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Galatians 2:11-12

Posted by heyrandy on November 12, 2010

11But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.

12For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. Gal. 2:11-12 AV

Paul continues his biography and defense of his apostleship with “but.” In v. 9 Paul relates how he and Barnabas received the “right hand of fellowship” from James, Cephas, and John. Paul now states that things have changed. Peter has come to Antioch and started to withdraw from the gentile converts. Paul opposed Peter in this matter. No only did Paul oppose Peter, Paul did it to Peter’s face. This was a public rebuke.

This incident does tell us something about the administration of church discipline. The principle  of dealing with the issue at the level the issue is presented. If it had been a private matter, the matter would have been deal with in private. But eating is a public matter, so the apostle confronts the other apostle, the pillar of v9, in public about it.

Peter’s condemnation was obvious. Peter was reverting  to the matter that had been resolved by him in Acts 10 and 11. The matter was resolved by Peter’s own words. Now there is double-dealing. What is going on?

Paul stays true to the truth. The principal doctrine is that all people are equal in Christ. There are no class divisions, ethnic divisions, or national divisions in the church. All such divisions are wrong. At the great assize in Rev. 20 there is mentioned no distinction. There is one Savior, Jesus Christ, Lord of all. There is only one set of people, sinners.

Paul does not say anything about confronting the people who came from James, v 12. It is not stated that the ones from James participated in the separation. It may have been entirely of Peter’s own doing. The practice spread swiftly. Even Barnabas was affected, v13. It seems the practice was just as swiftly stopped. The gospel’s truth and purity was protected.

It is easy to regress. This is the lesson of the text. It is so easy that even the most solid, the pillars, leaders of the church are not immune from this error. We must bear this in mind when we hear the teaching of our church. We must always search the scriptures to see if these things are so.

Start searching!

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Galatians 2:8-10

Posted by heyrandy on September 20, 2010

8(For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:)

9And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.

10Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do. Gal.2:8-10 AV

Paul continues his defense of his understanding of the Gospel and his preaching of it to the Gentiles. Here Paul tells us that although the “pillars” did not add anything to his preaching, they did extend their approval. Paul got it right. The other apostles have certified this. The phrase “the right hand of fellowship” may mean a handshake. The handshake is an ancient practice. It show that one is unarmed and coming in peace. Here it is a sign of approval. I hope one day to shake Paul’s hand. I am assuming that this practice is to be followed in heaven. Once we are done with the handshaking, we can then ask him, “What did you mean by this?” It will be glorious.

Paul uses v.8 to explain the parallel nature of his apostleship with that of Peter’s. The chief difference is in the people to whom each man was to primarily go, Paul the Gentiles, Peter the Jews. It did not mean that these ethnic distinctions were rigid, never-to-be-violated strictures. If he could get an audience with the Jews, Paul would preach to them. The same would hold true with Peter.

This distinction is further specified in v.9. It is a simple matter of division of effort. One is to exercise the gifts one is given in the manner best suited to glorify God. Mission specialization is not uncommon today.

The Jerusalem church put only one requirement on Paul: remember the poor. This Paul says, he was eager to do. A word of encouragement is always proper.

Reread the larger section of Galatians 2:6-10. Catch the flow of Paul’s thinking. It is always easy to pick out single verses to explain things, but the reading of larger pericopes of scripture is not to be forgotten. This “book” is really a letter. It is to be read and understood as a whole. Don’t atomize it to the detriment of the whole.

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Galatians 2:6-7

Posted by heyrandy on September 6, 2010

6But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man’s person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me:

7But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter  Galatians 2:6-7 AV

Verse six is interrupted by a parenthesis. If you join the two separated clauses, you find that the first clause is incomplete. Paul breaks off his thought to explain that those who seemed to be “somewhat” (somewhat what?) were of no particular concern to him. Paul went by the divine standard. If God cared about their status, Paul would care. God didn’t care, so Paul did not care. Paul doesn’t bother to name them. He uses the indefinite pronoun “these.”

Paul tells us that the unnamed persons “added nothing to me.” That is, Paul’s gospel was complete. No one needed to supplement Paul. He had it right from the beginning. This is all taking place in Jerusalem. The key people, the big names in the church were there. If there was to be any correction to the gospel Paul was preaching, it would take place here. No correction took place.

Verse seven tells the opposite happened. The verse begins with an adversative: contrariwise. The persons who “seemed to be somewhat” were not opposed to Paul. Once these people understood that the work of the gospel was divided along the lines of Jewish and Gentile, they gave Paul and Barnabas the “right hand of fellowship” v9. Unity is maintained.

