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Old 12-06-2008, 11:25 PM   #1
YP0534
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Default Asia Leaving Paul

I posted the kernel of this elsewhere, which I somewhat regret doing, but it started here, really, so I'm bringing it on back home.

I took the opportunity to express my recent realization that Paul's contradictory practice of Judaism while among the Jews (Acts 21:17-30) and well-known teachings against such practices, at least while among Gentiles (Gal. 2:12-20), is almost certainly what led to his abandonment by the Asian assemblies (2 Tim. 1:15) who were the primary witnesses to his hypocrisy. I think it is significant that the assemblies in Asia are the ones addressed in Revelation. I don't think it's a coincidence that Paul charged Timothy with teachings that establish hierarchy in the assemblies (1 Tim. 2:11-12, 3:1, 3:12) while the letter to Ephesus praises that assembly for hating the works of the Nicolaitans (Rev. 2:6).
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Old 12-07-2008, 09:15 AM   #2
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Default Re: Asia Leaving Paul

Interesting thought about the churches in Asia. Is this an original idea of yours or did you come to this conclusion through the writings of others? Could you possibly point me to any of the writings of the early church fathers/scholars who may have had similar thoughts regarding this? I don't agree with your assumption/conclusions, but knowing you it is well thought out and you will develop this as we go along.

I can see you are going to link this up with the "establishment of hierarchy in the assemblies". As I see it, there is a huge gulf between the establishment of proper leadership and order in new chruchers and "the works of the Nicolaitans". If I remember correctly you do not recognize the "office" (for lack of better word) of Elder. I assume you follow the school of thought that the office/function of apostleship ended with the death of the original scripture writing apostles? If so, how do the "gifts" to the body of Christ fit into your view. If getting into all this gets too far away from the thread here just feel free to skip it and go right ahead with your main points.

This could be an excellent thread, especially if we can tie it into what has taken place in the Local Church/ministries of Nee & Lee at some point.


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Old 12-07-2008, 02:16 PM   #3
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Default Re: Asia Leaving Paul

Quote:
Originally Posted by YP0534 View Post
I posted the kernel of this elsewhere, which I somewhat regret doing, but it started here, really, so I'm bringing it on back home.

I took the opportunity to express my recent realization that Paul's contradictory practice of Judaism while among the Jews (Acts 21:17-30) and well-known teachings against such practices, at least while among Gentiles (Gal. 2:12-20), is almost certainly what led to his abandonment by the Asian assemblies (2 Tim. 1:15) who were the primary witnesses to his hypocrisy. I think it is significant that the assemblies in Asia are the ones addressed in Revelation. I don't think it's a coincidence that Paul charged Timothy with teachings that establish hierarchy in the assemblies (1 Tim. 2:11-12, 3:1, 3:12) while the letter to Ephesus praises that assembly for hating the works of the Nicolaitans (Rev. 2:6).
Greetings YPO534,

For many decades I had the opinion that Paul’s actions in Jerusalem regarding the four brothers who had taken the Nazirite Vow had damaged his relationship with the churches in the Asia region. Paul had rebuked Peter to his face in Galatia and gave a stern warning to the Ephesian elders regarding the whole council of God. It is only logical that they would have a negative reaction to an apostle who had been loose with the truth of the gospel.

Note that in Revelation chapter two we see the church in Ephesus was commended for trying the apostles. It was not the other way around. I suppose that a church could quarantine an apostle but not the other way around.

While the letters to Timothy and Titus have been used by some Christians over the centuries to develop a hierarchy, I do not believe that was the intent. Thus I have not included them in the issue of Asia turning away from Paul. Rather, the turning away from Paul, I have taken to be a subtle warning to extra local ministering brothers.

I would like to in the future pursue your issues with the universal church. In my reading of the New Testament I see no administration or practicality of the Universal Church. We see local church assemblies and the headship of Christ expressed locally. We see churches in a universal sense but never a single administered universal entity. The New Testament stresses “the churches” never “the church universal” as a practical administrative unit.

