Law and Freedom Paul- Religion 327

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a) Explain the reasons why Paul wrote most of his letters.

b) Briefly identify Paul’s style of leadership. Is his style relevant to

our churches today?

c) “Circumcision is not necessary to Christian faith”. True or false?

Defend your answer

Using the notes below and Marrow- Paul His Letters and His Theology

•Paul opens almost all of his letters by claiming freedom form institutional authority. He counted himself equal to the rest of the apostles.

• He opens his letters with personal autonomy, with a claim that he was under no ones authority except Christ’ s. His appointment to apostleship was derived not from any human authority, but directly from God. Similarly his message was not from any human source, but from revelation of Jesus Christ.

•Paul counted himself as subject to no one. Paul also did not see himself as subject to the church at Jerusalem. He desired to work with others without being under them.

• Paul had strong disagreements with anyone who wanted to impose the Torah (Laws) on the Gentile Christians. He even opposed Peter to his face and called him a flip-flopper. Peter exercised freedom when with the Gentiles, but denied himself the same when with his fellow Jews. Paul termed this as hypocrisy.

• Paul saw freedom as a crucial element of faith. He viewed the Law as a deterrent to faith, a view that puzzled many of his hearers and scholars. How could a Jew, raised up in Jewish faith and traditions (the Law) have the temerity to denounce the core of Judaism, the Law? Paul raised a lot of hullabaloo about this matter and had to strongly defend and explain his position.

• Paul understood the law in terms of limitations. He viewed the law as an oppressor and a tool of condemnation and judgment. He even alludes the law was a killer.

•The law had demanded he go out and persecute Christians but Christs’ freedom had led him to love them and do everything possible to bring them to God.

•The law had failed to asure him of God’s love and God’s acceptance of him, even before he had known Christ. The Law had blinded him from experiencing God’s grace. The law had kept him a prisoner of actions thinking that works could earn him merit before God.

• Paul understood the vicarious death of Christ as the act of God that freed believers from the yoke of the law. Paul himself attained his freedom when Christ revealed himself to him. The law had failed to save him and let him free to enjoy being in God’s presence.

•Freedom in Christ nullifies the power of the law. The law had served its purpose, to tutor believers to maturity of faith, to teach people that no one can fulfill the requirements of the law and so has to look for a higher power, that higher power is Christ himself.

• Paul also claims the law seperates and discriminates, Jew and Gentile, slave and free, male and female, but in Christ, all are equal.

•Paul does not however advocate for freedom without responsibility. His argument is not for libertism where everyone did whatever one wanted because they were free. Pauls’ interprets his doctrine of freedom coming with the responsibility of practicing “neighborly love without external restrictions or biases. Paul sees ” life of freedom” as “the life that is led by the Spirit” . In the death and resurrection of Christ, Paul sees the ultimate payment for the failures of the law.

•Believers should not revert to the letter of the law for salvation, but should look up to Christ who met all the requirements of the law in our behalf. In this fight Paul helped draw a distinction between Christianity and Judaism. If the Gentile Christians were proselytized into Judaism, they would not have embraced the importance of the death and resurrection of Christ. Paul ensured they enjoyed their faith in Christ just as they were without having to become pseudo-Jews in the first place.

•Paul also emphasizes that our freedom should be sensitive to the welfare of others.” It should be kept in mind here that to set limits it to define and not curtail the exercise of freedom!” (Marrow 114).

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