What Is The Midrash? And Why Should We Be Concerned About It?

Today, most congregations are drifting away from the Biblical, Holy Spirit-filled Ministry of Scripture teaching in the congregation, and are resorting to various man-made methods and activities. The focus of today's congregations includes preaching of sermons, story telling, and the practice of rituals and traditions, along with a few popular 'feel-good' activities thrown in for good measure. Most have abandoned the teaching of Scripture altogether.

Of those still teaching the Scriptures today, many have removed the Biblical, Holy Spirit-filled Ministry of the Word in the congregation, and the practice of being "DO-ers" of Scripture, and have replaced these with man-made commentary on Scripture, all based on tradition.

The lamps of the Believing Congregations are flickering, and many have gone out!

But the promised "restoration of all things" has begun! [see Acts 3:21]

Yahuweh is restoring His people, to prepare them, immediately prior to Messiah's physical return for His people! He is restoring them to the simplicity of Messiah, and to a return to holiness [separated-ness], all based on a return to the Scriptures!

But as in every move of the Holy Spirit, there is chaos and opposition, wherever the Light of Truth invades the darkness of sin and error. And so we see all around us, the collision of the Truths of Scripture, against man-made traditions and entrenched Doctrines of Men. We see whole congregations embracing the Truths of Scripture, while others continue in man-made tradition and Doctrines of Men.

The current move of the Holy Spirit, to 'restore all things' among Believers, has brought about many changes in the lives and activities of Believers. Congregations of Messianic Believers are being formed, many of which have distanced themselves from the typical congregational model found within the traditional congregations. But in doing so, many have moved even further still, away from the model of Congregational life as laid out in Scripture.

How has this happened?

They have adopted the tradition of using the 'midrash' methods to interpret and teach the Scriptures!

This has happened, because many Messianics have simply adopted the idea, that if it looks 'Jewish' it must be a part of the current Restoration, and so it must be right!

This willingness to embrace anything appearing 'Jewish' is full of danger, and threatens to derail the lives of many Messianics.

And so the ministry of the Holy Spirit within the Congregation is being crowded out, and is being replaced today by a traditional model found within the religion of Judaism — that of the midrash.

In this writing we will look at the midrash. We will see what the word means, and how it is used in Scripture. We will then look at the midrash a historical context, and how it is being used within present-day tradition.

Finally, we will look at the midrash as a means of teaching, and then compare this to the Biblical, Holy Spirit-filled Ministry of Scripture teaching in the congregation.

The Midrash — As Used in Scripture

What is the midrash, according to Scripture?

Notice the Scripture Definition from the Hebrew Lexicon:
04097 midrash {mid-rawsh'} from 01875; TWOT - 455a; n m AV - story 2; 2
1) study, exposition, midrash, record, story
1a) writings of a didactic nature
1b) midrash - transliteration of the Hebrew word
The Hebrew Lexicon tells us the word midrash <04097> means "record, story; a narrative or exposition," and stems from the word darash <01875> meaning "seek, enquire, search."

We see the word midrash used in the following Scripture passages:
And the rest of the acts of Abijah, and his ways, and his sayings, are written in the story <04097> of the prophet Iddo. (2Chronicles 13:22)
Now concerning his sons, and the greatness of the burdens laid upon him, and the repairing of the house of God, behold, they are written in the story <04097> of the book of the kings. And Amaziah his son reigned in his stead. (2Chronicles 24:27)
In Scripture, we see that the midrash is used to describe a narrative or story that is told, to declare the words of Scripture. With this in mind, let us see how this compares to the midrash as seen in past and present tradition.

The Midrash — As Seen in Tradition

The midrash has been a common activity within Judaism for many years, and is now being adopted by many within the Messianic community. But what is the midrash according to the Traditions of Judaism — and what are the dangers of using this method of teaching?

As a method of Scripture interpretation, the tradition of using methods of 'midrash' was devised by Jewish refugees after returning from exile in Babylon. Invented by the Rabbis, the midrash was used as a method to standardise Scripture teaching, and consisted of many oral discussions and commentary.

These discussions and commentary began to be put into writing, and over time, have become a large collection of rabbinic writings on Jewish law and tradition. Known today as the Talmud, these writings consist of two parts, the Mishna and the Gemara, and they have become the basis of religious authority in the religion of Judaism.

