Today, I was having a conversation with good friend and occasional natsab author, Travis Hughey, when he shared something with me I had never noticed. (Seems to be happening a lot latelty… LOL!)
The context of his focus on these verses is the fact that in recent weeks he has been trying to see how many passages of Scripture he can find that demonstrate the connection between faith and works. The compiled list is getting pretty extensive and interesting.
In our conversation about myriad other topics and passages, he said, ‘Oh, you gotta see this. Turn to John 3:16!’
Trying to stay ahead of the curve, I rapidly scanned the passage for context using the new Hebraic lens the Father has been developing in me over the last two years. And, as fast as Travis could read, I was calling out the key words. Read this and see what you catch, then we can discuss…
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His [a]only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the [b]only begotten Son of God. 19 This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21 But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”
I answered Travis, “Ephesians 2:10!!”
“Exactly,” was his response!
So, what were we oohing and aahing over? Faith plus works! And, the works are definitely Torah!
Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone to DO something! See Ephesians 2:8-10!
Notice the last part of the passage quoted. The thought is unbroken and Yeshua connects belief in Him with deeds!
19 This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21 But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”
Believing in the Light results in deeds! Further, it is not just any deeds, it is those deeds defined as the ‘walk of righteousness.’
So the Lord commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God for our good always and for our survival, as it is today. 25 It will be righteousness for us if we [a]are careful to observe all this commandment before the Lord our God, just as He commanded us.
Christendom’s fixation on ‘grace’ to the exclusion of obedience to the Torah, is again demonstrated to be utter rubbish! No works of righteousness equals no faith! Or, to use Jacob’s (James’) words, ‘Faith without works is dead!’
As an aside, it is interesting to note that in the Tanak, on multiple occasions, Torah is metaphorically referred to as ‘light.’ Do you see that connection in John 3:16-21 with belief in the Living Word, the Light of the World? Here is an example of Scripture describing Torah as light,
For the commandment is a lamp and the [a]teaching (Torah) is light; And reproofs for discipline are the way of life.
So, when Yeshua referred to Himself as the Light of the World, His audience knew exactly what He was talking about. The same can be said about this passage here.
Bottom-line: The context surrounding John 3:16 points to ‘works of Torah,’ i.e. not just works of mercy and the Ten Commandments, but also the Feasts, eating clean, keeping Shabbat, etc.!
Bet you never heard that from a pulpit!