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 XLI)

Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” But legalists come along and say: Yes, He’s the Way, but we improved the Way with centerlines, street lights, stop signs, yield signs, traffic lights, drive only on the right side, and how to use the passing lane. But if you violate any of the restrictions, we’ve put in place, you’ll be ticketed and taken back to start all over, or end up in prison if you can’t pay the fine. Yes, He is the Truth! But let us explain the Truth more clearly. Yes, He did save you but you must do a lot more to keep yourself on the right way. There are toll booths you must pass through, special insurance only the church issues, and you must obtain a driver’s licenses issued from us to drive on the Highway of Holiness, not just anybody. Yes, He is the Life!  But we must determine what is allowed in the Life. So, by the time you get to the pearly gates, instead of telling Peter that you got there because Jesus prepared the way, you also tell him that you did all these other things required of you in order to get you in.

2:19-20 When it comes to these religious rituals and regulations, as far as I’m concerned, they are obsolete. In fact, these religious rituals and regulations don’t apply to me anymore. In other words, I stopped trying to meet all their requirements in an attempt to live for God. To put it another way, when the Anointed One died on the cross the old Saul died with Him. Therefore, the old Saul is no longer alive; it’s the new Paul made alive in the Anointed One who lives in me. Consequently, I now live in this earthly body by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Here’s Paul’s answer! He aims at his main target and shows no sign of giving up. Paul states emphatically that our salvation, through the faithfulness of the Anointed One, supersedes anything man does in achieving salvation by obeying religious rituals and regulations. As far as he’s concerned, the Anointed One annulled those religious rituals and regulations by becoming all they were meant to be. They no longer pertain to His followers since He replaced them as a living Passover Lamb. The Anointed One did not nullify Mosaic Law; He combined all of its values and virtues as the believer’s guide to live right with the help of the Holy Spirit. The Anointed One did not invalidate it as being a means to obtain salvation, because it was incapable of offering salvation. He became the only Way, Truth, and timeless Life.[1]

When Paul wrote to the Romans, this message was still on his mind. He told them that when the Law speaks, it only speaks to those who still live under its power. And those who hear what the Law says, learn what sin is. They also find out that they stand guilty before God as sinners. Yet, no one is made right with God by doing what the Law says, The Law only shows them how sinful they are but cannot offer forgiveness or salvation.[2] What a dilemma! Is there any way out? Yes, through faith in Jesus the Anointed One.

Paul knew from personal experience what it was to be trapped in the hopeless prison of sinful bondage. He believed that through obeying the Law it would guarantee him new life, but instead, it only brought him spiritual death. As Paul put it, “Sin found a way to trap me by working through the Law. Then sin killed me by using the Law.”[3] But Paul sent good news to tell the Romans that even though sin spread everywhere the Law was implemented, God’s grace spread even wider and deeper.[4] That’s why Paul could now tell Jew and Gentile alike that the death sentence that awaited all prisoners of sin was lifted. Because of the Anointed One’s sacrifice, death, and resurrection, the price to live in freedom is paid.[5]

As a result, for believers in the Anointed One, the Law became a dead thing. They no longer must live under the authority and threat of the Law because they received a new life in the Anointed One. So the Law no longer tells them what they should or should not do in order to please God, the new life they were given is guided and guarded by God’s grace.[6] Just like a spouse who’s freed from any obligation to their dead husband, so believers are free from any obligation to the Law. They are now married to a new spouse. He is God’s only Son, the One He raised from the dead after He gave His life as a ransom for our souls and paid the price for our redemption so that we could be free to be one with Him. We got off the old path that led to destruction and planted our feet on the new way to timeless life.[7]

When Paul wrote the Colossians believers, he repeated this same message, only in a different context. He told them that even the way they used to worship God was no longer of any value. Most of the rules they followed back then were made by the priests and rabbis, not by God. Such things as don’t touch this, and don’t place your finger on that. Even when they used to obey, it still didn’t take away their desire to do it anyhow.[8] That all belongs to their former life. But they died to all of that and God raised them to life again so that they could enjoy and obey the things the Anointed One taught them to do. Not only was He their spiritual resurrection, but He is also the One who gives them life. Without Him, they are dead again.[9] Paul was not alone in spreading this message of hope, the Apostle Peter wrote the same thing to his readers.[10]

Because of this, life and living take on a whole new meaning. We no longer live just for what we get out of life, now we live in a way that gives honor, praise, and glory to the One who saved us. So, it doesn’t matter how long we live or how soon we die, we belong to the Lord. We are His property. And He plans to keep us as His treasure for all eternity.[11] Paul sent a similar message to the Corinthians when he reminded them that one reason why the Anointed One died was so that those He ransomed and redeemed could live for Him. So, don’t become selfish and life just to enjoy life by yourself. Remembered who died for you on the cross and whom God resurrected so that you may receive everlasting life.[12]

That was not only a good message for the Corinthians, but for the Thessalonians as well. He reminded them that the Anointed One died so that whether we are still living or go to our rest to await the resurrection, when He returns we still belong to Him so we spend eternity with Him to share in His glory.[13] And we are not only to live for Him, but we are to work for Him. That’s why He sent the Holy Spirit after Jesus returned to heaven to prepare a place for us. So, there is no reason to feel guilty because we are participating in all those old dead rites, rituals, and ceremonies in our former life that were worth nothing. Now we are working for a living God.[14]

But just in case the Galatians still don’t see clearly what Paul is driving at, he uses the illustration of a person dying named Saul and was brought back to life as Paul. Not only did this person become known by a different name, but they gained a whole new personality. The things he used to love that satisfied his sinful tendencies of his flesh he now hated, and the things that infuriated him about people who claimed to be close to God because of their faith in His Son, he now loves. This is the same truth that Paul later would share with the Romans.[15] The reason this transformation was able to take place is that the Anointed One’s death on the cross gave Him the authority to save sinners. This is something the Law never possessed. So, the Law’s power to awaken a person’s sinful tendencies is neutralized because the power of the Anointed One living in the believer exceeds the power of sin.[16] Apparently, the Colossian believers needed to hear the same message.[17]

