Dead With Christ From The Rudiments of The World


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Dead With Christ From The Rudiments of The World

Introduction

By the time we finish this study, Lord willing, we will have no doubt what Paul means by the phrase “the rudiments of this world“. The exact same Greek phrase is translated as “the elements of the world” in:

Gal 4:3 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world:

That word which is translated as ‘rudiments’ in the phrase, ‘rudiments of the world’ in Col 2:20, and as ‘elements, in the phrase ‘elements of the world’ in Gal 4:3, is the Greek word ‘stoicheion‘. It is defined by Strong’s as “something orderly in arrangement… basal, fundamental”. Since both verses refer to the “stoicheion of the world”, they are both clearly speaking of that which is ‘basic and fundamental to the orderly arrangement of the things of this world’, as opposed to how Christ and His body would order our lives.

Gal 4:9 But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements [Greek: stoikeion], whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?

This exact same Greek phrase appears a third time earlier in:

Col 2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

Whatever “the rudiments of the world… the elements of the world” are, we are told they are “the tradition of men… [and they are] not after Christ”, and as we just read in Gal 4:9, these “rudiments of the world, [or] elements of the world” are “weak and beggarly elements [which place us] again… in bondage”.

So exactly which “tradition of men” did Paul have in mind when he used this phrase?

These verses make clear what Paul had in mind while speaking of “the rudiments [and] elements of this world… the tradition of men”:

Col 2:13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;
Col 2:14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;
Col 2:15 And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.

Here Paul is speaking specifically of “the handwriting of ordinances [which he informs us were] against us, [and which were] contrary to us…”. He tells us that Christ “blotted out… took it out of the way” and nailed those “handwriting of ordinances… to His cross”. To what specifically is this all referring?

These verses should make that perfectly clear for those who have no personal, doctrinal agenda and who are honestly seeking only the Truth:

Col 2:16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:
Col 2:17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.

Paul is referring specifically to what the apostle John referred to repeatedly as “a feast of the Jews” for the express purpose of distancing himself and those who identify with him, from those “days, months, times, and years” (Gal 4:9-11).

Where else do we find this phrase “shadow of things to come”? We find it in this verse:

Heb 10:1 For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.

So it is clear that the “tradition of men… the rudiments of the world… [and] the elements of the world”, are only the “shadow of good things to come, and they are not “the very image of the things, [and] can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year make the comers thereunto perfect”, as Christ only, who is “the very image… the express image”, is the only one who is able to “make the comers thereunto perfect”.

Heb 1:3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;

So Paul contrasts the tradition of men, the law, the elements of the world, with “the good things to come”, with those who are living the life of Christ, those who are “the body… of Christ” (Col 2:17):

Col 2:17 For these were only temporary rules that ended when Christ came. They were only shadows of the real thing – of Christ himself. (LIV)

Heb 10:2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins.
Heb 10:3 But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year.
Heb 10:4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.
Heb 10:5 Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me:
Heb 10:6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure.

But traditions of men die hard. That is especially true when those traditions were given to men by Christ Himself, as were all sabbaths and holy days of Leviticus 23.

Lev 23:1 And the LORD [Christ, Act 2:36] spake unto Moses, saying,
Lev 23:2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts.
Lev 23:3 Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; ye shall do no work therein: it is the sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings.
Lev 23:4 These are the feasts of the LORD, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons.

These are the very holy days and sabbaths which Christ broke while He was here on this earth in an earthen vessel (Mat 12:1-8, and Joh 5:17-18). But while setting us the example of “profaning the sabbath, [and] doing that which was not lawful for Him to do” according to the law of Moses, Christ never overtly taught that the law of Moses was now outmoded. He did however say this:

Joh 16:12 I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.
Joh 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.

This is Jesus Christ Himself speaking and telling us that His own twelve apostles could not at this time bear “Many things [which are part of] all truth”. Exactly what were those “many things” of which Christ told His own apostles “you cannot bear them now”?

One of those “many things”, which the holy spirit later revealed to be unnecessary for salvation, was physical circumcision:

Rom 2:29 But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

Had Christ Himself ever hinted at this fact? Yes, He did. Though His disciples were still unable to see this truth as late as the time of Paul’s apprehension of the Jews in Act 21, Christ had long ago taught this principle:

Mat 23:27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.
Mat 23:28 Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men [physically circumcised], but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.

But even this revelation had to be revealed, and the false doctrine of the preeminence of a physical pedigree had to be driven out “by little and by little” [Exo 23:39; Joh 16:12]. When the holy spirit was given to the Gentiles of the house of Cornelius without benefit of physical circumcision (Acts 10), and prior to water baptism, the Lord’s twelve apostles were still, all those years later, “not [able to] bear” this simple Truth:

Act 10:28 And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.

Had Christ Himself ever taught such a doctrine? The fact is that He had taught just that doctrine in His very first recorded teaching following His baptism by John, and it almost cost Him His life.

It was at the baptism of John that “the heavens were opened unto [Christ]”. Immediately after His baptism and open heavens the holy spirit drove Christ into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. It was very soon after His temptation by the devil that Christ returned to Nazareth where He delivered this, the very first teaching of His ministry:

Luk 4:24 And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country.
Luk 4:25 But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land;
Luk 4:26 But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow.
Luk 4:27 And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian.

Sidon and Syria were both Gentile nations, and the “woman that was a widow” and “Naaman the Syrian” were both Gentiles. So Christ’s very first teaching was a prophecy that His message was to be rejected by His own people and to be received by the Gentiles.

Nevertheless, even after making this clear to us who now read the scriptures and who can now see what Christ was saying, Christ was very patient in revealing this revolutionary Truth to our founding apostles and to all the outward Jews who made up the entire Christian church up to this point. We have a hard time appreciating how revolutionary a teaching Christ gave to those there in His home town synagogue. Here is just how revolutionary it was:

Luk 4:28 And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath,
Luk 4:29 And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong.
Luk 4:30 But he passing through the midst of them went his way,

To teach that outward, physical appearances and that being physically descended from Abraham were no longer to be the deciding factor demonstrating who was God’s chosen people, was nothing short of rank heresy to those Jews in the synagogue at Nazareth, and even to the apostles of Christ, as late as Acts 21 where the very apostles of Christ still differentiated themselves from those who believed among the Gentiles. We must never forget that the apostles, the entire Jewish church at Jerusalem, “and the holy spirit” had agreed to these words in Acts 15 concerning whether the Gentiles were required to be circumcised and keep the law of Moses:

Act 15:19 And so my judgment [the apostle James, the Lord’s physical brother] is that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.
Act 15:20 Instead, we should write and tell them to abstain from eating food offered to idols, from sexual immorality, from eating the meat of strangled animals, and from consuming blood.
Act 15:21 For these laws of Moses have been preached in Jewish synagogues in every city on every Sabbath for many generations. (NLT)

To James and to all the apostles and the whole church at Jerusalem at this time, the fact that Moses was being “preached in Jewish synagogues in every city on every sabbath”, was a wonderful blessing, because the point James is making is that the Christian Jews were still under the law of Moses, and were still required to keep that law. But the Gentiles were not held to the same standard, making the church a divided church. One part was Jewish, which must keep the law of Moses, the other part was Gentile, which did not need to circumcise, did not need to eat only clean meats, nor keep the sabbath and the holy days, etc.

Here is what happened at that conference in Acts 15:

Act 15:5 But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise [the Gentiles], and to command them to keep the law of Moses.
Act 15:6 And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.
Act 15:7 And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe.
Act 15:8 And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us;
Act 15:9 And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.
Act 15:10 Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?
Act 15:11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.

Here is Peter speaking Truth which belies the immaturity of the entire church at Jerusalem. While Peter, under the inspiration of the holy spirit, tells all the apostles and elders in Jerusalem, “And [God] put no difference between us and them”, yet they all still go on to write a letter to the Gentiles delineating very clear differences between Gentile and Jewish believers. Here is what the apostles, the church at Jerusalem and the holy spirit agreed to at that time concerning what was expected of the Gentiles who believed on Christ:

Act 15:22 Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren:
Act 15:23 And they wrote letters by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia:
Act 15:24 Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment:
Act 15:25 It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul,
Act 15:26 Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Act 15:27 We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who shall also tell you the same things by mouth.
Act 15:28 For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things;
Act 15:29 That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.

So just as Christ had foretold, His own apostles were still not yet able to bear the revelation that physical circumcision and physical descent from Abraham was no longer a factor to be taken into consideration in the kingdom of God within or without.

Christ had made this same point for the second time while He was still in this earthen vessel talking to the Samaritan woman at the well:

Joh 4:21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.

Joh 4:23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
Joh 4:24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

When Christ said “the hour cometh, and now is”, He is referring to the fact that He is here and He is “the way, and the Truth”.

