Epistles of Thomas

January 7, 2010

But is God Mad at You?

I was recently reading a bit from an old David Wilkerson book, I’m Not Mad at God. Wilkerson is famous for his ministry in New York city which is immortalised in The Cross and the Switchblade book and movie.

David R. Wilkerson, I’m Not Mad at God. Old Tappan: Fleming H. Revell, 1967. 0800780884.

His first chapter in I’m Not Mad at God deals with 1 Cor 9:9, “Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn.” This is a very important verse to him as he makes clear: “The secret of success for every Christian worker is found hidden in this verse. I consider this one of the most important truths the Holy Spirit has opened to me in all my ministry. It revolutionized my life and ministry, and I will never be the same as a result” (11). Wow! That’s some serious language! What is so revolutionary about this verse?

He begins by explaining that “Paraphrased, this verse reads: ‘Thou shalt not bind the mouth of the worker who labors in the harvest.'” He then goes on to explain that this is more than a reminder that God cares for oxen. So far I’ll go along with that. From there he leaps tall buildings to arrive at the idea that “it is so very clear that the Holy Spirit seeks, through the word of wisdom, to lead Christian workers into a state of mind free from all bondage, full of faith and hope” (12). Okay, so where do we go from here? To the end result that, “Nothing is more tragic in my mind than to see a Christian worker who once had God’s hand on his life–to stumble around in fear and indecision because he allowed himself to become muzzled…. It is only a shortsighted view of this truth that suggests Paul is referring to better pay for those who live off the gospel. It is that, but so much more. It is in spiritual things we find the muzzle so devastating” (13). The implication of this, when taken in conjunction with Matthew 25, is that “if Bible statistics hold true, about one-third of God’s servants will stand before the judgment bound and gagged–with no fruit” (15).

Isn’t God saddened that something written so plainly by Paul regarding his personal situation and the opposition he faced has been spiritualised into being muzzled from producing fruit for the kingdom of God? There’s nothing heretical in what Wilkerson is suggesting but do we really need to go there from this verse? This book was published in 1967 but it sounds more like a postmodern reader’s commentary than a exegetically derived application of the text. Am I the only one who has a problem with seeing this as being what “I consider [to be] one of the most important truths the Holy Spirit has opened to me in all my ministry.”?

I have no problem with Holy Spirit informing a person about a problem in their lives using any scripture at all but when we make our interpretation normative for that text I have concerns. 1 Cor 9:11 seems to prevent Wilkerson’s interpretation: “If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you?” Paul’s conclusion must shape our conclusion if we are to be true to Scripture. He concludes this section with the statement, “What then is my reward? Just this: that in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge, and so not misuse my rights as a preacher of the gospel.” Paul certainly won’t be muzzled in preaching the gospel – it is what he lives for! Even if he is a muzzled ox, not receiving any food and other material benefits from them, he will continue to preach the gospel because that in itself is his reward.

December 9, 2009

Does exegesis matter?

Filed under: Jesus,New Testament — Thomas @ 15:56
Tags: , ,

I was reading a devotional book on Jesus when I came across an interesting assertion. It is by Tony Jones, 12 Days with Jesus. Shawnee Mission: Sonlife Ministries, 2005. Sonlife has now merged and become Youthfront but their mission to reach out to high school students has not changed. They are still selling this booklet so I presume it is regularly given out to students. I really wonder what students are being taught when it comes to handling the word of God. Here is what Jones has to say with regard to Jesus casting out Legion from the Gerasene demoniac (Lk 8:26-39):

“But honestly, I don’t think the issue here is whether ‘Legion’ was demon-possessed or mentally ill, or some combination of both. The more important point, it seems to me, is where we find Jesus in this part of the story. I think Luke has something to tell us here” (35). Jones then has students circle all the times “fear” is mentioned in this account. Then he states “In Jesus’ and Luke’s day, people like ‘Legion’ were found chained up in cemeteries, Today, they’re more likely to be in a mental hospital or living under a bridge. I’ll admit, when I come across people like that, I’m often afraid of them. They’re [sic] words and actions seem unpredictable to me – I don’t quite know what to do next. But Jesus not only isn’t afraid of ‘Legion,’ he performs an act of healing and freedom” (36). In his conclusion to this section where he makes a call for action Jones asks that students “take some time to pray and journal about people or events in your life that seem a little unpredictable to you, and ask God how your relationship with Jesus can bring some unexpected freedom and healing to those situations and relationships” (37).

