Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 2 Study # 9
August 14, 2011
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:
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... [See Study Notes for July 31, 2011<103>].
- 5. ...because by works of law shall no flesh be justified [See Study Notes for July 31, 2011<103>].
- 6. Now, if seeking to be justified in Christ we are found also ourselves sinners, do we conclude that Christ [is] a servant of sin? Absolutely not [See Study Notes for Aug. 7, 2011<105>].
- 7. If I build again what things I destroyed, I establish myself as a transgressor.
- a. Paul puts himself in the shoes of the "hypocrite" (Peter) who reverses himself and attempts to rebuild what he earlier destroyed.
- b. At issue: the question of whether Christ is a "deacon of sin" by reason of the doctrine of salvation apart from "law".
- c. The rationale.
- 1) The intensive "myself" in Paul's rebuttal indicates that he is assigning the title of "Deacon of Sin" to himself if ... . The point here is that he is taking the issue of "establishing sin" seriously, but he is redirecting the accusing finger. It is not Christ, Whose doctrine is "gracious", Who fails to put people on the right track in terms of seeking to do what is right. Rather, it is those whose doctrine is self-destructive who destroy peoples' motivation to do good. This "self-destructive" aspect is clearly revealed by the idea of "building again what I have destroyed".
- a) The "destruction" in Paul's argument has to do with "things" that must go in order for righteousness to come forth. The only "things" that the legalist "destroys" in his doctrine are the arguments against man's incapacity to do good. The imposition of "law", the legalist argues, implies the ability of man to do the works of law. Thus, man must have the essential goodness within to pursue the law.
- i. For clarity, we need to remember that Paul is confronting Cephas for his hypocrisy. This means that he has Peter's "building" in mind when he says "For if I rebuild what things I formerly destroyed...". In other words, he is addressing Peter's hypocritical attempt to rebuild his former legalism. Peter had destroyed that legalism in his initial dealings with the conflict of Jewish legalism over his dealings with Cornelius in the initiation of the Gospel to the Gentiles. But, now, with his reversion to that Jewish mentality, he is rebuilding it.
- ii. At the very heart, though, of the legalistic mind is the issue of Peter's greatest weakness -- the desire to appear to be very committed to God. Paul calls this what it is in Galatians 6:12 and applies his understanding of the root to Cephas in this section of his argument.
- b) But, the reality is this: if man was actually "essentially good", he would not need "law" to bring out that goodness. That the legalist demands the necessity of "law" only means that what he gives with one hand (the goodness of man), he takes back with the other (if you remove law you will be a Deacon of Sin).
- 2) This self-destructive characteristic belongs, not to Christ, but to those whose doctrine is "legal". Inherent in the legalist's doctrine is the view of man that he must be held under law because, otherwise, he will do evil. However, this view is "self-destructive" in that the evil behind the necessity is not altered, but, rather, enhanced. Men under law invariably act selfishly as "self-preservers" and "Love" is never their motivation. Putting an evil man under law will only drive him to hide his evil, not forsake it.