13 For you have heard of my former conduct in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it. 14 And I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers.
1 On Paul’s “former conduct” in “Judaism.” It’s clear to me that he couldn’t have said that he is no longer a jew because Christianity didn’t exist yet. Also, for the following reasons:
Acts 28:17 New King James Version (NKJV) 17 And it came to pass after three days that Paul called the leaders of the Jews together. So when they had come together, he said to them: “Men and brethren, though I have done nothing against our people or the customs of our fathers, yet I was delivered as a prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans,
Acts 23:6 New King James Version (NKJV) 6 But when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, “Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee; concerning the hope and resurrection of the dead I am being judged!”
Acts 22:3 New King James Version (NKJV) 3 “I am indeed a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, taught according to the strictness of our fathers’ law, and was zealous toward God as you all are today.
Acts 25:8 New King James Version (NKJV) 8 while he answered for himself, “Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I offended in anything at all.”
Consider also Paul’s statement that he is a member of what is called a sect of Judaism before the Romans:
13 Nor can they prove the things of which they now accuse me. 14 But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets. (Acts 24 NKJV)
. . . Ἰουδαϊσμῷ The rendering of this word in our versions, Jewish religion, is unfortunate: it implies a definite separation between the two religions which did not then exist, for Christians were still habitual worshippers in the synagogue; and it puts this view into the mouth of Paul, who steadfastly persisted in identifying the faith of Christ with the national religion. The word Ἰουδαϊζειν denotes the adoption of Jewish habits, language, or policy (cf. Galatians 2:14). So here Ἰουδαϊσμός denotes Jewish partisanship . . .
(Expositor’s Greek Testament)
. . . the Jews’ religion] One word in the original, which does not occur elsewhere in the N. T. except in Galatians 1:14. From the use of the corresponding verb, we may regard it as referring not to the religion revealed to the Jews in the writings of Moses and the prophets, but that which was its actual development in St Paul’s day, when the word of God had been overlaid and ‘made of none effect’ by the traditions of the Scribes and Pharisees, and the puerile conceits of the Rabbinic expositors. . . .(Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges) https://biblehub.com/commentaries/galatians/1-13.htm
“former” modifies “conduct” not “Judaism” (G2454)
So Paul had a former behavior in “Judaism” and now he has a different behavior in “Judaism” after learning the gospel of Christ.
13–14 For you have heard of my former manner of life in Judaism, how I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it; and I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my countrymen, being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions.
The word “Judaism” ( jIoudai>smov~, ioudaismos) is used only here (twice, once in v. 13 and once in v. 14) in the whole Apostolic Scriptures. It is found only five times in the Lxx (2Mac 2.21; 8.1; 14.38(2x); 4Mac 4.26) and then only in the Maccabees. Y. Amir, in a study entitled “The Term Ioudaismos: A Study in Jewish-Hellenistic Self-Identification,”50 comes to the conclusion that the word means a “a sort of fenced-off area in which Jewish lives are led.”
the word this is derived from G2450 (verb form) which is only used in Ester 8:17 and Galatians 2:14 https://studybible.info/search-interlinear/strongs/G2450 In Gal 2:14 it is used to denote specific Jewish practices. In Ester 8:17 it is used for “jewish-like” in “were circumcised and were jewish-like” indicating that it might mean something other than circumcision. A GREEK-ENGLISH LEXICON OF THE SEPTUAGINT defines it as:
Dunn thinks that the term may indicate something other than “circumcision” (=becoming a proselyte), since its only other use (the Lxx of Esther 8:17) has both the term “circumcised” as well as “made themselves Jews” (the verb ‘to circumcise” is lacking in the Hebrew). But the Lxx phrase (“and many of the Gentiles were circumcised, and became Jews, for fear of the Jews”) may well be simply a commentary on “becoming a Jew.” From the Lxx translators’ standpoint, this surely involved the ritual of the proselyte. It hardly seems possible that Paul would have so sharply denounced Peter if he was simply trying to persuade the Gentiles to take on Jewish customs. This hardly goes
contrary to the gospel. Rather, it seems to me far more likely that Peter, for what ever reasons, was attempting to sway the Gentile believers over to the viewpoint of the “party of the circumcision,” that full covenant membership was only available to Jews.
From the viewpoint of the influencers, the whole matter turned on the observance of established halachah. But for Paul, the issue was that of the gospel: “But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel ….” The word translated “straightforward” by the NASB (“not acting in line,” NIV; “their conduct was not in step,” ESV) is interesting. It is ojrqopodevw, orthopodeõ, being made of two words; ortho, meaning “straight” (note our English “orthodontist”) and pous, “foot.” The obvious idea is “to walk in a straight path,” “to be on the right road.” Our modern idiom, “walk a straight line” fits the meaning well. It was not that Peter and those he was following were denying the gospel, nor attempting to undermine it directly. Rather, their approach to this whole matter was a detour from the gospel, and one that Paul feared would so sidetrack the Gentile believers as to keep them from reaching the goal
In the context of Galatians 2, G2450 may be related to a halacha or Jewish practice: 1 a false gospel or good news (how you are saved) and 2 justifying yourself by works of the law. . . This seems to fall outside of torah vs. non-torah observant, rather it is a certain take the Torah or on Judaism. (mainly the false idea that you needed to become a Jew to be saved) In this case it was false but that doesn’t mean the word G2450 implies falsity. See below:
13 And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy.
14 But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, “If you, being a Jew (G2450), live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews? 15 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, 16 knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified. (Gal 2)
Note: “we are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners” is tongue-and-cheek (explained later)
Peter’s hypocrisy consisted of his having engaged in table fellowship
with the Gentiles when unobserved by the Jerusalem folk, but separating from the Gentiles when the group from James arrived, and even compelling them to submit to proselytism in order to be accepted by the party of the circumcision. The Greek has ijoudai÷zw, ioudaizõ, “to live like a Jew,” used only here in the Apostolic Scriptures. The Lxx utilizes this same verb in Esther 8:17 (the only time found in the Lxx) to translate the hapax legoumena . . . , mityahadim, “made themselves Jews.” Though the term is used only these two times in biblical literature, the meaning is clear: Peter had been swayed by the “party of the circumcision” to compel (ajnagkavzw, anagkazõ45) the Gentiles to submit to the ritual of a proselyte. Interestingly, Paul used this same word (Acts 26:11) to describe his attempts to “force” the believers in Yeshua to blaspheme in order to have a sure judgment against them https://www.torahresource.com/radio-files/study-in-galatians/galatians_commentary.pdf
2 How was Peter compelling Gentiles to live as Jews? By making them undergo the proselyte ritual in order to consider them saved and hence worthy of table fellowship. Similar to how Paul was put in a situation where he was “compelled” to call on Cesar where same word is used: Acts 28:19 https://studybible.info/search-interlinear/strongs/G315
3 The Revelation that Paul had was about Yeshua’s salvation for the nations. It seems like this revelation started on the road to Damascus and continued afterward:
15 But when God thought well to separate me from out of the belly of my mother, and called me by his favor, 16 to reveal his son in me, that I should announce him good news among the nations; immediately I did not confer with flesh and blood; (Gal 1 ABP)
4 A suggestion on how the New Covenant is different:
The New Covenant covenant is different in that it is God writing the law on the heart rather than man. This I think is significant. Let’s say I make an agreement with you that you will build a house with certain specifications and that I will pay you a certain amount of money. Then I propose a different agreement where the only difference is that I will build the house instead of you. That’s pretty significant, even if I don’t change the money or any of the other specifications. I think maybe the other difference is that God is able to write the law on the heart much better than man (hence why no one will need to teach another which is also different): this is possibly why it also differs in that God will write the law “on your inward parts” or “inside of you” in the New Covenant (maybe a deeper writing than just the mind)
Compare inward parts to heart (I thought this was kind of interesting)
There seems to be some significance to the writing surface and instrument used in metaphors involving writing: As a side note ￼ Jer 17:13 is used to explain what Jesus wrote in the dust: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZSG7p5DQ-M
￼ Jer 17:1 The sin of Judah is written H3789 with a pen of iron, and with the point of a diamond: it is graven upon the table of their heart, and upon the horns of your altars; (KJV)
Jer 17:13 O LORD, the hope of Israel, all that forsake thee shall be ashamed, and they that depart from me shall be written H3789 in the earth, because they have forsaken the LORD, the fountain of living waters. (KJV)
Deu 30:14 But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it. (KJV)
It says in proverbs to either write God’s law on your heart or to write the instructions of whoever is writing proverbs on your heart:
￼ Pro 3:3 Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write H3789 them upon the table of thine heart: (KJV)
￼ Pro 7:3 Bind them upon thy fingers, write H3789 them upon the table of thine heart. (KJV)
Jer 31:33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write H3789 it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. (KJV)
It seems like God would have better instruments than us to write the law. Keil and Deilitzche in their commentary on Deut 10:6 make the observation that the writing surface will be entirely different as well:
The Lord will then circumcise their heart, and the heart of their children (see Deuteronomy 10:16), so that they will love Him with all their heart. When Israel should turn with true humility to the Lord, He would be found of them, – would lead them to true repentance, and sanctify them through the power of His grace, – would take away the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh, a new heart and a new spirit, – so that they should truly know Him and keep His commandments (vid., Ezekiel 11:19; Ezekiel 36:26; Jeremiah 31:33. and Deuteronomy 32:39.). “Because of thy life,” i.e., that thou mayest live, sc., attain to true life. The fulfilment of this promise does not take place all at once. It commenced with small beginnings at the deliverance from the Babylonian exile, and in a still higher degree at the appearance of Christ in the case of all the Israelites who received Him as their Saviour. Since then it has been carried on through all ages in the conversion of individual children of Abraham to Christ; and it will be realized in the future in a still more glorious manner in the nation at large (Romans 11:25.). The words of Moses do not relate to any particular age, but comprehend all times. For Israel has never been hardened and rejected in all its members, although the mass of the nation lives under the curse even to the present day.
5 Something interesting “We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles” might be Paul being sarcastic. Hence, he is also speaking against the idea of “works of the law” in this case going through the ritual of proselyte and becoming a “Jew by nature” is not going to automatically save you are make you not a sinner.
Paul quotes (perhaps a bit “tongue-in-cheek”) the primary premise of the party of the circumcision: “we are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners.” This is not Paul’s perspective, but that of the influencers. Dunn agrees:
This language rings oddly on the lips of Paul, until we realize what hewas doing. Paul was putting himself in the shoes of a typical Jew who looked out at the rest of the world as outside the realm of God’s covenant righteousness and sinful (cf. Eph 2:12). More to the point, he was using the language of typical Jewish factionalism, which was ready to condemn those Jews who disagreed with the sect’s interpretation of what the law required as ‘sinners’— outside their sectarian understanding of the covenant, which meant, of course, from the sectarian viewpoint, outside the covenant. In fact, Paul was probably echoing the language used by the ‘individuals from James’ when they spoke against the Jewish Christians’ table-fellowship with the Gentile believers: such table-fellowship with ‘Gentile sinners’ was unacceptable.46
Thus, when Paul writes, “we are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners,” he is deliberately using the language of those who were distancing themselves from the Gentiles, encouraging them to become proselytes in order to leave the status of “sinner” and enter the circle of “Jews by birth.”
Conclusion: I think G2454 and G2450 refers to practice or halacha of Judaism. That is, Paul had abandoned his former practice in Judaism that viewed converting to Judaism (or jewish-like) as a prerequisite for salvation. To quote Tim Hegg:
There is no doubt that Paul made a clear distinction between his former life, lived under the acceptance of the prevailing Pharisaic belief that Jewish status rendered one a member of the covenant, and his current life lived in the reality of the risen Messiah. But such a distinction said nothing about the place of the divinely inspired Torah, and its central importance in the life of the believer. What it did contrast, however, was the life of faith in Messiah Yeshua and the
message of the influencers which insisted upon Jewish status as a prerequisite for covenant membership.
All verses are in the NRSV unless otherwise noted. This is a document written in response to some things about the law we were discussing at Bible study.
To understand the two covenants we must start with Paul’s introductory comments here:
Tell me, you who desire to be subject G5259 to the law, will you not listen to the law? (Galatians 4:21)
or more literally:
Tell me, ye who are willing to be under G5259 law, the law do ye not hear? (Gal 4:21 YLT)
What does “under G5259 law G3551” mean? Paul earlier compares “works of the law”–which is an Essene teaching that one could be justified by keeping certain laws–to the work of Christ. Paul argues against “works of the law” and contrasts it with faith in many different places.
There are several directions you can go with the meaning of “under law.” Gesenius connects H8478 to G5259 “under” in Greek and lists places when it can be used to designate being under to “authority” for instance “under her husband” means “under the authority of her husband”  In addition Luke 7:8 and Matthew 8:9 clearly make this connection of being “under” someone to being “under the authority of” someone. Gesenius gives Nu. 5:19 and Eze. 23:5 as examples which both have the context of punishment for the wrong-doing while “under” the husband.  However, what does it mean to be “under authority?” If we go with this meaning I would suggest it means close to “under power”  the usage in the new testament seems to fit better with “power” than plain “authority.”  After all, what good is authority if you don’t have the power to carry it out? However, the meaning of “under” seems to depend on what is metaphorically on top.  The closest I could find to being under “law” in the Greek Septuagint was in 2 Maccabees 7:36 which speaks of dying “under (God’s) covenant” i.e. ὑπὸ διαθήκην (θεοῦ). The result or consequence of dying while “under God’s covenant” is “everlasting life.”  “Under covenant” is the closest parallel to “under law” I have found, therefore, keep in mind this meaning of “under the results of the law” when we read “under law” in the following. Let’s start in Romans to see if “under results” fits. In addition, I believe you can prove that Paul did not view being obligated to follow the law as the same as being under the law. Here he claims that he is not under the law but still with the law. Hence he won’t have to face the consequences or penalty of the law but still believes he should follow the law:
20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though I myself am not under the law) so that I might win those under the law. 21 To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law) so that I might win those outside the law. (1 Corinthians 9:20-21)
First some context:
6 For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, “The one who is righteous will live by faith.” (Romans 1:16-17)
This is a quote from Habakkuk 2:4 and the context is about the Chaldeans being eventually judged for plundering Israel and other nations even though they are about to destroy the temple and attack Israel. This was brought about by Israel’s sin:
4 Look at the proud! Their spirit is not right in them, but the righteous live by their faith. 5 Moreover, wealth is treacherous; the arrogant do not endure. They open their throats wide as Sheol; like Death they never have enough. They gather all nations for themselves, and collect all peoples as their own.
6 Shall not everyone taunt such people and, with mocking riddles, say about them,
“Alas for you who heap up what is not your own!” How long will you load yourselves with goods taken in pledge? 7 Will not your own creditors suddenly rise, and those who make you tremble wake up? Then you will be booty for them. 8 Because you have plundered many nations, all that survive of the peoples shall plunder you— because of human bloodshed, and violence to the earth, to cities and all who live in them. (Habakkuk 2:4-8)
Tim Hegg notes:
The context of the Habakkuk text is the conclusion of the prophet’s cry of woe, in which he questions God over the use of the Chaldeans to punish the chosen people. For the prophet, this brought into question God’s justice and even His holiness (1:13f). In raising the question of how God could use such a wicked nation to punish His people, he awaits God’s answer (2:1). The Lord’s answer comes in the form of a revelation or vision that Habakkuk was to record and make known. It’s application would be for the appointed time, and those who believed in God would await its fulfillment, even though it might appear for the interim that it was not correct. The proud in heart would doubtless refuse to accept the revelation given to the prophet, but the one who had faith (and would thus accept the revelation) would live, i.e., preserve his life on the basis of acting in accordance with the revelation which God would give the prophet. Thus, “the just shall live by faith.” https://www.torahresource.com/radio-files/through-romans/RomansVol1.pdf
We find important clues as to the meaning of “faith” in this quote of Habakkuk by understanding the Hebrew word ה ָמוּנֱא’ ,emunah. The first time we find the word in the Tanach, it refers to the hands of Moses held up by Aaron and Hur (Ex 17:12)—“his hands were ה ָמוּנֱא until the going down of the sun,” i.e., they were raised continually and incessantly. In every other passage where the term ה ָמוּנֱא is found, it refers to the conduct of persons or of God, sometimes categorizing such actions as attributes (“faithful,” “genuine,” “reliable,” etc.). Jepsen notes:
Thus ‘emunah is not so much an abstract quality . . . but a way of acting which grows out of inner stability, “conscientiousness.” Whereas ‘emeth [a related word meaning “truth”] is always used in relationship to something (or someone) on which (or whom) one can rely, ‘emunah seems more to emphasize one’s own inner attitude and the conduct it produces. The frequently suggested translation, “conscientiousness,” would seem to come closest to the meaning intended in many passages.26
On the basis of the meaning of ה ָמוּנֱא’ ,emunah, it seems warranted that some translations (NEB, JPS, margin of RSV and NRSV) have opted to translate Hab 2:4 along the lines of “the righteous will live on the basis of his faithfulness.” Indeed, in BDB’s Lexicon (p. 53) Hab 2:4b is translated as “a righteous man by his faithfulness liveth.” https://www.torahresource.com/radio-files/through-romans/RomansVol1.pdf
Keil and Delitzsch state:
אמוּנה does not denote “an honourable character, or fidelity to conviction” (Hitzig), but (from ‘âman, to be firm, to last) firmness (Exodus 17:12); then, as an attribute of God, trustworthiness, unchangeable fidelity in the fulfilment of His promises (Deuteronomy 32:4; Psalm 33:4; Psalm 89:34); and, as a personal attribute of man, fidelity in word and deed (Jeremiah 7:28; Jeremiah 9:2; Psalm 37:3); and, in his relation to God, firm attachment to God, an undisturbed confidence in the divine promises of grace, firma fiducia and fides, so that in ‘ĕmūnâh the primary meanings of ne’ĕmân and he’ĕmı̄n are combined. This is also apparent from the fact that Abraham is called ne’ĕmân in Nehemiah 9:8, with reference to the fact that it is affirmed of him in Genesis 15:6 that האמין בּיהוה, “he trusted, or believed, the Lord;” and still more indisputably from the passage before us, since it is impossible to mistake the reference in צדּיק בּאמוּנתו יחיה to Genesis 15:6, “he believed (he’ĕmı̄n) in Jehovah, and He reckoned it to him litsedâqâh.” It is also indisputably evident from the context that our passage treats of the relation between man and God, since the words themselves speak of a waiting (chikkâh) for the fulfilment of a promising oracle, which is to be preceded by a period of severe suffering. “What is more natural than that life or deliverance from destruction should be promised to that faith which adheres faithfully to God, holds fast by the word of promise, and confidently waits for its fulfilment in the midst of tribulation? It is not the sincerity, trustworthiness, or integrity of the righteous man, regarded as being virtues in themselves, which are in danger of being shaken and giving way in such times of tribulation, but, as we may see in the case of the prophet himself, his faith. To this, therefore, there is appended the great promise expressed in the one word יחיה” (Delitzsch). And in addition to this, ‘ĕmūnâh is opposed to the pride of the Chaldaean, to his exaltation of himself above God; and for that very reason it cannot denote integrity in itself, but simply some quality which has for its leading feature humble submission to God, that is to say, faith, or firm reliance upon God. https://biblehub.com/commentaries/kad/habakkuk/3.htm
This type of “faith” is different than checking off a rule list. In the verses before the vision of justice was said by God to not come for a while but that it would surely come so a long-suffering trust is implied in God’s promises:
2 Then the Lord answered me and said: Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so that a runner may read it. 3 For there is still a vision for the appointed time; it speaks of the end, and does not lie. If it seems to tarry, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay. (Habakkuk 2:2-3)
Paul is using this to say that the basis for justifying sinners (sinners such as Israel) was always this type of faith. Habakkuk later makes a connection to eschatology according to Keil and Delitzsch. This is possibly why Paul says he is “not ashamed” of the gospel since he knows Christ will have victory in the end:
In Habakkuk 3:12 there follows a description of the judgment upon the nations for the rescue of the people of God. Habakkuk 3:12. “In fury Thou walkest through the earth, in wrath Thou stampest down nations. Habakkuk 3:13. Thou goest out to the rescue of Thy people, to the rescue of Thine anointed one; Thou dashest in pieces the head from the house of the wicked one, laying bare the foundation even to the neck. Selah. Habakkuk 3:14. Thou piercest with his spears the head of his hordes, which storm hither to beat me to powder, whose rejoicing is, as it were, to swallow the poor in secret. Habakkuk 3:15. Thou treadest upon the sea: Thy horses, upon the heap of great waters.” The Lord, at whose coming in the terrible glory of the majesty of the Judge of the world all nature trembles and appears to fall into its primary chaotic state, marches over the earth, and stamps or tramples down the nations with His feet (compare the kindred figure of the treader of the winepress in Isaiah 63:1-6). Not all nations, however, but only those that are hostile to Him; for He has come forth to save His people and His anointed one. The perfects in Habakkuk 3:13-15 are prophetic, describing the future in spirit as having already occurred. יצא, referring to the going out of God to fight for His people, as in Judges 5:4; 2 Samuel 5:24; Isaiah 42:13, etc. ישׁע, rescue, salvation, is construed the second time with an accusative like an inf. constr. (see Ewald, 239, a). The anointed of God is not the chosen, consecrated nation (Schnur., Ros., Hitzig, Ewald, etc.); for the nation of Israel is never called the anointed one (hammâshı̄ăch) by virtue of its calling to be “a kingdom of priests” (mamlekheth kohănı̄m, Exodus 19:6), neither in Psalm 28:8 nor in Psalm 84:10; Psalm 89:39. Even in Psalm 105:15 it is not the Israelites who are called by God “my anointed” (meshı̄chai), but the patriarchs, as princes consecrated by God (Genesis 23:6). And so here also משׁיחך is the divinely-appointed king of Israel; not, however, this or that historical king – say Josiah, Jehoiakim, or even Jehoiachin – but the Davidic king absolutely, including the Messiah, in whom the sovereignty of David is raised to an eternal duration, “just as by the Chaldaean king here and in Psalm 2:1-12 we must understand the Chaldaean kings generally” (Delitzsch), wince the prophecy spreads from the judgment upon the Chaldaeans to the universal judgment upon the nations, and the Chaldaean is merely introduced as the possessor of the imperial power. The Messiah as the Son of David is distinguished from Jehovah, and as such is the object of divine help, just as in Zechariah 9:9, where He is called נושׁע in this respect, and in the royal Messianic psalms. https://biblehub.com/commentaries/kad/habakkuk/3.htm
If we realize that this type of faith (or the belief Abraham: “he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness” or the obedience of Abraham: compare Hebrews 11:8) is different than having everything checked off with regards to your observance of the law–then we can see how Yeshua can tell the rich young ruler to “keep the commandments” to inherit eternal life:
18 A certain ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 19 Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honor your father and mother.’” 21 He replied, “I have kept all these since my youth.” 22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “There is still one thing lacking. Sell all that you own and distribute the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” (Luke 18:18-22)
16 Then someone came to him and said, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” 17 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” 18 He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; 19 Honor your father and mother; also, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 20 The young man said to him, “I have kept all these; what do I still lack?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” (Matthew 19:16-21)
17 As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.’” 20 He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.” 21 Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” (Mark 10:17-21)
Paul as well can say:
6 So also David speaks of the blessedness of those to whom God reckons righteousness apart from works: 7 “Blessed are those whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; 8 blessed is the one against whom the Lord will not reckon sin.” (Romans 4:6-8)
This is because “keeping the commands” is not the same as doing specific works.