Joh 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

He is not contradicting Himself when He said:

Joh 16:12 I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.
Joh 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.

Those words “He will show you things to come” are just as true and applicable today, as they were the day they were first penned. There is no end to the “unsearchable… riches” of the Word of God.

Rom 11:33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!

It was for the very purpose of demonstrating to us how slow each of us are at relinquishing the false doctrines of Babylon in our own lives, that we are given the story of how the apostles and “the whole church… at Jerusalem”, were so slow to permit the Gentiles to be accepted of God without being circumcised. All the apostles were actually doing was acknowledging what the holy spirit had already demonstrated by them coming to the uncircumcised and baptized Gentiles at Cornelius’s house years earlier. By coming to those Gentiles under those circumstances the words, “when he, the spirit of Truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth”, were being fulfilled, and it was being made perfectly clear that “all Truth” was not yet made known to the original 12 apostles. It was a slow pace at which the original twelve apostles came to understand the depth and the width of the reformation Christ came to inaugurate.

Here is how the holy spirit slowly began, through the apostle Peter, to “lead [us all] into all Truth”:

Act 10:24 And the morrow after they [Peter and the other Jews who had come with him from Joppa] entered into Caesarea. And Cornelius waited for them, and had called together his kinsmen and near friends.
Act 10:25 And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him.
Act 10:26 But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man.
Act 10:27 And as he talked with him, he went in, and found many that were come together.
Act 10:28 And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.
Act 10:29 Therefore came I unto you without gainsaying, as soon as I was sent for: I ask therefore for what intent ye have sent for me?

Peter went into these Gentiles knowing that under the law of Moses “it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or to come unto one of another nation”. He did so only because the holy spirit has so instructed him in his vision back in Joppa the previous day. But Galatians 2 reveals to us, for our own admonition, that years later “Peter… Barnabas… and the other Jews”, were still fighting a war in their heavens over this very same subject of considering themselves superior to those of another nation.

Gal 2:11 But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.
Gal 2:12 For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.
Gal 2:13 And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.
Gal 2:14 But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?
Gal 2:15 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles,
Gal 2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

So the Jewish church felt it was somehow superior to Gentile believers. In spite of what had happened at Cornelius’ house, Peter, Barnabas and the other Jews separated themselves from the Gentiles. The Truth is that it was the Jewish Christians who were still under “the weak and beggarly elements” of the law of Moses. It was that childish and “weak and beggarly” condition which had made them act in such a hypocritical manner as to separate themselves from their own Gentile brothers in Christ with whom they had just been eating.

But as it turns out, even the apostle Paul, who regularly ate with and ministered to the Gentiles, was still living under the law of Moses, and he himself did not yet realize the extent of Christ’s words:

Joh 16:12 I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.
Joh 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.

Joh 4:21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.

Joh 4:23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
Joh 4:24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

Paul was given the ability to recognize and reject the hypocrisy he had witnessed at Antioch. But this truth was not yet revealed to him:

Eph 2:14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; [the letter to the Gentiles of Acts 15]
Eph 2:15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;
Eph 2:16 And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:

That is what was missing in that letter to the Gentiles in Acts 15. That is what had not yet been revealed to Paul when he went up to Jerusalem and agreed to pay for the sacrifices of the four other men as well as a sacrifice for himself in Acts 21.

In Acts 15 we read of the conference which was called to decide whether Gentiles had to be circumcised to qualify as followers of Christ. After all Christ was circumcised and He “was … made under the law”. When discussing Christ as our example it is natural to forget that ‘our example’ was a reformer who came at “the time of reformation” making it unmistakably clear that while He was planting the seeds of His reformation during His ministry, there were yet “many things” which were to be revealed to the church only after His death and resurrection for this express reason: “You cannot bear them now”!

Deu 18:18 I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, [a reformer] like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.

Heb 9:8 The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing:
Heb 9:9 Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience;
Heb 9:10 Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them [only] until the time of reformation.

1Pe 2:21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:

With all of this in mind it is clear that the apostle Paul was not above having to be “guide[d] into all Truth” in a systematic, very gradual way, along with all the rest of Christ’s early apostles.

Even the apostle Paul was still under “the weak and beggarly elements” he later came to see as “contrary to us”:

Act 18:18 And Paul after this tarried there yet a good while, and then took his leave of the brethren, and sailed thence into Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila; having shorn his head in Cenchrea: for he had a vow.

