My friend and student, Krista Coyan, leads an interfaith Jewish service in a historic synagogue in the Czech Republic in the town of Ceske Krumlov. I periodically share happenings in Ceske Krumlov with MJ Musings readers. I will be traveling there in early August after a stop in London to meet with some new Messianic…

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One of the earliest expressions the first followers of Yeshua used was marana tha, which in Aramaic means, “Our Lord, come.” What they likely meant was, “Lord, Yeshua, be present with us in our gathering.” This is like Yeshua’s saying, “wherever two or three are assembled in my name, I am there with them” (Matt…

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The 2015 Hashivenu Forum is coming May 14-15 in Hartford, Connecticut. Hashivenu is an annual Messianic Jewish think tank. This year’s topic is “Marriage and Divorce.” I have been asked to give a response paper to Dr. Vered Hillel’s “A Messianic Jewish View of Divorce.” Before sharing this excerpt from my paper, I need to…

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The Torah teaches us the ideal, but has no power to enable us to live it. What the Torah unaided cannot do, God does in us by his Spirit. Last week’s Torah portion contains the essence of righteousness, the beauty of living for God through neighbor-love. Learning to do this in the power of the…

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I have an email list called the Daily D’var. I’ve been doing it for a while now, I think it has been five years. I send each day the daily portion of Torah, outlined and commented upon and with the full text of the JPS translation of the Torah. I also send a daily portion…

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A friend sent me a link to an article by Daniel Dennett in a recent issue of The Wall Street Journal. Dennett says the future of religion is bleak and the reason, specifically, is that we clergy can no longer keep people away from good information. People can easily, via internet, find information about contradictions…

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Last week the Torah portion was Tazria and Metzora combined (Leviticus 12-15). I asked myself the question, as I do about the readings each week, “What does this Torah portion mean for us as Messianic Jews and Gentiles?” I believe the Israelites could see a lesson at the Tabernacle, but it must have been mysterious…

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What did Paul do: when, where, and how? This might seem to be an easy question since we have the book of Acts. But approaching the question from a different angle, Douglas Campbell looks first at clues in Paul’s own writings and only later correlates information from Acts (Framing Paul: An Epistolary Biography, Grand Rapids:…

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Jesus, whose original name was Yeshua in the Aramaic language of first century Israel, is thought by hundreds of millions to be the most important person in history. As modern people we have to ask whether the stories of the life and sayings of a person from so long ago could be meaningful for us…

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It might be assumed that what God has done in Torah is condemn people with a curse. But what he has actually done is promise a great blessing — the blessing of a society that will be like the world to come with abundant food, no disease, and pleasant conditions for living for everyone (Lev…

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A new friend, an American now living in the U.K., wrote to ask me if the name “Messianic Judaism” is really the best label. He had two primary concerns. First, any Judaism that believes in a personal Messiah (all sub-branches of Orthodoxy and many Conservative Jewish expression) as opposed to those in which “Messiah” is…

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A lot of people would read more books if they knew which ones were valuable. Some people who don’t read books about God, the Bible, Torah, theology, Messiah, faith, and similar topics don’t understand as yet what a regular diet of these books can do for your day to day life. The MJ Musings Book…

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Women and Worship at Corinth: Paul’s Rhetorical Arguments in 1 Corinthians. Lucy Peppiatt. Eugene: Cascade Books, 2015. Bible myths arise easily. A text is assumed to mean something and some trusted source will assert it to be a known custom from historical writings. This might be seen most strangely in the writings of Paul concerning…

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Why did Paul write Romans? What was his main purpose, the one that explains the whole letter and not just some of its parts? There have been many theories. Maybe he wrote to assert his authority as the apostle commissioned by Yeshua to the Gentiles. Maybe he wanted to ask for funds for his trip…

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In Part 1 (read it here) I explained what “apocalyptic” means, what it has to do with Paul, and talked about two kinds of texts in Paul about salvation. There are those texts in which Paul is debating with some Jewish teachers and then there are those where he is expressing his own view with…

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Apocalyptic. Hidden things revealed. I don’t mean so much the other connotation we sometimes see in modern usage of the term, like “momentous, catastrophic.” I mean something that bodes well for us, something from beyond that shows through into the here and from the future that shows through into the now. Douglas Campbell’s 1,200 page…

