The Aaron Papers www.the-aaron-papers.net
“1 1PAUL, an apostle (not from men, neither through man, but through Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead)— 2And all the brethren that are with me, unto the churches of Galatia. 3Grace to you and peace from God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, 4who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us out of this present evil world, according to the will of our God and Father: 5to whom be the glory for ever and ever. Amen.
6I marvel that you are so quickly removed from him that called you in the grace of Christ unto a different gospel; 7which is not another gospel: only there are some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.”
aaron— This is speaking specifically about those things that are Spiritual—the invisible characteristics of God’s dispositions. The Gospel of Christ is the free and unmerited grace of God, that, through the propitiatory work of Christ, can now freely flow throughout God’s whole creation. Then this is also a very complex issue, because of these transitional aspects that are involved. How do you establish and maintain an example relationship with a very small nation of people—visible Israel, and then expand this relationship to include all of the peoples, tribes, tongues, and Nations of the world, without encountering a considerable amount of confusion and resistance within and during this transitional period? The knowledge that God has always dealt with His creation on the basis of grace (Ref.Gen.17:1—27), is precisely why Paul could say that this was "Not another gospel". This is to understand that God’s Law and God’s Grace are always coexistent within God’s universal reconciliation, and that God’s law is always subordinate to God’s grace.
“8But though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach unto you any gospel other than that which we preached unto you, let him be anathema. 9As we have said before, so I now say again, if any man preach unto you any gospel other than that which you received, let him be anathema.”
aaron— The gospel that is spoken of here, is simply the pure gospel of grace that was given for the promulgation of God’s reconciliation through the Christian Church. But this complicated transition from Judaism to Christianity calls for considerable scriptural dexterity on the part of the apostle.
“10For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still pleasing men, I should not be a servant of Christ.
11For I make known to you, brethren, as touching the gospel that was preached by me, that it is not after man. 12For neither did I receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came to me through the revelation of Jesus Christ.
13For you have heard of my manner of life in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and made havoc of it. 14And I advanced in the Jews’ religion beyond many of my own age among my countrymen, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers. 15But when it was the good pleasure of God, who separated me, even from my mother’s womb, and called me through his grace, 16to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the Gentiles.”
aaron— Paul here, is tracing out his own personal relationship with God. He tells us that it goes all the way back to his own birth, where it was God himself who separated him from his own mother’s womb. But there too, he states that his position is secured only by God’s sovereign grace. Though the things that he was initially doing toward the Church were clearly contrary to the cause of Christ, nevertheless Paul seems to insist that his basic right to God’s Grace might actually have commenced at the time of his birth. We must keep in mind that those of the Jews’ religion were not considered to be sinners as are the Gentiles. Now this special grace for the Jews is, I believe, the benefit of their relationship within God’s grace that came to them through the Abrahamic Covenant. (Ref.Gen.17:1—27) As a side note here, the distinction that Paul makes between "the Jews religion" and "the church of God" is extremely important in our effort to understand the complex identification of God's peoples. We must understand that these two identified groups are not supposed to be the same. Plain and simple—Judaism is Judaism and Christianity is Christianity.
“Immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: 17neither did I go up to Jerusalem to them that were apostles before me: but I went away into Arabia; and again I returned unto Damascus. 18Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas, and tarried with him fifteen days. 19But of the other apostles I saw none, save James the Lord’s brother.
20Now touching the things that I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not.
21Then I came unto the regions of Syria and Cilicia. 22And I was still unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea which were in Christ: 23but they only heard say, He that once persecuted us now preaches the faith of which he once made havoc; 24and they glorified God in me.
2 1Then after the space of fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus also with me. 2And I went up by revelation; and I laid before them the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles but privately before them who were of reputation, unless by any means I should be running, or had run, in vain.
3But not even Titus who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised. 4And that because of the false brethren secretly brought in, who came in privately to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage.”
aaron— This is that legal bondage of the circumcision of the flesh covenant, which was deeply rooted in those Jews that were still within the visible covenant of bondage. (Ref.Acts.15:1—) Remember, the Jews’ religion continues to hold these same practices to this very day. This passage is a good exposition of that transitional struggle between the law and grace. Which is that very same struggle that continues on even now between the visible and the invisible. It is only after our clear comprehension of these revelations that has allowed us to discriminate between God’s visible and invisible dispositions, that has allowed us to understand God’s immeasurable grace that is being manifested here in this New Testament dispensation.
“5To whom we gave not ourselves into subjection, no, not for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you. 6But from those who were reputed to be somewhat (whatsoever they were, it makes no matter to me: God accepts no man’s person)—they, I say, who were of repute imparted nothing to me. 7But contrariwise, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel of the Uncircumcision, even as Peter with the gospel of the Circumcision 8(for he that worked for Peter unto the apostleship of the Circumcision worked for me also unto the Gentiles).”
aaron— We can easily see by these descriptions, that two distinctively different evangelistic approaches were being used for disseminating God's gospel of grace. One approach was designated as the gospel of the Circumcision for those of the Jews religion and the other approach was designated as the gospel of the Uncircumcision for those of the Gentile Church of God. These evident differing conditions were reflecting some of the early shadows of the transitional difficulties away from Judaism. These are those obvious difficulties that are still painfully evident even now within this dispensation of grace. We also notice within these Scriptures, that these two great apostles did not always agree in their individual approach to the dispensing of the gospel of grace.
“9And when they perceived the grace that was given unto me, James and Cephas and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship, that we should go unto the Gentiles, and they unto the Circumcision. 10Only they would that we should remember the poor; which was the very thing I was also zealous to do.
11But when Cephas came to Antioch, I resisted him to the face, because he stood condemned. 12For before when certain ones came from James, he ate with the Gentiles. But when they came, he drew back and separated himself, fearing them that were of the Circumcision. 13And the rest of the Jews dissembled likewise with him, inasmuch that even Barnabas was carried away with their dissimulation.”
aaron— Paul’s difficulty here with Peter, was partly the result of this complex transition from operating under the Covenant of Bondage—the Law and the Jew’s religion, to understanding and receiving God’s free and unmerited grace. That is, from the perspective of the New Testament, grace actually subjugated the whole law. Then there is an evident difficulty in recognizing and understanding both the visible characteristics and the manifested invisible characteristics of the Covenant of Grace—the Abrahamic Covenant and the intended universal character of God’s reconciliation as well. (Ref.Gen.17:1—27) We must recognize that very early on within the New Testament Church, there was a distinct difference that continued to exist between the Circumcision and the Uncircumcision: That these two groups were not being approached (evangelized) in the exact same manner. This is most evident in the fact that Peter was identified as the apostle of the Circumcision and Paul was identified as the apostle of the Uncircumcision. It would more than appear that Peter, along with those of the Circumcision who came from Jerusalem, continued their indulgence in some of the Old Testament laws and sacrificial practices. Paul’s complaint was not so much about the Jewish practices, but he was strongly complaining about Peter’s hypocrisy that was undermining the faith of some of the other believers, as well as promoting the natural enmity that existed between the two. We then find in verse fourteen, that the intended lifestyle for the Jews and the intended lifestyle for the Gentiles were distinctively different:
“14But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Cephas before them all, If you, being a Jew, live as do the Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why do you compel the Gentiles to live as do the Jews? 15We being Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles,”
aaron— We are now told that there is some real inherent value in being a natural Jew. They were the visible example of God’s peoples and God’s covenant family. And for this reason, they would always hold a very special place in God’s heart. As those of the Jews religion were denominated holy in all their wickedness and disobedience, and because they had all been consecrated to God through their family participation in His Abrahamic Covenant, they were not considered to be sinners as were the Gentiles. This is a very important principle in our understanding of the present and future state of God’s Old Testament peoples—visible Israel. It is for these few reasons that Romans 11:25-26 rings true—“and so all Israel shall be saved”.
“16yet knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but through the faith of Jesus Christ, even we believed on Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: because by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.”
aaron— We Christians are so blessed by God, because our justification comes completely through Christ’s perfect faith and not our own. Consequently, Israel’s faith as well, because the whole basis of the Abrahamic Covenant was always founded on God’s free and unmerited grace, would also be based on their belief in God’s promised coming of the Messiah. But in the end, we must understand that Christ’s faithful accomplishment of His atonement is sufficient for all that would come to believe in the God of Creation. All relationships with God, both in the Old and the New Testaments, are based solely on God’s grace alone through the finished propitiatory work of Christ. Though the Christian understanding and perspective is fully appropriate for the participation of the Christian Church in God’s universal reconciliation, I am not confident that it is also appropriate or necessary for the Jews’ religion. (Ref.Mat.13:16—17; 1Pe.1:10—12)
“17But if, while we sought to be justified in Christ, we ourselves also were found sinners, is Christ a minister of sin? God forbid.”
aaron— God’s grace through Christ’s faith justifies sinners! But Christ is not the minister of sin. This passage also discloses our propensity towards sin, which has an obvious continued presence and activity throughout the whole course of this reconciliation.
“18For if I build up again those things which I destroyed, I prove myself a transgressor.
