Did the 1st Century Jews really think that following the Mosaic Law would make them “righteousness”?
For years, Christian’s believers were taught that the 1st Century Jews were trying to “earn” their way to “heaven”. This view was heavily promoted by the leaders of the Protestant Reformation – which is understandable since they where fighting against a religious system based upon works.
However, over the last half a century, there has been a growing movement among Biblical scholars that brings a new perspective on the writings of Paul and the role of the Mosaic Law.
In a nutshell, this “new” perspective goes something like this:
The Jewish people knew that they were chosen by God to be His people. This was not something they “earned”, but a gift of God given to Abraham through faith and passed down through his seed (or DNA) to all the Jewish people of the world. The law given from God through Moses was to set them apart from all other nations and to keep them in good standing with the Lord.[@more@]
As such, the 1st Century Pharisees were obeying all 600 plus “laws” NOT to earn “salvation” – for they were already children of Abraham and chosen by God – but they were obeying the law with the hopes that the Messiah would come once the nation of Israel had returned to following the Sinai covenant.
The Zealots, on the other hand, were tried of waiting for everyone to obey the law – instead, they figure they would “help” things along by setting up a new political nation. Once the new nation was established, then the Messiah would come.
The Essenes were also waiting for the Messiah to come – only they figured the Lord would come regardless, so instead of trying to “change” society around them, they decided to holed up and wait for Him.
Ah…..but I digress from the main topic at hand…
If the premise of the “New Perspective on Paul Movement” is correct (ie. that both the “old” and “new” testament was based upon grace)…well, that would change the way we read Paul’s writings….
Dramatically change them in fact.
Something to ponder about.