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Paul, like all writers of his time, composed his letters without punctuation, divisions between words, paragraphs, or other divisions. He or his scribe wrote in scripto continua, unbroken lines of capital letters from margin to margin. -Stanley K. Stowers, A Rereading of Romans, New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1994, (9). Consider the possibility that before…

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One of the difficult things about our Messianic faith is that the key event which transformed our Judaism into Messianic Judaism happened two thousand years ago. I say it is one of the difficulties because there are certainly others (e.g., our Messiah has not done most the the Messiah things yet, leaving us open to…

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Luck vs. providence. Randomness vs. meaning. Chance vs. order and purpose. In Ruth 2:3, a good translation option is that Ruth’s “chance chanced upon” the very portion of land that was Boaz’s when she went gleaning. Although Ruth 2:1 has told the reader about Boaz, Ruth has not been told and she did not seek…

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I attended a paper in 2013 on the meaning of the dividing wall passage of Ephesians 2. A year and a half later, the interpretation put forward by Jesper Svartvik still looks good to me. I include here a postlude concerning the meaning of “abolishing the law of commandments in decrees.” You can imagine how…

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God’s Torahs are his teachings, his instructions. God appeared to Isaac and said, “I will make your heirs as numerous as the stars” and “all the nations of the earth will bless themselves by your seed.” When God made this promise he said it was because, “Abraham listened to my voice, kept my charge: my…

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When my upcoming Paul book concludes, I plan to send it out with a bang. What good does it do to spend a few hundred pages learning the theology of a Jewish teacher like Paul if it’s all theory disconnected from life? So the final section will be “Paul’s Guide to World Transformation,” the application…

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Romans 5:1-11 (see the text here) begins with a “therefore,” which means it looks back to what came before in Romans 4:25. We find there that Messiah Yeshua was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification. It is because of Messiah’s doing that verse 1 is true. Vs. 1. Therefore, we have…

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So, you want to celebrate Passover in a traditional way. You pick up a Haggadah, a Passover manual, and you think it will be simple. Passover is a ritual meal with a few symbolic foods and the story from Exodus, right? But as you read the Haggadah it seems anything but. What’s going on? It…

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The connections between Yeshua’s Last Supper (Mark 14, Matthew 26, Luke 22, John 13-16, 1 Corinthians 11) and Passover are undeniable. Yet there is a famous problem about the timing of the event in relation to the Passover and Yeshua’s crucifixion. My own views on the topic have changed over the years. I present here…

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Way back in 2008, I first posted one of the most searched articles in the history of Messianic Jewish Musings (before I deleted my old blog and started over, I had almost 2,500 articles on here). Why this article and it’s popularity in Google searches? I think a lot of people find out connections and…

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Krista is a student and friend of mine in the Czech Republic. She told her story in “A Synagogue on the Czech Republic” (read it here). This month she explains what it is like to lead Jewish services for an interfaith community in Ceske Krumlov. Jews in formerly communist nations have a different kind of…

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I think you will see from the very first question why I picked this title for a blog today. And it’s nice sometimes for me to hear from you. There are a lot of people who come and read here. Some are three to five time a week regular visitors. Some subscribe via wordpress (although…

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In Part 1 I said that faith is not a condition of God’s love and acceptance but rather a result of God’s love and acceptance. I introduced an idea that will be new for some, that Paul’s “we have been justified by faith” is likely better translated “by faithfulness.” And the faithfulness being referred to…

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The light of a person’s faith sometimes grows dim. Faintly burning wicks are all around us, people let down by religious groups, whose questions aren’t answered, who feel left out, and others who fear the love of Messiah cannot be real for them. I wrote yesterday suggesting a way for non-Jews to look at the…

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I can imagine how this article’s title appears to some people. “You mean I need some special permission or something?” But some people get it. There are at least two issues here. Most of the readers of the Bible are not descendants of Abraham. Most are not from the people who stood at the foot…

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Sometimes I try to see past this world to the one to come. Nature is one of the ways I catch a glimpse. And I use my imagination. I find a desire in myself for an unspoiled place. I picture a beguiling forest, a deep carpet of brown leaves beneath my feet and a green…

