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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SERENDIPITY FOR SATURDAY

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RUNNING WITHOUT GETTING WEARY

Glenn Cunningham was just 7 years old when he nearly died in an explosion that killed his brother. He had gone to his one-room schoolhouse on the Indiana prairie with his several siblings one cold January morning. Finding the school empty and cold, Glenn’s brother Floyd started to light a fire in the small coal stove. Floyd didn’t know the stove had some hot coals in it from the previous night’s community meeting, or that the Kerosene can really contain gasoline. Fire exploded out of the stove as soon as Floyd began pouring the fuel. Flames burned Floyd terribly and reached Glenn’s legs as he stood nearby. They both ran the two miles home through the snow and were put to bed while the other children went to find their mother.

The doctor that attended Glenn and Floyd told their parents that Floyd would not live – the burns were too severe. But Glenn would probably live unless infection set in. Either way, the doctor warned the family that Glenn would never walk again. His legs were useless now. But Glenn didn’t want to be a burden on his family. After overhearing a neighbor tell his mother to face the fact that he would be an invalid for the rest of his life, Glenn made an important decision. He would walk again. Fortunately, his mother believed him when he tearfully told her this. And Glenn resolved to walk again, no matter how much it hurts or how hard it was to do. He would repeat, “I’ll walk!  I’ll walk,” whenever he’d lose courage.

After his legs healed, Glenn started to work on walking. His first hurdle was standing, then moving. He would stand up, holding onto a kitchen chair, pushing it slowly before him.  He called that ‘walking’ and practiced until he was too tired to continue. Later he got outside and walked along the fence, holding on, so he didn’t fall. His legs were twisted, and he seemed to walk ‘crooked.’ He was just glad he was walking! His favorite scripture was: “But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.[1]

Soon he was grabbing the tail of the family mule when they went for water. He’d try to stay up with the mule as he strolled along. And he’d play with his siblings however he could. When he was able to go outdoors, his dad assigned him chores again. It was great for Glenn to be useful!  Glenn was walking! Now he set his sights to running. After all, he wasn’t yet 10 years old and running as part of being a kid, part of playing with friends. Besides, it hurt less to run than walk. Glenn said that walking felt like daggers in his feet, running felt better. All the while, Glenn kept massaging his scarred, twisted legs and continued to try to run. If his legs were stretched out by massaging first, he could run pretty well. His legs didn’t seem so twisted, and only infrequently would they just give out from under him.

Glenn’s family moved a lot as they tried to make a living as farmers. After moving to another small town, he found himself a mile from the school. Most kids that lived that far brought lunch, but Glenn ran home to eat. That was good for his legs. Glenn cemented in his mind that he wanted to become a doctor like his grandfather and that he wanted to run in the Olympics. He had some trouble with his schoolwork and getting credit for 4th grade, and missed all of the 5th grade after they moved to Colorado. His hopes of going to college to become a doctor were a longshot. But nevertheless, he had been walking, and now he was running! He kept his hopes alive, and when they moved back to Elkhart, Indiana, he got back into his studies even while working.

Amazingly, with no toes on his left foot and scarred legs, Glenn also played on his high school football team! He enjoyed all sports, knowing that with some massage and stretching, he could now do what most other kids did – run and play! His rehabilitation amazed everyone, but Glenn didn’t make a big deal out of it. Most people didn’t even realize he conquered so much to be there.

Glenn made it to college, refusing to accept a scholarship to attend. Instead, he worked his way through. He didn’t want to owe anyone anything. He ran on the track team, gaining the attention of the coach. Glenn ran so fast that they thought he’d be able to break the 4-minute mark. His best time was 4:04 set in 1938. Remember that Roger Bannister finally broke the 4-minute mile in 1954. Glenn ran in the 1932 Los Angeles and in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, as he had dreamed as a boy. He won Silver in the 1500-meter race in Berlin. He retired from running in 1940 after the Olympics were canceled due to the war. Many still consider him the most significant American miler of all time.

Eventually, he became a doctor, married and raised a family of 10 children. He and his wife created a home for wayward boys that helped thousands of boys with dashed dreams reach them. For years he was a motivational speaker. So, we can see how the power of God’s Word can work when that power is tapped into with resolve and commitment. As the Apostle Paul so courageously said, “I can do all things through the power of Christ who gives me the strength.”[2] – Dr. Robert R Seyda

[1] Isaiah 40:31

[2] Philippians 4:13

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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 CHURCHES

CHAPTER FOUR (Lesson XV)

Now, says John Wesley, the testimony of the Spirit of God must, in the very nature of things, come before the testimony of our own spirit. We must be holy in heart and life before we can be conscious that we are indeed that way. But we must love God before we can be holy at all, this being the root of all holiness. Now, we cannot love God until we know He loves us: “We love Him because He first loved us.[1] And we cannot know His love for us until His Spirit gives witnesses to our spirit that we are loved. Till then, we cannot believe it, nor can we say, “The life which I now live, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.[2] Then Wesley shares the inspiring words from an old Methodist hymn that goes:

No one can truly say that Jesus is the Lord
unless thou take the veil away
and breathe the living Word.

Then, only then we feel

Our interest in His blood,

And cry, with joy unspeakable,

Thou art my Lord, my God![3]

Since, therefore, the testimony of His Spirit must preach the love of God and all holiness in sequence, it must precede our own consciousness of it being a reality.[4]

Adam Clarke (1760-1851) feels that the reader must understand that by Paul telling the believers as children of God they are permitted to refer to Him as Father, that this be coupled with Paul’s other references to Jesus as the Son of God and the Holy Spirit of God, as clearly providing the “most satisfactory evidence that God the Father, the Son, and the Spirit, became the portion of every believer.”[5]  Clarke also invites us to look into his commentary on this in the Gospel of Mark, which reads as follows:

Whereby we cry, Abba, FatherThe introduction of the words here shows that the persons in question offered the strongest evidence of the excellence of the state in which they stood; they knew that they were thus adopted, and they knew this by the Spirit of God which was given them on their adoption; and let me say, it was unknowable any other means. The Father who adopted them was seen by no mortal eye, and the transaction is purely spiritual in nature, and transacted in heaven, can be known only by God’s supernatural testimony of it upon the earth. It is a matter of such solemn importance to every Christian soul that God in his mercy is pleased not to leave it to conjecture, assumption, or inductive reasoning; but attests it by his own Spirit in the soul of the person whom he adopts through the Anointed One Jesus. It is the grand and most observable case in which the communication is kept up between heaven and earth. Genuine believers in the Anointed One Jesus are not left to conjectures or speculation of critical clergy or critics. They receive the facts and the testimony of its existence immediately from God Himself. And if such testimony of one’s spiritual status was not given in this manner, no person could have their assurance of salvation that gives rise to confidence and love. If any believer’s acceptance with God is conditional, then their confidence must be the same. Their love for God must be unconditional, their gratitude unconditional, and their obedience also. If God forgave me of my sins, then I should love Him, and I should be grateful, and I should testify this gratitude by obedience. But who does not see that these must necessarily depend on them if in the first case, all this uncertainty and the perplexities necessarily resulting from it, God precluded this by sending the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, by which we cry, Abba, Father: and thus our adoption into the heavenly family is testified and ascertained to us in the only way in which it can possibly be done, by the direct influence of the Spirit of God. Remove this from Christianity, and it is a dead letter.[6]

