Now therefore why tempt ye God
By hesitating about this matter, by disputing upon this point, and by seeking for further proof and evidence of the will of God in this affair; when it is so plain a case, that it has been his will that the Gospel should be preached to Gentiles, without obliging them to circumcision; that he has given his Spirit both in his extraordinary gifts, and special grace, to uncircumcised persons; particularly he has bestowed faith in Christ upon them, whereby they have been led to the blood of Christ, typified in circumcision, and are thereby purged from all their filth and pollution, and so are the true circumcision: wherefore it is no other than tempting God, a manifest opposition to him, and what must give him offence, to debate about a point so clear; and especially to attempt
to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our
fathers nor we were able to bear.
It is common with the Jews to call the law a yoke; frequent mention is made of (aydyqp ryn) and (twum) (lwe) , "the yoke of the commandments" F15, and (hrwth lwe) , "the yoke of the law" F16: and by it here is meant, not circumcision only and barely, for that the Jewish fathers had been able to bear, and had bore it; nor the whole ceremonial law only, which consisted of a multitude of commands and ordinances very heavy and hard; but even the whole moral law, which circumcision obliged those who submitted to it to keep it perfectly; see ( Galatians 5:3 ) , which neither the apostles, nor their fathers, were ever able to do, nor any mere man whatever; and therefore this yoke was intolerable and insupportable, and not to be put upon the necks of the Gentile believers; who here are called disciples, being taught the doctrine of the Gospel, and the way of salvation; which was not by circumcision, nor by any works of the law, but by the grace of Christ, as in the following verse.
F15 Targum in Cant. i. 10. & in Lam. iii. 27. Misn. Beracot, c. 2. sect. 2.
F16 Echa Rabbati, fol. 56. 3. Pirke Abot, c. 3. sect. 5. Tzeror Hammor, fol. 39. 3.