In Luke 18:21 “kept” is https://studybible.info/strongs/G5442
in Matthew 19:17 “kept” is https://studybible.info/strongs/G5083
in Mark 10:19 “know” is https://studybible.info/strongs/G1492
in Mark 10:20 “kept” is https://studybible.info/strongs/G5442
If you look at these words and their context this has to do with guarding and respecting/remembering. Check the following occurrences. Really, I think this is not about the laws but about honoring the lawgiver himself. You can safely ignore the word for “know” because I think Yeshua was just pointing out that the man already knew what to guard not that this was a prerequisite for guarding but I’ve posted it below for completeness sake)
To summarize: “guarding the commandments leads to eternal life because by guarding the commandments you show you honor the commander but doing any number of specific things in the law will not gain you salvation.” Paul also uses different covenants to make analogies. He compares Moab to Sinai in Romans 10 and the Abrahamic Covenant to Sinai in Galatians 3. Some Jewish tradition considers Sinai to be lacking in some ways. In addition Israel broke Sinai and so were already subject to the curses of Sinai. See the following relevant post for more information on this:
As we move on we will see that Paul uses the journey of Israel (from Sinai to the new covenant or the fulfillment of the promises of Abraham) as an analogy for our individual journey: being shown to be imperfect by the law and turning to God’s grace and in thankfulness keeping the law.
Paul continues Romans by talking about idolatry:
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of those who by their wickedness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse; 21 for though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools; 23 and they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human being or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles.
24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the degrading of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
26 For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error.
28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind and to things that should not be done. 29 They were filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, they are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious toward parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 They know God’s decree, that those who practice such things deserve to die—yet they not only do them but even applaud others who practice them. (Romans 1:18-32)
Continuing on we have something interesting:
1 Therefore you have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things. 2 You say, “We know that God’s judgment on those who do such things is in accordance with truth.” 3 Do you imagine, whoever you are, that when you judge those who do such things and yet do them yourself, you will escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you despise the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience? Do you not realize that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? 5 But by your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. 6 For he will repay according to each one’s deeds: 7 to those who by patiently doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; 8 while for those who are self-seeking and who obey not the truth but wickedness, there will be wrath and fury. 9 There will be anguish and distress for everyone who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, 10 but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. 11 For God shows no partiality. (Romans 2:1-11)
Paul uses Israel’s idolatry to point out that both they and the pagan nations are without excuse as Tim Hegg notes this is addressed to the Jewish part of the congregation:
The opening word of the second chapter, “Therefore,” has caused some difficulty in understanding how what Paul is now saying connects to what he has already said in chapter one. But to answer this question we must first ask ourselves to whom Paul addresses his remarks in the present text: to Gentiles who were a “cut above” in their moral outlook, or to Jews, or to a mixed group? While each of these options have been held by scholars, I would think that several factors weight the case toward Paul addressing Jews beginning in 2:1. Here are the reasons: 1) the language of v. 4 fits the history of Israel but does not fit God’s activity toward the nations. While it is true that He does show mercy to the Gentiles (such as at Ninevah), the strong language of mercy and patience in view of Israel’s often rebellion seems to underly Paul’s words here. 2) Since it seems clear that Paul has two groups in mind in 1:18-3:20, i.e., Jews and Gentiles, it seems most likely that he refers to Jews when he characterizes a group as morally superior, as he does in 2:1ff. 3) It is clear that he addresses the Jew at v. 17, but it does not seem that he begins to address someone different at this point than he has from the beginning of the chapter. Therefore, one would conclude that he addresses Jews from the beginning of the chapter. 4) It was characteristic, at least by the report of our extant literature, of some (perhaps a majority of) Pharisees that they had an attitude of superiority toward the Gentiles, so that the attitudes described in the opening verses of our chapter best describe the Jew rather than the Gentile. In light of these things, I would think it best to interpret Paul’s words in 2:1ff as addressed primarily to the Jewish congregant in the synagogue at Rome https://www.torahresource.com/radio-files/through-romans/RomansVol1.pdf
Notice Paul is not speaking to people as individuals but people as part of Israel and God’s people in the greater historical context. This is thinking that seems to be prevalent in the Bible and hence Israel’s particular tribal culture. Another example of this type of corporate non-individualist thinking appears in the prayer that Daniel makes for Israel in Daniel 9. Paul then uses this to establish that everyone is guilty. However, he notes that different people will be judged in different ways:
12 All who have sinned apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but the doers of the law who will be justified. 14 When Gentiles, who do not possess the law, do instinctively what the law requires, these, though not having the law, are a law to themselves. 15 They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, to which their own conscience also bears witness; and their conflicting thoughts will accuse or perhaps excuse them 16 on the day when, according to my gospel, God, through Jesus Christ, will judge the secret thoughts of all.
17 But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast of your relation to God 18 and know his will and determine what is best because you are instructed in the law, 19 and if you are sure that you are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, 20 a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth, 21 you, then, that teach others, will you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? 22 You that forbid adultery, do you commit adultery? You that abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You that boast in the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? 24 For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”
25 Circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law; but if you break the law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. 26 So, if those who are uncircumcised keep the requirements of the law, will not their uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? 27 Then those who are physically uncircumcised but keep the law will condemn you that have the written code and circumcision but break the law. 28 For a person is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is true circumcision something external and physical. 29 Rather, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly, and real circumcision is a matter of the heart—it is spiritual and not literal. Such a person receives praise not from others but from God. (Romans 2:12-29)
Verse 2:27 is more literally translated as:
27 and the uncircumcision, by nature, fulfilling the law, shall judge thee who, through letter and circumcision, [art] a transgressor of law. 28 For he is not a Jew who is [so] outwardly, neither [is] circumcision that which is outward in flesh; 29 but a Jew [is] he who is [so] inwardly, and circumcision [is] of the heart, in spirit, not in letter, of which the praise is not of men, but of God. (Romans 2:27-29 YLT)
Notice how “letter”, “flesh”, and “outward” are contrasted with “spirit”, “spiritual” and “inward.” The school of Hillel was lenient and followed the “spirit” of the law while Shammai followed the “letter” of the law and was strict. Yeshua seems to side with Hillel most of the time. Also, the school of Hillel accused Shammai of following after flesh and blood and not after spirit with regards to the kingdom of God. (more on this later) Circumcision here may refer to the group distinction rather than the physical sign. (you could be circumcised but still not be considered Jewish, this will be discussed in another article) If it does refer to physical circumcision it may be saying that he who fails to keep the requirements of the law loses the right to bear the physical sign of circumcision. (Essentially: physical circumcision has become hypocrisy.) Paul says that circumcision benefits in some way but he is not saying this is a matter of salvation. He seems to refer to it as one of identity and representation.
Another interpretation of the spirit/inward versus letter/flesh/outward is that it is analogously contrasting Sinai with the new covenant. Sinai brought curses which lead to death, and Sinai only had writing not the spirit to write the law on the heart. The holy spirit is given as an assurance of the promises of Abraham:
13 In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; 14 this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:13-14)
The new covenant and Sinai are used as analogies for how to relate to the law and salvation. If you are looking at salvation through the lens of Sinai you are trying to observe “works of law” to attain it. These are outward signs such as circumcision that will let God recognize you as being different from pagans. However, God looks at the heart. If you are looking at salvation through the new covenant lens then you recognize that the law does not save you but grace. Just as Israel is saved by God’s grace through the spirit writing the law on their hearts. The law is observed as thankfulness for the salvation you have by grace through faith. This is also a difference between and inward and outward focus: the heart or the letter. Also Jeremiah says that God will write the law in the new covenant on their inward parts:
But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.(Jeremiah 31:33)
1 Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision? 2 Much, in every way. For in the first place the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God. (Romans 3:1-2)
Here we see that the Jews have an advantage because they were raised in the oracles of God, not from the specific act of circumcision. If this refers to physical circumcision it seems to refer to them who were circumcised on the eighth day, not those who would convert and become circumcised as adults. If this refers to physical circumcision there are some questions this raises about whether circumcision was actually required by the law for adults: “So, if those who are uncircumcised keep the requirements of the law, will not their uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision?” might imply a negative answer but Paul later uses the same Greek word to talk about fulfilling the law through being justified by Christ:
2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and to deal with sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 so that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:2-5)
This leaves the meaning uncertain. Even if Paul did say something positive or negative about adult physical circumcision we would need to evaluate the context in which he said it. If Paul said something negative we must ask: could he just be referring to its irrelevance to salvation? If positive we must ask: in what sense? as a requirement that fulfills part of the law? or as a sign of being raised in the oracles of God? This is beyond the scope to get into detail I just want you to know that this question exists. I do not believe adult circumcision is required in any way but only if one wants to eat of the Passover sacrifice, see: Exodus 12:48. This is not something someone should do right away since they will be counted as native born when they do it. Rather, it is something someone should do after they have learned and gotten used to observing the Torah, so for gentiles circumcision is indeed an outward observance that does not have to do with salvation since the only circumcision command required in their case is to circumcise their children–if their father did not circumcise them then it is his fault not their’s. Let’s continue:
3 What if some were unfaithful? Will their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? 4 By no means! Although everyone is a liar, let God be proved true, as it is written,
“So that you may be justified in your words, and prevail in your judging.”
5 But if our injustice serves to confirm the justice of God, what should we say? That God is unjust to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.) 6 By no means! For then how could God judge the world? 7 But if through my falsehood God’s truthfulness abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner? 8 And why not say (as some people slander us by saying that we say), “Let us do evil so that good may come”? Their condemnation is deserved! (Romans 3:3-8)
Here Paul is saying that God is just, whether or not people, even Jews, believe in God. Commenting in more detail would be irrelevant to the topic. In the following, we see that Paul does indeed view his previous arguments as putting everyone “under (the results of) sin.”
9 What then? Are we any better off? No, not at all; for we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under the power of sin, 10 as it is written:
“There is no one who is righteous, not even one; 11 there is no one who has understanding, there is no one who seeks God. 12 All have turned aside, together they have become worthless; there is no one who shows kindness, there is not even one.” 13 “Their throats are opened graves; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of vipers is under their lips.” 14 “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.” 15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16 ruin and misery are in their paths, 17 and the way of peace they have not known.” 18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For “no human being will be justified in his sight” by deeds prescribed by the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin. (Romans 3:9-20)
Paul is not pulling out of the air: “no human being will be justified in his sight.” Paul gets this from Psalm 143:
1 Hear my prayer, O Lord; give ear to my supplications in your faithfulness; answer me in your righteousness. 2 Do not enter into judgment with your servant, for no one living is righteous before you. (Psalm 143:1-2)
Paul starts his quotations with Psalm 14 (also see the almost identical Psalm 53). Psalm 14 begins:
Fools say in their hearts, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds; there is no one who does good.(Psalm 14:1)
Maybe Paul is making the point that goodness only comes from God and that God can only justify man. The fool who uses the lack of God to justify his actions is an example of this. One might say: “man – God = sin”
2 The Lord looks down from heaven on humankind to see if there are any who are wise, who seek after God.
3 They have all gone astray, they are all alike perverse; there is no one who does good, no, not one. (Psalms 14:2-3)
Is it broadening the context or still talking about fools that reject God? I think the latter. Paul goes on to say that since man without God cannot do good we cannot be justified by God except by grace. Adam (as a representative of humanity) had sinned causing all to suffer for it, Israel (as priesthood to the world) had broken Sinai hence imparting the curses of not following the law to all God’s followers. What could solve this problem? Since we were unable to write the law on our own hearts God would do it for us. Compare the following:
32 It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. 33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write H3738 it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more. (Jeremiah 31:32-34)
You shall put these words of mine in your heart and soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and fix them as an emblem on your forehead. (Deuteronomy 11:18)
It is true that the law was in their hearts in some sense in Deuteronomy 30:
No, the word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart H3824 for you to observe.(Deut 30:14)
However this seems to be about a future occurrence if you look at the context:
1 When all these things have happened to you, the blessings and the curses that I have set before you, if you call them to mind among all the nations where the Lord your God has driven you, 2 and return to the Lord your God, and you and your children obey him with all your heart and with all your soul, just as I am commanding you today, 3 then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you, gathering you again from all the peoples among whom the Lord your God has scattered you. 4 Even if you are exiled to the ends of the world, from there the Lord your God will gather you, and from there he will bring you back. 5 The Lord your God will bring you into the land that your ancestors possessed, and you will possess it; he will make you more prosperous and numerous than your ancestors.
6 Moreover, the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, in order that you may live. 7 The Lord your God will put all these curses on your enemies and on the adversaries who took advantage of you. 8 Then you shall again obey the Lord, observing all his commandments that I am commanding you today, 9 and the Lord your God will make you abundantly prosperous in all your undertakings, in the fruit of your body, in the fruit of your livestock, and in the fruit of your soil. For the Lord will again take delight in prospering you, just as he delighted in prospering your ancestors, 10 when you obey the Lord your God by observing his commandments and decrees that are written in this book of the law, because you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. (Deuteronomy 30:1-13)
This seems to be a covenant for God to make the law easy to observe in the future with Israel as a collective–not in the present. So the covenant at Moab in Deuteronomy 30 seems to be a promise of the new covenant work in Jeremiah 31. There are also several differences with the wording in Jeremiah 31:33
1 God puts the law in the heart and not man. (hence grace)
2 The law is “written” now. (possibly suggesting more permanence)
3 It adds “put My law in their minds H7130” (a totally different word than h3824 for “heart” in Deut 30:14)
4 Tim Hegg has observed that the new covenant is a nationalistic covenant with both houses of Israel. Therefore the idea of Israel being united and following the law seems to be part of what makes it new since throughout the Bible Israel and even the good kings are described as failing in various respects.
Considering points one and two we can observe some significance attributed to the writing instrument used and of the writing surface:
The sin of Judah is written H3789 with an iron pen; with a diamond point it is engraved on the tablet of their hearts, and on the horns of their altars, (Jer 17:1)
O hope of Israel! O Lord! All who forsake you shall be put to shame; those who turn away from you shall be recorded H3789 in the underworld, for they have forsaken the fountain of living water, the Lord. (Jer 17:13)
It seems like God would have better instruments than us to write the law. Keil and Delitzsch in their commentary on Deut 10:6 make the observation that the writing surface will be entirely different as well:
The Lord will then circumcise their heart, and the heart of their children (see Deuteronomy 10:16), so that they will love Him with all their heart. When Israel should turn with true humility to the Lord, He would be found of them, – would lead them to true repentance, and sanctify them through the power of His grace, – would take away the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh, a new heart and a new spirit, – so that they should truly know Him and keep His commandments (vid., Ezekiel 11:19; Ezekiel 36:26; Jeremiah 31:33. and Deuteronomy 32:39.). “Because of thy life,” i.e., that thou mayest live, sc., attain to true life. The fulfilment of this promise does not take place all at once. It commenced with small beginnings at the deliverance from the Babylonian exile, and in a still higher degree at the appearance of Christ in the case of all the Israelites who received Him as their Saviour. Since then it has been carried on through all ages in the conversion of individual children of Abraham to Christ; and it will be realized in the future in a still more glorious manner in the nation at large (Romans 11:25.). The words of Moses do not relate to any particular age, but comprehend all times. For Israel has never been hardened and rejected in all its members, although the mass of the nation lives under the curse even to the present day. https://biblehub.com/commentaries/kad/deuteronomy/30.htm
However I think the covenant at Moab in Deuteronomy 30 is probably just referring to the same thing as Jeremiah 31 since although the wording is different the context is the same: Israel becoming a nation again, being able to observe the law, and having the law in their hearts. Knowing this may help us with the idea that in the final fulfillment of the new covenant “no man shall teach another.” Now lets read these two verses together that are positioned around Paul’s quotation:
9 What then? Are we any better off? No, not at all; for we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under the power of sin, 10 as it is written:
. . .
19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For “no human being will be justified in his sight” by deeds prescribed by the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin.
21 But now, apart from law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and is attested by the law and the prophets, 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, 23 since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; (Romans 3:19-23)
Verse 20 is more literally translated as:
wherefore by works of law shall no flesh be declared righteous before Him, for through law is a knowledge of sin. (Romans 3:20 YLT)
If “under the law” means “under the results of the law” then by charging that the whole world is “held accountable” Paul is saying that everyone is subject to the penalty of the law which is death. Here, Paul is implying that the cursings of the law given at Mount Sinai now fall on all of mankind. Essentially, the law + sin caused death, and this is part of the law “bringing knowledge of sin” which is why it states that through the law “sin might become exceedingly sinful” but this will be explained later. For now, observe how everyone is under (the results of) sin and hence “death:”
Everyone who commits sin is guilty of lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. (1 John 3:4)
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
15 See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity. 16 If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I am commanding you today, by loving the Lord your God, walking in his ways, and observing his commandments, decrees, and ordinances, then you shall live and become numerous, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to possess. 17 But if your heart turns away and you do not hear, but are led astray to bow down to other gods and serve them, 18 I declare to you today that you shall perish; you shall not live long in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. 19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, (Deuteronomy 30:15-19)
Grace and law go together because we need grace to be forgiven from transgressing the law. (sin)
21 But now, apart from law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and is attested by the law and the prophets, 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, 23 since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; (Romans 3:21-23)
Here “apart from the law” just means “apart from the deeds of the law” see below:
“Works prescribed by the law” is literally “works of the law.”
therefore do we reckon a man to be declared righteous by faith, apart from works of law. (Romans 3:28 YLT)
24 they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith. He did this to show his righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over the sins previously committed; 26 it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies the one who has faith in Jesus. 27 Then what becomes of boasting? It is excluded. By what law? By that of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that a person is justified by faith apart from works prescribed by the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since God is one; and he will justify the circumcised on the ground of faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. 31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law. (Romans 3:24-34)
The statement “law of faith” makes a bit more sense if you remember that “Torah” (the Hebrew word that Paul is referring to with the Greek “nomos”) can mean “instruction.” The “instruction of faith.” As for the meaning of “circumcision,” for now, just observe, that here, it could mean “Judaism” with all the rules and traditions that they followed in addition to the Torah. If Paul is saying that the law no longer applies to us his whole argument of us needing grace is complete nonsense. We no longer have the results of the law apply to us but it still defines God’s unchanging character, see here: http://www.the-ten-commandments.org/the-ten-commandments-god.html Moving on:
1 What then are we to say was gained by Abraham, our ancestor according to the flesh? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.” (Romans 4:1-3)
Paul here is contrasting the physical with spiritual and works with faith. However, these are simply two different ways of viewing your relationship with the law using the covenants of Sinai and the new covenant as analogies. If you believe in works then you are not being saved by grace. Just as Sinai kills Israel because they broke it the new covenant will bring life by allowing them to observe the law and attain the blessing of Sinai. He will also do this in Galatians 4 (we’ll see this later). We have works that show our faith but they are just a sign of our faith, works don’t save us. The physical sign of circumcision does not show the character or spirit of the person bearing it. Spirit (ruach) in Hebrew can also be translated as “wind” or “breath.” It is the same thing that animates a lifeless body with a given personality. Compare the following:
so that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. G4151 (Rom 8:4)
Her spirit H4151 returned, and she got up at once. Then he directed them to give her something to eat. (Luke 8:55)
8 And I beheld, and behold, upon them nerves and flesh germinated, and [2ascended 3upon 4them 1skin] above; but [2breath G4151 1there was no] in them. 9 And he said to me, Prophesy over the wind! G4151 Prophesy, O son of man, and say to the wind! G4151 Thus says the Lord the lord; From out of the four winds, G4151 come wind G4151 and breathe onto these dead, and let them live! 10 And I prophesied in so far as he gave charge to me, and [3entered 4into 5them 1the 2wind G4151], and they lived; and they stood upon their feet, [4gathering 3great 1a very 2exceedingly]. 11 And the lord spoke to me, saying, O son of man, these bones [2all 3the house 4of Israel 1are]. And they say, [4dry 3are 2bones 1Our]; [3is destroyed 2hope 1our]; we are perished. 12 On account of this prophesy and say! Thus says the Lord the lord; Behold, I shall open your tombs, and I shall lead you from out of your tombs, and I will bring you into the land of Israel. 13 And you shall know that I am the lord, by my opening your graves, for me to lead you from out of your graves, O my people. 14 And I will put my spirit G4151 into you, and you shall live. And I will put you upon your land, and you shall know that I the lord have spoken, and I will act, says the lord. (Ezekiel 37:8-11 ABP)
I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath H7307 came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude. (Eze 37:10) (H7307 can also be translated as “spirit”)
Rather, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly, and real circumcision is a matter of the heart—it is spiritual G4151 and not literal. Such a person receives praise not from others but from God. (Rom 2:29)
but a Jew [is] he who is [so] inwardly, and circumcision [is] of the heart, in spirit, G4151 not in letter, of which the praise is not of men, but of God. (Rom 2:29 YLT)
as it is written, “God gave them a sluggish spirit, G4151 eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear, down to this very day.” (Rom 11:8)
so that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. G4151 (Rom 8:4)
God seeks spirit and character, not physical appearance just as the new covenant makes Israel able to actively observe the law and puts the law in their hearts Sinai showed Israel the outward words of the law but did not put them inwardly on the heart so that Israel could act them out: this was Israel’s responsibility and regardless of whether they were able to write the law on their own hearts–they failed. For example, the temple and its rituals were physically impressive but Hebrews makes a list of its severe limitations which were eventually covered by Christ as our new high priest:
1 Now the main point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, 2 a minister in the sanctuary and the true tent that the Lord, and not any mortal, has set up. 3 For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; hence it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer. 4 Now if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since there are priests who offer gifts according to the law. 5 They offer worship in a sanctuary that is a sketch and shadow of the heavenly one; for Moses, when he was about to erect the tent, was warned, “See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.” 6 But Jesus has now obtained a more excellent ministry, and to that degree he is the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted through better promises. 7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no need to look for a second one.
8 God finds fault with them when he says:
“The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah; 9 not like the covenant that I made with their ancestors, on the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; for they did not continue in my covenant, and so I had no concern for them, says the Lord. (Hebrews 8:1-9)
Similarly, Stephen states the following:
44 “Our ancestors had the tent of testimony in the wilderness, as God directed when he spoke to Moses, ordering him to make it according to the pattern he had seen. 45 Our ancestors in turn brought it in with Joshua when they dispossessed the nations that God drove out before our ancestors. And it was there until the time of David, 46 who found favor with God and asked that he might find a dwelling place for the house of Jacob. 47 But it was Solomon who built a house for him. 48 Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made with human hands; as the prophet says,
49 ‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me, says the Lord, or what is the place of my rest? 50 Did not my hand make all these things?’
