Welcome to Nazarene Israel. My name is Norman Willis. In this study, we want to talk about the duck test with regard to Scripture.
Many people know that the duck test is referring to when you have a bird and you are wondering if it is a duck, so when you take a look you ask yourself the following questions. Does it look like a duck? Does it swim like a duck? Does it quack like a duck? And if the answer to these questions is yes, then it is probably a duck.
But what do you do if you have a bird and it kind of looks like a duck, but not really? And it kind of swims like a duck, but not so much? And it kind of quacks, but not really like a duck? And so, maybe it is not a duck. But what do you do when you have this kind of a thing?
Well, in the case of the apostle Yehuda (Jude), you write him a letter.
Yehudah (Jude) 3
3 Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.
[Christian-Jewish, Christian-Israelite, Nazarene-Israel]
Jude is saying:
‘You are saved, I am saved, we are all saved here and have a common salvation. I am not saying you are not saved, I am just saying, even though we are both saved, yet still, I found it necessary to write to you, exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. Because you are not keeping it. You are not doing and abiding by the original faith. You are practicing some other faith. Your ducks are not in a row!‘
Well, in this study we want to talk about what is called the Beit Din Structure, to illustrate what it means to practice the original first-century faith that was once for all delivered to the saints, and not some other faith like many Messianic do today. Now, do not get your feathers ruffled, but if you do not understand how the Beit Din structure applies to worship in today’s times, you might be laying an egg. Stick around we are going to discuss it all.
There are a lot of renewed covenant (New Testament) believers out there whose ideas do not really fly. One of the reasons why their ideas do not really fly is that they forget that the renewed covenant was not written in a vacuum. The renewed covenant was written primarily by devout first-century Jews, and they wrote it primarily to other devout first-century Jews. There were certain things that were understood in the context of being devout first-century Jews. The renewed covenant is certainly open to those of us of gentile backgrounds, but we need to remember to view the Scriptures of the renewed covenant with what we might call first-century Jewish (Israelite) eyes. Because when we do that it is going to provide a different context, a different flavor, and a different feel, much more than things being lost in the translation. We are going to understand the culture of what is being written about. And that is what we need, elsewise, we are going to miss what the renewed covenant says. So in order to understand the renewed covenant from devout first-century Jewish eyes, we need to begin with the book that all devout first-century Jews would have read, which is of course The Torah of Moshe (The Law of Moses).
Now, in the Law of Moses, in Exodus chapter 18, Moshe’s father-in-law Yitro (Jethro) has come to visit. And he takes a look, and he sees that Moshe is trying to lead the nation but there is really not any order. There is not really any structure or leadership. He says to Moshe that the thing that he is doing is not good! That Moshe is going to wear himself out and the people, that he is not going to make it through to the end. So Jethro instructs Moses on what to do.
Shemote (Exodus) 18:21-22
21 “Moreover you shall select from all the people able men, such as fear Elohim, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them to be rulers of thousands, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens.
22 And let them judge the people at all times. Then it will be that every great matter they shall bring to you, but every small matter they themselves shall judge. So it will be easier for you, for they will bear the burden with you.”
Jethro instructs Moshe to select from all the people, able men, competent people, such as fear Elohim. They are not going to just read what Scripture says to do, but they are actually going to do it. Men of truth. They want to know the truth and they hate covetousness. Prosperity doctrine is out. And they will bear the burden with Moshe and then everyone can all make it to the goal together. So we see that they had to order and organize themselves, to put things in order so that everything would work right.
We look up the word judge, because that is what we love to do! We love to wake up in the middle of night with a burning desire to read Strong’s Concordance!
Strong’s Hebrew Concordance
H: 8199 (שָׁפַט) shâphaṭ, shaw-fat’
A primitive root; to judge, that is, pronounce sentence (for or against); by implication to vindicate or punish; by extension to govern; passively to litigate (literally or figuratively): –
+ avenge, X that condemn, contend, defend, execute (judgement), (be a) judge (-ment), X needs, plead, reason, rule.