Hope, Don Rutledge
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Old 12-07-2008, 02:21 PM   #4
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Default Re: Asia Leaving Paul

Quite an interesting topic YPO534 and certainly worth looking at. I remember Brother Lee sharing on this matter in the past….. that what Paul was really doing was trying to make an attempt to bring together both the Jewish and Gentile elements of the church. Even though he knew that the practice of Jewish rituals meant nothing…he was willing to do it to demonstrate his oneness with the believing Jews.


I Corinthians 1:19-23
“For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ) that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. And this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.”
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Old 12-07-2008, 03:49 PM   #5
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Default Re: Asia Leaving Paul

Hello dear ones,

I claim total ignorance on this topic. I have always glossed over 2 Tim. 1:15 ("This you know, that all who are in Asia turned away from me, of whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes"), assuming that the reason for the turning away from Paul was something we could not know in the age.

Perhaps the puzzle pieces which solve this question do exist in the Scriptrues, but are somewhat hiddern? Hmmmm . . .

One thing I just noticed today while considering this is that 2 Tim. 4:12 states "But Tychius I have sent to Ephesus." It would seem that Paul's co-workers (or at least one of his co-workers) was still welcome in Ephesus, so the "turning away" seems to have applied to Paul only. Hmmmm . . . I just don't know what to think about this.
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Old 12-07-2008, 06:57 PM   #6
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Why did "everyone in Asia" desert Paul?

I imagine "everyone" is an exageration especially considering Timothy himself was in Ephesus...

We do not have a scriptural account of the people of Asia turning away from Paul. This is the only mention of it in scripture. It can be assumed that this is speaking only of the Asians who were in Rome at that time(and several others also in Asia), who turned away from him because of the potential incrimination that associating with a condemned prisoner might bring on them.

Paul started many churches in Asia and spent years of his life ministering to the people there. It would be hard to believe that thousands of people had forsaken him. It is certain that Timothy, who was an Asian, hadn't forsaken Paul. It is also probable that many of the believers in Ephesus, under the leadership of Paul's most loyal associate, Timothy, still loved and appreciated Paul.


There are two factors that could be the cause for this "falling away."

Persecution and False Teachers...

The falling away that Paul first encountered in Ephesus seemed to have spread while he was imprisoned in Rome. Even though certain false teachers were driven away (1 Timothy 1:20), apparently, they did not repent and continued to spread their teaching beyond Ephesus into other parts of Asia Minor in the time between 1 and 2 Timothy.
These teachings(2 timothy 2:14-18) were early forms of Gnosticism that denied the bodily resurrection(2 timothy 2:18) They also had a "triumphalist" view of the Holy Spirit, and no doubt, they took advantage of Paul's imprisonment and the Roman persecution to decieve many and turn them away from Paul and his co-workers.

Some good resources on 1 and 2 Timothy:

Gordon Fee and Ben Witherington...
I just got their commentaries last year for my "prison epistles" class...good stuff!
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Old 12-07-2008, 07:25 PM   #7
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Default Re: Asia Leaving Paul

Thanks for the kind comments!

Just as a side note, I'm leaving for a business trip in the morning and may or may not have much time over the next week to check in with y'all but I'll certainly try.

Here's one of the fundamental building blocks of my thinking along these lines, something we've discussed around here before: a study of the scriptures seems to require the conclusion that the appointment of elders in the assemblies by Paul was not his invention but was merely a continuation/adaptation of a practice of the synagogues. Without giving the references now (perhaps someone will be so kind) it is difficult to distinguish between "elders" (of the people) and "elders" (of the assembly) at some points in Acts. With a background of speculation that Luke's primary purpose in writing Acts was to provide a factual context for the defense of Paul at trial, Luke's failure to make such a distinction clear is understandable and excusable. But if you don't consider that Luke specifically intended to spin Christian practice to seem of a whole with Jewish practice, then the difficulty with making this distinction is even more concerning.

On the other hand, if we take Paul's religious lapses as the appropriate exercise of becoming all things to all men, I think that practice itself deserves further examination. I'm essentially asking whether Paul's testimony among alternately the Jews and the Gentiles was damaged by that practice. And in that context, how did the Gentiles then view the appointment of "elders" as contrasted with the way the Jewish believers received that teaching?

