Our hope is not uncertain, it is both certain and unseen.
An examination of Romans 8:1-25
8:1 Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Messiah Yeshua, who don’t follow their fallen humanity but instead follow the Spirit.
What has gone before? In Chapter 7 Shaul/Paul has shown that even those who are in Messiah continue to be tempted by and at times fall into sin. This shows us the potential for condemnation if we forget who we now are in Messiah, unto G-d. Shaul/Paul is effectively saying, “Those who receive the gift of G-d in Messiah will have a realization of the reality of sin in their lives and will be strengthened by G-d to be progressively changed.” We are being transformed as we learn to see ourselves from G-d’s perspective, outside of time and space. Because G-d sees those of us who have accepted His gift (Messiah) as perfect, He seals that truth with these words, “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Messiah Yeshua, who don’t follow their fallen humanity but instead follow the Spirit.” May HaShem engrave these words into the very core of your being, may you come to know what freedom truly means.
Chapter 7 is directly prior, however the, “therefore,” of 8:1 is drawing our attention to all that has gone before. As we read on we find that Shaul/Paul is revealing a convergence of the various key concepts of chapters 1 through 7. Chapter 8 reminds us of creation, slavery, Torah, righteousness, Messiah and adds the revealing of the sons of G-d and the inseparable love of HaShem.
It is of great importance that Shaul/Paul links the statement of freedom from condemnation with an illuminating reference to the Torah of the Spirit of life, in Messiah. Yeshua continues to be the focus of Shaul’s letter, his rhythm of affirmation followed by sober judgment and then returning to affirmation is continued throughout what is effectively a half time conclusion in the verses of chapter 8.
2 For the Torah of the Spirit of life in Messiah Yeshua has set you free from the anti-torah of sin and of death.
The Torah of the Spirit of life in Messiah, is the Living D’var (Word) of G-d at work in us. The anti-torah is both the acts of rebellion against the written Torah and the legalistic misuse of the written Torah. Therefore it results in death, in fact it is in itself born of death.
3 For what the written Instruction could not do, because of the weakness of our humanity,
There neither was nor is a problem with the written Torah of G-d. The written Torah is not responsible for sin or death, however, like any inanimate object, it is unable to animate us. Human sin addiction could only—up until Messiah’s coming—misuse the written Torah. It is humanity’s weakness and not the weakness of Torah that is being exposed here.
G-d did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful humanity and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in humanity,4 so that the requirement of the Torah might be fully filled in us, who do not walk according to the sinful humanity but according to the Spirit.
HaShem, the Author of Torah, has animated the Torah in us through His person within us, which is Messiah Yeshua. Yeshua was born to a sin addicted mother and thus was like us, and yet He was entirely without sin being also seeded by the Ruach ha-Kodesh and is fully G-d, with us.
“For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been proved in all things as we are, yet without sin.” –Hebrews 4:15
What is the requirement of the Torah? How is it fully filled in us? With regard to the context of this passage the requirement of the Torah relates to the shedding of blood for the remission or covering and wiping away of sin. Messiah—whose word is written as Torah—fulfilled the requirement of His own word essence by giving His life as a sacrifice for all sin, past, present and future. This sacrifice bears the fruit of resurrection life and is the inception of the hope of a glory yet to be seen, the resurrection of the dead at the last day.
“’For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement.’” –Vayikra/Leviticus 17:11
“And according to the Torah, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” –Hebrews 9:22
Therefore, the Torah requires both the shedding of blood and the resulting reconciliation of the offender. Messiah embodied these requirements, and for us, in newness of life He embodies resurrection, having swallowed up death with victory.
5 For those who are according to sinful humanity set their minds on the things of the fallen nature, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.
There are two distinct motivations at work here. Sin addicted humanity motivates rebellion, but those who have received the gift of G-d are motivated by the Torah of the Spirit of life in Messiah. It is important to note then that having received the gift of G-d, the Spirit of G-d through Messiah lives in us to usurp the old motivation of the sinful nature, replacing it with the motivation toward good. Thus we do the things of the Spirit, not because we are able to obey in our own strength but because we have been given the very Spirit of G-d, who, in us, transforms our very being.
“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, for what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” –2 Corinthians 4:18
6 For the mind set on the fallen nature is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace,
Death is a mindset, life is a mindset. Death is a mindset of the fallen nature, life is a mindset of the Spirit of G-d. Shalom, peace, wholeness, integrity, wellbeing and security are the blood that flows through the veins of life.
7 because the mind set on the fallen nature is hostile toward G-d; for it does not subject itself to the Torah of G-d, for it is not even able to do so, 8 and those who are in the fallen nature cannot please G-d.
The rejection of G-d’s gift is hostility toward G-d. There a very few things as offensive as the refusing of a gift which has been given with positive intention. To refuse Yeshua is rebellion. Why is this so? It is because in pride the fallen nature has refused to humble itself before G-d? Why? Because unless the Spirit of G-d is received through Messiah, the human addiction is insurmountable. Those who reject Messiah cannot subject themselves to the Torah because only the Spirit of G-d is able to motivate the human being to do so. Without humility no one can come to G-d.
9 However, you are not in the fallen nature but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of G-d dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Messiah, he does not belong to Him.
You are not in the fallen nature but in the Spirit. Notice the beautiful rhythm of G-d, as He inspires Shaul/Paul to write, firstly to bring sober understanding and then an affirmation of freedom and hope in Messiah. We have G-d’s guarantee that we who have received His gift are already and always in the Spirit.
Note the interchangeable use of G-d and Messiah, with regard to the Spirit (Ruach ha-Kodesh). The Ruach ha-Kodesh is both the Spirit of the Father and the Spirit of the Son. The following Rabbinical sources support this understanding:
“‘And the Ruach (Spirit) of Elohim (G-d) hovered over the face of the waters.’ This phrase from Bereshit/Genesis 1:2 alludes to the spirit of Messiah, because Isaiah 11:2 says, ‘And the Spirit of HaShem will rest upon him’ [that is upon the ‘shoot of Jesse’, which is a name for Messiah]. Also we learn from the same text in Bereshit/Genesis 1:2 that this spirit of Messiah comes through the merit of repentance, for in Lamentations 2:19 repentance is likened to water: ‘Pour out your heart like water.’” (Bereshit/Genesis Rabbah 2:4)
“At the beginning of the creation of the world the king Messiah had already come into being, because he existed in G-d’s mind even before the world was created.” (Pesikta Rabbati 33:6)
10 If Messiah is in you, though the body be dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Yeshua from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Messiah Yeshua from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
The body is dead in respect to the sin addiction that still permeates creation as a whole. We are new creations but we live in a fallen creation. However, we see that the mortal body is not forsaken by G-d, rather He also gives the mortal body life through His Spirit which dwells within us. Baruch HaShem! This can also be seen as the certain promise of the coming resurrection of the dead at the last day and the revealing of the sons of G-d
12 So then, ami--my people, we are under obligation, not to fallen humanity, to live according to the sinful nature-- 13 for if you are living according to the sinful nature, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the (anti-torah) deeds of the body, you will live.
