Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Before faith - Galatians 3:23-26

"But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:23-26)
While the promise was made to Abraham, it would be two thousand years before faith would appear allowing us to believe in the promise. For two thousand years the promise would have to wait for those worthy to receive it; those who's walk was by "by faith, not by sight." (2 Corinthians 5:7) How would mankind survive and not kill each other while waiting for the promise to be realized? How could God guarantee that after two thousand years there would be a people prepared and desirous of the promise? The answer was the Law.

The Greek word rendered here for "kept in custody" means to "protect by guarding." It comes from two Greek words that literally means to "stare ahead" as a guard on a tower would watch the horizon for any trouble that he might keep the city safe. The law kept us for the time that faith would appear. The law did not keep us from faith, but kept us safe until faith should come. The law taught us how to live, how to relate to others, how to form civil societies, and to understand the basic character and nature of God so that, when faith came, we would be ready for it. Even today, the law of our parents keep us for manhood and womanhood. It teaches us how to live rightly, obey the rules, and it keeps us safe till we reach maturity. What good is the message of salvation if one has no means to keep them safe until they can understand it and receive it for themselves? This is the role of the law; to guard, teach, and protect us until we can grow to maturity and receive faith.

The Greek word for "tutor" is a beautiful word that is transliterated as "pedalogue" and means more than a tutor. Strong defines the word as "boy-leader." In those days, especially among the well-to-do of the Greeks, there was usually a servant whose job it was to escort the children to school; to ensure that they made it there and made it there safely. The pedagogue not only showed the children the way but protected and defended them from any harm along the way. The closest thing we have to day are crossing guards and these are not quite the same. The Law was our pedalogue. It not only showed us the way to Jesus but it also kept us safe along the way.

One of the things the law teaches us is our need for Jesus. Through the law we find that we are unable to keep the commandments of the law and we realize that, if we are to be righteous, we need a savior. Then the law takes us on a journey to find that savior; one who has kept the law without blemish yet who has also died in our place that His righteousness might be credited to us as well. The law is often a necessary step leading us to salvation.

However, now having made it to school, having been entrusted to the schoolmaster, we no longer need our pedalogue. Faith has come and the promise has been granted. There is no need for what had previously intervened and mediated between us and God. The fullness of the promise has come. Let us therefore no longer seek to go back to the law but journey forward with Christ as we learn from His who is our new Schoolmaster.

David Robison

Monday, May 25, 2015

Why the law? - Galatians 3:19-22

"Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed would come to whom the promise had been made. Now a mediator is not for one party only; whereas God is only one. Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law. But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe." (Galatians 3:19-22)
One of the main ideas that Paul continually tries to drive home to us is that the Law was never meant to be our pathway to righteousness. As good, wholesome, and righteous as the law was, it was never able to produce righteousness in its hearers or doers. This is not because of some defect in the Law but rather because of the defect in us. The sin that lies within us shuts us out from true obedience to the Law and renders the law as death to us rather than life and peace. The Law cannot give us life and it cannot make us righteous.

The second point Paul is trying to make is that the law was extended to man through a mediator while His promise to man was announced in person. The law places us under the custodianship of a mediator, that being the Law. Our access to God is mediated by our obedience to the law. So thorough was that law that it regulated every aspect of civil and personal life. Even our conduct in the bathroom is specified under the law. "You shall also have a place outside the camp and go out there, and you shall have a spade among your tools, and it shall be when you sit down outside, you shall dig with it and shall turn to cover up your excrement." (Deuteronomy 23:12-13) The presence of God in their midst was mediated by their obedience lest God, "see anything indecent among you" (Deuteronomy 23:14) and turn away from them. However, our life under the promise of God is not mediated by anything or anyone. God made it personally to Abraham and we are personal inheritors of the same promise. The law no longer mediates the presence of God, rather we are free to know and love Him directly, personally, and inanimately apart from obedience to the law.

