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Galatians; Not compromising the gospel

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posted on Jan, 15 2016 @ 05:02 PM
The epistle to the Galatians is the text which Browning’s monk “in a Spanish cloister” was hoping to use to tempt his enemy into heretical conclusions.
Certainly this letter stands out among the letters of Paul as presenting the contrast between Faith and legalism.
In the first chapter, Paul was telling the Galatians that the gospel which he taught them had been given to him direct from Christ. He had not received it from other men.
His purpose in telling them this was to explain why the gospel, as taught, should not be compromised by human interference.

Paul drives home this point in the second chapter by describing how he refused to compromise in the past.
He talks about two episodes, namely his own visit to Jerusalem (vv1-10), and Peter’s visit to Antioch (vv11-16).

Fourteen years after meeting Peter in Jerusalem, Paul returned there, with Barnabas and Titus (vv1-2)
He was moved “by revelation”; presumably from a prophet like Agabus.
That is, he was not summoned or commanded by men.
Then he explained his teaching to the leaders there, to forestall the danger that his work might be frustrated.

But before we go any further, we need to consider the problem of vv4-5, which seem to be misplaced.
They are misplaced geographically. If the “false brethren” came in to “spy out the freedom” of the Gentile church, that cannot have been part of the events in Jerusalem. It must have been happening in Antioch.
They are also misplaced grammatically, since “because of the false brethren” doesn’t really follow on from anything.
The best solution is that Paul, in the middle of dictating this letter, is picking up a point which he should have mentioned in v2; his journey had been prompted by the interference of the false brethren in Antioch, which could have suppressed the truth of the gospel.

This agrees very well with the account we find at the beginning of Acts ch15.
Luke says that some men came down from Judaea (the “false brethren”) and began teaching the local brethren that they needed to be circumcised in order to be saved (“that they might bring us into bondage”).
Since they would have been claiming the authority of Jerusalem, a delegation led by Paul and Barnabas was appointed (“by revelation”) to go up to Jerusalem and sort the question out.

Paul is adamant that he did not “yield submission even for a moment” to these intruders.
The Jerusalem leaders themselves found no need to add anything to his teaching.
They did not even demand that his companion Titus should receive circumcision.

Paul is treading cautiously as he gives this account (vv6-10).
On the one hand, he does not want to acknowledge that he is under the authority of the leaders in Jerusalem, or that he needs their endorsement in any way.
So he makes a point of slightly disparaging the claims that are made for them.
They are only “reputed to be something (what they were makes no difference to me)”, they are only “reputed to be pillars”.
On the other hand, the fact that they did endorse him is worth using, if their authority is now being quoted against his own.
So he reports how they recognised his mission as complementary to Peter’s mission.
Evidently God was active in his work among the Gentiles, as in Peter’s work among the circumcised.
Thus they accepted the line of demarcation and “gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship”.
In effect, they acknowledged that Paul’s gospel did come from Christ, as he claims in the first chapter.
The only request they made was that the Gentile church should “remember the poor”, and Paul was being faithful to this promise when he organised the collection which he later took to Jerusalem.

The second episode took place when Peter came to Antioch (vv11-14).
When he first arrived, he was happy just to be part of the community.
But when other visitors came who were closely associated with James, he drew back from eating with the Gentiles, fearing that James would disapprove.
Other Jews by birth, including even Barnabas, began to follow his example.
This behaviour was capable of dividing the church and wrecking the mission to the Gentiles, because it implied that you could not be a member of God’s people without following the Jewish food restrictions.
Therefore Paul criticised him bluntly.

It’s not clear how much of what follows is meant to be part of what Paul said at the time.
The N.I.V. does not close the quotation marks until the end of the chapter, but that seems implausible. The situation calls for a sharp rebuke, and this is a very long and elaborate passage. Would Peter not have interrupted him at some point?
On the other hand, the R.S.V. and the Jerusalem Bible (it seems to me) make the speech too short.
They limit the rebuke to v14; that is, the absurdity of a Jew living like a Gentile (on the food question) trying to make Gentiles live like Jews.
But surely it continues into the next verse, at least. “We ourselves, who are Jews by birth” can hardly be addressed to the Galatians, and must be part of what he said to Peter.
So I’m inclined to think that the speech to Peter includes v15 and at least the central portion of v16;
“we have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ, and not by works of the law.”
(The present version of v16 is lengthened by the fact that Paul says “justified by faith in Christ” twice, and “not justified by works of the law” three times, which is probably done to impress the point upon his readers)

The following verses continue this line of argument, whether they were spoken to Peter or not.
“We” Jews have prided ourselves on not being “Gentile sinners”. So it would be an astonishing result if seeking to be justified through Christ should cause us, to our surprise, to be “found sinners”.
Would that not have the effect of turning Christ into an “agent of sin”? God forbid!
But the only way out of that dilemma is to accept that setting aside the Law and seeking to be justified by faith in Christ alone does NOT turn them into “sinners” (v17)

“If I build up again what I destroyed [that is, the bondage of the Law]…” (v18)
I would take this to be the hypothetical “If I, or anyone…” (as in ch1 v8). In fact it looks like another dig at Peter, who did “destroy” the old constraints in the Cornelius episode, and was now trying to reinstate them.
Anyone who reinstates the Law is really a transgressor against the Law, because the Law itself caused us to die to the Law and live only to God (v19).
It does this (as he explains elsewhere) by exposing our sinful nature and its own ineffectiveness in controlling our sin.

There is a running theme in this narrative to the effect that the gospel gives us liberty and a return to the Law takes it away again.
Was not the purpose of the false brethren to “spy out our freedom which we have in Christ Jesus”?
They wanted to “bring us into bondage” (v4), but Paul did not “yield submission” (v5), and he rebuked Peter for wanting to compel the Gentiles to live like Jews (v14).
This freedom from slavery is one of the benefits of the gospel, part of the “good news”, and that is why the integrity of the gospel must not be compromised.

edit on 15-1-2016 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

posted on Jan, 15 2016 @ 05:04 PM
Galatians and Acts

It’s impossible to ignore the similarities between the visits to Jerusalem in this chapter and in Acts ch15, and it’s natural to take them as talking about the same event.
Some scholars question the assumption because they see differences between the two accounts.
But these are only a difficulty if we take it for granted that Luke’s history is reliable in every detail.
We need to allow for the fact that Luke was trying to piece a story together from a number of different sources and variable memories, whereas Paul is recounting a sequence of events which was very important in his life.

That’s enough to explain many of the alleged discrepancies.
For example, Paul implies that this visit to Jerusalem was his first since he arrived in Antioch. The last verse of Acts ch11 seems to challenge this, but perhaps it can be dismissed as a “phantom” created by confused memories.
Paul speaks of private meetings with the “pillars”, and Acts ch15 describes a larger assembly. That just tells us that Luke is getting information from sources in Jerusalem, whose memories of Paul’s visit have a different emphasis.

Then there is the question of the so-called “decree”, the letter which they sent to the church in Antioch urging them, amongst other things, to abide by the food restrictions which Paul here rejects. Taking Acts ch15 as a later event than Galatians ch2 does not resolve the difficulty, because Paul would certainly not have accepted at a later meeting what he had refused to accept on the first occasion. Nor is it plausible that the vigorous opponent of “a written code” would have been willing to treat this letter as a “decree”. The portentous label “decree of the Council of Jerusalem” was imposed by the legalistically minded people who came to dominate the church later.
I think it’s more likely that he would have treated that part of the letter as a recommendation, one which could be ignored, rather than as an instruction.

Once we cease to be bound by the assumption that Luke’s history cannot be inaccurate in details, there’s room to understand Galatians ch2 and Acts ch15 as two different versions of the same story.
That’s the simpler and more straight-forward answer, and probably the best.

posted on Jan, 15 2016 @ 05:27 PM
I see Paul claiming to preach "my" (Paul's) gospel a lot in his epistles. Isn't it Jesus' gospel he's supposedly preaching?

While I believe Paul's teachings are sound in an esoteric sense, they were written esoterically with the intention of being taught literally. Jesus didn't need Paul to preach for him, that was his mission while on Earth was it not? I don't understand why Jesus thought it necessary to establish a middle man between himself and believers.

posted on Jan, 15 2016 @ 05:36 PM
a reply to: 3NL1GHT3N3D1
You missed the previous thread, then, where I was going through the first chapter of this letter.
That's where he explains to them that he received the message direct from Christ;
"I did not receive it from men, nor was I taught it, but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ... He who had set me apart was pleased to reveal his son to me". (v12, v15).
Presumably this refers to the Damascus road experience and what he experienced subsequently during his time in "Arabia".

Jesus needed to send men to speak for him because he was no longer around physically. The same applies to the sending out of the other Apostles.
That appears to be the way the Biblical God works. Speaking to most of the world indirectly, by addressing some and getting them to pass on the message to others.

edit on 15-1-2016 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

posted on Jan, 15 2016 @ 05:37 PM
WHY in GOD'S name r u still talking about the bible of the past. WE need to be focusing on the LIVING bible that is unfolding today! Everything that is happening NOW is MUCH more important than the PAST.
If u believe that we need to review the past over & over than u r BRAINWASHED!
HUMANITY'S FUTURE depends on HUMANS WITH SOULS to be PRESENT in todays problems & look to our future not dwell in the past which you really know nothing about since the bible is a condensed version.
The REAL writings would take you many lifetimes to read. GET IN THE PRESENT & FOLLOW ur SOUL DAILY!!!!!

posted on Jan, 15 2016 @ 05:40 PM

originally posted by: katbluballou
WHY in GOD'S name r u still talking about the bible of the past.

Because this is a Theology forum where that kind of thing is talked about.
I'm talking about the Bible because that's where my own theology is located.

P.S. Please use complete words. It will improve your ability to communicate.
edit on 15-1-2016 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

posted on Jan, 15 2016 @ 05:52 PM
a reply to: DISRAELI

Paul's conversion on the road to Damascus is a bit wishy washy in itself, being recalled on three separate occasions in three different ways.

Also, during the first century Damascus was a center of silk (fine linen) production and blacksmithing (making weapons). The whore of Babylon is said to wear fine linen and wage war, she also has a "mystery" on her forehead, Paul teaches a profound "mystery" of the church.

In an esoteric sense, I believe Paul is an antichrist, possibly THE antichrist. He teaches a literal gospel, Jesus taught an esoteric one.
edit on 1/15/2016 by 3NL1GHT3N3D1 because: (no reason given)

posted on Jan, 15 2016 @ 05:58 PM
a reply to: 3NL1GHT3N3D1
The slight variations are really in the Acts accounts, and they don't amount to much.
John defined "antichrist", as a future expectation, at a time when Paul was probably already dead. By his definition, an antichrist is someone who denies all the things which Paul, in fact, affirms. (I did a thread about this elsewhere).
The church has chosen to trust Paul, and I go along with that.

posted on Jan, 15 2016 @ 06:13 PM
a reply to: DISRAELI

With a book that claims to be infallible I'd think inconsistencies in its story would amount to a lot seeing as how infallible means consistent throughout.

And of course the church is going to trust Paul, his teachings are what got the church beyond rich. If they deny Paul, their foundation crumbles because he was one of its founders. Who wants their house to crumble while they are inside of it?

posted on Jan, 15 2016 @ 06:18 PM
a reply to: 3NL1GHT3N3D1
I'm not one of those who make a fetish out of verbal inerrancy, so a little variation doesn't bother me so much.
The church which first accepted Paul as a teacher had no wealth whatever and lived under persecution. You can't make that connection.

posted on Jan, 15 2016 @ 06:22 PM
a reply to: DISRAELI

I'm not trying to convince you brother, I do not wish to convert you, just having a friendly discussion with you. I respect your position even if I disagree with it.

posted on Jan, 15 2016 @ 06:23 PM
a reply to: 3NL1GHT3N3D1
Yes, it was coming across as a friendly discussion, and that's exactly how I took it.

posted on Jan, 15 2016 @ 06:49 PM
a reply to: 3NL1GHT3N3D1You will notice when Paul speaks of his gospel there is a lot of teaching for living under the Gospel of the Grace of God/Gospel of Christ.

The Bible is written to be taken literally.

Galatians two separates the ministry to the circumcision,The Gospel f the kingdom for Israel, from the ministry to the uncircumcision the Gospel of the Grace of God. and here Paul states Jew or Gentile are all saved by faith alone in the Gospel of the Grace of God/the Gospel of Christ.

One of the reasons Jesus Calls out Paul was because Salvation comes by the Jews, As Jesus stated to the woman at the well.

edit on 15-1-2016 by ChesterJohn because: (no reason given)

posted on Jan, 15 2016 @ 10:20 PM
a reply to: DISRAELI

Seems like a lot of "justification" just for Gentiles to follow Paul, believing that they're part of some Jewish religious tradition, but happily, they won't have get circumcised in the process.

That's a really big part of being "Jewish", and at the time Jews were being persecuted in the way of higher taxes, and were identified by the Roman tax collectors according to their genitals. Quite a point of contention from both sides of the coin.

However, this logic just doesn't add up:

“We” Jews have prided ourselves on not being “Gentile sinners”. So it would be an astonishing result if seeking to be justified through Christ should cause us, to our surprise, to be “found sinners”.
Would that not have the effect of turning Christ into an “agent of sin”? God forbid!
But the only way out of that dilemma is to accept that setting aside the Law and seeking to be justified by faith in Christ alone does NOT turn them into “sinners” (v17)

WOW! What a convoluted way of getting out of circumcision! LOL But, it is a common tactic that I see Christians use to slither out of accusations of hypocrisy.

The God of the Bible demanded obedience. First and foremost, that obedience was shown through circumcision. That's very clear. Skirting around the issue, using a devotion to the Jewish Messiah, aka Jesus Christ, as an excuse for disobedience is pretty darn shifty!

Especially so, because Jesus of Nazareth said "For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled."

Obviously Paul didn't think everything had been fulfilled if he thought Jesus Christ needed him to preach this supposed NEW gospel. So new in fact, that Jesus didn't even preach it!

Especially so because Jesus of Nazareth said this:
"If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than to have two hands or two feet and be cast into the eternal fire. 9"If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it from you. It is better for you to enter life with one eye, than to have two eyes and be cast into the fiery hell.
Matthew 18

It seems like a very small thing to ask of a devoted follower, to snip off a useless and bacteria ridden piece of flesh in circumcision, out of love and obedience for your God.........Who gave is only son.......

edit on 15-1-2016 by windword because: (no reason given)

posted on Jan, 16 2016 @ 03:32 AM

originally posted by: windword
and at the time Jews were being persecuted in the way of higher taxes, and were identified by the Roman tax collectors according to their genitals. Quite a point of contention from both sides of the coin.

This would certainly not have been the issue in Paul's time, because Roman tax collectors did not get involved until after A.D. 70. What you are doing is bringing foward something which was actually happening much later, in the reign of Domitian.

Paul's gospel is about something much more important than "following some Jewish tradition". It is about reconciliation with God. His direct experience of Christ, as he believed it to be, had convinced him that the key is absolute trust- that is, Faith.
The condensed, hurried, explanation he gave to Peter is just one example of a form of argument that keeps recurring all the way through this letter. Roughly speaking;
"Faith and obedience to the written Law are two competing ways of approaching God.
They are incompatible, because they make each other redundant. Whichever one is effective makes the other one unnecessary.
Since Faith is necessary and effective, that rules out the written Law".

As for Jesus, he was less hung-up on obedience to the written law than the usual quotation suggests.
He could actually get very critical of it- not just about the traditions added by the Pharisees, which is what people normally say, but about some of the provisions attributed to Moses himself.
Male freedom to divorce at will? Not what God wanted. Stoning adulterers? I would rather not endorse that, if I can help it. A little work on the Sabbath? It doesn't really matter, any more than it mattered when David himself was breaking at least two ritual laws (eating the shewbread and travelling on the Sabbath).
Think about it. Why did Jesus NEED to give that assurance that "not a jot or tittle" would pass away? It was because his attitude towards the Law was already under suspicion, thanks to the comments I have mentioned and probably many others.
In reality, his loyalty was towards the basic principles expressed in the Law, rather than the written details. Paul has the same loyalty, and so does James (who bases his own teaching on the Sermon on the Mount).
Conversely, Jesus demands Faith as the first stage in the path of obedience. As does Paul. As does James.
The transition from Jesus to the rest of the New Testament has less discontinuity that appears at first glance.

edit on 16-1-2016 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

posted on Jan, 16 2016 @ 04:46 AM
Anything attributed to Saul the Pharisee is trash

posted on Jan, 16 2016 @ 04:48 AM
a reply to: Gnosisisfaith
That is your choice, and has no other significance.
Along with the rest of the church, I accept what he says.

posted on Jan, 16 2016 @ 04:54 AM
a reply to: 3NL1GHT3N3D1glad im not alone on that.

posted on Jan, 16 2016 @ 04:56 AM
a reply to: DISRAELI
There are only 12 Apostles. Saul ain't one

posted on Jan, 16 2016 @ 04:58 AM
a reply to: Gnosisisfaith
He was "sent out" by Christ, as he tells us in the previous chapter.
That's one definition of "Apostle" (APOSTOLOS).

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