Gal 3:11 11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. (KJV)
As we begin we must recall that all of Galatians chapter 3 except for 4 verses was not existent in the first collection of the Pauline Epistles and only finds it's origin after 180 A.D. with Irenaeus' response to Marcion's first canon. But yet in this particular instance the pro-Pauline writer is only continuing the thought process of Paul where we find in Romans where he likewise says:
Rom 3:28 28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. (KJV)
But now we enter a problem when we look at another of Paul's verses in Rom. 2::13:
Rom 2:13 13 (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. (KJV)
If you are not confused yet you ought to be. This is just one example of many where the New Testament contradicts itself over "theological doctrines."
Answer for yourself: We grow up in our Christian churches being taugth Gal. 3:28 and Rom. 2:13 but why don't we hear sermons preached on Rom. 2:13 where Paul, or someone, also said that "the doers of the Law shall be justified?"
If you have been a diligent student up to this point in your study of this website you have seen that much of the New Testament and the Pauline epistles are continually being written almost 200 years after Paul died. This should make you wonder what Paul really taugth or if many of his teaching have been altered to read completely opposite of what he "historically believed" by the Gentile Christians who would come later and have control of the manuscripts that would later become the New Testament. It surely does me! The advantage that I have over the usual reader is that I have invested almost twenty years into problems like this to arrive as best as possible to the honest answers for these difficult issues.
Answer for yourself: What is Judaism's stance upon "faith," "belief," and "justification?"
Since Jesus was a Jew and practiced Judaism then if we are to, as Phil 2:5 instructs ("Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus," then it is important to understand not what Paul has written in the New Testament but what Biblical Judaism teaches about "faith" and "belief" as these are the thorny issues involved in the New Testament as "faith alone" is constantly pitted against "faith and resultant obedience to the Law" as the method of obtaining right-standing before God. So let us examine what Biblical Judaism teaches about "faith" and see if Paul, himself a confessed 'Pharisee of Pharisees," agrees with his own faith and try to ascertain if not then why not.
Since most Christians are familiar with what Paul taught about "faith alone" it would be profitable to understand what Jesus the "proto-typical" Jew believed in his own faith about "belief and faith."
In the Jewish Bible there are no articles of faith or dogmas in the Christian or Islamic sense of the terms. Although trust in God is regarded as a paramount religious virtue (Gen. 15:6; Isa. 7:9; cf. Job 2:9), there is nowhere in Scripture an injunction to believe. Even a verse like II Chronicles 20:20 "believe (haaminu) in the Lord your God, and you will be established; believe His prophets, and you will succeed" expresses only King Jehoshaphat's advice to the people; : "BELIEF" is not a religious commandment. Furthermore, the verb heemin (Nymah "to believe"), the noun emunah ("belief"), and other forms derived from the stem "mn" (Nma) mean to trust, have confidence; and faithfulness; and in this sense are used both of God and of man (Gen. 15:6; Deut. 32:4; Prov. 20:6; Job 4:18). This usage is in striking contrast to the concept of "belief" in the New Testament (e.g., John 3:18). It is only in the Middle Ages, when Jewish theologians began to formulate articles of faith, that derivations of the root "mn" came to be used in a dogmatic sense. The reason for the absence of a catechism in both the Bible and the rabbinic tradition is probably twofold: in Judaism the primary emphasis is not on profession of faith but on conduct as a response to the Law and Commandments of God (Avot 1:17); and speculative and systematic thinking is not characteristic of the biblical or the rabbinic genius. Dogmatics entered Judaism as a result of external pressure; contact with alien religious systems, which had formulated theological doctrines, compelled Jewish thinkers to state the basic creeds of their own faith. In a sense, Jewish dogmatics forms part of the larger category of Jewish apologetics.
No religion, however, is conceivable without fundamental doctrines or axiomatic principles, and Judaism, in its scriptural as well as rabbinic aspects, is no exception. Indeed, the Bible contains certain summary statements that might be considered incipient dogmas. The Shema (Deut. 6:4), underscoring the unity of God; the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20:1 ff.; Deut. 5:6 ff.), providing an epitome of Jewish precepts; the formulation of the divine attributes in Exodus 34:67; Micah's sublime summary of human duty (6:18); and the majestic simplicity of the Lord's assurance to Habakkuk "but the righteous shall live by his faith" (2:4) are a few examples culled from many. But valuable as these formulations are, they do not embrace the complete range of fundamental biblical teachings. Only an analysis of scriptural doctrines against the background of the entire complex of biblical thought can yield the essential religious beliefs, moral ideals, and spiritual truths that underlie the faith expounded by the Scriptures.
