Tag Archive: Paul



Galatians 3:23-25, “Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. 24So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.”

image

Paul declares that the law, which revealed our inability to be in complete compliance with the law and/or God’s nature, was added so that mankind may see their need for Christ. The law was the birth pains, through which the wonderful promise made known to Abraham became manifest and fulfilled in Christ Jesus, through whom we, in faith, become righteous before God. There is a paradoxical nature within the law concerning both it’s goodness, it being from God and representing holiness, and while at the same time being a burden unto man, for the law condemns and in the law itself, there is no hope, for all have violated the law.

image

Furthermore, the strict obedience to the law, can in fact break the law. Again, this is rather paradoxical, but we can reconcile these seemingly contradicting aspects, not by the law, or through man, but rather in Christ. Some, like the Pharisees, held the law to such a strict standard, that they idolized the law above faith in God, thus breaking the law, of which they claimed obedience. It is possible to worship the law itself and forgetting about the conditions of faith that are proclaimed all throughout the scripture. This is not to say that obedience to the law is bad, for this same law is now upon our hearts, but rather by faith, the law becomes represented through our relationship with Jesus. We do not develop obedience in the law and then acquire faith, it has been designed and purposed by God that it be the other way around. This is implicit in the law, but man lost focus as he put his faith in the commands rather than the author.

image

Realize we still run the same danger today. When we approach the word of God, we need to approach it in and through our relationship with the Spirit, otherwise the Living Word, loses that necessary condition of faith. This is a lesson I need to consistently keep in the forefront of my mind when approaching the Word of God. I study the word, but I have come to understand that the Bible itself can’t save you anymore than the law provided salvation. There are numerous atheists and deists who know the Bible better than some Christians do. Thus, we find that what is contained in the word is a path to Christ, but if we look at the words alone, we are missing the point.

image

I myself love studying the word, but I also love extrapolating the philosophical points behind the Scriptures. As I have stated before, the enemy and the self, can take even the best intentions and askew them. Thereby, there was a time when I saw that my study of the Scripture wasn’t as God has intended. We are to not seek the philosophical points behind the Scriptures, but rather seek God and we should direct our hearts to developing a deeper relationship with Hm. We shall not forget this, for to do so, we are the same as those who study the law, and forego God. We should let the Spirit speak to us through the word, for our study is not study alone, but rather communion with our Lord, and we need to pray and be open unto this while we approach the Word of God.

image

Likewise, man forgot this aspect when they approached the law. They strove to be in compliance with the law, and forgot about the faith represented in the law. All the great men and women within the Old Testament understood this point, that the law reflected our noncompliance, and thus they were brought to faith and reliance on God and His promises, rather than just to the law itself, which again trespasses against the law, for it can idolize the law in a sinful manner.

image

So in Christ, we have a new revelation of faith that we can rest our reliance on. This was purposed from the beginning that the reconciliation between the law and faith, along with justification, would rest on Jesus Christ. Since man mistook the law and did not come to God in faith, He has now revealed a more present object upon which our foundations of faith are built, His Son. In addition, the law showed our great need of the deliverance that God had promised prior to Abraham, and this was purposed to draw men unto the promise by faith. Now, by the new covenant, the promise has been fulfilled and we eagerly await those promises from God that are still yet to come.

image


Galatians 3:19-20, “What then was the purpose of the law? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise had referred had come. The law was put into effect through angels by a mediator. 20A mediator, however, does not represent just one party; but God is one.”

image

When we read or review the old and new covenants, we find that each covenant is represented by a figurehead or authority. In the case of the Old Testament, we find this figure to be Moses, while in the new, it is Christ. An remarkable aspect of compairison between Christ and Moses, is that when we look at the life of Moses, we find his life contained many things which are represented and corollary to the life our Lord and savior led, when He became subservient to physicality. Thus, we can conclude that the life of Moses, was a representational prophecy concerning the promise God had made prior to Abraham. It is fitting that the old and new covenants would have such striking parallels among the lives of both their authoritative figures. Here is a brief list of just some of the parallels between Jesus and Moses:

Moses: The Pharaoh decreed all male Hebrew babies be killed.
Jesus: Herod decreed all male Hebrew babies be killed.

