Chapter # 4 Paragraph # 3 Study # 1
Thesis: Paul "begged" the Galatians to adopt his "life attitude".
Introduction: This evening we are going to launch into another segment of Paul's letter to the Galatians. I have identified the parameters of this segment as 4:12 to 4:20. Even though there are several ideas in this section, I kept them together primarily because 4:20 ends on the same note as 4:11: a statement by the apostle regarding his ambivalence toward the Galatians in respect to their "faith".
This paragraph makes the second consecutive case that the apostle does not have a sufficiently strong foundation for considering the Galatians to be "believers". This is in spite of the fact that his words clearly indicate that he is giving them the benefit of the doubt in that regard, calling them "brethren" even in this opening statement. That he is ambivalent about the true nature of their state is made even more evident when we understand what he was "pleading" with them to do as he launches into this body of his letter. Thus, we are making our goal this evening to try to understand what it was that he was seeking from them.
August 26, 2012
- I. This "What" Is Significantly Important.
- A. There are several words available to Paul to allow him to call upon the Galatians to give heed to his words, one of which is notable for the level of importance of the issues involved as illustrated in 2 Corinthians 5:20 (reconciliation) and Romans 12:1 (commitment to growth).
- B. The word Paul chose is one where the contexts invariably indicate a kind of "desperation" in the person using it (invariably "quality of life" issues and, occasionally, "life and death" issues).
- C. This involves a racheting up of the issues to a level way past "ho hum".
- II. Identifying This "What" Is a Task Requiring Us to Consider His Flow of Words.
- A. Initially, Paul "begs" the Galatians to "become as I".
- B. Then he goes on to describe his "as I" state of being.
- 1. Completely committed to his commission in regard to the message (4:13).
- a. The grammar indicates that Paul preached the Gospel "because of" a weakness of the flesh.
- 1) The backdrop to this claim is the record of Acts 14, particularly 14:19: Paul was stoned at Lystra.
- a) The fact that this kind of reception often attended Paul's preaching was the most probable cause of John Mark's refusal to continue with them (Acts 13:5 and 13 compared with 15:36-41).
- b) At issue is this fact: preaching the Gospel could get a person killed.
- 2) At issue is the fact that Paul recovered from, at the least, the appearance of death so that he went on to Derbe and, afterward, returned through the cities of Galatia.
- 3) Apparently Paul viewed this stoning as having created a certain form of 'weakness' that became the basis for his further ministry in Galatia.
- b. Bottom line: Paul is declaring that his preaching, occasioned by his sufferings, was clear evidence of a "something" that needs to exist in the heart of every believer.
- 1) "Become as I" is no toothless summons.
- 2) Becoming "as Paul" means that there has to be a core of faith that transcends every other consideration in this life.
- a) Paul was fully aware of the fact that his message called for this "core of faith".
- b) He was also fully aware of the fact that some would side-step this "core" because of its inevitabilities (2 Timothy 3:12 compared with Galatians 6:12).
- c) His summons to the Galatians put them "on notice": the faith that saves does not exist in those who distort its content in order to escape its inevitabilities.
- i. There is a distinction between the example of John Mark and that of the Galatians in that the fear that drove John Mark stopped him from proclaiming the message, but the fear that faced the Galatians involved getting into the proclamation of "another gospel": in other words, there are degrees of resistance to the summons.
- ii. There is also a distinction between Mark and the Galatians in regard to the actual existence of the core of faith in a person [a weak, but existing, core will produce a serious vacillation, but an absent core will produce an active opposition].
- 2. "As you..."