As a method of Scripture interpretation and teaching, the use of the midrash survives today in Judaism, and is becoming popular among Messianic congregations.

But is the midrash something we should use to interpret and teach Scripture?

Let us look at what some of the current Jewish leaders say about their own teaching method:
Midrash - From Wikipedia

Etymology

Gesenius ascribes the etymology of midrash to the Qal of the common Hebrew verb darash (דָּרַשׁ) "to seek, study, inquire".[2] The word "midrash" occurs twice in the Hebrew Bible: 2 Chronicles 13:22 "in the midrash of the prophet Iddo", and 24:27 "in the midrash of the Book of the Kings."

Methodology

According to the PaRDeS approaches to exegesis, interpretation of Biblical texts in Judaism is realized through peshat (literal or plain meaning, lit. "plain" or "simple"), remez (deep meaning, lit. "hints"), derash (comparative meaning, from Hebrew darash-"to inquire" or "to seek") and sod (hidden meaning or philosophy, lit. "secret" or "mystery"). The Midrash concentrates somewhat on remez but mostly on derash (Some thinkers divide PaRDeS into pshat, remez, din (law) and sod. In this understanding, midrash aggada deals with remez and midrash halakha deals with din)... Some Midrash discussions are highly metaphorical, and many Jewish authors stress that they are not intended to be taken literally...

Forms of Midrashic literature

In general the Midrash is focused on either halakha (legal) or Aggadic (non-legal and chiefly homiletical) subject matter. Both kinds of Midrashim were at first preserved only orally; but their writing down commenced in the 2nd century, and they now exist in the shape chiefly of exegetical or homiletical commentaries on Tanakh (the Hebrew Bible).

Origins

After the return of Jewish refugees from their exile in Babylon, some argue that the Torah was central to Jewish life at home and abroad. This is certainly the case in some strains of Judaism, although scholars agree the period was marked by wide diversity, so the centrality of Torah would vary greatly for different groups. A significant concern of Jewish authorities was to ensure compliance with the Torah's commandments, the enactments of the Mosaic Law; yet, as these laws had been written in circumstances of the past, they seemed to call for adaptation or explication if they were to fit the circumstances of contemporary life. Explanations of the terms of the Mosaic legislation are legal, or halakhic Midrashim. Relatedly, the Mishnah does not generally cite a scriptural basis for its laws; connecting the Mishnaic law with the Torah law is also undertaken by the later Midrash (and Talmuds) (Emphasis added).

—From Wikipedia: Midrash
What is a Midrash? - Jewish FAQ

Dr. Jacob Neusner explains that the word 'Midrash' is based on a Hebrew word meaning 'interpretation' or 'exegesis'. He shows that the term 'Midrash' has three main usages:
  • 1. The term 'Midrash' can refer to a particular way of reading and interpreting a biblical verse. Thus we may say that the ancient rabbis provided Midrash to Scripture. This does not mean that any interpretation of scripture is automatically true rabbinical Midrash. In fact, most of what people call 'Modern Midrash' has nothing to do with the classical modes of literary exegesis that guided the rabbis. Commentary and Midrash are two different things! In order to get a good idea of what classical rabbinic Midrash really is, one has to actually study it; No two or three sentence definition can accurately define the structure of Midrash.
  • 2. The term 'Midrash' can refer to a book - a compilation of Midrashic teachings. Thus one can say that "Genesis Rabbah" is a book that is a compilation of Midrash readings on the book of Genesis.
  • 3. The term 'Midrash' can refer to a particular verse and its interpretation. Thus one can say that "The Midrash on the verse Genesis 1:1 says that...[and some Midrashic interpretation of the verse would go here].
In developing midrash, there are two schools of thought on how to handle the language of Torah. One is that the language is the language of human discourse, and is subject to the same redundancies and occasional verbiage that we all encounter in desultory conversation. The other view holds that since Scripture is the Word of G@d, no word is superfluous. Every repetition, every apparent mistake, every peculiar feature of arrangement or order has meaning.

Midrash minimizes the authority of the wording of the text as communication, normal language. It places the focus on the reader and the personal struggle of the reader to reach an acceptable moral application of the text. While it is always governed by the wording of the text, it allows for the reader to project his or her inner struggle into the text. This allows for some very powerful and moving interpretations which, to the ordinary user of language, seem to have very little connection with the text. The great weakness of this method is that it always threatens to replace the text with an outpouring of personal reflection. At its best it requires the presence of mystical insight not given to all readers. (Emphasis added.)

