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Galatians Lecture "Commentary" (DELTO)|
|Below is a "Commentary on Galatains" taken from the DELTO lectures on Galatians by Dr. Authur Just at Concoria Theological Seminary Fort Wayne. The lectures are available online at the CTSFW.EDU website. Along with the video of each lecture there is a transcript. The "commentary" provided here was taken by using these transcripts.
The first 12 lectures in the Galatians series were not specifically about Galatians. In those lectures Dr. Just gave background information for the NT. These lectures are not included in this "commentary."
We will begin with lecture 13. Normally I provide notes from the lectures. But I treated Galatians differently. The book of Galatians is only 6 chapters long. So in his lectures, Dr. Just was able to go over the entire book verse by verse. So rather than take notes, I took the transcript and organized it into a verse by verse "commentary." 99+% of what Dr. Just said is included in this document.
Note that because this is put together from a lecture, it will not read like a normal commentary or a written document. Sometimes we speak differently than we write. Therefore this document is not as easy to read as it is to hear. The lectures can be heard by going to the CTSFW website. The link for each lecture is given at the beginning of each lecture transcript.
Galatians- Volume 13 – (Gal. 1:1-5)|
|Title: Galatians- Volume 13 – (Gal. 1:1-5)
Subject: Uniqueness of the first part of Galatians
Direct Link: http://media.ctsfw.edu/1237
Galatians 1 English Standard Version (ESV)
1 Paul, an apostle— not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— 2 and all the brothers who are with me,
To the churches of Galatia:
3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
Q: I've read that the opening of Paul's letter to the Galatians is different from every other epistle. In what ways is this true? And what would you say is unique about the first part of the Galatians?
A: DR. ARTHUR A. JUST, JR.:
Most of Paul’s letters begin with a long introduction in which he speaks affectionately towards the recipients of the letter. Paul has deep affection towards the Galatians, but there is a big problem in Galatia, which causes him to begin differently. He begins by stating that he is an apostle. In reading in between the lines we will see that his apostleship is being questioned. [Apostle means one who is sent out. Who is it that is sending him out to preach the Good News?]
Next he states that his apostleship is from God and not from men. His apostleship is not from his home church in Antioch and it is not from Peter or any of the apostles. It is through Jesus Christ and God the Father, the One who raised Jesus from the dead. In no other letter does he establish this fact first thing as he does here.
It is not only Paul who greets them, but also all the brothers who are with Paul. Not only are the brothers sending their greetings, but they also claim that Paul is an apostle appointed by God.
The letter is addressed to the churches of Galatia. Note that “churches” is plural. The letter will go to many churches. And the letter will be read during church. It will be the sermon for the Divine Service. This too makes this letter unique. Through this letter Paul will –repreach the Gospel to the Galatians. And this letter would have been brought to them by one of Paul’s faithful followers; someone he could trust.
Paul greets them with liturgical language: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Paul always opens his letters with grace and peace.
In no other epistle does he say that Jesus Christ is the one who has given himself up on behalf of our sins. This is a profound statement of the atonement. Jesus gave himself “for our sins.” That’s why Jesus says in the Lord’s Supper that his body and blood were given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.
Why did he give himself on behalf of our sins? He did it “to deliver us from the present evil age.” This is a unique statement in Galatians. He is snatching us out of, rescuing us, from the present evil age.
Why does he deliver us? Because it is our God and Father’s will. It is the Father’s will that the Son give himself and snatch us and rescue us from the present evil age of sin.
Paul began by saying: Grace and peace. What does Paul mean by them? Of course grace means “gift,” but think of it also as a space. This letter is to be read as a sermon to the people of God gathered around the Word and Sacraments. Christ is present in this grace space giving out his gifts of forgiveness, life, and salvation.
Christ is there and the gifts he gives to them convey his peace. Peace is what Christ first gave out after his resurrection as he appeared to his disciples. Peace means wholeness, health, and wellness, a right relationship between God and men. A central theme of Christian worship from the time of the apostles has been peace. The peace that exists between God and man comes from the Lord Jesus Christ.
That is why he ends his opening with a doxological statement: “ to whom be the glory forever and ever.” The Father deserves glory because it was his will to send the Son to bring grace and peace and to make it possible. Jesus deserves glory because through his atoning work grace and peace became possible and in the Divine Service Jesus comes bestowing his gifts in grace and through which we have peace.
Paul ends the greeting and doxology with “Amen.” Most Lutheran pastors begin their sermons with a similar greeting today. We can just picture the congregation responding with their own “Amen.” The people are probably excited to hear about the grace and peace that results from the death, resurrection, and atonement of Jesus which is going to be proclaimed through this sermon. At the very end of the epistle there is another Amen. Whether or not there would be the same enthusiasm in the saying of that Amen, we will see through six chapters of Galatians.
Galatians- Volume 14 (Gal. 1:6-10)|
|Subject: Why Paul Wrote the letter to the Galatians
Direct Link: http://media.ctsfw.edu/1238
Galatians 1 English Standard Version (ESV)
No Other Gospel
6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant[b] of Christ.
Q: Please let me ask one more question: What prompted Paul's letter to the Galatians? And who are these people we call the Galatians, the ones he is addressing with this homily? And finally, who are the people who appear to be upsetting Paul so much?
A: DR. ARTHUR A. JUST, JR.:
After Paul's initial greeting to the Galatians, we get a glimpse into the context in which this letter is sent. There is a drama going on here in Galatia. So we need to know who the participants are in this drama. Paul is obviously a main character. He is the apostle who during his first missionary journey shared the Gospel with the congregations in Galatia. The recipients of this letter are the Galatians. We know the following things about the Galatians:
• From all indications in the letter itself it appears as if the Galatians are essentially Gentiles, who converted from paganism into the Christian church.
• This was the area where the Celtic people came from, that is, the Irish.
• The Galatians were the mercenaries of the Roman Empire. If you needed soldiers to fight tough battles for you, you went to Galatia. These were the tough guys. Paul uses a lot of military metaphors and illustrations, which indicate that he is addressing a people who are deeply immersed in the life of a soldier.
• These Galatians embraced Paul.
• And as you listen to this letter, you must listen to it knowing that Paul is addressing people who really don't have any of the issues that Jews would have concerning the law. When Paul came into the situation, here were people who were open and ready to receive this Gospel without any kind of preconceptions about what the Gospel meant in the Old Testament or how the law was to be understood.
Another major group involved in the drama was a group we often call the Judaizers.
• There were opponents of Paul who believed the Gospel needed to add the law in order to be the full Gospel.
• They had come into the congregation after Paul had been here. And they had told these Gentile Galatian Christians that in order to be a full Christian, they must be circumcised. They must follow the law in terms of food laws and the calendar.
• They actually got these people to think about doing those things in order to be full-fledged Christians.
Because of what the Judaizers were doing, right away, Paul chastises the Galatians. And I think you can hear the passion in Paul's voice in these verses.
Paul is shocked that these Galatians, these people who he had this wonderful experience with, this pastor and people, that somehow they are being turned from Paul's preaching to the preaching of these men. Paul believes that the Judaizers were perverting the Gospel into something that is not the Gospel at all.
Paul’s opponents are powerful preachers. These are formidable opponents for Paul. And when they come into Galatia, they are capable of making grown men submit to circumcision. Think about that. You have to have a powerful preaching, a powerful rhetoric in order to get grown men to submit under the knife to be circumcised. So these men are not insignificant speakers. And they have a powerful persuasion. And Paul recognizes that when he writes this letter. But even though they are powerful, Paul is not afraid to call them out for their false teachings.
Notice that if anyone preaches a Gospel contrary to what we preached to you he should be placed under a curse from God. No matter who does it. Even if it is an angel from heaven. If anyone preaches a Gospel contrary to what Paul preached he should be accursed.
Now, that reference to angel is important. A tradition came out of the intertestamental period that the law was delivered to Moses on Mt. Sinai by an angel. Paul will actually affirm this tradition and will refer to it again later in Galatians. An angel is a messenger from God. So Paul uses strong language here. He says: “even if a messenger from God (angel) brings you a different gospel (in this case the Gospel plus the Law), he should be cursed by God.” Paul’s opponents have apparently been saying that this new “Gospel” that they are preaching came from God like the Law did.
To be extra clear, Paul repeats the threat against anyone who preaches a different Gospel. He has been sent out by God and Jesus to preach the Good News. Anyone who preaches something different is deceiving people and leading them astray and should be accursed.
Let’s look at the characters caught up in this controvery:
• There is Paul who has been there preaching the pure Gospel.
• There is a messenger who Paul sent to deliver the letter to the Galatians.
• There are the Galatians who are probably Gentiles, sincere believers who are being turned away from Paul by these opponents.
• There are faithful catechists, we'll hear of them in Chapter 6, who were left behind by Paul preaching the Gospel who were being persecuted by these opponents.
• There are the opponents to Paul and the Gospel.
But who are these opponents? Well, we've already talked about them a little bit. Here are some things that are probably true about them:
• These are men probably from Jerusalem.
• They are saying they are from James. But they are not. (Trying to make it look like they are official representatives of the Bishop of Jerusalem.)
• Sometimes they are called Judaizers. But these are those Pharisaical Jews who are insisting on the law: circumcision, keeping the Sabbath, keeping the food laws, keeping the OT religious calendar. Basically they are saying to be a Jew first before being a Christian.
• These are probably classmates of Paul who went to the school of Gamaliel with him. They know each other. They know how they argue Scripture together. They are deeply conservative men.
• They are men who are insisting that the Gospel have something added to it to be the full Gospel. And for Paul, if you add something to the Gospel, it is no longer Gospel. It's either the pure Gospel by grace through faith or it's not the Gospel at all.
The message of Paul’s opponents to the Galatians was probably something like this: We have the utmost respect for Paul. He was in our classes. He got the best grades. But he didn't tell you the whole truth. And now we're here to tell you the truth. That the true Gospel is the Gospel plus the law.
Note that the message that they preached, Gospel plus works, is the same problem we have today. In Christianity today, the biggest problem in our churches is the problem of those who think that they can earn their salvation by being good, by being pious, by doing works of the law. By cooperating with God. By surrendering themselves to Jesus. By giving themselves over to him. By discovering the goodness in themselves. They think they can reach out to God while God reaches out to them. That's not the Gospel Paul preaches. And Paul says that such a Gospel is to be accursed.
Notice how Paul ends the first ten verses, which is the first section of Galatians. He asks a question and we know the answer. He is obviously seeking God’s approval. Paul goes back to the same subject he started the letter with. Paul is saying that the Gospel, his apostleship, his service in the church, all comes from God and God alone. This is a direct contrast to his opponents. In the first ten verses of Galatians, Paul is putting the main issues on the table: His apostleship and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And in the next section we're going to see what that Gospel entails.
Galatians- Volume 15 – Relationship to Romans and the Gospel|
|Subject: In Galatians, does Paul say that he is not ashamed of the Gospel, as he does in Romans?
Direct Link: http://media.ctsfw.edu/1239
Q: In the book of Romans Paul states that he is unashamed of the Gospel. Does Paul make a similar statement in his letter to the Galatians?
A: DR. ARTHUR A. JUST, JR.:
Since you brought up Romans, let’s take a quick look at the relationship between Galatians and Romans. They are very similar. Most people believe that Galatians was written first. And it is in Galatians that Paul first uses the language of justification by grace through faith. In many ways Galatians is explained in more detail in a systematic kind of theological doctrinal way by Romans. In Romans Paul says that he is not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ. In Galatians he does the same thing but in a different way. Paul has preached and taught the Galatians the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Now in this letter, which will be read to the congregation as a sermon, Paul is reproaching the Gospel to the Galatian congregations.
The occasion for the letter is the Gospel. That's the theme of this letter. He is going to address: What is the Gospel? Is the Gospel alone by grace through faith enough? Or do you have to add something to it? Paul is not ashamed of the pure Gospel. And later on when he writes the letter to the Romans, which as we're going to see is much later, he still has the same passion for the Gospel and the Gospel alone that he had here in the Galatian letter homily.
We’re going to see how he talks about the Gospel in various ways. And if this is in fact his first letter, he is setting forth for the first time what he understands the Gospel to be. Paul is going to use a number of different ways of speaking about the Gospel in this letter.
• One of course is justification.
• Another is new creation.
• He's going to talk about adoption of sons.
We're going to look at all of these as we go through.
But the fundamental point for Paul is that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah who has come to Jerusalem to give up his life for the world. What is underlying the Galatian letter, homily, is the life of Jesus, the narrative of Jesus' life, which is given in the gospels (Most likely at this time only Matthew was written. Later Mark, Luke and John will write about Jesus’ life also.) Paul builds his theology upon the foundation of Jesus Christ and his teachings in the gospels. That that is at the heart of the Gospel for Paul. And that is the Gospel that he is not ashamed to preach, not only to the Galatians, but to the Corinthians, to the Ephesians, to the Romans, to anybody who'll listen.
Galatians- Volume 16 (Gal. 1:11-17)|
|Subject: How does Paul's conversion relate to his understanding of his apostleship? What about his time in Arabia?
Direct Link: http://media.ctsfw.edu/1240
Galatians 1 English Standard Version (ESV)
Paul Called by God
11 For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man's gospel.[c] 12 For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. 13 For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. 14 And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. 15 But when he who had set me apart before I was born,[d] and who called me by his grace, 16 was pleased to reveal his Son to[e] me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone;[f] 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.
Q: In the next verses, Paul describes his conversion or rather God's revelation of Christ. How does this relate to his understanding of his apostleship? And how much time did Paul spend in Arabia? What do you think he was doing during this time?
A: DR. ARTHUR A. JUST, JR.:
These are all excellent questions that get us into the second part of the first chapter of Paul's letter to the Galatians.
Starting in Verse 11, the main proposition for this epistle is stated by Paul. And here you can see, this is his statement about the Gospel. Notice that when Paul speaks to the Galatians he refers to them as “brothers.” This is a term of endearment. He says to them: “For I want you to know, brethren, the Gospel” -- and I'm going to translate this literally – “the Gospel that was gospeled by me, that it is not according to men -- or a man.”
Now I find it fascinating that he says: “I want you to know brethren. “ He wants them to know, but yet they already know this. Paul has already taught this to them. What they are hearing here in this letter are things that he has said before. He has catechized their families, which included women, slaves, children, the whole group. When he says brethren he means all the saints, men and women, children, all. Slave and free. He knows that they know that the Gospel that has been gospeled by him to them is not according to a man. He has said in the very first verse of the epistle that his apostleship is not according to a man but comes from God. Now he's saying the Gospel that has been gospeled by me is not from men but from God.
Now think about this statement that “the gospel that has been gospeled by me” or as the ESV puts it, “The gospel that was preached by me.” This is an important statement. The Gospel is something that happens. The Gospel happens in that space of grace, where Christians gather together around the Word of God and the Gospel is preached. Luther said it very clearly. What is the church? The church is where those who gather around the voice of the Good Shepherd and clearly hear his voice and are his sheep. That is exactly what Paul is essentially saying here. The Gospel is something that happens. It is a preached event.
Now, this Gospel that he preached is something that Paul says that he did not receive from a man. In other words, perhaps his opponents are saying: Hey, listen, Paul is going to tell you that he didn't get it from anybody. But he went to Jerusalem. He talked to Peter. He talked to Barnabas. He was in the church of Antioch. But Paul makes it very clear in Verse 12: For neither did I receive it -- notice the receiving, the reception. This is like the receiving of a tradition -- I did not receive it according to a man nor was I taught it by a man. But I received it -- and this is important language. And in the Greek it's literally by the Apocalyptic revelation of Jesus Christ. Most of our translations simply say I think revelation.
Yes, through a revelation of Jesus Christ. But the word there is Apocalyptic. Remember, I talked about Apocalyptic before. This is an in breaking. This is when God is stepping on the scene doing something completely out of the ordinary.
• The incarnation, Jesus becoming one of us is an apocalyptic event.