Both were hidden in Egypt so that their lives would be spared. In addition, both Jesus and Moses, were in exile until the death of those rulers that had ordered the death of Hebrew male children.

Moses: Born when the Egyptians, a Gentile culture, ruled over the Israelites.
Jesus: Born when the Romans, a Gentile culture, ruled over the Israelites.

Moses: Raised by a man who was not his real father.
Jesus: Raised by a man who was not his real father, for His real father was God.

Moses: Freed his people from slavery.
Jesus: Freed us of the slavery of sin.

image

Christ and Moses were both mediators between man and God the Father. Moses became, more or less, the mouthpiece for God to make known the Law unto man. Why was the law brought to man through Moses in the first place, given that the gospel had already been revealed to Abraham? Paul tells us that it was due to the vileness of man and our disobedience. Our perverse nature and tendency to revolt and rebel against God, brought Him much grief. God’s grief, sadness, and anger are frequent messages of the prophets, like, notably, the minor prophet Hosea, whose life became representational of how God views our relationship with Him. The law was made to show man what he is, and what he should be. By the law, man saw that the pride they had in themselves was undeserved, for the law represented a precipice that man was and is unable to scale.

image

The law was not made to cancel out any hope, for the hope we have in Christ wouldn’t exist hadn’t it been for the law. Hope, within the confines of the human mind, rests in a future tense, that those things that are the desires of our heart may come to pass eventually as time slips further and further behind us. We see by the law, that because all have sinned, we can only direct our hope to one place, as Abraham did, and that is in God’s promises. It was a promise to Abraham that through his bloodline, a savior would come and be the object of hope for all nations. We can’t hope on the law, for though it is good, no hope is revealed in it, only condemnation. God, by his grace, gave us something to hope in, something that far exceeds the hope directed at physical things. This hope is eternal and true, rather than the antithesis of the world, where it is momentary and may, or may not, occur.

image

So, though the law provided no hope, it prepared the way for the hope and faith we have in Jesus Christ our Lord and salvation. We understand our need for salvation due to the law, and if there was no law, we wouldn’t understand to the degree we do, that we need to be saved. The laws intention was to refocus man on God, and illuminate the promises He made to and through Abraham as well as the prophets. Thus, we now place our hope on Christ who, reveals and offers this hope to us, and as God’s promises to Abraham proved true, likewise will Christ’s promises to us.

image

The mediators Jesus Christ, and Moses, showed the world where it is and where it can be in the eyes of God. As Moses was a mediator between God and the Israelites, he was also of the Israelites. In the same way, Christ was a mediator between man and God, but was of God. Christ, the mediator, presents us to the Father and it is by our faith in Him that all are saved. He is the embodiment of the law, hope, faith, obedience, and God Himself.

image


Galatians 3:16-17, “The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say, ‘and to seeds,’ meaning many people, but ‘and to your seed,’ meaning one person, who is Christ. 17What I mean is this: The law introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise.”

image

In a previous entry I discussed the righteousness of Abraham, which he was granted by God because of His faith. This was not only due to his belief in God, but his faith that God’s promises were steadfast. In addition, I discussed the “offspring,” promised and made known to Abraham. This offspring was to be a singular person, and through Him the world would be offered the reconciliation unto God. Here, in Galatians, Paul presents the argument of the singular seed that was to come by and through Abraham’s bloodline. As profound as this is, Paul goes further, dipping a bit into history to reveal the true nature of the covenants.

image

Within the philosophical and theological boundaries of the Christian “religion,” we tend to separate the covenants of Moses and Jesus, and break the Bible down, in a general sense, into both the Old and New Testaments. Man loves to put things and ideas into categories or groups, that by their division, they may be easily sorted and understood. Concerning the division of the Old and New Testaments, as well as the old and new covenant, I conclude there is nothing specifically wrong with this. However, one stumbling block does arise that I have witnessed, but this is the fault of man. It usually concerns those new in the faith or exploring it. It doesn’t seem too uncommon for those whom Christ is calling to be curious about the differentiation between the God of the Old Testament and the New, rather than looking at it as a complete revelation from and of God.

image

We need to remind our brothers and sisters in Christ, and in fact everyone, that the Scriptures represent a singular narrative that explicitly shows God and reveals He is the same yesterday, today and forever. Why the wrath shown in the Old Testament? Paul gives us a clear answer:

“These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us . . .” -1 Corinthians 10:11

image

So am I saying its wrong to refer to old and new? Not at all! In fact, the Lord Himself declared prior to Christ that a new thing was being done, and a new covenant will be established with Israel. The Book of Jeremiah says in Chapter 31, Verse 31:

“‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah.'”

image

Yet, if it was shared with Abraham, what is it that makes it new? Simply, it is new in human, temporal terms. It is not as if man, who is subservient to God, caught God unaware and He had to hatch a new plan to save man. Rather, God’s plan was destined from the beginning. God, let it be known that it is a new covenant, because this is truly what it is in the context of time. Time has no bearing on God, for God controls time, and since time is under God’s belt, to God it is already finished. If anyone believes differently, then one cannot believe in the omniscience of God, for God would be subservient to time. Furthermore, if He is subservient to time, He could not be God, and our faith would be meaningless, for by and out of God came Christ. Yet, to God, it is time that has no meaning. The breadth of its meaninglessness is shown by eternity. We usually think of eternity as it corresponds to time, that time will stretch forever, but in actuality, eternity is a place where time doesn’t exist. The extent of the meaninglessness of time to God is made clear in 2 Peter 3:8:

“But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.”

image

Therefore, according to time, which we all are subservient, the law came before, and Christ after, and in temporal terms it is new, or more recent. Yet, that’s not all, by this new covenant it gave the law unto the hearts of man, and revealed God unto the world, so that no man or woman is without excuse. Yet, God did promise the new covenant unto Jeremiah and Abraham, and because He refers to it as “new” to Jeremiah, we see that though the promise was made known, and though the revelation of Christ to come preexisted some 430 years prior to the Law, it doesn’t negate the temporal relativity of the coming of Christ and the Spirit. In addition, as Paul says, the two don’t cancel each other out, but instead, they compliment each other to such perfection, they become united and fulfilled in Christ.

image

It is not necessarily disrespectful or wrong to conclude that the two covenants, outside time, represent one great covenant, where man can be saved through faith, as Abraham was. This, I would argue, when approaching this issue in human linguistics, that the covenants represent old and new revelations, through which God’s attributes and power were proclaimed to man. First, His nature, commandments, and wrath. Secondly, His grace, love, and peace.

image

The plan of God was singular, but we can differentiate between the covenants, because of what they revealed to man and by the manifestations of God. Under the old covenant, God spoke through the prophets, yet in the new, God came to earth, became man, taught to a multitude, was crucified, and rose again. By this, man does not need to turn to a prophet to know God, but now, His Son and Sprit dwell within our hearts, upon which the law is now written.

image


“All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” -Galatians 3:10

image

The verse Paul cites is within the Old Testament in Deuteronomy 27:36 and Jeremiah 11:3. God’s purpose by the Law was not to condemn or curse man eternally, but rather use the curse, an inevitable consequence of disobedience, to beckon us to Him, draw us closer, and prepare the way for Christ, who became the way. The word, “continue,” emphasizes that if observing the Law alone, one need to follow it exactly throughout their whole life, and any momentary slip, would negate any righteousness by the Law, which it represents.