—From Jewish FAQ: Torah and Halachic Authority (3/12) Section - Question 3.24: What is a Midrash?
How Midrash Functions - myjewishlearning.com
Multiple Interpretations
The goal of the rabbis was, precisely, in the exercise of "drashing", seeking and finding meaning in, the text, to come up with their own interpretations. (Emphasis added)

—From How Midrash Functions By Rabbi Iscah Waldman
The final quote as seen above by Rabbi Iscah Waldman, is a fitting summation of the midrash traditions of Judaism — that the midrash is intended to seek out and find the meaning of Scripture, by coming up with their own interpretations!

But notice what Peter tells us:
Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private [one's own] interpretation. (2Peter 1:20)
If we would hold to the Truth, we may not interpret the Scriptures using any method that allows our own [extra-Biblical] interpretation!

The above references also tell us that the midrash 'minimizes' the authority of the plain and literal wording of the Scripture text — which is to 'elevate' a mystical meaning of Scripture above the simple plain meaning of the words. And this mystical meaning was to come from mystical insight not given to all readers [but presumably only to certain individuals]!

From the above statements, we might conclude that use of the midrash to interpret the meaning of Scripture promotes dependence on the few 'initiates' who alone would have the proper 'mystical' insight, and can interpret Scripture for the common man — because the common man, in his ignorance, would not be able to understand the plain and simple meaning of Scripture!

Beloved, is this how followers of Messiah are to interpret Scripture? Are the common people to become dependent on a few individuals, instead of studying and interpreting the simple and plain truths of Scripture for themselves? Is the midrash tradition of Judaism to be used in the New Covenant congregation?

The notion that only a few 'mystics' may interpret Scripture for the congregation contradicts the Truths of the New Covenant, whereby 'you may all prophesy' [speak forth the words of Yahuweh], within the bounds of proper order (1Corinthians 14:31).

Notice what Yahushua said to the Pharisees, whose faulty understanding of the Scriptures resulted from their midrash tradition of interpretation:
Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye. (Mark 7:13)
But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. (Matthew 23:13)
Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered. (Luke 11:52)
So we see that the Pharisees' tradition of using the midrash to interpret Scripture was rejected by Messiah, because the plain and simple meaning of Scripture had become of no effect in their own lives.

Because of their convoluted and man-made methods of interpreting Scripture, they had actually come to a point where they themselves did not understand the simple truths of the Torah! They had become spiritually blind leaders, trying to lead spiritually blind people, but unable to do so!

As a side note, we must warn that there are many evangelical congregations today that unknowingly practice a hybrid form of the midrash tradition, in that most Pastors today have been taught to mis-interpret certain parts of the Scriptures! When we cling to man-made doctrines commonly taught in seminary or Bible School, we unknowingly embrace a 'spiritualised' or mystical interpretation of Scripture, that actually opposes the plain meaning of Scripture.

We spiritualise the Scriptures, when we replace the plain and simple words of Scripture with a spiritual or mystical meaning that contradicts, and thus nullifies, the plain meaning of Scripture.

We nullify the Scriptures, when we allow a mystical meaning to contradict a plain and simple meaning. When we nullify the Scriptures, we make them to become of no effect in our lives!

This is the midrash method of interpretation, which Yahushua rejected!

The Midrash — As Seen in Current Messianic Practice

The popular practice among Messianics of having a 'midrash' has been adopted by many congregations today. The intended purpose, of course, is to teach, and to bring further understanding to the learners. But there are some hidden and unintended consequences of using the midrash!

In practical application among Messianics today, what is called midrash is not fully identical to the classical midrash of Judaism. Instead, the popular midrash of today might be considered a hybrid of the midrash of Judaism — but is just as destructive.

The midrash can be seen in several formats among today's Messianic congregations. One of these is the public discussion midrash, having the characteristics of what the world calls a 'brainstorm' session. During this event, participants share their ideas and opinions as to the meaning of prescribed Scripture passages, in imitation of the Rabbinic tradition. A 'moderator' may or may not guide the discussions, which may or may not include Rabbinic references, as written in the rabbinic writings of Judaism.

