Thesis #41 of 95: Paul’s teaching regarding Law and grace in his epistles to the Galatian and Roman churches is in the context of Jewish infiltrators who insisted that Christian believers complied with works and rituals pertaining to the Torah such as circumcision, observing festivals and the like. On the contrary, said Paul, justification within the new covenant required faithfulness towards Christ, not compliance with “deeds of the Law”.
Gal4:9-10 How is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again? You observe days and months and seasons and years!
This wordier thesis relates to what has become known in Christian academic circles as “the New Perspective on Paul”, aka the Sanders Revolution after the theologian who developed it. That was a product of the recent scholarly interest that has been shown in studying the Bible in the context of other ancient texts – aided by the discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls. Those manuscripts threw new light on the various forms of Judaism that prevailed in the first century, resulting in new perspectives on Paul’s teaching arising, particularly within Protestant academia. These have considerably reshaped the understanding of justification by faith in the apostle’s thought in the minds of many biblical scholars, although the development has had less impact at ground level within independent Evangelical churches. And no wonder, for it challenges what so many there understand to be the central focus of gospel salvation. But then so does virtually everything I have been setting out in these 95 theses and The Little Book of Providence.
Once again it is a case of the principal architect of Western theology Augustine misreading Paul and Luther distorting the picture still further – in this case interpreting what Paul wrote about first century Judaism, law, faith, works and covenant. Hence the radical, alien-to-most synopses that I have been setting out, which as I stated recently are not entirely new revelation (which they could never be), but new insights as to how the bible should be interpreted. And as explained in a recent post, the extra-canonical Book of Enoch, written not for the Church through her history but as its opening verse affirms, for the blessing of Christians who would live to experience the tribulations and Parousia, foretold that such a process would occur at this time. And it could not have happened before all the necessary manuscripts, research materials and suitable propagation facilities became available. The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the internet, digital printing and (I believe) the working of the Holy Spirit have seen to that.
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