When we read 2 Timothy chapter 3 verse 16:- “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,” it seems self-evident to everyone who comes from a churched background. We have heard it said, no doubt, that, of course, when Paul wrote this the Scripture he referred to was just the Old Testament. We should ask ourselves the question:- “Who in Paul’s day would dispute that?” The answer is the Sadducees, who believed that only the Pentateuch or the Torah, as the first five books of the Bible are known, were truly inspired. Paul as a Pharisee had been taught that all of the Old Testament was inspired. The problem was that when Pharisees debated with Sadducees they had to include some quotes from the Torah in order to win their arguments, but in doing that it gave the impression that the Torah was always trumps. But Jesus quoted most from the book of Isaiah (admittedly there is a lot of it to quote from), not from the Pentateuch. However, as the Gentile proportion of believers increased these arguments paled into insignificance. But today there has been a growth in the number of Jewish believers in Jesus, if they have come from a secular background to Christ they do not seem to have much of a problem accepting the New Testament as the inspired Word of God. Others that have been brought up in the “Torah is trumps” mentality seem to have more of a difficulty. They have an affinity to the Judaisers in the early church even if they deny it. Especially, with regards to Paul being the Apostle to the Gentiles, most first century Jews believed that God made Hell for the Gentiles so there was no point in evangelising them, and their modern counterparts ascribe everything to do with Gentile Christianity as being pagan. When other Christians refer to the fact that Christ fulfilled the Law they take as Jesus obeying the Law and living a perfect life as an example of how to live. The idea that in doing so that the New Covenant replaced the Old Covenant is anathema to them because it undermines their distinctive Jewishness. The problem the church has today with this kind of argument is that is so afraid of being accused of antisemitism, that it is does not know how to counter it effectively. Either it goes down the replacement theology route which risks denying the Jewish origins of Christianity, or it becomes too sympathetic and uncritical to anything Jewish and that includes the state of Israel. Just because “God blesses those who bless Israel,” does not mean that we should be blind to its faults.
The writer to the Hebrews, probably Paul but considering that he was hated by most Jews he chose to remain anonymous, writes in Chapter 7 concerning Jesus as an eternal High Priest in the order of Melchizedek in verses 11 and 12. “If it were possible for the Levitical priesthood to be perfect (and remember that the law given to the people recognised this priesthood had descended from Aaron), why was it necessary for another priest to come, One not like Aaron, but in the lineage of Melchizedek? A change of priesthood implies there is to be a change of law.” Such an argument did not go down well with those of Levitical descent in the first century and many Jews find it a difficulty today. Their attitude is not too different from the crowd in the Temple in Acts 22 after Paul seized when he said “The Lord commanded me, “Go! I will send you to the Gentiles in distant places.” who then erupted in violence at the very idea that God would send somebody to evangelise Gentiles. It was a pointless exercise as far as they were concerned all Gentiles, unless they converted to Judaism, were bound for eternal damnation. Their problem is that their view of God is too small, He created all the human race and He sent His Son to die for the whole human race, not just the Jews.
David Rose, 2018.