One Law

In ancient Israel, when those from other nations dwelt among God’s people, they all had the same moral obligations; there was one law for everyone. We call it Torah, God’s instructions; it includes the Mosaic laws in Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy. No difference was made between Jew and Gentile. (Nu 15:15-16)

Comet C/2013 R1

I believe Torah, this same set of ancient laws, is timeless (Ps 119:160), defining holiness and sin for us today (1Jn 3:4); each one rooted in the eternal nature and character of God (1Pe 1:16)His testimony of metaphysical reality.

No one has ever been saved by keeping Torah (Ro 3:28); it’s purpose is to reveal God’s standard of holiness for His people. (1Ti 1:5) Since all of Torah is profitable for instruction in righteousness, thoroughly equipping us all to good works (2Ti 3:16-17), I believe all of Torah is generally applicable for every people group and culture for all time (Mt 5:19), for Jew and Gentile alike. (Mi 4:2)

When we willfully break any of these laws we’re guilty of breaking the Law as a whole, in its entirety (Ja 2:10-11), and we grieve and anger God. (He 10:26) God commands us to hide the words of His Law in our heart (De 6:6), and exhorts us to delight His Law and to meditate on it all the time. (Ps 119:97)

A general proof of this One Law concept is relatively straightforward: [1] Christ teaches Torah will be obligatory, relevant and applicable as long as Heaven and Earth remain. (Mt 5:17-18) [2] He also affirms that every single command in Torah has intrinsic moral significance as an expression and reflection of the one supreme moral standard: loving God with our whole heart, soul and mind, and our neighbors as ourselves. (Mt 22:36-40) [3] And finally, Christ commands His Jewish disciples to teach all nations to observe and obey all things whatsoever He has commanded them (Mt 28:19-20); God makes no Jew-Gentile distinctions in His commands.

Objection to One Law is nearly universal in Christianity, and generally passionate, opposing these basic principles by presuming that certain Torah commands have no timeless, intrinsic moral value, and then either [1] claiming Christ has abolished Torah altogether, or [2] arbitrarily classifying God’s laws into types (e.g. moral, ceremonial, civil, etc.), and presuming that certain kinds of laws (e.g. ceremonial and civil) apply only to Jews and not to Gentiles.

Motivation for opposing One Law is simple: the carnal mind is enmity against God and cannot be subject to Torah (Ro 8:7); our unregenerate nature cannot perceive Torah’s intrinsic moral value. But as we believe on Christ and partake in the New Covenant, God gives us new hearts (Eze 36:26) and begins to write Torah into our minds and hearts (He 8:10), putting His spirit within us and causing us to walk in His ways (Eze 36:27), moving in our inward man to delight in Torah. (Ro 7:22) As we grasp its immeasurable value (Ps 119:72), how it reveals the nature of God and Man (Ps 119:130), how all who delight in it are blessed (Ps 1:2-3), we’ll never strategize to limit its applicability or scope.

Many different scriptures are used to refute One Law, but I find that each one must be wrested from context to do so. (2Pe 3:16) So far, all opponents I have seen don’t consider that each text can easily be interpreted consistently with One Law, and ignore or superficially dismiss the key texts supporting One Law.

I think the definition of sin and holiness is one of the most important topics we can discuss; without holiness no one will see God. (He 12:14) Since my position here appears to be so unique, and since variations of the opposing viewpoint are so widely and passionately held, I invite and encourage any one to challenge me, and to engage in respectful, constructive dialogue for our mutual edification.

articles     blog

9 thoughts on “One Law”

  1. I totally agree with all this apart from flinching at the use of “Christ” rather than Yeshua!! The big mystery is why in Acts 15: 1- 31 Peter (with others) decides that gentile believers did not have to keep the whole Torah. Of course gentiles can never be Jews (you are born Jewish, as you are born Italian) but if gentiles believe and are grafted to the Children of Israel, they are serving The G-d of Israel, who says same law for both. Numbers 15:15

    1. Thank you for your comments Frances. Glad you also see this. I’m curious if the article was helpful in changing your mind about anything, or if you already believed this prior to reading the article.

      I am also curious as to your concern about the use of “Christ” vs “Yeshua.” I think both are valid names/titles for our Messiah so I use them interchangeably. I tend to prefer the term “Christ” as I think most of my audience will not be messianic but more traditionally Christian. What bothers you about this?

  2. I did not disagree with anything you said, and it was just so refreshing to read something that I have held dear to my heart for a long time.
    I despair of gentile and Jewish believers who come out with the “we are not under The Law” mantra. I know we are not saved by “keeping” The Law. The L-rd G-d of Israel knew that no-one could keep the whole law, we are indeed saved by grace….BUT…if we truly believe that G-d so loved the world that He sent his only son, to come and bear our sins once and for all, surely our response is….”how can we please our Father?” It is so obvious how, this week’s Torah Portion tells us again……it blesses G-d if we keep His Word, it blesses us if we keep His Word, how else do we know how to live if we dump The Torah. Do we make up a new “Way”???
    My reason for not liking the use of “Christ” is because it is a title. Yeshua HaMashiach, Jesus THE Messiah. Messiah is a title, so if you must use Christ it should be THE Christ. But on another tack, even though I understand your audience is mainly gentile, I notice that nobody would never call Margot Fonteyn Margaret Fountain, or Leonardo da Vinci Lennard Vince, or Louis XV, Lewis!!! So why do we call Yeshua Jesus???

