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Yeshua in Context » Erasing Anti-Judaism, Law, Torah, Pharisees » Yeshua’s Attitude Toward the Pharisees’ Lawkeeping

Yeshua’s Attitude Toward the Pharisees’ Lawkeeping

Curiously, people have gotten the idea that Yeshua felt many Pharisees were too rigid in their lawkeeping. Actually, he decried a tendency toward laxity in lawkeeping as well as an inclination to misplaced priorities.

Whether or not the Pharisee in the famous (and dangerous for its readers and hearers, since the parable tempts us to judge the Pharisee) Pharisee and Tax Collector parable (Luke 18:9-14) was supposed to be prototypical or not, Yeshua has more to say about Pharisees being lax in lawkeeping than rigid.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Yeshua says he comes to fill up the Torah (Matthew 5:17, “fulfill” is a misleading translation best done away with). He proceeds to give six examples in Matthew 5:21-47 of what the “filled up” Torah looks like. In each case, Yeshua’s interpretation and application of Torah is thoroughgoing, extending the meaning to the most selfless, humble, faithful, holistic interpretation possible. The Torah’s requirement is seen to penetrate to the level of motives. Hatred and insult are a kind of murder. Lust is a kind of sexual sin. Marriage requires total commitment and there is no license to lightly abandon marriage vows. Attempts to evade oaths or give them insincerely are not valid. Love must be for all, even enemies, and neighbor in the Torah does not mean only those we like or who are like us. Retribution is not sanctioned by any law of Torah.

Therefore, when Yeshua says in 5:20 that his disciples’ righteousness must exceed that of the Pharisees, he means it literally.

It is a common assumption that: (1) the Pharisees are highly devoted and rigidly perfect in lawkeeping, (2) that Yeshua could not literally mean for anyone to be a better lawkeeper than them, and thus, (3) that Yeshua means the way of faith is better than the way of lawkeeping.

But none of Yeshua’s examples in vss. 21-47 make such a point. Rather, they define the “filled up” interpretation of Torah (vs. 17) and require the disciples to follow this way rather than looking for evasions and loopholes.

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Filed under: Erasing Anti-Judaism, Law, Torah, Pharisees

One Response to "Yeshua’s Attitude Toward the Pharisees’ Lawkeeping"

  1. roclafamilia says:

    Helpful blog, bookmarked the website with hopes to read more!

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