Notice that while Shaul/Paul has been speaking to the wider Roman ecclesia prior to this, he now uses specific Jewish terminology in order to briefly single out his own people once again. Thus he says, “So then ami, we are not under obligation to the fallen humanity so as to live according to its nature.” Any Jewish person familiar with the daily prayers and the penitent liturgy of Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) will know that the words, “it is incumbent upon me.” Are a repetition that rings in the consciousness of our people.” Perhaps this same weight of condemnation is being addressed here by Shaul/Paul. It seems to me that Shaul/Paul is using this very idea in reverse. What I hear him saying is that as a Jew in Messiah I am obligated to become unobligated, or, it is incumbent upon me to be non-incumbent.
We could read, “If by the Spirit you are putting death to death, you will live.”
14 For all who are being led by the Spirit of G-d, these are children (literally, sons, significant because in Hebrew culture sons are heirs) of G-d.
The same Spirit that hovered over the waters in Genesis 1:2 is here present in the new creation of each believer. Why? Because in Messiah we have become heirs of the Glory of G-d.
15 For you have not received a spirit of slavery returning you again to fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption as children (sons, heirs) by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of G-d, 17 and if children, heirs also, heirs of G-d and fellow heirs with Messiah, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.
We cry “Abba” because the Son in us cries “Abba.” This unifies us in relationship, destroying the illusion of separation that has been proliferated by the evil one.
What is meant by, “If we suffer/endure hardship with Him (Yeshua)”? How will we be glorified with Him? In what way did Messiah suffer hardship? In every way. If we are known to belong to Him we will suffer, this is a promise of G-d through Messiah, “In this world you will have trouble.”
We are glorified with Him in His resurrection and finally in our resurrection at the end of the age, we are yet to be revealed as children of G-d. And yet, we are already being revealed as heirs of G-d. Like Abraham we have received our reward, which is G-d Himself. This is a past, present and future reward which will find its completion in eternity. G-d with us in the New Jerusalem in the Olam Haba (world to come), this is the Glory that awaits us.
Why do we read, “Sons, children and heirs”? It is because the Scripture says, “’Thus says HaShem Elohim, “If the prince gives a gift out of his inheritance to any of his sons, it shall belong to his sons; it is their possession by inheritance…” ‘His inheritance shall belong to his sons’ alone; it shall belong to them.” –Yechezk’el/Ezekiel 46:16-17
18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons (sons, heirs) of G-d.20 For the creation was subjected to futility, unwillingly, for the purposes of Him (G-d) who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of G-d.
In Chapter 1 of Romans we learned that there is no excuse for failing to accept G-d because the creation itself has proved His existence from the beginning. Here Shaul/Paul explains that although G-d can be seen at work in creation, the creation is also affected by the human addiction to sin. Death entered the world through human sin and leaves the whole of creation awaiting its ultimate freedom. This too is purchased by the blood of Messiah who has made atonement for the purpose of wiping clean the entire Universe and will manifest the completion of this work in the revelation of the reconciliation of all things to G-d.
Why does creation eagerly await the revealing of the heirs of G-d? Because heirs inherit the land and no father worth his salt will leave a despoiled property to his sons. G-d, the perfect Father has already purposed to renew creation and give her as an inheritance to His Son who in turn will give it to His brothers and sisters, you and me. No longer will creation be enslaved to corruption because corruption will no longer be possible. Our hope is not uncertain, it is both certain and unseen.
22 For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.
Child birth is a long process, I recall the birth of our first daughter, the contractions began in the afternoon and by nightfall had progressed only a little; at 1am they strengthened and then leveled out again, my wife yelled, “rub my back,” then as I began rubbing her back she yelled, “don’t touch me!” This went on for hours until finally it was almost too much for her. At one point both her and the baby were in great danger, their respective heart rates were in juxtaposition, one racing and one failing. The midwife acted quickly and the pain was eased slightly by an epidural, another temporary calm. In one final courageous act my wife Julia pushed through the last part of the delivery and as our daughter’s head came forth I placed my hands on her and offered her to HaShem with blessing. As I held my firstborn daughter in my hands I beheld the glory of new creation, I saw through the veil of time and space and into the future. My wife will testify that when she held our daughter for the first time she was utterly encapsulated by her innocent countenance and was in awe of the creator.
We have watched this very same process taking place throughout history as we await the birth of completion in G-d.
23 And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons (children, heirs), the redemption of our fallen bodies. 24 For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.
We too eagerly await the fulfillment of the promise which was purchased with blood and is sealed by the deposited Ruach ha-Kodesh. Our Father sent word to the adoption agency and having paid the price to redeem us He is on His way to pick us up, we are about to see the One who chose us to be His sons and daughters. We have known that He is near and we are preparing to behold Him with unveiled face.
“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then we shall see face to face: now I know in part; but then I shall know completely, even as I am fully known.” –1 Corinthians 13:12
Our hope is not uncertain, it is both certain and unseen. Our hope is Yeshua Himself.
© 2014 Yaakov Brown
In G-d it is Mashiyach alone who is our salvation (Yeshua) and our transformation, all else is idolatry.
An examination of Romans 7
In the previous chapter Paul/Shaul has presented a death to life argument that is best understood by the Greco-Roman members of the Roman ecclesia, now he turns the conversation toward his own people the Y’hudim (Jews). Shaul does not change the premise for his argument, rather he changes the delivery and the allegory associated to it. Formerly he spoke of death as a result of slavery to the personification of sin (former master), here he speaks of death to sin (former husband) by Torah through Messiah. Previously he spoke of life through joining in Messiah’s death and of submission to the new Master Righteousness, here he speaks of remarriage to G-d in Messiah and the fruit (progeny) of that new marriage. Many place their entire focus on “Law” here, I believe this takes our vision away from the center of belief/trust which Shaul/Paul is addressing. That belief/trust being in Messiah Himself and His saving work.
The Torah is like a mystical mirror that filters out self-delusion and exposes humanity’s true nature. Apart from Messiah (which is not to say separate from but in rebellion to) that nature is observed in the Torah’s reflection as sin addiction (used by the yetzer ha-ra) leading to death. However, in Messiah Yeshua the Torah reflects life and blessing. When we gaze into the mirror of Torah we see ourselves as we truly are, in sin we reflect darkness, in Messiah we reflect light.
Some have suggested that Shaul/Paul is putting an end to Torah for the believer in this chapter of Romans. “We are no longer under Torah but under grace,” they say, foolishly thinking that no longer being under something means the cessation of relationship to that thing. Paul here speaks of husbands dying and wives being set free to remarry but we would be unwise to neglect the fullness of his teaching. The fact is that the very analogy upon which he premises his argument is subject to the Instruction of Torah. Shaul/Paul is not doing away with Torah, as we will soon see, rather he is asking the hearer/reader to allow Messiah to change the way they think about Torah. Instead of presenting Torah as punitive law—Greek: nomos—Paul reveals it, in Messiah, as an inner instruction that must become central to our thinking.
