To them that are without law - The Gentiles, who had no written law, though they had the law written in their hearts; see on Romans 2:15; (note).
Being not without law to God - Instead of Θεῳ, To God, and Χριστῳ, To Christ, the most important MSS. and versions have Θεου, Of God, and Χριστου, Of Christ; being not without the law of God, but under the law of Christ.
Them that are without law - Dr. Lightfoot thinks the Sadducees may be meant, and that in certain cases, as far as the rites and ceremonies of the Jewish religion were concerned, he might conform himself to them, not observing such rites and ceremonies, as it is well known that they disregarded them; for the doctor cannot see how the apostle could conform himself in any thing to them that were without law, i.e. the heathen. But,
As without law - Not practicing the special rites and ceremonies enjoined in the law of Moses. Not insisting on them, or urging them, but showing that the obligation to those rites had been done away; and that they were not binding, though when among the Jews I might still continue to observe them; see the notes at Galatians 2:11-18. I neglected the ceremonial precepts of the Mosaic law, when I was with those who had not heard of the law of Moses, or those who did not observe them, because I knew that the binding obligation of these ceremonial precepts had ceased. I did not, therefore, press them upon the Gentiles, nor did I superstitiously and publicly practice them. In all this, Paul has reference only to those things which he regarded as in themselves indifferent, and not a matter of conscience; and his purpose was not; needlessly to excite the prejudice or the opposition of the world. Nothing is ever gained by provoking opposition for the mere sake of opposition. Nothing tends more to hinder the gospel than that. In all things of conscience and truth a man should be firm, and should lose his life rather than abandon either; in all things of indifference, of mere custom, of prejudice, he should yield, and accomodate himself to the modes of thinking among people, and adapt himself to their views, feelings, and habits of life, that he may win them to Christ.
Being not without law to God - Not regarding myself as being “absolutely” without law, or as being freed from obligation to obey God. Even in all this, I endeavored so to live as that it might be seen that I felt myself bound by law to God. I was not a despiser, and contemner, and neglector of “law as such,” but only regarded myself as not bound by the special ceremonial law of Moses. This is an instance of Paul‘s conscientiousness. He would not leave room to have it supposed for a moment that he disregarded all law. He was bound to God by law; and in the conduct to which he was referring he felt that he was obeying him. He was bound by higher law than those ceremonial observances which were now to be done away. This passage would destroy all the refuges of the Antinomians. Whatever privileges the gospel has introduced, it has not set us free from the restraints and obligations of law. That is binding still; and no man is at liberty to disregard the moral law of God. Christ came to magnify, strengthen, and to honor the law, not to destroy it.
But under the law to Christ - Bound by the law enjoined by Christ; under the law of affectionate gratitude and duty to him. I obeyed his commands; followed his instructions; sought his honor; yielded to his will. In this he would violate none of the rules of the moral law. And he here intimates, that his grand object was to yield obedience to the law of the Saviour, and that this was the governing purpose of his life. And this would guide a man right. In doing this, he would never violate any of the precepts of the moral law, for Christ obeyed them, and enjoined their observance. He would never feel that he was without law to God, for Christ obeyed God, and enjoined it on all. He would never feel that religion came to set him free from law, or to authorize licentiousness; for its grand purpose and aim is to make people holy, and to bind them everywhere to the observance of the pure law of the Redeemer.
In the work of soul-winning, great tact and wisdom are needed. The Saviour never suppressed the truth, but He uttered it always in love. In His intercourse with others, He exercised the greatest tact, and He was always kind and thoughtful. He was never rude, never needlessly spoke a severe word, never gave unnecessary pain to a sensitive soul. He did not censure human weakness. He fearlessly denounced hypocrisy, unbelief, and iniquity, but tears were in His voice as He uttered His scathing rebukes. He never made truth cruel, but ever manifested a deep tenderness for humanity. Every soul was precious in His sight. He bore Himself with divine dignity; yet He bowed with the tenderest compassion and regard to every member of the family of God. He saw in all, souls whom it was His mission to save. GW 117.1Read in context »
Brother and Sister L of Canada have been gradually losing their hold on God and their love for heavenly and divine things as they have been more earnestly grasping for worldly treasures. They have been relaxing their hold on heaven and fastening it more firmly on this world. A few years ago they loved to have an interest in the advancement of the truth and work of God. More recently their love for gain has increased, and they have not felt interested to do their part to save their fellow men. Self-denial and benevolence for Christ's sake have not characterized their lives. They have done but little for the cause of God. What have they been doing with their talents? They have been burying them in the earth, investing them in lands. They have not been putting them out to the exchangers, that when the Master comes, He may receive His own with usury. 2T 674.1
They have a work to do to set their hearts and house in order, “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven.” Their hearts have been upon the things of this life, and eternal considerations have been made secondary. They should work earnestly to get the love of the world out of their hearts and should place their affections upon things above, not upon things on the earth. If God's servants would bear in mind that their work is to do all in their power, with their influence and their means, to save souls for whom Christ died, there would be more unselfish effort, and unbelievers would be stirred; they would be convinced that there is a reality in the truth thus presented and thus backed up by example. 2T 674.2
Brother and Sister L should have confidence in the work for these last days and should be perfecting Christian character, that they may receive the eternal reward when Jesus comes. Brother L is failing in physical and mental vigor. He is becoming incapable of bearing much responsibility. He should counsel with his brethren who are discreet and faithful. 2T 675.1Read in context »