After digesting Part 1, you might be asking yourself right now, “Isn’t this stuff too complicated to figure out? Why don’t we just play it safe and attempt to keep the Law (Torah of Moses) as best as we can including all of its works. Surely Yahweh knows what is in our hearts and will forgive any ignorance and failings on our part. At some point in the future we will somehow find the truth and adjust our actions accordingly.”
Even if one were to have this attitude it would be wise to note:
For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it. (James 2:10)
Well, all this stuff might be complicated but that’s the point. It’s complicated for a reason as Scriptures indicate:
It is the glory of eloahim to conceal a thing; But the glory of kings is to search out a matter. (Proverbs 25:2)
Per Scriptures, if you want to proceed to search out the matter regarding “The Law” then the Ranger says let’s saddle up and get back on the trail of truth.
What we need to do next in our quest for truth is to define the Greek term dogma, plural dogmasin, and judge its use by Paul when he writes that all of our offenses having been forgiven us by the messiah, “having blotted out the handwriting in the dogmasin, which was adverse to us, also he has taken it out of the midst, having nailed it to the (torture-)stake (Col. 2:13-14).”
Does this mean that all the commandments, statutes, and laws named in the Torah are no longer applicable?
A dogma is “a public decree” which is also an “ordinance.” The dogma (decree) from Caesar for a census registration and his decree that there should be no other king save Caesar are two examples given in Scriptures (Luke 2:1; Acts 17:7).
By comparing the Greek Septuagint (LXX) with the Hebrew Masoretic Text (MT), we also discover that the Hebrew/Aramaic word underlying the Greek term dogma is duth, “a royal edict or statute.” These decrees establish national customs and rituals.
To demonstrate, in Daniel we read the story of how some Babylonian officials created a duth. They spoke to King Nebuchadnezzar, saying:
All the presidents of the kingdom took counsel together, the nobles and the satraps, the royal officials and the governors, to establish a royal qeyam (an edict [as arising in law]) and to make a strong ban that whoever shall ask a petition of any eloah or male for 30 days, except from you king, he shall be thrown into a pit of lions. Now king, establish the ban and sign the document that it may not be changed as a duth (LXX dogma; public decree) of the Medes and Persians, which does not pass away. So King Darius signed the document and the ban (LXX dogma). And Daniel, when he knew that the document was signed (LXX “was commanded the dogma”), he went to his house. (Daniel 6:7-10)
These examples reveal that a duth or dogma is the establishment of statute and custom by public decree, based upon present circumstances. They are often temporary, as reflected by the 30-day period in the above example.
Paul further narrows his definition when he states that these annulled dogmasin were handwritten (Col. 2:14). The Abrahamic Covenants of Promise were a verbal agreement. There is no doubt that the dogmasin of which Paul speaks are only those decrees that were handwritten and placed in the book of Moses.
Nevertheless, as we shall see, just because we are now under grace and not under the Mosaic Law does not mean that the commandments or the entirety of the laws, statutes (i.e., those kept by Abraham), and dogmasin statutes (i.e., those established under Moses) found in the Torah are annulled.
The dogmasin about which Paul and the other apostles speak are further clarified when they note that a dogma, such as the statute to circumcise all males in the flesh of their foreskin, are “after the ethei (custom) of Moses” and are found in the “Torah of Moses (Acts 15:1-5).”
The first century C.E. Jewish priest Philo speaks of the “nomois kai ethesin (laws and customs) which he (Moses) had ordained.” Customs are merely forms of actions practiced as a matter of course among the people. The customs established by the statutes and laws of Moses included such things as their type of dress, how to wear one’s beard, when things become clean or unclean, commanded sacrifices, and the like.
The dogmasin nailed to the stake and annulled, as mentioned by Paul in his epistles to the Colossians and Ephesians (Eph. 2:11-17; Col. 2:13-15), include the idea of customs wherein “you may not handle, you may not taste, you may not touch, which things are all unto corruption in the using (Col. 2:20-23),” that is, they are works of the flesh.
Also mentioned as one of the dogmasin was the custom of circumcising the flesh of the foreskin (Eph. 2:8-22), which is also a work of the flesh found in the handwritten Torah. Under grace, the law of commandments in dogmasin, which include fleshly circumcision, have been annulled. Such things are classified as “works of the Law (Torah) (Rom. 3:20, 4:1-5, 11:1-6; Gal. 2:11-3:29).”