In order for an English speaker to learn the Hebrew language they must learn to think differently. An English student of Hebrew must do away with the notion that English is read from left to right and that Hebrew is read backwards. Hebrew is not read backwards, it is read from right to left: the Hebrew consciousness thinks from East to West, the characters are different, the songs are different, the food is different, and the Hebrew perspective is entirely of another world to the English mind. This is similar to what Shaul/Paul is attempting to convey here by the Ruach ha-Kodesh. The Roman ecclesia is being challenged to receive a different Spirit to the spirit of human sin addiction, that different Spirit (The Holy Spirit) does not cause death but exposes it and its cause.
As we begin, let’s agree together with the words of Shaul/Paul:
“I agree with the Torah, confessing that the Torah is good.” 7:16b
This verse doesn’t say that the Torah was good, it says, “The Torah is good.”
7:1 Or are you not aware, ami--my people--(for I am speaking to those who know the Torah), that the Torah has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives? 2 For the married woman is bound by Torah to her husband while he is living; but if her husband dies, she is released from the specific instruction concerning the husband. 3 So then, if while her husband is living she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress (according to the Torah); but if her husband dies, she is free from the instruction regarding marriage, so that she is not an adulteress though she is joined to another man.
As I have previously stated, in the previous chapter of Romans Shaul/Paul explored the meaning of dying in Messiah and sharing in His resurrection, he also addressed the concept of slavery/servitude to sin verses servitude to righteousness in Messiah. Therefore it is interesting to note once again that he is now moving on to another death metaphor, this time regarding marriage.
Marriage is used throughout the Tanakh (Old Testament) as an allegory for G-d’s relationship to Israel and in the New Testament it is used as an allegory for Messiah’s relationship to the Ecclesia. It is therefore both an important teaching tool and a physical covenant that is of great significance to us, and of sacred value to G-d. With this in mind we must understand that even in regard to our prior marriage to sin, the Torah plays a pivotal role in determining the just separation from that previous marriage, all be it an illegitimate marriage. G-d, in Messiah must be seen here as legally qualified to enter into a new marriage covenant with those who were previously illegitimately married to sin.
This same teaching regarding freedom from Torah at death is found in a number of rabbinical sources:
“Rabbi Yochanan said, ‘What is meant by the phrase, “With the dead, free,” (Tehillim/Psalm 88:6)? Thant when a man dies he becomes free from the Torah and from the commandments,’”(Shabbat 30a; similar passages are found at Shabbat 151b, Niddah 61b, and in one of the oldest collections of midrashim, the Pesikta diRav Kahana, Supplement 1:20)
—Quoted from JNTC by David H. Stern © 1992 David H. Stern
4 Therefore, ami--my people, you also were made to die with regard to the Torah (written instruction) through the body of Messiah, so that you might be joined to another (The Living Torah Messiah/G-d, the second husband), to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for G-d. (A marriage bears children/fruit)
In English we've heard it said, "He's dead to me," meaning, as far as I'm concerned the person in question doesn't exist (even though in fact he does). This verse expressess a similar idea: from the Torah's perspective we are dead regarding the instruction concerning marriage as it relates to the allegory being used by Shaul/Paul in the previous verses.
It’s not the Torah that was made to die, rather it is we who have been made dead regarding it. We have not been made dead to the entire instructional nature of the Torah but only to a certain aspect of the Torah. In particular we are dead with regard to our marriage to sin (As Shaul/Paul clarifies later in this chapter). The reason for this is that unless we are dead to sin (our former husband) through Messiah's sacrifice, we are unable to remarry according to the Torah's instruction regarding marriage (that is, allegorically). This verse then is directly related to the previous verses which use marriage as a physical example of our spiritual relationship to Messiah. We must conclude then, that we are dead to the Torah in the sense that the Torah recognizes us as dead according to the instruction of marriage (spiritually speaking) and therefore we are now free to remarry, that is, to be joined to the Messiah Yeshua in marriage.
It is also important to note that Shaul/Paul is here being specific in defining Torah as only the books of Moses, it’s literal definition, as opposed to the entire Tanakh.
Although we have been made dead in regard to the punitive legalistic observance of the Torah, we are none the less still instructed by the living nature of Messiah, Who is, the Author of the Torah. In Messiah we have been made dead to the penalties of Torah, but we remain subject to its convicting (not condemning) purpose through the Ruach ha-Kodesh (Holy Spirit).
We have been set free from our former marriage to sin for the purpose of remarriage to righteousness Himself, Yeshua (ha-tzadik) our new husband of righteousness. The result of the marriage bed is the progeny of righteousness. Therefore we are seeded with righteousness and that righteousness joined to our humanity produces fruit for the Kingdom of G-d. This is what it means to be raised from spiritual death.
5 For while we were in the body (of the whole sin addicted human being—spirit, mind, physical body = nefesh, soul), the sinful passions, which were governed by the Torah, were at work in the various parts of our body to bear fruit for death.
Once again Shaul/Paul uses an argument of juxtaposition by using the phrase, “fruit for death,” to correspond to the phrase, “fruit for G-d.” Notice that by doing this Shaul/Paul is personifying death as the antithesis to G-d, Who is life.
“While we were in the body,” does not separate the physical human being from the spiritual human being. The body here is the whole being, that which is sin addicted, body, mind, spirit and soul. Any other reading is born of a nonsensical Greco-Roman misunderstanding of the Hebrew consciousness. Shaul/Paul is not saying, as some have suggested, that the physical body is sinful as opposed to the pure spirit of humanity. These are the lies that became the foundation for Christian Gnosticism. This error is easily avoided by a correct, contextual and holistic Hebrew reading of the text.
Notice that the Torah governs the sinful desires of the sin addicted human being, it does not inspire them.
6 But now we have been delivered because of the Torah, having died to that by which we were bound (we died to the first husband, sin), so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in the former legalistic way.
The Torah in fact, has played an important role in our deliverance. Torah showed the need for death to sin and proposed the means of life from death. Therefore there is great truth in the colloquialism, “we are following the spirit of the law.”
7 What shall we say then? Is the Torah sin? A curse on it! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin if the Torah had not exposed it; for I would not have known about lust if the Torah had not said, “You shall not lust.”
Torah doesn’t cause sin, rather, it exposes it for what it is. If we are unclear as to what is and isn’t error we have been given a very practical and life enhancing guide to help us make the distinction. This is added to the guidance of the Ruach ha-Kodesh and not in place of Him.
8 But sin, taking advantage of the commandment, produced in me lusting of every kind; for apart from the Torah sin is dead.
Sin does not prosper because of the Torah, it misuses the Torah in order to produce lusting of every kind. The Torah shows us that sin leads to death, therefore without the Torah we end in death, apart from the clear knowledge of its cause. OR, when we die to the punitive aspects of the Torah sin dies also because it can no longer misuse the Torah to inspire lusting in us.
Simply put, we become dead to the negative mitzvot (commandments) and alive to the positive mitzvot. An ancient form of positive reinforcement.
9 I once lived apart from the Torah; but when the commandment came, sin was exposed and (the just punishment revealed) I died (Just as Adam did not die instantaneously);
The Torah once it was imparted to Israel, made a clear observational statement concerning the lives of all who had sinned prior to it being given, thus affirming the already manifest result of sin, that is death.
10 and this commandment, which was intended to result in life, proved to result in death for me; 11 for sin, taking advantage because of the commandment, deceived me and misusing the commandment it killed me.
