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The Contention For Truth

by Danny Mihailovic last modified Feb 23, 2014 12:54 AM
Legal language hardly ever sits comfortably with us and yet in the economy of its jargon, complicated issues are set out before us to mitigate against every possible contingency that would affect the outcome of an intended justice.

The Apostle Paul, uses such language to describe a “testament” or “will”. Words such as Heir, guardians, slave, free, are all legal words. They describe the legal bond between master and slave; Testators and Heirs. In particular, the issue of the Gentiles comprising part of the “estate” of God’s promise to Abraham, would have been a dilemma to the Jew who saw God’s covenant as peculiar to Israel, confusing of course the “national covenants” with the eternal Covenant of grace as promised in Genesis 3. The Jews at that time, saw themselves as sole heirs to the Abrahamic hope; sole winners to the spoils of heaven, excluding the Gentiles, appointing them to be “wood cutters and water carriers” as in Old Testament times. The thought of a redeemed Philistine never occurred to them…let alone a redeemed Roman or Greek.

This is why Paul seemed to be such a thorn in the flesh to his own countrymen. It could be argued that Paul’s favourite theme pictured a broken down dividing wall between Jew and Gentile through the work and person of Jesus Christ. Israel, figuratively speaking, was now to be seen as everyone who had been redeemed through the blood of Christ. In the closing verses of chapter 3 – Paul reminded his readers, that having been baptised into Christ… (see previous article for notes on this subject)…they were all sons of Abraham — Jew and Gentile alike…all sons of Abraham…all heirs According to the promise. Of course the Judaising party would have none of this. Any proselyte, (i.e. converted gentile to Judaism), could practice his religion to reasonable lengths, but had to observe tradition, the law and above all, not to forget that he could never be a real Jew. So the offense begins here with the statement that both Jew and Gentile, while different in their appointed stations in life, heirs (Jews) and gentiles (slaves)…were both under the guardianship of God (Father) and therefore both categories of people were legitimate heirs to the promises. In this case both Jew and Gentile were under the guardianship of “Promise” until Christ actually came to release the “will”, the Holy Spirit as it were, being the “Executor”.

Pauls’ clear insight into the state of the soul even as a Jew, under the Law, guarded by God as it were, he was no different really to the gentile who was subjected to the elements of the world; namely the principles of the natural man. The elements of the world here mean the “order” or “structure” of thought and principle adopted by governments, society or whatever form of rule over-riding the culture. Both Jew and Gentile belonged to this elementary subjugation of human history as it continued to regress away from God’s rule to a self-imposed rule usually reinforced by military power or militant religious zeal. Both of which have biblical roots. Jesus distanced Himself from both, but did not exclude the idea that if the Kingdom of God was bound up with worldly elements or kingdoms, then His disciples would have fought for it, but because the kingdom of God was not of this world, the real fight was spiritual; a fight against darkness and fallen angels; against sinful humanity conceived in sin, born in sin and living in sin. But Christ, in the fullness of time, was born into this world, however, he was not conceived in sin, he was made of a woman, that is he took on human flesh — under the law — that is He subjected Himself to live under God’s rule in order to become the one who would effectively release the “instructions of His Father’s will” through His death on the cross — the trigger that began the redemption of God’s sons, under adoption