However, the Holy Spirit did not perform this spiritual transformation so that the believer no longer desired or accepted any responsibility of putting their hands to the plow and breaking up the hardened ground of unbeliever’s hearts so the seed of the Word could be planted. They now live to promote the kingdom of God and do everything possible to show their gratitude for being redeemed from sin’s prison by living their life for His honor, praise, and glory.[18] And we are not motivated to live for Him because of His promises or what gifts we will receive from Him for being good. Rather, it is His love for us and our love for Him that drives our soul, heart, mind, and spirit to yield everything to Him as a way of saying, “Thank you Lord for saving my soul.”[19] As Paul said to the Colossians, don’t become fascinated with the temporary things you may acquire here on earth but concentrate on the things of God waiting for you when you join the Anointed One in his shining-greatness to receive all that God planned for those who love Him, and are willing to give their lives for him.[20]

Paul was teaching the same truth that Jesus taught, that it is not we who live apart from Him, but it is He living in us.[21] This unity with the Anointed One also brings the believer into unity with their heavenly Father.[22] But Paul goes another step further. Just as Jesus was wounded for us, so likewise we expect to be wounded for Him, even to the point of death.[23] Those wounds do not necessarily need to be physical marks on our bodies, but wounds that go to the heart, our emotions, our mind through criticism, verbal assaults, and efforts to shame us. But Paul was quick to tell the Corinthians what it would take to keep them going, it was the power God gave to the Anointed One that He passed on to them by being in union with them.[24]

[1] John 14:6

[2] Romans 3:19-20

[3] Ibid. 7:9b-11, See 7:22-23

[4] Ibid. 5:20

[5] Ibid. 8:1-2

[6] Ibid. 6:2, 22, 14

[7] Ibid. 7:4, 6, 9

[8] Colossians 2:20-23

[9] Ibid. 3:1-3

[10] 1 Peter 2:24

[11] Romans 14:7-8

[12] 2 Corinthians 5:15

[13] 2 Thessalonians 5:10; cf. Titus 2:14

[14] Hebrews 9:14; Cf. 1 Peter 4:1-2, 6

[15] Romans 6:4-6

[16] Ibid. 8:3-4

[17] Colossians 2:11-14

[18] Romans 8:13-14

[19] Ephesians 2:4-7

[20] Colossians 3:1-4

[21] John 14:19-20

[22] Ibid. 17:21

[23] 2 Corinthians 4:10-11

[24] Ibid. 12:4

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POINTS TO PONDER

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The great Jewish Rabbi, Moses Maimonides, points out that three Hebrew verbs raah, nabat, and chazah, denote “to perceive by seeing.” But he suggests that we know when they are used to imply ocular perception or intellectual conceptualization. Knowing the difference can be very helpful when determining if the thing being described was seen with the natural eye or the mind’s eye.  For instance, in Genesis 29:2 it says, “And he looked [raah], and behold a well in the field.” This clearly refers to seeing something with the natural eye. Then in Ecclesiastes 1:16 it says, “…yea, my heart had great sight [raah] of wisdom and knowledge.”  Wisdom and knowledge are abstract in essence; therefore, they can only be discerned with the mind. Then we see the same in Genesis 19:17 where we read, “…look [nabat] not behind you…” this was a warning to Lot and his wife not to use their eyes by glancing back at Sodom and Gomorrah. However, in Numbers 23:21 it says, “He (God) has not beheld [nabat] iniquity in Jacob, neither has He seen [raah] perverseness in Israel.”  Since God is not corporeal, His sight does not depend on the eye.  That’s why God can see what’s in our heart. Finally, in Micah 4:11 we find, “Let her be defiled, and let our eye look [chazah] upon Zion.” Clearly, this was an admonition for the people of Israel to envision looking toward Mt. Zion when their enemies came against them because they knew this was where God dwelled in their midst. So, it implies the use of the imagination.  Also, in Isaiah 1:1 it says, “The vision of Isaiah the son of Amos, which he saw [chazah] concerning Judah and Jerusalem…” relates to what God showed him through his spiritual eye. Maimonides warns that interpreting scripture requires more just reading the word on the page, but finding out how that word is used and in what context. This is something we should all take to heart.     – Dr. Robert R Seyda

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SERENDIPITY FOR SATURDAY

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WHAT IMAGE APPEARS IN YOUR LIFE?

A lady was participating in a house Bible study and they happened to read Malachi 3:3 where it says: “He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.” No one seemed to know much about refining silver, so this puzzled lady and the other women wondered what this statement had to do with the character and nature of God.

One of the women offered to find out the process of refining silver and get back to the group at their next Bible Study. So, she called around until she found a silversmith and made an appointment to watch him at work. She didn’t mention anything about the reason for her interest beyond her curiosity about the process of refining silver.

As she watched the silversmith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest so as to burn away all the impurities. The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot; then she thought again about the verse. She asked the silversmith if it was true that, he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined. The man answered, “yes”, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed. The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, “How do you know when the silver is fully refined?” He smiled at her and answered, “Oh, that’s easy – when I see my image in it.”

If today you are feeling the heat of the fire, remember that God has His eye on you and will keep watching you until He sees His image in you. This refining process doesn’t happen quickly, it takes time to burn away the dross and impurities. According to the Psalmist, God’s Word has been purified seven times.[1][i] So it takes going through a trying process in order for us, as silver vessels, to be refined.[2] The more dross and impurities that are in us the longer it takes God’s holy sanctifying fire to remove it. But as the silversmith told the lady, all God is looking for in us is to see His image so that others can see Him in us. – Dr. Robert R Seyda

[1] Psalm 12:6

[2] Zechariah 13:9

[i] Psalm 12:6

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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 XL)

Arno Gaebelein (1859-1952) takes what Paul says here in verse eighteen as Peter’s possible response after he refused to eat with the Gentiles and went back to the Ceremonial Laws and was thereby attempting to be justified by works. It was he, not Paul, who was rebuilding the judicial mechanism of the Law. Previously, he abandoned the Law as a means of justification before God and believed in Jesus the Anointed One to be justified by faith in Him, not by the works of the Law but by faith. He found out that “by the works of the Law no one can be justified.” By building again the moral system of the law, which he gave up as unable to justify him, he made himself look like a Jewish backslider returning to his original faith. Inasmuch as it was the Anointed One who led him to do this, the question is, does this make the Anointed One a minister of sin? God forbid! It was the doctrine of the Anointed One which made him give up the Law which was powerless to forgive. Now, by going back he acknowledges that he was wrong when he rejected it, to begin with, as a means of justification.[1] That’s why Paul was so against what Peter was doing, even though he didn’t mean to project that image of giving up the Anointed One and returning to the Law for salvation.

