Monday, May 12, 2008

Galatians; Holy Days Or Pagan Days?

I’m sure we’re all familiar with the Armstongian view, (still taught by those like Ron Weinland), of Galatians 4:9 being that Paul is asking them why they have returned to pagan days:

[NIV throughout] Ga.4:9 But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles?

I’m going to offer you a reasonable, valid argument that this is NOT the case.



My preferences for anyone in search of God’s truth: I’d appreciate it if you’d get your Bible out for this. If you have looked at the information in the top side panel you know that I encourage you to look further into ANY information you gather on ANY Biblical subject regardless of WHO the information comes from, hence; the title of this blog. See the scripture in my blog description at the top of the page? Never rely solely on your source; it’s your responsibility to validate information. And, as stated in the side panel, I strongly suggest the use of Greek/Hebrew Interlinear and a Greek/Hebrew dictionary.

I’m going list only the parts I am using to make my argument. You can follow along in your Bible for the full text. The underlined verses tell us Paul was not asking them why they’ve gone back to keeping pagan days in chapter 4:2, but asking them why they’ve gone back to the Old Covenant. He uses Hagar & Sarah in 4:21 to tell them they can’t inherit under the O.C. & in chapter 5 tells them Christ has set them free & that they are trying to be justified by the law:

Galatians 3

Faith or Observance of the Law
1 You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you?

2
Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard?
[How would anyone think they can receive the Spirit by observing a pagan law? They don’t. They’ve returned to observing the O.C.]

3
Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? [Obtaining their goal by observing a pagan law? No.]

5
Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard? [Again, pagan law doesn’t make sense, does it?]
6 Consider Abraham: "He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness."

7
Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham.

8 The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: "All nations will be blessed through you."

9
So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

10
All who rely on observing the law, are under a curse, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law."

[The curse is; if you choose to keep the O.C. rather than the New, you must keep it in its entirety, flawlessly, to be found righteous, and since that’s impossible; you are doomed to the pit, hence; the curse. Which is why--->]

11
Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, "The righteous will live by faith." [Who doesn’t understand this? (Not a rhetorical question.)]

12
The law is not based on faith [Which law isn’t based on faith? The one that is based on ‘going through the motions, regardless of what is in the heart; the O.C.]

13
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us …"

14
He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

[What does all that mean in v. 14? Do we think God blundered His way through all that has occurred & worked it out as it came along? Of course not, the whole thing was pre-planned. We are stubborn, & argumentative. He had to provide us with proof that we could NEVER be found righteous on our own, with no room for rebuttal on our part. So He;

1) gave us free will

2) provided the Mt. Sinai law to the obstinate Israelites as evidence that we are incapable of keeping it flawlessly

3) sent Jesus to thus, pay the penalty for the sins of His creation and extend the offer of salvation beyond the Israelites thus, all believers become the adopted children of Abraham and thus the children of God. We, by accepting the offer from Jesus to pay our debt, gain His righteousness in us, that being; the Holy Spirit which is a deposit, a guarantee;

(Eph.1:13-14
Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession—to the praise of his glory.) There are two paths; Abraham’s path of faith or Moses’ path of works, one leads to salvation the other does not. OK, back to the subject at hand.]
The Law and the Promise
15 Brothers, let me take an example from everyday life. Just as no one can set aside, or add, to a human covenant that has been duly established, so it is in this case.

[How would that have anything to do with a pagan anything?] [This is also a good spot to point out that the O.C. was not ‘amplified,’ adjusted, altered, in any way, (as we were taught.)Paul tell us clearly, that this cannot be done! We have been given a NEW contract/covenant!]

16 The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed…who is Christ.

17
What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, [430 years after Abraham] does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise.

18
For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on a promise; [this is not talking about a pagan law. It IS however telling us that inheriting the kingdom is not dependant on keeping the law, rather, faith.] but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise.

19
What, then, was the purpose of the law? It was added because of transgressions, [whose transgressions? The Israelites’.] until the Seed [Christ] to whom the promise referred had come…

21
Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law.

22
But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.

23
Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed.

24 So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith.

25
Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.

Galatians 4

Paul's Concern for the Galatians
8 Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods.

EDITED: [What does this mean? Honestly, I'm not sure. It is probably referencing a previous pagan involvement, in which they were slaves to - by rules and regulations, - before conversion to Christianity, and asking why they would return to the O.C. law which also is a law of slavery;
Gal. 5:1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

And Gal. 4:21-31 "
Tell me, you who want to be under the law, are you not aware of what the law says?

22
For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman.

23
His son by the slave woman was born in the ordinary way; but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a promise.

24
These things may be taken figuratively, for the women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar.

25
Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children.

26
But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother.

27
For it is written: "Be glad, O barren woman, [Gentiles] who bears no children; [of God] break forth and cry aloud, you who have no labor pains; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband." [Israelites/Christ]

28
Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise.

29
At that time the son born in the ordinary way persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. It is the same now.

30
But what does the Scripture say? "Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman's son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman's son."

