SERENDIPITY FOR SATURDAY

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SO, YOU THINK YOU ARE HAVING A TOUGH TIME

Imagine losing your parents and going to sleep each night knowing that the next day, you may not survive. Despite this, imagine clinging to an insane and virtually impossible dream of being a lawyer to help people even though you’re in the middle of a civil war… Aduei Riak is a Sudanese woman who lived through that hellish experience. At the age of three, she was separated from her parents and joined the Lost Boys, a group of children in the same predicament who were marching away from the Sudanese Civil war. She bravely accepted her situation, not her fate, and lived through it.

Riak took the opportunity offered to her and earned a higher education that enabled her to change her fate. One newspaper says, “You would never know that as a young girl she walked 1000 miles to flee a civil war in her homeland. Or that Riak, now twenty-three, came of age in a refugee camp, and until last summer had not seen her mother since she was six.” First, she was thrown into life before she was supposed to – she lost her parents, accepted the possibility of death, and she pushed through it, despite the hopelessness of the situation. Eventually, her perseverance earned her a job as a paralegal, which is a job that requires a bachelor’s and associate’s degree, while the most common level of education achieved by Americans who have never seen war in their lives is a high school diploma.

Secondly, granted, Riak was one of the 1% of refugees who actually received higher education, but that is all the more reason why she is a hero. No one would have looked down at her for not pursuing higher education because of her horrible situation as a child. Everyone would have understood if she had gone off to England or America to pursue a financially rewarding life. Instead, she refused to take any sympathy and made a way for herself in the dark world she was given. Through hard work, courage, and perseverance, she changed her fate, her fortune, into something to be admired. Students can connect to her story; it will give them hope and drive to make a bright future for themselves, despite the many, many challenges life will put out.

Aduei Riak is a stellar speaker who helps the lives of middle school kids. Riak grew up in the middle of a civil war, with fighting and bloodshed involuntarily part of her daily life. She defied all expectations, and despite her horrible circumstance, she rode the currents of change without looking back to make a new life for herself. We can all respect the amazing things she accomplished and use her story to pull us through hard times.

                                                                     Reporter Geoffrey Johnson

The same kind of struggle is often experienced by believers who come from homes in the ghettos and public housing areas of many cities in our own country. But they stand by what is said in Proverbs:  Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight. [1] Also, the Apostle James said:

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.[2] And the Apostle Paul gave hope to many when he wrote: …being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of His holy people in the kingdom of light.[3]

So, look around you and assess your situation. Is it better or worse than those in Africa or our inner cities? Let’s stop over empathizing the negative things in our lives and start enjoying the good things God has given us. And then, let’s sincerely pray for those like Aduei Riak and children on the street in drug-infested areas of our major metropolitan areas. You may not be able to help them physically or even financially, but you can help by adding your prayers to theirs. – Dr. Robert R Seyda

[1] Proverbs 3:5-6

[2] James 1:12

[3] Colossians 1:11-12

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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 X)

John Bunyan (1628-1688) sees what Paul is talking about here in verses four and five as a reflection on what happened with Cain and Abel. The writer of Hebrews tells us that by faith, Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith, he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith, Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.[1] As Bunyan sees it, Abel is declared as being righteous before he offered his gift, as his sacrifice testified; for God accepted of it. By faith, he offered it. Therefore, faith was set as a precedent before he offered his sacrifice. So, it is by faith that we come to God through the Anointed One, not to Him, through our righteous works. And besides, as the writer of Hebrews says, Abel was righteous before he offered – before he did anything good, otherwise God would not have testified of his gift.

For Bunyan, faith, as it affects our standing quiet before the Father, respects the promise of forgiveness of sins through the work of the Lord Jesus. Whereas, before Abel’s faith was justified as righteousness,  God did not look to the future for something he should do, but He looked back to the promise of the seed of the woman, that was to destroy the power of hell, “and to redeem them that were under the law,”[2]And this is Paul’s message here in verses four and five. By this faith, we take cover under the promise of victory, and the merits of the Lord Jesus and His death on the cross on our behalf. In the same manner, Abel was righteous before he did good works, but that was only possible because of God’s promise made to his mother and father for the sake of the Messiah.[3]

Yes, for inasmuch as Abel acted in faith before he offered sacrifice with respect the promise his parents received, a promise not grounded upon a condition of good works done by Abel, but in and for the sake of the Promised Seed of the woman, which is the Anointed One.[4] For it was the Anointed One who should break the serpent’s head — that is, He Himself would destroy the works of the devil, which are sin, death, the curse, and hell. By this faith, he stood before God righteous because by putting faith in the promise made by God, he was figuratively putting on the Anointed One, and in doing so, he offered his sacrifice in an act of faith God declared He was pleased with him by accepting his sacrifice.[5] The key to understanding Bunyan’s allegory is that what Abel did was by faith that God would accept his sacrifice, the same as Abraham did many years later. Such should we do today by having faith that God will accept the sacrifice of His Son as pleasing to Him by forgiving us of our sins.

Preacher Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758), when speaking on the incarnation of the Anointed One, says that besides observing that the prophecy of His conception made by Isaiah was fulfilled, and with His birth, the natural and supernatural were joined for the first time in human form. The next thing to observe is that these both brought the fullness of time to fruition. In other words, from Adam to the Anointed One, God was filling the chalice of time until it finally reached the top upon Mary’s conception and the Anointed One’s birth. So when looking back over the expanse of centuries to the Garden of Eden, we see God’s handiwork in process until the Garden of Gethsemane where our Lord told the Father that since He did not plan to take that cup from Him, He will drink it for the salvation of mankind to the honor and glory of His Father in heaven.[6]

In one of his sermons, Charles Simeon (1759-1836), gives an inspiring word picture of what the incarnation of the Messiah means to us and its effect on believers. Simeon speaks excitedly of what an astonishing transition the soul experiences, once it is delivered from the terrors of Mount Sinai – the Law, and the joy of Mount Calvary when we are brought into “the liberty of the children of God!” – Grace. From being harassed with the fear of God’s wrath, and motivated by a slavish commitment to irksome, unsatisfying, ineffectual works, how delightful to behold the face of a reconciled God our Father, to feel a holy boldness and confidence before Him, and to anticipate the joys of heaven! This is not a picture that is drawn from an emotional imagination: it is a reality! It is the experience of billions! It is in a greater or less degree known to all who believe in Messiah.