Notice that the Mitzvah (commandment) was intended to result in life. G-d’s purpose for Torah was to bring life through repentance (returning) based on the revelation of sin gained by a right understanding of the written Torah (Instruction).
In what way did the Torah, “prove to result in death?” In that by failing to keep it, I died. Sin took advantage of the mitzvot and by misusing Torah it deceived me, leading me to death.
“Rabbi Tanchuma said, ‘Ha-Kol (The voice) of HaShem went forth from Sinai in two ways: it killed the Goyim (Heathen, non-believer), who would not accept it; but it gave life to Israel, who accepted the Torah.’” (Exodus Rabbah 5:9)
“Rabbi Yehoshuah ben Levi said, ‘What is the meaning of the verse, “And this is the Torah which Moses set before the children of Israel” (D’varim/Deuteronomy 4:44)? It means that if a person is meritorious, it becomes for him a medicine that gives life; but if not, it becomes a deadly poison.’ That is what Raba meant when he said, ‘If he uses it the right way it is a medicine of life for him, but for someone who does not use it the right way it is a deadly poison.’” (Yoma 72b)
12 So then, the Torah is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. 13 Therefore did that which is good (the Torah) become a cause of death for me? A curse on it! Rather it was sin (that became the cause of death), which is shown to be the cause of my death by that which is good (the Torah), so that through the commandment sin would be shown to be utterly sinful.
Note that the Torah is not the cause of sin or death, it simply calls a spade a spade. The Torah is holy and the mitzvot are holy, not was but is, not were, but are!
The good Torah exposed the result of the action of the sin nature, which is death.
14 For we know that the Torah is of the Spirit, but I am of the body/humanity, sold into bondage to sin.
The Torah is of the Spirit of G-d, the Ruach ha-Kodesh. Therefore as sin addicted humans we have seen in its reflection the chains of our imprisonment to sin. That is prior to receiving Messiah.
15 For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.16 But if I do the very thing I don’t want to do, I agree with the Torah, confessing that the Torah is good.
The issue of sin remains one of struggle for the believer. The difference for the believer is that by agreeing with the Torah in humility we find discipline in Messiah in place of punishment, which is the very thing we died to, in order that we might live in Messiah’s resurrection life. We have (past tense) been redeemed and are (present and ongoing) being made holy, set apart.
Apart from Messiah we are in sin, in a sin affected world: Through Messiah we are in Messiah in a sin affected world.
17 So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my human body/humanity; for the will to do good is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. 19 For the good that I want, I don’t do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. 20 But if I am doing the very thing I don’t want, I am no longer the one doing it (I have become a slave to sin), but sin which dwells in me.
In sin, we become slaves to sin, having sold ourselves into bondage to sin in order to be mastered by it (Romans 6). I believe Paul is impressing upon us the need to recognize who we are in Messiah, when he says, “I am no longer the one doing it,” he means that the real me is a child of G-d now, purchased by the blood of Messiah, a gift that I have already received, therefore I must see myself as G-d sees me outside of time, complete in fullness of life. That’s the real me. Whenever I allow myself to give in to sin I am putting on a costume, the sin costume is not the real me. Because I have been redeemed I must allow Messiah in me to strengthen my hand in removing the costume of sin which is a misrepresentation of who I really am. The costume is worn from the inside out, we are challenged to be on guard against allowing ourselves to be deceived into returning to slavery. Why? Because we are no longer slaves to the costume of sin, we are now servants of the King of Righteousness.
21I now understand this principle, that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. 22 For I joyfully concur with the Torah of G-d in the inner person,23 but I see a different instruction in the members of my body, waging war against the Torah of my mind and making me a prisoner of the instruction of sin which is in my members (the parts of my body).
The yetzer ha-ra—evil inclination—is present still, but the Torah is in my inner being and is able to govern the parts of my entire being from the inside out, as opposed to the written Torah which was only able to guide me from the outside in. The “Mind” here is not intended to be understood as separate from the body, rather it infers the mechanism for the guiding of the body’s nervous system. Therefore it is a metaphor for the fact that the Living Torah of G-d in me, is equipped to wage war against the anti-torah of sin which seeks to divert my attention and cause me to forget my identity, the real me, a child of Righteousness.
24 Wretched person that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? (That is the body of sin addiction)
Without humility no one can receive the gift of G-d which is salvation in Yeshua our Adonai. In the light of HaShem I admit my wretchedness.
25 Thanks be to G-d through Yeshua Mashiyach our Adonai (Lord)! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the Torah of G-d, but on the other, with my body/humanity (sin addicted) the anti-torah—instruction of sin.
Thank G-d through Messiah! My intention (mind) then, is to serve the Torah of HaShem which seeds my action from the center of my being. But on the other hand I am also aware that the spiritual battle against sin continues and that I must continue to resist it in the strength that has been given me through Messiah Yeshua.
As I have stated previously, the Hebrew consciousness understands the human being in a holistic sense. While the human being has parts or members and various components that make up the whole, separation in an entirely detached sense is not acceptable to the Hebrew understanding of the person/human being.
Notice that Shaul/Paul is showing that sin attempts to achieve the opposite of unity in us. G-d’s purpose for us is unity in Messiah, in G-d, and that unity will bring unity to our inner person so as to affect our entire being, our whole. We are to be echad (one) just as Messiah and the Father are echad. The Adversary seeks to pervert, destroy, sever, separate and detach us from the unity of G-d. In Messiah we find the means by which we can return to unity, not as assimilated non entities but rather as parts/members of a greater body.
We are constantly challenged to retrain our thinking to come in line with our identity in Messiah. Shaul/Paul is reminding us that Messiah lives in us and that His Torah fills our minds for the purpose of distinguishing between who we are (servants of the good Torah/Messiah/G-d) and who we are not (slaves to sin). Thus, “be transformed by the renewing of your minds,” (Romans 12:2) not by controlling our own thoughts but by allowing the Torah/Messiah to renew our minds and redeem our humanity.
It has become popular in our time to teach a sort of pseudo psychological renewing of the mind by one’s own will. This teaching has permeated the present Ecclesia of G-d and has now become quite prolific. By misusing the Scripture, “be transformed by the renewing of your minds,” (Romans 12:2) the false teaching presumes that we are the mechanism for that action. This could not be further from the truth, in fact, it is anti-Christ in nature because it sets the individual up as his or her own means of transformation: this is idolatry/rebellion, the root of sin. We must hold tight to the truth that we are saved by trust alone and not by our own efforts, lest anyone should boast (as many are now doing) that they have transformed themselves.
In G-d it is Mashiyach alone who is our salvation (Yeshua) and our transformation, all else is idolatry.
© 2014 Yaakov Brown
It may come as a great shock to many disciples of Messiah to find that part of who we are, a component of our salvation in fact, and an identifying birthmark of new life, is suffering.
An examination of Romans 6
6:1 What shall we say then, “Let’s keep on sinning, so that there can be more chesed (mercy, loving kindness, grace)”? 2 A curse on it! How can we, who have died to sin, still live by it?
