As we waited for some non-Christian friends to come to the house last night, I watched Roy Davison’s seminar, “Can We Be the Church of the New Testament?”/1
Roy showed the pattern that existed in both the Old and New Testaments. God expects us to do things a certain way.
In one important passage, Roy brought out an insight I’d never noticed:
“But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered” (Romans 6:17 NKJV; see also ESV and NET).
Paul throws us a strange concept here: “that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.”
We would have expected him to speak of that form of doctrine which had been committed or delivered to us. And so some versions translate it.
But that’s not what Paul wrote.
What did he mean by our having been committed or delivered to a form of doctrine?
Paul has been using the metaphor of slavery. “Do you not know that if you present yourselves as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or obedience resulting in righteousness?” (verse 15).
When one obeys that form of teaching which is the gospel, one is delivered over to it as a slave, a servant, placed under its care and supervision. A change of hands takes place. We are delivered over to the liberating power of God in the gospel.
The result, Paul says, is that we are “freed from sin” now to become “enslaved to righteousness” (verse 18).
This is why we must beware of those who would change the pattern of New Testament teaching. For if that form of doctrine is changed, we continue in our sins and remain slaves to unrighteousness.
Our friends arrived shortly after Roy’s lesson finished on the DVD, and I told them this truth.
1/ The Strathmore congregation in Toronto has placed the five-lesson seminar on two DVDs. They provide it free. Ask for it at strathmorecofc.ca.
The phrase is unusual; the concept, essential to understanding the gospel.