So why the law? Paul says it was given because of transgressions. It is interesting that, even before the law came, we still transgressed the law, we just did not know it. People were still sinning even without the law. Paul speaks of those who sinned but "had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam" (Romans 5:14) in that they had not violated a definite command of God. The law came to make us aware of sin, to show us what sin was, and to counsel us how to live righteously according to the ways of God. Paul says that the law came so that sin  "might be shown to be sin by effecting my death through that which is good, so that through the commandment sin would become utterly sinful." (Romans 7:13) The law came so that sin might be shown to be sinful so that we might hopefully avoid it personally and in our relationships with one another. For the next two thousand years the law would be our intermediary, teaching us how to live and mediating our relationship with God, while we all waited for His promise to come true; while we all waited for His Son. The law stood in between, between the promise and the fulfillment. However, once the promise was fulfilled so was the purpose and usefulness of the law. We are no longer under the law because we are now under God's promise.

David Robison

Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Law and the covenant - Galatians 3:15-18

"Brethren, I speak in terms of human relations: even though it is only a man's covenant, yet when it has been ratified, no one sets it aside or adds conditions to it. Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, 'And to seeds,' as referring to many, but rather to one, 'And to your seed,' that is, Christ. What I am saying is this: the Law, which came four hundred and thirty years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise. For if the inheritance is based on law, it is no longer based on a promise; but God has granted it to Abraham by means of a promise." (Galatians 3:15-18)
Paul is beginning to setup his position on the Law and the Christian's relationship to it. What must be understood is that, while the law was important and necessary, it was not the main event. It stood as an intermediary, an interlude, between the promises made to Abraham and their fulfillment in Christ. The Law was never intended to be the fulfillment of the Abrahamic promises nor did it serve to modify or nullify those promises.

As Christians we sometimes misunderstand the promises and message of God because we view them through the lens of the Law. We see the promises made to Abraham but we see them through the intervening years in which the Law was in effect. Sometimes, it is hard to understand our redemption without reference to the Law. How can one be redeemed and walk as a Christina and yet not keep the Law as given by God? For some, this leads them from grace back into the bondage of the Law. For others, it causes them to try and mix law and grace. These, while calming to be Christian, seem to be desiring to become Jewish, maintaining their law, feasts, and customs. However, God has not called us to be Jewish but to be Christ-like. The Christian walk is not a walk back to becoming Jewish but a walk forward into the blessing and freedom God previously promised to Abraham.

The Galatians, while trying to add elements of the Law to their faith, were in reality re-building the wall that separated them from the blessings and promises of Abraham. Later on, Paul will warn them, "You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace." (Galatians 5:4) The law and grace are incompatible; we must choose one or the other. John put it this way, "For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ." (John 1:17) One is not found in the other, we must choose which font we will drink from. Either the font of Moses bringing the law or the font of Jesus bringing us grace and truth.

We are a people of covenant, a covenant made with Abraham and those descended from "his seed". Let us not get caught up in the trappings of the Law but live the life of freedom we have in Christ and in His grace. Let us choose Grace not re-immersion back into law.

David Robison

Saturday, May 23, 2015

The promise of the Spirit - Galatians 3:6-14

"Even so Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness. Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham. The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham... So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer. For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse... Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident... However, the Law is not of faith... Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us... in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith." (Galatians 3:6-14)
The faith Paul is talking about is what he previously described as "hearing with faith." (Galatians 3:5) God has spoken. We have heard and read His promises. It is now ours to chose if we will believe the words and promises of God or not. For those who believe, the fulfillment of those promises await them. For those who do not, there remains only a curse.

Faith is not new. It existed long before the Christian era began. Our participation in the redemptive history of God can be traced back to a man and a woman who exemplified the faith God is looking for. Abraham heard the promise form God, "one who will come forth from your own body, he shall be your heir," (Genesis 15:4) and he believed God. His "hearing with faith" was reckoned to him as righteousness. Centuries later, a people would once again here God but it would be the law they would receive. They would be asked to live by the law and it would be their "obedience to law" that would be accounted to them as righteousness. However, it quickly became clear that no one could ever find righteousness through the law because, "Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, to perform them." (Galatians 3:10) What the law promised it was unable to deliver.

