If the thirteenth apostle is to be believed, then Ya’aqob, Kepha, and Yohanan sent Sha’ul and Barnaba to the nations in order that they might remain with the circumcised. This—in spite of the great commission. I do not lie. Then why does tradition hold Bartholomew in India? At any rate (setting church tradition aside), Ya’aqob, Kepha, and Yohanan, which Sha’ul personally thinks to mention, are all three recorded writing to the Gentiles and the churches of Asia—why? Kepha, as we already know, visited Antioch, where it all went down. Once Sha’ul was outed, Kepha scooted his chair out in judgement. Given the slanderous ink stains hastily delivered to the Galatiyim, it seems very likely that both Ya’aqob and Sha’ul were writing to the same audience.
Put in slightly different terms. Sha’ul wrote a letter. Ya’aqob did too.
Let us compare.
THUS, YA’AQOB OPENS his letter.
“Ya’aqob, a servant of Elohim and of the Master Yahshua Messiah, to the twelve tribes who are in the dispersion: Greetings.”
Diaspora. In Hebrew—Galut.
As mentioned, he is writing to the churches in Asia, including Galatia.
SHA’UL REMINDS HIS CONVERTS that Messiah Yahshua gave Himself for our sins, “to deliver us out of this present age.” Galatiyim 1:4.
“My brothers, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the proving of your belief works endurance. And let endurance have a perfect work, so that you be perfect and complete, lacking in naught.”
Though Sha’ul opened his letter by praying for deliverance, Ya’aqob understood when his brother Yahushua the Messiah prayed that His flock be not taken out of the world (Yohanan 17:5). For Ya’aqob, trials would be a proving of their belief.
PRAISE IS GIVEN to Elohim our Father “forever and forever.” Galatiyim opens with such sentiment. And yet, Sha’ul follows up his exaltation only several lines later by cursing anyone, even a messenger from heaven, who receives a gospel which varies from his own.
“However, even if we, or a messenger out of heaven, bring a ‘Good News’ to you beside what we announced to you, let him be accursed.”
Naturally, Ya’aqob counters:
“But no man is able to tame the tongue. It is unruly, evil, filled with deadly poison. With it we bless our Elohim and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of Elohim. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brothers, this should not be so.”
With it we bless our Elohim and Father.
And with it we curse men.
Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing.
UNLIKE YAHUSHUA’S DISCIPLES, Sha’ul was not taught the Good News. Certainly not from any man. His words. Galatiyim 1:11. I do not lie. Sha’ul was accused of lying. He therefore responded by putting his accusers down. The Yerushalayim group.
“But from those who were esteemed to be whatever—what they were, it makes no difference to me, Elohim shows no partiality—for those who were esteemed contributed naught to me.”
Once more, Ya’aqob responds.
“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by his good behavior his works in meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast against and lie against the truth. This is not the wisdom coming down from above, but it is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.”
Rather ironic. Though Sha’ul accused the Yerushalayim council of being fleshly and he spiritual, Ya’aqob reminded his audience that it was indeed Sha’ul who was earthly and unspiritual—and worse.
IN ANTIOCH, Sha’ul withstood Kepha to his face. Galatiyim 2:11.
Here Ya’aqob responds.
“For where jealousy and self-seeking are, there is confusion and every foul deed. But the wisdom from above is first clean, then peaceable, gentle, ready to obey, filled with compassion and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness sown in peace by those who make peace.”
THE CHRISTIANS of Antioch were bewitched. Apparently, Ya’aqob, Kepha, Yohanan and the boys had put an evil spell on his Gentile converts, because some chose to obey the circumcision party.
Sha’ul was indignant.
Fools! Had they received the Spirit by obedience—or belief?
“O foolish Galatians! Who has put you under a spell, not to obey the truth—before those eyes Yahshua Messiah was clearly portrayed among you as impaled? This only I wish to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by works of Torah, or by the hearing of belief?”
Once more, Ya’aqob flips the narrative. It is Sha’ul who is empty. Remember the demons.
“You believe that Elohim is one. You do well. The demons also believe—and shudder! But do you wish to know, O empty man, that the belief without the works is dead?”
PAY ATTENTION. Abraham. The apex of his argument. For Sha’ul, belief capsizes action.
“Even so Abraham did believe Elohim, and it was reckoned unto him as righteousness.”
Again, pay attention. Ya’aqob employs the exact same verse to refute Sha’ul’s doctrine of salvation by faith without works.
“Was not Abraham our father declared right by works when he offered Yitshaq his son on the slaughter-place? Do you see that the belief was working with his works, and by the works the belief was perfected? And the Scripture was filled which says, ‘Abraham believed Elohim, and it was reckoned to him for righteousness.” And He called him, ‘he who loves Elohim.’”
THE RIGHTEOUS ONE lives by his faithfulness. Not faith. Faithfulness. But that is not what Sha’ul said. It has long been commented upon that Sha’ul misquoted the Prophet. And there it is.
“See he whose being is not upright in him is puffed up. But the righteous one lives by his steadfastness.”
Sha’ul rearranges one important detail.
“For as many as are of works of Torah are under the curse, for it has been written, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all that has been written in the Book of the Torah, to do them.’ And that no one is declared right by Torah before Elohim is clear, for ‘The righteous shall live by belief.’”
Likewise, Ya’aqob responds:
“My brothers, what use is it for anyone to say he has belief but does not have works? That belief is unable to save him. And if a brother or sister is naked and in need of daily food, but one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,’ but you do not give them the bodily needs, what use is it? So also belief, it it does not have works, is in itself dead. But someone might say, ‘You have belief, and I have works., and I shall show you my belief by my works. You believe that Elohim is one. You do well. The demons also believe—and shudder!”
“For as the body without the spirit is dead, so also the belief is dead without the works.”
WHILE ATTEMPTING to turn the bewitchment back upon Yahshua’s brothers, Sha’ul reminds the Christians of Antioch of Torah’s central message.
“For the entire Torah is completed in one word, in this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”
Yahshua’s brother responds:
“If you truly accomplish the sovereign law according to the Scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you do well, but if you show partiality, you commit sin, being found guilty by the Torah as transgressors. For whoever shall guard all the Torah, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.”
APPARENTLY, THE CIRCUMCISED do not even watch over the Torah. If the Yerushalayim group wanted to circumcise the Christian, Sha’ul assured them, it was only to boast in their flesh.
“And for me, let it not be that I should boast…”
See what big letters I have written to you with my own hand!
Proud speeches, Sha’ul. Wicked boasting.
“But now you boast in your proud speeches. All such boasting is wicked.”
WHY ELSE MIGHT Ya’aqob call Sha’ul an empty man? For one, Sha’ul is claiming to have the Spirit of Yahshua, the author’s physical brother, living within him.
“But when it pleased Elohim, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me by His favor, to reveal His Son in me, that I might bring Him, the Good News, to the gentiles.”
Perhaps Sha’ul is not implying what most understand his imagery to mean. After all, Yahshua, the physical brother of Ya’aqob, was simply portrayed among them as being impaled. Sha’ul knew better.
“O senseless Galatians! Who has put you under a spell, not to obey the truth—before whose eyes Yahshua Messiah was clearly portrayed among you as impaled?”
It would not be the last epistle in which the thirteenth apostle would make such a suggestion.
“I have been impaled with Messiah, and I no longer live, but Messiah lives in me.”
TO THIS, Ya’aqob replied—
—you’re an empty man.