alien righteousness

Typological, Formal Republication From Law is Not of Faith: Essays on Works and Grace in the Mosaic Covenant

Typological, Formal Republication

Some people explain the works principle in a typological fashion.  The heavy works burden, which is pressed upon the Jewish people, is a shadow of Jesus being born under the law to fulfill actively all its precepts in behalf of sinner.  In the same way that the sacrifices foreshadow Jesus’ passive obedience in suffering the curse-sanctions of the law, the do-this-and-live principle foreshadows his active obedience in keeping the precepts of the whole law.  Samuel Bolton describes this view as held by some of the divines, writing, “There is another interpretation, and that is, the Doe this and live, though it was spoken to them immediately, yet not terminatively, but through them to Christ, who hath fulfilled all righteousnesse for us, and purchased life by his own obedience.”  In the same way that Paul says God’s covenant promise to Abraham was really spoken to Christ (Gal. 3:16, 19), God’s covenant requirement of obedience upon Israel was really placed on Christ.

Bolton lists this interpretation as exiting among the view of the divines of his day.  For instance, William Strong says the “giving of the law…did darkly shadow and set forth unto them the Covenant of Grace made with Christ, and therefore it was not only delivered unto them as rule of righteousness, but in the form and terms of a Covenant, this do and thou shalt live.”  Thomas Collier (ca. 1600s)  says, “They had a righteousness commanded, which was a righteousness of doing, which they could not attain, a representation of the righteousness of Christ who was to fulfill all, and so become the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth.”

Witsius gives expression to the hermeneutic behind such a view.  Explaining the function of typology in the Old Testament, he writes, “Enoch walked with God, that is, according to the apostle, Heb. Xi. 5. pleased God. This says, “Noah was a just man in his generation; Christ was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners, knew no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth; nay, he is Jehovah our righteousness.”  Further along Witsius typologically compares Isaac’s obedience to Abraham to Christ’s obedience to God the Father.  More recently Vos and Meredith Kline (1922-2007) incorporate this approach, aligned with the national principle of works inheritance.

I should point out that the authors mentioned above, while accepting the typological principal of works do not all agree on the organic question.  For instance, unlike Kline and Vos, Collier, Wisius, and Strong view the Mosaic covenant as distinct and independent of the covenant of Grace.

Taken from The Law is Not Of Faith : Essays on Works and Grace in the Mosaic Covenant in Brenton C. Ferry’s chapter titled “Works in the Mosaic Covenant: A Reformed Taxonomy” pages 95-97.

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