Do we nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law. Romans 3:31
Establish – Put yourself in Rome in the first century. You are part of a small group of believers. You have heard the good news of peace with God through Yeshua, the Messiah. How did that happen? Since we’re imaging, we’ll pretend that you’re just as much a Gentile then as you are today. You’re one of the masses of people who are under Roman rule; not Jewish, just part of the Empire. Perhaps you heard the news from someone you know. Perhaps you were merely curious. But one thing is certain. When you became a believer, you joined the Jewish synagogue. How do we know this? Everything that Paul teaches assumes a thorough understanding of Scriptures, and in the first century, the only Scriptures available were the Old Testament books (Tanakh). You are an adopted, proselytized Messianic believer grafted into the commonwealth of Israel. You might not be Jewish by birth, but you are certainly Jewish by life choice. That’s why Sha’ul can say, “Faith establishes the Law.” When you came to believe, you took a stand. That stand was on Torah. You decided God’s instructions for living would be your instructions for living. Your people will be my people. Your God will be my God. Ruth all over again.
Sha’ul uses the Greek verb histemi. It means “to stand, to place on firm footing, to stabilize.” The Hebrew equivalent is qum, a verb that means “to rise up, to set up, to establish.” Where do we find this verb in Hebrew thought? We might look in Genesis 6:18 where God establishes a covenant with Noah or in Exodus 6:4 where God reminds Moses of His covenant established with Abraham. You can see Sha’ul’s choice in Greek points us to the permanency of God’s covenants. Those covenants are the basis of the Law. In fact, from the perspective of God’s unwavering character, the Law, in its entirety, is a covenant. Can faith ever undo a promise God made? Impossible! “Don’t even think like that,” says Sha’ul. Just the opposite is true. When we become believers through the promised Messiah, the one who re-establishes our relationship with the Father, we take a stand for the Torah. We say to the on-looking world, “By these principles I live.” That establishes the Law for us, and it happens because of faith, not in contrast to faith.
Sha’ul makes a lot of assumptions about his readers. He assumes they know the promises. He assumes they know the story. He assumes they know Torah. But he does not assume that they cannot be confused about this issue. That’s why he spends so much time elaborating the connection between faith and Torah. One endorses the other. One validates the other. They are both necessary. They just have different spheres of operation. One (faith) brings us into community. The other (Torah) shows us how to live in the community. Some Christians speak as if Paul is a convert to Christianity. They think he left Judaism behind and moved toward a Hellenistic, Torah-free religion later called Christianity. He would say, “Impossible!” No man who claims that faith puts the Law on firm footing could ever be accused of setting it aside.
Where do you stand? Where does your community stand? If you aren’t standing at the foot of the mountain saying “All these things we will do,” then why are you here?
Topical Index: Law, Torah, faith, establish, histemi, qum, Romans 3:31
A view on the canal – click here