The main point of Jones’ devotional seems to be that we shouldn’t fear “crazy” people but should reach out to them with freedom and healing. This is a very nice lesson but was that really Luke’s point in including this story? Exegesis is the process of taking the original meaning out of the text and explaining it to others. Eisegesis is when you take a nice christianese lesson and place it onto the text. Aside from the obvious difference between demon possession, which Luke clearly meant to portray, and insanity and the fact that Legion was not the man’s name but the name of his possessor, Jones has failed to read this story in context. There are many stories about Jesus that focus on him reaching out to undesirables but this isn’t Luke’s focus here. Read Jesus’ final command to the man: “Return home and tell how much God has done for you” (8:39). The full implications of what has been done for him are laid out in Luke 11 when Jesus explains that once a strongman has been overpowered his plunder is taken away. Jesus has defeated Satan and his plunder (possessed men or women; Lk 13:16) are freed. Luke’s point is that the power of God Almighty has come among them and Jesus wields that power to overcome Satan and free his captives.

This passage is about bringing freedom to captives, but not in the sense that Jones portrays it. He has failed to exegete Luke’s point and therefore focuses on overcoming fear. The people were afraid. They were afraid of power, whether Satan’s or God’s. We are called to take up the power of God in Christ and use it to continue to do the work of the Kingdom, freeing those captive to Satan. May the result of our work earn the commendation of resulting in people returning home to: “tell how much God has done for you.”

December 5, 2009

Shortest sentences in the Greek New Testament

Filed under: Greek,New Testament — Thomas @ 17:40
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Rod Decker has a post on the one word sentences in the New Testament:

Matt 11:9 προφήτην;

Mark 4:3 Ἀκούετε.

Luke 7:26 προφήτην;

Acts 15:29 Ἔρρωσθε.

Rom 3:9 προεχόμεθα;

Rom 3:27 ἐξεκλείσθη.

2 Pet 3:18 ἀμήν. (There is a similar instance of ἀμήν in the short ending of Mark.)

If we get down to the number of letters, that makes 2 Peter 3:18 the verse that contains the shortest sentence.

June 1, 2009

The Gospel of the Kingdom by George Eldon Ladd

gospkingTonight I finished reading The Gospel of the Kingdom. The last chapter is “When will the kingdom come?” I was interested in Ladd’s presentation because A. B. Simpson, the founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, advocated that by engaging in missions we would hasten the return of Christ. Not everyone agrees with that idea but it has long been a popular one among missiologists and missions promoters, although it would be even more so if everyone agreed on it. Ladd is quite a proponent of this idea as these two quotes demonstrate:

I do know this: When the Church has finished its task of evangelizing the world, Christ will come again. The Word of God says it [Mt 24:14]. Why did he not come in A.D. 500? Because the Church had not evangelized the world. Why did he not return in A.D. 1000? Because the Church had not finished its task of world-wide evangelization. Is He coming soon? He is — if we, God’s people, are obedient to the command of the Lord to take the Gospel into all the world (135).

If God’s people in the English speaking world alone took this task seriously and responded to its challenge, we could finish the task of world-wide evangelization in our own generation and witness the Lord’s return (136).