In Paul’s day, slaves were never permitted to refer to their master with the term Father. They gave that privilege only to their children. Not only that but when a child calls out, “Father,” or “Daddy,” as we say today, the father knows immediately whether the call is for his attention or they need help. There existed no place under Jewish ceremonial law where such permission is outlined. After all, only a priest was allowed near the altars, and only the High Priest was allowed behind the veil into the Holy of Holies. No wonder it ripped in two when Jesus cried, “It is finished!” Once more, what were these Galatian believers thinking? As Paul saw it, they weren’t thinking at all. I can almost hear Paul take a deep breath, as he continues to dictate: “You’re not servants anymore; you are God’s children! And since you are now His children, you’re in His last will and testament as joint heirs to His kingdom!

John Brown (1784-1858) tells an interesting story that makes his comments on Galatians all the more interesting.[7] So here on the subject of sonship and servanthood in verses six and seven, Brown feels that Paul is not talking about one individual, but of the church as a whole. We see the change in this verse where he says to the Galatians, that because they are God’s sons, God sent the Spirit of His Son into their hearts, and it is the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So, the term “sons” is obviously to be understood as equivalent to grown-up sons who reached the age of accountability and, therefore, eligible to receive their inheritance. And this was the intended purpose of their being adopted as sons in order to become mature children able to handle all that God prepared for them.

Once they make the transition into sonship, they are no longer to be treated as servants who cannot claim any inheritance since that goes only to those who are sons and daughters of God. And the evidence that their servanthood status is over and that the Spirit within them witnesses to their sonship with God, is that the Spirit calls out, “Abba, Father!” In Brown’s mind, merely being adopted and becoming sons and daughters is still not enough, it is only when they exhibit the maturity of being grown-up sons and daughters that the Holy Spirit calls God, Abba, Father.[8] Brown does not say it here, but the implication is that the needed evidence of maturity as children of God is seen in the Fruit of the Spirit.

John Edmunds (1801-1874) says that because we are God’s children,[9] not just anyone, He wanted to give us proof of our adoption. He wanted to give us something that appealed to our own feelings. That way, we could sense in our hearts the assurance of being in the family of God. Edmunds sees one of the best ways to experience this blessed assurance is through baptism. Let that be a symbol for your adoption. You go down in the water as a believer, but you come up as one of His children as in a new birth. Once God sees His Spirit dwelling in you, He wants to make it permanent by sealing His hold on you. This way, we can see that first God made us His children through faith, then sent His Spirit to live in us as gift announcing our adoption into His family.[10] We should take this as an illustration rather than a doctrine in order to help us grasp the concept of adoption into God’s family.

Greek word study expert Marvin Vincent (1834-1922) takes special notice here of what Paul says about why God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts. Since there are not three Holy Spirits (the Father’s, the Son’s, and the Spirit Himself), we must understand the presence of the Spirit as the Divine force which animated Jesus in His human life, and in Him as the risen Anointed One. The Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of the Anointed One by Paul when he wrote the Romans,[11] where he uses Spirit of God, Spirit of Messiah as interchangeable terms. The phrase “Spirit of Jesus Messiah” found only in his letter to the Philippians.[12] Then in John’ Gospel, the Messiah is represented as dispensing the Spirit.[13] He is also fully endowed with the Spirit:[14] He sends the Spirit from the Father to the disciples, and He is the source of the Spirit’s testimony.[15] The Greek noun Paraclete (Divine Comforter) is given in answer to the Messiah’s prayer.[16] The Messiah identifies His own coming and presence with those of the Spirit.[17] Paul identifies him personally with “the Spirit.”[18] [19]

August H. Strong (1836-1899) in his Systematic Theology, comments on Paul’s teaching about fatherhood, servanthood, and sonship. As he sees it, from the past, even until today, being a son, or even a daughter, is a fundamental part of any family. But when it comes to the family of God, the actual realization of sonship is possible through God’s only Son, the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth. So what Paul is saying here in chapter four in the first seven verses indicates universal sonship of humankind through Adam in which as children, they do not differ from a bondservant although they were meant to be the future heir of everything God created. But real sonship is only possible through adoption as sons.

Strong goes on to say that because all humans are naturally children of God by creation, it does not follow that all humankind will be saved. Many who are by human nature sons of God are not spiritually sons of God; they are only “servants” who “are stuck in their bodily house forever.”[20] God is their Father, but they must yet to “become” his children.[21] What I hear Strong saying is that we are all descendants of the first human, Adam, who was created by God to love and honor Him. But sin caused him to be evicted from the Garden of Eden to live like all other life forms which needed to search for food and procreate to enlarge their number. It was only when God sent His only Son to also become a human being (the second Adam), to lift that curse from all who believe. So instead of remaining as stewards of God in their home here on earth to take care of the earth,[22] they were given the opportunity of becoming children of God whose final destination is in heaven to be with God eternally.[23]

[1] Ibid. 4:19

[2] Galatians 2:20

[3] Spirit of Faith, Come Down, by Charles Wesley, United Methodist Hymnal Number 332, Stanza Two

[4] The Works of John Wesley: op. cit., Vol. 5, Sermon 11, Discourse 2, pp. 187-191

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

[6] Ibid. Commentary on Romans 8:15

[7] Early one morning in 1738, as a sixteen-year-old shepherd boy with home woven clothes and bare feet, stood at the counter of Alexander McCulloch’s bookshop in the university city of St. Andrews. The surprised shopkeeper was even more astonished when he heard the youth ask for a Greek New Testament. “Boy,” exclaimed the Professor of Greek who happened to be in the shop at that moment, “if you can read that book, I’ll give it to you for free.” Soon a rather thick leather volume was in the lad’s hands, and to the astonishment of all present, he read a passage and won his prize. By that afternoon, John Brown himself was back shepherding his flock on the hills of Abernathy, having walked some forty-eight miles since the previous evening to obtain his treasure. From the Puritan magazine: The Banner of Truth

[8] John Brown: On Galatians, op. cit., p. 198

[9] See 1 Corinthians 12:15

[10] John Edmonds: On Galatians, op. cit., p. 59

[11] Romans 8:9, 10

[12] Philippians 1:19

[13] John 3:34

[14] See Mark 1:10; John 1:32

[15] John 15:26; 16:7, 9, 10, 15

[16] Ibid. 14:16

[17] Ibid. 14:17, 18

[18] 2 Corinthians 3:17

[19] Marvin Vincent: Word Studies on Galatians, op. cit., p. 137

[20] John 8:3

[21] Matthew 5:45

[22] Genesis 1:28

[23] August H. Strong: Systematic Theology, op. cit., Vol. 2, p. 188

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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 CHURCHES

CHAPTER FOUR (Lesson XIV)

Medieval church scholar Nicholas of Lyra (1210-1270) tells us that for him, the two terms [Abba and Patēr] are placed next to each other here to signify the same thing. The first term – Abba (Papa), is Hebrew or, more precisely, Aramaic, for that was the language that the Hebrew people commonly spoke at that time. The Aramaic and Hebrew languages are very similar. The second term – Patēr (Father), is Greek, although the Latin’s also use it to signify the fact that God the Father unites in faith converts from both Judaism and paganism since they are joined together by their confession in faith.[1]

This same scholar says that it was on this basis, the Apostle then infers the conclusion in what he says next in verse seven. As Nicholas sees it, the Apostle is clearly rebuking the Galatians for their ingratitude. After all, it was through their adoption as children of God that they were liberated from the servitude of the Law. Their ingratitude was immense. It led them to accept this servitude to the Law as if it were a gift from God, yet it did nothing to further their salvation. The ingratitude of the Gentiles, who converted from idolatry, was even greater than that of the Jews because the Gentiles were not nourished in the legal observances as were those who converted from Judaism.[2]

Chrysostom sees this as a stern warning to the Jewish believers in Galatia who made the switch, and, for the non-Jews, it was an unconscionable decision. He sees Paul’s message this way: If we were not first made His children, we could not have called Him Father. If then, grace has made us freedmen and freedwomen instead of servants or slaves, adults instead of children, heirs and siblings instead of aliens, is it not utter absurdity and stupidity to desert this grace, and to turn away backward?[3] We can clearly see how this may also apply to any believer today who once freed from sin’s bondage, who, through temptation or ignorance, goes back into the darkness of sin, giving up their freedom paid for through the death of the Anointed One on the cross.

Anglican Bible commentator John Trapp (1601-1669), starts his comments on verse six by saying: “God has no stillborn children.” Paul was no sooner converted than he began to pray. Not only that, but he also had a vision seeing Ananias coming to lay hands on him.[4] This shows that the spirit of grace is a spirit of supplication.[5] And when God sends this spirit of prayer into our hearts it is a sure sign that He means to answer our desires; like as when we encourage our children to ask, and so they come and civilly say, “I pray you, father, bestow this upon me,” we do not comply. However, when they come politely and plead, “Please, please, Daddy, can I have this?” it’s hard to say, no. Likewise, when we go to God and cry with affection “Abba, Father,” those are the words given to us to use as soon as we are made children of the Most High God.[6]

William Burkitt (1650-1703) raises an important topic in his comments on verse six here in this chapter. He points out that Paul says here that the “Spirit of God’s Son,” was sent by God to live in our hearts. How is that different from the Spirit God sent to land on Jesus’ shoulder after his baptism by John the Baptizer? Was it a different Spirit that led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan? Was the Spirit Jesus breathed on His disciples and told them to receive it a dissimilar Spirit? Or is there another Spirit He said He would ask the Father to send to us a Comforter that arrived on the Day of Pentecost?

Theologians struggled over this for centuries, with some becoming Unitarians, others Trinitarians, and others Multiple-Personality-Arians. Instead of God in three persons, they believe that God possesses three personalities. Since the human mind is incapable of understanding all about God at any level of intellectual competitiveness, it’s hard to explain the unexplainable. But Burkitt starts by saying that the Spirit is not a quality or operation, but a divine force with essence and subsistence, or else the phrase of being sent could not be properly applied to Him.[7]

Let me explain it the way I did long ago when asked by a seminary student to explain the Trinity. I started by describing the smallest unit of matter in our universe, which is the “atom.” The atom is made up of protons, neutrons, and electrons. The protons and the neutrons make up the center of the atom called the nucleus, and the electrons fly around above the nucleus in a small cloud. The electrons carry a negative charge, and the protons carry a positive charge. In a typical (neutral) atom, the number of protons and the number of electrons is equal. If you separate any one of these particles, it ceases to be an atom. If you make one more massive than the others, it will not be a stable atom. And yet, altogether, they are called an atom. They never leave each other, they work together in perfect harmony, by touching the atom you touch them all. So, no matter where the Father is, the Son and the Spirit are also present. And wherever the Son is the Father and Spirit are present. And, likewise, wherever the Spirit is the Father and Son are present. How does all this work? You can ask God someday.

Church of England priest William Law (1686-1761) who lost his position at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, because he refused to take an oath of allegiance to any king other than the King of Kings, wrote that when Paul said, “I can do all things through the Anointed One who strengthens me” he found that nothing hinders such faith except a person’s total disregard for the presence of the Anointed One within them. They are choosing a religion of self, of intensive learning, and seeking worldly recognition rather than becoming a “fool for the Anointed One.[8] Instead, they should renounce all such things to please themselves and others, give little thought to earthly fame and fortune, and desire nothing, know nothing, and seek nothing but that which the Spirit of God and the Anointed One knows, wills, and seeks in them.

William Law also says that in making such a commitment and in it alone lies the Christian’s full and dependable power of overcoming self, the devil, and the world. The Christians, seeking and turning to anything else, to be led and inspired by the one Spirit of God and the Anointed One, will give rise to a form of Christianity that in the sight of God deserves no other title than a spiritual Babylon, a spiritual Egypt, and a carnal Sodom, a scarlet harlot, a devouring beast, and red dragon. For all these names belong to all those however well-educated, and to all churches in which the spirit of this world exhibits any greater or lesser share of power. This was the fall of the whole church soon after the apostolic ages.

That’s why Mr. Law believes that every attempt to bring reformation to such a church, inspired by religious learning and supported by any power outside the church, will make little difference. In fact, it may even make things worse. That is until all churches, surrendering their will, wisdom, and promotion, seek for no other reforming and transforming power than that of the Spirit of God which converted sinners, publicans, harlots, Jews, and heathens, into a holy apostolic church at the beginning of Christianity, a church which knew they were of God, that they belonged to God, by that Spirit which He gave them, to operate in them.

