NUGGETS OF WISDOM

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BELIEVING WHAT YOU CAN’T SEE

David recollected that as a young lad, with long unruly hair and a ruddy complexion, sleeping out in an open pasture under a starry sky after watching his father’s sheep all day long; how he would take his little harp and sing to the God above all gods. Looking up, he saw the sky as a huge tent with the sparkling stars as lights that lit up the night. He may have even tried to count them once or twice. But what really impressed him was that each night every star was in exactly the same place, not one of them was missing. He was so overcome with awe that he penned a hymn to the creator of that starry universe.

O my LORD Eternal and heavenly Master, Your awe-inspiring works mark You as a genius, as You display Your grandeur all over the heavens for all the world to see. For through these small and tiny dots of light You communicate as a way of countering those who don’t take You seriously; yes, You do this to silence the doubter and unbeliever. When I look up into the sky and see the galaxies Your hands created, the stars and the moon You put into orbit I ask, “What role do humans play in this vast universe; why do You care and fuss over them?” Then I realized, You created them a little short of being angels; endowing them with attributes of honor and dignity; making them the smartest and most influential creatures on earth; putting them in charge to being stewards of Your handiwork, even taking care of the animals, both domestic and wild, including the birds that fill the sky and the fish that fill the sea. O LORD Eternal and heavenly Master, Your awe-inspiring works mark You as a genius for all the world to see.” Psalm 8:1-9

Reflection: Back in the days of the hippy movement I sat in a coffee house in Stuttgart, Germany talking with a long-haired flower-child about God. The young man was respectful but adamant about his doubts concerning God’s existence because he couldn’t see Him or talk to Him. At that moment the Holy Spirit gave me an inspiration, so I pointed to a picture hanging on the wall beside our table and asked the young man if he believed that picture came into being due to an accidental collision of paint and paper. He laughed and said, “That’s ridiculous; that picture was painted by an artist.” I responded that I wasn’t convinced because I couldn’t see the artist in the picture; how did I know that maybe one day it just appeared on the wall by accident. The young fellow looked at me for a moment and then admitted that even though I couldn’t see the artist in the painting, I had to accept the fact that an artist painted the picture because it just makes sense. I told him that in the same way, one must exercise faith to believe an unseen talented artist created such a beautiful portrait, we can also believe an unseen God created the beauty of the universe. The magnificence of God’s creation shows His responsibility for man’s existence, and man’s responsibility to acknowledge God’s handiwork. The young man smiled somewhat embarrassingly as he bowed his head and said, “Okay, you got me on that one.” I asked him if we could have prayer for him to have faith, but he wasn’t sure. As he went away I asked the Holy Spirit to go with him and open his eyes to the truth.

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CALLED TO LIVE IN FREEDOM

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NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

by Dr. Robert R. Seyda

PAUL’S LETTER TO THE GALATIAN CONGREGATIONS OF BELIEVERS

CHAPTER TWO (Lesson XLVI)

Charles Simeon, in one of his discourses, says that the knowledge of the Law is indispensably necessary to the knowledge of the Gospel. Even persons who espouse some views of the Anointed One as a Savior, in general, do not possess an adequate idea of the extent to which they need a Savior. This becomes known only by considering the requirements of the law, and the measure of guilt which we contracted by our violation of the Law. In unfolding to us this subject, the Epistle to the Galatians stands, perhaps, preeminent above all others, not excepting even that to the Romans.

Simeon then points out the use of the Law in relation to the hope a person gets from it; governed by the extent of its commandments; by the relentlessness of its threatenings, and by its incapacity to afford any remedy whatsoever. However, on the other side of the coin, a person may also view the Law from a sense of gratitude; from a sense of duty, and from a sense of interest. This should then motivate a person to understand its nature; to fulfill its purposes, and to honor its requirement. But in the end, none of this will qualify a person to be justified before God as worthy for sins to be forgiven and the sentence of death removed. In that respect, a believer is dead to the Law. All their expectation that the Law might save them through self-righteousness is now abandoned. In its place, a person finds themselves in a better place, standing on the solid ground of hope with blessed assurance by faith in the Anointed One’s obedience to the cross. There was no hope in the Law. As the old hymn goes, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus the Anointed One and righteousness.”[1] [2]

Wesleyan theologian Adam Clarke offers his thoughts on this teaching by Paul about depending on religious rites and rituals for justification. He hears Paul saying that if he was to act like a Jew and force the observance of the Law on the Gentiles, which he repeatedly asserted and proved to be abolished by the death of the Anointed One, then he would rebuild what the Lord destroyed by His sacrifice. This would then make him a transgressor by observing the Law in such a way that it would appear to order the observance of it upon others. Paul made it clear that when it comes to properly consider the nature and requisitions of the law, He would find himself dead to all hope and expectation of help or salvation from the Law, thereby being obliged to take refuge in the Gospel of the Anointed One. Paul’s message was that the Law condemns to death, and he embraced the Gospel that he might be saved from death, and live for God.[3]

James Haldane finds that is a mystery why so many Christians are unaware that a person is not only justified in the Anointed One but sanctified as well. Not by anything they did, it is all the work of God through the Anointed One and the Holy Spirit. That’s why some feel that at any time they could fall back into sin, and the Law would take dominion over them once more. It comes from not being sure how to live a holy life. They were told that they are no longer under the Law when it comes to their justification for being called a child of God, they are now living under grace. That’s why they must now understand that if they do sin, it’s not against the Law but the Grace of God. The Law contained no provisions to forgive such a trespass, but Grace contains not only forgiveness but cleansing from any stain of sin that may still be on their character.[4] As Jesus told the woman caught in adultery, neither do I condemn you.[5] The Anointed One came to save, not to condemn.[6] [7]

Catholic theologian John Haydock from the 19th century gives his view of what Paul says here and it applies to believers in his day.  Paul expresses here the change that was wrought in him. The law to which he was attached passed away. Now he was so united in the Anointed One and His cross, that he says: Not I, but the Anointed One lives in me. The strong expressions made use of by St. Paul with regard to the Jewish law in this chapter, may appear strange, and very capable of a wrong interpretation. But we must always bear in mind that St. Paul speaks exclusively of the ceremonial part of the law, and not of the moral part contained in the Ten Commandments. Of this latter law, Haydock says that in Paul’s epistle to the Romans that the doers of the Law will be justified.[8] But this can only happen when the grace which Jesus the Anointed One merited and obtained for us all, the grace which God poured out on us all, is first applied.[9]  So it is obvious that in this Catholic scholar’s mind, salvation by grace and faith alone is still insufficient unless joined with the moral ethics as outlined in the Ten Commandments.

