Conversations About Law and Grace, 3

Chris and Jude continue their discussion about pepperoni after the game.

Chris: So, I have the feeling that although you keep these rules like “don’t eat pepperoni,” you don’t expect me to keep them.

Jude: Right.

Chris: Is that because you think I’m wrong but you don’t push you’re religious opinions on me?

Jude: No, I don’t think it is wrong for you to eat pepperoni.

Chris: That’s crazy. How could it be wrong for you and not wrong for me? God doesn’t distinguish between persons. Sin is the same for everyone.

Jude: Is it a sin for anyone to marry a widow?

Chris: No, why would it be?

Jude: Leviticus 21 says that a high priest cannot marry a widow.

Chris: Is it in the law that no Israelite can marry a widow?

Jude: No, in fact an ordinary priest can marry a widow, but not a divorcee, according to Leviticus 21.

Chris: Could an Israelite who is not a priest marry a divorcee?

Jude: Yes.

Chris: So there are different rules for people based on their role or function.

Jude: Sure. And Nazirites cannot drink wine or even eat grapes or raisins.

Chris: I guess Jesus wasn’t a Nazirite!

Jude: So, it’s about each one following the commandments which apply to them.

Chris: And how does that allow me to eat pepperoni but not you?

Jude: I’m Jewish. All of the Torah laws apply to me.

Chris: But you believe in Messiah and in Christ you’re not under the law.

Jude: We can come back to that one again later, But first, we’ve got to talk about this idea that the law is not necessarily the same for everyone.

Chris: How do you know which laws are for Jews and which are for everyone?

Jude: The clues are right in the Torah itself. The Jewish interpretation has always been that some laws were just for Israel.

Chris: Why would God expect some things of Jews and not of the other nations?

Jude: The Bible teaches that Israel is a special people, a Chosen People, a priestly people. Israel is called to be different.

Chris: Like a Nazirite is different?

Jude: Exactly. And it’s not a matter or better, but of calling.

Chris: I’m not conceding that you have to keep the law. I still think Christ did away with the law.

Jude: But for now, let me ask, what if some parts of the law were never required of the righteous from the nations who might follow God? How would that affect your understanding of the New Testament?

Chris: I don’t get what you’re driving at.

Jude: This is my big point: people have confused the issue. It’s not that the law is abolished. It’s that the sign commandments of Israel never applied to gentiles. And the apostles are saying that gentiles don’t have to start living like Jews to be kosher to God.

Chris: Where do you see that?

Jude: It’s what Acts 15 is all about.

Chris: But isn’t Acts 15 for all Christians? How can you say that non-Jewish Christians don’t need to keep all of the law but that Jewish Christians should keep it?

Jude: The apostles were only talking about gentiles in Acts 15. They assumed that Jews would keep the law.

Chris: It’s true they don’t discuss Jews and the law there. I never thought about it.

Jude: And in Acts 21, we see that Paul was not confused. He kept all of the law and even the traditions.

Chris: I’m not convinced. I’ll have to read it and think about it.

Jude: That’s a good thing. But meanwhile, that’s why I believe it is wrong for me to eat pepperoni but it’s not wrong for you.

Chris: Do you eat raisins, you unrighteous heathen?

Jude: Hey, watch it!

About Derek Leman

IT guy working in the associations industry. Formerly a congregational rabbi. Dad of 8. Nerd.
This entry was posted in Bible, Christian, Gentiles, Judaism, Torah. Bookmark the permalink.

32 Responses to Conversations About Law and Grace, 3

  1. benehrenfeld says:

    Great Post, Derek!

    I’m curious about your photo. I’ve never seen anything like it before. It looks like some strange version of tzitzit with t’chelet. Is that what it is? Where did you find that?

