Over time myths and legends can be accepted as truth even if they lack a basis in fact. One of these legends says that George Washington threw a silver dollar across the Potomac River, even though silver dollars did not exist at the time and the Potomac was a mile wide.
Paul Revere was supposed to have ridden from Boston to Lexington crying, “The British are coming,” even though at that time most residents of Massachusetts considered themselves British.
Many religious convictions are awash in myths that grew and flourished over the centuries and yet are nowhere in the Word. Knowing how fables involving George Washington and Paul Revere became generally accepted in the course of only a couple hundred years, imagine how facts can be skewed after a couple thousand years when it comes to the Scriptures.
Have you ever wondered why the typical paintings of a Hebrew Messiah show an individual having western European features of a narrow nose, blue eyes and long, golden hair? Illustrations in some Bibles depict ancient Israelites of the Middle East sporting Renaissance garb 1500 miles away and 1500 years into the future.
Ancient tradition and foreign beliefs have seriously altered the way the Bible is portrayed and understood today. Perceptions sometimes stray so far from the truth that for the sake of accuracy we must stop and take a serious look at what we have been told or believe. Debunking traditional error is a key part of the work of Yahweh’s Restoration Ministry.
Coming down this path are many doctrinal disparities that were shaped by cultures and practices of people who came later. As a result, truth suffered substantially. Blinded by faulty teachings, many today don’t adhere to the truth even when it’s pointed out clearly and plainly.
The Bible as a Hebraic Book
Most of society looks at the Bible through Western filters, rather than in the light of its native Hebraic language and culture. This problem has proved so stealthy and persistent through the millennia that most will never question traditional notions. And they also don’t realize what is at risk. Until you understand that the New Testament is an extension of the Old, with only a few key revisions, you will never grasp it properly.
Let’s dispel the first issue we raised regarding the Savior. The Messiah Yahshua (being a Jew with a Hebrew Name) never had His portrait done by an artist or sculptor. Even if some were lurking around Galilee He never would have posed for them. With Him it was never about vanity.
No one today knows what He looked like. Scripture doesn’t offer any description, except to indicate that He was average in appearance without long, blond locks, 1Corinthians 11:14, Ezekiel 44:20. With His beard, Isaiah 50:6, He looked so much like any other Hebrew of His day that He could pass through a crowd of Jews unrecognized.
If the Bible had provided a description of His appearance, many would create and worship His image rather than concentrate on what He said and did. But they do that anyway.
Many also do it in another way, focusing entirely on His person and overlooking His primary teachings about a coming Kingdom and the part the called-out can have in it.
Our Savior was certainly no frail European, but a rugged Hebrew craftsman who worked with wood and stone. Being that His mother was Jewish, he had the typical dark, curly Mid-Eastern hair and features that reflected years of hard work and ministry carried out in the hot sun of the Middle East.
But this is only the tip of the iceberg. Anomalies concerning the simplest biblical facts underscore the work of the Adversary to derail both a correct understanding of Bible truth as well as the proper worship that would naturally flow from it.
To understand the harm in misconstruing both testaments, we first must be open to their thousands of connections.
The Western world looks at the Bible through Western eyes. In actuality, the Bible is a book about Middle Eastern peoples known as Israel and their Hebrew beliefs in an Almighty Creator named Yahweh. This fact applies to the New Testament as well as the Old and is basic to realizing what happened in the first several hundred years of the New Testament.
The fact is, the New Testament body of believers was still Hebraic in thinking and behavior. They had inherited a “Jewish” Messiah and it was their own Hebraic roots that the early church would seek to suppress any way they could. Almost from the beginning the emerging universal church became entrenched in Greco-Roman trappings.
From Hebrew to Greek
To disconnect their worship from its Israelite moorings, another “Sabbath” day was created. Biblical holy days, which were seen as Old Testament obligations meant only for ancient Israel, were replaced by celebrations that would become predominately secular over time.
Passover, the memorial of Yahshua’s death, was morphed into Easter, a brand new celebration for His resurrection. But the Roman church had zero authority from the Scriptures to create a resurrection observance.