A further example includes the ordinances of service in the Tabernacle. These offerings and works were an allegory, being only in meats and drinks and diverse washings, and ordinances of the flesh, and lasted only “until is imposed the time of setting things right (Heb. 9:1-28).”
Josephus, a Jewish priest of the first century C.E., reports that “there happened to come around the festival called Passover, at which it is our ethos (custom) to offer numerous sacrifices to the deity (Jos. Ant. 14:2:2).” Therefore, the authority for offering sacrifices, such as the Passover sacrifice, comes as a legal custom.
Importantly, the original Passover sacrifice performed in Egypt was only a one-time event. After the Israelites left Egypt (the Exodus), Yahweh did not require any further sacrifices or burnt offerings from them. The book of Jeremiah states:
For in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, I DID NOT SPEAK TO YOUR FATHERS OR COMMAND THEM CONCERNING BURNT OFFERINGS AND SACRIFICES. But this command I gave them, ‘Obey my voice, and I will be your eloahim, and you shall be my people; and walk in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you.’ (Jeremiah 7:22-23)
This fact alone proves that the sacrifices and burnt offerings later added by means of the Torah were not a requirement under the Covenants of Promise given to Abraham, for which purpose the Israelites had been brought out of Egypt. Rather, it was due to the fact that the Israelites continued to sin that these sacrifices and burnt offerings were brought into force under the Torah of Moses.
These statements are all vital clues. They tell us that those things nailed to the stake at the messiah’s death were brought into existence by decrees which established certain ordinances or statutes, called laws and customs. These decrees were handwritten by Moses on a scroll, forming the Torah of Moses.
Because they are public decrees, they do not act as eternal laws or commandments. Rather, they are temporary and conditional. Neither do they represent the entire Torah. This point is established by Saul’s statement that these particular annulled dogmasin were “against us” and “adverse to us.”
Having blotted out the handwriting in the dogmasin, which was adverse to us, also he has taken it out of the midst, having nailed it to the (torture-)stake (Col. 2:14).
This statement is important because it carries with it the thought that there can also be dogmasin that are helpful to us.
Indeed, Paul and the other apostles make the point that not all of the handwritten dogmasin in the Torah of Moses—which form the augmenting statutes, laws, and customs—were annulled. To the contrary, among the decreed statutes given by Moses, there yet stand four types of dogmasin that apply even to this day.
Proof of these four dogmasin comes with the doctrinal statement given by the apostles at the Jerusalem Council held in 49 C.E. At this council the apostles addressed the questions of whether or not it was necessary for those converted from the nations to practice circumcision in the flesh of the foreskin “after the custom of Moses,” and if it was necessary to charge them to keep the Torah of Moses in order to “be saved.”
Peter scolds those who would put such a burden on these disciples, stating, “Now therefore why do you tempt the deity to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear (Acts 15:1-10)?” The conclusion of the apostles was declared by James, the brother of the messiah and the bishop of the Christians at Jerusalem. Representing the leadership of the Assembly, he writes:
Wherefore I judge not to trouble those from the nations who turn to the deity; but to write to them to abstain from the pollutions of the idols, and sexual misconduct, and what is strangled, and (eating) blood. (Acts 15:19-20)
All four categories are mentioned in the Torah of Moses. A letter was then sent out from the leaders of the Assembly with the following conclusion:
For it seemed good to the sacred ruach and to us, no further burden to lay upon you than these necessary things: to abstain from the things sacrificed to idols, and from (eating) blood, and from (eating) what is strangled, and from sexual misconduct; from which keeping yourselves, you will do well. (Acts 15:28-29)
Saul then passed through the cities of the nations instructing them “to keep the dogmata (decrees) as separated out by the apostles and the elders in Jerusalem (Acts 16:3-4).” Collectively, therefore, these four customs are dogmata (decrees), a form of the word dogmasin, which are found in Scriptures. If you keep these particular dogmasin “you will do well,” for they are advantageous for us.
