Thursday 23 June 2016

Bible Book:

“God shows no partiality” (v. 6)

Galatians 2:1-14 Thursday 23 June 2016

Psalm: Psalm111


Today's passage is not astraightforward one. There is much background detail that we do nothave and at times the writer, Paul, seems to become so excited thathis grammar suffers somewhat! At the heart of the text, though,lies a very important dispute in the early Christian Church.

Paul tells us that he travelled toJerusalem with two fellow Christians, Barnabas and Titus.Importantly, Paul insists that he was not summoned to the city bythe leaders of the Church but went because God had directed him soto do through a "revelation" (v. 2). This is consistent with whatPaul affirms elsewhere in this letter to new Christians in Galatia:that his authority comes from God, not any human.

The issue at stake was whether or notfollowers of Christ had to abide by Jewish laws and customs,especially male circumcision (v. 3). This was a huge question forthe early Church and one that threatened to tear it apart. Somefaithful Christians believed that circumcision was necessary to bea full member of the Church, including those missionaries whoapparently came to Galatia after Paul, and claimed to speak withthe authority of the Apostles in Jerusalem. Paul disagreed withtheir position strongly and told the leaders of the church inJerusalem so. The compromise they agreed was that Paul wouldcontinue his missionary work among non-Jews ("the uncircumcised"(v. 7)) while Peter and the others would continue theirs to Jews("the circumcised" (v. 7)). We may, or may not, find anotherversion of this meeting in Acts15.

The problem with this compromise wasthat it could not last. How could circumcised and uncircumcisedmembers of the same Church share fellowship together, if somethought that the others were not fully members of the Church?Matters came to a head in Antioch. Peter, who elsewhere had showngreat bravery in abandoning traditional food laws (Acts 10:9-43)and had apparently been happy to eat with non-Jews, suddenlychanged his mind. Paul blames the factions in Jerusalem for thisand condemns Peter for his lack of courage and seeminghypocrisy.

To Ponder

  • Sadly, factions and cliques seem to be an inevitable part ofany human organisation. How can we avoid them?
  • When do you think it is right to compromise your beliefs andwhen to hold firm to them, even if it causes great pain anddiscomfort to others?
  • Are there any circumstances under which a Christian shouldrefuse to share food with another person? If so, what are they? Ifnot, why not?


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