So, cries out Simeon, seek earnestly, my brothers and sister, this joy. You can easily conceive the difference between the labor of a slave under the lash of the whip, and the services which an affectionate child renders to a loving parent: you can see how their state here on earth are exceeding different. Such is the difference between those who are under the Law of Works and those who embrace the Gospel of Grace. But what will be the difference in the hereafter? The Apostle John tells us: “Dear believers, we are already God’s children, but He has not yet shown us what we will be like when Messiah appears. But we do know that we will be like Him, for we will see Him as He really is.[7] Let all of us then believe in the Messiah, that we may see the good of His chosen, and rejoice in the gladness of His people, and give thanks with His inheritance.[8] Why would the Galatians be so foolish as to throw all their living and exciting future with the Messiah away for a dead, boring, and failed Law?[9]

James Nisbet (1823-1874), a Scottish born missionary to Canada shares how in his day preachers were being told that preaching on such things as our adoption as children of God was outdated; it has been the subject of sermons for the last nineteen hundred years; everyone knows all about these things and that they have no interest in hearing it over and over again. They complain that it’s time to move on to the real subjects of the day – equal justice under the law, to make restitution to the poor and homeless for their sufferings. But, asks Nisbet, why does that replace our relationship with God as His children and not servants? Doesn’t it make more sense to approach these things as God’s children, as part of His family? Why should we try to play the role of angels?

Nisbet goes on to explain that it is important for Christians to be concerned about these things that afflict our world with grief and sorrow. There will always be the comfortless troubles and the needs of the underprivileged, and the sighing of the poor caused by poverty. It, too, has been dealt with for over the past nineteen hundred years but only continues to get worse. The key point that we can draw from what Paul is telling the Galatians here is this: Who taught us to be sympathetic for the suffering of others? Who but He who came to make us sons and daughters of God? Most, if not all, the turmoil, pain, and suffering in the world are because the majority of them are not sons and daughters of God. What better comfort and assistance can we offer to them than clothes to wear, food to eat, a place to sleep? Is it not that they, too, can become children of God and come under His direct care?[10]

Alexander Mclaren (1826-1910) thinks that it is generally supposed that by the term “fullness of time,” Paul means that the Anointed One came at the moment when the world was precisely prepared to receive Him, and no doubt that’s true. The Jews were trained by law to understand how the Law convicted the conscience of sin; heathen religions tried their utmost to explain creation’s and humanity’s reason for existing, but after reaching the apex of possible development began to decay. Roman roads were politically prepared for the spread of the Gospel. Speaking Greek took its place as the international language for the communication of the Gospel. In almost every culture there existed an undefinable expectation of coming change, and a feeling of unrest and anticipation pervaded society

Mclaren then states that while much of this is true and becomes certain, the more we know of the state of things into which the Anointed One came, it is to be noted that Paul is not thinking of the “fullness of time” primarily in reference to the world which received the Anointed One, but to the Father who sent Him. This text immediately follows words in which God’s chosen were “under guardians, tutors, and stewards” until the time appointed by the Father. So, the “fullness of time” is, therefore, the moment that God ordained from the beginning for His Son’s coming. He, from of old, willed the precise moment this Promised Son of David should be born, and it is to the punctuality in the Lord’s eternal purpose that Paul directs our thoughts. No doubt, the world’s preparedness is part of the reason for the divine persistence of meeting the exact time predicted, but most of all, it is divine persistence rather than the world’s preparedness to which the words “fullness of time” in the text refer.[11]

There is a very interesting portion in the Jewish Talmud that reviews a variety of Messianic speculations and what was expected. It reads: The teachers in the school of Eliyyahu teach: The world is to exist six thousand years. In the first two thousand, there will be a desolation;[12] the next two thousand years, the Torah will flourish, and the next two thousand years is the Messianic era [13] but through our many iniquities all these years were lost”.[14] [15] In other words, there would be 2,000 years before the Law, 2,000 years of the Law, and then 2,000 where the Law is no longer needed because of the Messiah. No doubt, Paul knew of this teaching and used it to help the Jews to understand that the era of the Messiah came, so it was time to give up the Law and serve the Messiah.

Marvin Vincent (1834-1922) takes the phrase “fullness of time” here in verse four as relating only to earth time. In other words, there is no such time in heaven by which God marks a day or month or year to execute His will. In the case of which Paul speaks here, it signified the moment at which the whole pre-messianic period was completed.[16] It answers to the time appointed of the Father, as expressed back in verse two of this chapter. Vincent says that it is also understood as the Apostle John used it in his Gospel, where he speaks of having from God’s fullness received one gracious gift after another.[17] So when God saw that a portion of His plan of Salvation reached to transition from Law to grace, He sent His Son to carry out the next part of the plan. Of course, in tracking the progress of His plan, He observed what was happening here on earth.[18] Philip Schaff (1819-1893) says that when the period appointed by the Father until the coming of the Messiah was fixed in the eternal counsel of God with reference to the development of the race, not on a calendar or a clock.[19]

[1] Hebrews 11:4

[2] Galatians 4:4-5

[3] Genesis 3:15

[4] Galatians 4:4

[5] John Bunyan’s Practical Works: op cit., Justification by Imputed righteousness, Vol. 6, Ch. 3, pp. 100-101

[6] Edwards, Jonathan. The Complete Works of Jonathan Edwards: op cit., (Kindle Location 7194-7215)

[7] 1 John 3:2

[8] Psalm 106:5

[9] The Entire Works of the Rev. Charles Simeon: op. cit., Discourse (#2070), Text: Galatians 4:4-5, “The Time and Manner of The Anointed One’s Incarnation,” pp. 156-162

[10] James Nisbet: Church Pulpit Commentary, (Kindle Location 79225-79233)

[11] Alexander Maclaren: Expositions of Holy Scripture, Galatians, loc. cit.

[12] Namely, no Torah. It is a tradition that Abraham was fifty-two years old when he began to convert men to the worship of the true God; from Adam until then, two thousand years elapsed.

[13] Namely, Messiah will come within that period.

[14] He should have come at the beginning of the last two thousand years; the delay is due to our sins.

