Chapter III.—St. Paul Quite in Accordance with St. Peter and Other Apostles of the Circumcision. His Censure of St. Peter Explained, and Rescued from Marcions Misapplication. The Strong Protests of This Epistle Against Judaizers. Yet Its Teaching is Shown to Be in Keeping with the Law and the Prophets. Marcions Tampering with St. Pauls Writings Censured.
But with regard to the countenance 5268 of Peter and the rest of the apostles, he tells us 5269 that “fourteen years after he went up to Jerusalem,” in order to confer with them 5270 about the rule which he followed in his gospel, lest perchance he should all those years have been running, and be running still, in vain, (which would be the case,) of course, if his preaching of the gospel fell short of their method. 5271 So great had been his desire to be approved and supported by those whom you wish on all occasions 5272 to be understood as in alliance with Judaism! When indeed he says, that “neither was Titus circumcised,” 5273 he for the first time shows us that circumcision was the only question connected with the maintenance 5274 of the law, which had been as yet agitated by those whom he therefore calls “false brethren unawares brought in.” 5275 These persons went no further than to insist on a continuance of the law, retaining unquestionably a sincere belief in the Creator. They perverted the gospel in their teaching, not indeed by such a tampering with the Scripture 5276 as should enable them to expunge 5277 the Creators Christ, but by so retaining the ancient régime as not to exclude the Creators law. Therefore he says: “Because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ, that they might bring us into bondage, to whom we gave place by subjection not even for an hour.” 5278 Let us only attend to the clear 5279 sense and to the reason of the thing, and the perversion of the Scripture will be apparent. When he first says, “Neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised,” and then adds, “And that because of false brethren unawares brought in,” 5280 etc., he gives us an insight into his reason 5281 for acting in a clean contrary way, 5282 showing us wherefore he did that which he would neither have done nor shown to us, if that had not happened which induced him to act as he did. But then 5283 I want you to tell us whether they would have yielded to the subjection that was demanded, 5284 if these false brethren had not crept in to spy out their liberty? I apprehend not. They therefore gave way (in a partial concession), because there were persons whose weak faith required consideration. 5285 For their rudimentary belief, which was still in suspense about the observance of the law, deserved this concessive treatment, 5286 when even the apostle himself had some suspicion that he might have run, and be still running, in vain. 5287 Accordingly, the false brethren who were the spies of their Christian liberty must be thwarted in their efforts to bring it under the yoke of their own Judaism before that Paul discovered whether his labour had been in vain, before that those who preceded him in the apostolate gave him their right hands of fellowship, before that he entered on the office of preaching to the Gentiles, according to their arrangement with him. 5288 He therefore made some concession, as was necessary, for a time; and this was the reason why he had Timothy circumcised, 5289 and the Nazarites introduced into the temple, 5290 which incidents are described in the Acts. Their truth may be inferred from their agreement with the apostles own profession, how “to the Jews he became as a Jew, that he might gain the Jews, and to them that were under p. 434 the law, as under the law,”—and so here with respect to those who come in secretly,—“and lastly, how he became all things to all men, that he might gain all.” 5291 Now, inasmuch as the circumstances require such an interpretation as this, no one will refuse to admit that Paul preached that God and that Christ whose law he was excluding all the while, however much he allowed it, owing to the times, but which he would have had summarily to abolish if he had published a new god. Rightly, then, did Peter and James and John give their right hand of fellowship to Paul, and agree on such a division of their work, as that Paul should go to the heathen, and themselves to the circumcision. 5292 Their agreement, also, “to remember the poor” 5293 was in complete conformity with the law of the Creator, which cherished the poor and needy, as has been shown in our observations on your Gospel. 5294 It is thus certain that the question was one which simply regarded the law, while at the same time it is apparent what portion of the law it was convenient to have observed. Paul, however, censures Peter for not walking straightforwardly according to the truth of the gospel. No doubt he blames him; but it was solely because of his inconsistency in the matter of “eating,” 5295 which he varied according to the sort of persons (whom he associated with) “fearing them which were of the circumcision,” 5296 but not on account of any perverse opinion touching another god. For if such a question had arisen, others also would have been “resisted face to face” by the man who had not even spared Peter on the comparatively small matter of his doubtful conversation. But what do the Marcionites wish to have believed (on the point)? For the rest, the apostle must (be permitted to) go on with his own statement, wherein he says that “a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith:” 5297 faith, however, in the same God to whom belongs the law also. For of course he would have bestowed no labour on severing faith from the law, when the difference of the god would, if there had only been any, have of itself produced such a severance. Justly, therefore, did he refuse to “build up again (the structure of the law) which he had overthrown.” 5298 The law, indeed, had to be overthrown, from the moment when John “cried in the wilderness, Prepare ye the ways of the Lord,” that valleys 5299 and hills and mountains may be filled up and levelled, and the crooked and the rough ways be made straight and smooth 5300 —in other words, that the difficulties of the law might be changed into the facilities of the gospel.
For he remembered that the time was come of which the Psalm spake, “Let us break their bands asunder, and cast off their yoke from us;” 5301 since the time when “the nations became tumultuous, and the people imagined vain counsels;” when “the kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against His Christ,” 5302 in order that thenceforward man might be justified by the liberty of faith, not by servitude to the law, 5303 “because the just shall live by his faith.” 5304 Now, although the prophet Habakkuk first said this, yet you have the apostle here confirming the prophets, even as Christ did. The object, therefore, of the faith whereby the just man shall live, will be that same God to whom likewise belongs the law, by doing which no man is justified. Since, then, there equally are found the curse in the law and the blessing in faith, you have both conditions set forth by 5305 the Creator: “Behold,” says He, “I have set before you a blessing and a curse.” 5306 You cannot establish a diversity of authors because there happens to be one of things; for the diversity is itself proposed by one and the same author. Why, however, “Christ was made a curse for us,” 5307 is declared by the apostle himself in a way which quite helps our side, as being the result of the Creators appointment. But yet it by no means follows, because the Creator said of old, “Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree,” 5308 that Christ belonged to another god, and on that account was accursed even then in the law. And how, indeed, could the Creator have cursed by anticipation one whom He knew not of? Why, however, may it not be more suitable for the Creator to have delivered His own Son to His own curse, than to have submitted Him to the malediction of that god of yours,—in behalf, too, of man, who is an alien to him? Now, if this appointment of the Creator respecting His Son appears to you to be a cruel one, it is equally so in the case of your own god; if, on the contrary, it be in accordance with reason in your god, it is p. 435 equally so—nay, much more so—in mine. For it would be more credible that that God had provided blessing for man, through the curse of Christ, who formerly set both a blessing and a curse before man, than that he had done so, who, according to you, 5309 never at any time pronounced either. “We have received therefore, the promise of the Spirit,” as the apostle says, “through faith,” even that faith by which the just man lives, in accordance with the Creators purpose. 5310 What I say, then, is this, that that God is the object of faith who prefigured the grace of faith. But when he also adds, “For ye are all the children of faith,” 5311 it becomes clear that what the heretics industry erased was the mention of Abrahams name; for by faith the apostle declares us to be “children of Abraham,” 5312 and after mentioning him he expressly called us “children of faith” also. But how are we children of faith? and of whose faith, if not Abrahams? For since “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness;” 5313 since, also, he deserved for that reason to be called “the father of many nations,” whilst we, who are even more like him 5314 in believing in God, are thereby justified as Abraham was, and thereby also obtain life—since the just lives by his faith,—it therefore happens that, as he in the previous passage called us “sons of Abraham,” since he is in faith our (common) father, 5315 so here also he named us “children of faith,” for it was owing to his faith that it was promised that Abraham should be the father of (many) nations. As to the fact itself of his calling off faith from circumcision, did he not seek thereby to constitute us the children of Abraham, who had believed previous to his circumcision in the flesh? 5316 In short, 5317 faith in one of two gods cannot possibly admit us to the dispensation 5318 of the other, 5319 so that it should impute righteousness to those who believe in him, and make the just live through him, and declare the Gentiles to be his children through faith. Such a dispensation as this belongs wholly to Him through whose appointment it was already made known by the call of this self-same Abraham, as is conclusively shown 5320 by the natural meaning. 5321
The following statement will throw light upon the character of the two classes of Jewish professors of Christianity referred to by Tertullian: “A pharisaic section was sheltered in its bosom (of the church at Jerusalem), which continually strove to turn Christianity into a sect of Judaism. These men were restless agitators, animated by the bitterest sectarian spirit; and although they were numerically a small party, yet we know the power of the turbulent minority. But besides these Judaizing zealots, there was a large proportion of the Christians at Jerusalem, whose Christianity, though more sincere than that of those just mentioned, was yet very weak and imperfect…Many of them still only knew of a Christ after the flesh—a Saviour of Israel—a Jewish Messiah. Their minds were in a state of transition between the law and the gospel; and it was of great consequence not to shock their prejudices too rudely; lest they should be tempted to make shipwreck of their faith and renounce their Christianity altogether.” These were they whose prejudices required to be wisely consulted in things which did not touch the foundation of the gospel. (Conybeare and Howsons St. Paul, Peoples Edition, vol. ii. pp. 259, 260.)433:5287 433:5288 433:5289 433:5290 434:5291 434:5292 434:5293 434:5294 434:5295 434:5296 434:5297 434:5298
Gal. ii. 18 (see Conybeare and Howson).434:5299 434:5300 434:5301 434:5302 434:5303 434:5304 434:5305 434:5306 434:5307 434:5308 435:5309 435:5310
According to the promise of a prophet of the Creator. See Hab. ii. 4.435:5311 435:5312 435:5313 435:5314
Magis proinde: as sharing in the faith he had, “being yet uncircumcised.” See Rom. iv. 11.435:5315 435:5316 435:5317 435:5318 435:5319 435:5320 435:5321
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