It’s safe to assume an air of incredulity in Paul/Shaul’s words as he rebukes the foolish notion that intentional sin gives birth to mercy. It’s the motivation behind this idea that is being addressed, the statement itself is just one of many false assumptions that the wicked will propose in contradiction to the truth of life in Messiah.
Notice that Romans six doesn’t begin with a “therefore,” this is because it is a continuation of the dialogue of the previous chapter. The original Greek text did not include chapter headings and verse markers. As we progress we will find that the “therefore” of the current chapter comes much later in the chapter and returns our attention to the present verses.
What we must keep in mind as we begin this chapter is that the concepts of original sin and the passing on of a sin addiction to humanity by Adam, are about be re-addressed and illuminated through the death and resurrection of Messiah. When we read of the “Old humanity,” we should understand the sin addiction which has perpetuated itself from Adam.
3 Don’t you know that those of us who have been immersed into the Messiah Yeshua have been immersed into his death?
The practice of immersion in the mikvah (ritual bath) was part of daily Jewish religion for centuries prior to the birth of Messiah. This allegory is a powerful one for the Jewish mind. Some have rightly stated that the specific immersion being spoken of here is that of Messiah’s death, however this does not negate the intrinsic symbolism of the traditional Jewish mikvah as a platform for understanding what Shaul/Paul is trying to convey by the Ruach ha-Kodesh (Holy Spirit).
Note that had Paul only meant for this to refer to death he would not have said, “those of us who have (past tense) been immersed into Messiah Yeshua,” he is clearly speaking to immersed/baptized believers here.
The mikvah was (and is) used for the cleansing of a woman’s body post menstruation, for the cleansing of a man’s body post nocturnal emission, for preparation in anticipation of the weekly Shabbat by devout orthodox men and for numerous other cleansing rituals. Immersion also plays a central part, along with circumcision, in the conversion of a gentile into the religion of Judaism.
It is important to note that Judaism prefers full immersion to sprinkling except when specifically required by the Torah for certain functions such as anointing vessels, homes and with regard to oil used for anointing Priests and Kings.
It is clear from Scripture that bodies of water are widely understood as a metaphor for death and in many cases the children of G-d pass through and or are brought out of the waters. Some examples are: Noah and the flood, Moses and Israel passing through the Sea of Reeds, Jonah the prophet cast into the deep and thrown up onto dry land after three days (Jonah was physically dead inside the great fish, his prayer was prayed from sheol—Jonah 2:2), and Peter the disciple of Yeshua who having sunk beneath the waves was lifted out of the raging waters by the Messiah. This adds weight to what Paul/Shaul is asking his listeners to identify with here.
Immersion is also an accepted cleansing process, be it by fire, water or indeed death itself. Whatever takes place in death is revealed in the resurrected life. When we are immersed into the death of Messiah we are immersed through Him into death. This means we are taking on not only the characteristics of His resurrected self but we are also, prior to this, identifying with His suffering self. We cannot live a resurrected life without first having suffered with Him through a crucified life. This is not to say that we can earn our resurrection through our own suffering, on the contrary, it is only through His suffering that our suffering finds meaning.
Messiah chose to die, He denied Himself and took up the instrument of His death. We are being asked by Shaul/Paul to identify with this. It may come as a great shock to many disciples of Messiah that part of who we are, a component of our very salvation in fact, and an identifying birth mark of new life, is suffering.
“He was despised and rejected by humanity,
A man of sorrows, familiar with anxiety and mourning;
And like one from whom people hide their faces
He was despised, and we did not honor Him.”
- Yishaiyahu/Isaiah 53:3 (AJBV)
Am I saying that we should chase after suffering? A curse on it! But we should be prepared to endure it if HaShem has purposed it for His glory. I didn’t say we had to enjoy it, I said we should be prepared to endure it.
4 Through immersion into his death we were buried with Him; so that just as, through the glory of the Father, the Messiah was raised from the dead, likewise we too might live a new life.
Burial is the end of a physical life, a separation, but not a separation outside of HaShem, rather it is a temporary separation inside of HaShem. The physical separation of death here makes way for a metamorphosis, a metaphysical translation. That is, our new person takes on the minerals found in the soil of Messiah’s death and Messiah in us forms an intrinsic part of who we become in a spiritual resurrection. Not only are we spiritually transformed by the glory of G-d in Messiah, we also await a physical resurrection from the dead at the end of the age. Of course the one exception to this is for those who are still physically alive upon Messiah’s return, Shaul/Paul says elsewhere, “We shall not all die but we shall all be changed.” (1 Corinthians 15:51)
5 For if we have been united with Him in a death like His, we will also be united with Him in a resurrection like His. 6 We know that our old humanity was put to death on the cross with Him, so that the body of offense might be destroyed, and we might no longer be servants of sin. 7 For someone who has died has been freed from sin.
Barukh HaShem! Here we are being given the seal to the promised good news that does away with the imputed addiction of original sin. The sin addicted body of the old humanity (permeated with the results of Adam’s rebellion) has been put to death on the cross of Messiah—He bore our transgressions. The entire body of our offence has been destroyed, not just covered but also wiped out completely. We have been emancipated, we are no longer servants to our previous master, sin. Having died with Messiah, metaphorically, and in another sense metaphysically, we are now free.
8 Now since we died with the Messiah, we emunah (trust) that we will also live with Him. 9 We know that the Messiah has been raised from the dead, never to die again; death has no authority over Him.
Since we have (past tense) already died with Messiah, we trust that we will (present and future tense) also live with Him. Having been spiritually resurrected already, we also trust in G-d and look forward to the physical resurrection of the dead at the last day, when not only will we no longer live by sin, we will also no longer live in a sin affected creation.
Once again we must turn our eyes to Messiah. All that we have become is only because of who He is and what He has done. Messiah has died and has been raised from the dead, never to die again! Why “never to die again?” Many of Israel’s prophets and even Messiah Himself had raised people from the dead: what makes Messiah different is that He will never return to the grave, in fact He holds the keys to death and hades in His hands. Yeshua has authority over death.
“Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, 18 and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.”
- Revelation 1:17-18
10 For Messiah died once bearing sin; but now He lives, He lives for G-d. 11 In the same way, consider yourselves to be dead to sin but alive for God, by your union with the Messiah Yeshua.
Messiah died once and now lives for G-d. We are to consider ourselves to have died once and to be dead to the old master sin. We are now alive in and for G-d through our having been united with Messiah.
12 Therefore, do not let sin rule in your mortal bodies, so that it makes you obey its desires; 13 and do not offer any part of yourselves to sin as an instrument for wickedness. On the contrary, offer yourselves to G-d as people raised from the dead, and your various parts to G-d as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will not have authority over you; because you are not beneath Torah but are beneath grace.
Is Paul/Shaul contradicting himself here? He has just said we are considered dead to sin and now he warns us not to sin. How can we be dead to something and yet be in danger of continuing in it?
Note the use of the terminology “mortal bodies.” We have been spiritually redeemed in Messiah but our mortal bodies will still receive the consequences of our temporal sin, one day we will physically die. The difference in those of us who have received the gift of G-d is that we are no longer servants to sin but are servants to G-d. We no longer live by sin but we still live in a sin affected creation (which crys out for reconciliation).