Justin Edwards sees this as Paul’s message to Peter and the Galatians: Instead of my going back to the Law for justification, says Paul, I learned through the Law itself to renounce the Law as the means for my salvation. True knowledge of God’s holy and spiritual law taught me, that to a sinner, like me, it works death.[10] And because the Anointed One now lives in me by His Spirit, He is the cause of everything right and good in me. The author and sustainer of divine life in the soul are the Anointed One, and what the thing that makes so robust, is the faith in him that formed between my soul and His Spirit. Because of this I received His fullness which is helping me grow in conformity to His image and thereby shines with His glory. So why should I go back to the Law? I’m dead to the Law so there’s no reason for it to visit my grave.[11]

German theologian Heinrich Meyer chooses an interesting way of encapsulating what he feels Paul is saying here about the life he is living is not his, but the Anointed One. The first thing Meyer asks is this, “What did the Anointed One achieve on the cross that affects all of us?” He begins with this: The Anointed One broke down and removed the partition between Jews and Gentile so that out of two He could make one people. Then, by His shed blood, the Anointed One blotted out the Law of Moses so that it neither applies to the Jews or the Gentiles. This then means that if Gentiles are incorporated with the Anointed One, they become eligible for all the blessings previously promised only to the Jews, even though they do not live according to the Law of Moses. They were accepted by God into the family of God for the Anointed One’s sake.

Meyer then goes on to talk about what he calls the “handwriting that was against all of us.”[12] First, it was nailed to the cross and the blood of the Anointed One washed the parchment clean. This handwriting included our legal indebtedness to the Law. It was the basis for our becoming aware of sin and was etched into our hearts where it sparked our sinful tendencies that brought us under condemnation. But, once we are in union with the Anointed One and become one with Him, then this handwriting no longer applies to us because it’s been erased. I like the way Meyer expresses it: It no longer exerts any authority or strength because its seals were removed by the Anointed One’s work on the cross, and its letters erased by the Anointed One’s blood. This then verifies that we all been crucified with the Anointed One.[13]

Johann Peter Lange puts it succinctly this way: I came into fellowship with the Anointed One’s death on the cross, through faith, so that what happened to the Anointed One also happened to me.[14] Isn’t it wonderful that we say the same about the resurrection! That what happened to the Anointed One will also happen to me! John Eadie then adds his feelings of joy by saying, “I’ve been crucified with the Anointed One,” those are Wondrous Words! By being so closely identified with the Anointed One, His death is our death. When He was crucified, we were crucified with Him. We became so much a part of Him under the Law’s curse of suffering and death, that when He died to the Law, we died to the Law with Him. By being in union with the Anointed One we satisfied the Law by yielding to it in obedience which it claimed, suffered its curse, died to it, and because of this, I am now released from it – from its accusations and its penalty and from its claim on us to obey it as the means of receiving timeless life.[15]

William O’Conor says that the law indirectly made us sinners, and then condemned us to death before we broke the first law. But when we heard that the Anointed One took that punishment of death upon Himself for our sake, so when we accepted what the Anointed One did for us by faith, that same faith now makes it possible for us to hate the sin that imposed death upon us.[16] When we consider that we were all sinners and liable to both death of the body and the soul as a punishment, then the Anointed One who was without sin underwent the punishment of sin so that those who believe in Him do not suffer death as a punishment. Being born again down here is just a prelude to everlasting life up above. So we were punished for our sins in the death of the Anointed One, in order that we may immediately enter into a new life of righteousness.[17] Should we not then do as Paul urges us to do, live our lives daily in honor of the One who died for us and the One who sent Him to pay that price? In fact, we cannot do any less.

Alvah Hovey remarked that nothing is deeper in the writings of Paul than his conception of the believer’s union with the Anointed One. He dies to the law and to sin by trusting in the Anointed One. His legal standing and his spiritual condition are reversed in a moment by that act and the union which depends upon it. Paul’s crucifixion with the Anointed One was first realized at his conversion, but the continuance of that crucifixion he experienced all along from that hour to the present. Essentially the same thought is repeated by the Apostle in his letter to the Romans.[18]

Certainly, this gave Paul the freedom to declare any life given to him he dedicated totally to living for the Anointed One. In fact, the Anointed One’s Spirit that now lives in him makes that possible. As Hovey goes on to say that faith was the main element in which Paul was living and breathing and that faith focused on its object, the Son of God. This faith no longer trusted in his own righteousness, as he did under the Law, but in the Son of God. Gone are the legal observances, or holy resolutions, or attempt at perfecting his character through good works. Here we see how tender and personal Paul’s relationship with Jesus became. How blessed must this sorely-tried servant of the Anointed One be when he uttered these words and believed that it would be as dear to the heart of Peter as it was to his own![19]

[1] “My Hope is Built on Nothing Less,” by Edward Mote (1834)

[2] Charles Simeon; On Galatians, op. cit., Discourse 2057

[3] Adam Clarke: Commentary on Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit

[4] 1 John 1:9

[5] John 8:11

[6] Ibid. 3:17

[7] James A Haldane: On Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit., pp. 84-87

[8] Romans 2:13

[9] George Haydock: Commentary on Galatians, loc. cit.

[10] See Galatians 3:24; Romans 3:20; 4:15; 7:10.

[11] Justine Edwards: On Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit.

[12] Colossians 2:13-14

[13] Heinrich A. W. Meyer: On Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit., p. 98

[14] John Peter Lange: On Galatians, op. cit., loc., cit., Volume 8, Kindle Locations 3683-3684

[15] John Eadie: On Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit., p. 184

[16] See Romans 6:1

[17] O’Conor, W. A: On Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit., pp. 39–40

[18] Romans 6:6

[19] Alvah Hovey: On Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit., p. 34

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POINTS TO PONDER

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I was reading about the life of the great Jewish thinker Moses Maimonides and the times in which he lived, and came across this story that touched me.  Four Jewish Rabbis were sailing on a ship from the port city of Bari on the SE coast of Italy, on a fundraising tour to gather money for the Jewish Academy in Sura, Babylon – SE Iraq today.  The ship was hijacked by Ibn Romahis, commander of the naval forces of Abd-er-Rahman al-Nasr, and the Rabbis were taken, prisoner.  One of the prisoners, Rabbi Hushiel, was sold into slavery and sent to Kairouan in Tunisia.  Another captured Rabbi named Shemarjaru was sent as a slave to Alexandria, Egypt.  Rabbi Moses was sold into captivity and ended up in Cordova, Spain.  And the fourth Rabbi’s name was never recorded.

When the Jewish communities in all the cities where these Rabbis ended up found out about their plight, they raised the appropriate ransom money and had them redeemed back to their own people.  Rabbi Moses, who found himself in Cordova, Spain, the capital of the Muslim caliphate that had taken over Spain, was more than happy to attend the Synagogue on the first Sabbath since he was set free.

The leader of the local Synagogue in Cordova was a well-respected scholar, Rabbi Nathan.  On this Sabbath, Rabbi Nathan was expounding on the Jewish Talmud, which is a collection of teachings by Jewish scholars.  When it came to question and answer time, Rabbi Nathan found himself unable to give a satisfactory answer to a question that was raised.  So, he looked around for anyone who might have some input.