51 “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you are forever opposing the Holy Spirit, just as your ancestors used to do. (Acts 7:44-51)
Now we can compare this to these verses:
like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:5)
and ‘to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength,’ and ‘to love one’s neighbor as oneself,’—this is much more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” (Mark 12:33)
I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. (Romans 12:1)
Through him, then, let us continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name. (Hebrews 13:15)
Also, the context of the verses Stephen quotes in Acts 7 is from Isaiah 66 about having the right heart condition:
1 Thus says the Lord: Heaven is my throne and the earth is my footstool; what is the house that you would build for me, and what is my resting place? 2 All these things my hand has made, and so all these things are mine, says the Lord. But this is the one to whom I will look, to the humble and contrite in spirit, who trembles at my word. (Isaiah 66:1-2)
All this is to say that Paul contrasts things associated with the physical such as “works,” “letter,” and “flesh” with “faith,” “spirit,” and “writing on the heart.” The “heart” is associated with the new covenant where we will be given new hearts and the law will be written on our hearts. Let us continue with Romans 4:
4 Now to one who works, wages are not reckoned as a gift but as something due. 5 But to one who without works trusts him who justifies the ungodly, such faith is reckoned as righteousness. 6 So also David speaks of the blessedness of those to whom God reckons righteousness apart from works:
7 “Blessed are those whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; 8 blessed is the one against whom the Lord will not reckon sin.” (Romans 4:4-8)
Notice this is not about changing the law but about covering the transgression made against it. Paul is simply pointing out that if you make your salvation conditional on any action or any physical sign (manifestation of faith) you are not believing in salvation by grace just like Sinai gave the law in words outwardly but not the inward heart to do them. Again, this is all about how we have salvation despite the law applying to us:
9 Is this blessedness, then, pronounced only on the circumcised, or also on the uncircumcised? We say, “Faith was reckoned to Abraham as righteousness.” 10 How then was it reckoned to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised. 11 He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the ancestor of all who believe without being circumcised and who thus have righteousness reckoned to them, 12 and likewise the ancestor of the circumcised who are not only circumcised but who also follow the example of the faith that our ancestor Abraham had before he was circumcised. (Romans 4:9-12)
This sign of circumcision was for the faith that Abraham had not vice versa which means all people can be justified by faith whether they are circumcised or not. In Romans 4, we can easily forget the verse that comes before that chapter:
Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law. (Romans 3:31)
As for whether circumcision was required for gentiles converting there are several possibilities here: 1 circumcision is required for adults and the point is only that it is not a matter of salvation. 2 Circumcision was not required as an adult so it is not required for an individual to circumcise themselves except if they were going to eat the Passover sacrifice. 3 Circumcision means “Judaism” so it’s not even talking about circumcision literally. When Paul is talking about Abraham being declared righteous before he was circumcised he is saying that circumcision is just a sign, and the true circumcision is a circumcised heart. Note, there is no law commanding adults who join Israel to be circumcised (with the exception of eating the Passover sacrifice), only that you circumcise your son on the eighth day. I believe that option 2 is correct, and in this case what Paul is condemning is an outward appearance that has nothing to do with following God. Regardless of that we can say that Abraham was declared righteous because he believed, and while belief leads to obedience, the outward appearance of something is not to be confused with the heart condition, especially in the context of salvation.
13 For the promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith. 14 If it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. 15 For the law brings wrath; but where there is no law, neither is there violation. (Romans 4:13-15)
Again, being under sin + results of the law = punishment = death. Faith, as we have seen leads to justification which is needed to save us from condemnation. Hence, grace, as is made clear in the following:
16 For this reason it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants, not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham (for he is the father of all of us, 17 as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”)—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. 18 Hoping against hope, he believed that he would become “the father of many nations,” according to what was said, “So numerous shall your descendants be.” 19 He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was already as good as dead (for he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. 20 No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. 22 Therefore his faith “was reckoned to him as righteousness.” 23 Now the words, “it was reckoned to him,” were written not for his sake alone, 24 but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25 who was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification. (Romans 4:16-25)
Again all that is going on here is that we are being promised redemption and we are not earning it by doing any specific works in the law:
1 Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. 8 But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. 9 Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. 11 But more than that, we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death came through sin, and so death spread to all because all have sinned— 13 sin was indeed in the world before the law, but sin is not reckoned when there is no law. (Romans 5:1-13)
Again sin + law = penalty = death. This means we need grace. The same idea is made clear in the following:
14 Yet death exercised dominion from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sins were not like the transgression of Adam, who is a type of the one who was to come.
15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died through the one man’s trespass, much more surely have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, abounded for the many. 16 And the free gift is not like the effect of the one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brings justification. 17 If, because of the one man’s trespass, death exercised dominion through that one, much more surely will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness exercise dominion in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.
18 Therefore just as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all. 19 For just as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. (Romans 5:14-19)
Again, without the law still applying to us this argument is nonsense.
20 But law came in, with the result that the trespass multiplied; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, just as sin exercised dominion in death, so grace might also exercise dominion through justification leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 5:20-21)
The law was given so that sin would become painfully apparent or obvious. Paul, now has to explain why we need to not sin even without being under (the results of) the law because this means the penalties of the law won’t fall on us:
What then are we to say? Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin go on living in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For whoever has died is freed from sin. 8 But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
12 Therefore, do not let sin exercise dominion in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. 13 No longer present your members to sin as instruments of wickedness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and present your members to God as instruments of righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. 15 What then? Should we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! (Romans 6:1-15)
Commenting on all of this is beyond the scope here. For now let’s look at the starting and ending verses to further establish our theory of what “under the law” means:
1 What then are we to say? Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound? 2 By no means! . . .
15 What then? Should we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! (Romans 6:1-15)
The law still applies because grace abounds when we sin. Also, why would we start to sin simply because we are not “under the law?” If “not under the law” means the entire law no longer applies then we can’t sin . . . If we are now under a “law of love” (as some argue) which has no specific rules, just “anything we consider loving” why would not being under the old law imply we might break this law of love? However, if “under the law” means “under the results of the law” and by implication “under the penalty of the law” (because of all being under sin) then we might be tempted to sin because there are no more law-related results/consequences for sin. Paul relates the reason we do not continue in sin to the fact that we serve God and not sin:
16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that you, having once been slaves of sin, have become obedient from the heart to the form of teaching to which you were entrusted, 18 and that you, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to greater and greater iniquity, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness for sanctification.
20 When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 So what advantage did you then get from the things of which you now are ashamed? The end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been freed from sin and enslaved to God, the advantage you get is sanctification. The end is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:16-23)
Believers even in the old testament were always intended to be under grace: Daniel 9:18; Gen. 6:8; Ex. 33:12, 17; Judges 6:17f; Jer. 31:2. However, Israel broke the covenant and the northern kingdom was divorced by God and yet Israel was promised to be restored:
She saw that for all the adulteries of that faithless one, Israel, I had sent her away with a decree of divorce; yet her false sister Judah did not fear, but she too went and played the whore. (Jer 3:8)
How would God restore Israel? This is what Jews expected the messiah to do. Paul uses an analogy here to explain this. Notice, the relation to Israel as a whole is easier to see if you remember that Paul is talking to people as being part of their larger groups in the greater historical context:
1 Or do you not know, brethren (for I speak to those who know the law), that the law has dominion over a man as long as he lives? 2 For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband. 3 So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man. 4 Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God. 5 For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death. 6 But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.
7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. For apart from the law sin was dead. 9 I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died. 10 And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death. 11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me. 12 Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good. (Romans 7:1-12)
Several things to notice here: 1. It is through our death that we become free from the condemnation of the Torah, not that the Torah dies in any way because it is specifically talking about the condemnation of the law and not of it ceasing to be: “she will be called an adulteress . . . she is no adulteress” 2. The law is good. 3. The law makes us aware of our sin 4. Without the law, sin could not cause punishment 5. The letter is contrasted with the spirit which are different ways of relating to the law. This is again an analogy between Sinai and new covenant. 6. Sin taking the opportunity of the commandment killed him . . . what does that mean? I think he’s using an analogy here. Sin is clearly being talked about as bringing curses/death through punishment. However, Paul is still alive therefore his idea of being righteous on his own has to be what was killed, allowing him to accept grace. Let’s read on:
Did what is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, working death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. (Romans 7:13)
The commandment showed sin as sin and it made it [appear] sinful beyond measure. (it made it obvious) I inserted “appear” to make it make more sense. However, if you know that “sin” can also mean “guilt” you’ll understand better how this happening:
ἁμαρτία,-ας+ N1F 186-54-94-92-119=545 Gn 15,16; 18,20; 20,9; 41,9; 42,21 guilt, sin Gn 15,16; sin-offering Lv 4,33 Cf. COX 1990, 119-130; DANIEL, S. 1966, 301-328; HARL 1986a, 62.63; HARLÉ 1988, 33; LE BOULLUEC 1989 294.297; →NIDNTT; TWNT http://www.glasovipisma.pbf.rs/phocadownload/knjige/greek%20lexicon%20for%20the%20septuagint.pdf
Here, “guilt” makes sense as a translation for the last two occurrences of sin. Try this reading:
Did what is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, working death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be [guilt], and through the commandment might become [guilty] beyond measure. (Romans 7:13)
It continues in the same vein lamenting guilt/sin:
14 For we know that the law is spiritual; but I am of the flesh, sold into slavery under sin. 15 I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. 17 But in fact it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me.
21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, 23 but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, with my mind I am a slave to the law of God, but with my flesh I am a slave to the law of sin. (Romans 7:14-25)
Again remember “law of” could mean “instruction of” and this is pretty self-explanatory and backs up the law being good. Everyone should still try to live by the law but when we fail to do this is where grace covers us. Paul continues to contrast the spirit with the flesh:
1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and to deal with sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 so that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law—indeed it cannot, 8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
9 But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.
12 So then, brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— 13 for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. 15 For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.(Romans 8:1-17)
Paul then harkens back to his quote of Habakkuk seeming to refer to the trials of Israel as a whole before it would be restored:
18 I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; 20 for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; 23 and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. (Romans 8:18-25)
The context of Paul’s quote of Habakkuk is promised sufferings in the near future with redemption from the Chaldeans and other nations in the end. Paul continues to encourage patient endurance and hope:
26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. 27 And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified. 31 What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? 33 Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. 35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.” (Romans 8:26-36)
The last verse is a quote from Psalm 44 which promises present troubles but hopes for future redemption. It also mentions Israel being scattered among the nations and asks God to rescue them. (a possible reference to Israel being reformed)
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:37-39)
Here Paul also makes the point of the irresistible nature of God’s grace that nothing physical can separate us from it, again relating it to his theme of contrasting physical and spiritual. Now, lets continue with the context in Galatians:
yet we know that a person is justified not by the works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ. And we have come to believe in Christ Jesus, so that we might be justified by faith in Christ, and not by doing the works of the law, because no one will be justified by the works of the law. (Gal 2:16)
The Essene MMT document argues that certain works of the law could justify you associates this with separation and purity.  (Paul was refuting this in some of his letters) This backs up one position of E.P. Sanders in his reading of 1st century Judaism in “The New Perspective on Paul” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Perspective_on_Paul He says that many Jews believed that by separating themselves from impurity and observing certain laws that they considered boundary markers of their distinctiveness among the nations would allow God to show his grace to them and save them. Those who didn’t observe these boundary markers had to be separated from. “Pharisee” means “separate.” This explains why issues of salvation and issues of separation or table fellowship are often mentioned together like they are the same thing. Here, in Galatians 2 Paul is simply making the point that law cannot justify you since we know that Christ justifies us and that is well accepted among us.
17 But if, in our effort to be justified in Christ, we ourselves have been found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 18 But if I build up again the very things that I once tore down, then I demonstrate that I am a transgressor.(Gal 2:17-18)
Galatians 2:17-18 is a reductio ad absurdum to the position of “works of the law” that “if seeking to be declared righteous in Christ, we ourselves also were found sinners” is saying that if we have Christ but we still need works of the law then Christ has misled us and caused us to sin.
19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; 20 and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God; for if justification comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing. (Galatians 2:19-21)
Here “through the law I died to the law” means that the law kills our idea of being self-righteous and of saving ourselves. Once we die to self, we can accept a savior outside of ourselves and paradoxically live more in line with the law which is part of the work of grace as Titus 2:11-14 explains:
11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, 12 training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. 14 He it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds. (Titus 2:11-14)
The word for “iniquity” is literally “lawlessness”
who did give himself for us, that he might ransom us from all lawlessness, and might purify to himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works; (Titus 2:14 YLT)
In addition, this may be because we are no longer being righteous in a self serving way. Without knowledge of sin we cannot humble ourselves and repent which is reflected in several old testament references describing what behavior God’s people will have to have if they are to be forgiven. (this will be alluded to later) This idea is developed in Galatians 3:
10 For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all the things written in the book of the law.” 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law; for “The one who is righteous will live by faith.” 12 But the law does not rest on faith; on the contrary, “Whoever does the works of the law will live by them.” (Gal 3:10-12)
Here Paul relates the law to the cursings added at Sinai so we see “the law” in the general sense of “the first five books” or “God’s instructions” is not applicable here; rather it is a specific part of the instructions which started at the Sinai covenant. I’ll explain, there are many parts of the first five books which give instructions to God’s people and give unconditional promises like in the Abrahamic covenants in Gen 15,17 and 22. However, here “the law” seems to reflect curses and blessings, life and death, which started at Sinai:
The Lord spoke to Moses, saying:
2 Speak to the people of Israel and say to them: I am the Lord your God. 3 You shall not do as they do in the land of Egypt, where you lived, and you shall not do as they do in the land of Canaan, to which I am bringing you. You shall not follow their statutes. 4 My ordinances you shall observe and my statutes you shall keep, following them: I am the Lord your God. 5 You shall keep my statutes and my ordinances; by doing so one shall live: I am the Lord. (Lev 18: 1-5)
11 I gave them my statutes and showed them my ordinances, by whose observance everyone shall live. 12 Moreover I gave them my sabbaths, as a sign between me and them, so that they might know that I the Lord sanctify them. (Ezekiel 20:11-12)
God promised the inheritance to Abraham with no strings attached but the law at Sinai came with blessings and cursings and was conditional on them following the law. Let’s see if this theory holds up:
16 Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring; it does not say, “And to offsprings,” as of many; but it says, “And to your offspring,” that is, to one person, who is Christ. 17 My point is this: the law, which came four hundred thirty years later, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise. 18 For if the inheritance comes from the law, it no longer comes from the promise; but God granted it to Abraham through the promise. (Gal 3:16-18)
Here we see “law” is used in a specific context for that which was given at Sinai after Abraham “four hundred and thirty years later” he’s clearly distinguishing this from the other parts of the old covenant such as the Abrahamic covenants: “cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ” He’s not saying they are separate, those covenants/instructions all apply to us but Paul is using law specifically to refer to the blessings and cursings in this context starting at Sinai.
19 Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring would come to whom the promise had been made; and it was ordained through angels by a mediator. 20 Now a mediator involves more than one party; but God is one. (Gal 3:19-20)
Here clearly it says the law was given because of transgression. We see this in several ways, 1 it was given with a penal system to punish transgression, 2 it was given with a priesthood to atone for transgression. However, is this what Paul means?
21 Is the law then opposed to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could make alive, then righteousness would indeed come through the law. 22 But the scripture has imprisoned all things under the power of sin, so that what was promised through faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.
23 Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed. 24 Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian, (Gal 3:21-25)
Here we see the third purpose relating to transgression for which the law was given: to make people aware of their transgression. Without humility and acknowledgment of sin, we cannot come to Christ and accept grace. Once you leave a tutor and go to university the tutor’s more elementary teachings should still hold (otherwise you went to a bad tutor). No longer being under the tutor means no longer being under the law. This means you know you are not righteous (since the law taught you that) and therefore you are no longer trying to justify yourself by doing the law which means the law is no longer needed to teach you that you need grace through its punishments: you already know you deserve punishment. This is shown clearly through the history of the curses that God brought on Israel. Israel can’t claim they are righteous on their own after breaking the law and being put through its curses. Hence being “under (the results of) the law” while being “under sin” means being “under the results of sin” and hence “under the penalty of the law.”
26 for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. 27 As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise. (Gal 3:26-29)
Paul relates Christ to the unconditional promises to Abraham as distinguished from the covenants starting at Sinai. Does this mean the Sinai covenant is no longer valid for us? No, if it isn’t valid for us then it makes Paul’s whole argument absolute nonsense: we don’t need Christ to save us from a penalty of a law that is no longer valid. To further establish this distinction lets jump ahead and look at what Paul says later:
22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and the other by a free woman. 23 One, the child of the slave, was born according to the flesh; the other, the child of the free woman, was born through the promise. 24 Now this is an allegory: these women are two covenants. One woman, in fact, is Hagar, from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery. 25 Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children.(Galatians 4:22-25)
Why is being “under (the results of) the law” related to Mount Sinai? Because that is where the curses and hence death started to be piled up and while being “under (the results of) sin” those curses will fall us:
14 But if you will not obey me, and do not observe all these commandments, 15 if you spurn my statutes, and abhor my ordinances, so that you will not observe all my commandments, and you break my covenant, 16 I in turn will do this to you: I will bring terror on you; consumption and fever that waste the eyes and cause life to pine away. You shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it. 17 I will set my face against you, and you shall be struck down by your enemies; your foes shall rule over you, and you shall flee though no one pursues you. 18 And if in spite of this you will not obey me, I will continue to punish you sevenfold for your sins. 19 I will break your proud glory, and I will make your sky like iron and your earth like copper. 20 Your strength shall be spent to no purpose: your land shall not yield its produce, and the trees of the land shall not yield their fruit. 21 If you continue hostile to me, and will not obey me, I will continue to plague you sevenfold for your sins. 22 I will let loose wild animals against you, and they shall bereave you of your children and destroy your livestock; they shall make you few in number, and your roads shall be deserted. 23 If in spite of these punishments you have not turned back to me, but continue hostile to me, 24 then I too will continue hostile to you: I myself will strike you sevenfold for your sins. 25 I will bring the sword against you, executing vengeance for the covenant; and if you withdraw within your cities, I will send pestilence among you, and you shall be delivered into enemy hands. 26 When I break your staff of bread, ten women shall bake your bread in a single oven, and they shall dole out your bread by weight; and though you eat, you shall not be satisfied.
27 But if, despite this, you disobey me, and continue hostile to me, 28 I will continue hostile to you in fury; I in turn will punish you myself sevenfold for your sins. 29 You shall eat the flesh of your sons, and you shall eat the flesh of your daughters. 30 I will destroy your high places and cut down your incense altars; I will heap your carcasses on the carcasses of your idols. I will abhor you. 31 I will lay your cities waste, will make your sanctuaries desolate, and I will not smell your pleasing odors. 32 I will devastate the land, so that your enemies who come to settle in it shall be appalled at it. 33 And you I will scatter among the nations, and I will unsheathe the sword against you; your land shall be a desolation, and your cities a waste.
34 Then the land shall enjoy its sabbath years as long as it lies desolate, while you are in the land of your enemies; then the land shall rest, and enjoy its sabbath years. 35 As long as it lies desolate, it shall have the rest it did not have on your sabbaths when you were living on it. 36 And as for those of you who survive, I will send faintness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies; the sound of a driven leaf shall put them to flight, and they shall flee as one flees from the sword, and they shall fall though no one pursues. 37 They shall stumble over one another, as if to escape a sword, though no one pursues; and you shall have no power to stand against your enemies. 38 You shall perish among the nations, and the land of your enemies shall devour you. 39 And those of you who survive shall languish in the land of your enemies because of their iniquities; also they shall languish because of the iniquities of their ancestors.
40 But if they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their ancestors, in that they committed treachery against me and, moreover, that they continued hostile to me— 41 so that I, in turn, continued hostile to them and brought them into the land of their enemies; if then their uncircumcised heart is humbled and they make amends for their iniquity, 42 then will I remember my covenant with Jacob; I will remember also my covenant with Isaac and also my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land. 43 For the land shall be deserted by them, and enjoy its sabbath years by lying desolate without them, while they shall make amends for their iniquity, because they dared to spurn my ordinances, and they abhorred my statutes. 44 Yet for all that, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not spurn them, or abhor them so as to destroy them utterly and break my covenant with them; for I am the Lord their God; 45 but I will remember in their favor the covenant with their ancestors whom I brought out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations, to be their God: I am the Lord.
46 These are the statutes and ordinances and laws that the Lord established between himself and the people of Israel on Mount Sinai through Moses. (Lev 26:14-46)
4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. (Galatians 4:4-5)
Christ is said to be born “under (the results of) the law” because he was born into a world where the cursing from mount Sinai could still be applied to God’s people.
Knowing this we can continue reading Galatians 4:
1 My point is this: heirs, as long as they are minors, are no better than slaves, though they are the owners of all the property; 2 but they remain under guardians and trustees until the date set by the father. 3 So with us; while we were minors, we were enslaved to the elemental spirits of the world. 4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. (Gal 4:1-5)
“Elements of this world” is interesting. He’s contrasting being redeemed from under the law with being in bondage to the “elements of this world.”
The root of the word G4747 for “elements” is G4748 and is in the Septuagint:
στοιχέω+ V 0-0-0-1-0=1 Eccl 11,6 to prosper, to go on to sprout Cf. HORSLEY 1982, 97; →NIDNTT; TWNT
This is clearly not referring to the law of God as the same word is used to describe the traditions of men in the same book. Here’s the usage in the new testament (there is none in the Septuagint version of the Tanakh )
But now, having known God, but rather having been known by God, how do you return again unto the weak and poor elements, G4747 in which again, as at the beginning [2to serve 1you want]? (Gal 4:9 ABP)
8 Take heed lest [2anyone 4you 1there shall be 3robbing] through the fondness of intellectual pursuits and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elements G4747 of the world, and not according to Christ! (Colossians 2:8 ABP)
If then you died with the Christ from the elements G4747 of the world, why as living in the world do you subject yourselves to decrees? (Col 2:20 ABP)
For though you ought to be teachers because of the time, again [2need 1you have] of one to teach you what are the elements G4747 of the beginning of the oracles of God; and you have become [2need 1having] of milk, and not of solid nourishment. (Hebrews 5:12)
But shall come the day of the Lord as a thief in the night, in which the heavens by a loud noise shall pass away, and the elements G4747 being destroyed by fire shall be loosed; and the earth and the [2in 3it 1works] shall be incinerated. (2 Peter 3:10 ABP)
expecting and hastening the arrival of the day of God, by which the heavens being set on fire shall be loosed, and the elements G4747 being destroyed by fire shall melt away? (2 Peter 3:12 ABP)
“World” or “kosmos” (G2889) is the other word and is also used for “ornaments:”
κόσμος,-ου+ N2M 5-2-17-5-43=72 Gn 2,1; Ex 33,5.6; Dt 4,19; 17,3 world, universe Prv 17,6a; world, earth 2 Mc 3,12; world, mankind Wis 2,24; ornament, decoration Ex 33,5; honour, delight Prv 28,17a *Gn 2,1 ὁ κόσμος ornamentation-◊צבה or-צבי for MT ◊צבא host, army, see also Dt 4,19, 17,3, Is 24,21, 40,26, Sir 50,19; *2 Sm 1,24 μετὰ κόσμου ὑμῶν with your ornaments-עם־עדיכן for MT עם־עדנים with luxury, with ornaments Cf. DOGNIEZ 1992, 138; HARL 1986a, 98; SCHMITT 1974, 152; →MM; NIDNTT; TWNT http://www.glasovipisma.pbf.rs/phocadownload/knjige/greek%20lexicon%20for%20the%20septuagint.pdf
Paul says we are crucified to the world through Christ. This other word also can’t be talking about some divine law:
14 But for me may it not be to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom to me the world has been crucified, and I to the world G2889.(Gal 6:12 ABP)
And [6were completed 1the 2heaven 3and 4the 5earth], and all the cosmos of them. (Genesis 2:1)
5 And the lord said to the sons of Israel, You are a people hard-necked; see that [2do not 5calamity 4another 1I 3bring] upon you! and should completely consume you. Now then remove [2apparels 1your glorious], and the ornament! and I will show to you what I will do to you. 6 And [4removed 1the 2sons 3of Israel] their ornamentation, and the attire at the mountain of Horeb. (Exodus 33:5-6 ABP)
It continues in the same fashion:
6 And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God.
8 Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to beings that by nature are not gods. 9 Now, however, that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and beggarly elemental spirits? How can you want to be enslaved to them again? 10 You are observing special days, and months, and seasons, and years. 11 I am afraid that my work for you may have been wasted. (Gal 4:6-11)
Commenting on verses 12-20 is beyond the scope here so we will skip ahead. Here we start out with the verse that caused us to ask the question “what does under the law mean?” in the first place:
21 Tell me, you who desire to be subject to the law, will you not listen to the law? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and the other by a free woman. 23 One, the child of the slave, was born according to the flesh; the other, the child of the free woman, was born through the promise. 24 Now this is an allegory: these women are two covenants. One woman, in fact, is Hagar, from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery. 25 Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. (Gal 4:21-25)
Notice that Paul is using symbolism here and the majority of translations here use “allegory” or “illustration.” If Paul is suddenly going to tell us that we don’t need to follow the law–here is not the place to do it, it would too easily be misunderstood as figurative. Let’s get into the allegory: the reason the Jerusalem at that time was in bondage was because they weren’t accepting the grace of Christ and they were trying to justify themselves through “works of the law.” Doing this makes the curses of the law fall on you. God instead wanted Israel to “acknowledge their iniquity as it says in Jeremiah 3:13-15:
But the other woman corresponds to the Jerusalem above; she is free, and she is our mother. (Gal 4:26)
The reason the Jerusalem above is free is that by acknowledging their iniquity God will redeem Israel from the curses of breaking the covenant. The law is the thing that “brings knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20) and again we see that grace and law go together. To explain more fully, let’s continue:
27 For it is written,
“Rejoice, you childless one, you who bear no children, burst into song and shout, you who endure no birth pangs; for the children of the desolate woman are more numerous than the children of the one who is married.” (Gal 4:27)
Here we see a picture of Israel being restored being quoted from Isaiah 54:
7 For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with great compassion I will gather you. 8 In overflowing wrath for a moment I hid my face from you, but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you, says the Lord, your Redeemer.