Here's one of the most important points: hierarchy did NOT spring full grown. Lee had made a vague reference to an early error of one of the early church fathers in establishing a bishop as over the elders. (Not like we have ever seen someone exerting influence over elders from above in our lifetime.) But the whole thing had its kernel in the Pauline epistles. Had to. How fast it went awry is at least partly dependent upon our judgment of how appropriate it was in the first place to have the appointment of elders. Was the first step toward a pope the claims of a bishop or the practice of an apostle?

So, I'm just concerned that there is a seemingly neglected connection between Asia rejecting Paul's ministry at some point due to something and the fact that it is those very assemblies, *NOT* those in Judea, which are the subject of the Lord's precise attention in John's Revelation some time later. Since I myself find Paul's religious teachings regarding the role of women, appointment of elders, the keeping a widow's roll, etc., somewhat bothersome for various reasons, others who were not Jewish might also find these items troubling in their walk.

I find myself considering that I should perhaps join those in Asia.
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Old 12-08-2008, 03:15 AM   #8
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Default Re: Asia Leaving Paul

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Originally Posted by Hope View Post
Greetings YPO534,

For many decades I had the opinion that Paul’s actions in Jerusalem regarding the four brothers who had taken the Nazirite Vow had damaged his relationship with the churches in the Asia region. Paul had rebuked Peter to his face in Galatia and gave a stern warning to the Ephesian elders regarding the whole council of God. It is only logical that they would have a negative reaction to an apostle who had been loose with the truth of the gospel.
Was he loose with the truth or was he acting out his practice of all things to all men? Or is there a distinction?

Quote:
Note that in Revelation chapter two we see the church in Ephesus was commended for trying the apostles. It was not the other way around. I suppose that a church could quarantine an apostle but not the other way around.
Well, he would be subject to his own discipline in Rom. 16:17 - he instructed the saints to mark and turn away from not only those who make divisions but also those wo make causes of stumbling contrary to the teaching they recieved. They managed to get past the circumcision issue without catastrophe but Jewish religious practices were far more pervasive than that one item of the old covenant.

Quote:
While the letters to Timothy and Titus have been used by some Christians over the centuries to develop a hierarchy, I do not believe that was the intent. Thus I have not included them in the issue of Asia turning away from Paul. Rather, the turning away from Paul, I have taken to be a subtle warning to extra local ministering brothers.
You are too kind to our Christian brethren, Hope. The pastoral epistles have not been used merely by some to develop a hierarchy. Rather, they have been used by ALL to MAINTAIN the ancient hierarchy. Each successive generation of elders, formally or informally, drew its knowledge and practice concerning "eldership" from the traditions they received. None that I am aware of has completely rejected that practice only to have it purely rebuilt by the Lord alone. Regardless, the kernels of hierarchy are there in those books and, as I've complained about previously, there is no corresponding balancing word to limit hierarchy from developing. My takeaway is Paul's innocent desire to set some up over others for their own good without sufficient insight into the long term consequences of doing so.

The Lord taught "call no man Father" yet we see Paul calling Timothy his "genuine child" (1 Tim. 1:2). I'm suspicious of that. In what way is it helpful to Timothy or to us, the epistle's eventual recipients, that Paul called Timothy "genuine child"? Was Timothy born of the Spirit or of Paul? Should Timothy refer to Paul as his "genuine father"? How could the Roman Catholics ever come to call their ministers "Father" when such a matter is expressly forbidden by the Lord's own words (Matt. 23:9)? I submit it may be the natural consequence of someone being a "genuine child."

Quote:
I would like to in the future pursue your issues with the universal church. In my reading of the New Testament I see no administration or practicality of the Universal Church. We see local church assemblies and the headship of Christ expressed locally. We see churches in a universal sense but never a single administered universal entity. The New Testament stresses “the churches” never “the church universal” as a practical administrative unit.

Hope, Don Rutledge
A believer in Christ Jesus who is seeking to become a true disciple.
Hope, here's how that fits here for me: Paul appointed elders in all the assemblies he set up and that was an act of the apostle in relation to the Universal Church. He brought the compromise document from Jerusalem to every church and that was an act of the apostle in relation to the Universal Church. He directed that his letters be read universally. He permitted the women to speak in no locality. To the extent that Paul exercised his kind of teaching authority to control the assemblies, that look like administering a universal entity.

