In Galatians 3:19 we read, “the law was added.” In this lesson we shall answer the question, “to what was the law added?” Think of this question. Can you answer it? Then in Romans 5:20 we read, “the law entered”. In this lesson we shall answer the question, “when did the law enter ?” Of course you know the answer to this. The law was given by Moses. Moses was 80 years old when he received the tables of stone from Jehovah on Mount Sinai. But now these interesting statements in Romans 5:13 and 14.
“WHEREFORE, AS BY ONE MAN SIN ENTERED INTO THE WORLD, AND DEATH BY SIN; AND SO DEATH PASSED UPON ALL MEN, FOR THAT ALL HAVE SINNED; (FOR UNTIL THE LAW SIN WAS IN THE WORLD; BUT SIN IS NOT IMPUTED WHEN THERE IS NO LAW. NEVERTHELESS DEATH REIGNED FROM ADAM TO MOSES, EVEN OVER THEM THAT HAD NOT SINNED AFTER THE SIMILITUDE OF ADAM’S TRANSGRESSION, WHO IS THE FIGURE OF HIM THAT WAS TO COME.” ROMANS 5:12 TO 14.
“MOREOVER THE LAW ENTERED, THAT THE OFFENCE MIGHT ABOUND. BUT WHERE SIN ABOUNDED, GRACE DID MUCH MORE ABOUND.” Romans 5:20.
Here we note that God has very definitely marked a period in His dealings with the human race, designated “from Adam to Moses”. This means, from the day that Adam sinned until the day Moses received the ten commandments for Israel at Sinai. How many years between the sin of Adam and the giving of the law? About 2500 years. How many years from the giving of the law until Jesus Christ, on the cross cried “finished”? About 1530 years. How many years from the day Moses received the law at Sinai until Paul wrote to members of the Body of Christ, “ye are not under the law; ye are under grace,” (Romans 6:14)?” About 1557 years. Until he wrote to Gentile believers, in Colossians 2:13, 14 and 16: “And you being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh hath He quickened together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses: Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross. “
“Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days.” About 1562 years.
So we learn that from about 1500 B. C. until after Jesus Christ died on the cross, Israel was under the law.
Note the Holy Spirit’s statement concerning Israel and the law:
“But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a school master.” Galatians 3:23 to 25.
Then Paul wrote—“Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” Romans 10:4. “For sin shall not have dominion over you; for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” Romans 6:14. “Wherefore my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to Him Who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.” Romans 7:4.
If the law was added and was taken out of the way more than 1500 years later, then we can truly say that the “law dispensation” was both parenthetical and temporary.
We read in Galatians 3:23, “before faith came”. We read in Romans 5:13, “when there is no law”, or “before law came”. During the 2500 years, from Adam to Moses, death reigned. The human race was under a universal Divine law, “the law of sin and death”. Romans 8:2. About 1656 years after Adam sinned, Noah was in the ark. About 427 years later, Abram left Chaldea at God’s call. About 430 years still later Moses received the law. Galatians 3:16 and 17.
Note this most interesting and important statement: “And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, in thee shall all nations be blessed.” Galatians 3:8.
Read it again. God preached the gospel to Abraham “BEFORE”. Before what? Before He added the law. Note what Abraham did, and what God did. “Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” Galatians 3:6. When God preached the gospel to Abram (in uncircumcision) the Scripture foresaw that Gentiles would be, saved, from Paul’s time down to the present, without religion or law. Note Galatians 3:17: “And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.” So we see that 430 years before the law was given the gospel of “righteousness by faith without the deeds of the law” was preached to Abram. Then what? Then the question:
“Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hands of a mediator.” Galatians 3:19. To what was the law added? It was added to the gospel which God preached to Abraham, 430 years before. Which covenant abides and which covenant has been done away? The Abrahamic covenant abides: the Mosaic covenant has been done away. The gospel abides. The law has been done away. “For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.” “And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not steadfastly look to the end of that which is abolished. “But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the Old Testament; which is done away in Christ.” II Corinthians 3:11, 13 and 14. Note II Corinthians 3:14 – “the Old Testament is done away in Christ.” Note the same truth in Hebrews 8:13. “In that He saith, A new covenant, He hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.”
