CALLED TO LIVE IN FREEDOM

9526a07d9f8686ec5667a96cad064ff6

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

By Dr. Robert R Seyda

PAUL’S LETTER TO THE GALATIANS

CHAPTER THREE (Lesson XXIII)

3:12: You see, living by faith is so different than living under Mosaic Law, which says, “If you want to find eternal life through Mosaic Law, you must consistently obey every one of its religious rituals and regulations.”

Again, Paul shows his expertise in Jewish Law by quoting Leviticus 18:5. This was part of a prelude to the Law God gave Moses to share with His people. Paul says it was very clear, very simple, and very emphatic. If you follow Mosaic Law it does not take faith, it takes force. Furthermore, the only way you can succeed is by making your salvation dependent on keeping every one of those laws without fail. Mosaic Law does not allow for nor encourage faith. In fact, Paul told the Romans, if a person works, their pay is not a gift. It is something they earned. However, if a person does not work to be saved but puts their trust in the God who saves people from the punishment of their sins, as a gift that person is made right with God because of their trust in the Anointed One’s work on Calvary. So, God’s promise is given to us because we put our trust in Him. We can be sure of it because of His loving-favor to us.[1]

Obviously, the Gentiles were listening but the Jews were not. So, Paul points to the Gentiles and says, these heathens were not made right with God by the Law. They were made right with God because they put their trust in Him. You Jews tried to be right with God by obeying the Law for centuries, but you never became right with God on your own. Why? Because you did not put your trust in God, only in the Law. You tried to be right with God by working for it. You tripped over the most important Stone – the Anointed One.[2] Didn’t Isaiah, one of your own prophets say, “See! I put a Rock in the path to Jerusalem that people will trip over trying to get by on their way to heaven. It is a Rock that will make them fall. But the person who puts their trust in this Rock to get them there, will not be humiliated?[3]

Don’t you see, says Paul, when a person puts their trust in the Anointed One, they are made right with God. You do not need to ask yourself, “Who will go up to heaven to bring the Anointed One down?” And you do not need to ask, “Who will go below and bring the Anointed One up from the dead?”[4] After all, the Torah tells us, “The Good News is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart.[5] This Good News tells about putting your trust in the Anointed One. This is what we preached to you. If you confess that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved from the punishment of sin.[6]

As mentioned before, Paul only carried scrolls of the Torah, the Prophets, and Wisdom Literature to preach from. But he was also familiar with the oral teachings that became part of the Mishnah and Talmud which contained ancient sayings of the Rabbis on how to interpret the Torah. So, I’m sure he often used that as well with the Jewish converts. For instance, in the Talmud, we read that the Rabbis were once talking and noted that God once said to the Gentiles that if they accept the Torah, all will be good between Him and them. But if they don’t, all they can look forward to is the grave. However, the Holy One, blessed be He, will give them a choice. He said to them through the prophet Isaiah, let the Gentiles gather together, then let them present spokesmen who can reveal what they are claiming really did happened in the past. Let them bring their witnesses to justify their claims so that upon hearing what the spokesmen were saying, “That’s true.”

However, then a challenge will be given to them. They will be told that there were seven commandments they refused to obey. But, someone asked, how will we know they will be telling the truth if they say they did? That’s when one of the Rabbis said that Rabbie Joseph learned from Habakkuk that the Lord, blessed be He, stood and looked over the earth. He then made the mountains break into pieces and the hills to crumble.[7] “And why did He, blessed be He, do this?” they asked.  Because He, blessed be He, saw that the Gentiles did not observe even the seven precepts which the sons of Noah pledged to uphold.[8] Nevertheless, the Lord, blessed be He, stood up and released them from any wrongdoing. Well, said one, according to this it pays to be a sinner!

Then one of the listeners, “Mar, the son of Rabina,” said that although the Gentiles were released from any culpability for not obeying the Laws of Noah, they will still not be rewarded. But why shouldn’t they, someone inquired. Because, as Rabbi Meir used to say that even an idol worshiper who studies the Torah is equal to a High Priest. He took that from what the Torah says, “You are to observe my laws and rulings; if any person does them, they will have life through them; I am Adonai.”[9] Take note, said the speaker, it does not specify this someone needs to be a Priest, Levite, or even Israelite. So, what does this mean to us Jews? That even we can learn from the Gentiles, was the answer.

Here is the key to understanding this, the Gentiles will be greatly rewarded because they did what was right without being told to do so. In other words, they possessed no Torah. Yet, Rabbi HaNina once said that those who are commanded and do what is required of them, stand higher than the one who is not commanded and yet does so.[10] Hebrew scholars tell us that the main idea underlying this principle is the contrast between the free will of mankind and the Will of God. It’s God’s Authority as opposed to Man’s Authority. In other words, good deeds are done only based on emotion and common sense is less important than when God asks us to do it. When we are prompted by the command of God through His Spirit, God is more pleased than when it is done just for attention and merit trying to be a good person.[11]

It’s a good thing Paul did not use the logic of the nine philosophers in Plato’s “Parmenides,” to define perfection as required by Mosaic Law.  Here we have Parmenides talking to Zeno: “Then the one which is not, if it is to maintain itself, must have the being of not-being as the bond of not-being, just as being must have as a bond the not-being of not-being in order to perfect its own being; for the truest assertion of the being of being and of the not-being of not-being is when being partakes of the being of being, and not of the being of not-being – that is, the perfection of being; and when not-being does not partake of the not-being of not-being but of the being of not-being – that is the perfection of not-being.” Did you get that?  Now you know why I experienced so much fun reading The Dialogues of Plato!

Let’s put Parmenides’ tongue-twister of into a word picture. If you’ve ever seen a tight rope act you know that when the person starts walking on the rope, merely hoping they’ll get to the other side won’t count as success.  Saying, “I believe I can make it,” won’t matter to the onlookers. And once you’re out on the rope, if you slip and fall, it’s all over. You don’t pick yourself up off the concrete ten stories below, or off the rocks on Niagara Falls and say, “Oh well, I tried.” Either you make it by staying on the rope the whole way or you don’t. That means you walked the tightrope to perfection. It’s that simple. The same is true when trying to reach heaven by the tightrope of Mosaic Law.