    1. Thanks again for your thoughtful response. I agree that it is very sad and wrong that so many people are contrary to Torah, especially within Messianic circles. I’m glad to get to know those who deeply value it and are encouraging others to do so.

      On the Yeshua/Christ thought, my understanding is that the New Testament (NT) is as much the inspired Word of God as Torah, and that much of the NT was originally written in Greek; books like John, Romans and Ephesians were evidently not written primarily to Jews, so it is inconceivable to me that they were originally written in Hebrew. If that is true, then we can easily see that God is pleased to refer to Yeshua as both “the Christ” and simply as “Christ,” (Greek “Christos”) since the word “the” (masculine “ho”) often appears in Greek as a distinct article along with Christos, and we can also find many instances without this article. We also find that YHWH prefers to use Greek form for Yeshua, “Iesous,” when revealing Himself to Greek speaking people, so I infer from this that the transliterated English “Jesus” is just as appropriate for English speaking people.

      Since YHWH is the designer of each and every language, I don’t think any one language is inherently better than any other; each one serves the purpose He intended and He can communicate perfectly in any of them. I think one of the issues with the Messianic movement, which I think makes it more of a Messy-anic movement at times, is that we tend to become enamored with the Hebrew-roots part of it, the Jewishness of it, and often don’t see the real value in it; which is really this One-Law position in my opinion. This then becomes a distraction for us, and also a way for Christians to dismiss this as just a “messianic phase” that many go through. Don’t misunderstand, I think the Jewish language and culture is beautiful and valuable in many ways, but holding it up as inherently superior to others is, I think, a dangerous mistake, and often leads down a slippery slope ending in actually rejecting Yeshua as Messiah.

      So, what about the above would you differ with and why? 🙂

  3. Well we will have to disagree on the original language of most of the NT. Written by Jews mainly for Jews. I am no scholar but my late husband was, and he felt quite strongly there was enough evidence for him to think that the original language would have been Hebrew. But of course, sadly we only have the Greek to go back to for translation.
    As far as the Tanach is concerned I have found time and time again that the English translations have just been “wrong” and have heard it said that EVERY translation of the Bible is a commentary as the translators have their own original starting point, and agendas even. I hold the English translation very lightly and am continually looking into the original Hebrew. I don’t esteem Hebrew above other languages, but when it comes to the Tenach, ie G-d speaking to us through Moshe and the Prophets, and the history of His people, I would esteem it greatly.
    As far as Hebrew/Jewish roots. I would NEVER use that term. I would say Biblical. G-d did not start a religion called Judaism, he revealed Himself to a certain people group (The Children of Israel) to show them who He was, and how they should live, often referred to in the Tenach as “and this is THE WAY.” This was for The Children of Israel and anyone who wanted to align themselves to them. Yeshuah did not come to start a new religion either, he came to get back to basics. To challenge the rabbis who had added to The Law, and to remind us that this WAY was for all men, that He came to fulfil The Law and The Prophets and not to add or take away from it…. but I am sure you would not have an issue on any of that!!!

    1. Thanks again for your comments. Yes, I think we agree on a whole lot, and I appreciate where we disagree. My latest blog, Thy Testimonies, extends my understanding of the One Law concept a little farther. If you have any comments on that one I am also interested.

  4. Here’s a well-written article objecting to One Law. It hinges on two key claims: [1] Paul discouraged Gentiles from being circumcised, and [2] certain Torah commands are given solely as boundary markers for the nation of Israel.

    One may reject the first claim by noting that Paul doesn’t discourage the ceremonial act of circumcision in itself, as seal of righteousness by faith (Ro 4:11) in Christ, but as a symbol of conversion to Judaism. This follows from Gal 5:2-4 where Paul states those who are circumcised (in this conversion to Judaism context) are believing/trusting in legalism, salvation by works rather than by faith in Messiah, and therefore have no part in Christ; he does not distinguish between Jew and Gentile in his exhortation. (vs 3)

    One may reject the second claim by noting that no scripture is provided in support; this is because there are no scriptures stating that any particular law in Torah was given solely as a boundary marker for physical Israel. Some laws do happen to have this boundary marker effect since Jews have historically discouraged Gentiles from keeping them and required it of themselves. God does command Israel to keep His laws, and certain laws in particular (e.g. Ex 31:16-17) so that Israel will be a unique people separated unto Himself. (De 14:2) However, this is generally true of all of His Law, Israel was to keep them all because these laws are His Laws. Further, and most importantly, God never does say Gentiles are not obligated to keep some of His laws; He does not divide up Torah and say some commands are only for Jews. Rather, God treats the entire Law as a whole (Ja 2:10-12), and holds the whole world guilty for disobeying any part of it. (Ro 3:19, Mt 5:19)

    ————————-

    Ex 31:16-17 – “Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.”

