Seeing the Bible Clearly

Is it possible to read the Bible incorrectly?  Well, the short answer is yes. How is that possible though?

Our Bible is written by many different authors, in many different locations, at varying times in history.  The message conveyed by these authors in their various books is all the same, but each is written with a different context.  If we don’t understand this context, much of the message is lost to us. Below you will find many tips and misconceptions to be aware of when reading your Bible.  We will be leaning heavily on these for future posts.

1. There Was No New Testament During the New Testament

You may never have thought about this one before, but there wasn’t a New Testament when the New Testament was being written.  The Scriptures consisted of ONLY the Old Testament.  That’s it. So, when the Bereans were searching through the Scriptures to prove to themselves that Jesus was the Messiah, they weren’t looking through the book of Matthew, they were looking in the Old Testament. Jesus came to bring full meaning to the Old Testament. Everything that is in the Old Testament points to the New Testament. Everything in the New Testament is the culmination of the shadows that were shown in the Old Testament.  If all we read is the Old Testament we will not see result of the things talked about.  If all we read is the New Testament, we will miss out on the full meaning of what is being presented to us.

2. Our God, YHWH, Never Changes and is Perfect

You know what makes Judaism/Christianity so special?  Our God, YHWH, never changes.  He is consistent from creation to the end.  Everything that he created is perfect.  This includes the Bible. Many Christians would agree with that statement, but they do not realize that they have made our God imperfect with some of the things they have taken away.  In the same way, Jews would agree with that statement, even though they have added to the instructions that God gave us.  If everything that he creates is perfect, including his Law, why would He need to add to or take away from it?  Wouldn’t that mean he messed up? Wouldn’t that mean he changed his mind?  If he changed his mind with that, couldn’t he just as easily change his mind about giving us eternal life? Do you really want to believe in a God that changes his mind? The issue lies with US. WE are the ones who first sinned in the garden to mess up his perfect creation. WE are the ones who disobeyed our God time and time again until he had to kick us out of the promised land. WE are the ones who added to His Law to make it seem impossible to keep. WE are the ones who misinterpret the New Testament to do away with His Law, because it seems too “Jewish”.

3. Paul Wrote Letters

In order to take books such as Romans, Corinthians, Ephesians, Philippians, Galatians, Colossians, Thessalonians, Philemon, Titus, and Timothy in context, you need to understand that they were written as letters.  When we read letters from loved ones, do we read it from beginning to end, or do we pick and choose which sentences we want to read?  Imagine reading a break-up letter in high school.  What if that letter began with “I love you so much”, but went on to explain why things weren’t working out.  What if you didn’t read the whole thing?  That next day of school would probably be extremely awkward.  When we are reading any letter from Paul, we need to read the whole thing, not just the parts we want to hear.

4. Paul’s Letters Were Written to Different People

The next issue that we need to clear up about Paul’s letters is the fact that each one was written to a different group of people.  Each one was written to the believers in a different city.  Each one was dealing with different issues.  Some were dealing with pagans, some were dealing with Pharisees.  Some were even written addressing believers trying to lead others astray.  The letter to the Romans would not necessarily help the people of Galatians.  Likewise, the letter to the Galatians would not necessarily help the people of Romans.  In order to understand what Paul was addressing in his letter to each group of people, we need to understand the context in which it is being written.

5. Paul Can Be Hard to Understand

By now, you might suspect a theme: Paul is one of the most misunderstood people in the Bible.  The reason for this is because Paul was as Hebrew as they come, and many times we are coming at the Bible from a Greek perspective. Before Paul’s encounter with Jesus, he was a Pharisee who studied under Gamliel. This meant that he had to have the entire Torah memorized word-for-word by the time he was a teenger. We struggle memorizing entire verses of the Bible, imagine memorizing the first 5 books of our entire Bible!