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Galatians 2:4-5

Posted by heyrandy on August 17, 2010

4And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage:

5To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you. Galatians 2:4-5 AV

Verse 4 is a puzzle. It starts with a conjunction but does not conjoin anything. The verse is an anacoluthon. There is no antecedent. Why did Paul suddenly interrupt his thought of verse three?

False brothers were the problem. Spies. One cannot readily imagine this kind of problem occurring in today’s churches. Who sneaks in to spy on us? Maybe the tax man if there is suspicion of misuse of tax exemption. (All the more reason to avoid the tax exempt status temptation.) But spies were a problem in Paul’s day. Here he calls them what they were: false brethren. They were not what they seemed to be. They were liars. They gave the appearance of being real. How did Paul know that they were fake?

The false ones were there to “bring us into bondage.” The rest of Galatians will tell us that the bondage in question is the yoke of the Mosaic law. It looks like the problem presented itself in the matter of circumcision but law keeping was also involved. We won’t know the exact details (the Holy Spirit didn’t inspire their recording), but we do not need to.

Liberty in Christ is very important. It frees us from the Mosaic law. This is something that we need. We cannot keep that law. Only Jesus could and did. Praise God for Him. This issue of the Christian and the Law is what Galatians is about.

Paul did not give ground to these fakes. Paul would not compromise the gospel. Notice that he says “the truth of the gospel might continue with you.” Paul resisted these impostors to protect the gospel but also to protect the Galatians.

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Galatians 2:1-3

Posted by heyrandy on July 23, 2010

1 Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also.

2 And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain.

3 But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised. Galatians 2:1-3 AV

To what trip to Jerusalem is Paul referring?  Is it the meeting mentioned in Acts 15? Or is it some other time. Was Paul’s first trip to Jerusalem the one mentioned in Acts 15?

It is the Acts 15 meeting to which Paul is referring. This is interesting because Paul does not make any mention in Galatians of the results of the conference. One would think that he would, since the results of the conference were inspired and the occasion of the conference was the issue of circumcision. What Paul does mention about this meeting is that the poor were to  be remembered. This item is not listed in the letter written to the churches.

Paul had Barnabas with him. They were both at the conference giving a report of how the Gospel was being spread among the gentiles. Barnabas was a Jew. This would not be a problem with the Jerusalem church. Paul also says that Titus was with him. Titus was a gentile, uncircumcised (v.3). If circumcision was required, why was not Titus circumcised? This fact is sufficient to refute the Judaizers.

Paul went up by revelation. That is, God revealed to him that he must attend the meeting. Given the effect of Paul’s and Barnabas’ report, we can see why God required Paul to attend. Such revelations are no longer issued today, but in those early days before the canon of the New Testament was finished such thing were needed. So the next time you hear “I feel led ….” ask if we can have this written down and appended to the New Testament.

Paul submitted his Gospel message to those who were of reputation, but he did this privately. After 14 years of speaking the Truth Paul asks for a review to make sure he has it right. He did not want to run an empty race.

We know that Paul had it right. Do we? I suggest periodic re-examinations of our basic message. It is easy for errors to creep in. These must be ruthlessly purged from our teaching. I understand that there is debate about the peripheral matters, but on the basics, the fundamentals (or Fundamentals), there can be no question. This is the core. This is what it is all about.

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Galatians 1:22-24

Posted by heyrandy on July 8, 2010

22And was unknown by face unto the churches of Judea which were in Christ:

23But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed.

24And they glorified God in me. Gal. 1:22-24 AV

Paul continues his defense of his apostleship by telling the Galatians that the churches of Judea did not know him by “face,” that is by sight. They had never met him. If they had never met him, he never visited and so never had the opportunity to learn the gospel from them. His gospel is purely from the Lord.

He distinguishes the churches as being in Christ. The word translated church means assembly. There were many assemblies in Judea. There were lots of synagogues mentioned in the Gospels, so here Paul is careful to state that he is talking about assemblies of believers.

In verse 23 he quotes the churches. We notice that the AV does not have quotation marks. These were a later invention, so in  1611  the translators did not use them. We know this is a quote because of the upper case That. It says “they heard.” Word got around. It always does. This was big news. To have a dangerous enemy of the churches suddenly begin preaching the very message he previously tried to destroy is not long kept a secret.

The churches “Glorified God in me.” Indeed they should. Paul’s conversion was entirely God’s doing. There was no decision on Paul’s part until after God had done His work. Today there is a lot of emphasis on decision. It is all up to you. A large section of the modern church believes that God is impaired without human cooperation. The case of Paul proves otherwise. God is in control of all things at all times.

The churches in Judea glorified God on account of Paul. Would they glorify God on account of you?

Homework assignment: give them reason to glorify God on your account.

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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 1:15-17

Posted by heyrandy on May 31, 2010

15But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace,

16To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:

17Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.

Paul begins the autobiographical section of the letter. This bit of biography is to attest to his apostolic credentials. To the modern reader it fills in some of the details of this fascinating man’s life.

Verse 15 is similar to the calling of Jeremiah. In Jer. 1:5 we read, “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” Both the calling of Paul and Jeremiah aver God’s decree of predestination. . We do not know how God calls men to Himself, but He does it. To God be the glory in all His works.

Paul attributes not only his calling, but his very existence to the will of God. God is the God of the details. Paul would write to the Ephesian church that God “works all things after the counsel of His own will.” Without this divine calling, Paul would have spent the rest of his life fighting the church. He would have lost, but one can only guess at the intensity of the battle.

Paul writes that he was called “when it pleased God…to reveal His Son in me….” The preposition used is important. Paul does not say “to” but “in” me. Prepositions are very weak words, but they carry a huge load. Prepositions often are the pivot points of a sentence. The meaning of a sentence can turn on the preposition used. Here is just such a case. “In” signifies an internal change. “To would signal an external change. Because Christ was revealed in Paul, there was an internal change that effected an external change. Paul’s orientation altered, and his actions followed. When you change the orientation of a car’s steering wheel, the direction of the car changes.

This is often call regeneration, the new birth. It can only come from God. Men do not–can not– do this by themselves. Men are wholly passive in the new birth process. It is ineffable. It is beyond human comprehension. It is a mystery only God understands. Paul alludes to this by saying that God called him “by His grace.” Men do not control the grace of God.

Paul tells us that he was called for a specific purpose: to preach the Gospel among the heathen. This is how the Galatians heard the Gospel. Their hearing and believing the Gospel is one of the effects of Paul’s conversion. Paul’s conversion and subsequent missionary journeys was the method God used to fulfill His eternal plan to call the Galatians to Himself. God’s plan is settled in eternity, but He uses means to bring it about in time. Paul was one such means.

Paul reiterates where he received the Gospel. In vs. 11-12 he tells us that he did not receive the Gospel from man but from Jesus Christ. In vs. 16b-17 he tells us the details of what he did do and did not do. He did not confer with “flesh and blood.” This is an odd way of saying that he did not speak with men about the meaning of the Gospel. We know that the Lord’s resurrected body is one of flesh and blood, glorified as it is; but Paul is not excluding Christ by using this odd expression. What he means is that he did not confer with any earthly man but received the essence of the Gospel directly from the divine source.

Paul also precludes the critics objection that he went to the apostles to be taught the Gospel. Verse 17 tells us that he did not go to Jerusalem to the apostles but to Arabia then to Damascus. Why Arabia? What was in Arabia? Where in Arabia? How long did he stay in Arabia? These are interesting questions, but there are no answers. There is no further information about them.

Paul tells us that he left Arabia and returned to Damascus. This is the city to which he was going when the Lord intervened into his life. Damascus was not a safe place for Paul. His former allies are now his enemies. They do not overlook betrayal. Damascus would become too hot for him. He would flee, taking the Gospel with him.

Homework: read the account of Paul’s conversion and his two retelling of it in the book of Acts. Put all the pieces together to come up with a more full biography of the apostle.

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Galatians 1:13-14

Posted by heyrandy on May 23, 2010

For ye have heard of my conversation in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: and profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers. Gal. 1:13-14 AV

Paul begins the autobiographical section of this letter. This is to support his claim to be a legitimate apostle who received the gospel directly from the Lord. In this section Paul gives us some details that are not given in the book of Acts. The Bible does not give us full knowledge of its characters’ lives, but it does give us the knowledge necessary to lead us into live and godliness.

This is not new information to the Galatians. Paul starts by reminding them that they already know all this. So why restate it? Paul must reestablish his authority as an apostle. His calling and conversion story is how he will do it. Paul is fighting Judaizers. By reminding the Galatians that he was a very serious Jew, Paul is telling the churches that he knows from experience and training that what the false teachers are saying is wrong. Paul is not a light weight.

We have only to look at Acts 9 to see just how serious was Paul’s Judaism. Even though he appears to be a young man, he manages to get letters from the high priest to introduce him to the Jews in Damascus. Paul had proven himself in Judea. This would not have gone unnoticed by the authorities. Since the authorities of both the major camps were eager to suppress Christianity, and Paul was willing to do the job, they sent him. He claims to have been effective, “that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God and wasted it.”

The original attack on the church was from without. The newest assault is from within. While the external threats never really go away, the real threat has always been the more subtle danger of perverted teaching. Paul confronting head-on this new threat.

Paul had the background to understand the danger. Paul “profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation.” From the word “profited” we can infer that Paul was well-educated in the scriptures. From this we can deduce that merely knowing the Word is not enough. The Jews Jesus confronted had no shortage of biblical knowledge. They misunderstood most of it, but they knew it. So Paul.

We can also infer that he was well schooled in the traditions of the Jews. John Calvin thinks that this refers to knowing the scriptures. I hate to disagree with the great reformer, but I interpret this as the knowledge of the extra-biblical, rabbinical teachings that encrusted the scriptures like barnacles fouling the hull of a ship. You had to do a lot of scraping to get down to the original metal.

Paul uses the singular “church” to refer to the church as a whole. It was not just a local congregation that suffered the wrath of Paul, it was the entire church. If he could reach it, he would strike. He was not going to Damascus to take of the local waters. It was all business.

Stephen uses the word church to refer to the Hebrews when they were wandering in the wilderness. (Acts 7:38) They were God’s assembly, God’s people. The apostle admits to destroying it. But just a God preserved His people from the dangers of the Sinaitic wandering, so He preserved His people from zealots like Paul. Only here He made the zealot one of His own!

Homework assignment: open the Bible and scrape away some barnacles.

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Galatians 1:10-12

Posted by heyrandy on May 22, 2010

For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. But I certify you, brethren, that the a gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.  Galatians 1:10-12 AV

The only thing that does not have an origin is God, and we normally do not speak of God as a “thing.” Since God is the only eternal entity, we are lead to ask What is the origin of everything else? We know from Genesis that the universe was created by divine fiat. Once created, the lesser orders were fashioned from that material.

But what of the gospel? Is it created or eternal? What is its source? From where does it originate?

We know that the Lamb was slain before the foundation of the world, so this gives us some indication of the gospel’s origin. This enters into the difficult world of lapsarian controversy.

However, the theoretical order of the divine decree is not what Paul is discussing. Paul is here attesting that the gospel he preached to the Galatians is the authentic Truth. It is essential that the Galatians be reminded of this. They have drifted away from the gospel to “another gospel: which is not another [i.e., not of the same essence]” 1:6-7. Paul implies the question “Where did I get that which I preached to you?” Paul then answers his question: I got it from God! Paul avers that the gospel he preached was not of man. v. 11

It is important to deal with original sources. This is why genuine Christianity is so concerned with the Bible. It is the original source document. Paul returns to his source: the gospel man Jesus Christ. The chain of conveyance is short. The gospel came from Christ to Paul to the Galatians. This is  where the chain ends. No additional links are needed to complete the gospel. The Galatians received the total amount, the full dose, when Paul was with them.

Paul gives us two negatives in his statement of how he received the gospel. He states  that he neither received it nor was taught it by man. v. 12. This is in keeping with his statement that he is not a man pleaser. If his message had been anthropogenic, Paul would have had to be loyal to the author. But since Paul’s gospel was of divine origin, Paul is not required to be faithful to anyone but the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul (and every Christian) is faced with a dilemma: to whom does one owe one’s loyalty? To Paul it was clear. He could not be a servant of Christ if he were trying to please men. It is a case of trying to serve two masters. Jesus said that this was impossible. Everyone who has tried knows that the Lord  was correct. (Surprise!)

Paul does not qualify the word servant. He does not say that if he pleased men he would be an unfaithful or unworthy or inferior servant of Christ. If Paul pleased men, he would be unemployed. Paul was certainly an unworthy servant of the Lord. Who is not? This is the amazing thing about grace.

Paul is establishing a contrast between him and the false teachers. We can infer from the things Paul is saying that the source of the false doctrine is of man, that the false teachers seek to please men, and that there is no room for compromise.

It is important to know your source of information. When it a matter of Christianity, the source is the Bible. Everything else is secondary. The most secondary sources do is to make you aware of things in your primary source you have missed. Good secondary sources make you think about what you are doing. The secondary sources in Galatia were not good. They did not cause people there to delve deeper into the Bible to gain a greater understanding of Truth. These were corrupting influences that were leading the churches away from the Truth into a man-centered gospel. This was not true service to Christ.

Homework: List the major beneficial and deleterious secondary sources affecting modern day Christianity. How have the influenced your view of the gospel?

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