Verses 1-8 Hitherto none had been baptized into the Christian church but Jews, Samaritans, and those converts who had been circumcised and observed the ceremonial law; but now the Gentiles were to be called to partake all the privileges of God's people, without first becoming Jews. Pure and undefiled religion is sometimes found where we least expect it. Wherever the fear of God rules in the heart, it will appear both in works of charity and of piety, neither will excuse from the other.
We apologize that there is no commentary this week. The person who had agreed to write this week's commentary was deeply involved in the meeting of the Theology of Ordination Study Committee and was consequently was unable to write an essay.
Normal service will resume next week.
In our day, whenever Gospel and law or grace and law appear together in the same breath, law always takes a beating. Law condemns, but grace redeems. Now to see law viewed as some kind of culprit is an astonishing development, because in the Old Testament Torah is viewed as very good news indeed. The longest of the psalms, Psalm 119, is nothing but a celebration of Torah.
By the time Jesus was born, Judaism had become centered on the Torah. The word Torah means “teaching” and was used mainly to designate what was taught with authority -- that is, the five books of Moses. When the Jews of Alexandria translated the Pentateuch from Hebrew to Greek, beginning in the 3rd century B.C.E., Torah became Nomos, the Greek word for law. As the giver of the Law, Moses then came to be considered the greatest of the prophets.
Thomas Aquinas might well have been the first in Western history to concieve of human psychology as habitus-- that is, the "residum in man's soul of his soul's history" (to quote Erich Auerbach). Sadly, modern theories of the human psyche have strayed from this seminal idea, and we have configured our souls in various clinical guises to which we sacrifice our awareness of eternal destiny. We do not, and perhaps cannot, picture ourselves in quite the same profoundly Christian unity as Dante did in his Inferno as each damned soul expresses a perfec
Among other arguments used in the foregoing chapter to persuade us against sin, and to holiness, this was one (v. 14), that we are not under the law; and this argument is here further insisted upon and explained (v. 6): We are delivered from the law. What is meant by this? And how is it an argument why sin should not reign over us, and why we should walk in newness of life? 1. We are delivered from the power of the law which curses and condemns us for the sin committed by us.
Those to whom Christ preached, and for whose use he gave these instructions to his disciples, were such as in their religion had an eye, 1. To the scriptures of the Old Testament as their rule, and therein Christ here shows them they were in the right: 2. To the scribes and the Pharisees as theirexample, and therein Christ here shows them they were in the wrong; for,
It is easy, given the cultural trend of our age, to read the words of Jesus concerning tradition (Matt. 15: 1-6) and then climb up on our high horse and engage in a rant. “Yes, he is beating on tradition,” we say. “Giving it what it deserves.” “Tradition is out; the forward look is in.” But this would be a mistake and a careless reading of the passage. Tradition of course has its pitfalls. It can be dangerous and damaging. But in assessing it we must pay attention to the counterbalance found in a verse like 2nd Thessalonians 2:15.
At a glance it would seem that Jesus did not strictly uphold all the laws of the Old Testament. Although both Leviticus 20:10 and Deuteronomy 22:22 state that in a case of adultery both adulterers should be stoned, Jesus refused to condemn the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11). On the other hand, Jesus told the leper He cleansed to go show himself to the priest (Matthew 8:1-4), enjoining thereby a process that involved obeying ritual laws of cleanliness.