Chapter 10:

What is “The Way” of Acts 24?

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In Acts 24, the High Priest and his companions came to accuse the Apostle Shaul, calling him a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes.

Ma’asei (Acts) 24:1-5
1 Now after five days Ananias the high priest came down with the elders and a certain orator named Tertullus. These gave evidence to the governor against Shaul.
2 And when he was called upon, Tertullus began his accusation, saying: “Seeing that through you we enjoy great peace, and prosperity is being brought to this nation by your foresight,
3 we accept it always and in all places, most noble Felix, with all thankfulness.
4 Nevertheless, not to be tedious to you any further, I beg you to hear, by your courtesy, a few words from us.
5 For we have found this man a plague, a creator of dissension among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes.”

Then in verse 14, Shaul defends himself before Felix, saying that according to “the way” which the sect of the Pharisees were labelling a sect, so he worshipped the Elohim of his fathers, believing all things that are written in the Torah and the Prophets.

Ma’asei (Acts) 24:14
14 “But this I confess to you, that according to the way which they call a sect, so I worship the Elohim of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Torah and in the Prophets.”

Further, verse 22 tells us that the governor Felix also had knowledge of “the way”, since his wife Drusilla was Jewish.

Ma’asei (Acts) 24:22-24
22 But when Felix heard these things, having more accurate knowledge of the way, he adjourned the proceedings and said, “When Lysias the commander comes down, I will make a decision on your case.”
23 So he commanded the centurion to keep Shaul and to let him have liberty, and told him not to forbid any of his friends to provide for or visit him.
24 And after some days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, he sent for Shaul and heard him concerning the faith in Messiah.

Halacha: The Way to Walk

It often happens that Christians who have no knowledge of Judaism see these references to “the way”, and they assume that this was the name of Shaul’s faith. These assumptions stem from a lack of knowledge about Judaism in Greco-Roman Christianity.

These references to “the way” are references to what Judaism calls the halacha (הֲלָכָה). This word stems from the Hebrew root for walking, which is Strong’s Hebrew Concordance OT:1980, halak.

OT:1980 halak (haw-lak’); akin to OT:3212; a primitive root; to walk (in a great variety of applications, literally and figuratively):

The word halacha means, “the way to walk”, and it refers to the way the nation is to walk out the commandments in Torah together. This is because Judaism understands that Torah is not only an individual study exercise, but a national mission to establish the reign of the Messiah.

While the Jewish understanding of halacha is biblical, the problem is that the Pharisaic (Orthodox) definition of halacha is not. Rather than obeying Yeshua’s Torah (or even the Torah of Moshe), the Pharisees (Orthodox) base their halacha on a mixture of biblical commands, Talmudic and rabbinic laws, and the customs and traditions of men. Together these are often called “Jewish Law” or “Torah Law” (as distinct from the Law of Moshe). Wikipedia explains the Orthodox halacha this way:

[Orthodox Jewish] Halakha is based on biblical commandments (mitzvot), subsequent Talmudic and rabbinic law, and the customs and traditions compiled in the many books such as the Shulchan Aruch. Halakha is often translated as “Jewish Law”, although a more literal translation might be “the way to behave” or “the way of walking”. The word derives from the root that means “to behave” (also “to go” or “to walk”). Halakha guides not only religious practices and beliefs, but also numerous aspects of day-to-day life.

Being a Jew, Yeshua had absolutely no issue with the concept of halacha. Rather, His complaint was that the rabbinic halacha was something other than the Torah of Elohim. For example, notice how the scribes and the Pharisees asked Yeshua why His disciples did not obey the halacha (here called “the tradition of the elders”), by not following the traditional rabbinic hand washing ritual.

Mattityahu (Matthew) 15:1-9
1 Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Yeshua, saying,
2 “Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.”
3 He answered and said to them, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of Elohim because of your tradition?
4 For Elohim commanded, saying, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’
5 But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to Elohim” —
6 then he need not honor his father or mother.’ Thus you have made the commandment of Elohim of no effect by your tradition.
7 Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying:
8 “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me.
9 And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'”

What is a Min?

In Hebraic thought, Yahweh establishes the standard, and then it is up to all who love Him to uphold His original standard. Further, anything that departs from His original standard is thought of as a min (מן), which refers to a sect, a deviation, or a heresy.

Yeshua clearly understood that the rabbinical order had wandered off course, and that it had become heretical, so He established His Melchizedekian order, to replace it. Yet the Pharisees did not (and do not) understand that their halacha is heretical, since they wrongly believe that Yahweh gave them the authority to establish their own halacha (their own Torah Law) in each generation. That is why the Pharisees accused Shaul of belonging to the sect or heresy (min) of the Nazarenes.

Ma’asei (Acts) 24:5
5 For we have found this man a plague, a creator of dissension among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect [מן] of the Nazarenes.”

To this Shaul responds by saying (effectively) that he is not a member of a heresy (or a departure from the true original faith), because he still believes everything that is written in the Torah and the Prophets.

Ma’asei (Acts) 24:14
14 “But this I confess to you, that according to the way which they call a sect, so I worship the Elohim of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Torah and in the Prophets.”

We know that the term “the way” cannot be the name of Shaul’s faith because Felix already had “more accurate knowledge of the way” (verse 22), and yet he did not know why Yeshua was the Messiah. That is why verse 24 tells us he wanted to hear from Shaul concerning the faith in Messiah.

Ma’asei (Acts) 24:22-26
22 But when Felix heard these things, having more accurate knowledge of the way, he adjourned the proceedings and said, “When Lysias the commander comes down, I will make a decision on your case.”
23 So he commanded the centurion to keep Shaul and to let him have liberty, and told him not to forbid any of his friends to provide for or visit him.
24 And after some days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, he sent for Shaul and heard him concerning the faith in Messiah.
25 Now as he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and answered, “Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you.”
26 Meanwhile he also hoped that money would be given him by Shaul, that he might release him. Therefore he sent for him more often and conversed with him.

Clearly Felix did not already have a knowledge of the Nazarene faith, because he was looking for a bribe, and became afraid when Shaul began reasoning with him about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come.

What makes infinitely more sense is that Felix already had more accurate knowledge of the Pharisaic halacha (or the way the Pharisees believe in walking, verse 22), because his wife Drusilla was Jewish (verse 24). Yet because his wife Drusilla was a Pharisee, he did not yet know anything about the Nazarene sect, which is why he asked Shaul explain it to him.

The Renewed Covenant: a Jewish Book

It is important to realize that the Renewed Covenant was not written in a vacuum. Rather, it was written by Jews, first for Jews, and then also for gentile Ephraimites. That is why when we gentile Ephraimites read the Renewed Covenant, we need to do so with a Jewish mindset, and we need to remember to use the Jewish understanding of words and terms. If we use modern western terms and ideas instead, we can miss the meaning of the Renewed Covenant entirely.

When we read Scripture with first century Jewish eyes, we can see that even though the Orthodox concept of halacha is sadly mistaken, the idea of a halacha still applies. This is because in Judaism, the sect leader sets the halacha by his example, and everyone else imitates the sect leader.

Qorintim Aleph (1 Corinthians) 11:1
1 Imitate me, just as I also imitate Messiah.

This is also why we are told to walk even as our Example walked.

Yochanan Aleph (1 John) 2:6
6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk even as He walked.

In Judaism, it is nonsensical to suggest that we can walk differently than our sect leader practiced, because his walk sets the standard.