Commentary on "The Unity of the Gospel"
Day 4: Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - Unity in Diversity
From the title of this section, the author makes clear that unity is the key word for the day. His "unity in diversity" concept leans toward seeing the Jews and Gentiles as being diverse but united on the gospel. The lesson sees danger as coming from people who wanted to steal the liberty of the Christians, to deny they could have freedom from sin, to escape the condemnation of the law, and to keep them under the power of death.
The last point is truly amazing, because it makes one wonder how those false brothers could steal Paul's freedom from sin, condemnation and death. What means can somebody employ to destroy these freedoms? The greatest benefit of those liberties is that no man can steal them away; they are secure in Christ and are not up for grabs.
But there is a Christian liberty that is up for grabs. It is the liberty of not being not under the law as a tutor, as a guide to Christ (Galatians 3 :23-25), a liberty that previously was not available, but Christ brought it to all who believe. As it was mentioned in the previous commentary for Monday, both covenants, the Abrahamic covenant and the Mosaic covenant, functioned as a unit. The Mosaic covenant, the law, was added to the Abrahamic covenant, to the promise (Gal. 3:19), with a certain goal in mind. The goal of the Mosaic covenant, of the law, with its more than 600 rules, was to function as a tutor leading its students to Jesus, to whom the promise of the Abrahamic covenant pointed and in whom both covenants were going to be fulfilled. The Mosaic covenant did not have an independent function; rather, it was a law given to direct people to grace and to the fulfillment of the Abrahamic promise in Christ. The Law had a temporary function, and once the promise of the Abrahamic covenant had its fulfillment in Jesus, the function of the law—being a tutor to Christ—ended.
The law, the Mosaic covenant, ceased to function as a tutor. The believers were no longer under its jurisdiction.
Those who insisted that Gentiles should circumcise in order to be saved, misunderstood the goal of both the Abrahamic covenant and the Mosaic covenant. They still saw the Mosaic covenant as having jurisdiction over the believers because they didn't understand that the Mosaic covenant worked as an appendage to the Abrahamic covenant. Its usefulness was related to the fulfillment of God's promise to Abraham. When the promise found its fulfillment, the Mosaic covenant became obsolete; it was no longer useful. The freedom from the jurisdiction of the Mosaic covenant, from the jurisdiction of the Law, this was the freedom that the party of false brothers wanted to steal.
Beside the reasons already mentioned, there is a more profound reason why the false brothers erred. They didn't understand that the Abrahamic covenant and the Mosaic covenant, while working together for the same goal, Christ, were radically opposed. Promise and law, grace and works—these are opposite methods of inheritance. The Judaizers didn't understand that the Mosaic covenant was not based on grace but was law that was given to point to the fact that grace is found in another place—in the promise of the Abrahamic covenant—in Christ.
The Judaizers thought that the Mosaic covenant offered grace while in fact, the opposite was true. It could only condemn; the tutor didn't offer a shred of grace. Grace was found in Jesus; the tutor has no grace to offer. The Law was not based on faith (Galatians 3:12), it could only condemn, bring a curse, and lead people to seek the blessing where the curse had fallen and been taken away, in Christ (Galatians 3:13,14). By their attempt to bring people under the jurisdiction of the law, they misled themselves and others toward seeking grace where it was not: in the law. They misunderstood the function of the law: it was not intended to convey grace, but to lead to grace as an appendage to the Abrahamic covenant where the promise of grace was.
Copyright 2011 BibleStudiesForAdventists.com. All rights reserved. Revised October 10, 2011. This website is published by Life Assurance Ministries, Glendale, Arizona, USA, the publisher of Proclamation! Magazine. Contact email: BibleStudiesForAdventists@gmail.com.
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