Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 2 Study # 5
19 And art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness,
20 An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law.
1901 ASV Translation:
19 and art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them that are in darkness,
20 a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of babes, having in the law the form of knowledge and of the truth;
There are no variations between the Textus Receptus and the Nestle/Aland 26 in verses 2:19-20.
March 1, 2005
- I. Paul, having determined to address the extremely serious problem underlying Jewish religion (both as he perceived it from his own past experience and as the most dangerous "T"heological issue), decided to go to the most fundamental of the errors in it: the self-perception of its practitioners.
- A. At the most basic root, all of the problems a person faces have a "T"heological flaw: some way of viewing God that corrupts both attitude and action and, thus, all of experience that flows into and out of the cause/effect universe which God has created.
- B. Interestingly, however, Paul did not start with "T"heology; rather, he started with the Jewish self-perception -- a kind of "A"nthropology.
- 1. It is in the self-perception that all idolatries will ultimately be un-masked. People can use all of the "right" words to speak/write of their view of God, but the Truth comes out in the way a person views himself in respect to others.
- 2. For the Jewish mindset, which had a profound root in its "resting" upon the Law (2:17), the major point of contention to which Paul addresses himself was the Jew's smug superiority complex based upon his "practice" of that Law.
- a. This meant that the bottom line of the Jewish mindset was the confidence that his "practice" of the Law was both accurate and sufficient to qualify the practitioner for inheritance in the Kingdom of God.
- b. This smugness revealed a significantly perverse perception of God at the level of His "holiness" and how that holiness would work out in true "justice" in the day of judgment; but Paul didn't really go there initially. It also, by the way, revealed a significantly perverse perception of the love of God that made the "Cross" a huge stumbling-block to the Jewish mind. Because they sought to be loveless so that they would not be burdened to become the servants of men for God's sake, they refused to consider that God's love was great enough to forgive any sin of any magnitude except for that one which would block them from His love: the sin of rejecting Love (variously identified in the New Testament as "blasphemy against the Holy Spirit", or "rejecting the essential nature of God's Kingdom", or "walking in pride", or however one wishes to express the determined impenitence of man that keeps him from the faith that saves...).
- II. Paul Steps Into the Fray With "and thou art confident...".
- A. This was, precisely, the problem: a level of confidence that effectively blocked any suggestion that the "exerciser of the confidence" was unqualified to be what he claimed he was -- an heir of God's Kingdom.
- B. The "confidence" was directed toward...
- 1. The idea that the "Jew" was a guide to the blind.
- 2. The idea that the "Jew" was a light for those in darkness.
- 3. The idea that the "Jew" was an instructor of the foolish.
- 4. The idea that the "Jew" was a teacher of babes.
- III. Paul, Also Knowing the Foundations of This Confidence, Attributes it to the Jewish Possession of Divine Revelation in the Law.
- A. He calls it "the form" of knowledge and truth.
- B. He calls it thus even knowing that no knowledge is "truth" if it is cut loose from its moorings in the actual character of the God Who is Truth.
- 1. If the words "God is Light" are a part of the instruction by the arrogant, they are true words, but the underlying arrogance signals a meaning that is demonic.
- 2. If the words "God is Love" are a part of the instruction by the arrogant, they are, again, true words, but the underlying arrogance signals a complete misunderstanding of their truth in the mind of the "teacher" that makes his meaning false.
- IV. Major Point: Anyone Who Thinks His Practice of Truth is Sufficient to Qualify Him For Acceptance by God Does Not Know God and, Thus, Cannot Teach Others of God.
- A. Humility is not the automatic expression of the "believer" in the true Gospel.
- 1. Believers can be insufferably arrogant.
- 2. The flaw is in their "believing", but that does not make the "believing" false; it just makes it incomplete and in great need of development.
- B. But, humility is the natural extension of faith in the true Gospel: as Paul wrote, if all you are and have is a "given", why do you boast as if it was a "just due"? (a very elastic paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 4:7).
- 1. There is this problem in "evangelical Christendom in the U.S. today": the false doctrine of "free will" has put evangelicals in the same camp as the Jews of Paul's day for the precise reason that it makes the differences between the believer and the unbeliever a result of something the "believer" has done of himself. This is an "automatic" self-exalter.
- 2. That those who deny "free will" are also notorious for their own brand of arrogance is the reason the issue is clouded. This brand of arrogance is rooted in the fact that "knowledge puffs up" and those who embrace "Calvinism" most heartily are eaten up with their "superiority of knowledge" as they champion the "Five Points". That "system" of theology is fundamentally "philosophical" and not "biblical" and the commitment to philosophical purity reveals the penchant for the "superiority complex" for which "determinists" are notorious. If those who deny "free will" were more consistent in the foundations of that doctrine, they would automatically be the most humble people on the face of the earth -- because humility is the natural fruit of a true perception of the grace of God. "Who makes you to differ?" (1 Corinthians 4:7) The answer to this question is the root of true humility or raging arrogance. If my "free will", or my "commitment to a consistent philosophical theology" is what underlies my superior position before God, then raging arrogance is automatic. On the other hand, if God's grace is the underlying cause of my superior position before God, abject humility in gratitude is the only legitimate response I can have.
- C. And, the natural conclusion is that no one should set himself up to be "the teacher of others" whose development in humility has only barely begun. Paul warned Timothy not to elevate a "novice" too soon because he would go into an incorrigible pride if that happened; and James warned about the lust to be "the teacher" when the tongue was out of control...again signaling a need for a significant level of maturity before that privilege was extended.