Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 1 Study # 1
Thesis: Paul's second major argument for the truth of his Gospel concerns God's focus upon His exaltation of Paul's explanation of the Gospel over that of those who compromise "Grace".
Introduction: In our studies of the bulk of chapter one, we were compelled by Paul's words to consider the legitimacy of his understanding of the Gospel under the thesis that it is not "of" or "through" men, but is "by" direct revelation from Jesus, the Christ. His arguments focused upon two major issues: the profound differences in the realms of values and beliefs that a genuine faith in the Gospel produce; and the effective impossibility of Paul's preaching as an outcome of God's typical use of human intermediaries. It is Luke's record, and Paul's argument, that Saul of Tarsus became a major player in the establishment of local churches without ever having had any real opportunity to obtain his message from anyone other than Jesus Christ.
There will be a somewhat different focus for our attention in our studies of chapter two. In this chapter, the issue is not "whence came the message?", but "what is its historical validation?" There are two parts to the answer: first, Paul's message was validated in Jerusalem by the apostles and elders of the "original" Church; and, second, Paul's message was validated in Antioch by Paul's effective confrontation of Peter, the recognized leader of the "original" Church, when he strayed from its basis in Grace.
This evening we are going to look into the beginning of this second prong of Paul's presentation. We must keep in mind that his intention is to get his readers to make a definitive commitment of heart and mind to the Gospel so that it can do for them what it did for him. The issue of "definitive commitment" is one: the cessation of resistance in the heart and mind so that there are no obstacles to what the Lord wishes to do through those who believe. In the biblical concept of repentance, the issue is the building of a level highway into the heart of man so that the Lord can move into that place without obstructions. In the biblical concept of faith, the issue is the use of that highway by the indwelling Lord to move outward to accomplish His objectives through His purchased possessions.
March 6, 2011
- I. The Time Reference.
- A. The initial time reference in 1:18 was a significant part of his argument that his message did not come to him by, or through, human agency.
- B. This second time reference has nothing to do with that initial argument for one reason: there was ample opportunity in the "fourteen years" for Paul to rub shoulders with many who could have "corrected" his grasp of the Gospel if there had been any necessity for that (see Acts 18:24-26 for an example of such "correction" of a mighty preacher).
- 1. According to Acts 11:30 and 12:25 Barnabas and Saul went to Jerusalem during this period.
- 2. This second reference is not "about" whence Paul got his message.
- C. The main point of this second time reference is this: in the "fourteen years" of Paul's preaching and church planting, there was no objection to his message from the leadership of the Church in Jerusalem.
- 1. By anyone's standard, "fourteen years" is a long period of time for Paul to be involved in the progress of God's Church.
- 2. By anyone's logic, "fourteen years" of acquiescent silence from Jerusalem is sufficient evidence that the "Church" had no problem with what Paul was preaching.
- 3. The point of this reference is Paul's argument that his message was deemed "true" by the "Church".
- II. This Significant Trip.
- A. It was, again, related to "Jerusalem".
- 1. In our earlier study of this particular term for "Jerusalem", we made a case for the fact that "Jerusalem" was established by God to be the geographical place where one could discover the Truth of God.
- 2. In regard to this trip, two things stand out.
- a. The purpose of the trip was to nail down the issue of the Gospel as "of Grace" (Acts 15:1-2).
- b. The instigation of the trip was divine revelation (Galatians 2:2).
- 1) This is the same terminology as 1:12.
- 2) The point is the same: "God" is the Big Gun.
- a) For those with any understanding at all, "God" is the final court of appeal; there is no greater authority.
- b) When men play the "God" card, they are doing two things: they are claiming absolute truth; and they are squelching any argument, or debate.
- 3. God's insistence upon the Gospel being clarified in Jerusalem indicates that it is still His intention that "Truth" have its roots in "Jerusalem" (note Isaiah 2:3).
- B. It was undertaken by Paul, Barnabas, and Titus.
- 1. The significance of "Paul" is obvious: it is his message that is under scrutiny and attack.
- 2. The significance of "Barnabas" is also obvious: he was the original surrogate of the Jerusalem Church (Acts 11:22) for the preaching of the Gospel in Syrian Antioch.
- 3. The significance of "Titus" is not as obvious until Galatians 2:3: he becomes the "poster child" of the "Grace" movement.