The Contextual Bible gives us an excellent paraphrase of verses 17-18 that offers quite a bit of clarity to what Paul is saying here. It reads, “Now if we hold that our faith in the Anointed One and His death alone makes us guiltless, righteous, and holy before God, and not the keeping of the His Law, and then we find that just like the non-Jews, we’re judged guilty as sinners because we didn’t keep the requirements of God’s Law, wouldn’t we need to say that faith in the Anointed One is not only useless but has, in fact, ruined us, encouraging us not to live by God’s Law? That’s impossible. Obviously then, there is only one conclusion: God’s Law has been abolished for us who put our faith in the Anointed One, and there is no sin involved anymore in not keeping its requirements. The whole business of the Law has become irrelevant for us. Rather, we actually become lawbreakers if we now start insisting on being under the framework of the Law to find acceptance before God, going against the very intent of His Law.”[2]

Maybe Paul’s questioning was inspired by one of Plato’s dialogues entitled; “Euthydemus” in which a young boy is asked if when he and his classmates were in school learning grammar, did they consider themselves “students?”  The young lad said, “of course.”  Then Euthydemus continued by asking the young man, “As a student, do you admit that you did not know the things you were about to learn?”  “Of course,” he replied.  “So then,” continued Euthydemus, “did that make you “educated?”  “Of course not,” the student replied.  “In other words,” said Euthydemus, you were not a ‘student’ who was already ‘educated’ but an ‘uninformed student’?”  “For sure,” responded the lad.  Euthydemus went on, “Let me ask again since you were learning something you did not know, you still considered yourself an ‘uninformed student,’ right?” The youth nodded assent.  “So, we can conclude then,” mused Euthydemus, “it is the uninformed who learn, not those already educated?”

Are you shaking your head trying to understand this form of logic? Let’s look at it again. These philosophers were taking advantage of a young student in order to show how complicated their arguments could be. If you are a student and submit yourself to be taught, that is certainly a wise decision, even though you may not be educated in the subject being taught. Therefore, you cannot yet be considered educated until you learn the subject as a student. The Judaizers were like the boy in the story. Paul was telling them they needed to learn more about Jesus in order to be more submissive to the Gospel and the will of God through the Anointed One. The Judaizers were telling Paul and the Galatians they were already educated because they mastered the Mosaic Law and needed to learn nothing further.

Remember, Paul was talking to believers, and in today’s world people are often judged as sinful because they did not meet their church demands in order to maintain salvation. However, since we are in union with the Anointed One, such laws possess no jurisdiction over our salvation. Being in union with the Anointed One means it’s what He says that determines if we are following His will or not. Since the Anointed One reigns in our hearts and lives in our spirit, we seek to be obedient to Him first, not the religious rituals and regulations of the church. Therefore, if we become disobedient, we are noncompliant to the Anointed One not the church, even if the church supports what Jesus taught. That’s why, if we confess our sin to Him, not the church, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin, and cleanse us from all wrongdoing.

This should help us understand that no church can save you; no denomination guarantees your salvation.  The church is the redeemed gather in one mind and of one accord to follow the teachings of the Anointed One. They support each other as they mature in the Word and in the Spirit. The stronger and more mature among them become pastors and teachers, apostles and evangelists. Those whom the Holy Spirit anoints with gifts are used to guide the believers and become a resource of the gifts of the Spirit in the body of the Anointed One. Their goal is to proclaim the kingdom of God and His righteousness so that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but receive everlasting life.

Let’s go through this again. Paul is answering criticism by the Judaizers that if we forsake Mosaic Law to follow Jesus, then by following Him He leads us further into sin since obeying Mosaic Law is a requirement from God. Paul answers this way: if we say that we are going to accept forgiveness for our sins by faith in the atonement of the Anointed One on the cross, which does away with Mosaic Law, but then turn around and demand that believers observe the old religious rituals and regulations required under Mosaic Law aren’t we making the Anointed One’s death on the cross meaningless? Yes! But at the same time, if we accept the Anointed One’s atonement on the cross to be forgiven of our sins but then ignore His teachings and continue the life we were living, will that qualify us for heaven? No! We aren’t saved in sin; we are saved from sin.

Henry David Thoreau in his work “Walden” said, that the person with faith in God will apply that faith to everything they do. If, however, they put no faith in God they might continue living like they always lived by imitating those with real faith. We would call this a case of pretending; playing “make-believe,” saying something is yours that doesn’t exist. The Judaizers seem to be asking the Galatians to pretend. In other words, obey all the religious rituals and regulations under Mosaic Law, but make-believe that they were Christians by professing faith in the Anointed One, it can’t hurt anything.

It’s clear they showed no respect for Paul or his message; they did not want to change what they were already accustomed to. They insisted that the only way to be forgiven and stand before God pure and holy was by complying with the Law given to Moses. However, they refused to accept the fact that the Mosaic Law was written to prove the existence of sin. Didn’t they realize that through the Anointed One God wanted to provide a way out of sin into His forgiveness?

Paul arrived in Galatia preaching that you don’t need to follow the Law of Moses anymore because the work of the Anointed One completely fulfilled and answered all of God’s requirements, thereby becoming the true way to salvation. But the Judaizers responded by claiming that even though you believe in the Anointed One, by not following Mosaic Law anymore you remain a sinner. They insinuated that Paul’s teaching of salvation through faith in the Anointed One without Mosaic Law promoted sinful living.  “Absolutely untrue!” declares Paul. The Hammer was trying everything he could to help these stubborn know-it-alls to understand the truth.

Many of these various opinions and interpretations are confusing at times. But if we condense this down to its simplest terms it becomes clearer to those not versed in Jewish Law. For centuries it was taught that in order for someone to be counted among the children of God, they must obey Him by obeying all the laws given to them through Moses. But did that stop them from sinning? No! Even if they followed all the rules, participated in all the rituals, underwent all the rites, and joined in all the ceremonies, they still needed to bring sacrifices to the Temple to receive forgiveness for their sins. That was the Law. That was their creed of faith.

