We had an interesting discussion last night about Paul’s question in Galatians 5:7, where he asks, “who hindered you from obeying the truth?”
It seems likely that Paul knows the identity of the Jewish-Christian missionaries. Those who brought a report to Paul may have given him their names, though we don’t that for sure. But he refers again to “whoever he is” in v. 10.
But Paul refers repeatedly to them as “anyone,” “whoever,” and other such language (1:8, 9; 3:10; 5:7, 10). It seems that one of Paul’s strategies is to direct the Galatians’ attention to the teachers as they hear the letter read aloud, asking themselves, What sort of people are they?
The Galatians already know Paul and his mode of ministry. They’ve seen him at his worst—beaten up and badly wounded (4:13-16). They’ve seen Paul’s cruciform ministry posture and his commitment to them.
Paul is forcing them to confront their own gullibility. Have they really taken a close look at those to whom they are listening? Have they seen their lives? Can they be sure of their motives? Just who are these people?
Scripture places a seriously high priority on paying attention to those who have proven faithful. Conversely, it’s our responsibility to take a good look at the lives of purported spiritual authorities. If they prove manipulative or to be motivated wrongly, we’re fools to give them any attention.
One thought on “Take a Closer Look!”
What you say about the galvanization that happens around ‘great’ theologians such that they become near pope-like. For example, I once heard a congregant say to his pastor, “Is each one really to be fully convinced I his own mind?” To which the pastor replied “That’s true, clear enough from Rom 14:5; why do you ask?”
The congregant relied “I was reading Calvin on Isaiah, and he seemed woefully ignorant of Israel’s history. Therefore his Isaiah seemed more eisegesis than exegesis, and poor eisegesis at best. Disappointing really.”
The pastor very nearly fell off his chair, and although his follow up words were gracious, he was clearly red-faced.
From this reaction, it struck me that Calvin has become something of an infallible Protestant pope, not to be questioned or doubted (and I suggest other theologians as well including Arminius)
Shouldn’t we always be somewhat suspect of those whose dogma becomes treated near equivilant to the bible, almost as if we cannot do without their interpretation to understand the words of Christ, save Paul and the others found immediately in the bible?