image

Thus, the Law showed us the nature of God, and the great need for a savior who would reconcile us unto the Law, and thereby unto God. Many, in their hearts, cried out because of the Law for the Lord to save them from the curse it exemplified in man. Christ was the answer, and by the shame evident at the cross, the curse was placed upon Christ, and by His resurrection He was victorious in alleviating the curse from man. Thus, we come to another aspect of the Law, that by the Law, man looks to and relies more on God. This reliance becomes a necessary facet of our relationship with our Lord and savior.

image


“Consider Abraham: ‘He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.’ 7Understand then, that those who believe are children of Abraham.” -Galatians 3:6-7

20120325-005657.jpg

The apostle Paul was masterful at taking the Old Testament and applying it to the truth of Jesus Christ, of whom he became witness. Both Jesus and Paul, by their words, show the incredible truth behind the Old Testament, that though by the new covenant, we are granted righteousness by faith in Christ, it doesn’t necessarily negate the old covenant, or visa versa. In fact, the New Testament is the fulfillment of the Old.

20120325-010646.jpg

A frequent question among believers and the secular community is, if one is saved in Christ, what about all those who came before Christ? Were they not given the opportunity to be saved? I used to struggle with this question myself, but after reading this verse and others like it, and with my own personal discoveries and revelations concerning the nature of faith, I have come to the conclusion that even prior to Christ, man was capable of coming under grace.

20120325-011024.jpg

As Paul says, let us consider Abraham. Abraham was a man of great faith, so much so that when the Lord asked him to sacrifice his son Isaac, Abraham complied with the command. Yet, at the last minute, the Lord sent an angel to prevent the sacrifice of Isaac, but provided a ram to take Abraham’s sons place. Not only does this speak of great faith, but also obedience, which springs forth from that faith.

image

Now Abraham was faulty just as any other man, but even prior to the new covenant, his faith was credited to him as righteousness by God. This is due to the nature of faith, which we should all take a lesson from, that by understanding this lesson, one may overcome doubt and worry. Briefly, I will mention as I write this, that it is a lesson that is speaking to me as well.

image

It’s not as simple as having faith in the existence of Christ and our Lord, rather faith runs deeper than this, and it is important to meditate on it that our roots may grow deeper. Abraham not only believed in God, but believed in what He said. This might seem like a small difference, but in reality it is quite large, for to believe in what God says, is to believe in His promises. Therefore, when God told Abraham that his offspring would be the savior of the world, Abraham completely believed and it, again, was credited to him.

image

Within Paul’s letters, Paul elaborates on Abraham’s offspring. Paul tells us in the context, “offspring,” is presented, it is not plural, but rather singular. Thus, a multitude of Abraham’s descendants wouldn’t save the world, but rather one singular man of a divine nature, that is Christ. In Jesus’s time, the prophecy of a savior was no secret, in fact many were looking for the savior, but in their pride, the Jews misunderstood the heavenly nature of the savior. Many expected a mere king and not the King of Kings.

image

Abraham understood this and had faith in God that the savior would come and thereby, put his faith not only in God, but the savior that was to come. This is why we are children of Abraham. Abraham was of a previous generation, before the new covenant and Abraham believed this covenant was to come. Thus, with Abraham coming before, he is our father of those who would be credited righteousness through faith.

image

Abraham was not considered righteous for obedience to any Law (although the Law hadn’t been given unto Moses yet) or by any of his works, but was considered and credited righteousness because of faith and belief. It is akin to this same faith in the Lord and His promises that we become the descendants of Abraham. In Galatians 3:8-9, Paul states:

“The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: ‘All nations will be blessed through you.’ 7So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.”