Now here comes Paul, a converted Pharisee to Christianity. He’s going around teaching the Jews that this adherence to the Law is no longer needed or valid. That the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth came. He was the only one who was able to perfectly obey the Law. So, God put all their sins on Him, and He became the sacrifice that provided forgiveness. Now, a person is called a child of God through union with the Anointed One, not the Law. Jews always considered themselves as children of God by birth, all the rest that they did was try to be good children. But Paul is not only teaching that the Anointed One is now the only way to God, but he’s also telling the Gentiles that they became children of God too without first becoming Jews through conversion. All they must do is believe in the Anointed One. All the demands of the Law are now unnecessary for both them and the Jews. The Jews resented that those born as sinners could so easily be born as children of God without having to go through all the rites, rituals, ceremonies, and sacrifices as they did.

So, some dissident Jews began a campaign to disprove Paul’s doctrine of being justified as a child of God without adherence to the Law. They began by pointing out that they were always warned not to abandon the Law because it made them sinners. So how could Paul persuade people to abandon the Law and then not call them sinners but true believers because they put their faith in the Anointed One, not the law? They accused Paul of teaching that sinners could be called children of God because of the Anointed One. Therefore, the Anointed One must be a minister of sin and sinners. Paul was quick to rebuke such thinking. He based his doctrine on the fact that Jesus the Messiah fulfilled the Law by completing its demands, therefore, to believe in Him is to fulfill the Law, not abandon it. He became their sacrifice for sin, so they didn’t need to bring any to God on their own. But there were those who were still not convinced. They argued that without the Law to guide them how were these children of God through faith going to be taught how to live an upright, moral life? Again, Paul answered. He told them they no longer lived because of their adherence to the Law; it was the Anointed One living in them. So, He was their teacher spiritually and the Holy Spirit was their guide.

But even today there are many believers who were never taught that once you are made clean through the blood of Jesus and born again, those sins do not need to be forgiven a second or third time. Do Christians still experience trouble with sinful tendencies? Yes! But it is not the original sin with its death sentence, that is already forgiven and under the blood of Jesus. When the Holy Spirit convicts us of something that is not pleasing to God, we are promised that if we confess our sins, He is fair-minded enough to forgive us of our sins each and every time. Does that mean we go on a sinning-streak because we know He’ll forgive us? No! Who would want to do that to the one who saved us from certain damnation and gave us timeless life?

[1] Arno Gaebelein: On Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit.

[2] Aiyer, Ramsey. The Contextual Bible Galatians, Kindle Location 214

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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 XXXIX)

Methodist theologian Adam Clarke envisions Paul saying this to the Galatian believers, a message that is still apropos for Jewish messianic believers today. “You must unconditionally acknowledge that all must be justified by faith in the Anointed One since all sinned and came short of the glory of God.”[1] Even though in the past, before they were converted, they observed all the rites, rituals, sacrifices, and ceremonies of their Jewish faith, yet they were still sinners. All they did never could and never did justify them as believers before God. So, don’t let anyone tell a converted Jew that because they no longer observe these things at the Anointed One’s request, He made them sinners. That’s what Paul was trying to tell the Galatians. He should know because he was one of the most observant Jews of his day. Yet he came to realize that it was all for naught.[2]

William O’Conor looks at what Paul is saying in verse eighteen about rebuilding the framework, under the Law, for justification by works that were destroyed. The objection seems to be that Paul was assuming that the Anointed One abolished the law completely and without any reference to a person’s need to qualify for freedom. The truth is, the Law was left at the place where we rose into the region of spiritual holiness. The instant we fall down again into the region of sin we are again under the law’s condemnation. However, by faith in the Anointed One, we are liberated from the Law and sin altogether. Our deliverance from the Law is not a separate thing in itself; it is one of several connected things. Under the legal system, the Law compels righteousness. Under the Christian system, righteousness supersedes the Law. We must deal with either system as a whole, and not fragmentary.

O’Conor goes on to say that if a Jew is seeking to be justified by faith as a sinner, the Anointed One is not the reason for their sinning. Sin is determined by going back to the legal system to see what law was broken. If, however, after having disclaimed the legal system and adopted the Christian system, or system of faith, a believing Jew then seeks forgiveness under the old legal system which was destroyed, they then render themselves liable to the Law’s verdict. The way the believing Jews lived told which system they belonged to. Paul made it clear that they could seek forgiveness under the Law or under Grace of which God made available through the Anointed One. He made this perfectly clear to the Romans when he wrote them.[3] [4]

Alvah Hovey gives us an excellent explanation of what he feels Paul is trying to get at here in light of Peter’s hypocrisy and the Galatians’ need for instruction due to the influence of the Judaizers. He hears Paul saying that no one should suppose for a moment that in their and other believer’s seeking to be justified by the Anointed One without the works of the Law, that they somehow were found wallowing in sin on the same level as the lawless Gentiles. If that were the case, then it would follow that the Anointed One is a promoter of sin. No believer would ever accept that! No one is breaking the moral law of the Torah and committing sin just by looking to the Anointed One alone for acceptance with God. All it means is that they ceased keeping the Law as a means of justification. Hovey continues Paul’s dialogue. Just the opposite of this is true. For if I build up again the things which I destroyed and subjugate myself to them, then I make myself a transgressor according to the Law.