• And so also was the revelation of Paul by Jesus on the road to Damascus. That was an apocalyptic event. That's where he got his Gospel. That’s when Paul saw that Jesus Christ was the Messiah. And that what he did on the cross was in fact the atonement of the world's sins and that in fact he had risen from the grave three days later.
Now, Paul needs to substantiate this. And this is where we see the language here about his call. Paul's call is very important in the epistle to the Galatians because he puts it in the context of the call of such prophets like Isaiah and Jeremiah. Now, look at what he does: He tells the story of his life. He talks a little bit about his life in Judaism. And he is reminding them of things that they already know. Look what he says in Verse 13: “For you have heard of my former life in Judaism.” Now, that's a unique word. Former life. Judaism. That's a unique word to Paul. This is the religion of Judaism. This is Paul before the cross. This is Paul living under the law. And notice what he says: “How I persecuted the church violently. That's the church. Here he speaks of himself as we said before, as a persecutor of the church.” And he says he was seeking, trying, over and over and over again. This volitional intention is what the language of the Greek intends here. He was trying over and over and over again to destroy it. Paul wanted the church destroyed. Now, that is what he's talking about in terms of that pre-Damascus road, pre-cross Paul that comes out of the womb of Judaism and then when the cross happens and the resurrection becomes the primary persecutor of the church.
And he says in Verse 14 -- and I think he's not only talking here about himself formally but he's talking about his opponents now who are in Galatia. He says: “And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people. So extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers.” Now, there I think Paul is talking about how he was No. 1 in his class. There is nobody who was more zealous for the law. And that's what traditions of the fathers means. The law. There was nobody more zealous than Paul. And that same zealousness that created the persecution of [Christian] Jews by other [Christian] Jews is what he's seeing in these opponents who have come to Galatia and who are insisting upon the law. See, Paul understands that. He used to be like them. When he sees them, he sees himself formerly. And I think it's important to recognize that in verses 13 and 14 he is talking about himself before the Damascus road experience.
Then in 15 -- and this is a remarkable statement. He says: “When it pleased Almighty God, when it pleased God, the one who separated me out of the womb of my mother and called me through his grace.” Now, that sounds like Isaiah and Jeremiah's call, the prophetic call that is a clear indication that Paul puts himself -- and this is in a sense almost an extraordinary thing to say. But he puts himself because of the call of Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus, he puts himself in the same category as Isaiah and Jeremiah. Now, that takes a lot of -- I don't want to say pride. But it just takes a lot of confidence in what God is calling you to do to place oneself in that situation.
And he uses the same language now of the Gospel being Apocalyptically revealed. To apocalyptically reveal his son in me. In me, Paul. Not just to me. But in me. Because Christ now dwells in Paul and Paul dwells in Christ. And he understands that. And that was kind of like almost a violent act from afar. Now, this is an important point of view in Paul. And I want to spend a moment here talking about this apocalyptic invasion.
I think it's a way of reading Paul that has been neglected by a lot of scholars today. And that is that Paul basically has two questions that he's asking the Galatians. The questions he's asking them are these:
1. What time is it? What world do we live in? And what time is it in that world?
2. And then: What is this world like? What is the world that we actually live in?
Now, I think Paul would say we are living in an Apocalyptic time. Namely, we are living in the end times. We are living in the present evil age. But that age has been broken into by the eternal one. And I think Paul sees the incarnation, the coming of Jesus into the world into the flesh, as an invasion from afar. An alien who has broken into our world and who is now living in it and changing it by his presence.
Paul also sees the Damascus road experience as an Apocalyptic invasion. And I think when he sees that, he sees it in the same way as the incarnation, that God is invasively revealing himself in an Apocalyptic way to Paul just as Jesus revealed himself in an Apocalyptic way when he came into the world to be our Savior.
Now, why does he do that? In order that he might preach him. Notice it's not the Good News. It's him. Jesus. Because Jesus is the Good News. That he might preach Jesus, his son, the Son of God, to the Gentiles. That's why Paul is called by God. That is why Jesus Apocalyptically reveals himself to Paul so Paul might be a preacher of Jesus to the Gentiles.
Now as soon as that happened, Paul contrary to what his opponents are probably telling the Galatians, Paul says -- and he goes through this very quickly. Here is the beginning of his travel log in the second part of Verse 16. He says: “I did not immediately consult with anyone.” I didn't go running to Peter or to James or to anyone like that. He said: “Nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who are apostles before me. But I went away into Arabia. And I returned again into Damascus.”
Now, this is where your question about what was Paul doing in Arabia that is so important. For a while there, Paul kind of retreated. And if you look where Arabia is, it's kind of east and south of Jerusalem. The center of Arabia at this time was Petra, which is where the Nabateans were. You can look it up on a map. It's very interesting. Petra is of course the place that is featured in the movie "Indiana Jones, The Last Crusade." A magnificent kind of rock walled city. And Paul went and retreated there. Now, there were a lot of Jews there. There were synagogues. There wasn't a lot of pressure for Paul. I think Paul spent time learning how to be an evangelist to the Jews in Arabia. He was not a popular person in Judea. He's going to talk about that later on. He needed to retreat. He needed to learn. It was in a sense his way of coming to grips with what it meant to share the Gospel with his own people.
And this of course prepared him to share the Gospel to the Gentiles. But the point is that he doesn't go running and learn the Gospel from others. Because he had already known it from his studies as a Pharisee in knowing the Old Testament. And then in seeing that the key of knowledge as Jesus says, the key of knowledge that unlocks the Old Testament is knowing that Jesus is the Messiah himself.
Galatians- Volume 17 (Gal. 1:18-24)|
|Subject: What happened in Paul's first visit to Jerusalem (Gal. 2:1-10)?
Direct Link: http://media.ctsfw.edu/1241
English Standard Version (ESV)
18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days. 19 But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord's brother. 20 (In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie!) 21 Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. 22 And I was still unknown in person to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 23 They only were hearing it said, “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they glorified God because of me.
Q: What happened in Paul's first visit to Jerusalem? He seems to make a point of not having consulted with anyone. Why? Talking about his Damascus road experience with the disciples would seem to be so very natural. And lastly, when did all of these events happen?
A: DR. ARTHUR A. JUST, JR.:
These are very good questions that put us in the context of the First Century history, which we're going to guess at the best as we can. Now, if you look at the chronology, you'll see that the way in which I've dated the conversion of Paul is in the year 36. And I believe that the events that happened in Galatians 1:18 and following happen about two years after Paul's conversion. So in other words, he is converted in 36 after the martyrdom of Stephen. Then he goes into Arabia into the Syrian desert of the Nabateans. Returns to Damascus. And then after that he travels to Jerusalem to consult with the disciples.
Now, this is an important point. Why 36? Well, a lot of people date it earlier. But there is something that suggests to us that 36 is a good year to date the martyrdom of Stephen and the conversion of Paul. Remember the Jews could not engage in capital punishment. This is something the Romans had to do. So for them to put Stephen to death would either have to be a breaking of the law or would have to be one of those historical moments where it was possible for them to do that because the Romans weren't watching. Well, there is historical evidence that in the year 36, there was no Roman procurator in Caesarea Maritima. Namely there was nobody kind of minding the store in Israel in 36. And the high priest at that time was Jonathan, who was a very, very ruthless man. This created the possibility at that time for the martyrdom of Stephen to take place by the Jews. Now, that means that Paul in those first years is simply kind of learning the ropes and then finally going to Jerusalem. Because so many people had heard about his conversion.
Now, remember, he says he doesn't consult with anyone. But everybody knows that he went to Jerusalem. So he has to talk about what that visit was about. And he does it in verses 18 and following. He says: “Then after three years” -- and that would be 36, 37, 38 -- so that's why we put it in about the year 38 -- he goes up into Jerusalem for the purpose of visiting with Cephas. Notice he calls him Cephas. That's his Jewish name. He goes with the purpose of visiting Cephas. Now, that is an important point. Now many people would say including the opponents that he went there so he might receive the Gospel from Peter. But maybe it was the other way around. Maybe Paul was going to Cephas to say: Hey, guess what I found out? I found out on the road to Damascus that God opened up to me to be the apostle to the Gentiles.
I think he did talk about his Damascus road experience with the apostles. In fact, if the Book of Acts is an indication of this, three times in the Book of Acts Paul records a version of the Damascus road experience in Chapter 9 is the first one of course, Chapter 22 and Chapter 26. Three times. It's important to him. And I'm sure he spoke about it when he went to Jerusalem. But he says that he remained -- and this is wonderful, detailed information. You have to ask yourself why. “I remained with Peter, Cephas, for 15 days.” 15 days. Why not two weeks. Why not a little over two weeks or a fortnight? But he says 15 days. Now, I think it's important to recognize that the language here, to remain, to visit, means that he stayed with Peter. That means he had table fellowship with Peter. And that means that he went to Peter's church at least three times. In 15 days you can celebrate the Lord's support with Peter three times. I think Paul is saying here that he had fellowship with Peter as he will in Chapter 2 at the Lord's table. That he and Peter were in agreement. They were on the same page. And it shows that in a sense they were colleagues and they were friends. That they understood this.
Now, Paul goes onto say he “saw none of the other apostles.” He didn't go down there to meet everybody and to learn from them. But he does mention again -- now, this is a critical point -- that he saw James, the brother of our Lord. Not James, the son of Zebedee. But James, the brother of our Lord. Now, James the son of Zebedee would be alive at this time. But he points out who is now when Paul is writing this letter the bishop of Jerusalem. That he went to see Peter and James. Remember what I said about the Apostolic Council? These are the two players along with Paul who are the significant people who have to come together at this Council. Three years after his conversion, Paul goes to Jerusalem to visit with Peter and James and to celebrate the Lord's Supper with them. He says: What things I'm writing to you before God I do not lie. He's saying this is the absolute truth. This is why I went.
But then he says in Verse 21 -- and I think this is a very important statement by him because he clarifies even more his travel log. He says: “Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia.” Syria is where Antioch is. Cilicia is where he's from. So he went back to his hometown and to Antioch which is going to be the mission base of operations for his missionary journeys. And then he says this: And I was still unknown in person to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. In other words, he didn't visit the churches around Jerusalem. He didn't go around and see those churches. He didn't because he had been a persecutor of the people who were in those churches. They still probably remember three years later the raw, very tragic, very sad experiences that they had in their own families at the hands of Paul.
But to show you how the Gospel works, Paul says: “They were only hearing it said he who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” They heard about Paul's conversion. They didn't see him to the face. But they heard about his conversion. And that he had once been the great persecutor of the church and now he's preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And this is an amazing statement to me. It says in Verse 24: “And they were glorifying over and over again God because of me.”
Now, I've often used this analogy. And I think it's somewhat legitimate. Paul goes to Jerusalem and he as a persecutor of the church is received with joy by those congregations that were persecuted by him. He doesn't go visit them by the face. Because that might have been a little too much. But they did recognize that the Gospel was coming through him. It would be as if Osama bin Laden were to return to New York now having been converted to the Christian faith and was preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ there. And the people of New York City after 9/11 were going to receive him with joy, glorifying God. I don't know if that would ever happen today.
But that's what happened in the First Century. That the Christians recognize clearly in Paul somebody who represented them. Now, that's important for Paul to state concerning his apostleship. That he is in fact, an apostle from God. And that even those whom he had persecuted see in him a preacher of the Gospel, a preacher of the Good News. As well as James and Peter, the great leaders of the Jerusalem church. At this time, remember, Peter is the bishop of Jerusalem. Not James. Even though Peter may not have been called that. But he was the leader of the church in Jerusalem. And James was the second leader. And the Jerusalem church, who many people in that church had difficulties with Paul's mission to the Gentiles that early on three years after his conversion they are embracing Paul as a preacher of the Gospel.
Galatians- Volume 18 (Gal. 2:1-3)|
|Subject: Why did Paul make a second trip to Jerusalem and what happened then?
Direct Link: http://media.ctsfw.edu/1242
English Standard Version (ESV)
Paul Accepted by the Apostles
2:1 Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. 2 I went up because of a revelation and set before them (though privately before those who seemed influential) the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure I was not running or had not run in vain. 3 But even Titus, who was with me, was not forced to be circumcised, though he was a Greek.
Q: I see that Paul made a second trip to Jerusalem. Why? Who were the major players at this meeting?
A: DR. ARTHUR A. JUST, JR.:
This is a good point to just pause before we get more deeply embedded in the epistle to the Galatians to reflect a little bit about what's going on now. I think you can see that this is a deeply historical book. I mean, if you look at a lot of the epistles of Paul, there are no real historical references until the end when he refers to people and places. But this book of Galatians is embedded in the church's earliest history.
Now, up until this point we can see that Paul is defending his apostleship. He's talked about his conversion. He's talked about the early years. And now we're coming to a point, the beginning of Chapter 2, where we see what many people believe is the report by Paul of what happened in Acts 15 and the Apostolic Council. Now, if that is the case, that means that this letter to the Galatians was written after the Apostolic Council, say in 49 or 50. And that could very well be the case. Many, many scholars believe in a later dating of Galatians.
But in teaching this class and in teaching Galatians over the last ten years, I have come to believe -- and it took me awhile to come to this point. And this is the more conservative position. Or at least it used to be. But I have come to believe that the letter to Galatians was written before the Apostolic Council. And that here in Chapter 2, this is not a record of the Apostolic Council. But is a private meeting between Paul, Barnabas, representing the church in Antioch and Peter and James representing the church in Jerusalem.
Now, I did mention before at the Apostolic Council that the whole church was represented. And that's true here, as well. Now, let's walk through this. Paul, John, Peter, James. I've included John here as the son of Zebedee. Because we know he's referenced in Verse 9 I believe. These are the major players in Jerusalem at this time. And as I said, they really represent in terms of authorship 21 out of the 27 New Testament books. And 24 out of the 27 if you include influence. So let's just walk through that.
• Paul wrote 13 letters.
• John wrote three letters, Revelation and the Gospel. So that's 18.
• Peter wrote two epistles, that's 20.
• And James one epistle. That's 21.
So 21 out of the 27 books are represented here by the authors of those books. Now, if you believe as I do that Paul influenced Luke and Acts and that Peter influenced Mark, you can add really three others by influence. So 24 out of the 27 books are represented. And as I said before only Matthew, Hebrews and Jude are not represented. Now, that's the New Testament. I mean, this is a major meeting of the great minds and the great leaders of the early Christian church.
Now, this is perhaps the second trip to Jerusalem. But it's not the final trip. The final trip is going to be the trip, of course, when he's arrested. And before that the Apostolic Council. So these are a number of different trips that Paul takes to Jerusalem. It shows you how important Jerusalem is. But when he goes to this private meeting, I believe this is a result of what happened in Antioch and a result of his missionary journeys. And I think you can see very clearly here that he wants to lay before the apostles the Gospel that he has preached with Barnabas on his first missionary journey.
Now, look at what he does. At the very beginning he says: “Then after 14 years again I went up into Jerusalem with Barnabas taking along also with me Titus.” Now, this is important. 14 years. Now, if you take 14 from 36, that's about the year 50. And if you actually count from the year 36, you're in the area that we're talking about. 49, 50. Thats when most people date the Jerusalem Council. I'm claiming that this is right before that. Now that puts us into a little bit difficulty in dating this. But I think if you actually look at the way they added years, you can see that this Council occurred perhaps at the end of 48, the beginning of 49, before the Apostolic Council. What I'm suggesting to you is this: That these two meetings, the private meeting recorded here in Galatians 2 and the public meeting in Acts 15 occurred within a very short period of time in reference to each other I should say. So one may have been -- this is just an example. But the private meeting may have been in January of 49. And the Apostolic Council may have been in the fall of 49. Something like that. Within six months or even less.
Now, what's interesting is what Paul goes onto say here. And I think it's important that he says he “went up” -- and here is that same word again -- according to “revelation,” the Apocalyptic revelation. So in other words, this wasn't as it says in Acts 15 that the churches got together and particularly Antioch said hey we better send Paul and Barnabas. This is something that's revealed to Paul. And I think it happened to him while he was on the second missionary journey. That he says: You know I think Jerusalem needs to hear about the successes we are having with the Gentiles so we have a clear sail in preaching this Gospel.
