Monday, January 19, 2015

Gal 1:18-2:10

If you are convinced that your dear friends reading your letter are deserting God, and that you are the one God used to introduce them to Himself, how would you write to them?

We saw that Paul faces the desertion squarely, by setting it against what Paul had originally pointed out for them to remember, "what you received" (1:9).  They didn't have chapter-and-verse of Romans.  Probably Galatians was way before Romans, way before everything else in the New Testament.  He wanted them to remember "what we have preached to you" (1:8).

Why should they do that?  Because "the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man" (1:11).  Paul was taking the position that they could benefit from what they already knew about him, and the further things he was explaining: "I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but through a revelation of Jesus Christ" (1:12).

In 1:18 Paul is continuing to support for 1:12.  Where did he get what he had taught the Galatians?  Did Paul get what he said, from the apostles?  In chapter 2, Paul continues to give his support for 1:12, by his history, how he went to Jerusalem, with Barnabas and Titus, submitting "the gospel which I preach ... in private, those who were of reputation" (2:2).

There was another encounter after that, besides that private meeting, between Paul and  "false brethren secretly brought in, who had sneaked in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to bring us into bondage"  (2:4).  What was the type of bondage Paul was talking about?  We see the subject in the phrase "compelled to be circumcised" (2:3).  Paul uses the phrase without prior setup because it was a well-known point of contention with those he had priorly mentioned among the Galatians who were disturbing them and wanting to distort the gospel of Christ (1:6).  So they were very aware of it, without Paul having to set up the subject.  It was important for the Galatians to know that the issue between himself and "false brethren" to whom Paul "did not yield in subject to them for even an hour, so that the truth of the gospel would remain with you" (2:5), had already been resolved then, among "those who were of high reputation" (2:6), including James and Cephas ... and Paul would add, against those who note reputations as a matter of course, "(what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)" (2:6).

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