Rabbi Moses, because of his ordeal was poorly dressed and did not appear to be a very educated individual.  That’s why when he raised his hand, everyone was surprised.  Not only did he answer the question thoroughly, but answered several other difficult questions handed him.  In the end, Rabbi Nathan stood up and declared to the assembly: “I am no longer your leader; that stranger in his sackcloth shall henceforth be my teacher, and you shall appoint him as your chief.”  When the Muslim admiral heard how astoundingly brilliant Rabbi Moses was, he tried to cancel the ransom deal, but the king would not allow it.

I can only imagine this is how the Pharisees and scribes felt when they tried to teach the people but were only causing confusion, then Jesus dressed in His simple Galilean attire stood up and not only answered all the questions but showed Himself to be of such persuasion and authority, that even the great Jewish scholar Nicodemus sought Him out.  Perhaps this same opportunity can be in our destiny if we vigorously study God’s Word and become familiar with the voice of the Holy Spirit – Dr. Robert R Seyda

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SERENDIPITY FOR SATURDAY

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LEAD ME TO THE ROCK

While attending the University, I needed two subjects to complete my full semester load in order to qualify for military college assistance. The classes I wanted were full, so I took Meteorology and Geology – just for fun. It turned out to be great choices. The professor in Geology asked us to write a paper on “Rocks.”  So naturally, I chose the word “rock” in the Bible.  Here’s a little something I wrote in my paper.

The word “Rock” is only used as a proper noun nine times in the Bible. Most predominantly in Deuteronomy 32. The verses there read v. 4: “The Lord is the Rock, and His work is perfect!  Yes, all His ways are right! God is true and faithful. He is good and honest.” v. 15: “But Jeshurun (Israel) became fat and kicked like a bull. (Yes, you people were fed well and became full and fat.) They left the God who made them! They ran away from the Rock who saved them.” v.18: “You people left the Rock who made you; you forgot the God who gave you life.” v.30: “Can one person chase away 1000 men?  Can two men cause 10,000 men to run away? It will happen only if the Lord gives them to their enemy, and this will only happen if their Rock sells them like slaves.” v.31: “The ‘rock’ of our enemies is not strong like our Rock.  Even our enemies know that.”

David is another Old Testament writer to use this phrase: “The God of Israel spoke. The Rock of Israel said to me, ‘Whoever rules people fairly, who rules with respect for God, is like the morning light at dawn, like a morning without clouds. He is like sunshine after it rains that makes tender grass grow from the ground’” (2 Samuel 23:3). There is one more that is somewhat obscured by the King James Version rendition of Habakkuk 1:12 that actually says, “Lord, you are the one who lives forever! You are my holy God who never dies! Lord, you created the Babylonians to do what must be done. Our Rock, you created them to punish people.”

But it took the Apostle Paul to put it into context for us: “Brothers and sisters, I want you to know what happened to our ancestors who were with Moses. They were all under the cloud, and they all walked through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food, and they all drank the same spiritual drink. They drank from that spiritual Rock that was with them, and that Rock was Christ” (1 Corinthians. 10:4). Yes, a Rock that is immovable and always there!  I found out my professor was a believer and was so impressed with my paper he gave me an A!  Hallelujah to the Rock! – Dr. Robert R Seyda

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CALLED TO LIVE IN FREEDOM

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NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

by Dr. Robert R. Seyda

PAUL’S LETTER TO THE GALATIAN CONGREGATIONS OF BELIEVERS

CHAPTER TWO (Lesson XLV)

In another work, Owen also addresses this principle of assigning divine honor to the person of the Anointed One who lives in us.  Paul made it clear, here in verse twenty, that the life which he now lives in the flesh, he lives because of his faith “in” the Anointed One. But that’s not all, it is by that same faith Paul now lives “for” the Anointed One. In other words, you don’t accept forgiveness for your sins from God because of the Anointed One’s work on the cross and then go sit down in the pew and watch the service as a performance celebrating what the Anointed One did for you.

For Owen, the Son of God is the author, object, and finisher of our faith.[1] This provided Paul the reason and motive for saying that this faith he lived by was a continual exercise of faith because the Anointed One “loved him, and gave Himself for him.” This is what so powerfully influences our hearts to fix our faith in Him and on Him. And that person who so loved us is the same One in whom we believe. If believers themselves were the object of their love, it would thereby be the object of their faith.

But where would that get them? Nowhere! The object of our love is the Anointed One and, therefore, He is the object of our faith. Not only is it our duty to love Him but also to serve Him. If this proves not to be the case, then you are not alive in the Anointed One but dead to the Anointed One. But, says Owen, there is no reason to provide multiple Scriptures to prove the point that it is our duty to believe in, love, and serve the Son of God. The greatest minds could search the world over for a substitute for having faith in the Anointed One. It doesn’t exist.[2]

There is another important factor that Owen believer must be taken into consideration. Because of our near relationship with the Anointed One living in us, living for Him, and serving Him it must be considered a permanent principle in our mind and affections. The life we now live is tied to Him and derived from Him. It is to be understood as the Anointed One Himself living out our lives. Therefore, even though we live, it is more of the Anointed One living than it is of us, as Paul says here in verse twenty.

Owen suggests we look at the reason for this conclusion. Did not Jesus say that He was the vine and we are the branches? That we get our spiritual life from Him. So that means, without Him we do nothing.[3] He and He alone is our spiritual life. Not only in this life but in the life to come.[4] As it resides in believers, it is a permanent principle of spiritual life, light, love, and power, being projected from the soul in harmony with the mind, enabling every believer to cling to God with purpose of heart, and to live for Him in everything they say and do as part of their spiritual life. But they don’t do this on their own, they receive help. Jesus said that it will be like a fountain of living water that springs up to give them strength, and that fountain never stops flowing.[5] Owen believes this is a reference to the indwelling Holy Spirit. After all, that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.[6]  This spirit that is born of the Spirit possesses a divine nature. And it is that divine nature that makes believers partakers by the promises of God. It is a principle of victorious faith and love, with all the virtues and graces needed to holy living. It influences the manner of the believer’s performance, enabling their soul to be involved in living for God with delight, joy, and satisfaction.[7]

Matthew Poole focuses on what Paul says in verse twenty about “The life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God.” Poole feels that it would not be proper for a believer to say that it is “I” that now lives. That’s because our actions no longer run according to our natural tendencies and inclinations but in keeping with the Anointed One by His Spirit that lives in us. That’s because we are renewed and changed. We’ve become a new creation in the Anointed One, and when we became a new creature, we received new tendencies and inclinations. So, even though we still live in our human bodies, we are only spiritually kept alive by the life of the Anointed One in us and our faith in Him as that life. Therefore, all our natural moral virtues became principled in our faith the Anointed One’s power to help us do what pleases God through Him. So, the Law is no longer our guide, but our faith in what the Anointed One said we must be and do now that we are children of the Most High.[8]

Many people today know John Bunyan (1628-1688) as the author of his famous work “Pilgrim’s Progress.” But Bunyan wrote many other books which you don’t hear much about. It is quite remarkable that Bunyan became one of the most successful English writers in the days of Richard Baxter and John Milton. These men, who were well off, could afford to write because they didn’t need to earn a living. But Bunyan, a traveling tin-smith, that they called a “tinker,” who made household utensils like his father, was nearly penniless before becoming a most famous author. His wife was also destitute. In those days, when women were selected for marriage, their families would show their joy and respect for the groom by giving her a dowry to take to her new husband. The only thing she brought were two books written by Puritans. But they were worth much more than they cost because it affected Bunyan’s life in a marvelous way.

