Archive for the ‘Galatians’ Category

As I work through Galatians, I found this comment from John Stott very insightful about the contrast of the Judaizing Burden-Imposing ministry with the directives that the Christian community is a Burden-Lifting ministry:

Human friendship, in which we bear one another’s burdens, is part of the purpose of God for His people. So we should not keep our burdens to ourselves, but rather seek a Christian friend who will help to bear them with us.

By such burden-bearing we ‘fulfil the law of Christ’ (verse 2). Because of the interesting link in this sentence between ‘burdens’ and the ‘law’, it is possible that Paul is casting a side-glance at the Judaizers. Certainly some of the law’s requirements are referred to as a burden in the New Testament (e.g. Lk. 11:46; Acts 15:10, 28), and the Judaizers were seeking to burden the Galatians with the observance of the law for their acceptance with God. So Paul may be saying to them, in effect, that instead of imposing the law as a burden upon others, they should rather lift their burdens and so fulfil Christ’s law.

Galatians 5:16-18 “The Ammunition of the Spirit in Civil War”

Galatians 5:16–18 (ESV) — 16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

McKnight (1995:272):

I know of no Christian parents or youth leaders, or for that matter any pastorsm who seriously believe what Paul teaches in verses 16-26 (of Galatians 5), that the sole foundation of Christian ethics is dependency on the Spirit and a life of freedom in the Spirit….I have met only one person who ever expressed this view of Paul in a definitive and, to him, practical way. That person was F.F. Bruce…”

I would add Gordon Fee to that list in my own experience as I also shared this same conviction in my study of the reality of Spirit-fullness in the New Covenant. McKnight continues:

To be sure, Paul knew that when a person was controlled by the Spirit, that person was holy. He also knew that a person who lived in the Spirit lived in a loving way. Thus, he knew that the Old Testament moral guidelines and the teachings of Jesus on holiness, righteousness, and compassion would be confirmed by anyone who lived in the Spirit (1995:273).

Needless to say that we can be accused, just like the early Galatians, of wanting to derive our ethic from the law or traditions of man. I am not opposed to the “3rd use of the Law” in relation to our sanctification, but if such is taught in a way that doesn’t necessitate the presence of the Spirit, then we may very well be acting like the early Judaizers.

What has Paul said about the Spirit thus far?

Galatians 3:1–6 (ESV) — 1 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. 2 Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? 4 Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? 5 Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— 6 just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?

–          Received the Spirit by faith

–          Began in the Spirit, but seeking sanctification in the flesh

–          Spirit supplied by hearing with faith, not works of law

Galatians 3:13–14 (ESV) — 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.

–          V. 13 speaks of the verb…Christ redeemed us

  • Followed by two adverbial purpose clauses
    • So that…blessings of Abraham to Gentiles
    • So that we might receive the promised Spirit
      • The work of redemption must lead to salvation and the reception of the Spirit.

Galatians 4:6–7 (ESV) — 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

–          We are sons and heirs through the Spirit, enabled to cry out Abba! Father! The Spirit enables our faith, our assurance as children. This speaks of objective status realized through a subjective cry, which is absolutely brought about through the giving of the Spirit

Galatians 5:5 (ESV) — 5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness.

–          The Spirit is the agency through which we have faith and hope for the coming righteousness.

16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

–          Walk = present imperative, denotes ongoing life of the Christian, NIV has “Live” although the new NIV has “walk”.  Speaks of direction

–          “by” or “in”, “pnuema” is in the dative/locative/instrumental case with no article. “by” or “in” is supplied to understand the nature of the command.

  • Dative = to, locative = in, instrumental = by, can be referring to the domain we live in, or the means whereby we walk. Both ideas are taught in Scripture. I think “by” makes the most sense, especially in light of Paul’s earlier reference in  3:3 about beginning by the Spirit, trying to perfect by flesh.

–          “you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” – strong double negative, aorist subjunctive expresses certainty, “you will never under any circumstances”. Implied and expected result of walking in the Spirit, it is thus a promise. If you are walking in full reliance on the Spirit, you will not fulfill the desires of the flesh (sarx). There is a “pneuma/sarx” battles in Scripture.

