Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 2 Study # 5
July 10, 2011
15 We who are
Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles,
16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
17 But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is
therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid.
18 For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.
19 For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.
20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come
by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.
1901 ASV Translation
15 We being Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles,
16 yet knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we believed on Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ, and not by the works of the law: because by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
17 But if, while we sought to be justified in Christ, we ourselves also were found sinners, is Christ a minister of sin? God forbid.
18 For if I build up again those things which I destroyed, I prove myself a transgressor.
19 For I through the law died unto the law, that I might live unto God.
20 I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I that live, but Christ living in me: and that life
which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith
which is in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself up for me.
21 I do not make void the grace of God: for if righteousness is through the law, then Christ died for nought.
- I. Paul's Response to Hypocrisy.
- A. He "saw" that their behavior and the Gospel were in opposition.
- B. He "said" to Cephas in the presence of all... . Paul determined to address the problem in public because it was not only a distortion of the Gospel, it was also a public humiliation for all of the Gentile brethren.
- 1. If you, being a Jew, are living in the manner of a Gentile and not in the manner of a Jew, how do you compel the Gentiles to live as Jews? [See the Study Notes for July 3, 2011 (097)].
- 2. We [are] by nature "Jews" and not "sinners" from among the nations.
- a. Since God made us a nation, we have always had a special status among the nations (Deuteronomy 14:2).
- 1) Paul's terminology is weighted with the "typical Pharisaical attitude".
- a) We are "natural Jews". Paul's term is one used regularly to refer to the driving force within the physical creation ... genetics; cause and effect law; etc. . "Natural Jews" are the physical offspring of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
- i. The classic expression of this "natural Jews" concept is found in John's warning to the "Pharisees" ("generation of vipers") not to count on being Abraham's "generation" (Matthew 3:9). The promises God made to Abraham are absolutely trustworthy and valid, but anyone who thinks they can play off of them so that being "saved" is "automatic" without any personal interaction with Abraham's God is, simply, in extreme danger of the wrath to come. From Paul's point of view, Jews must be both sharers in Abraham's genetic root and his faith (Romans 4:12). To be "circumcised" without "faith" is simply being of a circumcision made with hands (Ephesians 2:11) while being circumcised with "faith" is being of a circumcision made without hands (Colossians 2:11).
- ii. The entire point of "natural Jews", for "natural Jews", was to retain the power of salvation in one's own hands by attempting to leverage God by means of "works of righteousness which we have done" ("I am circumcised" meant "God owes me salvation"). This is a perversion of the concept of an "elect nation" to mean "anyone of that nation is elected": Salvation without personal involvement with the God of Salvation (much like the perverse doctrine of baptismal regeneration). Jesus' "I never knew you" (Matthew 7:23) indicates the bottom line of "salvation" -- being "known of God" as Paul reports in Galatians 4:9.
- b) We are not "sinners" out of the nations.
- i. Paul is not here arguing that "Jews" are not "sinners" because that was not a viable position even for a "Jew".
- ii. The issue of "sinners" regards a specific "sin": worship of the wrong God. The nation of "Jews" was born out of a conflict between Yahweh, God of Israel, and the promoters of false deities, and for a thousand years the bone of contention between Yahweh and Israel was her idolatry. It was only after the Babylonian captivity that Israel was no longer known for its chasing after other gods.
- 2) Paul does not "agree" with that attitude, but he does employ it at this point in order to make his "point".
- a) It is imperative for the "Pharisees" among us to understand that even if their attitude of superiority was true even they, as the superior ones, had to find their acceptance before God by "faith", not by law-keeping.
- b) The best way to handle superior people is to point out that even if they are "superior", the way they obtain righteousness before God is no different from those to whom they are "superior".
- b. It is not "hypocrisy" to claim such special status, but it is such to claim that special status by reason of their own performance issues. It is not "wrong" to know, and claim, one's special status before God as long as one realizes that it is given by grace for God's own purposes. Paul did not dishonor his "apostleship" -- a status of great import before God and men -- by disavowing the reality; but he never claimed he had "earned" the position (1 Corinthians 15:9).
- 3. But knowing that a man is not justified by works of the Law, but by faith of Jesus Christ...
- 4. ...even we believed into Christ Jesus in order that we might be justified by faith of Christ and not by works of law...
- 5. ...because by works of law shall no flesh be justified.