Snag a Free Theology Book

Mark A. Seifrid’s book Christ, Our Righteousnessfree this month—offers a comprehensive analysis of Paul’s understanding of justification, the central topic of the New Perspectives on Paul debate. It’s part of the renowned New Studies in Biblical Theology series.

In the following excerpt adapted from the book, Seifrid discusses the relationship between the law, the gospel, and the law’s ultimate fulfillment: love.

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According to Paul, the law serves the gospel and not the reverse. The gospel has been given not for the purpose of empowering believers to meet the demands of the “written code” but to place them in the presence of God where that “written code” is no longer needed.

Unquestionably, Christians need instruction from the law, since even in them the knowledge of God’s will given in creation remains suppressed (Rom 1:19–25; 2:14–16; 3:9–18). It is a mistake, however, to reduce the law to the function of providing norms for Christian living. Our need [for] instruction is a mark of our continuing fallenness, our desire to do away with God, which cannot be cured by the law.

Furthermore, we misunderstand our condition if we suppose that we require a mere infusion of power in order to obey the law—as if we would do so if we could do so! Our problem is much deeper. Our rebellion against God has its end only in Christ’s cross, where we were put to death with him. Correspondingly, Paul speaks in strikingly unqualified terms of the reality of the new life, in which obedience to God’s will is immediate and unconditioned. In producing its fruit, the Spirit of God has no need for the law and its prohibitions (Gal 5:23).

As Paul indicates more than once, love, which by its very nature does no harm to the neighbor, is the fulfillment of the law (Gal 5:14; Rom 13:8–10). The law bears witness to the righteousness of God revealed in Jesus Christ (Rom 3:21).

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Get Mark Seifrid’s book, Christ, Our Righteousness: Paul’s Theology of Justification, free this February.

Plus, get two other books from New Studies in Biblical Theology (34 vols.) for under $5.