6. It’s All About Israel

If we stop caring about who Israel is once we get to the New Testament, then we forget who we are. The Old Testament is all about Israel being chosen as God’s people, and them subsequently squandering that blessing by turning their backs on God. The New Testament is all about Jesus making atonement for that sin and allowing The House of Israel back into covenant with him. In modern Christianity, we have described the Church as replacing Israel instead of being a continuation of Israel.  If we don’t grasp this understanding, then we will not get very much out of the Old Testament, because it’s all about Israel. If you haven’t watched this video yet, please do to get the full meaning of what I’m trying to say:

These 6 tips will help you get the most out of your Bible. They will be foundational for where my future blog posts will take us. From here we will dive into some specific misconceptions that we have learned in Christianity. We will start with Jesus and his view on Torah and work our way through the New Testament.  As we do this, I will start writing blog posts on Old Testament passages, showing how they point to our Messiah. My hope is to make your faith bulletproof, unable to be shaken by any outside force.

Till Next Time,

Joel The Berean


Church + Israel or Church = Israel

41,000……that’s how many denominations of Christianity there are today.  Yet all of them claim to use the same book as their foundation.  If that’s true, why so many different interpretations?

I believe it has to do with none of those 41,000 denominations knowing their true identity.  All of them think they are a part of this group known as “the church.” What would happen if they all figured out that they are actually a part of Israel, and not: Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, Baptist, Brethren, Pentecostal, Presbyterian, Evangelical…..etc?  I believe there would be a lot more unity!

If you’re confused about me referring to the church as a part of Israel, please read “What’s a Jew?” and “Who is Israel” on this site to get up to speed.

The church was never supposed to be an institution, but an expression for a gathering of believers in Jesus.  In fact, the church was never supposed to be “The Church” at all.  The word church didn’t appear in the Bible until almost 1400 A.D.! It only twice showed up in the Tyndale bible, referring to pagan temples of worship, not a group of Christians.

The original word used in the greek was ekklesia, not church.  This word simply means “assembly or congregation”, whereas the word church refers to a building or place of worship.  The word church started showing up in the patristic writings after all of the apostles were gone, and was carried over in 325 A.D. when it joined the state under Constantine’s rule.  So why the change? Many of the patriarchs and fathers of the church were very anti-semitic.  So, they tried to separate themselves from Israel and the Jews as much as possible.  This is seen in the book of Acts when Stephen is being falsely accused:

This is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the angel who spoke to him at Mount Sinai, and with our fathers. He received living oracles to give to us. (Acts 7:38)

The word used here in the greek was ekklesia, the same word used throughout the New Testament when referring to the church.  Why did the translators choose to translate differently here than in other places?  What would happen if they used the word church  in this verse instead of congregation? Well, that would raise some questions, now wouldn’t it? To make things worse, they kept the ekklesia as congregation translated correctly in places where they were speaking of pagans, further widening the gap.

The word church became fully entrenched in Christianity with the introduction of the King James Version of the Bible.  Why? Power, of course!  King James had jurisdiction over the church.  In fact, when he ordered a new translation, he had to specifically tell the translators to keep the word church in the Bible.  If the word church never appeared in his new translation, who would he have power over?  This continues in the present day, as our tax code is littered with the word church.

We need to rid ourselves of this idea that we need to go to a building to experience God.  He is with us at all times! That is the purpose of the Holy Spirit. Because of this, we ourselves are the temple of God.  He does not dwell in a temple made by man. The church is just a gathering of believers in any building that they wish.  It is a gathering of Israelites, just as it was at Mt. Sinai.

To summarize: Converted Gentiles = Israel, The Church = Israel, Jews = Israel.

This becomes especially important when studying Bible prophecy.  If we treat the church and Israel as two separate entities, we then start to think that God will deal with us in separate ways.  This way of thinking is commonly known as dispensationalism.  The most profound example of this is with the pre-tribulation rapture as opposed to a post-tribulation rapture.  For those unfamiliar, the pre-tribulation raptures holds to the belief that the church will be raptured into heaven before the tribulation begins.  Meanwhile, Israel will have to suffer through the tribulation as punishment for rejecting Jesus.  The issue with this is that ten of the twelve tribes of Israel have already accepted Jesus as their savior.  We are all grafted into the one olive tree of Israel, not the tree of the gentiles.  When Jesus establishes his kingdom on Earth, we will all be part of one of the twelve tribes of Israel.  There is no tribe of the gentiles!

