SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 6 (EGW)

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Chapter 5

1. See EGW on Romans 8:15-21. 6BC 1110.11

1, 2 (1 Corinthians 1:10-13). The Controversy Over Circumcision—Factions also were beginning to rise through the influence of Judaizing teachers, who urged that the converts to Christianity should observe the ceremonial law in the matter of circumcision. They still maintained that the original Israel were the exalted and privileged children of Abraham, and were entitled to all the promises made to him. They sincerely thought that in taking this medium ground between Jew and Christian, they would succeed in removing the odium which attached to Christianity, and would gather in large numbers of the Jews. 6BC 1110.12

They vindicated their position, which was in opposition to that of Paul, by showing that the course of the apostle, in receiving the Gentiles into the church without circumcision, prevented more Jews from accepting the faith than there were accessions from the Gentiles. Thus they excused their opposition to the results of the calm deliberations of God's acknowledged servants. They refused to admit that the work of Christ embraced the whole world. They claimed that He was the Saviour of the Hebrews alone; therefore they maintained that the Gentiles should receive circumcision before being admitted to the privileges of the church of Christ. 6BC 1110.13

After the decision of the council at Jerusalem concerning this question, many were still of this opinion, but did not then push their opposition any farther. The council had, on that occasion, decided that the converts from the Jewish church might observe the ordinances of the Mosaic law if they chose, while those ordinances should not be made obligatory upon converts from the Gentiles. The opposing class now took advantage of this, to urge a distinction between the observers of the ceremonial law and those who did not observe it, holding that the latter were farther from God than the former. 6BC 1111.1

Paul's indignation was stirred. His voice was raised in stern rebuke: “If ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.” The party maintaining that Christianity was valueless without circumcision arrayed themselves against the apostle, and he had to meet them in every church which he founded or visited: in Jerusalem, Antioch, Galatia, Corinth, Ephesus, and Rome. God urged him out to the great work of preaching Christ, and Him crucified; circumcision or uncircumcision was nothing. The Judaizing party looked upon Paul as an apostate, bent upon breaking down the partition wall which God had established between the Israelites and the world. They visited every church which he had organized, creating divisions. Holding that the end would justify the means, they circulated false charges against the apostle, and endeavored to bring him into disrepute. As Paul, in visiting the churches, followed after these zealous and unscrupulous opposers, he met many who viewed him with distrust, and some who even despised his labors. 6BC 1111.2

These divisions in regard to the ceremonial law, and the relative merits of the different ministers teaching the doctrine of Christ, caused the apostle much anxiety and hard labor [1 Corinthians 1:10-13 quoted] (Sketches from the Life of Paul, 121, 122). 6BC 1111.3

6 (Philippians 2:12; 1 Timothy 6:12; Titus 2:14; James 2:14-20; 1 Peter 1:22; Revelation 2:2; see EGW on Titus 1:9-11). Bible Religion Means Constant Work—Genuine faith always works by love. When you look to Calvary it is not to quiet your soul in the non-performance of duty, not to compose yourself to sleep, but to create faith in Jesus, faith that will work, purifying the soul from the slime of selfishness. When we lay hold of Christ by faith, our work has just begun. Every man has corrupt and sinful habits that must be overcome by vigorous warfare. Every soul is required to fight the fight of faith. If one is a follower of Christ, he cannot be sharp in deal, he cannot be hardhearted, devoid of sympathy. He cannot be coarse in his speech. He cannot be full of pomposity and self-esteem. He cannot be overbearing, nor can he use harsh words, and censure and condemn. 6BC 1111.4

The labor of love springs from the work of faith. Bible religion means constant work. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God that worketh in you, both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” We are to be zealous of good works; be careful to maintain good works. And the true Witness says, “I know thy works.” 6BC 1111.5

While it is true that our busy activities will not in themselves ensure salvation, it is also true that faith which unites us to Christ will stir the soul to activity (Manuscript 16, 1890). 6BC 1111.6

17 (Ephesians 6:12). Stern Conflicts in the Christian Life—The life of the Christian is not all smooth. He has stern conflicts to meet. Severe temptations assail him. “The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.” The nearer we come to the close of this earth's history, the more delusive and ensnaring will be the attacks of the enemy. His attacks will grow fiercer and more frequent. Those who resist light and truth will become more hardened and unimpressible, and more bitter against those who love God and keep His commandments (Manuscript 33, 1911). 6BC 1111.7

22, 23 (Ephesians 5:9). The Indwelling of the Spirit—The influence of the Holy Spirit is the life of Christ in the soul. We do not see Christ and speak to Him, but His Holy Spirit is just as near us in one place as in another. It works in and through every one who receives Christ. Those who know the indwelling of the Spirit reveal the fruits of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith (Manuscript 41, 1897). 6BC 1112.1