In a former life, I used to teach dispensationalist theology. It framed my biblical perspective, and more specifically my perspective on end time studies, until one day, no longer able to tolerate some of the scriptural tensions, I really began to challenge it. I placed so much trust in pastors and theologians on the matter, that it was, in fact, the moment in which I began to really assume I knew nothing and then test everything. I realized that my understanding of dispensationalism was gained from reading books and doctrines and not necessarily by studying the Word of God. It was at this time when I began to realize that it simply does not seem to make any sense, theologically, to separate the Church from Israel or Israel from the Church. It is actually through this study that I began to realize that the whole Word of God is still truth and is for anyone proclaiming faith in the Word of God, and thus by extension, faith in Jesus Christ, or in Hebrew, Yeshua Ha’Mashiach. It is through this study that I realized that we, as His people, are to be practicing the whole Word of God, and not just some of it. Realizing the fullness of the freedom and blessings of what I was missing in traditional, mainstream Christianity.
As with any of our teachings, we are not presenting this as though we have everything figured out. We simply ask that you test what we teach to the Word of God to see if these things that we say are true.
This teaching will conclude the following:
1) There is only one Body of the Messiah, not Bodies of the Messiah.
2) The teaching of mainstream dispensationalism is realized to be in error when compared to the Word of God.
This is not intended to be a complete analysis on all of the errors of dispensationalism. The goal here is to bring to light the resulting scriptural inconsistencies generated by this faulty theological framework by carving away dispensationalism’s supporting pillars, using the sharpness of the Truth of God’s Word.
So, what is dispensationalism?
Dispensationalism: (Israel and the “Church” are separate entities)
“Dispensationalism is a theological system that teaches that biblical history is best understood in light of a number of successive administrations of God’s dealings with mankind, which it calls ‘dispensations.’ It maintains fundamental distinctions between God’s plans for national Israel and for the New Testament Church and emphasizes prophecy of an end-times and a pre-tribulation rapture of the church prior to Christ’s Second Coming. Its beginnings are usually associated with the Plymouth Brethren movement in the UK and the teachings of John Nelson Darby.” (www.theopedia.com)
According to this doctrine, there are 7 dispensations.
1. Innocence (or freedom), (Gen. 2:8-17,25), prior to Adam’s fall
2. Conscience (Gen. 3:10-18; Rom. 2:11-15), Adam to Noah
3. Government (Gen. 9:6; Rom. 13:1), Noah to Abraham
4. Patriarchal rule (or promise), (Gen. 12:1-3; 22:17-18; Gal. 3:15-19), Abraham to Moses
5. Mosaic Law (Ex. 20:1-26; Gal. 3:19), Moses to Christ
6. Grace (Rom. 5:20-21; Eph. 3:1-9), the current church age
7. A literal earthly 1,000 year Millennial Kingdom that has yet to come but soon will (Is. 9:6-7; 11:1-9; Rev. 20:1-6).
Each one of these dispensations is said to represent a different way in which God deals with man, specifically a different testing for man.
“These periods are marked off in scripture by some change in God’s method of dealing with mankind, in respect to two questions: of sin, and man’s responsibility,”
“Each of the dispensations may be regarded as a new test of the natural man, and each ends in judgment – marking his utter failure in every dispensation.” (www.theopedia.com)
Tenets of Dispensationalism:
In addition to these dispensations, the real theological significance can be seen in four basic tenets, which underlie classic dispensational teaching. Dispensationalism maintains:
1. A fundamental distinction between Israel and the church – There are two peoples of God with two different destinies, earthly Israel and the spiritual church.
2. A fundamental distinction between Law and Grace. They are mutually exclusive ideas.
3. The view that the New Testament church is a parenthesis in God’s plan which was not foreseen by the Old Testament.
4. A distinction between the Rapture and the Second Coming of Christ – The rapture of the church at Christ’s coming “in the air” (1 Thess. 4:17) precedes the “official” second coming (to the earth) by 7 years of tribulation. (www.theopedia.com)
Let’s test this to scripture. Are there two bodies, Israel and “the Church?” We are all “One Body” in Christ, which includes Israel.
1 Corinthians 12:12-13
For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs (as the Jews), and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:
And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.
And that Body is the “Church:”
Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church
For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body.
The Church is the Body. Yeshua is the Head of the Body, and Yeshua is the Savior of the Body. Therefore, anyone who has ever been saved or will be saved is part of the Body, and therefore, part of the “Church.” Because Christ is the only way to salvation and eternity, whether it was Adam and Eve, Abraham, Moses, Paul, John, Peter, you, or me, we all claim Christ as our savior, sent by the Father, and therefore, we are all part of the one Body in Christ, the “Church.”