As Paul told the Romans, you are not ruled by your sinful selves. You are governed by the Spirit if that Spirit of God really lives in you. But whoever in whom the Spirit of the Anointed One does not dwell, do not belong to the Anointed One. And that this is the state to which God appointed, and called all the Christians, that’s why Paul declares here in verse six since you are now God’s children, He sent the Spirit of His Son into your hearts. The Spirit cries out, “Abba, Father.” It’s as if the Apostle said, nothing in you can cry, or pray to God as your Heavenly Father, but the Spirit of His Son the Anointed One resident in you. Which is also as accurate of every inclination in the soul towards God. Mr. Law says there is so much of it, like that of a woman striving to give birth to a child. Only here in Galatians, Paul is wanting to birth a soul in the Anointed One.[9]

Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) reflects on what Paul says here in verse seven about believers no longer being slaves of the Law, but children of God. He is all for believers being promoted and advancing in the world in all arts and sciences, as long as they do so as children of God. It results from the excellent and glorious degree of honor and dignity they gained by being adopted by God as His own. What infinite glory and incomprehensible majesty and excellence that brings every believer because their relationship with God is not so personal and honorable.

Edwards goes on to say, it is a great honor to be a servant of God. John the Baptizer said that although he was a servant of God, the One coming after him was so great that he was not worthy to kneel down and loosen His sandals. But John was a servant under the Law. The Anointed One came so that those who believe in Him might become God’s sons and daughters, even as He was God’s Son. And by being sons and daughters, believers become joint-heirs with the Anointed One of all God’s glory and riches. And how do believers know they are God’s children? His indwelling Spirit testifies to that reality.[10] No wonder the Apostle John exclaimed his admiration for the love God the Father bestowed upon believers to be called sons and daughters of God.[11] And what a privilege that we now are able to freely call Him, Abba, Father. So, what were the Galatians thinking by moving out of God’s house as children into the servant’s quarters under a slave master – the Law?[12]

John Wesley (1703-1791) in one of his sermons on Romans 8:16 about the witness of the Spirit that we are God’s children, says that anyone who truly believes that the Scriptures are the Word of God, cannot doubt what Paul says about the privileges of being children of God. This is something believers must explain and defend as the truth. If they don’t do so, then our religious faith will degenerate into mere formality, where they demonstrate a form of godliness but deny its power.[13] That’s why our outward witness is not enough; we must also contain the inner witness of the abiding Spirit.

Wesley points out that the Apostle John says that God gave us His testimony that as His children, we are given eternal life through Jesus the Anointed One His Son.[14] And God gave us His approval by giving His Spirit to dwell within us so that His Spirit ensures our spirit that this is so. As Wesley sees it, as soon as that witness is confirmed through sanctification, then the Fruit of the Spirit will begin to grow. Along with this, we can enjoy the honor of being able to call God our heavenly Father. And this is the core of Paul’s message here in verse six to the Galatians. That’s because His Spirit dwelling in our hearts cries out for us, “Abba,

[1] Nicholas of Lyra, op. cit.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Chrysostom, op. cit., loc. cit.

[4] Acts of the Apostles 9:11

[5] See Zachariah 12:10

[6] John Trapp: On Galatians, op. cit., p 582

[7] William Burkitt: On Galatians, op. cit., p. 322

[8] 1 Corinthians 4:10

[9] William Law: A Humble, Earnest, and Affectionate Address to the Clergy pp.23-24

[10] Romans 8:16-17

[11] 1 John 3:1

[12] Edwards, Jonathan. The Complete Works of Jonathan Edwards: op. cit., (Kindle Location 74961-74977).

[13] 2 Timothy 3:5

[14] 1 John 5:11 Father.

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CALLED TO LIVE IN FREEDOM

9526a07d9f8686ec5667a96cad064ff6

NEW TESTAMENT CRITICAL COMMENTARY

by Dr. Robert R. Seyda

PAUL’S LETTER TO THE GALATIAN CHURCHES

CHAPTER FOUR (Lesson XIII)

What the Apostle Paul wrote the Ephesians sure sounds a lot like what he said to the Romans when he scolded them by saying, don’t let your old sinful tendencies get a hold of you and tell you what to do. You are supposed to be doing what the Holy Spirit tells you to do if He is living in you. No person belongs to the Anointed One if His Spirit is not dwelling in them. You should not act like people who are owned by someone other than God. They are always afraid of failing. Instead, the Holy Spirit makes us God’s sons and daughters, we can call Him, “Papa, my Father.”[1]

Paul is able to say this because he believes in what the Scriptures say about how the first man, Adam, became a living soul.[2] But the last Adam (the Anointed One) is a life-giving Spirit.[3] In fact, the Apostle Peter says that the prophets tried to find out how to be saved. They told of the loving-favor that comes to mankind and wondered at what time and to what person this may happen. The Spirit of the Anointed One dwelling in them talked to them and told them to write about how the Anointed One will suffer, and about the grace that comes to all who believe.[4]

No doubt, the Apostle Paul got a hint of this when reading the scroll of Isaiah, where it is said: I will pour out My Spirit on your children and will bring good to your children’s children. They will grow like grass in the fields, and like poplar trees by the rivers. They will say, “I am the LORD’S.”[5] And God showed some frustration when He talked to Israel and Judah and said to them: you just call out to Me, saying, “Papa, our Father?” Didn’t you tell me that you’ve been my friend since you were a child?[6] The Lord reminded them of a time when He told them that He wanted to treat them as His own children. He wanted to give them a fertile land, a land more beautiful than any other nation, and then He thought they would call Him their “Father.[7] That’s why Paul was able to tell the Romans that now all of us can go to the Father through the Anointed One by way of the one Spirit.[8] And they do that by praying at all times as the Holy Spirit leads them to pray. Pray for the things that are needed, not wanted. So, they must watch and keep on praying. Not just for themselves, but all believers.[9]

That certainly opened the door for the writer of Hebrews to say that we now have a great high priest who went to live with God in heaven. He is Jesus, the Son of God. So let us continue to express our faith in Him. Jesus, as our high priest, is able to understand our weaknesses. When Jesus lived on earth, He was tempted in every way. He was tempted in the same ways we are tempted, but He never sinned. With Jesus as our high priest, we are free to come before God’s throne, where there is grace. There we receive mercy and kindness to help us when we need it.[10] Even the Apostle Jude echoed this truth by telling his readers to use their most holy faith to build themselves up even stronger. Pray with the help of the Holy Spirit.[11]

One thing the Jews were very particular about was inheritances. There were many rules governing how estates were distributed among the heirs. And none were more important to them than what God promised to Abraham and his children and their children. It all started when Yahweh spoke to Abram and told him, “Don’t be fearful, Abram, for I will defend you. And I will give you great blessings.”[12] Yahweh went on and told him that He was establishing His covenant between Himself and them, along with their descendants after them. Yes, generation after generation, as an everlasting covenant, to be their God and God for their descendants who follow them. He will give them and their descendants the land in which they now live as foreigners, all the land of Canaan, as their permanent possession.[13]