    • benehrenfeld says:

      I guess I take the question back about about the photo (as it is no longer up)…although swirling questions and ponderings continue to persist in my mind…I’ll be okay though :-)

      • Cliff.C says:

        I think those were “karaite” tzitzit, and tekhelet likely just plain blue string (not actually tekhelet). But I don’t claim to know their halakhah on the matter.

      • Yeah, I was traveling and hastily posted a photo. It was a while before I realized I had posted a weird tzittzit. So I found another photo and replaced it.

    • Seth says:

      Those are Chabadnik tzitzit, I think.

  2. Rey says:

    Gentiles have been grafted in the common wealth of Israel!! How would there be a different Torah for Jews and Gentiles?? That does not make sense!

    Num.15:16 “‘There is to be one Law and one ordinance for you and for the alien who sojourns with you.'”

    Ex. 12:49 “”The same Torah shall apply to the native as to the stranger who sojourns among you.”

    • cybrsage says:

      It comes down to whether someone is going to sojourn (or walk with) Israel or not. If someone wants to believe in all Jesus is and did, yet does not want to walk with Israel, they are no less saved. They are also not required to follow the extra laws given to Israel.

      Everyone should follow as much of the Law as the Holy Spirit leads that person to follow. If that person does not think something is wrong, then it is not wrong for them (barring the ones which were explicitly called wrong of course).

    • Seth says:

      Then Acts 15 makes no sense whatsoever and the apostles were wrong to not have Gentiles circumcised.

  3. “Gentiles have been grafted in the common wealth of Israel!! How would there be a different Torah for Jews and Gentiles?? That does not make sense!”

    I know Rey, so many things that G-d chooses to do sometimes make no sense from our human point of view. How wonderful it is that HE knows what he’s doing.

    But, you’re late to the years-long conversion. Just try grasping the following: there’s indeed the SAME Torah for everyone (so, you’re correct!), but not everything in it applies the same to everyone. Just think about specific laws G-d gave to Levites and Priests, laws that he didn’t give to other Israelites, and you’ll see that G-d does indeed make non-qualitative (meaning one is not better than the other) distinctions between various groups of people. Besides all that, please keep in mind that Torah doesn’t start with Leviticus – G-d gave Adam and Noah specific commandments as well, applicable to all, Jews and Gentiles.

  4. “years-long conversion”

    Meant to say “conversation” – but interesting slip of the fingers nonetheless:)

    • isaiah2323 says:

      Gene Shlomovich,

      I agree with you, that there is different laws for Levites and Priest than for the rest, for not everyone is part of those offices. But is that it??

      • “But is that it??”

        Of course not. There are many other groups of people to which different laws apply: men, women, widows, children, eunuchs, foreigners living in the Land (and outside of it), converts to Judaism, people with certain defects or health issues, old, young, parents, children. It’s a mistake to thing that since there’s only one Torah one is obligated to ALL the laws within it, ignoring the specifics to whom these laws were directed (or not).

  5. Rey says:

    Gene shlomovich,

    Those are all obvious. I do understand those differences, I’m more talking about a Gentle man who is living according to Torah! Why would it be ok for him to eat pork? HaShem says it’s unclean so why would the Gentile eat it now that he understands this commandment? And what about Shabbat etc…

    • Don’t worry, Rey. Gene and Derek are of a particular form of Messianic Judaism called Bilateral Ecclesiology that says, among other things, that gentiles should not or ought not keep what they deem Jewish identity markers.

      Thankfully, there are those of us who reject this idea. :-)

      • Rey says:

        As a Gentile who has come into Covenant Relationship with HaShem through the blood of Yeshua HaMashiach and have been adopted into Israel…as a now fellow citizen of Israel it would only make sense if i am also under the same Law/Rule/Covenant of the nation?

        The Covenant Jere.31:31-34: This Covenant doesn’t annul the previous ones but builds on the others.

  6. Rey:

    God says pork is good (Gen 1:25) and it is included in what Noah was given permission to eat (Gen 9:3).

