Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 3 * PART 3 * BOOK 32
GALATIANS 1:15 – 2:9
Now we’re here for Bible study we always say, so we’re going to buy up the time and use every minute for searching the Scriptures and we trust that you will learn how to study. Now we’re in Galatians Chapter 2, and here we find this Church that Paul had started in Galatia was having a problem. Remember this little letter was written primarily to straighten out the false teaching by Judaisers of attaching Law-keeping and circumcision to Paul’s Gospel of Grace. Now here as we saw in our last lesson, some 22 years after Pentecost in about 51 AD., Paul has already established Churches throughout Asia Minor. We know that the Church at Antioch has been more or less the home base. It’s where Gentiles were first called Christians, and where they were first interested in the things of God.
So consequently it’s at Antioch that this matter really boiled over to the place that the Lord instructed Paul to go up to Jerusalem and meet with the apostles and elders of the Jewish congregation. I refuse to call those Jewish believers Christians simply because the Bible doesn’t. Now I know that I stand alone out there and that’s all right because like I’ve always told people that come to my classes, “I have never taught anywhere, classes or even on television with the idea of having any monetary return. So I don’t have to worry if people like it or don’t like it. I told one gentlemen one night, “It fine with me if you don’t want to come back to the class, it’s no skin off my nose.” But you know what? He came back to the class a couple of weeks later and he became one of my best students.
So I feel the same way here. I can take my stand on some of these things without compromise because I only have ONE that I’m responsible to, and that’s the Author of this Book. I handle this Book realizing what a tremendous responsibility it is. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a Sunday school teacher, or whether you’re going to just hold a devotion in your women’s group or whatever. Never forget that when you handle the Word of God that it’s an awesome responsibility, and I never forget that. We appreciate the letters and phone calls of encouragement that we receive. I do feel that Paul and Barnabas as they now come from Antioch and they’re going to try to prove to the leadership at Jerusalem that you cannot add anything to the relationship between Christ and the believer except faith and faith alone in Paul’s Gospel.
Now when we left off in our last lesson we were in verse 2, and I hope that I made the point that when he says-
“And I went up by revelation, and communicated…”
In other words they didn’t just flippantly say, “Well this is what we believe.” But rather they sat down and they looked at it point by point. Line upon line, because these revelations that came through the apostle Paul are so far above and beyond Judaism that it took some time for these people to understand where Paul was coming from. Those of you who remember my teachings back in Romans 1:16 where Paul says:
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it (the Gospel) is the power of God unto salvation…”
And what does salvation imply according to Paul’s teachings? It’s that whole body of truth that involves justification, sanctification, forgiveness, redeemed, baptized by the Holy Spirit into the Body of Christ, indwelt by the Holy Sprit, and you can just go on and on and on. These are all new revelations that you won’t find until you get to Paul’s writings. You don’t find that taught in the Old Testament. You don’t find the Old Testament believer told, “The Spirit dwelleth within you.” Do you? No. Abraham was told that he was justified by faith and faith alone, but he’s the only one of the Jews back there told that. The reason is, all of this has to be after the Cross and the resurrection had been completed. So Paul communicated carefully, line upon line, precept upon precept that Gospel.
“And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles.
Now why does the Holy Spirit prompt the man to use the word “that gospel?” Well to signify the difference between Paul’s Gospel, and what Peter and Jesus and the eleven had been teaching to Israel. Now you’ve heard me many times make the statement that Jesus and the Twelve operated under the Gospel of the Kingdom. And the Gospel of the Kingdom was just simply that the King is here, He is ready to set up the Kingdom offered to Israel since Abraham was given the Covenant. And that whole scope of that Kingdom message was “That Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ, the Messiah of Israel.”
But now you see the Gospel of Grace is “That this same Messiah of Israel Who was crucified, shed His Blood, was buried, and rose from the dead is the Savior, not just for Israel, but of the whole human race.” Not to those who keep the Law, not to those who do something for salvation, but to those who simply believe. Oh, that was a whole new concept and these believing Jews couldn’t comprehend it, so they have to bring Paul to Jerusalem. Now reading on in verse 2.