And God revealed this to him. He said: Go to Jerusalem and tell them. And that's exactly what he does. It says: “He lays before them the Gospel which I was preaching among the Gentiles.” Notice, again, the Gospel is a preached event. The Gospel is something that happens in the preaching of it. So as Paul went from church to church, from town to town preaching the Gospel, people were being converted and that happened, also, I think in that first missionary journey in Galatia. And notice that in Verse 2 -- and here I think is the key to distinguishing this meeting from Acts 15 – he “went up privately to those who seemed to be something lest somehow in vain I am running or had run.”
Now, Paul is not worried about the apostles in Jerusalem as to persuading him to change the Gospel that he preaches. What Paul is worried about is a split in the church. Paul is deeply, deeply concerned that because the Gospel he is preaching to the Gentiles might be controversial amongst some of the Jews in Jerusalem, that they would cause the church to split - so that there would be a church of the Gentiles and a church of the Jews. And for Paul, because the Gospel is inclusive, in other words, it includes and embraces all people as he's going to say in Galatians 3, slave or free, male and female, you know, rich and poor. It embraces all of them. Paul is just very, very concerned that this Gospel is somehow going to be broken into two different churches.
I think it's very, very important to see that it's not that this church has a Gospel and this church has a Gospel. In other words,
• the Gospel, salvation by grace alone through faith to the Gentiles.
• Salvation by grace through faith plus the law for the Jews.
But for Paul there's one Gospel. There may be two missions. One Gospel. One church. Two missions. And he says very clearly that “not even Titus” -- this is Verse 3 of Chapter 2 – “not even Titus, the one who was with me, even though he was a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised.”
Now it’s important to see this for what it is. Titus is not a Jew. He is a Greek. He is uncircumcised. Paul brings an uncircumcised Gentile to this private meeting with Peter and James. And if they felt it was absolutely necessary that circumcision be part of the Gospel, they would have insisted, they would have “compelled. “ And notice that language because he's going to use it again. They would have “compelled” Titus to be circumcised. But Titus is an object lesson that the Gospel is for Gentiles. Titus comes and confesses the faith that Peter and James confess. And they do not “force” him to be circumcised. So in Titus, who really is a wonderful example of the freedom of the Gospel to reach to Gentiles without requiring circumcision, there is an opportunity for Paul to place before the apostles the fruit of his preaching. And so Titus goes along with Barnabas and Paul. Because he shows that the Gospel is for the uncircumcised.
Galatians- Volume 19 (Gal. 2:4-6)|
|Title: Galatians- Volume 19 (Gal. 2:4-6)
Subject: How did the Jerusalem Council compare to other councils?
Direct Link: http://media.ctsfw.edu/1243
English Standard Version (ESV)
Paul Accepted by the Apostles
4 Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery— 5 to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. 6 And from those who seemed to be influential (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those, I say, who seemed influential added nothing to me.
Q: Thank you. And I want to follow up with another question. What happened at Antioch that influenced the meeting in Jerusalem? What were the issues that they discussed? Later in the history of the church, the first Ecumenical Council is held in Nicaea. Is the meeting in Jerusalem similar? Does it have a formal name?
A: DR. ARTHUR A. JUST, JR.:
This is a very astute question because most people when they read Galatians, especially Chapter 2 verses 4 and 5 do not see that what Paul is talking about there is the church in Antioch and not the church in Galatia. You see, Paul was concerned about what happened in Antioch probably during his first missionary journey.
Now, we're going to see that there's an incident in Antioch that comes right after this. This is the confrontation between Peter and Paul. But this is a previous incident that indicates that something is wrong in the Jerusalem church. Now, this is how Paul puts it in Chapter 2 Verse 4 he says: “Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus so that they might bring us into slavery, to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment so that the truth of the Gospel might be preserved for you.”
Now, Paul here is speaking about Antioch. And here comes some of the major themes of Galatians. First of all, we've already seen that circumcision has been referred to in Verse 3. But it is referred to again here. Because the false brothers are compelling circumcision. Now, circumcision is used in Chapter 2, Chapter 5 and Chapter 6. There are more references to circumcision here than in any other of Paul's epistles. And what we're going to see is that at the very end of the epistle you think Paul was finally done with circumcision, he comes back to circumcision because it's a major issue here in Galatia. And it was a major issue in this meeting.
These false brothers -- and that's quite a very derogative thing to call them. They are brothers. Namely, they are Christians or claim to be Christians. But they are teaching false doctrine. They are teaching a different Gospel as he says in the first chapter. Notice how he describes them. He describes them as secretly brought in. Slipping in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus. They are not being up front. They are not honest. They are not coming in and saying things openly. But they are going around the corner. They are meeting, huddling in the -- kind of the corners of the synagogue, wherever they are meeting. And they are undermining the Gospel that Paul and Barnabas and the church has affirmed as being the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Now, what it is that they are compromising is freedom. This is a major theme in Paul. And especially in this letter to the Galatians. For freedom Christ has set you free he says in Chapter 5. Freedom is freedom from the law. And what they are trying to do is to bind people again to the law. Now, Paul thinks this is absurd. What Jesus does is he frees us from the law. Why would they want to be bound again in the law? And that's why he talks about freedom here. And slavery.
And he talks about how they stood up to them. Now, this may have been Paul personally. Maybe when he got back from his missionary journey to Antioch, they were there. And he stood up against them. But his followers did, too. And in this case they were clear victors in Antioch. They tossed out these false brothers because they did not want to be in submission to them for a moment because -- and this is a very important statement in Verse 5. This is the key to this letter. The truth of the Gospel might remain in us.
That expression, “the truth of the Gospel,” is significant. Now, in the Greek language, those two words are juxtaposed, truth, Gospel. And I want you to think of the truth being the Gospel and the Gospel being the truth. It's not just the truth of the Gospel. I think the best way to translate that is truth that is the Gospel. Or if you want to reverse it, the Gospel, that is the truth. What is true is the free liberating Gospel that Jesus has died for the sins of the world and risen again. And that we don't have to do anything. We cannot cooperate with God. We cannot contribute to our salvation. There are no works that we need to do in order to be saved.
Now, this is what Paul is saying here. And he's saying very clearly that this is something that happened in Antioch. He goes on, though. He says -- and here it's interesting if you read the Greek language. And it's somewhat captured in the English. Paul's grammar here completely collapses. It's very difficult to translate this passage because there are no verbs. It's a passage in which you can see Paul who is just an incredible wordsmith loses his way with the Greek. And I think the reason is -- and I think this is what I love about this epistle is that as Paul is dictating this, he is so upset that he loses his sense of grammar. You know how that is, people when they get agitated the words don't come out right. And that's what's happening with Paul here.
So look at what he says now in Verse 6. “And from those who seem to be influential, what they were makes no difference to me. God shows no partiality.” That's almost in parentheses. He says those I say who seemed influential added nothing to me. Now, here he is going back to his visit to Jerusalem. So verses 4 and 5 is the incident, the first incident in Antioch where false brothers came in and tried to undermine the Gospel. And then in Verse 6 which is really a new sentence here, he talks about the meeting in Jerusalem. And those who seemed to be influential, namely, Peter, James and John. Peter, remember, first among equals. John, son of Zebedee. James, the brother of our Lord. “They added nothing to me,” they said. They did not add to my Gospel. We laid our Gospel before them and they didn't say: Wait a minute, Paul. You're preaching the wrong Gospel. You have to add something here or you have to change it.
They simply accepted what Paul and Barnabas were preaching. And he says I don't care who they are. I don't care if they are Peter. It doesn't make any difference to me. God shows no impartiality when it comes to Verse 5: The truth of the Gospel. When it comes to the truth of the Gospel, there is no one who is going to cause me to compromise for the sake of the truth of the Gospel. And so he makes it very clear that nobody added anything to them. But then in Verse 7, he goes onto talk about what happens in the rest of the chapter.
Galatians- Volume 20 (Gal. 2:7-10)|
|Title: Galatians- Volume 20 (Gal. 2:7-10)
Subject: Similarities with the Council of Nicaea
Direct Link: http://media.ctsfw.edu/1244
English Standard Version (ESV)
Paul Accepted by the Apostles
7 On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised 8 (for he who worked through Peter for his apostolic ministry to the circumcised worked also through me for mine to the Gentiles), 9 and when James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. 10 Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.
Q: Please pardon me, Dr. Just. But did you touch upon any similarities with the Council of Nicaea?
A: DR. ARTHUR A. JUST, JR.:
Thank you, Josh. I'm glad you reminded me about that. I was getting as agitated as Paul was over this Antioch business that I forgot to address that. And I appreciate you bringing that up.
It's important to recognize at this point that this is not the Apostolic Council. But it makes the same decisions that the Apostolic Council does. And I think Nicaea is a good comparison. Even though the issues may have been different, the critical character of both those councils in terms of directing the Christian church forward in an Orthodox way is similar. In Nicaea of course it's over the person of Jesus. And here in the Apostolic Council it's about the Gospel itself. Nicaea wouldn't have happened if this Apostolic Council in Acts 15 and this previous private meeting that we are talking about here in Galatians 2, if they had not happened. And Paul sees in that Antioch situation how fragile the Gospel can be in a church, even among great people whom he has worked with in his missionary journeys.
Meetings being discussed:
• A previous meeting before the meeting at Jerusalem (Gal. 2) in which the nature of the Gospel is discussed.
• The meeting at Jerusalem (Acts 15), the Apostolic Council, also about the Gospel.
• The meeting at Nicaea (later) to discuss the person of Jesus.
Now, that movement from the situation in Antioch in verses 4 and 5 to Jerusalem in verse 6, then it goes on in 7 to 10 to describe the agreement that Paul makes with the church. And that agreement is of the same magnitude in terms of its influence as the Ecumenical Council in Nicaea.
Now, look at what it says in Verse 7. “On the contrary,” Paul says -- and that's a very important point. “On the contrary” they didn't add anything to me. On the contrary when they saw -- and this is important -- when I had been entrusted by God -- this is what we would call in the Greek a theological passive where God is the subject -- where God entrusted to me the Gospel to the uncircumcised just as Peter to the circumcised. Now, there are the two missions. Paul to the Gentiles uncircumcised. Peter to the Jews, the circumcised. Just when God is the entruster of these missions. When Paul saw that. And they saw it in Paul.
And in verse 8 he repeats himself. It's this parenthetical but it's very important. He says: “For the one who raised up Peter into the apostleship to the circumcised also raised me up to the Gentiles.” Now, there he doesn't talk about them as uncircumcised but Gentiles. Now, that's in two verses he refers to the missions, to the Gentiles and to the Jews. But in Verse 8 there he talks about God raising up Peter as an apostle to the circumcised.
Now, this may be making too much of it. But I don't think so. Paul refers here to Peter as an apostle. Everybody believes that. And remember, Paul began by defending his apostleship. Paul does not refer to himself here as an apostle. And I think you can see here that in that reference as Peter, apostle, but Paul not referring to himself. You can infer it from the grammar. But Paul probably should have put it in there especially if he's defending his apostleship. I think what you see here is Paul deferring to Peter. And I think he's deferring to the mission to the Jews. Paul recognized that Peter is the first among the 12. And he's the apostle par excellent. There's nobody greater than Peter. And Paul would never place himself above Peter. Nor would he place the mission to the Gentiles above the mission to the Jews. They are both important. They both have their purpose. The Jews came first. The Gentiles second. He just wants to make sure that the Gentiles have the same Gospel as the Jews have. And that the Jews the same as the Gentiles have.
And so he says: “When they saw this,” when they saw that there were these two missions and then in Verse 9 and knowing -- this seeing and knowing. These are words of perceiving. “And knowing the grace that has been given to me by God.” There's another. That God gave him this grace. And here they are: James, the brother of our Lord, bishop of Jerusalem. Cephas, Peter. And John, the son of Zebedee. Those who seem to be pillars. Remember I talked about the pillars? Now we're down to three. James, Peter and John. Not the son of Zebedee. But James, the bishop of Jerusalem. Those who seem to be pillars. They gave to Barnabas and me the right hand of fellowship. Now, that just doesn't mean they shook hands. The word fellowship there means that they celebrated the Lord's Supper together. They sealed their unity in the Gospel of Jesus Christ but celebrating the sacrament together.
Now, we know from the early church especially from Corinthians but especially from the teaching of Jesus that the sacrament of the Lord's Supper was a sacrament of unity. Which means that brothers or sisters in Christ that did not believe or confess the same things would not share the cup -- the bread and the cup together. So for Paul and Barnabas to receive the right hand of fellowship from James, Peter and John is a significant statement of the unity.
Now, I want to point out something. This is subtle but I think it's true. Look at the list there. It's James, Peter and John. Not Peter, James and John. James is listed first. Paul already recognizes what I said earlier about the Apostolic Council. That James is the main player here. That he's the one who is going to speak and everybody is going to follow. And why did they have the right hand of fellowship? And this is a purpose clause. And he repeats it once again. “In order that we to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.” Okay. Again, the third time the two missions is repeated within three verses. So you can see here one Gospel, one church, two missions.
The final verse is important for me. Because I'm director of deaconess studies here at the seminary. And I think it's important to recognize that the Gospel does involve concrete expressions of love. This is going to come up later in Paul's epistle. And I think it's interesting, you can almost see that Paul is a little annoyed here. And I'll explain what I mean by that here in a minute. He says: “Only they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.”
Now, perhaps you don't know this. But the place that was considered kind of the -- the most focal point of poverty in the ancient world at this time was Jerusalem because of the famine there. And the saints in Jerusalem were really very, very much struck by the need to receive gifts from the Gentile churches in order to survive physically.
That's another way of reading the Book of Acts. The Book of Acts isn't only about the mission to the Gentiles and the Jews. But it's also about the taking of the collections by the Gentile churches so that the Jews might survive in Jerusalem. This is what the poor refers to. It's referring to the saints in Jerusalem who really are in desperate need of the help of the Gentiles. The apostles reminded Paul that he is the one that is going to be perhaps most responsible for bringing these gifts, these tangibles, expressions of the Gospel to the church in Jerusalem to show that there is unity. And I think that this is another sign of unity. Not just simply the celebration of the Lord's Supper. But that the gifts of the Gentiles are going to be there to support the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem.
Now, if you look at the third missionary journey of Paul, one of the things that he does during that missionary journey is he carries these tangible expressions of the Gentile's love for the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem with him to Jerusalem and lays them before James and the church. And the church was able to survive because of that. And Paul says very clearly here that he recognizes that the Gospel includes what I call ***diacneus service. That is giving, charity. We sometimes think of that as being outside the Gospel. But the Gospel itself in our lives because Christ is in us and his mercy and compassion flows through us, that is expressed in tangible gifts to those who are in need of those gifts. Paul understands that and so do the Jews in Jerusalem who are also Christians. And that is why this private meeting is in a sense a watershed event as well as the Apostolic Council. Because it not only brings the major players together around the Gospel, but it also shows that charity is at the heart of what Jesus Christ teaches.
Galatians- Volume 21 (Gal. 2:11-14)|
|Title: Galatians- Volume 21 (Gal. 2:11-14)
Subject: What happened at Antioch that caused Paul to be so upset with Peter? Can church leaders be upset with one another without this being a sin?
Direct Link: http://media.ctsfw.edu/1245
English Standard Version (ESV)
Paul Opposes Peter
11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party.[a] 13 And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”
Q: Thank you, Dr. Just. I truly appreciate your taking the time to respond to me. Now I want to ask one more question. At the incident at Antioch Peter and Paul appear to be at odds with each other. What happened at Antioch that caused Paul to be so upset with Peter? Can church leaders be upset with one another without this being a sin?
