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.