Chapter # 5 Paragraph # 1 Study # 4
February 24, 2013
5 For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.
6 For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.
1901 ASV Translation:
5 For we through the Spirit by faith wait for the hope of righteousness.
6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith working through love.
- I. The "Waiting".
- A. The word is used by Paul in situations where someone is waiting on the eventuality to develop that will bring about the expectation that one has for the future.
- B. One question is that of whether the "waiting" is eschatalogical, or personal and progressive.
- 1. Is Paul describing something akin to Romans 8:23 wherein believers "wait" for the coming eventuality of moral perfection?
- 2. Is Paul describing a methodology of actual realization of righteousness through the Spirit's work to bring "righteousness" into a believer's practice?
- C. Paul taught in other places that we live in hope that one day we will actually practice righteousness as an inevitable norm, and he mentioned a "crown of righteousness" in that light (2 Timothy 4:8).
- D. But he also taught that the active fruit of the Spirit in the life of a believer produces actions of righteousness "against which there is no law".
- II. The Issue of the Context.
- A. Clearly, chapter five begins with a "present" necessity: standing fast in freedom. Paul is not so much interested in "the future" as he is "the present". His interest in the future exists because it is in the future that all of our "present" choices and actions find their consequences. Thus, his interest in the present exists because it is the present that is the catalyst for all of the future. Intentions and actions only actually exist "currently" (i.e., "in the present").
- 1. The issue of "standing fast" has to do with refusing to consider the Justice of God as a live possibility in the future.
- 2. The root issue is the fear-driven behavior of those who expect the Justice of God to come upon them.
- B. Just as clearly, Paul is confronting the issue that genders the "bondage" that conflicts with the believer's stance in freedom: the desire to be justified by Law.
- 1. This desire arises out of the complex of "fear" and "pride" in regard to the Justice of God.
- 2. This desire is wicked because it is focused upon what John called "the pride of life" (1 John 2:16).
- 3. What is "at stake" is how "others" perceive the one so motivated and pride demands that we "do what is necessary to acquire the approbation that we lust after".
- a. On one hand, the "other" that is in view is the God of Justice.
- b. On the other hand, the "other" that is in view is whatever human being(s) may be around to render a judgment regarding the behavior we produce.
- 4. Thus, "freedom" is more than freedom from Justice; it is also freedom from the pressure to "perform" for appearances' sake. The believer is "free"; so now it is time to live by the Spirit.
- C. Additionally, 5:6 specifically deals with what "works", or "avails".
- 1. This is presented as the "interim methodology": love driven faith.
- 2. The entire issue of "love" is that it no longer focuses upon the "lover" and that only happens when the "faith" is fixed upon the lack of necessity to so focus. If Justice is banned by grace, my future is secured in a way that leaves me entirely free to live with others in view.
- D. Thus, we conclude that Paul is dealing with a methodology for the present that begins with a firm stance in "freedom" and progresses "by the Spirit out of faith". But, the "waiting" is, evidently, a hopeful expectation that what is true already in Christ (we are already justified) will, ultimately, become a reality in experience (one day we shall be morally perfect without effort).
- III. The Particulars.
- A. The "we" is emphatic and contrastive. "We" as those in direct contrast to "those who wish to be justified by Law".
- B. The "through the Spirit" is ambiguous. "Spirit" is in one of three cases (locative, instrumental, or dative) and we must determine which of those concepts is in Paul's mind.
- 1. The grammatical form is exactly that of Galatians 3:3 where he raises the question of the foolishness of beginning "by" the Spirit and then switching over to "being perfected" "by" the flesh (another locative, instrumental, dative form). At stake is "means" (instrumental). The implication is strong: Paul is addressing "how" a thing happens: "by" the Spirit.
- 2. As long as "through" indicates a "means by which", the translation stands.
- C. The "by faith" indicates how we function "by" the Spirit: we depend upon a declaration to be true. The ability to depend is "by the Spirit".
- D. The "hope of righteousness" is our expectation for two declared realities: first, that we are "just" because we are "in Christ"; and second, that we shall be morally perfect by the transformation of our mortal state according to the promise. We have the firstfruits of the Spirit, but in the eschaton we shall have the full harvest that includes moral perfection as an innate quality.
- E. The "circumcision"/"uncircumcision" issues are "bondage to law" versus "freedom to do anything with impunity" (legalism vs. antinomianism). Paul denies either position as effective. The point is "Life" and how it is to be experienced: not by legal bondage, nor by careless freedom.