The Obedience of Faith

The Obedience of Faith

“…We have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles…” (Rom.1:5)

The book of Romans is considered by many to be, next to the gospels themselves, the most important book of the New Testament. It contains, supposedly, the famous “Romans Road of Salvation”, which can be found easily in the text of the epistle, particularly if one completely ignores many of the things that are actually written in it.

Wait. What??

That’s right. A funny thing happens when we read the text of the Bible for what it really says, instead of simply what we are told it says. There seems to be a whole lot of “works” being suggested in the “works-free” gospel of Paul. Yes. Could our understanding of righteousness and redemption need tweaking? Let’s walk through the first five verses of Romans and see what we might find:

“Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus…” (Rom.1:1)

It should be noted that, as a “bond-servant” of Christ, Paul certainly will not be teaching or presenting “another gospel” than what has been entrusted to him. Particularly not one which stands at odds with those in authority over him. I’m speaking of course of Christ Himself, but also of the Jerusalem Council and specifically James, the head of that Council, who has often been assumed to be at odds with Paul’s message of “free grace” in the famous exhortation we find in chapter 2 of the epistle credited to him. Ditto for the Sermon on the Mount, in which the Lord states that “whoever keeps and teaches (the commandments) shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt.5:19)

So much for the idea of a “law-free gospel”. So much for “Haven’t you read Galatians?”. No. Such ignorance of the sacred texts must be dispensed with now. Because if Paul were to teach contrary to Yeshua and of the Jerusalem Council (a Council that Paul was not on, and was subservient to), he would be a heretic and we would not have the ability to read his letters, since they would have been destroyed. Continue reading

Who is the Free Woman in Galatians 4?

Who is the Free Woman in Galatians 4?

Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free, she is our mother.

                                                                        – Galatians 4:25-26

No other book of the Bible feeds the narrative of Replacement Theology quite like Galatians. It is the Holy Grail of the paradigm of Law vs. Grace.

Galatians chapter 4 represents the conclusion of Paul’s thematic argument against the Judaizers who sought to change his gospel in the minds of his followers. The first thing we need understand, then, is who the Judaizers were, and what they were doing. It is commonly believed that they were busy telling Paul’s Gentile converts to Christianity that they needed to continue to obey the law of Moses. They didn’t realize that these Jesus-following Gentiles were free from the law! And Paul was really mad!  However, we learn through a careful study of the context of the epistle that the real issue was formal conversion to Judaism, not obedience to God’s commandments.

A Judaizer is not someone who tells you that you should obey the law. It is someone who believes that you must be legally Jewish to be saved.

In Gal.4:21, Paul issues a challenge to those who are converting, saying, “Tell me, you who want to be under the law, do you not listen to the law?” He then gives his famous allegory of the slave woman and the free woman. Those born of the slave woman are “of the flesh”, while those born of the free woman are born of “promise”.

First, we must understand that when Paul uses the phrase “under the law”, he is not talking about someone who is forsaking grace, as though grace is opposed to law. No, he is referring to a person who is taking on legal Jewish identity through conversion.  Continue reading