Because we live in an environment that is permeated with sin (rebellion) we will continue to be tempted by sin. Therefore we must be aware of our surroundings and prepared to rely on our new Master, G-d Himself—in Messiah—for the strength to keep our mortal bodies from acting in the manner of the old humanity which has now died. This is not the same as attempting to earn salvation, to the contrary, the motivation of our heart to be intentional in keeping the Torah that is within us is proof of our having received chesed (grace), not out of obligation but simply as a type of metaphysical organic process. We no longer need a tank of Torah oxygen to aid our lungs because our lungs have been completely rejuvenated and are able to breathe Torah fluidly in order to filter out the sinful inclination—yetzer ha-ra—of the old humanity.
15 Therefore, what conclusion should we come to? “Let’s go on sinning, because we’re not beneath Torah but we are beneath chesed (grace)?” A curse on it!
Here is the “therefore,” Paul/Shaul restates the opening statement of this chapter with the same incredulity. Some have said, “We are no longer under Torah, therefore we don’t need to worry about obeying it.” What nonsense, the reason we are no longer beneath the Torah is because Torah now lives in us through Messiah. Obedience is the fruit of trust. We are not saved for the purpose of breaking the Torah, nor are we saved by keeping it’s instructions, rather we are saved by the Instructor Himself and live in His Instruction (Torah), not by it.
Once we lived by sin and in sin and outside of the Torah, now we live in Messiah by His resurrection and the Torah lives inside us. Therefore we are not beneath Torah but beneath chesed (loving kindness).
16 Don’t you know that if you present yourselves to someone to serve them, then you become a servant of the one whom you are obeying, you are servants — whether of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to being made righteous?
We were once servants of sin which led to both physical and spiritual death. Now that we have been delivered from eternal spiritual death we must be intentional in our avoidance of those things that reflect a sin mastered life to others. We are being warned not to allow ourselves to return to the bondage of our old master like those who having left Egypt, complained to Moses, asking to return again to their bondage.
17 By God’s chesed (grace, mercy, loving kindness), you who were once servants of sin, obeyed from your heart the pattern of teaching to which you were exposed; 18 and after you had been set free from sin, you became servants of righteousness.
The pattern of teaching we have believed and accepted is that of the Good News (Gospel) concerning Yeshua the Messiah. Our obedience comes from a heart of trust in G-d. We have (past tense) been freed from our old master sin and have now become servants/slaves to our new master righteousness Himself, ha-tzadik (The Righteous One, Yeshua). We are slaves because He purchased us, we are servants because He chose us, we are hired servants because we accepted His offer of remuneration, we are grateful slaves because we have been accepted as members of the commonwealth of His family Israel.
19 (I’m using physical analogies because your human nature is so weak.)
Simply put, as infants in Messiah we are in need of physical allegories in order to hone our spiritual vision.
For just as you used to offer your various parts as servants to impurity and lawlessness (anti-Torah), which led to more lawlessness (anti-Torah); so now offer your various parts as servants to righteousness, which leads to being made holy, set apart for God.
We used to follow an anti-Torah, giving our mortal body parts over to its use. Now the Torah in us inspires us to use our bodies for right action as we are being set apart, we are a light to the nations for G-d’s good purpose.
20 For when you were servants of sin, you were free from righteousness;
We should soberly contemplate this, after all, separation from HaShem (not that anything can exist outside of Him but rather that He seals it off from Himself within Himself) is the greatest terror of the human soul. Hell is just a word, the reality of being sealed in spiritual darkness is much worse than any earthly language could ever convey.
21 but what benefit did you derive from the things of which you are now ashamed? The end result of those things was death.
When we look back we are not condemned, but we would be fools not to be embarrassed by our lack of self-control and our former pursuit of shameful sinful acts. The end result of those things is both physical and spiritual death. Thank G-d for His great love in His Son our Mashiyach Yeshua!
22 However, now that you are free from sin and have become servants of G-d, you bear fruit for the sake of being made holy, and set apart for G-d, the result is eternal life.
We are set free, we are no longer mastered by sin, we are now servants/slaves of HaShem, we bear fruit (not, you will bear fruit, but “you bear fruit”), we are being (a process) set apart for G-d Himself, He is our reward and our worth, value. The result of what G-d has done for us through Yeshua is life everlasting.
23 For the wages of sin are death; but the gift of G-d is eternal life, in union with the Messiah Yeshua, our Lord.
Death is earned but eternal life is received. And this is only possible in union with Mashiyach Yeshua our Adonai!
© 2014 Yaakov Brown
We have been reconciled in our suffering through His suffering
An examination of Romans 5.
5:1 Therefore, having been justified by emunah (trust/faithfulness),
Shaul/Paul asks us to remember what has already been said regarding the accountability of all humanity, the advantage of the Y’hudim, the acceptance of all who trust in the gift of G-d (Salvation) and our identity in trust having been recognized as children of Avraham.
It is through trusting in G-d’s Son and His covering/wiping sacrificial death and resurrection that we have been (notice the past tense) justified. What does justification mean to the modern reader in light of its contextual meaning to Paul’s historical audience?
The Greek dikaioō essentially means, to be pronounced righteous. Therefore, through trusting G-d in Messiah’s saving work we have become tzaddikim—righteous ones. This title, once reserved only for the heroes of Tanakh is now placed upon all who believe by trusting. It is interesting to note that Jewish mystical teaching suggests that there are 36 tzaddikim throughout the world in any given generation, however in my opinion and based on the teaching of Rav Shaul the Emissary of Mashiyach Yeshua, this is a gross underestimate. Barukh HaShem—Blessing comes from YHVH.
We have shalom (Wholeness, structural integrity, security, deep peace) with G-d through our Lord Yeshua ha-Mashiyach,
It is of fundamental importance that we understand that it is not trust in G-d alone that saves and justifies: rather it is the specific kind of trust that is born of the trust born sacrifice of Yeshua and His resurrection that saves and justifies. Only in this kind of trust (emunah) can we truly know the shalom of G-d. The Good News is that this is the trust that we have and because of this we have—past, present and future tense—shalom. Even more so, for we have received Sar Shalom—The Prince of Peace, Messiah Yeshua.
2 through whom we have entered by trust into this chesed (Mercy, grace, and loving kindness) in which we stand; and we rejoice in hope of the glory of G-d.
Shaul/Paul continues to speak of Yeshua—you’d think he has meet Him face to face or something.
How have we entered (past tense)? By trust. What have we entered into? Chesed, mercy, grace, loving kindness. We have entered into a continuing state of mercy, grace and loving kindness. This is the strength by which we stand firm.
In what hope do we rejoice? In the hope of the Glory of G-d. What does the Glory of G-d look like? “It is the Glory of G-d to conceal a matter and it is the Glory of kings to search it out.” (Proverbs 25:2) The concealed matter has been found only by one King, King Yeshua the Son of HaShem. What is the Glory of G-d? His Glory is light, “and the earth shone with His glory.” (Ezekiel 43:2) When we hope we are looking to something that has yet to be fully realized. Light opens the way before us in this dark world, we no longer wander blindly flailing our way through the darkness, the hope of His Glory revealed leads the way.
