Friday, July 25, 2008

Letter to the Galatians, chapter 1

The intro to Letter to the Galatians is really a fascinating read.

- Paul is boasting:

Gal 1:1 Paul, an apostle—sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead—

- There were already different versions of the Gospel even in the early years:

Gal 1:7 Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.

So these people are not teaching them something totally different but simply a 'perverted' form of the Gospel. Too bad that he didn't say more about what they taught.

- Paul, an alleged man of God, curses people

Gal 1:9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!

- Paul is somewhat on the defensive:

Gal 1:11 I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up.

So there must have been quite a lot of people thinking it was.

- His argumentation is both curious and pompous:

Gal 1:12 I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.

So everything Paul knows, he got told it by Jesus himself! Not by the Apostles or any other early follower of Jesus. This indeed then must really, really show that Paul is important and his version is the correct one. Just look at all the evidence for it! Uh, it's only Paul claiming so ... ok ...

- and somewhat contradictory:

Gal 1:13 For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. 14 I was advancing in Judaism beyond many Jews of my own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers.

So Paul, allegedly one of the most learned Jews (allegedly trained by Gamaliel), was capturing people like your standard thug without knowing why or what evil they were supposed to have committed? That doesn't really seem credible, does it? If he was indeed so dumb and didn't know anything about the belief of the people he was supposedly kidnapping and persecuting then how could he have been one of the most erudite Jews of his time? Jewish scholars and priests didn't agree with heretics of course but they sure weren't fools and knew what the heretical teachings were about. Either way, this doesn't make Paul look good.

- Yet Paul considered himself elect from birth and to be someone really worthy:

Gal 1:15 But when God, who set me apart from birth (or my mother's womb) and called me by his grace, was pleased 16 to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles

I wonder what took him so long to notice this ... and why it would matter if God 'set him apart from birth' (whatever that actually means) if it would take several decades for Paul to get this ...

- Paul emphasizes again that he didn't consult the Disciples nor cared to meet them soon:

Gal 1:16 I did not consult any man, 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went immediately into Arabia and later returned to Damascus.

Yeah, because why see the Apostles when Jesus is talking directly to you ... ? And what was so important in Arabia at the time that he needed to rush there?

- It took Paul THREE years to think that it would maybe be a good idea to speak with some of the original Disciples:

Gal 1:18 Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter and stayed with him fifteen days.

No surprise then that his and Peter's (and especially James') ideas were not the same.

- The only other Apostle that he SAW (doesn't necessarily imply 'MET') was James, the brother of Jesus, the head of the Jerusalem 'Church':

Gal 1:19 I saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lord's brother.

The other disciples were probably on holiday or trying to convert fellow Jews?

- And then he sounds defensive again:

Gal 1:20 I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie.

And that's only Chapter 1! ;)