What Jethro is saying is that these leaders over thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens are there to help govern the people, so the people can achieve their objectives together.
We continue in Exodus chapter 24 to see how this breaks down.
Shemote (Exodus) 24:1-2
1 Now [Yahweh] said to Moshe, “Come up to Yahweh, you and Aharon, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and worship from afar.
2 And Moshe alone shall come near Yahweh, but they [the seventy elders] shall not come near; nor shall the people go up with him.”
So there is a distinction being made between Moshe, and the seventy elders, and the rest of the people. We are going to see other distinctions.
Bemidbar (Numbers) 1:44
44 These are the ones who were numbered, whom Moshe and Aharon numbered, with the leaders of Israel, twelve men, each one representing his father’s house.
Meaning, we had 12 leaders, one man leading each of the 12 tribes. So we see Moshe, 70 elders, 12 tribal leaders, and the leaders over thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens, basically all of the people. We are starting to get some order and some organization in the founding document, in the Torah.
Bemidbar (Number) 11:24
24 So Moshe went out and told the people the words of Yahweh, and he gathered the seventy men of the elders of the people and placed them around the tabernacle.
25 Then Yahweh came down in the cloud, and spoke to him, and took of the Spirit that was upon him, and placed the same upon the seventy elders; and it happened, when the Spirit rested upon them, that they prophesied, although they never did so again.
We do not know for certain, but this probably included the 12 tribal leaders because you are not likely to leave them out of this. But what we see here is that basically there were certain qualifications for the 70 leaders. They were capable men, they were lovers of truth and justice, they did not like unrighteous gain (they were not prosperity gospel preachers, this kind of a thing). If we diagram that, basically what we see and will see again later is, it is not the pyramid or the top-down Babylonian-Egyptian elitist pyramid that we see on the back of the United States dollar bill. But rather, it is what we might call an inverted pyramid, or could you even picture a tree structure here?
Can you see the trunk, and the branches leading upward, and the leaves spreading forth, being the people?
So we had Moshe serving the 70 elders, they served as did the 12 tribal leaders, and then we will also later see leaders of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens leading the people. And this is the concept written in the Torah, that of a well-ordered nation. This is the concept that the first-century Jewish apostles would have understood. They would have understood that the Torah speaks of a well-ordered and organized nation led by the right kinds of people.
Okay, what does that look like? So after Moshe led the children of Israel through the wilderness and then Joshua led them into the Promised Land, how did this work out in real life? Again, let us consider Jethro’s advice in Exodus chapter 18.
Shemote (Exodus) 18:22
22 “… And let them judge the people at all times…”
Now, how does that work out? Well, what we see is what they ultimately settled on were three levels of courts, or what is called the Bet Din Structure. And again, the bigger levels are at the bottom because the trunk of the tree supports the weight upward.
So, in every city, you would have a city court, a court formed with the elders of the city. There are more details to this that we will talk about in other places, but basically, they would form what you might call a Beit Din (a house of judgment or court) for the city. And in each city there was required to be a minimum of three before they could pass judgment, again, we will get into that at some other point in time. This is Levitical structure, and this is when the land is already settled.
Then you would have what is called a Beit Din Katan (a small court) for each of the tribes. Historically, the Beit Din Katan had 23 elders that would perform the judgments.
And then for the nation, you had what is called the Beit Din Gadol (the big court). And historically, that was 71 members, symbolic of Moshe plus the 70 elders of Israel, which again, probably included the 12 tribal leaders. So that is how it was done historically, that was the organization. We were missing the tree structure but that is conceptual anyway.
Well, we come here to Wikipedia and read about the Beit Din. Of course, if it is written in Wikipedia it has got to be true, right? Well, not really, but so let us read what it says.
Beth [Beit] Din: Wikipedia
A beth din (Hebrew: בית דין, romanized: Bet Din, lit. ‘house of judgment’, [bet ‘din],
Ashkenazic: beis din, plural: batei din) is a rabbinical court of Judaism. 
