Can you explain how each of these declarations in 1 Corinthians 9:20-21 are true and simultaneously coherent?

  1. Paul was not under the law.
  2. For evangelistic purposes Paul at times functioned as one under the law.
  3. Paul was not outside the law.
  4. For evangelistic purposes Paul at times functioned as outside the law.
  5. Paul was under the law of Christ.
  6. Paul never acted outside the law of Christ.

One observation which runs contrary to a lot of approaches to Pauline theology: in none of these does “law” refer to a misunderstanding/perversion of the law, and in none of them does “law” refer to the condemnation of the law.

D.A. Carson’s 2009 TGC plenary address, “That By All Means I Might Win Some: Faithfulness and Flexibility in Gospel Proclamation,” is a helpful place to begin exploring this rich passage, especially as it relates to the tricky issue of contextualization, its necessity and limits.

You can download the MP3 of watch the video below: