Is it Style, Culture, or Law? : Galatians 2:1-14

November 28, 2011

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What cultural things to we impose on other believers as law?

As a missionary working in Africa, I am constantly faced with things people believe the Bible says. They tell me things are this way and it is the truth. Only, they are not in the Bible.

Missionaries, TV preachers, and the internet have promoted certain cultural viewpoints or personal convictions as doctrine in an attempt to disciple people.

This is what Paul is combating in Galatians. The early church was struggling to define Christianity. What activities were required? Did people have to become Jewish in order to be a first century believer?

Galatians 2:1-14(link – click on this and read the passage.)

Paul, in making his case to the Jewish elders, shows how he did not require Titus to be circumcised. Titus is the one left behind in Crete to establish the church (book of Titus). He was going to a Gentile culture, so Paul saw no reason for him to be Jewish. I imagine he sent him off with the admonition to “just go preach the gospel.”

So Paul is obviously anti-circumcision. Right? He does not want to practice the Jewish customs?

Except he did have Timothy circumcised in order to minister to the church in Acts 16:3. He knew that this would be in an issue in that particular church.  He made sure to eliminate stumbling blocks.

Paul was a cross cultural missionary.

He knew when to adapt, without compromising.

The Bible never said you needed to be Jewish to be a believer. The account of him making this case to the elders, including Peter, is recorded in Galatians. He is reminding Peter of his revelation about eating “unclean” meat, enabling him to reach out to the Gentiles (Acts 10).

Peter, if you can do it….why can’t they?

Paul is coming against the false teaching of Jesus + circumcision and is showing the respected elders of the day agree. The Jerusalem Council of Acts 15 concurred with Paul’s “gospel.”

As I have studied the Bible over the years, I have realized many times that things I was taught are not in there. And things are in there that I never knew!

Where does this come from? Either culture or personal conviction.

As bearers of the gospel, we do not want to impose a Western or African or Asian view upon all believers. Neither would we want to assume charismatic, evangelical, Lutheran, or non-denominationalism has all truth.

The Bible has all truth. Biblical culture is the true culture

What things have been imposed on you through the years that stem from culture or style? 

What have you learned from another culture or denomination that has revealed the fuller picture of God?

Please comment and let’s learn from each other!

Related Links for 7 Minutes a Day:  Galatians Series
Introduction and Summary of the book
Galatians 1:1-10
Galatians 1:11-24

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Chris

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A missionary teacher for 24 years currently living in South Africa. I am a recovering superhero, daily in need of the grace of God