Once he was converted, he began to preach and draw large crowds. But Bunyan was not part of the State Church of England, he began to worship and preach in the independent congregations that sprang up in the spirit of the Reformation. But when King Charles II took the reins of government, he shut down these separatist congregations and Bunyan was hauled off to prison where he sat for the next 16 years. But just like the Apostle Paul, Bunyan took the time to read and write. While in prison he wrote nine books. He was granted his freedom for a short while but was soon imprisoned again for six months. It was after that he wrote Pilgrim’s Progress.

In one of his earlier books, he dealt with the resurrection of believers. He stated emphatically that any person who denied the resurrection of the Anointed One is worthless to Christianity and His Church. He was making reference to some churchmen in his day who did question whether or not the Anointed One was resurrected from the dead or was revived after being in somewhat of a coma for several days. Says Bunyan, they cause many believers to doubt, which leads to the destruction of the congregation. He calls them cankerworms. These are a caterpillar-like insect whose newly hatched larvae eat the soft tissue of young leaves at the tips of branches, giving them a skeletonized appearance. And the older they get the more destructive they become.

For Bunyan, it proved that such individuals were ignorant of God’s power, faithfulness, and His Word. He points to where God said to Abraham and his descendants that He would be their God [9] So we who are the spiritual descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, are counted as part of the living under a threefold consideration. First, being that they are in the Lord and He is in them; that He is the head and they are part of the Body of the Anointed One, all of the elect may be said to be alive in the Anointed One. They were from eternity chosen by Him who also is their life, although possibly many of them are yet unconverted. Yet they say that the Anointed One is their life, by the timeless purpose of God. Secondly, the children of the new covenant live here in the flesh by faith and in glory, they will live in the spirit because their eyes were open and they remain in communication through grace with the Anointed One who is in their souls. Thirdly, Bunyan anchors all that he said on the words of Paul here in verse twenty.[10]

John Bengel sees Paul saying to all those critics who claimed that the Anointed One he was describing was the minister of sin and death, that they are so wrong because the Anointed One is the founder of living right for God and being spiritually alive. In other words, Paul declares all that I am I am in Him. This is the sum and substance of Christianity. Furthermore, although Paul says that he is dead to the Law, he is not depreciating the Law but simply relying on a new Law more divine. the Anointed One’s death on the cross made this all possible. Bengel feels that if verse twenty were rendered this way: “It’s not I that now lives in the flesh but it is the Anointed One who lives inside me,” it would bring out more clearly what Paul is trying to communicate here.[11]

Puritan preacher Jonathan Edwards believes that before any person comes to their senses and realizes that they possess no strength to help themselves, they first must be made aware of the danger of hell. This is especially true that they realize they cannot work out their own deliverance and salvation. They try to make themselves better only to reveal more and more faults. It is only when they throw themselves on the mercy of God and put their trust in the Anointed One that they will be enlightened as to what it means to be born again. So, it is only until a sinner is convinced and convicted of their sin and misery and the punishment that awaits them in hell will they be prepared to receive the redeeming mercy and grace of God. They don’t plead for this on their own, the Anointed One is the one and only Mediator. So they must be drawn by the Spirit to Him so He pleads their case before His Father in heaven.[12]

In another place, Edwards says that it is the nature of the Covenant of Grace that shows God’s design to make ample provision for the saints given an assured hope of timeless life while they are still here on earth. To this end, God made promises to prove His chosen with all the grace, mercy, forgiveness, and perseverance that they found in the Anointed One will never dry up. This will allow them to face anything that comes their way that may try and challenge their faith. He gave the Holy Spirit to be their guide as a personal counselor. So, the bottom line is this: stay true to what the Word of God says and what the Holy Spirit tells you and nothing will ever separate you from the love of God[13].[14]

Joseph Benson believes that to better understand Paul’s point here, we should expand what he says in verse twenty to read that it is no longer I that lives in sin, because I was delivered so that the Anointed One may live in me. That way, my living is no longer under the condemnation of death by the Law, but under the justification through the Anointed One to everlasting life. He was now animated by more nobler views and hopes than the Law could possibly give. That allows him to be engaged through love to God, be part of His people with a more generous, sublime, and extensive obedience than the Law was capable of producing through obedience to its precepts.[15]

[1] Cf. Hebrews 12:2

[2] John Owen: op. cit., Vol. 2, Christologia, p. 172

[3] John 15:5

[4] Colossians 3:4

[5] John 4:14

[6] Ibid. 3:6

[7] John Owen, Vol. 5, Gospel Grounds and Evidences of the Faith of God’s Elect, pp. 152-153

[8] Matthew Poole: On Galatians, op. cit., loc., cit., Kindle Location 701-716, Kindle Edition

[9] See Isaiah 54:13; Jeremiah 31:33; Hebrews 8:10-11

[10] John Bunyan: Vol 1, The Resurrection of the Dead, pp. 251-260

[11] John Bengel: On Galatians, op. cit., loc., cit., p. 583

[12] Edwards, Jonathan: On the Bestowment of Great and Signal Mercies, 1834, III.3 Kindle Location 73881-74141

[13] Romans 8:38-39

[14] Edwards, Jonathan: A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections, Part II, Sect. XI, 1834, Kindle Location 11941

[15] Joseph Benson: On Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit.

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CALLED TO LIVE IN FREEDOM

9526a07d9f8686ec5667a96cad064ff6

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

by Dr. Robert R. Seyda

PAUL’S LETTER TO THE GALATIAN CONGREGATIONS OF BELIEVERS

CHAPTER TWO (Lesson XLIV)

Reformer Martin Luther has a lot to say about these two verses which won’t allow me to enter it all here. However, he points out the difference between the established church in his day and the new reform movement that he was leading. He points to the fact that the doctrine of the Roman Catholic church was similar to that of the false apostles in Paul’s day. They teach, “If you want to live for God, you must live according to the Law, for it is written, do this and you will live.” Paul, on the other hand, teaches, “We cannot live for God unless we are dead to the Law.” If we are dead to the Law, the Law exercises no power over us. We are now free to concentrate on Jesus as we live our sanctified life.

Luther goes on to say that to be dead to the Law means to be free from the Law’s power to condemn. What right, then, does the Law need to accuse us, or to hold anything against us? When we see a person wrestling in the clutches of the Law, we should say to them: My friend, let’s get things straight. You are letting the Law dictate to your conscience. Wake up and turn your eyes upon Jesus, the Conqueror of the Law and sin. Faith in the Anointed One will lift you high above the Law into the heaven of grace. Though the Law still remains, it no longer possesses any authority over you, because you are dead as far as the Law is concerned.

Luther then imagines this conversation between a believer and the Law: Believer:I confess that I sinned.” Law:Then I will ask God to punish you.” Believer: “No, He will not do that.” Law: “Why not? Isn’t that what He gave me to Moses to do?” Believer: “Yes, but I want nothing to do with you anymore.” Law:Why is that?” Believer: “Because I now live according to another Law.” Law:What law is that?” Believer:It’s called the Law of Liberty.” Law:What is liberty?” Believer: “The liberty I received from the Anointed One, the one who let you nail yourself to the cross with Him.” Law: “I don’t know what to say.”[1]

On the subject of dying to the Law, John Calvin says that it either means that we renounce it, and are delivered from its dominion so that we put no confidence in it, or, that it does not hold us captive under the yoke of slavery, or, it may mean that since the Law put us on the road to everlasting destruction, through the Anointed One we were placed on the path that leads to a timeless life with God. Calvin says that this last is the one he prefers. Calvin also believes that Paul is saying that it is not because of the Anointed One that the Law became more hurtful than beneficial. Rather, the Law carries within itself the curse of death to all who disobey it. Therefore, it follows, that the death which is brought on by the Law is truly final. However, the kind of death we experience with the Anointed One results in a life-giving fellowship with Him. Since we were crucified together with the Anointed One, we were made alive to live for God, not the Law.[2]

Calvin also writes in another work that if the Law is now a dead thing to us, and we are not trusting in the Law, therefore, if it makes us dead to the Law where else do we turn to find righteousness and deliverance so that we might be made alive and receive the promise of salvation? And why was all this necessary if God needed only to love us? The answer is, God cannot allow us to stand as innocent before Him until sin was not gotten rid of. We must be redeemed, called, and cleansed before that could happen. And the only one who could make that happen was Jesus the Anointed One. That’s where all God’s blessings lie and will lead to our sitting in heavenly places with Him. This should be no surprise since He chose us to be His before the foundation of the world.[3]

But that is not all. The question still remained as to how, by abolishing sin, the Anointed One removed the hostility between God and us, and purchased righteousness which made Him favorable and kind to us. For Calvin, it may be answered primarily by noting that the Anointed One accomplished this through His total obedience to the Father’s will. Paul provides this in his words, “Through Adam’s sin, death and hell came to all men. But another Man, the Anointed One, His right act makes men free and gives them life.”[4] And, indeed, elsewhere he adds the grounds for the pardon which exempts us from the curse of the law to the whole life of the Anointed One, “When the fullness of the time came, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law.”[5]

As Calvin sees it, all of this allowed for the grafting of the wild olive branches into the holy olive tree of Abraham’s descendants. This was not just for show, but so that they might bear fruit. Everything that we were and did and accomplished before mirrored Adam’s influence. But now, all that we are and will do will mirror the likeness of the Anointed One. That’s why everything leftover from our sinful nature and wicked tendencies must be rendered powerless and treated as though they are dead. In Calvin’s mind, this is the whole point Paul is trying to make here in verse nineteen.[6]

Jakob Arminius wrote on what is meant by “a regenerate person?” He begins by pointing out that there are some important things that exist in the regenerate person that does not exist in the unregenerate person and vice versâ. For instance, the Holy Spirit dwells in the regenerate person but not in the unregenerate individual.[7] Furthermore, the regenerate person escaped worldly influence by getting to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. The unregenerate individual is still bound and polluted. The regenerate person’s Law was written in their heart. The unregenerate individual scoffs at the Law.[8] Nor was the unregenerate individual able to prophesy in the Name of the Lord,[9] nor has the faith to move mountains.[10]

Arminius goes on to say that oddly enough, the regenerate person admitted to being a sinner, grieves because of what sin did to their life with godly sorrow, and grew tired of carrying the heavy burden of sin.[11] They are the ones the Anointed One came to redeem, call, regenerate, sanctify, and fill with His Spirit.[12] The regenerate person learned that no one achieves a right standing with God through any good deeds of their own. So, when the Holy Spirit called them to come to the Anointed One, they immediately fled to his cross where He could make them right with God.[13]

Roman Catholic scholar Cornelius à Lapide (1567-1637) disagrees vehemently with Luther and Calvin’s positions on where the line is drawn with the Law for Christians saved by grace. He basis his opposition on the fact that he sees the Law as a forerunner of the Anointed One. When He appeared, the Ceremonial Law died for sure, but the Moral Law was mortally wounded only so far as it was a tutor and a judge of sin. Therefore, we are justified by the Anointed One and not by the Law. This caused the Anointed One to ask the Jews why they were so opposed to Him since it was the Law itself that sent Him. In other words, Jesus was only teaching what was already in the Law. But, says Lapide, it doesn’t mean that the binding force of the Ten Commandments ceased when the Anointed One came, for the Law in this respect was not Mosaic but natural and immutable. Apparently, Lapide did not think that when Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love the Lord God will all one’s heart, soul, mind, and strength, and the second is to love one’s fellowman as they love themselves, included the Ten Commandments. By following the teachings of Jesus is to not only follow the Law but to fulfill the Law through obedience to Him.

Lapide goes on to say that through baptism a person is crucified with the Anointed One and they thereby become dead to the Law as it relates to salvation. The problem is, the Law did not offer salvation. The Law only condemned those who did not keep it perfectly in its entirely. Lapide says that baptism also signified being cut off like a branch from a wild olive tree and grafted into the holy olive tree of the Cross of the Anointed One, from which new life is drawn. That new life, not the Law, is what drives a believer into action. the Anointed One’s grace is now, as it were, the believer’s soul and the cause of all virtuous living and fountain of humility, strength, wisdom, joy, peace, and all the virtues of the Spirit. It is hard to argue with Lapide on this point. But to say that keeping the Ten Commandments and all other moral laws is a must for any Christian does water his argument down quite a bit.[14]

Reform theologian John Owen has much to say about what Paul is writing here in verse twenty. Since the just are to live by their faith in the Anointed One and His work on the cross, and everyone is to believe for themselves – justification is not done as a group, and strive to be used of God according to the gifts given them by measure of their faith – they thereby affirmed God’s pardon of their sins and are now heirs of timeless life, are doing so in line with what Paul himself experienced. In that he died on the cross with the Anointed One, he now lives with the Anointed One in him. He reports a new outlook on life because of his trust in the Son of God. He would still be lost in sin if the Anointed One didn’t love him and died to set him free.

