Thursday

13 February 2014

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (v. 1)


Background

In verse 1, one small word makes a vast difference. In this case it is the word "in". Paul is again talking about two spheres, one in which we are "in Christ" and one in which we are not. He goes on to speak about the concept of living in the Spirit (referring to the Holy Spirit) which for Paul is the same as being in Christ. In talking about living in the Spirit he is referring to the power of the Spirit which was the power behind the resurrection of Christ.

Paul also uses the concept of flesh in direct contrast to the Spirit. The flesh belongs to the sphere of law, sin and death whilst the Spirit belongs to the sphere of grace, righteousness and life. The flesh refers to the natural desires of human beings which lead to sin and death, and behind all of this there is a sense of two contrasting powers at work; the flesh, which in time will decay and die and the Spirit which is the power of the resurrection.

Unfortunately, Paul has a habit of using the same word for different meanings. When he describes the law of sin and death and the law of the Spirit of life in Christ we should be careful not to confuse this with his previous use of the term "law". Here he is discussing a principle rather than the law of Moses. Equally, when he describes Christ as having condemned sin in the flesh (in verse 3), some scholars believe that he is referring to the fact that Christ had flesh like any other human being. This is different for Paul's previous use of flesh in which the phrase is synonymous with sin.

What is clear is Paul's sense of two contrasting spheres, one which gives righteousness, life and peace and the other which brings sin, condemnation and death.


To Ponder

  • If the flesh is associated with sin, what does this say about our bodies?
  • What does living in Christ mean to you?

 

 

Bible notes author:  The Revd Jonathan Mead

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