Wednesday, April 11, 2012


Gentiles, thinking themselves to be worshiping the gods, in fact serve beings that are no gods; yet, since they are unable to come to the knowledge of the true God, their service of lesser beings amounts to ensalvement (Gal. 4:8).  For their part Jews, thinking themselves to be worshiping God, are actually living a life "under sin" administered by the law.  Under the law they, too, are unable to live for God (cf. 2:19); thus their service, too, amounts to slavery.  Both Gentiles and Jews, thinking themselves to be serving the divine, in fact are confined to the service of lesser entities, the "weak and beggarly elements" (4:9; cf. v. 3) that include the false gods of the Gentiles and the Jewish law.  From such slavery the Galatian believers have been delivered.  For them now to take up the law would be to revert to the bondage they experienced before they came to a knowledge of the true God (4:1-11).  Conversely, the redemption that Christ brought to those "under the law" may be said to have brought Gentiles the same freedom, the same adoption as God's sons, and the same presence of the Spirit of God's Son in their hearts (4:4-6)...

By way of summary, then, we note that Galatians implies that God requires (ordinary) righteousness of Gentiles as well as Jews (note that both are responsible for their sins [1:4], and both need to be declared righteous by faith in Christ Jesus [2:16]).  Yet Jews no more than Gentiles are deemed to have produced it, and life under the Jewish law differs in no essential respect from Gentile life without it.  Moreover, the human dilemma goes beyond the concrete sins that humans commit; such sins reflect their belonging to an age gone wrong, dominated by sin and, indeed, powers that are not God.  The law was given to regulate, not transform, this life of sin; it informs its subjects -- Jews in the first place, though at times all humanity, itself required to do what is right and condemned for failing to do so, seems loosely included (3:10, 22-23; 4:1-7) -- of what they ought to do and curses their transgressions; but it cannot introduce them to a new and different way of life. Such life is only to be found in Christ. Those who believe in him are declared righteous and given the Spirit, the mark of the new age. They have died with Christ to the old way of life and now live, with Christ in them, in God's service.
~ Stephen Westerholm, Perspectives Old and New on Paul

Salvation makes a subtle sound
for those with ears to hear
It's the sound that you hear, the sound that I hear

Since being
It's just as if I'd
never sinned at all

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