Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Desert Theological Seminary

Chapter Two of Galatians is very interesting in that we find Paul comparing the gospel that he had been preaching with the gospel that the apostles had been preaching to see if they were the same. Remember that Paul had not sat under anyone, but had received his training at Desert Theological Seminary. Let’s look at Galatians 2:1, “Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also.” “Then after fourteen years” means that Paul had not been there since his last visit in 2:18. We do know that Paul did return to Jerusalem with the collection for the saints in Acts 11:27-30, but because he did not meet with the apostles at that time; he did not refer to it here.

Many feel that this occasion was the same occasion as recorded in Acts 15 with the Jerusalem Council. That being the case, Titus was exhibit A at the council meeting that the Gentiles were being saved. He was an uncircumcised Gentile that had been saved by the grace of God without having been circumcised or come under the Mosaic Law.

Notice v.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.” Again, Paul wanted to make sure that the revelation that he had received while at DTS (Desert Theological Seminary) about grace was the same as that of the apostles. If circumcision and law were required for salvation, Paul had been preaching the wrong gospel.

Notice v.3, “But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised:” Of course the end result of the council in Jerusalem was that circumcision and coming under the Mosaic Law were not required for conversion. Cf. Timothy in Acts 16:3. His mother was a Jew, while Titus was all Gentile.

Notice vv.4-5, “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: To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.” The false brethren spoken of here are those who had questioned the “liberty” of the believers at Antioch. In other words, Paul didn’t give these guys the time of day.

In Paul’s ministry, he had met a lot of these guys. He spoke of them in 2 Corinthians 11:26 when he said, “in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;”

Make no mistake about it. They are still around today. Peter spoke of them in 2 Peter 2:1-3 when he said, “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.”

What is our liberty? No more bondage to the Law (3:25, 5:1, 4:9)! In contrast to the two commands of Christ, (love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, and mind and your neighbor as yourself), the Pharisees had developed a system of 613 laws, 365 negative commands and 248 positive laws...By the time Christ came it had produced a heartless, cold, and arrogant brand of righteousness. As such, it contained at least ten tragic flaws. (1) New laws continually need to be invented for new situations. (2) Accountability to God is replaced by accountability to men. (3) It reduces a person's ability to personally discern. (4) It creates a judgmental spirit. (5) The Pharisees confused personal preferences with divine law. (6) It produces inconsistencies. (7) It created a false standard of righteousness. (8) It became a burden to the Jews. (9) It was strictly external. (10) It was rejected by Christ.

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