Keith Hunt - Bible Story, NT - Chapter Sixty-eight: Paul writes Galatians - Part three   Restitution of All Things
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New Testament Bible
Story

Chapter Sixty-eight:

Paul writes Galatians - Part three

                      THE NEW TESTAMENT

                         BIBLE STORY

                           Part Two

                       THE BOOK OF ACTS 
                             and
                       RELATED EPISTLES

                Paul writes Galatians - Part three

PERTINENT COMMENTS

CHAPTER FOUR - TWO COVENANTS

     In verse 21 Paul resumes his talk and expounding of the TWO
covenants. As the Galatians seemed to want to be under the
observance of the entire Old Covenant and circumcision, as the
way to justification and inheritance of eternal life, he asks
them if they hear what that Old Covenant (the law) had to say.
     The law said that Abraham had TWO sons, the one by a
"bondwoman" - servant, and the other by a "free" woman - his
wife. The one of the bondwoman was born after the flesh - doing
things "their way" - without waiting on God's promise, without
faith, while the other son was born of the "free" woman -
according to God's promise which was based upon "faith" in that
promise. He is as they would certainly know, referring to the
births of Ishmael and Isaac, the birth of Ishmael by Hagar the
handmaid and Isaac from Sarah, Abraham;s wife (Genesis chapters
16-21).
     Paul says that these two births is an ALLEGORY - TYPE - A
TYPE OR REPRESENTATIVE  of the TWO COVENANTS!   That's why I've
said that this book of Galatians is a book about the TWO
COVENANTS - one the Old, the one that came 430 years AFTER the
PROMISE made to Abraham, a promise of FAITH, the entire Old
Covenant, that gave emphasis to magnifying SIN, with all of its
minute physical rites and Temple rituals and sacrifices, and
importance on the physical rite of circumcision. This Covenant
was represented by Agar, the bondwoman, which Paul says is "mount
Sinai" or the Covenant given to Israel by Moses, and which is
BONDAGE. This answers to Jerusalem that is now, or to put it as
what Paul was meaning - this is the Jews of the Covenant
believing that if you obeyed the entire Old Covenant, with
especially the circumcision rite, you could be "justified" or
"made right with God" and so obtain salvation and eternal life.
This was being saved by "works of law" - no faith needed, no
Christ Jesus in the picture at all.
     Paul says of a truth that this way of trying to be saved was
indeed BONDAGE, for as he has pointed out, unless you could
observe the entire Old Covenant FAULTLESSLY, without ONE ERROR or
SIN, you were condemned by the very Covenant you thought
could save you. And as NOT ONE person (excluding Christ) ever
came CLOSE to observing ALL the Old Covenant in PERFECTION, those
who looked for justification through that means of "works of that
Covenant" WITHOUT faith in the sacrifice of Jesus for sins, were
truly in BONDAGE.
     The religious Jews of today who claim they are just as much
children of God and "saved' as are Christians, even as they do
not have Christ in their equation of justification, but only
serve the Old Covenant, are still in utter BONDAGE to sin and
error. They DO NOT have salvation and they are most definitely
NOT saved. They are still in their sins and so the penalty of sin
- death - still hangs over them. 
     Paul then draws on the type of Jerusalem above (not the
physical city that represented the Jews without Christ in their
equation) and Isaac, of the free woman, the promise through
faith, and so says that we Christians are the children of
"promise." What a bondage indeed to NOT have Christ as your
Savior, but to believe you must obtain salvation by works of law,
any law, for truly when you do not attain to the perfection of
the law you are trying to serve, your burden of guilt and
hopelessness, must be an anguish hardly able to bear.

