Summary: Message 9 in our Galatians series
Chico Alliance Church
“Childbirth, a tale of two sons, falling from Grace”
True freedom comes by grace through faith in Christ
I. Paul Possessed the Correct credentials 1-2
Paul taught only what he received directly from Christ Himself.
II. Paul Proclaimed the Correct Concept of Grace 2:15-4:31
Right standing before God comes only through faith in Christ apart from works.
A. The Gospel of Grace Introduced 2:15-21
B. The Gospel of Grace Argued and Illustrated 3:1-4:31
1. Faith Argued by clarifying interrogation 3:1-6
2. Genuine faith illustrated by Abraham 3:7-29
3. New life illustrated by sonship 4:1-31
a. Slavery verses sonship 4:1-11
b. Passionate Personal Appeal 4:12-21
In this next section Paul makes a passionate appeal on the basis of their personal relationship established previously. Paul has been very serious with these believers. He has fired probing questions. He has expressed deep concern. He has expressed bewilderment at their soon defection from the faith. He has rebuked their behavior. Lest these believers come to the conclusion that Paul intends to cut them off from fellowship, he dramatically shifts his tone from rebuking to embracing and passionately appeals to them on the basis of the personal relationship they once enjoyed. He calls them brethren. He addresses them as his children. He laments the shift in their perception of Him. They shifted perspective from viewing him as an angel to an adversary. He urges them to become as he is (free from the law) as he had become like they were (free from law as Gentiles). He assures them that it is not he that is offended by them but concerned about them. He has no offense. In fact he only remembers what a warm and deeply meaningful reception he had.
First came to them because of some physical infirmity. Even though his affliction appeared physically repulsive, they eagerly received Paul and the message of the new freedom in Christ. There was such a joyful and close relationship established that they would have even plucked out their eyes. This was a common figure of speech to indicate great sacrifice. Their relationship was characterized by magnificent mutual blessing and joy. The Galatians met this temptation (your temptation or trail) to reject Paul based on externals with flying colors. They did not despise or loathe as an object of scorn.
“despise” to treat as of no account
“loathe” (ekptyo) to spit out
People viewed physical infirmities as a curse or punishment from God when sometimes accompanied a corresponding demonstration of that disdain. They did not however despise or spit at his physical appearance or infirmity but rather, they received as and angel of God
They received Paul as Jesus Himself. “Receive” is to accept or warmly welcome as something valuable. Messengers were to be received with the honor of the one sending them.
How do we view those with outward infirmities?
Do we make value judgments based on the world’s criteria or God’s?
The Bible is clear that man looks on the outward appearance but God looks on the heart.
Do we receive others with the respect and value as an angel or Christ Himself?
How different the world would be if we all accepted one another as Christ.
Paul feels like they view him as an enemy simply because he is telling them truth. Paul passionately shares the truth that sets them free and feels rejected because of it. The Judaizers tell them lies that imprison and they are eagerly sought after. These Judaizers had done the job. They had caused the believers to:
Desert the message giver.
Distort the message.
Despise the messenger.
The Agent of Change – the false teachers
False teachers drew loyalty from Paul and the message of the Gospel to themselves. They questioned Paul’s authority. They questioned Paul’s relationship with them. They questioned Paul’s teaching. Rather than seeking Paul’s friendship and pointing these young believers to Christ, these false teachers cut them off from everyone else so that they might become exclusively connected to them. They locked them out in order to lock them in. This is a sure signal of a cultish group. Exclusive loyalty to a person or group rather than to Christ and His body. These people eagerly attended to the Galatians not to give them the truth and set them free but to draw them only to themselves. Paul said it is OK to give attention to people but your motive must be right. However, as Tozer so clearly points out, we are to be signposts along the road of life clearly and jubilantly pointing the way to the source of life.
My longing for your maturity is again deeply painful.
Labor pains were regarded as the severest pains humans experienced, and even with skilled midwives, mothers often died in childbirth. Paul’s image of his love and sacrifice—and of their apostasy—could not be more graphic.