So why do we need tribulation?  Why not a pre-tribulation rapture to save us from hardship?  We need look no further than the Torah.  Did Israel immediately leave Egypt and enter the promised land? No! They had to be refined in the wilderness in order to ensure that all of Egypt was out of them. The same holds true today. How many of us even know all of God’s commandments?  Did you know that disobeying the commandments is the actual definition of sin (1 John 3:4)?  If this is true, and we are told to turn away from sin, shouldn’t we learn what all sins we are to avoid?

This is where true journey begins.  My aim from here on out is to fill in these blanks that have been left out of sermons for years. We all have one savior.  We all have one law to obey.  Let’s take the next step together as we try to reach our full potential.  Let’s work on getting the Egypt out of us, so that our journey in the wilderness is an easier adjustment to make.

If you would like to learn more about dispensationalism and the changing of the ekklesia to the church, feel free to check out 119 Ministries’ “The Error In Dispensationalism” on the Media page of this blog.

Next time, I will start down the path to learning the Torah, and especially the laws that we have come to think were “Jewish”.  In order to do this, we need to set up some guidelines for reading our Bibles so that we can connect the New Testament with the Old Testament.

An awakening is happening with Israel, won’t you join me?

-Joel the Berean

Who is Israel?

He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” (Matthew 15:24)

It’s time to flip the script on how you read your Bible.  It’s time to find out who you really are in the grand scheme of things.  It’s time to answer arguably the biggest question in the Bible:

Who is Israel?

“My people have been lost sheep; their shepherds have led them astray and caused them to roam on the mountains. They wandered over mountain and hill and forgot their own resting place.” (Jeremiah 50:6)

In my last post I explained to you who the Jews were.  I suggest you go and read “What’s a Jew?” before continuing in this one, as a lot of information given in that one will directly impact this one.

As we know from before, the House of Israel (also known as Ephraim) was exiled to Assyria in 721 B.C.  They were given a certificate of divorce as described in Jeremiah 3:8.  This certificate of divorce is VERY significant.  You see, divorce was taken very seriously back then.  It wasn’t something that you just did on a whim when your marriage got tough.  There were actual laws given to the nation of Israel in regards to divorce:

Then her first husband, who divorced her, is not allowed to marry her again after she has been defiled. That would be detestable in the eyes of the Lord. (Deuteronomy 24:4)

The importance of this is that God will not break his own laws.  What kind of god would he be if he did? He wouldn’t be a fair and just one, that’s for sure.

Now what did the House of Israel do after they were given this certificate of divorce? Did they defile themselves, thus making it impossible for God to re-marry them according to the Torah?

I have seen a horrible thing in the house of Israel. There Ephraim is given to prostitution and Israel is defiled. (Hosea 6:10)

Yup, sure did.

This becomes a problem when you read through the prophets, especially Ezekiel 37:15.  Starting with that verse Ezekiel is told by God that he will restore the House of Israel back with the House of Judah to form the Nation of Israel again. The problem with this, and the problem that mystified everyone during these times was how he was going to do this?  They knew the law of divorce, and they knew that God wouldn’t break his own law.

Well, the answer was death.  This is what makes the death of Jesus have a 2-fold meaning:

  1. He was an everlasting sacrifice for our sins.
  2. Because of his death, the House of Israel could come back into covenant.

God sent his only begotten son to die so that he could remarry his people.  THAT is how much he loves us.  THAT is how committed he is to us.  Even after divorcing us, he loved us so much that he wanted to remarry us.

It is thought that Jesus came to save the gentiles so that they may have salvation. This would imply that before Jesus, gentiles were dead in the water.  Let’s just let the bible put this one to rest:

The community is to have the same rules for you and for the alien living among you; this is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. You and the alien shall be the same before YHWH: The same laws and regulations will apply both to you and to the alien living among you. (Numbers 15:15-16)

So from this passage, we are shown that it wasn’t just the native born Israelite that could be in covenant with God.  All they had to do was to declare Yahweh as their one and only god and follow his law.  Then they were considered a part of Israel. For proof of this, just read the book of Ruth.  It has never been an issue of bloodline.

So, who were the gentiles and Greeks that were talked about in the New Testament that Paul was sent to give the Good News to?

