Friday, January 21, 2011

Exegsis Galatians 1:1-5

Beginning Galatians, there are no empty words. Paul must remind his readers of who he is and who He represents.

Paul normally opened his letters declaring himself to be an apostle, not any different "Paul". Only in this letter does Paul extend his title with a Jewish Chaism to show his specific relation to the Galatian readers.

An apostle is by definition a person sent with an authoritative message. The distinction from an "angel" or "teacher" is the nature of authority. In some ways an apostle is an "angel" bringing a message from someone but the one one bringing it does not have authority to enforce or command (c.f. Matt 7:28-29; 1 Cor. 7:28; 2 Cor10:8; Eph. 4:11). You may consider the likeness that a prophet may have an enforceable word from God (2 Kings 17:1,7). An apostle does bring a prophetic word; even Peter referred to their messages and the scriptures written by them as prophecy (2Peter 1:19-21, 3:14-16). Apostles go beyond prophecy though to give official representation to their message from God; they are the authority to the message in God.

Paul expounds on the specifics of his apostolic authority with a rather straight forward few phrases. His authority does not come "from men"; this apostle was not sent from the realm of men. I work for AT&T and teach in my Church. I am man of both 'worlds' but I do not teach in church as being "from AT&T". Neither does Paul give his message as "from men".

Further he clears up that his authority is not being intrinsic to himself but through Jesus Christ and God the Father. More specifically the God who rose Christ from the dead to sit authoritatively at the right hand of God (Acts 2:33-35). This resurrection both vindicates Christ's authoritative claims and justifies Paul and all other Christians(Rom. 4:25). Paul speaks through an authority that no other god--let alone no other man--can claim.

We have reached the center of the Chaism as Paul addresses the Galatians. He redirects the stern focus on authority to a gentle blessing.

As is his pattern, Paul speaks grace and peace to the receipients. This he speaks to comes again from their mutual heavenly Father through the work of Jesus Christ. Specifically the sacrificial and substitutional work for their sins. This was the basis of their justification and reconciliation (Rom 4:25, 5:9-10) and consequentially for their deliverance from the dominion of sin they were under.

This great hope for their grace and peace is clearly declared to be of God's decreed purpose not just a desire of God. Paul makes it clear this "will of God" is God's purpose because of it being linked to the ultimate end of God's eternal praise and glory. This purpose God will surely not compromise (Is. 48:11). What great assurance and comfort the authority of this apostle can bring!

These few verses form a chaism with the focused phrase "to the churches of Galatia", in the middle. Paul book ends his opening to them with his authority firmly rooted in God's work through Christ and blessings firmly rooted in God's work for them in Christ. This microcosm will be a focal lens for much of the rest of the book study.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Time is always short, sometimes shorter than others. I am finding a great need for structure in life but not a self-exalting man-pleasing structure. I need walls of self-control to protect what is important and buildings of purpose to exalt Him who is eternal.

The purpose and context of this blog was already laid out previously but now it needs some structure to keep it that way. I have determined to go through Paul's letter to the Galatians. I will plan to study it in Chapters and present sections on this blog in three perspectives--raw exegetical details, philosophical/theological considerations, and personal worldview.

For the end of being clear, I will try to present these in different posts and work to connect them well. This has never been easy for me to produce in a short period of time. In my present state and structure of life, that is all I will have each time. May God bless the efforts I make to store up these meditations for my family and "may your deeds be shown to your servants, your splendor to their children." (Ps. 90:16)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Authority: A bit of Chaos theory

Authority is an important thing. The world cannot function without it; it is order and structure in the universe. But no one, that I know, particularly likes it. So I suppose we (pardon the royal "we") all would prefer a self-inflicted chaos--rebellion.

In those I mostly often observe, I do not see open rebellion but subtle subterfuge. The later is usually more dangerous and harder to spot. For instance, Balaam of Peor in the Numbers 22-24, the sin is but a subtle few words of action missing.

When I was a child, I heard in Sunday school that this man was a horrible man. He had caused the children of God to sin and be greatly punished. However, when I read the story, I couldn't understand why God was angry with him. The first time Balaam approached God with the issue of needing to curse Israel for the king of Moab, God said clearly NO! Balaam obeyed and sent them away. When approached again Balaam seemed to be steady in heart to resist. "Though Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not go beyond the command of the Lord my God to do less or more."

So what went wrong? Balaam came to God a second time and God almost seemed to change his mind. "If the men have come to call you, rise, go with them; but only do what I tell you." So what do you expect Balaam got up and went but...the men didn't have to call him.

Balam reveals his heart's desire before God's authoritative test. There was no waiting in the morning to see if the men would broach the subject with Balaam first. Balaam got up and went without a question asked. All he needed was to hear "rise and go with them"; the rest was not important. He began his little rebellion in his heart, setting his ways against the Lord, against authority, and against himself.

