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The Threefold argument of Gal. 1: 1 - 24
with a special examination of the term "apostle".
pp. 25 - 28
We have considered the epistles of Paul as a whole, and have seen that there are
fourteen epistles that are from this apostle's pen. We have seen that they form two
groups of seven epistles each, ranged on either side of Acts 28: 28. We have
examined the evidences for the Pauline authorship of the epistle to the Hebrews, and
found it to be abundant and satisfying. We have considered the latest archaeological
findings and their bearing upon the date of the epistle to the Galatians and have found
that there is now no valid reason for refusing this epistle prior place in the chronological
order of the epistles of Paul, and we now address ourselves to the happy though arduous
task of following the mind of the Spirit, through the words of Paul as they were written in
his burning zeal to preserve "the truth of the gospel" for all time, and save those whose
steadfastness in the faith was his own joy and crown.
As we commence this epistle and read on through chapters one and two we cannot
help but be struck with the insistence with which the apostle emphasizes his own
apostolic authority and message, and when we remember that this epistle was his effort,
under God to stop the rot that had set in and which threatened the very life of the church
and the saving power of the gospel, then it becomes evident that a recognition of Paul's
authorship and independent ministry lies very near the heart of truth, and cannot be
dismissed as being of secondary importance. "The LORD's message" IS associated very
intimately with "the LORD's messenger" (Hag. 1: 13). If Paul was in deed and in truth
God's messenger to the Gentiles, then the enemy of truth would most surely endeavour to
undermine his authority, and if he had been entrusted with a special message of grace to
the Gentiles, then we might expect that one of the enemy's attacks would be made upon
the gospel either by denial, by misrepresentation or by substitution. Tools for this sad
work would never be lacking while a sectarian spirit was far more natural than an humble
recognition of the basic unity of the redeemed, and the power of tradition would prevent
many of those who were really saved from breaking clean away from the "weak and
beggarly elements" that had but led them deeper into bondage.
The challenge therefore having sounded, the apostle as the chosen vessel to bear the
name of the Lord before the Gentiles, takes up the gage, and enters the arena. His
opening words are a threefold response to this challenge of his enemies, and all his
blessed teaching stands for naught if this threefold response cannot be maintained and
justified. What are his three points therefore?
He asserts his absolute apostleship, in entire independence of man or men.
He testifies to the unique character of his gospel, which was not taught by
man, but which he received by revelation.