Thursday, 25 February 2016
And this occurred because of false brethren secretly brought in (who came in by stealth to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage), Galatians 2:4
This verse is referring to the previous one where Paul said that not even Titus, who was a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised. His words now build upon that. Paul would not budge on this issue because it would lead not to freedom, but to bondage. This attempt to have Titus circumcised was “because of false brethren.” The term Paul uses to describe them is found only here and in 2 Corinthians 11:26. It is those who were “brethren” in name only, but false in their Christian life. Paul uses an article (the false brethren) to show that they were by this time a well-known group of miscreants. They were anti-grace Judaizers who wanted control over the body, not freedom for it.
These false brethren were “secretly brought in.” The word used for this is pareisaktos. It is found only here in the New Testament and it means, “brought in by the side, and so insidiously and illegally.” Vincent’s Word Studies says that they were, “Brought in, not from Jerusalem into the church at Antioch, nor into the Pauline churches generally, but into the Christian brotherhood to which they did not rightfully belong.”
Paul continues his words by saying that these worthless false brethren, are those “who came in by stealth to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus.” Charles Ellicott notes that the terms “came in by stealth” and “secretly brought in” are words which “correspond to each other in the Greek, and bring out in a graphic and forcible way the insidious and designing character of the party most violently opposed to St. Paul. Professing to be Christians, they were really Jews of the narrowest sort, who only entered into the Church to spy into and restrict its liberties.”
In other words, not only were they false brethren, but they were those who actively worked against the truth of the gospel. Some false brethren may come in and want to leech off the fellowship. Others might just want something to do or someone to fellowship with, even if they don’t believe what is being discussed by the brothers. But these people had a set and perverse agenda to destroy the truth of the grace of Christ. It is an agenda with a specific purpose which was “that they might bring us into bondage.”
If the grace of Christ is that which brings freedom and liberty, then something opposed to it can only bring bondage. Paul will very clearly explain in his words to come that the Law of Moses is bondage. It can only show us what is sinful, but it can in no way free us from our sin. Only Christ can do that. The false brethren knew that if they could diminish the grace of Christ, those who believed their message would be brought into bondage. And anyone in bondage has someone over them to enforce that state. Thus, their intent was a power-grab and their desire was to be the ones in power over the Galatians.
Life application: If you believe that You should be observing any or all of the Law of Moses, you have been deceived. If you teach that to others, you are a heretic. Don’t be a deceived and don’t be a heretic. Receive the freedom which truly sets you free. Receive Christ Jesus.
Heavenly Father, why would anyone trade the grace of Jesus Christ for the heresy of falling back under the Law of Moses? It is so hard to understand, but so many would rather carry around the heavy yoke of bondage than to stand in the liberty by which Christ has made us free. Help us to understand that He is the fulfillment and embodiment of everything which stood against us. Help us to put our trust in Him alone. We can only please You when we honor the Son who fulfilled all things on our behalf. Thank You for our Lord Jesus. Amen.