About Jesus - Steve Sweetman
Remarks (ch. 1:1 Ė 5)
letter to the Galatians opens with the name "Paul." The name
Paul, in Greek, means "little."
The name Paul was Paul's Roman name.
The name "Saul" was his Jewish name.
There is a non-canonical, second century book entitled,
"Paul and Thecla." The
book is non-canonical because it describes an adulterous affair that
Paul had with this lady named Thecla from Thessalonica.
Many Bible teachers over the years have, however, suggested that
the description of Paul given in this book might be accurate.
It says that Paul was little, or short.
Some suggest that is why he was called Paul.
The book goes on to say that Paul was bull legged, bald, had
bushy eye brows, and protruding eye balls that looked kind of scary.
Whether this is an accurate portrayal of or not one can't prove.
It would not surprise me that the Lord would pick such a person
to do this most important ministry that Paul was called to do.
as he states in the first phrase of this letter says that he is an
apostle. He is basically
saying that his apostleship gives him the authority to write this
letter. By definition, we
know that the word "apostle" means "a sent one". Paul
goes on to say in verse 1 who did not send him and who actually did send
him. He clearly says that he
was "not sent from men, nor by man" in verse 15. The
tradition that Paul grew up in was quite structured with mentors,
teaching younger men. Paul
was saying that no mentor, no one in authority over him, sent him to
preach the gospel.
then sent Paul? In verse 1
he says that "Jesus Christ and God the Father sent him". If
we are to believe this, which of course we should, we then should take
very seriously what Paul has to say. Paulís
opposition questioned his claim of being sent by God, which is part of
the reason for why Paul wrote this letter. The Galatians would have had
no problem with Paul being an apostle of God in days past, but now, the
Judaizers, Paul's opposition, were swaying the believers away from Paul.
won't try to defend my thinking here that the apostolic ministry is for
today because I've done that elsewhere.
I will only say that there is no specific verse in the New
Testament that states the apostolic ministry has ended with the first
generation church. With this
in mind, I do want to point out one thing concerning the words
"apostle" and "gospel."
You will see the word "gospel" mentioned a lot in this
first chapter of Galatians. The
word simply means "good news."
Some modern day apostles suggest that each and every apostle
"has his own gospel." They
say this because Paul uses the term "my gospel" three times in
his writings. See Romans
2:16, 16:25, and 2 Timothy 2:8.
Because of this some suggest that Paul had his gospel.
Peter had his gospel. James
had his gospel, and so on. The
same would apply today. Each
apostle would have his gospel for those under his authority to believe,
adhere to, and follow. I
don't believe this teaching is Biblical.
First of all, those holding to this view have a faulty
understanding of apostolic authority.
Apostolic authority is not a dictatorship.
It's not the notion that if you don't believe what I believe you
move on, as I've been told. Second
of all, those who believe this have a much wider view of what
constitutes the gospel than what is Biblical. For example, one's view of
end time prophecy isn't part of the simple gospel message. Because
you don't believe in one particular end time scenario should not
disqualify you from any participation in any particular body of
simple point to all of this is that Paul, Peter, James, or, no one else
had their own gospel. There
is only one gospel and that is the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, that
all these men adopted as their own.
They taught the same gospel, that is, those specific doctrines
that make up the gospel of salvation.
Paul used the term "my gospel" in connection with false
gospels being taught by false apostles, not in connection of Peter's or
of the problem floating around in the early church was that Paul and
Peter did have different gospels. Peter
had a gospel to the Jews and Paul had a gospel to the Gentiles.
Some even suggest that this is what is meant in Galatians 2:7
through 10 which I will comment on later.
This false thinking did get straightened out in the Acts 15
conference. So, if this was
a problem in the early church, which did get fixed, we should not be
introducing the same false teaching in today's church as some are doing.
here that Paul, as he always does, linked God the Father to the Lord
Jesus Christ. The God Paul
gave his life to was the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We should believe in the same God.
do not believe in a generic god, although in many areas of the church
you would not know this to be true today.
We talk lots about God, but you'd be surprised how little we talk
about Jesus. We must speak
about our Lord Jesus Christ more than we are presently doing.
He is the one God has sent to humanity.
He is the one who died on our behalf.
He is the one who is Lord and will return to make all things new.
He is the one who actually sent the first disciples out into the
world to represent Him (John 20:21).
He is also the one that sends you and I out into the world to
represent Him to all we meet. In
reality, as Jesus said in John 20:21, He sends us into the world to
represent Him, while Father God sent Jesus into the world to represent
Him. If we fail to talk
about Jesus, people will not really know what God we are talking about,
especially in this day in age when so many people talk about a generic
god, and, when so many religions are coming to the forefront.
Jesus is the one who distinguishes the Christian from everyone
should note that God the Father and the Lord Jesus are both used in the
same context. Therefore,
there is a distinction between the two.