A:DR. ARTHUR A. JUST, JR.:
Those are good questions, Josh. And I'm not sure I can answer the last one. But I think we can look at the text and see what happens here between Peter and Paul. And as I mentioned before in Acts 15, I think we see that reconciliation has taken place. But this is a very disturbing part of Galatians. And in fact it's a very disturbing part of the New Testament. Because you see that there tends to be here not just on the surface but deep down a potential break, a potential source of deep trouble when Paul and Peter in Antioch. Now, this is called the incident in Antioch. And over the years many have tried to reconcile this or explain it away. But I think you've got to take these words at face value. That something happened in Antioch that caused Peter to withdraw. Now, let's look at the text. I think the text needs to be looked at carefully here. Because it will tell us what it is that we need to know about this.
First of all, you have Cephas in Antioch, you've got Paul and you've got Barnabas and you also have this reference that there were some from James. So in other words, everybody who was at the private meeting (held earlier) are now at least referred to here in the Antioch incident. It clearly takes place after that private meeting. And as I mentioned earlier in my words about the history of the early Christian church, it appears as if Paul left this private meeting in Jerusalem that was recorded in the first ten verses of Chapter 2 just elated. There was the right hand of fellowship. And I think that Peter did, as well. I think Peter runs to Antioch now. And of course he knew Antioch. He had been to Antioch. This is the first place where Christians were called Christians. This is a great church. This is a church that is a significant player. And Antioch of course was in a place where a lot of commerce came. So it was a place to spread the Gospel everywhere.
I think Peter goes running from Jerusalem to Antioch and just rejoices in being able to participate in a church now made up of Jews and Gentiles. Remember now, like I said, he is the founder of the mission to the Jews, founder of the mission to the Gentiles. So Peter in himself embodies both missions even though he lives more like a Jew, even though he may be more closely associated with Jerusalem and the mission to the Jews, Antioch now embraces all of what had happened to Peter in the first 10, 11 chapters of Acts.
Now, I think when he was there, he loved celebrating the Lord's Supper with the Gentiles, eating in their houses, eating the foods that they served. Perhaps for the first time, as I said, eating foods he had never eaten before. But it says -- this is Verse 11: “But when Cephas came to Antioch” -- and I think it's important to see that Cephas, Peter who is coming to Antioch – “I opposed him to his face because he stood condemned.”
Now, that is a strong statement. And clearly, you know, maybe Peter left for a while, came back. But what happened happened in Antioch. And when he comes now back to Antioch, Paul is in his face. Now, remember what I talked about Paul, short guy, skinny neck, kind of bulging eyes, fierce kind of countenance, long hook nose, shrewd. High pitched voice. Imagine him getting in your face.
When I played sports in high school, we had a coach who whenever he wanted to talk to us always got right here in our face. He just violated our space. We called him Lou the Face because he would always get right in our face. And I can see -- you know this is an expression that we have: In your face. I think Paul is in Peter's face here. And he says -- literally he says: I got in his face because he stood condemned. Now, condemned. I mean, was Peter destined to hell? Well, I don't know. But he clearly did something that caused Paul to think that he had compromised the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
And then he says this: “Before some from James came” -- now that's a very colorless expression. We don't know what that means. And we do not think -- and I think this is important to state. And we do not think that they represented James. They may claim they are from James. And that certainly may be something that someone said to look important. Oh, we're from the bishop. The bishop sent us. But I don't think that's the case. There's no indication anywhere else in the New Testament that James held to this position. But it says: “Before some from James came, Peter” -- this is an ongoing act in the past – “was continually eating with the Gentiles.” Now, I think that means both kind of normal meals and table fellowship at the Lord's Supper. I think it's table fellowship in both the common meals and the supper of the Lord. Peter was continually over and over again eating with Gentiles. But it says: “But when they came” -- and these words are very important – “he drew back and he separated himself because he feared those who were out of the circumcision party.”
Now, this is a loaded statement. And I want to explain a couple of the words here. The word there for drawback is a military word. Remember I said the Galatians were military men. They were soldiers. And so this is the sense of retreat. Now, I think you can see this as the Gospel is moving forward, it's taking ground. I mean, this conference in Jerusalem, this private conference brought all these players together to show that the Gospel is now to move among the Gentiles. And Peter is in Antioch moving forward. I mean it's an extraordinary moment in the church history. And then all of a sudden because these from James came, he began to retreat. He began to back off. Like an army would as it's beginning to take territory and then receiving resistance begins to have to retreat because it doesn't want to have to lose any more forces.
And the word that's next and again it's an ongoing action in the past. And he was repeatedly over and over again separating himself. Now, that word separate is a Celtic word.
What that means is, is that it's talking about the context of liturgy. Of cult. Of worship. He's separating himself from the Lord's Supper. So he's retreating. He's moving himself away from the Gentile celebration of the Lord's Supper and just doing a Jewish one. And here is the critical reason: Because he was afraid. Now, we're afraid of a lot of things. But the word fear both in the gospels and here I think in Paul has to do with fear that comes from persecution for confessing the true faith. Peter was afraid of confessing the faith that was agreed upon in that private meeting in Jerusalem right before this text that he had with Paul and Barnabas and the church in Antioch. He was afraid of being persecuted by the circumcision party.
Now, I think we have to be a little gentle here on Peter. Not that we want to excuse his behavior. But I think he's afraid not just of being ridiculed or being considered somebody who doesn't have a backbone. I think he's afraid maybe not so much for his life but the life of those who are his followers. Because these are those terrorists. These are those people who are literally killing people who they do not think are living like a Jew should live. And in this case that they think a Jewish Christian should live. So in order to preserve life, Peter retreats, Peter withdraws.
Now, it's important to recognize here that Peter is being condemned by Paul because he is a leader in the church. And his actions have an impact beyond himself. I also think it's important to say that Peter perhaps isn't saying: Oh, yes, I now believe that salvation is by grace through faith alone and works of the law. I don't think he's saying that. I think if you were to nail Peter down here and say: What do you believe, Peter? He would say it's salvation by grace through faith. So he's not making a different confession. But he is by his actions showing that he is afraid of publicly portraying that in the life of an intermixed church of Jews and Gentiles. Now, the reason I say that is Verse 13.
And it says: “That the rest of the Jews” -- see this – “the rest of the Jews played the hypocrite with Peter.” Now, hypocrite -- a hypocrite is somebody who puts a facade up. And if you read the teachings of Jesus, a person is a hypocrite because they are afraid of confessing the true faith. So Peter and the rest of the Jews put up a facade now. In other words, they retreat behind a wall because they are afraid of confessing the true faith with these Judaizers from Jerusalem, the circumcision party. And his leadership is so powerful. Peter is such a significant figure that not only do the rest of the Jews go with him -- and this must have just killed Paul -- so that even Barnabas, even Barnabas -- and I think this is such a word with such ***pathos that even Barnabas was led astray. Was in a sense perverted by their hypocrisy. Now, this is his traveling companion. This is the man what went with him on his first missionary journey. This is his good friend. The man who in many ways taught him to be a missionary. Even Barnabas is swayed by Peter.
Now, this is Paul's conclusion. And I think it's very important. He says: “But when I saw that they were not walking in an Orthodox way”, literally ortho, they were not walking lightly to the truth of the Gospel -- there is that expression again, the Gospel that is the truth, the truth that is the Gospel that they were not walking to what he, Paul, considers “the truth of the Gospel. “
And notice, this isn't a private thing. This isn't like Matthew 18. This is a public sin. Public act. It takes a public rebuke. He said: “I said to Cephas” -- that's Peter – “before all of them,” the whole church -- he didn't just take Peter in a corner and say: Hey, what are you doing? He goes before the whole church and says to Cephas -- and this is a very important statement here and this shows his hypocrisy. “If you, Peter, though you are a Jew” -- your being is a Jew. And he's admitting there that Peter lives like a Jew. And that's okay. That's what he is. Ethically he is a Jew. “Even though you, Peter, are a Jew are now living like a Gentile and not like a Jew” -- now that shows you that Peter fully immersed himself in the Gentile life. Which means he was eating their foods. He was participating in things that would have been uncleaned by Jews. So he's living like a Gentile. “If you, Peter, even though you were brought up as a Jew are living like a Gentile and not like a Jew” -- and here is the killer and here is the same word that was used to compel circumcision. “How can you force to compel Gentiles to live like Jews?”
Now, whether or not Peter was fully doing that, it doesn't say. But the fact that he withdrew and separated himself indicates that he is making a statement in which perhaps it is necessary as the circumcision party says that these Gentiles must first become Jews in order for them to become Christians. Now, this is a serious breach in the church. And it is my guess that after Paul said this, there was a tremendous tragedy here. That Paul went his way and Peter went his way. And Barnabas, who knows what. But obviously from Acts 15, there was great dissension. And even though Luke kind of glosses it over a little bit, it's very clear that Paul and Barnabas were in great discussion.
Barnabas comes along with Paul. So Barnabas is converted first. And I think as I mentioned in the Apostolic Council, when Peter stands up and represents the Gentile point of view, that is his way -- and this is why I think that's such a courageous move -- his way of publicly repenting to the church in Jerusalem and really to the whole Christian church that he was wrong in Antioch. But I think at this moment as Paul writes this letter before the Apostolic Council in Acts 15, Paul doesn't know what's going to happen to Peter. He is so agitated by the fact that the Gospel may be compromised now not only in Antioch but maybe in Galatia.
So I think you can see that this situation in Antioch is an extremely, extremely upsetting one to Paul. And probably upsetting to Peter. Now, is this a sin? Well, it is a very, very wrong thing to confess something that isn't the truth. But even though you're afraid, even though it's something that might cause you great anguish or even may cause the life of some of your followers, at the end of the day, you've got to stand up for the truth. I think Peter was a broken man here. And so was Paul. Because he wasn't sure what was going to happen to the church. And as we now move forward into the final part of this second chapter, we're going to see that this incident in Antioch is the occasion for the first statement by Paul on justification by grace through faith.
Galatians- Volume 22 - Gal. 2:15-21|
|Title: Galatians- Volume 22 - Gal. 2:15-21
Subject: The theological issues that follow this confrontation between Paul and Peter at Antioch
Direct Link: http://media.ctsfw.edu/1246
English Standard Version (ESV)
Justified by Faith
15 We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16 yet we know that a person is not justified[b] by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.
17 But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. 19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness[c] were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.
Q: I, too, have a final question out of Chapter 2. Paul's first statement on justification by grace through faith occurs after the Antioch incident. What are the theological issues that follow this confrontation between Paul and Peter? And how do they affect the rest of his letter to the Galatians in Chapter 2 verses 15 to 21. For example what does justification mean? What are works of the law? What does Paul mean when he says I died to the law through the law? What does it mean that Christ lives in him? If this is not an ontological statement, is it at least a dynamic statement? And did Luther view the believer as being carried by another?
A:DR. ARTHUR A. JUST, JR.:
David, I think you have recognized that this section in Galatians is really I guess you could say the first deeply theological section where Paul reflects theologically about what the Gospel is. But it is I think the densest section of Galatians. And it is where we see as you already indicated the first statement by justification by grace through faith. There is so much packed in here, we could almost spend an entire course just unraveling the theology that Paul has here. But let's in the next few minutes try to get at the basic theological issues, particularly as they develop now in the rest of the Galatian homily.
Now, I think Verse 15 sets the stage. And this is, as I said, the first concerted theological argument in Galatians. And I love what one commentator says about Verse 15. And I'll just read the verse first and then translate it. And then I'll explain what I think it means. Paul says now: “We” -- and the we is you, Peter and me – “we are by nature Jews and a not Gentile sinners.” Now, what a commentator says is that he thinks Paul here is rhetorically putting his arm around Peter. In other words, Paul has just gotten in Peter's face. Says: You stand condemned. Describes him as a hypocrite. Being afraid. But I think Paul has some compassion here for Peter. And he puts his arm around Peter. And he's going to use this as an opportunity to show what we believe about the Gospel as Jews. And he says: “We are by nature Jews.” Peter, I was brought up as a Pharisee. I was the best in my class. I was in the school of Gamaliel. You don't think I understand the law? You don't think I understand this? He says: Peter, you and I, we are Jews. We are not like these Gentile sinners. Look what he's saying. These Galatians are Gentile pagan sinners. We're not sinners. We're Jews. Now, you know what he means. He means we are the ones who have been privileged with the revelation of God. We have the temple. We know what it means to be holy. And let's not be like them. By resorting to a Gospel that's not a Gospel.
And so that's why in verses 16 and following he states the Gospel. Now, Verse 16 is perhaps the most important verse in Galatians. It is the densest at least. And to translate it carefully is extremely important here. Now, I have not mentioned this. And I probably should have earlier. But I've given you as -- if you have the Greek, it's great. But if you don't have the Greek, I've given you kind of a diagrammed translation of the text here. And here it's very important. Because what we have is some parallelism going on. And I think you can see it in the English as well as the Greek.
Let's translate it first and then go back and talk about it. Because it's very important. Verse 16 -- and I'm going to read a translation because I want to trust my own translation. I'll read one. And I may make a few adjustments as we go. “Yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ. So we also have believed in Christ Jesus. In order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law. Because by works of the law, no one will be justified.”
Now, there are so many new concepts here first of all, the language of justification. And here the translation I'm reading, the ESV here uses the word justify. Sometimes we translate this declared righteous. Those are both good translations. We tend not to use the translation make righteous. And especially it if it's applied to a believer can be somewhat problematic. But to declare righteous, that's the courtroom. That's what we call forensic action, forensic language. This is certainly the language of justification as it's been handed down to us through the reformers, particularly Luther. And as you know, the Lutheran Confessions and Luther himself says that justification is one of the principle if not the principle doctrine of Christianity. And as Lutherans there is a statement. It's not in the confessions. But it's a statement that we all affirm that justification is the doctrine upon which the church stands and falls. And we believe that.
I would like, however, to say this about the Word here in this verse. That I think one of the ways to translate it is not declare righteous or justify. And bear with me here. I'll explain it in a minute. But to translate it this way: That what Paul is saying here is in the language of justification “that God is making right what has gone wrong.” Now, we all know what has gone wrong. We know that God created this creation good. If you just read the first chapter of Genesis, you see over and over again it was good, it was good, it was good. And that what happened is our first parent’s disobedience infected creation with a virus that all of a sudden that was so good went so terribly wrong. And we know that ever since the first sin of our parents that they fell into sin by the temptations of the devil which they succumbed to, that our world has been infected with this virus of sin that's caused death and tragedy and suffering and sickness and the most unimaginable things. And I think we also know at least if we're believers and if we understand the New Testament that we cannot -- and this is one of the points that Paul is making. We cannot by our own works, by trying hard to be good or trying to be righteous or trying to do the right thing that we cannot make right what has gone wrong. Because as the psalm says our works are like filthy rags. We can't do it. I think this is what Paul's opponents are telling the Galatians. Yes, you can. God does a little. You do a little. But you can help yourself. You can help make right what has gone wrong.
I think that Paul is saying very clearly here that only God can make right what has gone wrong. And only God can do that by sending his Creator who created everything good back into this world. Coming into this world as the Creator come to his creation to make all things new. That when the Creator comes in Jesus Christ, that it's only then that God in Christ is making right what has gone wrong. And he does it through a cross. He does it by being the focus of the Father's wrath. By being the focus of the Father's wrath against sin. By taking into himself our shame and our guilt. It is only in the cross where God is making right what has gone wrong. Now, I think it's also important to say that even though in a way -- in a way -- we can say that our faith makes right what has gone wrong. But it's our faith in Christ, in his atonement and resurrection, that makes right what has gone wrong.
Now, there are some issues here in this verse about how to translate these words. And let me say this: I would translate it this way: “Knowing that a man is made right in what has gone wrong not by works of the law but through the faithfulness unto death of Jesus Christ. And we believed in Jesus Christ in order that we may be made right in what has gone wrong by the faithfulness of Jesus Christ unto death and not by works of the law. Because by works of the law all flesh cannot make right what has gone wrong.”
