Sunday, September 7, 2014

Galatians & Giving (part 8 of 8)

So how does all of this knowledge about Paul’s purposes in relation to intra-church conflicts, cultural dynamics, and societal norms aid in better understanding “Now the one who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with the one who teaches it”? (Galatians 6:6).  Well, since it is possible and probable that slaves and masters were sitting side by side at the church’s meal table (and hopefully learning to love their neighbor as themselves by engaging in conversation in a mutually up-building way), and because it is also most likely the case that a slave would, oftentimes, be chosen to preside over the meal and the symposium, it would also make sense to believe that, on frequent occasions, it would be a slave that was offering up a word of prophecy or sharing some form of instruction (be it a tongue, an interpretation, a song, or what have you) for the building up of the church (the purpose of the use of all gifts). 

Yes, a slave or perhaps even a woman might very well be responsible for imparting instruction to the assembled body, as they participate equally in the symposium, teaching and expounding upon the word of Israel’s God for the purpose of advancing the kingdom, or of advancing the understanding of the way in which the church is to function in and for the kingdom of the Creator God.  Likewise, when viewed from the perspective of the Jew, it may be a Gentile from whom instruction is being received. 

Either way, in a world in which it was not uncommon to pay (and honor) a traveling teacher, there was to be no delineation and no discrimination when it came to the remuneration of those that were instructing and serving to build up and strengthen the body.  In every other meal association, not only would it be unheard of to allow those with no honor (honor being assigned and recognized by the community at large) to teach (as if somebody lacking any honor could impart useful information), but it would also be problematic.  For the church this would not be problematic, but it would be an opportunity to display the only proper delineation, which would be the delineation that demonstrates just how incredibly unique was the body that represented the world’s true King and His kingdom. 

Just as it would have been customary for an orator or one skilled in rhetoric, and therefore held in high esteem, to be compensated for the exercise of their particular gifting, with nobody thinking twice about the appropriateness of compensation, so too should there be no hesitation in providing compensation to anyone, be it a slave or woman, who performed such a role for the Jesus community.  This equal sharing owing to teaching, regardless of social status and standing outside the church gathering, along with the necessary disavowal of any pathetic divisions or classifications within the church body, would be evidence of the operation of the covenant God’s Spirit within the community. 

It is in accordance with this way of thinking that Paul can then be heard saying “Do not be deceived.  God will not be made a fool.  For a person will reap what he sows, because the person who sows to his own flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit” (6:7-8).  Though it remains a component, clearly, the instruction to “share all good things with the one who teaches it” goes well beyond its customary use to provide justification for giving to one’s church, and thereby showing respect for the teaching and the teacher.          

No comments:

Post a Comment