G-d’s Glory is a reflection of His character. We teach that “woman is the glory of man and that man is the glory of G-d. For a man ought not to wear his hair in an effeminate way, hanging down, since he is the image and glory of God; and the woman is the glory of man.” (1 Corinthians 11:7)
We understand that the Son will come in the glory of His Father, “For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father.” (Matthew 16:27) In part, we reflect that same glory. While we experience the guiding light of hope in Yeshua we also become—in ourselves—a guiding light to others who are walking in darkness. “For behold, darkness will cover the earth and deep darkness the peoples; But the Lord will rise upon you and His glory will appear upon you.” (Isaiah 60:2)
3 And not only this, but we also boast while we are in the midst of our suffering, knowing that pressure brings about patient waiting; 4 and patient waiting proves character; and proven character produces hope;
But wait there’s more, remember when Paul told us that hypocritical actions were no cause to boast before G-d? Now he juxtaposes that concept with a right example of boasting, a form of boasting that promotes the work of G-d in the greatest struggles of life.
I recall the first time I ever read this verse, “Are you kidding me?” I thought, “What kind of fakuchtah nonsense is this? You want me to boast about how good G-d is while I’m suffering? Are you completely meshugga? I don’t want to be patient, I want to be healed now and free of suffering. I don’t want my character proved, I don’t see any hope in any of this.”
Fortunately for me G-d didn’t intend for me to manufacture my own hope, He didn’t require me to see the truth in any of my suffering. Instead He came along side me and suffered with me. What had been anathema to me has become my natural inclination in G-d, the more I have suffered the more His patience has been made available to me, the longer I have waited the more His faithfulness has been revealed, the impatience of selfishness is becoming the proven character of G-d in me and what is more I have done none of it. All this has born the fruit of hope. How ironic that the very thing the adversary might have used to destroy my trust was the very thing that strengthened it and more than that, it was the very thing that added hope to my trust.
Let me now dust away the foolish formula of some that teach that we should be boasting about the suffering itself. “Boast about this cancer,” they say, “Glory to G-d,” they say. Is cancer the glory of G-d? Is suffering the result of a sinless creator? A curse on it! No, never. Suffering itself is the result of sin’s entering the world. This Scripture does not instruct us to boast in the suffering, rather it says that “in our suffering we are to boast of our hope in Yeshua, in G-d.” Let me be clear, death is garbage, suffering is abhorrent, but G-d is worth boasting about, Messiah is worthy of our boasting, for He is the One who has swallowed up death with victory.
Notice the progression of verses 3-4: firstly we boast about G-d, then we take that knowledge as a secure foundation and hold tight to it in Messiah, after this we do the only thing a weak helpless sufferer can do, we let go and wait. Why? Because He never lets go. Letting go is the price of freedom.
Waiting is letting go. We don’t produce patience, G-d produces patience in us. We don’t build character, G-d builds His character in us. We don’t produce hope, G-d does. He is our hope--Ha-tikvah!
5 and hope does not disappoint, because the love of G-d has been poured out within our hearts through the Ruach ha-Kodesh (Holy Spirit) who was given to us.
Why is it that hope doesn’t disappoint? It is because the love of HaShem has been (past tense) poured out (like the oil of the anointing of kings) within (not outside of) our core being (in Hebrew context the heart l’vav is the intersection of all the parts of the whole person, it is a metaphor for the center of our being) through the person of the Ruach ha-Kodesh (Holy Spirit, the Spirit of G-d, the Spirit of Yeshua) who was (past tense) given (not a free gift but a gift which cost Yeshua everything) to us—we who received Him in humility.
6 For while we were still without strength, at the right time Messiah died for the ungodly.
We are reminded here yet again that we were not redeemed through our own strength or action but through Messiah alone. Messiah entered time at a point when our weakness, our inability to save ourselves was most profoundly manifest in us. Messiah entered history at the perfect time in order to fill to perfection the requirements of the Tanakh and her prophetic pronouncement of Him. He also entered into the lives of each of us as individuals at the perfect time, while we were weak, suffering, without strength to save ourselves, He entered our chronology and although we were rebellious people, He died for us.
7 For one will hardly die for a good person; though perhaps for a tzadik (a righteous person) someone might dare to die.
In fact, having seen the end from the beginning Messiah died for the righteousness that was to come through His righteousness.
8 But G-d demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Messiah died for us.
The crucifixion and resurrection of Messiah Yeshua was and is a physical reality, a metaphysical transformation, a kinetic event, and an historical and eternal demonstration of G-d’s love. Our salvation preceded our consent and took place in the midst of our disobedience.
9 Much more then, having now been justified (given right standing before G-d) by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of G-d through Him.
Now that we are secure in our justified position before and in G-d through the blood (sacrificial and atoning death) of Messiah, we need no longer be concerned with the wrath of G-d because we have (past tense) been saved from condemnation and have entered into discipline.
10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to G-d through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
We were reconciled through death, we are saved by life. Here we understand that death is a vehicle whereas life is a person. Death was used by G-d to defeat itself but Life Himself has become our life, having swallowed up death in victory.
We were reconciled through Yeshua’s death and we are saved by His life.
11 And not only this, but we also rejoice in G-d through our Lord Yeshua ha-Mashiyach, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Again we rejoice, we boast in G-d through Yeshua our lord because we have been reconciled in our suffering through His suffering.
12 Therefore, just as through one Anthropos (human being) sin entered into the kosmos (world), and death through sin, and so death spread to all humanity, because all have missed the mark (sinned)--
It is here that many will want to address the so called doctrine of original sin. While the scope of this commentary does not allow for an in depth analysis of the doctrine of original sin, there are some important presumptions that need to be addressed regarding—at very least—the rigid and often incorrect Augustinian view of early Christianity.
To put the above passage another way, “It was through the rebellion of one human being that sin entered the world and death using sin as a vehicle also entered. Having entered, death was passed on to all humanity; because, both as a race and as individuals we have chosen to miss the mark with regard to G-d’s standard.”
Firstly it should be observed that this passage doesn’t presume guilt upon the inception of each human being, rather is states that all have missed the mark. It is important to note that death is a vehicle that finds its fuel in the errors of humanity. This does not mean that the components that make up the fuel are automatically guilty. One of the best ways to explain the inherent sin nature is to tell a parable, in Hebrew mashlam.
Terra, Chavah and the Poppy – a mashlam of Yaakov:
There was once a righteous father who had a beautiful daughter name Chavah. When his daughter came of age he married her to a young man named Terra and as a wedding gift he purchased some fine farm land in a remote and serene area of the country, in a place named Olam. Before he released his daughter and son in law to go to their new home he gave them a solemn warning:
“There is an enemy of our tribe who seeks out our barley crops and seeds them with a dangerous plant called a poppy. This plant grows among the barley and produces beautiful flowers with pods that are consumed by our enemies to practice their dark religion. As soon as you see these plants among the grain, destroy them. Do not use these plants or they will cause you to become very ill and die.”