“And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately (probably a small room where just the leaders were present) to them which were of reputation,…”
The leadership, and that would include Peter and the eleven, and maybe a few of the Jewish elders of that assembly. And so they were more or less in a separate room by themselves first, as Paul was delineating that Gospel which he was preaching to those Gentiles, and it leaves out circumcision, and Law-keeping. But the opposition couldn’t see that that was the way to do it. Now verse 3.
“But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled (or forced) to be circumcised:”
At least Paul and Barnabas held them at bay on that point. They weren’t going to circumcise Titus in order for him to be part of this great counsel meeting. Now verse 4.
“And that because of false brethren unawares brought in,…”
Now these false brethren didn’t sneak in, but rather the leaders no doubt had something to do with it because they were brought in. Now that’s why I’m a stickler for every word. Now if that word brought wasn’t in there then I could say, Peter wasn’t aware of these people, but I think he was. Somebody was influential in bringing these people into this great counsel meeting of the Jewish believers at Jerusalem to confront Paul and Barnabas and Titus, but primarily Paul and Barnabas.
“And that because of false brethren unawares…”
Now there is another scripture that uses that same word unawares, and let’s look at it for a moment. It’s in the little Book of Jude. So when false teaching slips into a congregation or a denomination, it’s nothing new. The writers of Scriptures were already aware of it.
“Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. 4. For there are certain men (not a lot of them, but enough of them) crept in unawares, (a false teacher will never come into your Church, and say, “OK folks I’m going to give you a little poison to go along with the good stuff.” So what does he do? He comes in perfectly sanctioned, he’s got all the credentials, but he’s a false teacher. And this has been a warning from day one.) who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Does that sound familiar? Sure it does. And yet the gullible just can’t see the difference. And that’s what they are, they’re gullible. Oh, these men may sound like they have all the answers, they may be polished, they may be like an Apollos. They may have all the knowledge that makes me look like what I really am – just an uneducated cow man, but they are false teachers, and they are leading people astray. Now coming back to the Book of Galatians and you’ll see that same word and they’re using the same mode of operation. They will bring false teachers in without the whole congregation knowing who they are. And look what they do.
“And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily (or secretly) to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that thy might bring us into bondage.”
Now what do you suppose Paul is talking about when he says “Liberty?” Well, that he was no longer under the demands of the Mosaic Law. They were set at liberty from that. Now I don’t want to get risqué, but we’ve got to face facts as to how life was back in those days. Not every home had a private shower and bath, so most people had to go to public baths. Well, when these false brethren would go to these baths and there was an uncircumcised Gentile such as Titus, do you think they’re blind? Why they could pick that out in a moment. So the whole idea here that these Jews were going to slip in and spy on Paul and Barnabas, especially with their relationship with Titus who was a Gentile, to check them out and make sure that they were practicing circumcision. They probably watched how they ate. Are they eating kosher food, and it was all done to just submarine the apostle and sink him? That’s all they have on their mind, they want to sink the apostle Paul. They want him to be absolutely put out of business rather than go out to the Gentiles with the message that he’s been preaching. Now reading on:
“…that they (these Judaisers, although most are Kingdom believers in Christ as the Messiah) might bring us into bondage:”
They actually wanted Paul to say, “OK fellows you win, you win, I’ll go back to my congregations and I’ll just tell them, OK folks I’ve had it all wrong. I’m sorry I’ve been teaching you wrong, I guess we’re going to have to give in. Go ahead and practice your circumcision if that’s what you want to do. Go ahead and keep the dietary laws, keep the Law of Moses for after all I was wrong.” But you see that’s not Paul! Now let’s read on in verse 5. Now the real Paul stands up:
“To whom (that is the leaders of the Jerusalem congregation) we gave place by subjection, (do you know what that means? Pressure. Paul was under pressure from these Jerusalem leaders to get rid of this idea that your converts don’t have to keep the Law of Moses.) no, not for an hour; (Paul didn’t weaken one bit, why?) that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.”
