So, the answer to the question above is a resounding "NO!"
Acts 24: 14 "But this I do admit to you: I worship the God of our fathers in accordance with the Way (which they call a sect). I continue to believe everything that accords with the Torah and everything written in the Prophets.
So - was Paul a "Christian"? And did he teach something different from Torah? Again, the answer is a resounding "NO!"
Peter warned us that people would misinterpret/misunderstand the writings of the Apostle Paul:
2 Peter 3: 15 And think of our Lord's patience as deliverance, just as our dear brother Sha'ul also wrote you, following the wisdom God gave him. 16 Indeed, he speaks about these things in all his letters. They contain some things that are hard to understand, things which the uninstructed and unstable distort, to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.
Even the anti-Semite Martin Luther (1483-1546), said: "If I were younger I would want to learn this language [i.e. Hebrew], for without it no one can properly understand the Holy Scripture.... For that reason they have said correctly: 'The Jews drink out of the original spring, The Greeks drink out of the stream flowing out of the stream, The Latins, however, out of the puddle.'"
The scriptures of Rabbi Sha'ul (Apostle Paul) whose native tongue was Hebrew, have been mistranslated or misunderstood since the advent of the "church age." This is because people are viewing his teachings through a "Greek" as opposed to a "Hebrew" mindset. Paul never went against Yeshua's teachings, nor did he forsake the Torah. The following article shows that Paul's declarations have either been misunderstood, mistranslated, or wrongly interpreted - not to mention, used by some Gentile churches as an excuse to negate God's Torah and thus continue the age-old, anti-Semitic stance against the Jews.
Many people tend to forget that Paul was a Jew (actually, he was from the Tribe of Benjamin (Romans 11:1, Philippians 3:5), but "Jew" is a blanket term for all Israel) whose teachings NEVER contradicted Torah (God's original teachings/instructions). If he had, he would have rendered Scripture contradictory.
Acts 21:15-21 - which was written after Paul had written the Galatians - clearly reveals Paul was Torah observant. It is commonly misunderstood that Paul's teachings - especially the idea that Paul said in Galatians, "if one is led by the Spirit, he or she is not under law..." - that the authority of the law has been abolished for believers in Yeshua and that the Torah has been superseded. Many people are confusing legalism (man's requirements) with Torah observance.
When Paul speaks of being "under the law" or the "works of the law", he is speaking against legalism, and not against the Torah. There is no Hebrew word for the concept of "legalism" or "legalist" so Paul was hindered in his attempt to explain to the Gentiles that legalism was not what God intended. Paul was not teaching against Torah observance by believers of Yeshua; rather, he was being careful in his language to make it clear that Torah was not given by God to be used in a legalistic manner.
Some people insist that there is no explicit text in the New Testament that commands us to "walk in Torah" or in any way continue to adhere to any of the commands of the old covenant. However, Romans 3:31 clearly says: 31 Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law....
The following is a small sampling of some of the misinterpretations of Paul's writings:
Question: Did Rav Sha'ul (Paul) say the Law (Torah) was nailed to the cross?
Colossians 2:14 - He wiped away the bill of charges against us. Because of the regulations, it stood as a testimony against us; but he removed it by nailing it to the execution-stake 15 stripping the rulers and authorities of their power he made a public spectacle of them triumphing over them by means of the stake.
Answer: No. He wiped away the documented opinions of men (bill of charges) against us and took them from our midst....
The Torah is holy, righteous and good. To suddenly have it "nailed to the cross" would mean that the things of God were originally evil, something to be done away with.
Rav Sha'ul also said, concerning the opinions of men:
Colossians 2:16 - So don't let anyone pass judgment on you in connection with eating and drinking, or in regard to a Jewish festival or Rosh-Hodesh or Shabbat.
This doesn't mean Rav Sha'ul was negating Torah. He was warning about the opinions of men concerning these things - NOT giving permission to transgress or dismiss them.
Question: Did Rav Sha'ul say it is up to each of us to decide what we should eat and what day we should keep?
Romans 14:5-6: 5 One person considers some days more holy than others, while someone else regards them as being all alike. What is important is for each to be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 He who observes a day as special does so to honor the Lord. Also he who eats anything, eats to honor the Lord, since he gives thanks to God; likewise the abstainer abstains to honor the Lord, and he too gives thanks to God.
Answer: Absolutely not. The context of this passage was a dispute over whether one may eat food that MAY or MAY NOT have been offered to idols. In those days food that was offered to idols was usually put out for sale to people on a certain day of the week. It could or could not have been offered to idols. Therefore, some believers would not buy food and eat it on those days just to make sure. However, some believers did, because they reasoned that since they didn't know for sure it was offered, it was not wrong. Paul's instruction did not address either Kosher or Sabbath day observance. It addressed the dispute over whether marketplace food, because of idolatry, should be purchased and eaten on a certain day of the week. It also shows how sensitive the believers were to the possibility of food offered to idols. How much more sensitive should we be to what we eat, as to whether or not it is approved by the Word of God.
