This study of Galatians will be both my own, abbreviated commentary of the book and a critique of and rebuttal to Jim Staley’s video commentaries found here and here. After debating a poster on an online discussion board (see here) about whether the new covenant requires Christians to follow the Mosaic and Old Testament Laws or not (he and Jim Staley say “yes”, I say “no”), he suggested that I and other forum readers watch the teachings linked to above, which I have done. So my principle purpose in this series will be to rebut the false teachings of those such as Jim Staley who prescribe following the old covenant as new covenant believers, not to elaborate on every nuance and uncover every nugget of Paul’s epistle to the Galatians.
In the first video, prior to interpreting the Book of Galatians, Mr. Staley begins with a 15-20 minute summary of his “two houses” belief system wherein Christ was sent only for the “lost House of Israel”, i.e., the 10 northern Hebrew tribes taken into exile in 722 BC who never returned and whom God “divorced”. Although in the Law God prohibits remarriage, because Christ “the Bridegroom” died, the prohibition of remarriage also died, allowing God to remarry Israel. Staley postulates that we who have believed in Christ belong to these lost tribes of Israel—we are one of the two sticks that are to be reunited in the land, per Ezek 37. This belief is absolutely central to his construct around which is built our need to keep the Torah (more than just the 10 Commandments, we are to keep all the Laws except the sacrificial ones or that have to do with living in the land) since we are being called back into covenant with YHWH. Thus, in nearly every teaching he encourages watching his “Identity Crisis” video in which he proceeds to tell Christians that they can’t understand 2/3 of the Bible unless they see things his way, namely that God has two houses, Judah and Israel, and that you can’t be saved unless you are part of one or the other. Fortunately, per some proponents of this belief, you can be part of Israel without knowing it. Whew.
Mr. Staley opens his talk with 1 Peter 1:1-2 which uses the Greek word eklektos or “elect” to describe those called to salvation by God including those in Galatia, to whom of course the epistle to the Galatians is written. So then, when Paul went to Galatia and the rest of the Mediterranean he was only looking for the “lost ship of Israel”, and in fact, Jesus was only sent to the lost sheep of Israel (see Mt 15:24). But Staley, perhaps for a lack of time, perhaps not, ignores the context of Christ’s statement, namely a Gentile woman asking for help, which Jesus eventually gives. The whole notion of redemption for the “lost sheep of Israel” only is preposterous when we look at the entirety of the new testament and specifically Paul, who declares that the gospel brings “salvation to everyone who believes—to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Rom 1:16). Jesus statement is one of priority, not exclusion. Paul describes himself as an “apostle of Gentiles”, which in the OT is the opposite of Israel.
Staley mistakenly says we, as Gentiles, are “split from one olive tree, one cultivated and one wild, and he’s grafting them both together…” No, this is not what scripture says. In Rom 11:24 Paul says “For if you were cut off from what is by nature a wild olive tree…” Our (Gentile, v13, 25) tree was always “wild”—Israel (not Judah, see context and particularly v7 and v25) is of the “cultivated” olive tree. We were never part of their tree; per v24 we are “grafted into a cultivated olive tree”, Israel. There is no “two houses”, there is one “house”, Israel, and the believing Gentiles have been grafted into it.
This false “two house” view could be explored in much more detail, and has been elsewhere. I would recommend http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Articles/Two_House/two_house.html which says “Two House doctrine is sort of “Replacement Theology” in reverse.” Exactly true. See also http://www.hebrewroot.com/Articles/two_house_answers.htm and http://www.torahofmessiah.com/2house1.html . Although I haven’t read every word of these and can’t endorse them without reservation, these will offer a good start at unmasking the non-biblicality of “Two House Theology”.
The next article will look at Galatians 1, compared with Staley’s view.