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Paul’s Scriptural Argument

God is Faithful It had always been known that salvation would come to the gentiles, because it had been promised to Abraham that in him all nations would be blessed. Because Abraham is the father of the Jewish nation, it was put forth by the Judaizers that the gentile Galatians could be saved only by their becoming Jews. The reasoning was that, because the Jews point to Abraham as their father, and the gentiles would be blessed through him, the blessing could occur only if the gentiles became Jews. By identifying with God through circumcision, which God had given Abraham, they would become Jews and be subject to the Law of Moses, just as Jews. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on April 5, 2015 in Epistle to the Galatians, Paul

 

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Paul’s Second Argument with Peter

from Google Images

from Google Images

Obviously, we cannot know who the men from James really were, but in another blog[1] I wrote some time ago I argue that they were probably very notable men, perhaps powerful Jews who worshiped with the brethren at Jerusalem. It is unlikely that either Peter or Barnabas would have been seduced doctrinally. That may have been a problem at Galatia with the new believers, as well as the new gentile believers at Antioch, but Peter and Barnabas were teachers of the word of God. Their seduction came by way of pleasing men. In other words, they were intimidated in the presence of men from James. They changed their behavior, not their doctrinal understanding. They acted hypocritically, that is, not according to what they knew to be correct. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on March 26, 2015 in Epistle to the Galatians, Paul

 

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Paul’s First Argument with Peter

from Google Images

from Google Images

Paul tells us in Galatians 2 that, while Peter was staying at Antioch, Paul confronted him over an incident that developed over a visit from men sent by James. It may be that after the death of James, the brother of John, in Acts 12 that Peter fled to Antioch, a place out of the jurisdiction of King Herod Agrippa. While Peter was there he had no problem eating with his gentile brethren. However, everything changed, when the men from James arrived. Presumably, they had been sent to alert the Christian communities among the gentiles (viz. at Antioch and the churches in Galatia) that the predicted famine (cp. Acts 11:27-29) had arrived and Jerusalem’s reserves for the poor were dangerously low. They needed help. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2015 in Epistle to the Galatians, Paul

 

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The Circumcision Controversy

from Google Images

from Google Images

Circumcision was a religious ceremony, which was given to Abraham for the purpose of expressing devotion to God. It became the official sign of the covenant between God and the Jewish nation in the time of Moses. Although the rite represented the circumcision of the heart, Paul opposed its requirement for gentile believers, maintaining that all believers are justified before God by faith in Jesus Christ. The rite itself was merely a religious ceremony of Jewish tradition, which had no inherent saving value. What was important was the spiritual meaning of the tradition. Circumcision, which represents our dedication to God, is not a physical matter but spiritual. It is, therefore, a heart issue not something that can be witnessed by one or more of the five senses. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on March 19, 2015 in Epistle to the Galatians, Paul

 

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Paul’s Official Meeting with the Apostles

from Google Images

from Google Images

According to Galatians 2, Paul went up to Jerusalem for a second time fourteen years after his conversion (1:18; 2:1; Acts 22:17). Some scholars wonder if Paul went up to Jerusalem fourteen years after his first visit with Peter, but I am wary of this idea. I base my understanding on the fact that Paul’s argument in Galatians appears to be that he had no time to learn his Gospel from any man, especially from the Apostles at Jerusalem. Paul is giving an account of himself from the very moment of his new birth which occurred on his way to Damascus when Jesus appeared to him for the first time. It was three years after his new birth that he came to Jerusalem, where he spent less than three weeks with the Apostles, and fourteen years after his new birth that he returned to Jerusalem. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on March 17, 2015 in Epistle to the Galatians, Paul

 

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Paul v/s the Apostles in Jerusalem

from Google Images

from Google Images

According to Paul (Galatians 1:18), who is supported by Luke’s account in Acts 9, Paul was preaching Christ in Damascus and vicinity for a full three years before he ever met with any of the Apostles at Jerusalem! The indications are that Paul wasn’t silent during those three years after his heavenly vision, but began to obey the Lord by preaching the Gospel to those in Damascus and in Arabia (Acts 26:16, 19). If Paul learned the Gospel of Jesus’ death and resurrection—that is, that Jesus was the Son of God—by revelation (via his vision on the Damascus Road), this means that his excursions into Arabia imply that he preached the Gospel there among the Ishmaelite people. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on March 15, 2015 in Epistle to the Galatians, Paul

 

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Questioning Paul’s Authority

from Google Images

from Google Images

We see from Paul’s opening line in Galatians 1:1 that his authority as an Apostle sent by God was being questioned. From the very beginning Paul seems to emphasize that his authority came not from men but from God. Therefore, the men from James must have sought to undermine Paul’s position as a legitimate Apostle of Christ, before they could have hoped that the Galatians would listen to their doctrine, which removed its adherents from the grace found in Christ (Galatians 1:6). Apparently these men began by saying Paul was a man-pleaser. That is, he sought to please the gentiles of Galatia by not requiring them to be circumcised (Galatians 1:10), which these men taught was necessary for salvation (Acts 15:1). Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on March 10, 2015 in Epistle to the Galatians, Paul

 