Though innocent in appearance, the public discussion midrash is just as destructive to the congregation as other man-made traditions. Like its worldly counterpart, everyone's comments are seen as that person's 'opinion,' with each opinion having equal footing and authority as all other opinions.

But because all participants' ideas are seen as mere 'opinions,' and because each comment has equal weight or authority as to the true Scripture meaning, there often results much argument and confusion over the true meaning of the Scripture passages.

The argument and confusion among participants is the natural result of using a midrash method of Bible interpretation, where structured Bible teaching is nonexistent, and where the various ministries of the Holy Spirit within the congregation are not recognised nor practiced.

In an atmosphere of argument, the sheep are not being fed beside still waters, and so they suffer. Instead, new converts and those wanting to learn, feed on confusion. Many eventually leave to find more peaceful pastures — where the spiritual food is mixed with tradition.

The more mature sheep within the congregation begin to see a disconnect between this type of congregational life, and what the Scriptures portray, and so many leave because of burnout and frustration. Satan did not need to attack, for the tradition of the 'midrash' has done satan's work for him!

If the midrash methods are destructive, what should the Messianic Congregation do instead? What is the Biblical model of ministry within the Congregation supposed to look like?

Let's see what Scripture tells us.

With Anointing of the Holy Spirit

Notice the following passages:
How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. (Acts 10:38)
Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. (Isaiah 42:1)
Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles. Matthew 12:18
But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him. (1John 2:27)
In the above passages, we first see Yahushua as our example. We then see in the following passages, that in order to bear testimony, to proclaim Father's Truth, and to teach, one must first have the anointing of Father's Spirit.

This anointing is a necessary prerequisite for accomplishing anything of value in the Kingdom. Now let us see the instruction declaring these necessary credentials required of all who would teach, or become congregational leaders:
Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. (Acts 6:3)
Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch. 23 Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord. 24 For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord. (Acts 11:22-24)
A bishop ['overseer'] then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; (1Timothy 3:2) [see verses 1-13]
For a bishop ['overseer'] must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; 8 But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; 9 Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. (Titus 1:7-9)
In the above passages, we see that it is the duty of representatives of Yahuweh to be as Father is, to proclaim His Truth, having the mantle of Father's anointing and authority, to speak and to proclaim the Truth of Scripture.

Let us now look now at how the truth of Scripture is to be learned, and then proclaimed and taught.

The Example of Paul

First, we understand that Saul, who is also called Paul, was a prophet. But in order to understand how a prophet is taught, and how a prophet is to learn the correct interpretation of Scripture, as well as how a prophet is to declare the truths of Scripture, we must look at the Biblical method or pattern seen in Scripture:
And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream. (Numbers 12:6)
In the above passage, we see how the prophet is to learn the correct interpretation of Scripture. The prophets are to obtain their understanding of Yahuweh's words directly from Yahuweh, who speaks to the prophets in visions, dreams, and revelations that are in agreement with the written Scriptures — for Yahuweh never contradicts Himself. And because the prophets will be given a true understanding of Scripture, they will teach a true interpretation that is in agreement with all the written Scriptures, and they will teach with authority.

But just as there are prophets having a true understanding of Scripture, there are likewise prophets who learn, and teach, a false understanding of Scripture:
Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the LORD. (Jeremiah 23:16)
In the above passage, we see the basis for the prophet whose vision is of his own heart. He teaches what is a false interpretation, because he has not first obtained the vision of Yahuweh's words directly from Yahuweh, in visions and dreams that are in agreement with the written Scriptures.

Here we see two contrasting sources of vision, and two contrasting levels of Scripture understanding. We are told explicitly in the above passage, that we are not to hearken to [hear and obey] these prophets, for their speaking is not according to the mouth of Yahuweh. We can discern the words that are false, for they are not in accordance with the written Scriptures.

With the above sources of Scripture understanding in mind, let us now ask a few questions about the apostle Paul.
Questions to Ask About Paul
  • 1. Where did Paul get his understanding of Scripture? Did Paul teach his own words, or his own doctrine?
  • 2. Did Paul use traditional midrash methods to learn the correct interpretation of Scripture? Or did he obtain his understanding directly from Yahuweh, through visions and revelations?
  • 3. Did Paul use midrash methods to teach Scripture?
To answer these questions, let us look at some of Paul's own testimony.

