Frequently Asked Questions
Are Gentiles supposed to follow this Torah? I thought it was only for Jews.
It's true that the Torah was given specifically to Jews. Those were the people with whom God made his covenants, including the New Covenant (Jer. 31:31-34). But, as Paul explains in many passages, the mystery of the gospel is the fact that Gentiles are allowed to be part of God's covenant people without becoming Jews.
Even so, the Torah is applied to Gentiles in both Testaments. For example, in Isaiah 56 God promises acceptance and blessing to foreigners who keep the Sabbath and hold fast to his covenant (i.e. Torah).
Paul discusses this issue in Romans 2. He promises distress for all who do evil, both Jew and Gentile, but glory, honor, and peace for all who do good, both Jew and Gentile (2:9-10). For those who miss the point, he goes on to define doing good as following Torah by saying, "it is not those who hear the law (i.e. Jews) who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous" (2:13) (although he makes it clear in later passages that it's not keeping Torah that makes one righteous). The point that Paul is making in this passage is that Jews who don't follow Torah have no right to call themselves Jews. But even Gentiles who follow Torah are to be commended. He closes the discussion by saying, "If those who are not circumcised (Gentiles) keep the law's requirements, will they not be regarded as though they were circumcised?" (2:26) Clearly Paul is commending those Gentiles who obey Torah, even though it was not given specifically to them.
These passages could be multiplied. In Numbers 15:16 Moses emphasizes that "the same laws and regulations will apply both to you and to the alien living among you." Paul tells his Gentile audience in Corinth that they should keep the Passover (I Cor. 5:8) as well as that Jewish or Gentile doesn't matter, "Keeping God's commands is what counts" (I Cor. 7:19). He also tells them that they should not set money aside on the Sabbath, since that is not an appropriate activity, but that they should do it on another day (I Cor. 16:2). He tells the Gentile believers in Colosse that they have been symbolically circumcised (Col. 2:11). Therefore, they should not let anyone criticize them for eating kosher or keeping Sabbaths and festivals (2:16). He tells the Ephesians that whereas they were formerly "separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel, and foreigners to the covenants of the promise (i.e. Torah)," now they have been "brought near through the blood of Christ" (2:12-13). As a result they are "fellow citizens with God's people" (2:19). There are many hints in the New Testament that God is pleased with Gentiles if they follow his revealed Torah.