New Testament writings of Hebrew men like Matthew, Mark, Paul, and Peter were given a different spin to support an array of new doctrines, some of which reflected the teachings of Greek philosophers. Even their Hebrew names were Grecianized in an obvious makeover.
Paul was given a Westernized face-lift to advocate no-law disobedience in his letters. Peter’s experience was misinterpreted in Acts 10 to say swine and shellfish had been cleansed and were now edible.
Apostolic writings were ripped from their Israelite framework and force-fitted into Greco-Roman mindsets. Over time a vast gulf would develop between original biblical truth and modern beliefs. The pivotal question becomes: Is the New Testament a Hebrew book, a Greek work, a Latin volume, or a hopeless mixture? And does it make any difference for True Worship?
Even Bible students with a basic under-standing of Scripture know that Hebrew is the language of the Old Testament manuscripts. It’s the language found in the text of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the oldest Bible texts in existence.
The common belief is that the New Testament was originally written in Greek simply because Greek is the language of the oldest available manuscripts of the New Testament. By the same reasoning, however, the Greek text also was the oldest available text of the Old Testament until the Dead Sea Scrolls, written in Hebrew, were discovered in 1947. More evidence is coming to light that the New Testament was first composed in Hebrew as well, consistent with being written by Hebrews.
In the minds of reformers the New Testament included Jews who were in the process of switching from their Israelite faith to Grecianized-Romanized beliefs and language.
Along with that was a common belief that Paul, the major New Testament writer, was a Hellenist Jew from Tarsus who wrote his letters specifically to Greek-speaking assemblies in Asia Minor and the Mediterranean region ostensibly to convince them to switch to a new faith.
This has worked to the advantage of those who want to keep the Old and New testaments separated and not viewed as a single continuum of truth.
As we read Philippians 3:5, which is part of Paul’s autobiography, let us ask ourselves whether slicing the New Testament away from the Old is proper or just another tactic of the Adversary to derail correct understanding and worship.
Paul writes of himself, “Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews: as touching the law, a Pharisee.” Paul’s expression, “an Hebrew of Hebrews” is a Hebrew idiom that means a Hebrew through and through – in thinking, language, and lifestyle.
Paul, whose actual name was the Hebrew Shaul (the KJV also calls him Saul), was in fact a complete Hebrew. As for his politics, Paul was a Pharisee, a prominent sect of Judaism. Paul also grew up in Jerusalem, which was the center of Pharisaic Judaism.
At this point you might be saying, yes I realize that Paul may have been a Hebrew, but he was educating various Greek-speaking churches through the Greek language.
In reality Scripture reveals that Paul’s letters or epistles were written to various groups of the Jewish dispersion. Each group or assembly he founded contained a core of Jews along with others, including gentiles and Hellenists or Jews who spoke Greek. The Hebrews among them would transmit the biblical message from Paul’s letters to others in their circle.
Note what one authority writes: “ …we must not forget that Christianity grew out of Judaism … The Pauline epistles were letters written by Paul to small [Messianic] congregations in Asia Minor, Greece, and Rome. These early believers were mostly Jews of the dispersion, men and women of Hebrew origin … The Epistles were translated into Greek for the use of converts who spoke Greek” (The Holy Bible from the Peshitta, by George Lamsa).
Just as teachings became Grecianized and Romanized, so were facilities. Greek gods were worshiped by the Greeks in Greek temples. These temples were later re-purposed into Christian churches. Many of the old Roman basilicas, which were public buildings in ancient Rome, were also appropriated for use as churches beginning in the 4th century. The circle of Greek and Roman influence was complete.
Paul Sustains Sabbath Obedience
An example of how the Apostle Paul ministered first to the Hebrew-speaking Jewish element wherever he went is found in Acts 17. Here Paul and Silas come to Thessalonica where there is a synagogue of the Jews. In verse 2 we read: “And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three Sabbath days reasoned with them out of the Scriptures.”
Why did he go specifically to the synagogue, on three consecutive Sabbaths no less, if he was not interested in teaching the Jews the truth of the Savior?
Paul was a Jew and as a Jew he kept and taught seventh-day worship as well as Yahweh’s seven annual Feast days. He continued doing so even after being instructed and trained by the resurrected Messiah, showing us that nothing there changed with the death of the Savior. The law was still in effect.
Another instance is his letter to the assembly at the Greek city of Corinth in 1Corinthians 10. There Paul talks about “our fathers” who were in the Exodus from Egypt, meaning their Israelite forefathers. Repeatedly we find that Paul went to the synagogue on the Sabbath where both Jews and Gentiles were worshiping. And he never told them to stop doing so. He never explained about any resurrection switch that made Sunday the new day to worship. Both Jew and Gentile still kept the true Sabbath.
Also critical to our understanding is the question, which books did Paul teach from? The only books in existence at the time were what were known as the Scriptures, the Old Testament.
This is highly significant because it is the Apostle Paul who is a preeminent transmitter of the New Testament, after the Savior Himself, of course. He taught from the Old Testament in his letters. The Old Testament was a Hebrew collection of books about Hebrew people, not Greeks or Romans, but Israelites and their faith, which included almost the same covenant we are to make with Yahweh.
Notice what he said in Acts 24:14: “But this I confess unto you that after the way which they call heresy (a sect or party), so worship I the Elohim of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets.” The word “heresy” here refers to men following their own tenets.
By continuing to teach from the Old Testament as a foundation for their New Testament worship, Paul made some people very uncomfortable. Some even went so far as to call his ministry a heresy or in the vernacular, a cult, for teaching from the Law and prophets, which was another way of saying the Old Testament Scriptures.
In addition, Paul included in his ministry and writings what he had learned from the resurrected Messiah Yahshua. Obviously Paul saw no contradiction with combining fundamental Old Testament truth with what Yahshua had revealed for the New Testament worshiper.
Yahshua Himself said in Matthew 5:17 that He did not come to destroy the law or the prophets but to fulfill, or live out the Old Testament Scriptures in obedience to His Father.
But Paul had critics coming at him from the other side too. In Acts 24:5 he is being accused by the religious establishment of being a ringleader of the “sect” of the Nazarenes or the followers of the Savior of Nazareth. So he was getting it from both angles: those who thought the Old Testament was obsolete, and those who could not bear to hear about the New Testament Savior Yahshua.
Clearly, Paul harmonized Old and New testament doctrines in his writings. Being that he was directed to do so by the risen Savior, his approach is proper for us today. In fact, this is what Paul had told the young Timothy in 2Timothy 3:16-17. “ALL Scripture is given by inspiration of Yahweh and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of Yahweh may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”
“All Scripture” refers here specifically to the Old Testament and only later would include the New Testament once the New Testament was written.
How did it happen that two major but divergent world religions exist, with one supposedly based on the Old Testament and the other ostensibly founded on the New Testament?
If the Old and New testaments teach the same basic truths, why the dichotomy? Is the Bible designed as two separate books, revealing one way of faithful obedience for Hebrews and a different way of simple faith for today’s believer?
Not a Divine Misstep
One fact is crystal clear: Yahweh said in Malachi 3:6 that He doesn’t change. His design for salvation is the same from the beginning. Through command and through His writers, Yahweh instructed His people to obey Him.
Yet, many continue to believe that Yahweh’s laws must have been given to Israel by mistake, an error committed by the Father that Yahshua corrected by purging our lives of Yahweh’s statutes in this age of grace.
Hebrews chapter 11 tells us about law-observant Hebrew patriarchs who will be in the coming Kingdom because of their faithful obedience. So why will Yahweh specifically reward them for their faithfulness to His laws if obedience is unnecessary and irrelevant for salvation?
If Paul in the New Testament were teaching a Grecianized faith, why did he quote from a Hebrew Old Testament? Why did he use lessons about Old Testament Israelites (for example, 1Cor. 10) if today’s worship is under an entirely different system based on faith alone?
In truth, none of the apostles had ever heard of the terms “Old Testament” and “New Testament.” The first use of the term New Testament is by the theologian Tertullian more than a century after the death of the apostles.