In ancient times, it was the building block of the legal system in the Biblical Land of Israel…
…There were three types of courts
(Mishnah, tractate Sanhedrin 1:1-4 and 1:6):
And so Wikipedia says that the Beit Din “was the building block of the legal system in the Biblical Land of Israel”. And actually, that is an understatement.
In the United States for example, and in most western countries, we have what is called a separation of church and state, or between synagogue and state, or between faith and government. And that is purely Babylonian, that the root cause of all the disturbances in the world today, as we are doing this recording in 2021 CE. That is the whole cause.
Now interestingly, in some places, like Russia for example, they have what they call symphony of church and state. They have the wrong church but that is another matter altogether. They have the right concept, just the wrong application. But the idea is that you are supposed to have a coordination, or a symphony, or a harmony. Just like you had Moshe and Aharon who were brothers. They literally worked together; they literally served the nation of Israel together. You are supposed to have cooperation, harmony, and symphony between the government and the faith aspect of things.
So the Beit Din “was the building block of the legal system in the Biblical Land of Israel”. We see it is basically baked right into the cake.
Now, we do not necessarily consider the Mishnah to be accurate, but we do consider it to be an interesting historical reference. So, the Mishnah says that there were three different types of courts.
Beth [Beit] Din: Wikipedia
…The Sanhedrin, the grand central court on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, numbering 71. [NBW: Beit Din Gadol, Big Court]
Smaller courts of 23, called a Sanhedrin Ketana (“small Sanhedrin”). These courts could pass the death verdict. These existed on two levels, the one higher in standing than the other:
The main cities of the tribes, had a court of 23.
So it says, first, you have the Sanhedrin, it is kind of like the papa bear or the grand central court on the temple mount in Jerusalem. Again, numbering 71 members, symbolic of Moshe and the 70 elders. The Greek term that they use is Sanhedrin, we are going to call that a Beit Din Gadol, meaning a Big Court. That is kind of like your Supreme Court for the nation.
Then they have smaller courts, which you might think of as appellate courts or superior courts. Not the supreme court, but superior courts. They would have smaller courts of 23 members for each of the 12 tribes called the Sanhedrin Ketana. We are going to call it a Beit Din Katan. And these courts could even pass a death sentence or a death verdict (serious court!). They existed on two levels; we will talk about that some other time. But the main cities of the tribes (or the headquarters of the tribes, or the capital city of a state, so to speak), were basically 12 states in the nation of Israel that each had a Beit Din Katan court of 23 members.
And then you had all towns of a minimum size. According to the Mishnah, if you had 120 or 230 people you had to have a court of at least 23 members, but the smallest court you could have was a court of three members. Now, we will talk more about this another time, they used voting which is a Babylonian system, we do not go by voting, we go by consensus which is a different concept. But what you see is this basic concept of having the small city courts, then your appellate (superior courts) for the tribe, and then you had the big court (the Beit Din Gadol). And that was your Beit Din Structure. That is how that worked.
But again, take a look diagrammatically. In ancient Israel you had Moshe. Now in the Land of Israel, you had what is called your Nasi which is your prince, president, or your prime minister, so to speak. And then he had his council, effectively, of 70 in the Beit Din Gadol. And then you would have 12 leaders for each tribe, what you would call the Beit Din Katan. So you would have 12 smaller courts (tribal courts). Then for each city, you would have a court of the city elders. And then finally you come to the people who were ordered by thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens. That is how they did it in ancient Israel.
Well, you might say, ‘Okay, but Norman, that is all Old Testament stuff is it not? I mean, that is all done away with because, after all, we all know the church tells us that Jesus came to nail the law to the cross, and to set us free from the law, and these kinds of things. So surely the Messiah did not use this kind of structure did He?’
Oh, yes! He did!
In Luke chapter 9 we read about the feeding of the five thousand.
