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Paul’s Letter to the Galatians

25 Jan

When Paul and Barnabas first set out on their missionary journey from Antioch, Mark, Barnabas’ nephew, was with them, but something occurred that caused him to turn around and leave the team. Nevertheless, instead of returning to Antioch from which he had come, he returned to Jerusalem. I believe this is important to know, because it pertains to the reason for Paul’s letter to these churches. When Mark returned to Jerusalem, whether by design through a misunderstanding of Paul’s methods, or by innocent remarks made to high ranking Jews at Jerusalem concerning his experiences with Paul, Mark caused a great deal of trouble for the Gentile churches wherever they were. This did not become evident, until Paul and Barnabas returned to Antioch from Galatia. It was at this time that men from James had come to Antioch to check out the Gentile churches there, and it seems that circumcision became a very big issue.

What I mean by circumcision is not merely the operation on the flesh, but the whole idea of having to become a Jew before one could be saved. This proposition doesn’t seem an important issue for us today, but it was back in the 1st century CE. We need to recall that the Jewish faith was the only faith ever begun by God, himself. It is only logical, according to that premise, that one MUST become a Jew in order to be saved. However, Paul’s Gospel—not a different Gospel from that of the Apostles—did not include Jewish traditions, which included the annual Holy Days, washings concerning ceremonial cleanliness, kosher foods etc. All these were important to the Jews and for good reason. They pertained to things God had done for them long ago, from the times of Abraham and Moses. It had to do with their Jewish history with God.

Paul recognized that this would have little meaning to the Gentiles. It was not part of their history. It was not part of their ancient traditions. So, Paul boiled down the Gospel to the least common denominator, so to speak, and built the foundation of Christ from there. The Law and all of its ceremonies pointed to Jesus, and that could be easily understood by the Jews, if they repented before God. However, before the Gentiles would be able to see what the Jews saw in the Law, they would have to become Jews and study the Hebrew Scriptures as translated in the Septuagint. There would be nothing inherently wrong with this, but it would be tedious and unnecessary for the Gentiles to learn and practice these things before they could come to know Jesus as their King. All that was really necessary to establish a relationship with Jesus, the God of Israel, would be to tell his story, as it appears in the Gospel narratives we have today.

The Gentiles already knew right from wrong in most cases. Paul later showed in his letters that the Law has been written upon the hearts of all men. There is no excuse for our rebellion against God. Paul’s Gospel to the Gentiles calls for repentance from that rebellion and submission to Jesus their King, confessing him openly in their walk before men, and believing he died for out wicked deeds and that God raised him to life in order to give us eternal life. In a nutshell this is the Gospel without the trimmings of Jewish tradition (or any of the Gentile “trimmings” we have added since Paul’s day). Paul laid down the theology in Romans 10:9-10, and the practical application is spelled out in Luke 23:40-42. All that we add to this is commentary. Nothing can be added to this with the intent of making it necessary for salvation, nor can any part of this ‘least common denominator’ be taken away and still be called the Gospel of Christ, or the Gospel of the Kingdom etc. This is it.

As a result of Mark’s returning to Jerusalem, the Antioch church sent Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem to iron out the apparent differences between his Gospel and what the men from James seem to believe it should be. The result was the first church council as reported in Acts 15. It was around this time that Paul understood that what occurred in Antioch was not an isolated incident. Whoever the men from James represented had sent parties to churches in Syria, Cilicia and apparently as far as Galatia. James denied he had sent these men and said so in letters he had given to Paul to show to those churches. He also sent along representatives from the Jerusalem church to make it plain that Paul hadn’t forged the letters, but that his Gospel to Gentiles is the very same Gospel that the Apostles preach to Jews, except for the Jewish traditions, which are not necessary for the Gentiles to observe.

In future posts I will be elaborating on what occurred at the Jerusalem council and other matters in Acts as they pertain to the letter to the Galatians. May God bless my effort in this undertaking and help all of us to come to a better understanding of his truth, submitting to his Spirit within each of us.

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9 Comments

Posted by on January 25, 2015 in Gospel, Law

 

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9 responses to “Paul’s Letter to the Galatians

  1. Liz Trupp

    January 31, 2015 at 19:08

    Paul: You might reread Rms 14:5. “Let everyone be fully persuaded in his own mind.” It clearly doesn’t say, ‘Let everyone beat others over the head (either physically or with many words) and persuade them to your point of view!’ That is one of the points of the Gospel which is certainly Good News. God respects our intelligence and offers us his Word to find out who He is by the way he has interacted with humanity for the past 6000 yrs. We are free to accept Him or spit in his face. He will love us just the same because “God is love.” However, one who uses coercion wouldn’t want to be in the presence forever of a group of people for whom force and coercion have no place and so that person’s very character excludes them from eternity in Heaven. God is the ultimate respecter of our choices. He neither browbeats or belittles. He always sees us as intelligent and seeks to woo us with his grace rather than with many words or threats which don’t work anyway. Have you ever gotten anyone to love you by saying, “love me or else!’?
    Keep up the good work, Eddie. I actually appreciate points where I don’t agree with someone! It makes me think and rethink my position and offers a chance to feel more solidly grounded or tweak my understanding.

