah, we also show our attitude toward G-d. Our love for G-d is not demonstrated by how much we pray, but in the degree that we listen to Him. Our primary means of listening to Him is by reading the Scriptures.”
Courtesy of Stephen H Hedges, Jesus, the Torah and Messianic Judaism