I previously posted a paper on this blog which discussed Paul’s letter to the Galatians. In it, I argued that Paul’s Judaizing opponents in Galatia were not merit legalists and that Galatians is not an argument against such legalism. Instead, Paul’s opponents were more like “hyper-dispensationalists.” They wanted the Christian gentiles to become Jews because the Judaizers believed that the old covenants had not been affected at all by the arrival of the Messiah. Paul therefore argued in his letter that circumcision (the Abrahamic covenant) and the law (the Mosaic covenant) had been fulfilled and transformed by the Messiah’s arrival. Thus, in this new covenant, the gentiles had been incorporated into God’s people apart from the old administrations.
In the next few posts, I want to continue with this theme as it relates to the N.T. history books. I want to look at the Gospels and Acts and see what sort of emphasis, if any, is put on identifying and critiquing merit legalism. The three posts in this series will be as follows:
1. The Sins of Israel
2. The Sins of the Pharisees
3. Some “Surprising” Teaching from Jesus
This post will summarize the sins of Israel in general as they are pointed out in the Gospels and Acts. I will be looking to see how prominent merit legalism is. Not every sin will be listed. In a number of places, Israel or a group of Jews is criticized without a lot of specificity (e.g., Matt. 11:20-24). But I will be looking for discussions of specific sins with an eye toward identifying any examples of legalism.
Read it all: beaten with brains: Looking for Legalism.