What Paul was also doing here was proving that the Anointed One was the only sure way to God and God to us. This is not something anyone attributed to being nice, or doing charitable works, or living an external holy life as they interpreted holiness. This was something given to us because the Anointed One who, of His own accord, voluntarily undertook the task of securing justification for us. We did nothing to impress Him to do so, nor did we plead for Him to take those steps. The only reason the Anointed One died for us is the same reason we’d die for Him – the love of God. No wonder Paul stood in such amazement that he could tell the Galatians; He was the One Who loved me and gave Himself for me. So, what did Paul feel that he owed the Anointed One? He owed him his abilities and talents, his love and his life. We cannot owe our Lord anything less.[15]

[1] Martin Luther: On Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit., p. 57

[2] John Calvin: Bible Cabinet, On Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit., pp. 51-55

[3] Ephesians 1:3, 4

[4] Romans 5:19

[5] Galatians 4:4-5

[6] John Calvin: Institutes, op. cit., Vol. 3, Ch. 16, pp. 535-536

[7] Hebrews 4:4, 5

[8] Romans 2:13-18

[9] Matthew 7:22

[10] 1 Corinthians 13:2

[11] Matthew 11:28

[12] See Romans 8:30

[13] Jakob Arminius: op. cit., Vol. 2, pp. 229-230

[14] Cornelius à Lapide: On Galatians, op. cit., pp. 250-257

[15] John Owen: op. cit., Vol 1, p. 139. See also pp. 223, 269

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CALLED TO LIVE IN FREEDOM

9526a07d9f8686ec5667a96cad064ff6

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

by Dr. Robert R. Seyda

PAUL’S LETTER TO THE GALATIAN CONGREGATIONS OF BELIEVERS

CHAPTER TWO (Lesson XLIII)

Peter Lombard reads this nineteenth verse as indicating Paul’s declaration that he died to the Law by the power of the Gospel. Therefore, he is no longer required to attempt earning any justification to stand before God as right with Him through the Law. Lombard also emphasizes that Paul is not speaking about dying physically, but morally dying to the law because the Anointed One gives him the power to live his spiritual life. And just as the Anointed One was nailed to the cross, so Paul nailed to the cross his ambitions and faith in the Law to save him.[1]

Then Robert of Melun poses this question on what Paul is saying here: How is this demonstrated through the Law that a person must not keep the Law once they are made free in union with the Anointed One? He believes there are three ways a good case is made. First, the Law says that we are to love our friends but hate our enemies.[2] Since those who hate their enemies cannot be justified, this seems to prove that no one could be justified through the Law. Secondly, the Law addresses only external things by promising rewards when it says that you must do this and that, then you will enjoy the good things of earth.[3] Since nobody could be justified by desiring the things of the world, it is clear that no righteousness will come by way of the Law. And thirdly, the Law itself places all its worshipers under a curse who do not follow the Law to the letter.[4] This makes it clear that to be free from the Law’s demands for justification, we must place our faith in the Gospel so that the blessing of Grace might be fulfilled instead of the curse of the Law.[5]

Catholic theologian Thomas Aquinas points out that the only way to change, alter, or void a law is by the law itself. That means, the law is either totally changed or it is amended. What Paul seems to be saying here is that the old Law was amended by adding a new portion. Before, the Law only pointed out guilt and condemnation to the lawbreaker, but it possessed no power to forgive or remove the sentence. Then the Anointed One came, not to do away with the Law but to amend the Law. That’s why we were given the First Covenant and the Final Covenant. Under this new amendment, there is now forgiveness of sin and the death sentence removed. But not by the Law itself, but by God through the Anointed One who is the new personification of the Law. It’s what He says, not what the old Law said, that counts. The old Law was known as the Law of Moses, now the revised Law is known as the Law of the Anointed One – the Gospel.  And the process by which Paul was no longer subject to the old Law is that he died with the Anointed One on the cross where the price was paid for mankind’s ransom and redemption. And just as the Anointed One rose from the dead, so Paul rose from being spiritually dead to being alive for God with the Anointed One living within him.[6]

Thomas Aquinas then offers an explanation of what Paul intends to say here in verse twenty. It is clear that Paul identifies himself as being dead to the Law. As such, having been resurrected in the Anointed One he now lives for God, namely, that he is guided in his behavior according to the teachings of the Anointed One by being ordained to His honor and glory. The Law was handed down in writing so that the Israelites could practice what was spoken by the giver of the Law for all the world to see. But now, the Gospel is laid down in writing so that the new Israelites could preach what was spoken by the giver of Grace for all the world to hear. For in the beginning, people were weak and unable to approach God, that’s why it was necessary for the precepts of the Law to be given to them in writing, so that by the Law, as by an educator, they were to be led by the hand to the point where they might hear the things He commands. That means the law was our teacher about the Anointed One so that we can be justified by faith.  But after we gain access to the Father through the Anointed One, we are not instructed about the commands of God through the Law, but by God Himself through Grace.  In other words, Paul is saying that the Law was leading him by the hand until he died trying to work out salvation by good works. It was then that the maker of the Law sent His Son so that he could be resurrected to a new life in order that he might live for God.[7]

And in another writing, Aquinas answers the question of whether God became incarnate in order to take away actual sin, rather than to take away original sin?[8] He quotes Chrysostom saying: “This must be the mind of faithful servants, to account for the benefits their Lord bestowed on all alike, to know they were not bestowed on them alone.”[9] When it comes to speaking of himself alone, Paul tells us here in verse twenty, that He [the Son of God], was the One that loved him and gave Himself for him. But our individual sins are our actual sins; for original sin is the common sin affecting all mankind. Therefore, the conclusion seems to be that to acquire this conviction, we must believe that the Son of God became incarnate in human flesh to take away actual sins.[10] I agree with Aquinas to a point. Original sin passed on to all human beings the penalty of death when their sinful tendencies cause them to sin. Jesus’ death on the cross removed that curse of spiritual death and through the new birth, the human spirit is revived to live again. Once a person sins after being born again, those individual sins are handled by Grace, not the Law. There is forgiveness in Grace.