[15] Babylonian Talmud, Seder Nezikin, Masekhet Sanhedrin, folios 97a-b

[16] Cf. Ephesians 1:10

[17] John 1:16

[18] Marvin R Vincent: Word Studies on Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit., p. 135

[19] Philip Schaff: Popular Commentary, op. cit., On Galatians, p. 326

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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 IX)

Early church writer Ambrosiaster (335 -397 AD), feels that the term “fullness of time” also refers to the cessation of all the requirements such as circumcision and the sacrifices in the Temple, as well as the other rites and rituals. The reason for this is because the Anointed One was the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham, and Abraham was justified and considered as righteous before he and his son Isaac were circumcised. Therefore, these things served their purpose, now it was time to move on and let what the Anointed One did on the cross become the source of the believer’s justification and righteousness. Paul was amazed that the Galatians forgot what he told them and annulled their baptism and went back to advising new converts that they must be circumcised and accept all the legal laws and ceremonial laws it brings with it into their lives.[1]

Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153 AD) earned a mixed reputation. On the one hand, he is called the “honey-tongued educator” for his eloquent writings on the love of God. On the other hand, he rallied soldiers to kill Muslims. He wrote eloquently on humility; then again, he loved being close to the seat of power and was an adviser to five popes. But not all opinions are to be taken without factoring in a certain amount of bias. In writing on the theme of what greater incentive do the Christians need to go out and preach the Gospel other than the desire for the unsaved to love God, he quotes what Paul says here in verse four about God sending His own Son when the right time came. Looking at the past as a garden, he speaks of blossoms of the Anointed One’s passion as the fruit of ages past, growing, and blooming during the epidemic of sin and death.

But for Bernard, it is the glory of the Resurrection that causes a springtime of regenerating grace, that the fresh flowers of the coming ages to spring forth, whose fruit is to be given without measure at the general resurrection, when time will be no more. And so, as it is written, “The flowers are coming through the ground. The time for singing has come. The voice of the turtle-dove has been heard in our land. [2] That means, summer is back with Him who dissolves icy death into the spring of a new life and says, “Look, I am making everything new![3] His Body sown in the grave blossomed in the Resurrection as Paul told the Corinthians, “Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever![4] and in a similar fashion, our valleys and fields which lay barren or frozen, as if dead, now glow with reviving life and warmth.[5] And just as the Anointed One died and was buried when the right time came so we will rise to meet Him in the air at precisely the right time.

Medieval scholar Nicholas of Lyra (1210-1270) we quoted earlier, believes that the reason Jesus was born of a woman and made subject to the Jewish legalistic rituals prevalent at the time, such as His circumcision, dedication, and study of the Torah and Mishnah, is because He wanted to abide by all the requirements of the Law so that He is allowed to point to Himself as their complete fulfillment, showing that they no longer needed to be freed from the penalty of sin in order to inherit everlasting life. He took all that upon Himself, so we could believe in what He did for us.[6]

Catholic scholar Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) offers this exposition on that part of the passage that says the Anointed One was born of a woman. As he sees it, two errors must be avoided: Namely, that of Photinus,[7] who said that the Anointed One was solely man and received the beginning of His existence from the Virgin; in other words, that the Anointed One was made of a woman as though He owed His beginning entirely to her. But this is false because it contradicts what Paul says: “Who was born as a person in the flesh.”[8] he does not say, “according to His person,” which exists from eternity, namely, the hypostasis[9] of the Son of God. In the same way, when you put a loaf of bread in the oven for baking when it begins to turn brown, it is not proper to say that the browning made the bread. It is simply a case of the browning being added to the bread. In the same way, the fact that the Son of God became flesh in Mary’s womb, it is not proper to say that the person of the Anointed One came into being. Rather, that the human nature newly given to the Anointed One did not change His original essence of divinity.

 Aquinas goes on to say that certain items affect a thing and change it, such as forms and qualities, but certain other items affect it without changing it. For instance, dipping a stick in water makes it wet but does so without changing its essence of being wood. This sort of thing indicates a relationship. That’s why our adaptation to the Word of God in us does not change the Word, but we are changed by it. That is why, in spiritual matters, we employ in temporal sense terms that signify a relationship. That way, we can say, “Lord, You are my refuge.”[10] Or we say, God, became human. But we do not use forms and qualities so as to say: God was turned into a human.[11]

Aquinas also made note of how the Anointed One fulfilled the precepts of the Old Law both in His works and in His teaching. In His works, because He was willing to be circumcised and to fulfill the other legal observances, which were binding for the time being; As Paul says here in verse four, the Anointed One was “made under the Law.” In His teaching, He fulfilled the precepts of the Law in three ways. First, by explaining the essence of the Law. This is clear in the case of murder and adultery, the prohibition of which the Scribes and Pharisees thought to refer only to the actual physical act. However, our Lord fulfilled the Law by showing that the prohibition extended to the thoughtful acts of sins. Secondly, our Lord fulfilled the precepts of the Law by prescribing the safest way of complying with the statutes of the Old Law. Thus, the Old Law forbade perjury: and this is safely avoided by abstaining altogether from taking an oath unless required by law. Thirdly, our Lord fulfilled the precepts of the Law, by taking aim at perfection. This is seen in what He said to the man wanting to follow Him. After the man affirmed that he kept all the precepts of the Old Law, Jesus told him, “There is one thing for you to do yet, if you want to be perfect, go and sell everything you have and give the money to poor people.”[12] [13]

Dutch theologian James Arminius (1558-1609), was speaking on the Priesthood of the Anointed One and how this applied to our becoming sons and daughter of God. He is commenting on, what he calls, “The Second Fruit” of the Anointed One’s Priestly Office. This involves the asking, obtaining, and application of all the blessings available to those who are part of God’s covenant administered by the Anointed One of salvation for both the soul and the body.

This necessary blessing, says Arminius, is succeeded by adoption into sons and daughters by their right to the heavenly inheritance. We owe it to the Priesthood of the Anointed One that this blessing was requested and obtained for us by the Anointed One, as well as communicated to us by the Holy Spirit. For He being the proper and only begotten Son of the Father, and the sole heir of all His Father’s blessings, was unwilling to enjoy such surpassing benefits alone, and desired to have co-heirs and partners, whom He might anoint with the oil of His gladness, and invited to join in the glory and blessings of that inheritance. To do this, He became an offering by willfully sacrificing His life for sin, that, the painful endurance of His soul being finished, He might see His seed continue to grow in their days – the new seeds of God, so they might come into possession with Him both of name and inheritance. That’s why, says Arminius, Paul tells us here in verse five that the Anointed One was made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive “THE ADOPTION OF SONS.”[14]

Puritan English Presbyterian minister and author John Flavel (1627-1691), preaching on the Doctrine – the death of Jesus the Anointed One, not only satisfied our debts but over and above purchased a rich inheritance for the children of God. This he called the second effect or fruit of our Lord’s priesthood. This involved our adoption as sons and daughters because born again believers received the spiritual nature of the Anointed One to be within them, so they lived because He now lived in them.

