What do You Mean… Works the Law?

What do You Mean… Works the Law?
By
James Scott Trimm

Often when I share with Christians that the Torah is everlasting, for all generations, they respond by saying, “But we are not saved by “works of the law.”

The phrase “works of the law” (which is sometimes rendered “deeds of the law” in the KJV) appears only nine times in the New Testament and only in Paul’s writings:

Therefore by the deeds of the law
there shall no flesh be justified in his sight:
for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
(Rom. 3:20 KJV)

Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith
without the deeds of the law.
(Rom. 3:28 KJV)

Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith,
but as it were by the works of the law.
For they stumbled at that stumblingstone;
(Rom. 9:32 KJV)

Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law,
but by the faith of Jesus Christ,
even we have believed in Jesus Christ,
that we might be justified by the faith of Christ,
and not by the works of the law:
for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
(Gal. 2:16 KJV)

This only would I learn of you,
Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law,
or by the hearing of faith?
(Gal. 3:2 KJV)

He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit,
and worketh miracles among you,
doeth he it by the works of the law,
or by the hearing of faith?
(Gal. 3:5 KJV)

For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse:
for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not
in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.
(Gal. 3:10 KJV)

(In Gal. 3:10 the Aramaic has “works because of the law” rather than “works of the law”.)

This phrase, “works of the law”, is best understood through its usage in Gal. 2:16. Here Paul writes:

Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law,
but by the faith of Jesus Christ,
even we have believed in Jesus Christ,
that we might be justified by the faith of Christ,
and not by the works of the law:
for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
(Gal. 2:16 KJV)

If we consider this passage carefully we can see that Paul uses this phrase to describe a false method of justification which is diametrically opposed to “faith in the Messiah”. To Paul “works of the law” is not an obsolete Old Testament system, but a heresy that has never been true.

The term “works of the Torah” has shown up as a technical theological term used in a document in the Dead Sea Scrolls called MMT which says:

Now we have written to you some of the
works of the law, those which we determined
would be beneficial for you…
And it will be reckoned to you as righteousness,
in that you have done what is right and good before Him…
(4QMMT (4Q394-399) Section C lines 26b-31)

And that this is an amazing inverse literary parallel to Gal. 2:16; 3:6:

Now we have written to you some of the works of the law, those which we determined would be beneficial for you…
And it will be reckoned to you as righteousness, in that you have done what is right and good before Him…
(4QMMT (4Q394-399) Section C lines 26b-31)
Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Yeshua the Messiah, even we have believed in Yeshua the Messiah, that we might be justified by the faith of Messiah, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified….Even as Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him for righteousness. (Gal. 2:16; 3:6)

This heretical doctrine laid out in MMT is based on twenty-four purity regulations about which the Essenes held a stricter halacha than their Pharisaic counterparts, and which they believed would be reckoned to them as righteousness. Apparently Paul’s opponent takes “righteousness/justification” in this passage of MMT to mean “salvation”. Paul however argues that it is faith in Messiah and not these “works of the law” by which we are saved:

When Paul speaks out against “works of the law” it is like a Baptist preacher speaking out against “Latter Day Saints”, he does not mean the words according to their literal meaning, he has nothing against “Saints” who live in the “Latter Days” he is using the Mormon’s theological technical term to refer to their theology.

There can be no doubt that Paul sees “works of the law” as categorically bad, yet Paul calls the Torah itself “holy, just and good” (Rom. 7:12), certainly Paul does not use these phrases to refer to the Torah itself as obsolete, but to a heresy, a false theology that was never true.

As many of you know, we were called out of town unexpectedly about a month ago for a family emergency. We expect to head home tomorrow morning. However finances are tight. Up until Thursday, we had not received a single donation all week. Thankfully we have since received a few donations that will help a lot. Thank you to those who donated so far, you were lifesavers. The electric bill is past due, rent was due yesterday and we still need funds to make the trip back home. This has been a terrible time for a “donation drought”. If you can help us out, please donate by Paypal to donations@wnae.org

I want to thank all of you supporting this work. I literally could not do it without you!

This work takes hours of my time. As many of you know, my wife is very ill, and I spend most of my time at home as her caretaker. I work at a desk less than six feet from her bed. So I am in a position to dedicate many hours to this important work that I have been directed to do.

But I also realize that it is not the activity of James Trimm alone who is responsible to do this work, it is all of us together who are charged with the responsibility of accomplishing this work. I very much look on the efforts of this restoration work as a cooperative one with each one of you. We are all joint heirs with Messiah and should always be about our Father’s business. I am honored to be able to be partnered with truth seekers as this restoration of Scripture moves forward in fulfillment of prophecy.

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Nazarene Judaism
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Hurst, TX 76053

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