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Wednesday, June 19 2019
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
Paul founded the Church in Galatia (modern Turkey) on his first missionary journey with Barnabas. (Acts 13-14). In Galatia, they found people eager to hear about Jesus but it really upset the local Jewish community. They were jealous. So they talked the authorities into throwing the apostles out of the area. Eventually the Apostles returned to their home base of Antioch in Syria for a breather. But news of the controversy got back to Jerusalem. Acts 15:1-2 tells us the story
“Some men came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the brothers: “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.” This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. So Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question.”
While Paul and Barnabas made plans to travel to Jerusalem to resolve the issue with the other apostles, news arrived that some of these legalists had sent their own teachers to the new churches in Galatia and were causing havoc. They claimed that Paul had not shared the whole gospel. He’d left bits out like circumcision to make it more popular. These new teachers taught with the authority of an ancient and respected creed. They offered membership of the true people of God. They were ‘true sons of Abraham’, after all weren’t all the Apostles circumcised Jews? And Jesus as well? They were being offered membership of the historic church of Jerusalem, not some independent outfit led by a former renegade rabbi named Paul. They probably also said that Paul wasn’t a real Apostle. He hadn’t been picked by Jesus. He was just a self-appointed leader with no credibility and no credentials.
In today’s study, we will consider how Paul responded to this message in his letter to the Galatians
1. PAUL EXERTS HIS AUTHORITY (1:1-5)
There are three observations we can make about these opening verses:
“Paul, an apostle - sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead - and all the brothers with me, To the churches in Galatia”
Paul was not self-appointed. He was an apostle - that means ‘one who is sent’ - by Jesus the Son and God the Father.
“Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father.”
Paul went ahead to introduce the heart of his message.
The Source of the Gospel - “according to the will of our God and Father”
The Heart of the Gospel - “Jesus gave himself for our sins”
The Purpose of the Gospel - “”to rescue us from the present evil age”
The Fruit of the Gospel - “Grace and peace to you”
“to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
Paul’s motive was the glory of God. The hard words and the stinging rebuke and the scathing anathemas, which follow, were motivated by his passion for the glory of God. Paul exerts his authority. His ministry, his message, his motive. Now we see how:
2. PAUL EXPRESSES HIS DISAPPOINTMENT (VERSES 6-7)
“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.”
Paul knew he needed to act very urgently; you will notice that in this letter there was no praise, no prayer, no thanksgiving, no commendation. Instead he went straight to dealing urgently with the matter at hand and sternly warning the churches in Galatia. He did this because he observed the following:
“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you” (Galatians 1:6)
The word for “desert” means to transfer your allegiance. It is a word used to describe a soldier who rebels against his commander, or deserts to the enemy. By adding to the gospel they were turning away from it (Acts 15:1). This is what marks off all the cults and ‘isms’ from authentic Christianity. They say ‘yes’ to Jesus but… then add their own beliefs or additional requirements.
But you cannot add to the finished work of Christ. “The work of Christ is a finished work; and the gospel of Christ is a gospel of free grace. Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, without any adding of human works or merit. Our salvation is solely due to God’s gracious call.” To depart from the gospel is to desert God. For there is only one gospel. There is only one way back to God. Only through Jesus’ death in our place.
“Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.”
The word ‘pervert’ means to distort or reverse. This is what the false teachers were doing. They were reversing the flow of biblical revelation. They were taking these young believers back to the law of Moses; confusing them and reversing the gospel. They were leading people in the wrong direction; away from God. Paul inferred that perverting the gospel was synonymous to deserting God. Because in the Scriptures God has revealed Himself fully and finally in Jesus Christ. He died in our place.
You can’t add to it without taking away from it. Any message, any sermon, any book or article that adds to the finished work of Jesus is not only a perversion it’s a sign of a desertion. To add is to take away.
3. PAUL EXPOSES HIS ADVERSARIES (VERSES 8-10)
“But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! 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!”
If Paul is astonished at the Galatian churches, he is outraged at these false teachers. Here we see Paul using some of the strongest language in the Bible. It was a universal condemnation with no exceptions. It equally applies to human teachers, angelic beings or even the apostle Paul himself. It was not an emotional outburst but an unmistakable condemnation.
“Am I now trying to win the approval of people, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
The threat comes not just from those outside the Church but also from those who may be on the inside. It happened then and it happens today. If people can be made right with God through their faith, or their good works, through circumcision and obeying the mosaic rules, or offering animal sacrifices, or because of their race, then Jesus died for nothing. Paul declared his motive in the letter he wrote to the Corinthians.
“We preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles” (1 Cor. 1:23)
“For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” (1 Cor. 2:2)
This lesson was culled from: https://www.stephensizer.com/sermons/galatians1.htm
Saturday, June 15 2019
Contributor: Alex Alajiki
Recap from the book of Ephesians: Last week we finished our studies in the book of Ephesians.
Paul, by the Holy Spirit, gave us deep insight into the mysteries of eternal life in Christ Jesus. He dealt with the fundamentals of the gospel of Christ in all its saving glory.
Ephesians, more than any other book, presents the purpose and plan of God for the church. This book sets forth one of the clearest presentations on the relation between positional truth and experiencing positional truth in one’s life. We concluded with the revelation of God’s armour for every believer in Christ.
The book of Galatians is one of the books Apostle Paul wrote (Gal.6:11; See with what large letters I have written to you with my own hand!) to the Churches in respond to certain issues in the Churches. In this letter, Paul was addressing the confusion brought upon the Churches in the province of Galatia by the Jewish Christian who came from Jerusalem, teaching them about the necessity of incorporating Judaism with their faith in Christ. Gal.3:1-3;
O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? 2 This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?
The challenge was to help the believers to get a good understanding of the concept of the salvation we have by faith in the Messiah and the need for us to keep the commandments without depending on the works of the law for salvation.
The Author; Gal.1:1
Paul, an apostle (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead), 2 and all the brethren who are with me, to the churches of Galatia:
It is very important to note that Paul who was converted from Judaism wrote this letter to the Churches in Galatia. It should also be noted that Paul was a Jew and was still practicing the Jewish traditions. We have proofs in the book of Acts that:
This implies that Paul would not have taught anything that was contrary to what Jesus had taught. We know what Jesus taught regarding the commandments. Matt.5:17-18;
“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfil. 18 For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.”
We must study the Epistle to the Galatia Churches knowing that it was written by a well-educated Jewish scholar that had had a personal encounter with his Messiah. He was called as an apostle to the gentiles and knew the separation between the practice of Judaism and Christianity.
Since we have established the author, let us see what we know about the original recipients of the letter.
The Recipient; Gal. 1:2
“and all the brethren who are with me, to the churches of Galatia.”
According to the Gregory-Aland numbering, the epistle was dated to somewhere between 175-225 C.E.
It was written to a group of non-Jewish believers in Jesus (Gal 4:8, 5:2, 6:12). They resided in the Roman province of Galatia. The province of Galatia included cities like: Derbe, Lystra, Iconium and Antioch in Pisidia. These are today located in modern Turkey.
Province of Galatia
Since this was a Roman province, it is assumed that the epistle was written in Greek language. It is most likely that this epistle was not sent to one specific group of believers, but to a number of assemblies in the province/region. This is an interesting fact, as the rest of Paul’s epistles are all addressed to a specific assembly.
The Purpose of the Epistle; Gal.1:6-7
“I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, 7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.”
Paul felt the need to write this warning due to a group of people that came to the believers in the Churches of Galatia with a different gospel. They required them to be circumcised before they can become true believers. The major theme of this Epistle is a warning about the perversion of the gospel.
The Central Theme of the Epistle; Gal.3:29
“And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
Paul was teaching the gentiles that they became part of Israel (blessing of Abraham) through their faith in the Messiah and not by circumcision or becoming a Jew by observing the law of Moses. Gal.2:3;
“Yet not even Titus who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised.”
Paul explains that the gospel is not something he was taught, but something that was directly revealed to him by Christ. Thus, it is not the teaching of men. Therefore, he is so adamant that any other gospel, even from the angels, would be a false gospel. Gal.1:11-12;
“But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. 12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
This epistle reveals the importance of context. If you want to get to the real meaning of a scripture, it is necessary to understand the why, when and who as well. It is easy to twist a piece of scripture to fit a specific doctrine. The Epistle to the Galatians is one of the prime examples of how the historical context shines a completely different light on the verses that we have read repeatedly.
It is also very important to get to know the author. If we know exactly who Paul is, and what he had written in his other works, it is a lot easier to see what he actually meant in this epistle to the Galatians.