Flavel draws a comparison between “civil adoption” and “sacred adoption.” There exist a twofold agreement and disagreement between them. They agree in this that both are enacted at the pleasure and good-will of the adopter; and in this, that both procedures confer privileges on the adopted individual that was not theirs by nature. But where they disagree is that one is an act imitating nature, the other transcends nature; the one is initiated by those without any natural children; the other for the comfort of them that were without a spiritual Father.

This divine adoption is, in scripture, either taken appropriately for that act of God by which we are made sons and daughters or, seen correctly, for the privileges with which the adopted are invested. This is what Paul also wrote the Romans.[15] We lost our inheritance by the fall of Adam; we receive it, as Paul says here in verses four and five, by the death of the Anointed One, which restores it again to us by a new and better title.[16] It’s one thing to be born into a family and thereby expect all that the family offers to come freely to the new child. But to be forsaken as unwanted by a family and then be adopted as wanted into a family should make the new family member forever grateful.

[1] Ambrosiaster, op. cit., p. 21

[2] Song of Solomon 2:12

[3] Revelation 21:5

[4] 1 Corinthians 15:42

[5] Bernard of Clairvaux: On Loving God Ch. 3, p. 11

[6] Nicholas of Lyra, op. cit., loc. cit.

[7] Photinus was the bishop of Samnium in Pannonia (today the town of Sremska Mitrovica in Serbia) who was best known for denying the incarnation of the Anointed One.  Photinus grew up in Ancyra in Galatia.  He died in 376 AD.

[8] Romans 1:3

[9] Hypostasis is a philosophical term that identifies an underlying reality or substance not seen on the surface

[10] Psalm 89:1

[11] Thomas Aquinas, op. cit., loc. cit

[12] Aquinas combines Mark 10:21 with Matthew 19:21

[13] Ibid., Summa Theologica, op. cit. Part 2-Question 107-Answer 2, p. 1290

[14] James Arminius: Orations of Arminius, Vol. 1, Oration 1, The Priesthood of The Anointed One, Delivered on July 11, 1603, p. 31

[15] Romans 8:23

[16] John Flavel: The Fountain of Life, Sermon 15, p. 177

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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 VIII)

And there was one more factor to consider, Jesus Himself says that no one should think that He came to do away with the Law of Moses or the writings of the early prophets. He did not come to do away with them but to complete them. He said, “I tell you, as long as heaven and earth last, not one small mark or part of a word will pass away of the Law of Moses until it has all been done.[1] That’s why Paul was able to tell the Roman believers that the Anointed One came to help the Jews. This proved that God told the truth to their early fathers. This showed that God would do what He promised.[2] And he told the Colossians that the Anointed One wiped away the list of charges brought against all of us. Because of the Law, they stood as a warning of condemnation; but He removed them by paying the price for redemption when He Himself was nailed to the execution-stake on our behalf.[3]

It’s clear that the Jews themselves were aware that the time of the Messiah’s coming was fixed, and that at that time He would come, as planned, whether they deserved it or not it was possible for them to read this in their own Talmud what the Rabbis said about the coming of the Son of David and the conditions that will exist to herald His coming.[4] There are many times in Jewish writings that the state of the Jewish world is described that will exist when the Messiah comes. Unfortunately, they are not the times that come from Scripture but from people’s imaginations. But Christians need not smirk or shake their heads because they’ve done the same with the second coming of the Messiah.

The first time He came to redeem the unbelievers, the next time will be to resurrect the believers. As Paul told the Ephesians, because of the blood of the Anointed One, we are bought and made free from the punishment of sin. And because of His blood, our sins are forgiven. His loving-favor to us is so rich.[5] And it’s all because He gave Himself on our behalf, a gift on the altar to God, which was a sweet aroma to God.[6] And because of the Anointed One’s willingness to be sacrificed as payment for our sins, Paul tells the Colossians that God took us out of living in sin’s darkness. He put us in the holy nation of His much-loved Son. We were bought by His blood and made free. Our sins are forgiven through Him.[7]

But the Anointed One did not pay for our ransom to free us from sin’s slave camp so that we might roam freely without any responsibilities, we must never forget that in the past, the way we were living was useless. It was a way of life we learned from those who lived before us. But we were able to escape from that way of living. We were bought, but not with things that decay or corrode. We were bought with the precious blood of the Anointed One in His death. He was a pure and perfect sacrificial Lamb. Long before the world was made, God chose the Anointed One to be sent to save us.[8]

Paul’s important message for the Roman was that everything God created awaits with great excitement for the time when He will show the world who His children are. The whole creation wants very much for that to happen. Everything God made was allowed to become like something that cannot fulfill its purpose. That was not its choice, but God made it happen with this hope in view: That creation will be made free from ruin – that everything God made will have the same freedom and glory that belong to God’s children.[9] And this was not just for the moment or our short stay here on earth, even as the Jewish Book of Enlightenment states clearly: “The enlightened will shine like sunshine in the sky, and those who make many right with God will shine like the stars forever and ever.”[10] [11]

When we look back over human history, some may ask why He didn’t come sooner; why not right after Adam’s fall in order to save mankind all the pain and suffering they went through including Noah’s flood and the tower of Babel that tore the human race apart with different languages? Did God need four thousand years to get His plan figured out? The only way to come up with an answer to these questions is to have the mind of God; to see what He saw; know what He knew; understand what He understood. After all, how long did it take mankind to invent printing, to discover vaccines, and to come up with the radio and television? God is never behind time or ahead of time; He’s always right on time. If Paul were writing today, he might use the phrase, “just at the right moment.

But He didn’t come as an angel, exempt from the laws that govern mankind, nor immune from the requirements of the religious rituals and regulations practiced by the Jews. He did not tread the earth as a celestial being unaffected by human needs or tendencies. Rather, He was born subject to Mosaic Law as a Jew and made subject to Mosaic rites and rituals by His Father’s appointment. He was to keep all the ceremonial and moral requirements perfectly for us as our Representative and to suffer and absorb the full penalty of our violation of it as the human race. This constitutes the significance of His circumcision, His being presented in the Temple for dedication, and His baptism by John, after which Jesus said, “It’s the right thing to do so that all the requirements of righteousness are fulfilled.”[12] And He did it all so that He, the only Son of God, might make it possible for the Father to adopt all of us as His full-fledged children.

Whenever we read the genealogy of Jesus in the scripture, especially the King James Version, it always follows the method using the word “begat,” such as in Matthew, Chapter One. But here, it does not say, “and Joseph begat Jesus.”  If by the time Paul wrote this letter any doubts arose or any evidence uncovered by the followers of Jesus that His birth occurred some other way than by virgin birth through Mary, Paul would have been forced to admit so. But the Apostle is quite clear and convinced that Jesus was conceived by Mary through the Holy Spirit. As such, He was already God/man at birth; He did not need to work His way into that status through His prayer and fasting, those were meant for other purposes. Prayer and fasting were not fashioned to impress or flatter God, they were designed to enhance our ability at increasing self-discipline. Jesus did not need to obey the Law for His own salvation, He did so to qualify as our Savior.

Interestingly, Paul uses the concept of adoption when discussing the new relationship between the Galatian believers and God. Adoption was already a well-known practice even in Paul’s day. If one brother died, it was common for another brother to adopt his brother’s children. Even estate owners were known to adopt the children of beloved slaves to give them a better chance of becoming free and successful. Paul spent quite a bit of time telling the Galatians about how they grew up as children under the tutelage and custody of Mosaic Law; but through Jesus, the Anointed One God adopted those who believed in Him as true sons and daughters, fully invested in the promise He made to Abraham.  This was not acquired through any other way or by any other means; it was all because of the Anointed One.

Tertullian (155-225 AD) makes reference to what Paul says here in verse four how, when the right time arrived, God sent His Son to be born of a woman through natural childbirth. He wants to know whether the Apostle understood the standard of the term “woman” in accordance with Genesis attributing this to her gender. By calling the virgin Mary a woman, he follows Scripture that calls Eve, as a virgin upon her creation, a woman.[13] It is also important to note that the Archangel Gabriel was sent to the virgin Mary, blessed her as a woman among women.[14] Gabriel understood that even a virgin is called a woman. This also has a double meaning. When does a girl become a woman? In the culture of that day, it is said to be at the age of twelve or upon her first menstrual period. So, we see that the phrase “woman” here to mean a “female human being,” capable of bearing a child. But the real argument here is to counter the growing idea that Jesus was some celestial being who appeared on earth as a human being. No! He was born of a woman like any other human being.

Tertullian goes on to point out that Mary was also referred to as being “betrothed” (meaning engaged to be married – KJV “espoused”),[15] therefore, it is that both by angel and Apostle she is pronounced a woman becoming a bride. However, says Tertullian, it is not to be understood that being betrothed meant they were already married. Even though engaged to Joseph, she still qualified being called a “woman.” Yes, said Tertullian, this does not depend on simply being a female but on the grounds that she was promised to a man as his bride. Some apparently claimed that because she was engaged, she was no longer a virgin; therefore, Jesus was not born of a virgin. But that is ridiculous, she is still a virgin until the marriage is consummated by intimacy. The fact that Joseph was never intimate with Mary means that she remained a virgin woman even after being married. [16]

I’ve added what Tertullian says, not because it makes what Paul said any clearer, but to show how that early in Christian history such subjects were being debated. Are these types of disagreements now in the past? The obvious answer is, “No!” During my lifetime, I’ve heard about debates among Christians if women qualify to be ordained as ministers and bishops. Today we have discussions on whether or not homosexuals and lesbians should be ordained as ministers and bishops. Who knows what the next dispute will be related to women’s roles in the Church?

Bishop Cyril of Jerusalem (313-396 AD) addresses the concept of adoption as sons and daughters in the spiritual family of God that Paul speaks of in verse five. Paul clearly distinguishes two things, “the adoption” itself, and the witness of it by “the Spirit of adoption.” For Cyril, the adoption itself belongs to Baptism in which we are made children of God and joint-heirs with the Anointed One: the witness of the indwelling Spirit of adoption is the special grace ascribed to the Sacrament of Chrismation in the Eastern Church,[17] and to Confirmation in the Western. There are many other passages in which Cyril ascribes it to Baptism itself, as distinct from Chrismation – a gift of the Spirit. As Bishop Cyril sees it, men may baptize you with water to make you a member of the church, but the Spirit will not baptize you to make you a child of God. First, you must be born again.[18]

[1] Matthew 5:17-18

[2] Romans 15:8

[3] Colossians 2:14 – Complete Jewish Bible

[4] Babylonian Talmud: Seder Nezikin, Masekhet Sanhedrin, folio 98a

[5] Ephesians 1:7

[6] Ibid. 5:2b

[7] Colossians 1:13-14; Cf. Titus 2:14

[8] See 1 Peter 1:18-20

[9] Romans 8:19-23; See Ephesians 1:5

[10] See Daniel 12:3

[11] Zohar on Genesis: The Creation of Elohim

[12] Matthew 4:15

[13] Genesis 2:22

[14] Luke 1:42

[15] Matthew 1:18

[16] The Ante-Nicene Fathers, op. cit., loc. cit. Vol. 4, Tertullian: On the Unveiling of Virgins, Ch. 6, pp. 61-62

[17] The Sacrament of Chrismation, also called Confirmation, is always done in the Orthodox Church together with baptism.

[18] The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: op cit., Second Series, Vol. 7, Eucharistic Rites, Ch. 6, p.60

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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 VII)

Andrew G. Roth translates verse three from the Aramaic text as follows: “Even so with us, when we were young, we acted as if subject to the elements of this world.[1] In the footnotes, we find comments from Professor Denis Baly (1913-1987) on what Paul was saying here about when the Israelites were “young” and under bondage to the “elements” of the world. As Baly sees it, the phrase “when we were young” is an apparent reference to Israel as a “child” in bondage to Egypt (out of Egypt have I called my son)[2] as well as the Ten “Lost” Tribes of Israel in bondage to the nations by whom they were carried away into captivity.[3] The Apostle Paul, in his own case, reminds the Galatians that he was once subject to the “elements of the world,” namely, the misinterpretation of the Torah by the School of Shammai.[4] Then, the children of Israel being under the yoke of slavery in Egypt and later by other Nations (Assyria, Babylon, etc.) were brought under bondage to the “elements of this world,” that is, were forced to obey the Laws, regulations and false religions of their host Nations.