The simple truth is that Paul upheld Old Testament obedience. He wrote: “Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not: yea, we establish the law” (Rom. 3:31).
The Messiah Taught the Law
Something is clearly amiss if we believe that the New Testament teaches a whole new system of faith and conduct disconnected from the Old. Yahshua Himself upheld and even amplified the necessity to obey His Father Yahweh.
Read Matthew 5:17 to the end of the chapter. In that passage He starts out with, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets.”
Yahshua Himself taught from the Old Testament. He quoted the law books, or Torah, some 60 times. There are nearly 700 individual citations from the books of the Old Testament found in the New. If you include references to the Old Testament as well as quotations of it in the New, the number would be over 4,000, according to The Expositor’s Bible Commentary.
The Messiah Yahshua in John 10:35 says Scripture cannot be broken. And yet for 2,000 years persistent efforts have been made to break the New Testament away from the Old Testament. Claiming that the New Testament was written in Greek has had the effect of disconnecting it from its foundational Hebraic roots.
New Testament Is Hebrew Based
An abundance of internal evidence points clearly to the unavoidable conclusion that the New Testament was originally written in the Hebrew language and was translated into Greek only later.
This fact alone provides the essential tie that binds Israelite worship in the Old Testament with the faith of spiritual Israel of the New Testament.
Paul says in Romans 11 that the believer today is grafted into that same Israelite Covenant promise given in the Old Testament. He wrote in Romans 11:25, “For I would not, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own conceits: that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved.” Paul writes that both believing Israelite and believing gentile will receive the reward of salvation, confirming the continuity of the testaments. Now let’s look at the text itself.
Survivals from the Hebrew Originals
If the New Testament writings were originally Greek, then we could reasonably expect to find an occasional Greek word surviving in English from the Greek original.
Instead we find many Hebrew words and expressions in the New Testament that have survived into the English. That’s because the Greek had no word to convey certain Hebrew words and expressions when the Hebrew New Testament text was translated into the Greek and from there into English.
For example, we find in the King James New Testament and other versions the purely Hebrew-Aramaic word “Abba” (which means dearest father); “Messiah” (anointed one); “Sabbath” (repose, desist from exertion); “Eli, eli lama sabachthani” (my El, my El, why have you forsaken me?); “talitha cumi” (meaning maid arise); “mammon” (riches), and “hosanna” (savior we beseech).
If we were translating a book from German to English, would we throw some Russian words into our English translation? Russian words would survive our English version only if the original were translated from Russian. So finding Hebrew words and expressions in supposed Greek manuscripts is powerful evidence that the original was not Greek at all but Hebrew.
Also scattered through the New Testament we find many Hebrew (and Aramaic) idioms, which are expressions that cannot be translated accurately in the Greek so they were left virtually untranslated. They make perfect sense in Hebrew, but not in Greek or in English, for that matter.
Such expressions include: “If your eye is evil” (Matt. 6:23); “let the dead bury the dead” (Matt. 8:22); and “you shall heap coals of fire on his head” (Rom. 12:20).
Many other examples show clear evidence in the text itself that the New Testament was originally a Hebrew work that only later was translated into Greek.
When Yahshua returns, His feet will not touch down on Mount Olympus in Greece, or on one of the seven hills of Rome, but on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. He is coming to redeem Israel and those who are faithful to the same covenant that Israel accepted.
We read in Zechariah 14:4: “And His feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave [split] in the midst thereof.”
Notice what Paul wrote about the believers of the New Testament Assembly. “And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Yahshua the Messiah being the chief corner stone,” Ephesians 2:20.
He mentions both apostles and prophets as establishing the foundation of the New Testament Assembly. We know that the apostles are those who lived in the New Testament era and were with the Messiah Yahshua, but who are the prophets?
Simply defined, “prophets” is a general term used for the Old Testament proponents of Truth. In Luke 16:29 Yahshua the Messiah in His parable implored us to listen to Moses (the law) and the prophets. Interestingly, both are in the Old Testament.
By citing only a few of these facts, and there are many more we could list, we can see a clear harmony between both Old and New testaments.