King David found a reason to say with confidence and assurance, the LORD Himself is my inheritance.[14] That’s why later on, the Psalmist and musician Asaph confidently sang, “My mind and body may fail, but God is the Rock for my mind and my portion forever.”[15] But when things did not go as well as expected, and they were invaded and conquered by the king of Babylon, God sent them good news when He said He would bring them back to this very city, so they may live in peace and safety. And they will still be His people, and He will be their God. And He will give them one heart and one mind to worship Him forever, for their own good and for the good of all their descendants. And He will make an everlasting covenant with them, promising never again to desert them but only to do them good. He will put a desire into their hearts to worship Him, and they will never leave Him. It will make Him happy to do good things for them and will replant them in the land He gave them great joy.[16]

These things may be running through Paul’s mind when he wrote to the Corinthians and told them, “You belong to the Anointed One, and the Anointed One belongs to God.”[17] And when he wrote them a second time he warned them against becoming too familiar with the world and their way of life. He asked why should God’s Temple and the temples of idols share anything in common? They are God’s temple, the home of the living God, because God said of them, “I will live in you and walk among you, and I will be your God, and you will be my people.” That is why the Lord told them to leave the heathens and their idols; have nothing to do with them; don’t get involved in their filthy activities, and I will welcome you and be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters.”[18]

Rabbi Moises Maimonides (1135-1204) gave a clearer interpretation of this restriction when he said that a person should not call a servant Papa Joe or a maidservant Mama Sarah lest this lead to an undesirable outcome and a blemish be placed on their lineage. Therefore, if some servants or maidservants were very distinguished personages, their reputations are well-known, and everyone in the community recognizes them and the children and servants of their master. For example, for the servants of the nasi[19] – it is permitted for the children of that household to refer to the servants by their names.[20] It is said that in Rabbi Gamaliel’s house, he and his family referred to the head servant as Father Tabi, and his wife as Mother Tabiatha. However, in the Mishnah, we read where possible referred to those by name who were what were called “freed servants” who decided to stay on and serve as part of the extended family.[21]

In examining what Paul says here in verse six about God sending the Spirit of His Son into our hearts to enable us to call Him Papa, Father, Thomas Aquinas is answering the specific question of whether each of the Divine Persons of the Trinity was able to assume human nature as Jesus did? Aquinas notes that a spiritual adoptive sonship is a peculiar form of natural sonship, but it takes place in us, by being chosen for such a relationship with the Father. The principle involved is seen as a gift of the Holy Spirit, who has the same love for us as He does His Only Son. It’s done by God sending the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, allowing us to call Him Papa, Father. And, therefore, even as by the Incarnation of the Son in becoming one of us, we receive adoption in the likeness of His Son. So, Aquinas sees all members of the Trinity involved in granting us this family relationship with God the Father. In so doing, all three become incarnate in us.[22]

John Gill tells us that the very learned Rabbi John Selden (1584-1654), England’s Chief Rabbi during the renaissance, thinks the Apostle Paul alludes to a custom among the Jews who allowed only those who were freed from servanthood, not ordinary servants nor handmaids, to call anyone Papa – Father or Imma – Mother.[23] This seems to be based upon a mistaken interpretation and rendering of a passage in the Talmud, where it says: It’s been taught elsewhere that male and female slaves are not called “Father so-and-so” or “Mother so-and-so,” even though in Rabban Gamaliel’s house, however, they were called “Father so-and-so” and “Mother so-and-so.”[24]

So when Paul said that only those who were freed from the slavery of the Law by the sacrifice and blood of the Lamb of God and offered to serve God out of love and dedication were allowed to do something that even the freed slave of a city mayor or head of the local council were given permission to do, they call God in heaven their Papa or Father, which is the reverse of the Jewish custom mentioned here.

Ambrosiaster feels that Paul is trying his best to get the Jewish believers to go from being known as the children of Israel and began to accept their status as children of God. As such, instead of finding synonyms or euphemisms to address God by calling Him LORD (Adonai) or HaShem (The Name), they called Him Father. And we can call Him Father as adults because that’s what Jesus told His disciples to do when they prayed to God. Ambrosiaster goes on to say that for the non-Jews, the same privilege applies because although they were never part of the children of Israel, they too are now the children of God through adoption, and therefore, are eligible as heirs through the Anointed One to all that God promised to Abraham.

But most of all, says Ambrosiaster, “It shows that the Father will give His children what He wants to give them out of His own possessions, and calls this gift their inheritance.”[25] And this was also at the heart of the Judaizers’ argument that salvation is earned, not given, while Paul made it clear that salvation is a gift from God that cannot be earned by man’s good works. So the next time you encounter someone who believes that salvation must be earned, asked them if they believe their eyesight was a gift or did they earn it, is their heartbeat a gift or did they earn it, and you can go on and on. Just as our sight, hearing, breathing, heartbeat, touch, taste, and feel are instilled in our being during conception and incubation in the womb, so our spiritual relationship with God is instilled in our hearts and minds at the moment of our new birth, made possible through the Anointed One.

[1] Romans 8:9, 15

[2]  Genesis 2:7

[3] 1 Corinthians 15:45

[4] 1 Peter 1:10-11

[5] Isaiah 44:3b-5a

[6] Jeremiah 3:4

[7] Ibid. 3:19

[8] Ephesians 2:18

[9] Ibid. 6:18

[10] Hebrews 4:14-16

[11] Jude 1:20

[12] Genesis 15:1

[13] Ibid. 17:7-8

[14] Psalm 16:5

[15] Ibid. 73:26 – Complete Jewish Bible

[16] Jeremiah 32:37b-41

[17] 1 Corinthians 3:23

[18] 2 Corinthians 6:16-18

[19] In the Jewish communities, an important person such as a town mayor or head of the local council or any such high official was referred to as a nasi.

[20] Moises Maimonides: Mishneh Torah, Sefer Mishpatim, Nachalot, Ch. 4, Sect. 5

[21] Mishnah: Nashim, Gittin, Ch. 4, sect. 4

[22] Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, op. cit., Vol. 5, Of the Mode of Union on the Part of the Person assuming, Part 3-Question 3- Article 5-Responses and Objections-2, p. 60

[23] Ioannis Seldeni (John Seldon): de Successionibus ad Leges Ebraeorum in Bona Defunctorum Liber Singularis in Pontificatum, Ex Officina Elfeviriorum, 1808, Ch. 4, p. 33

[24] Babylonian Talmud: Seder Zera’im, Masekhet Berakoth, folio 16b.