They are not one as those who oppose the doctrine of the trinity
also should note here that Paul isn't putting down the idea that man
can't be used in the sending out apostles, because they are.
We will talk more about this later.
Man can be used in sending apostles out into the world, but it is
God alone who calls men to be an apostle.
Men simply recognize God's call on a life.
This is especially true in Paul's case.
Paul met Jesus Himself, as we see in Acts 9.
It was then that Paul was called, not just to Jesus, but to work
for Jesus as an apostle, and in particular, an apostle to the Gentiles. Paul's
ministry was very important to the church back then and is still very
important today. He not only
preached to the Gentiles, He set forth Christian doctrine more than
anyone else, that the church should be following today and into the
future. Paul taught these
doctrines not only to those in his day but for those in our day as well.
For this reason, we must take his teaching seriously.
apostles, many people say that apostles were only for the first
generation church. They say
the same about prophets. These
people suggest that now that we have the cannon of Scripture, we don't
need such ministries as apostles and prophets.
They say the ministries for today are the pastor and the
evangelists. I do not hold
to this thinking. There is
no specific passage in the New Testament that states such a claim.
words "who raised Him from the dead," are an attempt to
establish right at the beginning of this letter the fact that the
resurrection of Jesus is primary to our salvation.
Without the resurrection, belief in Jesus is meaningless.
If Jesus didn't rise from the dead, then He is just an ordinary
man who once lived and now is dead.
If He is just an ordinary man, then what He says about Himself is
irrelevant. That makes Him
unreliable and one who can't be trusted. The
resurrection is one of the cornerstones and fundamental doctrines of
Christianity. To be a real
Christian you must believe in the resurrection of Jesus.
verse 2 Paul speaks of "all the brothers with him".
Even though Paul is very strong in the fact that no man sent him,
he is not what some call a "loan ranger."
He has brothers who are with him.
He works with others as equals in the Body of Christ in the
preaching of the gospel.
note in verse 2 that this letter is directed "to the
churches." Once again,
Paul wrote this letter to more than one church, more than one community
of believers, because
should view the word church here as a community of people who have given
their lies to Jesus. These
aren't ecclesiastical or denominational organizations as we know them
today. We've come a long way
since Paul's days, and I believe our journey has led us away from New
Testament thinking concerning church.
is how I think we
said that we as Christians must take Paul's teaching seriously, and that
includes his teaching on church. The
problem over the centuries is that we have not taken Paul's teaching
seriously. We have let the
"ecclesia of Christ" evolve.
We have not patterned church after Paul's teaching.
verse 3 Paul goes on to say; "grace and peace be to you from God
our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." Paul is greeting these
people on the behalf of God and Jesus. Paul
was God's representative to these people and was sent to deliver a
message to these Galatians from Him.
Paul was an ambassador and an ambassador only speaks things that
he has been told to speak.
the words "grace" and "peace" have two aspects to
them. First, grace is both
"unmerited favour on God's part", and it is also, "the
God given ability to do His will."
You will see both aspects of grace in the Bible, even though the
second aspect gets little press these days.
Second, peace is both "having inner peace because we have
been reconciled to God", and, "peace with God, that is, we are
no longer His enemy." There
is both peace with God and peace in God. Both
aspects of peace can be found in the Bible.
grace being the
Here are a few passages you can look
up to see how grace is more than unmerited favour.
See 2 Corinthians 8:1-6, Hebrews 4:16, Acts 14:26, Romans 6:14,
12:6, and 15:10.
Again, we see the distinction between
God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ in this verse.
God as Father is really more of a New Testament concept than an
Old Testament concept, mainly because of the incarnation of Jesus, His
Son, who as the New Testament teaches, is the first born among many
sons. All those who have
given their lives to Jesus are now God's sons.
Therefore, the idea of God being Father is more predominant in
this age in which we live.
like to comment on the word "Lord."
Jewish Christians would have associated "Lord" with
"Yahweh" in the Old Testament. This is an important linkage.
Paul, and the other early apostles, made this association because
they believed in the "Deity of Christ".
This would have been blasphemy to the non-Christian Jews.
Jesus could never be God in human flesh to the traditional
religious Jew. They
anticipated their Messiah to be a man, not God in a man.
name Jesus means "salvation," or "God is salvation,"
or, something similar. The
name Jesus was actually given to Him by God the Father, not Mary.
This tells us that Jesus is in fact the Saviour of the world.
In Hebrew culture, it was the father who named the children, and
it was Father God who named Jesus, which you can see in the gospel
accounts of the birth of Jesus.
title "Christ" is the Greek equivalent for the Hebrew title
means anointed one. In the
Hebrew Old Testament, prophets, priests, and kings, were anointed, of
which Jesus is seen as being all three in the New Testament.
