Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 1 Study # 3
July 18, 2010
1 Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)
1901 ASV Translation:
1 Paul, an apostle (not from men, neither through man, but through Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead),
- I. From the Authorial Side.
- A. Author: Paul.
- 1. Received his new "name" just as he was getting involved with the Galatian churches (Acts 13:9).
- 2. Became "Paul" at the precise point of his first recorded exercise of apostolic power against the Kingdom of Darkness (Acts 13:9-12) in which he had been a major player until he came to grip with the "identity" of his Opponent on the road to Damascus (Who art thou, Lord? -- Acts 9:5).
- 3. Self-identifies as "an apostle".
- a. The issue of "apostle".
- b. The "issue" of Paul's identity-origins.
- 1) In our context, it is clear that Paul wanted very much to make absolutely sure that his readers knew that his "apostleship" was not a "human" reality.
- a) Paul's words of dismissal of the "human" factor begin with "not from men". Paul was absolutely dismissing his "apostleship" as a representation of certain men.
- i. It was, according to Paul, a crucial issue that his message was rooted in divine revelation as opposed to human invention.
- ii. The issue of "faith" is inextricably tied into the question of "source". Men do "believe" what other "men" promote, but the "believing" is subject to corruption and apostasy as long as its roots are human. There is some indication in Galatians that Paul wondered whether the "faith" that had been initially indicated was, in fact, a human production (Galatians 4:11; 5:7; and 5:10). That which is "of the flesh" is "fleshly" -- whether it is one of those deep things that exist at the foundations of a man's loves and beliefs or one of those superficialities that can be easily thrown away -- and "fleshly" things cannot endure in the arena of spiritual "Life".
- iii. Paul clearly "believed" that if his readers actually permitted the question of the source of his message to become a matter of serious inquiry, there would be a greater possibility of "faith" that is "spiritual" (of the Spirit).
- b) This dismissal continued with "neither through a man".
- i. The difference in this aspect of the dismissal of human roots is that Paul's "apostleship" was not communicated to him through human agency. It was not sufficient for him to distance the content of his message from human invention; he wanted also to distance his identity from human agency.
- ii. This raises the question of why this seemed important to Paul. Would there have been any "problem" with the content of his message if God had used some "man" to confer Paul's apostleship upon him? The heart of this issue is God's use of intermediaries and the degree to which He is the guarantor of their activities. The issue, at this point, is not whether the message would have been flawed; rather, it is whether those who received it thought it might have been.
- iii. It is apparent that Paul, in the face of the shocking departure of the Galatians (1:6), thought it necessary to attempt to distance the reality of his "apostleship" from every "human" connection. He did this, not for the actual validity of the message, but for the apparent weakness of the "conviction" of the Galatians. It appears that they were in serious need of "distance" in their own minds from the association of what is to be "believed" and any human agencies. They had come to confusion and near apostasy by the arguments of "men" who heatedly decried Paul's identity as a true representative of God along the lines of "apostleship" (i.e., they showed a "willingness" to "believe" what men told them about Paul while dismissing what he had told them about God).
- iv. Thus, the issue at stake is Paul's "belief" that if people actually believe that what they are being told is from God, they will be more inclined to believe.
- 2) The issue of origins is a part of the problem of overcoming "unbelief".
- a) "Faith" is always an uphill struggle because of its place in the roots of Life.
- i. Its primacy at the roots level means that people have to be willing to have the greater part of their "lives" unsettled in order to "believe".
- ii. Its primacy at the roots level also means that the adversary will put the greater part of his energies to work in generating deceit at this level.
- b) "Faith's" association with "Love" is the primary factor at play. This is problematical because both "love" and "faith" are sufficiently tenuous in all cases to make alterations in either a struggle.
- 3) There is a parallel here in the evangelical belief that the "original" documents of the Bible were inspired by God so as to be absolutely without error.
- a) There are two problems here: first, there are those who claim that if "humans" were involved, corruption is inescapable (a faulty premise); and, second, some say that since we no longer have those "originals", we no longer have an error-free Bible ... and they are correct. But, it is one thing to be without an error-free Bible now and to not ever have had an error-free Bible. The Bible we now have descended from an error-free root and we do have the content of that error-free original. Our problem now is discerning what that error-free content is because our possession of the error-free content is compromised by the presence of errors. It is not that we have lost the original content; it is that we have had non-original content added in. There is a difference in having never had an error-free content and not having it now because of corruptions. The entire reality of a creation into which error has been introduced is the root of the particular reality of a Bible into which error has been added.
- b) Likewise with "apostles". It is one thing to have no apostles now and not ever having had "apostles".
- c) At issue is one factor: how does a person come to grips with what is actually true and maintain that grip? Even if God actually spoke to us in our current setting in our birth language, we would still have the "problem" of "understanding". Language does not communicate infallibly even when the language forms are infallibly accurate for one simple reason: man's ability to understand what has been said is fallible. Enter the active ministry of God in giving understanding. Even with apostolic preaching there was an active and on-going need for the work of God in imparting understanding to the hearers (1 Thessalonians 1:5). Thus, the Bible is filled with descriptions of the processes involved in coming to "faith" in what is actually "true", among which are the multiple calls in the wisdom literature for a commitment to "crying out to Wisdom for understanding".