From Martin Luther
Truly, our knowing is more passive than active; that is, it is more a matter of being known by God than of knowing God. Our ‘activity’ is to allow God to do His work among us. He gives the Word, and by apprehending a divinely given faith, we are born as sons of God. Therefore the statement, ‘You are known by God’ (Gal 4:9), means ‘You have been visited by the Word; you have been granted faith and the Holy Spirit, by whom you have been renewed.’ Therefore even with the words ‘You have come to be known by God’ he is disparaging the righteousness of the law and denying it is possible to attain the knowledge of God on account of the worth of our own works. ‘No one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him’ (Mt 11:27). And again: ‘By his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities’ (Is 53:11). Therefore our knowledge about God is purely passive.” Martin Luther, Commentary on Galatians
Thoughtful exegesis. Our men’s Bible study looked at Galatians 4:9 last Monday morning during Passion Week. This week, we covered Galatians 4:12-20, line by line. It is detailed gospel discussion every week. Hope Lutheran’s newsletter has inspired me to dig out my Galatians commentary by Martin Luther.
Also, the Lutheran minister, Scott Murray shares:
Theologians of all generations have struggled to distinguish between law and gospel. One of the aspects of that struggle is simply the brute fact that the way of the law and the way of the gospel are contradictory. Luther says they are “non plus contraria,” that there is nothing more contrary or opposed to each than the law and the gospel. Certainly, that contradiction must be left to stand. The law must remain the law. The gospel must remain the gospel. There is no need to straighten out or rationalize what God can certainly take care of on His own. We should be found preaching the law and the gospel. He uses the law to destroy our impious self confidence that presumes we can avoid the punishments of the law by obeying it and keeping it. We cannot obey it or avoid its punishments. Because of its implacability, the law burdens us so that there must be a new way of righteousness that comes apart from the law. The law kills. Somehow there must be life. The law condemns. Someone must pardon. The law accuses. There must be a stilling of that accusation. The tribunal of the law finds us guilty. Someone must defend us against it. Only Christ and a different message from God will do. Only the gospel will suffice. The gospel proclaims us righteous. It cries that our warfare is accomplished. It speaks the law silent. It sings the verdict “not guilty.” This is the meaning of the Bible’s doctrine of justification. For Christ’s sake, our heavenly Father has proclaimed us righteous in His sight and He has done this without reference to the law. The law only shows our need, it does not bespeak us righteous. Only another word of God, the gospel, can do this. These are the two “high points” of what Paul writes to the Romans, not only that we are acquitted by the gospel, but also that such acquittal comes apart from the law. The righteousness we have is not our own, which would make it subject to the law. It is the righteousness of God; making it certain, because it depends on the divine promise. How can there be a righteousness apart from the law? With God there is nothing that is impossible. Paul is not making this up. He wants his readers to understand that this was the eternal faith of the church as testified to by the Old Testament. He is not just pulling this out thin air, but is claiming it was always the way of salvation. The God who is the same yesterday, today, and forever is standing behind this promise. The righteousness is none other than His own. This is why it is so dependable. It’s not ours, but His.
Not Ours, but His. May the Gospel of Jesus Christ flourish in Idaho Falls.