In verse eighteen the Apostle substitutes, with great delicacy of feeling, the first-person singular for the first-person plural. For the act supposed was precisely that for which Peter now stood condemned. What he did by his example caused the wall of ceremonial observances to be erected again, which he destroyed by testifying that they as Christians were no longer obligatory as the ground of justification, and were a means of condemnation rather than of justification. The true purpose of the Law was to convince people of sin and drive them away from it to the Anointed One. That’s why those who turn back to legal works as a condition of forgiveness and life, transgress the very nature and purpose of the Law. This thought is explained and justified in verse nineteen.[5]

J. B. Lightfoot sees it this way: In order for believers in union with the Anointed One to be justified before God, they first must sink to the low level of the Gentiles and admit they were sinners without any hope of salvation. Only then could they receive the message of salvation by grace. But that didn’t make the Anointed One a “sinner maker.” That is a ridiculous thought and not worthy of consideration. There is no guilt in understanding that the Law only convicts but does not convert. The Law shows one guilty of sinning against God’s ordinances but offers no forgiveness. So, it made sense to turn away from the Law and seek salvation by grace in faith through the Anointed One. Lightfoot goes on to offer several interpretations of verse seventeen. But the one he sees as most acceptable is this: “It cannot be sinful to abandon the Law because it is necessary to abandon the Law in order to be justified before God as acquitted in the Anointed One.”[6]

Charles Spurgeon goes at this from an evangelistic point of view. Paul is arguing against the idea of salvation by works, or salvation by rites, rituals, or ceremonies; and he shows, beyond all question, that salvation is by the grace of God through faith in Jesus the Anointed One. Paul will make a strong point concerning this in verse twenty-one. Spurgeon then goes on to say, the true Christian carries the cross in their heart. And a cross inside the heart is one of the sweetest cures for a cross on the back. If a cross is in your heart – you are crucified with the Anointed One – all this world’s troubles will seem to you light enough, and you will easily be able to sustain it. If you say with Paul that Jesus loves you and gave Himself for you, you are expressing yourself far beyond what the Greek orator Demosthenes or the Roman orator Cicero was ever able to say with all their eloquence of speech.

Paul is telling Peter and the Galatians that it was never his intention to frustrate the grace of God. This would be a sin so gross that even the heathen could not commit it. They never heard of the grace of God, and, therefore, they cannot break it even slightly. Spurgeon then gives this warning. Heathens will perish and face far less sinister doom than those who were told that God is gracious and ready to pardon, and yet they wickedly boast of innocence and pretend to be clean in the sight of God by what they’ve done, not what the Anointed One did. This is a sin which devils cannot commit. With all the obstinacy of their rebellion, they never reached this level. They never heard the sweet notes of saving grace and dying love ring in their ears, and, therefore, were never given a chance to refused the heavenly invitation.[7]

In another place, Spurgeon quotes David Griffiths (1792-1863),[8] as saying that travelers in Turkey carry with them lozenges of opium, on which is stamped “mash Allah,” the gift of God. Too many sermons are just such lozenges. Grace is preached but duty denied. Divine predestination is promoted, but human responsibility is rejected. Such teaching ought to be shunned as poisonous, but those who by reason of use grew accustomed to the sedative, now condemn all other preaching and claim their opium lozenges of high doctrine to be the truth, a precious gift from God. It is to be feared that this narcotic-laced doctrine put many souls to sleep who will awake in hell.[9]

Church historian Philip Schaff (1819-1893) gives his detailed view of Justification. He begins by saying that the doctrine of justification by faith is one of the fundamental doctrines of Paul, and is presented fully in this Epistle and in that to the Romans. How will a sinner be justified to stand as right before a holy God? This was a vital question in the Apostolic age and came very near splitting the congregation. It shook Western Christendom again in the sixteenth century and divided it into two camps. It is no idle theological dispute, but involves the peace of conscience and affects a believer’s whole conduct It is almost like asking: “What must I do to be saved?”

To this question there were two answers, notes Schaff. The Pharisaical Jews and Christian Judaizers were teaching that a person is justified by doing good works to satisfy the Law’s demands. Paul is teaching just as emphatically that a person is justified by faith without works by the Anointed One. The Judaizers would not deny the importance and necessity of faith in the Anointed One, but they practically laid the main stress upon works, and that’s why they demanded circumcision as a term of membership in the congregation, and a sign and pledge for the observance of the whole Mosaic law.

Now Paul reasons in this chapter that to return to the Law for justification is virtually to abandon the work the Anointed One did on the cross or leave Him rotting in the grave. Schaff offers what he calls chief points to be considered. The Greek verb dikaioō (to “justify”) may be used both in an efficient and in a judicial sense, namely, (a) to make just, to transform a sinner into a saint; (b) to declare just, to acquit. In Hellenistic Greek, and especially in Paul’s Epistles, it has the judicial or forensic meaning. This appears – From the equivalent terms “to reckon,” or “to account for righteousness.”[10] From the phrase to be justified “before God,” or “in God’s sight,” for example,  before His tribunal.[11] (c) From such passages where God or the Anointed One is said to be just. God is just and cannot be made just, but He may be accounted or declared just by mankind.[12] (d) From the opposite phrase to condemn.[13]

So, concludes Schaff, consequently “justification” is seen as a judicial act of acquittal, in opposition to condemnation.[14] Now there may be two kinds of justification, legal and by grace. The first would be a reward of merit, the second a free gift of lovingkindness. We may be justified and accepted by God on the ground of our good works, the observance of His law, that is, because we are really righteous and deserving of acceptance; or we may be justified by grace on the grounds of the merits of the righteous Anointed One, as obtained by a living faith. But justification by works has proven to be impossible because we are all sinners by nature and practice and, therefore, justly deserving of God’s wrath. We cannot in our own strength observe the divine law with perfection. If that were possible, there would have been no need of a Savior and His death to atone for our sins. The more we try to keep the Law, the more are we driven to a conviction of sin and guilt and to a painful sense of the need of redemption. This is what the Law was given to teach us. While the Law itself is holy, just, and good, it offers no forgiveness or salvation. The best it can do is to bring the moral decease to a crisis by revealing sin in its true nature, and thus to prepare the way for the cure through the blood of the Anointed One.[15]

[1] Romans 3:23

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

[3] Romans 6:15-16 – NIV

[4] O’Conor, W. A: On Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit., pp. 37–38

[5] Hovey, Alvah: On Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit., p. 33

[6] J. B. Lightfoot: On Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit., pp. 243-244

[7] Charles Spurgeon: On Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit.

[8] Welsh Congregational missionary and translator in Madagascar

[9] Ryle, J.C.; Exell, Joseph; MacLaren, Alexander; Moody, D.L.; Spurgeon, Charles. The Biblical Illustrator – Vol. 48 – Kindle Locations 4938-4942

[10] Galatians 3:6; Romans 4:3, 5, 9, 23, 24; James 2:23

[11] Galatians 3:11; Romans 3:20

[12] Romans 3:4 (from Psalm 51:4); 1 Timothy 3;16; cf. Matthew 11:19; Luke 6: 29, 35.