    The fact that you think there is something inherently unclean about pork, and I can’t blame you for thinking so when we have so many careless teachers of “Hebrew roots” running around confusing people, is that you never considered the Torah is addressed to Israel. Your method of interpreting Torah needs to begin with that principle in mind.

    The assumption that “if it is in Torah it is for everyone” is not valid.

    The Torah itself gives many indications dietary law is part of the covenantal sign practices of Israelites and is not a universal law. Further, the New Testament goes out of its way to make this clear. Check Rom 14:14 and consider Acts 15 (did you read my page here on Messianic Jewish Musings called “Acts 15”? You will find it in the left margin).

    I have a book detailing all this called Paul Didn’t Eat Pork. You can get it from me at or from

    The study of Torah is a beautiful thing and I hope we can learn from each other.

    Derek Leman

    Derek Leman

  7. This is one of the most effective ways of communicating the Torah and it’s relation to Israel and the Nations. Thanks for posting. I’m looking forward to the continued discussion between “Chris” and “Jude.”

  8. Pingback: Conversations About Law and Grace (Parts 1 through 3) | Midnight Approaches

  9. Rey:

    Nothing in the New Testament says you have been adopted into Israel. That is an error.

    Plenty in the New Testament says that gentiles are not bound by the law of Moses and circumcision and Sabbath and dietary law.

    You’ve been misinformed by a quirky theological school.

    Derek Leman

    • Rey says:


      Romans 11:11-36…I don’t think it’s that simple as you say above. The New Covenant (Jer.31:31-34) was made with Israel, so the Gentiles must be incorporated into this Covenant. There is no other special covenant with the Gentiles.

      That there would be a different Covenant with Israel and another with Gentiles is not in Scripture. If i’m a legal citizen of the U.S.A i have the same rights and i must obey the same laws of the nation, there is no difference between me and a native born except for the fact that i can’t run for President, or maybe i can? I think I’ve seen it done lollol

      • “there is no difference between me and a native born except for the fact that i can’t run for President”

        There you go, Rey. Conspiracy theories notwithstanding, even in your own example you have highlighted the fact that there can indeed be legal differences between the native and adopted citizens of the same nation.

        At the same time you need to look deeper at what it means to be an Isrealite citizen (a Jew) vs a non-Israelite (Gentile) citizen in the Kingdom/Commonwealth of Israel. A Gentile citizen doesn’t become a member of the nation of Israel, but rather the Kingdom of Israel (which includes Israel and the nations of the world).

      • Rey says:

        Gene Shlomovich,

        My example makes sense, and it’s not that big of a deal since there will never be any other King over Israel… The King of Israel and the nations is Yeshua HaMashiach!!

      • Rey says:

        Gene Shlomovich,

        In Romans 11:11-21, Shaul provides one of the most exciting truths in the Brit Hadasha for Gentile believers. Elsewhere he had described unbelieving Gentiles as those who were “uncircumcised, foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope, far away” (Ephesians 2:11-13), and pagan idol-worshipers (I Corinthians 12:2).

        In contrast, because of what Messiah Yeshua did for these countless numbers of non-Jewish people, they have now been brought near and “grafted in” to Israel.
        What then does it mean, in practical terms, for Gentiles to be “grafted in” to the olive tree of Israel?

        It does not mean that Gentile believers are now Jews. That is a matter of physical descent. Rather, it is the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy: Gentiles can now benefit from the covenants, resulting in a living and active relationship with the Torah.It is a matter of reasoning that, since Gentile believers are closely connected to Israel, then they must also have a close connection to the Torah-just as Deuteronomy 4 implies.

  10. Pingback: Will the messiah’s following be anti-Semites? « Messiah: Anonymous

  11. Seth says:

    Chris and Jude, I love it!

  12. Rey:

    Sounds like you don’t want to process the evidence but continue to find new ways to resist exploring the distinction between Jews and gentiles in the New Testament. How is that helpful to your spiritual growth?