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The following is part of a larger document which I will soon be sending out to MJ Musings email list members: “Paul’s Guide to World Transformation.” It will also be part of the final section of my upcoming book, Paul: The Jewish Teacher of Gentiles. I post it today as a bit of a preview…

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To be clear, it is not that Yeshua never said anything to or about individuals. He did not, however, address in a clear manner personal salvation, minimum requirements, or specific advice about final destinies. He offered individual hope and also warnings, but there were often about the exacting demands of discipleship rather than the lowest…

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Instead of trying to fit the round peg of Messiah into the square hole of Paul, wouldn’t it be better if we asked, “Are Paul’s ideas true to what Yeshua had to say?” That is, instead of re-reading Yeshua’s messages based on what people think Paul meant, what if we sought to understand Yeshua first…

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The Torah cycle is now in Leviticus. I’ve spent a great deal of time in Leviticus and written on it extensively. People write to me often having grasped the idea, new for them, that atonement in Leviticus was primarily to keep the Temple clean so God would remain there in the midst of the people.…

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When there’s kryptonite around, even Superman has limitations. Sometimes those larger than life figures seem invulnerable, and almost omnipotent. Like Moses. He could do anything. He could raise his hands and the power of his prayer defeated Amalekites and the urgency of Israel’s need could turn sea waters into walls beside Israel’s path. Moses could…

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Is it really believable that in some way Jesus is divine? That question looms even in the minds of those who give credence to the Bible and to faith in Jesus. Is it something we should look deeply into or might we risk finding out the faith in which we stand is a fragile web of…

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Tearing things down sometimes has to happen. When it does, people look at the vacant spot and say, “Should that have been demolished?” Many wonder what will be built in place of the flattened tower that once was. According to one theory, the one I have been knocking down, people need to do some things…

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A reader emailed yesterday in response to “Our Faith; Messiah’s Faithfulness.” I have been unfolding for readers a theology of God, faith, and Messiah that differs from a common way of seeing it (justification theory). My assault on the conditional understanding of the Gospel (“God accepts faith, instead of moral perfection, as an easier condition…

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Sometimes the things we think we know turn out not to be true. Before we get into the topic, I want to clarify what I am not saying. I am not saying that our faith (belief, trust) in God and Messiah is irrelevant or unimportant. To be clear, I am saying that our faith (belief,…

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This is a list I made some time ago, but which I updated this morning and added short explanations to. Some of the points touch on current events, such as my recent post on the unfortunate decision of a good leader (Andy Stanley) to use “the Temple” (which represents the Old Testament and Judaism) as…

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Right now it’s quite possible that you are paralyzed in your relationship with God and feel stuck. I want to persuade you that some rather common views of God and life and meaning are wrong. It starts with getting rid of a demotivating view of God and his stance toward you and everyone else. Using…

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For some people this thing I am calling the big lie is synonymous with “the faith” or “the Gospel” or “what Jesus is all about.” It’s an argument that seems tight, maybe airtight to some people. A lot of people see some problems with it, but think they have to believe it. It seems certain,…

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In a few weeks I’ll be sharing a manifesto with people who follow my writing and are on my email list: “Paul’s Guide to World Transformation: How to Recognize and Collaborate with Messiah’s Work.” The idea came to me from Chris Guillebeau’s “Brief Guide to World Domination,” a PDF he shared that was downloaded by…

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Confusing the New Covenant with the New Testament is a lazy habit of interpretation. Many people see the words “New Testament” whenever their eyes scan over the words “New Covenant.” Unfortunately this is not helped by the tradition in early Messianic Judaism, which many MJ congregations still follow, of calling the New Testament the B’rit…

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To the Galatians. When we read it now in the standard English translations, we sometimes yawn. We’ve heard it, many of us, many times. Worse, the phrases often sound like empty religious jargon. Who talks like that anymore? And since we don’t know Paul as, well, one of the guys, his words don’t sound personal…

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The Hebrew word tikvah might just have been an important word to a scholar named Tikva Frymer-Kensky, the original author of The JPS Bible Commentary: Ruth. Frymer-Kensky died before the completion of her commentary which was completed by her student, Tamara Cohn Eskenazi. Obviously Tikva Frymer-Kensky had a personal investment in the word תִקְוָה tikvah, the…