God did not unintentionally mislead His people in laying down the principles by which a person could find life by keeping Mosaic Law. “If you want My approval,” says the LORD, “then you must abide by and fulfill the whole Mosaic Law.”  If you want to take a chance and live by Mosaic Law, you must master it. Trying to do it, intending to do it, and wanting to do it will not count. Only the person who succeeds in keeping them all will stay alive by virtue of perfection. No wonder Paul was tempted to bang his head against a wall when he learned that because of the Judaizers the Galatian Christians were throwing away their free faith in the Anointed One’s work and replacing it with the stringent requirements of man’s own efforts to obtain the same thing, eternal life; something totally unnecessary and impossible.  You talk about backsliding, that’s more like belly-flopping in an empty swimming pool.

Perhaps Paul’s eyes filled with tears knowing that if the Galatians tied themselves to Mosaic Law there was no forgiveness at the end for trying and failing, no participation trophy, it required perfect obedience. The church you go to may be far different now from its early days of the Evangelical and Pentecostal movements. But those old enough can remember when church laws took precedence over God’s grace. Even the slightest error could result in public humiliation. It was almost as though a believer was on probation their whole life. One mistake and back to sin’s jail you go, lost and undone, away from God and hope, a miserable sinner who was given no choice but to start all over again. It pains me deeply, but I wonder sometimes if members of my own family were cast in that light and never enjoyed the spiritual freedom they might have savored if only they were judged by their faith, not by their obedience to church standards and supervision.

Martin Luther opens a window for us to see into his thinking on this twelfth verse. For him, Paul undertakes to explain the difference between the righteousness of the Law and the righteousness of faith. The righteousness of the Law is the fulfillment of the Law according to the passage: “The man that does them will live in them.”[12] The righteousness of faith is to believe the Gospel according to the passage: “The just shall live by faith.”[13] The Law is a statement of debit, the Gospel a statement of credit. By this distinction Paul explains why charity which is the commandment of the Law cannot justify, because the Law contributes nothing to our justification.[14]

[1] Romans 4:4-5, 16

[2] Ibid. 9:30-32

[3] Isaiah 28:16

[4] Deuteronomy 30:11-12

[5] Ibid. 30:14

[6] Cf. Romans 10:10

[7] Habakkuk 3:6

[8] In searching the Torah, Rabbis believe that God helped them establish several rules to live by. There were prohibitions against worshiping idols, cursing God, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, eating flesh torn from a living animal, as well as the obligation to establish courts of justice. See Book of Jubilees 7:20-28

[9] Leviticus 18:5

[10] Babylonian Talmud: Seder Nezikin, Masekhet Abodah Zarah, folio 2b-3a

[11] Ibid. Folio 3a, footnote 2

[12] Cf. Leviticus 18:5

[13] See Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 1:17; Hebrews 10:38

[14] Martin Luther: On Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit., p. 73

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

CALLED TO LIVE IN FREEDOM

9526a07d9f8686ec5667a96cad064ff6

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

By Dr. Robert R Seyda

PAUL’S LETTER TO THE GALATIANS

CHAPTER THREE (Lesson XXII)

Apparently, Augustine was dealing with some issues related to other Church teachers that questioned the validity of saying that those in union with the Anointed One were no longer obligated to the Law’s demands. The main source for this was the Pelagians who taught that Adam’s sin did not become inherent in all human nature. That leaves a person to choose good or evil on their own without any help from God. The subject involved in this point of disagreement was the Apostle Paul and his testimony of being transformed from a radical persecutor of Christians into a fervent preacher of Christianity. How could the Pelagians say that Paul, who struggled under the Law was not freed by Grace? Could they not at least agree that being obedient to the Law justifies no one. This is necessary if we are going to understand what Paul says elsewhere about the role of the Law. The Law makes known what sin really is. Then, if we do what the Law says we should not do it is a sin against the Law. So, the more we know of sin through the Law, the greater the chances are that we will transgress the Law even further. But instead of this being a helpless situation, it shows the need for mercy and grace through faith to be freed for the Law and sin.[1] [2]

Puritan preacher and writer John Bunyan quotes what Paul says here in verse eleven. At first, Paul echoes what is said in the Psalms that in God’s sight no one alive would be considered righteous, even if they try keeping the Law.[3] And then Paul uses the words of Habakkuk by making it clear to everyone that “the just will live by faith.”[4] This means that no person who is just and fair, no person no matter how strict and ethical their standards, will qualify to stand before God as righteous based on their works alone. So, Bunyan asks why not? why? He answers, because the just who are right with God live by faith. Therefore, like it or not, neither the person who is just and fair or the person with the highest ethical standards stands any chance of surviving God’s judgment for eternity as long as they depend upon their good works alone. Paul came to this same conclusion after he met the Anointed One on the road to Damascus.[5] So if and when we can stand as being right before God, our self-righteousness plays no role in God’s decision to either save us or send us away into everlasting punishment. The only ones who will survive are those who stand there in the righteousness of the Anointed One.[6]

When Martin Luther first read Habakkuk 2:4, he was a monk living in a monastery, but he didn’t understand its full meaning at the time. Sometime later, Luther went through a period of illness and depression as he imagined himself under the wrath of God. Lying on his sickbed, he found himself repeating over and over again, “The righteous will live by faith.” After he recovered, he decided to go to Rome on a pilgrimage. While there, he visited one of the famous churches in the city. The pope at that time promised an indulgence forgiving the sins of any pilgrim who mounted the Scala Sancta (tall staircase) in front of the church. “Pay your money, climb the staircase, and your sins or someone else’s sins will be forgiven,” said Pope Giovanni di Lorenzo de’ Medici.[7]

People flocked by the thousands to pay their money, then climb the staircase to receive their indulgence. Some went up the staircase on their knees, pausing to say the Pater Nostra (Our Father) prayer and kiss the stairs along the way as a way of showing true penance. One of Luther’s sons later wrote the following of that experience for his father. “As he (Luther) repeated the ‘Our Father’ on the staircase near St. John’s Lateran Church,[8] the words of the Prophet Habakkuk came suddenly to his mind: ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’ After finishing the twenty-eight steps he wondered whether all he just did so obediently would produce the effect that the church said it would? He returned to Wittenberg, Germany and took this as the chief foundation of all his doctrine.” Luther later would say, “Before those words broke upon my mind, I hated God and was angry with Him . . . But when, by the Spirit of God, I understood those words – “The righteous shall live by faith!” – then I felt born again like a new man; I entered through the open doors into the very Paradise of God’s Grace.[9]

Lutheran theologian Paul E. Kretzmann (1883-1965) puts this argument as clearly as it can be expressed. The Law and all attempts at fulfilling the Law cannot be considered in the formula of justification for anyone to stand right before God. Furthermore, this is established by the fact that the Word of God itself eliminates any secondary agency from securing salvation: But that in the Law nobody is justified before God is evident by the Scripture, “The just shall live by faith.”[10] Even though a person should strain every nerve to keep the Law of God perfectly and that way is acceptable in the sight of God, it would avail them nothing, not only because the goal is unattainable from the very outset, but because God, Himself makes the statement through Habakkuk that faith is the justifying factor. Obtaining eternal life does not depend on works, but upon faith alone; salvation comes to them who place their trust in the work of Jesus the Anointed One on the cross as their Savior.