God quickly set things in order much to the frustration of Balaam as he beat the donkey that constantly resisted his authorithy veering off the path, into a wall or just sitting down. However, no one will find injustice with a donkey who sought to save the life of his master from the judgement of an Angel standing in the way. How blind can we be when in rebelion to our masters to the obedience of our subordinates?

Though the subertfuge in Balaam's heart was never corrected, God did keep authority in place. He forced Balaam's mouth to speak the blessing of God to Israel, despite three attempts to entertain God's wrath upon them. See authority still stays in even when we attempt to overthrow it; it only changes. God prepared the use of Balaam's rebellion to stay at home to the end of blessing Israel all the more--even to the prophecy of the comming Christ, the eternal King.

As the Psalmist says "Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain....He who sits in heaven laughs. (Ps. 2:1)" Do not become a laughing stock before God by clever attempts to resist Him. "No purpose of [God's] can be thwarted.(Job 42:2)" Instead submit yourselves under the almighty hand of God in ever detail.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

some thoughts

I am learing that what one fills the mind with is sure to have an effect on how one percieves, as well as lives, the world in which they live. I'm not just talking about what one watches on t.v but more so what a person reads.

Books, or more so what is contained in a book (aka thoughts), are a very powerful source. I never understood why Hitler would destroy thousands (possibly millions) of books during WWII but Hitler obviously new what I am learning now. Books are a gateway to changing a persons thoughts. No wonder why he didn't want people reading and it also explains as to why he target any intellectuals as well.

There are so many books out there today filled with thoughts, thoughts about God, sex, life, eating well, fashion, and each of those books may contain simularities within the same genre but ultimately every book also represents someone else's thoughts. And if one is good at articulating One person can literally shape what the next generation is going to think.

That's kind of scary to me because so many of us don't know how to think through things and we can often buy into the next "rational" line of thinking without a second opionion.

Should we stop reading then? well no, obviously not nor should we go and destroy every book that we don't agree with either but it definately challenges me to be careful as to what I am filling my head with. What ideas am I buying into that I may not even realize I am agreeing too. And all the more it makes me think how much more I need to be reading my Bible.

We can fill our heads with all kinds of books on spirituality and such but when it comes to picking up our bibles and filling our minds with scripture, well that is just so often too hard.

I have been convicted in this area latlely. Thankfully, i have a good friend that is challenging me and helping me stay commited to reading my Bible. but it has been all to easily, easy, for me to bypass the "good book" for a book that is good but not as good.

Not that I think we should just all read our bibles because that will fix all our problems, or that I think we need to check it off our list so that we can say we had been a "good little christian" for that day. But for the fact that I am realizing more and more that what we fill our minds with we will indeed percieve our lives and the lives around us through.

So then why not be filling our minds a little bit everyday with good truths. Why not remind ourselves a little every day of who are God is? Why not take a look at the past and try our best to learn from others mistakes?

One other thing, I'm not advocating that we stop reading other "spiritual" books all together just that we use them as my husband put it "to be a dialog along with our bible reading." I would hate to have all my bible knowledge be that from other books that are about the bible and not actually from my bible itself.


Lately I've been reading 1Samuel and let me tell you reading about Saul's sins has shown me a great deal of my own sin issues that I need to work on. Not that I am going around trying to kill a blameless man, but I will admit that there was a time when I read about Saul and was like "You dummy, how can you keep running away from God's plans." and Now I'm kind of like "Sara, you dummy, why do you try to keep running away from God's plans." interesting.

I've also been reading through the psalms, mostly i tend to pick a Psalm at random but each psalm is unique while being sure to point out a characteristic or charateristic(S) of the the Lord... How much my prayer life has changed by just reading another's simple prayer ever day. It makes me want to pray my own prayer every day.

Something has begun to change in me this Month, it's like I have a faith again, that honestly believes that God can do anything, that he really is powerful, that he really is in control and I am seeking and yearning and eagerly waiting to watch what wonderful, majestic thing he does in my daily life, even if that is 'just' giving me a little piece of fresh air and encouragment.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Considering Context

Why is it hard for me to write? Why do I even find it important to write? The audience is vast and unknown; my context is either to broad or narrow. I default to either writing like an internet advertisement or like an intellectual hermit.

Now if I constructed a limited context for my discourse, then I perhaps would only have needs to narrow my topics. Before I wrote this blog for medium-rare commentary on Biblical exegesis. My study has been greatly diminuted since the inception of this blog. I mostly read without stopping to dive into details. Mental tools for carefully and rightly interpreting fine points of the word have become rusty and dusty.

But it is good to look at the Future. "The only life I have left to live is the future. The past is not in my hands to offer or alter. It is gone." Endeavors to produce articles on this blog must now rest in the hands of God's active grace. Then I will if it please Him, allow me to both consider in a limited context the treasures and workings of truth.

My limited context then will be what God has given me in relational life--my wife, my children, and my immediate friends.