It was always through faith that God intended to impart righteousness to mankind. It started with Abraham and now God is looking for those who have like faith with Abraham that He might impart righteousness to them as well. We have seen the result of those who tried to live by the law, but now we are called to "live by faith" (Galatians 3:11) that the promises and blessings might also be ours as they were with Abraham. Through the death of Christ we have been set free from law and released to faith; we have been set free from death and given over to blessing. The time for the law is in the past, ours is now again the tine for faith as it was once also for Abraham.

The end result of faith is the inheritance of promises. So what is the promise of faith made to Abraham? The Spirit! Our faith in Jesus opens up to us the presence, grace, and help of the Spirit. Christianity is not merely an intellectual or political system where one agrees intellectually with its tenets and chooses to live under its politics. Christianity is a religion of the Spirit. It is for this reason, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit, that Jesus came to live and die. A life without the Spirit is not the life God intends for us, rather, such a life is really a life spent apart from faith.

It is time to leave behind the law; to leave behind all human effort to achieve righteousness and the presence or the Spirit. It is time to be renewed in faith; a faith that leads to righteousness and welcomes the presence and activity of the Spirit in our lives and churches.

David Robison

Friday, May 22, 2015

From Spirit to flesh - Galatians 3:1-5

"You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain — if indeed it was in vain? So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?" (Galatians 3:1-5)
The literal understanding of the Greek term for "foolish" means one who fails to exercise their mind. Our lack of thinking can be our undoing. If we blindly go along with everything that seems right or looks exciting and spiritual then we are in danger of wandering into error and missing the mark. We must use our minds to understand the gospel and to test and examine new teachings and doctrines as they come along. Not everything that is shiny is spiritual or of the truth.

The Galatians had become fascinated (bewitched) by some new doctrine and teaching and, in their lack of mental examination of the truth, they were leaving behind the doctrine that Paul had previously preached and set before them (publicly portrayed). They were in danger of leaving the realm of the Spirit for the realm of the flesh; of exchanging dependence on God for dependence upon themselves. They were on a path that sets aside the efficacious work of Christ for the previously proven ineffectiveness of the works of the flesh.

Paul's counsel to them was to consider how they started and to stay the course. They had started well and, if they continued in the manor in which they started, they would end well too. So how did they start well? Their beginning in Christ was marked by the Spirit both in His presence and His working. His presence is what captured their love and transformed them and gave them courage to face the difficulties of being a Christian in the first century. It was a beginning that was birthed and sustained by their faith. It was through their faith that the Spirit moved and super-abundantly provided for them all they needed to live a Christian life.

For some of us, we must ask ourselves, "How have we started? Did we start in the Spirit by faith or in works by our flesh?" If we find our beginning was not as their beginning, then maybe we did not start as they started. Maybe we need a fresh infusion of faith that the Spirit may be released in our lives and in our midst. How can we finish well if we don't first return to start well?

For the rest of us, we must ask ourselves. "Are we continuing as we started or have we exchanged the Spirit for our own efforts?" If the Spirit has grown cold in our lives and in our gatherings, then maybe we need to return to a simpler time and a simpler faith; maybe we need to return to trusting and depending upon the grace of God and the presence of His Spirit among us. Let us not loose what we have, or what if available to us, trying to finish in our own strength. Pride would say we can do it, but faith reminds us that it is only in Christ that we find our life.

