Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 1 Study # 9
May 1, 2011
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:
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 Nine: Jerusalem's Response. [The first eight parts: The "fourteen years"; The issue of "going up to Jerusalem"; Barnabas and Titus; The divine mandate; Paul's action; The key result; The false brethren; and Paul's response.]
- A. Jerusalem's Response.
- 1. This response is "from those who seemed to be something".
- 2. This response was: "to me they added nothing".
- 3. This response was: "they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship".
- a. This declaration is loaded on the front end with "clarifications". It is found at the end of 2:9, but its "prelude" begins in 2:7.
- b. Those "clarifications" line up along this path...
- 1) There was a "no additions" (see I.A.2. above) reality in which the "seemers" (those who "seemed" to be something special in the leadership in Jerusalem) did not insist upon, or (perhaps) even mention, any particulars that Paul was omitting, or (perhaps) down playing, in his proclamation of the Gospel among the nations. It is hard to see how this is not a critical blow to those who would "add" circumcision, or law-keeping, to the Gospel.
- 2) There is a "but (Greek's strongest adversative) on the other hand" reality that emphasizes the contrast between what might have been expected (some "addition" that would strengthen the apostle Paul's proclamation) and what actually happened (not only did they not "add", they "embraced").
- 3) There is a "when they saw the gospel was entrusted to me" reality that stands as a declaration that they came to clearly understand in a way, perhaps, that they had not before (after 16-17 years). [It is hard for me to understand how Paul could have been functioning for so long with Barnabas alongside and those in Jerusalem not knowing what he was preaching.]
- a) Paul's use of this term in Galatians is instructive. The translators of the AV bounce between "saw" (1:19; 2:7, 14; and 6:11) and "know" (2:16; 4:8, 13) and, by that, reveal a certain elasticity in their understanding of the word. In some texts, the literal "eyes" are being used; in others, the "eyes" are not in the mix at all. This strongly implies that "seeing" is a matter of "mental activity until there is some degree of clarity of understanding".
- b) What the "seemers" "saw" was nothing physical; rather, it was a perception of a conceptual reality ("I was entrusted with...") that had nothing to do with "eyes" and everything to do with "clear understanding". This means that, in Galatians, "seeing" is a matter of coming to grips with Truth in its most fundamental "fact" as well as a certain number of implications running out from that "fact". For example, in 3:1, where Paul does not use "see", but does use a metaphor that stands in the same place, he clearly expects that the central "fact" that Jesus was crucified is supposed to be allowed to "run out" to the conclusion that one's "works" cannot be mixed into the "salvation" methodology.
- c) What the "seemers" saw was that Paul was an "entrusted" person.
- i. The One doing the "entrusting" is clearly God and the one being "entrusted" is clearly Paul.
- ii. The only "wiggle room" for Paul's opponents is in the area of his motives and, with only behavior to go on, this gives them no basis for opposition as he clearly reveals in both 1 Corinthians 15:10 and 2 Corinthians 11:23-33. Because Paul turns the table on his adversaries both in Galatians 2:12 (where he declared Peter's motives out of his observations of his behavior) and Galatians 6:12 (where he declared the motives of those who "constrain you to be circumcised"), it is clear that those driven by false motives are unwilling to sacrifice in order to stand firm on their doctrines. Thus, the "wiggle room" is no "room" at all.
- iii. The verb, "was committed", is actually the typical verb for "to believe" and is in the first person. This means it is not, as the Authorized Version renders it, "...the gospel...was committed unto me...", but, rather, "...I was 'believed' unto the gospel..." (a rather awkward English expression that means, in Greek, that "I" was trusted with the communication of the Gospel). The ASV rendering is better: "...I had been entrusted with the gospel...". The point is this: the "seemers" saw that God trusted Paul with the accurate communication of the Gospel.
- iv. The question here is this: How did they so see? Clearly, their "eyes" had a lesser part to play than something else. What was that something? The ring of Truth. The gift of "apostleship" is a gift that supernaturally aligns the logic of particular statements with the logic of omniscience so that the possessor of the gift inerrantly understands that logic. When Paul made his case in the mix of "much debate" (Acts 15:7), those who possessed the gift of apostleship "saw" with their hearts/minds/gift that Paul was absolutely, inerrantly, on target.
- v. The next question is this: To what degree do all who believe also have the ability to "see"? Clearly, from Acts 15:5, those Pharisees "who believed" either did not "see", or they were perverse in that they "saw" but refused to yield to their understanding. John told his readers that they had "an unction from the Holy One" so that they "knew" (literally "see") all things (1 John 2:20 and 2:27). Paul, in Galatians, refuses to acknowledge these "believers" as brethren (2:4) and, by that, takes away from them the "unction from the Holy One" so that, though they certainly "believed" something, it was not the Gospel (as attested by their own mouths in Acts 15:5 where they demanded "additions" to Paul's message that Peter said were "testing God" in Acts 15:10). The conclusion we draw is that "believers" whose trust is actually in the God of the Gospel are given the Spirit so that they all can "see" to some degree -- not to the extent of "apostles", but necessarily to the extent of understanding that grace excludes human obedience factors -- whether those factors are circumcision and law-keeping, or water baptism and church attendance, or any other kind of human obedience issues as a methodology for obtaining grace from God. The true Gospel has always made human obedience issues the outcome of the new birth, not the root of it.