Saturday, November 13, 2010

Unit 6 - The Power of the Gospel in Paul's Life (Galations 1:11-2:10)

I. Introduction

A. The Divine Origin of Paul's Gospel (Gal. 1:11-24)
B. Paul's Meeting with the Jerusalem Leaders (Gal. 2:1-10)

II. The Divine Origin of Paul's Gospel

A. Paul's intent here is to establish authority
1. Gospel did not come from other humans
2. Gospel was not taught to him
3. Gospel came to him as a revelation from God

B. Paul outlines who he was before, is now, and describes chronologically how he came to this point in his life.
1. A Pharisee - and a leading persecutor of the new church in Christ
2. Not just any Jew, but one held in high esteem; a zealot
3. Set aside before birth, called by God at the proper time
4. After his Damascus road experience, he did not consult with anyone
5. Rather, went to Arabia, then back to Damascus to stand before the very people he had been going to condemm.
6. Then after 3 years returned to Jerusalem to 'visit' Cephas (Peter)
7. Then went into Syria and Cilicia for 14 years

C. Three Questions Arise from this Section
1. Why does the issue of apostleship figure so prominently in Paul's letter to the Galations? According to Cousar, commentators generally hold three views:
a. He is responding to critics who contend he has not been commissioned by the Jerusalem authorities
b. Others say he is responding to critics who contend he is totally dependent on leaders in Jerusalem
c. Lastly others say Paul is not being attacked but is bringing it up himself to establish authority
d. Paul wants to establish authority to preach the one, true gospel as revealed to him by Christ on the road to Damascus
2. Why this extensive biographical material?
a. it shows he has in no way been dependent on other ecclesiastical authority
b. it shows how Paul's own life manifests the power of the gospel. God's grace is sufficient to change even the most committed zealot.
3. What is to be made of the statement that Paul received the Gospel "through a revelation of Jesus Christ?"
a. What he is not saying is that he received new information that no one else had (unlike Joseph Smith who created Mormonism)
b. Rather, according to Cousar, he is simply saying the veil which had hidden God's Son from him is removed and Paul sees him.

III. Paul's Meeting with the Jerusalem Leaders

A. Paul Goes Back to Jerusalem after 14 Years
1. Purpose of meeting was to establish Christian unity
2. Took with him Barnabus, and Titus, a greek
3. In attendance in addition to the Jerusalem leadership were a bunch of trouble-makers
a. Insisted Titus needed to be circumcized
b. Paul held his ground and won Jerusalem leaders over
c. Had Paul given in one of the key tenants of the gospel would have been lost - freedom from and being subject to the law
d. Paul and Jerusalem leaders agreed on the unity of the Gospel for both Jewish and Gentile converts alike.
e. Jerusalem leaders agreed their focus would be on Jewish converts while Paul would focus his ministry on the Gentiles.
f. Jerusalem leaders asked Paul to support the poor in Jerusalem

(1) Interpretation Bible Studies: Philippians and Galations, Stanley P. Saunders, Westminster John Knox Press, 2001
(2) The Letters to the Galations and Ephesians, William Barclay, Westminster John Knox Press, 2002
(3) Interpretation Bible Commentary: Galations, Charles B. Cousar, John Knox Press, 1982

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