How Did Paul Learn the Scriptures?

First, we understand that Saul, who is also called Paul, was trained under Gamaliel, in all the knowledge and methods of the school of Hillel, in the religion of Judaism. Paul was required to study, to memorise, and to know the words of Torah, and indeed, all the words of Scripture. No doubt Paul was well aware of the traditions of the midrash, and he was taught by these methods of interpretation in his training.

But while he was on the road to Damascus, on his way to persecute the followers of Messiah [to carry out the interpretation he had learned from Judaism's midrash tradition], Paul encountered Messiah:
And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: 4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? (Acts 9:3-4)
Paul thought he was merely carrying out the results of his midrashic interpretation of Scripture, which concluded that Yahushua was a false messiah, and that Yahushua's disciples deserved death. Instead, Messiah informed Paul that Paul was persecuting Messiah! It was only after his encounter with Messiah (Acts 9:1-20), that Paul began to proclaim Messiah as the true Son of Yahuweh.

We are also told that at some point, Paul went away into the wilderness of Arabia [some say he went to Mount Sinai, where the Tables of the Covenant were given], to seek Yahuweh. During his stay in the wilderness, Paul was given prophetic visions and revelations from Messiah, revealing to him the Everlasting Gospel, and the Everlasting [New] Covenant of the WORD of Yahuweh, along with the unspeakable words unlawful for a man to utter (2Corinthians 12:1-4).

It was through these visions and revelations, received directly from the mouth of Yahuweh, that Paul began to see the true interpretation of Torah, and the mystery of Messiah — how that Messiah-in-you is the living Truth, and is our only hope of glory (Ephesians 3:3-5; Colossians 1:27) — and that Messiah's actions while living within His people are always in accordance with Torah, and indeed, in agreement with all the written Scriptures.

From this experience, Paul was made to be a prophet (Acts 13:1), and his new commission was given to him — Paul would no longer practice or use man-made interpretations of Torah, but would henceforth teach Torah through the lenses of the Everlasting [New] Covenant. Thus Paul would not be allowed to teach his 'own' doctrines, but he must use his new understanding of Torah to teach the Gospel, and the Everlasting [New] Covenant.

Did Paul use traditional midrash methods in his preaching and teaching? Let's look at an overview of Paul's experience, and try to answer this question.

How Did Paul Teach the Scriptures?

When Saul/Paul received visions and revelations from the mouth of Yahuweh, and from this time onward, Paul knew that he must not only teach the 'Torah basis' of the Gospel, and of the Everlasting [New] Covenant of the Kingdom, but he also must not utter the certain words he had heard. He must therefore not constrain or compel to obedience, any New Covenant Believers who become set free from bondage of sin — but in teaching them, he must allow them to choose a new 'Master' on their own, out of love for the Master.

Like Gideon's soldiers (Judges 7:1-7), Believers must freely receive, and then freely choose on their own, how they would 'drink the water,' to determine which part of Messiah's Army they would be in.

And so in all of Paul's letters, we see his understanding of the Torah requirement for the Believers' freedom to choose not be violated. This Torah requirement thus became a balancing restraint to all of Paul's writings — to balance the Grace-gift [of redemption, eternal life, and non-compulsion to obedience] on the one hand, against Paul's fervent exhortation [to walk in holiness, purity, and obedience] on the other hand.

And so from Paul's encounters with Messiah, and from the teaching given in Paul's letters, we see that Paul taught in agreement with all of Scripture — not on the basis of man-made understanding, or man-made methods of interpretation through midrash — but on the basis of what he had learned directly from his encounters with Messiah. Paul taught the truths of all the Scriptures, as seen through the lenses of the Everlasting [New] Covenant, and from the basis of the Blood of the Everlasting Covenant, and the Grace-gift of redemption.

Notice that Paul's old understanding was based on the Pharisees' tradition of midrash, from which man-made understanding of Scripture originates. The result of Paul's encounters with Messiah was a new understanding of Scripture. And the result of Paul's new understanding then became the basis for his new teaching:
And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight. (Acts 20:7)
In the above passage, we see the apostle Paul preached unto the disciples. We are told that Paul preached to them beyond the close of Sabbath, which meeting lasted long after sunset [marking the start of the first day], and on into the night, during what is now called Saturday night.

