Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Galatians & Giving (part 3)

Paul writes “When you come together, each one has a song, has a lesson, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation.  Let all these things be done for the strengthening of the church” (1 Corinthians 14:26b).  He goes on to offer some helpful guidelines for how the symposium should be conducted, but at no point should there be an insertion of any idea of a single person always presiding over the service or being the primary, regular teacher in the mold of the current conceptions of a pastor. 

All were to be equal participants, and in fact it was most likely the case, in accordance with standard association customs in those days, that the presidency of the meal (the one who presided over the meal) was a shared responsibility that rotated amongst the members of the group.  One can imagine that this would be even more prevalent in the churches, especially as they were to prefer one another and serve one another in a spirit of humility with a consciousness of the cross of the Christ, so that one person could never be in a position to dominate another, dominate the group, or attempt to accrue the honor that was due to Jesus alone (and which was to be conferred upon those that society would have considered to be the least honorable).    

Returning then to the issues at hand in the church of Galatia that are indicated by Paul’s highlighting of the Jew/Gentile divisions, this theme can be traced through the letter.  Doing so should shed helpful light on the words of the sixth verse of the sixth chapter of Galatians, which should allow for hearing the words more appropriately.  In the first chapter Paul writes of “a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you” (1:8b).  This is quite the helpful alert to a problem within the church.  Shortly thereafter Paul begins his talk of Judaism (1:13,14).  He does not condemn, but rather sets his former way of life in contrast with his call to preach Christ “among the Gentiles” (1:16). 

In the second chapter Paul again writes of his preaching “among the Gentiles” (2:2), going on to speak of circumcision and his Greek companion (2:3).  He calls attention to this by writing “Yet not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised,” in a desire to bring him into conformity with the covenant markers of Judaism, “although he was a Greek” (2:3).  The only reason for Paul to make mention of this is if it has some bearing on that with which he intends to deal in this letter.  That makes sense, does it not?   

In the sixth verse of the chapter, Paul offers an aside, saying “God shows no favoritism between people” (2:6b).  Though this is directly related to the “influential leaders” (2:6c) of the church in Jerusalem, it seems as though Paul includes this statement as part of the larger point that he is making, while going on to point out that he was “entrusted with the Gospel to the uncircumcised just as Peter was to the circumcised (for He who empowered Peter for his apostleship to the circumcised also empowered me for my apostleship to the Gentiles)” (2:7-8).  

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