My disagreement with Paul concerning those matters leads me to conclude that the apostle's function must be limited by the reality of the Body expressed in a sending assembly. The silencing of the sisters, for instance, does not build the Body nor the assembly but it does strengthen the Universal Church power. To reject Universal Church, on the other hand, places the functioning of the individual members on equal footing with each other. Paul ministers his blessed portion and Sister Little Toe ministers her rich enjoyment and all the portions are required for God's glory to be expressed. Paul should not be heard to come back to my locality and say, "Why do the sisters speak in the meetings here? I set up the elders here and my letter clearly says that I don't permit that anywhere." Rather, when Paul returns to his supporting and sending locality he should receive the correction which says, "Paul, unless you would in the future desire to carry letters on behalf of all the assemblies directing the others how to behave, you should go back to each of the places you brought that Jerusalem letter and fix that mistake you made. And here's the copy you left with us."

Of course, the difficulty with all of this is drawing the line on where Paul went wrong. Some seem to ignore the obvious lapses and take Paul's every word as pure gospel. I'm far more suspicious now. That's the approach of the Local Church and it seems manifestly unworkable. What the Local Church has become is the eventuality of what any Pauline Universal Church would be, hence the striking similarities of the authority claims and actions of Rome and Anaheim.

Grace to you!
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Old 12-08-2008, 09:05 AM   #9
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Default Re: Asia Leaving Paul

As usual, I come to be the fly in the ointment. Not because I think I have it right, but because I see something that I think is worthy of discussion.

First, while there is ample room to argue that the abandonment of Paul by Asia had something to do with the “error” that Paul fell into in Jerusalem, I do not see it delineated in anything that has been recorded for our consumption and consideration. Until someone can establish more than a correlative link, it is presumptive to say that one caused the other. This is the kind of illogic upon which so many snake-oil salesmen rely to hawk their lose-weight-quick pills. (“Yes. Your results are guaranteed.” Tell me what’s wrong with that one.)

Having said that, I do not disagree that a reasonable study in proper conduct of the Christian life might include a study of Paul’s “error,” an analysis of whether it was an error, and also of the abandonment by Asia under the assumption they are linked. There is much in the dynamics of what happened to both as a result of their success and or failure in fellowship, forgiveness, exhortation, and a number of the so-called “one anothers” that are found in the NT.

The other point is that if we are determined that everything in scripture is universally and for all time prescriptive, then there will be many problems with scripture. My studies indicate that Paul was not so absolute about women being silent. Others feel that he was absolute. And while it is true that some after the NT writers began to create a hierarchy, all the words written about elders, overseers, or whatever you want to call them seems to indicate that there was a desire to change the existing natural order of elders, patriarchs, etc., into one in which the role sprang from their life and not from their natural-born position or even selection by others. They effectively evidenced themselves by their lives. The acknowledgment of that by Paul, Timothy, Titus, or whoever, was probably not much more than a way to point the people in the right direction rather than a way for Paul to control the assembly. I cannot see this as the creation of positions, but rather as a way to underscore the servant leadership that Jesus required.

I also find it interesting that we are discussing error in Paul’s teachings about elders simply because others took the terms and created something not supported by anything in scripture. Are we trying to excise the part of scripture that we have seen used wrongly as the cure to that wrong? Is this a little like those who turn away from God and the church, and even religion of any kind because one particular preacher, priest, elder, etc., was evil and did them harm at some point in their lives?

Beware. Tossing scripture because of other’s misapplication is worse than tossing the baby with the bathwater. It is willful tossing of the baby. That is what Lee did with James. It didn’t fit his narrow construct of “God’s economy” and “Christ and the church” so he made it into an object lesson in errors. Too bad nothing in the scripture supports his view.
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Old 12-08-2008, 10:04 AM   #10
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Default Re: Asia Leaving Paul

Good Morning YPO534 and Mike OBW,

I am ever snowed under these days with my business and the economy, care for believers with whom I am related and many others who are abroad who need prayer and support, and family and many personal projects which are languishing. Thus, I had decided to let the forum go for a while. But there is so much to dig into in this particular topic. Just before I left Dallas in 1986, I spent over six months researching the first 600 years of church history regarding the development of the practice of hierarchy in the Body of Christ and the focus on the universal church. It seemed that we had been on an express train in the local churches covering much of the same ground I saw in church history. Once I moved to North Carolina, my own Arabia, I continued to pray and research the whole matter of “the Work,” “Deputy Authority” and Hierarchy,and the local church assembly and churches vs the Universal Church.

