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Saved By Grace - An Early Doctrine


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I was thinking about the doctrine of being saved by grace, and I realized this doctrine was around before the gospels were written down. Romans was apparently written in the late 50s ("Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law" Rom 3:28). While Mark wasn't completed until 70 AD (or just slightly before according to some scholars).

 

As we know there is a problem as the Jesus depicted in the gospels enforces the Law and works. I wonder, did Paul have a problem with these gospels? Did it aggravate him that Matthew's Jesus said "keep the commandments if you want eternal life"? I wonder, was the doctrine of grace already floating around in certain christian circles that early, or did Paul make it up himself?

 

Just a couple thoughts.

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2 Corinthians 12:11

 

"I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing."

 

 

Paul comparing himself to the other apostles, the chief apostles, his competition.

 

 

 

2 Cor 11

 

"4 For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.

For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles."

 

Paul warning his sheep to stay away from the competition.

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I disagree the Gospels invoke that Christians should keep the Law.  We have to understand the context of what is written in the Gospels.  Like in Matthew where Jesus said He didn't come to destroy the Law, but to fulfill it, and how anyone who teaches people not to keep the commandments would be called the least?  All these things were true, until Jesus fulfilled the Law.  Jesus said the Law wouldn't pass away until all was fulfilled.  He fulfilled it all, the Law for Christians is passed away.  That's what the Lord's Supper was all about, the beginning of a new covenant.  So we have to watch the context. 

 

I mean I also heard the Gospels themselves were influenced by Paul's teachings, that it was Paul who invented Christianity.  I don't believe that, but if you consider it, it definitely wasn't going against anything Paul wrote.  I also believe two or three of the Gospels were written before 70 CE/AD, and more around the early 60's. (With Mark possibly being in the early-late 50s AD/CE)

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The Last Supper was a pagan ritual that was added to Christianity.  When you create a new religion from an old one you have to have an excuse for why you are discarding part of the old religion.  That is what "New Covenant" and "complete that law" do.  Presto - the undesired part of Judaism are gone but you get to keep all the authority and trappings.

 

The context of the New Testament is all the in-fighting between the Jewish sects during the Greek and Roman periods.

 

Paul had some competition from other religious sects, as we can see from his own comments.  What Paul brought to the table was a gentile religion based on blood redemption and being saved by grace.  These concepts are foreign to the New Testament sections written by more "Jewish" sects.  Paul was not very popular in his day.  However later on the Romans exterminated all the Jewish sects of Christianity so Paul's writings became more important.

 

There were dozens of gospels that were written in this time period but most didn't survive to this day because they were not copied.  The four gospels that were blessed by the Roman Catholic Church were heavily edited.  It's nearly impossible to tell what they looked like originally.

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We can't know a great deal about what was edited in and what was taken out.  Yet we can see the Gospels teach the new covenant of grace.  Showing that Jesus fulfilled the Law, and any reference that Jesus made in the Gospels concerning the Law, was spoken to a people who were observing the Law.  Yet after that, after Jesus resurrection, no account has Him talking about the commandments again.

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We can't know a great deal about what was edited in and what was taken out.  Yet we can see the Gospels teach the new covenant of grace.  Showing that Jesus fulfilled the Law, and any reference that Jesus made in the Gospels concerning the Law, was spoken to a people who were observing the Law.  Yet after that, after Jesus resurrection, no account has Him talking about the commandments again.

 

 

There certainly is a limit on how far back we can go.  We have none of the original texts so our uncertainty increases dramatically if we try to go past the fourth century.  We can use textual criticism to find some passages that were added later but we can only push that so far.

 

As far as the gospels go - some favored the James idea of works and some followed the Pauline idea of grace.  There were dozens of gospels written so it's hard to generalize regarding all of them.  For example the Gospel of Thomas has no resurrection.  Of course for that matter the Gospel of Mark originally had no resurrection either.

 

However Revelation Ch 1 to 3 has Jesus giving sermons about sin, misconduct, and so on.  Do those not count as laws?

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