Reading Section 6: What Happened to You? 4.12-20

➡ Average Reading Time: 7 minutes

The material in the following chapters of this draft is being proofed.
They are NOT finished chapters. I invite you to read them and leave comments about what you liked, didn’t like, didn’t understand, etc.

Thanks,
Winn

Where We Are Going?

Reading the Storyline: New International Version (2011)
Reading the Storyline: Interpretative Paraphrase
Observing the Storyline
Interpreting the Storyline
Paul’s Appeal (4.12-20)
An Example (4.12a)
Remember Me (4.12b-16)
A Reasonable Thought (4.17-18)
One Wish (4.19-20)
So What?
Living into the Story

Reading the Storyline: New International Version (2011)

Free At LastI plead with you, brothers and sisters, become like me, for I became like you. You did me no wrong. As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you, and even though my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn. Instead, you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God as if I were Christ Jesus himself. Where, then, is your blessing of me now? I can testify that, if you could have done so, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me. Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth?

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 have a zeal for them. It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good, and to be so always, not just when I am with you. My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, how I wish I could be with you now and change my tone because I am perplexed about you!

Reading the Storyline: Interpretative Paraphrase

Dear brothers and sisters, become like me by freeing yourself from the Jewish boundary markers as a way of thinking that they complete the work of Jesus in you. I saw your sensitivity and kindness when you did not ridicule me. You seemed to be aware that I was physically broken when I was there and because of my condition I could not continue my travels. Rather, you welcomed me as if you were thinking that I was God’s angel or maybe even thought that I was Jesus. Now I wonder what happened to your joy and love that if it were at all possible you would have plucked out your very own eyes and given them to me. I endeavored to bless you but now you treat me as some kind enemy. Why? Those theological rascals are out to get you off track. They are not your friends. What they really want is to deceive you by preventing you from remembering the good news I delivered to you. I am now in pain as if a mother was giving birth to her child. I will continue my birth pains until you are formed into the image of Jesus. I keep wishing that I was with you so that I wouldn’t have to write such blunt words out of my frustration. I am completely perplexed at this point

Observing the Storyline

Interpreting the Storyline

Paul’s Appeal (4.12-20)

In this section, Paul’s appeal is emotional. He asked the Galatian believers to follow his example (Gal. 4.12a). He suggested that they should remember him (Gal. 4.12b-13). He reminded them of their initial response to him (Gal. 4.14-16). He explained their situation to them (Gal. 4.17-18) and finally, he made an emotional appeal to them (Gal. 4.19-20).

An Example (4.12a)

“Become like me, for I became like you” most likely means something like: “Become like me by freeing yourself from the Jewish boundary markers as a way of thinking that they complete the work of Jesus in you.” The latter part of the phrase would be: “I became like you were when I understood the gospel message of Jesus and acknowledged myself as a sinner and turned to him.” The New Living Translation says: “Dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to live as I do in freedom from these things, for I have become like you Gentiles were—free from the law.

Remember Me (4.12b-16)

The beginning of his friendship and ministry to the Galatians was important for them to remember. Paul begins by saying “you know,” which would require the Galatians to consider their experience with him over against the way he was being presented by the Jewish missionaries. Paul reminded them that they had heard the gospel “because of his illness” and they had not mistreated him when he first came to preach to them despite his illness. The New Living Translation translates: You did not mistreat me when I first preached to you. Surely you remember that I was sick when I first brought you the Good News of Christ.

It is fair to say that the original Galatians that knew Paul are the only ones who truly know what Paul’s illness was. Everything else is speculation! Scot McKnight suggests of there were many speculations that have been suggested such as epilepsy, malaria, and eye disease. Some scholars have suggested that he needed a certain kind of medical attention (a specific doctor) so that is why he went to Galatia. Others have suggested that the conditions around Galatia were conducive to recuperation from his illness. As you can see, one can speculate forever. The text simply does not tell us the condition or why he went. What is important is not what kind of disease Paul suffered, but how the Galatians responded to it. His illness did not bother the Galatians. They were able to see beyond what may have made them uncomfortable and see what Paul preached as the truth of the one Creator-Covenant God. [ref] Scot; McKnight, Galatians (The NIV Application Commentary Book 9) (Kindle Location 4225-4234). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.[/ref] We must remember (Gal. 3.1-5) that there were miracles in the ecclesiae at Galatia. Yet, there is no apparent miracle for Paul’s illness. It may be true that we are all wounded “healers.”

The Galatians were not revolted by his condition. They did not turn him away, which was different than now as they turn away from him and the good news he preached to listen and accept the message of the Jewish agitators.