     
  2. Paul Ross

    January 25, 2015 at 18:58

    “The “portion” of the gospel, the good news, that Paul is mentioning in 1 Corinthian 15:11 is in conformance with the other apostles …but is not all of his gospel…but a key fact acceptance by them with HIM. Not vice versa. What is that? Jesus’s resurrection…”

    [THIS COMMENT IS ABBREVIATED FROM A VERY LARGE DOCUMENT. THE ADMINISTRATOR OF THIS BLOG SIMPLY REFUSES TO POST SUCH LARGE COMMENTS.]

     
    • Eddie

      January 26, 2015 at 08:09

      Paul, this is the third very large comment in two days, occupying 3 1/2 pages in my word document (about 2 pages is a ‘cut and paste’ from a commentary). As I said before, I don’t wish to spend that much time with you. There is too little we agree upon for a discussion to be worthwhile. You seem to be reading quite a bit of your own understanding into the Scriptures and thinking the word of God says what you claim. I don’t see things as you do.

      Matthew 28:19-20 shows Jesus sending his disciples into all nations to preach what he taught them. They were to baptize and make disciples of all nations. Mark 16:15-16 says Jesus sent these same people to preach the Gospel to everyone. Those who believe and are baptized are saved, but those who don’t believe are judged. Luke 24:47-48 says repentance and forgiveness would be proclaimed to all nations by those witnesses with Jesus at that time. I really don’t see where you get multiple gospels among the disciples of Jesus.

       
    • Paul Ross

      January 26, 2015 at 12:13

      Eddie, as previously mentioned, this was a spiritual effort for your heart. Did you actually read the whole scripture….not my mere interpretation… I cited verses for you which did contradict your assertion…before you deleted it? You should not be contesting against me and the Bible. I only attached the actual verses, rather than mere cited reference to make it simple and easy for you and all. As you will note, they were all accurate in the KJV which I routinely recommend. Your previous assertions on Paul’s gospel as “identical” to the original earthly ministy of Jesus, or then of the 12 apostles who shared the “repent and be baptised” gospel that Peter and the 12 had initially taught in Acts.. Explain in Acts 2, verses 2, 3 and 4 precisely where Peter said to the Jews that Jesus died for their sins (and Gentiles)…if they believed? Explain Acts 22 how the “thousands and thousands” of jews who “believed” still were requiring LAW….and saught to kill Paul…again. The other apostles had become folowers of the revelations given to Paul, but that was not right away back in Acts 2. They didn’t know. Unless you are contesting that Paul lied. And there are still more I am finding in your expressions…

      You have now just alluded in your response to the basic Great Commission (as scholars characterize it)…but then look at something very important:

      (1) Acts 10 verses 10-17….which is some time AFTER the conversion of Saul of Tarsus… The Apostle Peter had rejected over and over to go to the gentiles…even though being specifically ordered to accept it 3 times. He only went then when the two Roman soldiers from the Cornelius Centurion showed up at his residence to pick him up.

      Additional delaying and dithering by the Jews, which lasted up to that debt is also proven in

      (2) Acts 11:19 “Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only.”

      The next chapter does then note that these scattered Jews… teach to Jews who were of Greek nationality, i.e., ‘Grecians’. But then true greeks got the word from those newest believers also, but not in any “immediate” Great Commission performance… The stoning of Stephan was possibly not just 3-4 years after the crucifiction of Jesus, but is not critical chronologically. It is still obvious of the non performance of the non-performance of that Great Commission as an immediate thing. Jesus himself told the Apostles to stay in Jerusalem…and wait: Acts 1:4 “And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.” They obviously were waiting for the Second Coming then…not realizing that there would be at least a 2 thousand year delay of that…

       
    • Eddie

      January 27, 2015 at 05:42

      Eddie, as previously mentioned, this was a spiritual effort for your heart. Did you actually read the whole scripture….not my mere interpretation… I cited verses for you which did contradict your assertion…before you deleted it?

      I read everything at least once—i.e. I didn’t reread your copy and paste to another posting of mine. I deleted it from my blog comments, but I still have all of what you wrote.

      You should not be contesting against me and the Bible.

      I’m not. I’m merely contesting your point of view about what the Bible says.

      Your previous assertions on Paul’s gospel as “identical” to the original earthly ministy of Jesus, or then of the 12 apostles who shared the “repent and be baptised” gospel that Peter and the 12 had initially taught in Acts.. Explain in Acts 2, verses 2, 3 and 4 precisely where Peter said to the Jews that Jesus died for their sins (and Gentiles)…if they believed?

      First of all, Paul preached a Gospel of repentance (Acts 17:30; 26:30) and baptism (Acts 16:15, 33; Acts 18:8). Concerning Acts 2 believing is implied, if the Jews responded and were baptized (Acts 2:38, 41; cp. Mark 16:16 and Luke 24:47).

