Tuesday 02 October 2012

Bible Book:

"We did not submit to them even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might always remain with you." (v. 5)

Galatians 1:18 - 2:10 Tuesday 2 October 2012


In today's passage Paul gives his readers a some backgroundinformation about himself. Paul's authority has been called intoquestion by other visitors to Galatia - "false believers" (v. 4) -who are seeking to undermine the message he has spread; insistingthat Christians need to follow the whole of the Jewish law, andimplying that this comes from the top Church leaders themselves.Paul has to convince them that the message he preached was in factthe whole gospel (good news about Jesus) and nothing but thegospel!

Paul tells how, on one occasion, he went to the headquarters ofthe Church in Jerusalem and stayed with Peter (Cephas) and James(Jesus' brother) (Acts 9:26-27), before visiting other regions.In the Judean churches, meanwhile, he was known only by reputation:Paul the persecutor is now Paul the preacher! It was another 14years before he returned to Church HQ. On this occasion, theleading apostles fully endorsed Paul's mission to the Gentiles (nonJews), and gave him "the right hand of fellowship" (v. 9),acknowledging what God was achieving through his ministry. He wastherefore recognised as having an apostolic mission (meaning 'sentby God'), just as Peter was regarded as an apostle to those ofJewish heritage ("the circumcised" (v. 9)). He did come across someof the "false believers" - pushing their agenda of Jewish religiouspurity alongside faith in Christ - but Paul and Titus did not givein to their suggestions, insisting on preserving the "truth of thegospel" (v. 5). Paul notes that his Greek friend and convert Tituswas never forced to be circumcised as a mark of his entry intoGod's family (verse 3). He says that the gospel he proclaimed tothe Galatians was not even influenced by the respected leaders ofthe Church in Jerusalem - there was simply a sharing of news andmutual respect. His message, he claims, is from God alone.

Here we get an insight into the power-struggles and debates ofthe early Church. It was not a straightforward matter as the Churchemerged from established Judaism. All that was once sacred to theearly disciples had to be laid aside in favour of faith in God'sappointed king and Lord.

See the gospel Church secure,
and founded on a rock;
all her promises are sure;
her bulwarks who can shock?
(StF 683, Charles Wesley)

To Ponder

  • What do you feel are the struggles today when 'independent'churches or teachings emerge? What can we learn from Paul and theearly Church?
  • Unity of those from different backgrounds was so important forPaul. Where has the Church forgotten this over the years? Where doyou think that we still forget it today?
  • The only thing the leaders from Church HQ insisted upon wasthat Paul and Barnabas remembered the poor (verse 10). (Most ofJudea was oppressed and downtrodden, still under Roman occupation.There was also a severe famine recorded in Acts 11:27-30. Many oftheir Gentile converts would be considerably richer and supportedtheir brothers and sisters in their need.) How important is ittoday that the Western Church supports its family members in thedeveloping world? When problems arise at home, to what extent arewe as eager as Paul to remember them?
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