Act 18:21 But bade them farewell, saying, I must by all means keep this feast that cometh in Jerusalem: but I will return again unto you, if God will. And he sailed from Ephesus.

Act 27:9 Now when much time was spent, and when sailing was now dangerous, because the fast [the day of atonement] was now already past, Paul admonished them,

These three verses are all speaking of the apostle Paul before his imprisonment, and we see him keeping the feast, having a vow, shaving his head and referring to the day of atonement, as it related to the timing of their voyage to Rome.

As late as the time of Paul’s apprehension in Jerusalem at the hands of the Jews, he himself was still “walk[ing] orderly and keep[ing] the law [of Moses]” to the extent that Paul was more than willing to offer a blood sacrifice, even as he was teaching the Gentiles that they were not under the law, as these verses make abundantly clear:

Act 21:17 And when we were come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly.
Act 21:18 And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present.
Act 21:19 And when he had saluted them, he declared particularly what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry.
Act 21:20 And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law:
Act 21:21 And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs.
Act 21:22 What is it therefore? the multitude must needs come together: for they will hear that thou art come.
Act 21:23 Do therefore this that we say to thee: We have four men which have a vow on them;
Act 21:24 Them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law.
Act 21:25 As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication.
Act 21:26 Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them entered into the temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification, until that an offering should be offered for every one of them.

There it is as plain as the holy spirit can tell us. God Himself ordained that Christ’s own body was to be a divided body with different requirements for Jews and Gentiles until the revelation that was given to the apostle Paul in the second chapter of Ephesians, and the second chapter of Colossians.

Col 2:8 Be careful that you don’t let anyone rob you through his philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the elements of the world, and not after Christ.

Col 2:14 wiping out the handwriting in ordinances which was against us; and he has taken it out of the way, nailing it to the cross;
Col 2:15 having stripped the principalities and the powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
Col 2:16 Let no man therefore judge you in eating, or in drinking, or with respect to a feast day or a new moon or a Sabbath day, [“the tradion of men” of verse 8].

Either Paul was himself keeping the law of Moses or he was teaching the Jews that were among the Gentiles to forsake Moses. Which was it? According to Paul He was keeping the law of Moses, and He was not teaching the Jews which were among the Gentiles to forsake circumcision and Moses, and he was more than willing to buy the sacrifices of himself and four Jewish men who had a vow for the express purpose of putting this false rumor to rest.

Act 21:24 Them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law.

Christ knew His apostles were not yet capable of receiving a commandment to turn their backs on physical circumcision, profane the sabbath and the holy days, and refuse to keep all the laws concerning clean and unclean meats, etc. In other words, Christ realized that natural-born Jews, the apostle Paul included, were not yet “able to bear” the revelation that the law of Moses was nothing different from the law of the Gentiles. They could not then, and they cannot now, accept the Truth that the law of Moses was “not made for a righteous man but for the lawless and disobedient”. It was nothing more than “a yoke which neither [the apostles] nor we are able to bear”. It was nothing more than “weak and beggarly elements”. (Gal 4:9)

Act 15:10 Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the [Gentile] disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?

Gal 3:22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.
Gal 3:23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.
Gal 3:24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
Gal 3:25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.

Gal 4:1 Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all;
Gal 4:2 But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father.
Gal 4:3 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world:

Gal 4:9 But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?

Here are two sections of scripture which are essential knowledge for understanding what the holy spirit means by “the elements… rudiments of the world”, the stoicheion of the world:

Rom 2:14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:

1Ti 1:9 Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,
1Ti 1:10 For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;

The law of Moses “is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient… and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine”. That is who the law is made for. As the apostle made so clear, the very purpose for the law was that “it was added to make the offense abound… that sin might appear exceedingly sinful”.

Rom 5:20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:

Is the law sin? The answer is, no, the law in and of itself is not sin, but it certainly is a sin to think that keeping the law makes one righteous.

