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Mitzvot and Torah

Matthew 22:33-40

33 When the crowds heard how he taught, they were astounded; 34 but when the P’rushim (Pharisees) learned that he had silenced the Tz’dukim (Sadducees), they got together, 35 and one of them who was a Torah expert asked a sh’eilah (question) to trap him: 36 “Rabbi, which of the mitzvot (commands) in the Torah is the most important?” 37 He told him, “‘You are to love Adonai your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.’ 38 This is the greatest and most important mitzvah. 39 And a second is similar to it,‘You are to love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All of the Torah and the Prophets are dependent on these two mitzvot.”

Commands... Mitzvot are exactly that. They are commands that help keep the community organized and functioning in a high capacity. It can also mean, in more modern terms, "good deeds."

Torah is not "law." It means "teachings." If you read the above verses in the NIV it says,

34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

These words commonly get messed up in translations. However, if you look at the difference between the two it is huge.

Read this, "One of them who was a Torah expert..."

Read this, "One of them, an expert in the law..."

People who read this as law then say, "we are not under the law so we don't follow the law." If we understand that it means "Torah teachings" than we should view it differently. We should see it as learning understanding about the Old Testament and we need to do that in order to gain insight into the New Testament.

The response Jesus gave is exactly what was needed to diffuse the situation. Jesus did not attack them. He knew what they needed to hear:

LOVE the Lord you God with all your heart...

And then, LOVE your neighbor as yourself...

We know that both of these commands come for Torah. We know that we hold to these today and none of us would say they are "not valuable." Torah IS needed. We MUST understand it. It does bring enlightenment to the New Testament.

I pray that as you study and learn, that you begin to bring new understanding of the Old Testament into your study of the New. If ALL of the Torah and Prophets are dependent on the Words above, than we should walk in them as well. We need to apply them to our hearts daily.

Love and blessings,


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