Mike you have well stated part of our delima. We must separate the errors that developed in church history and in the local churches from the simple and direct teachings of the Bible. Many things referred to in the New Testament are descriptive not prescriptive yet I hold that all is of the Holy Spirit. But it is critical not to bring superstitious notions and preconceived agendas to the descriptive items.

I mentioned that I had long considered what the consequences could have been for Paul’s actions in Jerusalem. Maybe this is why some turned away from him. Perhaps this is why the Lord allowed him to be imprisoned from which he wrote the most wonderful epistles. Perhaps this is an example of 1 Cor. Chapter nine being all things to all people that I might win some. Perhaps this was a big misstep and the Holy Spirit had it recorded as a warning to all and to undermine any hero worship among the believers. We can come up with many “perhaps this.” But it is just too easy to have our own shade of sun glasses on. We need others to give a little push back. This biggest danger to real fellowship in the word and truth is coming to the exchange with an agenda or a promotional attitude for a particular point of view.

I have appreciated many of the posters here who have the grace and measure of maturity to push back when any dogmatic one size fits all proposition is laid out. Likewise I have seen many of the posters take grace when they have been rebutted and changed their view or stand firm as the Lord leads their conscience.

Here are a few of Mike’s admonitions which to me were very good.

Quote:
Originally Posted by OBW View Post
As usual, I come to be the fly in the ointment. Not because I think I have it right, but because I see something that I think is worthy of discussion.

First, while there is ample room to argue that the abandonment of Paul by Asia had something to do with the “error” that Paul fell into in Jerusalem, I do not see it delineated in anything that has been recorded for our consumption and consideration. Until someone can establish more than a correlative link, it is presumptive to say that one caused the other.

Having said that, I do not disagree that a reasonable study in proper conduct of the Christian life might include a study of Paul’s “error,” an analysis of whether it was an error, and also of the abandonment by Asia under the assumption they are linked. There is much in the dynamics of what happened to both as a result of their success and or failure in fellowship, forgiveness, exhortation, and a number of the so-called “one anothers” that are found in the NT.

The other point is that if we are determined that everything in scripture is universally and for all time prescriptive, then there will be many problems with scripture

I also find it interesting that we are discussing error in Paul’s teachings about elders simply because others took the terms and created something not supported by anything in scripture. Are we trying to excise the part of scripture that we have seen used wrongly as the cure to that wrong?

Beware. Tossing scripture because of other’s misapplication is worse than tossing the baby with the bathwater. It is willful tossing of the baby.

Dear brother YPO534,
This is an excellent topic. I would like to address some items you have brought up in another post. By the way, is your moniker YPO and then numeric or YP and then numeric. What is the significance of the alley cats?

Hope, Don Rutledge
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Old 12-08-2008, 02:00 PM   #11
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Dear brother YPO534,
This is an excellent topic. I would like to address some items you have brought up in another post. By the way, is your moniker YPO and then numeric or YP and then numeric. What is the significance of the alley cats?
YP-zero-534

I was assigned this number a long time ago and I have recycled it from its original purpose. The one who assigned it is unlikely to recall doing so, but he should.

The alley cats are just a cartoon of a guy shouting at some others who are listening. I got disturbed by someone's soapbox diatribe one day and it's meant to represent me standing upon mine in retort.
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Old 12-08-2008, 02:49 PM   #12
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I also find it interesting that we are discussing error in Paul’s teachings about elders simply because others took the terms and created something not supported by anything in scripture. Are we trying to excise the part of scripture that we have seen used wrongly as the cure to that wrong?
I disagree with your characterization here. I'm not discussing error in Paul's teaching based upon the errors of others. I'm considering whether the errors of others may have originated with Paul's error in light of Paul's scripturally documented affinity for various Jewish worship practices. But my overall goal is to ensure that such parts of scripture as establish those things are in fact NOT excised wholesale.