19For through the law I died unto the law, that I might live unto God. 20I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I that live, but Christ living in me. And that life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith—That faith that is in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself up for me.”
aaron— Christ’s faithful work upon the cross is our justification— our propitiation.
“21I do not make void the grace of God: for if righteousness is through the law, then Christ died for nothing.”
aaron— God’s grace is unrestrained toward all those who repose in the faithful work of Christ. When we say that the visible peoples of God are also included within God’s universal reconciliation, we are saying that this Old Testament promise to God’s institutional corporate peoples is also based solely on God’s free and unmerited grace through the propitiatory work of Christ. (Ref.Gen.17:1—27; Rom.3:19—26) So whether you are a part of the visible corporate or a part of the invisible priesthood matters not with respect to justification, because all must come to God in the exact same way—by grace through faith. (Ref.Eph.2:8—9) But there are many in today's Christian Church, like those of visible Israel, who have failed to fully comprehend the complete depth and breadth of God’s matchless grace.
“3 1O foolish Galatians, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was openly set forth and crucified, who did bewitch you?
2This only would I learn from you. Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
3Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now perfected in the flesh?”
aaron— We now see a vivid comparison being made between the works of the law and God’s life changing grace: Where the whole process must be understood as a matter of God’s grace alone. This same problem continues to be a primary struggle within the whole of today's visible Church. We are, as were the Galatians, determine to help God finish this work that He Himself has begun. Some denominations have mistakenly determined that God needs our help, even at the beginning of His work of Grace. This is evidenced by these types of statements—In order to be saved: You must repent! You must believe! Though these things are obvious facts and an integral part of an individual’s conversion, if they are made a perquisite to salvation by placing some sort of burden upon the recipient—grace would no longer be grace.
“4Did you suffer so many things in vain? If it be indeed in vain.
5He therefore that supplies to you the Spirit, and works miracles among you, does he do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?”
aaron— Here, we see that clear distinction being made between the invisible and the visible. It is the invisible Spirit of God that is the active force that is working within all of God’s peoples. It is when we again bring a form of legalism back into the justification equation that this confusion begins to creep in. And for the benefit of the Christian Church, this is definitely the dispensation of the manifestation and explanation of God’s invisible dispositions: God's free and unmerited grace through His instilled faith.
“6Even as Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.”
aaron— We now see that God’s Covenant of Grace with Abraham is being brought forward here in this passage as a demonstration for our relationship. Then with the benefit of our New Testament insight into God’s invisible dispositions, consider the faith that Abraham exercised in this instance. Did he believe by his own faith, or was this believing faith received from the hand of God? Just as we all begin in the Spirit sense, Abraham too received his faith from the hand of God as well.
Just as we were told in Romans 4: Abraham received the sign of circumcision (the circumcision of the flesh—Gen.17:1—27)—the visible representation of the invisible seal of the righteousness of faith (the circumcision of the heart) that Abraham had while he was yet in uncircumcision. And it is God alone who performs the circumcision of the heart.
“7Know therefore that they that are of faith, the same are sons of Abraham.”
aaron— Now cautiously consider who can be counted as "the sons of Abraham"? I would suggest that these are only those who have been chosen into the invisible inner circle of God’s covenant peoples, where they would also be identified as God’s children: the Circumcision, a Jew, and The Israel of God. (Ref.Gal.6:16; Rom.2:28—29) This would be inclusive of all those who are selected into what we might call the narrow concept of the Covenant of Grace: Which is the invisible Covenant of Promise. This is that invisible inner circle that is always hidden within the larger body that would represent the visible institutional corporate peoples of God.
“8And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand unto Abraham, saying, In you shall all the nations be blessed.”
aaron— With a slight shift, we now see that the prophetic nature of the universal character of God’s Covenant of Grace is being confirmed here as well. It shows the predisposition of God’s covenant intentions: That the initial intent of God’s Covenant of Grace—the Abrahamic Covenant, was to include all of the other Nations as well. It is imperative that we see that this universal character of God’s covenant was also evident there: Even when the Covenant of Grace was first established with father Abraham. (Ref.Gen.17:1—27)
“9So then they that are of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.”
aaron— We can see here, that the only prerequisite for belonging is our God given faith. It is critical that we properly understand the meaning of this faith that is so often mentioned in the Scriptures. It seems at times, to be something more than just our initial believing faith that came with our justification.
“10For as many as are of the works of the law are under a curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one who continues not in all things that are written in the book of the law, to do them.