(Check out David H. Stern's explanation in the preface of his Complete Jewish Bible, where he demonstrates that there is a difference between what is kosher and what is ceremonially clean. God NEVER said pork, shellfish, etc. were food - people called it food in rebellion against God. Where the passages are in question in the Bri't Chadasha (NT), it is dealing with animals God gave us to eat and whether they are ceremonially clean and can be eaten at that time. Even in Peter's vision, he would never have eaten the kosher animals that had been in contact with treife (non-kosher) animals. The vision was to show that the kosher animals were no longer considered unclean because they were among the treife. This was clearly showing that the Gentiles were to be accepted and it would be okay to associate with them. The rest of the passage shows that this is the correct interpretation and what the vision was all about.)
Question: Does the book of Hebrews say that the Old Covenant of Moses is taken away?
Hebrews 10:8-9: 8 In saying first, "You neither willed nor were pleased with animal sacrifices, meal offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings," things which are offered in accordance with the Torah; 9 and then, "Look, I have come to do your will"; he takes away the first system in order to set up the second.
Answer: No. Through Yeshua it is transformed. The Covenant animal sacrifices are no longer necessary because of the New Covenant SIN OFFERING of Yeshua. But the demands of a blood covenant in Torah were not taken away - which means, the Law of the former Covenant was not "done away with".
Also, in the same general passage we see in verse 16, "'This is the covenant which I will make with them after those days,' says ADONAI: 'I will put my Torah on their hearts, and write it on their minds,'"
Question: Does 2 Corinthians 3:13 show that the Law of Moses was fading away?
2 Corinthians 3:13 - unlike Moshe, who put a veil over his face, so that the people of Isra'el would not see the fading brightness come to and end.
Answer: No. There was nothing for Isra'el to gain by staring at Moses' "shining face" because their hearts were hardened.
In the following verses Rav Sha'ul declares that Isra'el could not fully understand what the Tanakh ("old testament") said because of the spiritual veil over their hearts. He says that when one comes to know Messiah they then can better understand the Tanakh. His lesson has nothing to do with the Law (Torah) being taken away.
Question: Does Ephesians 2:15-16 show that Yeshua abolished the Law of Commandments?
Eph 2:15-16: 15 by destroying in his own body the enmity occasioned by the Torah, with its commands set forth in the form of ordinances. He did this in order to create in union with himself from the two groups a single new humanity and thus make shalom, 16 and in order to reconcile to God both in a single body by being executed on a stake as a criminal and thus killing in himself that enmity.
Answer: No. When Yeshua was here in physical form, he made useless the antagonism between the two groups caused by the opinions of men concerning the Law of Commandments, and through him "one new man" was made from the two. Yeshua came to put away that enmity and bring into existence "one new man" that agreed through Him on the Commandments of YHVH.
Question: Did Rav Sha'ul say we are not to obey the Old Testament commandments anymore?
Col 2:20-21: 20 If, along with the Messiah, you died to the elemental spirits of the world, then why, as if you still belonged to the world, are you letting yourselves be bothered by its rules? - 21 "Don't touch this!" "Don't eat that!" "Don't handle the other!"
Answer: No. Rav Sha'ul is talking about dogma, the opinions of men. He is NOT talking about God's Word which has always been holy and good!
In Colosssians 2:23, Paul shows the intent of his instruction, which is to head off the invention of more man made opinion about how we should act: They do indeed have the outward appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed religious observances, false humility and ascetiscism; but they have no value at all in restraining people from indulging their old nature.
Question: Didn't Rav Sha'ul say that we could eat whatever we want, meaning there is no more "Kosher"?
1 Tim 4:1-5: 1 The Spirit expressly states that in the acharit-hayamim some people will apostatize from the faith by paying attention to deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. 2 Such teachings come from the hypocrisy of liars whose own consciences have been burned, as if with a red-hot branding iron. 3 They forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods which God created to be eaten with thanksgiving by those who have come to trust and to know the truth. 4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing received with thanksgiving needs to be rejected, 5 because the word of God and prayer make it holy.
Answer: No. First of all we have to remember that Paul was talking to the Jews - who were KOSHER. They wouldn't dream of going against what God said in Leviticus about what He considered to be food. Kosher Law is still God's Law, and Paul actually confirming this. Here, he warns against doctrines of demons, which say you can't have certain foods which God has said is good to eat. Every creature is good and not to be refused IF it is made holy by the Word of God and prayer (thanksgiving). The Word of God in Leviticus tells us what is holy and not holy. That is what Kosher means, because it comes from the same root as kodesh, meaning holy.
For those who are interested:
Ever notice how many people are quick to say, "Don't judge me!"...? An indepth study of
Romans 2 reveals some eye-opening info about what "judgment" is and isn't!