Healthy, Growing Churches (6)
For Herod had laid hold of John and bound him, and put himin prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife. Because John had said to him, “It is not lawful for you to have her.” Matthew 14.3, 4
On Matthew 14.3, 7
Hilary of Poitiers (315-367)
“John, as we frequently noted, preferred the form of the law, because the law foretold Christ and John proceeded from the law, announcing Christ from the law. Herod, on the other hand, was the prince of the people, and the prince of the people embraces the name and interests of his subjects. John accordingly advised Herod not to take to himself his brother’s wife. There were and there are two peoples: one people of the circumcision and the other of the Gentiles. But the law admonished Israel not to ally itself with the works of the Gentiles and with infidelity. Infidelity is associated with the Gentiles, as if by a bond of conjugal love. Because of the truth of this stern admonition by John, he was confined in prison like the law.”
There is a sense in which, among many churches today, the Law of God is confined in prison, just like John was. Herod put John in prison to silence his reproaches. John applied the Law of God to Herod, a Gentile, because he understood that the Law speaks truth to power, regardless of whether that power ruled in Israel or among the Gentiles. Churches are weak that do not preach and teach the Law of God. The Law is holy and righteous and good (Rom. 7.12). Why would we not want our people to meditate in it day and night (Ps. 1)? The Law frees us from ignorance to sin (Rom. 7.7), so that we can live in the liberty of truth (Jms. 2.12). The Law doesn’t save us, but it marks out the path which saved people, following Jesus, ought to walk (1 Jn. 2.1-6; Matt. 5.17-19). The Law reveals the mind of the Spirit, so that we can know His power at work within us (Rom. 8.5-9). We imprison the Law when we do not allow it to speak to us and shape us for loving God and our neighbors (Matt. 22.34-40). And we will not be able to speak the truth of God to the powers-that-be of our own day if we remain negligent of the Law.
What place does the Law of God have in the life of your church?
T. M. Moore
Healthy, Growing Churches
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Quotations from Church Fathers are from the Ancient Christian Commentary Series, published by InterVarsity Press.