11Now it is evident that no man is justified by the law before God. For the righteous shall live by faith— 12and the law is not of faith, but, He that does them shall live in them.”
aaron— Even from the very beginning, the law was an impossible burden for the creature to shoulder. (Ref.Acts.15:10) And if that was not the case with the creature, then there would have been no need for a Redeemer. (Ref.Rom.8) Can we ever comprehend this one fact—that all are justified according to God’s grace through Christ’s faithful obedience?
“13Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangs on a tree.”
aaron— Christ’s faithful obedience in going to the cross fully satisfied all of the demands of the law. This redemption of the faithful through His propitiatory work, was complete in every respect. Remember the transition that was necessary for the accomplishment of God’s universal reconciliation. Not only was God showing us that He was including others besides visible Israel within His Covenant of Grace, He is also explaining His boundless grace that now freely flows out to all through the same finished propitiatory work of Christ. It might seem that the law is being set—aside during this dispensation of grace, but that is not the case at all. God’s Law and God’s Grace must always be seen as being coexistent. But even though God’s Law is coexistent with God’s Grace, God’s Law must always be seen as being subordinate to God’s Grace. (Ref.Rom.3:31)
“14That even upon the Gentiles might come the blessing of Abraham in Christ Jesus, and that we might also receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”
aaron— This is all in fulfillment of God’s covenant promises to father Abraham. (Ref.Gen.17:1—27) "The blessing of Abraham" could simply be defined as the Gentile’s participation in the Covenant of Grace that God made with Abraham so long ago. We all know that everything that one receives comes directly from God. But the real blessing of Abraham that we now receive comes to us through this intimate covenant relationship with God, and through His manifestation and explanation of His invisible dispositions. You might conclude that these elect ones, who are in this intimate relationship with God, are actually in a living (zao) relationship with God. (Ref.Jn.5:25; 11:25; Rev.20:4-6)
Interestingly, this passage parallels the inclusive character that we find especially in the book of Romans. That is, the Jews too were to have some active participation in this newfound faith. (Ref.Rom.3:24—26; Gal.3:23)
“15Brethren, I speak after the manner of men: Though it be but a man’s covenant, yet when it has been confirmed, no one makes it void, or adds thereto.”
aaron— God’s Covenant of Grace that is fully manifested and explained through the Abrahamic Covenant, is always under His own sovereign control.
“16Now to Abraham were the promises spoken, and to his seed. He did not say, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to your seed, which is Christ.”
aaron— Since the Covenant of Grace in its origin was to reach far beyond God’s visible peoples Israel, by allowing the Messiah to become the seed of Abraham, the Covenant of Grace /or the Abrahamic Covenant has surely become God's universal covenant of reconciliation. But in addition to that, the coming of the Christ would fully manifest the ineffable grace of God and would fully satisfy every requirement of the law as well.
“17Now this I say: A covenant confirmed beforehand by God, the law, which came four hundred and thirty years after, does not disannul, so as to make the promise of no effect.”
aaron— This passage gives us the chronology and efficacy of God’s covenant relationship with Abraham, and then four hundred and thirty years later through the law with Moses and the peoples of Israel. And then at the same time God makes a strong point by telling us that the latter does not disannul the former: But that these covenants are of completely different offices. Then we see that the preexistence of the Covenant of Grace /or the Abrahamic Covenant did not preclude the establishment of the law, nor did the establishment of the law set aside or replace the Everlasting Covenant of Grace. Both are necessary parts in the revelation of the person of God and the explanation of His reconciliation of the world.
“18For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no more of promise: but God has granted it to Abraham by promise. (Ref.Gen.17:19; 21:4)”
aaron— Though these verses principally have a view towards the invisible Messianic Covenant, we must remember that God’s covenant with Abraham, the Covenant of Grace, was to include all of Abraham’s visible offspring as well. Then also remember, the New Testament is manifesting the transition in God’s reconciliation by explaining the coexistence of God’s visible dispositions along side God’s invisible dispositions.
“19What then is the law for? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise has been made; and it was ordained through angels by the hand of a mediator. 20Now a mediator is not a mediator of one; but God is one. 21Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could make alive, truly righteousness would have been of the law. 22But the scriptures shut up all things under sin, that the promise by the faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.”
aaron— The faithful obedience of Jesus Christ is being extended to the whole family of Abraham. This includes the called visible institutional peoples of God, as well as the chosen invisible peoples of God. Then in fulfillment of His promises to father Abraham in Gen.17, God is extending His covenant far beyond this tiny nation of Israel. Once again, the Law mandates the absolute need for our Redeemer—the Lord Jesus Christ.
“23But before faith came to us, we were kept inward under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.”
aaron— Even though this could be referring to the believing faith that we initially receive from God, this is most likely referring to the faith that Christ exercised in His propitiatory work on the cross.
“24So that the law is become our tutor to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.”
aaron— But in addition to being our schoolmaster, the law also facilitated the formation of this necessary tangible structure for God’s peoples—The formation of God’s visible Congregation—the institutional corporate peoples of God that is principally facilitated through the institutions of Israel and the Christian Church.
“25But now that faith is come, we are no longer under a tutor.”
aaron— The liberating faith that was first given to us, was surely that faith that Christ exercised on the cross. It was Christ’s faith alone that fully satisfied the demands of the Law, that has also manifested God’s boundless grace that has gone out to the whole world through His Church.
“26For you are all sons of God, through faith in Christ Jesus. 27For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ.”
aaron— Even though this is directed more towards God’s elect, this passage is also explaining some of the added benefits that are associated with the Christian baptism. That is, through this simple act of obedience we literally put on Christ! Now the efficacy of water baptism must be defined right here. Either baptism has real covenant implications, or it does not. So I believe it to be a faulted exegesis for anyone to devalue the efficacy of water baptism to a meaningless ritual.
“28There can be neither Jew nor Greek, there can be neither bond nor free, there can be no male and female; for you all are one man in Christ Jesus.”
aaron— First, it is most important that we understand that Christ’s complete obedience in going to the cross has allowed for the full promulgation of God’s grace: The fulfillment of God’s covenant promises to father Abraham. Then secondly, the supernatural character of God’s Messianic Covenant is also being explained here in precise detail. We see that the invisible characteristics of the Covenant of Grace /or the Covenant of Promise, are by necessity completely non—distinct in their definitions. That is, within God’s invisible mystical line—the Covenant of Promise, there is no ethnicity, there is no class, and there is no gender. Now for these sighted conditions—ethnicity, class, and gender, to be nonexistent, would be the proof that these things are giving reference to conditions that are only possible within the invisible spiritual realm.
“29And if you are Christ’s, then are you Abraham’s seed, heirs according to promise.”
aaron— The word "promise" indicates membership in Isaac’s special band—in the invisible Covenant of Promise. Which is also representative of the invisible Messianic Covenant line. So for any proper theological exegesis, it is crucial that we maintain an awareness of these discrete differences between God’s visible dispositions and God’s invisible dispositions.
“4 1But I say that so long as the heir is a child, he differs nothing from a bondservant though he is lord of all; 2but is under guardians and stewards until the day appointed of the father. 3So we also, when we were children, were held in bondage under the rudiments of the world.”
aaron— According to my understanding from the examples that we have been given from the Old Testament peoples of God, there continues to be a considerable amount of worldly bondage even within today’s Christian Church. (Ref.1Cor.10:1—11) This is referring to all of those things of the world associated with our natural propensities. Those propensities that so easily divert our attention away from the God of Creation. Our natural tendency is to serve the creature rather than the Creator. Though we all would like to define our religion in terms of being either black or white, I would guess that a majority of the Christian population would find itself somewhere in between; Somewhere in the vicinity that we would define as the gray area of imperfection.
“4But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5that he might redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.”
aaron— We again see the universal character of God’s Covenant of Grace being brought into full view. Christ’s complete obedience facilitated first, the redemption of all those who were under the law—God’s first peoples Israel. This literally represents all of the peoples who are participants in God’s gracious covenant with Abraham. Then we are told that "we" who are within the confines of the visible institutional Church, have been brought into covenant and redeemed by Christ’s propitiatory work as well. Which includes even the right of some to enter into the invisible realm of the innermost sanctuary of God. But this passage essentially views God’s Covenant of Grace in the broader institutional sense, where the universal character of God’s grace is being manifested in its absolute fullness.
“6And because you are sons, God sent forth the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father.”
aaron— The Spirit of God’s Son is an intimate part of becoming one of God’s peoples. But we must surely know from experience, that the Spirit presence is not the same for all: For the Spirit is given to all by measure. Then we have also been told, that the Spirit of Christ had an active presence in some of the Old Testament peoples of God as well. (Ref.1Cor.12; 1Pe.1:11; Ps.51)
“7So that you are no longer a bondservant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.”
aaron— Whatever we may attain in this relationship with God, it all comes to us through our Lord Jesus Christ. Even this special sonship is based solely on His merits—His faith—His righteousness.
“8Howbeit at that time, not knowing God, you were in bondage to them that by nature are no gods.”
aaron— It is not always a smooth transition in this relationship with God. Now as servants, there is an unending struggle within each of us between the flesh and the spirit.
“9But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, why do you turn back again to those weak and beggarly rudiments, whereunto you desire to be in bondage once again?”
aaron— This is surely that bondage of our flesh to the things of the world. Though these elements of the world are weak and beggarly, if we are not careful, they can again gain some controlling influence in our lives. The sad thing is, we all have a natural tendency to be drawn toward the tangible things around us.
“10You observe days, and months, and seasons, and years. 11I am afraid of you, unless by any means I have bestowed labor upon you in vain.
12I beg you, brethren, become as I am, for I also am become as you are. You did me no wrong. 13But you know that because of an infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel unto you the first time: 14and that which was a temptation to you in my flesh you despised not, nor rejected; but you received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus. 15Where then is that gratefulness of yours? For I bear you witness, that, if possible, you would have plucked out your eyes and given them to me. 16So then, am I become your enemy by telling you the truth? 17They zealously seek you in no good way; no, they desire to shut you out, that you may seek them.”
aaron— Here again we can see the clash between the visible and the invisible. The visible peoples of God, with their learned rituals and their attempt to hold on to their earthly power, are always attempting to instill their various traditions upon the invisible realm of God. They would individually say that they are the only right way to God. But as unfortunate as it may be, they have little or no real understanding of the invisible realm of God. (Mat.13)
“18But it is good to be zealously sought in a good matter at all times, and not only when I am present with you. 19My little children, of whom I am again in travail until Christ be formed in you— 20but I could wish to be present with you now, and to change my tone; for I am perplexed about you.”
aaron— The transition into this covenant relationship with God, or what is more commonly known as the sanctification process, is not always smooth nor is it always instantaneous. So, Christ being formed within us is always to be understood as the process of sanctification. And it is also imperative for us to understand that this sanctification process has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with our justification.
“21Tell me, you that desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law? 22For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, one by the handmaid, and one by the freewoman. 23Howbeit the son by the handmaid is born after the flesh; but the son by the freewoman is born through promise. 24Which things contain an allegory: for these women are two covenants; one from mount Sinai, bearing children unto bondage, which is Hagar. 25Now this Hagar is mount Sinai in Arabia and answered to the Jerusalem that now is: for she is in bondage with her children. 26But the Jerusalem that is above is free, which is our mother.”
"the son by the handmaid is born after the flesh" (Ref.Gen.16:, Gen.21:)
aaron—: This aspect is representative of what we might call the broader concept of God’s Covenant of Grace; The visible Covenant of Grace; The Circumcision of the Flesh Covenant. (Ref.Gen.17:1—14, 18, and 20—23) This broad concept of the Covenant of Grace would represent all of those who have been called unto this legal covenant relationship with God. Then all of those who are called into this legal covenant relationship, would be identified as a part of the Corporate institutional Peoples of God. Where all must enter into this legal relationship through God’s established visible institutions (visible Israel /and the visible Church), by their obedient use of God’s established visible initiatory rites (visible circumcision /and visible baptism). Then to convert this information to our visual understanding, this broad concept of the Covenant of Grace can be represented by drawing a large circle that would contain all of God’s visible institutions.
"but the son by the freewoman is born through promise." (Ref.Gen.17:15—17, 19, and 21)
aaron— Then this aspect might be representative of what we might understand as the narrow concept of God’s Covenant of Grace, which must be seen as only an extension or an appendage of the broad concept of the Covenant of Grace. That is, just those who are chosen into the invisible Covenant of Promise are to be counted as a part of God’s royal priestly line. This narrow concept would be viewing just the invisible Messianic Covenant line. As these are the same stated facts that are born out in this next portion of Scripture:
"24Which things contain an allegory: for these women are two covenants"
aaron— The statement that has been made is that there are two covenants to be considered. The strong implication here, is that of (1)–a visible covenant: Which is to be considered on the earthly physical plain. And then (2)—that of an invisible covenant: Which is to be considered on the invisible spiritual plain.
(1)—"one from mount Sinai, bearing children unto bondage, which is Hagar. 25Now this Hagar is mount Sinai in Arabia and answered to the Jerusalem that now is: for she is in bondage with her children."
aaron— This is representative of the visible Covenant of the Flesh: All tangible things, such as those associated with the physical dimension, are the visible elements of this bondage. Those who occupy this station only, not having a clear view of the supernatural, would naturally be subjected to a greater struggle within their own flesh.
(2)—"26But the Jerusalem that is above is free, which is our mother."
aaron— Though this statement reflects God’s habitation and the present location of the Church Triumphant, this is also representative of the invisible Covenant of Promise: Reflecting just the mystical priestly line, which contains only those elect saints who belong to the invisible Messianic Covenant.