According to the Encyclopedia of Judaism acceptance of a concept that cannot be proved beyond all doubt by human reasoning is the meaning of "faith." The Hebrew words "emunah" and "bittahon" refer to different aspects of faith: emunah is the traditional meaning of "faith" while bittahon is "trust or faithfulness." The biblical use of the former means "faith in," which is the effective attitude of trust in God and confidence in the fulfillment of His promises. In the ancient sources, use of emunah does not signify belief that God exists, which was taken for granted. The term `emunah' is found in the Bible in various contexts whose basic meaning is "to be firm": "They had faith in the Lord and in Moses, His servant" (Ex. 14:31) or "The righteous shall live by his faith" (Hab. 2.4).
Faith in God as "trust" is important in biblical religion since so much of man's encounter with God has to do with promises which are to be fulfilled in the distant future. Thus landless and barren patriarchs are asked to envision their eventually developing into a numerous people, with a land of their own. With each of the biblical generations, the word of God is mainly directed toward the future. Therefore, in the formative period, the vital "faith" element is not so much whether God appeared at some point in the past or even whether He exists somewhere at the present time, but rather, "can we rely upon His promises for the future?" and this requires "trust," an abiding confidence in the essential goodness, steadfastness, and consistency of the Creator and Promisor.
Nowhere does the Bible speak unequivocally of the importance of "faith" in the cognitive sense of "belief that" something is the case, namely, that God exists. This is not because these cognitive beliefs played no role in Judaism. On the contrary, "belief in..." presupposes "belief that..." God cannot be trusted in if His existence is denied. "Belief that..." is not stressed in the Bible in connection with God because it was taken for granted. The sense of the presence of God as a living, palpable reality was strongly self- evident. But you should see that "faith" in the Jewish sense is "God-centered" and not "man-centered" or "Messiah-centered" as found in Paul's premise.
The prophets inveighed against those who, while acknowledging the existence of God, denied that He is aware of human affairs (Ps. 94:7) or that He governs justly (Ezek. 18:23; Mal. 2:17, 3:14). Most important for them is the question of the kind of God believed in and its implications. Belief that the Lord your God "took you out of the land of Egypt" (Ex. 20:2), means that He intervenes in human affairs. "The Lord our God is One" (Deut. 6:4) implies that idolatry and polytheism are lies without power. Here, in the view of the rabbis, "He who denies idolatry is as if he acknowledged the entire Torah" (Sif., Deut. 28). Rather than emphasize the importance of "belief" as such or the saving power of dogma as Christianity and Paul has taught, the rabbis stressed the disastrous consequences of denying the basic beliefs. They spoke of the kofer be-ikkar ("he who denies the roots," i.e., belief in the one God) and ruled in the Mishnah (San. 11:1): "These are the ones who are excluded from the World to Come: He who denies the Resurrection, that there is no Torah from Heaven [denies Divine Revelation which I showed you refers to the misquote of Gal. 3:10 in a previous article ], and the epikoros... (who denies belief in Providence and reward and punishment;). Furthermore, the rabbis frequently traced specific transgressions to a lack of faith on the part of the sinner (e.g., San. 38b). The entire structure of beliefs and practices called Judaism rests upon certain cognitive presuppositions, in the absence of which the entire structure collapses. However, absent from Judaism is the concept of catechism, that there is some special spiritual efficacy in the act of affirming the belief itself which is the whole of the cornerstone of the New Testament and Paul's message. This is truly amazing since Paul passes himself off as a "Pharisee of Pharisees." He was the strangest Pharisee that ever lived them since his concept of faith is completely contrary to "faith" as believed by everyother Pharisee that ever lived!
So we again find ourselves with Paul's idea as expressed in Gal. 3:11:
(Rom. 3:20) Clearly no one is justified before God by the law... (Gal. 3:11)
Paul would later go on to write the same in his book of Romans:
Therefore no one will he declared righteous in his (God's) sight by observing the law.
Paul's claim that the Torah could not bring righteousness is a contradiction of the message of the entire Hebrew Bible, which, it will be recalled is considered sacred in Christianity. Throughout the Tanakh (the Jewish Bible consisting of the Law, Prophets, and Writings) the Israelites were assured repeatedly that righteousness would result from observing the Laws and Commandments of God (the Torah).
Deuteronomy 6:25 attests to this guarantee:
And it shall be righteousness unto us, if we observe all this commandment before the Lord our God, as He has commanded us.