I’m not sure why this idea has fallen out of favour among the general Evangelical church. Perhaps “expectancy fatigue” has set in. This book was first published in 1959 and Simpson had already been preaching this message 80 years earlier so several generations have come and gone without seeing world evangelisation completed. We are closer than ever although the goal has moved. Ladd talks about the Bible being available in 1100 languages. That has more than doubled but we are now aiming at more than 5000 languages. Let us persevere in the race set before us and remain faithful until the end so that we might find ourselves labeled “good and faithful.” Maranatha!

April 22, 2009

Jesus of Nazareth by Craig Blomberg

Filed under: New Testament — Thomas @ 9:54
Tags: , ,

Those of you participating in my Gospel of Jesus Christ: Historic, Living, Active class might be interested in this article written by Craig L. Blomberg.

Craig L. Blomberg, “Jesus of Nazareth: How Historians Can Know Him and Why It Matters.”

This article is quite detailed at times, but not overwhelmingly so. Blomberg summarises much of what we have talked about in class, especially the first six weeks. If you have friends at work or university who are interested in asking you questions about Jesus or the Gospel this article would be a good place for them (and you) to get further information.

April 12, 2009

Resurrection Sunday

Filed under: New Testament,Preaching — Thomas @ 14:30
Tags: , ,

Resurrection Sunday

He is Risen!
He is Risen Indeed!!

What does the resurrection mean for you, the universal church, and the world?

Something amazing happened on Resurrection Sunday. Let’s read Luke 24:1-12 and experience the events as they first happened; beginning with some ladies that morning.

Luke 24:1-12 (TNIV)
Jesus Has Risen

24 On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” 8Then they remembered his words.

9When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. 10It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. 11But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. 12Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.

Jesus’ resurrection from the dead was not just another resuscitation. Jesus had raised several people from the dead during his ministry, including a little girl and his good friend Lazarus. This event was something of another magnitude. It was not resuscitation Sunday, but Resurrection Sunday! God confirmed Jesus’ life, his ministry and teaching, by raising him from the dead. This event had long been anticipated. Paul refers to Isaiah 25:8 and Hosea 13:14 in 1 Corinthians 15:54-55 when he speaks of the defeat of death:

1 Corinthians 15:54-55 (TNIV)

54When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

55“Where, O death, is your victory?

Where, O death, is your sting?”

Let’s read further what Paul said in reflection on the importance of this event:

1 Corinthians 15:1-8 (TNIV)
The Resurrection of Christ

15 Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

3For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. 6After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

What does this mean for you? You will never die. I will never die. If I choose life, I will never die; you will never die. If I could bottle eternal life and sell it on the street how much would it sell for? I’m sure I could get a billion dollars for it if I could prove it worked. Jesus did just that – he proved it worked by rising from the grave. Many people scoffed at his claims during his ministry. The religious leaders claimed he was demon possessed; even his own family thought he was insane. His disciples fled in panic at his arrest. That’s why no one waited in anticipation outside his tomb. They did not understand that he was about to conquer our most ardent enemy—death. No one had ever escaped death for more than a few extra years. Jesus said “It is finished,” but no one understood why until they encountered the empty tomb. Without that empty hole in the wall Christianity would have died a stillbirth. Some didn’t believe then and some still do not believe today. Eternal life has been offered to them but it is as if Jesus had offered a pearl necklace to a pig. They have no idea what they are looking at. Paul also spoke of this in 1 Corinthians.

1 Corinthians 15:12-26 (TNIV)
The Resurrection of the Dead

12But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all others.

20But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a human being. 22For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23But in this order: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26The last enemy to be destroyed is death.

What does this all mean? It means that today is Resurrection Sunday. It means that 102,960 Resurrection Sundays have followed that first one. Every Sunday is resurrection Sunday. There have been just as many Resurrection Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays; you get the idea. The world needs to know that something supernatural didn’t just happen 2000 years ago but happens every time Christians gather together and declare, “He is Risen.” As they live according to Christ and not according to the pattern of this world. It is an amazing thing—it is Resurrection Sunday.

Will you join with me? In living an eternal life? In declaring that he is risen?

He is Risen!

He is Risen Indeed!!