  • Is this promise too strong? NO. It is impossible to gratify the desires of the flesh when you are walking in the Spirit, just like it is impossible to lie when you are telling the truth, to starve to death when you eat, to suffocate to death when you are breathing.
  • The law can only inform and instruct, but it is the Spirit that actually empowers!!!
  • This civil war inside of us is dealt with some more: (more…)

The following quote is from Scot McKnight’s commentary on Galatians in The NIV Application Commentary series:

McKnight (1995:272):

I know of no Christian parents or youth leaders, or for that matter any pastors who seriously believe what Paul teaches in verses 16-26 (of Galatians 5), that the sole foundation of Christian ethics is dependency on the Spirit and a life of freedom in the Spirit….I have met only one person who ever expressed this view of Paul in a definitive and, to him, practical way. That person was F.F. Bruce…

I would add Gordon Fee to that list in my own experience as I also shared this same conviction in my study of the reality of Spirit-fullness in the New Covenant. McKnight continues:

To be sure, Paul knew that when a person was controlled by the Spirit, that person was holy. He also knew that a person who lived in the Spirit lived in a loving way. Thus, he knew that the Old Testament moral guidelines and the teachings of Jesus on holiness, righteousness, and compassion would be confirmed by anyone who lived in the Spirit (1995:273).

Needless to say that we can be accused, just like the early Galatians, of wanting to derive our ethic from the law or traditions of men. I am not opposed to the “3rd use of the Law” in relation to our sanctification, but if such is taught in a way that doesn’t necessitate the presence of the Spirit, then we may very well be acting like the early Judaizers.

It is sometimes said that the Holy Spirit is the neglected members of the Godhead. Study of Scripture, however, will make clear that the Spirit is the one who regenerates our hearts, accompanies the inward call, adopts us into our relational standing as children of God, seals the believer as an objective member of the New Covenant, empowers and guides our sanctification, as well as gifting the Church for ministry. I’m sure that there are pastors out there emphasizing this dynamic, however I resonate with McKnight when he claims F.F. Bruce as the first scholar which emphasized these points in Pauline Pneumatology. For me, it was the pages of Gordon Fee’s, “God’s Empowering Presence”, that had confirmed all that I had believed from my own study of Paul’s theology of the Spirit.

Gal.  5:1-6  “Stand Firm”

Galatians 5:1–6 (ESV) — 1 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. 2 Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. 3 I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. 4 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. 5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.

Turning to the Law is Turning Away from Christ (1-2)

Turning to the Law makes you a Debtor (3)

Turning to the Law is Falling from Grace (4)

The Spirit brings Faith, Eager anticipation, Hope and finally Righteousness (5)

Works of Faith through Love is what really matters (6)

 

Turning to the Law is Turning Away from Christ (1-2)

1 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

–          This is a transition verse that I attached to the previous section last week. In summary, trusting in the law is like being a carnal, natural born son of Hagar, thus not of promise according to the Spirit. Christ died to set you free from that marriage to the Mosaic covenant.

–          Paul argues in Romans 7 that the law has affect until it dies and then you are free. The Mosaic covenant was fulfilled in Jesus and dies in his death. His resurrection ushers in a New Covenant whereby we are joined to Christ by faith and made possessors of the Spirit.

–          Notice indicative/imperative. We live out what is objectively true. Some people struggle with freedom, believe it or not. Some imprisoned criminals find it hard to acclimate to life outside the walls, becoming bound and dependent upon the institution of prison.

2 Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you.

–          “Look” (behold) is used by Paul on one other occasion and the force is to draw attention to himself in all that He is to these dear believers.