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Paul’s Astonishment

from Google Images

from Google Images

Paul was amazed that the Galatians had so soon fallen away from the Gospel (Galatians 1:6) in favor of accepting another of a different sort that was far from the good news that Paul preached. In fact, what occurred in Galatia had all the earmarks of what occurred at Antioch that set Paul against Peter and was instrumental in bringing about the Jerusalem Council of Acts 15. The truth is: what occurred in Galatia happened about the same time that the men from James came to Antioch, and I hope to show this in later blog-posts. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on March 5, 2015 in Epistle to the Galatians, Paul

 

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Paul, the Apostle of God

from Google Images

from Google Images

From the very beginning of his letter to the Galatians Paul identifies himself as an apostle by Jesus Christ and the Father. He words it this way: “an apostle not of man…” presumably because it had been told the Galatians by Jewish visitors that Paul’s apostleship was given him by one or more of the Twelve, and probably Peter figured prominently in their story. The sense is that if he was ordained by men, Paul couldn’t preach anything new. His Gospel must be the very same as the Gospel preached by those at Jerusalem. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on March 1, 2015 in Epistle to Galatia, Paul

 

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Circumcision ~ What’s at Stake?

Jews were not the only people who practiced circumcision. Some of the men in Arabia practiced it as well. They were among Abraham’s sons, and circumcision was among their traditional customs, just as it was for the Jew, but only the Jews took it so seriously as to draw their identity from its practice. Anyone among the Jews who was not circumcised was cut off from his people. Eventually, the practice of circumcision came to include the whole Mosaic Law. So, to be circumcised, according to Judaism, meant that one embraced the Torah, as well. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on December 9, 2012 in circumcision, Jerusalem Council

 

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The Peter-Paul Faceoff at Antioch

Many Biblical scholars seem to think Paul’s conflict with Peter at Antioch occurred after the Jerusalem Council. I don’t believe that reasoning is correct. In his letter to the Galatians, Paul claimed that he visited Jerusalem twice before he wrote his epistle—once three years after his conversion (Galatians 1:18), and a second time fourteen years after he met Jesus on the Damascus road (Galatians 2:1). Some scholars conclude that Paul either missed a visit (Acts 11:28-30; 12:25), or Paul’s visit fourteen years later occurred during the famine, and the Jerusalem Council visit occurred sometime later, perhaps after he left Corinth in Acts 18. Nevertheless, the ‘two’ are the same visit. That is, the Famine-Relief visit and the Jerusalem Council visit were one and the same visit, and occurred cir. 49 CE. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on December 7, 2012 in circumcision, Textual Criticism

 

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The ‘Men from James’

Awhile back (HERE), I wrote about these men from James who came to Antioch claiming the gentiles there couldn’t be saved, unless they were circumcised (Acts 15:1). In the next few blog posts I wish to offer a slightly different but a more dangerous perspective on the efforts of these men. First of all, their argument made logical sense, and this only made the danger of their scheme more difficult to detect. Nevertheless, logic is only as good as the knowledge upon which it is based. Think about it, the Jewish religion was the only religion on the face of the earth that was begun by God. Why shouldn’t the Jews believe gentiles needed to become Jews to be saved? Isn’t that similar to what is believed by Christians today? Don’t we believe one must become a Christian to be saved? If we believe this way, why would it be so unreasonable for Jews to believe that way too? Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on December 5, 2012 in Jerusalem Council, Paul

 

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The So-Called Silent Years of Paul

The time between his Damascus road vision (35 CE) and the Council of Jerusalem (49 CE) are sometimes referred to as the unknown or silent years of Paul.[1] The period comprises fourteen years and we have only sporadic information about Paul’s whereabouts and what he was doing. Scholars conclude that both Luke and Paul offer little information about this period of time, and one is left wondering why such a large period in Paul’s life is so blank in the Biblical record, and, if Paul is supposed to be the Apostle to the gentiles, why does it take so long to get him on the mission field, so to speak? Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on November 29, 2012 in Apostle to the Gentiles, Fourteen Years

 

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When Was Paul’s 2nd Visit to Jerusalem?

Jerusalem Council - 1

from Google Images

Many scholars believe a problem exists between Paul and Luke concerning when Paul’s 2nd visit to Jerusalem occurred. Luke and Paul both agree that he visited Jerusalem not long after Paul met Jesus on the Damascus road. Paul says this occurred three years later (Galatians 1:18), and Luke doesn’t offer any specific time. So they both agree here as long as one doesn’t turn Luke’s lack of detail into a disagreement with Paul. Later in his letter Paul says that he didn’t return to Jerusalem again until 14 years later—i.e. 14 years after his meeting with Jesus on the Damascus road (cf. Galatians 2:1). The problem that scholars point to is that Luke shows Paul going to Jerusalem with Barnabas to bring the famine relief offering from the gentile churches for the poor in Judea, which Luke seems to place before the Jerusalem conference of Acts 15 (see Acts 12:25). Are these scholars correct? Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2012 in Paul's Second Visit to Jerusalem

 

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In Christ There Is Neither Jew nor Gentile

Reading over Galatians 2:11-21 I had to pause and think for awhile about what might have occurred. Some things seem clear, but others are not so readily apparent. For example, were the Jews eating food that wasn’t kosher? It is evident that they were not abiding by some of their traditions, otherwise how could the presence of the “men from James” affect their behavior? The “men from James” used the subtle power of persuasion through their own separation from the others (cp. Galatians 4:17) to cause the Jews to retreat from what they had been doing, namely, eating freely with their gentile Christian brethren. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on March 5, 2010 in Gospel, Religion

 

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