31
Therefore, brothers, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman.)

What IS CLEAR however, is the many passages leading up to, and following, make it clear that Paul is referring to the Old Covenant, and NOT to pagan days or laws.]

9
But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?

10 You are observing special days and months and seasons and years!

11
I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.

17
Those people are zealous to win you over, but for no good. What they want is to alienate you from us, so that you may be zealous for them.

18
It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good, and to be so always and not just when I am with you.

19
My dear children; for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you,

[‘until Christ is formed in you.’ I believe this is talking about the character of Jesus being formed in them because, we see in Ch.3:2 that they had received the Holy Spirit.]


20
how I wish I could be with you now and change my tone, because I am perplexed about you!
Hagar and Sarah
[Here, again, we see this has nothing to do with pagan days or laws. Paul is using Hagar & Sarah as an analogy of the O.C. and the N.C., not a pagan law and God’s law.]

21
Tell me, you who want to be under the law, are you not aware of what the law says?

22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman.

23 His son by the slave woman was born in the ordinary way; but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a promise.

24
These things may be taken figuratively, for the women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar.

25
Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children.

[This tell you loud and clear that Paul is talking about the O.C. and not pagan days.]

26
But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother

28
Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise.

29
At that time the son born in the ordinary way persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. It is the same now.

30
But what does the Scripture say? "Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman's son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman's son."


31
Therefore, brothers, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman
.

Galatians 5

Freedom in Christ
1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.


2
Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, [nothing to do with pagan laws] Christ will be of no value to you at all.

3
Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law.

4
You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.

[They’re trying to be justified by law, nothing to do with anything pagan.]

5
But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope.

6
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

7
You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth?

8
That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you.

9
"A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough."

10
I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view.
The one who is throwing you into confusion will pay the penalty, whoever he may be.

11
Brothers, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished.

12
As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!

[Nothing to do with pagan stuff. This is what Paul thinks of those misleading others into thinking they are still to observe O.C. things. And recall that if you choose the O.C., you must keep it in its entirety, flawlessly…Impossible.]

[Clearly nothing here has anything to do with anything pagan. Paul is NOT asking them why they have returned to pagan days/laws, but why they have returned to the O.C. by the misleading of those who think we are still to observe it.]

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Its all fine to go pointing to other parts of the book to say that Gal 4:9 is not talking about Pagan days, but you only have to look at the preceding verse to see otherwise...

8 Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods.

Sorry, but I'm afraid it is talking about going back to observing pagan gods.

As for living only under faith, how do we show our faith?

James 2:14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?

James 2:17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works.

20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?

24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

Seeker Of Truth said...

It's amazing how people can completely ignore every verse before, and every verse after, just because verse 8 is probably referencing a pagan involvement previous to conversion.

Paul may mention this part of their past, but the fact remains that he is addressing the issue of them reverting from the new contract, back to the old contract.

I'd like to hear a thorough explanation of what Paul is talking about in all these previous verses and all those that follow, if he is really asking them why they've returned to paganism.

Whether pagan or O.C., it remains; they are serving rules, regulations, rituals and ceremonies - not God.

Take for instance Ron Weinland, who says "Sabbath, Sabbath, Sabbath, and rarely talks of Jesus except to say He had a beginning."

Anonymous said...

You're absolutely right on. As an ex-WWCG and ex-UCG member, this one always used to bother me. I finally realized, though, that what Paul was saying is this: That before the Galatians came to Christ, they did service to their pagan gods and the religions of those gods. But now after coming to Christ, they (Galatians) have fallen for the false teaching of the men who said that they must "Be circumcised, and keep the Law of Moses". (Acts 15)

In other words, Paul is saying, You Galatians came out of your pagan background, but now you've jumped into the background that I came out of. That is, the Law and Old Covenant. He wasn't talking about them returning to their own background again.

How do we know this? Read verse 10 of chapter 4 and go backwards to verse 1,(or even before that).
Notice the verses begin with connectors, "But now", "Howbeit then", "Wherefore", "And because", "But when", "Even so we". Paul has a train of thought going all the way back to verse 1, and beyond, and it's all talking about the Law, the background that
he (Paul) came out of. And Paul is comparing that to the background the Galatians came out of, saying that both backgrounds were a "bondage" to elementary things.
And he's saying the Galatians were trading one bondage for another, (their background for his).

To say that verse 10 is talking about pagan days would make that verse a non-sequitur, and the rules of language, grammar, and context don't allow that. Verses
8,9, and 10 can't be isolated from the rest, they're all connected.

The book of Galatians, right from the beginning, is Paul's rebuttal to the false teaching in Acts 15, that they had to be "Circumcised, and keep the Law of Moses". Paganism just wasn't the problem.

JGIG said...

Really well done =o).

And regarding the Old Covenant or pagan things: from reading the whole book it is clear that the Old Covenant is what the Galatians were being led back into by Judaizers; that they may have come out of paganism before that does not negate what Paul was teaching them regarding Old Covenant/New Covenant issues. It wasn't an either OC/or paganism issue that Paul was addressing, but a both/and situation - the main thrust of the letter being to teach the Galatians that in Christ no one is under Mosaic Covenant Law!