Then comes the inquiry, did the Anointed One die out of obedience?[11] Aquinas begins with Jesus’ own words, “No one takes my life from Me. I give it by Myself. I possess the right and the power to take it back again. My Father gave Me this right and power.”[12] The First Covenant ended by the Anointed One’s death, according to his dying words, “It is consummated.”[13] He fulfilled those moral laws which for the most part were founded on the precepts of loving others, inasmuch as He suffered for us both out of love for us and for His heavenly Father.[14] The Anointed One likewise by His suffering fulfilled the ceremonial precepts of the Law, which are chiefly ordained for sacrifices and offerings, in so far as all the ancient sacrifices were figures of that true sacrifice which the dying the Anointed One offered for us. No doubt that’s why Paul wrote the Colossians about one believer judging another believer on what they ate and holy days they observed.[15] The Anointed One also by His suffering fulfilled the judicial precepts of the Law, which are chiefly ordained for making compensation to them who suffered wrong.[16] This was all done through His suffering out of love for others, and according to what Paul says here in verse twenty:  “He loved me, and delivered Himself up for me,” the Anointed One paid a heavy price for each one of us.[17]

Jakob Arminius looks at the impact that verses 16-21 of this second chapter make on the subject Paul is teaching both to the Jews and Gentiles that no one becomes right with God just by obeying the Law. Only by putting one’s faith in Jesus as the Messiah is anyone made right with God. So, it isn’t what we do for the Anointed One but what the Anointed One does for us. And part of this is done by the Holy Spirit using the preaching of the Word of God so that a person is first convicted of their sin. So, don’t let anyone fool you into thinking that you did it on your own, no matter how generous, compassionate, and caring deeds there may be that were done to convince Him. Neither the Law nor the deeds one performs in compliance with the Law can turn a sinner into a saint. The sinful nature must be put to death so that the spiritual nature comes alive. The old nature served the desires of the flesh, the new nature serves the desires of the spirit. When the sinful nature is pronounced dead, then the Anointed One comes to dwell in the new believer’s heart. If what Paul was saying here could be proven to be false or flawed, then Jesus the Anointed One died in vain.[18]

Arminius then goes on to deal with the question: whether or not sin cohabits with the Anointed One in those who are regenerated? This is further complicated especially when the regenerate person is called a Temple of the Holy Spirit.[19] Therefore, sin cannot dwell in the heart of a believer whose Lord of his life is Jesus the Anointed One. Sin will only attempt to enter if the one inside is too weak to resist. Jesus used an excellent illustration on this when He said that no man enters a strong man’s house and takes away his belongings unless he first ties up the strong man. Only then will he be able to take things from his house.[20] Arminius states that sin does not dwell in those who are “dead to sin,”[21] and “in whom the Anointed One is alive” in their hearts. That’s why Paul could say here in verse twenty, “I was put up on the cross to die with the Anointed One. I no longer live. the Anointed One lives in me. The life I now live in this body, I live by putting my trust in the Son of God. He was the One Who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

Yet Arminius goes on to say that for him, the Apostle Paul was not been speaking about himself, but took upon himself the personality of a man who lives to sin, and in whom sin lives, dwells, and operates. And even when the Anointed One and the Holy Spirit come in to dwell, sin does not voluntarily move out and take up residence somewhere else. So, no one says that no sin is in the regenerate believer; it’s already on the record that to be secure in one’s position, but not secure enough in order to reign supreme. They are two different things. It’s the one who rises up and takes command and rules and reigns in one’s life that will be the victor over other spirits trying to live there. That’s why it is so important to surrender one’s will, heart, mind, body, and spirit to the Lordship of the Anointed One and the controlling power of the Holy Spirit in order to defeat sin.[22] That’s why when the Son of God came down in human form to live on earth, the devil was not forced to leave and occupy another planet. He remained in order to the world to see who had power over whom. So, when Jesus rose from the dead it was clear who the victor was.

[1] Peter Lombard: On Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit.

[2] Matthew 5:43; See Leviticus 19:18

[3] Deuteronomy 28:9-12

[4] Ibid. 27:26

[5] Robert of Melun: On Galatians, op. cit., loc cit.

[6] Thomas Aquinas: On Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit.

[7] Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on Galatians, loc. cit.

[8] Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theological, Vol. 5, Part (3)-Question (1)-Article (4), 15

[9] Chrysostom: De Compunctione Cordis, ii, 3 in Latin

[10] Thomas Aquinas, op. cit., Part (3)-Question (1)-Article (4)-Objection (3), p. 15

[11] Ibid. Part (3)-Question (47)-Article (2), p. 639

[12] John 10:18

[13] Ibid. 19:30

[14] Ibid. 14:31

[15] Colossians 2:16-17

[16] See Psalm 68:5

[17] Ibid. Part (3)-Question (47)-Article (2)-Response/Objection (1), p. 640

[18] Jakob Arminius: op. cit., Vol. 2. para 11, p. 280

[19] 1 Corinthians 6:19

[20] Mark 3:27

[21] Romans 6:2

[22] Jakob Arminius: op. cit., Vol. 2, pp. 265-266

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CALLED TO LIVE IN FREEDOM

9526a07d9f8686ec5667a96cad064ff6

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

by Dr. Robert R. Seyda

PAUL’S LETTER TO THE GALATIAN CONGREGATIONS OF BELIEVERS

CHAPTER TWO (Lesson XLII)

When Paul found out that his friends in Ephesus were downhearted over his being in prison, he wrote and told them how he prayed every day for their strength to remain faithful with the help of the Holy Spirit. He also prayed that they would discover the enormous width and length, height and depth of the Anointed One’s love for them.[1] That’s because Paul credited the power of God being in his life as the reason why he was able to keep going.[2] And this was not a short-term factor. It was something he could count on not only as long as he was alive but also long after he went to his rest in the Anointed One.[3] That’s why the Apostle Peter told his readers that if we are going to live like the Anointed One, we should be ready to die like the Anointed One.[4]

So, it is not that we live now just to enjoy life from a new perspective on our own. Although we still occupy the same physical body, we are alive spiritually and living spiritually because of our decision to accept the Anointed One as our Lord and Master. As Paul would tell the Romans, the same faith that brought us into union with the Anointed One kept us in union with Him. So this new life we live is based on our trust in Him.[5] Paul made sure the Corinthians understood that he was not telling anyone how they should live, that goes to the Anointed One who is living in them.[6] That’s because our lives must be lived by faith not by what we see.[7] However, don’t be afraid to live by faith. Paul said he learned that he could do anything the Anointed One asked him to do because the Lord would give him the strength to do it.[8]

No one should doubt their faith in the Anointed One because of His faith and loyalty to them. Jesus’s message to His disciples is the same for us today, “I, the Messiah, did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give My life as a ransom for many.[9] With His promises and His commitment to us, there is nothing we may face in life that we are unable to overcome with His power abiding in us.[10] After all, He gave His all for us so why can’t we give our all for Him?[11] Jesus never told something that wasn’t true, and God thereby gave Him all power over all things.[12] This then will make us not only winners but undefeated winners for the Anointed One’s sake to the Glory of God the Father.[13]

Early church scholar Marius Victorinus focuses on the fact that now it is possible to see Paul as speaking of two laws – one of Moses, the other of the Anointed One – so he points out how for him as a Christian the Law of Moses is a dead manuscript while the Law of the Anointed One is a living document. But Paul may also be seen as doing what both he and the Savior Himself often did so that he speaks of two laws because it is in itself, as it were, twofold: one thing when it is understood morally and another when it is understood spiritually. It was Paul’s way of saying that only the spiritual part of the Law of Moses is alive to him. The part containing instructions on rites, rituals, ceremonies, circumcision, and holy days no longer applies. Now, instead of living just to perform the good works the Law requires, he is alive in the Anointed One who is the fulfillment of all that the Law demanded for salvation. As Victorinus sees it, in order for someone to live for God is that they understand those precepts contained in the law not as ceremonial but as spiritual, that is, what it means to be circumcised of the heart and what the true Sabbath is.[14]

