Saturday, September 13, 2014

Paul's Fault? A Complete Breakdown of Paul's Seemingly Contradictory Views on Israel, Judaism, and Judaization


Was Paul:

  • Anti-Israel?
  • Pro-Israel?
  • Anti-Judaic?
  • Pro-Judaic?
  • Ambivalently-Judaic?
  • Pro-Judaization? (i.e. in favor of Gentiles adopting Jewish practices?)
  • Anti-Judization? (i.e. against Gentiles adopting Jewish practices?)
  • Supersessionist? (i.e. Did he think Gentiles replaced the Israelites?)
  • Inclusionist (i.e. Did he think the New Covenant included Gentiles into Israel?)
  • Exclusionist (i.e. Did he think that Gentiles were excluded from Israel?)


So we'll examine the evidence and then anyone can feel free to discuss whether this ambiguity was Paul's fault.

Pro Israel or Anti Israel:

Pro:

"What is the advantage of the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision?  Much in every way" (Rom. 3.1).

"To the Israelites belong the sonship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the Temple, and the promises.  To them belong the patriarchs and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ" (Rom. 9.4).

"Has [God] rejected [His] people?  By no means" (Rom. 11.1).

"All Israel will be saved" (Rom. 11.26).

"Is the law then against the promises of God.  Certainly not!" (Gal. 3.21).

Anti:

"For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse" (Gal. 3.10).

"Israel who pursued righteousness which is based on the law did not succeed in fulfilling that law" (Rom. 9.31).

"But their minds were hardened; for to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away.  Yes, to this day, whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their mind; but when a man turns to the Lord the veil is removed" (2 Cor. 3.14f).

"As regards the gospel, they are enemies of God, for your sake" (Rom. 11.28).



Pro Judaic, Anti Judaic, or Ambivalently Judaic

Pro:

"Do we overthrow the law through faith?  By no means.  On the contrary, we uphold the law" (Rom. 3.31).

"What shall we say?  That the law is sin?  By no means" (Rom. 7.7).

"Thus the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and just and good" (Rom. 7.12).


Anti:

"For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse" (Gal. 3.10).

"Now it is evident that no man is justified before God by the law" (Gal. 3.11).

"For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation" (Gal. 6.15).

"For no human being will be justified in his sight by works of the law, since through the law comes knowledge of sin" (Rom. 3.20).

Ambivalently Judaic:

"For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God," 1 Cor. 7:19

Pro Judaization (Maximally, Minimally, Moderately) or Anti Judaization:


Anti:

"17 Nevertheless, each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them. This is the rule I lay down in all the churches. 18 Was a man already circumcised when he was called? He should not become uncircumcised. Was a man uncircumcised when he was called? He should not be circumcised. 19 Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God’s commands is what counts. 20 Each person should remain in the situation they were in when God called them," (1 Cor. 7:17-19)

Pro:

Paul taught that Gentile converts forfeited their Gentile-ness and accepted a new "righteous" lifestyle:

"Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led ," (1 Cor. 12:2)

"17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness," (Eph. 4:17-24).

Paul believed that New Covenant members, whether circumcised or uncircumcised, were both required to follow Sinaitic Torah:

"1 Cor. 7:19 "Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God’s commands is what counts" (1 Cor. 7:19).

Paul gave the unqualified instruction for Gentile Believers to put into practice all of Paul's religious practices:

"Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice" (Phillipians 4:9)

Paul told Timothy without qualification to use the Hebrew Scripture as a way of instructing righteousness to the Gentiles:

"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness," (2 Tim. 3:16)

Paul encouraged the Gentile Believers at Colossae to continue practicing Judaism.  He told the Gentile Believers in that congregation to keep Shabbat, festivals, and food laws even despite the harsh judgment they were receiving from ascetic and gnostic Gentiles at Colossae:

"Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day" (Colossians 2:16).

Paul assumed that the Gentiles were well-acquainted with observances such as Passover and assumed that they would keep such Jewish Festivals:

"7 Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth," (1 Cor. 5:7-8).

Paul taught that Gentiles were covenantal members of Israel:

"11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands)— 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ," (Eph 2:11-13, NIV version)

Ecclesiology:  (1) Supersessionist, (2) Inclusionist, (3) Exclusionist

(1) Supersessionist:

"It is not as though the word of God had failed.  For not all Israelites truly belong to Israel, and not all of Abraham's children are his true descendants," (Romans 9:6-7)

"For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh," Philippians 3:3

(2) Inclusionist (i.e. Gentiles are included in Israel):

"15 Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation. 16 Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule—to the Israel of God," (Gal. 6:15-16)

"11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands)— 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ," (Eph. 2:11-13)

(3) Exclusionist (i.e. Gentiles are excluded from Israel):

???

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