     Christians, are under a New Covenant that has "faith" and
"grace" as it's bedrock. That New Covenant does not "do away
with" God's holy, and righteous law of His commandments (this is
clearly seen just by reading the entire New Testament, the
chapters of Romans 3 through 7, the book of James, the books of
John, especially), and those who claim it does are surely the
bottom of the class in Bible reading, and are to put it bluntly,
false teachers, indeed as false as those Paul was writing against
in this epistle to the Galatians.
     But the blessing that true Christians have is that when they
miss the mark, when they, through weakness of the flesh, sin,
break the commandments of God, they can repent, come to God
through Christ, ask for mercy, and the blood of Jesus' sacrifice
to be applied to them, and the Father will so grant it. They can
be forgiven, justified, through faith in the promise that Christ
would be our sin bearer. Christians also have the blessing
of having Jesus NOW in heaven as their High Priest, interceding
on their behalf to the Father, for He knows what it is like to be
flesh and blood, He was tempted in all points as we are (so it is
written), yet did not sin, but He sure knows what it is like to
be a human person, and have the pulls of the flesh, the pressure
of the world, and Satan the Devil (and his helpers, the demons),
pulling at you. He is the most faithful mediator a Christian can
possible have.
     What a FREEDOM indeed to have Jesus Christ WITH you and IN
you, the ones  Paul was denouncing here, did not have Jesus as
their Savior and as their High Priest.

     As it was back in the days when God gave that "faith
promise" to Abraham, he that was born after the flesh (doing
things "my way"), persecuted him that was born after the
"faith promise." So, Paul says, it was that, the children of the
bond-woman (those under the Old Covenant "way of works" to try
and be justified) were persecuting the children of the
free-woman, those under the New Covenant, of justification
through faith in Christ as sin bearer (verses 21-31).

CHAPTER FIVE

     Paul exhorts the Galatia Christians to stand fast in the
wonderful liberty they have in Christ and not to be brought under
bondage again. If they were going to look to physical
circumcision (and all the other rites of the Old Covenant) as the
means to justification then Christ profited them nothing. And if
they were going to look to physical circumcision as the way to
justification then they were under obligation to serve and obey
ALL the Old Covenant, in its entirety. Then, to give emphasis, he
again tells them that if they are going to believe justification
is by the works of the doing all the Old Covenant, then they have
fallen from grace, because they have "done away with" Jesus
Christ in their theology belief. Because he says, it is BY FAITH
that the Spirit gives us hope of righteousness, or right-standing
with God. For being physically circumcised or un-circumcised
amounts to NOTHING with God, but what avails with God, is FAITH
that works by LOVE (verses 1-6).
     And if you want to know what the New Testament (the New
Covenant) has to say in its full completeness on LOVE, then take
a day or two and look up ever verse where the word "love" is
found. Strong's Concordance of the Bible, will give you EVERY
PLACE in the New Covenant Scriptures where "love" can be found.
And in your study you will be shown from the Lord's word what HE
SAY HIS LOVE IS!

     Paul tells them they did run well at one time, he wants them
to run the true race again. He says that a little "leaven" (often
used for "sin" and "wickedness" - see 1 Cor.5 once more), leads
to ALL being leavened. He means that all of them would eventually
become deceived and led away into error and so be "fallen from
grace."
     He ends this thought with a "play on words" - he wished that
they who were troubling them, "were CUT OFF."  Physical
circumcision is cutting off some flesh of the sheaf that covers
the male penis, and throwing it away. So Paul wishes these
troublesome false teachers were cut off and thrown away from
troubling the Galatian Christians (verses 7-12).

     Paul had talked about "liberty" - "grace" and "being "free."
Some, as they do today, would surely NOT understand him, or
putting it another way, they would twist his words of "liberty"
into saying that Paul taught you could, as a Christian, live any
way you fancied, and still be saved. They would teach that Paul
taught "grace was a license" to give in to, and practice, any of
the works of the flesh. With a RESOUNDING FORCEFUL answer he
CLEARLY teaches in the next verses that SUCH AN IDEA as that is
WILD and certainly FAR away from the truth of the matter of what
God teaches over and over again in His word.
     This section is worth quoting as the "New Living
Translation" renders it:


     "For you, dear friends, have been called to live in freedom
     - not freedom to satisfy your sinful nature, but freedom to
     serve one another in love. For the whole law can be
     summed up in this one command: 'Love your neighbor as
     yourself' (Lev.19:18). But if instead of showing love among
     yourselves you are always biting and devouring one another,
     watch out! Beware of destroying one another. So I advise you
     to live according to your new life in the Holy Spirit. Then
     you won't be doing what your sinful nature craves.
     The old sinful nature loves to do evil, which is just
     opposite from what the Holy Spirit
     wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are opposite
     from what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are
     constantly fighting each other, and your choices are never
     free from this conflict. But when you are directed by the
     Holy Spirit, you are no longer subject to the law ("under
     the law" as the KJV is. The context tells you how Paul is
     using such a phrase, as he uses it in various ways within a
     certain context. Here it is, you are not under the law's
     penalty of sin and death - the context of Paul is obviously
     the context of living in a life style of sin or living in a
     life style of being led by the Spirit, which he has just
     stated, will lead away from the life of the sinful nature -
     Keith Hunt). 
     When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, your
     lives will produce these evil results: sexual immorality;
     impure thoughts, eagerness for lustful pleasure, idolatry,
     participation in demonic activities, hostility, quarrelling,
     jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, divisions,
     the feeling that everyone is wrong except those in your own
     little group, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other
     kinds of sin. Let me tell you again, as I have told you
     before, that anyone living that sort of life will not
     inherit the kingdom of God.
     But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce
     this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience,
     kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and
     self-control. Here there is no conflict with the law (Ah,
     yes, Paul is not abolishing God's law, but showing
     that a life led by the Spirit leads to being WITHIN law, not
     being "out-laws" but being in no conflict with the law. The
     New Covenant does not mean you obey law to earn
     justification, or forgiveness {for that can only come by
     grace through faith in Jesus' sacrifice for your sins} but
     it means, being under God's grace, you can NOT live
     according to your will, ideas, or sinful nature - Keith
     Hunt).
     Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions
     and desires of their sinful
     nature to His cross and crucified them there. If we are
     living now by the Holy Spirit, let us follow the Holy
     Spirit's leading in every part of our lives. Let us not
     become conceited, or irritate one another, or be jealous of
     one another "(verses 13-26).

     This section of Paul is pretty clear, and when we are
willing to read every word of Paul, in all of his other epistles,
we see that he never for one second, thought or taught, that
God's holy and righteous and perfect law of the Ten Commandments
(and as magnified by Christ and the rest of God's word), was ever
"done away with" or abolished at the cross, or under the New
Covenant. It would be the furthest things from Paul's mind to
ever think such an idea, as abolishing the Ten Commandments. We
shall see clearly Paul's mind and teaching on this matter in even
more detail, as we next examine and comment on his epistle to the
Romans, after we finish this one to the Galatians.

CHAPTER SIX

     Paul's mind, now talking about sin, goes to a problem among
the brethren that they were not handling correctly. The problem
of another brother living in gross sin, a sin they were
practicing as a way of life; and how the other brethren should
correct the Christian overcome by the sin or sins they were
living in. This is, from the very wording, the context of a
brother living in gross sin, as we saw in the situation with the
Corinthian church, I refer you back to 1 Corinthians, chapter
five.
     I will again quote from the "New Living Translation"  - all
emphasis is mine:

     "Dear friends, if a Christian is overcome by some sin, you
     who are godly should GENTLY and HUMBLY help that person back
     onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the
     same temptation yourself. Share each other's troubles and
     problems, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you
     THINK you are too IMPORTANT to help someone in need,
     you are only fooling yourself. You are really a NOBODY.
     Be sure to do what you should, for then you will enjoy the
     personal satisfaction of having done your work well, and you
     won't need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are
     each responsible for our own conduct "(verses 1-5).

     Each Christian does have a responsibility towards their
fellow Christian. Paul gives here one of those responsibilities.
The responsibility to help guide back to the right pathway of
living, for those who have gone astray, is to be done in kind
gentleness with all humility, the one doing the guiding
remembering they are also weak flesh and blood, and could also go
off the straight and narrow pathway that leads to eternal life. 
We are to share our troubles and problems with each other, at
times, when appropriate, with the person/s who can possibly help
us. Then those who are to be used, and it could be any of us, in
whatever situation of any particular circumstance, must never
think so highly of themselves that they are over and beyond
helping a brother of sister in need. In other words we are to be
able to come down to the level of and stand alongside, putting
ourselves in their shoes, with our fellow Christian who is
needing a helping hand in their time of spiritual weakness or
difficulty. We are to do whatever we can to serve and help
the needs of others. If we do all this in meekness we will never
need to compare ourselves with one another, for there may come a
time when we are the one needing help from others. We must be
careful at all times for our own conduct in life, but we are
to help each other when help is needed.

