Sunday, 10 April 2016

Rightly Dividing the Word

An important key when reading the Bible is to understand that not all parts of the Bible apply equally directly and unequivocally to us.

Parts of the Old Testament for example applied directly to the Jews at the time when they were written, but don't apply as directly to us today.

Parts of the Gospels also, especially the first three Gospels, recount the history of the ministry of Jesus, without necessarily interpreting how each part applied to their readers, or to us.

The Epistles on the other hand were written with direct application to their readers, so they also apply more directly to us too - but even in some of the Epistles some things don't have exactly the same relevance any more that they had for the readers for whom they were written when they were written.

For example, the issue of the Law. The Law was given by Moses, for the Jews at that time; Jesus Christ later came and ministered exclusively to Jews who were still under the Law, so He upheld the Law - but more than that Jesus also transitioned the Old Covenant Law into the New Covenant of grace and truth, on the cross.

Until about AD70 it was still possible to keep the Law if someone wanted to, even though it was no longer necessary to - which is why Paul in some of his epistles was so careful to write that Gentiles didn't have to become Law-keepers.

Today of course the Temple, altar and Levitical priesthood which were required to keep the Law no longer exist, so it's no longer possible to keep the Law today in the sense that Paul discussed the issue, even if you want to! 

Therefore it might be possible for some today to mistakenly think that Paul's discussion about the Law was about grace v ethics, and to mistakenly think ethics no longer apply, but that's not what he said - he meant the Law as the composite religious system that it was: Moses' Law no longer applied directly to the early Church like it once had to the Jews. There was never any question in Paul's mind that certain ethics don't always apply. 

So in a sense Paul was giving an answer which had to be given at that time to an important question of his time - but today the question itself is void.

Of course all Scripture was written for us upon whom the ends of the ages have come. It was written for our learning, as examples, warnings, to give patience and comfort and hope. All Scripture is profitable - for us. Even the Law is still good - if a man use it lawfully. But that doesn't mean we're to try to apply every line in the Bible without seeing it in light of the finished work of Jesus on Calvary.

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