My journey actually began when a brother I regularly fellowship with expressed his consideration that many of the epistles I accept as genuinely Pauline in origin were instead pseudographic. While I'm generally inclined to agree with that analysis regarding Titus, I'm strongly advocating for the authenticity of the remaining epistles. There is much scholarly discussion about such matters. Regardless, we followers of the Lord shouldn't be interested in blind allegiance to application of Paul's doctrine in a prescriptive manner and, when viewing issues such as appointment of elders, silence of sisters and even maintenance of a widows' roll, I don't see how those matters can be addressed other than in the same prescriptive fashion as the keeping from strangled meat and blood and the other matters put forth in Jerusalem's compromise compact.

So, perhaps I can express it this way: if we are told to do X and Y results, who is in error when Y is bad?

I'm not laying it certainly at the feet of the one who taught X, but there is certainly ground for suspicion that it should be placed there.
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Old 12-08-2008, 03:58 PM   #13
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I disagree with your characterization here. I'm not discussing error in Paul's teaching based upon the errors of others.
Let me rephrase. Are we saying that Paul had an error on his own? Or are we taking exception to what he practiced and was recorded based on the errors that others heaped upon that.

If the first, then there needs to be some indication that Paul's teaching was actually in error before we simply toss out the teaching (the actual ones in the scripture).

If the second, then I am asking whether we are avoiding something simply because error has been heaped upon Paul's teachings.

But you seem to have proposed a third alternative. The writings with the things you see as error may not be authentic in full. I'm afraid that is worse than the slippery slope. It is fully joining Lee in the "it really shouldn't be in here" category. I don't know how we go there in this forum.

If we are told to do X and Y (bad) results, are we sure that we did X? Or did we do X plus A, B, C, Z, etc.? Did we really do X? Have we isolated the issue to X caused Y, or are we simply noting that X, among other things, was done and Y, among other things resulted. That does not equate to causality.

And you seem to have an agenda to deconstruct any kind of leadership. I'm not sure scripture supports that.
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Old 12-08-2008, 04:12 PM   #14
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YP, You just brought up an interesting subject...this last semester in my "prison epistles" class, I was blown away to read some the facts about the Pauline letters...I can verify what you are saying.(i guess this isn't about asia leaving paul anymore...)

Such as, in 1 and 2 Timothy, there were words used that weren't around till 200 AD....now this could just have been lost in translation, but I doubt it...it's a little suspicious. The language and style of 1 and 2 Timothy is roughly 80% different to other Pauline letters. That's just a fact.

Also, "Ephesians" was not written to the church in Ephesus. It was believed to have been a general message passed around Asia Minor..."ephesus" was added after 325AD...

Regarding leadership,Philippians is considered to be definately Pauline...no debate about it! It could not have been in error...Paul's purpose in writing it was a letter of encouragement rather than correction...

In light of our discussion, I find this passage interesting...I believe it definately denotes a hierarchy of "apostles" "bishops/overseers" "deacons" and then "saints."

Philippians 1
1Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:


Overall, I believe that it was not an error to appoint "elders" or "deacons" or whatever you call it. I believe the error was in the human desire to "lead" rather than submitting to God's leadership while leading.

Leaders are practical. It's too easy to just pass the buck around and not take responsibility...We've all seen that communism isn't the best form of government. Not for a nation, and not for the church.

Question: What's the difference between a "bishop" and a "deacon"?
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Old 12-08-2008, 07:45 PM   #15
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And you seem to have an agenda to deconstruct any kind of leadership. I'm not sure scripture supports that.
I don't see this; I think YP is challenging the "Gentile leadership" school which has pervaded the assemblies of believers from the get-go. It started while Jesus was with them. John & James wanted to be first.

Matthew 20:25 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.

20:26 But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;

20:27 And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:

20:28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

YP is talking about "dominion over others" in the assembly, as perhaps being inadvertently helped by the hierarchies Paul established to put "good order" within the fellowships of believers.

