Aug 03, 2010
I have written many times about King Saul as a prophetic type of the Church under Pentecost. King Saul, crowned on the day of wheat harvest (i.e., Pentecost), was made king because the people wanted a man to rule over them (1 Sam. 8:5). God told the prophet in verse 7 that "they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them."
Saul represented the heart of the people, and therefore it was not long before he began to rule as if the throne were his, instead of being entrusted to rule by the mind and will of God. This is, in effect, antichrist, in the sense of usurping the throne. Note the contrast between Saul and David. Both ruled in God's throne, but Saul usurped power, while David ruled as a steward of the throne.
The desire for a man to rule them is the foundation of the denominational systems found also in the Church almost since the beginning. This did not begin with the bishops of Rome, but with the Judaizers in Jerusalem. Jerusalem was the "mother church" in those days, and the Judaizers had been steeped in the political-religious philosophy of Saul. That is, they believed in submitting to the authority of the temple priests. It was a cultural fact that to assert a doctrine, they had to give it authority of a recognized rabbi. Hence, the question was asked of Jesus in Matt. 21:23,
(23) And when He had come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to Him as He was teaching, and said, "By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave You this authority?"
Their question came because of what we read earlier in Matt. 7:29,
(29) for He was teaching as one having authority, and not as their scribes.
The Judaizers in Jerusalem, who thought that the Messiah was simply the capstone of Old Covenant Judaism, questioned Paul's authority in nearly the same manner. They thought that if they could get Paul to submit to the Jerusalem Church and to James that somehow Paul could be induced to leave Christianity as a sect of Judaism, complete with animal sacrifices and physical circumcision.
It is clear that the Judaizers did not understand that James agreed with Paul in the assertion that circumcision was not to be imposed upon the Greeks, even though the first Church Council in Jerusalem (Acts 15) had made this clear. See also Gal. 2:3, regarding Titus not being required to be circumcised.
So now Paul speaks in the common terminology of the time, which divided men into "the circumcision" and "the uncircumcision." It refers essentially to Jews and non-Jews. Gal. 2:7 reads,
(7) But on the contrary, seeing that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been to the circumcised. . .
Many Dispensationalists in the past 150 years have taken this to mean that there were two gospels, or two ways to be saved. Such teachers would have us believe that Jews are saved by the law through physical circumcision, while non-Jews are saved by grace through faith through heart-circumcision. In other words, Jews are supposedly saved by the law, while Gentiles are saved by grace through faith.
Such teachers try to make both sides correct in this dispute. But in doing so, they accomplish one of two things:
1. Jews are capable of fulfilling the whole law and can therefore be saved by works; or
2. Jews are incapable of fulfilling the whole law and therefore cannot be saved at all.
The first option lowers the righteous standard of the law to accommodate mortal man who cannot otherwise be good enough to be saved.
The second option excludes all Jews (and Israelites) from salvation, including Peter and Paul and James.
The "two gospels" theory has been brought today into many circles of Christian Zionism, where more and more the Old Covenant has replaced the New Covenant. We are faced with the same problem of "false brethren" that Paul faced in his day. (See Gal. 2:4 and 2 Cor. 11:26.) Whether these were just misguided Jewish Christians or infiltrators sent to spy on the Christians, we cannot know for sure. However, Gal. 2:4 certainly implies the latter, when he speaks of "the false brethren who had sneaked in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus."
Calling such men "spies" implies that they were sent by the temple priests to pretend to be Christians and to report back on the activities of the Christians. I have no doubt that there are many such "false brethren" today pretending to be Christians, but who fund, bribe, and sponsor leaders of Christian Zionism. Their purpose is to turn Christianity back into Judaism and the Old Covenant. Then, by getting the Christians to agree that the Romans killed Jesus, they can "prove" that He was not the divine Sacrifice for sin. By removing the essential core of Jesus' mission on earth, they intend to destroy Christianity from within.
This is why it is important that we do not teach either the "two gospels" theory or the "dual-covenant" theology. We cannot compromise the gospel without destroying its foundations.
We continue now in Gal. 2:8,
(8) (for He who effectually worked for Peter in his apostleship to the circumcised effectually worked for me also to the Gentiles). . .
In other words, Paul recognizes that it was the same Christ who revealed the gospel to both Peter and himself. The same Christ had empowered each to minister among different people. While their methods would be different culturally, their gospel was identical when taught properly and thoroughly.
(9) and recognizing the grace that had been given to me, James and Cephas and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we might go to the Gentiles, and they to the circumcised. (10) They only asked us to remember the poor--the very thing I also was eager to do.
Paul presents a unified picture here insofar as the gospel is concerned. The only difference was in their audience. In going to different cultures, Paul said in 1 Cor. 9:19-21,
(19) For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, that I might win the more. (20) And to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews as those who are under the Law, as under the Law, though not being myself under the Law, that I might win those who are under the Law; (21) to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, that I might win those who are without law.
So when Paul went to a synagogue to discuss Jesus Christ, there is no doubt that he dressed as a Jew and discussed the Law with them, showing how the Law prophesied of Christ. But when he went to Greeks, he dressed in a way that was acceptable and comfortable to the Greeks, while preaching Christ to them. Paul would have no reason to enter an indepth discussion of the law with the Greeks, but he could certainly tell them how to enter a covenantal relationship with Christ, the Savior of the world.
The gospel is ultimately the same, but the starting points would be different, depending upon the knowledge and interests of the audience. Most of Peter's early life had been spent as a fisherman on the shores of Galilee. Most of Paul's early life had been spent in the Greek-speaking world, where he had learned all the philosophies of the Greeks before coming to Jerusalem to study under Gamaliel. So while Peter was well qualified to deal with the Jewish religious culture, Paul was equally qualified to deal with Greek culture and philosophy.
This is the fifth part of a series titled "Galatians." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones