It took a year to read the Bible, then almost 9 months to read the Apocrypha. Now, I'm going to try to offer reflections on the Narrative Lectionary. But, I won't be posting daily--at least, for a while.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Justified, a Reflection on Galatians 2:15-21

To whom is Paul speaking in these verses? If we begin where the lectionary tells us to, we may well assume that since he is writing this letter to the Galatians, this section is addressed to them. But, if we read this week's portion in context, we may not be so sure.

In verse 14, Paul is quoting himself in what he said to Peter in a rebuke, "If you, a Jew, live like a Gentile, where do you get off asking Gentiles to be more Jewish than you are?"

So, in verse 15, when Paul says "We ourselves are Jews by birth," I'm suggesting that he's still quoting what he had said directly to Peter.

"You and I, Peter, believe in Christ Jesus. Although we, as Jews, had been entrusted with the law, the understanding of how God wanted us to live, we now know that God has a way of including not only Jews but others, as well."

BTW, Carl R. Holladay, in Preaching through the Christian Year C, reminds us that Jews already knew that no one is justified by works of the law (e.g., Psalm 143:2; Habakkuk 2:4; Genesis 15:6).

Although these words may have been addressed to Peter, they are of course part of his argument he is using to counteract the attempts of the Judaizers who had followed him to the Galatian congregation and tried to convert the new Christians to Judaism. Paul is asserting that Christians do not have to become Jews in order to be Christians.

"It is Christ who lives in me...I live by faith in the Son of God....I do not nullify the grace of God; for if justification comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing."

Tangent from Holladay: We usually read "faith in Christ" in verse 16 to mean that we place our faith and trust in him. Some recent commentators have pointed out that this phrase in Greek is more literally translated to mean the faith that Christ has. Holladay sums it up, "This places greater stress on the work of Christ in our behalf than on our faith in our own behalf."


kellbell said...

Here is a link to my blog with my own thoughts on this subject. Though, I want to explore more the faith "of" Jesus saving us (instead on "in", which is how the young's literal translates it) because I think it's very significant. I think it's so important that the church take a closer look at the idea that Jesus death is a substitute punishment(to save us from punishment)because I think it's really messed up our idea of God.

Steve Finnell said...


What is the meaning of calling on the name of the Lord? Many assume that believing in Jesus and saying a form of a sinner's prayer constitutes, calling on the name of the Lord. The problem with that theory is none of the conversions under the New Covenant support that assumption. Not one time is anyone ever told to believe and say the sinner's prayer in order to be saved.

The apostle Peter on the Day of Pentecost quoted the prophet Joel, Acts 2:21 And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved." (NKJV)

The apostle Peter preached the first gospel sermon under the New Covenant. Peter did not tell the 3000 converts to believe and say the sinner's prayer.

Peter preached the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. He preached Jesus as both Lord and Christ. When they heard this they asked Peter and the rest of the brethren what they should do?(Acts 2:22-37) Peter told them what to do. Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.(NKJV)

How did the 3000 on the Day of Pentecost call on the name of the Lord and become saved?
1. They believed that Jesus was both Lord and Christ.
2. They believed that God raised Jesus from the grave.
3. They repented. Repentance is a change of heart. Repentance means to be converted so that God may forgive your sins. Repentance is to make the intellectual commitment to turn from sin and turn toward God. (Acts 3:19, Acts 2:38)
4. They were immersed in water (baptized) so that their sins could be forgiven.

How did the 3000 on the Day of Pentecost not call on the name of the Lord?
1. They did not say a sinner's prayer.
2. Not one person was asked to pray for forgiveness.
3. Not one single man was told to be baptized as a testimony of his faith.
4. No one was told that water baptism was a just an act of obedience.
5. No one was informed they were saved the very minute they believed.
6. Not one person was told that water baptism was not essential for the forgiveness of sins.
7. Not one person was told to be baptized so they could join a denominational church.

Jesus said he that believes and is baptized shall be saved. (Mark 16"16) Jesus did not say he who believes and says a sinner's prayer shall be saved.

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