When the House of Israel was sent into exile, they didn’t just change zip codes. They lost their identity. They adopted the traditions of the pagans, and worshiped pagan gods.  They themselves became gentiles:

For, look, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all the gentiles. (Amos 9:9)

The crazy thing is, this dispersion and mixing among the gentiles was told of all the way back in Genesis:

But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great; but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his descendants shall become a multitude of nations.” (Genesis 48:5)

This verse is in reference to the blessing that Jacob (Israel) gave to Ephraim instead of Manasseh. Jacob is saying that Ephraim will become a multitude of nations. In Hebrew, this can be translated as “the fullness of the nations”.  Better yet, in the Greek (which the new testament was written in) it translates “the fullness of the gentiles”.

For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. (Romans 11:25)

In this verse, Paul is speaking of the House of Judah as Israel, as they were the only part of Israel that existed at the time.  What this is saying is that the reason why the Jews were not running out and accepting Jesus as their savior, is that the “fullness of the gentiles” was not completed yet.  The spreading of Ephraim had not reached its full potential!

More proof of the NT gentiles being the House of Israel comes to us from Hosea:

For you are not my people and I am not your God. Yet the number of the sons of Israel will be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered; and in the place where it is said to them, “You are not My people”, it will be said to them, “You are the sons of the living God.” (Hosea 1:9-10)

Once again, Paul swoops in to seal the deal:

even us whom He called not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles? As He says also in Hosea: “I will call them My people, who were not My people, and her beloved who was not beloved.  And it shall come to pass in the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not My people’, there they shall be called sons of the living God.” (Romans 9:24-26)

Now, if Paul were changing the identity of “My people” from the House of Israel to the pagan gentiles, we have to discard all of Paul’s writings.  That is 2/3 of the New Testament! This is because of the “Principle of First Precedence” in Biblical Hermeneutics, which states that the definition of a word or phrase is defined by the first time it is used in the Bible.

In the end, the goal has not changed since Mt. Sinai: become “grafted in” to the olive tree of Israel by confessing Yahweh as the one true god, and obey his commandments that he gave to the world.  The only difference is, we have Jesus to cover our sins as our Messiah instead of making sacrifices at the temple.

So…… what will you do now that you know your true identity? Now that you know YOU are the House of Israel?  I challenge you to go back and read the Old Testament. Every time you come across “Israel” stop and understand that the passage isn’t talking about a bunch of Jews in the desert.  It’s talking about our ancestors. It’s talking about US! The thing is, Israel always has a way of turning away from God and following their own rules and gods. Let’s learn from their mistakes and start acting like “United Israel” and not “Divided Israel.”

Once again, this was only a top-level view on this subject. I STRONGLY suggest watching “Identity Crisis” on the Media page of this site. It is the one teaching that has had the biggest impact on me understanding the bible.

Next week I will dive into why “The Church” looks so differently than Israel of the Old Testament, and what we can do to get it back on track.

Till next time,

Joel the Berean, resident of Indiana, citizen of USA, forever and Israelite

What’s a Jew?

Shouldn’t this question be easy to answer?

Some common misconceptions are that the Jews are God’s chosen people who live in Israel.  They also do not believe that Jesus is our savior.  Heck, they’re the ones responsible for the death of our savior!  Also, the Torah was given only to them on Mt. Sinai to follow for salvation.

So, when we talk about the Jews, we’re talking about Israel right?  There one in the same……. right?

Well…….not exactly.

In order to understand the entire Bible as one cohesive book, we need to answer two very important questions:

Who or what are the Jews?

Who, what, or where is Israel?

This post will cover the first question, while my next post will cover the second question.  So, let’s discover who the Jews really are.

First and foremost, we need to figure out where that word “Jew” came from.  The English word Jew comes from the Greek word Loudaios, which originates from the Hebrew work Yehudi.  That word Yehudi means “from the tribe of Judah.” That may sound familiar to some of you, but for the rest, let me explain.

Jacob (who later was given the name Israel by God) had 12 sons.  Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Benjamin, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, and Joseph. The Kingship blessing was given to Judah, and the material blessing was given to Joseph.  Joseph gave his inheritance to his two sons Ephraim and Manasseh. When the tribes of Israel escaped Egypt, they and the foreigners that traveled with them were given the instructions of God (Torah) at Mt. Sinai.  From there they existed as one cohesive nation all the way up until the death of King Solomon.

