Paul the Apostle said some strange things, things hard to understand. Even Peter agreed (2 Peter 3:15). And if some of his writings were admittedly puzzling back then, how much more so would that be the case today, nearly two millennia later?
I used to be exasperated over Paul’s occasional inscrutability, but no longer.
And the reason is an interesting one: the joy of discovery—you know, that aha moment when, as the Australians would say, “the penny drops,” that moment when the fog of perplexity clears and light floods a formerly opaque passage. It’s a beautiful and rewarding thing; it is, truth be told, one of my favorite things about being a follower of Jesus and a student of Scripture.
Let’s take a brief look at one such passage. Galatians 2:19 (which comes just before the oft-quoted Galatians 2:20) reads: “For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God.”
You’ve heard people quote Galatians 2:20 a thousand times. How about Galatians 2:19? Quite probably, you’ve never heard someone quote it from memory.
Many Christians are, as strange as it may seem, actually afraid of the Bible.
Can you make heads or tails of this verse? If so, good for you. Most Bible readers, however, I would bet, cannot. How can Paul have “died to the law?” Is this some kind of diminishment of the Ten Commandments? Is the Sabbath somehow threatened? Is Paul confused?
First, an initial observation. Many Christians are, as strange as it may seem, actually afraid of the Bible. Yes, afraid. Not of all the passages, to be sure. Not even most. Certainly not, say, John 3:16. But some passages seem scary and even threatening. Some passages are to be avoided for fear of discovering something threatening and destabilizing. I know this, because I used to feel this way.
But not anymore.
Whatever it is that Scripture actually says, that’s what I want to know, and that’s what I want to believe.
And the reason is pretty simple: my job is not to be a denominational or creedal or doctrinal apologist, but a Jesus follower and Bible believer. Whatever it is that Scripture actually says, that’s what I want to know, and that’s what I want to believe.
I sure hope you agree!
So don’t be afraid of Scripture. Read it. Love it. Enjoy it. Study it. Be frustrated by it. Discover it. You won’t regret it, and in fact it will give you the lifelong pleasure of personal discovery and joy. And believe me about this: the Christian walk is best and sweetest when it’s your own. Your shoes. Your steps. Your journey. Too many believers are living on someone else’s discoveries and journey.
Don’t be one of those.
Get into the text for yourself. And into worship for yourself. And into ministry for yourself. You will find, I promise you, that the journey is much more joyful, breathtaking, challenging, and rewarding that way.
Don’t be afraid of Scripture. Read it. Love it. Enjoy it. Study it. Be frustrated by it. Discover it.
Now, about that text, Galatians 2:19 where Paul says that, “through the law [he] died to the law,” just what did he mean?
Oh my, would you look at that? We’ve run out of space! Well, hmmmm, I guess this is as good an opportunity as any for you to try and find out for yourself. Have fun, and embrace the frustration! For, as someone once said, “there’s gold in them thar hills.”