    De 14:2 – “For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth.”

    Mt 5:19 – “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

    Ro 3:19 – “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.”

    Rom 4:11 – “And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also.”

    Ga 5:2-4 “Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.”

    Ja 2:10-12: “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law. So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.

  5. In reply to the above after reading the article, a dear friend writes: “I’ve actively tried to disconnect myself from the One Law vs Divine Invitation over the last several years. There are a number of problems with the entire conversation as a whole.

    A premise to the entire conversation is that Gentiles are grafted into Israel… this continues what the Tanach clearly laid out and the prophets discussed. Follows the pattern from Rahab to Ruth and forward, that in Messiah we are Abraham’s seed. There is a long tradition of Gentiles attaching themselves to Israel. It is a beautiful idea that Messiah would draw the entire world to the light which Israel is supposed to be.

    Another problem is that discipleship – in a Jewish context – is the art of imitation. How on earth do you imitate a Jewish Rabbi and not end up doing a lot of VERY Jewish things? Going to all nations and making them disciples of Yeshua is problematic if they are going to be extremely selective in what they emulate.

    Agreed regarding circumcision. Also, the uncircumcised cannot eat the Passover (Passover lamb, which must be in Jerusalem).

    Agreed that the Law is never broken down into “This part here is to make you look different”…. take kashrut for example. It wasn’t just to keep Israel different or distinct – God says that they are to avoid unclean foods in order to keep their souls from being contaminated. Tzit tzit are reminders of Torah. Shabbat is (among other things) a remembrance of creation itself.

    An olive branch is that in prophesy it seems to always discuss “the nations” so clearly everyone isn’t called to simply convert to Judaism. At the same time, how “Jewish” things should look across the board is difficult to say. I don’t have the perfect answer here. I think nations are supposed to keep things distinct about themselves – but at the same time God is very, very specific about how He is worshipped. The nations taking an independent approach to how they worship is likely problematic, and God warned Israel to not worship Him like the nations around them worship their Gods, so a ‘nations make their own traditions’ is an issue as well.

    I could go on and on… but I’ll just say ‘I largely agree with you in principle, but it’s also quite complicated in practice.'”

  6. Elaborating upon the above thought, a couple of points:
    [1] We (the wild olive branches, gentiles) are not grafted in to Israel, but into Messiah (the root) along with Israel (the natural branches). (Ro 11:17-24) So, the idea isn’t that we are to assimilate with, or blend in to Israel, or to emulate the Jews, but that we are made partakers of Messiah and we are to be like Him, who happens to be of Jewish descent. (Ro 9:5) He is the vine, or the tree, and we all (Jew and Gentile) are the branches. (Jn 15:5)
    [2] However, Torah, God’s Law, isn’t Jewish per se — it isn’t about being Jewish, nor is it born or birthed in Jewish culture. Torah is an eternal, timeless standard applicable to all people for all time. (Ps 119:52, Mt 5:17-19, Rom 3:19, Mi 4:2) While the Jews have built up many traditions around Torah, and provided us a rich context in how they’ve interpreted and practiced Torah over the centuries, this culture and tradition should not be confused with Torah itself.
    [3] Christ acted like a Jew while He was among the Jews, assimilating into Jewish culture and practice as appropriate. Yet as Paul made himself all things to all people (1Co 9:19-22), he was also emulating Christ and following in His steps. (1Co 11:1, Php 3:17)
    [4] The above implies that it isn’t the Jewishness of Messiah which we’re to emulate, but the character and Ways of Messiah Himself as revealed in Torah. Torah is given for this purpose: to fully equip us unto all good works (2Ti 3:16-17), providing us all the precepts, principles and ways we need to worship and fully glorify God in this life. Since Torah is sufficient for this end (1Ti 1:5), and since we’re not to add to it (De 4:2), we should therefore carefully distinguish between Jewish tradition and Torah (“Show me the scripture”), following Torah as well as we can, as it is written, as a matter of principle and borrowing from Jewish tradition what, if anything, makes sense for us in our culture and time as a matter of preference. (Ro 14:5)

    _____________

    De 4:2  Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.

    Psa_119:152  Concerning thy testimonies, I have known of old that thou hast founded them for ever.

    Mic 4:2  And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

    Mat 5:17  Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 
    Mat 5:18  For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 
    Mat 5:19  Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

    Jn 15:5  I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

    Rom 3:19  Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.

    Ro 9:5  Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.

    Ro 11:17  And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; 
    Ro 11:18  Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. 
    Ro 11:19  Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in. 
    Ro 11:20  Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: 
    Ro 11:21  For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. 
    Ro 11:22  Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. 
    Ro 11:23  And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again. 
    Ro 11:24  For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree?

    Ro 14:5 One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.

    1Co 9:19  For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. 
    1Co 9:20  And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; 
    1Co 9:21  To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. 
    1Co 9:22  To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. 

    1Co_11:1  Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.

    Php 3:17  Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.

    1Ti 1:5  Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned.

    2Ti 3:16  All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 
    2Ti 3:17  That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.