Notice Paul did not have a midrash, asking everyone's opinion of what they thought the Scriptures mean. We are told instead that Paul taught them — he declared to them the Truths of Scripture just as he had learned them, during his personal encounters with Messiah.

The Example of Peter

The apostle Peter gives us a further illustration of how we are to properly interpret and understand the Scriptures. When Peter was on the housetop praying, he received from the Holy Spirit a prophetic vision of a vessel, like a sheet full of unclean animals, birds, beasts, and creeping things, and heard the words, "kill and eat." (Acts 10:9-16).

While Peter was thinking about the meaning and interpretation of the vision, and while recalling the only Torah passage in which the phrase, "kill and eat" occurs (Deuteronomy 12:15), it was at that very moment the Holy Spirit said, "Behold..." (Acts 10:19). Peter then knew the correct interpretation of the Torah passage.

It was not until after he had arrived at Cornelius' house (Acts 10:19-27), that Peter suddenly realised the fullness of the meaning of the Torah passage he had considered — that he was to call no man common or unclean (Acts 10:28, 34-35). With the understanding that he had the liberty to preach to Gentiles, Peter then proclaimed the Gospel to those gathered in Cornelius' house.

Notice that Peter did not rely on a man-made tradition of midrash to interpret the Torah passage. Instead, Peter received a direct prophetic revelation from the Holy Spirit, in order to correct a major error in his Torah interpretation, a popular mis-understanding promoted by the tradition of the midrash — the false idea that Gentiles are common or unclean, and must be avoided. It took a vision from the Holy Spirit to remind Peter of the Torah passage, and to give him a new understanding, that no man is to be called common or unclean (Acts 10:28).

Peter's revelation from the Holy Spirit gave Peter the correct interpretation of the Torah passage — the interpretation seen through the lenses of the New Covenant, that is, from the Everlasting [New] Covenant perspective. The correct interpretation told Peter that to call any man common or unclean, is to have respect of persons (Acts 10:28, 24), and is a violation of Torah, the New Covenant definition of sin (James 2:9; 1John 3:4).

We are told that the examples of Yahushua, and of Paul, Peter, and the other Disciples, are examples for us (1Peter 2:21; Philippians 3:17; 2Thessalonians 3:9). We should note that Messiah and His Disciples all relied on the Holy Spirit for interpretation of Torah, and not on man-made interpretation methods of midrash.

Men and Brothers, let us do as they did!

The Ministry of the Holy Spirit in the Congregation

Let's see how the ministry of the Word is to be accomplished in the congregation:
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: (Ephesians 4:11-13)
In the above passage, we see what is called the "5-fold ministry," whose purpose is for the 'building-up' of the Body of Messiah. Some teachers today have been taught that some of these ministries have 'disappeared,' but the passage above tells us that all five of these will be around, and be functional, "until we all come in the unity of the faith, of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man...."

That is, until we see everyone in unity of Faith, and until the 'perfect man' appears, we will still need to be perfected for the work of ministry, and built up as a body, by all of the given ministries — including that of the Evangelists, Pastors, and Teachers. The teachers have not disappeared, so why would the apostles and prophets disappear?

So we see that unless all these ministries are functional in the meetings, the Congregation will be lacking. Let's see further the result of the 5-fold ministry, which is to continue in toto until we all come into the unity of the Faith. Notice the work of the ministries seen in verses 11-13 above, are necessary to produce the results seen in verses 14-32:
That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: 16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. 17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, 18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: 19 Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. 20 But ye have not so learned Christ; 21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. 25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. 26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: 27 Neither give place to the devil. 28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. 29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. 30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:14-32)
Do we want to see the results as seen n the above passage in verses 14-32? We must have the ministries He has given to us, to operate in our midst, if we are to bring about the results He has shown to us! We must have the 5-fold ministry functioning in our midst, as seen in verses 11-13, if we are to accomplish the results seen in verses 14-32.

Let us be warned, that we will not see the intended results listed above, unless we deal with the many hindrances.