David Robison

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The living dead - Galatians 2:20-21

"I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly." (Galatians 2:20-21)
The Hebrew understanding of death means to be separated rather than annihilated. Consider what James says, "For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead." (James 2:26) It is the separation of the body and the spirit, of faith from works, that produces death. God has brought the process of death into our lives that we might be separated from one thing so that we might draw close to another. In the previous verse Paul says, "For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God." (Galatians 2:19) In our death we have been separated from the law that we might live by faith. Later on, Paul will say, "Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires." (Galatians 5:24) In death we have been set free from our bondage to the lusts and passions of the flesh that we might pursue the will and desire of God. Finally, Paul will write of "the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." (Galatians 6:14) We have been separated from the world and are no longer under its sway, power, of influence. In all these cases, our identification and unity with Christ in His death has separated us from our former life that we might receive new life in Christ.

This new life is not like our old life. We have not simply been raised from the dead to resume our old way of living. In our previous life we were lead around by the lusts and passions of our flesh, we were immersed in a world system that was running head-long away from God, and our religion was at best a feeble attempt at keeping some sort of law or religious code. This life failed us; it failed to produce right living within us and the kind of life abundant that Jesus came to proclaim.

Our new life is lived by the power and reality of Christ in us. Christianity is more than a religion and a series of beliefs. When we are born again we become new creatures and Jesus, by His Holy Spirit, comes to live within us, to empower us, and to enable us to live life abundant. While we cannot see Him, we live by faith; a faith that is ensured of all the things He has told us and one that counts Him faithful who has promised.

If we have died and have been separated from our old life, then we ought to leave that life behind. That which is dead ought to be buried and left buried. We must now move on rather than continually trying to resurrect that to which we have died. If we have died to the law, why do we continually try to surrender to it once again? If we have died to our lust and passions then why do we continually try to make room for them and to placate them in our lives?

Paul's message is this: if we could have achieved righteousness and life abundant without death, then we wouldn't need Jesus. Jesus' death testifies to us that we could never make it on our own. Life, righteousness, and sanctification are well beyond our reach. We need a savior and that savior is Christ. Therefore, if those things we have died too were too week to aid us, why do we seek to return to them? Let us leaved them dead and buried and let us move on with Christ.

David Robison

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Not sinners by nature - Galatians 2:15-19

"We are Jews by nature and not sinners from among the Gentiles; nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified. But if, while seeking to be justified in Christ, we ourselves have also been found sinners, is Christ then a minister of sin? May it never be! For if I rebuild what I have once destroyed, I prove myself to be a transgressor. For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God." (Galatians 2:15-19)
This scripture, at least for me, is a bit hard to parse and understand. I wish Paul had expounded on it a bit more to help us understand what he was trying to say. It is also unclear to me if this is a continuation of what Paul was saying to Peter or a separate thought to the Galatians. Either way, he is continuing to recount to them this incident with Peter that he, and the Galatians, both remember well.

Paul is not saying that Jews are not sinners, just that they are not sinners like the Gentiles. The term "nature" refers to one's growth from germination to maturity. It refers to their lineage and breading. A Jew grew up with an understanding of God and a since of religion that taught them how to please God and to walk in  righteousness. The Gentiles had none of these. The Jew's has a desire for righteousness, the Gentiles had no aversion to sin and no compulsion towards righteousness. The Jews were religious and the gentiles sinners. It was a matter of breading and upbringing.

However, this did not mean that Jews were more righteous than Gentiles. While they had the law, they were still transgressors of the law. They were birthed with many advantages yet, in the end, they proved no better than the Gentiles when it came to being justified before God. With all their attempts to keep the law, they were no better than those who didn't even try. Justification cannot, and never could, come from the Law. In this, Gentile and Jew were alike; they both needed Jesus to be justified.

So if a Jew leaves his law and looks for justification in Christ and finds that there is sin raging within him, has his faith lead him to sin? No! The truth is that sin is already in us whether Jew or Gentile. It's not that Christ has lead us to sin but rather that we finally discovered who we truly are inside. If, when the law is removed, we do the same things that the Gentile's do, then we have proven that sin is really a part of us. We can try and keep it in check with the law but we can never eradicate it by the law. Once the law is gone we will always revert to sin, and sometimes even greater sin once the law is gone. This simply shows us that, even the best of religious people, we are all sinners and transgressors of the law.

