230 – PAUL AND THE OLD TESTAMENT – II
It is so difficult for someone who is a prisoner of the law of Jehovah to go free, that Paul, in giant effort, reveals that, in order to get loose from that old covenant, we have first to consider it old, useless, decadent, and without any utility for the men who seek God. Besides, the law of Jehovah does not unite the believers to God, but separates them; and it does not separates the believers from sin, but teaches them to sin. Let us look at a few points in which Paul positions himself against the Old Testament of Jehovah (Heb. 7:18-19; Rom. 3:20; 7:5):
- The great apostle of the Gentiles was the one who had the revelation of the grace of God and of the mystery of Jesus Christ, “If indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace which was given to me for you, that by revelation there was made known to me for you” (Eph. 3:2-3). “That their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself” (Col 2:2). And Paul said, “To me, the very least of all saints, was this grace given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all men see what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God, who created all things through Jesus Christ” (Eph. 3:8-9). The true purpose of God for men was hidden until the coming of Jesus Christ. “Making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he purposed in him to an administration of the fullness of the times, to sum up all things in Christ, the things in the heavens, and the things on the earth, in him“ (Eph. 1:9-10). This is why the Gospel of the grace of God is also a mystery. Paul spoke these words, “On my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in opening my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the Good News” (Eph. 6:19).
- In the Old Testament the law of justice was in force, which consisted of the fulfillment of the commandments of the law of Jehovah, who spoke, “Listen to me, you who know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; don’t fear the reproach of men, neither be dismayed at their insults” (Is. 51:7). But Paul, the one who received the revelation of God, declared, “But Israel, following after a law of righteousness, didn’t arrive at the law of righteousness. Why? Because they didn’t seek it by faith, but as it were by works of the law. They stumbled over the stumbling stone” (Rom. 9:31-32). And he goes on to say, “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus; whom God set forth to be an atoning sacrifice, through faith in his blood, for a demonstration of his righteousness through the passing over of prior sins, in God’s forbearance; to demonstrate his righteousness at this present time; that he might himself be just, and the justifier of him who has faith in Jesus” (Rom. 3:24-26). “For him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf; so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21). I don’t make void the grace of God. For if righteousness is through the law, then Christ died for nothing!” (Gal. 2:21). Paul condemned the righteousness of the law!
- Paul revealed, not the restoration of the Old Testament and the old covenant as we read inHeb. 8:8-11, but a New Testament with a new covenant, totally different. Here is what Paul preached, “Who also made us sufficient as servants of a new covenant; not of the letter, but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (2 Cor. 3:6). As the law of Moses never gave life to anyone, Paul tells us: “E, se o Espírito daquele que dentre os mortos ressuscitou a Jesus habita em vós, aquele que dentre os mortos ressuscitou a Cristo também vivificará os vossos corpos mortais, pelo seu Espírito que em vós habita” (Rom 8:11). Second, Paul reveals that the law, engraved in stone, was the ministry of death (2 Cor. 3:7). Third, Paul affirms that the law was the ministry of condemnation, and it had the glory of Jehovah (2 Cor. 3:9). In verse 10,Paul says that the ministry of condemnation, which came in glory, was not glorified. And why was it not glorified? It was because Jesus Christ abolished the Old Testament as to the righteousness of the law, which was not the righteousness of the true God (Rom. 3:24-28). Paul condemned the righteousness of Jehovah, and condemned the fundaments of the Old Testament.
- The gospel of the circumcision, preached by the apostle Peter, included not the circumcision alone, but the entire law of Jehovah as well. Paul declared, “But to the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the Good News for the uncircumcision, even as Peter with the Good News for the circumcision” (Gal. 2:7). The gospel of the circumcision was the gospel for the Jews only, and the gospel of uncircumcision was for the Gentiles only. Let us look at the way Paul ends this issue of the two gospels: “Stand firm therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and don’t be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. Behold, I, Paul, tell you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will profit you nothing. Yes, I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. You are alienated from Christ, you who desire to be justified by the law. You have fallen away from grace” (Gal 5:1-4). Paul condemned the gospel of the circumcision preached by Peter. And he also condemned the circumcision established as the eternal covenant between Jehovah and Abraham with his offspring (Gen. 17:13-14). “For in Christ Jesus neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation” (Gal. 6:15).
- Paul preached directly against the law and the circumcision. When he came to Jerusalem he found there many Jewish disciples converted to Jesus Christ who had already been influenced by the Pharisees, who had told them the following about Paul: “They have been informed about you, that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children neither to walk after the customs” (Acts 21:21). When Paul was informed about it, he went to the temple the following day. The Jews from Asia, when they saw him, made a commotion, and said, “Crying out, ‘Men of Israel, help! This is the man who teaches all men everywhere against the people, and the law, and this place. Moreover, he also brought Greeks into the temple, and has defiled this holy place!’” (Acts 21:28).
- Paul confesses that he is a Jew of important lineage. “Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the assembly; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, found blameless” (Phil. 3:5-6). Paul, then, says, “Yes most certainly, and I count all things to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord, for whom I suffered the loss of all things, and count them nothing but refuse, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own, that which is of the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith” (Phil. 3:8-9). To Paul, the noble lineage, the circumcision, the righteousness of the law was all refuse in face of the work of Christ. Paul really went against that group of complicated ordinances, commandments, washings and traditions that did not profit for anything (Heb. 7:18-19).
The curses of Jehovah on the sinners are registered in Deut. 28:15-68. When do these terrible curses fall upon men? When they broke the law of Jehovah. Paul describes vividly, “For as many as are of the works of the law are under a curse. For it is written, “Cursed is everyone who doesn’t continue in all things that are written in the book of the law, to do them” (Gal. 3:10; Deut. 27:26). Whoever sinned, that is, failed in any of the precepts of the law, committed sin and placed himself under the curse, and the curse remains for many generations, for the second commandment in the law of Jehovah declares that Jehovah visits the wickedness of the parents in the children to the third and fourth generations. There are many instances in which the wickedness becomes hereditary and eternal. This was the case with the curse of the king of the Amalekites (Ex. 17:16), the curse of Gehazi (2 Kings 5:27). Paul reveals that Christ redeemed from the curses of the law, becoming cursed for us (Gal. 3:13). Jehovah’s method was always to send plagues, pestilences, curses, and all kinds of oppression and violence in order to intimidate men so that he would not to sin. The method of Jesus is totally different. He does not punish, but he redeems. He does not promise disgraces, but he pours blessings, as violence does not attract anyone. Here is what Paul said, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 1:3). Jehovah caused fear, dread, and terror. Jesus brings love, peace, and joy.
By PASTOR OLAVO SILVEIRA PEREIRA