Jesus was therefore seen as the coming anointed one that would
we see by the words "Lord Jesus Christ" that Christians
believe in the Deity of Christ, that is, "Jesus is God in human
flesh." For the
Christian, Jesus is not merely a teacher, a prophet, a good man, or
anyone else. He is in fact
verse 4 Paul says that Jesus gave Himself for our sins for a specific
reason. The reason is to
"rescue us from this present evil age." Paul
strongly felt that the age in which he lived was evil, and so did the
rest of the first century community of believers. I
donít think that things have changed for the better in our day. If
Paul lived today, he would believer that our day is just as evil.
question can be asked to us today, "Do we feel our present age is
evil?" If so, does this
fact grip our hearts? My
guess is that most of us know our age is evil but it doesnít really
grip our hearts as it should. We're in more love with this world than
what we want to admit. Peter,
in Acts 2:40, exhorts his listeners to "save themselves from this
corrupt generation." If
we understand Romans 1 and 2 we will certainly realize that no matter
what generation we live in, it is corrupt.
believe we don't have the same distaste for the world around us as Paul,
Peter, and the first generation of Christians had.
This is so because we are too much in love with the world and all
that it has to offer. The
Bible clearly teaches us not to love the world or the things in the
world. See 1 John 2:15.
we view the world is one important aspect of Scripture.
Throughout the Bible, right back to the days of the
the phrase "according to the will of God the Father."
It is God's will that we should be rescued from this world.
If it is God's will to rescue us from the world, then we should
take this more seriously than most do.
Many Christians really do not take this seriously, and many
Christians probably don't even know that we should be rescued from the
world. If we don't know that
we are to be rescued from the world, we won't want to be rescued, and
God won't be able to rescue us, unless He divinely intervenes in our
lives. The end result
to this is a weakened church, which I believe we have today.
In many respects, the church today is no different than any civil
and secular group of people.
like the word "rescue" because it implies being snatched from
something that is dangerous, as a fire in a house.
Again, I'm convinced, for the most part; the modern Christian
does not view the world around them being bad enough to be rescued from.
This is not New Testament thinking.
states that Jesus "gave Himself for our sins." You
see Paul's Old Testament understanding coming through here.
All through the Old Testament animals were offered to God for our
sins. That has now changed.
Jesus became the ultimate sacrifice for our sins.
When we trust in Jesus' sacrifice, these sins are forgiven by
God. Our sins are forgiven
in order for the Holy Spirit to come and live within us.
Forgiveness is only the beginning of the matter.
We should not stop at forgiveness in our thinking as many
should note that the very first animal that was killed and sacrificed
for our sin was killed by God Himself in Genesis 3.
Adam and Eve covered their naked body (nakedness once wasn't
sinful, but now became sinful) with leaves but that wasn't good enough.
God killed an animal to provide covering for their naked bodies.
Blood needed to be shed. We
learn that what man can do to cover sin doesn't work.
What works is what God does in covering our sins, and again, this
is the message of Paul's letter to the Galatians.
as Christians need to think seriously about the death of Jesus and what
it really means. If you read
the Old Testament and understand how much God hates and detests our sin,
you will appreciate the act of love that Jesus went through on the
cross. We can't fully know
how much God detests our sin, yet, at the same time, we can't really
know how much He loves us, and that is why Jesus went to the cross
instead of us.
is just. Sin must be
punished. Someone must be
punished for the sin that God detests.
God's love is seen in that He became human and He died and was
punish in our place. The
more we understand how much God hates sin, the more we can appreciate
the words "our God and Father" in verse 4.
God is not a generic or aloof far away God.
He is personal. He is
so personal that He is our Father. The
word "abba" can mean "daddy", that is, if you think
"daddy" is an affectionate word for one's father.
The idea of "abba" denotes personal love and affection.
Some call God their "daddy" these days because the word
"abba" is used three times in the New Testament Greek text to
describe God as being our Father. I
do have a bit of a problem with the way some speak of God as daddy
because when most people call God their daddy, I really don't think they
grasp the idea of who God really is.
He is our Father, but he is no sugar daddy as the modern word
daddy might imply. If you
can call God daddy with the utmost respect, and reverent fear, go ahead.
If not, just call Him Father.
In my thinking, Father is more respectful than daddy.
Also remember, that our Father is a God of consuming fire as
Hebrews 12:29 states. That
should put a different light into the idea that God is our daddy.
verse 5 Paul says that glory will be given to God the Father forever and
ever. We should join the
angels, and those men and women in past ages who have been redeemed by
the blood of Jesus, and give our Heavenly Father the glory due Him.
Of course, the best way to give God the Father glory, is to obey
Him, live for Him, and do His will.
The Greek word that is translated as "glory" comes from a root word meaning "opinion." Thus, when glory is used in respect to God in the New Testament it means that everyone will have the highest opinion of God that one can have.
God is now glorious, but not all people see Him as glorious. That will change. When this age is over, in the days of the new heaven and the new earth, all will highly esteem God. Everyone will praise and honour Him both by word and by deed. Things will not be as they are today when most people, Christians included, only glorify God in their words, and not their actions.