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therefore each picture, as a picture, may be thought to be founded on fact. The Acts show us Paul in association with Barnabas, and at variance with the Judaic Christians, opening out a way for the Gentiles. The door once set open, Gentilism flowed in as a flood. The author of the Epistle to the Galatians was an active propagandist in this way, and what more likely, when pseudonysm and fictitious representations were practised to promote religious beliefs, than that the writer, in promoting the Gentile sentiments of belief, should support his views with the name of Paul, and so recast his history as to provide him with adequate authority for the new line of doctrine to be introduced. This is a supposition which, it appears to me, amply accounts for the discordance between the representations concerning Paul made in the book of Acts and the Epistle to the Galatians, and affords, furthermore, a clue for the comprehension of the extraordinary position set up for Paul in the latter record.
Taken in this aspect, we are now to contemplate the Paul of the Galatians. In this epistle there is a bold subversion of the promises made to Abraham as understood by the Jewish community to embrace specifically themselves, and the application thereof indiscriminately to the Gentiles. “ The blessing of Abraham ” was to come on the Gentiles “through Jesus Christ.” By means of the quibble, for it is no less, on which I have already expatiated, he was that “ seed” of Abraham to which the promises were confined. The distinction between Jew and Greek was at an end (iii. 28), and if any were “ Christ's," then only were they “ Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.” The method in which Christ was thus utilized was the Gentile one of converting his death into a sacrifice. He “redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us," as it is written, “cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.” In this manner he “ gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world.” All this turned upon the crucifixion of Christ. This was to be the event continually set before us (iii. 1), by participation in which we were to be partakers also of the resurrection life, to which Christ had been introduced, with all its attendant blessings (ii. 20).
So great a departure from the Jewish system would scarcely
occur in one who was himself an Israelite. Such a person would naturally cling to the advantages belonging to him in the sacred scheme, as of the chosen family. This writer has no such sentiments, because he has no such position. He is of those who “are Jews by nature," meaning apparently in the new nature, through adoption in Christ. He holds the law in supreme contempt. It consisted of “weak and beggarly elements," involving nothing better than a worldly “ bondage.” The writer accordingly elects to be known as the apostle “ of the uncircumcision.”
With such proclivities, and such a purpose to advance, the writer was under the necessity of asserting for himself independent authority. Accordingly he is “an apostle, not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead.” His commission came from the risen Jesus, and he held as of small account that traceable only to Jesus in the flesh. He says, “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.” He adds, “when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace, to reveal his son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen ; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood.” So confident is he of the source of his inspiration that he says, “If any preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” Knowing, evidently, of the counter history attaching to the Paul he personated, he contradicts it in the most positive manner. For three years he did not go near Jerusalem, and then was there for but fifteen days, when he saw none other of the apostles but Peter and James ; affirming this, in itself unimportant circumstance, with an oath. Then fourteen years elapse before he again visits Jerusalem ; and when he meets with the leaders of the Christian movement, “who seemed to be somewhat,” though in fact of little real account, he says, “ they who seemed to be somewhat” (repeating the contemptuous phrase), “in conference added nothing to me.” Peter and others “who seemed to be pillars,” with whom he represents he came into discussion, he openly charges with “dissimulation," by which even his companion Barnabas for a time was “carried away.”
What the writer's view of the constitution of Christ when on earth is not sufficiently exhibited. He says, “when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his son, made of a woman, made under the law” (iv. 4). It is possible his pre-existence before he appeared on earth may be here intended, but so important a circumstance should not be left to be discovered by inference. I incline, therefore, to think that the passage has no such meaning, and that we have no other representation of Christ than that he was of human origin, subject as the rest of his race to the law.
