Almost Too Easy

One thing I have mentioned several times in passing, and at least once explicitly, is the words referenced in Galatians 3:13, and those mentioned in Matthew 5:17-19.

Galatians offers freedom, for Christians, from the curse of the Law! And Matthew 5:17-19 commands Christians to follow the law. It is clearly worded, in the plain English translation (and many have made it a personal war to find a less damning translation of the verses in Matthew 5) that offers two completely opposing viewpoints.

I got curious, how do Biblical literalists deal with Matthew 5 specifically?

I searched for comments on Matthew 5, and found the following written at http://www.gci.org/bible/matthew517 :

“To ask again: Did Jesus mean Christians had to keep all the regulations of the Law of Moses, including the “holy time” regulations of the Sabbath, or strict tithing, or the food laws? Consider what that line of reasoning would demand.

Christians would be obligated to keep all the sacrificial, ceremonial and civil laws described in the Law of Moses. They would have to keep every single law mentioned in Genesis through Deuteronomy — and the rest of the Old Testament. The Jews calculated that there were 613 laws in their Holy Scriptures. Christians, then, based on the idea that Jesus was telling his disciples to keep the regulations of the Law and the Prophets, would have to keep all 613 laws.”

To paraphrase: “No, Jesus didn’t mean we should keep the law, because that would be haaaaaarrrrrdddddd.” (Read in the whiniest voice you have available to your brain.)

Bible Gateway (my general choice for researching Bible verses, as it will show you as many parallel translations as you care to read) offers the commentary as read here: https://www.biblegateway.com/resources/commentaries/IVP-NT/Matt/Christians-Must-Obey-Gods-Law

It basically says, in no uncertain terms, that Jesus would have had you follow the Law.

How about historical context? Reza Azlan writes that James, the brother of Jesus, son of Mary–and we are talking literal, here– James, the brother of Jesus, was the first leader of the Christian Church, and he said (in no uncertain terms, to the point where he ended up in a fistfight with Saul of Tarsus, who was called Paul (and who styled himself the thirteenth Apostle, and greatest of the apostles)) that to be a follower of his brother, who was the Christ, you must follow, strictly and to the letter, all of the Law as written by the inspiration of God in the Old Testament.

I mentioned the above casually, but it requires some explanation: James, brother of Jesus, got into an actual fistfight with Paul (who wrote well over half of the New Testament of the Bible), on the steps of the Temple in Jerusalem. James, who followed Jesus, and knew Jesus, versus Paul, who professionally killed Christians prior to his own conversion well after the death of Jesus. Which one, in your mind, would have more likely understood the message of Jesus?

Why do you think we follow Paul’s teachings and nearly forget altogether the brother of Jesus? Hell, James is mentioned in history books more often than Jesus was. He was known in Jerusalem as James the Just, he fought for the rights of the poor, he sat on the Temple Council! What happened?

It all comes down to this: People agreed with the comments written by the GCI. Following the law is haaarrrrrddddd. “I don’t care if this was a theology made up that flies in the face of the teachings of both Jesus and James. Following the law is just really, really, really difficult, and Paul says we don’t have to, and I WANT to go to Heaven, as long as it isn’t so haaaaaarrrrrddddd to get there! Who is James? Nobody, that’s who! Time to follow Paul!”

That explains why Galatians 3:13 is far more readily followed than is the tenets of Matthew 5.

It is also worth noting the reason why you have probably never heard of James, the brother of Jesus (or, if you have, why you didn’t know how prominent he was to the early Church). He was martyred by the High Priest at the time (the Jewish High Priest, mind) because the people liked James more than they liked the High Priest, and he was just a big ol’ jelly-belly. He had James killed, and without James telling everyone to ignore Paul and his (to James) false teachings, Paul was left to evangelize almost without contest. Jesus’ cousin replaced James as the leader of the Christian Church of Jerusalem (it would not have been called that at the time, Christian was not yet a word, but for all intents and purposes it paints a clear picture to use these words), but he never managed to gain the following of James the Just.

And that is your history lesson for the day, I suppose?

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One thought on “Almost Too Easy

  1. Pingback: The Indiscretions of Youth | Blog42: My Stream of (semi)Consciousness

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