[13] Matthew 12:37; See Deuteronomy 25:1; Proverbs 17:15

[14] Romans 4:14; 5:18

[15] Philip Schaff: On Galatians, op. cit., pp. 314-315

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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 XXXVIII)

Medieval Catholic scholar, Thomas Aquinas, gives us his assessment of what was happening here and the charges being made. Someone could say, he argues, that the Apostles sinned by abandoning the Law and turning to the faith in the Anointed One for salvation. But Paul shows that this would lead to the following unwelcomed conclusion, namely, that the Anointed One is the author of sin in calling men and women from faith in the Law to faith in Him. Paul responds adamantly, “God forbid!” the Anointed One is the minister of justice; the Anointed One is not the minister of sin in leading someone from the First Covenant to the Final Covenant. This should be plain to see because if Paul himself, by wanting to glory once more in the Law, were to build up again the things he tore down, namely, his pride for glorying in his obedience to the Law, he would make himself a liar and fraud by putting trust back into what was already destroyed. He was not speaking of the Law itself, but his pride in being a servant of the law. This is what the Manicheans[1] were teaching because the Law is holy, but pride in having knowledge of and in keeping the Law is not holiness.[2]

The great Reformer Martin Luther shares the agony he went through on both sides of the issue when it came to salvation by works instead of faith.  To him, Paul was crying out: “What are these false Apostles doing?” Paul saw that they were turning Law into grace, and grace into Law. They were changing Moses into the Anointed One, and the Anointed One into Moses. By teaching that besides the Anointed One and His righteousness, the performance of good works under the Law was necessary for full salvation. In doing so, they advocated the Law in the place of the Anointed One, they attributed to the Law power to save, a power that belongs only to the Anointed One only.

Luther then goes on to explain his situation: Catholic priests quote the words of the Anointed One: “If you want to obtain timeless life, keep the commandments.”[3] But they don’t realize that with their own words they deny the Anointed One and abolish faith in Him by placing emphasis on the commandments. By doing this, the Anointed One is made to lose His good name, His office, and His glory, and is demoted to the status of a law enforcer, reproving, terrifying, and chasing poor sinners around. The proper office of the Anointed One is to raise sinners, and extricate them from the clutches of sins. But Luther wasn’t finished. He accuses Catholic Priests and Anabaptists[4] of being critical of him and his followers because they so firmly require faith. “Faith,” they say, “makes people reckless.” What do these law-workers know about faith, Luther wants to know, why they are so busy calling people back from baptism, from faith, from the promises of the Anointed One to the Law?[5]

John Calvin disagrees somewhat with Chrysostom’s conclusions. For him, Chrysostom, and some other commentators make the whole passage to be an affirmation of the fact that if, while we seek to be justified by the Anointed One, we are not yet perfectly righteous but still unholy. If this is true, then the Anointed One is not sufficient for our righteousness which makes Him a minister of a doctrine which leaves people in sin. By supposing that anyone accepts such an absurd proposition, Paul is calling for a charge of blasphemy against those who attribute any part of justification to the Law. However, Paul does not hold back in saying that when it comes to justification, it’s like making the dead try to continue doing good works in order to comply. He puts a question, in his usual manner, into the mouth of his antagonists. “If, in consequence of the righteousness of faith, we, who are Jews and were sanctified from the womb, are reckoned guilty and polluted, shall we say that the Anointed One makes sin to be powerful in His own people and that He is, therefore, the author of sin?”[6]

Calvin goes on to explain that this all arose from the fact that Paul indicated that the Jews, by believing in the Anointed One, renounced their inherited righteousness under the law. As such, even before they became believers, and having separated themselves from the Gentiles were never called sinners, are they now being placed on the same level with Gentiles, therefore, becoming sinners? Paul’s conclusion that the Jews were mistaken in claiming any holiness for themselves in the Law apart from the Anointed One. As a consequence, the Anointed One did not bring sin, but unveiled it; He did not take away righteousness but stripped the Jews of a false righteous disguise.

Paul insinuates a charge of blasphemy against those who attribute a part of justification to the Law. His “absolutely not!” says all that is needed to say to quash such a notion. Calvin takes the rest of what Paul says here as setting aside an absurd conclusion which some thought Paul’s doctrine appeared to warrant. He puts a question, in his usual manner, into the mouth of his antagonists. “Are you saying, that if, as part of obtaining righteousness by faith in the Anointed One, we, who are Jews and were ‘sanctified from the womb,’[7] are still reckoned guilty and polluted because the Law is not involved? Are you charging that we are saying that the Anointed One makes sin so powerful in His own people who give up the Law as a source for justification, that He is, therefore, the author of sin?” I think we all join Paul in saying that such an idea is ridiculous!

Catholic scholar Cornelius à Lapide questions that if we are still in sin and are looking to faith in the Anointed One for forgiveness but find that there is no forgiveness in Him but in the Law, as the Judaizers were teaching, does that make the Anointed One a preacher of sin? After all, He’s the one who says we must forget the Law and believe only on Him. Lapide points this out as the interpretation of early church scholars Jerome, Chrysostom, Primasius, Anselm, and Theophylact. Lapide examines two other interpretations but settles on this first one as the best to define what Paul was saying because it is less forced.

One of the biggest criticisms that Paul received was that he was making the Law void and that any good works done to help others was needless. They concluded that he was preaching a spiritual philosophy that said once God declares you to be in right standing with Him, you may go on living in sin the way you are living now because God loves nothing more than forgiving a sinner. So, sin more so that God will show how great is His love, grace, and mercy.

Of course, that was ridiculous. For John Owen, there was only one way to answer such a fool-hearted idea. Our own personal righteousness and obedience to the Law in order to be justified before God would be something purchased by the work of our hands. But the justification that we receive as a gift was purchased for us by the blood of Jesus the Anointed One. But there was another factor, even some who were justified before God through the Anointed One, believed that their personal righteousness, holiness, and works could enhance their right standing before God. However, if it didn’t get us there, it can’t keep us there. There is a place for good works and holy living because it shows the evidence of our true nature as a born-again believer living in union with the Anointed One. Paul’s message here in verse eighteen to the Jewish believers in Galatia was that if they insist on working toward being made right with God by keeping the Law, they were only making themselves out to be sinners.[8]

Matthew Poole believes that some interpreters of verse seventeen think that Paul begins his discourse to the Galatians by picking up again the main theme of his Epistle, mainly, that justification by faith in the Anointed One is the only valid way to receive a right standing before God. However, he does admit that there were some who contended that by making the Anointed One alone the foundation of one’s faith, thereby forsaking the Law requirement for obedience in performing good deeds, that not only does one become a sinner but makes the Anointed One the minister of sin.

