Galatians 1:10-24, pt.1

This week we will be reading through Galatians 1:10-24.  Within this section, Paul gives us the timeline of his relationship with Peter and with the other original apostles. Luke recounts a similar timeline in Acts 9.  If you have time, please read this chapter.  In Luke’s telling there appears to be only a brief period of time between Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus and his meeting with the apostles in Jerusalem.  Paul’s narrative in Galatians, however, tells us that three years passed between his conversion experience and his first meeting with Peter and James. Galatians is also the only place that we learn that Paul spends some time in “Arabia.” In Roman times, “Arabia” included the whole desert region from western Syria all the way through the Arabian peninsula. Paul goes out into the desert to wrestle with his calling, not unlike Jesus after his baptism or the prophet Elijah (1 Kings 19).  Although no one is certain where in Arabia Paul went, Paul does explicitly mention in Galatians 4:25 that Mt. Sinai is in Arabia. Therefore, there is some speculation that, like Elijah, Paul may have journeyed to the mountain of God to contemplate his calling.

In Galatians 1:10, Paul implies that his opponents are stating that Paul is only proclaiming his gospel to seek the approval of others, whereas Paul says that his gospel isn’t necessarily appealing to others. Therefore, the question for us is what parts of Paul’s gospel are necessarily pleasing to people and what parts are not?  Of course, the pleasing part of Paul’s gospel is the lack of circumcision or obedience to any portion of the law that Gentiles (and us) would prefer not to obey.  But what is the unpleasing part of Paul’s gospel?

In his commentary on this verse, Martin Luther raises three points that are unpleasing in Paul’s gospel.  First, Luther says that Paul preaches that we are all unrighteous sinners (See, Eph. 2:3, Rom. 3:23) and that people would rather be praised as righteous and holy. Second, Luther points out that the circumcision party is simply capitulating to the culture of the Jewish members of the congregations, and to preach a justification by faith exposes them to hatred by these members. And third, Luther says that if our salvation is dependent upon the work of Christ, and not our own works, then only Christ can receive praise and not us. You don’t have to agree with Mr. Luther, but try to think through how Paul’s gospel is offensive to you.   

Dinner is at 6. The menu is Mediterranean Shrimp Pasta Salad. Discussion about 6:45. Hope to see you here.  Please bring a friend.

I was still unknown by sight to the churches of Judea that are in Christ; they only heard it said, “The one who formerly was persecuting us is now proclaiming the faith he once tried to destroy.” And they glorified God because of me.


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