Sunday, June 29, 2014

Galatians 6:11-18 Notes

The conclusion of Galatians differs from the conclusion to Paul’s other letters in many respects:
  • There is no mention of future travel plans.
  • There is no request for prayers on Paul’s behalf.
  • There are no greetings to individuals among the Galatians.
  • There is no doxology (statement of praise to God).

This may simply be because this is Paul’s first letter, and therefore it is unfair to compare it to the others. But it could be due to the stark issues at stake in the letter. While this conclusion is different from that of his other letters, it does serve the important purpose of summarizing the key arguments in the letter, such as the ulterior motives of the Judaizers and the sufficiency of the cross.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Twenty-Five Years of Preaching - What I Wish I Had Done Differently

On May 14, 1989, I preached my first sermon as a “full-time” preacher. I can’t believe it has been 25 years! I have so many wonderful memories of my first work with the Oak Hill church outside of Mount Sterling, KY. And to be honest, I have been spoiled by the members everywhere I have preached. God has blessed me with wonderful relationships through the years in the various churches I have worked with.

Since this is a milestone year of sorts for me, I have been reflecting on what I would do differently if I was just now starting full time ministry in the word. Knowing what I know now, with a quarter century’s worth of hindsight, here are some random reflections. I hope that these thoughts can be of help to any younger men who are considering preaching or who have already begun to preach. And of course, I would love for those of you who have been preaching even longer than I have to share your thoughts as well.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Galatians 6:1-10 Notes

In this passage Paul continues to discuss walking by the Spirit rather than the flesh. Many commentators see these admonitions as random exhortations, but I believe they are tied into the overall context of the book. In 5:16-26 we noticed that Paul focused on issues of conflict within the community. The issues he raises here in 6:1-10 have the same theme: how those who walk by the Spirit should treat each other.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Galatians 5:16-26 Notes

As is often the case in his letters, having established key doctrinal positions, Paul now turns to the practical implications of those doctrines for his readers. Gal. 5:16-6:18 contain the imperatives for how those who are free in Christ should live.

The key phrase in 5:16-26 is “walk by the Spirit,” which serves as an inclusio in 5:16 and 5:25. Often we minimize the mention of the Holy Spirit due the extreme positions taken by others. This robs us of valuable insight into God’s word. Just as the Old Testament promised the coming of a Messiah and a new covenant, it also promised the coming of the Holy Spirit (notice a few examples: Isa. 44:3; Ezek. 36:26-27; 39:29; Joel 2:28-29).Living by the Spirit is part of the total package of blessings the OT promised in the Messianic age. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Galatians 5:2-15 Notes

Paul now turns to the practical implications of the arguments he has made in Gal. 1-4. In particular, he focuses on how the Galatians should treat each other. The introduction of the teaching of the Judaizers was destabilizing and led to division (2:11; see Acts 15:2).The unity of the church was threatened, which may explain why Paul says so much about love and warns so much about factionalism in these two chapters (5:6; 5:13-15; 5:20; 5:22—23; 5:26; 6:1-2). In some respects 5:2-15 is a bridge between the arguments Paul made and the applications he intended to make.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Notes on Galatians 4:21-5:1

Paul concludes the middle section of the letter with an allegory. Allegories are extended metaphors, and they were an accepted form of argumentation in the rhetoric of the first century. Paul’s allegory revolves around the stories of Sarah and Hagar, and their sons, Isaac and Ishmael.

It is interesting that the first century Jewish writer, Philo, made an argument based on a similar allegory with regard to education. He compared Hagar to the elementary subjects we must learn, and Sarah to the deeper knowledge of virtue (The Preliminary Studies, I-V).

It may very well be that Paul is responding to an allegorical argument made by the Judaizers, who may have concluded that since Ishmael and even foreigners had to be circumcised (Gen. 17:23-27), that Gentiles even in the era of the gospel had to be as well. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Galatians 4:8-20 Notes

Having laid out his sweeping argument based on God’s plan of salvation in history, Paul now turns to a more personal, emotional appeal.

8 Formerly, when you did not know God, 
See Eph. 2:12. God was in covenant relationship with Israel but not the other nations, and in fact they had degenerated into pagan idolatry and were not in covenant relationship with God.
you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods.
“Those that by nature are not gods” is Paul’s way of describing idol worship (see 1 Cor. 8:4-6). However, while Paul did not believe the pagan gods were real gods, he did believe there were real powers at work in idolatry – demons (1 Cor. 10:19-20).