Ambrose Bishop of Milan takes Paul’s words here about being crucified in the Anointed One which means that he no longer lives but the Anointed One lives in him, puts it this way: “It is not I, who once ate from the earth [like Adam]. Not I who was once grass, as all flesh is grass, but the Anointed One who lives in me. That is, there lives that living bread which came from heaven, there lives wisdom, there lives righteousness, and there lives the resurrection.[15]

Then, early church preacher Chrysostom in his insightful homily on this section tells us that what Paul is saying here may be viewed in two ways: either we follow the law of grace which Paul speaks of, or we follow the law of works, of which he says, that this part of the Law no longer applies to him. In other words, it is no longer valid as a guide to salvation. So, there is no need for him to fear being in violation of the Law of Works. How is this so? Moses says, speaking of the Anointed One, “Adonai will raise up for you a prophet like me from among yourselves, from your own kinsmen. You are to pay attention to Him.”[16]  Therefore, those who do not obey Him, transgress the Law because He is the fulfillment and completion of the Law. But Chrysostom notes how Paul refers to his relationship to the Law of Works, He does not say, “the Law is dead to me,” but, “I am dead to the Law.” This means, that his old-self is like a dead corpse which cannot obey the commandments of the Law. So, it doesn’t make sense to require anyone that is dead to obey the law?[17]

Jerome, one of the earliest scholars and translators, makes an interesting comment on verse twenty. He states that Judas Iscariot and the priests, with the princes, handed Jesus over, and Pilate, to whom He was finally handed over, handed Him over again. But the Father handed Him over that He might save the abandoned world. Jesus gave Himself, that he might do the Father’s will. But Judas and the priests and elders of the people and Pilate unwittingly handed over their lives to death.[18]

Then Augustine of Hippo takes Paul’s words as saying that he is happy not to be where he once was. Like the human spirit, holding tight to the Spirit of God, struggles against the sinful tendencies of the flesh that is, against itself and on its own behalf, exhibit impulses that are natural to humanity, whether in the body or in the soul. These continue in the believer because their inherent feebleness does not allow them to practice the discipline necessary for the sake of obtaining salvation on their own. So, the believer who does not live according to their inherited human nature says with Paul, “I live, yet not I, but the Anointed One lives in me.” For where I am not, I am happier to be where I am.  Consequently, when any immoral impulse arises according to one’s old sinful nature, to which they who serve the law of God with their mind do not consent, they may now say this: “Now I am not the one doing that.”[19] [20]

Ambrosiaster, whom we referenced earlier, responds to what Paul is saying here about dying to the law this way: The person who dies is set free from the law, allowing them to live for God. They go from being a slave to the Law to become a servant of the Anointed One.[21]  And when Paul talks about being crucified with the Anointed One, Ambrosiaster sees this dying to the Law as Paul being nailed to the cross of the Anointed One because by walking in His footsteps he is not bound by any desire of the world.  By living for God, he appears to be dead to the world, for whoever does not do worldly things is dead to the world. There is nothing unclear in saying that the Anointed One lives in the person delivered from death by faith. By granting a pardon for sin to someone who is worthy of death, the Anointed One dwells in them, for it is by His help that such a person is rescued from death.[22]  As profound as these statements are, I wonder if the average churchgoer today would understand what this astute Catholic scholar said back in 366 AD?

Haimo of Auxerre draws these insights out of Paul’s words, “It is no longer I who live.” He was surely alive in a very basic physical sense, yet sinful tendencies no longer controlled him. Instead, that most savage persecutor in him was annihilated and put to death, while the most devout preacher was living within him. That’s why Paul could say with joy, truly the Anointed One lives and reigns in me through faith and through all the virtues of the Anointed One. So why would he want to nullify the grace of God, that is to say, why would he spurn faith of the Anointed One, the Gospel, and the remission of sins? They were all given freely. For if righteousness comes through the Law, that is, if the Law was able to justify, then the Anointed One died in vain and His passion was neither advantageous nor detrimental to any cause.[23]

Later in church history, Bruno the Carthusian offers this insight: We should note that Paul is not saying that he “abandoned” but rather that he “died” to the Law. In other words, the Law’s power over him was destroyed because it is impossible for him, a dead man, to ever return to obeying the Law because the Law offers no return from death to life. The reason he died to the Law was so that he might live for God through Grace. Paul could say that the Law abandoned him. But now he lives for God through faith since he does not depend on the Law to guide him. That is why Paul says I was crucified upon the cross of the Anointed One, that is, I focus my mind through the power of the Anointed One’s cross so that I will refuse any opportunity to be guilty of any violation of the Law by allowing my sinful tendencies to take control of my life again.

For Bruno, Paul is announcing to the Romans that he died on the cross of the Anointed One for the glory of God who crucified the Anointed One for him. Through the power of this cross, we are able to say “No” to sin. If the Anointed One so willed, He might choose some other form of death, but He wanted it this way so that His very manner of death would not lack sacred meaning. He signified this by affixing His own body, in keeping with being a human to the cross so that through His suffering and death it would give power to those following Him to endure the same. For just as He chose not to extend His crucified members to perform certain actions, so on that cross He crucified His humanity to obtain full righteousness before the Father. This means, that as long as one does not defy the faith of the Anointed One, they cannot fall away into acts of unrighteousness.[24]

[1] Ephesians 3:14-19

[2] Colossians 1:29

[3] 1 Thessalonians 5:10-11

[4] 1 Peter 4:1-2

[5] Romans 1:17

[6] 2 Corinthians 1:24

[7] Ibid. 5:7

[8] Philippians 4:13

[9] Matthew 20:28 – The Living Bible

[10] Romans 8:37

[11] Titus 2:14

[12] Matthew 28:18-20

[13] Romans 8:37

[14] Marius Victorinus: On Galatians, op. cit., p. 32

[15] Ambrose: On Paradise 76, in Galatians op. cit., p. 32

[16] Deuteronomy 18:15 – In his Tzror Hamor, Abraham Saba contends that this reference is to Jeremiah, p.1913

[17] Chrysostom: On Galatians, Homily 2:21

[18] Jerome: On Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit., p. 33

[19] Romans 7:17

[20] Augustine: On Continence 29, In Galatians, op. cit., p. 32

[21] Ambrosiaster: On Galatians, Ancient Christian Texts, op. cit., p. 13

[22] Ibid. pp. 14ff

[23] Haimo of Auxerre, Commentary on Galatians, loc. cit.

[24] Bruno the Carthusian, Commentary on Galatians, loc. cit.

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