Yes, praying works if you are praying to the right God and for the right reasons. Praying for things to get better is subjective. What does God think? How have you gotten to know God? What do you know about God? It would be useless to pray to something you don’t know exists unless you are seeking to know that God. Then your first prayer would be to know the God you are praying to. Second, find out what God demands of you as his child, then third ask for the things that are consistent with that relationship.
Yes, as God makes that a pretty important issue…even for Gentiles. See Isaiah 56:6. If God makes that a standard for a relationship with Him, then it should be heeded by anyone who seeks to relate to the God of Israel, even Gentiles who are attached to Him through by following the teachings of Messiah Yeshua.
In Roman times, as Paula Fredriksen says, “Gods ran in the blood”. The populations were all thinking that there were many gods. As time went on, and especially after the Enlightenment, people began to move away from that idea and now, when we think of ourselves as individuals, it is hard to imagine a world where everything is run by a multiplicity of gods. Monotheism, however, is not new. The uniqueness of Jews in Roman times was that they were monotheists. Ironically, the Romans called the Jews ‘atheists’ because they did not believe in the power of multiple gods. While they may have acknowledged their existence, the ONE GOD, the GOD of Israel, was the most powerful God of all.
Justified, in those verses means that the person has met the standard for entrance into the Kingdom. It means that now, the rules apply to him/her. Torah is now relevant in their lives. It doesn’t mean that they can do whatever they want, just like if you move to another city or country and you are granted citizenship, you must follow the laws of that city/country. You are not free to do what you want.
Do most people accept The Dead Sea Scrolls as lining up almost exactly with the Old Testament scripture?
No. The Dead Sea Scrolls are writings from a Jewish apocalyptic sect in Qumran before the Hebrew Bible actually had a canon. There are similarities and there are places where the words are the same, however, they (the sect in Qumran) were not trying to duplicate the Hebrew Bible and so their writings are not as you say ‘exact’.
Why does God punish us for behavior we can't control? If we can't choose to never sin then we have no choice but to sin?
God doesn`t punish per se, He allows you to experience the consequences of your choices. Sometimes He turns up the heat or pressure in an effort to stop your wrong path, but ultimately it is up to you to self correct. He wants you to keep your covenant with Him.
The answer is in verses 1–10. For Gentiles, it is merely to believe in Yeshua, turn from paganism and worship the God of Israel and that is all they have to do in order to enter the community. Once there, Sha’ul, in other parts of the letter addresses their issues about how to integrate into the Sect of the Way, a Jewish sect of the First Century (Acts 24:14, ESV)
Sha’ul, in 1 Cor. 15:1–10, shows the progression of the Gospel given by Yeshua Ha Mashiach to the Apostles and then to Sha’ul. The same message through the people designated to be His messengers. Then Sha’ul goes on to talk about the significance of the resurrection. Apparently, there must have been some issues in Corinth about the idea of resurrection. Perhaps there were sects talking to them, perhaps like the Sadducees or others, who did not believe in the resurrection. Always try to understand the text as the first audience did. Why would Sha’ul be writing to THEM about these issues? Were they worried about future believers in the 21st century? Were Paul’s letters intended to be used as Theological textbooks? No! They were worried about their situation in view of the Roman system which their new belief put them at odds with civically and religiously. These Gentiles were wondering how they would fit into Israel. How would their newly found lifestyle impact their standing not only with the Jewish people but also with a very oppressive Rome.
Courage is not the absence of fear, its just the willingness to ‘do it anyway’. My courage comes from God’s call on my life. If I am in line with His Word, to the best of my ability, He will guide my path. However, I must be willing to say what Queen Esther said in Esther 4:14–16, ESV. “If I perish, I perish”. God will take care of that too.
Was the decalogue intended for everyone, and the other 600 some-odd commandments meant only for Levites?
No, the 10 Words, or 10 Commandments, or Decalogue as you are calling it, is just a general outline. The rest of the Torah parses out who does what. If you remember, God tells the leaders of Israel, speak to the sons of Israel before he establishes certain things, this means it is for all of the people designated in the passage. Also, keep in mind that the words ‘alien’, foreigners, or sojourners speak to those Gentiles who follow the God of Israel. These would apply to what we call today, “Christians” if they claim to follow Jesus (Matt. 5:17–19, ESV)
Which version of the Old and New Testament Bible, which has been translated into the English language, is the most accurate translation of the original version (which I believe was written in Aramaic)?
The Bible is a collection of over 66 books, written by 40 authors over 1400 years. There is no such thing as ‘the original version’. It wasn’t put together as a canon (albeit selectively) more than 250 years after the last book was written. While the Hebrew Scriptures are written in Hebrew and Aramaic, most of the Gospels and Apostolic writings were in a type of Koine Greek which is actually a sort of Hebrew/Greek like Yiddish. I recommend that my students have access to at least 5 different translations because each translation committee has its own ‘rules’ for translations and they each may have different theological commitments (biases). If you can’t read it in the Hebrew or the Greek, you can use tools such as the Theological Dictionary of the OT and the NT. , among other things. I use Bible Search and Study Tools where you can access both tools and translations on every verse.
Cheryl Durham, Ph.D.
Cheryl is the Executive Director at Living Truth. She is also currently Dean of Students and Professor of New Testament Culture and History at Master's International University of Divinity. She holds a Bachelor and Master's Degree in Biblical Counseling, a Doctor of Biblical Studies in Worldview and a Ph.D. in New Testament History and Culture.