At Torah Club, we highly value our leaders because they are an extension of the First Fruits of Zion teaching mission and critical to the success of the Torah Club. Therefore, First Fruits of Zion takes the growth and development of Torah Club Leaders very seriously.
We invest in our leaders and help them to be the best they can be. One of the ways we do this is through the quarterly Enrichment meetings. Enrichment meetings are dedicated to helping club leaders to grow in their theological and biblical understanding.
This quarter’s Enrichment meeting was one of our best yet as we were honored to welcome Mark Nanos as a guest teacher. What could be a more exciting topic than the book of Galatians from a Jewish perspective?
Nanos is an expert on the topic of Paul within Judaism and has been one of the most influential scholars in getting both the academic and lay world to view Paul as a Torah-observant Jew who never left Judaism. He began the teaching that night by mentioning that when he talks to Christians, they always tell him that Galatians is their favorite book because that’s where it declares that they are free from the law. Then, for two forty-minute sessions, he turned that whole idea on its head. Paul’s gospel was not a law-free gospel. Instead, the primary issue in Galatians was that Paul’s Gentile readers wanted to convert to become legally Jewish. Nanos taught that Paul was not against circumcision; he was against the notion that to be a part of the people of God, Gentiles needed to become Jewish. Gentiles turning to the God of Israel in large numbers is a prophetic sign of the kingdom. If they all become Jewish, it’s not the kingdom.
In Session 2, Nanos dove into the Antioch incident of Galatians 2. He argued that the issue was not whether the food was kosher but that Jews were eating with Gentiles. Nanos referred to it as a “guess who’s coming to dinner” moment. Peter refusing to eat with Gentiles was in direct contradiction to the message of the gospel that Gentiles who follow Yeshua have been made clean. This message was revolutionary for the Judaism of Paul’s day. However, Nanos states, “Paul's ideas were not against the ideals of Judaism, but against the norms [based on the time].”
During the entire presentation, he affirmed numerous times through the exegesis of the most challenging passages in Galatians that Paul was pro-Torah and pro-Judaism. If one looks at the comments in the Zoom chat, it was plain to see that everyone was locked in with Nanos’ presentation. He has a dynamic, casual style that is very engaging. All of us at Torah Club were encouraged that our message is in sync with a cutting-edge scholar such as Nanos. It is our prayer that we can continue to provide top-notch speakers for our Enrichment meetings who can impart wisdom and strengthen our Torah Club Leaders.