Chapter 5: Negative Passages and God's Law
Last week we continued to look at chapter five and the so called "negative passages". Today we will finish off the addressing of these texts. We'll conclude with some closing remarks on how effective Mr Gentry was.
The whole book of Galatians is a minefield for advocates of theonomy. I personally believe that Mr Gentry did not spend enough time explaining this section though the content of the section is sound. In short, the book of Galatians is never about the law and its use for Sanctification. Instead it is primarily about the law for Justification and ceremonial worship.
While some see "breaks" in Galatians that allow them to interpret Paul's statements in a non-theonomic (and even against the "third use of the law") way, I agree with Mr Gentry that even Galatians 5:1-6 is still returning to justification themes and arguments. The whole of the book "has no bearing on the continuing validity of God's law...it simply counters the Judaizers' use of the law."
This verse is usual read to develop an antithesis view of this two groups. Law is set apart from grace and truth. Grace and truth contain no law. And while these groups are certainly distinct in many ways, there is not reason to think John is disparaging one of the groups to the promotion of the other. Further, to say that the law is the negative of grace and truth and thus does not contain them would go against Scripture (Exo 33:16; Psa 119:142, 151).
So then what is going on in this passage? Well Mr Gentry argues that the placement of the verbs indicates that they are in fact the things being contrasted. While Moses gave what was "not his own", Jesus Christ is on "his own" the realization of grace and truth. This lines up with the whole first chapter of the book in helping explain the fullness of the incarnation.
I am almost as satisfied with Mr Gentry's chapter as he himself is. I'm granting some allowances because of the purpose and scope of the book. For those interested in more reflection on these "problem passages", the writing/lectures of Greg Bahnsen are readily available for future study.