Freedom in Christ

Fall 2005 SS Class Notes

Week 3: Sept 25, 2005

Jeremy Wise

 

Paulís Thesis (1:11-12)

 

Paul wanted to separate his message, the Gospel of Christ, from all the other gospels floating around, and particularly the one that the Jewish infiltrators brought.Paulís gospel, he argues, was not produced by any man, nor was it taught to him, but instead it was revealed to him by Christ Jesus himself.Paulís gospel was to stand totally apart from any human traditions (e.g. ďancestral traditionsĒ in v. 1:14).

 

Putting Gal. 1:1 together with vv. 1:11-12, we gather that Paulís message came from God the Father by means of his Son, Jesus Christ, who then purposed Paul to take the message to the Gentiles; when the time was right, Jesus revealed his plan to Paul, who became a bond-servant of Christ in spreading the gospel.

 

Paulís Apostolic Defense (1:13-2:10)

 

Paul opens by reminding the Galatians of what they knew of Paulís ďformer lifeĒ Ė persecuting the Way and advancing quickly in Judaism.Notice that his stress is not so much on his keeping of the Law as it is on his zealousness and conviction to serve God (though he does admit his passion was wrongly spent persecuting Godís chosen people).

 

But suddenly, God, who had chosen him from his motherís womb to be His messenger to the Gentiles, revealed Christ in Paul and sent him to preach.Acts 9 records this incredible transformation Ė a change that takes only four days to convert one of the most zealous Jews into one of the most outspoken apostles of Christ.


 

Points to Ponder

 

         How did Paul know the Gospel well enough that he was preaching three days after his conversion?

         How must the Jews in Damascus have felt when their champion was suddenly their worst enemy?

         How must the Christians in Damascus have felt when their worst threat for persecution was suddenly preaching their Gospel openly?

         Why was Paul so quick to abandon his lifeís work as a Jew for the sake of Christís message?

 

 

Paulís journey continues after he spends three years in Arabia and Damascus.We arenít really sure what Paul was doing during this time, but many scholars have suggested that he may have spent three years being discipled by Jesus himself.Paul then goes to Jerusalem and spends two weeks with Peter, but most of the apostles still donít trust his newly found faith in Christ.

 

Because of this, Paul heads north to Syria and Cilicia, where he spends fourteen years preaching and establishing churches among the Gentiles.Paul meets up with Barnabas in his last year in the area, and the two of them head to Jerusalem, taking Titus along as well, because of a revelation.

 

Paul was likely afraid that ďthose who were of reputationĒ would reject his gospel, likely because he knew Jews and their commitment to Jewish Law.Because of this, he spoke in private with just a few of them.He was also afraid of Jews who had snuck in to spy on the freedom Christ had granted to his people.These people turned out to add nothing to Paulís message, so he moved on.

 

Finally, Paul tells us that those who were ďreputed to be pillarsĒ, namely James, Peter, and John, accepted Paul and his message to the Gentiles by offering him ďthe right hand of fellowship.Ē

 

It was decided that Paulís message would be to the Gentiles, and Peterís to the Jews, and that the poor be remembered, which Paul was already anxious to do.

 

Summary of Paulís Early Years

 

1)     Jerusalem: Paul witnesses Stephenís stoning (Acts 7)

2)     Paul commissioned by the high priest to round up followers of the Way and bring them back to Jerusalem (Acts 9:1-2).

3)     Paul meets Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:3ff).

4)     Paul is healed and baptized (Acts 9:17-22).

5)     Paul escapes to Arabia after hearing of danger in Damascus (Acts 9:23-26).

6)     Paul returns to Damascus (Gal. 1:17).

7)     Three years after being run out of Damascus, Paul returns to Jerusalem and spends 15 days with Peter (Gal. 1:18).

8)     Paul spends the next fourteen years in the regions of Syria and Cilicia (Gal. 2:1).

9)     Paul meets up with Barnabas and Titus in his last year of the fourteen, and the three of them return to Jerusalem together (Acts 9:26, Gal. 2:1).

 

 

Points to Ponder

 

It was quite possible that the ďfalse brethren secretly brought inĒ that Paul meets with are of the same group which has infiltrated Galatian churches.The issue is certainly the same:they snuck in to learn about the liberty which Christians had in Christ Jesus, and to bring the believers back under the bondage of the Law.These people added nothing to Paulís message because they spoke only poison.James, Peter, and John, however, added to Paulís authority by recognizing that he was in fact sent by God to deliver the gospel to the Gentiles.

 

 

Notes from Acts 9

 

9:1-2:Paul was commissioned by the high priest to capture those in the synagogue in Damascus and bring them back to Jerusalem to be put to death.

 

9:3-8: This miraculous encounter changes Paulís life for forever.His entire world is flipped upside down when what he thought was righteous service to God becomes persecution of his very King.

 

9:9,11: Paul spends the next three days fasting and praying.Iím certain that his prayers were muddled with confusion and Paul was eagerly seeking guidance and direction from God (cf. 9:6, ďÖ and it will be told what you must doĒ).We can also be sure that if Paulís heart was hardened against the Lord, he wouldnít have been transformed so quickly and so radically.Paul, unlike many of his contemporaries, was willing to turn his zealousness into service for God instead of using it as a banner of his own useless righteousness.

 

9:10-16: We see that word about Paul has gotten around quickly.The entire Church is scared of this man because they know heís come to round them up and lead them to slaughter.Ananias is obedient, however, and the Lord uses his faithfulness.

 

9:17-19: Paul is immediately healed and wastes no time whatsoever being baptized in The Way.

 

9:20: He then wastes no time preaching the Gospel around Damascus.This is significant because he has not had time for formal training or learning of the gospel, except that he received it by revelation from Christ.

 

9:21:The Church is immediately perplexed by Paulís behavior because he has gone from enemy to friend in a weekís time.

 

9:22-25:The rest of the Jews become infuriated that their champion has apparently changed sides and become an enemy.They plot to kill him, but he safely escapes.

 

Gal. 1:17-2:1 all occurs between Acts 9:25 and 26.Paul disappeared off Lukeís radar for some time, but Galatians fills in some of the gaps concerning where Paul went and what was going on in his life.