Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 1 Study # 1
Thesis: Central to the "message" of Galatians is the issue of the motive of its writer.
Introduction: One of the issues that students of the various biblical texts routinely overlook is the motivation-factor behind the words. Sometimes this is unavoidable in the sense that "motives" are notoriously difficult to properly discern. However, more times than not, the question of "why" an author wrote what he did is crucial to the proper understanding of his words. It is demonstrably true that words communicate both meaning and significance according to the perception of the hearer/reader in respect to this issue. It is also demonstrably true that people react, even to God, according to what they think is His "attitude" toward them. This is the "why" issue.
This is also the reason for the focus in divine revelation upon the "love of God". It is in this area that "motivations" are discerned, assigned, and made the basis for response.
Therefore, this evening we are going to raise the question of Paul's self-identification in regard to his letter to the Galatians. The question is this: Why did Paul change the terms of his identification? When his father "named" him on the eighth day of his life in this world, the "name" was "Saul". When we are introduced to him in the records of the New Testament, he is identified as "Saul" (Acts 7:58). When Jesus confronted the man on the road to Damascus, He did so in the terms of "Saul, Saul..." (Acts 9:4). When the Holy Spirit singled out the two men He wanted the church to send out, He did it in terms of "Barnabas and Saul" (Acts 13:2). According to Acts 4:36, it is significant that "Barnabas" means "the son of consolation". According to multiple texts in both Old and New Testaments, this issue of "names" is highly significant. It reaches its apex in Revelation 2:17 where being "named" is one of the "big deals" of promise. Therefore, it is of significance that "Saul" suddenly became "Paul" in Spirit-inspired Scripture at the point of Acts 13:9.
It is my contention that the name change is at the root of the Galatian message. Therefore, I want to begin by simply asking this question of the text: Why did "Saul" identify himself as "Paul" in the letter?
June 27, 2010
- I. To Begin, Let Us Consider the Meaning and Significance of "Saul".
- A. The word itself is identified in Strong's as a passive participle of a verb that means "to seek in order to obtain."
- 1. As a passive voice word, the meaning is "to be sought after in order to obtain".
- 2. Anyone so named has this heritage in the language.
- B. In the focus of the Old Testament upon the person most often referenced as "Saul" there are two realities.
- 1. In the biblical introduction to "Saul", there is a very clear connection between the verbal idea and the man assigned the passive participle for his "name".
- a. The verb itself shows up significantly in 1 Samuel 8:10 as the word chosen to identify a serious apostasy in Israel as recorded in that chapter.
- b. It shows up again in 1 Samuel 12:19 as the word chosen by the people to identify their own apostasy.
- c. The "setting" of this verbal notion of a particularly evil "seeking" is 1 Samuel 8:7 where God identifies the "seeking" as a "durational" problem that reaches all the way back to the Exodus.
- 1) What this means is this: there is a root problem in the people that has gone unaddressed and uncorrected for hundreds of years that has to do with "Sauling".
- 2) This continuous "seeking" by the nation has reached a critical point at the time of 1 Samuel 8-9.
- d. The passive participle, used as the name of the man who will be the fulfillment of the seeking of the nation, shows up at the beginning of 1 Samuel 9.
- 1) Interestingly, the biblical record introduces us to this man as he is involved in "seeking" his father's lost donkeys.
- 2) The culmination of the initial introductory story is that the man turns from "seeking" to being the one "sought".
- 2. The Old Testament record of "Saul" is clearly the record of a man who was turned from a kind of pseudo-humility (1 Samuel 9:21) to a hardened "seeker" for the position of "being sought".
- C. "Saul" is enormously "theological" by the time we get to the New Testament.
- 1. He represents an endemic problem that goes unidentified and uncorrected for generations: the lust for status in the eyes of men.
- 2. He represents the premier illustration of the great wickedness of which this lust consists because he persecutes and attempts to put to death those who oppose his "seeking" for "being sought after".
- 3. The "Saul" of the New Testament says, after his having this problem identified and corrected by the Lord, that his own persecution and attempts to put those to death who oppose his theology of "seeking" for "being sought" made him the chief of sinners.
- II. Then, Let Us Consider the Meaning and Significance of "Paul".
- A. The word is of Latin origin and it meant "small" or "little".
- B. There is a deliberate contrast here between the men involved.
- 1. The "Saul" of the Old Testament was head and shoulders taller than his countrymen and very "impressive" to them.
- 2. The "Paul" of the New Testament is not physically described, but deliberately places his own credentials as a "Saul" in the place of "refuse" (Philippians 3:4-8) as the outworking of his own "T"heology of Christ in Philippians 2:5-8.
- C. The point here is this: there is no greater contrast than that which exists between the "T"heologies of the Sauls and Pauls of humanity.
- III. Now, Let Us Consider the Letter to the Galatians.
- A. It is the New Testament presentation of the contrast between the methodologies of "salvation".
- B. There are only two methodologies of "salvation" in the world.
- 1. That which is developed by men is designed to be the foundations of their "seeking" to be "sought".
- 2. That which is revealed by God is designed to be the foundations of a life that springs out of being loved without even a whiff of accomplishment.