image

Therefore, let us not only believe in God the Father, and the Son, but let us believe in what they make known unto us by the Word and through the Spirit, who counsels us in all things. Anyone who did this under the old covenant was granted a like righteousness, but being under the new, we are witnesses to Christ’s death, by which we are justified, and His resurrection, through which righteousness and eternal life comes. Christ gained the firstfruits of the glorified body, due to His righteousness, but Abraham was the father of righteousness by faith.

image

What the Lord tells us is true and should not be doubted. It is correct to say some promises won’t come to pass until the appointed time, but let us not grow weary of our waiting upon the Lord, nor let it produce doubt within us. The Lord cannot break a covenant, for to do so would make Him imperfect, and we would cease to exist altogether. Thus, all the Lord has said will come to pass, in this age or the next, and this shall not hinder our faith. For even Abraham wasn’t hindered in his faith, but knew the promises of God would be fulfilled even when our father of righteousness by faith had passed from the world.

image


“Because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.” -1 Corinthians 16:9

20120323-005057.jpg

The next several verses, because of a vision I had, are going to concern doors. Why this is I cover in my previous entry. The term, “open door,” in the contemporary lexicon, tends to equate to an opportunity. However, after some study of the Scripture, we come to find this metaphor is nothing new, and has been in the popular lexicon since many generations past. In this verse, Paul uses the analogy, in the popular fashion.

20120323-010837.jpg

Paul tells us about a door that was opened for him that he may accomplish the “effective work,” the Lord had purposed. Furthermore, Paul tells us that this door is large in scale and thereby, not only was Paul’s purpose great, but in addition, it seems that it took a mighty power to budge the door, due to its enormous size. The Lord is the only one capable of opening these great doors of opportunity. If attempted by our own accord, we find the way either blocked by our inability to open such doors, or we find them completely inaccessible.

20120323-011019.jpg

If we do somehow open a door of Godly opportunity of our own accord, we often may find that the door wasn’t as large as we supposed, and our work may be less effective. It’s important to mention that I am not talking about mere worldly doors, as in opportunities in business or human pleasure. Rather, these are Godly opportunities, that culminate in the great works that change lives, instruct, and leads others to the Lord. The greatest commandments as mentioned by Christ say nothing about worldly success or the fulfillment of pride or carnal desires. Instead, we find the two greatest commandments to be the necessary conditions for adding to the population of heaven. To love the Lord with all your being and love others are the main ingredients when embarking on the blessed mission of the great commission.

20120323-011259.jpg

The great door of opportunity which was opened unto Paul, was one that truly was great in scope, for He almost single handedly brought the Gospel to the Gentiles. The Lord is willing and able to open great doors for us concerning this purpose. It may take profound discernment in identifying these doors, but they are there. Pray that the Lord may open these doors for you in order that you might effectively do His work, for if you, again, embark on this because of your your own accord, be warned that the enemy can take even the best intentions and pervert them to do harm.

20120323-011607.jpg

Let the Lord lead you to where you have the opportunity to make the biggest impact in the ministry. In addition, pray that the Lord may open up avenues of conversation that you may effectively share the gospel to another, imploring them to see the Way, the Truth, and the Life, that they might be saved from eternal damnation.

20120323-011826.jpg

Finally, despite our Lord opening these doors, this doesn’t mean that our mission is easy by any means. In fact, as Paul states, many will oppose us, just for our faith alone. Do not lose heart because of challenges or suppose that you made a wrong turn due to them. You may still be exactly where the Lord wants you to be despite the opposition and challenges that arise. The great door of opportunity does not negate hardships, in fact, it may profoundly increase them. Yet, do not despair, for the Lord has His time and season planned out for you, that He won’t spring the door open until you are ready. Pray that the Lord would make you ready and that the great door may be opened for you to take your special place in accomplishing His will.

20120323-012405.jpg


“You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.” -Romans 6:18

image

Who or what is your master? Like it or not, we all chase after or focus on something, and it is this same something which dictates or determines our actions, thoughts, goals or desires. Man tends to think he is the master over his own life, but this isn’t the case. Man can choose what has dominion over him, this much is true, but once it is decided, it is sealed, and that individual becomes a slave to that very thing.

Relative recent history gives the term, “slave,” a certain infamy and therefore power, in a very negative sense. Does Paul mean “slave” with the same sort of negative connotation that it has today? I argue not, but let us first understand that slavery in the Scripture, is very different from those, “recent,” examples that blot our history, particularly that of the western tradition. Indeed, much slavery included in the Bible concerns the repayment of debts. Yet, now, Christ has paid our debt in full, that by our faith in Him, it may be credited to us as righteousness. Furthermore, Christ doesn’t refer to us as slaves, but rather, sons, daughters, and even, friends.

Paul indicates repeatedly in his letters, that we are either slaves to sin, or slaves to righteousness. Yet, if we are slaves to righteousness, aren’t we then slaves to God? Furthermore, if this is the case, then can’t it be said that God has no more morality than any of those southern plantation owners, who “employed,” slaves in early American history?

In actuality, the answer is a resounding no! For although Paul uses the word, he does so to put it in, “human terms.” When we examine the slavery mentioned by Paul and juxtapose it with the slavery of history, we find a key difference, and, in fact, it is Christ Himself who is the key that unlocks the shackles that bind our hands and feet, setting us free!

When we look at the contemporary conception of the institution of slavery, we find it not only terrible, but completely self-serving. Though slavery is for the benefit of one, the land owner, Christ came for the benefit of many. In Christ we do serve God, but we too are rewarded in and by our efforts, We find that we benefit in being slaves to righteousness, which negates slavery altogether. In addition, we find others benefit in our being “slaves” to this righteousness, and we are given eternal life and glorify God with our very lives.

Sin is the true slavery, and more in tune with the current view of slavery then the antithesis. For though man’s carnal desires may be satisfied in short term, there is no true benefit, only pacification. What is true is what is eternal. Live for righteousness that you may be a slave no longer, live for Christ. Through sin came pain, death, and misery, but through Christ, we gain contentment, life, and joy. Glory be to God who through His Son broke us out of the bonds and freed us from sin and the wage that comes from it, death.


“Paul, an apostle – sent not from men nor by a man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Him from the Dead.” -Galatians 1:1

Photobucket
Among other things, the beauty of the Bible is explicitly manifest in God’s ability to speak through it. Many verse are not hindered by a singular interpretation, rather God can use any verse to address any number of things. One of the only things that is required is that it doesn’t contradict any other Scripture. If it does then this “veiled” wisdom cannot be from God (see my note concerning John 14:27, “On The Lord’s Peace and in Which You’ll Read a Few Notes Concerning Biblical Interpretation”).

Photobucket

Here, Paul, as he does in later verses (see my note concerning Galatians 1:11-12, “On Paul’s Source and The Shifting of Name”), reveals His source of the Gospel, and He who sent Him to the Gentiles to preach the message of reconciliation. This message He did not get from any man, but rather through direct revelation from Jesus Christ. In fact, according to Galatians 1:18-19, Paul didn’t meet any of the apostles until three-years after his ministry had begun. By this verse, we also see that Paul didn’t regard Jesus Christ as a mere man. This is not only important in the context of Scripture, but also in response to the popular belief that Christ was a mere man, though possibly a prophet of some sort.

Photobucket

"The Conversion of Saul," by Caravaggio. oil on canvas. c. 1600

Yet, Paul states, that he was neither sent by men (the apostles), or by a man (a mortal Jesus). Rather, his knowledge came from the Son of God, and the Father, who raised the Son to a life surpassing mortality, due to His obedience and righteousness. In addition, we who are in Christ, have our passport stamped so that when our mortal bodies pass away, we, in a likeness of Christ, will arise to life, worthy by grace and covered in the blood of the Lamb.

Photobucket

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” -1 John 1:7

%d bloggers like this: