Copyright 1994 - 2018 Bill's Bible Basics
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Published On :
January 5, 2013
Last Updated :
July 1, 2014
Problem Of Legalism, Jewish Legalists Tried To Trap Jesus In His Words, Jesus Silenced The Opposition, Jesus Exposed The Hypocrisy Of Jewish Scribes And Pharisees, Church Council In Jerusalem Establishes Minimal Restrictions For The Gentile Christians, Apostle Paul's Continuous Battle With The Jewish Legalists, Certain Modern-Day Christians Promote Legalism, Free From Bondage Of The Law Through Faith In Jesus Christ, Run-Ins With Legalists On My Facebook Timeline, Long-Haired Jesus Knocking On The Door, Apostle Paul's Comment Regarding Men With Long Hair, Dangerous To Establish Doctrines Based On One Single Verse, Paul Expresses His Personal Opinion On A Number Of Occasions, Not Every Word Is "Thus Saith The Lord", Apostle Paul Was Very Knowledgeable Of The Scriptures, Paul Frequently Quoted From Old Testament In His Epistles, Paul Offers No Scriptural Support For His Long Hair Comment, Look To Nature, Lion And Lioness, Mosaic Laws Regarding Nazarites, Nazarites Were Separate Holy People Unto God, Nazarites Had Long Hair and Beards, Nazarites Prohibited From Drinking Wine And Eating Products Of The Vine, Samson Was A Nazarite, We Are Called And Chosen Even Before We Are Born, Samson Falls For Delilah, Samson's Hair Is Cut By Delilah, Samson Is Taken Prisoner And Blinded, Samson Brings Down The Temple Of Dagon
Legalism has been a problem for the Christian Church ever since it was first founded by Jesus Christ during the early years of the First Century. As I point out in other articles such as the series "The International Jew and the Protocols of Zion", Jesus Himself was constantly hounded, harassed and persecuted by the Jewish religious legalists who repeatedly tried to trap Him in His words. They self-righteously quoted from the Mosaic Law -- that is, the Laws of Moses, or Torah -- every time Jesus said or did something which seemed to contradict what they believed. This is made quite evident in the Gospels by verses such as the following:
"The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?"
Matthew 19:3, KJV
"Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law?"
Matthew 22:35-36, KJV
"And the scribes and Pharisees watched him, whether he would heal on the sabbath day; that they might find an accusation against him."
Luke 6:7, KJV
"And as he said these things unto them, the scribes and the Pharisees began to urge him vehemently, and to provoke him to speak of many things: Laying wait for him, and seeking to catch something out of his mouth, that they might accuse him."
Luke 11:53-54, KJV
"This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not."
John 8:6, KJV
Of course, the Lord was not about to be humiliated by those wolves. He outmaneuvered them every time by offering very wise responses -- quite often quoting from the Scriptures of the Old Testament -- which silenced the opposition, as we see by these example verses:
"But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together . . . And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions."
Matthew 22:34, 46, KJV
"And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. And no man after that durst ask him any question."
Mark 12:34, KJV
"Then certain of the scribes answering said, Master, thou hast well said. And after that they durst not ask him any question at all."
Luke 20:39-40, KJV
Jesus finally grew so tired of the blatant hypocrisy of the Jewish religious authorities, that He thoroughly exposed them in such chapters as Matthew chapter twenty-three. That chapter begins with the following verses, and then proceeds to get even heavier:
"Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not."
Matthew 23:1-3, KJV
Even after those children of Satan managed to murder the Son of God by convincing the Roman authorities that Jesus was supposedly guilty of treason, they did not desist in their legalistic attacks against the fledging Christian Church. As I explain in other articles such as the controversial series entitled "Welcome To Greater Israel, USA!", as well as in the series entitled "God's Golden Teeth, or Satan's Delusion?", this problem regarding legalism and blind obedience to the Mosaic Law finally became such a major divisive issue in the First Century Church, that a council was convened in the city of Jerusalem in order to establish a doctrinal standard for the Church.
