posted by roshavotJuly 24, 2010

Paul's 14 year hiatus?

Paul made his initial visits to Jerusalem incognito

Did Paul neglect the Torah?

The following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present. After greeting them, he related one by one what Elohim did among the gentiles through his ministry. When they heard that he who formerly persecuted them now preaches the Faith he once tried to destroy (the Faith was a sect of Judaism that rejected the oral law. It was also known as the Way -- see the GUS confession in the Sidebar to the right), they glorified Elohim and said, "You see, brother, how many thousands of Judeans there are who have believed after hearing about Paul's ministry, and they are all zealous for the Torah. But they have also heard gossip about you (in the eyes of the gossipers, abandoning the Torah was a natural progression after abandoning the oral law), that you teach all the Judeans who are outside of Judea to abandon Moses, by telling them not to circumcise their 8-day old sons or to walk in those things prescribed in the Torah". (Act 21:18-21).

Question: If Paul remained observant to the Levitical Laws of the Old Testament why did he wait 14 years before going to Jerusalem (Gal 2:1)? Doesn’t the Law require a Jew to make three pilgrimages to Jerusalem, every year (Exo 23:14-17)?

Answer: He didn’t avoid the pilgrimages for 14 years; he only avoided fellowship with the other emissaries and the Judean congregations. The Greek text for Gal 1:21-2:2 says: “I went to the regions of Syria and the land of Celix. I remained anonymous to the Messianic congregations in Judea; they simply kept hearing: "he who formerly persecuted us now preaches the Faith he once tried to destroy." And they glorified Elohim because of me. Later, during the fourteen years, I again went up to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking with me also Titus; but I went up to them (vs. 9) because of a revelation and I presented the report which I announce among the gentiles, and privately, to the ostensible ones, lest I should be running or did run for nothing”.

Paul made his visits to Jerusalem incognito (Gal 1:22). Sometime during his 14 years of anonymity, Paul was compelled to debrief James, Kefa, and John.

Nazarite vow

Nazarite vow

There is no reason to assume that Paul did not follow all of YHVH's laws. Several years after debriefing James, Kefa, and John, James gave Paul the opportunity to “take four men who desire to make the Nazarite vow, and purify thyself (take a ritual bath, called a mikvah) with them, and pay their expenses (taking into account what each man was required to offer, according to Num 6:14-15, Paul's expenses were considerable), that they may shave their heads; and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also walk orderly, and keep the Torah ... Then Paul took the men the next day, and after doing tevilah (the act of taking a ritual bath) with them, entered into the Temple, to signify the accomplishment of the time of ceremonial cleansing, until that an offering should be offered on behalf of every one of them". (Acts 21:20-26).



While we are in Acts Chapter 21, let's consider the conundrum of whether or not Paul neglected a prophetic prohibition, when he made his final trip to Jerusalem. "And finding disciples, we tarried there seven days because they who said to Paul through the spirit, that he should not go up to Jerusalem for seven days. And when we had accomplished those days, we departed and went our way” (Act 21:4-5).

Paul was obedient to the message, and tarried in Tyre seven days.


Passover offering

Our inquirer may have asked the same question about Yeshua. It seems that in the Sixth Chapter of John, Yeshua neglected to return to Jerusalem for Passover (vs. 4). He remained in the Galilee until the Feast of Tabernacles (Joh 7:2). However, the fourth verse of John 6 may be spurious. At least one ancient text omits the verse (minuscule 472: see “Textual Commentary on the Greek Gospel, Vol. 4”, TVU 70, p. 117, by Wieland Willker), and the phrase "the Passover" is omitted in some early references (ibid). Had Yeshua neglected a Passover pilgrimage, perhaps this infraction would have been used by his detractors, rather than the notorious Sabbath incident in Joh 5:8-9 & 7:23. Interestingly, if we accept the omission of verse 4, then the Book of John recounts a shorter ministry (possibly only 62 weeks).