Luqa (Luke) 9:14
14 For there were about five thousand men. Then He said to His disciples, “Make them sit down in groups of fifty.”
Once again, we have the division between thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens. What we are going to see for the rest of this study is that this exact same type of structure existed in renewed covenant times. And by extension, this is the type of system that we as followers of the faith once delivered to the saints need to be organizing ourselves by if we want to pass the duck test.
Again, try not to get your feathers all ruffled! Because here is what we will see in the renewed covenant. You had Ya’akov in the place of the Nasi (prince, president, etc.) of the Beit Din Gadol. A constitutional prince, in other words. And then he had his counsel, we are going to see the Jerusalem council. We do not know if they had 70 members, but we are going to see a council of apostles and elders, also called the foundation of apostles and prophets. Then we are going to see there are 12 apostles (probably included in the 70, we do not know that, but it seems very reasonable that they would be included). Then you have other apostles.
We talk about this in works such as Acts 15 Order and Torah Government, but very interestingly, there are actually 22 named apostles in the renewed covenant. This was not a one-time thing where the apostolic structure is done. Again, we talk about that in Torah Government and in Acts 15 Order, so please check those books out. And if you have not read the Nazarene Israel study, please read that one first. Because that will give you the framework. And if you read and understand that work you will know more than about 99 percent of the Christians out there. And if you understand Torah Government and Acts 15 Order, you are going to be way ahead of the rest of the folks. And this is important information because this is how we are supposed to be ordering ourselves, even today.
Now, you have people that call themselves pastor. “Oh, who is your pastor?” Does it occur to anyone there is no such official position as a pastor in the renewed covenant? Yes, there is the gift of a pastor, but the position or the role is that of a city congregational elder, and ideally, there should be at least three or more. It can be done with less, but ideally, you want at least three or more. So, if someone is teaching you that he is a pastor and that is a correct position, ask yourself, does he sound like a duck?
But the main thing we are going to see here is that this is the Melchizedekian order. So it is going to have some slightly different specifics than the Levitical order, but it is going to function on the same precepts. That is the main thing. The same principles and the same precepts apply. Acts 15 is where we are going to see it all come together. In context, this is the so-called Jerusalem council. And remember, originally, it was devout Jews who were going to speak to other devout Jews. The first non-Jew that was brought into the covenant was Cornelius in Acts chapter 10, and then we see that Shaul and Barnabas went to Antioch in chapter 11. And that is where they first began bringing in non-Jew (non-devout, Hellenized, or Hellenistic, what we would today call reformed Jews). And then other true gentiles began to be brought into the faith there in Antioch. So, then we come to chapter 15.
And then plus other true gentiles began to be brought into the faith there in Antioch and what we see then is in Acts chapter 15.
Ma’asei (Acts) 15:1
1 And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moshe, you cannot be saved.”
2 Therefore, when Shaul and Bar Naba [Barnabas] had no small dissension and dispute with them, they determined that Shaul and Bar Naba and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem, to the apostles and elders, about this question.
These men who came down from Judea are what we are going to refer as one-house Messianic-Rabbinic-Talmudic Jews. They did not have the Talmud back then, but they were still rabbinic (or Talmudic) in practice. In other words, what they are teaching is the traditions and teachings of men and rabbinic custom and tradition. And these Pharisees who believed said, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moshe you cannot be saved.”
And the church teaches us that what this proves is that we are not supposed to keep the Torah of Moshe. We are not supposed to keep the law of Moses. But that is not what it says. What it was called in this passage is the custom of Moshe or the tradition and teaching of Moshe. And what it was, in context, is what is called today the geyur process or the rabbinic gentile conversion process. The rabbis have specific procedures, which seem to make sense on the surface but are not what Yahweh actually wants.
The concept between the rabbinic geyur process is that first, before anyone can convert to the nation, you have to give them classes and test them. Then once they have shown that they understand the rabbinic version of Torah, then you can allow them to circumcise themselves or be circumcised. And then once they are circumcised, then they can keep the Torah. But that is not how it happened in Acts chapter 10. So that is the whole point.
