Jesus the Living Torah??
“‘I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End’, says the Lord, ‘who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty’.”(Revelation 1:8)
There isn’t one identifiable practice that I desire for believers to be centered around because I believe that undermines Gods creative and unique redemption process. I say that because in this article, it may appear that I am creating a controversy over simple terminology. I have been reluctant to write this article because of that, but after debating someone on this topic and doing the proper research, I believe there is just cause in writing it. The last thing I want to do is destroy someone’s joy in the Lord and childlike faith so please understand that while reading this.
“In the beginning was the Word(logos) and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him, nothing was made that was made. (John 1:1-3)
For those that may not be familiar with this passage in John, his gospel was originally written in Greek using the Greek word [ logos ] or [ lexis ] ,which is translated to us as [ Word ]. This is where we say that “Jesus is the Word of God”, but this phrase has been replaced by those in the Hebrew Roots Movement to say “Jesus is Torah”, or “Jesus is the Torah of God”.
Well, is Jesus the Torah of God?
How About, The Living Torah?
I guess it all depends on the intention and definition.
The phrase, “Jesus is Torah”, may seem benign or harmless, or even quite praiseworthy, but it is not a scriptural metaphor for Christ, so that raises the question as to what validity it has.
While there may be those who apply this phrase in a positive and productive manner for their life, I do believe their is a good deal of deception in the origin of this phrase.
It’s not my intention to criticize someone’s love and perception of Christ through the use of extra-Biblical metaphors and allegories especially if it is beneficial in their walk with God. However, the HRM is notorious for reconstructing scripture and phrases in order to conform them to their standard of all things “Hebraic” which they seem to believe is authentic and imperative.
First of all, the Hebrew-torah is not equivalent to the Greek-logos. There is no basis to think that John used logos for the lack of a better term. He wrote his gospel in Greek and torah is not used to describe Jesus in any of the the original manuscripts.
There are three Greek words that can be used in conjunction with John’s gospel.
The Hebrew equivalent for word/logos is dabar. But the HRM does not use dabar because it doesn’t fit their narrative.
If they were to be truthful and adhere to Hebrew, the phrase should read:
“Jesus/Yeshua is the dabar, or living dabar.”
Although rabbinical scholars do not simplify torah to mean “law”, other scholars consider the Hebrew-torah equivalent to the Greek-nomos, meaning “law”, not logos.
Around the turn of the millennium from B.C to A.D, the definition of the Greek ‘logos’ was simplified to “word, discussion or reason”, but before this, its definition was more broad and meant:
and many more.
These definitions varied because the philosophers used ‘logos’ when talking about issues of both the universe, the affairs of man, and the divine.
Presently, the rabbinical understanding of torah is:
Torah is in relation to the first 5 books of Moses, or Pentateuch. If there is one relation between logos and torah, it would be based on the rabbinical position that the Pentateuch existed before creation and was used as a blueprint for creation just as John’s logos existed in the beginning. But I don’t know if this was a rabbinical position held at the time of John whereas the idea of a cosmic logos did in fact exist before and during John’s time. The difference is that John’s logos was personified whereas the rabbinical position still holds to the idea that torah is not personified, but literal in textual form prior to creation.
There is no literal or historical basis to suppose that John meant anything else than what he said by using logos. He used it on purpose. To suppose that God would have preferred a Hebrew version would be pure conjecture. The Hebrew word dabar, or torah does not live up to what we see in Christ as the logos. The HRM fails to realize that to swap torah, for logos is no different than the oral traditions of the Pharisees. The text and the history speak for themselves. Leave it alone.
THE LOGOS BECAME FLESH-
The use of the phrase “Jesus is torah” appears to be an attempt at slapping on a Hebrew word to what was never originally in Hebrew in hopes to conform this metaphor of Jesus to the HRM view of Hebrew and Old Testament studies and instruction. If you spend any short amount of time around the HRM, you will find out that torah is one of the more important words in their vocabulary. We all study and the Christian world is full of resources, literature, Bible colleges and seminaries, but the HRM version of instruction is not necessarily what we know of as Bible study.
The idea of “torah” is more about a rabbinical idea that a person’s life should be devoted to studies and instruction that is centered around the first five books of Moses.The Torah definition of “instruction” can be used very subtly to somehow describe all of Gods teachings as torah, and therefore include the Law as general instruction or torah also, and thereby making the Law just as mandatory as any other instruction or torah. Please remember this because sooner or later you will see this notion proposed. This idea has slipped its way into the Christian world through the HRM and messianic groups that lump the person of Jesus in with the academia and academic process of torah.
This can put torah academia as the precedent and therefore the life and words of Jesus are relegated or reduced to this notion. This really dismisses the redeeming aspect of Jesus Himself and puts Him along the lines of a teacher who instructs us in the ways of God apart from the redeeming substance of Himself. Yes, Jesus is the Word of God and He does instruct us, but His instruction does not consist in knowledge and information.
There is no doubt or question that studying has its spiritual applications. Psalm 119 is a wonderful example of this. But without the nurturing of the what God has worked in us by faith, studying only becomes academic.
To be instructed in the Law can remain only academic. They are words.
To be instructed in Christ is experiential. He is a person.
Jesus does not instruct men on how to be Holy, He crushes them under the standard of the Law and Himself, and make us Holy through our identity with Him and the work on the Cross.
All scripture has now become instruction unto the revelation of this redemptive work of the Cross that has already been accomplished in us.
Holiness cannot be taught because this would rely on intellect.
Holiness cannot be studied because this would rely on discipline.
Holiness cannot be learned because this would rely on memory.
No one can be taught to eat the bread of life which is Christ.
No one can be taught to drink of His blood and eat of His flesh.
Can a man be taught how to be crucified with Christ?
These things cannot be comprehended, they must be apprehended, by faith. They are not doctrines, they are experiences.
These things are not instructed into our lives by torah, they are spoken into our lives through the logos of God.
We don’t study to learn, we study to hear, and to see.
There are a millions of wonderful things to “learn” about the Bible and how it “instructs” us, but the only practical working of God’s will in our life comes by the life of Jesus Christ being formed within us. All the academia in the world cannot make this real! Our lives are conformed to His image by abiding in His presence and the Bible speaks to us concerning this work.
“The steps of a good man are ordered of the Lord…though he fall he shall not be utterly cast down..”
“Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light…”
There are universal commands and descriptions throughout the Bible that let us know how to order our lives, but there are many examples where God calls upon people without them having any foreknowledge of what to expect. All the studying in the world provides nothing in these moments but only sheer faith and it is not until we walk in that faith, do we see what God’s intention was all along. This is the faith of Abraham.
More often than not, it is the flesh that wishes to see, and to know and to learn, but more often than not, the life of faith is what puts a person in the dark. How often does it seem that even though God made a covenant and promise to Abraham, he was still in the dark concerning his future? It was only through Abraham’s experience with God that he could come to the place of confidence and say to Isaac:
“My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.”(Gen. 22:8)
Christians who have walked with God for many years will testify that He has made them into His image through the experiences of life and the paths that He has put before them. Many of these testimonies cannot be formatted into instruction or advice other than the advice to trust and glorify God. A person has the liberty to view Jesus Christ according to whatever metaphor or analogy they wish, but God is only bringing sons into Glory through the redemptive work of His Son that has been worked in us by the Holy Spirit. A thousand lifetimes of study cannot complete this work.