Paul uses an interesting term to describe how minor children are treated differently than adults, which he says is based on the values of the cosmos. This word “principle” refers to the building blocks which make up a composite form. So, says Paul, just like we know that rules and cultural norms are principles that form societies’ expectations of rights and behavior for minors, so God’s spiritual rules and laws that classify us as under-aged children applies to God’s spiritual society. The Jews enjoyed no personal relationship with the Father or His thoughts, it all came through servants who received them, interpreted them, and propagated them. They lived according to God’s system but went beyond it. They were dependent on a system involving rudimentary religious teaching by rabbis.

I cannot imagine how the Apostle Paul might act if he saw the bondage to religious rituals and regulations the church developed within a few hundred years after his letter to the Galatians.  Even in our lifetime, we’ve witnessed how believers were put under bondage to church rules and teachings that require their obedience in order to accept them as being saved and children of God.  Even though I stand and put my hand over my heart when saying the Pledge of Allegiance, and take off my hat when singing the National Anthem, and have the greatest respect for the Flag of my country, I’d be very upset if our federal government passed a law saying we MUST do all of these things in order to remain a citizen. We do them because we are proud patriots, not to keep or justify our citizenship, to show our thankfulness for our great country.

Church laws and practical teachings may assist in controlling our carnal nature, but they do not deliver us from sin. These laws and restrictions do not justify, nor do they guarantee a person going to heaven. We do not obtain eternal life by refraining from murder, adultery, stealing, lying, etc. Such outward decency does not constitute real Christianity. The heathen may observe the same disciplines to avoid punishment or to secure the advantages of a good reputation. In the last analysis: using such constraints to assure salvation serve only to promote hypocrisy. Just being morally good is not a substitute for being born again. The writer of Hebrews said that the Old Way of worship was made up of Laws about what to eat and drink. These Laws told how to purify and other ceremonial cleansing things of the body. These things must be done until the Anointed One comes to bring a better way of worship.[5]

Perhaps we can now look back on all that Paul said about Israel being a minor child in the household of the Lord who were treated much like a servant. God was waiting for them to grow up so He could give them the Promised Land. So, He sent Moses the Law as a guide toward that goal. But at the same time said, when the Law finished its task, a new Savior would come replacing Moses as their Deliverer and Teacher, who would then lead them as adults into His kingdom. Unfortunately, when the Messiah arrived, they rejected His leadership and remained with Moses. That’s when the call went out to all the world to come into God’s kingdom. We might say that the Gospel served the same purpose. When the disciples became Apostles, they were given the revelation on how to grow up in the Anointed One in preparation for the time when He would return to take them into the heavenly promised land forever.

4:4-5 Likewise, when the time appointed by God arrived, He sent His Son. He was born of a woman through natural childbirth, and He became subject to all the Jewish religious and cultural laws in effect at the time in order for Him to qualify as our redeemer, and to set us free from the legal guardianship of Mosaic Law in becoming His rightful heirs as grown-up sons and daughters.

 Now Paul brings out the motivating factor behind his wanting the Galatian believers to know why God kept mankind in such an elementary state of faith. It all pointed toward a day of deliverance, a day of regeneration, a day of spiritual freedom from the slavery of Mosaic Law. Paul states explicitly that it didn’t happen until God’s appointed time. It couldn’t be brought on early by the Jew’s pious dedication of keeping every religious ritual and regulation. Furthermore, it couldn’t be prevented by the Gentiles turning further and further away from the One True God into heathenism and idolatry. It was God’s plan and God’s promise, and He intended to keep it on His schedule.

The coming of the Messiah was no accident, no happenstance, and no coincidence. This suggests something being filled like a glass of water. It also carries with it the concept of completeness. Medieval commentator Robert of Melun reminds us that the time of the Lord’s return is called “the fullness of time” since we are waiting for nothing else to secure our salvation. In fact, the Anointed One is all-sufficient to offer salvation. That means, the passing of time will not be altered prior to the Day of judgment, so it is called the fullness of time and the end of the age. By “fullness,” the Apostle does not mean that time itself ceases to exist, for the state of time ought to remain unchangeable because God is unchangeable.[6] Robert then asks: What does it mean to say that God the Father, sent forth His Son? It is because this is the very Son whose existence is from the Father and appeared to us in the form of human flesh.[7]

So, what was completed that needed to be filled? What appointed time is Paul talking about? It concerned that point in time that all the prophets pointed to, a time when the Law accomplished all it was able to do in bringing people close to God. But it needed a personal touch. It was time for the son of David to be revealed, from the tribe of Judah; born in the city of Bethlehem; before the destruction of the second Temple, and the completion of the seventy weeks spoken of by Daniel. Again, Paul wants the Galatian believers to know this is God’s design, a plan made in advance. Furthermore, since God made such arrangements for the coming of the Messiah long before it occurred, then how much more should we believe that He included, in those plans, what happens after the Messiah’s time came and then returned to His Father’s side in eternity?

Paul certainly was aware of what Jacob told his sons down in Egypt just before his death about how neither the king’s ornamental wand nor royal staff would be removed from the family of Judah until the One to whom the people’s obedience belongs arrives.[8] That, One, was Yeshua of Nazareth, the Messiah. This is the same One that the prophet Malachi spoke about whom everyone expected God to send with good news. He will show up in God’s House, bearing a new covenant. He is coming, says the LORD of Hosts.[9]

This was one of our Lord’s answers when His disciples asked Him about the date of His return that such a time is known only by the Father in Heaven.[10] So while even today there may be questions about the time, there should be no question about His return. That was also the Apostle Paul’s answer to the Ephesians about Jesus’ first coming and his second coming that it will occur at the right time. That means, God’s time.[11]

And the idea of the Messiah being born naturally like other babies was no secret. Isaiah made it very plain when he prophesied that He will arrive as a newborn child, born of a virgin. He will be the Son of God. And the rule of the nations will be on His shoulders. His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Powerful God, Father of Eternity, and Prince of Peace. There will be no end to His rule and His peace, upon the throne of David and over His nation. He will build it to last and keep it strong with what is right and fair and good from that time and forever. All this will be the work of the Lord of All.[12]

Not only that, but the Prophet Micah revealed where this Messiah would be born, in Bethlehem, and that it was planned long, long ago.[13] And the Prophet Zechariah speaks of Him as being the One they called “the Branch.”[14] [15] Paul reiterated all this to the Romans as well,[16] letting them know that this was no last-minute decision, that the early prophets came from the family of Judah. The Anointed One Himself was born of flesh from this family, and He is over all things. May God be honored and thanked forever. Let it be so.[17]

But when writing to the Philippians, Paul added another dimension to this story of the coming of the Messiah. He told them that Jesus existed as God is. But did not hold to His rights as God. He put aside everything that belonged to Him and made Himself the same as a servant who is owned by someone. He became human by being born as a human. After He became a human, He gave up His important place and obeyed by dying on a cross.[18] And Paul reassured young Timothy that this was not a myth, that it is important to know the secret of God-like living, which is: The Anointed One came to earth as a human. He was pure in His Spirit. He was seen by angels. The nations heard about Him. Men everywhere put their trust in Him while He was here, and then He was taken up into heaven.[19]

[1] Andrew G. Roth: Aramaic Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit.