9 This is like the days of Noah to me: Just as I swore that the waters of Noah would never again go over the earth, so I have sworn that I will not be angry with you and will not rebuke you. 10 For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed, says the Lord, who has compassion on you. (Isaiah 54:7-10)
Things to notice here: 1 God will keep this covenant of peace with them no matter what. 2 God keeping this covenant is based on mercy not on anything that they did 3 It is a promise like God made not to destroy the earth with water any longer so it was certainly not based on anything humanity did. When God made that promise there was no time for humanity to do anything after the flood to prove that it wouldn’t be corrupted again.
40 But if they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their ancestors, in that they committed treachery against me and, moreover, that they continued hostile to me— 41 so that I, in turn, continued hostile to them and brought them into the land of their enemies; if then their uncircumcised heart is humbled and they make amends for their iniquity, 42 then will I remember my covenant with Jacob; I will remember also my covenant with Isaac and also my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land. 43 For the land shall be deserted by them, and enjoy its sabbath years by lying desolate without them, while they shall make amends for their iniquity, because they dared to spurn my ordinances, and they abhorred my statutes. 44 Yet for all that, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not spurn them, or abhor them so as to destroy them utterly and break my covenant with them; for I am the Lord their God; 45 but I will remember in their favor the covenant with their ancestors whom I brought out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations, to be their God: I am the Lord. (Lev 26:40-45)
12 Go, and proclaim these words toward the north, and say:
Return, faithless Israel, says the Lord. I will not look on you in anger, for I am merciful, says the Lord; I will not be angry forever. 13 Only acknowledge your guilt, that you have rebelled against the Lord your God, and scattered your favors among strangers under every green tree, and have not obeyed my voice, says the Lord. 14 Return, O faithless children, says the Lord, for I am your master; I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion. (Jeremiah 3:12-14)
As mentioned earlier, if they humble themselves and accept their guilt God will not bring death (i.e. the curses for breaking the covenant at mount Sinai) Again, notice Sinai is not the only covenant in the line of covenants with God’s people. There are the covenants with Abraham’s descendants is Gen 15, 17 and 22 and the covenant at Moab apart from the one at Horeb (Sinai) in Deuteronomy 29. However, Paul picks Sinai when talking about being under the penalty of the law and Sinai was the place where the penalties were laid out including the judicial penal system and the laws of the priesthood and the tabernacle for atoning for sin. (“the law was added because of transgression”) Paul continues:
28 Now you, my friends, are children of the promise, like Isaac. 29 But just as at that time the child who was born according to the flesh persecuted the child who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now also. (Gal 4:28-29)
“even so it is now” clearly states that this is contrasting the ones persecuting “the way” with those of “the way” (part of this would later become known as Christianity) Paul actually participated in this persecution. You can confirm this by seeing the usage of the word in Galatians:
You have heard, no doubt, of my earlier life in Judaism. I was violently persecuting G1377 the church of God and was trying to destroy it.(Gal 1:13 NRSV)
they only heard it said, “The one who formerly was persecuting G1377 us is now proclaiming the faith he once tried to destroy.” (Gal 1:23 NRSV)
But just as at that time the child who was born according to the flesh persecuted G1377 the child who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now also. (Gal 4:29 YLT)
But my friends, why am I still being persecuted G1377 if I am still preaching circumcision? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. (Gal 5:11 NRSV)
It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh that try to compel you to be circumcised—only that they may not be persecuted G1377 for the cross of Christ. (Gal 6:22 NRSV)
If Paul is saying that we no longer should keep the law he is doing a terrible job of it since the early Church was made up of a mixture of those who totally kept the law and those that didn’t (as evidenced by Acts 15) In addition since Christ almost always sided with Hillel the analogy of spirit and letter also fits here. Paul is instead continuing to contrast the physical with the spiritual as he did with circumcision earlier:
Are you so foolish? Having started with the Spirit, are you now ending with the flesh? (Gal 3:3)
This part is interesting:
30 But what does the scripture say? “Drive out the slave and her child; for the child of the slave will not share the inheritance with the child of the free woman.” 31 So then, friends, we are children, not of the slave but of the free woman. (Gal 4:30-31)
Here some people jump to the conclusion that since we are not “of” the bondwoman we no longer should keep the rules at Sinai. There are a few things to remember here: 1 he started off with the context of those who wish to be “under the law” and this is caused by using “works of the law” to justify yourself (we have already discussed this) 2 This is allegorical. 3 This can’t be only about the old and new covenant because of how he says the people of the bondwomen are persecuting the people that are free even now. In addition, Paul is not just contrasting the new covenant and the old covenant because the freewoman is symbolic of the promises given to Abraham which are older than Sinai.
However, it is possible that Paul is making some allusion to the new and old covenant here. Here’s why I think this: 1 The old covenant brought curses and the people who are of “works of the law” are “under the law” and therefore subject to its curses. 2 The promises given to Abraham are the precursors to Messiah who is the mediator of the new covenant. 3 The new covenant is about being restored and perfected by having the law written on our hearts (something that was not accomplished in the old covenant) and Christ followed the spirit of the law not the letter (he almost always sided with the house of Hillel) Also compare the following (YLT)
2 Corinthians 3:3 3 manifested that ye are a letter of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God, not in the tablets of stone, but in fleshy tablets of the heart,
Ezekiel 36:26 26 And I have given to you a new heart, And a new spirit I give in your midst, And I have turned aside the heart of stone out of your flesh, And I have given to you a heart of flesh.
Jeremiah 31:33 33 For this [is] the covenant that I make, With the house of Israel, after those days, An affirmation of Jehovah, I have given My law in their inward part, And on their heart I do write it, And I have been to them for God, And they are to me for a people.
Hebrews 8:10 10 because this [is] the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel, after those days, saith the Lord, giving My laws into their mind, and upon their hearts I will write them, and I will be to them for a God, and they shall be to Me for a people;
5 Finally, the Zealot’s (of Shammai) were referred to as following after flesh and blood by the Hillelites:
Flusser discussed the political aspect of the rabbinic concept of the Kingdom of Heaven, arguing that originally “the Kingdom of Heaven” was an anti-Zealot slogan. At the end of the Second Temple period there were various groups of militant Jewish nationalists who advocated armed revolt against the Roman Empire. These insurgent groups believed that national liberation could be achieved through violent means. They believed that their armed struggle would provoke divine intervention on Israel’s behalf and the eschatological events of the final redemption would be set in motion as a result of their terrorist activities. It seems likely that at least one stream of militant Jewish nationalism emerged from the School of Shammai. This militant Jewish nationalist ideology was countered by the Hillelite stream of Pharisaic Judaism with the concept of the Kingdom of Heaven. According to Hillelite ideology, violent militant insurgence can only replace the Roman Empire with a kingdom of flesh and blood:
Rabbi Hananiah, prefect of the priests, says: He who takes to heart the words of the Torah is relieved of many preoccupations—preoccupations with hunger, foolish preoccupations, unchaste preoccupations, preoccupations with the evil impulse, preoccupations with an evil wife, idle preoccupations, and preoccupations with the yoke of flesh and blood…. But he who does not take to heart the words of the Torah is given over to many preoccupations—preoccupations with hunger, foolish preoccupations, unchaste preoccupations, preoccupations with the evil impulse, preoccupations with an evil wife, idle preoccupations, and preoccupations with the yoke of flesh and blood…. He used to say: Do not look at me because I am dark and the sun has tanned me [my mother’s sons were angry with me (Song 1:6)]—these are the assemblies of Judah who broke off the yoke of the Holy One, blessed be he, and caused a king of flesh and blood to reign over them. (Avot de-Rabbi Natan, Version A, chpt. 20 [ed. Schechter, 70-72]) . . . Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai says, “From the time murderers increased, the calf’s neck rite was annulled, because the calf’s neck rite is not applicable except in cases of doubt, but now murderers increased in the open. From the time adulterers increased, they stopped the ordeal of the bitter waters, because the ordeal of the bitter waters is not applicable except in cases of doubt, but now those who see [their lovers] in the open are many. From the time the lovers of pleasure increased, wrath came to the world and the glory of the Torah was annulled. From the time whisperers increased in the Sanhedrin, deeds were perverted, the judges were cursed, and the Shekhinahceased from Israel. From the time respecters of persons increased, You must not show partiality in judgment…you must not respect persons [Deut. 1:17] was annulled and they cast off the yoke of Heaven and caused a yoke of flesh and blood to reign over them. (t. Sot. 14:1[1-4])
In this saying Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai criticizes those who set up a yoke of flesh and blood and who cast off the yoke of Heaven. The terminology is similar to that of Hananiah the prefect of the priests. Does “murderers” who kill “in the open” refer to terrorist groups like the Sicarii? Does “whisperers…in the Sanhedrin” refer to the chief priests, and in particular those of the House of Hanan (cf. t. Men. 13:21; b. Pes. 57a)? If so, then Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai criticized both the militant Jewish nationalists on one extreme and the high priests who colluded with the Romans on the other. If so, Jesus was not unique in his rejection of violent insurgence and condemnation of the corrupt priesthood. https://www.jerusalemperspective.com/13546/
However, the explanation that Paul is only contrasting the new and the old covenant is completely impoverished as we have already seen. Rather if Paul is alluding to the old and new covenants he is only mixing it in with his main subject material. The last section we will look at backs this up again:
1 For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. 2 Listen! I, Paul, am telling you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no benefit to you. 3 Once again I testify to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obliged to obey the entire law. 4 You who want to be justified by the law have cut yourselves off from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. 5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything; the only thing that counts is faith working through love. (Gal 5:1-6)
This allegory is introduced as a response to those who wish to be “under the law” and ends with something about those who want to be justified by law: the context is clear. Here Paul is not making any comments about what we should or shouldn’t do physically but rather what we should or shouldn’t justify ourselves by. This is a mistake people often make when reading Paul’s writings, context is key. However, the language here is slightly confusing. It can’t be that just by becoming physically circumcised that Christ profits you nothing since a change in your physical appearance can never cut you off from Christ. Paul also circumcised Timothy because of the Jews so it couldn’t be that Paul was cutting Timothy off from Christ by circumcising him. This issue may be helped by some historical context that Tim Hegg presents in his commentary on Acts 15:
The prevailing belief of the Judaisms in Paul’s day was that only Jews had a place in the world-to-come since God had made the covenant of blessing with Israel and no other nation.
All Israel have a place in the world-to-come. [[m.Sanhedrin 10:1.]
This central theological axiom shows that from the perspective of the Rabbis, a Gentile could secure a place in the world-to-come only by becoming a Jew. This, the Rabbis taught, was possible through becoming a proselyte, a ritual based entirely upon their rules but without any foundation in the Torah itself. In fact, the added phrase “according to the custom of Moses”629 in the opening verse of Acts 15 may point to the fact that the disagreement taking place between Paul and Barnabas and the others was not over what the written Torah prescribed for Gentiles but whether or not the additional teachings of the Sages were binding upon them. Thus when men from Judea taught that “unless you are circumcised (undergo the ritual of a proselyte) according to the custom of Moses you cannot be saved,” they were simply applying the standard theology of their day. This is what the Council was dealing with: Did all Israel have a place in the world-to-come? Did Gentiles therefore need to submit to the man-made ritual of the proselyte so that, in accordance with the prevailing theology, they too could secure eternal life, that is, be saved? Nowhere in God’s word is there a ceremony outlined for a Gentile to become a proselyte. . .
The issue was one of status. What status qualified a person to be assured of a place in the world-to-come—ethnicity or faith? What was essential for salvation: the status of Jewishness or the status of being “in Messiah?” Paul and the other apostles at the Jerusalem Council unanimously agreed that one’s ethnic status had no bearing whatsoever on one’s salvation. The crux was faith not ethnicity.
In conclusion, this has all been to show the context of what Paul is talking about in Galatians 4 with the two covenants. He is responding to those who wish to be justified by works of the law or want to be under the law. The two covenants in Galatians don’t seem to be directly related to the “old” and “new” covenants because Paul uses part of the old covenant (the older part before Sinai) in arguing for us being the children of promise. Rather Paul seems to be contrasting two parts of the old covenant and saying (to oversimplify things) that the blessings of it will save us from curses of it eventually. The new covenant rather is about the law eventually being written on our hearts by God since we were unable to do so. There is however a relation here: the writing of the law by God in the new covenant is accomplished by the work of Christ (through the holy spirit) as a mediator of the new covenant and Christ was predicted by the promises given to Abraham. In any case to say that the judgments of the law are done away with makes Paul’s argument nonsensical; rather, Christ needed to come to save us from the results of those judgments.
Compare the following:
For this reason he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, because a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions under the first covenant.(Hebrews 9:15)
13 For we write you nothing other than what you can read and also understand; I hope you will understand until the end— 14 as you have already understood us in part—that on the day of the Lord Jesus we are your boast even as you are our boast. 15 Since I was sure of this, I wanted to come to you first, so that you might have a double favor; 16 I wanted to visit you on my way to Macedonia, and to come back to you from Macedonia and have you send me on to Judea. 17 Was I vacillating when I wanted to do this? Do I make my plans according to ordinary human standards, ready to say “Yes, yes” and “No, no” at the same time? 18 As surely as God is faithful, our word to you has not been “Yes and No.” 19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not “Yes and No”; but in him it is always “Yes.” 20 For in him every one of God’s promises is a “Yes.” For this reason it is through him that we say the “Amen,” to the glory of God. 21 But it is God who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us, 22 by putting his seal on us and giving us his Spirit in our hearts as a first installment. (2 Corinthians 1:13-22)
 “The topic of the work is reflected in the phrase tohorat haqodesh, “the purity of the holy.” Stated simply: “Do not allow the holy to be profaned by what is impure.”
The issues include bringing Gentile corn into the Temple, the presentation of Gentile offerings, and the cooking of sacrificial meat in unfit (impure) vessels. Other rulings concern cleansing of lepers, admitting the blind and the deaf into the Temple; and permitting intermarriage with Ammonite and Moabite converts, long forbidden to enter the congregation of Israel (Deuteronomy 23:3). Other issues involve the transmission of impurity by a flow of water (musaq), the intermixture of wool and linen (sha‘atnez), plowing with diverse animals (qilayyim) and perhaps the climax of the discussion: the intermarriage of priests with the common people.
Most of the rulings espoused by the author of MMT are based directly upon Biblical law (for example, the prohibition against plowing with unlike animals in Deuteronomy 22:10). A few others are interpretations or amplifications of Mosaic prescriptions (for example, bans on Gentile offerings and dogs in the Temple). The list clearly reflects a conservative reaction against a relaxation of Torah precepts.” http://www.sabbathreformation.com/article-paul-works-of-the-law-and-mmt-118800746.html
1) Paul’s έργων νόμου “works of the law,” Rom. 3:20, 28; Gal. 2:16 [trs]; 3:2, 5 10) is likely a translation of מעשי התורה, found in all of ancient Hebrew literature only at 4QMMT C 27 (4Q398 14-17 ii 3). . . .
2) 4QMMT C 27 also echoes the languages of Gal. 3:6b where Paul quotes Gen 15:6 and argues that righteousness is reckoned on the bases of faith. The Qumran writer posits righteousness on the bases of works of the law. (pg. 1)
In addition it appears highly likely that Paul was reacting to a position that was espoused in 4QMMT by the Qumran covenanters, namely, that a person was reckoned righteous by keeping “works of the law. “
“Prep. below, beneath, under (ὑπό) . . . Of a woman it is said, she commits whoredom, adultery, under her husband, Nu. 5:19; Eze. 23:5, i.e. she commits whoredom who ought to obey the authority of her husband.”
 8 For I also am a man set under G5259 authority, G1849 with soldiers under G5259 me; and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and the slave does it.” (Luke 7:8 New Revised Standard Version)
9 For I also am a man under G5259 authority, G1849 with soldiers under G5259 me; and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and the slave does it.” (Matthew 8:9 New Revised Standard Version)
 Under husband’s authority: 19 Then the priest shall make her take an oath, saying, “If no man has lain with you, if you have not turned aside to uncleanness while under your husband’s authority, be immune to this water of bitterness that brings the curse. (Numbers 5:19 NRSV)
19 `And the priest hath caused her to swear, and hath said unto the woman, If no man hath lain with thee, and if thou hast not turned aside [to] uncleanness under thy husband, be free from these bitter waters which cause the curse;(Num 5:19 YLT)
19 And [3shall adjure 4her 1the 2priest], and he shall say to the woman, If no one has gone to bed with you, if you have not violated to be defiled being under [2husband 1your own], be innocent from [2by the 3water 4of rebuke 1this accursing]! (Num 5:19 ABP)
Gesenius’s usage in Ezekiel 23 may relate to “consequences” or “power” from doing something while “under” an authority
5 And go a-whoring doth Aholah under Me, And she doteth on her lovers, On the neighbouring Assyrians, (Ezekiel 23:5 YLT)
5 And Aholah fornicated from me, and doted upon her lovers, upon the Assyrians being next to her; (Ezekiel 23:5 ABP)
5 Oholah played the whore while she was mine; she lusted after her lovers the Assyrians, warriors . . . 9 Therefore I delivered her into the hands of her lovers, into the hands of the Assyrians, for whom she lusted. (Ezekiel 23:5-9 NRSV)
Compare the following usages of “under” with alternate translations, it seems the meaning of “under” is related to what is metaphorically on top:
2 And the fear of you and trembling will be upon all the wild beasts of the earth, upon all the winged creatures of the heaven, and upon all the things moving upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea. Under your hands I have given them to you. (Gen 9:2 ABP)
2 The fear and dread of you shall rest on every animal of the earth, and on every bird of the air, on everything that creeps on the ground, and on all the fish of the sea; into your hand they are delivered. (Gen 9:2 NRSV)
. . . to the future, that we may maintain the government in undisturbed peace for all men, adopting [needful] changes, and ever judging those cases which come under [our] notice, with truly equitable decision. . . . (Esther 8:13 Brenton Translation of the Septuagint)
. . . In the future we will take care to render our kingdom quiet and peaceable for all, by changing our methods and always judging what comes before our eyes with more equitable consideration. . . (Esther 8:13 NRSVACE)
And the Lord will give us strength, and lighten our eyes, and we shall live under the shadow of Nabuchodonosor king of Babylon, and under the shadow of Balthasar his son, and we shall serve them many days, and find favour in their sight. (Baruch 1:12 Brenton Septuagint Translation)
The Lord will give us strength, and light to our eyes; we shall live under the protection of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, and under the protection of his son Belshazzar, and we shall serve them for many days and find favour in their sight. (Bar 1:12 NRSVACE)
2 Maccabees 7:36:
36 For our brothers after enduring a brief suffering have drunk of ever-flowing life, under God’s covenant; but you, by the judgment of God, will receive just punishment for your arrogance. (2 Maccabees 7:36 NRSVACE)
For our brethren, who now have suffered a short pain, are dead under God’s covenant of everlasting life: but thou, through the judgment of God, shalt receive just punishment for thy pride. (2 Maccabees 7:36 Brenton Septuagint Translation)
3 And he spared his people, and all the ones being sanctified by your hands; these [2under 3you 1are]; and he received of his words (Deuteronomy 33:3 ABP)
3 Indeed, O favorite among peoples, all his holy ones were in your charge; they marched at your heels, accepted direction from you. (Deuteronomy 33:3 NRSV)
3 Also He [is] loving the peoples; All His holy ones [are] in thy hand, And they — they sat down at thy foot, [Each] He lifteth up at thy words. (Deuteronomy 33:3 YLT)
6 But he thought it beneath him to lay hands on Mordecai alone. So, having been told who Mordecai’s people were, Haman plotted to destroy all the Jews, the people of Mordecai, throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus. (Esther 3:6 NRSV)
6 And he took counsel to remove all [2under 3the 5of Artaxerxes 4kingdom 1the Jews]. (Esther 3:6 ABP)
6 and it is contemptible in his eyes to put forth a hand on Mordecai by himself, for they have declared to him the people of Mordecai, and Haman seeketh to destroy all the Jews who [are] in all the kingdom of Ahasuerus — the people of Mordecai. (Esther 3:6 YLT)
6 and took counsel to destroy utterly all the Jews who were under the rule of Artaxerxes. (Esther 3:6 Brenton)
 hypó, hoop-o’; G5259 example usage in the Septuagint:
For our brethren, who now have suffered a short pain, are dead under God’s covenant of everlasting life: but thou, through the judgment of God, shalt receive just punishment for thy pride. (2 Maccabees 7:36 Brenton Septuagint Translation)
36 For our brothers after enduring a brief suffering have drunk of ever-flowing life, under God’s covenant; but you, by the judgment of God, will receive just punishment for your arrogance. (2 Maccabees 7:36 NRSV)
ὑπό+ P 61-42-43-140-212=498 Gn 9,2; 16,9; 18,4.8; 19,8 [τινος]: by (with a pass. verbal form indicating the agent) Gn 26,29; from Ps 73(74),22; under, in (indicating reason) Jb 30,4; under Jb 8,16
[τι, τινα]: under (with verb of motion) 1 Mc 6,46; under (place) Gn 18,8; under, at the foot of Ex 24,4; under (in geogr. sense) Dt 3,17; beyond Ex 3,1; about (time) Jos 5,2; little before Jon 4,10; in the course of, during 3 Mc 7,12; under (as subordination) 1 Ezr 3,1; under, in the hand of 2 Mc 3,6; under (reason) Ex 23,5 ὑπὸ τὸν οὐρανόν under heaven, on earth Ex 17,14; ὑπὸ τὴν ὄψιν under (our) notice Est 8,12i; ὑπὸ χεῖρας in (your) hands Gn 9,2; ὑπὸ τὴν σκιάν in the shadow Bar 1,12; ὑπὸ διαθήκην (θεοῦ) under (God’s) covenant 2 Mc 7,36; ὑπὸ φόρον under tribute 1 Mc 8,2; ὑπὸ καιρόν within the space of one day 2 Mc 7,20; ὑφ’ ἕν at one stroke Wis 12,9 Cf. DORIVAL 1994, 56; JOHANNESSOHN 1910 1-82; 1926 174-184; →NIDNTT
http://renewedheartministries.com/presentation/Follow-the-Lamb I’m paraphrasing (and analyzing in part) this series of lectures on Revelation by Herb Montgomery because it relates to the kingdom of God. My Bible study is discussing this series and I just now decided to start posting about it so I will be following along with them for the rest of the series on parts 12-17. I will post a summary during the week before we have Bible study Friday night and will update it after Bible study to account for anything else learned there. I will finish parts 1-11 on my own after 12-17. Hopefully I will be able to get the others to comment on those as well. Herb argues that there is a change in teaching in the new testament to pacifism–from the Tanahk (or Old Testament)–and argues that Revelation fits with this. This also interests me because our paper “Unless He Gives up All His Possessions” argues for a change in teaching in the Brit Chadashah (New Testament) with regards to possessions but only due to a different situation arising after Christ. The TNIV translation is used unless otherwise noted. Links to the paraphrased material, lecture: https://renewedheartministries.com/sermons/followthelamb/16alambonawhitehorse.mp3
Tonight Herb says he will cover four chapters that each need their own presentation but he will condense it to two presentations.
