Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 1 Study # 5
April 3, 2011
4 And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage:
5 To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.
6 But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man's person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me:
7 But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter;
8 (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:)
9 And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.
10 Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do.
1901 ASV Translation:
4 and that because of the false brethren privily brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage:
5 to whom we gave place in the way of subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.
6 But from those who were reputed to be somewhat (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth not man's person)-they, I say, who were of repute imparted nothing to me:
7 but contrariwise, when they saw that I had been intrusted with the gospel of the uncircumcision, even as Peter with the gospel of the circumcision
8 (for he that wrought for Peter unto the apostleship of the circumcision wrought for me also unto the Gentiles);
9 and when they perceived the grace that was given unto me, James and Cephas and John, they who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship, that we should go unto the Gentiles, and they unto the circumcision;
10 only they would that we should remember the poor; which very thing I was also zealous to do.
- I. Paul's Confrontational Clarification of the Gospel in Jerusalem Part Seven: the False Brethren. [The first six parts: The "fourteen years"; The issue of "going up to Jerusalem"; Barnabas and Titus; The divine mandate; Paul's action; and The key result.]
- A. They are identified by Paul as "false brethren", but by Luke as "Pharisees who had believed" (Acts 15:5).
- B. Their goals.
- 1. They came in to "spy out our liberty".
- 2. They wished to "bring us into bondage".
- a. What does it really mean to be "in bondage"?
- 1) Paul's "bondage" terminology.
- a) In Galatians...
- i. In 2:4 he used a term only used twice in the New Testament (katadouloo).
- ii. In 4:3 he used the reduced intensity term "douloo". In this context he calls it "bondage" to be a "servant" (4:1 -- doulos) and describes what he means by saying that one in bondage is "under tutors and governors" appointed by the "father". This boils down to one issue: being forced to do what "others" demand without regard for one's own wishes. He says this is necessary because those so subjected are "children" (too ignorant of what is truly valuable or true to be allowed to set the agenda and pursue it).
- iii. In 4:9 he used the verbal form "douleuo". In this context, "bondage" is identified as being subject to "weak and beggarly elements" that, at the least, have no ability to empower "Life" and, at the most, reject the "knowing/being known" reality of a relationship with the Executor of Power.
- iv. In 4:24 he used the noun form "douleia". At issue here is the "problem" of being subject to another's whims while being under a threat of severe consequences if those whims are not pursued.
- v. In 4:25 he returned to the verbal form "douleuo". This is Paul's application of his "allegory" wherein he says that being under the law (4:21) is the heart of "slavery" (constrained by threat).
- vi. In 5:1 he returned to the noun form "douleia". This text constitutes a summons to refuse to go back to the "legal" mentality and fall, again, into "unwilling constraint".
- b) In other New Testament texts.
- i. Romans 8:15 identifies one of the fundamental issues of "bondage": fear. Note Hebrews 2:15. The issue here is the intense emotional conflict of being threatened with a total loss of the "loved" entity.
- ii. Romans 8:21 identifies another: inescapability.
- iii. 1 Corinthians 7:15 identifies a third: Inability.
- 2) "Bondage" terminology in other New Testament authors.
- a) 2 Peter 2:19 involves a fourth issue: being "constrained" to do things that are in direct contradiction to the individual's own grasp of the laws of corruption (Titus 2:3 uses the terminology, "being enslaved to much wine").
- b) Matthew 6:24 puts forth the idea taught all over the New Testament that humanity was created to be a "servant class", just like the angels (Hebrews 1:14).
- 3) From a consideration of the opposite of "liberty", we can say that "bondage" boils down to either being forced to act against one's desire, or to being subjected to guilt and condemnation because one "failed" the "leader" by doing the "desirable thing" instead of the "demanded thing".
- a) This is, fundamentally, a "love" issue.
- b) Being a "love" issue means, then, that this is a "faith" issue. At root in all "loves" is the "belief" that there is "Life" only in obtaining the "love objective" and that there can be no "Life" in being denied.
- 4) At root is the fact that "bondage" consists of being driven. The Ultimate Executor of Power does not give a consistent flow of power to those who seek false goals, neither does He grant peace of mind and joyful satisfaction to those who are enslaved to corruption (2 Peter 2:19), i.e., they are driven to chase their goals by vain means. Ultimate "bondage" is being subjected to "hateful things" without recourse (no possibility of escape of any kind): Matthew 10:28.
- 5) There are, then, four major issues.
- a) There is the issue of irresistible compulsion.
- b) There is the "fear" issue wherein the compulsion arises from a completely self-absorbed perspective ("perfect love casteth out all fear": 1 John 4:18).
- c) There is the issue of being "forced" to do the "undesirable" (either an unloved goal, or a pursuit by a vain means).
- d) There is the issue of being "unable" to escape the consequences of the tension between being "constrained to do" and being "unable/unwilling to do".
- e) The ultimate bottom line of "bondage" is being required to do what one simply cannot do and then being painfully punished for the failure, or being constrained to do what one knows is personally destructive and then having the knowledge confirmed by the destruction. "Bondage", in the negative sense, is, at root, the inner torment that exists by reason of the competition of values/beliefs within the person (i.e., the "absence of joy").
- b. How does a "false brother" profit from bringing a true brother into slavery?
- 1) Galatians 4:17 gives at least a partial answer: "false brethren" are out to build a following that uses the followers for the benefit of the leader's "ego-lust".
- 2) Galatians 5:11 and 6:12-13 give another aspect of the answer: "false brethren" wish to live "the good life" on the backs of all whom they are able to lock into their "flock": using the contributions of the flock to pursue the lusts of the flesh and eyes.