Wednesday, June 05 2019
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
INTRODUCTION: We have come to the concluding study of the Book of Ephesians. It has been a journey filled with the revelation of the mysteries of the Father’s love for and grace towards us. Today’s study will be split in two. The first part will be about Tychicus and the other the elements of Paul’s closing prayers
21 So that you also may know how I am and what I am doing, Tychicus the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord will tell you everything. 22 I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage your hearts. 23 Peace be to the brothers, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible. (Ephesians 6:21–24 ESV)
PART I – TYCHICUS – BELOVED & FAITHFUL (Verses 21 & 22)
In verses 21 and 22, Paul introduces us to a man named Tychicus, who was delivering his letter to the Ephesians. He describes Tychicus as both a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord. This was not the only time he described him as such. See what Colossians 4:7 says:
"As to all my affairs, Tychicus, our beloved brother and faithful servant and fellow bond-servant in the Lord, will bring you information." Emphasis mine
A Beloved Brother: Tychicus was not just a spiritual brother, but a beloved brother. The word beloved is a word of endearment. It is someone that you love, but it also someone that you are deeply devoted to. You don’t call everybody "beloved." Beloved means they have struck something in your heart. There is a common cord - a bond of love, and a bond of faith that draws you together.
A Faithful Minister: Not only was he a beloved brother, he was a faithful minister. The word for "faithful" used here is pistos. It is the word that means somebody who can be depended upon. When you’ve got somebody who loves God like you do, somebody who wants to see God’s work done like you want to see it and he is a beloved brother or sister, he or she becomes a faithful servant. Psalm 101:6 tells us that God takes special interest in the faithful.
“My eyes will be on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me; the one whose walk is blameless will minister to me.”
Psalm 18:25 tells us that “To the faithful you show yourself faithful . . .”
To bring the Ephesian church up to speed with all the goings on around Paul. His ministry, his suffering, his well-being, etc. “Tychicus the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord will tell you everything”! Nothing hidden, nothing coded, complete transparency. Once again, see what Colossians 4:7 says:
"As to all my affairs, Tychicus, our beloved brother and faithful servant and fellow bond-servant in the Lord, will bring you information." Emphasis mine
PART II – FOUR IMPORTANT “CARDINAL POINTS” (Verses 23 & 24)
Paul also tells the Ephesian church about four important things in his concluding remarks, that he wishes and prays, not only for the believers in Ephesus, but for all believers everywhere.
Peace: The peace we have with God and the peace we have with one another, both of which are a result of our being united with Jesus Christ. After reminding the Ephesians of their condition before placing faith in Jesus Christ—a condition that included hostility with God’s people and with God himself, Paul gives the Ephesians good news in Ephesians 2:13-15. He says,
13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace” Ephesians 4:2-3 says:
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”
Also see what Romans 8:11says:
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Emphasis mine
Love: The love God has towards us and the we have for the saints. In Ephesians 1: 4-5, Paul told us that:
[God] chose us in [Christ] before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love [God] predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will. (Ephesians 1:4–5 ESV)
God chose us to be His special people. Before the foundations of the world were laid, God chose us to be part of a group of people who are set apart from the rest of the world. And He didn’t do this because He knew we would be holy, He did this to make us holy. In love, God made us His children. However, God doesn’t want us to simply be beneficiaries of His love, He wants us to be distributors of His love as well. And this is particularly true within the body of Christ. Ephesians 1: 15-16, says,
“For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you”
Faith: In Ephesians 6:23 Paul ties together love with faith. He doesn’t just pray that the Ephesians will have love; he prays that they will have “love with faith.” In Ephesians 2:8 Paul tells us that we “have been saved through faith.” And he goes on to tell us that this salvation we have received, including the faith that made it possible, is not our own doing, but is a gift from God. That is why Paul goes on to say in Ephesians 2:9 that none of us can boast over our salvation. We can’t boast over something that was freely given to us.
Grace: In verse 24, the final verse, he says,
Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible.
In Ephesians 2:8, Paul did not only say that we have been “saved through faith.” But he said, “by grace you have been saved through faith.” So apart from God’s grace, there is no salvation. God’s grace is the only hope any of us have. In Ephesians 1:4-8 Paul tells us that:
“In love [God] predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight.”
God has lavished His grace upon us. We are the beneficiaries of many wonderful things we do not deserve. We have redemption through Jesus’s blood. We have forgiveness from our trespasses and sins. All of this is according to the riches of God’s grace. That is why Paul concludes his letter in Ephesians 6:24 by praying for grace for us because he knows we need it. Not just to be saved, but to faithfully live the Christian life.
When people have an understanding of a vision, they are able to identify with it. In verses 19-20 Paul requested that the church in Ephesus prayed for him and the next two verses he assured them that Tychicus will bring to them word about all of his affairs; telling us that Paul was transparent and accountable. There’s something powerful about clarity and the fulfilment of dreams and visions. Every vision needs “runners” but “runners” need to have a clear picture communicated to them.