Galatians 3: The Tutor, the Seed, and what they tell us about the Law

The first verse sets up the crux of the apostle’s argument.  That Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified to the church at Galatia.  Paul begins this way because he is setting up the stage for the simple fact that no one can b e justified by “keeping the law!”  This is the point Paul makes in verse 11.  He writes, “But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident.”  The Greek word for “justified” literally translated means “declared righteous.”  One can only be declared righteous by the blood of Christ.  Interestingly, Paul cites the evidence of this right standing with God by the miraculous.  He writes, “Therefore, He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you does He do it by the works of the law or by the hearing of faith.”  Additionally, he cites the proof of our right standing before God at the infilling of the Spirit at the time of salvations stating, “Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law or by the hearing of faith.  Are you so foolish?  Having begin in the Spirit are you now being made perfect by the flesh?” (#:2-3)  What was happening in Galatia to make these Christians think that they could only be justified by the keeping of the law?  What was going on that would make them reject the salvation by grace through faith that the apostle preached and which was verified by God by the miraculous?  It was a heresy.

What was happening in Galatia is the same heresy that occurs in Acts 15.  The first few verses of this chapter states, “And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren. ‘Unless you are circumcises according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.’  Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them, the determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem, to the apostles and elders, about this que3stion.” (Acts 15:1-2)  This sets the stage for the Jerusalem council where the entire question of “how does one get saved” gets answered.  The Galatians had been “bewitched” by keeping the Torah as a vehicle of salvation.  Paul clearly rejects this idea, as they did at the Jerusalem council,  by saying that faith is the only requirement for salvation.  In a strange twist of irony, he uses an example from the torah to demonstrate that being “declared righteous” by God is a matter of faith, Abraham being the case in point. (Gal 3:6-9).  Furthermore, he quotes the law to those who are seeking salvation by it by saying that they are under ” the curse” but Christ redeemed us form the curse by His grace setting us free from the “works.”  To put it another way, the curse that all of us deserve because we have all broken the law, was placed upon Him because it is written in the Torah, “Cursed is he who is hanged on a tree.”  Hence, we are declared righteous before God by faith when we believe what He has done and not by the works of the law.  Again, Paul uses an authoritative reference from the Torah to make his point.  That being, that the Abrahamic covenant was given to his “Seed” and this one is Christ.  When the torah was given 430 years later at the Siniatic covenant, it did not annul the first given by God.  So, if the torah is not a vehicle of salvation than Paul and Jesus should both clearly tell us that it is null and void.  But this is not what happens in both of their teachings.

Paul states in Romans 3, “Do we then make void the law through faith?” ( Rom 3:31)  This is what th modern church would have you believe but this is not the teaching of the apostle.  He writes, “Certainly not, on the contrary, we establish the law.” (Rom 3:31) We establish it as the holy and spiritual standard by which we should order our lives.  Paul alludes to this back in Galatians.  He states, “What purpose then does the law serve?  it was added because of transgression.” (3:24)  It was added so that the people of God could discern between the clean and the unclean, the holy and the unholy.  The law was not given to a lost and unsaved people.  It was given to those who had been saved by the Passover blood and baptized in the Red Sea (I Cor 10:1-2)  It was not given to them to “obey and be saved” it was given to them to demonstrate holiness.  It became the temporary vehicle for the expression of eternal love.  Messiah tells us that the two greatest commandments are to love God and to love your neighbor as yourself.  This is the ultimate expression of the realm of God whose very essence is love.  The law was the earthly manifestation of this “until, the Seed should come to whom the promise was made.” (Gal 3:19)  This Seed, which is Jesus, became the mediator of the “better” covenant.  Paul states, “For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been given by the law.” (#:21)  Life only comes from the sacrifice of Christ and the infilling of the Holy Spirit by faith.  The law could not give the Spirit.  The writer of Hebrews alludes to this saying that the blood of bulls and goats could not change the heart of the believer.  The law could not do this.  Therefore, the law was a “tutor” showing us the standards of holiness and love until Messiah could come and manifest those to us and equip us with the ability to stand righteously before God by faith, not by the law.  The law cannot cause one to be born again.  The law simply points out where all of us “fall short.”  However, simply because we “fall short” does not mean that the standards of love and holiness given by God at Siniai simply cease to have a role in the life of a believer.  It continues to have a place but not for salvation.  Thus Paul writes, “Now that faith has come we are no longer under a tutor.” (3:25)  Obviously, this is not a reference to God changing His standards of holiness.  It means that the heart change that every believer experiences by the Spirit releases us from the need for a tutor.  The Spirit now guides us into all truth.  However, the holiness of the law still remains.  Jesus validates us when He says, “Heaven and earth will pass away but the law will remain.” (Matthew 5:18)  My old teacher used to say, “Well, we still have heaven and will still have earth, so we must still have law.”  Jesus also says, “do not think that I have come to destroy the law and the prophets, I have not come to destroy it but to fulfill it.” (Matt 5:17)  Well, the church will have us believe that to fulfill means that He has destroyed it, but this is not the essence of the Greek.  The word translated fulfill is the Greek word “plereo” which means to “Fill up.”  It is the same word that Paul uses in Eph 5:18 when he says, “Be filled with the Spirit.”  Jesus is saying that He came to give the law is rightful place, to fill it up, to establish it.  To demonstrate to the universe the principles of love that are embodied in the law.   He was the living example of the love that is described in the law.  Thus, He filled it up and so should we, being imitators of Him.  Our walk with God has precious little to do with adherence to external principles, it has to do with love.  How much am I loving God?  How much am I loving my wife, family, neighbors, and coworkers.  Am I being the external living revelation of the love that is described in the law.  If not, I should be having been justified by faith, filled and empowered by the Holy Spirit, witnessed and participated in the miraculous, and tasted and seen that the Lord, He is good.


Jesus, John, and Judgment: A Survey of krinos in the Gospels

     The primary word translated “judge” or “judgment” in the New Testament is the word krinos which is pronounced “krinos.”  Joseph Thayer describes the word as “a separating, a sundering, separation, selection; a judgment opinion or decision given concerning anything.” (1)  Most all leading lexicons of the Greek New Testament will concur with this definition.  This is the implied idea in the New Testament when we read the word “judgment.”  In the last article that I wrote regarding judgment in the Old Testament, we discussed the word “shaphat.”  What we discovered was that “shaphat” like “krinos” carried the similar meaning of separation. (Please see Ezekiel 20-22:  A Study of Old Testament Judgment)  This brings congruency between the Testaments.  This continuity of linguistic ideas is paramount in the understanding of scripture.  The English definition of judgment may not exactly represent what is intended by the Greek and the Hebrew.  Noah Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language defines judgment as:  “The act of judging; the act or process of the mind in comparing its ideas, to find their agreement or disagreement, and to ascertain truth; or the process of examining facts and arguments, to ascertain propriety and justice.” (2)  There are some obvious pitfalls to this definition when it is imposed upon the biblical text.  The English definition has little to do with the establishment of God’s order like the Hebrew “mishphat.”  It has little to do with separating the holy from the unholy as “krinos” and “shaphat” implies.  The English seems to deal with judgment as an exercise of the mind that an individual makes based upon their own examination of facts.  Mishphat, krinos, and shaphat carry the similar idea of an individual using their experience to make a determination but the Greek and Hebrew have the idea of making that judgment based upon God’s order of the universe and not man’s order.  The English definition leaves things open to the individual subjective opinion of what is right and wrong.  Meanwhile, the biblical terms separate right and wrong under the umbrella of God’s established order.  There is a difference and Jesus will describe that difference to us.  The reader will notice in the title that this is a study in all of the gospels of the use of judgment.  However, the title also singles out the gospel of John.  The reason for this is that the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, only deal with judgment in terms of the “day of judgment” which will be examined at the end of the article.  The bulk of material given to us comes from John who seems to make it his personal aim to explain Messiah’s idea of judgment.  This article is an examination of this theme.

    Any examination about Jesus and judgment should begin with how He, Himself, describes the way that He judges things.  He states, “By myself, I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but Him who sent me.” (John 5:30)  Jesus is giving us some key insights into New Testament judgments that being, “He hears!”  He only makes judgments from what the spiritual influence of God’s heavenly established Mishphat revealed to Him.  This was not Him making a determination out of His own best thinking.  His judgments came as a direct revelation from the eternal realms of Heaven where right and wrong are determined by God’s established mishphat. (That being, love.)  Because Jesus doesn’t judge out of selfishness He can be trusted to “judge.”  He states, “Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father.” (John 5:22-23) and again, “And He has given him authority to judge because He is the Son of Man.” (John 5:27)  The method of judgment that Jesus was using was to place Himself under the influence of the heavenly realms and this put Him in a position to judge righteously and not selfishly.  Jesus gives us an example of this later on in the gospel.  He states, “Jesus said to them, ‘I did one miracle, and you are all astonished.  Yet, because Moses gave you circumcision (though actually it did not come from Moses, but from the patriarchs), you circumcise a child on the Sabbath.  Now if a child can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the Law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing the whole man on the Sabbath?  Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.’” (John 7:21-24)  The English definition of judgment seems to be the “modus operands” of religious leaders of the Jews.   Messiah is calling them back to “krinos” according to God’s established “mishphat.”  A similar exchange takes place in John 8.  It states, “You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one.  But if I do judge, my decisions are right, because I am no alone, I stand with the Father, who sent me.” (John 8:16)  Jesus reiterates that His judgment comes under the influence of God.  Additionally, He tells us that this same insight is available to others.  He states, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.” (John 8:39)  The irony of this statement is clearly evident.  Those who were supposed to have spiritual insight into God’s mishphat were completely ignorant of it while others who shouldn’t have such insight do indeed, have it.

The final statement from John comes from chapter 12.  It states, “As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him.  For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it.  There is a judge for the one who rejects me and doesn’t not accept my words, that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day,” (John 12:47-48)  Two interesting observation from this passage.  First, Jesus primary mission was not to “judge.”  He makes this clear in this passage and in previous passages that we have examined (John 8:16).  His primary purpose was to bring about salvation to all mankind.  However, when there arose occasions for Him to make judgments, He made the correct judgment by hearing from the eternal realm through the Spirit.  This allowed His judgment to be true and unbiased as it was not rooted in selfishness.  Secondly, once Jesus had revealed the heavenly purpose behind His mission that information was now available and folks were held accountable for it.  This is not Jesus fault.  His job was to present truth.  Then individuals will make “judgments” upon the truth that He presented.  He was not responsible for their reaction to His truth.  His job was only the distribution of it.  So likewise, it is with all of us who share His gospel.

The Day of Judgment

     The synoptic writers go out of their way to mention the Day of Judgment.  It is mentioned in Matthew 10:15; 11:22 &24; Luke 10:14, among other places.  If we break this word down, it would be the “Day of Separation according to God’s Mishphat”.  Jesus gives us an example of how this definition describes the day.  He states, “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, He will sit on his throne in heavenly glory.  All the nations will be gathered before Him and He will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.  Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.’” (Matthew 25: 31-34)  Again, we see here that judgment is the separation of what is clean from what is unclean.  The distinction between what is holy and what is not.  At the last day, it will be mankind which will be separated.

Judge Not?

     One cannot leave a discussion about Jesus and judgment without discussing the “judge not” passages that are found in Matthew and Luke.  “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.   For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure yahoo use, it will be measured to you.” (Matthew 7:1-2)  “Do not judge, and you will not be judged.  Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.  Forgive, and you will be forgiven.  Give and it will be given to you.  A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.  For with the measure you sue, it will be measure to you.” (Luke 6: 37-38)  Clearly the passages caution against passing judgment.  Equally, it stands to reason that there will be times when God will call upon us to judge certain things.  Following Jesus example, He did not come to judge and neither should we.  Our responsibility is the same as His.  We are called to present truth and not to judge someone’s response to that message.  We are not called to pronounce judgment upon individuals.  At the same time, there are clearly times when the heavenly realms will influence the people of God to exercise some judgment to discern what is clean versus what is unclean.  To separate what is unholy from what is holy.  In these instances, we are to act as Jesus acted and ‘listen.”  What we “hear” is how we judge.  Judgment for the Christian is not something that is produced inside the mind of the believer.  It is given to them as an instruction from the heavenly realm.  What we hear, is what we speak.  Anything else, is to speak about things that we may not have extensive knowledge about.  Hence, we should reserve judgment.  The way that we implement this is the way that it will be implemented towards us.  We are the ones who set the standards for ourselves by the way that we act in love towards others.

1. Joseph Thayer, Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament

2. Noah Webster, An American Dictionary of the English Language.

Ezekiel 20-22: A Study of Old Testament Judgment

         The Hebrew word for judgment is the word “tpvm” which is pronounced, “mishphat.”  Judgment doesn’t quite effectively convey the essence of this Hebrew word.  An example of what it means may readily explain what it means.  Solomon, when he prays for wisdom, asks God to give him wisdom so that he can “misphat” the children of Israel.  Mishphat means to establish an order.  The establishment of the correct understanding of order or government is mishphat.  The essence is the establishment of an order where justice is the normal function of the recognized system.  This word has also been translated as manner or custom.  This implies that Mishphat establishes a system that yields a social more or law that all are expected to follow and order their lives according too.  This is what Solomon asked God for and this is what was granted to him.  Mishphat became the spiritual environment from which he ruled Israel  It became what he “did.”

     The most common form of the word for “to judge” is a similar to “mishphat”.  It is the Hebrew word “tpv” pronounced “shaphat.”  One will immediately notice that this is the same word as mishphat but it is missing the “m” or the Hebrew letter “mem m”  The primary function of the word is to exercise a form of or process of government.  This involves deciding between what is right and what is wrong.  This comes in many forms in the Old Testament.  For example, the congregation (Numb 18:22-28), certain individuals (Ezekial 22:2), and God (Ps 96:13) all judge and this judging is the Hebrew word “shaphat.”  Additionally, it was a function of the priest to teach the people the difference between what was clean and unclean according to the law, which is also a type of “shaphat.”  The Greek word that is used in the Septuagint and the New Testament is “krinos” pronounced “krinos.”  Krinos carries a very similar meaning but also carries the idea of separation.  This implies that “shaphat” will separate the people of covenant from all other peoples.  Shaphat is just what we do.  In shaphat, there is no favoritism and all deserve to be treated equally.  There is no bias regardless of talents, looks, or personal attributes.  Holiness is the standard.  Law is not shaphat but the “doing” of the pentatutacheal ordinances by God’s people is considered mishphat and shaphat.  Mishphat and shaphat is how we relate to God, who holds the ultimate seat of government” and how we are to respond to Him, as His covenantal people.  God says “do” and in our “doing” we are guarding and keeping Mishphat. The application here of the commandments/torah of God is self-evident.

In Ezekiel 20:10-15 it states, “Therefore, I led them out of Egypt and brought them into the desert.  I gave them my decrees (Mishphat) and made known to them my laws, for the man who obeys them will live by them.  Also I gave them my Sabbaths as a sign between us, so they would know that I, the Lord, made them holy.  Yet the people of Israel rebelled against me in the desert. They did not follow my decrees (Mishphat) but rejected my laws-although the man who obeys them will live by them-and they utterly desecrated my Sabbaths.”  When we properly understand the meaning of mishphat we get a different sense of the verse than what appears in the English translation.  God was giving Israel something much deeper than just some written “decrees.” (as the NIV translates it)  God gave Israel His Order, His Government, and the “way that things ought to be.”  This is the mishphat that He established.  This mishphat would give them the ability to “shaphat” or to judge between what was sin and what was not, what was clean and what was unclean.  The order established by God at Sinai is what Israel rejected and what Ezekiel calls to mind in chapter 20.  This is the first understanding of “judgment” from the Old Testament.

In Ezekiel 22:2-3 we read, “Son of man, will you judge (Shaphat in Hebrew and Krinos in the Septuagint) her?  Will you judge this city of bloodshed?  Then confront her with all her detestable practices.”  God is calling the prophet to make a decision and to judge between what is right and what is wrong.  God is telling Ezekiel to us what He knows about the law, what he knows about the spiritual realm, and what he knows from his prophetic insight and make a judgment about what is clean and unclean and what is right and what is wrong.  The answer to God’s question is never answered in the text but it is implied that Ezekiel answered in the affirmative as God then tells Ezekiel “what to do” after he agrees to decide between what is right and what is wrong.  This is the function of krinos and shaphat in both Greek and Hebrew.  This is further evident later in the text of Ezekiel.

In Ezekiel 22:2 it states, “He priest do violence to my law and profane my holy things; they do not distinguish between the holy and the common; they teach that there is no difference between the unclean and the clean; and they shut their eyes to the keeping of my Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them.”  It is obvious that the function of the priest was very similar to the function of the prophet.  That both, through their experience with God, their knowledge of the scripture, and their relationships with the people of God were called by Him to render judgment on what is right and what is wrong.  What is acceptable and what is not acceptable in a holy community.  The current condition of the church may not be far from where Israel was in Ezekiel’s day.  Many will have us believe that there is not difference between the unclean and the clean and that the Sabbaths of God have been relegated to the past.  However, like the priests and the prophets, we are also called by God to use our knowledge of the spiritual realm, our relationship with Him, and our understanding of the scriptures to make a decision and judge what is clean and what is unclean, what is righteous and what is not, and what is holy and what is common.