Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Past lecturers at AMCL - Packer, Carson, Ovey, F.F. Bruce, Bray + Moore College Faculty.

Lectures will be available online for free this year 1 week after completion.

Tonight is overview, next week Monday–Friday are main lectures.

1. Critical, Complex and Controversial
  • Is there a topic more critical, complex and controversial?
  • Acts 21:28 Paul said to be teaching against... our law.
  • Paul's view of law led in part to the parting of the ways between Judaism and Christianity.
  • The very fabric of Paul's thought unravels unless we get to his understanding of the Christian's relationship to the law.
  • Why such a hot topic? Either people think 
    • a. free gift of salvation compromised or 
    • b. any motivation to holy life is removed.
  • Don't those without the law end up outlaws?
  • Scholars agree it is complex.
    • “Paul’s views on the law are complex.” (Ben Witherington III)
    • “Paul and the law – The subject is complex.” (Donald A. Hagner)
    • “Current discussion of Paul’s view of the law … has become extraordinarily complex.” (D.A. Carson)
    • “There is nothing quite so complex in Paul’s theology as the role and function which he attributes to the law.” (James D.G. Dunn)
    • “There is a general agreement that Paul’s view of the law is a very complex and intricate matter.” (Heikki Räisänen)
    • “This is complex.” (N.T. Wright)
2. Alleged Pauline Contradictions
  • Lots of questions of interpretation: Is Christ the end of the law in culmination and goal? Are we under laws jurisdiction or just condemnation? Are we under the moral law to keep the 10 commandments? Are the laws to separate Israel or simply laws to uphold?
  • Standard positions are well entrenched, we are taking another route.
  • Is Paul confused? Change his mind? Or something else going on?
    • Paul can call law - moral, just and good
    • On other hand law is - enslaving power that brings about death
  • Eph 2:15 abolished commandments. Law terminated by Christ (negative) but then Eph 6:1–2 says "children obey parents... this is first commandment. (positive)
  • Circumcision doesn't count, but keeping commandments (1 Cor 7:19). But isn't circumcision a commandment? And an important one?
  • Should we keep them in terms of observe or keep them in terms of retain.
  • Understanding Paul isn't in understanding disparate texts, but synthesising his whole thought. But it's hard to put all the puzzle pieces together with any agreement.
Three prominent views
1. Lutheran - Paul abolished the law and is a counterpoint to the gospel leading us to see ourselves and seek God's mercy and has no ongoing role in Christians life (though Luther himself)
2. Reformed - No place in saving, but once saved you are under moral law to please God
3. New Perspective - The problem of the law for Paul is not about salvation by grace not works, but that it was about excluding Gentiles from Kingdom of God and thus it is Jewish enthno-centrism that he is against the law.

Brian's three stages of exegesis.
1. Yikes
2. Hmmm
3. A-ha!
or if not 3
4. Yeah, right!

Will only get to 2 tonight!

Tit 3:9 'Don't quarrel about the law' makes the discussion of this series uncomfortable. :)

3. Solving the Puzzle
1. Treat the law as a unity
νομος occurs more in Romans than anywhere else. To only look at these texts that mention law by name is to cut Paul off at the knees for example 1 Cor 7:19. It's also important what Paul doesn't say, that you'd expect him to.

2. Look at all the evidence
Some people only study what they think is attributed to each "Paul" thus they study "Pauls and the Law"
Most evangelicals only look at Romans and Galatians and this could be considered "Pau and the Law".

3. Use Biblical Theology
This is biblical theological approach
Inductive from ground up and so we should use Paul's terms which are often absent from the debate. Don't go too quick to synthesies.

Need to treat Paul as a unity (as did Jews in Paul's day).

4. A Hermeneutical Solution
BDAG defines νομος as:
1. Rule or principle
2. Legal system
3. Collection of holy writings.

Most treatments take Law in Paul in this second sense. Though there are evidence of all three across the Scriptures, and Paul takes the Law as a singular whole, and not as singular parts. He not only introduces laws as Law but narrative as Law e.g. Gal 4:2

Not which bits, but as what?

Paul is negative about the law as law, but positive about the law as prophecy and as wisdom.

What is meant by as? In the capacity of / from the perspective of

The Law as Law
  • In Romans and Galatians, primarily negative. Believers are not under the law, have been released from the law. 
  • Paul quotes three OT verses in relation to justification and the law (Hab 2:4, Gen 15:6, Lev 18:5) We rarely look at the third of these. "The one who does these things will live BY them". If you obey the commands you will live according to the Qumran scrolls. 
  • In both places Paul quotes these texts (Rom 10, Gal 3 ??) righteousness is said to come not through law but through faith. Paul takes Lev to be a summary of the Law as Law. The Law is all about doing and is thus a failed path to life and we don't live up to its commands. Paul takes it as bad news, as it fails to give life.
  • 1 Tim 1:8–10 "Now we know that  the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the  law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless."
  • The law used lawfully is not for believers, but for the lawless to effectively condemn them.
  • We are not under the law as it is used as the Law to condemn.
  • Don't overstate the argument of silence, or relative silence. But what does Paul not say? Or, how would Paul as a Jew be expected to approach the law? Do, observe, keep, obey, not transgress, they possess the law as written code. These are absent from Paul's discussion of Christians and the law. He does say they are to fulfill the law but that is different. In fact, Paul reverses some saying it doesn't lead to life but death.
  • Paul conceives of the law as letter that kills, commandments to be obeyed, but these are not for Christians. God does not hold us up to it or throw the book at us.
  • Jer 31:31-33, Ez 36:22-32 and Daniel 36:22-32 lament that the Mosaic covenant and law have failed, and must look to God's mercy. This is where Paul's view comes from.
The Law as Prophecy
  • This is the first of Paul's positive views of the law. We think of legal category of law, but rarely of prophetic. Gary Millar picks this up in Deuteronomy, as the pessimism of the book is still hopeful in a few places such as Deut 4:30 and one mention of atonement in Deut 32(?).
  • Acts 28:23, Rom 1:1-2, Rom 3:21-22, Rom 3:31 is NT referents to Paul having prophetic view of laws. Paul puts the Law and Prophets together.
The Law as Wisdom
  • Key motif in Paul's letters. But Deut 4:6 the Law will make you WISE (also Ps 19:7, Ps 119:98, Prov 28:7).
  • What does reading Paul and the Law as Wisdom look like? Notices character of God behind the laws, and the moral framework of creation behind the world. The laws appeal to moral reality stitched into creation.
Two examples:

  • Tithing: Giving 10% is found in law of Moses. Does Paul recommend it to Christians?
  • Despite opportunities to do so, he doesn't. Christians are not under the law. But Paul says you should give cheerfully not under compulsion.
  • So does Paul think tithing is irrelevant?
  • No. 1 Cor 16:2 deliberate and proportional to your income.
  • Laws are there to teach us, to make us wise. We learn from them and read them as Scripture, and come to us not as legal demand but as wisdom for living.
  • Rom 2 - accuses opponents of stealing, Eph 4 - thieves must give up stealing
  • Law quoted and thus still has role, but functions as admonition, teaching and instructions (all have wisdom connotations).
  • The Law of Moses is transformed as it moves through the Canon, and this view can even be traced through Jewish literature.
  • Paul's letters present negative critique, and positive re-appropriation.
  • It's not that far different from how most Christians view it. It has direction to how we live, but not as Law, and we see it as pointing to Christ.
  • For students of Paul, the biggest task then is to clarify the extent to which the apostle repudiates then re-appropriates the Law of Moses.

Quick advertisement for the rest of the lectures @ Moore College next week:
  • Monday 15/8/11: 10am
  • Tuesday 16/8/11: 9am
  • Wednesday 17/8/11: 9am
  • Thursday 18/8/11: 9am
  • Friday 19/8/11: 9am

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for liveblogging, it's appreciated by those who cannot make them. Glad to hear the audio will be up for free.