Rom 7:9 At one time I lived without understanding the law. But when I learned the command not to covet, for instance, the power of sin came to life,
Rom 7:10 and I died. So I discovered that the law’s commands, which were supposed to bring life, brought spiritual death instead.
Rom 7:11 Sin took advantage of those commands and deceived me; it used the commands to kill me. (NLT)

The law of Moses and the law of the Gentiles are both like a mirror which will show us the dirt on our faces. But can that mirror wash that dirt off our face? Of course it cannot. It simply makes us aware of our dirty condition. The mirror is not designed or intended to clean us up. That is to be accomplished by some soap and water after we come to see ourselves for the dirty sinning machine we are. The words of Christ are that ‘water’ which will cleanse us of our sins and give us life:

Joh 6:63 It is the spirit that giveth life; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I have spoken unto you are spirit, and are life. (ASV)

Eph 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
Eph 5:26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,

For a much more in depth discussion of the purpose of the law read the article on that subject entitled The Law of Moses Versus The Law of The Spirit at this link:
The Law of Moses Versus The Law of The Spirit

But there is one thing which both the law of Moses and the law of the Gentiles have in common which we are explicitly told is the “weak and beggarly elements of the world”. This part of the law of Moses was one of two things we are specifically told was one of two main excuses used for the crucifying of our Lord. It is the same to this very day in spiritual terms. If you “come out from among” this one thing and you separate yourself from it, you will be spiritually killed to this very day. What was it that made the church in Christ’s days in the flesh want to kill Him? Did they even attempt to destroy Christ because He had committed murder or adultery? No, of course not. Had Christ dishonored His parents or stolen from any of His friends? No, it was neither of those sins for which the church of Christ’s day wanted to kill Him.

So what was it then that made Christ to be so very hated by the people of His day? What was it that made the very multitudes of people who ate His loaves and fishes to call out for His crucifixion? It was the very same thing then as it is today. Here is what made the people of Christ’s time to want to kill Him, and it is the same thing that causes us to be hated by our own family and friends to this very day:

Joh 5:16 And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day.
Joh 5:17 But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.
Joh 5:18 Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.

Was it against the law to work on the sabbath day? Yes, it was, but Christ was prophesied to be a reformer “like unto [Moses]” and to make many changes in “many things you cannot bear now”.

Moses and Aaron were types of Christ, and Israel typified Christ’s church. If the Israelites who came out of Egypt had been given to do what they wanted they would have stoned Moses and Aaron and Caleb and Joshua and made themselves a captain, and they would have returned to Egypt when ten of the twelve spies returned and told the people there was no way they could withstand the giants in the land:

Num 14:1 And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night.
Num 14:2 And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness!
Num 14:3 And wherefore hath the LORD brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? were it not better for us to return into Egypt?
Num 14:4 And they said one to another, Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt.

“Return[ing] to Egypt” is the very temptation which confronts us all at this time each year. We are tempted and pressured to give in and return to the ways of this world. Those ten spies, who concluded that it was impossible to withstand and confront the giants of the land of Canaan, typify our flesh when Christ is not our Head. ‘Canaan’ typifies the blessing we are promised to possess if Christ lives His life within us and if He is our head. But our spouses, children, our extended families and our friends become the ten faithless spies who tell us we cannot win if we insist on remaining faithful to Christ and following in His footsteps.

Even Christ’s own apostles told Him that it was not necessary for Him to be rejected of all and to die to His natural desire to retain His life at the youthful age of 33:

Mar 8:33 But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter [“His disciples'” spokesman], saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.

So now we need to answer the question as to exactly what “tradition of men” did Paul have in mind when He made this statement:

Gal 4:9 But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?

What are the weak and beggarly elements… rudiments of the world, tradition of men” which keep us all “in bondage”? The answer is that whether it is the law of Moses or the law of the Gentiles:

Gal 4:10 Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years.
Gal 4:11 I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.

When we think that we need not give up our own lives for Christ and His doctrine, He responds to us in the same way today as he did 2,000 years ago. Christ does not accommodate the false doctrines of the timid. Rather He rebukes us at that stage of our walk. If we are timid, we will have our part in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone at the great white throne judgment, which takes place “when the thousand years are expired”:

Rev 20:7 And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison,

Rev 20:11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.
Rev 20:12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

Rev 20:15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

Rev 21:8 Yet the timid, and unbelievers, and the abominable, and murderers, and paramours, and enchanters, and idolaters, and all the false – their part is in the lake burning with fire and sulphur, which is the second death. (CLV)

What we are being told is that those who are not given the faith and who cannot and will not stand against family and friends when it comes to following in the footsteps of Christ, simply will not be in that blessed and holy first resurrection to rule with Christ, making the life and death decisions that will have to be made at that time. Instead of sitting on thrones judging those in the symbolic lake of fire, “the timid” will be in the lake of fire being judged and learning not to be timid.

We will close with these promises given to those who are granted to become overcomers in this age.

1Co 6:1 Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints?
1Co 6:2 Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?
1Co 6:3 Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?
Rev 20:6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.

[Study Aired December 20, 2015]

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