Chapter # 4 Paragraph # 3 Study # 3
Thesis: Being "blessed" and being motivated by "blessedness" are not the same thing.
Introduction: This paragraph is an appeal by Paul to the Galatians to return to the experience of "Life". He, clearly, is "living in Truth" and they, just as clearly, are "dying in delusion". And, they possess a "delusion indicator" that makes their current experience all the more inexcusable: their former experience. In the text before us this evening Paul raises a question in light of their former experience and, by that question, makes it impossible for the Galatians to justify themselves so as to continue their course.
This evening we are going to look into this "telling" question in the light of a follow-up observation.
September 9, 2012
- I. The Follow-Up Observation.
- A. Paul "bears witness" to them about them.
- 1. His claim is pretty radical: they would have plucked out their eyes for him.
- a. If this is taken as hyperbole, the point is lost.
- b. If this is taken as an actual willingness there has to be a sufficient Producer of such sacrificial willingness.
- 1) It is Paul's theology that there is no good motivation in an Adamic person: all is "all about me".
- 2) It is Paul's theology that the "good" motivation that finds expression in and through a human being is produced by the Spirit of God in the form of "Love".
- c. If this is taken as a description of the Galatians' former attitude, it is a declaration that they knew of it (they were cognizant of their wish to help Paul in his weakness).
- d. If they knew of it, they also knew something had transformed their inner "life" and made it "good".
- 2. His claim means that they would have to admit to the legitimacy of his "witness" concerning them.
- B. Paul argues that their former state is better than their current one and that they know it.
- 1. The former state is an "attitude" of heart and mind.
- 2. The former state assumed that the fulfillment of the "attitude" would be costly, and they did not "mind" that.
- II. The Question.
- A. Centers around two issues: what is "blessedness" and why is it not present?
- 1. What is this "blessedness"?
- a. In the New Testament there is an adjective that is directly tied to this noun.
- 1) The noun is only used three times; the adjective is used forty-nine times.
- 2) The adjective is used in multiple contexts where two factors show up very clearly.
- a) One of those factors is the reality that the present experience is not considered "good" or "desirable".
- b) The second of those factors is the reality that the future experience that will inevitably arise from the present experience is set in stone and that that future is both "good" and "desirable".
- 3) The noun is used three times by Paul and two of those times are in Romans 4 where the issue is a "state" of blessedness that involved being totally removed from the expression by God of any of His "Justice" related attributes.
- a) Romans 4:6-8 expressly ties "blessedness" to being "imputed" with righteousness apart from works and, conversely, having God actually refuse to "impute" sin to one who is clearly guilty of both iniquities and sins.
- b) Romans 4:9 expressly ties "blessedness" to God's willingness to "reckon" faith as a legitimate substitute for "doing righteousness".
- c) Neither of these two texts clearly indicates any "sense" of the actual "state".
- 4) The noun in our Galatians text is closely tied to the Galatians' willingness to pluck out their eyes simply because Paul seems to have need of them.
- a) This means that, though it is possible to be in a "state" of blessedness without any awareness, it is not normal.
- b) This also means that if a person is in a "state" of blessedness and is unaware of it, something bad has happened.
- i. Paul says the "something bad" is having departed from Him Who called them (1:6).
- ii. In a closer text, 4:17 indicates that the "something bad" is wanting to have the good opinion of men whose opinions are worthless and manipulative.