[25] Ambrosiaster, op. cit., loc, cit., p. 22

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CALLED TO LIVE IN FREEDOM

9526a07d9f8686ec5667a96cad064ff6

NEW TESTAMENT CRITICAL COMMENTARY

by Dr. Robert R. Seyda

PAUL’S LETTER TO THE GALATIAN CHURCHES

CHAPTER FOUR (Lesson XII)

Jewish Christian writer W. A. Liebenberg notes that some people take Paul’s statement here about Yeshua being under the Law even as all Jews were. These are those who believe that the phrase “under the Law” is a metaphor for a person committing a sin. But this isn’t true because while Yeshua was born under the Law, He did not commit sin. Yeshua was born under the Law and kept the Law to absolute perfection. Something no other Jew was able to do. For this reason, He is the Righteous One who is able to redeem those who were under the Law but condemned as sinners, held in bondage to the rudimentary moral rules of the world.[1] The most critical factor was that they could not bring themselves to give up the rites, rituals, regulations, and ceremonies of Judaism’s salvation by works, and embrace the crucifixion of the Messiah whose sacrifice covers all sin.

In one commentary, the writers deal with the concept of adoption in a very real and stark way. They point out that parents initiate the search for a child to adopt. They believe that it was God’s pleasure and will before creation to set His affections on us. He sought us out, we did not seek Him out. But there’s a big difference between what we know as physical adoption in our society and spiritual adoption in God’s economy. Earthly adoptions are often filled with emotion and often glamorized as selfless acts on the part of those who are well-off taking in an underprivileged child to enjoy the abundance of good things, they will offer them. As such, those being adopted are thought of as sweet, precious, innocent children from all over the world just waiting to be adopted by a loving family.

However, they say in the commentary, that when we look at what Paul said to the Ephesians about the people being adopted by God, how they were objects destined for His wrath because they followed the ruler of this world, Satan, gratifying the cravings of their sinful nature. Is that the kind of child, any of us, would want to adopt? Yet, says Paul, God was rich in mercy, and He loved us very much in spite of our pitiful condition. We were spiritually dead because of all we did against Him. But He gave us new life together with the Anointed One. And it was all because of God’s love, mercy, and grace.[2] [3]

In a book about adoption by Russell Moore, he gives a graphic scenario to consider when comparing earthly adoption to heavenly adoption. He says that we should imagine for a moment that we are adopting a child. We meet with the social worker in the last stage of the process, we’re told that this twelve-year-old kid has been in and out of psychotherapy since he was three. He persists in burning things and attempting repeatedly to skin kittens alive. The social worker gives a little family history. The boy’s family on his father’s side, going all the way back three generations, all compiled a history of violence, ranging from spousal abuse to serial murder. Each of them ended their life the same way, death by suicide – each found hanging from a rope of blankets in their respective prison cells.

Now ask yourself, says Moore, would you still want to adopt this boy? And if you adopted him, wouldn’t you keep your eye constantly as he played with your other children? Wouldn’t you watch enviously as he looks at the butcher knife on the kitchen counter? Would you dare leave the room as he watched a movie on television with your daughter, with the lights on low? Well, as Paul describes it, that’s how many believers were before they were rescued by adopting. As we can see again, that was only possible by the love, mercy, and grace of God through the death of the Anointed One who paid the price for our sins.[4] Is there any reason then that anyone would need to ask us, “Do you love God the Father? Do you love Jesus, His Son? Do you love God’s Holy Spirit?” Never, we should put everyone at ease by willingly declaring openly and loud how much we love them because they first loved us.

Don Garlington makes an interesting remark on the phrase “the fullness of time” here in verse four. As it relates to the minor child expecting the inheritance, he ties the child’s coming of age in verse two, with the coming of faith in chapter three, verses twenty-three through twenty-five. But rather than thinking of the container of time having been filled to the brim, we should think of it as being filled up to a particular mark and that it is still being steadily filled until one day it is completely filled.[5] And since it reached the mark where God sent His Son to be the Messiah and Savior of sinners, there is another line when God will send back His Son to resurrect all those who died in faith that He would return and those still living who also believe He is coming back to meet Him in the air. But there are other marks still left – the Millennial Reign of Messiah here on earth,[6] and the final destruction of all that is evil, including Satan and his hordes. Then a new heaven and new earth will appear for eternity.[7]

In a Final Covenant commentary from a Jewish perspective, we find the phrase “fullness of time” used as implying the coming of the Messiah.[8] They note that this did not come to the Apostle Paul by way of some new revelation. In fact, it was part of what he learned from his rabbinical teachers during his growing years and bar mitzvah. In one place, Rabbi Judah taught that whoever lived in Babylon during the exile will be accounted as living in Israel because of the promise in Zechariah.[9] But Rabbi Abaye states that they that live in Babylon recalled their traditional teaching that they would not endure the sufferings that would precede the coming of the Messiah.[10] And more is said about this in the Talmud concerning the times and conditions preceding the arrival of the Messiah.[11]

4:6-7 And now that we are His children, God sent the Spirit of the Anointed One, His Son, into our hearts. That’s why we now address Him as Father because He really is our Father. As a result, we are no longer under guardianship but free; no longer slaves but children, God’s own children. And since we are now His children, we stand to inherit everything that belongs to Him.

 The Aramaic Version of verse six reads, “God sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, who cries, Father, our Father,” for us. So, it is not we who call God “our Father,” but the Son’s Spirit within us. For without that Spirit, no person can call Him “Father.” We must keep in mind that in light of what Paul said in the previous verses, he is still speaking primarily to the Jewish contingent in the churches in Galatia. But as Paul closes this part of his discourse by emphasizing the benefits believers enjoy because of their elevated relationship with God the Father, it is aimed at the non-Jewish members as well.

It was more than just a judicial act or a legal matter that changed their status; it was a significant and critical change that took place in the heart. Under Mosaic Law, the vital principle of cooperation with Mosaic Law came from the person’s own carnal spirit. That’s why many of the original religious rituals and regulations became more and more complex as the human spirit tried to improve on their effectiveness and guaranteed outcome. You were looked at as a more pious and holy believer through Mosaic Law by carrying out even the smallest detail with precision.

Even today, some Christians attempt the same thing. Some are known to crawl on their knees from the church door to the altar, some even on shattered glass to show their utmost devotion, or taking communion every day, or using their prayer beads and prayer book to earn God’s grace. How might the Apostle Paul respond today to this salvation-by-one’s-own-efforts approach to God? But God effected a critical change. He replaced the carnal spirit with the Spirit of His Son. Since Paul mentions Father, Son, and Spirit, He spoke to the Gentiles concerning the Trinity. Since the Jews only accepted the Father and Spirit, Paul made sure they understood that the Spirit of the Father is also one with the Son, so they are three-in-One. Paul also clearly implies that the Spirit cannot be received from the Father until and unless one is already one with the Son.

So, you Judaizers, now do you get it? Since God gave you the same Spirit the Son is in union with, it allows you to approach God as His children, and use the reverent, tender, and affectionate language of which a child addressing their father with, why would you trade that for communicating with the Father through animal sacrifices, religious rituals, and ceremonies? What a joy to use the title “Father” that clearly identifies one as a child of God, a term that expresses warmth and togetherness, allowing us to confidently approach our God and address Him as a divine parent. When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, He used the same term, “Our Father.” Again, Paul’s inspiration speaks volumes when he indicates that we use this affectionate title when “calling out” to God.

