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Book of Galatians Galatians Bible Study Series - Joel H. Linton

Week 5

Galatians 2:1-10

Read: Galatians 2:1-10

Last week we studied Galatians 1:11-24.

Q: Can anyone summarize how Paul defended the message of the Gospel?

(a: Paul defends the message of the Gospel by showing it came directly from God and that it even had the power to change Paul, himself, the greatest enemy of the message.)

In Galatians 2, Paul continues to defend the message of the Gospel, by citing recent church history. He shows that the false teaching in the Galatian churches was nothing new. It had already been faced in Antioch, and the church had already debated about it and made a decision on it. The full authority of the church, both Apostles and Elders had already made a ruling that the teaching that you must be circumcized is false.

Q: What do you think is the benefit today for Christians to study and know church history?

1. Whatever controversy comes up in the church today, it probably already has been discussed and debated sometime in the past 2000 years.
[E.g. The Arian Heresy of the 2nd Century A.D. is a fundabmental belief of the Jehovah's Witness cult today. The Semipalagianism which Augustine argued against in the 5th Century A.D. can be seen in the Arminianism of today.] So we can learn by seeing what conclusions our Christian brothers of the past came to when they faced similar teachings and controversies.

2. In today's culture, the past is very much separated from the present. People have a progressive view of the world. They think we are smarter today, or somehow better or more knowledgeable than people of the past. This kind of thinking leads people to treat whatever they "discover" today as something "new." As if no one ever thought of it before. And they think the teachings of the past are ^”outdated^‘ or irrelevant to the modern world.

Additionally, especially in Western culture, people relate mainly as individuals. "It is just me and my Bible and God." Or they go even further, to say, "It is just me and God; I do not even need the Bible."

But from God's perspective, in the whole history of the world, there is just one people of God, one church. Paul and the Galatian churches are as much our brothers and sisters and the people sitting in this room today. God gave Paul to us as much as he gave Paul to the churches in Galatia.

Let's read in Acts the historical events that Paul refers to in Galatians 2.

[Paul mentioned in Jerusalem after becoming a Christian:
1st time: Acts. 9:26-31
2nd time: Acts 11:27-30 Paul sent to Jerusalem in a team who were delivering the offerings to the church because of a prophecy about a coming famine.

Galatians 2 vs. 2 Why did Paul go to Jerusalem this time?
(a: a revelation... to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles)

Read Acts 12:25-13:3

Paul and Barnabas come back to Antioch from their famine relief work in Jerusalem. Then through a revelation, they get sent off to preach among the Gentiles.

Now read the controversy that arises about circumcision. (Note: It is the same issue that the Galatian church is dealing with.)

Read Acts 15:1-35

This is the event Paul is referring to in Galatians 2:1-10.

Q: State the basic controversy that was being faced by the church in Antioch recorded in Acts 15.

(a: The new teaching stated that to be saved, you must not only believe in Jesus, but then you much be circumcized and become a Jew. These people were asserting that the rules for becoming part of God^“s chosen nation of Israel still apply for joining the church.)

Q: When this teaching came to Antioch, how did Paul respond? Acts 15:2

(a: "sharp dispute.")

Why did Paul and Barnabas feel the need to argue so strongly about this?

(a: at the heart of the Gospel... Gal. 2:5 "We did not give in to them one instant, so that the truth of the Gospel might remain in you." There was no room for compromise. The church would have lost the truth of the Gospel, if Paul had not sharply disputed and debated with them.)

Q: How did the church in Antioch resolve this dispute?

(a: they appointed a group to go to Jerusalem to ask the Elders and Apostles about it.)

Q: How can an individual church resolve this kind of dispute today?

(a: We cannot go to the Apostles, directly, they are all dead. The Roman Catholic Church says that the Apostles are not all dead, but that the Pope has the same authority. If it is an independent church, it might just split the church into two sects. If it is affiliated with other churches, there could be a regional gathering of elders do search the scriptures and decide about the teaching. This is what "presbytery" means, a "gathering of elders."

Notice how the meeting progresses:

15:7-12 The Apostle Peter testifies to the revelation God gives him. Paul and Barnabas testify to God's miraculous signs.

15:13-21 The Elder James (brother of Jesus) quotes the Scriptures and gives his opinion on how to apply them in this situation.

15:22-23 The Apostles and Elders together as a group make a final decision.

15:24 The people who went from Jerusalem to teach in Antioch were declared to not have been "authorized."

15:28 The decision is not only spoken as from the Elders and Apostles, but also the Holy Spirit, himself.

The decision did have a recommendation for the Gentiles to follow two Jewish customs: abstain from food sacrificed to idols, and from eating blood... but the reason was... because the Jewish law has been preached all over the Roman empire ... note... Paul's teaching on food sacrificed to idols and the brother with a weak conscience.

Back to Gal. 2:1-10

This decision that Paul brings us... that Gentiles not be required to be circumcized had the full weight of authority of the church, yet the Galatian churches still had difficulties accepting it... when they heard the supposedly "more complete" teaching that you must be circumcized to be saved.

Q: Discuss, how can knowing church history and doctrinal statements of the past protect you from false teaching?

(A: You will know how other Christians dealt with the same issues, and how they applied the Scriptures, and so be better able to discern the truth or falsehood of a teaching your hear.)

Q: Test of your current church history knowledge. What were some major controversies of teachings in the past and what doctrinal statements did large meetings of church elders to conclude what the Bible teaches on those issues?

E.g. - Arian Heresy ---- and the answers.... Apostles' and Nicean Creeds... on the Trinity and the nature of Jesus.
- Canons of Dort to answer Arminianism... on whether man is able to freely choose God.
- Westminster Confession, Heidelberg Confession, etc. and Catechisms to teach what the Bible says about how you are saved... and how different from what the Roman Catholic teachings of the times.

Assignment for INVESTIGATION...

Q: Do you know what doctrinal statements that your church's leaders regard as good summaries of what Scripture teaches on certain issues?

(ask Pastor Tim.... or check out New Hope's website... www.taiwanchurch.org/nhcf

We do not know for sure if the Galatian churches knew about the prior decision of the Jerusalem Counsel, when the false teachers came among them.

But sometimes, even when you know what the accepted teaching is, it is hard for you personally to accept.

Q: Are there things that the Bible clearly teaches but that you are still uncomfortable with?

What can settle the issue for you?

(A: Trust that the Bible is God^“s Word, and that it is the authority for your life, and that this is what it teaches.)

NOTE: We are not talking about issues the God does not really explain in His Word... or things that are unclear. The question is about things that are clear. E.g. Homosexual activity is a sin against God. (Of course, people will claim that something is not clearly taught, if they do not want to obey it.) Try not to get too sidetracked on this today; a discussion of how you interpret scripture is a different topic.

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