Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Tim Hegg on the "Dividing Wall" of Ephesians 2:14 [Question #10]

Dan Benzvi was good enough to post a link to a wonderful lecture that Tim Hegg gave about Ephesians 2:14.  I just finished reading it and would like to post some of the highlights for everyone's consideration.  The question, for those brave enough to read all the way through, will be at the very end:

"Taken at face value, these translations [of Ephesians 2:14] present the text as a pointed assertion by the apostle Paul that Messiah abolished the Mosaic Torah by His sacrificial death, and that the Torah was the instrument of hostility that erected a dividing wall between Jew and Gentile. The difficulty with such a reading is twofold: first, it contradicts the clear teaching of Yeshua Himself that He did not abolish the written Torah, and secondly, the written Torah never demanded a wall between Jew and Gentile." pg. 6

"What was the Dividing Wall?...From these brief notes we may summarize: First, the wall spoken of by Paul in Eph 2:14 was not the dividing wall in the 2nd Temple, because (a) it was still standing at the time Paul wrote Ephesians, and (b) the terminology Paul uses to describe the wall is different than the terms regularly used for the dividing wall in the Temple, terms Paul no doubt was familiar with.
Secondly, the Greek term...(fragmos) was used in the 1st Century to identify the oral Torah as a “wall” or “fence” around the written Torah, and the Pharisees as “builders of the wall.”
Thirdly, aspects of the oral Torah, not the written Torah, laid the foundation for a strict separation between Jew and non-Jew.
What I am suggesting is simply that the dividing wall that was abolished by Messiah was none other than those Rabbinic laws which had enforced a separation between Jew and Gentile in opposition to the written Torah. In fact, the Tanakh gives very clear instructions against erecting barriers to separate Israel from the nations. The foreigner who desired to worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was to be welcomed into the community and treated with the same respect as was given the native born (Ex. 22:21; 23:9; Lev. 19:33, 34; 25:35; Deut. 26:12). They were to be given full participation in matters of Torah and Torah-life (Sabbath, Ex. 23:12, cp. Is. 56:3ff; Gleanings, Lev. 19:10; Justice, Ex. 12:49; Lev. 24:22; Festivals, Deut. 16:11, 14; Worship and Prayer in the Temple, 1 Ki. 8:41-43, cp. 2 Chron. 6:32, 33). And the prophets pronounce judgment upon any who would neglect their God-given responsibilities to the “stranger,” on the same grounds as neglect of orphans and widows (Ps. 94:6; Is. 56:3ff; Jer. 22:3; Zech. 7:10)." pg. 9

"According to oral Torah, mere contact with non-Jews could render a person unclean, as well as contact with the residence of a non-Jew or even with land outside the Land of Israel.47 Contact with any object used for idolatrous worship was added to the list of what might render a person unclean. Clearly, the oral Torah of the 1st Century functioned to separate Jew and Gentile in a dramatic way." pg. 9

"The phrase…ton patrion dogmaton) [Eph 2:14] literally “the dogma of the fathers”) is best understood not to refer to the Mosaic Torah but to the “traditions of the fathers,” the halakah of the community." pg. 10

"A study of the word dovgma (dogma) in the Lxx and Apostolic Writings confirms that the term was used of man-made laws, and not of the God-given Torah of Sinai. We may therefore conclude that Paul adds it to his description of...(nomos, “law”) in order to identify the abolished law as the legal fence of the Rabbis, particularly the parts of the oral Torah that separated Jew and Gentile and thus were at odds with the written Torah that prophesied the unity of Jew and Gentile all within the promise of blessing given to Abraham." pg. 11


Question # 10

Do you find Hegg's analysis persuasive?


  1. Agreed, I really like Tim Hegg's writings, he is the balanced teacher in all the trash that gets spewed out by even 'mainstream' Messianics...

    1. Did you know Gene once accused me of having a shrine to Tim Hegg in my room?

      (Funny, because I encountered Hegg only 2 years ago.)

      I like his stuff. Only a handful of Messianic teachers I've grown to trust, including my friend and Messianic apologist J.K. McKee.

  2. Thanks to you guys I watched the Hegg teaching. Pretty impressive. Thanks for mentioning it so I could search it out. :)

  3. I do not find the analysis persuasive at all. If the hostility was merely the uninspired building of an oral fence around the Torah, then Jesus would not have to die for that. Paul states in other places that the law was at enmity with the flesh while delighting in the holy, good law in his inward man. It does not pass the test for me.

    1. So let me get this straight, you believe it was God's holy, righteous and good Law, that was the enmity that separated?

      So if Jesus took it down, then would the equation look like Jesus defeated God's Law?

      Is that more persuasive?

    2. Jmac,

      What do you think was the "dividing wall"?

    3. Just a note if you haven't read this yet.

      Jmac's blog is called "A Paradigm Shift" and there he intents to work through his conclusion from studying... here is a quote:

      "The conclusions that I have reached came to me over a long period of time and study so it will be important to look at the blog posts as they develop. I will be building this paradigm shift over time. In the meantime, I will give you a heads-up on what this blog will focus on in the long run. It will cover many topics such as; how Jesus and his apostles re-defined the word of God, how they differentiated between scripture and the word of God, how they put a solely redemptive purpose on the Old Testament and New Testament writings, how the New Testament writings reflect a gradual change from the old covenant to the new covenant, how there is a gradual emphasis change from a Jew Gentile distinction to a new creation focus, what the destruction of the temple meant in terms of man’s relationship with God and, what the kingdom of God should look like today."

      Sometimes it is nice to know where a person is coming from....

  4. @Jmac...
    On your blog you wrote:
    " The sole purpose of the scripture

    John 5:39-40 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, (40) yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.

    In John chapter five Jesus explains to the Pharisees the purpose and proper use of scripture. The scriptures are there to point to him so that one can come to him and get life. That is it. It is a totally redemptive purpose. The only proper use of the scripture by a follower of Christ is redemptive. There is no other possible use."

    While this may be your opinion it is not derived from the text. In other post you compare the "orthodox doctrine" (Christian doctrine that is) as "the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees"

    As a "Berean" I don't find you teaching to be any less "leaven" then others I read. You insert you emphasis into the text. No where in John 5 does the Messiah declare something as the "only possible use" as you suggest.

    Just curious. What brings you to this little corner of the web?

    1. I should have said "your" in a few places... I hate it when I do that!!!

  5. The phrase…ton patrion dogmaton) [Eph 2:14] literally “the dogma of the fathers” is not found in Eph 2:14. I don't see patrion there. Perhaps you misread Tim's use of the phrase in the context of the paper.