You see, I think that Paul is speaking here in a cosmic sense. He's not talking about individual works of the law. He's not talking about individual faith. He's talking about Christ. And what Christ has done on the cross in his faithfulness, in his obedience unto death, in giving up his life for us. Now, the reason why I say that is I think most of the translations get it wrong when they say: “Yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ.” Now, the Greek is ambiguous there. It can mean faith in Jesus Christ or the faith of Jesus Christ, namely his faithfulness unto death. The only translation that takes it that way is the King James. “Faith of Christ.” And that's interesting. Because I think in some ways they understood the language better back then than we do now.
But here is the deal: In Verse 16, our faith in Christ stands at the center of that verse. This in no way discounts that our faith in Christ is important. But it says: How does God make right what has gone wrong in the world? It is through Christ and his faithfulness on the cross. Not by works of the law. Not by our faith. Because all flesh is going to be declared righteous, justified. That all of this is going to make right what has gone wrong by means of what happened on the cross of Calvary.
Now, the reason I bring this up is that this is what's being discussed among the Pauline scholars today. Not only in Galatians but also in Romans. And I think in both Galatians and Romans, Paul is speaking here in the bigger picture. I think if you look at the language of faith in Christ, it individualizes it too much. It makes it too personal. Too subjective. That's I think a little too moderate. And even though Luther took it that way, if you read the Galatians commentary you can see Luther understood this in the context of the larger salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
Now, Paul goes on. And I think the way in which he goes on helps explain this. And I think Verses 17 and following are really helpful in clarifying this. In 17 he says: “But if in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we, too, were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not.” Now, this is kind of an obvious statement for Paul. But I think what it says in Verse 17 is that people are calling Paul by his teaching, by the fact that he eats with Gentiles, by the fact that he includes, himself. And therefore, Christ and his Gospel with Gentile table fellowship is that he is being called by these opponents as a sinner. And anybody who has relationships in terms of both the Lord's Supper and just generally with Gentiles is a sinner. Then if that's true, then Christ is also a servant of sin. Because the Gospel is for everybody. And if you're going to go with a selective Gospel, then you are going to go with a Gospel that makes not only those who kind of expand the Gospel to include Gentiles a sinner, then Christ is a sinner, too.
Now, when he says: “Certainly not,” he's saying: No, that's not the case. That is not the case. Because that's not the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
And then in Verse 18 he says this: “For if I rebuild what I tore down” -- and he's talking about the law there. If I'm going to put up the law again as a means of salvation, if I'm going to do that, then he says: “I prove myself to be a transgressor.” Then I am a sinner. I'm not a sinner if I have table fellowship with Gentiles and see the Gospel as being for all people. I'm a sinner if I put requirements on the Gospel. If I make the Gospel something that I build up now, the law, around it as kind of a wall, then I am a sinner.
And here is his explanation. And this is very complicated. But it's going to give birth to a fuller theology later on in Chapter 3. So we have to handle it now. And Verse 19 is very critical here. “For I through the law died to the law.” Now, think about that. “I through the law died to the law.” Now, I think we can understand what Paul says: “I died to the law.” Namely, his life under the law before the cross, before Damascus. That is something that Damascus put an end to as well as the cross put an end to. He no longer lives according to the law. We died to that.
But how does he die to the law through the law? That's harder to understand. And I think the reason is this: Because I don't think we recognize that at the cross there is a collision. There is a collision between Christ and the law. Now, here you see Paul recognizing very clearly what happens at the cross. What he says later onto the Corinthians: That he who knew no sin becomes sin on our behalf. When Jesus was nailed to the tree, he is a sinner. He is the ultimate sinner. That's why the Father forsakes him. That's why the Father curses him as he says in Chapter 3 here in Galatians. That is why the Father has to forsake him to the point of death. That's why the Father's wrath is upon him. Because he's a sinner.
Now, what does the law do? The law shows us our sins. When the law looks at Jesus who is the ultimate sinner there, what must the law do? It must put Jesus to death. That's what the law demands of sinners. That's how Paul died to the law through the law. Because the collision there on the cross between Christ and the law, the law condemning Christ because Christ is a sinner there, that is how Paul dies to the law. He's referencing here the cross of Jesus Christ.
And what happens? That happens so that he might now live to God. Because he is co-crucified with Christ. He's not the one who is crucified. It is Christ who is crucified and Paul now in Christ. Here he is referring to his baptism. How he's baptized into Christ's death and resurrection. He's going to talk about that in Galatians 3 and 4 and then in Romans 6. Because he's co-crucified in Christ. And this comes to him in his baptism. That is why he can now live. That Christ's death and resurrection becomes his. Not because he dies the death of Christ. Not because he rises the resurrection of Christ in a literal way. But because in Christ he dies with Christ. And in Christ, he rises with him.
Now, that is a profound statement. And look at what happens in Verse 20, what he wants to expand now is the life. The life. This is the life after the cross. The life after Damascus. The life after faith. He says: “The life” -- and let me get this translation right in Verse 20. “I am co-crucified with Christ. It is no longer -- it is no longer I who live. Me, Paul. But Christ who lives in me.” I'm joined to Christ now Paul says. I have Communion with Christ. So when you see me, you don't see me, you see Christ. Even though you see my personality, you see my body, it is Christ who lives in me. This is that incorporation into Christ that justification brings. That baptism brings.
Now, this is as fundamentally an important doctrine for Paul as justification by grace through faith. Justification is for the whole cosmos where what is wrong out there is made right through God through the cross. Baptism is how that very reality becomes my own personal possession where Christ now lives in me. “And it's no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me.” And as he says: “And the life that I now live in my flesh, in my body, I live by faith.” Now, here, look at this translation. I'm going to translate it a little differently than yours. “I live by faith. The faith of the Son of God. Namely, his faithfulness unto death.” And here this explains what that faithfulness unto death, the faith of the Son of God is. That is the one who loved me. That is the one who has -- and this echoes the opening prologue of the epistle to the Galatians -- the one who has given himself on behalf of me in death. In the atonement. Just like the body and blood are given on behalf of you for the forgiveness of sins.
Now, look at what we're saying here. We're saying that at the cross there is a collision between Christ and the law. And that there Paul dies to the law. The nomistic world, that means the world of the law no longer is what defines him. What defines him is the Christ that lives in him, namely, the Gospel. And that comes to him through baptism. And that he lives now in the same faithful way, obedient unto death, even death on the cross the way Jesus lived. The one who loved him and gave himself up for him.
So finally Verse 21 and this brings this extraordinary rich section to an end. Paul says: “I do not nullify the grace of God.” He says he's not going to -- that grace, that space in which God is making right what has gone wrong, he's not going to nullify that. Because he says: “If justification were through the law” -- in other words if God made things right in the cosmos by means of our works of the law which is what the Pharisaical Christians are saying, “then Christ died in vain for no purpose.” There would be no point to the atonement then. Because going back to Verse 19, Christ and the law collided at the cross. And because that happened Paul and all of us who were baptized into Christ can say the law no longer defines us. I've died to the law. I died to it through the cross of Jesus Christ. And so it's Christ who lives in me. And that life I live is his life.
Galatians- Volume 23 - Gal. 3:1- 5|
|Title: Galatians- Volume 23 - Gal. 3:1- 5
Subject: What does Paul mean in Galatians 3 when he speaks about the hearing of faith and works of the law?
Direct Link: http://media.ctsfw.edu/1247
English Standard Version (ESV)
By Faith, or by Works of the Law?
3 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. 2 Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? 4 Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? 5 Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— 6 just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?
Q: Paul seems upset with the Galatians as he begins Chapter 3. Why is he so disturbed and what does he mean when he speaks about the hearing of faith and works of the law? I think all of us are curious about the use of the Scriptures in this regard.
A:DR. ARTHUR A. JUST, JR.:
At this point in the Galatian epistle there is a shift in Paul's argument. And really in a sense at the end of the Chapter 2, we've come to the end of the defense of his apostleship. If you recall, we just went through a deeply doctrinal section. And now Paul is going to switch now to beginning with Chapter 3 a rebuke of them. This is the second rebuke. The first rebuke was at the very beginning of the epistle when he asked them who -- I'm so amazed you're turning from the Gospel to another Gospel. Here is his second rebuke.
This also now will introduce the most densely doctrinal section of the epistle. This will run through the fourth chapter. So the next two chapters, Chapters 3 and 4 will be considered the doctrinal section of the epistle. It is also a deeply exegetical part of the epistle. And what I mean by that is you're going to see the use of a lot of Bible passages. I'm going to be responding to that in this chapter in a moment.
But let's begin with the opening. There is a rebuke here. And it is a very, very severe one. Even more severe than the one in the first chapter. What we're going to see as we enter these two chapters is that Paul is going to try to apply the doctrine of the Old Testament to the Galatians once again. And he is going to be in an argument with his opponents. So we're going to have to kind of read between the lines to see what his opponents might be saying and why Paul responds in the way in which he does. But you can see Paul, the pastor here. And here not kind of the gentle shepherd leading his flock. But the very stern shepherd who is rebuking his flock as he did in the first chapter for even considering going into different direction from what he taught.
Now, the first two lines: “Oh, foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you?” That's how we usually translate it. The word there for foolish is the word that Jesus uses of the Emmaus disciples when they didn't read the Old Testament carefully to see that he was the center of the Old Testament. That throughout the Old Testament shot through from beginning to end Christ is the center. Not just discrete passages. Not just a golden thread that kind of weaves its way through but the entire Old Testament has to do with him. And I think Paul is using this expression in a similar way.
Now, I always tell my students here that when I grew up, we were not allowed to say at home. If we were to translate it in the vernacular, we would probably translate it as “stupid.” Stupid is -- this is kind of what I would like to say invincible stupidity. They should be able to remember the way Paul unfolded for them the Old Testament and its meaning in terms of the Gospel. And so this is a very, very strong chastisement of them. And then when he says: “Who bewitched you?” Literally that is who cast a spell on you? Who gave you the evil eye?
Now I think we have to stop for a moment and reflect on what I said earlier. These opponents of Paul are extraordinarily good at communicating their Gospel. They are great rhetoricians. They are great preachers. And they are persuasive. And like I like to translate this sometimes in the vernacular, it's almost as if Paul is saying: “You must be on drugs. You must be out of your mind to submit now as grown men to circumcision as a means of getting right with God. How can you possibly think that that is a way in which God is making right what has gone wrong.” To use the language, the paraphrase of justification that we talked about in the previous question.
And then Paul tells them why they should be chastised. And I think this is a very poignant moment in the epistle where you can see or get at least a glimpse into Paul's preaching. Because he says to them very clearly: “Before your eyes, before your own eyes, Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified.” Publicly portrayed as crucified. There Paul is talking about his preaching. He's talking about how he laid out for them the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. In all its horror, in all its scandal, in all its embarrassment.
Now, I don't think that in our culture today we recognize how severely scandalous Jesus' death was. Not only for the Jews. But also for Gentiles. In the ancient world -- and this would have been so true of the people in Galatia -- honor and shame, a person's honor, how they were perceived by others, what the world thought of them, was in a sense the ultimate goal, to have honor. The ultimate shame, of course, is the cross. And in the ancient world, particularly among the Roman culture, the noble person, the noble death, the noble virtues was highly exalted. And here Paul is taking a man, Jesus, who is also he proclaims the Son of God. And showing that he dies the most shameful, the most ignoble death possible.
Now, I think we had a little glimpse of how horrible it is a few years back when Mel Gibson had his movie "The Passion of the Christ." And it shocked people. It shocked people because of its violence. And if you remember, part of the critique was people were saying the movie was too violent. But I will say this -- and I think this is what Paul was getting at here -- that movie, the death of Jesus was the most violent moment in the history of the world. That movie was not violent enough. It didn't show the total horror and scandal and absolute depravity of the world sins as it killed Jesus. And I think Paul in his own preaching showed how in this scandal, in this shame, in this place where Jesus -- and this is the interesting thing. You know in a lot of the ancient world shame came from being sinned against. And that was a big part of it. For example sexually abused or you are somehow mistreated in a way that wasn't your fault. This is a horrible thing. Here Jesus who is without sin is the most sinned against man in the world. He is the ultimate shame there. And yet in his shame, he brings honor to the world. He brings honor to those who live in shame.
Paul preached that Gospel. And he publicly portrayed Jesus the crucified one. Now, that language is so important. The crucified one. That he is the one who has given his life. This is the antidote for foolishness, the proclamation of Christ crucified. Now we can see later on in his epistles, this is the center of what Paul preaches.
And after talking about how they've been bewitched, after talking about how the antidote of that is Christ crucified a total irony. What we call in Lutheran theology, the theology of the cross. That things are exactly the opposite of what we would expect humanly speaking. After that Paul gives five rhetorical questions. And these five rhetorical questions are absolutely critical to understanding the rest of the epistle.
In Verse 2, he states it very plainly. He says: “Let me ask you this” -- he says: “This only I wish to learn from you.” And this is the first time that we see the use of the Spirit. Now, isn't that interesting of the third chapter we've heard about the Father and certainly about the Son. And now we have the Spirit for the first time. He says: “Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by the hearing of faith?” And I would like to translate that. Not as the hearing of faith. But “by the proclamation of the Gospel that elicits faith.” I think that's really what he means there.
Now, look at what he's talking about here. He's talking about the reception of the Spirit. The Spirit of Jesus. The Spirit that gives life. How does that come? Does it come by our own works? By circumcision? By keeping the law? Or does it come by hearing the Gospel that then elicits faith in us? Now, I know that translation may not seem to jump out at you from the Greek. But that is -- I mean it's a good Lutheran translation. But that is what Paul is talking about. He just talked about publicly portraying Christ as crucified. He's talking about the proclamation of the Gospel. And when you hear the Gospel preached, people believe. That's what the hearing of faith is. It's a response to the preaching of the Gospel. And here you have, again, repeated in different language what we heard in the previous section where he was talking about justification. Works of the law or Christ's faithfulness and our faith in Christ. There are the two categories. And he's going to repeat it again in Verse 5. But before he does, he returns to foolishness.
He says in Verse 3: “Are you so foolish then?” Are you so foolish?
And this is again an interpretation now. This is the way Paul argues. And I think you have to see this. He is a good rabbi. He'll state something. Then he'll state it again with a tone of interpretation. Now he's going to interpret a little bit of what he said in Verses 1 and 2. He says: “Having begun in the Spirit” -- the Spirit is repeated -- are you now going to bring this could conclusion in the flesh? Now here you have to have the key where he refers to flesh here, he means circumcision. So if you've received the Gospel and believed in the Gospel by means of the Holy Spirit who proclaimed Christ to you through the preacher, if that is how you received the Spirit, are you now going to bring all of this to conclusion by being circumcised? He's going to get even more graphic in a sense and talk in more kind of even derogative terms of circumcision. But here he is putting the question plainly. Is it Spirit or is it circumcision? You can't have both.
And then he goes on in Verse 4. “Did you suffer” -- and I think this is an important word -- did you suffer -- meaning did you kind of bear the humility of Christ after receiving the Spirit in vain? I mean was this something that was just you know this preaching of the theology of this cross, this embrace of Jesus and me as he's going to say in Chapter 4 as a sick man, as a man who is broken and Jesus in his cross, did you embrace that in vain, if indeed it is in vain he says?
Really you can see Paul is still rebuking them. And then he comes back one more time, Verse 5, and he's going to refer to the Spirit again. But he's going to take it up to the next level. Notice that in Verse 2 he's talking about the reception of the Spirit. Their reception of the Spirit. Now he's talking about the one who gives the Spirit.
So Verse 5: “Does he” -- namely, I think the Father here – “who supplies the Spirit to you and works powers in you by the Spirit” -- and these are present participles -- even now the one who is supplying the Spirit, even now the one who is working these powers in you -- and then he comes back into it again. And they are just beautifully paralleled. “Is it by works of the law or is it by the proclamation of the Gospel that elicits faith?” Which one is it? How does the Father work? Does he work through works of the law? Does he work through circumcision? Or is that the old dispensation? And now in Christ, it's a new one.
