The Curse! Whose?

[A thought for all those who love to dig deeper into the Word of God.]

Galatians 3:13 reads the same in 15 English translations: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us,” Only in the New Living Translation do we read, “But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law. When he was hung [hanged?] on the cross, he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing.”Who is the ‘us’? Whose “curse” did the Savior bear?

Lightfoot says, “The expression [redeemed from the curse] is to be explained partly by the Hebrew idiom … but still more by the religious conception which it involves.” [Galatians, Page 139] This idea is prominent in Leviticus 16:5-10 with the type of the “scapegoat” [a goat sent into the wilderness after the Jewish chief priest had symbolically laid the sins of the people upon it]. Verse 10 reads, “the goat on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make atonement upon it.”

Paul clarified, according to scholarship, that he and “the Jewish race” were “redeemed” or “ransomed” by Christ taking “the curse,” which Lightfoot interprets was, “pronounced” by the Law, Torah. This tells Lightfoot that the ‘us’ is Israel! Paul’s use of the term “curse,” which comes from Deuteronomy 21:23 [“he that is hanged is accursed of God’] specifically and solely concerning Israel’s status before God and makes no reference to the Church or to Gentiles [Deuteronomy 27:15-26 lists a dozen curses for Torah breakers, in particular].

So Lightfoot clarifies [Galatians 3:14] “The Law, the great barrier, that excluded the Gentiles, is done away in Christ.” Israel broke the Law and inherited the curse; the Law was simply blocking the Gentile’s way to Salvation. To continue Galatians 3:14, ” .. the Gentiles [now that Israel’s curse is removed] are put on a level with …Jews and, so united, [We, now, can]… receive the promise in the gift of the Spirit through …faith.” [Page 140].

So says Ephesians 2:14-16. Reading from the Amplified, “For He is … our bond of unity and harmony. He has made us both [Jew and Gentile] one [body], and has … destroyed… the hostile dividing … us, By abolishing in His.. flesh the enmity [caused by] the Law with its decrees and ordinances …that He from the two might create in Himself one …out of the two, … making peace … to reconcile to God both [Jew and Gentile…] in a single body by means of His cross.”

Wright comments, “The curse which has come upon Israel has thus caused the promises made through Israel to get stuck! And it is this curse, with this result, from which, according to Galatians, the Messiah has redeemed ‘us’.” [Page 140].

Wright continues, “The point about the” curse”, and the Messiah bearing it on behalf of others, is not that there is a general, abstract curse hanging over the whole human race.” [Page 139]. It “hung” only over Israel! The curse had to be [the Amplified Bible says] “abolished.” Wright called it “stuck” [like a log-sham?] which had to be removed to free the way for our, Gentile, salvation.

Among the reasons for Jesus’ death, then, is removing Israel’s, not Adam’s, curse. But Paul never meant to even imply here that our salvation was not equally a rescue from sin. Paul, on occasion, liked to use different wording sometimes that mapped out a different path to repentance and reconciliation between Jew and Gentile because of the different starting points between them. Accordingly, Paul told us [Romans 3:30 NIV] “…there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised [the Jew] by faith and the uncircumcised [the Gentile] through that same faith [2 Peter 1:1 NASB95].”

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