The Jerusalem meeting was attended by the Church Elders in Jerusalem, as well as by the Apostle Paul and certain of his Gentile associates who had been converted to the faith. For his part, the Apostle Peter made it very clear that it was not right to place such a grievous, legalistic yoke on the necks of the Gentile converts. Thus he stated the following during the course of that meeting:
"And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they."
Acts 15:7-11, KJV
In the end, what the Church decided insofar as the Gentile Christian brethren were concerned, was to only place a few restrictions on them, which are vocalized in these verses that were spoken by the Apostle James:
"Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood."
Acts 15:19-20, KJV
Sadly, despite the previous word going forth from the Church in Jerusalem, the problem was not completely resolved. The legalistic Jews continued to hound Paul and his companions wherever they went to preach the Gospel of Salvation. Paul's Epistles offer some clear evidence of the battles which he continually fought against the legalists, as we can see by the following verses:
"I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed."
Galatians 1:6-9, KJV
"And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage:"
Galatians 2:4, KJV
"O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain."
Galatians 3:1-4, KJV
"Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage."
Galatians 5:1, KJV
"Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them."
Romans 16:17, KJV
"But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him...For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works."
2 Corinthians 11:3-4, 13-15, KJV
"Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision."
Philippians 3:2, KJV
"If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself."
1 Timothy 6:3-5, KJV
"But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain. A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself."
Titus 3:9-11, KJV
Tragically, despite the passage of almost two thousand years, the bondage to legalism continues in our present day. What is worse, this legalistic bondage is being promoted by, as well as insisted upon, by certain Christians themselves. As I explain in some of the aforementioned articles, as well as in others which I will list for you at the end of this series, we are told that we must be water baptized. Others say that we must speak in tongues. Others still insist that we must observe the Sabbath. Christian Zionists even argue that Christians are obligated to observe the Jewish feasts of the Old Testament era. And on and on it goes. Our faith has been saturated by this legalism.
In their blindness, these misguided people are either trying to add conditions and requirements to the Plan of Salvation which God established through Jesus Christ alone, or at the very least, they are endeavoring to convert our faith into a law-bound religion very much similar to the Jews of the Old Testament period. However, as the previous verses so clearly point out, we are free from the bondage of the Law through our faith in Jesus Christ, so that we must no longer depend upon the Law in order to obtain Salvation. Following are a few more verses which support this conclusion:
"Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free . . . If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed."
John 8:31-32, 36, KJV
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,"
Luke 4:18, KJV
"Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God."
Romans 7:4, KJV
As some of you will know, I have personally had a number of run-ins with some of these legalists on my Facebook timeline. These people just love to stir up trouble and division with their legalistic dictates. However, I don't tolerate them for very long; and I won't hesitate to block them if they persist in their foolish behavior. It was in fact just such a run-in a day ago which motivated me to write this current series. As I was checking new comments on my timeline, I came across one particular remark where a certain young woman was berating me because, in her view, it is wrong for me to use pictures of Jesus as witnessing tools. The graphic in question shows the Lord knocking on a door, and is accompanied by the following well-known Bible verse from the Book of Revelation:
"Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me."
Revelation 3:20, KJV
Rather than be thankful for the fact that I use my timeline to promote the Gospel of Jesus Christ, instead of filling it up with all kinds of nonsense as so many other Facebook users do, this misguided woman chose to criticize my endeavors. In particular, one of her criticisms was that it is improper for men to have long hair. Of course, she immediately attempted to support her argument by mentioned the reference of a verse which is frequently used by such legalists to condemn men who sport long hair. That verse is the following one:
"Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?"
1 Corinthians 11:14, KJV
In the previous verse, the word "shame" is derived from the Greek word "atimia". This word means dishonor or disgrace. It may interest you to know, that to my knowledge, this is the only verse in the entire Bible where a negative word is made regarding men having long hair. If there are more, I am not personally aware of them. As I have mentioned before, in my view, it is dangerous to establish, promote and enforce a particular doctrine that stands on one verse of Scripture. How much more so when only that one verse promotes a position that is not supported by any other verses in the Bible. But because this is the only verse which they can use to try to justify their position, legalists such as this woman hold on to it for dear life.
Quite frankly, due to a sizable body of other evidence which is found in the Scriptures -- which I will share with you in just a moment -- personally, I am of the opinion that Paul is merely expressing his personal opinion in the aforementioned verse. My statement should not surprise you. After all, this is not the only place in his Epistles where he does this. If you doubt that this is so, consider the following verse that is found in his first Epistle to the Corinthians where Paul is offering some advice regarding bachelorhood and marriage, and the rules which apply to each:
"But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away."
1 Corinthians 7:12, KJV
As you can see, Paul clearly informs his readers that what he is about to say is his personal opinion -- the rest speak I -- it is not "Thus saith the Lord". Some Christians simply fail to recognize that not every single word in the Bible is "Thus saith the Lord". In fact, even the four Gospels are not all "Thus saith the Lord". They are four men who are writing an account of Jesus' life from their personal perspectives.
If you are sufficiently familiar with the life and writings of the Apostle Paul, then you will know that being as he was raised as a strict Pharisee under the tutelage of Gamaliel, he was quite knowledgeable of the Old Testament Scriptures, which is all they had at the time, besides a number of other Books which we no longer have in our possession. Furthermore, Paul's skill at quoting from the Scriptures, and using them to support the doctrines that he taught, is evident in many of his Epistles.
It is precisely these facts which make his comment regarding it being shameful for men to have long hair seem rather weak and contradictory in my view. Why? Because rather than point to the Old Testament Scriptures as he normally does, what he does is basically say "look at nature" with the words "Doth not even nature itself teach you". When I look to nature, the very first thing that comes to my mind are lions. As we all know, the male lion sports a long mane, while the lioness is lacking the same. In short, the so-called "king of beasts" contradicts exactly what Paul is promoting in this verse.
That is just one reason why I personally view Paul's remark as being his personal opinion. Furthermore, it is not even the primary reason why I embrace this view. As I mentioned a moment ago, there is a sizable body of other evidence which is found in the Scriptures, which not only suggests that it is not shameful or sinful for a man to have long hair, but which even clearly states that in certain cases, having long hair is a very holy thing. In particular, in the Scriptures of the Old Testament -- and to be more precise -- in the Books of Moses, or Torah -- we learn about the Nazarites. Consider the following verses that are found in the Book of Numbers:
"And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When either man or woman shall separate themselves to vow a vow of a Nazarite, to separate themselves unto the LORD: He shall separate himself from wine and strong drink, and shall drink no vinegar of wine, or vinegar of strong drink, neither shall he drink any liquor of grapes, nor eat moist grapes, or dried. All the days of his separation shall he eat nothing that is made of the vine tree, from the kernels even to the husk. All the days of the vow of his separation there shall no razor come upon his head: until the days be fulfilled, in the which he separateth himself unto the LORD, he shall be holy, and shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow."
Numbers 6:1-5, KJV
As you can plainly see, the Nazarites were separate, holy people who were not supposed to cut their hair or beard as long as they performed their Nazarite vows throughout their lives. Neither were Nazarites permitted to drink wine or any other strong drink, or partake of any product of the vine. This totally contradicts what Paul wrote regarding it being shameful for men to have long hair. Furthermore, it reveals that modern-day legalists who use that one verse that is found in Paul's Epistle as a tool to condemn men who choose to sport long hair -- such as the young woman who chose to criticize my work -- are likewise in error. There is a very famous, long-haired, bearded Nazarite with whom all Jews and Christians are familiar. We can be certain that this man was a Nazarite, because an Angel of the Lord ordered that it be so with his parents. Consider the following verses that are found in the Book of Judges:
"And there was a certain man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren, and bare not. And the angel of the LORD appeared unto the woman, and said unto her, Behold now, thou art barren, and bearest not: but thou shalt conceive, and bear a son. Now therefore beware, I pray thee, and drink not wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing: For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb: and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines. Then the woman came and told her husband, saying, A man of God came unto me, and his countenance was like the countenance of an angel of God, very terrible: but I asked him not whence he was, neither told he me his name: But he said unto me, Behold, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and now drink no wine nor strong drink, neither eat any unclean thing: for the child shall be a Nazarite to God from the womb to the day of his death."
Judges 13:2-7, KJV
As many of my readers will already know, long-haired, bearded Samson served as a judge in Israel for twenty years. God chose him for that position even before he was born. That He does this, that God in fact chooses all of us before we are even born, is likewise revealed in other verses that we find in the Scriptures as well. Consider the following:
"For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them."
Psalms 139:13-16, KJV
"Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations."
Jeremiah 1:5, KJV
"For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren."
Romans 8:29, KJV
"According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love . . . Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will . . . In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:"
Ephesians 1:4-5, 11, KJV
As the previous verses from the Book of Judges confirm, taking the vows of a Nazarite was a very serious issue, and it was usually done for life. Thus, we are told that Samson would be "a Nazarite to God from the womb to the day of his death". Despite the fact that he was chosen by God to judge Israel and be one of her heroes, as they say, men of force are likewise men of faults. Clearly, Samson was no exception to the rule. This strongman's biggest fault was no doubt his weakness for beautiful women. If Samson had just eyed some of the beautiful women of Israel, perhaps there would have been no problem. However, Samson eyed women who were members of Israel's enemy nations.
Many of you know the story. Samson fell under the spell of the Philistine beauty, Delilah, and eventually met his fate by the same. Once his seven long locks of hair were cut, he lost his strength, was taken captive by the Philistines and blinded, and made a prisoner. Over time, his hair grew long again, his great strength returned, and he avenged himself when he brought down the temple of Dagon, and slew about three thousand Philistines in the process. Following are the key verses from the story:
"And it came to pass, when she pressed him daily with her words, and urged him, so that his soul was vexed unto death; That he told her all his heart, and said unto her, There hath not come a razor upon mine head; for I have been a Nazarite unto God from my mother's womb: if I be shaven, then my strength will go from me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man. And when Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart, she sent and called for the lords of the Philistines, saying, Come up this once, for he hath shewed me all his heart. Then the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and brought money in their hand. And she made him sleep upon her knees; and she called for a man, and she caused him to shave off the seven locks of his head; and she began to afflict him, and his strength went from him. And she said, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awoke out of his sleep, and said, I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself. And he wist not that the LORD was departed from him. But the Philistines took him, and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with fetters of brass; and he did grind in the prison house. Howbeit the hair of his head began to grow again after he was shaven. Then the lords of the Philistines gathered them together for to offer a great sacrifice unto Dagon their god, and to rejoice: for they said, Our god hath delivered Samson our enemy into our hand. And when the people saw him, they praised their god: for they said, Our god hath delivered into our hands our enemy, and the destroyer of our country, which slew many of us. And it came to pass, when their hearts were merry, that they said, Call for Samson, that he may make us sport. And they called for Samson out of the prison house; and he made them sport: and they set him between the pillars. And Samson said unto the lad that held him by the hand, Suffer me that I may feel the pillars whereupon the house standeth, that I may lean upon them. Now the house was full of men and women; and all the lords of the Philistines were there; and there were upon the roof about three thousand men and women, that beheld while Samson made sport. And Samson called unto the LORD, and said, O Lord GOD, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes. And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars upon which the house stood, and on which it was borne up, of the one with his right hand, and of the other with his left. And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life. Then his brethren and all the house of his father came down, and took him, and brought him up, and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the buryingplace of Manoah his father. And he judged Israel twenty years."
Judges 16:16-31, KJV
Now, if we accept Paul's words as law, and if we accept what is likewise promoted by certain modern Christian legalists, then we would have to conclude that even though Samson was chosen by God to be a Nazarite, hero and judge, it is simply shameful that his hair was long. Would you agree with this conclusion? I don't.
Please go to part two for the continuation of this series.
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