However, Poole notes that there are still others who think that the Apostle Paul hereby eliminates a common objection which was made back then, and also made during Poole’s day, that the doctrine of justification by faith alone in the Anointed One opens a door for believers to live any way they desired without any moral or ethical laws to control their behavior and conduct. To them, that was the role of the Law. So, by adopting this understanding it would make the Anointed One liable for their sinful behavior. Not only does Paul disavow any such idea by saying, “God forbid!” But to suggest that Christians mistake their faith in the Anointed One for justification as a license to do anything they want is to say that believers possess no sense of what is right or wrong in God’s eyes. Pleasing God by loving Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and loving our fellowman as ourselves will keep all the laws that are written in God’s Holy Word.[9]

Joseph Benson shows us a neat way of expressing this argument that Paul is making. It’s as if Paul was being accused of saying that the Gospel promises justification to those who continue in sin. But that’s not what the Apostle was getting at. Therefore, if any, who profess the Gospel, do not live according to it, they are sinners but not justified in doing so. The Gospel is very clear, live God’s way or you will be living the wrong way. Benson sees Paul making this point: Through the Law, he understood, in its spiritual sense, the extent and obligation applied by the Holy Spirit to his conscience, enough to convince him of his utter sinfulness, guilt, and helplessness in trying to acquire salvation through the Law. Therefore, he considers the Law as a dead thing when it comes to being justified by it to a right standing before God.

Therefore, to all dependence upon the Law must be canceled. All dependence now falls on the Anointed One and His work on the cross. That’s why Paul said he wanted to live for God sake. So, he lacked any interest in continuing in sin. For this very end, he was delivered from the death sentence pronounced by the Law on all did not follow its rules. It was only by his faith in the Anointed One that he was justified and brought into a state of favor and acceptance with God. And for what reason? That he might be motivated by nobler views and hopes than the Law could give, and engaged, through love to God, his people, and all mankind, to a more generous, sublime, and extensive obedience than the law was capable of producing.[10]

[1] Manicheans were followers of a 3rd century Persian named Mani who was also known as the “Angel of light.”  They were long considered a Christian movement.  Mani taught a dualistic doctrine that offered salvation through special knowledge (gnosis) of spiritual truth.

[2] Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit.

[3] Matthew 19:17

[4] The Anabaptist Movement began in 1525 with those joining the Reformation of Luther, Zwingli and others felt it wasn’t going far enough and insisted on more purity including being re-baptized in order to seal one’s salvation. Luther saw this as works.

[5] Martin Luther, On Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit., p. 44

[6] John Calvin, Commentary on Galatians, loc. cit.

[7] Jeremiah 1:5; Galatians 1:15

[8] John Owen: op. cit., Vol. 1, p. 525

[9] Matthew Poole on Galatians: op. cit., loc. cit., Kindle Locations 665-678, Kindle Edition

[10] 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 XXXVII)

This is similar to what Paul shared later with the Roman believers. When talking about how God preserved some true believers among the Jews so that when Jesus came, He would find those willing to believe in Him while the others rejected Him. So, in the place of those who would not receive Him, He allowed the Gospel to be preached to the Gentiles through Peter and Paul. That’s why Paul’s question to the Romans is, “What are we to say about these things?” The Apostle then answers his own question by saying that the Gentiles were not made right with God by the Law. They were made right with God because they put their trust in His Son. The Jews tried to be right with God by obeying the Law, but they did not become right with God on their own. Why? Because, unlike the Gentiles, they did not put their trust in God’s Son. They tried to be right with God by working for it. In doing so, the very important building block in their path became their stumbling block as they tripped over the Anointed One trying to get to God on their own.[1]

However, some Jews took Paul’s message the wrong way. Since the Gentiles were born sinners and possessed no law to show them right from wrong, yet God forgave them on the spot because of grace, they offered nothing to God by way of good deeds or participation in holy rites and rituals. In their eyes, this made sin and sinning more important for salvation than obedience to the law and good works. So they asked the obvious question, if being a sinner causes God to love and forgive you, then why not then sin and be a sinner as long as possible?

There were some in Rome who asked the same question. Does this mean that we are to keep on sinning so that God will give us more of His loving-favor? Paul’s response to them was a quick emphatic, No! Not at all! We are dead to sin. Why then keep on living in sin? All of us were baptized to show we belong to the Anointed One. We were baptized first of all to show His death. We were buried in baptism as the Anointed One was buried in death. As the Anointed One was raised from the dead by the great power of God, so we were raised to enjoy a new life as a new creation in the Anointed One.[2]

This echoes Paul’s answer here to the Galatians. Even the Apostle John dealt with this. So, he wrote the following in his first letter, “The person who keeps on sinning belongs to the devil. The devil sinned from the beginning. But the Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil. No person who became a child of God keeps on sinning. This is because the Holy Spirit is in him. He cannot keep on sinning because God is his Father. This is the way you can know who are the children of God and who are the children of the devil. The person who does not keep on doing what is right and does not love his brother does not belong to God.”[3]

Not only was Paul’s argument against mixing salvation by works, but he emphasized that salvation by grace was the most important way and will remain critical as long as the believers exist.  Some 300 years later, Augustine of Hippo gives his assessment of this argument in his day, especially Paul’s contention that by dropping salvation by works it makes everyone a sinner. Augustine makes it clear, there is no way that Paul’s opponents could accuse him of being soft on those who insisted on continuing to work for their salvation. After all, even those who were unwilling to entrust the Gospel to the Gentiles unless they were circumcised, still trusted the Anointed One for their own salvation. Paul destroyed the ego of those who boasted about works of the law – a false pride that should and must be annihilated. If this wasn’t done, then the Gospel of faith by grace becomes an option. So, in Paul’s mind, the person who after being saved by grace sets out to rebuild salvation by works again is the one at fault. What gives them the right to say that works by the law justifies without grace?[4]

In Augustine’s mind, the thing that bothered Paul the most was that he spent years tearing down the wall of legalistic belief between man and God, so if he did not confront Peter’s hypocrisy now, it would appear as though he too was rebuilding that wall. This is exactly what he saw Peter doing.  God broke down that wall so He might send Peter to the Gentile Cornelius’ house. And did not Peter eat and worship with the Gentile believers in Antioch before these visitors from Jerusalem arrive? Therefore, in Paul’s eyes, Peter was the transgressor here, not the Gentiles.