Anyone who is saved by Christ is part of the Body.
And He is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus. The “Church” of Jesus Christ (Yeshua Ha’Mashiach) is throughout all ages.
Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end.
We know that the apostles considered Israel in the Old Testament as “the Church.”
Many dispensationalists have said, “Israel is not ‘the Church’ and ‘the Church’ is not Israel.” A lot of doctrines and eschatology are built upon this premise. Yet when one examines scripture itself, one is surprised to discover that Israel in the Old Testament is repeatedly called the “Church.” In Acts 7, even Stephen tips us off to this fact when he was falsely accused of teaching that Yeshua changed the Law of Moses.
This is he who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the Angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our fathers, the one who received the living oracles to give to us,
Stephen clearly refers to Israel in the wilderness as “the Church” and he clearly says the living oracles on Mount Sinai are given to us, as the New Testament church. “The Church” has existed ever since Adam and Eve assembled together as believers in Christ. The “Church” is clearly not a “new development.” It literally means a group of “the called out” or “ekklesia” or “qahal” in the Hebrew. All the faithful are called out of the nations (Gentiles) into God’s one true nation (Israel).
As 1 Peter said:
1 Peter 2:9
But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation (singular), a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light:
Notice how there is only one holy nation, and it’s singular, and we’re called out Gentiles, or out of the nations, into the one holy nation.
1 Peter 2:10
Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.
It was no accident that Stephen, a Jewish believer (the house of Judah) who understood Greek customs, called Israel the “church,” (ekklesia), for his Greek version of the Bible (the Septuagint) regularly uses ekklesia to refer to Israel. Many believers in those years relied heavily upon the Septuagint, and the New Testament is filled with quotations from it. Thus, those in the first century were well acquainted with the biblical concept that God’s “Church” in Old Testament times was the nation of Israel, just as the Church in the writings of the New Testament is also the very same Israel.
It would be hundreds of years later in which the theological interpretive framework of dispensationalism would be invented and taught, even though it is contrary to the teaching of Scripture. The Greek word “ekklesia” (called out ones) is the Hebraic equivalent of the word “qahal,” which also means “called out congregation or assembly” also related to “providing witness or testimony.”
In every instance in which “congregation” or “assembly” is found in the English versions of the Old Testament, “ekklesia” is used in the Septuagint. Israel is the “ekklesia” or “qahal”, the (Church).
Is this What Paul Teaches? In Romans 11, Paul teaches that salvation by faith in grace brings us into the Kingdom:
1) We were once of the “wild olive tree” (Gentiles/nations), and now we are grafted into the “cultivated olive tree” (Israel/God’s nation/the holy nation). Paul does not teach that there is a “new tree” called “the Church” that is distinctly separate from Israel. Paul teaches that we are grafted into the already existing tree, which is Israel (see Jeremiah 11:16).
Once we are in the Kingdom we are supported by God’s Word:
2) The root (God) supports us and gives us nourishment (meaning that we are given God’s ways/commandments, and God is the Word). Thus, all of God’s Word (not just some it) is to be used in instructions on how to walk righteously (see 2 Timothy 3:16-17). It is what supports and nourishes us. It is the root. It is the foundation, the rock.
Leading to the conclusion, as this “grafting in” continues, all Israel will be saved (House of Israel and House of Judah).
Let’s read it in Romans 11.
17 And if some of the branches be broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, was grafted in among them, and with them partake of the root and fatness of the olive tree; 18 Boast not against the branches. But if you boast, you bear not the root, but the root bears you. 19 You will say then, “Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.” 20 Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. 22 Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off. 23 And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 24 For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, who are natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree? 25 For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “ The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; For this is My covenant with them When I take away their sins.”
The whole point is that the Gentiles are to be grafted into Israel as Peter said earlier – the holy nation. Paul also teaches in Ephesians 2 that we (the “Church”) are now Israel
1) We were once Gentiles.
2) We are now citizens of the commonwealth of Israel in faith in Christ.
3) If one is part of the covenants (PLURAL) of promise, then one is part of Israel.
11 Wherefore remember, that you being once Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; 12 That at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who sometimes were far off are made near by the blood of Christ.
How can we not be Israel if we are now citizens of Israel? Clearly, dispensationalism has introduced some serious errors. Paul understood that all in the faith are Israel because Scripture taught him this: The New Covenant is for the House of Israel and the House of Judah, which are the two kingdoms of which consist of the whole nation of Israel.
31 Behold, the days come, says the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they broke, although I was an husband unto them, says the LORD (Yahweh): 33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, says the LORD (Yahweh), I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it on their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.
(Also see Hebrews 8:8-12)
Therefore, clearly, if one is a part of the New Covenant established by Yeshua then one is grafted into the House of Judah or the House of Israel and is thus part of Israel. The new covenant is not stated to be made with anyone else. One either becomes part of the one holy nation, as Peter said, Israel, or one is not part of the new covenant. In addition, God said that He would write His law on the hearts and minds of His people (which, by the way, is the exact opposite of abolishing it. He established it). It is a little difficult to subscribe to a theological interpretive framework that separates Israel from the Church when Scripture clearly states that we are grafted into Israel and actually, made citizens of it.
So far, tenet #1 of dispensationalism that was listed in the opening of this teaching has been absolutely destroyed by the Truth of scripture, yet seminaries continue to teach such doctrine with absolute seriousness.
Without the error of dispensationalism, realizing that we are Israel is the same as realizing there are many commandments God decreed that many are not being obedient to. Many say that many commandments were only given to Israel and not “the Church”, completely failing to see that Israel and “the Church” are actually the same entity. There is a reason that dispensationalism is popular. Because being obedient to God has never been popular. Just focusing on God’s love for us (His grace) is much easier than also loving Him back (which is actually defined as keeping His commandments – 1 John 5:2-3). That is the very definition of an attempt at a one-sided relationship.
The House of Israel continuously broke and ignored the covenant God established with them, and was consequently divorced (Jer. 3:8). God’s goal is to restore the House of Israel to the House of Judah so all Israel will be saved. As Hebrews 8:8 states, God found fault with THEM (House of Israel) not God’s law, and the New Covenant states that the solution (Jer. 30-31) was to write God’s “law on our hearts and mind,” not abolish it. The obvious goal of God’s solution is that we will now keep God’s law instead of ignore it and continuously transgress it.
Nowhere in Scripture does it teach that God’s solution to bring the House of Israel back together with the House of Judah included abolishing the commandments of God. Consider how seriously that actually sounds. Are we to suggest that God’s solution to Him divorcing the House of Israel because they continuously broke the Sabbath and His feast days was to abolish the Sabbath and the feast days? Suppose we applied such methodology in the instructions of our children. For example: “Since you refuse to listen and obey my instruction, then never mind.”
That would be absurd, yet we believe that is the approach the Father has with us? Because of the grace of God’s love (Christ’s work on the cross), we should now have a sincere interest in loving God back in our faith (1 John 4:19). We love God back by keeping His law that is written on our hearts and minds (John 14:15; 14:21; 1 John 5:2-3; 2 John 1:6).
In our faith, we have also received a deposit of the Holy Spirit that will teach us all things related to God’s ways. The Holy Spirit is to guide us so that we will not be seduced away from God’s ways, so we can avoid being ashamed at his second coming (John 14:21-25; 1 John 2:24-29).
If tenet #2 is correct, that law and grace are distinctly separate ideas, then why is all the New Covenant ALL about writing God’s law on our heart? Because that is the whole point, the law of God, so that we may do it and want to do it.
Why is scripture telling us to keep God’s commandments as a means to love God? How many have considered that. That God’s law has always been about loving God and loving others. If God’s law is so apart from grace in the New Testament, then why is the importance of keeping God’s law emphasized so often by nearly every author of the New Testament, including Paul (i.e., Romans 3:31)? Once we are a part of Israel in our faith by grace, we are under the one law or “the constitution” of Israel.
God only has one law or instruction for His people just as any leader would have, whether they be natural or grafted in (i.e.: Numbers 15:29). God does not have a law for one group of people just because they happen to be a descendant of the tribe of Judah (Jews) or perhaps the tribe of Dan, and then one for the alien and foreigner.
“You are to have the same law for the foreigner and for the native born; I am the Lord your God.”
The Head does not give out two contradicting instructions for the same body. As we were once Gentiles and now part of the one Body in faith, we are now part of those same instructions that are intended by God to bless us in our obedience. Therefore, even without such Pauline passages as Romans 2:28, 29; 9:8, and Galatians 3:29, dispensationalism ultra-sharp distinction between “Israel” and “the Church” appears to be both unwarranted and unbiblical, and therefore, leaves an aftermath of suspect conclusions with any theological framework built on this invented concept.
So why does dispensationalism even exist? To be honest, dispensationalism actually offers a very convincing way to the tickle ears. The three ear-tickling pillars of Dispensationalism are:
1) Church/Israel dichotomy
2) The Law is not for today
3) The pre-tribulational rapture
2 Timothy 4:3
For the time will come when men will NOT put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit THEIR OWN DESIRES, they will HEAP UP to them a GREAT number of TEACHERS to say what their itching ears WANT to hear.
Those who are weak in the faith have always wanted to abolish the commandments of God (1), (2), and to avoid God’s judgment (3) on his people. This is nothing new in Scripture. The House of Israel was divorced for such things.
The three ear-tickling pillars of dispensationalism is beautiful music to such ears; to such a degree that the conflicting Scripture that we just reviewed is often eagerly ignored. This doctrine is achieved by verse plucking out of Paul’s letters and the rest of Scripture and at the same time ignoring the surrounding context and the totality of Scripture. Peter clearly warned us.
2 Peter 3:16
He (PAUL) writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are HARD TO UNDERSTAND, which IGNORANT and UNSTABLE people DISTORT, as they do the other scriptures, to their own destruction. Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be ON YOUR GUARD so that you may not be carried away by the ERROR OF LAWLESS MEN and fall from your secure position.
In other words, distorting Paul’s writings generates lawlessness! So what support is used to promote that the Church is supposedly a new institution? In the absence of applying any other guiding Scripture, the foundational cause of the error is found in a poor interpretation of Matthew 16:18.
I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.
We have already established in the above that the Lord’s “Church” has existed since the beginning and that “the Church” is referred by God as Israel. We must then ask this question. How can Yeshua build a “new Church” and not conflict with everything He and the Old Testament already taught? The Scriptures teach everywhere that Israel would be “rebuilt” or “restored.” It is clearly stated over and over again that the division in the Kingdom relating to the House of Israel and House of Judah would become one again. For instance, read the Messianic prophecy of Ezekiel 37. In fact, Yeshua states that He only came for the lost sheep of the House of Israel (Matthew 15:24).
The whole goal of the New Covenant is to bring the House of Israel back to God’s law (Hebrews 8:8-12; Jeremiah 31:30-32) by writing it on their heart. The whole point and purpose of all Scripture certainly teaches the central theme of the rebuilding and restoration of all of Israel (House of Judah and the House of Israel) so that they can be a light to the nations, as the one nation of Israel. So, did Yeshua (Jesus) come to do what He, and Scripture said, which is to restore or rebuild Israel, or did Jesus contradict Himself and Scripture in Matthew 16:18 by stating He was building a new Church, and He will just deal with Israel some other day during the Great Tribulation?
Are we grafted into Israel, or are we grafted into a new tree called Christianity which is supposedly separate from Israel? If you answer this question, then you answer the previous question as well. Romans 11 and Ephesians 2 would serve well for anyone struggling. Yeshua never spoke outside of the Law and the Prophets already declared. We all must agree that all of His teaching is in perfect harmony with what was already revealed in the Law and Prophets. If God intended to create a new body of His people and give them a different, new set of laws, He would have told us somewhere in His Word that it was coming.
Surely the Sovereign LORD (Yahweh) does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets.
Thus everything must be declared by the Prophets first before Yahweh does anything. So if we interpret God doing something, we better hope to find it in the Prophets first, otherwise something is seriously wrong. Here we see that Yahweh says He only does what He already revealed that He was going to do, and nowhere does Yahweh say He is going to change the Law of God or create a new group of people. You won’t find that anywhere in the Prophets. So, we have a problem. Perhaps it could be because men are inventing doctrine that is contrary to Scripture, thus leading sheep away from the Truth. It is much more consistent and congruent with scriptural principle to at least attempt to understand Christ’s statement in light of the Law and Prophets.
In conjunction with that idea of the rebuilding and restoration of the House of Israel spoken of by the Law and the Prophets and Yeshua, the Hebrew language uses a word, sometimes translated “to build” but which can also be rendered “to rebuild,” restoration. Thus, Christ’s declaration to Peter, likely speaking Hebrew when it was first uttered, could be translated, “I will rebuild my assembly…” “I will rebuild my church…” without stretching the underlying thought of text at all. In fact, this translation of the text has much to commend itself, particularly when we consider the numerous times the Prophets spoke concerning the re-establishment of the House of Israel.
Now let’s go into some of the detail of such scripture. The prophet Amos speaks of the rebuilding of David’s fallen tent.
9 “For behold, I am commanding, And I will shake the house of Israel among all nations As grain is shaken in a sieve, But not a [a] kernel will fall to the ground. 10 “All the sinners of My people will die by the sword, 11 “In that day I will raise up the fallen [b ]booth of David, And wall up its breaches; I will also raise up its ruins And rebuild it as in the days of old;
Here, the house of Israel is spoken of as disciplined and scattered among the nations on account of their sin, and, in this same context, God informs us through the prophet that he will one day restore David’s fallen tent (which is a reference to the house of Israel) and REBUILD it as in days of old.