Revelation 19.11-21–Then I saw heaven opened, and there was a WHITE HORSE! Its RIDER is called Faithful and True, and in RIGHTEOUSNESS HE JUDGES and makes WAR.
This sounds not like a contradiction to the Lamb, the sermon on the mount, and a contradiction to . The promise the angels made when Jesus ascended in Acts 1 is that this same Jesus would come back as he ascended.
Revelation 2.13–I know where you are
living, where Satan’s throne is. Yet you are
holding fast to my name, and you did not
deny your faith in me even in the days of
Antipas my witness, my faithful one, who
was killed among you, where Satan lives.
The characteristic of someone who is faithful in Revelation is “Faithful unto death” This type of death is not passive, it holds the same action the imagery of the rider on the white horse. We choose non-violence because it is an active way of winning the war and of winning our enemies and winning that victory.
Psalms 45.3-6–Gird your SWORD on your side, you mighty one; clothe yourself with splendor and majesty. In your majesty RIDE FORTH VICTORIOUSLY in the cause of TRUTH, HUMILITY and JUSTICE; let your right hand achieve awesome deeds. Let your sharp arrows PIERCE THE HEARTS OF THE KING’S ENEMIES; let the NATIONS FALL BENEATH YOUR FEET. Your throne, O God, will last FOR EVER AND EVER; a scepter of JUSTICE will be the scepter of your KINGDOM.
Revelation 19.11-21. . . , and in RIGHTEOUSNESS HE JUDGES and makes WAR. . .
Psalms 98.9– [New Song]He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples with equity.
This is not retributive justice but restorative justice.
Psalms 96.10– [New Song] Say among the nations, “The LORD reigns.” The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity.
Psalms 58.1–Do you rulers indeed speak justly? Do you judge people with equity? No, in your heart you devise injustice, and your hands mete out VIOLENCE on the earth.
The implication is that if you deal in justice and equity your hands will not mete out violence.
2 Corinthians 10.4–The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.
Ephesians 6.12–For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but
against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
In other-words, the enemies that we are fighting against are not genuinely our enemies. If it has flesh and blood even if it’s attacking you it is just a conduit of the real enemy.
Let’s say there’s a tussle with someone breaking into my home and intending to do my family harm but when the mask is ripped off it’s my sixteen year old daughter. Every person is like the sixteen year old son or daughter of God. It’s active warfare.
Revelation 12.7-9–And there was WAR in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down–that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.
The root word used for “war” here is πόλεμος (polemos) and is where we get our word “politics.” Herb saying John is essentially saying: “remember the war being fought here is not a literal war.”
Revelation 19.11-21 . . .His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems [crowns]; and he has a name inscribed that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in A ROBE DIPPED IN BLOOD, and his name is called The Word of God. And the ARMIES OF HEAVEN, wearing fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. FROM HIS MOUTH comes a sharp SWORD with which to STRIKE DOWN THE NATIONS, and he will REIGN OVER THEM with iron SCEPTER [rather than rod] ; he will TREAD THE WINE PRESS OF THE FURY OF THE WRATH OF GOD THE ALMIGHTY. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name inscribed, “KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.” Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly in mid-heaven, “Come, gather for the great supper of God, to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of the mighty, the flesh of horses and their riders–flesh of all, both free and slave, both small and great.” Then I saw the BEAST and THE KINGS OF THE EARTH with THEIR ARMIES gathered to make WAR against THE RIDER ON THE HORSE and against HIS ARMY. And the BEAST was captured, and with it the false PROPHET who had performed in its presence the signs by which he deceived those who had received the MARK of the BEAST and those who WORSHIPED its IMAGE. These two were thrown ALIVE into the LAKE OF FIRE that burns with sulfur. And the rest were KILLED by the SWORD of the rider on the horse, THE SWORD THAT CAME FROM HIS MOUTH; and ALL THE BIRDS WERE GORGED WITH THEIR FLESH.
Herb says don’t jump to conclusions yet. He asks what it means to be slain by a sword coming out of someone’s mouth?
Isaiah 11.4–But with righteousness he will JUDGE the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the ROD of his MOUTH; with the breath of his LIPS he will slay the wicked.
God’s justice here is not retributive it’s restorative. God is not punishing the needy for being needy.
Revelation 2.16–Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you
and will fight against them with the SWORD of my MOUTH.
This is what God says he will do with his Church if they do not repent.
Psalms 2.1-9–Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the LORD and against his anointed, saying, “Let us break their chains and throw off their shackles.” The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. He rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, “I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain.” I will proclaim the LORD’s decree: He said to me, “You are my son; today I have become your father. Ask me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. You will BREAK them with a ROD of iron ; you will dash them to pieces like pottery.”
When John quotes this he doesn’t use the work “break” we will see why in just a moment.
Isaiah 63.1-6–Who is this coming from Edom, from Bozrah, with his garments stained crimson? Who is this, robed in splendor, striding forward in the greatness of his strength? “It is I, speaking in righteousness, mighty to save.”Why are your garments red,like those of one treading the winepress? “I have trodden the winepress ALONE; from the nations no one was with me. I trampled them in my anger and trod them down in my wrath; their blood spattered my garments, and I stained all my clothing. It was for me the day of vengeance; the year for me to redeem had come. I looked, but
there was NO ONE TO HELP, I was appalled that no one gave support;
so my own arm achieved salvation for me, and my own wrath sustained me.
John takes this violent imagery of blood coming up to the horses bridal for 16,000 stadia and changes it subtly. Notice he is not using the one treading the winepress alone in Revelation he is there with his army.
Ezekiel 39.17-20–As for you, mortal, thus says the Lord GOD: Speak to the birds of every kind and to all the wild animals: Assemble and come, gather from all around to the sacrificial feast that I am preparing for you, a great sacrificial feast on the mountains of Israel, and you shall eat flesh and drink blood. You shall eat the flesh of the mighty, and drink the blood of the princes of the earth–of rams, of lambs, and of goats, of bulls, all of them fatlings of Bashan. You shall eat fat until you are filled, and drink blood until you are drunk, at the sacrificial feast that I am preparing for you. And you shall be filled at my table with horses and charioteers, with warriors and all kinds of soldiers, says the Lord GOD.
This shows the rider destroys all of God’s enemies but the question is how does he destroy them?
Psalms 59.7–See what they spew from their mouths–the words from their LIPS are SHARP AS SWORDS, and they think, “Who can hear us?”
Job 5.15–He saves the needy from the SWORD IN THEIR MOUTH; he
saves them from the clutches of the powerful.
Isaiah 49.2-5–He made MY MOUTH LIKE A SHARPENED SWORD,
in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me into a polished arrow and concealed me in his quiver . . . to bring Jacob back to him, and that Israel might be gathered to him
Notice the sharpened sword that came out of the mouth of Isaiah was not to physically kill Israel but to turn Israel back to their God.
Hebrews 4.12–For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Psalms 149.6–May the praise of God be in their mouths and a double-edged sword IN THEIR HANDS,
Revelation 2.16–Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you
and will fight against them with THE SWORD OF MY MOUTH.
Revelation 1.16–In his right hand he held seven stars, and COMING
OUT OF HIS MOUTH WAS A SHARP, DOUBLE EDGED SWORD.
His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.
Revelation 19.15–Coming out of HIS MOUTH is a sharp sword with
which to strike down the nations. “He will REIGN OVER THEM with an
iron SCEPTER.” He treads the WINEPRESS of the fury of the wrath of
Psalms 2.7-9–I will tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to me, “You
are my son; today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make THE
NATIONS YOUR HERITAGE, and the ends of the earth your POS-
SESSION. You shall BREAK them with a rod of iron, and dash them in
pieces like a potter’s vessel.”
Luke 17.7–Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from plowing or TENDING sheep in the field, `Come here at once and take your place at the table’?
1 Corinthians 9.7–Who at any time pays the expenses for doing military service? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat any of its fruit? Or who TENDS a flock and does not get any of its milk?
Matthew 2.6–And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a RULER who is to SHEPHERD my people Israel.
John 21.16–A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you
love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus
said to him, “TEND my sheep.”
Revelation 2.26,27–To everyone who is victorious and continues to
do my works to the end, I will give authority over THE NATIONS; to
REIGN OVER [shepherd] them with an iron SCEPTER . . .
Revelation 3.21–To the one who victorious I will give a place WITH
ME on MY throne, just as I myself was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne.
He can’t wipe out the nations and then rule them. Herb argues that the word in Psalms can be translated as “rod,” “scepter,” and “staff.”
Revelation 20.1-3–And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the ABYSS and holding in his hand a great chain. He seized the DRAGON, that ancient SERPENT, who is the DEVIL, or SATAN, and bound him for a THOUSAND YEARS. He threw him into the ABYSS, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from DECEIVING THE NATIONS anymore UNTIL the thousand years were ENDED. After that, he must be set free for a short time.
Each one of the schools of thought we talked about post-Constantine has a way of interpreting the millennium. Of all the teachers in the new testament the millennium is only mentioned by one. John does not give us enough information to solve the questions surrounding this.
Exodus 20.4-6–You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the THIRD AND FOURTH GENERATION of those who hate me, but showing love to A THOUSAND GENERATIONS of those who love me and keep my commandments.
John is contrasting God’s judgement with his restorative justice. The devil is allowed to reign for 3.5 years (Rev 11 and 13) but the church is allowed to reign for a thousand. However, in Rev 20 the promise in Ex 20 is fulfilled.
Revelation 20.4-6–I saw THRONES on which were seated those who
had been given authority to JUDGE [Reign, see Psalms 96 & 98]. And I saw the SOULS of those who had been beheaded because of their TESTIMONY about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had NOT worshiped the BEAST or his IMAGE and had not received his MARK on their foreheads or their hands. THEY CAME TO LIFE and REIGNED with Christ A THOUSAND YEARS. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. THE SECOND DEATH HAS NO CLAIM OVER THEM, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign WITH him for A THOUSAND YEARS.
Some people in the early church took the millennium metaphorically and some took it literally. Herb says that he thinks John doesn’t give us enough information to decide. We need to be careful about making definitive statements about the millennium just from this passage. This is directed to a specific group (martyrs).
Revelation 6.9,10–When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the SOULS of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and vindicate our blood?”
It says that they will reign over the nations from Rev 19 so that king of muddies the waters.
Daniel 7.9-14–“As I looked, “THRONES were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat. His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of his head was white like wool. His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze. A river of FIRE was flowing, coming out from before him. Thousands upon thousands attended him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. The court was seated, and THE BOOKS were opened. Then I continued to watch because of the BOASTFUL words the horn was speaking. I kept looking until THE BEAST was slain and its body destroyed and thrown into the blazing fire. (The other beasts had been stripped of their authority, but were allowed to live for a period of time.) In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a SON OF MAN, COMING WITH THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and SOVEREIGN power; ALL NATIONS AND PEOPLES OF EVERY LANGUAGE WORSHIPED HIM. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.
Revelation 11.11–But after the three and a half days the breath of life
from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and terror struck those who saw them.
The imagery revelation gives in a first century setting is that after they are raised they will reign with Christ for a thousand years.
Revelation 3.21–To those who are victorious, I will give the right to sit
with me on MY THRONE, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne.
Daniel 7.18–But the holy ones of the Most High shall receive the king-
dom and possess the kingdom forever–forever and ever.”
Daniel 7.21-22–I looked, this horn made war with the holy ones and was prevailing over them, until the Ancient One came; then judgment [reign, soveriegn power] was given to THE HOLY ONES of the Most High, and the time arrived when THE HOLY ONES gained possession of the king-dom.
Daniel 7.26-27–“`But the court will sit, and his [the beast’s] power will
be TAKEN AWAY, CONSUMED and completely DESTROYED forever.
Then the SOVEREIGNTY, power and greatness of all the kingdoms
under heaven will be handed over TO THE HOLY PEOPLE of the Most
High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and ALL RULERS
WILL WORSHIP AND OBEY HIM.’
Who’s going to rule for a thousand years? The holy people.
Daniel 7.14–He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; ALL NATIONS AND PEOPLES OF EVERY LANGUAGE WORSHIPED HIM.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.
Those who take part in the second resurrection it says death has no claim over them.
John 14.30–I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this
world is coming. He has no CLAIM over me
Hebrews 2.14,15–Since, therefore, the
children share flesh and blood, he himself
likewise shared the same things, so that
through death he might destroy THE
ONE WHO HAS THE POWER OF
DEATH, THAT IS, THE DEVIL, and
free those who all their lives were held in
slavery by the fear of death.
When the lamb dies it defeats the dragon frees all those who are being held captive by the dragon. Do you see a parallel in revelation 20.
Acts 2.24–But God RAISED HIM UP,
having freed him from death, because
it was IMPOSSIBLE FOR HIM TO BE
HELD IN ITS POWER [CLAIM].
Those two witness for a metaphorical three and half years like Jesus did. They have the power to use the methods of Elijah and Moses but they choose to use the methods of the lamb. The beast will kill the two witnesses but that is good for the lamb. Jesus didn’t see his death as a failure but what must be done to overcome the enemy. Remember all the inhabitants of the earth are celebrating and after three and half days the breath of God comes into these two witnesses (the church) there’s a great earthquake a tenth of the city falls 7,000 perish and what happens to the survivors? They fear the God of heaven and give him glory.
What we are seeing in Revelation 20 is the first resurrection in Revelation 11. Herb says to get lost in the story and put aside different doctrinaire interpretations of Revelation. He specifically says of the historicist position “That’s not what John’s doing” This may contradict something he said earlier where he seems to leave on the possibility for a futurist/historicist interpretation of Revelation. However, he is probably emphasizing a matter of weight. John’s weight of importance is on the story not on giving us predictions of the future (if that is even what John is doing)
After this the white rider comes and kills all the enemies which is another way of describing the war of the lamb. (he dies to defeat his enemies) Herb says remember there is going to be another resurrection for those who were slain for not worshiping the beast and his image. (the martyrs) John is not concerned with giving you imagery that symbolizes the resurrection when Jesus comes back. He is trying to just tell a story with different metaphors and imagery that will inspire you to continue to follow the Lamb. This is why there is so much debate over how the millennium is really going to happen. Every time you try to apply the millennium to real history it produces more questions than answers.
http://renewedheartministries.com/presentation/Follow-the-Lamb I’m paraphrasing (and analyzing in part) this series of lectures on Revelation by Herb Montgomery because it relates to the kingdom of God. My Bible study is discussing this series and I just now decided to start posting about it so I will be following along with them for the rest of the series on parts 12-17. I will post a summary during the week before we have Bible study Friday night and will update it after Bible study to account for anything else learned there. I will finish parts 1-11 on my own after 12-17. Hopefully I will be able to get the others to comment on those as well. Herb argues that there is a change in teaching in the new testament to pacifism–from the Tanahk (or Old Testament)–and argues that Revelation fits with this. This also interests me because our paper “Unless He Gives up All His Possessions” argues for a change in teaching in the Brit Chadashah (New Testament) with regards to possessions but only due to a different situation arising after Christ. The TNIV translation is used unless otherwise noted. Links to the paraphrased material, lecture: https://renewedheartministries.com/presentation/Follow-the-Lamb?msds_pif_cat=empireandthelamb
This building is not the church this is just a building the church meets in. Herb thanks everyone in the church and the Bliss family whom he stayed with. The Book of Revelation is not as many have taken it to be. It is not about an angry God come back to take vengence but a lamb. The Lamb takes vengeance but it is of a different nature. The way a lamb takes vengeance on it’s enemies is through the non-cooperative principles of non-violence but with the aim of destroying his enemies by making them his friends. The early church would have seen this violent imagery of the old testament that John turns on its head and gives it new meaning.
Revelation 18.1-8–After this I saw another angel coming down from
heaven, having great authority; and the earth was made bright with his splendor. He called out with a mighty voice, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! . . .
This is imagery has been stolen from the Tanahk. In the same way that Israel was going to brought of captivity to Babylon we see in Revelation that every nation tribe and tongue will be brought out of captivity to Babylon. Likewise he is using the exodus imagery to talk about all nations being brought out of slavery to Babylon.
. . . It has become a dwelling place of demons, a haunt of every foul spirit, a haunt of every foul and hateful bird, a haunt of every foul and hateful beast. For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth have grown rich from the power of her luxury.”
The Lamb of God is an itinerant teacher announcing that there is a new kingdom being established which is a radical new way of structuring society and life in general.
Then I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, so that you do not take part in her sins, and so that you do not share in HER PLAGUES; for her sins are heaped high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. Render to her as she herself has rendered, and repay her double for her deeds; mix a double draught for her in the cup she mixed. As she glorified herself and lived luxuriously, so give her a like measure of torment and grief.
Ezekiel 16 The sins of Sodom were that they were overfed and unconcerned.
Since in her heart she says, `I rule as a queen; I am no widow, and I will never see grief,’ therefore HER PLAGUES will come in a single day–pestilence and mourning and famine– and she will be burned with fire; for mighty is the Lord God who judges her.”
Revelation 18.9-10–And THE KINGS OF THE EARTH, . . .
This is who were are told in Rev 21 will leave Babylon and bring all their glory into the new Jerusalem.
. . . who committed fornication and lived in luxury with her, will weep and wail over her when they see the smoke of her burning; they will stand far off, in fear of her torment, and say, “Alas, alas, the great city, Babylon, the mighty city! For in one hour your judgment has come.”
Response to the fall of Babylon is mourning because the kings of this earth are invested in the way of life. Luke 6 sermon on the plane, blessed are you who poor, mourn, are hungry, but What Jesus would accomplish would take the downtrodden and the marginalized of this world. Woe to you who are benefiting by their abuse. Those who are benefiting from creating poverty.
Merchants of the earth were benefiting from the luxury of Rome.
Revelation 18.11-16–And THE MERCHANTS OF THE EARTH weep
and mourn for her, since no one buys their cargo anymore, cargo of gold, silver, jewels and pearls, fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet, all kinds of scented wood, all articles of ivory, all articles of costly wood, bronze, iron, and marble, cinnamon, spice, incense, myrrh, frankincense, wine, olive oil, choice flour and wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, slaves–HUMAN LIVES. ” . . .
What John is doing here is not critiquing Rome or the killing of the Lamb’s followers. He is engaging in an economic critique that the luxury wealthy people live in perpetrates abuse on the rest of the world.
. . .The fruit for which your soul longed has gone from you, and all your dainties and your splendor are lost to you, never to be found again!” The merchants of these wares, who gained wealth from her, will stand far off, in fear of her torment, weeping and mourning aloud, “Alas, alas, the great city, clothed in fine linen, in purple and scarlet, adorned with gold, with jewels, and with pearls! For in one hour all this wealth has been laid waste!”
Herb reads from “Climax of Prophecy” by Richard Bauckham. Gold: Rome imported gold especially from Spain where most of the mines had become state property during the first century. Sometimes by highly dubious means of confiscation. The use of gold was one of the commonly noticed features of the growth of extravagant luxury among the wealthy families of Rome during the first century. In one of the periodic attempts to curb this they had a law against the use solid gold plates at private diner parties. Pliny complains that even the ceilings of private houses are covered in Gold . . . With the place of gold at the head of John’s list it is worth noting the Eumolpus. . . If there were any land that promised a yield of gold, that place was Rome’s enemy. Fate stood ready for the sorrows of war and the quest of wealth went on. Herb asks if there are parallels between that today.
The case of silver was similar to that of gold. Pliny associated silver with the luxury of the Roman rich remarking on the fashions of silver plated couches, baths made of pure silver, the common use of silver for serving food. . . Precious stones in John’s day came from India so people in Rome were pillaging so that they could live in extravagance. The emperor Tiberius in his letter to the senate about Roman extravagance in 22 AD referred to that special feature of Roman extravagance that transfer of currency for jewels to often hostile nations but Rome owed it to her empire that she could afford those expensive imports from beyond the empire.
Under the lamb we have to question is our pursuit of happiness coming at the price of human lives around the globe? Maybe John was more green than we thought, maybe John was more concerned economically than we thought. One thing in Rome was to dissolve a pearl in vinegar or alcohol and then drink it for the thrill of wasting so much money. The merchants of the earth will weep. This is John’s critique of empire in the first century. God hated the bricks of Egypt not because he’s against mortar but because he is against the cost of human lives. He hated the empire of Babylon and the stonework of Babylon not because he hates stone but because of the cost of human lives. There have been Christians in the last 100 years that have realized that every purchasing decision I make is a moral decision.
Revelation 18.17-19–And ALL SHIPMASTERS AND SEAFARERS,
SAILORS AND ALL WHOSE TRADE IS ON THE SEA, stood far off
and cried out as they saw the smoke of her burning, “What city was like the GREAT CITY?” And they threw dust on their heads, as they wept and mourned, crying out, “Alas, alas, the great city, where all who had ships at sea grew rich by her wealth! For in one hour she has been laid waste.
What is John doing here? Who are the mourners? The ship captains the ship owners and the kings of this earth. Remember they are invested in the way Babylon is doing life.
Revelation 18.20–Rejoice over her, O heaven, you saints and apostles
and prophets! For God has given judgment for you against her.” Then
a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into
the sea, saying, “With such violence Babylon THE GREAT CITY will be
thrown down, and will be found no more; and the sound of harpists and minstrels and of flutists and trumpeters will be heard in you no more; and an artisan of any trade will be found in you no more; and the sound of the millstone will be heard in you no more; and the light of a lamp will shine in you no more; and the voice of bridegroom and bride will be heard in you no more; for your MERCHANTS were the MAGNATES of the earth, and ALL NATIONS were deceived by your sorcery. And in you was found THE BLOOD OF PROPHETS AND OF SAINTS, and of ALL who have been slaughtered on earth.”
Revelation 19:1-10—After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power to our God, for his judgments are true and just; he has judged the GREAT WHORE who corrupted the earth with her fornication, and he has vindicated on her the blood of his servants.” Once more they said, “Hallelujah! The smoke goes up from her forever and ever.” And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who is seated on the throne, saying, “Amen. Hallelujah!” And from the throne came a voice saying, “Praise our God, all you his servants, and all who fear him, small and great.” Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty thunderpeals, crying out, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory,
for the marriage of THE LAMB has come, and his bride has made her-
self ready; to her it has been granted to be clothed with fine linen, bright and pure”– for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of THE LAMB.” And he said to me, “These are true words of God.” Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your comrades who hold THE TESTIMONY OF JESUS. Worship God! For the testimony of JESUS is the spirit of prophecy.”
If your interpretation of the Book of Revelation gives you different picture of God than the one Jesus gives on the sermon on the mount: the God who causes the sun to shine on the wicked and the God, the God who sends rain on the unkind and the just. Who kind to the unthankful and seeks to win them not destroy them. . . I know some of you need to die somewhere, but what about the book of Jonah? Would you be ticked off if God did not decide to destroy them? Jonah didn’t want the Ninevites in the kingdom with him. Herb suggests that if you are like Jonah and see something very different in Revelation than in the teachings of Jesus that you are misinterpreting the metaphorical Revelation. Some did indeed view it as complex to interpret (suggesting an allegorical interpretation) http://www.sacred-texts.com/chr/ecf/201/2010243.htm also see: http://global.oup.com/obso/focus/focus_on_revelation/ It’s interesting that the main debate among scholars is about whether the beast represents Rome or Israel and not about if there’s some literal future fulfillment of these things: https://blog.adw.org/2012/11/why-the-modern-view-of-the-book-of-revelation-may-be-flawed/
Herb Montgomery asserts that in the Psalms the word used in “break” for “break them with a rod of iron” while in Revelation it is “tend” or “shepherd.” It is true that the Greek word can have that meaning and the Hebrew is certainly translated as “break”
“Thou shalt break H7489 them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” (Psa 2:9 KJV)
However, in the Septuagint the same word is used to translate the Hebrew as is used in Revelation:
“You shall tend G4165 them with a rod of iron; as vessels of a potter you shall break them.” (Psalms 2:9 ABP)
This shows that John is most likely not trying to modify the original meaning of the verse. He is either quoting the Septuagint or (if it was written in Hebrew) he is most likely quoting the same Hebrew word in Psalms which got translated the exact same way. I think Herb’s point still stands in that breaking the nations could simply not refer to the people but to the power structure they serve.
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12 NKJV)
Herb goes on to say “if your interpretation of the book of revelation gives you a different picture of God than the picture of God you see in Jesus then choose Jesus and allow Jesus to recast and reframe how the book of Revelation is interpreted.”
John purposely lists the mourning of those invested in a way of life that is coming to an end and he purposely contrasts that with the rejoicing of the following of the lamb. Herb asks us which side we would be on if a great empire supporting our luxurious way of life falls. For instance, for Americans, who would you sympathize with? the fall of America (which is ultimately necessary for the Lamb’s kingdom to reign in the end) or will you rejoice because the Lamb’s kingdom has come?
Herb says we’ve started saying that the exceptions are the rule and that it’s not possible for most Christians to care for the poor and be pacifists because the teachings of Jesus are too radical and it’s only those who are called that are required.
http://renewedheartministries.com/presentation/Follow-the-Lamb I’m paraphrasing (and analyzing in part) this series of lectures on Revelation by Herb Montgomery because it relates to the kingdom of God. My Bible study is discussing this series and I just now decided to start posting about it so I will be following along with them for the rest of the series on parts 12-17. I will post a summary during the week before we have Bible study Friday night and will update it after Bible study to account for anything else learned there. I will finish parts 1-11 on my own after 12-17. Hopefully I will be able to get the others to comment on those as well. Herb argues that there is a change in teaching in the new testament to pacifism–from the Tanahk (or Old Testament)–and argues that Revelation fits with this. This also interests me because our paper “Unless He Gives up All His Possessions” argues for a change in teaching in the Brit Chadashah (New Testament) with regards to possessions but only due to a different situation arising after Christ. The TNIV translation is used unless otherwise noted. Links to the paraphrased material, lecture: https://renewedheartministries.com/presentation/Follow-the-Lamb?msds_pif_cat=abeastanditsfalseprophet
Herb begins by stating that his burden is to give you a foundation to help you learn to interpret the book of Revelation for yourself without taking it at face value like the early church fathers were afraid Christians would.
Revelation 16.17-21–The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the
air,and out of the temple came a loud voice from the throne, saying, “IT IS DONE!” Then there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder and a severe earthquake. No EARTHQUAKE like it has ever
occurred since the human race has been on earth, so tremendous was the quake. The GREAT CITY split into THREE PARTS, and the cities of the nations collapsed. God remembered BABYLON THE GREAT and gave HER the cup filled with the wine of the fury of his WRATH. Every island fled away and the mountains could not be found. From the sky huge HAILSTONES, each weighing about a hundred pounds, fell on people. And they CURSED GOD ON ACCOUNT OF THE PLAGUE OF HAIL, because the plague was so terrible.
Revelation 11.13–At that moment there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell; seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest feared the God of Heaven and gave glory to Him.
In Revelation 11:13 it says that at that moment there was a great earthquake and not a third but a tenth of the city fell. This is odd because you have two descriptions of the fall of Babylon that are very different and result in different things: “CURSED GOD ON ACCOUNT OF THE PLAGUE OF HAIL” verses “feared the God of heaven and gave him glory.” Remember this progression at the end of the seals: peals of thunder, lighting, rumblings and an earthquake, at trumpets you have peals of thunder lightning, rumbling, an earthquake and hail. Here you don’t see anything added you see the hail and earthquake expounded. What’s the third thing we are looking for, John is just saying that the story isn’t finished.
Revelation 16.9–They were scorched by the fierce heat, but they
CURSED THE NAME OF GOD, who had authority over these plagues,
and THEY DID NOT REPENT AND GIVE HIM GLORY.
Revelation 16.11–And CURSED THE GOD OF HEAVEN because
of their pains and sores, and THEY DID NOT REPENT OF THEIR
Revelation 16.21–And huge hailstones, each weighing about a hundred pounds, dropped from heaven on people, until THEY CURSED GOD FOR THE PLAGUE OF THE HAIL, SO TERRIBLE WAS THAT PLAGUE.
Is what God wants accomplished here? The plagues accomplish hardening, while God wants to accomplish the conversion of the nations. Herb uses this as a contrast between the methods of the Tanahk and the Brit Chadasha (i.e. old and new testaments) that while these plagues must happen John is contrasting the death and Resurrection of Christ and his followers with the might and power and punishment God uses against Pharaoh in the first exodus in the Tanahk.
Zechariah 4.6–He said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: . . .
Remember the battle cry of the Lamb:
Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, says the LORD of hosts.
John 19.28– . . . in order that what is written in Scripture might happen
. . .
The plagues were given that the wrath of God might happen.
Luke 1.45– . . . happy is the one who believes that what has been spoken to her by the Lord will be made to happen . . .
The plagues were given that the wrath of God might happen. It is the same Greek phrase in Rev 15:21 where he says these plagues are poured out and they are called last because through them the wrath of God will happen. The wrath of God is the wrath of a Lamb like the wrath of Ghandi. How does non-violence need to work? Starting in South Africa the Indians had to burn their passports in order to provoke a violent response from the government so they could be killed in protest. Ghandi also protested in India by making salt. Herb suggests the documentary: “A Force More Powerful” about non-violence. In order for Martin Luther King’s non-violent army to be able to respond they needed to provoke a violence. What is the salt march, the sit in, or the freedom-ride in the Jesus story? It is when he walks into the Jerusalem Temple and flips over the tables and the Temple police finally arrest him in Gethsemani: “18 “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death,19 and deliver Him to the Gentiles tomock and toscourge and tocrucify. And the third day He willrise again.”” (Matt 20:18-29) He says this before he turns over tables in the temple in Matthew 21:12 What subject are we talking about in Revelation 15 and 16? These are the seven last plagues. What God is setting out to accomplish is not accomplished through the plagues however like Ghandi and King and the cleansing of the temple it provoked a violent response that Christians could use to their advantage by responding with non-violence. They overcame him by the blood of the lamb and their testimony and they did not love their lives till death as it says. (implying a non-violent response) God and his followers allow themselves to be slain by their enemies. Two witnesses are talked of by the people: “these ones who have tormented us we have killed” again torment is mentioned by not killing.
The sixth plague is the drying up of the river Euphrates so that the kings of the east can come and the seventh plague is the fall of Babylon. The parallel is that Revelation 17 is an expounding of the 6th plague while Rev 18 is about the fall of Babylon or Rome. Revelation 17 expounds on the 6th plague Revelation 18 is expounding on 7th plague.
Revelation 17.1-6–One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls
came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute, who sits by many waters. With her the kings of the earth committed adultery, and the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries.”Then the angel carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness. There I saw a woman sitting on a SCARLET beast . . .
This is a different beast than Rev 13. It is still the legend of Nero returning just a different legend.
. . . that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns. The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, and was glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls. SHE HELD A GOLDEN CUP in her hand, filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries. This title was written on her forehead: MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF PROSTITUTES, AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. I saw that the woman was DRUNK WITH THE BLOOD OF GOD’S PEOPLE, THE BLOOD OF THOSE WHO BORE TESTIMONY TO JESUS
Revelation 17.6—When I saw her, I was greatly astonished. Then the
angel said to me: “Why are you astonished? I will explain to you the
mystery of THE WOMAN and of THE BEAST she rides, which has the even heads and ten horns. THE BEAST, which you saw, once WAS, now IS NOT, and WILL COME up out of the ABYSS and go to its destruction.
This beast is Nero having returned but this time it is the East’s version of the Parthians conquering Rome.
. . . The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the creation of the world will be ASTONISHED WHEN THEY SEE THE BEAST, because it once WAS, now IS NOT, and yet WILL COME. HERE IS THE INTELLEGENCE WHICH HAS WISDOM. The SEVEN HEADS are SEVEN HILLS on which the WOMAN sits. They are also SEVEN KINGS. Five have fallen [Galba, Otho, Vitellius, Vespasian, Titus. | Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero], one is [Domitian | Current], the other has not yet come [Next]; but when he does come, he must remain for a little while. The beast who once WAS, and now IS NOT, is an EIGHTH king. He BELONGS TO THE SEVEN and is going to his destruction. The ten horns you saw are TEN KINGS WHO HAVE NOT YET RECEIVED A KINGDOM, but who for one hour will receive authority AS KINGS ALONG WITH THE BEAST.
Quoting from Nero legend of the east where the kings of Pathia come and rule with Nero. “Was now is not and will come” is a quote from Rev 4:8, 1:4, 1:8
Revelation 4.8– . . . Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,’ who WAS, and IS, and is TO COME.
Revelation 1.4–John, To the seven churches in the province of Asia: Grace and peace to you from him who WAS, and who IS, and who is TO COME . . .
Revelation 1.8 –“I am the Alpha and the
Omega,” says the Lord God, “who IS, and
who WAS, and who is TO COME, the Almighty.”
John is now showing that Nero is a counterfeit of the Lamb in the legend of the east just like he did for the west. In the west’s legend he is showing Nero is a counterfeit of the one who was slain and resurrected. In the east’s Nero legend he uses it to show Nero is a counterfeit of him who is coming back. So regardless of which legend you use the legend isn’t true.
HERE IS THE INTELLEGENCE WHICH HAS WISDOM.
He uses the same phrase here:
Revelation 13.8–HERE IS WISDOM.
LET HIM WHO HAS INTELLIGENCE
calculate the number of the beast, for it is
the number of a person. Its number is six
He is referencing “Neron Ceasar” (alternate title of Nero) and “beast” which both add up to 666 in both places. (616 is “Nero Ceasar”) He’s quoting that and saying he’s talking about the same person, different legend but same person:
The SEVEN HEADS are SEVEN HILLS on which the WOMAN sits.
The woman they would have seen as the Roman empire. Were these kings in this return of Nero coming to overtake and bring the downfall of Rome.
They are also SEVEN KINGS. Five have fallen
Now you have one of two options: there had been 5 kings really 6 starting from Nero: [ Galba, Otho, Vitellius, Vespasian, Titus. ] one is [Domitian], or it is: [Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero] one is [Nero or Vespasian?] Herb says that there is evidence for both dates Vespasian’s/Nero’s? or Domitian’s reign. I put a question mark by Vespasian because I have usually heard Nero’s reign talked about as a possible date and since in that case Herb is saying he was part of the fallen King’s. However, I also see a mention on Wikipedia of Vespasian’s reign as being a possibility. It is possible that the current emperor mention is Nero and he is listed with the five fallen kings if the legends of his return had already started at that time. (people didn’t believe he was really dead and that he was the rightful emperor)
the other has not yet come [Next]; but when he does come, he must remain for a little while. The beast who once WAS, and now IS NOT, is an EIGHTH king. He BELONGS TO THE SEVEN and is going to his destruction. The ten horns you saw are TEN KINGS WHO HAVE NOT YET RECEIVED A KINGDOM, but who for one hour will receive authority AS KINGS ALONG WITH THE BEAST. They have one purpose and will GIVE THEIR POWER AND AUTHORITY TO THE BEAST. They will make WAR AGAINST THE LAMB, BUT THE LAMB WILL TRIUMPH OVER THEM BECAUSE HE IS LORD OF LORDS AND KING OF KINGS–AND WITH HIM WILL BE HIS CALLED, CHOSEN AND FAITHFUL FOLLOWERS.”
This is when the kings of the east come. In the legend the king’s of the east have one purpose: to give their authority and power to Nero (the beast). John’s message is not to put your hope in Nero (or empire). Your hope is not in the success of America. America will have to die to for God’s kingdom win eventually. Herb says we should be pledging allegiance to the Lamb’s kingdom first. As beautiful as America is you are not to put your hope in America. This was the point for the early church with Nero and as you can see this still applies today. Preterists say that Revelation was all fulfilled but this doesn’t make it irrelevant to us: it is really about not following empire. Herb says we Christians are acting more like the lamb-like beast who is in cohorts with the empire rather than standing with the lamb. Jesus carries no flag and belongs to no kingdom.
Then the angel said to me, “The waters you saw, where the prostitute sits, ARE PEOPLES, MULTITUDES, NATIONS AND LANGUAGES. The beast and the ten horns you saw will HATE THE PROSTITUTE. [they will attack Rome]
Do not fear even if the Pathians attack Rome, even if Rome is ransacked your last great hope is not Rome or the Parthians because the Lamb will triumph in the end. John is saying “try your best, choose the legend of the east or choose the legend of the west it doesn’t matter your last great hope is not Nero.”
They will bring HER TO RUIN AND LEAVE HER NAKED; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire. For God has put it into their hearts to accomplish his purpose by agreeing to give the beast their power to rule, until God’s words are fulfilled. The woman you saw is THE GREAT CITY that rules over THE KINGS OF THE EARTH.”
This is Babylon, they would have seen this as being ancient Rome. Herb says he will cover Revelation 18 tomorrow morning. Rev 18 is one of the most relevant chapters in Revelation for American Christians. Rev 18 does stand alone which is good because everyone will be here tomorrow. Tomorrow night, bring back the handout on the rider on the white horse which is the most violent imagery used in the book of Revelation. However, what you are going to see is that John flips it on it’s head showing that it is actually a lamb not breaking the nations but ruling or shepherding the nations. We will cover 19 tomorrow night and 20, and 21 is the new Jerusalem, and 22 which is the closing of the book. Then you will have been through a crash course on the book of Revelation and will see how it would have motivated the early church to continue following the Lamb and the non-violent teachings of Jesus.
http://renewedheartministries.com/presentation/Follow-the-Lamb I’m paraphrasing (and analyzing in part) this series of lectures on Revelation by Herb Montgomery because it relates to the kingdom of God. My Bible study is discussing this series and I just now decided to start posting about it so I will be following along with them for the rest of the series on parts 12-17. I will post a summary during the week before we have Bible study friday night and will update it after Bible study to account for anything else learned there. I will finish parts 1-11 on my own after 12-17. Hopefully I will be able to get the others to comment on those as well. Herb argues that there is a change in teaching in the new testament to pacifism–from the Tanahk (or Old Testament)–and argues that Revelation fits with this. This also interests me because our paper “Unless He Gives up All His Possessions” argues for a change in teaching in the Christian writings (New Testament) with regards to possessions but only due to a different situation arising after Christ. The TNIV translation is used unless otherwise noted. Links to the paraphrased material, lecture: https://renewedheartministries.com/presentation/Follow-the-Lamb?msds_pif_cat=abeastanditsfalseprophet
UPDATE 2018-09-18: Added section on why the book of Revelation’s canonicity was argued against by some early Christians.
. . .
Herb defends his statement, paraphrased: “God truly looks like a lamb and is non-violent.” He says the reason people object to this is that we don’t believe that the ethical non-violent teachings of Jesus will work. Note, Herb has an interesting take on the Tanahk: that God basically met people where they were and didn’t reveal his true character through the prophets and that only Christ reveals God’s true character. (see Hebrews 1) He states that Revelation doesn’t give you more than a non-violent character for God and that even with Rev 19 and the white rider imagery John is flipping it on its head by taking violent passages from the Tanahk but when John actually looks he sees a lamb instead of the violent context we think he’s implying. I have some disagreements here that I’ll have to summarize later but I should state that I love Herb’s lectures and this is my absolute favorite interpretation of the book of Revelation done by anyone I’ve heard.
He does not think the first Christians saw the first beast as Nero as he was because Nero was dead. However, it is Nero’s return which John is referencing. John’s argument is that no matter which legend of Nero is true: returning to restore Rome or returning with the Parthians to fight against it, the last great hope of the world is the Lamb not Nero. The book of revelation is an attack against Christian support for empire. America is being touted as the last great hope for this world but for followers of the Lamb to buy into that rhetoric is unacceptable. America is not the kingdom of God. Empire is seductive and can suck you in in ways you are not even aware of.
There were three messages with three angels. The first is: “fear god and give him glory because his just and equitous reign has come,” second one is “Babylon has fallen” the third is “anyone who worships the beast or receives the mark will be tormented in the presence of the Lamb.” We pick up with harvest of the earth:
The Harvest of the Earth:
Revelation 14.14-16– I looked, and there before me was a white CLOUD, and seated on the CLOUD was one like a SON OF MAN with a CROWN of gold on his head and a sharp SICKLE in his hand. Then another angel came out of the temple and called in a loud voice to him who was sitting on the cloud, “Take your SICKLE and REAP, because the TIME TO REAP HAS COME, for the HARVEST OF THE EARTH is RIPE.” So he who was seated on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was harvested.
The first fruits were 144,000 but here we are seeing the actual harvesting which is going to be much more than the first fruits. Notice the language and imagery that John isusing from Daniel:
Daniel 7.13-14–“In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a SON OF MAN, coming with the CLOUDS of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and SOVEREIGN power; ALL PEOPLES, NATIONS, AND LANGUAGES WORSHIPED HIM. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.
The angle having charge of the fire is from the fifth seal where there was an altar and underneath that altar there were souls crying “how long?” Later we see in the 7th seal where the angel comes to that altar, offers incense with their prayers, heaven is silent to hear those prayers, and the angel takes fire from off the alter, puts it in a censer, and throws it to the earth causing a great earthquake:
The Vintage of the Earth
Revelation 14.17-20–Another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. Still another angel, who had CHARGE OF THE FIRE, came from the altar and called in a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, “Take your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of grapes from the earth’s vine, because the VINTAGE OF THE EARTH is RIPE.” The angel swung his sickle on the earth, gathered its grapes and threw them into the great winepress of
GOD’S WRATH [the WRATH of the LAMB]. They were trampled in the wine-press outside the city, and blood flowed out of the press, rising as high as the horses’ bridles for a distance of 1,600 stadia.
Does the wrath of a lamb sound like a contradiction? Yes, but Britain would have feared to the awaken the wrath of non-violent Gandhi during their occupation. John likens the harvest to the harvest of the earth which the 144,000 are the first fruits.
Joel 3.13–Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Go in, tread, for the wine press is full . . .
John takes the language of the who comes in vindication from Isaiah 63. At first the one who treads the wine-press has no helper but that changes in Revelation 19. This is violent imagery but John will flip it on its head later like he does with other passages from the Tanahk:
Isaiah 63.1-6–Who is this that comes from Edom, from Bozrah in garments Nonviolent Noncooperation of His Army stained crimson? Who is this so splendidly robed, marching in his great might?” “It is I, announcing vindication, mighty to save.” “Why are your robes red, and your garments like theirs who tread the wine press?” “I have trodden the wine press ALONE, and from the peoples NO ONE WAS WITH ME; I trod them in my wrath and trampled them in my wrath; their juice spattered on my garments, and stained all my robes. For the day of VENGEANCE was in my heart, and the year for my REDEEMING WORK had come. I looked, but there was NO HELPER; I stared, but there was NO ONE TO SUSTAIN ME; so my own arm brought me VICTORY, and my wrath sustained me. I trampled down peoples in my wrath, I crushed them in my wrath, and I poured out their lifeblood on the earth.”
The book of Revelation almost didn’t make it in the canon and the objection to including the book of revelation was that future generations would read the violent language of Revelation and take it literally. The authorship and the validity of the book was not in doubt. Note: I was not able to find anything backing up exactly what Herb said here, the closest thing I could find is the following description from Eusebius:
1. Afterward he speaks in this manner of the Apocalypse of John.
“Some before us have set aside and rejected the book altogether, criticising it chapter by chapter, and pronouncing it without sense or argument, and maintaining that the title is fraudulent.
2. For they say that it is not the work of John, nor is it a revelation, because it is covered thickly and densely by a vail of obscurity. And they affirm that none of the apostles, and none of the saints, nor any one in the Church is its author, but that Cerinthus, who founded the sect which was called after him the Cerinthian, desiring reputable authority for his fiction, prefixed the name.
3. For the doctrine which he taught was this: that the kingdom of Christ will be an earthly one. And as he was himself devoted to the pleasures of the body and altogether sensual in his nature, he dreamed that that kingdom would consist in those things which he desired, namely, in the delights of the belly and of sexual passion; that is to say, in eating and drinking and marrying, and in festivals and sacrifices and the slaying of victims, under the guise of which he thought he could indulge his appetites with a better grace. 2341 http://www.sacred-texts.com/chr/ecf/201/2010243.htm
However, I am not sure if “the slaying of victims” refers to sacrificial victims, hence animals, or human victims in battle. It is possible that this does not back up what Herb is saying at all and even if it did Herb appears to have left out many things: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Revelation#Canonical_history It is true, however, that many earlier Christians didn’t know how to interpret Revelation as Eusebius mentioned and continues:
4. “But I could not venture to reject the book, as many brethren hold it in high esteem. But I suppose that it is beyond my comprehension, and that there is a certain concealed and more wonderful meaning in every part. For if I do not understand I suspect that a deeper sense lies beneath the words.
5. I do not measure and judge them by my own reason, but leaving the more to faith I regard them as too high for me to grasp. And I do not reject what I cannot comprehend, but rather wonder because I do not understand it.”
This backs up Herb’s program of interpreting the book allegorically. More specifically I’ve noticed many scholars support him on a variety of points. For example:
John sees the Beast from the Sea as a symbol for the Roman Empire: “Who is like the Beast? Who can make war against him?” (13:4). Satan “leads the whole world astray” (12:9; see also 20:3). The Greek word translated here as “world” (oikoumenê) is often used to refer to the inhabited world and, in the 1st century, the Roman Empire. “[The Beast] was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation” (13:7). And especially in Asia Minor, the deified Rome (Dea Roma) was worshipped for bringing peace and prosperity. John warns that “all the inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast” (13:8) rather than God, the One-Sitting-on-the-Throne. . . .
Despite John’s pessimism, his visions end not in destruction but in hope and transformation for the entire world. John sees that all the nations and even their leaders will recognize God as the One-Sitting-on-the-Throne and live by the light of the Lamb:
And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of earth will bring their glory into it ( 21:23–24).
Revelation 6.16-17– . . . Hide us from . . your garments like theirs who tread the wine press?” “I have trodden the wine. the wrath of the Lamb; for the great dayof [his] wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”
Revelation 14.10– . . .Tormented . . . the presence of the Lamb . . .
The conversion of the nations . . . every chapter in Revelation has been riddled with it.
Antecedent of the Grain Harvest: Revelation 14.4–They [the 144,00] have been redeemed from humankind as FIRST FRUITS for God and the Lamb . . .
What we see in the vintage harvest is not something different than the first-fruits of the conversion all nations. The vintage harvest mirrors the grain harvest used by John:
Antecedent of the Vintage Harvest:
Exodus 22.29–You shall not delay to make offerings [firstfruits] from the fullness of your harvest AND from the outflow of your presses.
You have one of two options here, either those who are slain for Jesus are calling out for vengeance or vindication. Vindication is what the Greek says but if you take it the other way you have a problem because the example of Christ and Stephen asking for the forgiveness of their killers. Instead the saints are asking when their martyrdom would produce the conversion of the nation which had been prophesied:
The Wrath of the Lamb:
Revelation 11.18–THE NATIONS raged, but your WRATH has come, and the time for VINDICATING the dead . . .
Although grapes being refined (into wine) is harder on the grapes than the grain John is using it the same way. There are people that go through struggles when being converted. The plagues and the wrath are not the same thing, one accomplished the other we will get to that in Revelation 15. Right after the wine-press the conversion of the nations is mentioned again proving this is not about killing but about conversion. Those who follow the beast’s image will be tormented in the Lamb’s presence but it will change them from grapes into grape juice which is a related but a very different substance symbolizing conversion:
Revelation 15.1-4–I saw in heaven another great and marvelous sign: seven angels with the seven last plagues–last, because with them GOD’S WRATH is completed [carried through to full operation]. And I saw what looked like a sea of glass glowing with fire and, standing beside the sea, those who had been VICTORIOUS over the BEAST and its IMAGE and over the NUMBER of its NAME. They held harps given them by God and sang the song of God’s servant Moses
[the Exodus now applied to the Nations] and of the Lamb: “Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, KING OF THE NATIONS. Who will not FEAR you, Lord, and bring GLORY to your name? For you alone are holy. ALL NATIONS WILL COME AND WORSHIP BEFORE YOU, for your righteous acts have been revealed.”
Would this have motivated you to keep dying for the gospel? The refrain in Revelation is that it will work eventually. You have one of three options 1 fight back (not viable for the early Christians) 2 Jesus could fight them 3 Church could have fled persecution or gone underground. However, Christ says that the way we convert the nations is not through fighting back or running away but through taking up your cross and dying for the gospel. Jesus was their example and the joy that is set before the church is the eventual conversion of the nations:
Hebrews 12.2–Looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the JOY that was set before him ENDURED THE CROSS, disregarding its shame, and has taken his SEAT at the right hand of the THRONE OF GOD.
Revelation 3.21 — To those who are victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, JUST AS I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne.
Revelation 13.10 &14.12–This calls for patient endurance of the saints . . .
As Martin Luther King said: “we will match your capacity to inflict suffering with our capacity to endure suffering and we will win a double victory we will not only win our freedom but we will win you with it” (paraphrase) This Herb says was the hope of the early church.
The imagery that John is using is Exodus imagery but instead of bringing Isreal out of Egypt he is bringing every nation tongue tribe and people out of slavery to Babylon. It is prophetically called Sodom, it is the place where the lord was crucified, and it was also called Egypt, but we know that it is Babylon (covered in Revelation 11)
Last time this language was used “I saw in heaven” was with the woman and then when he saw a dragon attacking the woman. What was the purpose of the plagues in the Exodus? It was to bring suffering to Egypt so that they would let Israel go. John is going to take this Exodus imagery and apply it to Babylon with every nation being delivered from her:
Revelation 15.1-4–I saw in heaven another great and marvelous sign:
seven angels with the seven last plagues–last, because by them God’s wrath is. And I saw what looked like a SEA OF GLASS glowing with fire and, . . .
Imagery of Exodus:
. . . standing BESIDE THE SEA, those who had been victorious over the BEAST and its IMAGE and over the NUMBER of its NAME. They held harps given them by God and sang the SONG OF GOD’S SERVANT MOSES and of the LAMB:
Song of Moses is in Exodus 15 and Revelation 15 is where John mentions it. Ironically, John never quotes from Exodus 15 but what he actually quotes from is another set of verses quoting Exodus 15 but saying other things as well. These are what he takes and turns into the song of Moses in Revelation 15.
Exodus 15.1–Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the LORD:
Song of Moses:
“Great and marvelous are your deeds, LORD GOD ALMIGHTY. Just
and true are your ways, KING OF THE NATIONS. . . .
The start of this is a reference to the first angel’s message. This shows the first angels message of “fear God and give him glory” is indeed heeded by all nations.
[continued] . . .WHO WILL NOT FEAR YOU, LORD, and BRING GLORY TO YOUR NAME? For YOU ALONE ARE HOLY. ALL NATIONS WILL COME AND WORSHIP BEFORE YOU, for your RIGHTEOUS ACTS HAVE BEEN
“Marvelous deeds” is only part of Exodus 15 that John quotes:
Exodus 15.11–Who among the gods is like you, LORD? Who is like you– majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, doing marvelous deeds?
Song of Moses said the nations will “come and worship before [God]” now John will take that to mean something totally different in the Book of Revelation. The grapes have to go through anguish to be turned into grape juice:
Exodus 15.14-16–THE NATIONS will hear and TREMBLE; ANGUISH
will grip the people of Philistia. The chiefs of Edom will be terrified, the leaders of Moab will be seized with trembling, the people of Canaan will melt away; TERROR and DREAD will fall on them.
John takes all this anger and fear and trembling and translates it into the good kind of fear and the glory before God (this is explained in the homework when Herb sent the audience home with a reading assignment)
Exodus 15.13, 17–In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling. . .
We see all the kings of the earth bringing their glory into the new Jerusalem in Revelation 21.
[continued]. . . You will bring them in and plant them on the mountain of your inheritance–the place, LORD, you made for your dwelling, the sanctuary, Lord, your hands established.
Exodus 15.18–“The LORD reigns for ever and ever.”
What Herb has done is underlined the quotes from Exodus 15 while the part that is capitalized is from the song of Moses:
Jeremiah 10.6,7–No one is like you, LORD; you are great, and your
name is mighty in power. WHO SHOULD NOT FEAR YOU, KING OF
THE NATIONS? This is your due. Among all the wise rulers of the na-
tions and in all their kingdoms, there is no one like you.
Psalms 86.8-10–Among the gods there is none like you, Lord; no deeds can compare with yours. ALL THE NATIONS you have made WILL COME AND WORSHIP BEFORE YOU, Lord; they will BRING GLORY TO YOUR NAME. For you are great and do marvelous deeds; YOU ALONE ARE GOD.
John connects “righteous acts being revealed [to all nations]” with Psalms 98 which is about the conversion of the nations:
Psalms 98.1–Sing to the Lord A NEW SONG, for he has done marvelous deeds; his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him. The Lord has made his salvation [victory] known and REVEALED HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS TO THE NATIONS.
Revelation 14.6–Then I saw another angel flying in midheaven, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth–to every NATION AND TRIBE AND LANGUAGE AND PEOPLE. He said in a
loud voice, “FEAR God and give him GLORY, for the hour of his just
and equitous reign has come; and WORSHIP him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.”
Remember what the prophecy was–the war scroll–when it was unrolled in chapter 11. This is what this is an expounding of. Rev 11 is the center of the book of Revelation. The whole rest of Revelation is an expounding of what that war scroll reveals. Essentially it is about how the army of the Lamb will bring about the conversion of the nations:
Revelation 11.13– the survivors FEARED the GOD OF HEAVEN and gave GLORY to him
We are just looking at how this will be done:
Revelation 15.5-8–After this I looked, and I saw in heaven the temple–that is, the tabernacle of the covenant law–and IT WAS OPENED. Out of the temple came the seven angels with the seven plagues. They were dressed in clean, shining linen and wore golden sashes around their chests. Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls filled with the wrath of God, who lives for ever and ever. And the temple was filled with smoke from the GLORY of God and from his POWER, and no one could enter the temple until the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed.
John starts this with the tabernacle (it was opened) he is repeating this from the end of the 7th trumpet. What he is doing is locking the 7 plagues into the 7th trumpet just like he is locking the 7 trumpets into the 7th seal:
Revelation 11.19–THEN GOD’S TEMPLE IN HEAVEN WAS
OPENED, and within his temple was seen the ark of his covenant. AND THERE CAME FLASHES OF LIGHTNING, RUMBLINGS, PEALS OF THUNDER, AN EARTHQUAKE AND A GREAT HAILSTORM.
Notice that this is what they would have heard: you have seven seals and within the seventh seal you see the seven angels that have seven trumpets and you come down to the seventh trumpet and you see heaven is opened but you no seven plagues are mentioned (he doesn’t lock them in there) what you see is Re: 12, 13, 14 that Herb covered before. However, in Rev 15 when he picks up with the seven plagues he goes back to that language he used in the seventh trumpet and ties it back in. The seven trumpets are all mentioned in the seventh seal while the seven last plagues are all mentioned in the seventh trumpet by taking this language “I saw heaven opened:”
Revelation 8.1-5–When he opened the SEVENTH SEAL, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. AND I SAW THE SEVEN ANGELS WHO STAND BEFORE GOD, AND SEVEN TRUMPETS WERE GIVEN TO THEM. Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all God’s people, on the golden altar before the throne. The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of God’s people, went up before God from the angel’s hand. Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth; and there came PEALS OF THUNDER, RUMBLINGS, FLASHES OF LIGHTNING AND AN EARTHQUAKE.
Revelation 15.1–Then I saw another portent in heaven, great and amazing: seven angels with seven plagues, which are the last, for by them the wrath of God [of the Lamb] might be made to happen.
The wrath of God and the seven last plagues are connected but one happens so that the other might happen. The word here for “might be made to happen” in the Greek is ετελέσθη or simple form: τελέω (teleo) it is used in The Gospel of John:
John 19.28– . . . in order that what is written in Scripture might happen . . .
Luke 1.45– . . . happy is the one who believes that what has been spoken to her by the Lord will be made to happen . . .
Revelation 15.1–Then I saw another portent in heaven, great and amazing: seven angels with seven plagues, which are the last, for by them the wrath of God [of the Lamb] might be made to happen.
Revelation 15-20 all of this is going to be a definition of the wrath of the lamb and how it produces the conversion of the nations, but notice it begins with the seven last plagues. This is where it starts and these happen so that the whole thing might happen:
The result of these plagues is not the conversion of the nations but what is needed for the conversion is accomplished by these plagues:
Revelation 16.1–Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, “Go, pour out the seven bowls OF God’s wrath [of the Lamb] on the earth.”
Originally these plagues are on Egypt so that Israel might be delivered:
Revelation 16.2–The first angel went and poured out his bowl on the
LAND, and ugly, festering sores broke out on the people who had the MARK of the BEAST and WORSHIPED its IMAGE.
Revelation 8.7–The first angel sounded his trumpet, and there came hail and fire mixed with blood, and it was hurled down ON THE EARTH. A THIRD of the earth was burned up, A THIRD of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up.
Remember when those trumpets sound they are announcing the army of the Lamb (see Joel 2) but when that army is announced not only do the trumpets sound in heaven but who goes to work?: the dragon. The dragon is furious going about like a roaring lion because he knows his time is short. He does anything to prevent the success of the army of the Lamb. A third of the land is burned, a third of the stars fall, but when God pours out something on the land that is effecting Babylon: all of it is burned up. Why is this significant? God is not the only one doing plagues in Exodus. The magicians in Egypt tried to match his plagues. This is the story John is borrowing from. John turns this on its head where the devil is performing plagues and they only effect one third but God matches it and does a plague that effects all. This shows that the Devil is not the real ruler of the earth. Compare:
Revelation 16.3–The second angel poured out his bowl on THE SEA,
and it turned into blood like that of a dead person, and EVERY LIVING
THING [Sea Creatures] IN THE SEA DIED.
Revelation 8.8-9–The second angel sounded his trumpet, and something like a huge mountain, all ablaze, was thrown into THE SEA. A THIRD of the sea turned into blood, A THIRD of the living creatures in the sea died, and A THIRD of the ships were destroyed.
Revelation 16.4-7–The third angel poured out his bowl on the RIVERS AND SPRINGS OF WATER, and they became blood. Then I heard the angel in charge of the waters say: “You are just in these judgments, you who are and who were, the Holy One, because you have so judged; for they have shed the blood of your people and your prophets, and you have given them blood to drink as they deserve.” And I heard the altar respond: “Yes, Lord God Almighty, true and just are your judgments.”
“You are just in these judgements” and what comes after is key here. The question is (look at Revelation 14:7) what territory is in contest between the trumpets and the plagues? the heavens, the earth, the sea . . . has anyone died in these plagues? They are tormented yes. Is it for their punishment or redemption? How does giving violent people blood to drink bring about their redemption?
Revelation14.7–“Fear God and give him
glory, because the hour of his just and eq-
uitous reign has come. Worship him who
made the HEAVENS, the EARTH, the
SEA and the SPRINGS OF WATER.”
Robert E Lee became a pacifist, saying “I have had enough of blood. ” He wanted to be remembered for starting a college and not what he did during the civil war. Another example of such sentiment is here:
“I smell myself daily and the smell
disgusts me. I have had enough of blood.
The gutters of the city are running with
blood, there are flecks of blood in the
loves of bread, bood feeds the roots of
the apple trees where stinking dead men
hang among the apples. You may not
believe me now, but a killer by trade who
has had enough of blood is a good found-
ing member for a community based on
kindness and freedom as yours is to be.
A.S. Byatt; Babel Tower p. 30.
Why is God giving them blood to drink? Is it to punish them? Herb says it is to bring about their redemption. Herb wants you to remember in Rev 8:12 when it talks about the trumpets. The fourth trumpet sounded and a third of the sun was struck. Now under this plague the sun is turned up and it shines brighter. Once again no loss of life but severe torment. Grapes must go through torment to be turned into juice:
Revelation 16.8-9–The fourth angel poured out his bowl on THE SUN,
and the sun was ALLOWED to SCORCH PEOPLE WITH FIRE. They
were seared by the intense heat and THEY CURSED THE NAME OF
GOD, WHO HAD CONTROL OVER THESE PLAGUES, BUT THEY
REFUSED TO REPENT AND GLORIFY HIM.
Revelation 8.12–The fourth angel sounded his trumpet, and A THIRD of the SUN was struck, A THIRD of the MOON, and A THIRD of the STARS, so that A THIRD of them turned dark. A THIRD of the day was WITHOUT LIGHT, and also A THIRD of the NIGHT.
Revelation 16.10-11–The fifth angel poured out his bowl on THE THRONE of the BEAST, and ITS KINGDOM was plunged into DARK-
NESS. PEOPLE GNAWED THEIR TONGUES IN AGONY AND
CURSED THE GOD OF HEAVEN BECAUSE OF THEIR PAINS
AND THEIR SORES, BUT THEY REFUSED TO REPENT OF WHAT
THEY HAD DONE.
Sending plagues on Egyptians to make them let go of Israel will work but will it make all of them follow God? Will the methods of the Tanahk work to produce followers of the lamb? No. However, they set up the scene, they enable it, but we do not see the conversion of the nations through the plagues instead what we have is greater obstinence at first:
Revelation 9.1-6–The fifth angel sounded his trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from the sky to the earth. The star was given the key to the shaft of the Abyss. When he opened the Abyss, smoke rose from it like the smoke from a gigantic furnace . . . And out of the smoke locusts came down on the earth and were given power like that of scorpions of the earth. They were not allowed to kill them but only to torture them for five months. And the agony they suffered
was like that of the sting of a scorpion when it strikes. During those days people will seek death but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them.
Who had escaped across the Euphrates? Nero. Here you have the Euphrates drying up to prepare the way for the kings of the east. The battle is still future after the plagues, so the plagues have failed to bring about conversion of the nations. What’s interesting in the 6th trumpet the river Euphrates is mentioned as well. Why is he bringing up the Euphrates? One of the west: Nero would return across Euphrates and have vengence and become a Roman emperor again and rule the world. The east legend is that Nero had befriended the Parthian empire and lead the charge of the Parthians back and bring Rome’s fall and Parthia would rule the world. People depending on their loyalty like the first or the second language. John is using the legend of the east is Rev 16. From here on out until revelation 19 he is talking about the eastern legend. How did Babylon fall? Cyrus dried up the river Euphrates so they could come in. What we see is the fall of Babylon and the conversion of the nations away from Babylon to the Lamb:
Revelation 16.12-16–The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great
RIVER EUPHRATES, and its water was DRIED UP to prepare the
way for THE KINGS FROM THE EAST. Then I saw three evil spirits
that looked like frogs; they came out of the mouth of THE DRAGON,
out of the mouth of THE BEAST and out of the mouth of THE FALSE
PROPHET. They are demonic spirits that perform signs, and they go
out to THE KINGS OF THE WHOLE WORLD, to GATHER them for
THE BATTLE ON THE GREAT DAY OF GOD ALMIGHTY. “Look, I come like a THIEF! Blessed are those who STAY AWAKE and KEEP THEIR CLOTHES ON, so that they may not go naked and be shamefully exposed.”Then they gathered THE KINGS together to the place that in Hebrew is called ARMAGEDDON.
Herb isn’t going to read much of Armageddon. He asks the audience to read the rest. Herb says the reason John uses that term is that the prophecy in the Tanahk about Armageddon is about a war where all the nations are involved and John will flip this on its head and turn it into all the nations being converted.
http://renewedheartministries.com/presentation/Follow-the-Lamb I’m paraphrasing (and analyzing in part) this series of lectures on Revelation by Herb Montgomery because it relates to the kingdom of God. My Bible study is discussing this series and I just now decided to start posting about it so I will be following along with them for the rest of the series on parts 12-17. I will post a summary during the week before we have Bible study friday night and will update it after Bible study to account for anything else learned there. However, this post (part 12) is just a summary after Bible study. I will finish parts 1-11 on my own after 12-17. Hopefully I will be able to get the others to comment on those as well. Herb argues that there is a change in teaching in the new testament to pacifism–from the Tanahk (or Old Testament)–and argues that Revelation fits with this. This also interests me because our paper “Unless He Gives up All His Possessions” argues for a change in teaching in the Christian writings (New Testament) with regards to possessions but only due to a different situation arising after Christ. Young’s literal translation is used except when otherwise noted. Herb is using the TNIV which I cannot find online.
Lecture: https://renewedheartministries.com/sermons/followthelamb/12abeastanditsfalseprophet.mp3 Handout: https://renewedheartministries.com/sermons/followthelamb/outlines/12unholytrinity.pdf
. . .
Herb Montgomery states that John (in Revelation) quotes from Daniel 7 more than any other chapter in the Tanahk because the hope of Daniel 7 is the same as the hope of the book of Revelation. This is he says is the climax and the point of Revelation and Daniel 7:
14 And to him is given dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, and all peoples, nations, and languages do serve him, his dominion [is] a dominion age-during, that passeth not away, and his kingdom that which is not destroyed. (Daniel 7:14 YLT)
The dragon goes to make war with the rest of the woman’s offspring and the way he does this is that he calls forth a beast. Herb has made the text bold in the handout where it quotes the Nero legend. I am using a different translation so I have bolded the corresponding words:
1 And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and I saw out of the sea a beast coming up, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon its horns ten diadems, and upon its heads a name of evil speaking, 2 and the beast that I saw was like to a leopard, and its feet as of a bear, and its mouth as the mouth of a lion, and the dragon did give to it his power, and his throne, and great authority. 3 And I saw one of its heads as slain to death, and its deadly stroke was healed, and all the earth did wonder after the beast, 4 and they did bow before the dragon who did give authority to the beast, and they did bow before the beast, saying, `Who [is] like to the beast? who is able to war with it?’ 5 And there was given to it a mouth speaking great things, and evil-speakings, and there was given to it authority to make war forty-two months, 6 and it did open its mouth for evil-speaking toward God, to speak evil of His name, and of His tabernacle, and of those who in the heaven tabernacle, 7 and there was given to it to make war with the saints, and to overcome them, and there was given to it authority over every tribe, and tongue, and nation. 8 And bow before it shall all who are dwelling upon the land, whose names have not been written in the scroll of the life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world; 9 if any one hath an ear — let him hear: 10 if any one a captivity doth gather, into captivity he doth go away; if any one by sword doth kill, it behoveth him by sword to be killed; here is the endurance and the faith of the saints. (Revelation 13:1-10)
Like in Revelation the saints will be killed by the beast that comes out of the abyss. The beast is claiming to be their king but right now and they have to submit to the beast. In Rev 13:8 Herb connects the phrase “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world;” to the Ascension of Isaiah 4:2-14 which is about the Nero legends: 
“Beliar [Belial] will descend, the great angel, the king of this world, which he has ruled EVER SINCE IT EXISTED.” See: ‘Two “Nero” Legends’ for more of the parallels Herb has noticed: https://renewedheartministries.com/sermons/followthelamb/outlines/12unholytrinity.pdf This part of the Ascension of Isaiah (AOI) is dated to the end of the first century.  If you combine this knowledge with the date of 96 AD  for Revelation it is uncertain that John could be quoting from AOI even more so if we take an earlier date for Revelation. However, a few scholars think that AOI already existed in the first century.  Herb says AOI is similar to the third Sibylline Oracle.
Devil is taking his authority and giving it to the beast (who is Nero). Compare:
“and the dragon did give to it his power, and his throne, and great authority” (Rev 13:2)
“they did bow before the dragon who did give authority to the beast” (Rev 13:4)
5 And the Devil having brought him up to an high mountain, shewed to him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time,
6 and the Devil said to him, `To thee I will give all this authority, and their glory, because to me it hath been delivered, and to whomsoever I will, I do give it; (Luke 4:5-6)
John has people saying praises to the beast that are previously only applied to God. Compare the following: `Who [is] like to the beast? who is able to war with it?’ (Rev 13:4) Also Psalm 86:8-10 shows that the nations worshipping God is what happens in the end:
11 Who [is] like Thee among the gods, O Jehovah? Who [is] like Thee — honourable in holiness — Fearful in praises — doing wonders? (Ex 15:11)
8 There is none like Thee among the gods, O Lord, And like Thy works there are none.
9 All nations that Thou hast made Come and bow themselves before Thee, O Lord, And give honour to Thy name.
10 For great [art] Thou, and doing wonders, Thou [art] God Thyself alone. (Psalms 86:8-10)
Herb says the end of the story is where it talks about the new Jerusalem in Revelation 21:4 (people worshipping the beast is not the end of the story)
“and the nations of the saved in its light shall walk, and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it,” (Rev 21:24)
What the beast is doing is blasphemy (“evil-speaking” in YLT) as it says in Rev 13. Compare:
And to him is given dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, and all peoples, nations, and languages do serve him, his dominion [is] a dominion age-during, that passeth not away, and his kingdom that which is not destroyed. (Dan 7:14)
The Jews answered him, saying, `For a good work we do not stone thee, but for evil speaking, and because thou, being a man, dost make thyself God.’ (John 10:33)
These things are also reflected in the Nero legend :
. . .“I AM THE LORD, AND BEFORE ME THERE WAS NO ONE.” And ALL men in the world will believe in him. They will sacrifice to him and will serve him, saying, “THIS IS THE LORD, AND BESIDES HIM THERE IS NO OTHER.” And the MAJORITY OF THOSE WHO HAVE ASSOCIATED TOGETHER TO RECEIVE THE BELOVED HE WILL TURN AFTER HIM. . . . Ascension of Isiah (4:2-14) taken from https://renewedheartministries.com/sermons/followthelamb/outlines/12unholytrinity.pdf
They would have seen the Nero legend of the west in the first beast’s imagery. Who would they have seen in this imagery?
11 And I saw another beast coming up out of the land, and it had two horns, like a lamb, and it was speaking as a dragon, 12 and all the authority of the first beast doth it do before it, and it maketh the land and those dwelling in it that they shall bow before the first beast, whose deadly stroke was healed, 13 and it doth great signs, that fire also it may make to come down from the heaven to the earth before men, 14 and it leadeth astray those dwelling on the land, because of the signs that were given it to do before the beast, saying to those dwelling upon the land to make an image to the beast that hath the stroke of the sword and did live, 15 and there was given to it to give a spirit to the image of the beast, that also the image of the beast may speak, and [that] it may cause as many as shall not bow before the image of the beast, that they may be killed. 16 And it maketh all, the small, and the great, and the rich, and the poor, and the freemen, and the servants, that it may give to them a mark upon their right hand or upon their foreheads, 17 and that no one may be able to buy, or to sell, except he who is having the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. 18 Here is the wisdom! He who is having the understanding, let him count the number of the beast, for the number of a man it is, and its number [is] 666. (Revelation 13:11-18)
“Fatal wound” is the same words: Rev 13:3 Rev 5:6 Rev 13:12,
“lived” is the same word: Rev 2:8 Rev 13:14 Rev 1:18
Essentially your hope is to be in the lamb who was slain and yet lives not in the similar myth of Nero. Herb reads the following to show that the Christians would have seen their own situation in the words of Revelation about the beast and the image:
An anonymous document was published containing the names of many persons. Those who denied that they were or had been Christians, when they invoked the gods in words dictated by me, offered prayer with incense and wine to your image, which I had ordered to be brought for this purpose together with statues of the gods, and moreover cursed Christ–none of which those who are really Christians, it is said, can be forced to do–these I thought should be discharged. Others named by the informer declared that they were Christians, but then denied it, asserting that they had been but had ceased to be, some three years before, others many years, some as much as twenty-five years. They all worshipped your image and the statues of the gods, and cursed Christ. http://faculty.georgetown.edu/jod/texts/pliny.html
Herb quotes “Even as I also received AUTHORITY from my FATHER” (Rev 2:28 TNIV) As a side-note if you can’t see a similar phrase in your translation look at the verse before. Translations differ greatly in verse numbering here, YLT has:
26 and he who is overcoming, and who is keeping unto the end my works, I will give to him authority over the nations,
27 and he shall rule them with a rod of iron — as the vessels of the potter they shall be broken — as I also have received from my Father; 28 and I will give to him the morning star. (Rev 2:26-28)
Similar concepts appear elsewhere:
no one doth take it from me, but I lay it down of myself; authority I have to lay it down, and authority I have again to take it; this command I received from my Father.’ (John 10:8)
And having come near, Jesus spake to them, saying, ‘Given to me was all authority in heaven and on earth; (Matthew 28:18)
then — the end, when he may deliver up the reign to God, even the Father, when he may have made useless all rule, and all authority and power — (1 Corinthians 15:24)
Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. (1 Cor 15:24)
Nero received authority from the dragon while Christ received authority from his father. The lamb-like beast is called the false prophet. The beast has a false prophet while the lamb has true prophets.
and the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet who did the signs before him, in which he led astray those who did receive the mark of the beast, and those who did bow before his image; living they were cast — the two — to the lake of the fire, that is burning with brimstone; (Rev 19:20)
The church and its prophetic role as a witness to stand before the lord:
these are the two olive [trees], and the two lamp-stands that before the God of the earth do stand; (Rev 11:4)
and all the authority of the first beast doth it do before it, and it maketh the land and those dwelling in it that they shall bow before the first beast, whose deadly stroke was healed, (Rev 13:12)
Herb says it is a direct quote of 11:4 “before the” God of the earth I do see the same Greek word (Strong’s G1799) used in both and a similar word used right after. Revelation 13:14 does have the same two words. Compare:
In Rev 11 the Lamb has a true prophet that stands in his presence while the false prophet stands in the presence of the beast. The witnesses in Revelation 11 have the power of Elijah (shut up the sky from rain etc . . .) but are never said to use it. Hence, Herb makes the parallel between the true prophets who have the power of Elijah but use non-violent methods (methods of the Lamb) and the false prophet who has the power of Elijah and chooses to fully use it (by calling down fire from heaven like Elijah did to the groups of 50 men sent to take him) The lamb-like beast looks like a lamb but speaks and acts like a dragon: “follow or be killed” see Rev 13:11 and Rev 13:15. The imagery is taken from Daniel 3 where Nebuchadnezzar sets up an image and whoever doesn’t worship the image will be thrown into a blazing furnace. John flips this upside-down: whoever worships the image of the beast will be thrown into the lake of fire.
Compare the following:
`And ye have placed these my words on your heart, and on your soul, and have bound them for a sign on your hand, and they have been for frontlets between your eyes; (Deut 11:18)
And I saw, and lo, a Lamb having stood upon the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty-four thousands, having the name of his Father written upon their foreheads; (Rev 14:1)
Father gives authority to the lamb who has a prophet or a witness in Rev 11. The dragon gives authority to the beast. This was the warning of Revelation 13: don’t be like the majority and follow after Rome or empire in general. In the 16th century this imagery was seen as referring to Papal Rome. Herb goes through some light numerology mostly on how many times things are mentioned in Revelation, for example to quote from the handout:
Seven ~ Totality or Completeness
Four ~ World (corners/winds; heaven, earth, sea, rivers; nation, people, language and tribe.)
Babylon has 28 products of the whole world.
“the one who lives forever and ever” ~ Four times
Lord God Almighty ~ Seven times
The One Who Sits on the Throne ~ Seven times
Alpha and Omega (or equivalent) ~ Seven times
Christ ~ Seven times
Jesus ~ Fourteen times (two being the number of the witnesses)
Lamb ~ Twenty Eight times (4 x 7)
Nations, Languages, Tribe and People ~ Seven times (but a fourfold
Twelve ~ God’s people
144,000 ~ 12 squared and multiplied by 1000 (largest number)
Too many to be accidental
The Greek word for “angle” translated into Hebrew is 144 (see Rev 21:17)
Greek word “beast” translated into Hebrew equals 666 (see Rev 13:17-18) “Neron Ceasar” (a variation of Nero’s title) as spelled in some historical document(s) equals 666 while “Nero Ceasar” equals 616. This detail is from the author’s memory not from Herb’s lecture. Also see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Number_of_the_Beast#Nero Herb argues this means the early Christians would have seen this beast as Nero and John’s meaning here is that they should not hope for the return of Nero but the return of the Lamb.
Herb suggests as further reading on numerology in Revelation: “Climax of Prophecy” by Professor Richard Bauckham and to look up the chapter on Nero.
Compare the following. Note “name” means “character” in Hebrew thought:
1 And I saw, and lo, a Lamb having stood upon the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty-four thousands, having the name of his Father written upon their foreheads; 2 and I heard a voice out of the heaven, as a voice of many waters, and as a voice of great thunder, and a voice I heard of harpers harping with their harps, 3 and they sing, as it were, a new song before the throne, and before the four living creatures, and the elders, and no one was able to learn the song except the hundred forty-four thousands, who have been bought from the earth; 4 these are they who with women were not defiled, for they are virgin; these are they who are following the Lamb whithersoever he may go; these were bought from among men — a first-fruit to God and to the Lamb — 5 and in their mouth there was not found guile, for unblemished are they before the throne of God. (Rev 14:1-5)
27 `Now hath my soul been troubled, and what? shall I say — Father, save me from this hour? — but because of this I came to this hour; 28 Father, glorify Thy name.’ There came, therefore, a voice out of the heaven, `I both glorified, and again I will glorify [it];’ (John 12:27-28)
9 Jesus saith to him, `So long time am I with you, and thou hast not known me, Philip? he who hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how dost thou say, Shew to us the Father? (John 14:9)
Herb uses the following verse to argue that in the past God has spoken in many different ways to his people. He states “different from what looks like a lamb” and later that Christ “strips away all accommodations of God having to meet people where they are at . . . if God is allowed to be just himself . . .” implying before there was violence commanded in the Tanakh that departed from God’s true character but that now we have the exact representation of what God is like in Christ. I don’t quite agree here but I won’t get into the disagreement:
1 In many parts, and many ways, God of old having spoken to the fathers in the prophets, 2 in these last days did speak to us in a Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He did make the ages; 3 who being the brightness of the glory, and the impress of His subsistence, bearing up also the all things by the saying of his might — through himself having made a cleansing of our sins, sat down at the right hand of the greatness in the highest, (Hebrews 1:1-3)
So Rev 14:1 Herb says are people who understand God’s true character as communicated by Christ (those who have his name written on their foreheads) He connects the “new song” in Rev 1:3 they sing to Psalms 96 and 98 which are about the conversion of the nation, Herb writes in the handout “A call to The Nation to submit to the just and equitous reign of the Lamb”. Hence more evidence for that view to be applied to Revelation.
He states that the 144,000 in Revelation are “virgins” and have kept themselves from women because they are symbolizing an army because keeping from women was a requirement for when soldiers went to war. My thoughts are that if keeping from women traditionally makes you pure for battle then keeping away from women your whole life (being a virgin) means you are ready for battle your whole life. Obviously, this is using militaristic imagery and symbolic and Herb argues this is a non-violent army.
4 And the priest answereth David, and saith, `There is no common bread under my hand, but there is holy bread; if the youths have been kept only from women.’ 5 And David answereth the priest, and saith to him, `Surely, if women have been restrained from us as heretofore in my going out, then the vessels of the young men are holy, and it [is] a common way: and also, surely to-day it is sanctified in the vessel.’ (1 Samuel 21:4-5)
9 `When a camp goeth out against thine enemies, then thou hast kept from every evil thing. 10 `When there is in thee a man who is not clean, from an accident at night — then he hath gone out unto the outside of the camp — he doth not come in unto the midst of the camp — (Deuteronomy 23:9-10)
The 144,000 being first fruits of every nation, tongue, tribe, and people (also see Revelation 7:9 and context) means that they are “first” of many. There is much evidence for this from the sacrifices and other passages in the Bible. Hence, Herb again is arguing that all nations will be saved:
9 and they sing a new song, saying, `Worthy art thou to take the scroll, and to open the seals of it, because thou wast slain, and didst redeem us to God in thy blood, out of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation, (Rev 5:9)
On first fruits see the following:
9 And Jehovah speaketh unto Moses, saying, 10 `Speak unto the sons of Israel, and thou hast said unto them, When ye come in unto the land which I am giving to you, and have reaped its harvest, and have brought in the sheaf, the beginning of your harvest unto the priest, 11 then he hath waved the sheaf before Jehovah for your acceptance; on the morrow of the sabbath doth the priest wave it. 12 `And ye have prepared in the day of your waving the sheaf a lamb, a perfect one, a son of a year, for a burnt-offering to Jehovah, 13 and its present two tenth deals of flour mixed with oil, a fire-offering to Jehovah, a sweet fragrance, and its drink-offering, wine, a fourth of the hin. 14 `And bread and roasted corn and full ears ye do not eat until this self-same day, until your bringing in the offering of your God — a statute age-during to your generations, in all your dwellings. (Lev 23:9-14)
5 and the assembly at their house; salute Epaenetus, my beloved, who is first-fruit of Achaia to Christ. (Romans 16:5)
15 And I entreat you, brethren, ye have known the household of Stephanas, that it is the first-fruit of Achaia, and to the ministration to the saints they did set themselves — (1 Corinthians 16:5)
20 And now, Christ hath risen out of the dead — the first-fruits of those sleeping he became, (1 Cor 15:20)
16 and if the first-fruit [is] holy, the lump also; and if the root [is] holy, the branches also. (Rom 11:16)
Herb also references Joel 2 for the lamb’s army being an army like none other possible meaning it is non-violent. I’ll need to look back at the previous lectures at some point to see how this connection is made. Most people see Nero’s return according to the legend and follow him:
3 And I saw one of its heads as slain to death, and its deadly stroke was healed, and all the earth did wonder after the beast, (Revelation 13:3)
However, in Revelation 14 the Lamb has followers too and they are just the first fruits what is to come.
Herb then I think makes the point that the “speaking as a dragon” is connected to blaspheming the character of God. God is a non-violent lamb and the Devil represents himself as the Lamb but speaks like a dragon:
11 And I saw another beast coming up out of the land, and it had two horns, like a lamb, and it was speaking as a dragon, (Rev 13:11)
This is a lie about God’s character:
`Ye are of a father — the devil, and the desires of your father ye will to do; he was a man-slayer from the beginning, and in the truth he hath not stood, because there is no truth in him; when one may speak the falsehood, of his own he speaketh, because he is a liar — also his father. (John 8:44)
He makes the point that whoever denies the Lamb is denying the father also (as mentioned that Hebrews 1 implies)
Who is the liar, except he who is denying that Jesus is the Christ? this one is the antichrist who is denying the Father and the Son; (1 John 2:22)
Herb sees part of the Lamb as being God’s character of non-violence hence he sees non-violence as true witness of Jesus and an opposite of the violent dragon:
14 `And to the messenger of the assembly of the Laodiceans write: These things saith the Amen, the witness — the faithful and true — the chief of the creation of God; (Rev 3:14)
37 Pilate, therefore, said to him, `Art thou then a king?’ Jesus answered, `Thou dost say [it]; because a king I am, I for this have been born, and for this I have come to the world, that I may testify to the truth; every one who is of the truth, doth hear my voice.’ (John 18:37)
Herb asks: how do the Lamb’s followers bear witness to the truth?
19 but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and unspotted — Christ’s —
(1 Peter 1:19)
Herb makes the point that early Christians did not see Jesus as sacrificing himself instead of them rather they saw Jesus as someone they should imitate. Herb quotes Revelation 12:11 in support of this corollary: “for they loved not their lives even unto death.”
Herb quotes the following as evidence that at least some of those following the beast are going to be converted because the angel preaches the good news to them:
6 And I saw another messenger flying in mid-heaven, having good news age-during to proclaim to those dwelling upon the earth, and to every nation, and tribe, and tongue, and people, 7 saying in a great voice, `Fear ye God, and give to Him glory, because come did the hour of His judgment, and bow ye before Him who did make the heaven, and the land, and sea, and fountains of waters.’ (Rev 14:6-7)
Similarly Herb says Jesus is quoting (I see probably a reference) from Psalms chapter 2 about the conversion of the nations:
14 and this good news of the reign shall be proclaimed in all the world, for a testimony to all the nations; and then shall the end arrive. (Matt 24:14)
8 Ask of Me and I give nations — thy inheritance, And thy possession — the ends of earth. 9 Thou dost rule them with a sceptre of iron, As a vessel of a potter Thou dost crush them.’ 10 And now, O kings, act wisely, Be instructed, O judges of earth, 11 Serve ye Jehovah with fear, And rejoice with trembling. 12 Kiss the Chosen One, lest He be angry, And ye lose the way, When His anger burneth but a little, O the happiness of all trusting in Him! (Psalm 2)
Herb says we have to ask ourselves what is “the end” in Matthew 24:14? Is it the conversion of the nations or the destruction of the nations? How does a lamb win against his enemies?
Herb argues that the phrases in Revelation like e.g. “nations, and tribes, and peoples, and tongues” (Rev 7:9) put those elements in a different order each time and that the word it says first is the one he is calling attention to and that you should search for that word in the Tanakh to see what connections he is making. Herb connects “having good news age-during [i.e. forever] to proclaim to those dwelling upon the earth, and to every nation, and tribe, and tongue, and people,” (Rev 14:6) with the following “from day to day” being eternity:
1 Sing to Jehovah a new song, Sing to Jehovah all the earth. 2 Sing to Jehovah, bless His name, Proclaim from day to day His salvation. 3 Declare among nations His honour, Among all the peoples His wonders. (Psalms 96:1-3)
He also uses this parallel between Rev 14:6 and Psalms 96:7 which though YLT uses “peoples” in Psalms and “nations” in Revelation the word in the Greek is the same “ethnos.” Compare:
For all the gods of the peoples [“ethnos” i.e. nations] [are] nought, And Jehovah made the heavens. (Psalms 96:5)
Another parallel is mentioned as well as the fact that “judging” can have a positive connotation and in Revelation he has elsewhere argued it does i.e. restorative justice as opposed to retributive justice:
10 Say among nations, `Jehovah hath reigned, Also — established is the world, unmoved, He judgeth the peoples in uprightness.’ 11 The heavens joy, and the earth is joyful, The sea and its fulness roar. 12 The field exulteth, and all that [is] in it, Then sing do all trees of the forest, 13 Before Jehovah, for He hath come, For He hath come to judge the earth. He judgeth the world in righteousness, And the peoples in His faithfulness! (Psalm 96:10-13)
I think from now on I’ll just use his TNIV translation that is on his handout to make things easier for me. These verses are used to show that before God’s restorative message was always proclaimed to Israel. Luke 4 is quoted to explain why the message of Christ was offensive to the Jews because he was to proclaim that message to all nations:
You who bring good news to Zion . . . You who bring good
news to Jerusalem . (Isaiah 40:9 TNIV)
I was the first to tell Zion . . . I gave to Jerusalem a messenger
of good news. (Isaiah 41:27 TNIV)
. . . those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who
bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” (Isaiah 52:7 TNIV)
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and
release from darkness for the prisoners . . . (Isaiah 61:1 TNIV)
All the people in the synagogue were furious when they
heard this. They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff. (Luke 4:28,29 TNIV)
Herb asks what we should do with the universal language in Revelation e.g. every nation, tribe and people etc. . . ? He hasn’t gotten to explaining it yet (he isn’t an universalist) but asks the audience to let the universal language of Revelation change the way they see the people who don’t know God yet. If you view people as being destined for hell that is bound to affect the way you treat them.
He states victory for the lamb is the lamb converting the nations not destroying them violently like the dragon:
And they [the 144,000] cried out in a loud voice: “Sal-
vation [victory] belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the
Lamb.” (Revelation 7.10 TNIV)
Whole message of the book of revelation is outlined in these Psalms:
Psalms 96-100–Thematic Grouping of songs displaying Yahweh’s universal Lord ship, his coming to reign, and the call to the nations to worship him.
More universal language is noted here and is connected with the passages of fearing God and giving him glory:
–Who will not FEAR you, Lord, and bring GLORY to your name? For you alone are holy. ALL NATIONS will come and WORSHIP before you, for your righteous acts have been REVEALED.” (Revelation 15:4)
The part about Babylon falling and the second angel’s message Herb will cover in the next lecture . . .
A second angel followed and said, “`Fallen! Fallen is BABYLON the Great,’ which made ALL THE NATIONS drink the maddening wine of her adulteries.” A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: “If anyone WORSHIPS the BEAST and its IMAGE and receives its mark on their forehead or on their hand, they, TOO, will drink of the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. . . .
Herb notes here that there is no loss of life just torment. The same language is used in Isaiah 34:9-10 for Edom and Edom is not still burning hence Herb states that this is not literal and that the only torment may be because of the dislike for the Lamb’s kingdom which wins in the end:
. . . They will be TORMENTED with burning sulfur in the PRES-
ENCE OF THE LAMB and of the holy angels. And the smoke of their
torment will rise for ever and ever. There will be no rest day or night for those who worship the BEAST and its IMAGE, or for anyone who receives the MARK of its NAME.” This calls for patient endurance on the part of the people of GOD WHO KEEP HIS COMMANDS and the FAITH OF JESUS. Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write: Blessed are the dead who DIE in the Lord from now on.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labor, for THEIR DEEDS WILL FOLLOW ON AFTER THEM.” (Revelation 14.8-13 TNIV)
He notes that there is a risk of the audience forgetting the army of the lamb and the three angels and their proclamations so he asks that they remember these concepts for the next lecture so he can tie them into Revelation 15. This is where he ends.
 M. A. Knibb writes (op. cit., pp. 149-150):
There are a number of indications which point to the view that 3:13-4:22 was copmosed at about the end of the first century A.D. This section of the Ascension is clearly later than the death of Nero in A.D. 68 because it refers to the expectation that Nero would come again as the “Antichrist” (see 4:2b-4a); presumably a little time would have been needed for this belief to develop, and this suggests a date at the earliest toward the end of the first century. On the other hand, the picture of the corruption of the Church which is given in 3:21-23 invites comparison with the descriptions of the Church given in 1 and 2 Timothy, 2 Peter, and 1 Clement 3; the similarities with these writings likewise suggest that 3:13-4:22 dates from about the end of the first century. Two other pieces of evidence also point towards this date. First, the author of 4 Baruch 9:18, 20, a work attributed to the early second century, betrays a knowledge of chapters 1-5 of the Ascension in their Christian form and may even have known the complete book; he gives in 9:18 what appears to be a loose quotation of 3:17 of the Ascension. Second, this same passage of the Ascension (3:17) provides a description of the emergence of the Beloved (Jesus) from the tomb which is similar to the description given in the Gospel of Peter 39f., a work which dates from the middle of the second century. Taken together, these indications suggest a date for the composition of 3:13-4:22 at about the end of the first century. http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/ascension.html
 In view of the foregoing evidence, a very strong case can be made for dating Revelation at about A.D. 96. https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/1552-when-was-the-book-of-revelation-written
There are two dates that are commonly mentioned for the writing of the Book of Revelation: (a) an early date – still during the lifetime of Caesar Nero, about the middle of the 60ies AD; and (b) a late date – about 95/96 AD furing the time of Caesar Domitian. http://www.biblecenter.de/bibel/studien/e-std310.php
James Charlesworth writes: “The Martyrdom and Ascension of Isaiah, like many pseudepigrapha (especially 1 Enoch) is composite, comprising three separate sections: the Martyrdom of Isaiah (basically chs. 1-5, except for THez); the Testament of Hezekiah (3:13-4:18); and the Vision of Isaiah (chps. 6-11). Some specialists see only two sections, chapters 1-5 and 6-11, but argue for the existence of extraneous material in each section (viz. Flemming and Duensing, no. 920, pp. 642f.; A. Vaillant, no. 943). Two or three of the writings originally may have circulated independently (see Box in Charles’ The Ascension of Isaiah, p. vii; M. Philonenko, no. 231, p. 2; contrast C. C. Torrey, Apoc. Lit., esp. pp. 133-35). The first writing is Jewish, dating from around the second century B.C., and the other two are Christian, having been composed around the end of the second century A.D. A few scholars think that all three compositions already existed in the first century (Charles in APOT 2, pp. 157f.; Box in Charles’ The Ascension of Isaiah, pp. x, xiii; E. Hammershaimb, no. 914, p. 19), and it is conceivable that the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews knew the Martyrdom of Isaiah (see Heb 11:37), but it should not be forgotten that Isaiah’s martyrdom is also recorded in the Lives of the Prophets (see below). http://www.earlyjewishwritings.com/ascensionisaiah.html