Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 1 Study # 11
Thesis: There is an absolute necessity for "faith" in the immediate activity of God within all of His creation if we are to walk in God's light.
Introduction: In both the Authorized Version and NASB translations of Galatians 2:8, we have the translators choosing to insert the word "effectually" into their translations of Paul's terminology with no justification for it. Because they, for whatever reason(s), did this, we are going to deal with what Paul was doing in this verse for the greater understanding of the Galatians so that we may better understand the work which God did, and continues to do.
May 15, 2011
- I. Some Background.
- A. The word the translators chose to translate "effectually worked" is used 21 times in the New Testament according to the word count in Strong's lexicon and the translators of the Authorized Version add the word "effectual" to it 4 times and translate it "be mighty" once.
- B. Paul used the word 4 times in Galatians and in none of the cases do we get the impression that a "mighty" or "effectual" work is really in view.
- 1. The word Paul used literally means "to expend energy".
- 2. The word is theologically tied to the word typically translated "God" in the Old Testament where the undercurrent is the execution of power or, to say it another way, the expenditure of energy.
- 3. The fact is that the expenditure of energy simply must be properly understood for us to be able to walk confidently with God in His light and translations that lead to false expectations characteristically also lead to a failure of faith.
- 4. In our text, Paul is not focused upon a matter of great difficulty that would require us to think in terms of God being "effectual" or "mighty", nor is he in Galatians 5:6 (one of the remaining two contexts in Galatians where the word is used).
- 5. The only text in Galatians where the idea of extraordinary "work" is involved is Galatians 3:5, but we do not get the idea of extraordinary work from the verb "works" but, rather, from the word "miracles".
- C. We live in a world that universally dismisses the presence of the God of the Bible except in, perhaps, unusual cases of rather spectacular results and that universal dismissal has rubbed off on believers to a significant degree.
- II. Paul's Teaching in Galatians 2:8.
- A. He begins by bringing "God" into the picture in a particular way.
- 1. It was Paul's habit to keep God in the picture in his own mind and heart at all times and we can see this in 2:6 where he justifies his own attitudes by expressing his understanding of God's attitudes.
- 2. It was also Paul's understanding that the Galatians had removed God from their picture at a particularly significant point: 1:6.
- a. It is one thing to call God "Mother Nature" when speaking of what God does in the physical creation.
- b. It is altogether another thing to misconstrue God's character when speaking of the particulars of salvation and eternal life.
- 3. The "particular way" of Paul's inclusion of God in our verse involves God's use of energy.
- 4. The focus of this use of energy is in the issue of how God goes about imparting the gifts of the Spirit to men and particularly the gift of apostleship.
- a. This is not presented in the New Testament as a particularly difficult act, and the issue of difficulty is not in view in Paul's text.
- b. The issue in 2:8 is the similitude of God's use of energy in regard to Peter and Paul.
- B. He continues by putting forth the work of God in producing an "apostle" named Peter.
- 1. There is an assumption in Paul's words of a kind of "no-debate" reality in regard to this particular apostle (Peter).
- a. The church in Jerusalem had already given Peter their recognition of his apostleship.
- b. There was no one within Christendom who denied that Peter was an apostle.
- c. There was no one outside of Christendom who denied Peter's place of prominence in the Church.
- 2. This assumption is critical to Paul's argument.
- C. He goes further by claiming that God had done the same work in respect to him.
- 1. His claim in not that God had done the same work in terms of the "recognition" factor.
- a. Peter's recognition by the Church was a work of God accomplished.
- b. Paul's recognition by the Church was a work in progress.
- 2. His claim was that the same result was accomplished: he was an apostle who was, as the Authorized Version translators render it, "not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles" (2 Corinthians 11:5).
- a. At issue here is that Paul was adamant that anyone who altered, or rejected, his explanation of the Gospel was eternally doomed and denied the experience of Life.
- b. The Galatians needed to understand the lesser and greater truths involved: eternal condemnation is the "lesser" truth; eternal life is the "greater" truth.
- c. The issue of Paul's Gospel is not fundamentally escape from eternal condemnation (though that is often the only thing that non-believers can grasp), but participation in eternal Life.
- III. Paul's Point For the Galatians.
- A. It is not about condemnation.
- B. It is about participation in Eternal Life.
- 1. The issue of participation is multi-faceted, but its focus is upon being able to understand Who God is, What He is like, and How He will go about expending power.
- 2. Paul's "point" for the Galatians is that they have abandoned Him Who is their life in a very real and particular sense.
- 3. At issue is the degree to which God is involved in what happens to us day by day unto eternity.
- a. This is not the same thing as being able to identify God's involvement in the specific particulars (Ecclesiastes 8:17).
- b. It is, rather, to be confident that God is involved.
- 1) To the degree that one is not confident of this reality the experience of Life will be diminished.
- 2) To the degree that one is confident the experience of Life will be enhanced.
- c. The confidence keeps us from idolatry.