Chapter # 4 Paragraph # 3 Study # 4
September 16, 2012
16 Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?
17 They zealously affect you, but not well; yea, they would exclude you, that ye might affect them.
18 But it is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing, and not only when I am present with you.
19 My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,
20 I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I stand in doubt of you.
1901 ASV Translation:
16 So then am I become your enemy, by telling you the truth?
17 They zealously seek you in no good way; nay, they desire to shut you out, that ye may seek them.
18 But it is good to be zealously sought in a good matter at all times, and not only when I am present with you.
19 My little children, of whom I am again in travail until Christ be formed in you
20 but I could wish to be present with you now, and to change my tone; for I am perplexed about you.
- I. Becoming an Enemy.
- A. At the core of the notion of an "enemy" is the persuasion that the one so viewed is seeking to do harm.
- B. Clearly Paul has declared that he did not view them as "enemies" because he reminds them that he knows that they were willing to pluck out their eyes for his sake.
- C. At the root is this question: what "damage" did they think Paul was attempting to impose on them?
- 1. He has said some things that would be offensive to anyone on an ego trip (note 3:1 for just one example), but what "damage" is there in that? To answer, we have a phrase, "a wounded ego", to cover this question. But, really, what "damage" is there in "a wounded ego"? It is merely a perception that someone does not think as highly of me as I wish them to. This is not to say that the person whose ego is wounded is not "damaged" in some sense, but the damage is all in the realm of "emotional/spiritual reaction" to a perceived insult. Such damage is all self-inflicted; no "enemy" can do "spiritual/emotional damage". The only "damage" that a human being can do to another human being is physical (Luke 12:4). All other "damage" is "projected" on to others as "cause" when, in reality, it is the "projector's" refusal to accept personal responsibility for his/her own "reaction" to those others that creates any "damage" that occurs.
- 2. His Gospel, if untrue, would certainly be a massive damage-instigator, but the entire point of this letter is to argue for the validity of his identity as a spokesman for God; an identity in which they used to believe. Reminding them of that former confidence is not an attempt to establish an untruth, but to establish a legitimate memory. If there is a "fault" here that would constitute someone an "enemy", it is not Paul's "fault". Reminding them of a former confidence and attitude is not the action of an "enemy".
- 3. The Galatians needed to seriously face the question: why is what Paul is saying "offensive" and "inimical"?
- a. There is always a deep, inner, cause for every attitude that surfaces.
- b. The issue is whether, or not, the Galatians care more for the "Truth" or for "feelings of importance to other men". Mark 4:24 sets the issue out of Jesus' parable and its warning: "Take heed what you hear: with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you: and unto you that hear shall more be given."
- II. Telling the Truth.
- A. At issue in the entire letter is the question of the actual reaction of God to human beings and the basis for that reaction.
- B. The situation in Galatia does indicate the presence of serious "enemies" who are intent upon the destruction of their "enemies". The false teachers seek to disestablish Paul as a valid apostle and Paul seeks to expose their lies and false motives. This is a large conflict and there is much at stake, but the bottom line will be this: who is telling the truth? Each Galatian will decide for him/her self, but upon what basis?
- 1. Someone's claims to "truth-telling" are lies.
- 2. How will the contrary claims be sorted out so that one can be confident that he/she has "believed" the truth?
- 3. The bottom line is always the same: Truth can stand investigation; lies resort to smoke and mirrors. However, what a person seeks is more important than Truth's ability to stand investigation as we pointed out above from Jesus' parable.
- C. Is "truth-telling" always a "benefit-seeking" mechanism? Can a person who is "telling the truth" be a genuine enemy of the one to whom he/she speaks?
- 1. Obviously, some "true" things can be used by an enemy because Satan is not adverse to using "truth" to accomplish his ends. He used the Scriptures against Jesus in the wilderness.
- 2. But a larger question exists here: can the truth be used in the service of a lie? The answer is absolutely, and emphatically, "No". When "truth" is used to establish the credibility of a lie, it is no longer "truth" because "intention" is always, without exception, involved in "meaning" when any given utterance comes under scrutiny for the purpose of ferreting out the meaning of the utterance. The fact is this: the very "quote" of "truth" used to attempt to establish a lie is, itself, sufficient to destroy the lie if there is a sufficient understanding available to those who are seeking the truth. Thus, every time a biblical reference is quoted in the support of a lie, that very quote could be used by a person of sufficient understanding to destroy that lie. It was for this reason that Jesus was able to sidestep the lies of the devil in the wilderness. He always had sufficient understanding so that nothing could be used against Him in the support of a lie.