Full Text for Galatians- Volume 20 - Similarities with the Council of Nicaea (Video)

No. 20. >> Please pardon me, Dr. Just. But did you touch upon any similarities with the Council of Nicaea. >>DR. ARTHUR A. JUST, JR.: Thank you, Josh. I'm glad you reminded me about that. I was getting as agitated as Paul was over this Antioch business that I forgot to address that. And I appreciate you bringing that up. In fact I'm getting overheated. If you don't mind, I think I'm just going to take my coat off here so I can kind of fully dive into the rest of this chapter. It's important to recognize at this point that this is not the Apostolic Council. But it makes the same decisions that the Apostolic Council does. And I think Nicaea is a good comparison. Even though the issues may have been different, the critical character of both those councils in terms of directing the Christian church forward in an Orthodox way is similar. In Nicaea of course it's over the person of Jesus. And here in the Apostolic Council it's about the Gospel itself. Nicaea wouldn't have happened if this Apostolic Council in Acts 15 and this previous private meeting that we are talking about here in Galatians 2, if they had not happened. And Paul sees in that Antioch situation how fragile the Gospel can be in a church, even among great people whom he has worked with in his missionary journeys. Now, that movement from the situation in Antioch in verses 4 and 5 to Jerusalem in 6, then goes on in 7 to 10 to describe the agreement that Paul makes with the church. And that agreement is of the same magnitude in terms of its influence as the Ecumenical Council in Nicaea. Now, look at what it says in Verse 7. On the contrary, Paul says -- and that's a very important point. On the contrary they didn't add anything to me. On the contrary when they saw -- and this is important -- when I had been entrusted by God -- this is what we would call in the Greek a theological passive where God is the subject -- where God entrusted to me the Gospel to the uncircumcised just as Peter to the circumcised. Now, there are the two missions. Paul to the Gentiles uncircumcised. Peter to the Jews, the circumcised. Just when God is the entruster of these missions. When Paul saw that. And they saw it in Paul. And he repeats himself. It's this parenthetical but it's very important. He says: For the one who raised up Peter into the apostleship to the circumcised also raised me up to the Gentiles. Now, there he doesn't talk about them as uncircumcised but Gentiles. Now, that's in two verses he refers to the missions, to the Gentiles and to the Jews. But in Verse 8 there he talks about God raising up Peter as an apostle to the circumcised. Now, this may be making too much of it. But I don't think so. Paul refers here to Peter as an apostle. Everybody believes that. And remember, Paul began by defending his apostleship. Paul does not refer to himself here as an apostle. And I think you can see here that in that reference as Peter, apostle, but Paul not referring to himself. You can infer it from the grammar. But Paul probably should have put it in there especially if he's defending his apostleship. I think what you see here is Paul deferring to Peter. And I think he's deferring to the mission to the Jews. Paul recognized that Peter is the first among the 12. And he's the apostle par excellent. There's nobody greater than Peter. And Paul would never place himself above Peter. Nor would he place the mission to the Gentiles above the mission to the Jews. They are both important. They both have their purpose. The Jews came first. The Gentiles second. He just wants to make sure that the Gentiles have the same Gospel as the Jews have. And that the Jews the same as the Gentiles have. And so he says: When they saw this, when they saw that there were these two missions and then in Verse 9 and knowing -- this seeing and knowing. These are words of perceiving. And knowing the grace that has been given to me by God. There's another. That God gave him this grace. And here they are: James, the brother of our Lord, bishop of Jerusalem. Cephas, Peter. And John, the son of Zebedee. Those who seem to be pillars. Remember I talked about the pillars? Now we're down to three. James, Peter and John. Not the son of Zebedee. But James, the bishop of Jerusalem. Those who seem to be pillars. They gave to Barnabas and me the right hand of fellowship. Now, that just doesn't mean they shook hands. The word fellowship there means that they celebrated the Lord's Supper together. They sealed their unity in the Gospel of Jesus Christ but celebrating the sacrament together. Now, we know from the early church especially from Corinthians but especially from the teaching of Jesus that the sacrament of the Lord's Supper was a sacrament of unity. Which means that brothers or sisters in Christ that did not believe or confess the same things would not share the cup -- the bread and the cup together. So for Paul and Barnabas to receive the right hand of fellowship from James, Peter and John is a significant statement of the unity. Now, I want to point out something. This is subtle but I think it's true. Look at the list there. It's James, Peter and John. Not Peter, James and John. James is listed first. Paul already recognizes what I said earlier about the Apostolic Council. That James is the main player here. That he's the one who is going to speak and everybody is going to follow. And why did they have the right hand of fellowship? And this is a purpose clause. And he repeats it once again. In order that we to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. Okay. Again, the third time the two missions is repeated within three verses. So you can see here one Gospel, one church, two missions. The final verse is important for me. Because I'm director of deaconess studies here at the seminary. And I think it's important to recognize that the Gospel does involve concrete expressions of love. This is going to come up later in Paul's epistle. And I think it's interesting, you can almost see that Paul is a little annoyed here. And I'll explain what I mean by that here in a minute. He says: Only they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do. Now, perhaps you don't know this. But the place that was considered kind of the -- the most focal point of poverty in the ancient world at this time was Jerusalem because of the famine there. And the saints in Jerusalem were really very, very much struck by the need to receive gifts from the Gentile churches in order to survive physically. That's another way of reading the Book of Acts. The Book of Acts isn't only about the mission to the Gentiles and the Jews. But it's also about the taking of the collections by the Gentile churches so that the Jews might survive in Jerusalem. This is what the poor refers to. It's referring to the saints in Jerusalem who really are in desperate need of the help of the Gentiles. The apostles reminded Paul that he is the one that is going to be perhaps most responsible for bringing these gifts, these tangibles, expressions of the Gospel to the church in Jerusalem to show that there is unity. And I think that this is another sign of unity. Not just simply the celebration of the Lord's Supper. But that the gifts of the Gentiles are going to be there to support the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem. Now, if you look at the third missionary journey of Paul, one of the things that he does during that missionary journey is he carries these tangible expressions of the Gentile's love for the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem with him to Jerusalem and lays them before James and the church. And the church was able to survive because of that. And Paul says very clearly here that he recognizes that the Gospel includes what I call ***diacneus service. That is giving, charity. We sometimes think of that as being outside the Gospel. But the Gospel itself in our lives because Christ is in us and his mercy and compassion flows through us, that is expressed in tangible gifts to those who are in need of those gifts. Paul understands that and so do the Jews in Jerusalem who are also Christians. And that is why this private meeting is in a sense a watershed event as well as the Apostolic Council. Because it not only brings the major players together around the Gospel, but it also shows that charity is at the heart of what Jesus Christ teaches.