[2] Hosea 11:1

[3] See 2 Kings, Chapter 17

[4] Rabbi Hillel the Elder’s friendly adversary was Rabbi Shammai, a native of the Land of Israel about whom little is known except that he was a builder, known for the strictness of his views. He was reputed to be stern, quick-tempered, and impatient. Both lived during the reign of King Herod (BC 37-4), an oppressive period in Jewish history because of the Roman occupation of the Land of Israel. Shammai was concerned that if Jews made too much contact with the Romans, the Jewish community would be weakened, and this attitude reflected in his strict interpretation of Jewish law. Hillel did not share Shammai’s fear and, therefore, was more liberal in his view of the Law.

[5] Hebrews 9:10

[6] Robert of Melun: Commentary on Galatians, loc. cit.

[7] Ibid., verse 4

[8] Genesis 49:10

[9] Malachi 3:1

[10] Acts of the Apostles 1:7

[11] Ephesians 1:10

[12] Isaiah 9:6-7

[13] Micah 5:2

[14] See Isaiah 11:1-3

[15] Zechariah 6:12

[16] Romans 1:3

[17] Ibid. 9:5

[18] Philippians 2:5-6

[19] 1 Timothy 3:10; See Hebrews 2:14; 10:5-7; 1 John 4:2

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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 VI)

Methodist pastor, professor, and writer Daniel D. Whedon (1808-1885) was a strong advocate of the doctrines of Arminianism and freewill versus Calvinism and predestination. In his commentary on what Paul says here, in verse three, Whedon focuses on what is called the “elements of nature,” and how it influenced the development of both the Heathen and Hebrew religions. He points out that as nature is viewed in rows and orders,[1], so it came to signify the elements of nature, which were then accepted as earth, wind, fire, and water.

So it is, says Whedon, from the visible order of these elements, or from their orderly measurement of time, the term was applied to the heavenly bodies, the sun, the moon, the planets, and the stars. By the phrase “elements of the world,” as used here, most of the ancient interpreters understood the heavenly bodies, as visible objects of worship to the invisible God. But for Whedon, that does not fit the parallelism between the minor child being in bondage to a servant, or tutor, or governor, in verse one, as pertaining to those ancient heathens.

Whedon contends that the parallelism of these elements to the minor child and its tutors simply means that they adjusted to and learned from their tutors all the elements required in order to grow up educated to receive their inheritance. These elements are said to be “of the world,” meaning the world’s philosophy for living. This then puts them in opposition to the doctrines of the Christian Church. The same goes for Judaism’s Law of Moses in contrast to Gentilism’s Laws of Nature. Since Paul is using a figure of speech, we must understand that he is accusing the Galatians of going back to understanding God and His plan of Salvation through the Law instead of going forward through Jesus the Messiah. The Law, as a tutor, was getting them ready for the Messiah, but they chose to regress back to the old way instead of to the new way.[2]

August H. Strong notes that from eternity God determined to redeem humankind; the history of the human race from the time of Adam’s fall to the coming of the Messiah was wisely arranged to prepare the way for their redemption. The preparation was twofold: Initially, it shows the commonplace nature of sin and the depth of spiritual ignorance and of moral depravity to which the race, left to itself, has fallen. It also shows the powerlessness of human nature to preserve or regain an adequate knowledge of God, or to deliver itself from sin by philosophy or art.

So that raises the question, says Strong, why did Eve not become the mother of the Chosen Seed, as no doubt she probably thought she was? Did she not say, “With the help of the Lord, I have given birth to a man”?[3] Why was not the cross set up at the gates of Eden? Paul plainly tells us here in verse four that such preparation was necessary, – “For when the fullness of the time came, God sent down His Son.” But this was only one part of the preparation for the ultimate redemption. Of the two agencies God made use of, we leave behind what is called heathenism, the negative preparation. But it was not wholly negative; it was partly positive also.

Strong then points out that the Bible recognizes Job, Balaam, Melchizedek, as instances of the priesthood, or divine communication, outside the bounds of the chosen people. Heathen religions either were not religions, or God was not part of them. Confucius, Buddha, Zoroaster were at least reformers raised up in God’s providence. That seems to be the crux of what Paul says here in verse three in which Judaism might be included as one of the “rudiments of the world,” and, as Paul told the Romans, “The law was brought in so that more people would sin the way Adam did.[4] So the Law came in along with other forces cooperating with human factors resulting in primitive religion based on naïve revelation.[5] All of this as preparatory for the next phase of redemption through Jesus the Messiah.

Justin Martyr (100-165 AD) spoke of spermatikos Logos (“seeds of truth” or “seeds of reasoning”), as part of his view of the natural man and natural morality, among the heathen. He mentions that Moses is a more ancient source than all the Greek philosophers. So whatever both philosophers and poets said concerning the immortality of the soul, or punishments after death, or contemplation of things to come, or similar doctrines, they received such suggestions from their prophets, which enabled them to understand and interpret these things. Therefore, there seem to be seeds of truth among all humankind; but they are not accurately charged with understanding the real truth when they assert contradictory theories.

So, says Justin, what Christian apostles say about future events being foretold does not present it as if their revelations came about by some urgent necessity. Instead, we believe that God’s foreknowledge of all that will be done by all humankind and seeing that it is His decree, then the future actions of humanity, will be repaid according to what they deserve. Through the inspiration of His Holy Spirit, He foretells that He will award the proper gift according to the merit of the actions done. By doing so, He urges the human race to be productive and responsible, thereby showing that He cares and provides for His creation.

Justin points out that while they lacked in truth and revelation, they searched for nothing more except among themselves. But some did search and turned to well-known ancient writings such as the Oracles of Sybil in which we read: “But the dread serpent drew them off by guile to go away unto the fate of death and to gain knowledge of both good and evil. But the wife then the first traitress proved to God; She gave and urged the unknowing man to sin.”[6] He says that anyone among the heathens who read such things as this joined the devil in death. For not only did they fearlessly read them, but we bring them for your examination, knowing that their contents will be pleasing to all. And if we persuade even a few, our gain will be very great; for, as good husbandmen, we shall receive the reward from the Master.[7]

Bible scholar William Kelly, a northern Irish member of the Plymouth Brethren movement, asks why some think that anyone should desire to put the Gentiles under the Law when they were brought out from it themselves by the will of God, the work of the Anointed One, and the witness of the Holy Spirit? What a gross inconsistency! What a subversion, not only of the truth of God revealed in the Gospel, but also of redemption, which is its basis! For the Anointed One removed those Jews who remained under the Law, that Gentiles might receive the adoption of sons, bringing them by grace into a place of real salvation and intelligent joy in relationship with their God and Father, out of that bondage as underaged heirs which the Law reckoned them to be.[8] As Paul says here in verse five, God did this so that He could buy the freedom of those who were under the Law. God’s purpose was to make them His children.

William Ramsay (1851-1939) paints a stark picture of this young heir by saying that according to Paul’s explanation, here in verse three, this child was treated in practice the same way a slave would be treated. They were to take orders and ask no questions, even though, in theory, because of their status as an heir, they are the de-facto owner and master of the slaves with whom they live. But there is hope, the father declared in his will and testament that once they reached the age of eligibility to receive their inheritance, they would immediately be treated as the Master by everyone.[9]

Modern commentator Robert Gundry gives us some added thoughts to consider. He tells us that ancient civilizations spoke of the world as being made up of four elements – earth, wind, fire, and water – and idolized these elements. Furthermore, since such sacred elements were thought to govern the world, the elements were also identified with the rules and regulations under which human beings are ordered to live. For Jews, the Law consists of those rules and regulations. But Paul wants to compare Jewish believers’ having been held in custody under the Law prior to their conversion with Gentile believers subjected to the rules and regulations in pagan religion prior to their acceptance of the Messiah as their Savior.

So, he uses “the elements of the world” to include both the Law and pagan rules and regulations. That’s why when he says “we” in this verse, he’s referring to himself among the Jewish believers. And when it comes to the idea of enslavement, the shocking comparison of the Law with pagan rules and regulations should keep the Galatians from subjecting themselves to such enslavement – this time to the Law rather than to pagan rules and regulations. In any case, they are the elements of the material world, not the Spirit world.[10]

Current British theologian Nicholas T. Wright points out that although Paul is talking about Jews in verse three by saying “we,” what he says about these Jews who became Christians is designed to make their story as similar as possible to that of the Gentile Christians. His aim throughout this narrative is to make the Galatians – Gentile Christians themselves, realize that their pilgrimage from paganism to Christianity is matched, stride for stride by the Jewish pilgrimage from the “minor child” status under the Law, into the adulthood of the Christian faith. Of course, there are differences. The Jews already followed the same God who revealed Himself in Jesus and by the Holy Spirit, whereas the pagans followed idols. But the routes are parallel, and the destination is identical.[11]

[1]Rows and Orders” refer to the Table of Elements and their volume and value to the whole of nature’s ecosystem.

[2] Daniel D. Whedon: On Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit., pp. 230-231, op. cit., loc. cit.

[3] Genesis 4:1

[4] Romans 5:20

[5] August H. Strong: Systematic Theology, op. cit., Vol. 2, Part 6, Ch. 1, Section 1, pp. 521-522

[6] The Sibylline Oracles translated from the Greek into English blank verse by Milton S. Terry, Eaton & Mains, New York, 1899, Bk. 1:50; These oracles are a collection of prophecies in which Jewish or Christian doctrines were allegedly confirmed by Sibyl, a legendary Greek prophetess. The prophecies were actually the work of certain Jewish and Christian writers from about BC 150 to 180 AD and are not to be confused with the Greek Sibylline Books of prophecy.

[7] The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 1, The First Apology of Justin Martyr, Ch. 44, pp. 322-323

[8] William Kelly: Lectures Introductory to the Study of the Epistles of Paul the Apostle, W. H. Broom, Paternoster Row, London, 1869, p. 173

[9] William H. Ramsay: On Galatians, op. cit., p. 391

[10] Robert Gundry: Commentary on Galatians, loc. cit.

[11] Wright, Nicholas T., op. cit.

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POINTS TO PONDER!

silhouette-man-top-mountain-sunset-conceptual-sce-scene-48015806

WHAT’S IN A NAME – In 1852 an English Confectioner named Sam German was working for the Baker Chocolate Company, located in Lower Mills Village on the Neponset River between Dorchester and Milton, Massachusetts. He was experimenting with various blends of chocolate and came up with an interesting mix. The Baker Company execs were so impressed that they begin to produce and sell this chocolate bar and in honor of the inventor who named it “German’s Sweet Chocolate Bar.” It took over one hundred years before the first published recipe for what we now know as German’s Chocolate Cake recipe showed up in a Dallas newspaper in 1957 and came from a Texas homemaker named Mrs. Marie Baca.

It became so popular, that soon a cake mix was being produced and sold as German’s Chocolate Cake Mix. It wasn’t long before in recipes and packaging the apostrophe was dropped from German’s, and it simply became “German Chocolate Cake Mix.” Ask anyone today and they will tell you that German Chocolate Cake had its origin in Germany. But that could not be further from the truth.

The same seems to be what has happened to the original spiritual formula once called the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It was developed by none other than a Jewish prophet known as Yeshua of Nazareth who ministered in the country of Israel over 2000 years ago. But over time the name Jesus Christ was dropped from the title and it simply became known as “The Gospel.” Even today there are certain ingredients missing in the recipe such as virgin birth, His being the Son of God, the Way, Truth and Life, the sacrifice for sins, His blood that cleanses from sin, and His resurrection from death.

As a matter of fact, many people sitting in pews think the recipe for the Gospel was invented in Rome or Jerusalem, in England or the United States. In his letter to the Thessalonians, the Apostle Paul left no doubt as to where the Gospel he preached came from, “He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus.”[1] So it is important that we know the true identity of the Gospel because much of what is preached today is not “Gospel.”  Once you become intimately acquainted with the “Gospel,” you can join the Apostle Paul in declaring: I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ for it is the power of God in bringing salvation.[2] – Dr. Robert R Seyda

[1] 2 Thessalonians 1:8

[2] Romans 1:16

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