March 21, 2009

Nickelsburg lecture on the Messiah review

Filed under: New Testament,Old Testament — Thomas @ 14:01
Tags: ,

Wednesday evening brought George W. E. Nickelsburg to Trinity Western University where he lectured on “Were the Jews Expecting the Messiah? And did the First Christians Think He had Come?” There was the small change from the previously announced title to make it specific: “the Messiah” rather than “a messiah.”

Nickelsburg began by summarising the typical presentation of this topic:

The Jews wanted the messiah to come to rescue them from the subjugation of Rome. However, Jesus showed up as a suffering messiah and was crucified. Rome destroyed the temple and Jerusalem in 70. The Jews were expecting the Messiah but missed him because they were looking for the wrong kind of messiah. After the destruction of the centre of Judaism they turned to Torah.

This is something of a strawman but regardless he spent the rest of the lecture deconstructing this view. His conclusion was that the Jews were not expecting the Messiah but different groups had different expectations based on their focus on particular problems and the required solution. Some groups focussed on a Davidic king while others focussed on a king and priest (DSS) while others added a true prophet to the mix.

Christians focus on the absence of prophets between the closing of the Old Testament with Malachi and the arrival of John the Baptiser. However, there were lots of people during this period who claimed to be prophets but their claims were rejected by those who thus labeled this period prophetless. Christians promoted this label and promoted John.

Nickelsburg emphasised that Christians adopted the label of Messiah for Jesus and that the Enoch “son of man” concept governs many New Testament referenes to Daniel 7 where this label originated. Enoch presents the “son of man” as a judge and this was carried over into Christianity. Nickelsburg is an Enoch specialist so I take this with a small grain of salt as scholars tend to over find their specialist concept.

He concluded the lecture by asking why Jews did not accept the Christian proclamation of Jesus as the Messiah. He gives these reasons:

  1. Some awaited a messiah to 0verthrow Rome.
  2. Paul suggests that the crucifixion put some Jews off.
  3. Jesus as Messiah depended on the claims of resurrection and not all believed in the concept (e.g. Sadducees).
  4. Those expecting a prophet would have been put off by his lax approach to Torah.

The Jewish relationship to Torah is where Nickelsburg made his greatest contribution to my thinking on this subject. For Jews the Torah was divine instruction to be heeded but the concept of a messiah was peripheral. The early Church focussed on Jesus as Messiah/Christ and the law was peripheral. The Church dispensed with the necessity to obey Torah and admitted Gentiles into full membership [without circumcision] but still claimed to be the true Israel. Those who rejected Jesus as the Messiah focussed on Torah obedience.

This was quite likely Paul’s position before he met the risen Christ on the road. Torah was more important to him than the claims of these followers of the Way to have found the Messiah. I had a question for Nickelsburg which I was unable to ask due to the lateness of the hour. I will ask it here:

Within the context of Jewish messianic expectation during this period what was it that “sealed the deal” for all those Jews who did accept Jesus as the Messiah (of both Jews and Gentiles)? Was it his life, his crucifixion, his resurrection, his ascension, Holy Spirit’s arrival at Pentecost; all of the above, something else?

I am happy to agree that those who rejected him focussed on Torah (retaining their Jewish identity in that way) but what about the thousands of Jews who did accept Jesus? He doesn’t seem to have met the expecatations of any particular messiah-expectant group. Did they do it in spite of Torah? Did they see him as “fulfilling” Torah? What caused them to give up the marks of circumcision? I’m sure it wasn’t just Paul’s letters!

January 27, 2009

Student questions after reading a Gospel account

Filed under: New Testament — Thomas @ 15:37
Tags: ,

I asked my Sunday school students to read a Gospel account (Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John) and write down some questions they had as they read. Most chose Mark as it is the shortest, but that’s ok. Below are 27 questions that were asked. A couple are repeats so they will be combined as I address these areas during our semester. Some of the questions are more general ones of a theological nature while others are very specific to a verse that was read.