The Hindrance of Preventing the Ministry of the Holy Spirit

Despite the good work done by faithful Evangelists, Pastors, and Bible Teachers, there are many things that would hinder us from seeing the results of verses 14-32 above. Let's see some of these hindrances:
Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. 28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? 30 Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret? (1Corinthians 12:27-30)
In the above passage, we see a description of the prescribed, Biblical authority structure in the assembly, the congregation of Believers. This is the only passage in the New Testament writings giving a congregational ranking of the various authority levels within the congregation.

Because members within the congregation do not all have the same function, not all have the same authority, even as to their public interpretation of Scripture. This does not mean that some are second-class Believers. To the contrary, just as in a Family, there are parents with greater authority, and children with lesser authority. Children are not devalued because they have a lesser authority. They are there to learn. Each one is to have its place. Just as in the human body, each unique part of the body has its own immense value and great importance, because that part of the body alone can do what some other part of the body can not do!

And so it is in the congregation, just as in the family. Most are still children; there are a few in their teens; but fewer yet are the elders, who are functioning together as one, and are functioning as spiritual parents.

Based on this Biblical ranking of congregational authority within the various ministries, we see that the 'midrash' model of Bible interpretation is not possible. The midrash model assumes that all members in the Congregation are equal, both in understanding and in Scriptural authority. Thus the use of the tradition of the midrash actually prevents the ministries and their authority levels from operating within the assembly, according to the above passage (1Corinthians 12:27-30).

Use of the midrash model within the congregation prevents the body of Messiah from edification and growing in the grace and knowledge of Yahuweh, because it totally ignores the pattern, functions, and purposes of the Biblical Ministry offices, as well as their respective authority levels within the congregation. The midrash bypasses the New Covenant patterns.

The Hindrance of Deception

We then see this further hindrance:
Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. 12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. 13 For Adam was first formed, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not deceived <538> ['beguiled'], but the woman being deceived <538> ['beguiled'] was in the transgression. (1Timothy 2:11-14)
In the above passage, what do we see?

The issue is error, introduced by deception ['beguiling'], which comes through failure to discern truth from error. Apparently there was something systemic about Chava's [Eve's] inability to discern, which inability has perhaps been passed on to those of Paul's generation, and to Believers today.

Error comes in many forms, and is passed along through various kinds of deception. We will not deal with the many forms of deception here, but only state that discernment is needed to guard against all forms of deception.

Thus a woman participating in a 'midrash' is walking in just as much error as one who calls herself a 'pastor' of a congregation in which men are taught. Here lies a great potential for introducing error into the congregation. The apostle Paul recognised this Torah truth that is valid for congregations today, and Paul passed it along to us for our profit.

This is not an issue about 'equality.' The crux of the matter is recognising and operating within the New Covenant patterns. If we cannot follow the prescribed order for our gatherings, then how can we expect to teach, and be taught? How can we expect to be an acceptable Bride for the Lamb? Any 'groom-to-be' would be repelled by a 'bride-to-be' who ignored the Bridegroom's clear and specific guidelines for establishing the proper order and unity within their home.

With the above two hindrances in mind, is it any wonder why the popular tradition of the midrash brings confusion? There must come a time when the body of Messiah must recognise the headship of our Bridegroom, and accept His 'Rules of the Household.' Messiah has stated His requirements and guidelines for the assembly, and the necessary 'order of business' for our gathering.

How Should it Then Be? The Scriptural Approach

Let us look further at the Biblical guidelines for teaching within the congregation. Because Messiah is our example, as are His Disciples, we will look at what they did:
For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. (Matthew 7:29)
And they were astonished at his doctrine ['teaching']: for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes. (Mark 1:22)
And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? what new doctrine ['teaching'] is this? for with authority commandeth he even the unclean spirits, and they do obey him. (Mark 1:27)
And they were astonished at his doctrine ['teaching']: for his word was with power. (Luke 4:32)
And when he was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came unto him as he was teaching, and said, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority? (Matthew 21:23)
In the above passages, we see a contrast between Yahushua's teaching method, and that of the scribes, chief priests, and elders, who used the tradition of midrash to teach. The scribes, chief priests, and elders had been robbed of their spiritual authority, when they removed the practice of the simple and plain meaning of Scripture, making the Scriptures of no effect in their lives.

