Commentary on "Jew and Gentile"
Day 1: Sabbath Afternoon, July 3, 2010 - Introduction
The lesson today begins with John 1:17: “The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” The commentary explains the infiltration of the Judaizers among Gentile converts as they tried to insist that the Gentiles needed to keep the Jewish law. A council was called at Jerusalem to settle the issue.
Although the council decided the Gentiles did not need to keep the Jewish laws, the Judaizers continued to insist Gentiles be circumcised and keep the law. The lesson then compares the concern about the Judaizers to the problem of people accusing Adventists of being legalists because of their adherence to the Sabbath commandment.
“How often do we hear that we are now under the New Covenant, and so the law (the Sabbath commandment) has been done away with?” it asks.
Others want Adventists to keep even more of the Old Testament regulations.
The lesson correctly explains the reason for the Jerusalem council. It deviates from the account in Acts 15, however, by drawing attention to Adventism’s insistence on Sabbath-keeping in a way that assumes this requirement is not legalism.
In fact, the New Testament does teach that “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to all who believe” (Romans 10:4).
The problem with Saturday’s introduction to the week’s lesson is that it assumes a faulty foundation: that Sabbath-keeping is a continuing requirement for Christians. Instead of conducting an inductive study on Sabbath, rest, and the new covenant, the lesson assumes the reader will scoff at the cries of “legalism” that arise from Christians who are worshiping the Lord Jesus as taught in the New Testament.
Romans does, indeed, have an “important message for us today,” but that message conflicts with Adventist teachings. When the book is read objectively, without “editing” the clear meanings of the words, it gives a message of Jesus as the embodiment of all the law represented. When a person is made alive in Christ by the Holy Spirit, Jesus’ own perfection and embodiment of the law is credited to that person, and he is counted righteous as well.
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