So you can see in these first five verses, Paul puts it plainly to them again. Now, I want you to see the brilliance of Paul here. And as I said earlier, he's one of the most extraordinary intellects in the history of the world I think. But I want you to see his rhetoric. At the end of Chapter 2 he puts on the table works of the law and faith. Faith in Christ and Christ's faithfulness. He now comes back to it but in a little different way. So he's giving you another look at the same issue but from a different way. And he brings the Spirit in. And how do you receive the Spirit and the one who supplies you the Spirit, how does he do that?
So you can see, this is a deeply Lutheran text. You can see why Luther loved this text. The end of Chapter 2 is objective Gospel. It also has subjective Gospel, faith in Christ. But now Paul makes it more personal, the reception of the Spirit, the one who supplies the Spirit. Is it by your own works or is it by the proclamation that elicits faith? Those are the two alternatives.
And you can see if you read the history of Christianity, those are essentially the two issues that are always before us. Many years ago when I was a seminary student I used to think that it was much more complex than simply works of the law and Christ's death and our faith in Christ. But you know what? It's that simple. And the simplicity here of Paul's categories, two simple categories, one is all God's doing, the other is when we begin to cooperate with God in some way. Those obtain today. And all you have to do is turn on the Christian radio stations. All you have to do is tune into our American Protestant religious culture and you will see that within Christianity I'm talking about, within Christianity, these two categories are critical to the way in which we come to understand our God and he comes to us.
Galatians- Volume 24 (Gal. 3:6-10)|
|Title: Galatians- Volume 24 (Gal. 3:6-10)
Subject: How does Paul structure his response to the arguments about the issues confronting the Galatians? Does Jesus do this differently?
Direct Link: http://media.ctsfw.edu/1248
English Standard Version (ESV)
6 just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?
7 Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify[c] the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” 9 So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
The Righteous Shall Live by Faith
10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.”
Q: How does Paul structure his response to the arguments about the issues confronting the Galatians? And what does this tell us about how Paul interpreter interprets Scripture? Did Jesus interpret Scripture differently?
A: DR. ARTHUR A. JUST, JR.:
Eric, the question you ask is one of the most important questions for understanding this next section of Galatians, Galatians 3 and 4. Because what we're going to be seeing now from this moment on is the way in which Paul interprets Scriptures over and against his opponents. The arguments from Scriptures now begin. And I think we need to reflect for a moment on the way in which Paul understands the Scriptures and argues from them. The way Jesus does. And the way his opponents do.
Remember what we said about Paul. He was brought up in the most conservative Pharisaical school in Jerusalem, the No. 1 school, the school of Gamaliel and he learned a Pharisaical way of interpreting the Scriptures. It's a rabbinic manner. And by rabbinic we simply mean that they use proof texts. They go back to the Scriptures. And they pick out passages that they use to mount an argument. They do what we call Midrash, which means interpretation of the Scriptures oftentimes by stringing together a number of Scripture passages. Now, this is typical. This is the way Paul learned. And this is in a sense the way Jesus argues Scripture.
Remember I said Jesus was closer to the Pharisees and their conservative interpretation of Scripture than he was to anyone else. And so Jesus and Paul would be very much at home with one another in the way in which they interpreted Scripture. So also would Paul's opponents. They all went to the same school. They all have the same teachers. They all learned the same method. In fact, this is the method that endures after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD when you have the rabbinic traditions developing in what is called the Mishnah, which is a great huge volume of rabbinic literature, interpretations of the scriptures and the ordering of Jewish life after the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. So we have a great window into the mind of those who would have followed in the tradition of Paul and Jesus.
Now, we learn a lot about how they interpreted Scripture here from Galatians. And I think it's important to recognize that Paul is up against some people who know how he argues Scripture. And he knows how they argue Scripture. Now, it's probably difficult to say this with 100% surety. But we need to look at the passages and ask ourselves: Which ones did Paul choose and which ones did his opponents choose? Sometimes we'll see Paul responding to passages that he might not have chosen in his argument about what the Gospel is. But we know that his opponents have been there. That they have been using arguments in their own effort to bring about an understanding of the Gospel plus the law. So it's a very helpful thing to try to read between the lines as best we can.
Now, the most intense use of Scripture is in the next paragraph. Verses 6 through 14. And look at it with me. And I want to list out the passages for you because I want you to see how many times Paul quotes Scripture.
• In Chapter 3 Verse 6 Paul is citing Genesis 15:6. Exactly as Abraham believed in God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness. Now this is going to be an important passage. I think this is a passage that his opponents have cited. And I think we need to unpack that a little bit in a minute.
• Then if you drop down to Verse 8, this is two verses later, you will see that it says that: The Gospel was preached before him to Abraham that all nations will have their blessing in you. That's Genesis 12 Verse 3. Genesis 12 Verse 3. Important to recognize that that comes before Genesis 15.
• Then if you drop down to Verse 10 when we talk now about the curse of the law, Paul is citing here Deuteronomy 27:26. Cursed is everyone who does not remain in all the things written in the book of the law in order to do them. And it's important to see that this is the only place in the Pauline corpus -- and I think this is important to point out I'll make this again the only place in the Pauline corpus where he cites this verse. And he talks about a curse. This is also the only place in the Old Testament where the law and a curse are put together in the same verse. Now, that's an interesting phenomena, too. Paul didn't have a computer where he could go through the whole Old Testament and look at where law and curse come together. But he knew it. And that's part of his argument. I think this is one of Paul's quotations. Just as I think Genesis 12:3 is as well.
• Then in Verse 11 he quotes Habakkuk 2 Verse 4. The righteous will live by faith or the righteous by faith will live. Depending on your translation there. In Genesis 15:6 -- I didn't mention that before because I wanted to wait until this moment -- and Habakkuk 2 Verse 4, these are the only two places in the Old Testament where faith and righteousness are linked in the same verse or in the same context. Now, that's amazing, too. Genesis 15, Habakkuk 2, the only place those are mentioned. I think that shows you that Paul is choosing one of the two texts, I think it's this one that he's choosing in order to counter the argument of his opponents.
• In the next verse, Verse 12, Paul -- and I think this is a Pauline verse -- quotes Leviticus 18:15 which we would translate: The one who does them shall live by them. And of course I think he's thinking there of the law. The one who does the law shall live by the law. That's Leviticus 18:15.
• And then finally, Verse 13, Deuteronomy 21:23: Cursed is everyone who hangs upon the tree. There the word curse is used again. And I think this is a uniquely Pauline verse. Going back to Verse 12, the Leviticus one, that could be his opponents verse, as well. And Paul may be having to cite it in order to respond to it. But I think when we get to it, we can discuss whether or not that is the case.
Now, look at that: Genesis 15, Genesis 12, Deuteronomy 27, Habakkuk 2, Leviticus 18 and Deuteronomy 21. Six citations from the Old Testament within eight verses. Now, that's extraordinary. What we call that is a ***catana, in other words, a string of Bible passages in which he's mounting an argument by means of the text that he cites.
Now, what's going on here? Well, first of all, in Verses 6 to 9, the issue here is descent of Abraham. And we're going to put on the table right now at the beginning of this exegetical argument the fact that identity is the key. Whose are you? To whom do you belong? And I think you can see his opponents are going to be using the covenant of circumcision with Abraham as a key -- as a key in their argument to promote circumcision. And they are going to trump the covenant that was given to Abraham by means of circumcision. And so Paul has to begin there. And so as I said, I think this is a passage that Paul would not have normally cited. But he cites it because it's a passage his opponents cite. And that is that Abraham believed in God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.
Now, there's always been a problem for some in this verse because it looks as if Abraham's faith is the means by which he's reckoned his righteousness. But I think it's important if you go back to Genesis that the promise comes before this and the promise is assumed. And so Abraham believes the promise. And it was reckoned to him as righteousness.
Now, I think his opponents, Paul's opponents, are playing fast and loose with the text. Because what they are trying to claim is the covenant of circumcision trumps the promise that all nations would be blessed in Abraham. That precedes the covenant of circumcision. And Paul wants to make that very clear. And so that's why in Verse 7 he goes to the question of identity. This is a question not only for the Galatians but for us. And again, he uses that language that I referred to before. And this is very important.
You know he says, you know Galatians, because we've talked about this. I've preached on this. I've catechized on this. You know then that those who are by faith -- it's a very simple statement -- they are the sons of Abraham. Okay. Now, I think by faith here, we have to now see that when faith is used, it begins with Christ's faith, which means his suffering, death and resurrection. And our faith in Christ. Now, this is a unique statement in the Pauline corpus. That our identity is by faith. How do we know who we are? Because we are like Abraham. We are defined by faith. Faith in the promise. The promise that God would send a Messiah. Not by circumcision. But by faith. Now, you can see he's working off that works of the law hearing that -- hearing of faith, proclamation that elicits faith. He's working off that now by going to identity is faith.
And then Verse 8 he really begins to mount his own exegetical argument. And Verse 8 is a really interesting passage for those who are interested in how Scripture is to be understood. Knowing that, he says, the Scripture -- and here this is actually a difficult passage to translate because Paul goes back and forth between clauses here. “In the Scripture foreseeing that God would declare righteous” -- would make right what's gone wrong. There's justification – “would declare righteous the Gentiles by faith, preach the Gospel before them to Abraham saying in you shall all the nations be blessed.”
Now look at what it says. First of all, it says that Scripture has foresight. Scripture is like kind of like a being here. It's not kind of like a disembodied word. But Scripture is like alive. It preaches the Gospel ahead of time. And what it does is it preaches the Gospel that all nations will be blessed in Abraham. And that includes Gentiles. And that God is going to declare righteous. God is going to make right what has gone wrong not only in the world for Jews but for Gentiles, as well. Now, this precedes the covenant of circumcision. That's Paul's argument. And it's really quite brilliant. He's going to bring it up later, too, because it is such a great argument. But you can see that his opponents are ignoring a part of Scripture. And Paul needs to bring out the full context of Genesis so that they fully understand what it is that's happening there.
And then in Verse 9 he goes back now to identity. “So that those whose identity is by faith will be blessed with the faith of Abraham or with faithful Abraham.” Now, notice how do you become a child of Abraham? Remember that's the big thing about the Jews. We are children of Abraham the Pharisees say to John the Baptist. And John of course says God can raise from these stones children of Abraham. And stones there is a reference to Gentiles. You know, being a child of Abraham is what a Jew is all about. Paul is saying that it's not by circumcision which the Jews would have claimed as being the way in which one has descended from Abraham. It's by faith. It's Abraham's faith. He believed in the promise. And that was reckoned to him as righteousness. So those whose identity is by Christ's faith and our faith in Christ, they are the ones who are blessed in the same way as Abraham was blessed because he was the faithful one.
And then Verse 10. Verse 10 in a sense starts a new section. But let's look at that and then we'll take another question. Verse 10 says: “For all those who are relying”-- I guess we would say – “on works of the law. They are under the power of a curse.” Now, I want you to look at that language. It's very clear. It's a technical term. It's a preposition hupah, which means under the power of. And this is the first of ten uses of that. And here -- remember we were talking about how the incarnation is an Apocalyptic event. I think we have to see that Paul is very much aware that there are powers out there. God is a power. The devil is a power. The law is a power. The flesh is a power. Here he is talking about the works of the law is kind of a cosmic power. And those who kind of bind themselves to that, they are under the curse.
Now, this would have been scandalous for Paul's opponents to hear Paul speaking of the law as a curse. But then Paul cites the Old Testament. This has got to be Paul. His opponents would never have cited this passage. And as I said, this is unique in Paul. “Cursed is everyone who does not remain in all of the things written in the book of the law in order to do them.” Now, I'm sure you heard this before even in our own culture. But I think what's happening here in Paul's context is this: The Old Testament is a big book. There are lots of laws to keep there. And to keep all of those laws is practically impossible. In fact, it is. And we know that. I think even his opponents knew that as sinners it's impossible to keep all of the laws.
Paul is going to say that you can't just pick and choose. The opponents were doing that. You don't have to keep it all they said. That's not necessary. Only people like Paul keep all the law. Or James. You know, you get circumcised, you keep the Sabbath, follow the calendar events, keep the purity laws, eat kosher foods, you do that stuff, you'll be okay. Paul is saying no. Once you bind yourself to the law as a means of salvation, you've got to do it all. And if you don't, you're going to be cursed. That's what the Bible says. That's what Moses says in Deuteronomy. Now, that is a powerful statement. And he's going to repeat that later on. But he's saying very clearly here that the law and the curse are together. Now, keep that in mind. Because at the end of this chapter it's going -- at the end of this section -- excuse me -- it's going to talk about how Christ is cursed on the cross. But cursed is everyone who does not remain, who does not continue, abide, in everything. Notice, it's everything. All the things that are written in the book of law, that's the torah, in order to do them.
And that is a very, very powerful statement over and against his opponents. Because even the Galatians who may not be as sophisticated in interpreting the Scriptures as Paul and his opponents would, they would understand in their own lives being somewhat self aware that it was impossible for them by their own efforts to keep everything in the law. Therefore, they would be cursed.
Galatians- Volume 25 (Gal. 3:11-14)|
|Title: Galatians- Volume 25 (Gal. 3:11-14)
Subject: What does it mean that Jesus is cursed on the cross?
Direct Link: http://media.ctsfw.edu/1249
English Standard Version (ESV)
11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” 12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.
Q: Thank you. I have a different question from this portion of Paul's letter to the Galatians. What does it mean that Jesus is cursed on the cross?
A: DR. ARTHUR A. JUST, JR.:
Josh, you are anticipating here Paul's own argument. And I think you can see from what we said before about the series of Bible passages that Paul is referencing here, that he is building his argument. Now, we just talked about how Paul in quoting Deuteronomy 27 talks about how everyone is cursed who tries to keep the law. And he now kind of puts before them kind of the reality of what the Scripture is really teaching. And this is a passage we all know very well.
Verse 11 Paul says that “no one in the law will be declared righteous before God.” It is evident. He puts that at the end. We have to translate this one. It is very clear, it is very evident, that no one is declared righteous before God because -- and here he quotes Habakkuk. Remember this is only the second place in the Old Testament where righteousness and faith are together – “the righteous one by faith will live.” Not by works of the law. But by faith. Now, some translate “the righteous one will live by faith,” putting living as kind of the ac September. Righteous by faith will live. In a sense it amounts to the same thing. But what it does is make clear -- later on in the prophets when they go back and interpret Genesis 15:6 where righteousness and faith are in the same verse, the only other place, that the way in which one is saved, the way in which one is made righteous by God is not by works of the law but by faith. I should say declared righteous by God is by faith, not by works of the law.
Now, that leads into I think a statement which I think perhaps his opponents used. But Paul was very happy to use, as well. Here is a passage that if he didn't hear it from his opponents, it's one that Paul would have cited. And this is Leviticus 18:15. And I think you can see why he cites it at this point. Having said that the righteous one by faith will live, he says: “But the law is not by faith.” Now, this is going to be a point he's going to make later on. Why then the law? Don't pit the law against faith Paul is saying. Because he's saying: The Old Testament doesn't do that. He says: Recognize that the law has its work to do. And faith has its work to do. But don't make them try to do the same work. We're going to see how carefully he's going to argue that in the later part of this doctrinally section of this epistle. But here he puts it before us: “The law is not by faith.” These are two different things. And here he quotes that Leviticus passage that I think is very penetrating: “The one who does them shall live by them.” What he's meaning here is but on the contrary. But on the contrary. The one who tries to keep the law, the one who does the law, is going to have to live under that.
Now, this is something that I think is pretty evident but I think we need to illustrate it. Once you go under the law, then that's it. There's no out. In the ancient world if you were thrown into a debtor's prison, that was it. There was no way you could pay your way out. Because there was no way to earn anything unless someone liberated you by paying off your debt. But you yourself could not work your way out. Because he was in prison. There was no way for it to happen. I always use this illustration. I'm a from the East Coast and I'll never forget on the fifth reunion of college, one of my classmates who was working in Boston came back for the reunion. And he was a deeply distressed and very, very depressed man. And it took us a while to get out of him what it was. And here is the deal: He had within, you know, the first years out of college had found himself working for the Mafia. And once you're in the Mafia, that's it. You can't get out. Your life is there. And he knew that. And he was deeply distressed that for the rest of his life, he was going to be under their thumb unless somehow he would simply disappear. But then he would never see his family or anything like that. You know, once you're in the law, once you try to make yourself right with God by means of the law, that's it, you're in it forever. And Paul wants that to be clear. That's why it's a curse. Because there is no out.
