Saturday, August 10, 2013

Truthfulness of Paul

Galatians 1:20

  • Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not.

This is a strong statement from Paul that he is not at all lying in this letter, but rather he is telling the truth to the church of Galatians. And he declares this statement, "before God," which makes it an even stronger statement. 

This strong statement implies that people had been accusing Paul of being a liar. As the following chapters of Galatians indicate it is likely that the Jewish legalists (Judaizers) were accusing him of being a liar who preached the message of grace rather than the message of works. As the Jews at the time, and still many do, believe that you have to work for your righteousness to have a right standing with God.

Judaizers believed that you have to be circumcised to have a right standing with God because God commanded Abraham to practice circumcision for his offsprings. However, Paul says in Galatians 5:2,

  • Listen! I, Paul, tell you this: If you are counting on circumcision to make you right with God, then Christ will be of no benefit to you. (NLT)

Paul goes on to say in Galatians 5:6
  • For when we place our faith in Christ Jesus, there is no benefit in being circumcised or being uncircumcised. What is important is faith expressing itself in love. (NLT)

Additionally, since the statement, "I do not lie," comes after Paul's introduction of the fact that he met the Apostles, Peter and James, it is likely that even some of the Gentiles had been accusing him of being a false apostle who had nothing to do with the "true" apostles of Jesus who were in Jerusalem. However, Paul clearly declares, that he is a true apostle of Jesus, and that he really met the apostles in person as stated in Galatians 1:1 and 1:18 respectively,
  • This letter is from Paul, an apostle. I was not appointed by any group of people or any human authority, but by Jesus Christ Himself and by God the Father, who raised Jesus from the dead.
  • Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days.

It is also interesting to note that even Christians in Jerusalem had a hard time believing that Paul was an apostle.

Acts 9:26-28
  • When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple.
  • But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus. 
  • So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord.

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