Chapter # 3 Paragraph # 2 Study # 9
February 12, 2012
13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:
14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
1901 ASV Translation:
13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us; for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:
14 that upon the Gentiles might come the blessing of Abraham in Christ Jesus; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
I. Paul's Linkage of the Gospel to the Methodology of God's Dealings With Abraham [See notes for Dec. 4, 2011<135>].
II. Paul's Focus Upon Abraham's "Believing" [See notes for Dec. 11, 2011<137>].
III. Paul's Interpretation of God's "Accounting" (KJV word, NASB uses "reckoned") [See Notes for Dec. 18, 2011<139>].
IV. Paul's Adamant Application of Genesis 15:6 to the Gospel [See notes for Jan. 1, 2012<141>].
V. Paul's Logic Regarding "the Curse".
- A. Being "of the works of the Law" puts a person "under a curse" [See notes for Jan. 8, 2012<143>].
- B. The biblical record simply declares that "the righteous by faith shall live" [See notes for Jan. 15, 2012<145>].
- C. The antithesis involved in Law and Faith [See notes for Jan. 22, 2012<147>].
- D. Christ's redemption involved becoming "a curse for us" [See notes for Jan. 29, 2012<149>].
- E. Christ's redemption involved paving the way for a new unity with a new "first-level" Actor on the stage of humanity.
- 1. There is a good reason for casting Jesus in the light of "the Second Adam" (1 Corinthians 15:45).
- 2. Everything in Paul's Gospel depends upon, and assumes, that "redemption by virtue of the actions of another" is a legitimate principle in, and under, heaven.
- a. Paul's text is focused upon "redemption" -- the foundation for "the forgiveness of sins" (Ephesians 1:7 and Colossians 1:14) so that he calls "redemption" "the forgiveness of sins" in both of these notable texts. Technically, redemption is not the forgiveness of sins; it is the basis for that forgiveness in that "redemption" is the payment of the price (1 Corinthians 6:20 and 7:23) required for the decree of justification (Romans 3:24) that is rooted in the "propitiation" made by blood (Romans 3:25). "Forgiveness" erases the Law's demands upon "sin" so that the "forgiven" can be treated as though they had never sinned. Thus, "The Redeemer" pays the required price and the "redeemed" are then "justified" and treated as "sinless" by the Recipient of the Payment.
- b. Paul's claim is that Christ's actions legitimately apply to us. In what way is this "legitimacy" possible? How is it that one person can do something and then have that "something" attributed to someone else?
- c. Without debate, this is a bottom line in Paul's Gospel in that he began his reasoning in Romans 5 with the claim that Adam's action was "attributable" to all of his offspring.
- d. Without dispute, the record in Romans (chapters 1-5) is a record of universal sinfulness. No one has escaped the personal doing of evil. This has to mean that the attribution of Adam's sin to his descendants is more than mere "attribution"; no one would be enslaved to sin by mere attribution (neither does anyone "do" righteousness by mere attribution of righteousness to him/her -- i.e., "justification" does not do anything to sponsor right behavior other than generating an "attitude" that will allow the real Sponsor of right behavior to act). Thus, the reason Adam's offspring "sin" is that something in him was actually passed on to them so that the bondage to which he succumbed is now an indisputable part of his heritage in all of his offspring. They "sin" because it is an inherent part of their very core of being as a result of his identity as their progenitor. Thus, as far as we know, there was a genetic corruption in Adam's essential physical makeup when he ate of the forbidden fruit that became an inherent part of all of "humanity". We say "as far as we know" because there has to be an actual link between us and Adam for us to inherit his proclivities. Thus, "sin" is rooted in a physical reality in our bodies. In Romans 7:23 Paul called this "the law of sin in my members". At the core of this reality is this fact: humanity is essentially "one"; there is a unity in humanity, through the male, that cannot be broken except by death.
- e. This lays the foundation for Paul's concept of the salvation we have in Christ as an alternative Actor -- i.e., a "Second Adam". Apparently, what was true of Adam in connection to his physical offspring is mirrored in what is true of Christ in connection to those who receive His Spirit at the point of new birth, or regeneration. Thus, as Adam and his offspring are "one", so Christ and His people are also "one". In Adam, the "oneness" is ultimately physical; in Christ, that "oneness" is actual and spiritual. But, the spiritual is more potent than the physical, not less. When people "wallow" in their bondage because they cannot escape the potency of the impact of Adam's sin in their bodies, it is only because they do not know, and "believe" in, the superior potency of Christ's Spirit -- an actual spiritual reality that supersedes the physical reality.
- 1) In 1 Corinthians 15:45 Paul makes the distinction between the two "Adams".
- 2) The "first" Adam, Paul quoting Genesis 2:7, "was made a living soul". This boils down to the fact that the original Adam was "made alive" by God and, consequently, was a "soul" (a concept not well understood but which eventually boils down to "being a responder in a cause/effect universe where one is fundamentally acted upon rather than acting).
- 3) The "second" Adam, Paul simply declares, is "a life-making Spirit". This boils down to the fact that Christ is the Life-breathing Creator Who "breathes" new Life into new creations. The entire point of Pentecost is that God (Christ, the Second Adam) sent His Spirit to indwell human bodies so that the persons to whom those bodies belonged were "made alive" by such a "Great Breath From Heaven" (Acts 2:2). This is Genesis 2:7 language used in conjunction with "new" creation dogma. Paul's point in 1 Corinthians 15:45 is that Christ, the Second Adam, is the Spirit Who brings life to the dead. This makes Him the Creator God.
- f. That, at heart, there is such a thing as a real "unity" between Adam and his generations and Christ and His generations raises the question as to whether "substitute" is a legitimate characterization of Christ in the "atonement". He is no more a "substitute" than was Adam. The major difference between Adam's action and Christ's is that Adam did not take on someone else's offspring and Christ did. Adam did not "infect" pre-existing persons by his action, but Christ did "correct" such. Adam's impact upon his progeny did not require any "faith" (or any other "personal" response of any kind), but Christ does not do what He does to/in a "person" apart from "faith". [None of these "distinctions" has any significant impact upon the reality of what is done (Adam's sin is passed on in every human being; Christ's righteousness is "regenerated" in every "believer" when the Spirit of Jesus takes up residence in the body), but they do raise the issue of how we should conceive of the impact of "faith".]
- 1) At the heart of the redemption is this reality: the conflict between the exercise of Justice and the exercise of Grace did not exist in man; it existed in God. He was the One Who had to "do" something in the face of man's sin if He was to be "gracious" to him.
- 2) Given this fact, the "redemption" was not, primarily, a man-focused issue; it was a divine character-issue. That man benefits is the point, but that man can benefit is totally up to God. Thus, "substitutionary atonement" is more about Christ resolving the divine conundrum than it is about communicating benefit to man. In this sense, the actions of Christ were not "substitutionary"; they were "initiatory" -- they "initiated" man into a possibility that he could not have had apart from them.
- 3) The "terminology issue": does the use of "substitutionary" have a downside? The entire issue of a man coming into possession of the Life of God rests entirely upon Christ as a "Second Adam"; One whose actions are communicated to the "Second Adamic Race" both by "decree" and by "actual impartation". However, there is this danger in the concept of a "substitute": the recipient of the benefit of the "substitute" may think that he has no "actual" part in those actions, i.e., he does not consider himself to have "actually" been crucified with Christ, nor "actually" buried with Him, nor "actually" raised with Him so that, since none of it is "real", Christianity is really just a mind-game where you tell yourself something is "true" and, "viola", it is true. Without the "actual" indwelling of the Spirit of Christ, there is no "actual" regeneration, no "actual" deliverance from "Sin in my members", no "actual" participation in the Life of God, and no "actual" reason for believing that anything can come of something a "Substitute" did. Since Paul's concept of the Christian Life is the indwelling Christ living through the physical body in which He dwells (Galatians 2:20), it is impossible to separate what Christ did from the impact it makes upon those in whom He dwells. Anything that minimizes the union between Christ and His "redeemed" is not good.