Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 1 Study # 14
June 5, 2011
10 Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do.
1901 ASV Translation:
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.]
- 4) There is a deliberate "the Gospel of the Uncircumcision" and "the Gospel of the Circumcision" reality.
- 5) There is a deliberate "apostleship of the circumcision" and an "apostleship of the nations" reality.
- 6) There is a deliberate insertion of divine activity. Paul's claim is that "...He that wrought effectually in Peter...the Same was mighty in me..." (AV).
- 7) There is a definite "knowing" reality that sponsored the extension of the right hands of fellowship.
- 8) There is a "remembrance of the poor" reality.
- a) The question here is this: what does this have to do with the essence of Paul's Gospel? In Luke's record, the apostles and elders, and particularly James, said two specific things: it is a subversion of the soul to insist upon circumcision and law-keeping (Acts 15:24); and, there are some "necessary things" -- abstain from meats offered to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication (Acts 15:29). On the face of it, this does not sound like "remember the poor".
- b) Clearly, Paul and Luke did not focus upon the same things. This does not mean that either one was misrepresenting the truth; it only means that of all of the things said, Paul intended to focus upon one thing and Luke wanted to focus upon another. Luke's record stayed in line with the "official letter" while Paul's inserted a different issue altogether.
- c) To understand what Paul was doing, we should remember that it was on the "second missionary journey" that Paul began his "collection for the poor in Jerusalem" (Romans 15:26). This was not "the poor" as a generic identification; it was the "poor saints" in Jerusalem who were struggling under the physical poverty of famine and ostracism. Also, this was not the first time Paul had been involved with taking relief items to Jerusalem (Acts 11:27-30 and 12:25).
- d) So, what does Paul's "only they would that we should remember the poor" contribute to his argument in Galatians 2 ?
- i. First, he had claimed that they added nothing to his Gospel, but he wanted to acknowledge that they did "ask" him for something. This is not an "addition" to the Gospel, per se, but it is a request that he include the needs of the poor in his teaching of those who embraced his message.
- ii. Second, that they asked him to remember the poor indicates that the problem of "poverty" was a matter of intense concern in Jerusalem.
- iii. Third, that Luke records that they asked something else also and Paul did not mention it indicates that either Paul did not think it was significant, or that he saw a correlation between what Luke recorded and what he recorded. There is such a correlation: being sensitive to the problems that Gentiles could create for Jews in the proclamation of the Gospel is an extension of being sensitive to the needs of others -- which is the heart of "remembering the poor". In fact, the Jews needed the Gentiles to do more than "keep from creating an offense"; they also needed their help.
- iv. Fourth, a casual reading of James 2 reveals that James had a very strong fixation upon the "poor" as the objects of God's special interest. Since James extended his right hand to Paul in fellowship, it would not have been out of line for him to seek Paul's help with the poverty of the people of God.
- v. When we boil all of this down in the light of the question of how this relates to Paul's Gospel, it seems that the point is this: Paul's Gospel was all about getting people to "live" and "living" simply must have the "heart" that is behind the Gospel. Therefore, the "Gospel" without its "heart" is, effectively, no Gospel at all. The "remembrance" of the poor is that "heart" ("...the poor have the Gospel preached to them..."; "...hath not God chosen the poor, rich in faith...", etc.). In other words, the Gospel of the grace of God is all about meeting the needs of those existing in the shadows of Death.
- e. According to Romans 15:26, Paul was engaged in keeping his word.