And so Paul gives the antidote now. And this is the answer to your question, Josh. Verses 13 and 14 I think are some of the most marvelous Gospel there is. And it's anticipated in Chapter 2 as we said in the previous part of the study here that: “I died to the law through the law.” This is now where it's explicated by Paul what that means. Verse 13 says: “Christ snatched us, rescued us” -- this is the same word that's used in the beginning of the epistle – “snatched us out of the curse of the law.” The law's curse. Remember, the law is what curses. “Cursed is everyone who does not remain in all the things written in the book of the law in order to do them.” They are cursed. But Christ snatched us from that curse by becoming on our behalf cursed. Now, there is the same language Paul uses later on where Christ who knew no sin, became sin for us. Christ who knew no shame -- I think this is what we might want to say here – “became a curse on our behalf.” And Paul cites Scripture here. And it's the most famous passage I think about the crucifixion in the Pentateuch. For it is written: “cursed who is everyone that hangs on the tree.” That's Deuteronomy 21. Notice, that it comes right before Deuteronomy 27 where the curse of the law is mentioned. Now, the ultimate curse was the shameful death of being crucified. And there Jesus redeems us, snatches us back, rescues us from being cursed by the law by becoming on our behalf a curse. Now, why is that? Well, let's go and rehearse that again.
On the cross there is this collision between Christ and the law. Christ who knew no sin becomes sin, becomes shame. And when the law sees a sinner, it condemns them, it curses them. And it killed him in a sense. The law killed Jesus. Because it had to bring him to death because he was the embodiment of the sins of the entire world. It was all laid on him. And as he collided with that law, it had to result in death. So Jesus becomes the most accursed man on the cross so that we don't have to be cursed. So that the law's curse is now fulfilled, satiated, completed in him. That's why in a sense -- now we're going to see how Paul nuances this -- in a sense the law no longer obtains for us. The law has been fulfilled, brought to its complete fulfillment as Paul says in Christ's act of love -- that's what Paul is going to call it later on. The act of love of giving up his life for us and becoming a curse for us.
Now, that is I think one of the most extraordinary statements of the Gospel, that the law's curse and Christ meet at the crucifixion and results in the death of Jesus. Now, look at what he says in 14 and this is a beautiful statement of purpose why this happened. He becomes cursed for us “so that, in order that, in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham” -- notice the blessing of Abraham, he comes back to Abraham where he began, “might come to the Gentiles.” So the curse of Jesus on the cross results in the blessing of Abraham extending to all nations. Exactly what God promised to Abraham in Genesis 12 cited earlier by Paul. And “in order that” -- and this is a second purpose clause – “in order that we” -- notice now he talks about we. We “might receive the promised Spirit” -- remember how he talked about the receiving of the Spirit. “We might receive the promised Spirit through faith.” How did you receive the Spirit? Works of the law or the proclamation that elicits faith?
Notice that he goes from the blessing of Abraham to Gentiles. So he's not talking about Jews. Just the Gentiles but Jews are of course included. And then he says we might receive. Now you have to look at Paul in his personal context. Paul is a Jew. Pharisee of Pharisees. Top in his class. Greatest exegete in the world. And here he's saying alongside these Gentile Galatians, there's mercenaries, these pagan sinners, that he, Paul, the Jew of Jews, and these pagan soldiers receive the Spirit in the same way. They receive the promise of the Spirit by faith.
He uses the word “promise” there to go back to Abraham. The promise that was given to Abraham that in his flesh all nations would be blessed. That promise trumps the covenant of circumcision. So that even though in the Old Testament you could tell you were a Jew by means of circumcision. The larger promise to all nations as we saw in the Acts 15 citation of Amos by James, the bishop of Jerusalem, the teaching of the Old Testament is that the promise to Abraham that all nations including Gentiles would be blessed in his loins is now what is brought to fulfillment when Christ is cursed on the cross.
Galatians- Volume 26 Refers to the OT cited in Gal.3:6-14|
|Title: Galatians- Volume 26 (referring back to the OT Scriptures cited in Gal. 3:6-14)
Subject: Would the Galatian Christians would have known of the Scriptures Paul is quoting?
Direct Link: http://media.ctsfw.edu/1250
Q: I want to ask about the giving of the law on Mt. Sinai, but before I do so, may I ask if the Galatian Christians would have had prior knowledge of the Scriptures Paul is quoting?
A: DR. ARTHUR A. JUST, JR.:
Eric, this is a great question and one that I probably should have referred to earlier. You know, it's always hard to know how much Paul preached and catechized the Galatian Christians. And even to, you know -- the duration of time that he was there. If what I said is true -- and I firmly believe that it is, namely, that the Galatians who are Gentiles, they certainly would have been familiar with Judaism. But not the Scriptures.
And so anything they learned about the Scriptures would have come from Paul. Now, Paul would have been as a rabbi, as a teacher of the Scriptures, as a teacher of the law, would have been intent on teaching the Scriptures to them. And I think that what -- I mean obviously he couldn't teach the whole Old Testament. But he would have given them a full glimpse of what it's like to understand the essence of the Old Testament in terms of its messianic, namely, what it said about Christ and what it said that would have been pertinent for their life.
Now, I don't know if you're familiar with these groups that do the Bible in an hour kind of a thing. I mean, if you sit down with somebody intensely and talk to them about the Scriptures, you can communicate quite a bit. I know that in one week of intense, you know, teaching, I can portray an awful lot about the New Testament for example to give people a big glimpse into it. So I think that they were very well versed in the Scriptures. Now, obviously not like Paul or his opponents. But they would have recognized these passages. They would have been able to capture the nuances he was speaking about. They would have heard echoes in what Paul was saying here in his teaching before among them.
And I think it's important to recognize that these folks would have been very, very able and agile in getting at the meaning that Paul was after. Now, I think just translating that to our day today, I think everybody says and I think to a certain extent this is true, we live in a biblically illiterate culture. At the same time, however I think we don't give our folks credit enough of their intelligence and their ability to grasp the Scriptures.
I think one of the reasons why people don't understand the Scriptures is that people who teach it don't teach it or understand it in such a way that it comes across. I have found that whenever I've been able to open up Scriptures for folks, that they just drink it up. And they remember it, too. And it's a part of their formation as Christians. And I'm talking about people who are being catechized towards baptism or towards entrance into the church. They drink it up. And they remember it. And when I preach on something or when I refer to it, they do recall what was taught to them by me. So I think we need to not only step up the level of our biblical instruction in our churches. But we should give our folks credit for having the capacity to learn these things.
Certainly there's a lot more kind of noise out there with all of the media that we're bombarded with so that unlike at the time of Paul where there was really very, very little media, you know Paul would have been the main attraction to a great extent. But at the same time I still believe very strongly that congregations can come to an understanding of Scripture, both then and now, so that they can grasp the meaning of these texts as they are being interpreted to them by Paul and by us.
Galatians- Volume 27 (Gal. 3:15-18)|
|Title: Galatians- Volume 27 (Gal. 3:15-18)
Subject: What is the point of Paul's argument where he appeals about Abraham and the giving of the law to Moses?
Direct Link: http://media.ctsfw.edu/1251
English Standard Version (ESV)
The Law and the Promise
15 To give a human example, brothers: even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified. 16 Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ. 17 This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. 18 For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.
Q: Thank you. Your comments helped to clarify the position of the Galatian Christians. Now, to move us forward, let me ask you a larger question: Paul clearly seems interested in the law in this letter to the Galatians. He even goes back to the institution of the law on Mt. Sinai. What is the point of his argument where he appeals about Abraham and the giving of the law to Moses? Are Paul's references to law in this letter identical to his references to the law in his letter to the Romans?
A: DR. ARTHUR A. JUST, JR.:
At this point in Paul's argument, after the statement about Jesus being cursed on the cross, Paul now in a sense retreats a little bit. Not in terms of his confidence that his argument is going to make it's way with the Galatians. But he retreats by going back and rehearsing with them the meaning of the law and what the law is all about. And he needs to place this in the context of salvation history. Now, this is a very, very important part of the argument. And I think you can see here that Paul is somebody who sees the larger historical context in a different way from his opponents. And what the law and the giving of the law to Moses on Mt. Sinai means is different to Paul than it is to his opponents. And this is where he, in a sense now, lays that out.
Now, he begins -- and this section needs to be divided into two sections. I'm talking about 15 to 25. 15 to 18 he's talking about the difference between law and promise. And then in 19 to 25, he's talking about the difference between law and faith of Christ. And he's in a sense here going to bring forward two motifs. One is what is the precise nature of the covenantal promise made by God to Abraham. What was that all about? And then secondly, the sharp differentiation of the promise from the law. Now, he is going to make a very simple point. And that is that the law came much later than the promise to Abraham. And therefore, is secondary. That the blessing given to Abraham in Genesis 12, the inheritance is for Jews and Gentiles, that takes precedence over the law.
And I mean here you've got to go back and read Genesis 12, Genesis 15, and then Genesis 17. Genesis 17 is what he's going to be citing in Verse 16. And before we get there, I think we have to talk a little bit about the context of Genesis 17. Genesis 17 is the key chapter because there you are going to see that there are three promises. Three promises given to Abraham:
• The first promise is that he would inherit the land of Canaan. Now that's very important for the Jews. And of course in many ways, that is what kind of drove their understanding of who they were. That they had inherited this land given to them by God.
• The second promise is related to the covenant of circumcision. Now, this is the promise that Paul's opponents are highlighting. That this is the key to understanding Abraham, the circumcision covenant.
• The third promise is that the Gentiles are all blessed in Abraham. Now, that is the promise that matters to Paul.
Of the three promises, Paul picks one. His opponents pick one. But they are different ones. All three of them are there. And I think historically speaking -- and I think here we would agree with Paul, the land of Cana and the promise of circumcision are historically conditioned. But the promise that all nations will be blessed in Abraham is an eternal promise. Now, that is a very important point because if you don't see that you'll have a very difficult time differentiating the two arguments between Paul and his opponents.
Now, let's look at the text here for a moment. Verse 15, Paul calls them brethren. Remember, that's an endearing term. Part of the family of God. We are brothers and sisters in Christ. God is our Father. Jesus is our brother. And together in the church we are brothers and sisters in Christ. And he says: “I am speaking according to man” literally, but he says what I'm going to do is I'm going to give you a human example here that everybody can understand. And it's a very simple one. He says: “When there is a covenant, a man-made covenant” -- we're talking now just about a simple covenant or testament, you know, or if you want to call it will or testament. And I think will or testament is a better translation here. A man-made will, no one can annul it, no one can add a codicil to it.
Now, that's not only true for the time of Paul and the time of Abraham, that's true today. You know, just the other day my Father and I went down to the lawyer to talk about his will. He's moved to Indiana. There are some different things going on here. So he wants to revise his will. I cannot add to that will. I cannot annul it. Only my Father can. No one can do that. That, humanly speaking, is a given. We all can understand that. And Paul wants to say then that that's the same thing if you translate it over into the covenants that God makes with us.
Now, remember what a covenant is. A covenant is where God -- I mean -- let's back up and say what is a covenant between human beings. A covenant is where we make an agreement. And usually they would call about it as cutting a covenant. And they would take the animal. And they would cut it in two. And there would be a space between them. And if you and I were to make a covenant with one another, you know, an agreement of some sort, then we would both walk between the animal. And by doing that, we would say to one another that if any one of us broke that covenant, we could render the other like this animal. We could cut them in two. Which is kind of an interesting thought, isn't it? When God makes a covenant, though, he's the only one that goes through the animal. And if you remember in Genesis the covenant with Abraham with the smoking pot, which was the presence of God. And Abraham didn't go through there because it's a unilateral covenant.
Now, Paul is building on that concept, this unilateral covenant, when he's talking about the covenant made with Abraham. And look at Verse 16. And here you have to notice that the promises is in the plural. Like I said, there were three promises. Verse 16 says the promises that were made, that were added to Abraham and to his seed -- now, that's singular. The promises is plural. Three promises, Cana, circumcision, all nations blessed in Abraham. And to his seed. Singular. It does not say and to seeds, Paul says as to many. But as to one and to your seed, who is Christ.
Whoa. Now that's an amazing interpretation. Nobody else I think up until this point had ever made an interpretation of that text like had this one. And what he is doing here, Paul is, is showing the kind of interpretation of Scripture that he and Jesus are doing now after the incarnation of Jesus. And that is a radical christological namely interpreting the Scriptures in terms of Jesus.
Now, I think the Jews may have seen this as a reference to the Messiah. But they saw these promises being fulfilled through the generations, through the loins of the people in Israel who contain the seed of the Messiah. I don't think they saw that there was a direct link between the promise given to Abraham and Christ that kind of jumped over all of Old Testament history and found it's place then in Christ. Now, that's what Paul is saying. Paul is saying that the promises are given directly to Christ. And if you think about those three promises, they all come to fulfillment in Christ.
• Jesus coming to the Promised Land is himself now the Promised Land. He's heaven it self. He is where we now have our being.
• Jesus in his circumcision brings an end to circumcision. Jesus sheds his blood on his eighth day and for all intents and purposes, all of humanity is circumcised as him. And that's the end of it.
• And Jesus dies not just for the Jews but he dies for all of the people of God. And that promise, that the seed of Abraham, who is Christ, now brings salvation to all people is the promise that matters.
And that is exactly, exactly what Paul wants to say here. That it's not to the many seeds, but it's just to the one seed. But it's all about going from Abraham to Christ. Now, if you do that, if you go from Genesis to the New Testament, what you skip over is the law. And that shows you that the intent of the promise of Abraham was to find it's end in Christ. Not in the law given to Moses. That is the point of his argument.
Now, if you go onto Verse 17 and 18, you're going to see that he now explains this. And this is where you can see very clearly that Paul's interpretation of God's promise to Abraham finds it's end in Christ and then the salvation of the Gentiles. This is what he says. And this is now -- I'm in Verse 17. He says: “This is what I mean.” “This is what I'm saying.” “The law which came” -- and this is interesting – “430 years afterward does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God. So as to make the promise null and void.” Now, this is where he tells you how he sees the law. The law is a parentheses. The law comes 430 years after the promise given to Abraham. And it is not something that like a will and testament of a human being, when it comes, annuls or adds to the promise. It is simply a parentheses. And he is in Verse 19 going to explain to us what it is, that the law is all about. But here he puts it in its historical context. And it's important to recognize that the law does not annul the promise, the covenant, given to Abraham that came 430 years earlier.
And he goes onto explain what he means by that. And here in Verse 18, you can see that he uses now for the first time the language of inheritance. For if the inheritance of Abraham -- and these are the progeny of Abraham. And these are both uncircumcised Gentiles and Jews. In other words, that which creates -- or let's put it this way: The church creating spirit of Christ, that's the inheritance. “That if this inheritance comes by the law, then it is no longer by the promise. But God has gifted it to Abraham by means of the promise.” Now, here you've got to see that the law is not opposed to the promise in a sense that's what Paul's opponents are doing. They are setting the law and the promise against one another.
And Paul is saying very clearly: Hey, listen. The law is great. I'm not against the law. But don't try to make the law the promise or the promise the law. They are two different things. They came at two different times. They are historically conditioned. And the law does not in any way nullify the promise. Now, the law is not opposed to the promise. And I think it's important to say this. And the reason why the law is not opposed to the promise is because:
• the law is not able to give life. It does not compete with the promise in giving life. He's going to say that. That's important.
• Secondly, it has a different function from the law. It's to shut up everything under sin's power. This is the argument that he's going to make in the next section. So that's what the law does. You know, the law actually points you to the promise.
• And then third, and this is related, the law closes every door of access to God except Christ's faith and our faith in Christ.
