Apostle Paul & the Bereans. How did they see our Messiah?
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Most of us recognize the reputation of Apostle Paul. Nobody questions that he was zealous for the Most High. One glance at his history confirms such dedication. Paul gave his life to YHVH and the pursuit of understanding His perfect Word and instructions. So much so that he had major portions of the scriptures memorized (remember, the only scriptures of his time was the Tanakh or what many refer to today as the Old Testament). Paul was so sold out to YHVH that he even persecuted Christians all over the promised land in obedience to Deuteronomy 13—which commanded YHVH’s people to purge the evil from their midst.
You see, Paul perceived that Christians of his time were teaching against the commandments (Law of Moses/Law of YHVH) and speaking contrary to the scriptures. It wasn’t until his miraculous encounter with Yeshua that gave him eyes to see that his perceptions were misled. Once Paul realized that Yeshua did not teach contrary to the Law of Moses, but instead that Messiah kept the Law of Moses perfectly and taught others to do the same, his pursuit of Christians completely halted. He realized that Yeshua was in fact the true Messiah, because he bore the image of YHVH. His eyes were opened to the fact that since Yeshua kept the Law of Moses perfectly, that it was true that if one saw Yeshua they saw the Father (John 14:9). Remember, Paul knew the scriptures better than most people who live today. He understood them exceptionally well. And one of the major foundational truths of Scripture, which is unfortunately overlooked by many believers and preachers today, is that the Law of Moses is the revealed image of our heavenly Father. The Laws of Moses are our Creator's ways—they are what he looks like and how he "walks":
And now, Israel, what does YHVH your God require of you, but to fear YHVH your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve YHVH with all your heart and with all your soul…
You have declared today that YHVH is your God, and that you will walk in his ways, and keep his statutes and his commandments and his rules, and will obey his voice.
Only be very careful to observe the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of YHVH commanded you, to love YHVH your God, and to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments and to cling to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.
Scripture after scripture will confirm it—the Law of Moses is the image of Almighty God. And Yeshua bore His image by walking in His ways perfectly—keeping the Torah perfectly and teaching others to do the same. In fact, he proclaimed to all that he did not come to abolish the Law of Moses or the Prophets, but to fully preach and fully embody them. He declared that not one letter of the Law, not one single command, will pass from the Law until heaven and earth pass away. Those that keep the Law of Moses and teach others to do the same are called great in the kingdom of heaven. But those that break even the least of the commandments and teach others to do the same are called least in the kingdom of heaven.
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.
Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."
Again, Yeshua kept the Law of Moses and taught his disciples and his people to obey him by doing the same. Yeshua taught his audience to walk like he walked and be obedient children of our Heavenly Father.
Paul finally saw the truth and real image of the Messiah. He was finally able to look past all the lies and false witnesses that had told him that Yeshua taught against the Law of Moses and that he worked to destroy the temple. Remember, Paul’s peers were Pharisees. The same Pharisees that slandered Yeshua and pushed to have him put to death based on a lie and false testimony. Paul bought their lies. He bought the false image of the Messiah that was proliferated throughout Israel. It is the same image that has flourished throughout the Christian church today: That Yeshua changed the Law of Moses and instructed his people that they do not have to keep it anymore. Well, that is an outright lie. Such a doctrine is contrary to the whole of Scripture. Matthew 5:17-20 is just one of many passages of scripture where Yeshua clearly tells his audience that not one letter of the Law, not one command, will pass away until heaven and earth are completely destroyed. Obviously that has yet to happen. The very words of our Messiah tell us that the Law of Moses stands until Yeshua’s second coming, when all will be accomplished and all sin will be blotted out. Yeshua taught his people that they should keep the Law of Moses and be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect. Anyone that disagrees with this truth is encouraged to search the scriptures and find an explicit command or instruction from the mouth of our Messiah that deems a change to the Law of Moses or that it was done away with. That person will find that there is not one definitive command that instructs such a thing, and that if one did exist, it would conflict with Matthew 5:17-20 and many other of Yeshua’s recorded words. It would put scripture at odds with itself.
With that said, one may catch a glimpse as to how Paul’s eyes were opened and why he was so quick to submit to the Messiah. His life immediately changed from persecuting believers in Yeshua to embracing and joining them. Not only that, he dedicated the rest of his life to show all who would listen that Yeshua was the true Messiah. He taught his audience that because of their faith in Messiah, that they should uphold the Law of Moses (Romans 3:31).
Throughout his ministry, Paul had many interactions with those who submitted to the Scriptures (Tanakh/Old Testament). One of the most recognized instances was with a group referred to as the Bereans. As Paul was spreading the truth of Messiah and encouraging his audiences to submit to Yeshua as Lord, he came upon a group that truly took the Scriptures seriously. In fact, their response was so profound that it was recorded in the book of Acts:
The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures ("Old Testament") daily to see if these things were so. Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men.
This Berean audience listened to Paul eagerly, and tested his words to Scripture daily. They did not take Paul at his word, but tested what he said to Scripture. In other words, they did not just lackadaisically submit to Paul because of his reputation, but respected and were lovingly obedient to YHVH enough to hear Paul's message and test it to Scripture to see if it was true. Again, the only established scripture of the time was the Old Testament. What was their verdict after testing his message to Scripture? That Paul’s words were true and that his message aligned with the Old Testament. Just as Paul had himself realized, the Bereans also comprehended that our Messiah lived and taught the Law of Moses. Paul and Yeshua passed the Deuteronomy 13 Test! Yeshua was worthy not only to be accepted as a Prophet, but was also the Son of YHVH and our prophesied Messiah! Because of this newfound sight, many Bereans, both Jew and Greek, accepted Paul’s message and gave their lives to our Messiah Yeshua. They became true believers. Believers that would continue to keep the Law of Moses because of their faith in Messiah and because they loved YHVH and his son.
What can we learn from this profound example? That as one who accepts the Bible to be the Word of God, we should test everything we are taught about it to the Scriptures. In other words, when our preacher takes the pulpit, we are to test his words to Scripture. Remember, Paul’s message aligned with the Old Testament and was deemed tried and true. The Old Testament and the New Testament must be in agreement—which they are. They cannot be in conflict or contradictory in anyway. That means that our own Pastor’s message must pass the Deuteronomy 13 Test and align with the Old Testament just as much as it does with the New Testament (Read Deuteronomy 13, please).
We should all strive to be like the Bereans. Believers who test what we are taught about scripture to the Word of YHVH. The Bereans earned the respect of Apostle Paul because they took his message seriously. They took the time and effort to examine the Old Testament to ensure that Paul’s message aligned with the revelation of YHVH himself. In short, the Bereans tested Paul’s description of Yeshua to ensure that he fit what YHVH had already revealed in the Old Testament. They tested Messiah to ensure that he fit the exact image described in Scripture. And again, they came to the conclusion that Yeshua in fact kept all the instructions of YHVH (Law/Torah) and taught others to do the same--which is a requirement of all prophets and especially the Messiah (See Deuteronomy 13). The Bereans were given the same eyesight as Paul. They saw the Messiah for who he truly was.
Do you know the true image of Messiah?
Does what you’ve been taught align perfectly with Scripture? Have you took the time to test it?
Does your Messiah bear the true image of YHVH and teach you to be obedient to His instructions?
Are you willing to search the Scriptures to ensure that you are in fact following and walking in the footsteps of the true Messiah?
As you diligently search the scriptures, remember this:
Yeshua kept the Law perfectly, was without blemish, and taught others to do the same. Every Apostle taught their audience to walk in the ways of Yeshua. Sin is lawlessness. Sin is the breaking of the Law of Moses. The definition of sin can never change, just as the image of YHVH never changes. Yeshua called us to repent from all our sins—that once we have submitted to him, asked and received his forgiveness, that we are to go and sin no more. Heed these words!
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Yeshua Messiah the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.
Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the Love of God is perfected.
By this we may know that we are in him:
Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
1 John 2:1-6
How did Yeshua walk?
We pray you will humbly ask the Father this question in prayer, and eagerly search the whole of Scripture to find the answer. We are here for you if you have any questions along the way. May you be blessed in your eager pursuit for the full and absolute truth.
Sean is a former Atheist who was finally awoken to the reality of our Creator—which lead him to the one place he thought he would never step foot: “Bible College.” During his studies, our Heavenly Father flipped his Christian worldview upside down in order to reveal the Whole truth of His perfect Word. As a follower of Messiah Yeshua (Christ Jesus), Sean encourages believers to deepen their faith, seek the truth, test everything, and be willing to walk in the true image they were created: the image of the Most High and his flawless son.