This is not a matter of argument or dispute, says Kretzmann, it is a fact of the Gospel to which we must testify and bear witness unceasingly. To clinch his argument, Paul says here: But the Law is not of faith; it has nothing in common with faith; the two ideas, faith and works, mutually exclude each other. Those who are justified by faith are not justified by the Law; they who hope to get to heaven by their good works, by keeping of the Law, shut themselves out from faith, and that closes the one way of salvation which is open to all mankind. For only they that can point to an actual and entire performance of all requirements of the Law can justly demand eternal life in payment, a condition which is obviously unthinkable. So, the Apostle’s argument stands that the Law is excluded as an agent of salvation by its very nature, since it demands a level of fulfillment which no person can produce and, on the other hand, since it cannot turn works into faith, which alone brings justification before God, it applies to all mankind.[11]

Kenneth Wuest also has things to say about justification. He explains that the words “by the law” are in the Greek ennomoi (literally “in law,”) corresponding to “in the book of the Law.” We have here the locator of a sphere. The Torah says that the person who does not continue living in the sphere of the Law is under the curse, but the Gospel says a person who attempts to remain in the sphere of the Law by obeying it is not justified in the sight of God because justification is by faith. So, they are caught in between with no way out except to be freed by Grace. The reason why obedience to the Law cannot justify a sinner is that their obedience cannot pay for their sin. The price is too high, only blood can pay for sin, for blood means outpoured death, and death is the wages of sin. God declares a believing sinner righteous on the basis of the fact that the Anointed One met the requirements of the Law which they broke and Himself becomes their righteousness.

This word “just” as it is used to describe a highly moral person becomes a legal rather than an ethical term, says Wuest. It refers to the person approved by God and accepted on the basis of faith, not to the person’s character as exhibited by what they do. The words “shall live” refer as the context indicates, not to the impartation of a new and divine life which produces a new experience, but to the act of God in justifying them. They now live in a new relationship to God, that of being accepted into a personal union with the Beloved.[12]

Ronald Fung has a long discussion on the phrase “the just shall live by faith.” After offering a good number of options provided by Bible commentators and various translations, he concludes that to put “live” and “faith” in their correct perspective from the original Greek and the context of Paul’s writings here and elsewhere, will lead to a better understanding of the principle of Law, its contrast with the principle of faith when one says, “he who is righteous by faith shall live,” the other, “he who practices them shall live by them.” So, it’s a choice of how one wants to guarantee eternal life. If your right standing before God was obtained by faith in the Anointed One, the promise is clear. However, if your right standing before God was obtained by obedience to the Law, the promise only applies if you were in perfect obedience to the Law for the rest of your life.[13]

But let’s put all this into context for a clearer picture of what Habakkuk meant by “the just shall live by faith.” The situation Habakkuk faced was the pending invasion of Judea by the Babylonians. This took place at the end of the sixth century BC, and Jerusalem fell to Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BC. This was the Lord’s way of punishing Judah for her sin of idolatry. But unlike the prophets Joel and Zephaniah and Amos, Habakkuk does not mention the possibility that such destruction could be prevented. He does not call for national repentance. It is too late. Instead, he predicts the destruction of Judah, and beyond that the doom of the Babylonians themselves. And he promises that the only way the Judeans can preserve their lives through such judgment is by faith. So even though destruction is decreed for the nation, there is hope for individuals who hold fast to their confidence in God. The complete doctrine of justification by faith, as Paul taught it in Romans and Galatians, was not yet fully available through Grace. But the seed for grace is here in what Habakkuk said and will be fully revealed when the promised Seed of Abraham comes to the rescue of those whose lives have been invaded and ravaged by sin.

We must remember that God did not design the Law to be the resource for justification; He designed Faith for that purpose. Righteousness and Faith are inseparable, Law and Righteousness are total strangers. Faith is not intended to be a substitute for righteousness; it is the heart that trusts in God’s Grace that brings someone into a new relationship with God through the Anointed One and which results in faithfulness, integrity, and steadfastness.[14] Those who found their righteous in the Anointed One live by faith, not by works.

[1] Romans 5:20

[2] Augustine: Contents of the Treatise “Against Two Letters of the Pelagians” Bk. 1, Ch. 14, p. 935

[3] Psalm 143:2

[4] Habakkuk 2:4

[5] Romans 3:19-20

[6] John Bunyan: A Discourse Upon the Pharisee and the Publican, Ch. 7, p. 230

[7] David Platt and Tony Merida: On Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit., p. 56

[8] The properties were once owned by the Lateranus family of the Roman Empire.

[9] Eric Metaxas: Martin Luther, The Man Who Rediscovered God and Changed the World, Viking Press, 2012, p. 61

[10] Habakkuk 2:4

[11] Paul E. Kretzmann: On Galatians, op. cit., p. 240

[12] Kenneth Wuest: Word Studies on Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit.

[13] Ronald Y. K Fung: On Galatians, op. cit., pp. 141-145

[14] Ephesians 1:6

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

CALLED TO LIVE IN FREEDOM

9526a07d9f8686ec5667a96cad064ff6

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

By Dr. Robert R Seyda

PAUL’S LETTER TO THE GALATIANS

CHAPTER THREE (Lesson XXI)

3:11 So it is clear that no one can succeed in being made right with God by trying to keep all the Law’s religious rituals and regulations. The Scriptures also say, “The only way a person can spiritually come alive is to get right with God through faith.”[1]

The Apostle Paul picks up the scroll of Habakkuk again and tells the Galatians what it says. Let’s see where Habakkuk came up with this idea. Back when King Solomon dedicated the new Temple to the Lord, in his prayer he made mention that there is no one who does not sin.[2] An old wise man who lived before Abraham once said that no one can stand right before God on their own merits.[3] That’s because, as King David noted, no one can see all their mistakes.[4] And another Psalmist said that if the Lord were to write down all our mistakes, no one would be able to stand as being right with Him.[5] And a different Psalmist in his prayer said that no person alive can stand right and good before Him on their own virtues.[6] And King Solomon, as a preacher, stated that there is not one right and good person on earth that never sinned.[7] And the prophet Isaiah confessed that all of us like sheep went the wrong way. Each of us turned to follow our own way. But Isaiah finishes by saying that the Lord put all of our sins on Him, meaning, Yeshua on the Messiah.[8]

But was Paul the only one of the Apostles to pick this up? No! the Apostle James stated clearly that we all make many mistakes.[9] And in his Epistles, the Apostle John is even more emphatic: “If we say that there’s no sin in us, we lie to ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we tell Him our sins, He is faithful and we can depend on Him to forgive us of our sins. He will make our lives clean from all sin. Therefore, if we say we have not sinned, we make God a liar, and His Word is not in our hearts.”[10] So not only was Paul correct in repeating this here but in sharing the same truth with the Romans,[11] and the recipients of the Letter to the Hebrews.[12] Why can’t the Galatians understand that the only way to be right with God is by faith in His grace and mercy to redeem and save those who are lost by trying to get to heaven through obeying the Torah’s ceremonial laws?

I must believe that the Jewish members of the Galatian churches understood Paul’s way of thinking better than we do today. You would need to be immersed in their ancient customs and ways to pick up on the nuances of Paul’s words. What in the world did he mean by telling them they could be rendered powerless by faithfully observing the Law given by God to Moses? Most translations use the English word “curse” or “cursed,” which is hard to define. Some think it may mean to put a hex on or placed under a spell. But the Hebrew gives more emphasis on it reducing someone a powerless state, even annihilation – made extinct. In other words, treat them as though they don’t even matter or exist.

A contextual examination of the source for Paul’s quote takes us to Deuteronomy, Chapter twenty-seven.  Beginning in verse fourteen the Levites were to declare to all people that their lives will be made worse and not enjoy God’s approval if they made cast iron images; removed their neighbors’ landmarks; let the blind wander around without help, etc. At the end in verse twenty-six, we find this final statement: “Anyone who does not agree to and obey all the terms of these instructions will not matter at all. And all the people will reply, ‘Amen’.’’

The Gentiles may not catch the subtlety in Paul’s words, but the educated Jews certainly did. Paul was not referring to those specific laws written there in Deuteronomy, but to the enforcement of any law, especially those given by God. Here’s a little secret behind what Paul calls “being bound for extinction:” Anyone who decides to achieve a righteous standing with God by only obeying religious rituals and regulations, must obey each and every one of them to perfection. You can’t keep 9 out of 10, or 99 out of a 100 and pass the test. You are obligated to obey and successfully comply with them all in order to gain your goal.

It would be like telling a Christian today: if you want to make it to heaven based on obeying God’s Word, then you must read the whole Bible, all 31,103 numbered verses; you must obey to perfection every rule or command you find in those verses, otherwise you can never fulfill the Bible’s demands. And since you are trying to gain everlasting life that way, just failing to correctly perform one ritual or obey one regulation – yes, just one, it will send you straight to hell.

Now Paul knew, and the Galatians were aware, and the Judaizers agreed, that Abraham was not perfect.  He conceived a son with Hagar when God told him to do it with Sarah; he lied about his wife being his sister in Egypt. So, if Abraham could not make it that way, how can they imagine they will? Who do they think they are? Besides that, if God knew mankind was capable of obeying every dot and title of Mosaic Law, then why did He authorize offerings and sacrifices to obtain forgiveness for failing to do so?  How many sacrifices were performed in the First Covenant? Whatever the number, it coincided with an equal number of sins and failures. Come on, you guys says Paul, don’t you get it yet!

Now with this being true for the Jewish believers, how much more for the Gentile converts?  Good grief, when Paul told the Gentiles all they needed to do was accept Jesus the Anointed One as the perfect sacrifice for sin under the Final Covenant, and to obey His Gospel by being faithful in their calling, what in the world did they think when the Jewish members came to them and said, “I’m sorry, but in order for you to really be a first-class citizen of heaven, you must join us in keeping all the laws of the original covenant.”  No wonder Paul’s head was spinning around in disbelief because of what was going on up in Galatia.

I remember when I moved to the Philippines, I discovered that most of the converts came from the predominate Roman Catholic Church. Their new freedom in worship and expression was so exciting it gave birth to a revival that continues to this day. But in speaking to several of them, they told me that even after being born again they continued to attend mass, say the rosary, go to confession, and do penance because it was so ingrained in them from birth. They were afraid to trust their salvation to a personal relationship with the Anointed One when all along it was guaranteed by the Church if they followed the rules and partook of the sacraments to receive grace. The Jewish converts in Paul’s day seemed to suffer from the same misgivings and found it hard to let go of something they thought secured their salvation out of obedience to Mosaic Law, for something that offered salvation out of faith in the work of the Anointed One.

So how do we make this applicable to us? Here’s a simple concept that I believe makes Paul’s message to the Galatians relevant for real Christian living today. There are two basic processes of grace when one becomes a born again Christian and a child of God. First, there is salvation by faith in the work of the Anointed One. Think of grace as a coin, with the icon of salvation one side; let’s imagine it to be a cross. Secondly, there is our sanctification in being set apart to live for God and do His will in our lives. So, sanctification is the icon on the other side of the coin. So just like a single coin, grace has two sides, and each side represents a work of grace, which tells us its value.

We can also look at it another way. Imagine that over the one gate that leads to salvation are the words “Come unto me.” The Holy Spirit guides us to that gate but we must make the decision to go through.  However, once we pass through and turn around, we see words over the gate on the other side that reads, “You did not choose me, I chose you.”  There’s only one salvation gate, but our lives receive a double transformation by passing through. We go from being what we once were – a child of the devil, to what we are now – a child of God. As we grow in grace, the light of our salvation grows brighter as we mature in sanctification, becoming what God wants us to be, a faithful servant.

Too often, once a believer passes through salvation’s gate and gets on the sanctification side, they tend to start depending on their own efforts to qualify them for God’s service. Some even depend on the Church to sanctify them through its rituals and sacraments, and others depend on keeping all the rules and regulations of the Church to do the job. It’s like they made the decision to get saved, not that it was God’s decision to save them. So, they want to be holy and do everything they are taught to maintain their holiness. But the object is not self-sanctification, rather, to seek and learn and do the will of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light of salvation and sanctification.