Paul seems to follow the Aramaic text by telling the Romans that our hope never makes us ashamed because the love of God came into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who was gracefully given to us.[12] That allows the Spirit to call out to the Father for us. Whose voice will He listen to first, ours, or the Holy Spirit’s? Paul adds more to this by telling the Romans that they should not act like people who are owned by someone that is always afraid. Instead, the Holy Spirit makes us God’s children, so each of us can call out to Him,Father, my Father.” The Holy Spirit speaks to us and tells our spirit that we are children of the Most High God. If we are children of God, we will receive everything He promised us. We will share with the Anointed One all the things God gave to Him. But we must share His suffering if we are to share in His glory.[13]

Paul writes the Corinthians and gives them a similar message, only he refers to the indwelling Holy Spirit as God’s Mark or Seal on us as His property.[14] He tells the Ephesians the same thing.[15] But he also warns them, don’t make the Holy Spirit sad. God gave you His Spirit as proof that you belong to Him and that He will keep you safe until the day He makes you eternally free.[16] And the way believers cause the Holy Spirit grief is that they start lying to each other when they ought to tell their fellow Christians the truth. After all, we all belong to the same body. So, if you get angry, don’t let it become sinful hate. Get over your anger before the day is finished. Don’t let the devil start working in your life. Anyone who steals must stop it! They must work for what they expect to earn so they will obtain what they need and can still give to those who need help. Watch your talk! No curse words should be coming from your lips. Speak positive words. Your words will help others to grow as strong believers.[17]

[1] W. A. Liebenberg: On Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit., p. 74

[2] Ephesians 2:1-5

[3] Platt, David; Merida, Tony. Exalting Jesus in Galatians, op. cit., p. 77)

[4] Russell Moore: Adopted for Life, Published by Crossway, 2009, p. 27

[5] Don Garlington: On Galatians, op. cit., p. 118

[6] See Isaiah 2:2-3; 30:20-21; Zechariah 8:4; 1 Corinthians 15:52; 1 Peter 5:17; 2 Peter 3:9; Revelation 5:10

[7] Isaiah 65:17, 20; 66:22; Hebrews 12:26-27; 2 Peter 3:12-13; Revelation 21:1-4

[8] Cf. Mark 1:15; Ephesians 1:10

[9] Zechariah 2:11

[10] Babylonian Talmud: Seder Nashim, Masekhet Ketuboth, folio 111a

[11] Ibid. Masekhet Sanhedrin, folio 97a-97b

[12] Romans 5:5

[13] Ibid. 8:15-17

[14] 2 Corinthians 1:22

[15] Ephesians 1:13

[16] Ibid. 4:30

[17] Ibid. 4:25-29

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CALLED TO LIVE IN FREEDOM

9526a07d9f8686ec5667a96cad064ff6

NEW TESTAMENT CRITICAL COMMENTARY

by Dr. Robert R. Seyda

PAUL’S LETTER TO THE GALATIAN CHURCHES

CHAPTER FOUR (Lesson XI)

J. L. Nye (1883-1965), the Sunday school teacher who collected illustrations on certain Bible verses, tells this touching story that illustrates what Paul says here in verse six about our redemption. I have found that no matter how old a story may be, and this is certainly one of them, they always bring a spark of enlightenment to the soul. He tells us about a gentleman who happens to pass by a slave market and was deeply moved by the agony of a young slave-girl shaking with fear and with tears running down her dark brown cheeks. He approached her and asked tenderly why was she so frightened?

He learned that she was properly raised by her mother in a very loving atmosphere on a plantation with a kind owner. Now she was afraid that she might fall into the hands of a rough and relentless master. The gentleman asked her to stay where she was for a moment and walked away. He went to inquire about her price, paid it to the slave-trader, then placed the bill of sale in her hands with the words, “Now a free slave,” and signed with his signature. He told her that she was now free, and she could go back home a free person.

She watched this kind, generous gentleman walks away with a wave of his hand and smile on his face. She stood motionless for a minute or two, staring at the Bill of Sale and realizing that she was now free. Suddenly it dawned on her that she really was free, she could go home to be with her mother. But then it came to her that she didn’t even thank this man who bought her and set her free. But just saying thank you would not be enough of repayment for what he gave her. So, she started running after him. When she caught up to him, she embraced him. As others looked on in curiosity, she told them, “He redeemed me! He redeemed me! He set me free! Then looking up into the man’s face, she earnestly asked from the bottom of her heart: Will you let me be your servant? I want to be your servant!

Says Nye, if this is the response of a young slave girl who was redeemed and then set free, how much more should we serve Him who redeemed us from the slavery of sin, and we should be willing to do so freely out of love. Just think, He’s the one who redeemed us from sin’s bondage, certain death, and eternal separation from God.[1]

Lutheran theologian Paul E. Kretzmann (1883-1965) shares an interesting view on how Paul writes in such an exultant manner here in verse four when saying: “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, placed under the Law, in order that He might ransom those under the Law, that the sonship we might receive.” In the figure used by the Apostle Paul, time is regarded as a measure, or vessel, which is filled until it reaches the top. That means, when the time in that age of humanity reached the point determined by God ahead of time, then His great plan of love was put into action by Him.

By saying that God sent forth His Son, Paul implies that the Son was already with God, in His bosom, from eternity. That means, if He needed to be sent, He must be coming from there. It also indicates He was in existence before He arrived and became a man. Therefore, God sent His Son, produced out of His own divine essence, equal with the Father in power and honor, of the same substance, and yet a different person. The Son of God came into the world in a miraculous manner, born of a woman as a true, natural human being, with the flesh of her flesh. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born to a virgin named Mary.

Because of this divine wonder, He was placed under the Law, by an act of voluntary humility on His part. Unlike the ordinary human being, He was not subject to the demands of the Law, for He Himself was the Lawgiver. But God the Father subjected Him to His own Law, and the Messiah willingly submitted to this humiliation. His circumcision on the eighth day was a sign of this submission, whereby He openly declared that He took upon Himself the obligation to fulfill the Law, to bear the curse and the punishment of the Law. And His objective in doing so was to pay the ransom for every sinner’s deliverance from the power of the Law, which would have continued forever except for His coming.

Now, notes Kretzmann, although Paul refers especially to the believers of the First Covenant as being under the bondage of the Law, his words allow for a wider application and bring reassuring comfort to the believers of all ages. This is brought out by the declaration that all believers, whether of the Jews or of the Gentiles, should receive the gift of becoming children of God. By fulfilling the Law, Messiah provided deliverance from the coercion from the curse of the Law. Believers are no longer in its grasp; we are no longer its slaves. The price of our ransom is paid, the Law no longer exercises any jurisdiction over us.