So the law is not opposed to the promise. It just does different things. And as he says: “If the inheritance” -- in other words, that which creates the church, that which creates children of Abraham and makes them part of his inheritance. If that's not by the promise, then it's not the inheritance. Because God gave this promise to Abraham. Not by means of the law. But by means of grace. And that's why he uses the word gifted. He granted it. He gifted it to them.
This is a space in which God is making right what has gone wrong. That is what the promise is about. The law does not make right what has gone wrong. It can't. He's already talked about that. And he's building on that now in terms of his interpretation of the Abrahamic covenant. And so at this point what we see is that Christ is the true heir of the promise of Abraham. And if one is united with Christ in his life, then we receive the same inheritance that was promised to Abraham and is now fulfilled in Christ.
Galatians- Volume 28 (refers back to Gal. 3:15-18)|
|Title: Galatians- Volume 28 (refers back to Gal. 3:15-18)
Subject: How does Paul's speaking of the Law differ between Romans and Galatians?
Direct Link: http://media.ctsfw.edu/1252
Q: May I ask that you touch upon my question regarding the relationship of this material to Romans?
A: DR. ARTHUR A. JUST, JR.:
One of the great things about reading the epistles of Paul is to recognize that like all of us, he is a man who is in process. And if Galatians is his first epistle, there is a development in the way in which he argues his case throughout his missionary journeys over a period of ten years. I think all of us can identify with that. That we are all people who are maturing and growing and expanding.
I also think it's important to recognize that there is a different context to the various letters. And I think you can see here that in the letter to the Galatians, these are people he knows extremely well. These are people that he has a deep relationship with and a love for, a passion for. That they are his children and he is their pastor. And this is -- I mean, I always say this is Paul unplugged. This is Paul, the authentic Paul. The Paul who is just brimming with pastoral love for this congregation. The letter to the Romans is totally different. He never met these folks. He's writing before he had ever gone there. And as you read Romans, you can see that he is writing it in a totally different way.
But what's so interesting about comparing Galatians and Romans is that he introduces many of the things that he develops in Romans first in Galatians president and then Romans becomes a more systematic, a more detailed, a more doctrinal kind of explication of the things that he has said in Galatians. Now, with respect to this, you can see that in Romans, he spends a lot more time developing this relationship between Christ and Abraham. And I think what you can see in Romans -- and I'm not an expert in Romans so I don't want to presume here upon my colleagues who are. But I think it's fair to say that what you can see in Romans is that Paul is taking the Abraham material that Paul first refers to in Galatians. And he's showing very clearly that the promise and the law are completely separate things. And what he's trying to say here in Galatians he expands in Romans in such a way this it leads into the most profound and developed section on justification by grace through faith.
Now, in a sense, they are very parallel. And you can see how as you -- I mean, I always find it so interesting to read Romans after knowing Galatians the way I do. Because a lot of what you were hoping that Paul might have said in Galatians to explain himself is found in Romans. So it's really important to read Galatians and Romans together.
Now, when it comes to the Abraham covenant, it's very clear that that passage from Galatians 15, Abraham believed and it was reckoned to him as righteousness is what is the -- kind of the founding, you know, source of both Galatians and Romans in developing the significance of Abraham. And it's all about righteousness, God making right what has gone wrong, and faith. And what you can see is that in both Galatians and Romans, the reason why Abraham is highlighted is because the righteousness, the promise that is given to him, the way in which God is going to make right what has gone wrong, is something outside of Abraham. Abraham in no way contributes to it. In fact, as you read about Abraham in the Old Testament, you're really kind of shocked that somehow -- the way he deals with things. And you know the story. And we don't have time to go into it. But it really is. You can see he's a very human person.
So God does act outside of Abraham. And yet when Abraham sees that promise -- and especially in his old age the promise that he's going to give birth to a son, to his wife who is beyond childbearing age. And that this son is going to be the one in whom all the nations are going to be blessed. And then when he's asked to give this son up as a sacrifice, and he's willing to do that. You can see that Abraham embodies the very thing that Christ is. A man of faith who is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice so that God's kingdom can come. Now, of course, Abraham doesn't have to make that sacrifice. Because he is not the Christ. He is not the Messiah.
But you can see in the promise given to Abraham, the righteousness which is outside of him, which is one of the great Lutheran themes, and the faith that he has in that promise, willing even to go to the death of his son is the great model for what we see in Christ. And Paul here in Galatians does it very simply. You know, the seed. The singular. That singular seed who is Christ. Romans then takes that and expands it. To show you exactly what that means. And therefore, in a sense, this is what I would say is that Romans to use the language of the Jews is a Midrash on Galatians. And to understand Galatians fully, just read Romans. Because there Paul explicates it in it's fullness.
Galatians- Volume 29 (Gal. 3:19-25)|
Title: Galatians- Volume 29 (Gal. 3:19-25)
Subject: What is the relationship between the law and the promise?
Direct Link: http://media.ctsfw.edu/1253
English Standard Version (ESV)
The Law and the Promise
19 Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. 20 Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one.
21 Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. 22 But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.
23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian,
Q: The question the Galatians ask of Paul is the one we want to ask, as well. Why then the law? What is the relationship between the law and the promise? Why does Paul speak of the law as an imprisoning jailer.
A: DR. ARTHUR A. JUST, JR.:
David, you're right. I mean, at this point after talking about how the law comes, we're wondering. Why then is there a law? What's the point of view the law. And Paul, you can see being a good catechist, a good teacher is just following along with his congregation here in writing this letter knowing that this is the question that's on the table. Why then the law?
And that's what he asks in Verse 19. “Why then the law?” And here you have perhaps one of the most, oh, convoluted interpretations of Paul that you will see. And it's all based on one simple little word. And what Paul is doing here is telling us about the genesis of the law. Why the law comes. And he says very simply: “It was added” -- and here is how you translate this: “It was added either on account of transgressions or in order to revoke transgressions” or whatever. Let me just look at the ESV here. It says: It was added because of transgressions. A very simple translation.
Now, that word is a very difficult word. And I want to suggest to you that there are four ways of understanding Verse 19 here and this particular statement. And I want to tell you what the various interpretations have been. And then I want to highlight the one that I think it is.
First of all, this has been translated that the law was added in order to produce or provoke transgressions. In other words, the transgressions were there. But the law actually produced them by showing people their sin. Now, to a certain extent we can go with that. But I think that's probably not the best way to understand it. A second way of understanding it is this: That the law was added to identify humanity's sinfulness as conscious transgression. Now, those of us that learned the three uses of law, we would say that this is where the law is a mirror. That when the law comes, we recognize our transgressions. It doesn't produce them. But it shows us our sin. And I think that's very, very true. Also, I think the law could be said was added to restrain transgressions. To pose a restraint to human sin. Again, that's one of the three uses of law. The first use as a curb to keep people from sing. So here is the law. And whoa. You look at the law and say: If that's what the law means, then I'm not going to do that so I'm not going to continue to sin. It's going to provide a restraint for me from sinning. The fourth interpretation is to provide a remedy for transgressions. Now, this is very wrong. This is the opponents' understanding of the law. That yeah, the promise was there. The promise was great. But it was not enough. So God had to produce the law as a remedy for transgressions. And now the law was going to be a means of salvation.
Now, there you can see that what Paul's opponents are doing with promise and law is exactly the same thing that they are doing now with the Gospel and the law. Promise and Gospel is the same. And the law is something that's added later on, 430 years later, to restrain people, to show them their sins. And the fifth one, let me give you that one now. Because of the transgressions of Israel, the golden calf. That's the historical context. That's why it was given. It wasn't given to provoke transgressions. To kind of produce them. And it wasn't given as a remedy as transgressions. It was given as we would say in it's first and second uses to provide for us a restraint of sin and to show us our sin. That's why the law was added.
And it was added until a certain point. Look at Verse 19 again. Until which time the seed came to whom it was promised. So there Paul is going back and say: Yeah, the law was a parentheses: Until the Christ came. And he tells us how the law was delivered.
Now, if you might remember in the first chapter: “Even an angel from heaven should preach to you a Gospel contrary to which you received, let him be accursed.” Well, here's that reference to angel. And as I said, this is not found in Exodus. It's not found in the Old Testament. This is an intertestamental tradition. But it's one that everybody accepted. And it was put into place, that is the law, the law was established, so to speak, instituted by angels in the hand of a mediator. And that's Moses. So it's the angels who delivered the law to Moses. And instituted it. Now, that shows you. And Paul makes reference to this. And this is why for law -- for Paul the law is good. The law comes from God. It comes from angels. And it's given to Moses, the mediator. But what the teachers are saying, the opponents of Paul are saying is that because it was delivered by angels to Moses, now we as messengers of God, as angels, we are now showing that that same law given to Moses is being given to you, Galatians, as a means of salvation. Now, this is very important to make this distinction.
And Paul then goes to Verse 20 here to try to help them to see that this is a difference of understanding of the law. This is one of the hardest verses to interpret in Galatians. In fact, one commentator said that there are 100 different interpretations for Verse 20. I don't think it's that hard. But he says: “The mediator is not one.” Okay. The mediator is not one. Namely, Moses is not one. He is a mediator. But God is one. And I think what he's saying here, Paul is, is that when you have a mediator like Moses, and angels who are also in a sense serving as mediators, that this is not expressing the oneness of God. That this is something that God must do on account of transgressions. Because the golden calf and the children of Israel needed a restraint to sin and something to show them their sin. God is one. His promise is one. And when he speaks directly to Abraham about the promise, he doesn't use angels. He doesn't use a mediator. He doesn't have somebody else. He goes directly to Abraham. And that's because Abraham and his seed, Christ, is one. And I think you can see here that the promise is singular. The laws are many.
Now, that's an important point when he goes on in Verse 21. When he says: Therefore, the law is not according -- no. He says it in a question: “Therefore is the law according to the promises of God? Let it not be so.” See, the law and the promises do not belong together. They are different things. And he says: Why? Now, this is what I was saying earlier. This is why the law is not opposed to the promise because they are doing different things. If a law was given that was able to give life -- now I think that is a synonym for justification. Making right what has gone wrong. If there was a law that could give life -- that is, make right what has gone wrong -- therefore, out of the law righteousness would be. Righteousness would be out of the law.
But it's not. It's not. Because making right what has gone wrong, I think that's why you can make those as synonyms because they are in the same sentence. The mosaic law never was God's intention, God's gift, if you want to use it that way, God's grace for making right what has gone wrong. That is not what it's about. The law as we're going to see was an imprisoning jailer. It was something that kind of kept people from sinning and going away from the covenant. A way of keeping them kind of on the track. Here is kind of third use of the law in a way. But it was never the means by which God intended to save people.
And so in Verse 22 he says: “But the Scriptures” -- and this is an important statement. “But the Scripture” I should say it singular. “But the Scripture in prison shut up everything,” all things, all things, “under the power of” not law but “sin.” Now that's a little change here. And notice the power of. Sin is a cosmic power, too. Just like the law is. Now, why did “the Scriptures shut up all things under the power of sin”? And this is interesting. “In order that the promise would be given by the faith of Jesus Christ to those who were believing.”
What the law does is it shows us our sin. And when -- and here I think the Scripture is in a sense simply a synonym for the law. The Scripture, which contains the law, shows us our sin and shuts us up in a jail. So that through the law, we see our sin and in seeing our sin, we see that we are incapable of making ourselves right with God. And that is done so that we can see that it's all about -- look at the language here -- in order that the promise would be given first by Christ's faithfulness. And here he says Christ Jesus' faithfulness unto death. Even death on a cross. To those who believe in Christ's death. Now, there are the two alternatives. Law is sin. And here he says it's shut up, imprisoned. Or Christ's faith and our faith in Christ. Which is the way of salvation?
Now, note that language of should get up in prison. Should get up in prison. Because now in 23, 24 and 25, he's going to explain what he means by that. And I think this is one of the most really kind of beautifully crafted sections of Paul's epistle. And we're going to make a little break here. Not all the translations do this. But we're going to make a little break after 25. Because I think going into 26 I think we have a whole new section.
Now, listen to the language here. Listen to how he's now talking about the era of the law, which is the Old Testament. Even though he doesn't use that language here. But he's going to contrast it to the era of faith. He says: “Now, before faith came” -- before the era of faith, Christ's faith and our faith in Christ – “we were imprisoned.” You know, we were held captive under the power of the law. That's the life Paul lived as a Pharisee before the cross. That's his nomistic life in which he lived according to the mosaic Sinaitic covenant. That's what happened before Christ came. And he says very clearly: “Imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed.” Now, look at that. “Imprisoned until the faith that was about to come would be Apocalyptically revealed.” Now there faith is invasively revealed. Just like Christ is invasively revealed in the incarnation.
Here it's faith. And I think that the language here of faith is simply a metaphor for Jesus. When faith comes, that means Jesus comes. When he comes, everything changes. The whole cosmos changes. The way in which we look at reality changes. And of course that finds it's culmination in the cross as Paul has already said. Where Christ is cursed because he is under the power of the law there. And the law kills him.
Now, look at Verse 24. You have first the result clause and then a purpose clause. So Verse 23: “Before faith came we were enslaved, held captive under the power of the law.” “Imprisoned until the faith that was about to be revealed, Apocalyptically revealed came.” “So that, with the result that, the law has become our imprisoning jailer.” And here it's until Christ came. Now, that's the point of the law. And the pedagogus, the pedagogue, pedagogy, the word for education, that's the word that's being used here. And interestingly in the ancient world, a pedagogue, you know, you say I'm a Father and I have sons and I gave them over to a pedagogue, he's basically like a jailer to them. They are considered slaves. Paul is going to say that later on. You know, they are not a son. They are a slave. Until it comes time for the inheritance. And that's what a pedagogue does. He kind of -- he makes their life almost as if they are in jail. And that's what the law did. It put us in jail until Christ came. It was an imprisoning jailer. So that, in order that, we might be declared righteous by faith. Christ's faith and our faith? Christ. Because that's the era of faith.
So there you can see the law is not a friend. The law is a power that enslaves us, puts us in jail. And we're freed when Christ, the one who is the faithful one and who we now believe in declares us righteous, justifies us if you want to make that statement or declares what was wrong now right.
And then Verse 25, this is a conclusion. But again, it uses that same kind of sense of the coming of faith. “But now that faith has come.” I think that's the way. Yeah. “But now that faith has come, we are no long under the power of” -- and look at that hupah, same word, “under the power of the enslaving jailer, the imprisoning jailer.” That is the law. Because now we're in the era of faith, that is now that the Gospel has come because Christ has come, that which we believe, now that that has come, we are in a position now to see that the law is not enslaving us because we have been freed in Christ.
Now, I think you can see that this is a very complicated argument. And yet at the same time it's very, very simple. Is it Christ? Or is it the law? Is salvation through Christ alone? Or is salvation through Christ and works of the law? If works of the law imprison us, then why? Why would we want to be back in prison?
Now, this is going to be a key point to Paul's argument in the future. He is saying to the Galatians: Before you came to faith, when you were unbelievers, you were imprisoned under the power of sin. Why would you want to replace the enslavement of sin with another enslavement? To be enslaved under the law? That's the way it was for me before Christ came, before I was converted to Christ at Damascus. Why would you go back to that? I preach to you the freedom of the Gospel says Paul to the Galatians. I have set you free in Christ. Christ has freed you by his becoming a curse on behalf of you. So why would you want to go back to your former lifestyle? Why would you like to become what is the equivalent of a pagan? It's a different jail. But it's still a jail.
Now, this is going to be the powerful argument that's going to be building from this point on. And I think you can see that Paul makes it very clear that with the coming of faith, with the coming of Christ, this era of faith, we're now no longer living under the power of the law. And really we're no longer living under the power of sin. Because through Christ who took our sin upon himself and was killed by the law, cursed by the law on the cross, we now live as members of Christ in the era of faith.
Galatians- Volume 30 (Gal. 3:26-29)|
|Title: Galatians- Volume 30 (Gal. 3:26-29)
Subject: What is the point Paul makes at the end of Chapter 3 and the beginning of 4?
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