The nation of Israel is the only institution which the prophets mention that God would restore and build back up. There is no mention of any other structure that God would “build” in the “last days” except for the house of Israel.
It is specifically with reference to the Amos prophesy, that we just cited, that James describes the “building” of the New Testament assembly (the church) and the inclusion of the gentiles in the assembly:
Acts 15:14-18, citing Amos 9:
Simeon has explained how God first concerned himself to select from among the Gentiles a people for his name. The words of the prophets agree with this, as it is written, ‘After this I will return, and I will rebuild the fallen tent of David; I will rebuild its ruins and restore it, so that the rest of humanity may seek the Lord, namely, all the Gentiles I have called to be my own,’ says the Lord, who makes these things known from long ago.
The Gentiles are seen as being grafted into the house of Israel when David’s fallen tent is being rebuilt from its ruins. Christ’s resurrection and ascension and the subsequent sending of the Holy (Set-apart) Spirit is emphatically explained to be a fulfillment of the prophecies which describe the restoration of the house of Israel, NOT the building of a new thing, not a new church. Peter speaks of the activities on Shavuot (a.k.a. Pentecost) as being a fulfillment of what the prophets said would happen to the house of Israel in the last days:
But this is what was spoken about through the prophet Joel: ‘And in the last days it will be,’ God says, ‘that I will pour out my Spirit on all people, and your sons and your daughters will prophesy, and your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy (Acts 2:16-18).
This citation by Peter of Joel 2 stops short. The prophet goes on to say:
It will so happen that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be delivered. For on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be those who survive, just as the Lord has promised; the remnant will be those whom the Lord will call. For look! In those days and at that time I will return the exiles to Judah and Jerusalem.
Meaning, the house of Israel. Here the pouring out upon all flesh is connected with what follows – the returning of the exiles of the house of Israel back to Judah and Jerusalem. Again, this is evidence that the so called “building of the church” was really talking about the re-establishment and restoration of the exiled house of Israel, not a new church, not a new thing.
Acts 3 recorded the events immediately following Shavuot (that “first” Pentecost). Here Peter speaks of those events as fulfilling what the prophets wrote about long ago:
But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Christ would suffer. Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you – even Jesus. He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. For Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you. Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from among his people.’
“Indeed, all the prophets from Samuel on, as many as have spoken, have foretold these days. And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers. He said to Abraham, ‘Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed.’ When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.”
First, Peter describes the events of Shavuot (Pentecost) as the beginning of the fulfillment of the restoration of the house of Israel as spoken of by the prophets. These events were precursors of the restoration of all things (i.e., the restoration of David’s fallen tent – the house of Israel). So far, it is clearly not sounding like a “new Church,” but simply the beginning of the restoration of the House of Israel to the House of Judah (the Jews); to be one kingdom again, no longer divided, the two becoming one. (see our teachings “What is the Gospel” and “The Lost Sheep”)
The prophets stated that the Messiah would rebuild Israel, not create something new. So if Yeshua said he was going to build a new church, should the understanding of that not agree with the Prophets and what the Messiah was said to do? Everything must be revealed in the Prophets first, before the Father does anything (Amos 3:7).
Next, Peter describes those folks in his listening audience as “sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made” with the fathers. Certainly those who insist that a “new thing” was created (i.e., “the Church”) would never describe themselves as “sons of the prophets and the covenant of the fathers.”
Yet, that is precisely whom Peter is speaking to. He is speaking to “Israel”, not to some alleged “New Testament Church”! The prophets were obeying the Law of Moses! And most teach that they are not in the “covenant of the fathers.” Therefore, Christ’s response to Peter’s confession must be understood as describing Yeshua’s work to rebuild and restore the house of Israel as foretold so many times by the Prophets of old.
What is Binding and Loosing
Yeshua’s next statement, then, must be understood in the context in which it was declared:
And I shall give you the keys of the reign of the heavens, and whatever you bind on earth shall be having been bound in the heavens, and whatever you loosen on earth shall be having been loosened in the heavens.
There is little debate about the crux of this statement. Messiah is speaking about giving some authority to Peter. “Binding and loosening” is a Hebrew language idiom for exercising authority (to prohibit and to permit). But the debate over its interpretation is about the nature of this authority and the exercising of this authority. The Catholic Church sees this authority as their right to change God’s Law, to overturn Law, and to create new Law. And so, we must ask ourselves, “Is it possible to alter our Creator’s Law or to overturn it?” There are a myriad of places in the Law and the Prophets which expressly prohibit the changing or abrogation of God’s Law. The Lord himself instructed through Moses:
Now, Israel, pay attention to the rules and right-rulings I am about to teach you, so that you might live and go on to enter and take possession of the land that the Lord, the God of your ancestors, is giving you. Do not add a thing to what I command you nor subtract from it, so that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I am delivering to you.