So, says Kretzmann, from the most degrading slavery, we entered into the most honorable relationship to God: we are the children of God, not so by nature, but by adoption, by God’s deliberate acceptance of our unworthiness, for the sake of His only begotten Son. My, oh my! How absolutely the Apostle Paul refuted and demolished the false claims of the Judaizing teachers by this powerful preaching of the Gospel![2]

Bible scholar Arthur W. Pink (1886-1952) in writing on how believers relate to the Law in the First Covenant. He points out that the Final Covenant writers did not hesitate to show a direct bearing of the Law upon believers. For instance, the Apostle John told his readers that when we obey what God says, His love is truly working in us. This is how we know that we are living in union with Him. If we say we live in union with God, we must live the way Jesus lived.[3] The Final Covenant was not yet in effect, so Jesus lived by the Law of God.

So, says Pink, this is very simple, and yet deeply important. The believer is here encouraged to regulate their lifestyle by that of the life of the Anointed One. How did He live? We answer: in perfect obedience to the Law of God. That’s what the Apostle Paul tells us here in verse four: “God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the Law.” Did not the Psalmist say that doing God’s will was his greatest joy because God’s Law was in his innermost being?[4] Everything recorded about the Savior in the four Gospels shows His complete subjection to the Law.

If, then, Christians desire to honor and please God; if they want to conduct themselves as the Anointed One did, then they must regulate their conduct by rendering obedience to the Ten Commandments. Not that anyone would for a moment insist that a Christian regulate their conduct by nothing more than the Ten Commandments. No! The Anointed One came to “fulfill” the Law, and one thing this clearly means is that the Messiah brought out the fullness of the Law’s contents; He brought to light its exceeding spirituality; He showed us (both directly and through His apostles) its multiple applications.

But fear not says Pink, whatever amplification the Law received in the Final Covenant, nothing was given by God which in any way conflicts with what He first imprinted on humanity’s moral nature, and afterward wrote with His own finger on Mt. Horeb in Sinai, nothing that in the slightest way modifies its authority or our obligation to render our obedience to it.[5] But rather than do what the Jews were forced to read every law and then live by those laws without failure, all we must do is believe in the Messiah and follow Him and His counsel. Then, the Law will be completely fulfilled.

Kenneth Wuest (1892-1961) shares with us in his word studies that the Greek verb exagorazō (“redeem” KJV) actually means “to buy out of the slave market.”[6] The Greek noun nomos translated as “law,” does not need the definite article. That means it doesn’t say “the Law,” just “law.” So, it means laws in general. Paul conceived of the Gentiles as possessing a law, and that law being of divine origin. He speaks of the law inscribed on the hearts of the Gentiles.[7] This law, written upon the Gentile heart, could easily become externalized and be made into a legalistic system. In his letter to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul refers first to the Jews, and then to those who are under the law, including in the second expression, anyone who was living under a system of moral and religious legalism, Jew or Gentile.[8]

That’s why Paul notes in verse four that the Lord Jesus was born under the Law, lived under the Law, and died under the penalty of the Law which we broke, and in doing so paid our penalty, He delivered us from any claims which the Law held against us. He died under Law, and in His resurrection, was raised into a realm where the Law as a legalistic system does not exist. He did this in order that He might not only deliver us from the Law but also raise believers to be with Him in a realm where the Law does not operate. And as Paul goes on to say here in verse five, God did this so He could buy freedom for those who were under the Law and so we could become His children and serve Him out of Love.

Therefore, says Wuest, instead of us being immature children under the guardianship of the Law, we became adult sons and daughters under grace. We received the adoption as His children. This Greek noun huiothesia literally means that our “adoption” came about so that we might be pleaded in the family of God as adult children. That’s why Paul wanted the Galatians to see the difference between having the status of a person under grace as compared to that of a person under the Law. The person under the Law is treated like a child while the person under grace is treated like an adult. [9]

Christian writer and Bible scholar Stanley L. Dickerson, notes that what Paul says here in verse five about the Messiah’s coming to redeem those who were under the Law to become children of God, does not require us to keep the Law for salvation. Still, we are expected to follow the principles of the Law as a rule and practice for our lives.[10] No wonder the writer of Hebrews was frustrated that the people to whom he writes were given enough time that by now they should be teachers. But they needed someone to teach them all over again the first lessons of God’s teaching. They still needed the teaching that is like milk. You are not ready for solid food.[11]

[1] J. L. Nye, Anecdotes, op. cit., p. 116

[2] Otto Paul Kretzmann: On Galatians, op. cit.,

[3] 1 John 2:5-6

[4] Psalm 40:8

[5] Arthur W. Pink: The Law and the Saint, The Positive Side, p. 35

[6] To buy out of the slave market meant to buy a slave and set them free so they no longer could be sold in the market.

[7] Romans 2:14, 15

[8] I Corinthians 9:20

[9] Kenneth. S. Wuest: Word Studies in Galatians, op. cit., pp. 60-61

[10] Dickerson’s Notes on Theology, Redemption, New Testament Terms, p. 913

[11] Hebrews 5:12

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POINTS TO PONDER!

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You can choose where, when, and how much time you spend thinking negative thoughts, regardless of your circumstances. Research involving prisoners of war documented  that those who intentionally chose positive thoughts, such as thinking about people at home praying for them or the eventual end of the war, came through their ordeal with significantly better mental/emotional health and resilience.

What to Think About

So, Dr. Elaine Carol of Women of the Word asks, what DO you think about? Look through this list, and choose a few to incorporate into your daily thought process. Intentionally begin each day focusing on something positive. And do the same before you go to sleep at night.

You can think about:

  1. Someone who you care about
  2. Someone who cares about you
  3. A challenge you overcame
  4. A goal you have achieved
  5. Some way in which God has blessed you
  6. Something artistic you think is beautiful
  7. An inspiring or beautiful place in nature
  8. An accomplishment you can be proud of
  9. Something you have learned
  10. Someone you have helped
  11. The hope you have in knowing Jesus
  12. Someone who you would like to emulate (become more like)
  13. What you believe to be most important in life
  14. A character trait you would like to develop
  15. Something you would love to do
  16. How your life is different because of Jesus
  17. Some way in which you have grown or matured
  18. A time when you felt loved
  19. Something you DO have a choice about
  20. A time you felt God was close to you
  21. A story of someone who overcame big challenges
  22. A piece of music that lifts your spirits
  23. A Scripture you find meaningful
  24. Something you would like to make better for others
  25. What it feels like to worship God

Some of these thoughts involve memory. Some involve imagination. Some involve creativity. Some involve faith. All of those are great areas of your heart to draw on in choosing something good to think about.

The Apostle Paul offered his advice by saying, Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. So, before you go to bed tonight, give it a try. Doing so may not solve your problem, but it will sure give you a clearer mental edge in discovering what you can do about it. – Dr. Robert R Seyda

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