But nonetheless, just like we speak the truth today and not everyone agrees (people still champion wrong points of view) so it happens in Acts chapter 15. Certain men (the Pharisees who believe) came and said that unless the people were circumcised according to their geyur, rabbinic custom and tradition, they could not be saved. Again, these are the one-house Rabbinic-Messianic-Talmudic Jews. And in today’s terms, one-house Rabbinic-Messianic-Talmudic Jews we would probably call the UMJC, UCMJ, MJA, the FMC. Well, Shaul and Barnabas have nothing to do with that. And so Shaul and Barnabas, and others with them, determined to go up to Jerusalem, to the apostles and elders in order to present the question.
We are going to see that the phrase “to the apostles and elders” is in reference to the Beit Din Gadol. We are talking about the Sanhedrin, so to speak, the council for the Nazarene nation which is comprised of apostles and elders. In other places, we will see it is called the foundation of apostles and prophets, because it is that combined foundation upon which a unified nation is built. It is such an important concept and so many two-house believers completely miss it. They have no concept of what it is that is being talked about. For example, people misunderstand Titus chapter one, verse 5 all of the time.
5 For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you…
In other words, Shaul is instructing Titus in an attempt to establish and institute the order that Jethro suggested to Moshe back in the Torah. Different specifics, same principle. Same precept. Same concept. The people have to be ordered. And if we take a look just in this passage, we can see seven levels of order right here in this verse. Because we are going to see in a moment, You had Yaakov (James) who was the Nasi of the Beit Din Gadol, then you had the Beit Din Gadol itself (the council, the foundation of apostles and prophets, we do not know if it was 70 exactly but that is the concept), then you had Shaul who was probably not a member because his ministry was to the gentiles on the outside. So he probably did not make all the meetings. Then we have Shaul commanding Titus, so now you have a different level of order within the apostolic priesthood itself. Then Titus went to appoint the city elders, that is the fifth level. And the elders, of course, appoint the deacons and the deacons serve the people. So we see seven distinct levels right there in Titus chapter 1 and verse 5.
And it is just amazing how many people take a look at Scripture, and they think they are fine. They are just going to sit in the living room, they are going to read their Scripture insights with their friends and there is no need to order themselves, no need to organize or do anything. Because those things are difficult, nobody likes accepting corporate discipline, nobody likes tithing or doing those kinds of things. Why? Because it is difficult. Only the people who truly love Yeshua more than they love their own lives are going to want to do those things. Because those are the things Yeshua wants. And the things of the Spirit are anathema to the things of the flesh. So if we love our flesh then we do not want to do what Scripture says. But if we love Yeshua that is when we want to do everything that Yeshua says to do. Which we see in other studies includes the Great Commission and the Five-Fold Ministry structure that we are speaking of here in the Beit Din structure. Because it is effectively the same thing.
We talk about this in the study on Torah Government as well as in Acts 15 Order. Torah Government is a very high-level conceptual study; Acts 15 Order is more of how to apply it. So now let us look at Ephesians chapter 2.
Ephesim (Ephesians) 2:19-21
19 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the set-apart ones and members of the household of Elohim,
20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, [talking about the Beit Din Gadol] Yeshua Messiah Himself being the chief cornerstone, [our High Priest in the heavens]
21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a set-apart temple in Yahweh…
A keyword here is together. Many two-house believers do not understand what that means. The requirement here is that we be fitted together as one structure.
We know that the temple is made up of living stones. So a living stone is a stone that is uncut. We do not necessarily have hard and fast structures, what we have is a Five-Fold ministry discipline that we order and organize ourselves by. That way we do not have strict diagrams and this kind of a thing. But we take people for who they are, and when someone truly loves Elohim and truly wants to serve Him, then we get to know them. Just like if you were literally building with a living or an uncut stone. You have to know the stone very well, so you know exactly how to place it, how to order it in the structure so that it locks in place and provides a stable foundation. That is what it is that we are attempting to do here.
