Chapter 11: Paul Disbelieved Continued.—Paul's Fourth Jerusalem Visit Continued. Perjurious Was the Purpose of the Exculpatory Ceremony Commenced In the Temple
Section 2: Proof From the Epistles
We come now to the direct evidence: that evidence—all of it from Paul's own pen:—all of it from his own Epistles. It consists in those "teachings to forsake Moses," which will be now furnished, in such unequivocal terms and such ample abundance, in and by those fruits of his misty and crafty eloquence:—in the first place, in his letter to the disciples, which he had made, or hoped to make at Rome:—date of it, according to the received chronology, about four years anterior to the time here in question:—in the next place, in two successive letters to the disciples, whom, it appears, he had made at Corinth:—both these addresses, set down, as belonging to the same year as the one to the Romans. Moreover, in his so often mentioned Epistle to the Galatians, matter of the same tendency is to be found. But, this last being, according to that same chronology, of a date posterior by some years to the time, at which the charge of having preached the sort of doctrine in question was, on the present occasion, made,—it belongs not to the present question, and is therefore left unemployed. And, in the same case, is some matter that might be found in his Epistles to the Thessalonians.
1. First then as to the Mosaic "law and customs," taken in the aggregate. On this subject, see in the first place what the oath-taker had said to his Romans.
I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean. For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.Romans 14:14, 17
Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.Romans 3:20
Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith. Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.Romans 3:27-31
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.60Romans 10:9 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.61Romans 10:12
For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him...One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike6214:2-3, 5
All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient (or profitable margin,) all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them.1st Corinthians 6:12-13
But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse... Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend. 1st Corinthians 8:8, 13
For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. And this I do for the gospel's sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you. 1st Corinthians 9:19-23
Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech: And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished: But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ. But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away. Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.2nd Corinthians 3:12-17
Now as to circumcision in particular.
For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision. Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision? And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law? For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.Romans 2:25-29
What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.Romans 3:1-2
Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also: And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised.Romans 4:9-12
Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers.Romans 15:8
Is any man called being circumcised? let him not become uncircumcised. Is any called in uncircumcision? let him not be circumcised. Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.1st Corinthians 7:18-19
From any one individual, who, in either of these distant cities, had seen any one of these same Epistles,—let it now be seen whether information of their contents, supposing it credited, would not have sufficed to produce those effects, the existence of which is so unquestionable. Not but that the same rashness, which suffered him to furnish such abundant evidence against himself in those distant regions, could scarce fail to have given birth to credence in abundance, of various sorts, and of a character, which, on that occasion, would be much more impressive.
60 A cheap enough rate this, at which salvation is thus put up. Of what use then morality? Of what use is abstinence from mischievous acts, in what degree so ever mischievous? "Oh! but," says somebody, "though Paul said this, he meant no such thing:" and then comes something—anything—which it may suit the defender's purpose to make Paul say.
61 Another receipt for making salvation still cheaper than as above. Not so Jesus. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.Matthew 7:21
62 Behold here the degree of importance attached by Paul to sabbaths.