That’s where things get messy.

You see, God was angry with Solomon because he started to lead Israel to follow other gods.  So, he told Solomon’s servant Jeroboam that he was to take 10 of the tribes North, and Solomon’s son Rehoboam would be left with only 2 tribes.

So in the North we have:

Reuben, Simeon, Issachar, Zebulun, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Ephraim, and Manasseh.

While in the South we have:

Judah and Benjamin.

The northern tribes became known as “The House of Israel”, “House of Joseph”, or “Ephraim.”

The southern tribes became known as “The House of Judah.”

So, all Jews are a part of Israel, but not all Israel is a Jew.

The House of Israel started to move away from God first.  They were warned by the prophets that they were going to be given a letter of divorce and scattered among the nations if they didn’t repent.  They didn’t listen, so they were taken into captivity by Assyria around 721 BC.  This letter of divorce is very significant to my next post.  Keep this in mind.

The House of Judah followed his little brother Israel in turning away from God. They too were warned by prophets that they would be captured by Babylon if they didn’t repent.  They too didn’t listen, and were captured by Babylon around 586 BC.  They stayed there for 70 years.  However, they were not given a letter of divorce.

After 70 years, the Persians had defeated Babylon and let The House of Judah return to Jerusalem.

BUT………The House of Israel never came back!

Well where did they go? Who did they become? Where are they now?  Well, that’s what my next blog post will cover, but for now let’s get back to big brother Judah….

Now even though Judah left Babylon, Babylon didn’t totally leave them.  They started to add things to the Torah, and even held these traditions above the Torah in importance.  This is now commonly known as Judaism.  These laws that they added would later be known as the Talmud or “Oral Law.”  Jewish tradition states that when Moses gave the written law (Torah) to the people, he also went into deeper explanation of it with a set of oral laws (Talmud).  The funny thing is, no one wrote this “oral law” down until 200 CE!  That means they were playing the telephone game for over 1600 years!  I call shenanigans!  There’s a reason it is also know as the “Babylonian Talmud.”

Then Jesus happened.

When he came, he rebuked Judah for adding these things to the Torah.  HE WAS NOT REBUKING THE TORAH.  If he was rebuking the Torah, he can not be our savior because he would be leading people away from God. This is VITAL for us to understand if we want to go deeper into the scriptures.  Jesus was rebuking the Talmud that the Jewish leaders had added to the Torah.  It is also VITAL to understand where and how the word “Law” fits into the writings of Paul as well, as he was not preaching against the Torah either.  That in and of itself will need its own post to sift through all of the misconceptions about Paul.

Well OK, but they still killed Jesus! Shouldn’t we hate them forever?!


In order for Jesus to be our savior, he had to fulfill all prophecy written in the Old Testament referring to the messiah.  That would include being rejected by man. So, he knew that this would happen.  By the way, it was the Jewish leaders who were constantly trying to condemn him, not ALL Jews.  Many Jews were converted (including Paul) and followed him.  The reason why the leaders didn’t want his as their messiah is because he didn’t come with an army to drive out Rome from the land.  Instead he came to save Israel spiritually first, then at his second coming he will come with an army.  At that time they didn’t realize this was a two-step process.  In addition to this, we have to realize something:

In order for Jesus to be a sacrifice for our sins, he HAD to die.  It’s just that simple. We should not hate the Jews, because they are truly our big brother.  I will explain why I call them that next time.  They will come to know Jesus as their savior as well.  We should encourage that and do everything we can to share this “Good News” with them.

So, to summarize:

  • The word “Jew” means “from the tribe of Judah.”
  • The House of Judah was comprised of Judah and Benjamin.
  • The other 10 tribes were known as the House of Israel.
  • Therefore all Jews are a PART of Israel, but not all of Israel is a Jew.
  • The House of Judah was the only house to return to Jerusalem.
  • Judaism follows the Torah as well as the Talmud, which is not in the Bible.
  • When Jesus was rebuking the Jews, he was rebuking the Talmud, not the Torah.

In my next post I will answer the question: Who is Israel?, and why it could change your life!

If you want to get a jump start on me, watch the video below.  It is where a lot of the information contained in this post and the next comes from.  It’s a long one, so don’t start it until you have enough time allocated to watch the whole thing!

Till next time,

Joel the Berean

The Foundation

Fellow Bereans,

I would like to start this blog off by offering a mission statement of sorts:

The goal of this blog is to get down in writing all of my thoughts and findings as I study the Bible, and watch teachings by fellow Bereans.

I myself am a student of the Word, and do not profess to being a teacher.  However, I also want to share with as many people as possible the WHOLE Word.  As the title of my blog indicates, I will be emphasizing the importance of Torah to mainly Christians.  I feel as though my calling is doing exactly that.  There are others in the body of Christ that excel at bringing the Good News of Jesus (Yeshua, as I like to refer to him in his Hebrew name) to the unknowing.  The question once you have the Good News then becomes, “What do I do now?”

That’s where myself an many others come into play.  You see, I want to link the Good News of the New Testament with the How To’s of the Old Testament.  Before I do this though I need to make a few things very clear:

1.  The “How To’s” without the “Good News” are Empty

What I mean is, Jesus is the only way to salvation. PERIOD.  When people start learning Torah (the laws given to us in the first 5 books of the Bible), some end up doing a 180 and start emphasizing works for salvation instead of Jesus.  This is wrong, and it is not why I follow Torah.  The reason we follow Torah, is because we want to show God (Yahweh, again, I prefer the Hebrew) that we love him and want to obey his instructions.  Once we have salvation, we need to turn away from as much sin as possible, which is why we learn the how-to’s.  This is how it was supposed to be.  In Acts we are told that as the apostles were giving the Good News to the gentiles, they ran into a problem: what laws do they tell these people to follow as they came to know Jesus?  Should they tell them that they must drop everything and follow all of the laws right away, or have them first concentrate on the “biggies” first, and pick up the rest as they went?  They ended up going with the latter, and gave them 4 laws to start out with, and they would learn the rest IN THE SYNAGOGUE EVERY SABBATH.  So, my point is, learning these things takes time, but it is what we are supposed to do when we fully repent.

2.  I’m Learning Too

I have only been trying to follow the Torah for just over a year, so I sure as heck don’t have everything figured out.  If I misspeak, please rebuke me, with love :).  Also, feel free to share you’re opinions and things that you have learned with me.  The Bible is a big book with many layers in each verse, so everyone gets different things out of what they read.  I want this to morph into an online Bible study if that is even possible.

3.  Torah is not for “Only the Jews”

My 1st blog post (after this one) will be on this very topic.  The “Jews” were only a fraction of the people that were given the Torah on Mt. Sinai.  As a follow up, the Law was also not given to only Israel either! The Torah was given to the WHOLE WORLD.  In Deuteronomy it specifically states that there is one law for the native born and foreigner among you.  This will be huge going forward, and the reason why it will be my first blog entry.

4. Don’t Take my Word for it

This is very important.  This is also the reason why “the church” looks so differently from where it started out.  We’ve spent too long outside the Bible instead of inside.  I want everyone to take what I say and test it to the Bible.  If I make a mistake, bring it up, and we’ll investigate.  This is why I addressed you as Bereans at the top.  The Bereans didn’t take Paul’s word for it when he told them of the Messiah.  They went into the Scriptures and tested what he was saying, so that they could prove to themselves that Jesus was truly the Messiah.  This is my goal!

5.  Use Your Heart Along with Your Brain

When Jesus walked the Earth, he showed us how to apply the Torah with our heart.  He took what was black and white and breathed life into.  He was the Living Word.  With that in mind, we need to think with our heart and not just our mind.  I’ve heard of people going out to everyone they know and go straight to rebuking them for not following Torah to the T.  What we need to remember is that we were once in the same position.  People generally don’t respond well when you start telling them everything they are doing wrong.  Instead, show them love first, and they might be more receptive to what you have to say.

So, with all that said, I encourage you to get a head start on me.  I started with and  They are very informative and easy to follow along with.  I will be using a lot of what I’ve learned from them in my posts.

See you soon,

-Joel the Berean