Now he’s writing to Gentiles remember so he’s writing to you and I. He’s rehearsing what he went through. And what was the purpose he fought so hard for us? So that Gentiles could continue to literally revel in the Grace of God without being weighed down with all of the burdens of Law-keeping. Now you want to remember that any kind of religion is a burden. That’s why that most of your Oriental religions, in particular their whole format for keeping people under their thumb, is superstition. They keep people scared to death that if they don’t do exactly what their religion commands then they’re in trouble. Bring it into any kind of a legalistic system and it’s the same way they keep people under their thumb, and that’s not freedom. Let’s look at that in Galatians Chapter 5:1 And this is what he’s talking about and fighting so hard for us that we would never have to give up a verse like this.
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty (the freedom) wherewith Christ (in His finished work and power of resurrection) hath made us free, (we have liberty) and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”
That yoke of bondage was what the Law was. Judaism was the religion of Christ’s day, and pretty much the extent of Orthodox Judaism today. But what were the roots of Judaism? Well the pure Mosaic and Levitical Law that you had back there in the time of Moses. But the religion degenerated, and as they came up through the centuries, and the Rabbi’s begin to make comments on the various portions of the Old Testament, it just gradually became watered down from its original purity. I’m not saying this with any criticism of the present day Jewish religion, but truth is truth. So it had degenerated down to a religion, and that’s why Paul called it that in Chapter 1:13 at the time of Christ. It was no longer resting on the Ten Commandments and the Torah, but it had become 613 rules and regulations.
Now can you imagine living 24 hours a day under the constant pressure of 613 rules? Why you couldn’t take a breath without breaking one of them. And yet they had to be scared to death of what the religion would demand of them if they broke one of these 613 commandments. Now Paul is saying that we’ve been set free from all of that. Now let’s turn on into the Book of Colossians, and this is one of my favorite verses. Oh what beautiful language we have here. I hope the new versions don’t take this out, but leave it just like it is. Paul, writing to Gentiles up there in Asia Minor writes:
“Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances (what do you suppose that was? 613 of them.) that was against us, which was contrary to us , and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;”
See that finished it. The Cross was the end of the Law, and we must never forget that. And yet so much of our preaching and teaching today is in that area before the Cross. And that’s why they can hang onto all this legalism. That’s why they can hang on to all the commandments because they are not recognizing that the Cross completely finished it. The Lord Himself nailed those things to the Cross. Yes including the Ten Commandments. We’re not under their binding power. Now we’re under their moral principles. Absolutely we are. We still live under the moral code of the Ten Commandments, I’ll never take that away. In fact Paul makes that so clear in Romans Chapter 13. It’s so obvious that they still have a valid role in our Christian experience. But it’s not a religious dogma.
“Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath (already) fulfilled the law. (the work of the Cross was love epitomized. It was God’s love for mankind that nailed Him to the Cross. And as a result He fulfilled the demands of the Law) 9. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shall not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness. Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”
That obvious enough isn’t it? But it’s not a legalistic, pressurized system whereby we have to say, “Oh I don’t dare do that. I can’t do that because there is a law against it.” No we’ve been set free. But like I always say, “That’s not license.” As soon as we come under this law of love we no longer want to break these commandments. We have now the indwelling Holy Spirit who directs our thinking and actions. Now that is not to say that we’re going to be sinless, because we’re human. And as long as we’re here in the flesh we’re still going to fail, but the Lord has made provisions for that. Now coming back to Galatians Chapter 2, and again I want to look at verse 5. Let verse 5 just sink into your thinking. Paul is under pressure to give up this Gospel of Grace, and add Law-keeping and circumcision, but he says:
“To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; (today I guess we’d say not for a minute) that the truth of the gospel (Paul’s Gospel) might continue with you.”.
Now just stop and think? What if Paul would have given up?