      Explain Acts 22 how the “thousands and thousands” of jews who “believed” still were requiring LAW….and saught to kill Paul…again. The other apostles had become folowers of the revelations given to Paul, but that was not right away back in Acts 2. They didn’t know. Unless you are contesting that Paul lied. And there are still more I am finding in your expressions…

      The text never claims that it was believers who seized Paul. You are reading that into the text.

      Concerning being zealous for the Law, the believing Jews were zealous to be obedient to the law of the land, which was the constitutional law or covenant law made between their ancestors and God. It was necessary for them to be obedient to it (cp. Matthew 23:1-3), just as it is necessary for us to be obedient to the laws of our land. Even Paul admonished the gentiles to do the same in their own lands (cp. Romans 13:1-9). Paul preached it wasn’t necessary for gentiles to become Jews and obey the Law, because their laws were good enough in their own lands (cp. Romans 2:14-15). Peter preached the same Gospel as Paul did to the Jews, except the law of the Jews was the Torah of the Bible.

      Concerning the other Apostles becoming followers of Paul’s revelations, this is completely an opinion of yours which you are unable to support with scripture.

      Concerning “Unless you are contesting that Paul lied. And there are still more I am finding in your expressions…” I have absolutely no idea what you might have in mind here, but you are welcome to believe whatever you wish about me.

      You have now just alluded in your response to the basic Great Commission (as scholars characterize it)…but then look at something very important:
      (1) Acts 10 verses 10-17….which is some time AFTER the conversion of Saul of Tarsus… The Apostle Peter had rejected over and over to go to the gentiles…even though being specifically ordered to accept it 3 times. He only went then when the two Roman soldiers from the Cornelius Centurion showed up at his residence to pick him up.
      Additional delaying and dithering by the Jews, which lasted up to that debt is also proven in
      (2) Acts 11:19 “Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only.”

      Your opinion of Acts 10:10-17 is astonishing. I had no idea a believer in Christ could be so anti-Semitic.

      It was always known that God intended to save the nations, but the mystery was how he intended to do that. Some supposed the gentiles would need to become Jews—a very logical idea, because, after all, the Jews’ religion was the only religion begun by God himself. They simply didn’t know how to go about it. Philip had to be told specifically by the Holy Spirit, as did Paul and Peter. No one took it upon himself to preach to the gentiles, until they saw others doing it, whom God had commanded through vision etc. to do so.

      The next chapter does then note that these scattered Jews… teach to Jews who were of Greek nationality, i.e., ‘Grecians’. But then true greeks got the word from those newest believers also, but not in any “immediate” Great Commission performance… The stoning of Stephan was possibly not just 3-4 years after the crucifiction of Jesus, but is not critical chronologically. It is still obvious of the non performance of the non-performance of that Great Commission as an immediate thing. Jesus himself told the Apostles to stay in Jerusalem…and wait: Acts 1:4 “And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.” They obviously were waiting for the Second Coming then…not realizing that there would be at least a 2 thousand year delay of that…

      What seems obvious to me is that you believe Jesus utterly failed in the choice he made for his disciples. It also seems obvious to me that you believe the Holy Spirit couldn’t get through to Jesus’ disciples, perhaps because they were Jews (?). But when the “true Greeks” learned the Gospel, that’s when the Great Commission really got underway! Pardon me if I find your understanding wanting.

       
  3. Paul Ross

    January 25, 2015 at 16:22

    “…And as we know, Jesus from the heavenly position gave Paul at least 8 revelations, which were all mysteries to the Jews…”

    [THIS COMMENT IS ABBREVIATED FROM A VERY LARGE DOCUMENT. THE ADMINISTRATOR OF THIS BLOG SIMPLY REFUSES TO POST SUCH LARGE COMMENTS.]

     
    • Eddie

      January 26, 2015 at 07:38

      Paul, your **comment** is four pages in my word document. I try to keep my ‘posts’ to about 1 and 1/4 pages. This means your **comment** was approximately 3 of my regular postings. I really don’t want to spend that much time with you.

      I read your **comment** but I disagree with you. Your judgment of Peter v/s Paul is way out of line. Jesus chose the 12 and he chose Paul. There is nothing different between Paul’s Gospel and Peter’s (which represents that of the 12). It seems you are reading your thoughts into the text. The context of 1Corinthians 15:11 is 1Corinthians 15:1-10. The Gospel Paul preached to the Corinthians was that which he received (v.3) and which over 500 brethren in Judea could witness to (v.6).

      What Paul preached, Peter preached as well, and visa versa.

       
  4. Paul Ross

    January 25, 2015 at 14:06

    Paul’s Gospel was new mystery revealed. Look at galatio s 1:11-12. It was a new gospel by jesus. And what was it? 1 Corinthians 1-:1-4

     
    • Eddie

      January 25, 2015 at 14:59

      Greetings Paul and thanks for your comment. There is only one Gospel. Paul, himself, said so in 1Corinthians 15:11. He preached the same thing as the Apostles did. Awhile back I wrote a study called What Was Paul’s Gospel? If you have the time and are curious enough to read it, I hope it helps.

       

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