But there is a thing called the gestalt. So, the concept of gestalt is that the sum is or can be more than the sum of its parts. If you have a pile of computer parts, it is very different than a computer. But if you put the parts together, order them and assemble them in the right way, now you have a computer. And so the gestalt is when you now have the use of the computer, something more than just the pile of computer parts. Same thing with a car or a motorcycle. You can have a bunch of parts in a heap, or you can put it together in just the right way in order to have the use of the car or the motorcycle. We see the exact same kind of thing going on with the living temple that Yeshua asks us (rather, tells us as part of the Great Commission) to build for Him, a spiritual kingdom in His absence. that is what we are to do with our minas, our saved lives).
Ephesim (Ephesians) 2:20
20 …having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Yeshua Messiah Himself being the chief cornerstone…
This is the gestalt; this is what we are supposed to be doing. We are supposed to be building Him a living temple made with living stones, but there is supposed to be only one living temple. Meaning, there is supposed to be one single, unified ministry as opposed to how nowadays you have all these different, separate, independent ministries. You have your Saturday Night Live ministries and your Passion for Half-Truth ministries. You have Call 911 ministries, these kinds of things. And these are some very smart, gifted, and talented people. Not to mention any names, but the problem is that they are not helping to build a single unified building.
Typically, what we see when we have these independent kinds of ministries is someone with the gift of an evangelist, a pastor, or a teacher and they are setting up their own ministry. And sad as it is, what they are really doing is establishing a broad, easy road. Because they do not take the discipline to reconcile themselves to Scripture, unifying themselves onto the foundation of apostles and prophets. And it is such an important thing, this is how we become a single unified ministry for Yeshua worldwide. It is how it becomes a single unified tree structure, by reconciling and unifying ourselves to that foundation of apostles and prophets, which is the Beit Din Gadol.
Why apostles and prophets? Because those are the two classes of giftings that, by definition, hear and speak according to Yahweh’s spirit. A prophet, by definition, is someone who hears Yahweh’s voice and speaks according to it, and effectively, an apostle is the same thing. He is someone who hears Yahweh’s voice and speaks according to it, but who also has a profound gift for the doctrine. So he is able to operate as a spiritual CEO, so to speak. You can send him out, which is the definition of apostle. He is a shaliah, he is a sent one. And the reason why he is able to be sent out is because he hears and obeys Yahweh’s voice, speaks according to Yahweh’s voice, and also has a profound understanding of the doctrine. So he is able to operate as a free agent, so to speak. Because he will always reconcile with the single building structure, exactly like we see in Acts chapter 15. The apostle Shaul and Barnaba are out there on their missionary voyages, they are doing things, but when there is a question of doctrine, they come back and reconcile upon the foundation of apostles and prophets. And that is what is not happening in the Messianic movement today.
Now, we have had uh 500 years plus since Martin Luther nailed his protests to the door of the church in Wittenberg, in 1517. And since that point in time, there has been nothing but fragmentation in the body. It has been both a blessing and a curse. We as individuals are now able to seek more truth and we are able to read Scripture for ourselves and determine what Scripture actually says. But, as we see here, we are all scattered. And one of the things Scripture actually says is that we are not supposed to be scattered. We are supposed to be setting up one single ministry for Yeshua worldwide.
So here we see the foundation of apostles and prophets, that is also the Beit Din Gadol for the nation, as we see in Acts chapter 15. If you want to diagram it in a different way, then we can picture a tree instead. Yeshua, the cornerstone, is the root of the tree, and then you have the trunk of the tree that would be the Beit Din Gadol, it is going to support the weight of the tree. Then most of your congregational elders are going to have the gifts of evangelists, pastors, and teachers, but they have to be founded upon the trunk or it does not work.
If you are disconnected from the tree or if you are cut off from the vine, then you become withered as a branch and then you become burned. And that is a very real warning for everyone as we come into these end times. We need to stay in connection with Yeshua, not only spiritually, but in addition to spiritually, there is also a physical component. Being in connection with Yeshua means being in connection with His body. And His body is based upon the foundation of apostles and prophets, the Beit Din Gadol.
Returning to Acts 15, in the so-called Jerusalem council (or the Jerusalem Beit Din) we see that some of the Rabbinic-Talmudic tradition-oriented Messianic Jews who believed (our one-house rabbinic of today) rose up saying “now it is necessary to circumcise them (the new believers) and to command them to keep the Torah of Moshe.” And again, the way the Catholic church teaches it, it is very easy to misunderstand this to mean that the Torah is out! But what they are really saying here is ‘take a look at the order’. Because this is the order of the geyur process. First, you teach them in the rabbinic traditions and understandings, then you give them tests, and then if they pass the tests, they can become physically circumcised. And once they become physically circumcised, then they can keep the Torah of Moshe. We will get into their specific doctrine some other time, but that is the sequence that they see. And that is not what happened in the case of Cornelius.
So now the Beit Din Gadol (the foundation of apostles and prophets) came together to consider this matter.
Ma’asei (Acts) 15:13, 19
13 And after they had become silent, [they have talked themselves all out and now they are hearing in the Spirit] Ya’akov answered, saying, “Men and brethren, listen to me…”
19 “Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are (re-)turning to Elohim…”
Ya’akov is rendering judgment as the Nasi (prince) of the Beit Din Gadol. And he is basically saying, ‘We could not follow the Talmud, so why should we put a yoke of the Talmud upon them? What sense does that make?’
Yeshua never had a single good thing to say about the Talmud.
We look up the word judge in Strong’s Greek Concordance.
Strong’s Greek Concordance
G:2919 (κρίνω) krinó kree’-no
Properly to distinguish, that is, decide (mentally or judicially); by implication to try, condemn, punish: -avenge, conclude, condemn, damn, decree, determine, esteem, judge, go to (sue at the) law, ordain, call in question, sentence to, think.
What we are saying here is that the apostle Ya’akov (James) is acting as the Nasi of the Beit Din Gadol for the entire Nazarene nation. And notice, this is the discipline, this is the meaning of the Five-Fold ministry. That when there is a difference of understanding and when there is a difference of doctrine, it has got to be reconciled. We have to have the discipline to go to the Beit Din Gadol, discuss these matters, and work these things out. Because that is the only way to be a unified nation.
Well, there are all these people that are like, ‘Well, we can agree to disagree. We can have separate ministries’ (which you never see in Scripture). ‘We can have separate belief systems’ (which goes completely against First Corinthians). Yeah, First Corinthians chapter 1, where the apostle Shaul clearly says not to do that.
This is the concept. It was so important in Acts chapter 15 that when there was a difference of understanding Shaul and Barnaba walked (or maybe they rode or took a cart or something), but it is a three-week journey on foot or by animal to go from Antioch to Jerusalem. It was that important to them to resolve this issue. Why? Because there has to be a single understanding for the nation. Because technically, according to Scripture, more than one belief set literally becomes more than one nation.
So what we see in Titus chapter 1, verse 5 is the apostle Shaul telling Titus to establish city elders. And the whole purpose of this was to establish the same kinds of order and accountability that Jethro advised Moshe in the Torah. Here we see this tree structure and the whole purpose of it is to unify the nation on a single basis of doctrine. Because if you have more than one doctrine, technically in Scripture, you have more than one nation. This is the whole purpose of the Five-Fold ministry doctrine, this is the whole purpose of the foundation of apostles and prophets. To unify the nation on a single foundation of apostles and prophets.
Now, let us apply the duck test to ourselves. We know that we have a common salvation, but are we “earnestly practicing and contending for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints”? Including the Beit Din structure? Including the different layers of organization? Including the Five-Fold ministry? Does our faith look like the original first-century faith? Do we have the same levels of organization and are we preaching the need for unification on a Beit Din structure? Or are we perhaps doing something else, and it is a different ministry entirely? These are the questions we need to understand and ask ourselves with regard to the Beit Din structure so that we ourselves do not lay an egg.