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Andy Stanley is a leader whose shadow covers this entire city of Atlanta and its suburbs. As far as I know he has more congregants than any pastor in America except Joel Osteen. And I have personally seen the commitment of his church, Northpoint Community, to loving neighbor and giving food and money to people…

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Galatians takes us other places besides its overarching issue of Jew and Gentile, Torah and Messiah. The reason is that understanding the role of a Gentile in God’s redemptive promise requires knowing what Messiah has provided for everyone, how we are to live life now, and a peek into mysteries about our identity. There is…

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The following article is by one of my students, Krista. If her story doesn’t amaze you, I will be amazed. . . . . . . . “Men plan; God laughs,” says a Yiddish proverb. Things haven’t turned out as I expected them to. And for that I thank God. We moved to the Czech…

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There is a principle for reading the Bible that I think is simple, yet it has been undermined by a false idea. Recently a reader emailed about this principle (on my old blog this was a classic article) saying it could be a positive contribution that Messianic Judaism makes to the Christian world. He said…

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Non-Jews who believe in God and Messiah are a last days miracle according to Paul and James. Prophets foresaw their arrival in dreams and visions. These prophetic dreams found partial realizations at times, especially in Jerusalem, as Gentiles were attracted by the Temple and the light of monotheism. But in the early days of the…

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The use of forms, appearances, and manifestations of God in the Hebrew Bible seems to be a way of saying God enters the world without abandoning his unlimited, omnipresent rule over all things that exist. In Exodus 24 the elders of Israel see God. The story of what they see is shrouded in mystery. When…

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An excerpt from my 2014 book, Divine Messiah . . . Most people who have believed in Yeshua have not seen visions of his heavenly glory. Only a relative few saw such things in the early years. What came down to us is the record of people who believed something because they saw them. The…

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Magnus Zetterholm’s theory is bold. It is precisely the opposite of the common view. Where did the name Christians come from? Most think it grew within a new religion of Jesus-believers as a way of distinguishing themselves from Jews and pagans. Not so, says Zetterholm. The label came instead from what people started calling a…

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Misinformation in some cases has become the standard view of God and the Bible. Last week I posted “Our Deeds Are Not Filthy Rags” (see it here). A related misconception is that God could care less about the quality of your character and deeds, but only wants to give undeserved favor to everyone. Grace. “God’s…

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All Israel witnessed the thundering and lightning, the sound of the shofar, and the mountain smoking. –Exodus 20:15 (18) After the Exodus, the people saw and heard the Presence of God on Mount Sinai, also called Horeb. Some time much later in Israel’s history, Elijah came there. He wanted to see the mountain smoking and…

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I expanded and modified this article June 30, 2015, originally written in February of the same year. My understanding of the history of Messianic Judaism went through a sea change during some talks with Boaz Michael of First Fruits of Zion in Jerusalem. Messianic Judaism is a Judaism committed to Yeshua. It is a Judaism…

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It’s not difficult to imagine our faith as a building, an edifice of things learned made of materials collected during a life full of remodeling, demolition, and clean up. I have walked through buildings, usually churches, constructed in phases sometimes a decade or more apart. These cobbled together buildings often do not fit well together.…

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If you had lived in Galilee or Judea back then you might have witnessed a man who drew crowds with miracles and intrigued the masses with ambiguous parables. Many came to hear speeches that sounded vaguely revolutionary or apocalyptic. Yeshua talked about a sower spreading seeds. Were these seeds of a revolt against Rome? He…

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Sometimes close reading of the Bible is anything but academic; sometimes it is vital, life-giving, guiding us in the confusing paths of life’s greatest issues. By way of contrast to close reading of the Bible, we find a great deal of tacky prooftexting. In opposition to clear guidance in the ways of the human condition…

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I have been asked repeatedly over the years, and especially lately, in light of my belief that Torah was given specifically to the Jewish people, how should non-Jews read it? This article is for people who want to get past arguing. It is for people who are tired of arguing about whether Torah is legalism…

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An MJ friend wrote me describing the resistance he has been encountering from other Messianic Jews about Torah. He gets it. Mount Sinai is an eternal covenant between God and Jewish people. Staying true to that covenant is a calling for all Jews, all the more so Jews who love God through Messiah Yeshua. But…

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