“27For it is written, Rejoice, you barren that bear not; Break forth and cry, you that travail not: For more are the children of the desolate than of her that has the husband.”
aaron— Now as we seek to understand the transition into God’s universal reconciliation, what we must first see here, is the "barren" as simply representative of the Nations. And then observing God’s visible peoples of Israel as "her that has the husband". This passage is essentially giving us a prophetic look toward the future. This passage would also seem to express an expansion of the very narrow view of the Messianic Covenant line. This would be that erroneous narrow view that some hold, that would interpret the Messianic Covenant line as coming only from Abraham’s natural progeny. But this is to view God’s reconciliation as it has moved far beyond the limits of God’s visible peoples of Israel. Just as we might see this inclusion expressed here in verse twenty—eight:
“28Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise. 29But as then, he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, so also it is now.”
aaron— It would seem according to v.29 that there always will be some resistance to the invisible Messianic Covenant line. These are those priests who come only through the line of Isaac: Even those who are yet contained within the visible Covenant of Grace. We would see evidence of this predicted resistance very early on in the taunts of Ishmael. But even now, their extreme commitment to God can seem somewhat fanatical to those who do not posses this same Spiritual intimacy. Yet we must continue to see these things, as simply some of the innate properties associated with the called visible peoples of God as they coexist with the chosen invisible peoples of God.
“30Therefore, what do the scripture say? Cast out the handmaid and her son: for the son of the handmaid shall not inherit with the son of the freewoman.”
aaron— There is a different distinction once again being made here between the visible and the invisible. By God’s design, the sons of promise will never allow the shortsightedness of the servants to stifle the promulgation of the Kingdom of God. For the present developing Kingdom consists only of the sons of the promise. And with that in mind, we can confidently receive v.31 at face value:
“31Wherefore, brethren, we are not children of a handmaid, but of the freewoman.”
“5 1For freedom did Christ set us free: stand fast therefore, and be not entangled again in a yoke of bondage.”
aaron— This yoke of bondage spoken of here seems to be hanging over the heads of all of God’s peoples. Paul’s exhortation, is for all of us to resist the natural inclinations of our flesh: To walk as sons and not as servants.
“2Behold, I Paul say unto you, that, if you receive circumcision, Christ will profit you nothing. 3Yes, I testify again to every man that receives circumcision, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. 4You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you are fallen away from grace.”
aaron— These are the evident consequences of not recognizing the fullness of the times. Christ’s total obedience in going to the cross, manifested God’s grace in its full and complete form. Through Christ's shed blood the whole debit for sin has been fully paid! The error that Paul is warning us about here, is not recognizing God’s boundless grace that came with the coming of Messiah. Whether it be circumcision, or baptism, or a simple profession of faith, we must know that any works that we might credit to ourselves in satisfaction for our justification, only tends to diminish God’s grace in our own minds and thus places a needless burden upon each of us. Whenever you alter your course as you look to the law for any satisfaction, you have become blinded to God’s boundless grace as you sever yourself from Christ’s complete propitiation in exchange for your perceived satisfaction of the law.
“5For we, through the Spirit, by faith, wait for the hope of righteousness. 6For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision avails anything, nor Uncircumcision; but faith working through love.”
aaron— Once again the universal character of God’s covenant is being revealed. God’s grace is channeled to us through the Spirit, and is to be consummated through the righteousness of Christ at His Second Coming. 1Pe.1:13
“7You were running well; who hindered you that you should not obey the truth? 8This persuasion came not of him that calls you. 9A little leaven leavens the whole lump. 10I have confidence towards you in the Lord, that you will be none otherwise minded: but he that troubles you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he is.”
aaron— This is still looking at the ongoing struggle between the servants of the law and grace, as well as between the flesh and the spirit; between the visible and the invisible. Of all that we have received—did any of these benefits come through the law? Or did all these things come to us through God’s boundless grace? You can see the natural difficulty that is involved in understanding this transition, which is now even more difficult because of the present manifestation and explanation of God’s invisible dispositions.
“11But I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted? Then has the stumbling—block of the cross been done away. 12I would that they that unsettle you would even go beyond circumcision.”
aaron— This complex passage is extremely difficult for any of us to receive. It talks about the continued reality of circumcision, the persecution that was being patiently endured by Paul, and the prophetic state of God’s first peoples Israel. (Ref.Rom.11:7—10; Ps.69:22; Isa.6:9—10; Mat.13:14; Acts.28:25—28)
“13For you, brethren, were called for freedom; only use not your freedom for an occasion to the flesh, but through love be servants one to another. 14For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
aaron— The Apostle Paul continues to caution us with regard to our flesh. This is similar to the exhortation in Rom.6:14—15. That is, just because we are now under grace and not under the law, Paul is telling us not to abuse this freedom—this liberty. But then lastly, Paul relates the absolute simplicity that we enjoy in our gracious relationship with God. That is, with respect to the keeping of the law. Recall what Jesus told us in Mat.22:37—40—"37And he said unto him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And a second is like unto it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40On these two commandments hangs the whole law and the prophets."
“15But if you bite and devour one another, take heed that you be not consumed one of another.”
aaron— This might also be speaking about the many accusations that are bandied back and forth even today within the denominations of the visible Christian Church. The warning here is very clear!
“16But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.”
aaron— This is the only way that we can ever hope to achieve the victory. Then we find in these next passages, the sound exhortations for that victorious Christian walk. They will define our natural propensities, and then encourage us to grow in our Spiritual walk with God.
“17For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are contrary the one to the other; that you may not do the things that you would like to do.”
aaron— What is meant here, concerning the flesh and the spirit being contrary the one to the other, is that they are actually from opposite poles within our internal compass. In that they each are promoting completely different agendas for us to follow.
“18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
19Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousies, wraths, factions, divisions, parties, 21envyings, drunkenness, revellings, and such like; of which I forewarn you, even as I did forewarn you, that they who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”
aaron— Here, the Apostle Paul is giving us a list of personal characteristics that we can use to judge ourselves by. He is telling us that the flesh, if allowed to have its own way, will naturally gravitate toward these things he has listed. Paul, in all of his epistles, is always encouraging the believer to actively participate in this battle between the flesh and the spirit. Then verse twenty—two has a similar exhortation towards our awareness of our own individual characteristics. Only here, this awareness is with respect to the fruit of the Spirit:
“22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23meekness, self—control; against such there is no law. 24And they that are of Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with the passions and the lusts thereof. 25If we live by the Spirit, by the Spirit let us also walk. 26So let us not become vainglorious, provoking one another, envying one another.”
“6 1Brethren, even if a man be overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; looking to yourself, unless you also be tempted. 2Bear one another’s burdens, and so by doing this you fulfill the law of Christ.
3For if a man thinks himself to be something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4But let each man prove his own work, and then shall he have his glorying in regard of himself alone, and not of his neighbor. 5For each man shall bear his own burden.
6But let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teaches in all good things.
7Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap. 8For he that sows unto his own flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that sows unto the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap eternal life. 9And let us not be weary in well—doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
10So then, as we have opportunity, let us work that which is good toward all men, and especially toward them that are of the household of the faith.
11See how large are these letters I write unto you with my own hand.
12As many as desire to make a fair show in the flesh, they compel you to be circumcised; only that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13For not even they who receive circumcision do themselves keep the law; but they desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh.”
aaron— We are again reminded of the transitional struggle that went on there within the early Christian Church, just as these same struggles are continuing on even now. These are the same struggles between those who are under the law (the visible component that is within the Covenant of Bondage), and those who are under the promise (the invisible component that is within the Covenant of Promise). We must understand that this same struggle between the visible and the invisible continues on even into today’s Christian Church. But then this struggle between the visible and the invisible is especially evident today within the three Abrahamic faiths, where there was a predicted blindness for a very large segment within these related groups.
“14But far be it from me to glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified unto me, and I unto the world. 15For neither is circumcision anything, nor Uncircumcision, but a new creature.”
aaron— The Apostle Paul explains his attitude with respect to the completeness of Christ’s propitiatory work upon the cross. Then this passage again describes the universal character of God’s reconciliation through the manifestation of God’s invisible dispositions as "a new creature". This "new creature" here, must be understood as the manifestation of only those within God’s invisible mystical line; His invisible priestly line that has always been hidden within His visible institutional corporate peoples of Israel and the Christian Church.
“16And as many as shall walk by this rule, peace be upon them and mercy upon the Israel of God.”
aaron— With the universal character of God’s Covenant of Grace that is expressed in v.15, I have always understood that this "Israel of God" here in v.16 is making reference to just the invisible elect of God; the invisible mystical line that represents God’s invisible priesthood.“17Henceforth, let no man trouble me; for I bear branded on my body—the marks of Jesus. 18The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brethren.” Amen.
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|All text copyright © 2005 aaron. All rights reserved. Photos, unless otherwise credited, are the property of the auth, all rights reserved. Originally posted February 24, 2004. Revised: February 20, 2009.|