Saturday, January 22, 2022

Is the Church Israel? | Session 2

To make the Scriptures say that the church is spiritual or true Israel requires three things from those who are doing it. First, they must deny the precise fulfillment of prophecy given specifically to Israel. Yet, over 90% of the Bible was given to and about the physical nation of Israel. In truth, to teach that we are the allegorical fulfillment of prophecy given to the nation is a gross distortion of the clear, natural, reading of the Scripture. 

I remind students of Scripture of the three Principles of Bible study that must always be remembered. 1. It must be interpreted literally unless the text dictates otherwise. Of course, this takes into account normal usage of figures of speech. 2. We should allow the Bible to interpret itself by comparing Scripture with Scripture (1 Cor 2:13). If there is a contradiction, then it is not the right interpretation. 3. The dispensational method must be used (2 Tim2:15). 

The word dividing means literally to "cut straight". To do that, we must ask ourselves who wrote it, when did they write it, to whom was it written, and what did they understand was being said at the time. The approved of God study by rightly dividing the Word of Truth. Not truth from error, but truth from truth. There is truth for the nation of Israel that has nothing to do with the church and truth for the church that has nothing to do with the nation of Israel. 

One example of many is found in Isaiah where it specifically says that God will establish His house in Judah and Jerusalem from where He will judge the nations one day. Isaiah 2:1-4 says, The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD'S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

To spiritualize these passages makes it necessary to spiritualize countless others that go on to describe in detail exactly what that holy city is going to be like as described in eight whole chapters beginning in Ezekiel 40. To spiritualize them makes their natural meaning completely lost! Actually, to do so gives permission to twist them to say whatever they want them to say. That is dangerous! That kind of handling of the Scriptures completely undermines their authority and God's prophetic plan and purpose for Israel. 

Much of this spiritualization of the text began in the early 5th century when Augustine, specifically in his work, The City of God, surmised that because the literal kingdom did not come, it must be spiritual. As a result, the church became Israel, we are now living in the kingdom, the pope is Christ's vicar on earth, and Rome is the Holy City, i.e., amillennialism. 

So, the first thing you must do to see the church as Israel it to deny the precise fulfillment of prophecy given specifically to Israel. 

Is the Church Israel? | Session 1

Many teach today that upon salvation, we the church (Body of Christ) become part of spiritual Israel. Not physical Israel, but a spiritual one. The question that I pose today is does the Bible truly teach that? Is God really through with the physical nation of Israel? Has He really given all of the promises that He gave to Israel to us now? Some will go on to say that Israel in the Old Testament is merely an allegory for the church, i.e., the church is the true Israel. 

I strongly believe that the entire "spiritual Israel" teaching is the result of not rightly dividing the Word of God. As such, they fail to see the dispensational shift from God's dealings with the nation and the Body of Christ. Also, for anyone to arrive at the conclusion that the church is Israel in any way, shape, or form, requires a view that the Scriptures should not be interpreted literally. Therein lies the problem. 

This erroneous view has led to literally everything promised to the nation has now been given to the church. Again, this teaching can only come from an allegorical reading of the text. By the way, according to the dictionary, allegorical is a story, poem, or picture that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning. 

To make the Scriptures say that the church is spiritual or true Israel requires three things from those who are doing it. First, they must deny the precise fulfillment of prophecy given specifically to Israel. Second, they must reject the significance of God's separation of Israel from the Gentiles. Third, they must ignore the teaching of Jesus Christ according to the mystery as revealed to the Apostle Paul. We are going to take a look at each of these one at a time over the course of the next few studies. 


Friday, December 24, 2021

Eternal Security is Eternal

The bottom line is that if we could gain salvation, or lose salvation, then it was never grace at all. Anyone who does not teach eternal security is misinterpreting the Scriptures. Eternal security is a dispensation of grace doctrine only. It was not in affect under the law, or during the gospels, nor will it be in the coming Tribulation. It is for the church age only. Anyone who believes you can lose your salvation is getting it from passages that concern the nation of Israel and not the Body of Christ, i.e., the Old Testament, the Gospels, and the Hebrew Epistles. Paul never taught that one can lose their salvation. Yes, churches can fall from teaching grace by adding works as necessary for salvation, but an individual can never lose their salvation, period.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

How Many Churches are There?

There are four churches identified in the Bible and we also run into problems when we try to combine them. 

1. Historically, there was the church in the wilderness mentioned in Acts 7:38 by Stephen, which was the assembly of the children of Israel that were called out of Egypt and assembled in the wilderness. 

2. Then there was the Jerusalem church which was made of none but the lost sheep of the house of Israel and proselytes. This was the Kingdom Church. No one is a part of this church today. It stopped after the rejection was complete. 

3. And today, we are a part of the Body of Christ which is made up of Jew and Gentile that was the mystery revealed to Paul. This is the Mystery Church that was revealed through Paul in which all are justified freely by grace (Colossians 1:18; Romans 11:25,16:25; Ephesians 3:1-2). 

4. And finally, there is the Tribulation Church which will be made up of those who will seal their fates in their own blood by not accepting the Mark of the Beast which is made up of the congregations mentioned in Revelation 2-3. It is those who overcome and sit with him on his throne. That is not us. We are already sitting in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6). Eating of the Tree of Life in Revelation 22:14 will be the reward for those who made it through the Tribulation. During this time the Gospel of the Kingdom will be preached again by the 144,000 according to Matthew 24:13-14. To interpret the churches any other way, as I did for years, is allegorizing the text which is exactly what dispensationalists are not supposed to do.

Spearman, H. Dwayne. The Book of Acts: A Mid-Acts Perspective (pp. 179-180). Directional Bible Ministries. Kindle Edition. 

Monday, December 6, 2021

Galatians | Session 25 | 6:3-18

We conclude our study today through the book of Galatians by taking a closer look at Paul's concluding remarks and admonitions to the church in Galatia regarding restoration of those who had fallen and their restoration.

Verse 3: For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. Now Paul addresses the issue of deception. Specifically, the deception of self.

This fault seems to be prevalent in our society today for sure. We have become quite an arrogant people in my opinion and social media has not helped, but propagated it.

Verse 4: But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. This verse seems to be still spring boarding off the previous one. In other words, a good way to avoid deception is by examining ones on own works, i.e., instead of comparing themselves to others. It runs with what he was saying in 5:13 about loving and serving one another instead.

Verse 5: For every man shall bear his own burden. The word burden is where we get our word portion. Paul is continuing the same thought of self-examination that will result in one carrying their own burdens instead of worrying about someone else’s.

Verse 6: Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things. In this verse Paul is encouraging those who are taught to support those who teach them. The NASB translates it as And let the one who is taught the word share all good things with him who teaches

What does he mean by communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things? or share in all good things with him who teaches? Barnes says that it means to share what is needful for their comfortable subsistence. It seems to be the same thing Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:11-13 and 1 Timothy 5:17. Lightfoot says that it means to provide for the temporal needs of your teachers in Christ.

Martin Luther also wrote, “These passages are all meant to benefit us ministers. I must say I do not find much pleasure in explaining these verses. I am made to appear as if I am speaking for my own benefit.” Luther also said, "I have often wondered why all the apostles reiterated this request with such embarrassing frequency . . . We have come to understand why it is so necessary to repeat the admonition of this verse. When Satan cannot suppress the preaching of the Gospel by force, he tries to accomplish his purpose by striking the ministers of the Gospel with poverty.”

Verse 7: Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. Paul now reminds them of God's principle of sowing and reaping for those who share in all good things with him who teaches (NKJ). His point is that there is a return on the investment (ROI) involved as well.

To further the point, for those who choose not to do so is not only selfish and shortsighted, but also mocks God's generosity. Luther also said of this verse, "Be careful, you scoffers. God may postpone His punishment for a time, but He will find you out in time, and punish you for despising His servants. You cannot laugh at God.”

Verse 8: For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. In other words, if we want to reap spiritual things, we must sow or give ourselves to them and not the flesh. Of course, this principle extends beyond just giving and supporting those who sow into our lives. Simply put, we get out what we put in.

Paul essentially said the same thing in 1 Corinthians 9:11 when he asked, If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things? Also, he said in 2 Corinthians 9:6-10, But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever. Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;). 

Verses 9-10: And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith. As such, we should not grow tired of doing good for others, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

Verse 11: Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand. Paul says this because if was usually custom in the ancient world to dictate a letter through a scribe. This does not necessarily mean he wrote the entire letter himself, but he did write the conclusion. This was often done to authenticate the letter. He also did this in other places such as 1 Corinthians 16:21-24; Colossians 4:18; and 2 Thessalonians 3:17.

Another thing when can gather from this verse in found in the words ye see how large a letters have I written. Many speculate this was because he had poor eyesight and could not read or write small print. However, this view certainly seems to go with what he said in Galatians 4:15 about them being willing to pluck out their own eyes and give them to him. It certainly lends itself to the conclusion that Paul had an eye problem that was not nice to look at and limited his vision.

However, there are others who just say that Paul used large letters just to make his point along the lines of John Hancock and his signing of the Declaration of Independence.

Verses 12-13: As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh. Now Paul accuses the ones who pushed the law on them to be just making a fair shew in the flesh. How? - By constraining them to be circumcised.

His point to me is that while pretending to care for those who they were placing under the law, their motive was actually selfish in that they were trying to bring glory to themselves. It reminds me of what Jesus said in Matthew 23:25 when he said, Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves. They were merely viewing these Galatians as notches in their self-righteous belts.

Paul also says that their motivation was only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. Morris says of this, "To advocate circumcision was to align the new movement with Judaism, a religion that had official Roman sanction, and therefore one that avoided persecution. The preachers Paul was opposing may have included the cross in their proclamation, but by adding the necessity of circumcision they avoided persecution.” I would add that they not only could avoid persecution at the hands of the Romans, but also their fellow Jews. That kind of makes me ask what sin or deception are we trapped in because we do not want to suffer persecution for the cross of Christ?

Also, reminds me of what the writer of Hebrews said in Hebrews 12:3-4 when he wrote, For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. 

Personally, I do not think persecution, while not sought after, can be avoided if we are truly living for God. That is why Paul told young Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:12, Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

Verses 14-15: But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. On the other hand, Paul says that he glories only in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, because the world is crucified to him and he to the world. Why? - Because it isn't about circumcision or uncircumcision, but about becoming a new creature through Christ.

Verse 16: And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God. Paul now pronounces a blessing upon those who walk according to this rule. What rule? - Glorying in the cross and becoming a new creation.

Interesting that he began the letter with a curse in Galatians 1:8-9 and ends with a blessing on those who glory in the cross, not the keeping of the Law, but becoming new creatures in Christ. These are those who are the true Israel of God, or the spiritual descendants of Abraham according to faith. The same faith that Abraham exercised when the promises where made to him just as Paul argued in chapter 3.

Verse 17: From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus. Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen. What did he mean by let no man trouble me? It could be that he is saying that he doesn't want to hear any more of this nonsense about the Law or possibly that no one can accuse him of not having suffered for preaching the cross of Christ.

Interestingly, a teaching rose out of this statement for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus called the stigmata which says that Paul actually had the wounds of Jesus in his hands, feet, side, back, and head as a result of his devotion and identification with Christ. The Catholic Church teaches that this is very possible and five saints have actually received them; the most famous being Saint Francis of Assisi. They teach that the stigmata is a unique mystical sign that few people have experienced, and that would someone receive it, they literally share in the sufferings of Christ, by bearing the wounds of Christ crucified such as wounds in their hands, feet, or side (the wounds of the Crucifixion), on their head (the wounds of the Crown of Thorns), on their back (the wounds of the scourging), or some combination of these. In truth, what Paul is referring to is the marks, wounds, scars that he had received in his service for Christ. He mentioned these in detail in 2 Corinthians 11:23-25.

Verse 18: Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen. Paul concludes by emphasizing the grace our our Lord Jesus Christ. In other words, his desire was that they not walk in legalism through the Law, but in the grace that comes through faith. Barclay says of this, "After the storm and stress and intensity of the letter comes the peace of the benediction. Paul has argued and rebuked and cajoled but his last word is GRACE, for him the only word that really mattered.”

Galatians | Session 24 | 5:16-6:2

In today's study, we see Paul encouraging the Galatian believers to avoid the teaching of the Judaizers who were telling them that they needed to place themselves under the Law, but to instead walk in the Spirit and the liberty that had been afforded to them by the gospel of grace. He also encourages them to be quick to restore those who had stumbled in their walks, keeping in mind that it could also happen to them.

Verses 16-18: This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Paul’s solution was simple, liberty comes as a result of walking in the Spirit. Those who do so will not fulfil the lust of the flesh. In other words, the flesh will never lead us to do something spiritual, and the Spirit will never lead us to do something fleshly. So, when it comes to liberty, we need to first ask ourselves if what we are wanting to do is a work of the flesh or a work of the Spirit, and then obey what the Spirit.

Notice the last part of verse 17 which says, so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. In other words, if we would spend our lives walking the Spirit, we will not have time to fulfil the needs of the flesh. I believe that is when we as believers begin to struggle, drop our spiritual swords, and start thinking of the flesh. Paul is basically saying, if you stay in the game, you will not have time to feed the flesh.

Now Paul lists the things that the flesh produces in our lives if we allow it to.

Verses 19-21: Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. His point is that these things should not be what a saved person is involved in because they should be walking in the Spirit and not have any time for it. Yes, these are the things that our flesh naturally wants to do, but if we stay in the Spirit, we will not be drawn to them.

Notice the end of verse 21 where he says that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. Seems strange at first glance, but remember that throughout this letter, he has been speaking to both Kingdom Jews, particularly the Judaizers, and Gentiles. Again, it is a pronoun thing. He switches from ye (Galatian Gentiles) in verse 18 to they (Jews, particularly the Judaizers) in verse 19. In my opinion, he does so because the Kingdom was still a valid offer because this letter was written between 53 and 57AD. Again, there is a need to rightly divide even the Paulene epistles.

Verses 22-23: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. Now Paul moves on to list the things that the Spirit produces in our lives. Again, his point is that if we would actively walk in these things, we would not be tempted to walk in the works of the flesh listed earlier. Why? - Because we can't do both at the same time.

Verses 24-25: And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Crucifying the flesh is a moment by moment, day by day, year by year action. It doesn't happen instantaneously at conversion. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:31, I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. All believers are to live in the Spirit, by yielding to the Holy Spirit in our lives, and letting Christ live through us daily. Paul also told the Philippians that for him to live is Christ, and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21).

Also, the word walk in this verse is an action verb. In other words, it is present progressive and never stops.

Verse 26: Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another. He concludes this chapter by taking a shot at the Judaizers by saying that they should not desirous of vain glory which is applicable to all of us.

I believe that the vain glory that he is speaking of was the subject of circumcision specifically and the law generally which was causing them to provoke one another and creating envy. Remember what I said about verses 14:15 that the law has a tendency to lead to self-righteousness because it becomes all about us. That self-righteousness will lead to division and not love. Nothing but hatred and separation will result as we check our own boxes compared to other's boxes.

Chapter 6

Now Paul turns to practical instruction and application.

Verse 1: Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. In this verse, Paul is encouraging them to be quick to restore a brother who has stumbled unwittingly. I say that because of the word overtaken. It seems to indicate that it was not on purpose.

Henry Morris says of the word, "it contains the idea of falling. It is not the deliberate, the planned, aspect of sin that is stressed here, but rather the unwitting element. Mistake rather than misdeed is the force of the word, though without absolution of responsibility.”

In context, he is most likely speaking of those who for a time did not walk in the spirit but heeded the flesh instead. He may also be specifically referring to those who had briefly heeded the teaching of the Judaizers and had attempted to place themselves under the law. 

His point is that the ones who had should be restored, not ignored, excused, or destroyed. The word restore means to put back in order or to its former condition and it should be done in a spirit of meekness. I have to say that the church is not very good at this! We are much better at shooting our wounded.

Verse 2: Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. In other words, we are called to walk this thing together with each other's help. This walk was not meant to be a Lone Ranger lifestyle.

Galatians | Session 23 | 5:1-15

In our study today we see Paul encouraging the Galatian believers to stand fast in the liberty that has been given to them by their simple faith in Christ's completed work on the cross. He also warns them to steer clear of those who were telling them that they needed to place themselves under the works of the law, and that to do so, would forfeit grace.

Verse 1: Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. The yoke of bondage is a reference to being put under the Law. Now, one argument that legalists will make is that those of us on the grace side believe in what some call "sloppy" grace. Understand something, liberty is not a license to sin, and anyone who believes so is just as deceived as the those who choose the yoke of bondage (Romans 8:15).

Verses 2-4: 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. Notice that Paul says if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. His point is that if you are trusting in your circumcision, or any other work of the law, to save you, you are not trusting in what Christ did for you on the cross of Calvary. In reality, you are trusting in your works for salvation. As such, Christ has become of no effect unto you, i.e., you are saying that you are trusting your justification to be by your works and not Christ's death, burial, and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Faith plus nothing is faith. Faith plus anything is works.

Paul is saying to the Galatians who came to faith through the grace gospel that he preached to them (Galatians 1:6), and were now adding the Law to it, that they have actually fallen from grace. I do not believe he is saying that they have lost their salvation. Instead, he is simply saying that they have departed from the teaching of grace through faith only. Grace is grace. If you gain it by grace, you can't lose it through works.

The bottom line is that if we could gain salvation, or lose salvation, then it was never grace at all. Anyone who does not teach eternal security is misinterpreting the Scriptures. Eternal security is a dispensation of grace doctrine only. It was not in affect under the law, or during the gospels, nor will it be in the coming Tribulation. It is for the church age only.

Anyone who believes you can lose your salvation is getting it from passages that concern the nation of Israel and not the Body of Christ, i.e., the Old Testament, the Gospels, and the Hebrew Epistles. Paul never taught that one can lose their salvation. Yes, churches can fall from teaching grace by adding works as necessary for salvation, but an individual can never lose their salvation, period.

Verses 5-6: For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love. Remember that the issue of circumcision was why Paul went up to Jerusalem to meet with the apostles in the first place (Galatians 2:12; Acts 15:1-2). His point is that while once circumcision meant something as a requirement under the law (Romans 2:25), it doesn't now under grace.

Verses 7-8: Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. In other words, you guys were doing so well until the Judaizers came in and confused you that ye should not obey the truth.

I used to tell the students that they can have no fellowship with error. Fellowship is just two fellows in a ship who are going the same way. The synonyms are companionship and communion. Amos 3:3 asks Can two walk together, except they be agreed? The answer is no.

I believe him that calleth you is the same him that called you in Galatians 1:6: Paul. In other words, he is telling them that he is not to blame for the heresy they were falling into.

Verse 9: A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. Summation: you need to get rid of this fallacious doctrine that is being pushed on you. He said something similar to  the Corinthians in 1Corinthians 5:6 when he said, Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?

The bottom line is that we cannot mix truth with error. Too many in the church today are comfortable with death in the pot (2 Kings 4:38-40).

Verse 10: I have confidence in you through the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise minded: but he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be. Paul expresses confidence that the Galatians will do the right thing. However, he has nothing nice to say about the ones who were troubling them.

It is interesting that he uses the personal pronoun he when he speaks of these Judaizers who he had mentioned in the plural in Galatians 1:7, 3:1, 2:4 and even Acts 15:1). It would seem here that he had one particular person in mind.

Why was his tone so harsh? They were confusing the Body of Christ.

Reminds me of James 3:1 when he said, My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. I always pity those who are leading others astray purposefully or through ignorance.

Verse 11: And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased. Again, Paul is making it clear that he is not the one teaching circumcision. As matter of fact, most of Paul's accusers and attackers were doing so because he did not teach that circumcision was a requirement.

Verse 12: I would they were even cut off which trouble you. Harsh words but warranted. He was referring to self-mutilation in the Greek. The NASB translates the term cut off as mutilate and the NIV as emasculate.

Verse 13: For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. When we walk in liberty, instead of the Law, it frees us to serve others. I believe it is because we are comfortable in our relationship with God ourselves. That is freeing. However, we should not use that liberty as an occasion to the flesh, i.e., to sin as Paul stated in Romans 6:1 when he asked, What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?

Verses 14-15: For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. Following the same thought of serving others out of love, Law has a tendency to lead to self-righteousness because it becomes all about you. Self-righteousness always leads to division and not love. Nothing but hatred and separation will result if we check our own boxes and compare them to other's. This is exactly why Paul told the Corinthians that they should not measure themselves by themselves, or compare themselves among themselves, that it is not wise (2 Corinthians 10:12). Neither should we, but we will if we start finding our value in our works instead of Christ.

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 into the 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.

Verses 19-20: My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you, I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I stand in doubt of you. He calls them his children because he is the one who led them to the faith, and feels like he is having to win them over or persuade them again to the beauty of grace (1Corinthians 4:15). He also wanted to change his tone with them but was afraid that they would continue down this dangerous path away from the grace gospel that he had given to them.

Verses: 21-23: Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law? For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. Paul is now uses Hagar and Sarah allegorically to make a point. He says that one was a son of the flesh while the other was a son of promise. The one of the flesh was Ishmael who was born to the bondwoman, Hagar, after the flesh. The second of the spirit was Isaac who was born to Sarah. Simply put, Hagar represented bondage in that she was a servant, while Sarah represented freedom because she was a free woman.

Verses 24-26: Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. He then compares Hagar and Sarah to two covenants. The first which was given from Mt. Sinai where the Law was delivered (Exodus 19-20).

The background of Hagar was that she was a bondwoman that he had picked up while out of the will of God running around in Egypt. In the allegory, she represents the law and bondage as a servant to Sarah. The second of the covenants he speaks of is regarding Sarah who was a freewoman who was simply in the will of God waiting for the promise of God to have the child that he told her she would have even in her old age. In the allegory, she represents freedom and faith. The same faith that Abraham had when the promises were given to him.

His conclusion was that the children of Hagar were in bondage and the children of Sarah were free. It is almost like Paul is asking them which mother they would rather be under? 

On a final note, regarding verse 26, Morris says, "Paul is not talking about the Jerusalem in Palestine that was the chief city of the Jewish nation at that time, for that city was not free. It was under the rule of the Romans. But the spiritual or heavenly Jerusalem is not in bondage; it is free.” Again, Paul pointing to freedom as compared to bondage.

Verse 27: For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband. Paul goes on to say that it was with the descendants of the one who was initially barren, the nation of Israel, that God made the convent with and he is quoting from Isaiah 54:1.

The second part of the verse is a mind-binder for me. What does he mean for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband? Still not sure to be honest with you. However, the desolate to me is still speaking of Sarah, but hath many more children than she which hath an husband? Could the one who hath an husband be a reference to Israel under the law?

One commentator said that he is saying that there will soon be more Christians than Jews, i.e., the Jews under the law represented by Hagar and the Christians under grace represented by Sarah.

In this he compares Hagar and Sarah's children.

“Ishmaels” = Legalism               “Isaacs” = Freedom

Slavery and bondage                  Freedom

born according to the flesh         born by God’s promised miracle

earthly Jerusalem                       heavenly Jerusalem

Many children                            Many more children

Persecuting                                 Persecuted

Inheriting nothing                      Inheriting everything

based on law-keeping                 based on trusting God, i.e., faith

He doesn't draw a distinction between Israel's earthly promises and the Bodies heavenly promises, but again, I just do not know for sure what Paul meant by that phrase at this time. If you have an idea, let me know.

Verses 28-29: Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. In other words, the ones who insist on the law, i.e., Judaizers were persecuting just like Ishmael did Isaac, the ones who were free from the law. Even so today, the legalists persecute the free and attempt to bring us back into bondage, e.g., observing days, months, times, and years (verse 10).

Verses 30-31: Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free. Paul’s solution to the problem was for them to cast out the legalists who were seeking to enslave them. 

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Galatians | Session 21 | 4:10-18

In today’s study, Paul continues to plead with the Galatian believers to not be misled 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.

Verses 10-12: Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain. Brethren, I beseech you, be as I am; for I am as ye are: ye have not injured me at all. Again, the Judaizers were convincing them, both Jew and Gentile, that they had to keep the Mosaic law to be saved. Unfortunately, to do so was to pervert the gospel of grace by adding works to it.

Paul also feels the need to let them know that he is not angry with them, and just wants the relationship restored that they once had which he will describe in the following verses. You can only imagine the horrible things that the Judaizers were telling them about Paul. Of course, as a pastor, I do not have to imagine.   

Verses 13-15: Ye know how through infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel unto you at the first. And my temptation which was in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected; but received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus. Where is then the blessedness ye spake of? for I bear you record, that, if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me. He goes on to remind them of the relationship that they used to have with each other before the Judaizers stepped in to ruin it. He also makes an interesting comment when he says my temptation which was in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected. From his own statement in Galatians 6:11, he seems to be referring to his eyes or eyesight.

Some have even hypothesized that he was suffering from ophthalmia or a similar eye disease which was very prevalent in the first-century due to poor lighting that caused the eye to become inflamed and a mucus type leak. This may have been Paul's thorn in the flesh that he mentioned in 2 Corinthians 12:7.

Verses16-18: Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth? They zealously affect you, but not well; yea, they would exclude you, that ye might affect them. But it is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing, and not only when I am present with you. He was warning them not to be offended because he was speaking truth to them. Unfortunately, the Judaizers had a lot of zeal in their appeals to them, but they were leading them the wrong way. He further tells them that what the Judaizers were trying to do was to alienate them from Paul to win them over to their side.

Friday, December 3, 2021

Galatians | Session 20 | 4:6-9

In today’s 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.

Verse 6: And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Now Paul makes another switch from we in verse 5 to ye and is still speaking directly to the Galatian believers (i.e., the Body of Christ made up on both Jew and Gentile). By faith, they have been brought into a sonship relationship by the giving of the Spirit of his Son in which they too can now cry out Abba, Father.

Verse 7: Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. Interestingly, Paul now switches to first person singular. I have come to believe that he is addressing the servant in verse 1 who would eventually have Israel as their Lord has now become equal with Israel as joint heirs.

Again, for clarification, this does not mean that we, the Body of Christ, obtain Israel's earthly promises. However, we do become joint heirs with those Jews who are now a part of the Body of Christ in heavenly places.

Verse 8: Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods. This verse is squarely directed at the Gentile believers still who had been misled by the Judaizers regarding the law. I don't think the Gentile believers necessarily believed they had to "go back" to the Mosaic law, because they were never under it, but instead were being led to believe they had to obey it to be saved.

Verse 9: But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? We have already established that the Gentile believers were never under the Mosaic law, therefore, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage cannot be referring to that. Instead, I believe when he asks how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, he is referring to the bondage of their paganism. Either way, the Judaizers would have been promoting the law of Moses which was also bondage.