Monday, April 25, 2016

Adopting the Sabbath

A Brief Reflection on My Spiritual Journey
Dr. Paul Manuel—2016

Dr. Manuel's response when asked how he and Linda, his wife, came to observe the seventh day Sabbath.

In the early 1970s, I met a messianic Jew who challenged me to consider adopting the Sabbath. I did so but realized that it was only one of several interconnected issues from God's law—such as circumcision, diet, and festivals—all of which required that I now settle another question: Having taken this step, did God expect me to go further, even convert to Judaism? Some gentiles in the messianic movement had done so. If that is also what He expected from me, then adopting those other issues would soon follow. If that is not what He expected from me, then deciding which issues to accept would require careful consideration.

Two passages in particular helped clarify the matter and shape my decision. The first clarifying passage was the Jerusalem council's pronouncement when it faced a similar question: Do gentiles need to become Jews in order to be saved?1
Acts 15:1 Some men came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the brothers: "Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved." 2 This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. So Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question.... 4 When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and elders, to whom they reported everything God had done through them. 5 Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, "The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to obey the law of Moses." 6 The apostles and elders met to consider this question. 7a After Much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: ... 11 We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are." 13a [Then] James spoke up.... 19 "It is my judgment ... that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. 20 Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals, and from blood. 21 For Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath."
The council ruled that salvation was not dependent on circumcision (i.e., conversion). That is, gentiles do not need to become Jews in order to be saved.

Sunday, April 24, 2016


Dr. Paul Manuel—2016

Because of its length (38 pages) the complete study isn't available online but, along with its Bibliography and Endnotes, it can be viewed or downloaded as a pdf here.

Below find an outline of the contents and the first few pages of the study.


I. Jesus is God's primary spokesman (Hebrews 1:1-4).
A. He excelled as the son of God (vv. 2b, 4a).
B. He helped in the creation of God (vv. 2c, 3c).
C. He identified with the person of God (v. 3a-b).
D. He submitted to the mission of God (v. 3d).
E. He ascended by the throne of God (v. 3e).
Application: The clear and consistent testimony of scripture is that Jesus is deity equal to God the Father (John 10:30-33; Mark 2:10-12; Phil 2:6).

II. Jesus is God's preeminent agent (Hebrews 1:5-7:28).
A. He is superior to angels (1:5-2:18).
B. He is superior to Moses (3:1-4:13).
C. He is superior to Aaron (4:14-7:28).
Application: If others know they can depend on what you say, then you will not need to bolster what you say with additional certification (e.g., "I swear"; Matt 5:37a).

III. Jesus is God's priestly minister (Hebrews 8:1-10:18).
A. He promotes a superior covenant (8:1-13).
B. He presides (in) a superior tabernacle (9:1-14).
Application: Jesus says your perseverance now will determine your position then (Matt 5:17a, 19). Although obedience to God's commands does not determine your reconciliation to Him—which is only by grace through faith—obedience does determine your reward from Him.

IV. Jesus is man's perseverance model (Hebrews 10:19-12:29).
A. He provides an assurance of faith (10:19-39).
B. He presents several examples of faith (11:1-40).
C. He prizes the endurance of faith (12:1-17).
D. He prepares an unshakeable kingdom (12:18-29).
Application: Gratitude is to be a regular, even frequent, part of the believer's life (1 Thess 5:18).

V. Jesus is the author's last word (Hebrews 13:1-25).
A. He offers some final exhortations (13:1-19).
1. Hospitality (vv. 1-3; cf. 1 Pet 4:9)
2. Marriage (v. 4; cf. Col 3:18-19)
3. Money (vv. 5-6; cf. 1 Tim 6:6, 10)
4. Leaders (vv. 7-8; cf. Rom 12:6a, 8d)
5. Food (vv. 9-14; cf. Acts 15:29a; Rom 14:20b)
6. Gratitude (vv. 15-16; cf. 1 Thess 5:18; Gal 6:10)
7. Authority (v. 17; cf. Rom 13:1-2a, 5)
8. Prayer (vv. 18-19; cf. Eph 6:18-20)
B. He gives a closing benediction (13:20-25).
Application: Endeavor to implement two issues from this list each week, until you have applied all eight.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016


Dr. Paul Manuel—1998
Statue of St Matthew by Camillo Rusconi, Archbasilica of St John Lateran, Vatican

Because of its length (211 pages) the complete study isn't available online but, along with its Bibliography and Endnotes, it can be downloaded as a pdf here.

Below find a table of contents and an introductory prologue.

  • Prologue
Query: Is the New Testament anti-Semitic?
I. Narrative: Jesus’ Birth to Early Ministry, Matt. 1:1-4:25
A. Matthew records his genealogy. 1:1-17
B. Matthew recounts his birth. 1:18-23
Excursus: The use of puns in names (79x)
Quiz: Old Testament Quotes in the New Testament
C. Magi visit him. 2:1-12
D. He escapes to Egypt. 2:13-23
E. John baptizes him. 3:1-17
F. Satan tempts him. 4:1-11
G. He ministers in Galilee. 4:12-25
II. Discourse: The Sermon on the Mount, Matt 5:1-7:29
A. He teaches the beatitudes. 5:1-12
B. He teaches about salt and light. 5:13-16
C. He teaches about the Torah. 5:17-48
Query: Is Jesus prohibiting divorce?
Query: Is Jesus forbidding oaths?
Query: Is Jesus advocating pacifism?
D. He teaches about acts of righteous. 6:1-18
Query: Is Jesus condemning public…prayer?
Charts: The Halakah of Jesus in Matt 5 and 6
E. He teaches about wealth. 6:19-34
F. He teaches about judgments. 7:1-29
III. Narrative: Jesus’ First Ministry in Galilee, Matt 8:1-9:38
A. He heals many. 8:1-17
B. He explains about discipleship. 8:18-22
C. He calms the sea. 8:23-27
D. He heals more. 8:28-9:8
E. He summons Matthew. 9:9-13
F. He explains about fasting. 9:14-17
G. He heals even more. 9:18-34
H. He calls for workers. 9:35-38
IV. Discourse: The Mission of the Disciples, Matt 10:1-42
Chart: Jesus’ Commissions to the Disciples
A. He commissions them. 10:1-16
B. He warns them. 10:17-42
V. Narrative: Jesus’ Second Ministry in Galilee, Matt 11:1-12:50
A. He confirms his identity. 11:1-19
B. He condemns the cities. 11:20-24
C. He invites the weary. 11:25-30
D. He is Lord of the Sabbath. 12:1-14
Query: Does Jesus support a change of Sabbath to Sunday?
E. He heals many. 12:15-37
F. He cites an unforgivable sin. 12:30-37
G. He elevates the sign of Jonah. 12:38-45