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Archive for June, 2010

Galatians 1:20-21

Posted by heyrandy on June 25, 2010

Now the things which I write unto you, behold , before God , I lie not. 21 Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia; Gal.1: 20-21 AV

Paul inserts a parenthesis into his defense of his apostleship. This attestation that he is not lying is something that I find curious. Why did Paul feel the need to fortify his words? Had people in Galatian churches that impugned Paul’s veracity? We can see that some were challenging his credentials, questioning his claim to be a legitimate apostle, but how would  this assertion help? Would not his detractors just dismiss it?

These questions can not be readily answered. We have only one side of the matter from which to construct the situation in Galatia. This is what the Holy Spirit has given us to work with. Let us be thankful. Scriptural revelation is a work of grace. Let us not complain because we do not have the answer to that curious question. We will know it all much better when we rejoice with Paul in the new heavens and new earth.

Why did Paul put this statement of his probity here? Was he emphasizing the prior statement about only seeing Peter and James, or the latter statement about going off into Syria and Cilicia? I think the latter statement because the parenthesis acts like a preparatory statement. He would be telling them that he left Jerusalem to go to areas were there were no apostles. He wants to preclude the objection that he met with the other apostles later.

Paul’s parenthesis does afford us an opportunity to think about what we we say. We need to remember that all we say is before God. In courts of law, witnesses are put under oath to force them to tell the truth. As Christians, we are to tell the truth. Invoking human oaths do not change that. Today oaths are dismissed as mere ceremony. Every politician and public official takes an oath to be loyal to the Constitution. How are they doing?

“Afterwards,” meaning after the time he spent in Jerusalem with Peter, James and the believers, Paul leaves for Syria and Cilicia. He had experience in Syria. We read about his time there in Acts 9. He leaves the city in fear of his life. This shows how powerful a force the Jews were even outside their center in Jerusalem.That Paul would go back is testimony to his fearlessness. As committed as Paul was to the destruction of the gospel, he is now committed to its advance.

Cilicia is a region in Asia Minor. Paul is from Tarsus, a city of this province. Did he go home to family? There was a Jewish presence there sufficiently strong to support a synagogue (Acts 6:9). Again, we don’t know what he did there. It can be reasonably assumed that he simply continued the preaching he began in Damascus and would later continue with his missionary journeys. This is the kind of guy that only stops when he is asleep or dead.

Homework assignment: think about what you say. It is all said before God. How would you speak if you were speaking to the Lord?

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Galatians 1:18-19

Posted by heyrandy on June 19, 2010

18Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.

19But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother. Gal. 1:18-19 AV

The mention of three years intrigues me. I always thought that it referred exclusively to the time in Damascus (v. 17). I have come to the conclusion that it refers to the total time in Damascus and Arabia. This raises the question of how much time was spent in each place. We don’t know, and there is no way of finding out.

The next question is how long is three years. It is unlikely that the three years is measured to the exact day. It was also a practice in those times  to account a part of a year as a full year. They were not so concerned with minute graduations of time measurement. They would not be able to measure a second, much less a nanosecond. So we are left with some interesting but unanswerable questions. It will give us something to talk about when we meet Paul in Heaven.

Paul begins to give us details of how he meet the other apostles. He meets and stays fifteen days with Peter. What did they talk about? No information is given, but there must have been some great talk about the Lord and the theology of Christianity! Given Paul’s brilliant mind, these conversations must have been very profound. We may be rewarded if we read Paul with in mind.

Paul gives this account of staying with Peter because he is establishing that there is no conflict between the existing apostles and him. This is essential to help establish Paul’s credentials as an apostle. Paul is dealing with a major doctrinal problem in Galatians. He has to establish with certainty that his gospel is the exact gospel. Paul will soon criticize Peter for compromising the Gospel. Paul is showing that while he stayed with Peter, he did not get the Gospel from Peter. He already had the Gospel before he went to see Peter.

Paul says that he saw James. He tells us which James: the Lord’s brother. This eliminates the confusion with James the brother of John and James the son of Alphaeus (Matt. 10:2-3). James was a common name in those days. It is a form of Jacob. [If you want to confuse someone, you could speak of the Authorized Jacobean (not Jacobin) Translation of 1611.]

There is a difference in the way Paul speaks of the two visits. With Peter he stayed, with James he saw. It is another of those unanswerable questions as to why the distinction.

Paul saw no other apostles. Why not? Did he snub them? Not likely. It is speculation, but it may be that they were not there. Remember, Jerusalem had become a hot place because of Paul, but Acts 8:1 says the apostles stayed, but it does not tell us for how long. Three (more or less) years had elapsed. We just don’t know.

The events in Paul’s life are difficult to assemble. It is very likely that large parts of his story are not recorded by the New Testament. What we do have is what we need. We need to remember that the word of God is complete. Let us make use of what we do have of Paul’s life story.

Homework assignment: Study all the Jameses in the New Testament.

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College Test

Posted by heyrandy on June 18, 2010

It is the time of year when some people write Seniors 2010 on their car windows. If you are one of those, you may be considering college. This is a decision that has to be made with serious thought. To that end I have devised a test to help you determine if you are college material. Be sure to mark all the correct answers!

1. When faced with a problem that I do not understand I

a. ignore it.

b. try guessing until I am bored

c. stick someone else with it

d. get drunk

2. I can pay for college by

a. going deeply into debt

b. putting the touch on those to whom I am related

c. dealing in contraband

d. apply for and receive a beer pong scholarship

3. When in college I plan to study

a. whatever is the easiest

b. intoxication

c. dating

d. study?

4. When ever someone uses a word I don’t know

a. I don’t care

b. I complain

c. I was not paying attention

d. will it be  on the exam?

5. My social life at college will

a. consist of being  ill in the morning

b. cause me to wake up in a strange place I don’t like

c. require many visits to the clinic

d. frequently require bail

6. My favorite reading is

a. graphic novels

b. anything by Harry Potter. He’s a great writer!

c. television

d. what does reading have to do with college?

7. When assigned a paper to write I

a. go to the library to catch up on gossip with my friends

b. buy one off the Internet.

c. farm it out to some grad student with more brains than money

d. first it was reading; now it is writing. Next it will be arithmetic. I don’t like where this is going.

8. Okay, here is the math part.

a. My checkbook never balances

b. I never twice get the same answer on the calculator

c. as long as I can make the payments, what’s the big deal?

d. I will use Cliff’s notes

9. When in class

a. I believe everything I am told because professors are smart. That is why they are all rich and famous.

b. sit next to a smart guy and copy his notes

c. tweet

d. why would I go to class?

10. I expect college

a. to get me a easy, exciting job paying megabucks

b. to be a really fun time

c. to satisfy my thirst

d. huh

The correct answer  is “e”. True, there  is no “e”, but no one said college reflected real life. Get used to it; college is only one of the curve balls life is going to throw you.

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