Early church commentator Marius Victorinus asks the question, suppose that we, after receiving faith in the Anointed One, did to the Anointed One what the Judaizers tried to do? They taught that after putting our faith in the Anointed One and wish to be justified, even though we know that no one justified by the works of the law, we still insist on doing all the works that the law demands, will that mean we will be counted as sinners? If so, then after we believe in the Anointed One for salvation and are ordered not to sin, simply by observing the law, will that make us sinners? In that case, the Anointed One, whom we accepted in order not to sin, would Himself become a minister of sin. Victorinus does not hesitate to announce that if after receiving the Anointed One we return to sin – that is depending on the Law to save us – the Anointed One is not responsible for making us sinners. Paul would declare such a thought as being far from what he was teaching. No right-minded person would think this way. It doesn’t make sense that the One who suffered and died to free us from sin would turn around and cause us to sin.[5]

But Bishop Theodoret of Cyr turns the tables on those who think this way. He sees them proposing that once a person forsook the law and turned to the Anointed One as their Savior in order to enjoy a right standing with God through faith in Him, that by forsaking the Law the Anointed One made them sinners. If proven true, then the Anointed One Himself became a minister of sin. So, any fault that would be incurred, could be laid at the feet of the Anointed One. And by bringing us the Gospel of the Final Covenant, He inadvertently did away with the First Covenant which abolished all the laws and thereby made everyone a sinner. The Bishop says, “Far be it from us to tolerate such blasphemy!”[6]

In Chrysostom’s quite a lengthy exposition on verse seventeen in his homilies he begins by saying that Paul is speaking about Peter. And he questions what if Peter put his faith in the Anointed One but did not receive justification, would it be necessary for him to again embrace the Law? If so, it reasons then that once Peter forsook the Law for the Anointed One’s sake but was still not justified but condemned for such abandonment – then Peter would find out that the One for whom he forsook the Law and went over to in faith really became the author of his condemnation. Chrysostom feels that Paul resolved the matter of Peter’s hypocrisy with an absurd argument. And he points out how earnestly and strongly he argues. For if, he says, it was in Peter’s interest not to abandon the Law, and since he abandoned it for the Anointed One’s sake, he was being harshly judged. So, Chrysostom asks, how could Paul put such a burden upon Peter who was more intimately acquainted with it than anyone?

In the end, Chrysostom does not believe that it was Paul’s objective to correct Peter, but that his censure was directed to him for the sake of Galatians and all those who followed this erroneous teaching. In other words, since Paul was writing to the Galatians who were so easily been fooled by the Judaizers into going back to obeying the Law as a safeguard to their faith in the Anointed One, he wanted to use what Peter did in separating himself from the Gentiles to eat with the Jewish contingent that came down from Jerusalem at the Apostle James’ bidding to show how false such thinking was.

Chrysostom then concludes by saying that this was Paul’s way of asking the Galatians, “Do you not understand what these Judaizers were trying to prove?” They wanted to make the Anointed One, who is the Author of our righteousness, and turn Him into the Author of sin. As Paul says, this makes the Anointed One the minister of sin. Having thus reduced the proposition to an absurdity, Paul saw no further reason or way of dealing with it. He felt that he adequately handled this subject by protesting what Peter and his fellow Jews did.[7]

Ambrosiaster, a contemporary scholar of Chrysostom and Augustine’s, asks: “How can the Anointed One who forgives sin be an agent of sin?” He sees this charge against what Paul is saying as nonsense. He goes on to explain that anyone who wants to be justified by faith in the Anointed One and yet still obeys the law to earn their salvation are admitting that they are still under sin, because faith in the Anointed One delivers a person from the law so that they are justified by grace. However, if we must still surrender ourselves to the Law with the intent of maintaining our righteous standing with God through good works because we are still sinners, then those who stay under the law stay under a curse.

In other words, if someone in prison claims they received a pardon and allowed to go free, but decides to continue to live in jail to serve out their sentence, and be forced to abide by all the restrictions and conditions, they are thereby classifying themselves as still being a prisoner. No matter how many times they wave the pardon around, they are still a prisoner. Ambrosiaster concludes that it is essential that whoever comes to the Anointed One must give up the law as a means of salvation because it frees the slave. Therefore, if he goes back to the law, he will be his own accuser, because he is condemning what he is doing.[8]

One medieval Christian scholar named Peter Lombard who showed great interest and expertise in Jewish law, gives us his insight on what Paul is saying. For him, when speaking of building up again those things which he destroyed, he was referring to the pride he exhibited in boasting about doing the works of the Law. And by doing so, he would make himself a transgressor because the Anointed One’s grace would be abandoned. However, some might contend, that if Paul was now building up the very same faith in the Anointed One that he attacked, he makes himself a transgressor against the Law which he is deserting. This is an argument that only a former Pharisee would understand.

Lombard goes on to argue that Paul did not destroy this faith in the Anointed One since it cannot be destroyed. What really got destroyed was pride. If he then built back up what he destroyed he would indeed become a transgressor? One is a transgressor when one destroys a false idol and then builds it up again for worship. One is not a transgressor, however, when one attempts to destroy a true thing and then later comes to realize that it is true and cannot be destroyed. For then that person holds on to the true thing in order to be maintained by it.[9]

[1] Romans 9:30-32

[2] Ibid. 6:1-4

[3] 1 John 3:8-10

[4] Augustine, Commentary on Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit.

[5] Marius Victorinus: op. cit., loc, cit., On Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit., p. 31

[6] Theodoret of Cyr: On Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit., p. 31

[7] Chrysostom: On Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit., Homily 2

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

[9] Peter Lombard: The Letter to the Galatians (Medieval Bible Commentary series, op. cit., loc, cit.

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