To be free from sin, truly free, we must die to the law that we might live to God. We can never find our salvation and righteousness in law, only in faith in Jesus Christ and the salvation that He brings. In seeking righteousness and the freedom of Christ we must never seek to rebuild what we have already destroyed. This includes sin but also our dependence upon the law. Our live in Christ is not found in a return to the law. We have already left behind that pathway, we must press on forward to Christ. We must not rebuild what we have already destroyed, we must go forward. There alone is the pathway to freedom and abundant life.

David Robison

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Religious hypocrisy - Galatians 2:11-14

"But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision... I said to Cephas in the presence of all, 'If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?'" (Galatians 2:11-14)
Paul calls the acts of Peter hypocrisy because Peter knew the truth but did not act according to the truth. Paul says that Peter was not walking "straightforward about the truth of the gospel" (Galatians 2:14) but rather was diverting from the straight truth of the message of Christ. The truth of the Gospel was that the Gentiles too were invited to salvation. In speaking of the mysteries that had previously been hidden but now revealed to us, Paul says that they include, "to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel." (Ephesians 3:6) This Peter knew, for when he entered Cornelius's house to preach to them the Gospel he realized "that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him." (Acts 10:34-35) However, in that moment, in his fear, he was moved to hypocrisy and, along with him, the other Jewish believers and even Barnabas.

What causes us to fear and to be hypocritical to what we believe? Certainly, fear for our life could cause us to do that. Throughout the ages there have been those who have had to make choices regarding their conscientiousness and their faith. Many of those we esteem now were at one time marked as heretics and threatened with condemnation and death by fire, and this from other so-called Christians. However, I don't think this was Peter's fear. The church had not yet lapsed into killing and burning their heretics. I think what Peter feared most was the loss of his reputation.

Paul tells us that these men came "from James" the brother of our Lord and one of the "pillars" of the church in Jerusalem. This do not necessarily mean that these men were on a mission from James or that James desired to force gentile believers to keep the Jewish law, but they were associated with James and whatever they saw or heard could make its way back to James. I think that Peter was afraid that, if they saw him eating with gentiles, then they might report this back to James and the church in Jerusalem and that, some how, his reputation with them might be harmed. In his fear, he chose to keep his reputation as a fine upstanding Jewish Christian intact, even if it meant obfuscating the truth.

The faith we have received is radical, so shouldn't our walk be as well? If the Gospel has set us free from sin and the law, should we not walk as if it is true? If we give in to fear and prefer our reputation over our faith, then who are we trying to please anyway? We have become man-pleasers rather than God-pleasers. Let us not worry so much about what man thinks of us and focus more on what God thinks of us. Let us choose to live our lives radically, in the radical truth of the Gospel. Let us not be conformed to old religion but enjoy the newness of life that Jesus paid such a great price that we might obtain. Let us live free from fear and let God be our reputation.

David Robison

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

False brethren and spies - Galatians 2:4-10

"But it was because of the false brethren secretly brought in, who had sneaked in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to bring us into bondage. But we did not yield in subjection to them for even an hour, so that the truth of the gospel would remain with you. But... those who were of reputation contributed nothing to me." (Galatians 2:4-6)
There will always be those who believe that it is their personal responsibility to correct and discipline the body of Christ. They see themselves as the Christian police, looking for trouble, sniffing out heresy, and making sure everyone is behaving as they ought. Unfortunately, Christianity to them means Christianity as they are doing it. Their goal is not the purity of the Gospel but your conformance to their ways and beliefs. It is not enough for them to have their own ideas and customs, you must join them and become like them. In their mind, apart from them, there is no salvation.

