Friday, September 10, 2021

Galatians | Session 22 | 4:19-31

In our study today Paul continues to make his arguments against the Judaizers who were attempting to lead the Galatian grace believers back into law. He does this by allegorically comparing Hagar and Sarah and Ishmael and Isaac. His conclusion is that they needed to cast out the legalists.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Galatians | Session 21 | 4:10-18

In todays study, Paul continues to plead with the Galatian believers to not be mislead by the Judaizers who were trying to alienate them from him and lead them to the bondage of the law. His desire was that the relationship that they had with him in the beginning be restored, and lets them know that he is not their enemy.

Galatians | Session 20 | 4:6-9

In todays study we see how that we are now the sons of God because God has sent forth the Spirit of his Son into our hearts. Therefore, we are no longer servants, but heirs through Christ. Specifically, Paul is addressing Galatians Gentile believers that made up the Body of Christ; both Jew and Gentile of which we are a part of today.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Galatians | Session 9 | 2:8-12

We continue in our study of the book of Galatians today where we see Paul continuing to share his unique calling to the Gentiles, being given the right hand of fellowship from the Jerusalem church, his remembrance of their poverty, and his confrontation with Peter for his duplicity regarding the Law.

Verse 8: (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:) In other words, just as God was working mightily through Peter with the kingdom gospel to the Jews, so too God was working through Paul with the grace gospel to the Gentiles. 

I think too that given the fact that Paul's apostleship was called into question many times because his calling was as of one born of due time (1Corinthians 15:8), he wanted to make it clear that he was being used just as effectively as Peter. He is also magnifying his apostleship to the Gentiles (Romans 11:13). Of course, any challenge that Paul's apostleship had come from the Jews. 

Verse 9: And 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. Interesting that Paul decides to call Peter, Cephas, in this verse. Some would argue that he is speaking of someone else, but who could that be in the company of James and John? 

Also, interestingly, this is the first and only time John is mentioned in Paul's writings. His point is that these three recognized a grace that was given to Paul and extended the right hands of fellowship; and that fellowship meant that they were all working toward the same end, but to different groups; they unto the circumcision, and Paul unto the heathen. 

Also, note the word perceived. In the original it means to know experientially (ginosko). In other words, Peter, James, and John, experientially knew that God was doing something different through Paul that he was not doing through them. They recognized the two different programs that we can seem to grasp today.  

Verse 10: Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do. This seems to be referring to one of the outcomes of the Jerusalem Council. However, Luke never recorded it in Acts 15:28-29. 

Barnes says of this, "That is, as I suppose, the poor Christians in Judea. It can hardly be supposed that it would be necessary to make this an express stipulation in regard to the converts from among the Gentiles, and it would not have been very pertinent to the case before them to have done so." It makes sense that the Jerusalem church was already suffering quite a bit since selling all of their possessions. This would also explain why Paul made collections for them (1Corinthians 16:1-4). In the end, just because it was not written in Acts 15 does not mean that it was not discussed. 

Verse 11-12: But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. For 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. Whenever this event happened, it was obviously after the counsel in Acts 15 because Peter was still functioning under the Law in the presence of them which were of the circumcision, but not so when they were not around. 

Those he refers to that certain came from James would have been part of the little flock or kingdom believers. At issue was Peter's duplicity, i.e., hypocrisy. 

So many have this notion that from Acts 2 following, the Jews did not keep the Law. The Scripture simply does not teach that. Acts 21:20-21 says, And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law: And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs. These verses make it clear that they were still zealous of the law.  

Another question that I have is why was Peter in Antioch? I believe that he was wanting to see firsthand what God was doing among the Gentiles through Paul's ministry. No doubt, the fact that Paul rebuked Peter, and he received it, speaks to the newfound authority that Paul had and the Twelve recognized. 

Monday, August 16, 2021

Galatians | Session 8 | 2:5-7

We continue in our study of the book of Galatians today where we see Paul continue to share that the grace believers would never subject themselves to the Law and also continued to affirm that his gospel was for the uncircumcision (Gentile) while Peter's was for the circumcision (Jew).

Verse 5: To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you. Paul's response was instant in that he says they did not yield to what these pretenders were saying not even for an instant. His point is that anything added to grace is no longer grace, i.e., Grace + Anything = Works. This is the other gospel that he was referring to in Galatians 1:8. This other gospel is what has destroyed the church in my opinion. 

Verse 6: But 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: He is referring to the Counsel in Jerusalem and his meeting with the Twelve. His point is that they had nothing to add or offer in regard to the mystery that he shared with them. If anything, he  shared things with them that they did not know, i.e., the mystery. He essentially said the same thing in 1:16. 

Verse 7: But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; In the end, they all realized that what Paul had received was for the Gentiles and it was not the same message that Peter had for the Jews. Where I believe many go astray today is that they believe one of two things. First, the only thing that Paul shared with them was that the Gentiles were now included in God's plan. The problem with that view is that the Gentiles have always been in God's plan. It is just that he wanted to use the Jewish nation to do it and they refused. 

Second, that Paul's revelation was simply that the Jews, now that they are Christians, should stop keeping the Law. Nope. Under the Gospel of the Kingdom, the Law was required. The bottom line was that Paul's message of grace was for the Gentile apart from the Law. Of course, after the rejection of the kingdom offer was complete, i.e., 70AD, it would be the only way of salvation to Jew and Gentile. Also, I do not believe that Paul fully grasped that at this time because progressive revelation was still happening for him. 

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Galatians | Session 7 | 2:2-4

We continue in our study of the book of Galatians today where we see Paul sharing how was encouraged to go up to Jerusalem to speak with the Twelve about the revelation that he had received that the Gentiles were no longer required to come under the Law of Moses to be saved.

Verse 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. Note that he went up by revelation to Jerusalem. Luke also mentioned this in Acts 15:2 when he wrote, When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question. 

So, the question is, did God tell him to go or did the assembly at Antioch tell him to go? The issue is the wording of the King James. I believe that it means that the church at Antioch did send him, but the subject was to be the revelation of the mystery that he had received. This, of course, will be the first time that he is going to share the mystery with the Twelve. It was there that he first shared the that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles.

This is the first time in the Bible that we see that Paul's gospel that he preached go the Gentiles was different than the gospel that Peter continued to preach to the Jews. Bear in mind that this counsel occurred 19 years after Pentecost! I stand amazed at how many in the Body of Christ refuse to recognize that these two gospels were different. Think about it, why would Paul take the time to visit the Twelve if they were teaching the same thing? Theirs was still the kingdom gospel which was under Law. Paul's was the new grace gospel which was apart from the Law. 

Them which were of reputation is a reference to the Twelve. Notice also that he met privately with them. No doubt, this was to avoid a riot in the city. 

The final part of the verse says lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain. In other words, lest my labors be in vain or lost. He wanted to make sure that they were in agreement as to what each was doing and teaching lest they clash due to misunderstanding later. He didn't want his work to be undone with confusion. 

Albert Barnes says it this way, "Lest the effects of my labors and journeys should be lost." Barnes goes on to say that "Paul feared that if he did not take this method of laying the case before them privately, they would not understand it. Others might misrepresent him, or their prejudices might be excited, and when the case came before the assembled apostles and elders, a decision might be adopted which would go to prove that he had been entirely wrong in his views, or which would lead those whom he had taught, to believe that he was, and which would greatly hinder and embarrass him in his future movements."

Verse 3: But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised: This verse is parenthetical in that it is a reference back to Acts 15:1 when those from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. Obviously, Paul was teaching that it was not necessary, or he would not have made the point. 

Verse 4: And 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: The false brethren are the ones that brought the message in Acts 15:1 that the Gentiles needed to submit to the law of circumcision to be saved thus bringing them into bondage. They, unlike many in the church today, realized that Paul's message was different than that of the Twelve. 

Paul will go on to say in Galatians 5:1-5, Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. Unlike what the Seventh Day Adventists and many others today, you either keep the whole law or no law. Finally, the fact that he refers to them as false brethren implies a bit of chicanery. In other words, they had infiltrated the group first and then sought to correct them. They were not there to be a part of the fellowship, but to spy it out (cf. the Greek). 

Monday, August 9, 2021

Galatians | Session 6 | 1:21-2:1

We continue in our study of the book of Galatians today where we see Paul telling how that after he visited Peter in Jerusalem had made his way into Syria and Cilicia where he was unknown by face, but reputation only, and that they marveled that he who had persecuted them in time past was now preaching the faith that he had once destroyed.

Verses 21-24: Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia; And was unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea which were in Christ: But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed. And they glorified God in me. After Paul met with Peter after three years in Arabia and Damascus, he travels into the regions of Syria and Cilicia (Acts 11:25).

What does he mean when he says that he was unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea? It may simply mean that they did know him personally as a result of his earlier persecutions, but they did know him by name and reputation as but they had heard only implies. 

Notice also that these churches were in Christ. Make no mistake, these were kingdom churches. No doubt they were saved, but in a different manner. Remember, they were in the kingdom program and we are in the grace program. One way of looking at it is that they were in the vine, and we are in the body, but both are in Christ, but in different ways. Their remaining in the vine required that they abide there while our being in the body only requires faith. We see this clearly in John 15:1-10 and Romans 10:9-10. 

Notice he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed. The faith that he once destroyed was that of the kingdom believers. Again, he never persecuted the grace believers.  

Notice also that they glorified God in me. This makes it clear to me that he was not preaching the grace gospel to them at this time, or they would not have felt this way at all. Instead, they would have been hostile towards him. Whatever he said was not in conflict with Peter's message to them. 

Chapter 2

This chapter is the first time Paul mentions that he has received the mystery. At least to me, Paul makes it pretty clear in 1:21 that he had not received it prior to his visit to Jerusalem and travels into Syria and Cilicia. 

Verse 1: Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also. So, this would be fourteen years after his visit in 1:18. The year would be 52AD. 

Notice that he also had Barnabas and Titus with him. Barnabas was a kingdom believer who was there when Paul approved the stoning of Stephen, like Paul, but Titus was a gentile convert under the grace gospel because he refused to be circumcised in verse 3. The meeting he is referring to is commonly called the Jerusalem Council which occurred in Acts 15.

Friday, July 30, 2021

Galatians | Session 5 | 1:15-20

We continue in our study of the book of Galatians today where we see Paul making it clear that the revelation that he had received from the Lord was exclusively given to him as evidenced by the fact that he did not confer with the Twelve, his persecution of the Jewish believers, and how grateful he was that God had separated him to the grace gospel. We also discuss in more detail when exactly Paul did receive the revelation of the mystery.

Verses 15-16: But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace, To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: He also told us that he was separated from his mother's womb in Romans 1:1-2 and that he was separated again in Acts 13:1-2. 

When he says that he was called by his grace, it  seems to point to his call on the Damascus Road around 34AD in Acts 9. And when he says that God had revealed his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen, it seems to be referring to the revelation of the mystery that occurred some later. So, the text is simply saying that he was separated at birth, called on the road to Damascus, and received the revelation somewhere between Acts 9 and 13.  

He also mentions that upon receiving the revelation of the mystery, that he did not confer with flesh and blood. The point is that he did not have to because they would not have known what he was talking about because it was given uniquely to him. 

Verses 17-19: Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother. He also makes it clear that he did not visit the Twelve in Jerusalem either regarding to the revelation that he had received, but instead, he went to Arabia and then to Damascus for a period of three years. This period is covered in Acts 9:19 when Paul returned to Damascus. He later did go to Jerusalem for fifteen days where he visited with Peter and saw James; therefore, he cannot be referring the council of Acts 15.  

Notice that verse 19 refers to James, the Lord's brother, as an apostle. He would have been one of those selected by men that Paul referred to back in verse 1 since Jesus did not appoint him during his earthly ministry. 

Verse 20: Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not. Why would Paul even say this? - Because apparently people were accusing him of being a liar regarding the revelation that he had received. The question that I have is when was the revelation given to him? Like I said, he was converted on the Damascus Road in 34AD and he apparently received the revelation sometime afterward. To me, it could not have been during the three years he was in Arabia or he would have mentioned it to Peter when he saw in in Jerusalem during his fifteen day stay. Again, to me at least, it had to have been sometime after the visit and before the Council in 52AD. That is a period of nineteen years. However, the verses here in Galatians seem to indicate that he received it prior to the visit with Peter (cf. verses 16-18).

In my opinion, Paul is merely looking back as he is writing. In other words, he is not giving a precise time lime at all. He is just saying that he was to receive the mystery to preach to the heaven. However, instead of getting lost in the weeds here, Paul's point is that the mystery did not come from Peter. 

Again, I believe that he received it during the fourteen years before he returned to Jerusalem for the council in 52AD as he mentioned in Galatians 2:1-9. Also, 2 Corinthians 12:7 seems to place this date around 46AD since that he when he wrote it. 

Also, another time indicator is that by the time he arrived at the Council in Acts 15, he mentions that there are churches that were made up of Gentiles in Syria, Silicia, and Antioch which is where he went after leaving Jerusalem. Again, a lot of conjecture there on my part, but compelling. 

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

The Breath of God, Part 2

I had the honor of being able to share part 2 of my message on The Breath of God at Calvary Chapel in Travelers Rest, South Carolina. 

Monday, July 12, 2021

Galatians | Session 4 | 1:9-14

We continue in our study of the book of Galatians today where we see that Paul, in his effort to preach the Gospel of Grace, was trying to persuade men so that he might be a servant of Christ, that the gospel that he preached was not after man, neither received by man, but by revelation, and how prior to his conversion he persecuted the church of God.

Verses 9-10: As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. 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. Like I pointed out earlier, As we said before, so say I now again seems to indicate that the him that called you in verse 6 might have been a reference to himself. 

Notice that Paul asks a question, do I persuade men, or God? Amazing how the different translations contort this verse. The verse is clearly saying that Paul is trying to persuade men and not God. However, others will translate it that Paul is trying to win the approval God and not men. In the end, I guess that either translation is in the positive and Paul remains a servant of Christ as a result. The point is that Paul did not spend his ministry trying to persuade God, but men. However, in so doing, he says that he will not be a man-pleaser, because to so would make him a servant of man and not of Christ. 

Verse 11: But I certify you, brethren, that the 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. The word certify simply means to make known. Notice that he says that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. He said something similar is 1 Corinthians 15:1-6, Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. The very fact that Paul emphasizes that he neither received it nor was he taught it by man, but instead received it by revelation makes it clear that it was something different than what the Twelve were teaching. Either that, or he was confused or simply arrogant. Sadly, most in the church today fail to pick this up. Think about it, why would Paul need to receive a revelation of something that had already been revealed? 

I am sure that some would say that his revelation was simply that the Gentiles were now part of the church. However, those who would say that would also say that the church was born in Acts and there were Gentiles there. What would be so new about that? However, Paul went on to say in Romans 16:25 when he said, Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, Paul said this was my gospel

What was the mystery? The Body of Christ made up of both Jew and Gentile. Of course, later he came to other revelations about the postponement of the kingdom, the rapture, of the church, etc. He refers to this in 2 Corinthians 12:1-7 when he said, It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities. For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me. And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.  

Verse 13: For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: The Jews' religion was Judaism. The church of God was the kingdom church, because Paul never persecuted the Body of Christ. We see this persecution of the Jewish church in Acts 8:1-4, And Saul approved of his execution. And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison. Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.. Notice also that as a result of the persecution that Paul wrought on the Jewish kingdom church, the Jews were scattered abroad preaching the word. Who were they teaching this word to? Jews only according to Acts 11:19, Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only. 

Understand that the kingdom church was made up of the Twelve and all those in Israel who believed that Jesus was the Christ. They make up what Luke calls the little flock in Luke 12:32 that would, and still will, inherit the kingdom. Only proselytized Gentiles were a part of this group, i.e., Cornelius and his family and those mentioned in Acts 2:10. No unproselytized Gentiles were involved, i.e., the Body of Christ. 

Verse 14: And profited in the Jews' religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers. Paul excelled in Judaism.  He mentioned this in  Philippians 3:4-6 when he said, Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.