Friday, June 7, 2013

Paul and the Galatians

Discuss the issues regarding the location of the churches to which Paul wrote Galatians.  Give your view of whether the region referred to as “Galatia” represents a Northern or Southern Galatia.  Defend your view.  Why is the location of the church important?

            The destination is obvious right all we have to do is look at who it was written to. At least that is how most people process things. However, when it comes to the letter to the Galatians, “the term Galatia could be used in the first century in either an ethnic sense or a provincial sense.”[1] The confusion comes because around the time of the church fathers all that was left was the northern portion of the territory. According to Carson and Moo, “Toward the end of the third century, the southern area was detached, and the province was reduced to the northern sector. Tradionally, “Galatia” has thus been understood as the northern area.”[2]
In my point of view Paul was writing to the church in the south. Kostenberger proclaims that, “Galatia’ was the only word that would have encompassed Antioch, Lystra, Iconium, and Derbe. Antioch was in the region of Pisidia; Lystra and Iconium were in Lycaonia. Moreover, Paul normally used Roman imperal names for provinces.”[3] Carson and Moo suggest that, “because of an illness’ (Gal 4:13), it is unlikely that Paul preached in this difficult mountainous country. A convalescent would look for a place much easier of access.”[4] And Lea makes several very valid points when he says that is likely Paul was writing to places that he had visited and makes reference to Barnabas being with him and Barnabas only visited the churches in southern Galatia with Paul.[5] The location of the church is important because if it is in the north it becomes much harder to synthesize materials from the epistles and Luke’s account in Acts.

Discuss the occasion and purpose for the writing of Galatians.  Who were the opponents of Paul in Galatia?  What was the nature of the opponents’ doctrine, and how did Paul respond to it?
            Paul was writing to the Galatian church because after he and Barnabas had left the scene a group of Jewish Christians began trying to force Gentile Christians to follow the Law.[6] Kostenberger points to the fact that,
Paul wrote Galatians to defend the gospel of justification by faith alone against the false gospel of the Judaizers. In the process he had to defend his apostolic authority against the Judaizers attack. Finally, since some readers might interpret Paul’s defense of the gospel of grace as justification for immoral or unethical behavior, Paul wrote to defend the consistency of the Spirit-led life with the law’s righteous demands.[7]
While the Judaizers attempted to push a legalistic mind set, Paul wrote this letter, without observing all the niceties of correct letter writing, but an impassioned appeal to the Galatians for them to return to the faith they first accepted when Paul and Barnabas preached the Gospel to them.[8]

[1] Andreas J.Kostenberger, and L. Scott Kellum and Charles L. Quarles. The Craddle, The Cross, and the Crown. (Nashville: B&H Publishing , 2009)412.
[2] D.A.Carson, and and Douglas J. Moo. An Introduction to the New Testament 2nd edition. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992)458.
[3] Kostenberger, Craddle., 414.
[4] Carson., Introduction.459.
[5] Thomas D. Lea, and David Alan Black. The New Testament: Its Background and Message. (Nashville: B&H Academic, 2003)367-68.

[6] D.A.Carson, and and Douglas J. Moo. An Introduction to the New Testament 2nd edition. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992)465.
[7] Andreas J.Kostenberger, and L. Scott Kellum and Charles L. Quarles. The Craddle, The Cross, and the Crown. (Nashville: B&H Publishing , 2009)420.
[8] Carson, Introduction., 468.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013