Instead of turning away from him, they treated him as an angel and like Jesus. To say that he was treated like an angel may be a way of saying that he was treated royally. This may be a reference to his first introduction to the Galatian cities when he and Barnabas were thought to be gods by the Galatians. Barnabas was thought to be Zeus while Paul was thought to be Hermes (the messenger/angel from God). There is also the very real possibility that Paul was using the word angelosin its natural sense of messenger, i.e., as the messenger from God with the good news of Jesus. While Matthew was not yet written, the sayings of Jesus were committed to memory by the early followers of Jesus. Paul may have simply been referring to the saying later recorded by Matthew (10.40) that he who received his messenger received him.

Paul now asked, “Where is that joyful spirit we felt together then?” (NLT) The question implies that it had been lost as they traded his gospel for the gospel of the Jewish missionaries. That, “they would have gladly taken out their own eyes,” may only mean that they had a close friendship. In antiquity, giving one’s eyes was often a metaphor of a deep friendship and commitment to another as a friend. It doesn’t necessarily mean that Paul had an eye disease (Gal. 3.15).[ref] H. D. Betz, Galatians, 226-228. [/ref]

Most translations translate Galatians 3.16 as a question, but it could (and maybe should) be translated as a statement: “So now I have become your enemy by telling you the truth.” The “truth” is that they had deserted the true gospel by turning to a “different gospel,” which in Paul’s mind was not good news but damning news. Remember, “your friend is never your enemy, your enemy (Satan) is your enemy”[ref] One of the many quaint sayings of John Wimber that I heard him may times when I was working with him in the early days of the Vineyard (approximately 1982-1984).[/ref]

A Reasonable Thought (4.17-18)

Paul wrote, “Those false teachers who are so anxious to win your favor are not doing it for your good. They are trying to shut you off from me so that you will pay more attention to them” (Living Bible. TLB) These Jewish missionaries were practicing exclusive and divertive practices. Paul wanted to alert the Galatian believers that this was not for their “good.” The phrase “shut you off” means to alienate them from Paul.

One Wish (4.19-20)

Paul presented his wish in a metaphor of being a pregnant woman during childbirth. It is common in birth for a mother to go through labor pains once and then the child is born. But here Paul says that he is experiencing labor pains a second time for children already born. First, when they first accepted the gospel he preached. Second, as he seeks to bring them back to the true gospel and away from the deadly message of the Jewish evangelists. Not only is he willing to endure birth pains twice, but he continues to experience them until Christ is formed in them. The contrast between Paul and the Jewish missionaries is striking. They had a selfish motive to attach the Galatians to themselves. Paul, on the other hand, wanted the Galatians to be formed in the image of Jesus. He concluded by telling his readers that he wished that he was present with them so that he could speak more gently, but because he was at a distance, he needed to be quite confrontational with them.

So What?

There is a cold truth that abounds in the worldwide ecclesiae that ought not to be. But, because we are all being saved (1 Cor. 1.18) and we live between the first coming and the consummation of the kingdom, it just is. What is it, you say? First, folks should not be so naïve to think that they will always receive a warm welcome if they consistently teach the truth. Teaching those ideas that are difficult because they often cause one to think (God forbid!) and changing will often alienate some in the flock. Just be aware of it and remember it when the teaching you hear cuts across your own personal worldview and theology. Second, often leaders in the local ecclesia are more inclined to invest in people and get hooked by attracting them to the leader than teaching hard truth that forms a person into the image of Jesus.

Living into the Story

End of Session
 

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Read Me First

 

Throughout these sessions, I have used the word ecclesia (singular) for the usual word church and ecclesiae (plural) to indicate a church in a particular geographic place, i.e., the ecclesiae at Corinth, meaning the whole of the many smaller ecclesia that met in homes in Corinth. This is to distinguish between the Institutional Church model (IC) and ecclesia that meet in cities and towns around the world. The ecclesiae written about by the authors of the Second Testament were not the same as what the “church” has become over the years of its existence. Usually, but not always, folks think of a church as a place where they go to a building and set in rows of pews and listen to music and sometimes sing and listen to sermons by a pastor or senior pastor. The ecclesiae of the Second Testament time did not invoke this model.

 

I have discovered over the years that if you want to try and change minds about something special, you have to venture out and reword it in order to grasp a foothold for a new refreshed understanding of the idea presented by the word. Such is the case between "church" and "ecclesia."

 

Happy Reading!

Read Me Second

 

Referenced verses in the text of this study are not used to prove some point of view. They are merely markers where the subject matter is referenced by other books and authors. To gain a larger view of each quote, a serious student of the Holy Writ would take the time to view the reference and see what the background is. The background provides tracks on which the meaning of a text rides. So knowing the context of a referenced passage would help the reader to gain a more thorough understanding of an author than just the words quoted and marked by a verse number that was not a part of the original author's text, which as you might remember was performed on the text in a random fashion many years later.

