Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 1 Study # 9
Thesis: Men can only "see" God's attitudes when they are made clear by His gracious gifts.
Introduction: We have been looking into the response Paul got from those who had been exalted into the positions of indisputable leaders in the Church at Jerusalem. We have seen that having the positions of influence has two major factors because the issue of influence is the hearts and minds of men. In the final analysis, "influence" is the ability of a man to get another man to embrace a way of thinking and a course of action. For this to occur, the one "influenced" has to grant the ability of the one doing the influence to that one. This "granting", however, is a complicated issue that, none the less, boils down to two factors: the alignment of the "loves" of the grantor and the grantee; and the alignment of the "beliefs" of the grantor and the grantee. That means that we need to understand how such "alignment" takes place. There are too many factors involved for us to consider them all, but it is clear that Paul is dealing with this issue in his text and context (he "influenced" the "seemers" in Jerusalem and then used his success to attempt to "influence" the Galatians). Thus, we are going to look into those elements of the issue that are at play in Paul's statement about how the "influencers" were induced to "be influenced" by his arguments concerning the content of the Gospel.
May 1, 2011
- I. The Clearest Textual Factors.
- A. The text emphasizes certain "human" factors.
- 1. Paul's claim in 2:2 is that he "placed upon" (ana tithemi) the "seemers" the Gospel in terms of what he preached among the nations.
- 2. Paul's claim in 2:6 is that when he had so "placed upon" them, they added (pros ana tithemi) nothing.
- 3. Paul's claim is that between 2:2 and 2:6 there was a heated debate within the circle of the "seemers" that was generated by "false brethren" in which Paul would not budge an inch.
- 4. From these facts we can draw certain conclusions from the human side of things.
- a. First, when "apostles" meet "apostles", the only things that can cause "debate" are ignorance or unfaithfulness.
- 1) Because apostles do not have omniscience, nor do they have the same experience and exposure, they may initially disagree with one another until there has been time to allow further explanation to occur (hence, the value of "much debate").
- 2) Once sufficient "debate" has occurred to bring the issues into clear focus, the only reason for continued disagreement would be unfaithfulness.
- b. Second, what is going on in "debate" is the surfacing of the issues so that one can ferret out what is "true" and what is "deception".
- 1) Because of the complexity of the interactions between human "brains" and "minds" and the absence of omniscience, there is a need for "debate" to clear out the unnecessary mental interference.
- 2) Once the field is cleared of interference, "logic" can run from one detail to the next and then to the next, etc..
- B. The text emphasizes certain "divine" factors.
- 1. Because the interaction in Jerusalem involved "apostles" as well as "other influencers", we have to understand God's gift of "apostleship": an ability to reason consistently from one clear fact to the next without the interference of competing false "loves" and "beliefs".
- a. This involves what I have called a "clear fact".
- 1) It goes without saying that "clarity" is in the eyes of the beholder.
- 2) It also goes without saying that Paul's Gospel includes a definitive declaration that human clarity about divine reality is rooted in divine illumination (2 Corinthians 4:6 and 1 Corinthians 2:13).
- b. This involves what I have called "reasoning without interference".
- 1) It goes without saying that "reasoning" is often complicated by the almost instantaneous reaction of the heart/mind complex as it identifies the dangers and benefits of certain "facts".
- 2) It also goes without saying that "reasoning" will invariably go off track if God does not input His own "Love/Faith" realities into the process so that what He values and knows as true is not exalted above human fears and lusts.
- c. The gift of "apostle" was a supernatural ability to "reason" without interference (God's necessary input).
- 2. Because the interaction in Jerusalem resulted in "apostles" agreeing with "apostles", we know that God exalted His "Love/Faith" realities in that setting.
- a. The setting was set up by God by His "revelation" to Paul that it was time to go up to Jerusalem (2:2).
- b. The setting was intended by God to make it possible for the Gospel to "remain" in the possession of the Church (2:5).
- II. The Outcomes of the Work of God Within the Context of Human Factors.
- A. First, the specific elements of the Gospel were nailed down.
- B. Second, the principles of a positive human response were illuminated.
- 1. Human discussion about the issues where there is disagreement.
- 2. Divine input into the process so that agreement can arise.
- III. The Implications of This Biblical Example.
- A. There is no good reason for major disagreements to remain between faithful believers.
- 1. The question is this: To what degree do all who believe also have the ability to "see"?
- a. 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.
- b. From 1 John 2:20 and 27, John told his readers that they had "an unction from the Holy One" so that they "knew" (literally "see") all things.
- c. 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).
- d. 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.
- e. The true Gospel has always made human obedience issues the outcome of the new birth, not the root of it.
- 2. The biblical mandate for disagreements involves several steps of "debate" that are to culminate in a definitive decision that either brings harmony by persuasion, or by exclusion.
- B. Disagreements need to be understood in terms of "impact" and "time".
- 1. What is at stake?
- 2. When is it time to force the issue?