            Would it be safe to say that the average church member does not give any thought to the amount of preparation that goes into the materials that are studied each week? The safest answer is yes; because when there is no needed level of involvement the old adage “Out of sight, out of mind” tends to ring true. There are numerous things that should be at the front of my mind before I plan on teaching again, but there are several that will carry just a little more weight.  One of the most important things to keep in mind is keeping the cross central in all that we do as teachers. Michael Mitchell tells us, “As we develop curricular plans that are truly Christian, we must constantly remind ourselves of the need for koinonia fellowship, mutual ministry, and the value of the group dynamic in education, merging the individual dimension with the corporate.”[1]
The Four Sources of the Message
            The sources of the messages we choose to communicate are rooted in tradition, observation, participation, and inspiration.[2] The word tradition can bring to mind many different things, but what the author has in mind here is sticking primarily to the Bible. Mitchell says of tradition that “It was patent to me that I was to extract messages for my ministry to the church from the Bible as my first source of teaching. I was to give attention to the “codified text: that had been handed down from the prophets to the apostles and is still profitable for instruction and correction.”[3] No matter what may be going on in the lives of our people the Bible should always be the fulcrum of their education with us. There are some Bible study materials that are great, and then there are others that are not so faithful. According to Yount, “Some Bible study series today provide relevant subject matter but quote just one text to support the topic chosen…Does the material lend itself to leading the learners to study and interact with the Scripture passage?”[4]
            The next major thing that should help a teacher determine what is being taught is being a part of the students lives what Mitchell refers to as observation. The best way for anyone to truly walk away with a better understanding is if there is real grasp of the material. Yount insists that, “Christian learning takes place when an eternal truth of the gospel coincides or intersects with a persistent life need of the learner.”[5]  However, if the teacher is cognitive of what is taking place in the lives of those he/she is instructing, than how can they know what type of material will be beneficial for the learner?
The next source of the message is participation. For some of us as teachers it is much easier to create a lesson that is strictly a lecture and involves no class interaction. Personally every time I have been a part of a small group, and the material we covered recently interacted with my life in some way, I tended to own the material a bit more. Piper agrees that, “Belief is a whole body, whole life experience. No one believes anything important with the intellect alone.”[6] 
The last source of our message is far from the least, it is inspiration. The type of inspiration we need to leave room for in every message that we may ever craft, is a space that the Holy Spirit himself can come into and do a work that would be impossible without him. Mitchell offers this encouragement in regards to inspiration, “It was very encouraging to be guided not only to teach the Bible regularly and frequently, but also to be given specific and divine direction as to the next content to present.”[7]
The Forms of a Communicators Message
            Mitchell asserts that, “In establishing a curricular plan, the instructor must also acknowledge and address the fact that a selected message may manifest itself in as many as four different forms.”[8] Those four forms commonly take place in subject matter (or content), the environment, life (experiences), and the teacher (model).
            These four forms actually can play a greater role in the way a student learns then most teachers ever realize. While for most of us we spend hours working on the subject matter of a lesson but never realizing that we do not have our students’ full attention.  The reason we lack their attention could be due to a number of things, but one of the greatest deterrents is the environmental setting; have we made the class room, living room, or where ever we may be teaching conducive with the lesson we hope to teach?
 One very important thing to remember no matter how well we think we have things structured there is no guarantee that the student is going to learn the material.  According to Mitchell, “While the teacher may control the methods and materials to be utilized, the student determines whether or not learning will actually take place.”[9] Hopefully, by choosing topics that are biblically faithful, yet culturally relevant to the audience there is a greater chance of learning taking place. One of the best ways to teach anyone is through being the model for what you are trying to impress upon them. Do not be like the parent who says, “Do what I say, not what I do.” Because we all know that model fails!
In taking into consideration all of the different aspects that have been discussed in this essay, when taking on the task to teach there is more at hand than a mere lesson. When I next take up the mantle to teach I want to make sure that I am biblically faithful to the Scriptures and their proper interoperation that covers a subject my audience can relate with. I often work with men, and we struggle with a number of different things so I will have to widdle down my talk to something specific like a man’s role in his marriage. By picking a subject that most of the men can relate to it will give them something to leave whatever environment we have established our learning in, to take home and improve an area of importance in their lives.

[1] Michael R. Mitchell, Leading, Teaching, and Making Disciples. (Bloomngton: Crossbooks, 2010)273.
[2] Ibid., 281.
[3] Ibid., 282.
[4] William R. Yount, (ed.). The Teaching Ministry of the Church 2nd edition. (Nashville: B&H Academic, 2008)366.
[5] Ibid., 370.
[6] John Piper, and and Justin Taylor (eds.). The Power of Words and the Wonder of God. (Wheaton: Crossway, 2009)109.

[7] Mitchell, Leading., 283.
[8] Ibid., 286.
[9] Ibid., 277.