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Verse 21. To them that are without law. To the Gentiles, who have not the law of Moses. See Barnes "Ro 2:12,14".


As without law. Not practicing the peculiar rites and ceremonies enjoined in the law of Moses. Not insisting on them, or urging them; but showing that the obligation to those rites had been done away; and that they were not binding, though when among the Jews I might still continue to observe them. See Barnes "Ac 15:1"

and following: and the argument of Paul in Gal 2:11-18. I neglected the ceremonial precepts of the Mosaic law, when I was with those who had not heard of the law of Moses, or those who did not observe them, because I knew that the binding obligation of these ceremonial precepts had ceased. I did not, therefore, press them upon the Gentiles, nor did I superstitiously and publicly practise them. In all this, Paul has reference only to those things which he regarded as in themselves indifferent, and not a matter of conscience; and his purpose was not needlessly to excite the prejudice or the opposition of the world. Nothing is ever gained by provoking opposition for the mere sake of opposition. Nothing tends more to hinder the gospel than that. In all things of conscience and truth a man should be firm, and should lose his life rather than abandon either; in all things of indifference, of mere custom, of prejudice, he should yield, and accommodate himself to the modes of thinking among men, and adapt himself to their views, feelings, and habits of life, that he may win them to Christ.

Being not without law to God. Not regarding myself as being absolutely without law, or as being freed from obligation to obey God. Even in all this, I endeavoured so to live as that it might be seen that I felt myself bound by law to God. I was not a despiser, and contemner and neglecter of law, as such, but only regarded myself as not bound by the peculiar ceremonial law of Moses. This is an instance of Paul's conscientiousness. He would not leave room to have it supposed for a moment that he disregarded all law. He was bound to God by law; and in the conduct to which he was referring, he felt that he was obeying him. He was bound by higher law than those ceremonial observances which were now to be done away. This passage would destroy all the refuges of the Antinomians. Whatever privileges the gospel has introduced, it has not set us free from the restraints and obligations of law. That is binding still; and no man is at liberty to disregard the moral law of God. Christ came to magnify, strengthen, and to honour the law, not to destroy it.

But under the law to Christ. Bound by the law enjoined by Christ; under the law of affectionate gratitude and duty to him. I obeyed his commands; followed his instructions; sought his honour; yielded to his will. In this he would violate none of the rules of the moral law. And he here intimates, that his grand object was to yield obedience to the law of the Saviour, and that this was the governing purpose of his life. And this would guide a man right. In doing this, he would never violate any of the precepts of the moral law, for Christ obeyed them, and enjoined their observance. He would never feel that he was without law to God, for Christ obeyed God, and enjoined it on all. He would never feel that religion came to set him free from law, or to authorize licentiousness; for its grand purpose and aim is to make men holy, and to bind them everywhere to the observance of the pure law of the Redeemer.

{a} "being not without law" 1 Co 7:22

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