This is what was happening in the church when Paul, Barnabas, and team went to Jerusalem to see Peter, James, and John. There were those of the circumcision who held to the belief that, unless you were circumcised, you could not be saved. It is understandable how they could believe this. All their lives they grew up believing that circumcision was the mark of true religion and those who were not circumcised did not belong to the people of God. In their zeal, they would secretly join churches to subvert them and to bring them back into conformance with the Jewish law. They were likes spies who came in looking for those who believed differently and then coercing, or forcing, them into compliance.

We must always be aware, even today, that there are people who will want to get to know us so that they might change us and make us like them. If you doubt this, simply try starting a church and you will get all those people who believe they know how to run a church and who want to mold the new enterprise after themselves. Paul wrote of such people saying, "They eagerly seek you, not commendably, but they wish to shut you out so that you will seek them." (Galatians 4:17) We must be careful to identify those who want relationships with us from those who want something from us. These false brethren want our conformance and our agreement, but they really do not want us. They want our conformance so that they might seem to be right. Paul writes of them, "Those who desire to make a good showing in the flesh try to compel you to be circumcised, simply so that they will not be persecuted for the cross of Christ." (Galatians 6:12)

Fortunately, Paul did not yield to them, neither did the Apostles back in Jerusalem. The church rejected their attempts to re-enslave us to works and to law, and so should we too. We must not yield to those who seek to draw us away from the true Gospel; from grace, love, and forgiveness. We must continue in resolve to remain free and to be free in our relationships with other brothers and sisters in Christ. When others come to corrupt the Gospel with their subterfuge, we must not yield to them but reject their efforts them and leave their influences behind.

David Robison

Monday, May 11, 2015

A Gospel checkup - Galatians 2:1-3

"Then after an interval of fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along also. It was because of a revelation that I went up; and I submitted to them the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but I did so in private to those who were of reputation, for fear that I might be running, or had run, in vain." (Galatians 2:1-2)
It was three years after receiving Christ that Paul went to Jerusalem to meet Peter and James, and it was another fourteen years later before his next trip to meet the rest of the apostles, thus making a total of seventeen years from conversion to his trip to make sure he had not "run in vain." That is a long time. Think back over your own life these past seventeen years. Seventeen years ago I was still living in Las Vegas and my youngest, who is now in college, was just becoming a toddler. For seventeen years Paul preached the Gospel without ever doubting what he taught. All Paul knew was that He has received a revelation from Christ and a commission from God as an Apostle. In that knowledge he did all in his strength to fulfill that commission and to preach that revelation.

So why now? After seventeen years, why now? Luke fills in some of the gaps. "Some men came down from Judea and began teaching the brethren, 'Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.' And when Paul and Barnabas had great dissension and debate with them, the brethren determined that Paul and Barnabas and some others of them should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders concerning this issue." (Acts 15:1-2) Paul went back to settle this issue and to verify that the Gospel he preached was the same Gospel the Apostles in Jerusalem preached.

Paul says he went up "because of revelation" or "according to revelation." It is unclear if he meant that he received a revelation from God to go to Jerusalem or if it was because of the revelation of the Gospel he received that we went to Jerusalem; to compare his revelation to the revelations given to the other Apostles. Either way, he went to "submit" to them the Gospel he preached. The word translated here as "submit" could more literally be translated, "to set forth" or "to declare." Paul did not go to submit his revelation to their judgment and correction, but to declare to them what He had been preaching; to let them know what he had been doing and teaching; to compare notes and to decide how to proceed. Paul was not ready to give up his revelation but he wanted to know how it compared to what the other Apostles were teaching.

In the end, the other Apostles added nothing to Paul's message; the message of salvation by grace was left intact. Even the Greeks who accompanied Paul to Jerusalem were not required to be circumcised according to the law. They were all in agreement and harmony was restored to the church.

Paul's message to the Galatians was that the message they had received had stood the test of time and was confirmed by the revelations received by the other Apostles; they were all in agreement. There was no difference between the Gospel Paul preached and that which was first preached in Jerusalem. In the end, there is only one Gospel regardless of who preaches it and we can trust in that Gospel because it is the message of Christ.

David Robison