“Do not assume I have come to abolish the Torah of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I have not come to abolish them at all, but instead I have come to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, not until heaven and earth pass away and everything written in the Torah is fulfilled will one letter or even an apostrophe be removed from it. If anyone breaks one of the lesser commandments and teaches others to do the same, he will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys these commands and teaches others to do the same will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.” TJB 7:17
There has been a misconception over the centuries that Jesus fulfilled the Torah through his death on the cross and that we don’t have to follow its commands. Yet in the passage just above Jesus is saying that the Torah is very much in force. In fact he goes on to say ‘I don’t want you to follow Torah like the Pharisees, I’m expecting a much higher observance of these commands from my followers’.
Jesus tells his followers if they want to be great in the Kingdom of God they must follow the Torah. However the demands of Torah are different for the Jew and Gentile.
When Gentiles lived among the Jews there was an invitation and expectation that they would live according to Jewish law. The level of participation to the Torah and Jewish customs a Gentile wanted to observe was a matter of personal choice. They could choose to become a fully observant Torah abiding, ‘born again’ Jew all the way through to the minimum requirement for being accepted into a Jewish community which was abiding by the seven laws of Noah. The seven laws of Noah are as follows:
- Do not worship idols or other gods.
- Do not blaspheme God’s name.
- Do not murder.
- Do not commit sexual immorality.
- Do not steal.
- Do not eat things while they are still alive (i.e., meat with blood).
- Establish courts of justice.
There was however always an open invitation to the Gentile believers living in the Jewish community to follow the Torah to higher levels of observance e.g. dietary requirements, festival observances, Levitical rituals and general Jewish customs etc.