Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 2 Study # 1
Thesis: Departing from God the Father is a radical action motivated by an unwillingness to put aside the desire to be considered "worthy" of blessedness.
Introduction: Now that we have concluded our studies in the introduction to the letter to the Galatians, we are ready to proceed into the main body of the letter.
As we read the words of 1:6 we note two things immediately: there is a marked shift in tone; and Paul decided to call a spade a spade. By way of comparison, the first letter to the Corinthians, with whom Paul had many conflicts, opens with a very gracious and complimentary commentary on the Corinthians' strong points, but in this letter, the opening words are a stunning confrontation. The reason seems obvious from verses 8-9, but it stuns us nonetheless.
For our consideration tonight, we are going to look into what Paul said about the remarkable reality in Galatia.
October 10, 2010
- I. The Description of the Apostle's Reaction.
- A. Paul's word, "I am amazed" (NASB) is only used by him twice in all of his letters and signals a rare reality.
- 1. The word, as it is used in the New Testament, carries two major concepts.
- a. In its uses in narrative literature, it presents the reaction of people who have never had to deal with a like-event before (Matthew 9:33).
- b. In these uses there is a variety of attendant reactions, but the major one seems to be a mental questing for possible explanations (Matthew 8:27).
- 2. Paul's use contains both of these elements.
- a. He was clearly stunned by the Galatians' behavior as a non-typical action of people who had believed the Gospel.
- b. He also clearly revealed that he was involved in mental questing for some kind of explanation (4:11 and 20).
- 3. The picture we get from Paul's statement of reaction is of a man who is having a very difficult experience.
- a. From Romans 9:3 we understand that Paul was given to extreme commitments.
- b. From 1 Thessalonians 2:7 we understand that he made these commitments quickly.
- c. From our text we conclude that Paul was also being forced to make some sharp "T"heological distinctions.
- 1) On the one hand, the Galatians' behavior challenged Paul's theology of the level of commitment by "the Father".
- a) The Galatians were "near to an eternal curse".
- b) The question is this: to what degree does "the Father" withdraw from His children?
- 2) On the other hand, the Galatians' behavior challenged Paul's theology of the impact that conversion makes upon human beings in the realm of "Love".
- a) He declared to the Romans that the first impact of conversion was the flooding of the heart with a "love of God" reality (5:5).
- b) He declares in this letter that this flooding of the heart results in an "Abba" reality (4:6).
- 3) What does the "thusly, quickly" behavior of the Galatians really mean in terms of what the Father does at regeneration?
- II. The Description of the Galatians' Behavior.
- A. The first part of the description involves his words "so quickly".
- 1. The linguistic possibilities are of two major kinds.
- a. An adverb modifying another adverb.
- b. Two adverbs modifying a verb.
- 2. I have opted for the latter.
- a. Paul is describing the Galatian behavior in terms of "methodology" ("in this particular manner") because the issue is "being summoned by grace" and they are turning from "grace" in their behavior.
- b. Paul is also describing the Galatian behavior in terms of "speed" because the time frame involved was relatively short.
- 1) The New Testament is full of evidence that people typically drift from God over time.
- 2) The shocker is in the fact that this drift was at a most profound level that moves right up to the cusp of cursedness.
- B. The second part of the description involves his word "deserting".
- 1. The verb is actually a passive voice verb which is used twice in Hebrews 11:5, once in the passive voice and once in the active.
- a. This, in conjunction with verse seven's "there be some that trouble you", indicates that the desertion is not wholly their fault.
- b. Their "fault" was in being attracted to the false teaching.
- 2. The word is used in the New Testament to indicate a significant change of some kind.
- a. Hebrews 7:12 speaks of an alteration of the priesthood.
- b. Jude 4 speaks of an alteration of the meaning of grace.
- 3. Paul's use in our text identifies the alteration as "being caused" and as having to do with distance in a relationship.
- C. The third part of the description involves his focus upon grace.
- 1. The description of "the Father" as "the One Who called you" is deliberately tied to the method of the calling: by grace.
- 2. This concept is expanded a bit in 3:2.
- D. The conclusion: the Galatians were rapidly putting distance between themselves and God because of pressure from without regarding the grace of God.