Similar thoughts are found in other Biblical books such as in I Kings 2:3 in which David imparted his last advice and charge to his son, Solomon, before he died:
Keep the charge of the Lord your God to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, commandments, ordinances, and testimonies, as written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn.
One only needs be familiar with the whole of the Jewish Scriptures in order to see that Paul's false premise that the Torah cannot bring "righteousness" and "salvation" is blatantly false:
Ezek 33:14-15 14 Again, when I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; if he turn from his sin, and do that which is lawful and right; 15 If the wicked restore the pledge, give again that he had robbed, walk in the statutes of life, without committing iniquity; he shall surely live, he shall not die. (KJV)
Ezek 3:21 21 Nevertheless if thou warn the righteous man, that the righteous sin not, and he doth not sin, he shall surely live, because he is warned; also thou hast delivered thy soul. (KJV)
Job 8:6 6 If thou wert pure and upright; surely now he would awake for thee, and make the habitation of thy righteousness prosperous. (KJV)
Prov 16:31 31 The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness. (KJV)
Dan 4:27 27 Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by shewing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquillity. (KJV)
As if that above is not enough to prove Paul's premise wrong we encounter again within the Pauline writings continual conflict of theological ideas where Paul contradicts himself:
Rom 2:26 26 Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision? (KJV)
So we are left with a severe problem. We have the testimony of Paul that goes counter to all that Moses, David, the Prophets and even Jesus taught.
Gal 2:21 21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain. (KJV)
For Paul, a presumed "Pharisee or Pharisees" we have a severe problem indeed how he can espouse and teach doctrines so contrary to the very spirit and revelation given all of Israel at Sinai and as a New Testament believer you do as well. As shown in this article the teachings of Genesis through Malachi teach one thing very clearly; that contrary to Gal. 2:21 where Paul implies that "righteousness" comes not by the law, the fact of the matter of the Jewish Scriptures is that "right-standing" before God and "righteousness" has always come from obedience to the Law and will always be the manner by which man can make himself "acceptable" to God. If you have the ability to balance the whole of the teachings concerning "righteousness" in the Jewish Old Testament against Paul's concept of "righteousness apart from the Law" then you must surely question the attached teachings of Paul's interpretation of Jesus' death. Shalom.
Before we conclude this article we have seen "faith" from a Jewish perspective and now it is time to examine the Jewish concept of "righteousness."
Righteousness from a Jewish view means the value of justice and right; hence, a good action. The usual Hebrew words tsedakah or tsedek have the connotation of legal justice, as in the biblical texts "Justice, justice, shall you pursue" (Deut. 16:20) and "Just balances, just weights" (Lev. 29:36), the latter in the context of righteousness in the market place. In its ultimate ideal, the aspect of righteousness as justice is ascribed to God as in "A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, righteous and right is He" (Deut. 32:4) and "The Lord is righteous in all His ways" (Ps. 145:7). In addition to having legal implications, righteousness impliesloyalty to moral teachings that affect the conduct of mankind. Already Noah was described as "a man, righteous and wholehearted" (Gen. 6:9) but it is the prophets who particularly developed the ethical aspects of righteousness. To Amos, these are more acceptable than mere legalism (2:6; 5:12,23). Moreover, social righteousness must be complemented by inner repentance. "Total" human righteousness is regarded by the author of Ecclesiastes as unattainable: "For there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and does not sin" (7:20), but this may be no more than a counsel of moderation in the spirit of his advice "Be not righteous overmuch" (7:16). However, the later books of the Bible see the perfect world as one of "righteousness," while the Dead Sea Sect saw their guide and model as the "Teacher of Righteousness." In rabbinic ethics, as well as among the medieval moralists, the quality of righteousness is even more than conformity to legal and moral norms. It is also a state of deeper piety expressed in a character of deep spirituality, illustrated in acts of true charity. Indeed, the word tsedakah is now used especially for charity. Especial esteem attaches to the Tsaddik, the righteous man; the term becomes a title for a pious or saintly man, later to have a unique application in Hasidism. The world is sustained by the 36 Tsaddikim while the Talmud glorifies the tsaddik as the ideal type of man to which all must aspire. But in all we just read "righteousness" in not ascribed to man because of "what he believes" as Paul would later teach; but rather, "righteousness is what you DO because of what you believe." This is the fundamental difference between Judaism and what Jesus the Jew believed and what Paul taugth that can be linked to whatever happened to him on the Damascus road that caused him to stray from Biblical faith.
And it shall be righteousness unto us, if we observe all this commandment before the Lord our God, as He has commanded us.
Paul is simply wrong!