Thursday, October 23, 2014

Paul’s Gospel

Dr. Ike Tennison and I have been working with the Greek text of Galatians. We believe it provides one of the best sources for understanding how Paul viewed himself and understood his calling and message. Galatians is loaded with clues that are often overlooked because of the attempts of later Christian writers to recast Paul and make him better fit into the context of the original Jesus Movement – specifically Luke’s (or whoever the unknown specified author was) in the Book of Acts. Pay close attention to what Paul wrote in the first chapter of Galatians:

Paul, an apostle, not from men nor through a man . . . For I make known to you, brothers, the gospel preached by me is not from a man. For I received it not from man, nor was I taught (the gospel) it; but (I received the gospel) through a revelation of Jesus Christ. (Galatians 1:1a, 11-12)

We find these points very interesting:

(1) My authority did not come from any human being. – In our opinion, the specific human beings Paul had in mind were the apostles that Jesus chose and personally taught for a period of one to three years. The fact that Paul was not part of that group was apparently an issue for him. In his writings he goes out of his way to state that his apostleship is different and separates himself from them -- especially from Peter and Jacob (James).

(2) My gospel did not come any human being. – Paul wants to make sure everyone clearly understands that his gospel did not come from the other apostles or any human being. He makes it clear that his gospel is a different gospel from any other gospel – including that of the other apostles.

(3) I received my gospel through a revelation not instructions from a human. – The other apostles had been taught by Jesus until right before he was crucified by the Roman soldiers. Paul, on the other hand, received his gospel through a mystical experience, which by the way, he doesn’t describe in his writings. There is no “road to Damascus” experience in his writings.

What was the gospel that the apostles Jesus personally selected taught? We will have to address that in a future Bible study. Meanwhile, here is some homework for you:

(1) See if you can find the gospel of the original apostles in the Synoptic Gospels.

(2) Whose gospel is taught by churches today?

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Jim Myers 

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