    Derek Leman

  13. Rey says:


    What did i say that made you think that? Not agreeing with you? Of course there is a distinction between Jewish people and Gentiles, and I’m not walking around claiming to be Jewish from a lost tribe. But i understand that we are now one in Yeshua HaMashiach! My Savior is Jewish and i love Israel and the Jewish people (i truly do!).

    The relationship of the non-Jewish person to the Torah is one of permission and encouragement.Abraham was not a Jewish person. He lived several hundred years before one of his descendants, Moshe, would receive the Torah on Mount Sinai. Yet the Lord said of him, “Abraham heard My voice and guarded My commandments, My statutes, and My Torah.” (Genesis 26:5) Actually, the Hebrew is even more emphatic: “Abraham heard My voice and guarded My protective guards, My commandments, My statutes, and My Torah.”

    How can we Gentiles believe in The G-d of Israel but not in His revealed Torah/Law??

  14. Rey says:

    Isaiah 56:1-8

    1 Thus says the LORD: “Keep justice, and do righteousness, for soon my salvation will come, and my deliverance be revealed. 2 Blessed is the man who does this, and the son of man who holds it fast, who keeps the sabbath, not profaning it, and keeps his hand from doing any evil.” 3 Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the LORD say, “The LORD will surely separate me from his people”; and let not the eunuch say, “Behold, I am a dry tree.” 4 For thus says the LORD: “To the eunuchs who keep my sabbaths, who choose the things that please me and hold fast my covenant, 5 I will give in my house and within my walls a monument and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name which shall not be cut off. 6 “And the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, to minister to him, to love the name of the LORD, and to be his servants, every one who keeps the sabbath, and does not profane it, and holds fast my covenant– 7 these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples. 8 Thus says the Lord GOD, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, I will gather yet others to him besides those already gathered.”

  15. jgj84la says:

    Think about this Rey…

    No one in the history of Judaism and Christianity (accept for small fringe groups) has ever taught that gentiles were obligated to keep the same commandments as Jews. I know you think that the apostles taught that they should. However, don’t you think that if the apostles were teaching some revolutionary idea (one law theology) they would have spelled it out more clearly? If you read the apostolic scriptures in their JEWISH context you will never get one law theology.

    If you adhere to a “one law” understanding of scripture then you have to reject Judaism, Christianity and Messianic Judaism. Think about it.

  16. Rey says:


    Hi. What you said is all fine but you just gave me your opinion. You didn’t show me any proof of your stance. I read The Scriptures daily (Acts 17:11) and let His Spirit guide me into His Truth.

  17. jgj84la says:

    As you already know, there are many different interpretations of the apostles. I think the key almost every time to finding the right interpretation is to read them in their historical context (1st century Judaism). At that time, Judaism believed that gentiles were not obligated to the whole Torah. They were only obligated to the Noachide laws. All of Judaism teaches the same thing today. I’m sure you already knew all of that (not being snide). My Point is this… For the Apostles to say that gentiles should keep the Torah was to go against over 1,000 years of Jewish theology. If Paul was teaching “one law” he would have dedicated more writing on that topic to prove his point. He would not have been so ambiguous in some of his writings.

    Christianity makes the exact same mistake when reading the apostolic scriptures. They assume that the Torah is obsolete and they cannot find anything in the New Testament (in their mind) why a Jew should still remain faithful to the Torah. The reason why the apostles did not dedicate a lot of writing to a Jew’s obligation to Torah is because it was assumed and an established fact in their day. In the same way, this is why the apostles pay very little attention to gentiles and Torah. It is already assumed that they are not obligated.

    The apostles did make it clear that Gentiles did not have to get circumcised (convert and become Jewish) in order to be saved. We see plenty on this topic from the Apostles. It was understood then and is today that only gentiles who convert are obligated to the whole Torah (Gal 5:3).

    Just trying to help.

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