–          “if you accept circumcision” – Circumcision was once the sign that you were in and included in God’s covenant community, so much so that God was searching out Moses to kill him for failure to circumcise his son:

  • Exodus 4:24–26 (ESV) — 24 At a lodging place on the way the Lord met him and sought to put him to death. 25 Then Zipporah took a flint and cut off her son’s foreskin and touched Moses’ feet with it and said, “Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me!” 26 So he let him alone. It was then that she said, “A bridegroom of blood,” because of the circumcision.
  • Things have changed dramatically. You neglect circumcision, God’s judgment is upon you; now, if you insist on circumcision, God’s judgment is upon you.

–          “Christ will be of no advantage to you” – not of little advantage, but of none, you put your trust, even just a little bit in something else, then you have totally rejected Christ’s finished work on the cross.

  • This is dangerous. We need to hear the Gospel, love the Gospel, and constantly examine ourselves as to whether we are trusting at all in anything else. The second we say something else is necessary is the moment we say that the Cross is not completely sufficient and that Jesus died in vain. Even if you say that cross is necessary, in addition to something else, you are still denying the cross.

–          Turning to the Law is Turning Away from Christ (1-2) (more…)

Galatians 4:21–31 (ESV) — 21 Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and one by a free woman. 23 But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, while the son of the free woman was born through promise. 24 Now this may be interpreted allegorically: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. 25 Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. 26 But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. 27 For it is written, “Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear; break forth and cry aloud, you who are not in labor! For the children of the desolate one will be more than those of the one who has a husband.” 28 Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. 29 But just as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so also it is now. 30 But what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman shall not inherit with the son of the free woman.” 31 So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman.

Many people regard this as the most difficult passage in the Epistle to the Galatians. For one thing, it presupposes a knowledge of the Old Testament which few people possess today; there are references in it to Abraham, Sarah, Hagar, Ishmael, Isaac, Mount Sinai and Jerusalem. For another, the argument of Paul is a somewhat technical one; it is the kind which would have been familiar in the Jewish rabbinical schools. It is allegorical, although not arbitrary.[1]

People today are bound to earthly, fleshly religion today. Man-centered and man-made religion. Paul argues that our home is heavenly, the Jerusalem above. Even the earthly Jerusalem was merely a type of the heavenly one. In other words, we do not set our eyes on the earth, but we set our eyes upward, worshipping a God who constantly shows the bankruptcy of all efforts to establish a right relationship based on rules and regulations.

Paul has been arguing that we are born again by the Spirit. It is God who has saved us in Christ by His grace in giving us the Spirit. The law kills, while the Spirit gives life. The law on tablets speaks to people in conditionality, whereas the Spirit actually imparts life apart from works of the law. It is the application of the redemption Jesus bought for us.

Outline:

–          Historical: 21-23

  • Abraham had Ishmael with Hagar
  • Abraham had Isaac with Sarah
    • Jews understood this quite well, however Paul is going to turn the argument on their heads and claim that those who claim Abraham as father through Isaac are in fact children of Hagar if they insist on the law as the basis for their righteousness

–          Allegorical (Symbolic): 24-27

  • Two women represent 2 Covenants
    • Hagar = Sinai = Present Jerusalem > children of slavery
    • Sarah = New Covenant = Heavenly Jerusalem > free children

–          Personal: 28-31

  • “Brothers” (28, 31)
  • Children of Promise
  • Flesh persecutes Spirit (Ishmael v. Isaac)
  • Cast out slave woman = the way of the Law
  • We’re Free!!!
    • 5:1 Stand Firm, Do not go back
    • Galatians 5:1 (ESV) — 1 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. (more…)

Galatians 4:8-11 “How can you turn Back” or “The Tears of a Christian Hedonist”

By Pastor Rick Hogaboam, Sovereign Grace Fellowship, Nampa, ID

10.10.2010

Audio Link: Here

Galatians 4:8–11 (ESV) — 8 Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. 9 But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? 10 You observe days and months and seasons and years! 11 I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain.

Galatians 4:8–11 (ESV) — 8 Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods.

–          V. 8 applies mostly to Gentiles. They did not know God, nor were known by God in their past life. They were in bondage to “non-gods” or dumb idols. They were idolatrous.