You must be careful to do everything I am commanding you. Do not add to it or subtract from it!
How careful have we really been? Has anything been added to, or taken away from what Moses originally wrote? In the Psalms, David says repeatedly that the Law of God is eternal, everlasting, and never ending:
Psalm 119:89; Psalm 119:152; Psalm 119:142:
Lord, your Instructions endure; they stand secure in heaven.
Long ago I realized that you ordained your rules to last.
Your justice endures, and your law is reliable.
And Yeshua himself said:
17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I do not come to destroy, but to fulfill (with meaning to fully preach, to pleroo). 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all (the law and prophets) be fulfilled. 19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of the least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
Yeshua stated that not one of God’s commandments was to be “abolished,” or to be “put an end to,” or changed in any capacity until all of the Law and Prophets are fulfilled, and Heaven and Earth passes away. Heaven and Earth passing away by way and being made new, is the last prophetic event foretold in Scripture.
Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away,
Please note that this event has clearly not yet happened. Heaven and Earth passing away is the same event that Peter mentions in 2 Peter 3:10-13. Yeshua states that all of God’s law will exist at LEAST UNTIL that same day.
He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.
Christ’s work on the cross for our salvation is finished as declared in John 19:30, but the Lord is not yet finished with what has been said in all of His Law and Prophets, until He finally says “it is done,” which is signaled by the arrival of the new Heaven and the New Earth. Nothing can be added to or taken away from what Moses wrote, as the Law of God, until Heaven and Earth pass away, which is at least 1,000 years after Yeshua returns in his second coming. Some teach in Matthew 5:17 that the word ‘fulfill’ means “to put an end to,” or to “finish.”
This is done for two reasons:
1) To avoid the clear teaching of Yeshua that not one of God’s commandments are to pass away from the law, and
2) To preserve their misinterpretations of Paul’s letters. The same letters that Peter said were difficult to understand and can result in the error of lawlessness.
If this interpretation is indeed true, we should be able to apply such teaching to Scripture, as God is not the author of confusion. We are commanded to test all things and only hold on to what is good (1 Thes. 5:20). Let’s test the teaching, or understanding, that the word “fulfill” means “to put an end to,” or “to finish,” instead of “fulfill” simply meaning to “fill up the whole and complete meaning,” or “to fully preach” God’s law, evidenced by Yeshua walking out the true interpretation, not the Pharisaical understanding, of God’s law.
Can “fulfill” in Matthew 5:17 mean “to put an end to?”
“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I do not come to destroy (the law), but to “put an end (to the law)”
To “destroy” and “put an end to” produce the same net result, the same effect; and clearly, this doesn’t make any sense.
Let’s try it again in verse 18.
For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all (the law and prophets) be fulfilled. (But some say that parts of the law did pass away till all of the law and prophets are fulfilled)
And clearly that doesn’t make any sense. Let’s try it again in verse 19.
Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments (that Yeshua supposedly just put an end to?), and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them (even though Yeshua put an end to them?), the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
See, that doesn’t make any sense either. There are only two possible interpretations of “fulfill” in the Greek, in Matthew 5:17:
1) Jesus came to “fulfill the real meaning of God’s law,” or to really “fully preach the law,” to fix the problematic and incorrect Pharisaical interpretations of God’s law (and you can see Matthew 23 and Mark 7 for more context there).
This makes more sense because this was the complete point and purpose of every teaching of Jesus when He was in close proximity to the Pharisees. He was always correcting their understanding of God’s law. Yeshua desired to instruct us in the way God wants us to walk in His law and not the way men want us to walk in God’s law. Yeshua came to fully preach the correct interpretation of what Moses wrote, not to abolish it; to fix what the Pharisees messed up in their doctrine.
And here is the other possible explanation to what “fulfill” could mean, or “pleroo” in Matthew 5:17
2) It can mean to “complete, finish, or put an end to.” All one has to do is insert that definition into the context of the Scripture, that we just read, to witness how such an interpretation is illogical and absurd. It simply does not work; it didn’t work, we just tested it. Technically based on a literal rendering of the Greek, either interpretation is acceptable.