 

Happy Reading!

Read Me Third

 

The verses that are referenced in these sessions are not meant to prove a point. They are simply pointers to where the idea being written about may have a correlation. In order to see if they accomplish the thesis presented by the original author, a student should read, at a minimum, the chapter in which the verse is found as well as trying to ascertain what the original author may have meant to say to the original audience.

 

Of course, this is a lot of work but it is beneficial work. If one does not understand what the author meant when it was written and the audience could not have understood by what was written, then the words on the page can mean anything that a present reader may assign as a meaning, thus distorting what God was inspiring for the original writer to write to the original audience to hear.

A great and recent book by N.T. Wright and Michael F. Bird entitled The New Testament in Its World would be a wonderful addition to your reading helps.

 

Happy Reading!

Jesus Followers

 

There are many synonyms to use for the word believer, which is the most common word for a person who has "converted" to follow Jesus. I have chosen "Jesus follower(s) or follower(s) of Jesus instead of the word believer in these presentations to allow the reader an opportunity to move away from the idea of believer which conjures up the possible thought of "ascent" to a set of doctrines that have been assembled by different groups over the centuries and show up in this day and age as a set of statements posted on web sites and other written material. These sets of beliefs are suggested by many as the ones that one should ascent to so that upon death the one who assents can go to heaven, i.e., just believe and you are good to go. Jesus followers/followers of Jesus suggest an action that one should take. Remember, Jesus told his disciples to follow him. Yes, belief is important, but one must move beyond belief to action.

 

(See "Discipleship" Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. 182-188.)

Read Me First

 

Throughout these sessions, I have used the word ecclesia (singular) for the usual word church and ecclesiae (plural) to indicate a church in a particular geographic place, i.e., the ecclesiae at Corinth, meaning the whole of the many smaller ecclesia that met in homes in Corinth. This is to distinguish between the Institutional Church model (IC) and ecclesia that meet in cities and towns around the world. The ecclesiae written about by the authors of the Second Testament were not the same as what the “church” has become over the years of its existence. Usually, but not always, folks think of a church as a place where they go to a building and set in rows of pews and listen to music and sometimes sing and listen to sermons by a pastor or senior pastor. The ecclesiae of the Second Testament time did not invoke this model.

 

I have discovered over the years that if you want to try and change minds about something special, you have to venture out and reword it in order to grasp a foothold for a new refreshed understanding of the idea presented by the word. Such is the case between "church" and "ecclesia."

 

Happy Reading!

Read Me Second

 

Referenced verses in the text of this study are not used to prove some point of view. They are merely markers where the subject matter is referenced by other books and authors. To gain a larger view of each quote, a serious student of the Holy Writ would take the time to view the reference and see what the background is. The background provides tracks on which the meaning of a text rides. So knowing the context of a referenced passage would help the reader to gain a more thorough understanding of an author than just the words quoted and marked by a verse number that was not a part of the original author's text, which as you might remember was performed on the text in a random fashion many years later.

 

Happy Reading!

Read Me Third

 

The verses that are referenced in these sessions are not meant to prove a point. They are simply pointers to where the idea being written about may have a correlation. In order to see if they accomplish the thesis presented by the original author, a student should read, at a minimum, the chapter in which the verse is found as well as trying to ascertain what the original author may have meant to say to the original audience.

 

Of course, this is a lot of work but it is beneficial work. If one does not understand what the author meant when it was written and the audience could not have understood by what was written, then the words on the page can mean anything that a present reader may assign as a meaning, thus distorting what God was inspiring for the original writer to write to the original audience to hear.

A great and recent book by N.T. Wright and Michael F. Bird entitled The New Testament in Its World would be a wonderful addition to your reading helps.

 

Happy Reading!

Jesus Followers

 

There are many synonyms to use for the word believer, which is the most common word for a person who has "converted" to follow Jesus. I have chosen "Jesus follower(s) or follower(s) of Jesus instead of the word believer in these presentations to allow the reader an opportunity to move away from the idea of believer which conjures up the possible thought of "ascent" to a set of doctrines that have been assembled by different groups over the centuries and show up in this day and age as a set of statements posted on web sites and other written material. These sets of beliefs are suggested by many as the ones that one should ascent to so that upon death the one who assents can go to heaven, i.e., just believe and you are good to go. Jesus followers/followers of Jesus suggest an action that one should take. Remember, Jesus told his disciples to follow him. Yes, belief is important, but one must move beyond belief to action.

 

(See "Discipleship" Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. 182-188.)