Now let us see how the Disciples taught:
And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine ['teaching'] and fellowship, and in breaking of bread [eating meals together], and in prayers. (Acts 2:42)
Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us. (Acts 5:28)
Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him, 10 And said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord? 11 And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand. 12 Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord. (Acts 13:9-12)
Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine ['teaching']? (1Corinthians 14:6)
How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying. (1Corinthians 14:26)
In the above passages, we see a 'balanced' Holy Spirit Ministry, for the purpose of building up the body by the Holy Spirit, through the ministries and gifts operating through "every one of you."

Again, we see the following important passage:
Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. 12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. 13 For Adam was first formed, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not deceived <538>, but the woman being deceived <538> was in the transgression. (1Timothy 2:11-14)
The above passage is a warning given to all of today's Congregations. It is entirely appropriate and desirable that the women should pray and prophesy in the assembly (1Corinthians 11:5), if under proper authority, and with proper head covering. The issue of the (1Timothy 2:11-14) passage is one of avoiding deception, and Paul's prescription is that the women are not to have a position of authority over the men. Those who desire to avoid deception will heed this warning, using all wisdom and understanding to remain steadfast.

Let's look at some further warnings and exhortations:
Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines ['teaching'] of devils; (1Timothy 4:1)
Till I come, give attendance to reading [the Scriptures], to exhortation, to doctrine [teaching]. (1Timothy 4:13)
Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine ['teaching']; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee. (1Timothy 4:16)
As for my people, children [spiritually immature] are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths. (Isaiah 3:12)
This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. 6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, 7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. (2Timothy 3:1-7)
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine ['teaching'], for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: (2Timothy 3:16)
Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine ['teaching']. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (2Timothy 4:2-4)
Also, thou son of man, the children of thy people still are talking against thee by the walls and in the doors of the houses, and speak one to another, every one to his brother, saying, Come, I pray you, and hear what is the word that cometh forth from the LORD. 31 And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they shew much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness. 32 And, lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear thy words, but they do them not. 33 And when this cometh to pass, (lo, it will come,) then shall they know that a prophet hath been among them. (Ezekiel 33:30-33)
Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine ['teaching'] both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. (Titus 1:9)
Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine ['teaching'] of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, 2 Of the doctrine ['teaching'] of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this will we do, if God permit. (Hebrews 6:1-3)
As we see in the above passages, all Scripture and sound doctrine ['teaching'] must be used to instruct, teach, exhort, reprove, correct, and convince. We see no evidence of any midrash tradition, as its methods produce the exact opposite of sound teaching.

We see also that the foundational principles of The Faith do not appear by accident — they must be taught.

If they are taught, there must necessarily be a Teacher to teach them.

Unless we have been taught the foundational principles, Father will not 'permit' us to go on unto perfection. And so we need Teachers, and teaching.

Conclusion

We have seen that the midrash is an ancient [as well as modern], man-made tradition used to interpret Scriptures. The midrash method of teaching allows man's own interpretation of Scripture to prevail, opposing the plain and clear words of Scripture, thereby making the Scriptures of no effect in the lives of those who use it.

Use of the tradition of midrash to interpret Scriptures bypasses the operation of the Ministry of the Holy Spirit in the congregation, is in opposition to the Everlasting [New] Covenant, and prevents the teaching of Torah through the lenses of the Everlasting [New] Covenant.

It was for this very reason, that Yahushua rejected the scribes, priests and elders in His day, and their tradition of using the midrash to interpret Scripture, and to teach. The use of the midrash removed the true meaning of Scripture from the lives of the scribes, priests and elders, and thus robbed them of their true authority.

We have seen also that the apostles Peter and Paul did not use the man-made methods of midrash to interpret Scripture, but relied on the Holy Spirit to give them the proper interpretation that would be in agreement with the Everlasting [New] Covenant.

When the tradition of the midrash is used to interpret Scriptures, it becomes a man-made substitute for teaching under the Authority and Anointing of the Holy Spirit in the Congregation, and actually prevents the building up the body by the Ministries and gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Let us discard the tradition of the midrash, for it allows the man-made interpretations to prevail over the Holy Spirit interpretation consistent with the Everlasting [New] Covenant.

Let us beware of the tradition of the midrash, for it will rob our congregations of their required Scripture teaching!

Let us avoid using the midrash — for it has become a Messianic substitute for the Holy Spirit in the Congregation.




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"If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief,
and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee." (Rev 3:3)