The Staunch Calvinist

"Absolute sovereignty is what I love to ascribe to God." - Jonathan Edwards

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1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 19: Of the Law of God - Commentary

...t we keep God's commandments. What is here encouraged and contrasted are the moral commandments of God and the ceremonial commandments of God.

Circumcision, which was the initiation sign of the Old Covenant, is here regarded as unimportant and not binding, over against “keeping the commandments of God.” Circumcision is the prime example of a commandment that is ceremonial. It was an essential part of the Old Covenant, but now it is a sign that has been fulfilled by the circumcision of the heart. Circumcision was in fact a commandment of God since the Abrahamic Covenant (e.g. Gen. 17:10-14) and its disobedience was the breaking of God's Covenant (Gen. 17:14). But, how is Paul then pitting one commandment of God against other commandments? It is essential, I believe, for the proper understanding of this passage to believe in the threefold division of the law. Paul is disregarding one set of commandments, the ceremonial which now have had their fulfillment in Christ, over against the moral, which are ever-binding and which Paul here declares their importance and perpetuity. Circumcision is nothing and has had its fulfillment in the New Covenant promise, but “keeping the commandments of God” remains and is not “nothing.” Rather, we are encouraged to keep and obey His commandments.

1 Corinthians 9:19-21; Galatians 6:2 – The Law Of Christ

1Cor. 9:19-21 For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. 21 To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law.

In this passage we learn of Paul’s evangelistic strategy. He wanted to change and adapt to the environment as long as that did not interfere with the moral law of God. Although he is not obligated to do the things which he goes on to describe, yet for the sake of the Gospel, he will follow or do certain things which are not binding upon him. He has learned from his Master that “whoever would be great among you must be your servant” (Matt. 20:26). As long as he is not binding himself to things which go contrary to the Gospel, he is willing to do them for evangelistic purposes, so that he would not be a stumbling block.

When Paul was around Jews he would, for the sake of the weak brother or those whom he’s trying to win over to Christ, keep the ceremonial laws which, as a Christian, are no longer binding upon him. For example, he would circumcise Timothy “because of the Jews who were in those places” (Acts 16:3) and because his Timothy’s mother was a Jew and thus he had to be circumcised. He knew and taught that circumcision doesn’t matter (e.g. 1Cor. 7:19), yet here, so as not to give the Jews a cause of stumbling or an excuse, he takes Timothy and circumcises him. Likewise in Acts 21:20-26, he observes a vow and a purification ceremony, even offering a sacrifice. He did this so that he would not cause a reason for the Jews to see an unnecessary problem in Paul. He would not have done this if the matter was concerning justification by faith or Gentile and Jewish Christian fellowship, for example (e.g. Acts 15; Gal. 2:11ff). He knows that he has freedom to eat anything he wants, yet, if a Jewish person or brother is weak and is off...


1689 Second Baptist Confession of Faith Highlighted

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  • Of the Holy Scriptures

  • Of God and the Holy Trinity

  • Of God's Decree

  • Of Creation

  • Of Divine Providence

  • Of the Fall of Man, of Sin, and of the punishment thereof

  • Of God's Covenant

  • Of Christ the Mediator

  • Of Free Will

  • Of Effectual Calling

  • Of Justification

  • Of Adoption

  • Of Sanctification

  • Of Saving Faith

  • Of Repentance unto Life and Salvation

  • Of Good Works

  • Of the Perseveraance of the Saints

  • Of the Assurance of Grace and Salvation

  • Of the Law of God

  • Of the Gospel and the Extent of Grace thereof

  • Of Christian Liberty and Liberty of Conscience

  • Of Religious Worship and the Sabbath Day

  • Of Lawful Oaths and Vows

  • Of the Civil Magistrate

  • Of Marriage

  • Of the Church

  • Of the Communion of Saints

  • Of Baptism and the Lord's Supper

  • Of Baptism

  • Of the Lord's Supper

  • Of the State of Man after Death, and of the Resurrection of the Dead

  • Of the Last Judgement

  • (More) Scriptural references have been added from Sam Waldron's excellent Modern Exposition of 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith.


    Chapter 1: Of the Holy Scriptures [Return] [Commentary]

    1. The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience 1, although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men inexcusable 2; yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God and his will which is necessary unto salvation 3. Therefore it pleased the Lord at sundry times and in divers manners to reveal himself, and to declare that his will unto his church 4; and afterward for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan, and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing; which maketh the Holy Scriptures to be most necessary 5, those former ways of God's revealing his will unto his people being now ceased. 6
      1. Isa 8:20; Luke 16:29; Eph 2:20; 2 Tim 3:15-17
      2. Ps 19:1-3; Rom 1:19-21, 32; 2:12a, 14-15
      3. Ps 19:1-3 with vv. 7-11; Rom 1:19-21; 2:12a, 14-15 with 1:16-17; and 3:21
      4. Heb 1:1-2a
      5. Prov 22:19-21; Luke 1:1-4; 2 Peter 1:12-15; 3:1; Deut 17:18ff; 31:9ff, 19ff; 1 Cor 15:1; 2 Thess 2:1-2, 15; 3:17; Rom 1:8-15; Gal 4:20; 6:11; 1 Tim 3:14ff; Rev 1:9, 19; 2:1 etc.; Rom 15:4; 2 Peter 1:19-21
      6. Heb 1:1-2a; Acts 1:21-22; 1 Cor 9:1; 15:7-8; Eph 2:20
    2. Under the name of Holy Scripture, or the Word of God written, are now contained all the books of the Old and New Testaments, which are these: 
      OF THE OLD TESTAMENT OF THE NEW TESTAMENT
      Genesis Matthew
      Exodus Mark
      Leviticus Luke
      Numbers John
      Deuteronomy Paul's Epistle to the Romans
      Joshua  I Corinthians & II Corinthians
      Judges Galatians
      Ruth Ephesians
      I Samuel & II Samuel Philippians
      I Kings & II Kings Colossians
      I Chronicles, II Chronicles I Thessalonians & II Thessalonians
      Ezra I Timothy & II Timothy
      Nehem...