In a later event, Paul was charged with teaching the Jews apostasy by telling them not to circumcise nor to walk “in the ethesin (customs)” taught by Moses (Acts 21:18-24). Saul responded, “But concerning those who have trusted of the nations we wrote, judging them to observe no such thing, except to keep themselves from things offered to idols, and blood, and what is strangled, and sexual misconduct (Acts 21:25).”
Important to our discussion is the fact that these four dogmasin do not include any of the royal commandments, which are also part of the Torah. The messiah straightforwardly states:
Think not that I came to abolish the Torah or the prophets: I came not to abolish, but to fulfill. For verily I say to you, Until the heavens and the earth shall pass away, in no wise shall one iota or one tittle pass away from the Torah until all comes to pass. Whoever then shall break the least one of the commandments, and shall teach men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of the heavens; but whoever shall practice and teach them, this one shall be called great in the kingdom of the heavens. For I say to you, that unless shall abound your righteousness above the scribes and Pharisees, in no wise shall you enter into the kingdom of the heavens. (Matthew 5:17-20)
In another place Yahushua the messiah advised those wishing to gain eternal life:
But if you desire to enter into life, keep the commandments. He said to him, Which? And Yahushua said, the commandments you know: You shall not commit adultery; You shall not commit murder; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; [“You shall not defraud” (Mark)]; Honor your father and your mother; [“And you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt.)]. (Luke 18:18-20; Mark 10:17-19; Matthew 19:17-19)
Yahushua plainly states, “If you love me, keep my commandments (John 14:15, 23).” These and numerous other statements from Scriptures prove that none of the royal commandments have been set aside even after the death of the messiah.
Indeed, it does not make sense that Yahweh would still require the statute from the Torah of Moses ordering us not to eat blood yet would set aside the commandments that you shall not murder, steal, or commit adultery or negate the greater commands to love Yahweh and to love your neighbor as yourself.
As a result, it is clear from this evidence that at least four groups of the dogmasin and none of the royal commandments found in the Torah of Moses have ever been annulled. In addition, we have not yet even touched upon the laws and statutes that were in existence prior to the Torah of Moses.
At the same time, Paul pronounces that Yahushua the messiah is the only true offering and is our Passover victim (Heb. 10:1-18). Where remission of sins exists, “there is no more an offering for sin (Heb. 10:18).” Therefore, since the death of the messiah, there is no more need to sacrifice flock animals as a typology of the messiah’s death. Our true Passover has already been sacrificed.
So far, this is how it shakes out amigos.
The details reveal that the popular notion about what the apostle Paul actually meant when he indicated that the dogmasin adverse to us have been annulled by the death of the messiah (i.e., the belief that all the commandments, laws, and statutes of the Torah have been nailed to the stake) is both misleading and incorrect.
Rather, the evidence indicates that all must continue to observe the commandments and a number of the laws and statutes found in the Torah while under grace.
At the same time, there are many other statutes and laws which are no longer applicable. The premise is thereby established that, just because one sets aside the authority of the handwritten Torah, it does not mean that the conditions found in the Abrahamic Covenants are also annulled.
One must still obey Yahweh, keep his charge, and be subject to the same commandments, statutes, and laws observed by Abraham (Gen. 26:1-5).
The question then stands: “How do we tell which conditions are still required and which have been nailed to the stake?”
Adding to the complexity of Saul’s dialogue is the fact that, even though the Torah shall continue until heaven and earth pass away, we are not under the Torah but under grace.
But if ye be led of the ruach, ye are not under the law (Torah of Moses). (Galatians 5:18)
For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law (Torah of Moses), but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? The deity forbid. (Romans 6:14-15)
Does grace eliminate all conditions? On the face of it, it would seem that we have an apparent contradiction. Therefore, the Ranger shall address in a future post the issue of grace and whether or not, if we continue in grace, we are required to keep the conditions of the Abrahamic Covenants of Promise.
The truth of the matter is that when all of Paul’s teachings are properly understood, Paul is not that problematic after all.
Well, it’s time to wrap up this session amigos as the Ranger has provided enough scriptural meat for everyone to chew on for awhile.
Sun is gettin’ low and the Ranger is headin’ off the trail to set up camp so he can prepare more silver bullets of truth.
So long for now.
Who was that masked man anyway?