Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed

Gospel 27

Galatians has three sections: autobiography (chps 1-2), theology (3-4) and praxis (5-6). Simplied of course. The opening section of the autobiographical argument for Paul’s gospel has several references to “gospel” and “gospeling”:

11 I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not
something that man made up. 12 I did not receive it from any man, nor
was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.
13 For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how
intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. 14 I
was advancing in Judaism beyond many Jews of my own age and was
extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. 15 But when God,
who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased 16
to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles,
I did not consult any man, 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those
who were apostles before I was, but I went immediately into Arabia and
later returned to Damascus. 18 Then after three years, I went up to
Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter and stayed with him fifteen
days. 19 I saw none of the other apostles-only James, the Lord’s
brother. 20 I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no
lie. 21 Later I went to Syria and Cilicia. 22 I was personally unknown
to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 23 They only heard the
report: “The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith
he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they praised God because of me.


Paul’s gospel is not man-made but comes “by revelation from Jesus
Christ” (v. 11-12). This means he thinks his opponents’ gospel is
man-made: the Christ + Torah observance (or commands within the Torah)
is a man-made gospel.

Second, Paul’s task is to “gospel” to the
Gentiles (v. 16). And he didn’t need authorization from Jerusalem —
the man-made approach — to preach this gospel.

Third, Paul sums
up his opponents attitude to his task with this: “The man who formerly
persecuted us is now preaching/gospeling the faith he once tried to
destroy” (v. 23). The word “faith” is central to Paul’s gospel.

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posted November 5, 2008 at 8:23 am

I find this passage interesting. Paul preaches the gospel – and seems to specifically deny the necessity for “ordination” – his message is from God. Yet in other places he stresses that he and the others agree on essentials etc. and he is sent by a community and he seems to “ordain” others.

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Travis Greene

posted November 5, 2008 at 10:15 am

What do Catholics do with this passage, since it seems Paul denies any particular special authority for Peter and the rest of the apostles? I don’t want to get into a big Catholic/Protestant fight, it just seems to me that Paul is kind of perversely proud of not hanging out with the people who knew and sat under Jesus for more than 2 weeks. I get that the thrust of his argument is that his authority and his teaching aren’t given to him by human beings, but I think if I were him I’d want to claim, rather than reject, a little more continuity with the Twelve.

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posted November 5, 2008 at 11:57 am

This is so interesting to me given the emphasis we place on credentialing, even in protestant churches. On the one hand, it’s understandable given that when there is no oversight or proper education, people can get really off course and lead others astray. OTOH, insisting on credentialing can exclude someone like Paul whose education happens straight from God rather than from the foot of an apostle (or professor). But then again, maybe Paul was a special case.

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