1. Was Jesus’ occupation as a carpenter significant to his life and ministry and what does this mean for us today?
2. Was Jesus God when he performed miracles?
3. Regarding Mark 10:1-12; Jesus’ comments on divorce and adultery. Is marriage permitted after divorce? What if the spouse committed a crime?
4. Why does Jesus allow himself to be tempted by Satan for forty days in the desert? For what purpose?
5. A great emphasis in Jesus’ ministry was placed on healing and driving out demons. Do people still suffer from demon possession today? How do we know?
6. When Jesus performed a miracle/healing why did he keep commanding the healed person not to tell anyone? (They went and told others anyway).
7. Why was John the Baptist arrested and imprisoned by Herod in the first place?
8. In Matthew why does Jesus sometimes command people not to tell anyone about their healing but in other places he does not?
9. Matthew 12:30-32 mentions the unforgiveable sin. What is blasphemy against the Spirit?
10. Do people need to be baptised to become a Christian? Someone said “I believe in Jesus Christ so I am saved. I don’t have to go to church.” Is this person a true Christian? Will they go to heaven after they die?
11. Why would the teachers of the Law come listen to Jesus; someone who came from nowhere? (Mk 2:6; 3:22).
12. It seems like there were a lot of evil spirits during the time of Jesus (Mk 1:21; 3:15, 22, 30; 5:2, etc.).
13. Why would Jesus teach the crowd using parables and then explain things to his disciples in private? (Mk 4:54).
14. Can evil spirits repent and be forgiven? (Mk 5:7).
15. Why would the evil spirit beg Jesus not to send him out of the area? (Mk 5:10).
16. After the pigs drowned where would the evil spirits have gone? (Mk 5:13).
17. How did Jesus and his disciples manage to travel from place to place so easily?
18. When Jesus came to proclaim the good news of the Kingdom how could he expect people to receive him as their personal saviour before he died?
19. How did Jesus earn a living and support himself?
20. Why would they have needed to identify Jesus with a sign (a kiss)? (Mk 14:44). Everyone would have kissed him when they met him.
21. How did Jesus know that the poor widow gave all the money she had to live on? (Mk 12:44). Do we need to give all we have to live on?
22. Was baptism a common thing before John? What did it represent? Was it a Jewish rite of some kind?
23. Was the voice from heaven when Jesus was baptised heard by all the people who were there?
24. How did Jesus choose his disciples? Did he see them and know? Or did he already know before they had met? (Mk 3:13-19: just “called those he wanted” How?)
25. In Mark 4:33-34 what does it mean when it says “He explained everything” to the disciples (not just through parables)?
26. Why did Jesus sometimes order healed people not to tell, but in other instances (when in large crowds for example) he did not?
27. In Mark 3:11 why did Jesus order the demons not to tell?

January 12, 2009

Did Jesus speak Greek?

Filed under: Greek,Jesus,New Testament,Translation — Thomas @ 23:25

We know that Jesus spoke Aramaic because the gospel writers quote some of the Aramaic phrases he used and translate them for their Greek readers (e.g. Mk 5:41). It has also been suggested by some that Jesus spoke Greek but there is no consensus concerning his fluency. In Mark for Everyone by Tom Wright which I recently reviewed Wright makes the startling statement: “It is virtually certain that, though Jesus and his followers would be able to speak and understand Greek, their normal everyday language would be Aramaic” (63). I say this is surprising because no one had previously suggested to me that some Galilean fishermen would be able to speak Greek. I could conceive of a tax collector speaking Greek but a fisherman? I had always been led to believe they were uneducated country bumpkins.

Although Google will provide a lot of results for the question “Did Jesus Speak Greek” there does not seem to be a lot of scholarly work done on the subject. Michael Wise in the Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels from IVP is not nearly as emphatic as Wright, stating “The question whether [Jesus] also knew Hebrew and Greek can only be answered on theoretical grounds” (442). I have come across two articles by Stanley Porter that assert Jesus could not only speak Greek but was fluent enough to teach in that language. Obviously this has implications for interpreting the gospel accounts of his public ministry. They would not just be second hand translations of his teaching but could be the actual words he spoke.

Stanley E. Porter, “Did Jesus Ever Teach in Greek?” Tyndale Bulletin. 44:2 (1993): 199-235.
“…it is virtually certain that he used Greek at various times in his itinerant ministry” (235).

Stanley E. Porter, “Jesus and the Use of Greek: A Response to Maurice Casey.” Bulletin for Biblical Research. 10:1 (2000): 71-87.

As may be deduced from the title of the above article not everyone agrees with Porter’s conclusion, namely:

P. Maurice Casey, “In Which Language Did Jesus Teach?” Expository Times. 108:11 (1997) 326-28.

Casey argues for the use of Aramaic by Jesus in his teaching. No one is willing to argue that Jesus would not have known some Greek but the question is whether he was fluent enough to teach in that language. The consensus seems to be that it is likely that he spoke to some people in Greek because it is less likely that they knew Aramaic than that he would not have known Greek. In other words it is an argument based on probabilities and silence. Aren’t those the best kind? 🙂

December 26, 2008

What did Jesus mean when he said he came to fulfill the law?

Filed under: New Testament,Old Testament — Thomas @ 21:24

I just read a post by Derek Leman a Messianic Jew over at Messianic Jewish Musings. He is looking at Matthew 5:17 and Jesus’ statement about coming not to abolish the Law but to fulfill it. I am almost always challenged by Derek’s writings because he is a Messianic Jew who feels that it is imperative for him to retain Jewish practices such as not eating pork.

He provides some information about the passage and then concludes with this statement:

Properly understood, the Torah is about loving God and not about earning God’s love. Yeshua taught his Jewish disciples in Matthew 5:17-20 that their practice of the Torah should be deeper than even the Pharisees. Yeshua was a Torah-teacher (rabbi) as well as Messiah. And numerous Jewish traditions from the time and in the later rabbis speak of Messiah as one who would show Israel the proper way to keep Torah.

My biggest concern is that it sounds like Jesus’ intention was for all of us to keep the Law of Moses rather than to take it upon himself so that we might live in the Spirit rather than according to some laws that not even the scribes and Pharisees could keep. Below is the response that I left to his post:

You say that Jesus filled-up the Torah. I think you are meaning that he filled out Torah in the sense that he made its intent known.

In relation to Paul, they have different starting points. Paul was post death and resurrection of the Christ and was living in the reality of being in Christ. Jesus completely fulfilled the law – he obeyed it in every sense (Cf. Hebrews). For Paul, Jews and Gentiles are not saved by any observance of laws (Jewish or otherwise) but by faith through identification with Jesus. Those who are by faith “in Christ” have Holy Spirit and live by the law of Christ, not any law given by God through Moses or the Prophets.
Of course the law of Christ may look similar to the law of Moses because murder, theft, adultery, etc. are still evil.

Properly understood, the Torah “was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come” (Ga 3:19). I believe that by this Paul means that in Jesus the Mosaic Law and humanity came together. By virtue of being “in Christ” humans are no longer under death or law and live in the Spirit. This means that no laws other than the law of Christ remain. The Law according to Christ was to love God and to love your neighbour as yourself (Mt 22:37-40; Mk 12:30-31). The tale of the Greek Testament is the working out of those two commands. Hence the early Christians argued over circumcision, food worshipped to idols, and food laws. They concluded that love for neighbours meant that Gentiles would abstain from certain things (Acts 15:29). The Greek Testament also includes a number of sin lists such as Gal 5:19-21 which are contrasted with what it means to live in the Spirit (5:22-23).

I know you won’t agree but from this it follows that those in Christ do not need to follow the Jewish laws such as not eating pork unless in doing so they violate their conscience and see it as an act of disobedience, thereby making it sin.

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