Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 1 Study # 3
Thesis: In order for "faith" to stand in the face of the pressures of contradiction, its content must be rooted in a recognizably divine "origin".
Introduction: In our consideration of "apostleship", we saw that its essence is "accurate representation". When Paul claimed to be an "apostle of God", he was claiming to be an accurate representative of God's message. For the Galatians, and everyone else also, "faith", at some point, must be verifiably grounded in communication from God. The issues involved are several. First, that God is the One producing the communication has to be established. In a setting of "many voices", this is no small task. Then, what God has actually communicated has to be established. In a setting of "many interpreters", this also is no small task.
The opponents of Paul's message knew that their best approach was to deny Paul's apostleship. Once that was done, it would be relatively easy to contradict his message. Thus, Paul's opening words did two things: his identity as "Paul" set him apart from the motivations of his opponents (Note Galatians 6:12); and his claim to the identity of an "apostle" directly established the legitimacy of his message if it could be demonstrated.
Thus, when we read Paul's instant defense of his profession of "apostleship", we are reading his counter-attack against those who were attempting to subvert the faith of the Galatians. Therefore, we need to consider both his disclaimer and his claim regarding his apostleship in the light of his desire to buttress that faith.
This study will zero in upon the disclaimer.
July 18, 2010
- I. The Requirements of "Faith".
- A. Because "faith" is a "roots of Life" issue, it has to have a sustainable foundation.
- 1. The challenge of "faith" is the upsetting of the entirety of one's "Life".
- a. The potent resistance to truth reveals the power of "faith".
- b. At root, "faith" embraces an entire universe with implications which are, for the most part, not even on the "believer's" radar.
- 2. It is for this cause that Paul put forth his claim to be an "apostle".
- a. If his claim could be verified, "faith" would have its foundation in his message because the message is God's Truth.
- b. Clearly, the issue is whether the claim could be verified.
- 3. It is also for this cause that Paul's immediate qualifications of his apostleship were stated.
- a. On the one hand, he denied any "human" connections to its roots.
- b. On the other hand, he insisted upon a direct connection to the resurrecting God.
- B. Because "faith" is open to challenge, it has to have a sustainable redoubt.
- 1. The typical experience of men in regard to "faith" has several elements.
- a. Generally, men "believe" without any understanding of the complications (this is the "grain" reality of genuineness without depth).
- b. Then come the complications (this is an integral aspect of the process of movement from "grain" to "a great tree").
- c. In the throes of the complications, "faith" typically falters in the face of the onslaught and then recovers itself in the redoubt.
- 2. For "recovery", the redoubt has to exist.
- II. Paul's Attempt to Fortify the Redoubt.
- A. The biblical claim is that the redoubt is God's own domain.
- 1. "Faith" is the outcome of God's execution of persuasion (1 Thessalonians 1:5).
- 2. Faith's sustainability is dependent upon God's active involvement.
- B. The apostle's claim is that God's active involvement includes bringing the necessary truths to light that can confound the lies of the onslaught.
- 1. As an "apostle", Paul was actively involved in being God's instrument in confronting and confounding the lies.
- 2. Paul's words in this letter are God's involvement.
- C. The "necessary truths" begin with a strong disclaimer of human corruption.
- 1. Paul's initial disclaimer is that his apostleship was "not from men".
- a. The essence of this disclaimer is that his "authentic representation" had no connections to "humanity".
- 1) His message has no element of human invention; it is the wisdom of God that stands as an abrupt contradiction of the wisdom of men.
- 2) The issue involved at this stage is the content of his message.
- b. In his explanation of his meaning of "not from men" he even includes other apostles in the "men" issue (1:17-19).
- c. His point is this: my apostleship makes your response to my message your response to God Himself.
- 1) Embracing my message is exactly equivalent to embracing God.
- 2) Departing from my message is exactly equivalent to departing from God.
- 3) The redoubt of the Galatians' "faith" is strengthened by the immediacy of their relationship with God.
- 2. His second disclaimer is that his apostleship was "not through man".
- a. The essence of this disclaimer is that his "authentic representation" involved no human agency.
- 1) At stake in this disclaimer is his identity rather than his message.
- 2) Paul's focus is upon a particular weakness in the Galatians' redoubt: the notion that if Paul's apostleship had its origins in the weakness of "agency", his message could not stand the test of truth.
- a) This raises the question of why this seemed important to Paul.
- i. 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?
- ii. The heart of this issue is God's use of intermediaries and the degree to which He is the guarantor of their activities (every step away from immediacy is a step away from certainty and the Bible does not even teach God as the guarantor of the behavior of apostles except as the instruments of the words of His message -- 1 Corinthians 9:27).
- iii. 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.
- iv. 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 because 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).
- b) 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.
- b. The point of this disclaimer is this: God's intention of maintaining immediacy is not compromised by any use of "man".