Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 1 Study # 7
Thesis: The message trumps the messenger.
Introduction: In our studies of Galatians we have been pretty focused upon Paul's claim that his apostleship was not "connected" to humanity in terms of source or instrumentality. In this study, we are going to think about Paul's emphasis upon his apostleship in the light of his willingness to dismiss the identities of James, Cephas, and John as of significant importance.
April 17, 2011
- I. The Setting.
- A. The situation was focused upon the heart of the human side of the methodology of the Gospel's promise of Eternal Life.
- 1. The divine side is fixed: Christ died for our sins and rose again on the third day.
- 2. The human side is debated: what are the particulars of man's response to the facts God accomplished in human history?
- a. Exactly what does a man have to "do" in order to have God apply the death of Jesus to his account?
- b. Can a man be "justified" before God if, going in, he fully intends to retain his own agenda and methods?
- c. How does refusal to "obey" certain commands fit into the human "faith" issue?
- B. The situation was complicated by the actual presence of men whose reputations were such that they were given "the say so" over the Church.
- 1. Those who "seemed" to be in the position to determine the doctrine of God's Church are identified as James, Cephas, and John (2:2 and 2:9).
- 2. These "seemers" had permitted certain corrupt influences to exist in the Church in Jerusalem for at least sixteen years so that the conflict had risen to the point described by Luke in Acts 15 and by Paul in Galatians 2.
- a. This is no small thing because Paul's claim that the heart of the methodology of the human side of things was being corrupted is true.
- b. We could argue that if James, Cephas, and John had done their jobs all along, this conflict would have never reached this point.
- C. The situation was further complicated by the fact that the "seemers" and Paul were working off of their identities as "apostles".
- D. And the situation had developed to the point that Paul absolutely refused to "budge an inch" on the details of the doctrine of the human response to God's actions in history.
- II. Paul's Theology.
- A. First, he laid claim to the fact that God "accepts no man's appearances".
- 1. This is important because, in dealing with others, all men have to go on is "man's appearances".
- 2. This is important because it establishes the fact that God only "accepts" what He "sees" at the level of heart/mind/soul/spirit (Hebrews 4:12).
- B. Then, he used that "T"heology to, essentially, dismiss the typical impact of the apostolic identity in others as of serious import.
- 1. The dismissal is rendered in terms of whether the overt identity would be allowed to "carry through" in the debate.
- 2. The dismissal was Paul's "application" of "T"heology to his own situation.
- III. Our Problem With Paul's Argument.
- A. First, it seems to have problems at the "application" level: just because God can dismiss outward appearances does not mean that men can.
- B. Second, it seems to disrupt Paul's own claim to apostolic identity: if he can dismiss that identity in others, can they not dismiss it in him?
- IV. Paul's Solution.
- A. Begins with the tried and true Word of God.
- 1. Historically illumined divine revelation is trustworthy (Psalm 22:16 declares the reality, history shows its most particular meaning).
- 2. 1 Kings 13:18 reveals the problem and Acts 17:11 reveals the solution (Note the similarity between 1 Kings 13:18 and Galatians 1:8).
- B. Hangs upon the essential meaning of "apostle".
- 1. The gift of "apostleship" is not a guarantee of accurate proclamation.
- 2. The gift of "apostleship" is a guarantee of accurate understanding.
- a. There is a parallel here with the biblical doctrine of inerrant inspiration (no guarantee of inerrant understanding).
- b. There is a deliberate refusal to permit men to turn a Relational God into a Machine.
- 1) The only people who will understand what is inerrantly revealed are they who seek relational harmony (this answers the questions regarding those who will be justified by God -- only those who seek relational harmony with Him).
- 2) Divine revelation must be interpreted "relationally" in order to be properly understood.