If you go to church faithfully, read your Bible regularly, participate in ministry with dedication, and pray with consistency, you should not expect to get applause. That’s the normal life of a new creature in the Anointed One. You are not doing it to get recognized or rewarded; you are doing it out of the natural impulse of the new spirit within you. It doesn’t add to the value of the Anointed One’s work that led to your being born again. At the end of our Christian journey, we will lay down our cross and accept a crown for being faithful. Not being greater than anyone else; nor more spectacular than others; but faithful in our calling. You certainly are permitted to accept an award from your church for perfect Sunday School attendance, but refuse any offer to be named, “Christian of the Year.”

Paul adds one more solid point to his argument by quoting the Prophet Habakkuk who said, “Look at the proud! They trust in themselves and their lives are crooked. But the righteous will live by their faithfulness to God.”[13] Even in Habakkuk’s day people were trying to make it on their own by keeping all the moral laws and ceremonial laws but were failing badly. I can imagine, as Paul penned these words, he muttered to himself: Lord help them understand because if You don’t, nothing I can say will open their eyes. If this principle was required in Paul’s day, it is still a necessity today. Just like you cannot save yourself, you cannot sanctify yourself. This is the sole work of the Holy Spirit. So why not let Him do God’s work on you so that you can live your new life to His glory, honor, and praise?

[1] Habakkuk 2:4

[2] 1 Kings 8 46

[3] Job 9:3

[4] Psalm 19:12

[5] Ibid. 130:3

[6] Ibid. 143:2

[7] Ecclesiastes 7:20

[8] Isaiah 53:6. To put this in context, read 53:1-5, 7-12

[9] James 3:1-2

[10] 1 John 1:8-10

[11] Romans 1:17

[12] Hebrews 10:38

[13] Habakkuk 2:4

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

POINTS TO PONDER!

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

Is the God you believe in the one in the Bible, the one you were taught at home or in church, or the one in your imagination? This may sound like an unusual question, but it wasn’t the day I walked into the room of a snow-white haired 80+-year-old lady cancer patient at the University of Miami’s Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center in Miami, FL. I introduced myself as the Chaplain and that I just wanted to drop in and say hello and see how she was doing. I didn’t expect the response I got, “I don’t need any chaplain! I’m Jewish and I don’t see what any chaplain can do for me!

That’s when the Holy Spirit took over. I smiled and said, “Thank goodness, sometimes I don’t want to talk to a patient as a chaplain, but just as a caring friend who wants to know what they can do to help. So, can I talk to you as a friend?” She wasn’t expecting my reply either, but it broke the tension and she asked me to sit down. I wanted to know how things were going and if I could help in any way. Her replay was: “I’m a WWII holocaust survivor, the only one in my family. I saw my parents and siblings die in the concentration camp where we were being kept. What I don’t understand is why would God help me survive the holocaust but now let me die of cancer?”

I told her it depended on what God we were talking about. She looked surprised! She muttered, “I thought Christians and Jews all believe in the same God?” I nodded my head and said that this all depended on what God we are talking about. She looked startled. So, I told her that most people grow up about God, but we needed to know if it was the God of the Bible, the God of our religion, or the God of our imagination. She looked at me with an expression of, “Now I get it!” That’s when she told me it was the God of the Bible that she believed in. I smiled and said great, I do too, now let me tell you what I’ve learned about this God.

I then asked her if she knew that Abraham had to survive many such difficulties; that Isaac also came close to being sacrificed by his own father; that Jacob had to live through famine and living in Egypt; that many of the Prophets were faced with trying times and even physical danger. But yet, God brought them through victoriously. There was a moment of silence, then she smiled, looked at me and said, “Can you please tell me more about this God of the Bible.”

So, the same question must be answered by all of us. What God do you believe in? Are you satisfied with the God taught to you by your religion or the God of your imagination? Just remember, it may not seem important right now, but it will be crucial when you leave this earth to stand before your God of the Bible. – Dr. Robert R Seyda

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

SERENDIPITY FOR SATURDAY

christian-love-symbol-vector-drawing-represents-design-30448883

WILL WE EVER HEAR THIS CALL IN ANY CHURCH TODAY?

One of the most dynamic patriots who helped free America from the burdensome rule of King George of England was a man named Patrick Henry. I remember as a child hearing about him in school. One thing that interested me was that he was born in Studley, Virginia, just across the Chesapeake Bay from where I was born in Maryland. He was born in May 1736, the same month I was born. Only, we were a few years apart since I didn’t arrive until 1938. Patrick Henry’s father John Henry immigrated from Aberdeen, Scotland. My father immigrated from Gelsenkirchen, Germany. Patrick’s father was well-known and financially successful, and that’s why my similarities with Patrick end. Patrick grew up as part of a high-class member of the Virginia gentry. Patrick Henry was educated in local schools, while at the same time being tutored by his Father.

At the age of 15, Patrick Henry’s father opened a new store and put Patrick in charge. The business didn’t last long, and Patrick had his first taste of failure. Then his father gave him some land and he tried growing tobacco for three years, but that didn’t go too well either. Then his father assigned Patrick to manage his tavern while studying to become a lawyer. Once he secured his license to practice law, Patrick knew he had found his calling. One of the first legal cases he argued in court had to do with fixed farm prices. The prices were not set so much to reward the farmers or benefit the customers, but to generate revenue that would help pay for other government projects.

Back in those days before the constitution was written, they followed the laws of England. Under such laws, the clergy in the Church of England was paid out of taxes gathered by the British government. But Patrick felt that the British government should not be sending money to support the local clergy in America. This should be done locally. Patrick won the case which became a precedent in American law.  This put Patrick in the spotlight and ended up getting him elected to the House of Burgesses in Virginia. Once there he became more and more interested in the movement that sought to free America from British rule. So, he joined in the effort to produce a correspondence between the colonies and the British crown related to their freedom.

Then, in March of 1773, Patrick along with Thomas Jefferson and Richard Henry Lee formulated a standing committee in which he played a leading role in setting up the First Continental Congress in 1774. As a result, Patrick was elected to this Congress. But things did not go well with the British government. They were unwilling to give this new nation its freedom from British rule. So, on Thursday evening, March 23, 1775, Patrick Henry made his most famous speech. It went like this: “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me Liberty, or give me Death!”  The crowd that gathered to hear this speech jumped up and shouted their approval.

But what really takes my breath away is that Patrick Henry made this speech in Saint John’s Episcopal Church in Richmond, Virginia. As I read this, my thoughts produced a picture where I saw a sinner who wanted to be free from the bondage of sin; who was tired of serving the devil as a slave, coming into church and after hearing an old fashion salvation Gospel preached, stands up and cried out, “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be bought at the price of chains in slavery to sin? Almighty God, help me! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, O God! Give me Liberty, instead of Death! – Dr. Robert R Seyda

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

CALLED TO LIVE IN FREEDOM

9526a07d9f8686ec5667a96cad064ff6

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

By Dr. Robert R Seyda

PAUL’S LETTER TO THE GALATIANS

CHAPTER THREE (Lesson XX)

John Wesley (1703-1791) tells a compelling story about one of his evangelistic outreaches in England. He starts by noting that he traveled throughout the central part of England, and on Monday the 28th of May, 1759 he arrived in Greater Shelford, four miles south of Cambridge and 20 miles from Everton to the west. All the traveling made him quite ill, and he got so tired of riding the horse that he decided to walk part of the way. When he got there, he found that a platform was placed for him in a big open space that the residents shared for common use. What surprised him, even more, was that nearly ten thousand people were standing in a big circle. He also noticed that a number of them were faculty members from Cambridge University.

Wesley was hardly able to stand on his feet, and extremely hoarse with a cold. When he went to step up on the platform, he felt overwhelmed by his travels and now the expectancy of so many thousands of people. So, he decided to stand there as though it didn’t bother him. He announced that his text was taken from Galatians 3:10, 11. As some of the people were turning in their Bibles, he tried to think of something funny he could say that would put them at ease. But the Lord would not allow him to consider anything. In fact, he later agreed that it was best that way because he was trying to make himself look good to the people instead of to the Lord. Besides, the people were waiting for him to continue so he needed to get going right away with his sermon or otherwise get off the platform.

So, he uttered the first words that came to mind, not knowing if he would be able to think of anything else to say. Then he felt the anointing of the Holy Spirit come upon him that enabled him to speak for nearly an hour without any kind of difficulty, and so loud that everyone standing in the big circle could hear him. The audience was very attentive, and when the sermon was over, he found himself relaxed and in a cheerful mood, and wonderfully strengthened in his body. They invited him into a house and spoke again nearly an hour to approximately two hundred people. Then on Tuesday morning, he preached again to about a thousand.[1] His message on Galatians taught Wesley that no preacher should think that they can get people to respond to God’s Word by their works, no matter how well-intended they may be. Only the Holy Spirit can take the word into a person’s heart and fill their mind with its convicting truth.

John Brown (1784-1858) sees verse ten as a new paragraph, not a continuation of what was said before. But it does imply the condition of those already mentioned in the first nine verses. They turned back to the Law expecting justification because they were now working hard to qualify under the precepts of the Law. Brown accuses them of “indulging in a most unfounded expectation.” In other words, it is like a prisoner who was found guilty of a crime worthy of the death sentence, who now in prison was trying to act like a responsible and trustworthy citizen in hopes he will be found innocent of murder because of his behavior in prison, just like the Jews who were already condemned to die by the Law because they failed to meet its expectations and demands. As Paul puts it here, “they are under a curse.”[2] [3] The sad thing for the Galatians is that even though they were guilty, the Messiah put their punishment on His shoulders, took it to the cross and paid the penalty, which is death, on their behalf.

Alexander Maclaren (1826-1910), a Scottish Protestant minister expresses how this verse impacted him. He saw a metaphor running through the entire question of why the Galatians were so easily fooled. It involved the old superstition of the Evil Eye, almost universal at the date of Paul’s letter and in the Middle East and Orient, and lingered among those in Maclaren’s day. Certain persons were supposed to possess the power, just by a glaring stare, to work mischief, and by fixing their gaze on their victims to suck the very life out of them. So, Paul asks who the evil sorcerer is who fascinated the fickled Galatians, and drained all the sparkle of their Christian life right out of their eyes.[4] Dr. Thomas Constable from Dallas Theological Seminary adds in his notes here that it is folly to mix Law and Grace. The Galatians were behaving as though they were under some kind of spell and not in full use of their rational faculties.[5]

Joseph Beet (1840-1924) reacts to what Paul says about Christ and the curse. It is reasonable to assume, says Beet, that the Anointed One was crucified in order that God’s purpose of mercy might be accomplished in us, a fundamental doctrine which no Christian should deny. But, by being crucified, He fell under a curse pronounced by the Law upon all mankind, for none have fully obeyed all its commands. Consequently, the Anointed One fell under the curse of the Law in order to rescue us from it. And only by Him and through Him, and to those who believe the Gospel, can God’s original promise made to Abraham be fulfilled. For all others, unless they do the same that is eternally eliminated from all God’s blessing through His Son by the curse of the Law. Therefore, the Anointed One paid off the Law and eliminated the curse with a ransom payment by submitting to its curse on our behalf. Moreover, the Spirit given to those who believe is then themselves a fulfillment of the first promise made to Abraham. Therefore, assuring this gift was the main aim and purpose of the Anointed One’s death on the cross.[6]

Benjamin W. Bacon believes that Paul takes a worldwide view of redemption. Its historic stages to his mind are three only: (1) Adam, in consequence of whose fault the birthright of humanity to dominion and eternal life; was lost;[7] (2) Abraham, in consequence of whose faith it was conditionally restored; (3) The Anointed One, through whose victory and gift of the Spirit believers enter into their inheritance. The Mosaic dispensation of Law was a temporary measure adapted to special requirements; it merely “came in alongside” as a helper.[8] This was to prove that the Law is not a superior prerogative of the “holy seed” enabling “children of God” who know and “do the will” of their Creator to secure the “inheritance” meant only for them. Paul advances this startling paradox that the Law results always and only in a “curse,” and was intended to do so on purpose![9] This is the same idea behind placing a death penalty on certain crimes. By knowing that one could die in the electric chair if they commit such a crime, it may prevent them from doing such an evil deed.

Jewish writer W. Adriaan Liebenberg gives us a perspective on serving the Law as opposed to salvation by the Law. Because of a misunderstanding of what Paul says in Galatians about Law and Grace, there are a lot of people who believe that anyone attempting to obey YaHWeH’s commandments is “under a curse.” But if this was true, we would be cursed every time we tried to honor our parents. We would be cursed for refraining from adultery or even choosing to worship YaHWeH alone. But the truth is that we are no more cursed for doing those things than we would be if we kept the Sabbath.

So, what does verse ten actually mean? Brother Adriaan says: that we see Paul is comparing those who live by faith, with those which walk by sight. In other words, those who are saved by Grace and those seeking to be saved by the Law. Here we see the two versions of the “Good News,” the “Gospel of the Circumcision” and the “Gospel of the Cross.” The gospel of circumcision says that we do not receive salvation through faith in Yeshua alone, but we receive salvation when learning and keeping the Torah and are circumcised. But this brings up the point again that if we require Torah obedience as a prerequisite to salvation by grace, then none of us would be found faultless before the throne of YaHWeH on the Day of Judgment. We would be relying on our Adam-Man and his abilities in the flesh to obey the Torah rather than trusting in what the Adonai-Man – Yeshua, already did for us.

Therefore, anyone attempting to trust in the Adam-Man for their righteousness is a member of the “Works of the Law Club,” and is under a curse because the Torah itself says “cursed is everyone” who did not do the things written in the Torah. And since no one followed them to a 100% completion, none will receive salvation by them. Anyone attempting to be declared righteous (justified) by them will find themselves condemned. But those who look to the God-man for their righteousness are members of the “Grace by Faith Congregation.” All that the Law demands is already fulfilled and just by being in union with the Anointed One we are given eternal life with God.[10]

Thomas Lancaster is of the opinion that there is no Faith-verses-Works or Grace-versus-Law in the Bible. This was never an issue for the Apostles, nor was it a matter of controversy. The real faith-versus-works argument was over the question, can an uncircumcised Gentile be saved by faith or does he need to keep the ceremonial laws to first become Jewish? Likewise, the real grace-versus-Law question was: Can an uncircumcised Gentile be considered a son of Abraham and recipient of the grace Abraham received, or does he need to keep the Torah as a Jew to attain that status?

Lancaster agrees with Paul when he said that a person is not justified by works of the Law but through faith in Jesus the Anointed One…not by works of the Law because by works of the Law no one will be justified.[11] It is clear then, that the Law is not done away with as though it is irrelevant to a believer’s life. The Ten Commandments are still valid for Christians to show their moral, as well as, their spiritual maturity in ethical behavior. But what the Law cannot do is replace the Anointed One as the only One who can justify us before God as being in right-standing with Him. It was the animal sacrifices demanded by the Law that were done away with because the Anointed One was the Lamb of God who died to cover and get forgiveness for our sins.

Andrew G. Roth sees this from a Jewish perspective. The “curse” referred to here is not the Torah itself as many Christian pastors falsely teach, rather it is the penalty and consequences of disobeying the Torah. Many Christians stop reading at this point and try to make out that the Torah is a curse, but Paul immediately refutes that foolish accusation and goes on to say that the “curse” is the penalty for rejecting the Torah. This is also backed up in the Book of Revelation,[12] where those who do His commandments (Torah) have the “right” to the Tree of Life, whereas those who reject or change the Words/Meaning of the Book will suffer the eternal consequences and penalty. Similarly, every citizen is subject to the laws of their own particular nation, and, therefore, can be described as being under a “curse” (penalty) if they break their own peculiar Laws, namely, they will soon be dealt with and brought to justice when caught. How utterly foolish, therefore, to say that God`s eternal and precious Word/Law which is far more important than the laws of any Land is a Curse.[13]

[1] The Complete Works of John Wesley: Volume 2, Journals 1745-1760, p. 548

[2] Deuteronomy 27:26

[3] John Brown: On Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit., pp. 123-124

[4] Alexander MacLaren: Expositions of Holy Scripture, Vol. 14, Second Corinthians, Chaps. VI to End, Galatians, and Philippians, Hodder & Stoughton, New York, No date, p. 100

[5] Dr. Thomas Notes on Galatians, 2019 Edition, loc. cit., p. 48

[6] Joseph Beet: On Galatians, op. cit., p. 84

[7] Genesis 1:26; 6:3; Cf. Wisdom of Solomon 3:23

[8] Romans 5:20; cf. ver. 19–22 below

[9] Benjamin W. Bacon: On Galatians, op. cit., p. 77

[10] W. Adriaan Liebenberg: On Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit., p. 57

[11] D. Thomas Lancaster: On Galatians, op. cit., loc., cit., p. 129

[12] Revelation 22:14-19

[13] Andrew G. Roth: Aramaic Translation, op. cit., loc. cit.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

CALLED TO LIVE IN FREEDOM

9526a07d9f8686ec5667a96cad064ff6

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

By Dr. Robert R Seyda

PAUL’S LETTER TO THE GALATIANS

 CHAPTER THREE (Lesson XIX)

Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) gives the Vatican interpretation of what Paul says here in verse ten. As he interprets it, all those who claim salvation by way of the Law are under a curse. And since Paul said that they who are of faith will be blessed through being sons of Abraham, someone might question: are they blessed both on account of the works of the Law and on account of Faith? Paul makes it even plainer by telling the people who may harbor such an idea that works of the Law are so numerous that, that in itself is a curse. Therefore, Aquinas concludes that the ancient Jewish ancestors were burdened under the heavy load of works demanded by the Law. As a matter of fact, they too are under a curse and, consequently, damned. Hence it is necessary to understand this correctly says Aquinas, it should be noted that the Apostle does not say, “As many as observing the works of the Law are under a curse,” because this is false when applied to the period the Law was in effect.

He says rather: As many as are of the works of the Law, namely, whosoever trusts in the works of the Law and believes that they are made right with God by doing them are under a curse. For it is one thing to feel obligated to perform the works of the Law and another thing to observe the Law. The latter consists in fulfilling the Law so that the one who fulfills it is not under a curse. But to be of the works of the Law is to trust in them and place one’s hope in them for salvation. And they that are of the Law in this way are under a curse, namely, of transgression; not that the Law produces the curse, for sinful tendencies do not come from the Law, but the knowledge of sin awakens these tendencies, and since we are prone to follow our sinful tendencies, even though they are banned by the Law, we open ourselves to the curse. Therefore, inasmuch as the Law generates a knowledge of sin and offers no help against sin, that is why they are said to be under a curse.[1]

Martin Luther points to the disciples and makes it clear that not all of them were perfect. The same is true today. Among the Anointed One’s follower, you may find a Peter who denies their relationship with the Anointed One if it will save them from harm; there are no doubt some Judas Iscariots who turn away from the Anointed One and betray Him when things don’t go their way. Also, there may be some Thomases who doubt the Anointed One’s ability to do what He said He would do. Many excuse Judas’ betrayals as the work of a reprobate, and Peter along with the sons of Zebedee – James and John – as hypocrites. But look what happened to them when they all believed and committed themselves to follow Him at all costs.[2]

Puritan John Bunyan (1509-1564), feels that the loss of the soul is a peculiar loss, it is a double loss, therefore, it is the most feared loss. That’s because it is a loss that comes with the most stringent penalty of God. We see this in both the giving of the rule of life and at the same time, of execution for the breach of that rule. The giving of the rule of life was stated clearly by Moses: “A curse on anyone who does not confirm the words of this Torah by putting them into practice. All the people are to say, “Amen!”[3] It is also manifested at the time of judgment: “Then He will also speak to those on His left, saying, ‘Get away from me, you who are cursed! Go off into the fire prepared for the Adversary, the devil, and his angels!”[4] [5] You will not hear Bunyan referred to on the subject of eternal punishment in many sermons today. Those who proclaim that God doesn’t just love you, He’s “in love” with you cannot stomach a God who would do what Jesus said in Matthew. But one day, reality will replace all pretenses and feel-good doctrines for this is what the Bible says God will do.

Then Bunyan proposes an inquiry: “How does the Law kill and leave for dead such poor creatures?” He answers by saying, that the Law kills in this way: It aims directly at the soul, and informs the soul of its transgressions against the Law; and shows the soul also, that it cannot completely satisfy the justice of God for any violation of His law; therefore, it is condemned. Take note, “Those that do not believe are condemned already;”[6] namely, by the Law; that is, it’s the Law that condemns them; yes, it has condemned them already for their sins against it; just as Paul stated here in verse ten.

Now all those who come into the world, says Bunyan, are in this condition, that is, condemned by the Law; yet refusing to believe that their condemnation by the Law is real, nor do they believe that the Law can effectively condemn them. Some people may have a feeling that their condemnation is real, because of sins against the Law; but they have no clue on how to combat the power of the Law. There is no person who can really believe the Law or the Gospel, further than they feel the power and authority of them in their hearts. “Ye err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.”[7] Now, this law, is not to be taken in the largest sense, but is strictly tied to the ten commandments, whose proper work is only by showing the soul its sin against the Law, condemn them for it, and leave them unquestionably dead; not providing them with the smallest spark of life, or support, or comfort. It leaves the soul in a helpless and hopeless condition unless a Savior can be found.[8]

What William Burkitt (1650-1703) has to say about Paul’s statement here in verse ten about everyone who sins while working for their salvation are under a curse brings up a novel thought. Imagine a person going to work building a house for an evil person and are warned that the wages for working there is being hanged at the end. We might all say, that’s too crazy an idea to even believe it would happen. Yet Paul is telling the Galatians that’s exactly what they will be doing if they stop serving the Lord Jesus and start working for the Law. That should help everyone to learn, says Burkitt, that sin and the curse are inseparable; wherever sin is, the curse will be there, be it upon a person by accusation or by the actual commission of a sin. Wherever sin is discovered, underneath lies an eternal curse. Any way you look at it, sin is an endless evil; it shows contempt for everlasting authority, it is the opposite of timeless holiness, a fabricator of perpetual justice, and abuse of everlasting mercy; and consequently, the wasteland of sin results in death – that is the curse.[9]

Jakob Arminius shares some testimonies of other Christian writers in his day. One of them was Wolfgang Musculus (1497-1563), a highly respected theologian of the Reformation speaking about righteousness and justification. Musculus concludes that for the Law it is impossible that it can have any power to justify a sinner; for it is hindered and rendered ineffective through the flesh, that is, through the corrupt and depraved sinful tendencies of the flesh. That’s because all mankind is born as slaves of sin and incapable of obeying all those commands of the Law which are holy, and just, and good, finds the power and effectiveness of the Law are two-fold. Any right living or justification as something pleasing to God it produces on its own is proper. What is not proper is when a person performs those things through the power of the flesh thinking that righteousness and justification can be obtained from God in that manner. Paul made that impossibility clear to the Romans,[10] and later here in verse twenty.

Paul not only speaks about “the knowledge of sin,” which consists of the understanding, but he also speaks principally about that knowledge of it which is received by the sinful tendencies that live in our hearts and minds: that is, the Law causes a person not only to understand but likewise with gnawing remorse of conscience to feel and to experience that sin is within them. It is proper because it convinces us that we are inexcusably guilty of sin, which subjects us and condemns us to be cursed, as Paul says here in verse ten. Furthermore, through a feeling of sin, and when terrified of condemnation, it causes us to become anxious, and desirous of the grace of God. Hence, arises that which is the subject of the Apostle’s investigation in Romans seven, when at length he cries out, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? The grace of God through Jesus Christ.”[11]

New England Puritan preacher Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) notes that there are many scriptures that both declare the universal sinfulness of mankind and also that all sin warrants and justly deserves everlasting destruction, under the wrath and curse of God. Edwards already touched on this when he said that the wrath, condemnation, and death, which is threatened in the Law to all its transgressors, is final separation from God, the second death, eternal ruin; as is very plain, and indeed is confessed. And this punishment which the law threatens for every sin is a just punishment. God’s law is a righteous Law, and the sentence of it a righteous sentence does no err in dispensing its judgment.

Edwards goes on to say that this was Paul’s clear intention here in verse ten. All those who are living under and doing the works of the Law are under the curse; that is what’s written in the Torah.[12] The effects of the curse of death were made a clear as possible by the Apostle to all who read this letter. There is no one who hasn’t at one time or another failed in some instances to do all things that are written in the Book of the Law, and, therefore, all those who depend on their fulfilling the law for their salvation are under that curse which is pronounced on all those who fail. That’s why the Apostle infers in the next verse, “that no person is justified by the Law in the sight of God.”[13] Paul shows that he understands, what he read in Deuteronomy, and repeated here in verse twenty-two. So, we clearly see, both that every person is a sinner, and that every sinner is under the curse of God.[14] This certainly begs for the question, how then can we be freed from this curse. That’s exactly what Paul was hoping the Galatians would ask. Since we cannot save ourselves with good works, and the Law cannot save us by virtue of those works, there is only one who can save, and that is Jesus the Anointed Messiah.

[1] Thomas Aquinas: Commentary on Galatians, loc. cit,

[2] Martin Luther: on Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit., p. 69

[3] Deuteronomy 27:26; See Galatians 3:10

[4] Matthew 25:41

[5] John Bunyan. Works of John Bunyan — Complete (Kindle Location 7693-7698).

[6] John 3:18

[7] Matthew 22:29

[8] Sermons of John Bunyan, Sighs From Hell, Ch. 14, p. 226

[9] William Burkitt: On Galatians, op. cit., p. 315

[10] Romans 7:7

[11] Jakob Arminius, op. cit., Vol. 2, p. 372

[12] Deuteronomy 21:23

[13] See Galatians 2:16

[14] Jonathan Edwards: On Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit., pp. 452-453

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment