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legally Christ's

28-11-2013 - Posted by Andre Piet

image5 In 1 Corinthians 9, Paul describes how he, as an athlete (:24-27) is directed to one goal in life. That goal is: to win others for Christ (:19-22). Everything in his life was subordinate to that goal. For the Jews, he was a Jew, in order to win Jews. Those who were under the law, he was as under the law. We read in Acts 16:1-3, that he had Timothy (who had a Jewish mother) circumcised for the sake of the Jews. For Paul, this was not an issue. He emphasized not to be under law, himself, but if his conduct would benefit the Evangel that he preached, he always adjusted himself to the customs. Conversely, he also did that for people who lived without law (9:21). The Greek language, here, has the ordinary word for “lawless”. Imagine: Paul being lawless. Such wide margins he practiced! The nations did not know the law (of Moses) and should not be placed under it, either. The latter was one of the focal points of the struggle which the apostle encountered, again and again. For the lawless, Paul became lawless. He directly adds to it:

…not being without God’s law, but legally Christ’s.

Many Bible translations do not render this last part properly and translate: “under the law to Christ” (KJV) or “under Christ’s law” (NIV). That is incorrect. As in Acts 19:39, here, the word “legal” is used. Literally: “legally of Christ.” It is a statement about his identity. He was bought and paid for, and belonged to the risen and living Christ (see 1Cor.6:20 and 7:22). Paul’s life was not at all governed by whether something was lawful or not. Compare this with the discussions in the Christian world, which is ever so much occupied with what is or what is not allowed. That was not important with Paul. For him the question was: Is it useful? Does it benefit the proclamation of the Evangel? Is the ecclesia edified (1Cor.10:23)? The focus in His ministry was “to present every man mature in Christ” (Col.1:28). He showed people what “is written” (1 Cor.4:6), so they would learn who they are in Christ: a new creation (2Cor.5:17) and intended to receive life beyond the reach of death (1Cor.15:22)!