Both Terra and Chavah agreed to heed his advice and they left for their new home filled with great excitement. One night soon after they had planted their first barley crop, the father’s enemy crept into the field and sowed the seeds of the poppy among the grain furrows. Some months hence when Terra and Chavah began to harvest the barley they noticed poppies growing among the grain. Chavah said to Terra, “Look how beautiful they are.”
“But your father told us to destroy them if we ever saw them.”
“Surely if father had seen them and how beautiful they are he would never have told us to destroy them.”
“Okay,” Terra conceded, “lets pick them then, we can find a use for them tonight after we have finished binding the sheaves.”
So, that evening Terra and Chavah crushed and consumed the poppy pods for the first time. The following morning they felt guilty for what they had done and resolved not to use the poppy again but the next night, being overwhelmed with desire for the poppies euphoria inducing properties they gave in and consumed the poppy for the second time. Having now become addicts they decided to grow poppies alongside their barley crop to feed their addiction.
One year later Chavah gave birth to her first child and named him kosmo. Kosmo was a frail child who suffered from fevers and shaking sickness. One night Chavah and Terra concluded that the child might benefit from the poppy and so they administered the oil to their child. The child, who had been born with an inherited addiction to the poppy oil, soon became a frequent user of the oil and as he grew he developed more effective ways of propagating and using it.
As time went by many generations of addicted children were born to the children of Chavah and Terra and thus the perpetual cycle of poppy consumption continued throughout the generations in the land of Olam. One day many centuries later a descendant of Chavah’s father came to the land of Olam and settled there. He married a local woman and she bore him a child. This child was different from the other children of Olam because his father’s genealogical make up had affected the addictive nature of his mother’s bloodline in such a way as to neutralize the addiction. The child’s name was Joshua and as he grew he began to observe the negative effects of the poppy and the way that it sent many a member of the community to an early grave. Because he loved his mother’s people he decided to try and convince them to destroy the poppies and return to the way of life of his father’s ancestors. This infuriated many but others were drawn to his teaching and supported him with food and lodging so that he could share his message throughout the land of Olam.
As Joshua’s followers grew in number the leaders of the community of Olam became jealous and decided to have Joshua put to death on trumped up charges of treason. In spite of his followers best efforts Joshua was killed one night in his parent’s field and his blood ran into the soil and was soaked up by some recently planted barley. When morning came and his friends—having heard of his murder-- sought him out in his parent’s field, they found that his body was gone and in its place grew an oddly colored barley stalk that had grown up too full maturity overnight. In memory of their friend the followers of Joshua made a special loaf out of the blood colored barley and ate it together. The following day when they returned to the field two more blood red barley stalks had grown and so they again made a loaf and ate. On the third day after his death they discovered three stalks of blood red barley and as they ate the loaf made from the barley in their homes that evening Joshua appeared sitting at the table. They were all stunned by his appearance and could not speak. Then Joshua spoke to them asking:
“Have any of you desired the poppy over the last three days?” After a few moments silence they responded in one voice:
“No Joshua, not once.” Then one of Joshua’s closest friends Jacob piped up and said:
“We have only desired to eat the bread made from the strange barley you planted in your parent’s field.”
“The bread you have been eating is made from the barley seed that soaked in my blood and it has passed on to you the enzyme in my blood that neutralizes the addiction to the poppy. You are free,” he said, “Go throughout the land of Olam and tell everyone you can find about the new grain, for it will begin to take over my parent’s field until there is enough for all to eat and be restored to health and to the traditions of my father’s forebears.”
Explanation of Chavah, Terra and the poppy:
A baby born to a drug addicted parent is not guilty of the parents original choice to take the addictive substance, but without the proper treatment that same child will have an inherent tendency toward addiction and will eventually choose of their own free will to sin by taking the addictive substance, it is only at this point that the child becomes guilty, though he has always been addicted. It is the same with humanities fallen nature, we are all born into an addicted world but that doesn’t imply guilt at conception, rather we each die for our own sin because, as the Scripture says, “All have sinned.”
Through Yeshua’s blood however we are able to receive a transfusion that neutralizes our addiction and enables us to choose what is right, thus we become righteous through His blood and by His life in us. After all, the Scripture also says, “The life is in the blood.”
13 for until the Torah (Instruction) sin was in the world, but sin is not accounted for when there is no Torah.
It is clear from this Scripture that sin was still considered rebellion by G-d even when it could not be properly recorded by humanity.
14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses (Giving of the Torah), even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam (Specifically the first man), who is a type of Him who was to come.
Because humanity continued to choose rebellion the consequence of the original rebellion remained and people continued to die in spite of the fact that the Torah wasn’t given until Moses. The death that came as a result of the one man Adam’s sin is the antithesis to the life that will come through the one man Yeshua, thus Adam is a type for Yeshua.
15 But the gift is not like the offence (Original rebellion). For if by the offence (Adam’s choice to rebel) of the one the many died, much more did the chesed (Mercy, grace, loving kindness) of G-d and the gift by the chesed (grace) of the one Man, Yeshua Mashiyach, abound to the many.
The limited power of the offence (this is worth contemplating, I have just called the resulting death of sinful humanity “limited power”) is a like a snow flake on the surface of the Sun. The one man Adam may have been the catalyst for humanity’s demise but the one man Yeshua has swallowed up the temporary power of death with the eternal power of life.
16 The gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one offence (rebellion/idolatry) resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the gift arose from many offences resulting in justification. 17 For if by the offence (of Adam) of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of chesed (grace) and of the gift of righteousness (right standing with G-d) will reign in life through the One, Yeshua Mashiyach.
In Messiah Life takes precedent over death, His one righteous act redeems many. This gift is not free as some translations suggest (the word free is not present in the Greek text.) In fact it has cost Messiah everything. Thank G-d that in His life Yeshua receives an eternal inheritance and many sons.
18 So then as through one offence (that of Adam’s rebellion) there resulted condemnation to all humanity, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all humanity.
This doesn’t mean that all humanity is automatically saved, Paul has previously stated that the gift of salvation must be received in order for it to take effect for the individual and so for the whole—that is those who have received the gift. Universalism is a foolish notion born of a singular non-contextual misinterpretation of limited Scriptural texts. All have the opportunity to accept the gift of salvation but as the Revelation of John affirms, not all will be saved.
19 For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.
It is the obedience of Messiah that has made us righteous. One righteous act.
20The Torah entered to demonstrate that the offence had increased; but where sin increased, chesed (grace) increased all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, even so loving kindness/grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Yeshua Mashiyach our Adonai (lord).
The Torah did not cause sin to increase as some translations suggest, rather at the point in time when the Torah was revealed, humanity had proliferated its rebellion and therefore out of love G-d gave us the Torah to expose our increased sinfulness so that we might be drawn back to Him in loving kindness. For although sin had increased, the increase of G-d’s chesed/mercy is eternal, past, present and future and was already beginning to consume death in the one righteous act of His Son, who, outside of time and space had already redeemed humanity through His death and given us the possibility of life in His resurrection.
Therefore the loving kindness of G-d reigns through the right action of G-d unto eternal life through Messiah Yeshua our lord.
© 2014 Yaakov Brown
Spiritual leader of Beth Melekh Community, Auckland, Aotearoa, N.Z.