Chapter # 3 Paragraph # 2 Study # 8
Thesis: Is "substitutionary atonement" what Paul really wanted to get across to the Galatians?
Introduction: In our studies so far, we have seen that Paul's point was to show that the Bible has never been unclear about how "life" becomes the experience of a human being. It is "by faith" as opposed to "by works of law". The difference is primarily a matter of how one relates to God, and that depends upon how one "sees" God. Under "works of law", God is primarily seen as a Rigid Evaluator, or a "Just Judge", and those who view Him in that manner can only opt for attempting to please Him by conforming to His sense of Justice. Under "faith", God is primarily seen as a Committed Benefactor, or "Gracious Father", and those who view Him in that manner primarily opt for attempting to please Him by simply depending upon His promises to them.
This evening we are going to look into how the Just Judge/Gracious Father theses, which are both contained in the Bible and given extensive coverage in human history, are "blended" so that men do not distort the truth about God as they attempt to relate to Him. It is altogether improper to view God as a Just Judge and dismiss the Gracious Father implications and it is altogether improper to view God as a Gracious Father and dismiss the Just Judge implications. But one view does have to have primacy and Paul's argument is that, in order to properly relate to the Gracious Father, we have to understand how HE resolved the conflict involved between Justice and Grace.
Paul's claim is that Justice was satisfied and Grace is free because of the particular work of Christ called "redemption". This is the point of Galatians 3:13.
January 29, 2012
- I. Paul's Doctrine of Redemption.
- A. Paul's choice of words.
- 1. He chose an intensified form of a market-place word that, essentially, means "to purchase".
- 2. He is the only author in the New Testament to use this intensified term (only in Galatians 3:13; 4:5; Ephesians 5:16; and Colossians 4:5) and his use is sparing.
- 3. An initial and critical observation: the market place only functions under "law"; nothing can be bought, or sold, by setting a "price" if that "price" is not underwritten by some form of enforcement, and all enforcement will ultimately come down to Justice.
- 4. The meaning of the word introduces a peculiar theological issue: the question of just who is the merchant and who is the customer?
- 5. In Paul's theology, the "purchase price" is rooted in the determination of the Author of the particular description involved.
- a. Paul's text is Deuteronomy 21:23.
- b. This text is unambiguous in that it clearly says that the "accursedness" is "of God".
- c. This has to mean, then, that, for whatever reason, God decided that anyone "hanged upon a tree" was "accursed".
- 1) The text actually says that the level of "accursedness" was sufficient to defile the whole land when it is viewed as an element in the "inheritance" God grants to His people.
- 2) Leviticus 18:25-28 declares that if a land is "defiled" it will vomit its inhabitants out of it and that is a metaphor for the judgment of God being visited upon the inhabitants so that they cease to live upon it.
- 3) The point, then, is that if anyone was left hanging upon a tree overnight, God would evacuate the land by judgment.
- d. The inescapable conclusion, then, is that God, as the Just Judge, is the merchant Who holds the commodity that is "for sale" under a particular "price".
- 6. In Paul's theology, the "payment" of the "purchase price" is always accomplished by Christ, the Son of God.
- a. This "redemption" is straightforward: a set price is paid so that the "purchased possession" is no longer under the dominion of the merchant.
- b. In our context, the merchant's dominion is rooted in the precept of Law that says "Life will only come under Justice by obedience to every particular of Justice without exception".
- c. This has to mean that Paul considered Jesus' payment of the accursedness of hanging on a tree was all-inclusive: His submission to this single particular was the final act of His submission to every particular of Justice.
- 1) This takes us back to the Deuteronomy text: the one hanged upon a tree was, typically, someone who was vanquished in battle (Joshua 8:29 and 10:26).
- 2) At issue here is only one thing: the one hanging on the tree could not "win the battle".
- 3) This means, then, that losing a battle had potent moral overtones because the result was considered evidence that one was "cursed" by God.
- a) This is a particularly significant thesis in Israel because "winning battles" was underwritten by God as long as obedience to Law was being rendered (Note Deuteronomy 28:7 and 25).
- b) Thus, in respect to Christ, Who deliberately refused to "fight" in the Garden, the conclusion was drawn that He was accepting the guilt of all of the "losers" by permitting His enemies to hang Him on a tree (Note Paul's declaration in 2 Corinthians 5:21).
- c) At issue here is one thing: Christ is taking on a total identification with "sinners" under Law so that His actions could be applied to the question of whether, or not, Justice was satisfied.
- d. The inescapable conclusion is that Christ is the "customer" who paid the "purchase price".
- B. Paul's theology was of God settling an issue in His own character.
- 1. In a perfect universe, certain of the characteristics of God are completely uninvolved (grace, mercy, patience, longsuffering, wrath, etc.).
- 2. In a fallen universe, certain of the characteristics of God will completely eliminate the involvement of certain other characteristics (wrath will eliminate mercy and the forgiveness that it sponsors; justice will eliminate grace and the freedom it sponsors; etc.).
- 3. The "problem" is that unnecessary uninvolvement and compelled uninvolvement are two significantly different concepts.
- a. Unnecessary uninvolvement is simply God responding to Himself in a perfect setting.
- b. Compelled uninvolvement, however, diminishes God because He is no longer the One Who is Sovereign.
- 4. Therefore, there can never be any situation in which God is "under compulsion" to take a particular action: He is always "free".
- 5. The outworking of "redemption" is simply God setting Himself free to do whatever He wishes.