Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 2 Study # 7
July 31, 2011
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:
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 [See Study Notes for July 10, 2011<099>].
- 3. But knowing that a man is not justified by works of the Law, but by faith of Jesus Christ... [See Study Notes for July 17, 2011<101>].
- 4. ...even we believed into Christ Jesus in order that we might be justified by faith of Christ and not by works of law...
- a. The "even we" is emphatic of Paul and Cephas as "natural Jews" who were not "sinners from among the nations". Paul's point is that if the people who were those most clearly given a huge advantage in spiritual things were reduced to seeking justification through the faith of Jesus Christ, they were no longer any different from those among the nations not so privileged.
- b. The order of Paul's next words is: "...into Christ Jesus we believed...". Here he is attempting to paint a word picture of himself and Cephas putting their faith "into" Christ Jesus. The "into" is emphatic and, likely, means that there is no other receptacle for such a deposit. The biblical statement is Acts 4:12: "...there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." It is not technically necessary to "believe into Christ"; a simple "belief in Christ" saves (Galatians 3:26). But Paul intensifies the idea of "faith in Christ" because the issue in the confrontation is that such faith is not sufficient to save (one must also be circumcised and submit to the Law -- so argue the false brethren). Paul's "faith into Christ" emphasizes that Christ, alone, must be the object of our "faith"; His works and not ours. But this brings up the issue of "believing". What does it mean to "believe"? The universal biblical answer, given in multiple places, is that "believing" means "turning whatever is at stake over to the promise made". In other words, to "believe" means to relinquish control over the "objective" to the one making the promise so that, if the one making the promise fails, the "objective" is irretrievably lost. The promise of "eternal life" is what is at stake in the Gospel. To "believe" into Jesus Christ means that the "believer" has put the fulfillment of that promise into the issues which Jesus Christ brings to the table (His identity; His moral perfection; His willingness to stand in the stead of the "believer"; etc.) so that if He fails, the "believer" does not obtain the promised life.
- c. Our "objective" in such believing is stated: that we might be justified by the faith of Christ and not by our own works of law (Titus 3:5). Here Paul maintains his original proposition that Jesus Christ obtained His ability to bring us to justification by His works and says that we can be "justified" by His faith-functions (a perfect life generated by a perfect Love and a constant Faith).
- 5. ...because by works of law shall no flesh be justified.
- a. Paul's repetition is deliberate and precise: no "flesh" shall be justified by works of law (Romans 3:20).
- b. The major issue here is Paul's meaning for "flesh". He clearly does not mean "physical body" because the flesh of the body is not involved in the issues of "justification". But, he does mean "physically descended Adamic humanity". The problem, as he explained it in Romans 5, is that every human being who was tied by genetics to Adam is involved in Adam's sin and cannot, therefore, be "justified" by any "fleshly" labors to that end. Romans 8 is Paul's treatise on "the flesh" and there it never means simply "the body". Instead, it means a fixation upon appetites that are in contradiction to the beneficial impact of the "spirit".