     Verse 8 is missed by far too many in the Christian church.
There is to be "good communication" with those being taught in
the word and those doing the teaching, and vice versa. From the
context, no one is to be thinking of themselves too highly, we
are all on the same road moving along together, and so we are to
serve and help each other as we head for the destination of the
Kingdom of God. The spiritual teacher is not to think of
themselves too "high" to be helped by those they are teaching,
and so it is the other way also. Sometimes those who need to be
taught are too proud to humble themselves to be guided and
taught. It should never be this way, all are to be humble with
each other in spiritual matters as the situation warrants it.

     Paul goes on to say that what he has said cannot be ignored.
It is part and parcel of sowing and reaping in the spiritual
life. For what we sow, he says, we shall also reap. If we sow
wild oats, satisfying the pulls of the sinful flesh, we will reap
in the end, only decay and spiritual death. Not being willing to
be guided and corrected by God, sometimes through other human
persons, will result in spiritual death. But those who will
live in the Spirit, willing to be taught, and guided, will
harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. 
     Paul says, we must not give up being in the right spiritual
attitude of life, we should not get discouraged and give up. We
are, as the opportunity appears, to do good to all persons, but
especially to our fellow Christian brothers and sisters. Then in
the end we will reap a harvest of blessings (verses 9-10).

     Paul finishes his epistle to the Galatians telling them that
those who are teaching a "works of the law" to justification and
salvation, a way to obtain it without Christ Jesus in the
picture, are doing so in part, because they do not want to
receive persecution from the larger religious section of Jews and
their leaders. They did not want to be persecuted for teaching
the cross of Christ, as came upon Paul and others like him who
did teach justification and salvation through Christ.
     He tells them that even those who were teaching "works of
law" and physical circumcision, to salvation, in fact did not
themselves observe the whole law. They only wanted to see others
literally circumcised to brag about it and claim them are their
disciples. They got some kind of a "kick" out of seeing people
get circumcised. It was like a game to them, a point of victory
marked up on a sheet, to show to others, whenever they persuaded
someone to circumcise themselves.

     As for Paul, he said, "God forbid that I should boast about
anything except in the cross of Christ" as the way to
justification and salvation. It was through Christ that Paul
said he had died (been crucified) to the world (the wrong way to
teach and live) and the world to him. Through Jesus nothing
matters but HIS truth and HIS way of life. And it was surely true
that in Christ physical circumcision meant absolutely NOTHING,
but the important thing was a new way of conduct and belief.

     To those who had and held to the truth of this matter, Paul
prayed God's mercy and peace upon them. They were the new and
true Israel of God. 
     He did not want any more trouble from the matter he had
corrected, for he bore in his body the physical marks of the
scars of physical persecutions he had received over the years,
for being a disciple of Jesus. He bore the physical scars of
teaching the true way of salvation, which was only through Jesus
the Christ and Him crucified for the justification/forgiveness of
sins, and not through trying to observe the Old Covenant and
physical circumcision (verses 11-17).

     Paul's salutation: "My dear brothers, the grace of our Lord
Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen."

     What a wonderful epistle of truth is Galatians, when you
understand why it had to be written, and what was being taught by
false teachers, with their false theology of Jesus Christ not
being needed for salvation. It is as Albert Barnes pointed out
correctly in his Bible Commentary, an epistle designed to meet an
unconverted religious Jew in his Jewishness.

     In the epistle to the Romans, which we shall undertake to
comment on next, Paul there answers two theological views, one
that the moral law of God's Ten Commandments justifies you, and
the second, that justification coming by faith and grace
through God's Messiah the Christ, abolishes the law, so you then
do not have to obey it.
     Neither view, Paul answers, is correct Bible understanding.

                  ........................

May 2004

TO BE CONTINUED


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