In the 1st Epistle to the Corinthians the writer asserts, as in the Galatians, the absolute independence of his position. He describes himself as “called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God.” “Am I not an apostle ?” he asks; “ am I not free ? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord ? are not ye my work in the Lord ?” “ the seal of mine apostleship are ye in the Lord.” In expressing fellowship in the death of Christ through the use of the eucharistic elements (x. 16, 17), he claims to have derived the ordinance from direct revelation made to himself (xi. 23). He sets at nought the Jewish economy. “ Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing.” “For by one spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles.” The Jewish restrictions, accordingly, as to clean and unclean food, were at an end. “All things” were “ lawful.” “Whatsoever is sold in the shamble,” he said, “ that eat, asking no question for conscience sake.” “Whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question.” The writer was conscious of the discord prevailing around him in the Christian community, where there were those who said, “I am of Paul, and I of Apollos, and I of Cephas, and I of Christ.” What was the difference between the doctrines of the asserted Paul and Cephas we are aware; but what was the line taken by those who distinctively may have held they were “ of Christ ?” Possibly these maintained a scheme of doctrine differing from that of the rest in being more allied to the pure exclusive Judaic institution traceable to Christ. The writer, with his special revelation, dissents from that position. He has brought Jew and Gentile together on one level, and his dependence is on the Gentile element of the sacrificial death of Jesus. He preached “Christ crucified;" he “ determined not to know anything” among those he addressed “save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” “ Christ our passover is sacrificed for us.” “For I delivered unto you,” he declares, “ first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures.” Of God he says he is the Father “of whom are all things," and then of Christ as he “ by whom are all things, and we by him." I think this refers to no more than the work of Christian redemption. His divinity is not expressed, and he is referred to in mere human aspect. “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order : Christ the first fruits ; afterwards they that are Christ's at his coming.” As one “man” brought in the ruin, it has been arranged that another “man” should provide the remedy. In this sense “the first man Adam was made a living soul,” and “the last Adam” a quickening spirit.” “The head of every man," he observed, “is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.” This is federal headship, but not identity of constitution. As Christ has associated himself with us, so God is associated with Christ.
The 2d Epistle to the Corinthians is of like character to the first. The writer is careful to maintain the nature of his mission. He is “ Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God.” “Do ye,” he asks,“ look on things after the outward appearance ?” That is, are ye taken with the externals of profession or of authority ? “If any man trust to himself that he is Christ's, let him of himself think this again, that, as he is Christ's, even so are we Christ's. For though I should boast somewhat more of our authority, which the Lord hath given us for edification, and not for your destruction, I should not be ashamed.” “I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles.” “Are they Hebrews ? so am I. Are they Israelites ? so am I. · Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. Are they ministers of Christ ? (I speak as a fool) I am more.” “I am become a fool in glorying ; ye have compelled me : for I ought to have been commended of you : for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing. Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.” In the endeavour thus to maintain his authority, the writer betrays his consciousness that it was such as might very readily be called in question. He was warring against the earlier accepted creed, and maintaining that the Jewish dispensation, inscribed on “ tables of stone,” was a “ministration of death,” which had been “done away" in favour of the ministration of spirit and of life which he was enunciating. God, he said, hath “reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; to wit, that God was in Christ” (that is acting in Christ), “reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them;" making “him to be sin for us, who knew no sin ; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” Christ is called “the image of God” (iv. 4), but it is clearly in the sense of reflecting him spiritually, and not in the way of an external representation. It is also said of him, “that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor” (viii. 9). The phrase might be applicable to his pre-existence with the Father before being sent out into the world, but it is not otherwise apparent that the writer had attained to such a view. Probably no more is meant than that he who knew no sin took on himself the sins of the world, and suffered accordingly. Nothing, in fact, is recognized as of accepted value in Christ, but what belonged to him in his new nature after resurrection. His former condition presented him merely in human aspect, and with that the writer will not occupy himself. “He died for all,” he declares, “ that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh : yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.” He will acknowledge nothing connected either with Christ himself or his people, but the “new creation.” “Old things,” he says, “are passed away ; behold, all things are become new." The condition of Christ when on earth is thus entirely disallowed as representing only the human nature.