9 But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?

–          Knowing God…better yet to be known by God. What really matters is not what we do with God, but He does with us. Having come under His grace and divine favor, why would anyone trade that for the old life.

–          2 Peter 2:19–22 (ESV) — 19 They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. 20 For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 21 For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. 22 What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.”

–          It is better to have never known than to have come to knowledge and forfeit it all. That is a greater smack in God’s face. It is looking upon all that He is in His splendor and grace and saying, “That’s not good enough for me anymore. I’m bored and wish to go back to me ex”. (more…)

Galatians 4:12-20 “Anguishing for Spirit-filled, Christ-centered Formation”

Preached by Pastor Rick Hogaboam, Sovereign Grace Fellowship, 10-17-2010

Audio Link: Here

Galatians 4:12–20 (ESV) — 12 Brothers, I entreat you, become as I am, for I also have become as you are. You did me no wrong. 13 You know it was because of a bodily ailment that I preached the gospel to you at first, 14 and though my condition was a trial to you, you did not scorn or despise me, but received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus. 15 What then has become of the blessing you felt? For I testify to you that, if possible, you would have gouged out your eyes and given them to me. 16 Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth? 17 They make much of you, but for no good purpose. They want to shut you out, that you may make much of them. 18 It is always good to be made much of for a good purpose, and not only when I am present with you, 19 my little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you! 20 I wish I could be present with you now and change my tone, for I am perplexed about you.

If in our study thus far we have thought of Paul merely as a scholar with massive intellectual powers, all head and no heart, this paragraph will correct our first impression. For here Paul appeals to the Galatians with deep feeling and immense tenderness. First, he calls them his ‘brethren’ in verse 12; then at the end of the paragraph, in verse 19, his ‘little children’—a designation of which the apostle John was very fond. He even goes on to liken himself to their mother, who is ‘in labour’ over them until Christ is formed in them. In Galatians 1–3 we have been listening to Paul the apostle, Paul the theologian, Paul the defender of the faith; but now we are hearing Paul the man, Paul the pastor, Paul the passionate lover of souls.[1]

This passage contrasts the way Paul was accepted to the way he is now being rejected; as well as contrasting Paul’s intentions over against the false teachers’ intentions towards them.

v.12 – Brothers: familial term, Paul is appealing from his heart to theirs, they are on the brink of apostatizing, but he still considers them brothers, qualified they heed his word.

Entreat:  to ask, to seek.

Become as I am, for I also have become as you are: Some varying interpretations, but I think Paul is referring to the ministry he had to them, where he, a Jew, demonstrated the absolute freedom of the Gospel from the law. This is clear from his earlier mentioning of calling out Peter to his face for hypocrisy on this issue. Paul forsook the path of the law, when Jesus apprehended him on the road to Damascus. Paul is personally appealing to them to become as him because they have obviously strayed back into the law. It is ironic that Paul, a Jew, lived out the freedom of the Gospel as a Gentile to reach Gentiles, and that these same Gentiles are now straying into Judaic pride in works of the law. The Gentiles are becoming Jewish, whereas Paul the Jew has become a Gentile of sorts.

You did me no wrong: Paul is affirming the wonderful acceptance they had of him when he visited them and became as they were (Gentiles). This connects into verse 13 where he offers further commendation.

v.13 – You know it was because of a bodily ailment that I preached the gospel to you at first,

Lot’s of speculation on what exactly was going on here. Most tend to see the reference in v. 15, affirming their willingness to pluck out their eyes for him, as the point of reference here; however, Paul’s language here seems a bit strong to simply refer to a lack in eyesight as being the cause of his ministry to them at first. The word “ailment” can mean ‘weakness’ in a general way and sometimes is matched with ‘bodily’ (sarx) to refer to sin. Sin seems to be unlikely here as well. Acts doesn’t provide any details of a serious affliction that caused Paul to go of course, etc. If he was afflicted with Malaria, as some think, then he likely went to Northern Galatia to get into better weather, which would require an older date for book, which is fine even though I tentatively have supported early date.   (more…)