The Law was a Candle, Christ is the Sun – John Chrysostom

Pastor John Chrysostom (b. 347 – d. 407) is one of Christianity’s greatest ancient preachers. He lived during a time of great turmoil in Church history, as the Arians had taken control of Christendom for decades around when he was born and raised. His “golden mouth” (Greek “Chrysostom”)

Johnchrysostom

gave forth glorious exposition of the Scriptures as He lifted up Jesus for all to see and love.

I’ve recently been creating posts to reflect the newness of the New Covenant of Christ Jesus, not to disparage the Law of God, but to show its true role for the people of God. The New Testament could hardly be clearer in expressing the place of Law for Christians: we are not under Law, but under grace (Rom. 6:14-15).

We are to exult in the Law of God as the revelation of His holy and good nature, but regarding the ethic of the Christian, we are to look to Christ Jesus Himself as the standard. He is the sun in comparison to a candle – He is God’s highest revelation of His moral nature, and of how we ought to live. All that Christ said and did fulfilled the Law, but also surpassed the strict letter of it.

Jesus gave us the new obedience, the new law-keeping in Him, by faith in Him and love of Him (e.g. Gal. 6:2). Here John Chrysostom lifts our eyes to a higher standard and norm than the law, as he makes exposition of Galatians 3:25-26

The Law then, as it was our tutor, and we were kept shut up under it, is not the adversary but the fellow-worker of grace; but if when grace is come, it continues to hold us down, it becomes an adversary; for if it confines those who ought to go forward to grace, then it is the destruction of our salvation.

If a candle which gave light by night, kept us, when it became day, from the sun, it would not only not benefit, it would injure us; and so doth the Law, if it stands between us and greater benefits. Those then are the greatest traducers (those who speak badly) of the Law, who still keep it, just as the tutor makes a youth ridiculous, by retaining him with himself, when time calls for his departure.

Hence Paul says, “But after faith is come, we are no longer under a tutor.” We are then no longer under a tutor, “for ye are all sons of God.” Wonderful! see how mighty is the power of Faith, and how he unfolds as he proceeds! Before, he showed that it made them sons of the Patriarch, “Know therefore,” says he, “that they which be of faith, the same are sons of Abraham;” now he proves that they are sons of God also, “For ye are all,” says he, “sons of God through faith, which is in Christ Jesus;” by Faith, not by the Law.[1]

Amen.

Thanks to my dear friend Ed Trefzger for sending this gem along to me.

Peace in Christ Jesus,

-Justin

[1] Saint Chrysostom: Homilies on Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Thessalonians, Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, ch. III, http://www.ccel.org.

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