You can see here how Strong’s offers several interpretations of the word “pleroo”
G4137 pleroo play-ro’-o from G4134;
to make replete, i.e. (literally) to cram (a net), level up (a hollow), or (figuratively) to furnish (or imbue, diffuse, influence), satisfy, execute (an office), finish (a period or task), verify (or coincide with a prediction), etc.:–accomplish, X after, (be) complete, end, expire, fill (up), fulfill, (be, make) full(come), fully preach, perfect, supply.(Strong’s)
Because of this, we need to determine which definition fits the context and does not present any conflicts. The only interpretation of “fulfill” in Matthew 5 that fits the context and avoids the mentioned absurdities of our test is to understand that Yeshua is teaching that He will make full or fully preach God’s law. Yeshua came to fully preach God’s law, and not destroy it. Because we are to practice and teach even the least of the commandments. Yeshua came to fully preach the law in His teaching and the example He walked. He taught us the full meaning of God’s law. Does that not fit the ministry of Yeshua perfectly? Yeshua taught, walked, practiced, obeyed and lived the Law of Moses. Are we not commanded to walk as Yeshua walked?
1 John 2:6
He that says he abides in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.
Therefore, in light of the explicit revelation of Scripture and the confirmation from the lips of our Messiah, the Law of God cannot be altered, nullified or replaced by an institution of man. The Catholic Church has no authorization from the scripture to meddle with our Creator’s Law. God’s law is unchangeable. And, whether we want to admit it or not, nearly every Christian denomination has its roots in Catholic doctrine and the corruption of Rome. The real difference is how many steps away from Rome and back into the Truth of God’s Word has each denomination taken, if at all? The closer to what Yeshua taught and practiced, the closer one is to the truth, to the Word of God, conforming to the same example. Most denominations still abolish some of God’s commandments and practice sun god worship days and traditions with a simple Jesus stamp to make it okay and right in their eyes.
If we want to “contend for the faith once delivered to all of the saints,” then believing and practicing what Yeshua, Paul, and the disciples practiced and taught might be a better start than the inventions of the Catholic church and its daughter derivatives. That should just make sense; do what Yeshua believed and taught, not what the Catholic Church changed. The Catholic Church changed such things as the Lord’s Sabbath and the Feast days by their very own admission, and under the penalty of death, not because Scripture said to, but because they misused Matthew 16 to grant themselves authority to change God’s Word. They readily admit to this and can be validated in simply reading their published literature. Even though Rome’s doctrine was forced on the world, we still have the Truth of God’s Word, and we really have no excuse.
And I shall give you the keys of the reign of the heavens, and whatever you bind on earth shall be having been bound in the heavens, and whatever you loosen on earth shall be having been loosened in the heavens.
What then, is this authority which has been given to Peter? What are the keys of the reign of heaven which Peter was to receive? The prophet Isaiah speaks about the key, which is connected to the authority to bind and loose:
At that time I will summon my servant Eliakim, son of Hilkiah. I will put your robe on him, tie your belt around him, and transfer your authority to him. He will become a protector of the residents of Jerusalem and of the people of Judah. I will place the key to the house of David on his shoulder. When he opens the door, no one can close it; when he closes the door, no one can open it.
Here, the “key” that Eliakim was to receive was the authority over the house of David to open and close (or to bind and loose). The promise to the church of Philadelphia in the book of Revelation also associates this key of David with the authority to bind and loose:
To the angel of the congregation in Philadelphia write the following: “This is the solemn pronouncement of the Holy One, the True One, who holds the key of David, who opens doors no one can shut, and shuts doors no one can open.”
This “key” appears to be the right to rule and reign over the house of Israel. What is the standard by which the house of Israel was to be managed?
The Law of Moses was that standard.
Hear now, O Israel, the decrees and laws I am about to teach you. Follow them so that you may live and may go in and take possession of the land that the LORD (Yahweh), the God of your fathers, is giving you.
These are the commands, decrees and laws the LORD (Yahweh) your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the LORD (Yahweh) your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life.
The nation of Israel was to be operated according to the laws and right-rulings of God’s law. All disputes were to be settled by the application of the laws and right-rulings. In fact, the Law or in Hebrew, Torah, was Israel’s inheritance:
the law that Moses gave us, the possession of the assembly of Jacob.
The Instruction, which is what Torah literally means, was made up of two parts:
These are the commands, decrees and laws the LORD (Yahweh) your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, so…
The “rules” (Hebrew, chukot) were the basic laws or precepts. These precepts are the basic guidelines for behavior. The breaking of these commandments usually resulted in a severe penalty. The “right-rulings” (Hebrew, mishpatim) were the “judgments” or correct disciplinary measures in the event of a minor misdeed. Included among these, for example, is the commandment to require the restitution of property plus a fifth of its value to the one wronged. The mishpatim were the “judgments” which Israel was to administer when someone was found guilty of wronging another. Now let’s consider the instruction in Matthew 16:19, “whatever you bind on earth shall be having been bound in the heavens, and whatever you loosen on earth shall be having been loosened in the heavens.”