Let us change Galatians 3:19 to read the law covenant, which was made old by Christ’s death on the cross, was added to the Abrahamic covenant which God made with Abram 430 years before He made the law covenant with Israel, through the mediator, Moses. It was added till. Till when? Till the Seed promised to Abram and Abraham came. That Seed was Christ.
The word “covenant” is the same as the word “testament”. God entered into “covenants” or “testaments” with the human race before Moses received the law covenant for Israel, about 2500 years after Adam sinned. Moses received the testament, called “the Old Testament”, several centuries after the event recorded in the last verse of Genesis. Note that event; “So Joseph died being an hundred and ten years old; and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.” Genesis 50:26. So Joseph died some years before God made with Israel the covenant now called “the Old Covenant.”
Mark well that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, Levi, Joseph, and all of the other sons of Jacob (Israel) had died before God gave the (old) covenant to Israel. Therefore, we greatly err when we call any of these men Old Testament characters, or the Book of Genesis “the Old Testament Scripture.” They lived during that period, “from Adam to Moses”, “when there is no law”.
From about 4000 B.C. until about 1700 B.C., that is, for about 2300 years, there were no Israelites. From about 4000 B.C. until 1500 B.C., “from Adam to Moses”, the Old Testament was not in effect. There were covenants, but not that covenant, which became “Old”.
The truth for us is clearly stated in Romans 8:2 to 4: “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Note the three laws—“The law of sin and death”—”the law of Sinai” and “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus”. The law of Sinai could not deliver from the law of sin and death. The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus can and does. And the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus delivered believing Israelites from the curse of the law of Moses. Romans 7:1 to 6.
The sum total of man’s spiritual responsibility to God is to:—
1—Appropriate the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.
2—Demonstrate the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.
3—Propagate the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.
We first believe and appropriate the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. Note how this law is stated in II Timothy 1:10 and Romans 8:4.
“But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, Who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”
That law enables the believer to live Christ.
The believer is expected to demonstrate that law by walking daily in newness of life. “That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Romans 8:4.
Then note Galatians 5:22 to 25: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance; against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”
When we have received Christ and have been saved by this Divine law, we are to propagate that law of life by preaching Christ and His redemptive work to others.
Some one has truly said that Christianity is life, love and heaven.
The three general divisions of the Bible which we have seen in this message
1. From Adam to Moses.
2. The law was added till after Christ died on the cross, when the covenant was made old.
3. The reign of the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus from the day Paul preached the grace of God until the Lord comes for His Church.
“The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us— “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God, and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” Titus 2:11 to 13.
The law was given by Moses. Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” John 1:17. “That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 5:21.
“For this cause I, Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles. If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward. How that by revelation He (Christ) made known unto me the mystery.” Ephesians 3:1 to 3.
Members of Christ’s Body are not under the law. Romans 6:14.
Some time ago a Jewish Rabbi said to a well known Christian preacher, “Dr. Parker, it was not your Jesus Who gave you the Christianity which is generally preached by Christian clergymen. It was the Apostle Paul. Your Jesus was a Jew by birth and by religion.”
While we would not fully agree with that rabbi, we would dogmatically affirm that we cannot intelligently interpret and practice true Christianity without interpreting, appropriating and applying the teachings and doings of Jesus of Nazareth, recorded in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, in the light of the later teachings of Jesus Christ, which He revealed to and by the Apostle Paul.
We learn in Luke 2:21 to 39, that even in infancy, when He was presented for circumcision, Jesus Christ began His early life as a religious Jew: “And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth.” Luke 2:39.
When Christ was thirty years of age He attended the services in the Jewish synagogue as had been His custom. Luke 4:16. Then He, said, “we know what we worship for salvation is of the Jews.” John 4:22. One of the last acts of Jesus of Nazareth before His death, was His observance of the Jewish Passover. The Divine Record is that God’s Son was made under the law. Galatians 4:4.
After a careful study of the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ, in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and a careful comparison of these messages with Paul’s Epistles, many questions will be in the mind of the student:
1. If a person should obey the teachings of Christ, in Matthew, Mark and Luke, would he not be a Jew by religion?
2. Is it possible for a person to faithfully follow the religious program of Jesus of Nazareth and also believe Paul’s message of grace and obey the instructions to believers in Paul’s Epistles?
3. Did not the Lord Jesus Christ give to Paul a spiritual “grace” program that superseded the program He presented to Israel while on earth?
We shall refer again to the religion of Jesus Christ; but let us note several statements which the infallible Holy Spirit directed Paul to write
1. “But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. Galatians 1:11 and 12.
2. “Be ye followers of me even as I also am of Christ.” I Corinthians 11:1.
3. “According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.” I Corinthians 3:10.
4. “Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on Him to life everlasting.” I Timothy 1:16.
5. “Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God.” Colossians 1:25.
6. “That in the ages to come He might shew the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.” Ephesians 2:7 and 8.
7. “But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.” Acts 20:24.
8. “For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: How that by revelation He made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words).” Ephesians 3:1 to 3.
9. “That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost.” Romans 15:16. “For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office.” Romans 11:13.
10. “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men.” II Timothy 2:2.
From these Scriptures we learn that the Lord Jesus Christ, from heaven, gave to Paul his apostolic authority.
There is a sense in which the Apostle Paul was the Lord’s special apostle. By revelation the Lord Jesus Christ called and commissioned the Apostle Paul. Note Paul’s words in I Timothy 1:12: “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, Who hath enabled me, for that He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry.”
Christ Jesus put Paul in the ministry. When Christ Jesus put Paul in the ministry by revelation, Paul said, “Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me.” Galatians 1:17. Paul did not immediately confer with flesh and blood. Galatians 1:16. But later he went do Jerusalem and conferred with those who were apostles before him. But note his testimony: “. . . for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me.” Galatians 2:6. “But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter: (For He that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:) And when James, Peter and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.” Galatians 2:7 to 9.
Paul has been truly called “the apostle and preacher of reconciliation.” He said, “I am the apostle to the Gentiles.” The Lord Jesus Christ gave to Paul the gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20:24), “the dispensation of the grace of God” for Gentiles (Ephesians 3:1 to 3), “the unsearchable riches of Christ” for the Gentiles (Ephesians 3:8). Christ committed unto Paul “the gospel of the uncircumcision” (Galatians 2:7). The Lord Jesus Christ said to Paul, “I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles.” Acts 22:21.
Note Paul’s testimony: “For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me, to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed.” Romans 15:18. Compare this statement with Galatians 2:8: “For He that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles.”
Now compare the statement in Acts 22:21, “I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles,” with Christ’s command to Peter and the Eleven, in Matthew 10:5: “These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles.”
Note in Acts 10:28, Peter’s words some eight years after Christ’s orders given in Matthew 10:5. “And he (Peter) said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.” Acts 10:28.
Now let us note Christ’s own words in Matthew 15:24: “But He answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
Here we learn that while Christ was on earth no apostle was authorized by Him to be an apostle to the Gentiles, or even to preach to the Gentiles. “Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers.” Romans 15:8.
While Jesus of Nazareth was on earth, neither He nor His apostles preached Romans 11:15.
“For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead. “
Because Israel had not been cast away. The Twelve did not preach the ministry of reconciliation to Gentiles even as late as Acts 5:29 to 32.
Note Acts 5:31:
“Him hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. “ Israel had not yet been cast away.
We learned in Galatians 2:7, that Christ committed unto Peter the gospel of the circumcision. We read in Matthew 10:6 that Peter and the Eleven were to preach to Israel only, “the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” These Twelve preached “the gospel of the kingdom.” Matthew 9:35 and Matthew 4:23.
It will help us to note in the Book of Acts that the thousands who became Christians, during the first years after Christ died, were all Jews. Note Acts 2:5 and Act 3:26 and Act 11:19. It will also help us to note that from the beginning of the ministry of John the Baptist, who introduced Jesus of Nazareth into His public ministry at the age of thirty, up to the salvation of Cornelius, only circumcised men were baptized. During these years none of the Twelve asked any Jews to give up the practice of circumcision. Note the advice of the Apostle James as late as 60 A.D. in Acts 21:18 to 25.
In asking the question, “in what sense is Christianity the religion of Jesus Christ,” first of all we must settle in our minds what is meant by “religion.” There is nothing of religion in the Christianity presented in Paul’s last Epistles; Ephesians, Colossians, Titus, Philippians, and II Timothy.
When the Lord gave to Israel the law, He gave to that people with the law a religious system. It is described as meats and drinks, divers baptisms, and carnal ordinances. Note in Hebrews 9:10 that this religious program was imposed upon Israel until the time of reformation. Jesus of Nazareth, on earth, did not take away from Israel their God-given religion, but, on the contrary, He Himself was a religious Jew in their midst. Moreover, Israel was dealt with as a nation for some years after the death and resurrection of their Messiah; and the Lord did not abruptly take away their religion. That was done gradually.
A careful study of the Book of Acts and the Epistles of Paul, from his first Epistle to his last Epistle, will teach us how the Lord gradually eliminated Judaism from His “grace” message and program, until finally all religion had disappeared.
Then Paul said, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21. “For we are the circumcision which worship. God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.” Philippians 3:3.
“Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days.” Colossians 2:16.
Note in the Lord’s message and ministry of grace that the believer is taken out of anything that pertains to earthly blessings, or worship in a worldly sanctuary or the religion of Israel: “And hath raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:6. “Blessed’ be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.” Ephesians 1:3.
Our sanctuary is in heaven. Our citizenship is in heaven. We are blessed with all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies. We are identified with Christ in His crucifixion, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension. We are joined to Christ, one flesh with Christ. We belong to the One New Man of Ephesians 2:15. We are members of Christ’s Body. Christ is our righteousness, our holiness, our redemption, our life, our peace, our hope.
A very important duty assigned to us is stated in Ephesians 3:9: “And to make all men see what is the dispensation of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God.”
There is absolutely nothing left of religion in “the dispensation of the mystery.” This is “according to the eternal purpose which He (God) purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Ephesians 3:11. This eternal purpose is set forth in II Timothy 1:9 and 10: “Who hath saved us and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began. But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ. Who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light. through the gospel.”
Most assuredly, in the eternal purpose of God, the Lord Jesus Christ is not the minister of the circumcision, confirming promises which God made to Israel by the prophets. This grace and purpose was given us in Christ Jesus before the foundation of the world; and because it is not mentioned by any of Israel’s prophets, it is called “the mystery” or “the secret.”
Our unmixed message of grace is clearly set forth in these two verses in II Timothy 1:9 to 11.
Let us also read concerning the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus in Romans 8:1 to 4. This law sets us free from the law of sin and death and enables us to walk in the Spirit and fulfil the righteousness of the law. The sum total of our spiritual duty is to appropriate and to demonstrate, and to propagate the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. Christianity is life, love and eternal glory.
Our message is not the “Christian religion,” but “eternal life through the Lord Jesus Christ”; not a system of religion, but a Divine Person.
Surely no intelligent Christian would say that there is not much of Christianity in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John; but the intelligent Christian will rightly divide the Word of Truth and interpret, appropriate and apply the message of Christ in these Gospels in the light of Christ’s clear later revelations, to and through Paul.
In no other way will we ever account for the seeming contradictions and discrepancies between the statements of Jesus of Nazareth and those of the Apostle Paul.
For more articles by Pastor J. C. O'Hair, visit the J. C. O'Hair Online Library.