The grammatical construction in the Greek manuscripts is very important to the understanding of the meaning of this instruction. “Shall be having been bound” and “shall be having been loosened”. This is very awkward English, but it accurately renders the periphrastic future perfect tense. It is constructed by attaching the future tense of the “to be” verb to the perfect participle of the action verbs. It essentially means, “when this judgment is ‘bound,’ it shall already have been bound in heaven,” and “when the judgment is ‘to loose’ (release), it shall already have been released in heaven.” The action, when declared by the disciples, will at that point in time already have been done in the heavens. What Messiah was actually saying was this, “The judgment which you render shall have already been rendered.” Why? How does that even make sense? Because the Law of Messiah’s reign is the Law of Moses. Any decisions that have to be made in the assembly of the Messiah must be done in accordance to the judgments (mishpatim).
When all disputes and disagreements among Messiah’s people are handled and settled according to the judgments of the Law, then it is easy to see how that the decision was already made in heaven; it was already written down. Any loosing or binding must be done in accordance with what has already been decided by God and written in the Law. Thus, when the elders decide to “bind” in accordance to the dictates of the judgments of the Torah, then heaven has indeed already decided the case and has been”bound.” When the elders decide to “loose” according to the dictates of the judgments of the Law, then heaven has already “loosened” because the decision has already been made by God, and it has been written into the Law as a judgment. There is no new authority that Peter has been given; there is no new authority that anyone else has been given. Neither is there any new authority that the assembly (the “Church”) has been given. The authority that the Messiah has given his disciples and their descendants is that authority which has been encapsulated into the Torah. These are the righteous judgments which the Almighty has issued for the building up and the administration of the Messiah’s assembly. The keys of the reign of Messiah are rightfully placed in the hands of Messiah’s disciples because theirs is the Law, and their inheritance is the Law, the Torah. Yeshua’s declaration to Peter is merely an affirmation of what has already been established. The prophets declare that Messiah will teach the Law to the nations:
Now it will come about that In the last days The mountain of the house of the LORD (Yahweh) Will be established as the chief of the mountains, And will be raised above the hills;
And all the nations will stream to it. 3 And many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD (Yahweh), To the house of the God of Jacob; That He may teach us concerning His ways And that we may walk in His paths.” For the law (Torah) will go forth from Zion And the word of the LORD (Yahweh) from Jerusalem. And He will judge between the nations, And will render decisions for many peoples; And they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, And never again will they learn war.
The judging disputes and settling of cases during the Messianic age will be done in conjunction with the moral instructions of the Law, the Torah. The judgments (mishpatim) are those laws which are the judgments between disputers. The prophet Micah says the exact same thing.
…Many nations will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” The law, Torah, will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD (Yahweh) from Jerusalem. He will judge between many peoples and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.
It is well known that Messiah will rule and reign on earth during the Messianic age and enforce the Law, the Torah, which simply means Yahweh’s instructions. His disciples will reign with him. So then, why should it be any surprise that the disciples of the Messiah should be using those same laws and judgments of the Torah to administer the assembly of Messiah in the present time, today?
The Christian Church has misinterpreted many scriptures because it has ignored the Torah of scripture. The Law has not been done away with to any more degree than heaven and earth have disappeared. There is as much of a difference between Israel and the Church as there is there is difference between one body (meaning none). The Messiah taught his disciples that the Torah is still valid and that walking in accordance to the commandments of the Torah is the correct way to express faith in him and to love him. Yeshua claimed through his teachings and lifestyle and through implicit and explicit dialogue that he is the Prophet who was to come – the very Messiah of prophecy. And for those of his disciples who recognize and confess this fact of his identity, are given the Torah as the correct way to administer his assembly, to settle disputes, and to issue decisions which affect the body of Messiah. It would be expected that this study surfaced many of the Scriptural contradictions that dispensationalist theology brings to the table. There is no shortage of problems that are generated with dispensationalism. We should be careful to not add or subtract from God’s commandments, and certainly be careful not to accuse Paul, and especially God, of doing so either.
In short, dispensationalism is best summed up as theological license to make the same profound errors as the “dispensation” before you while claiming God has changed and that this “more attractive” dispensation’s doctrine is something “new” for a “new group” with “new rules” and a “new plan” by the same (not new) God with His same (not new) Word taught by His same (not new) people (Israel).
Dispensationalism is simply a failed attempt to separate God’s people from the whole Word of God. When in reality, we are to believe, to commit, to trust and practice the whole Word of God because we are to do what we believe and to believe what we do.
We hope that this study has blessed you