Leadership is simply to take the lead, to be an example, to be a pattern to the flock. Peter got the charge directly from the Lord and he understood it, clearly. See his 2nd epistle for his explication of Jesus' directive. Peter didn't say that those who lead in the flock should be under his dominion, which is what the Gentile leadership model is.

This Gentile "leadership" model has been oft (ab)used in the assemblies. John & James wanted to be first in Matthew chapter 20. They got dressed down publicly by Jesus. Later John himself identified one Diotrephes also as loving to be first, to take primacy (3 John 1:9). It's pretty common. It's endemic to our race, it seems, and it doesn't stop when we become believers.

Those words in Matthew chapter 20: "dominion...authority...chief...great" are all according to our "gentile" view of leadership. But to take the lead to serve takes no title or position. Question: how much are people distracted by titles, such as deacon or bishop or apostle or whatnot?

Look at the leadership, Gentile version, exercised by the elders in Jerusalem in Acts 21. "Paul, see how many of us are zealous for the law, and the customs. Here's what you should do...etc"

I won't speak for YP, but that's the kind of leadership I can do without. How much did Paul's assignation of positions inadvertently set up domination in the assemblies? Lording believers didn't start with the LSM model; it has been happening for a long time. I think YP's question is valid.
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Old 12-09-2008, 05:54 AM   #16
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Let me rephrase. Are we saying that Paul had an error on his own? Or are we taking exception to what he practiced and was recorded based on the errors that others heaped upon that.

If the first, then there needs to be some indication that Paul's teaching was actually in error before we simply toss out the teaching (the actual ones in the scripture).

If the second, then I am asking whether we are avoiding something simply because error has been heaped upon Paul's teachings.

But you seem to have proposed a third alternative. The writings with the things you see as error may not be authentic in full. I'm afraid that is worse than the slippery slope. It is fully joining Lee in the "it really shouldn't be in here" category. I don't know how we go there in this forum.

If we are told to do X and Y (bad) results, are we sure that we did X? Or did we do X plus A, B, C, Z, etc.? Did we really do X? Have we isolated the issue to X caused Y, or are we simply noting that X, among other things, was done and Y, among other things resulted. That does not equate to causality.

And you seem to have an agenda to deconstruct any kind of leadership. I'm not sure scripture supports that.
I have an agenda to deconstruct any kind of TRADITIONAL Christian leadership. I've never seen it purely demonstrated as in the scriptures.

I ask a further question as to whether the leadership as defined by Paul was actually the authentic expression of the Lord's life-flow in His holy assembly or just a repackaging of his Jewish background. You can characterize this as "fully joining Lee" but clearly Lee and the Blended Brothers would fully join with you as opposed to me on this point.

Finally, my starting point is to try to salvage Paul's doctrine from the ravages of Christian history if that is at all possible, which is why I'm discussing it here. If there is a way to have the proper practice of Paul's teachings concerning leadership, we need to stop interpreting Paul with all of our religious baggage. I admit I do have concerns about Paul's appointment of elders as well but all I'm solid upon is rejection of the LC and general Christianity hierarchies as incompatible with the glorification of God in the assemblies. If you want to pose the further question of whether leadership and life are identical or incompatible, that is interesting but not my topic.

I am not opposed to leaders. I am opposed to religious leadership structures. I'm presuming that genuine leaders express the life element without an imposed hierarchy, which is all I've ever seen. I question whether all of Paul's teachings regarding leaders are purely of life or if they are influenced by religion in some ways, as some of his teaching and practice seem to have been. Is his every word on these matters the infallible word of God or has he expressed his opinion not the Lord's commandment. In this I do admit to removing from a slavishly superimposed traditional interpretation of scriptures which gives birth to hierarchy after hierarchy, slippery slope or not. I also realize this may not be to everyone's taste.

It's OK, though, OBW. Hope seems to have studied this extensively, gets what I'm saying and he may state these things more clearly than I am yet able. I'm asking questions not giving answers, student rather than teacher.

And in that context, let me pose this as a question directly to you: is it possible that Paul was ever in error? Do you think Paul was in error in regard to his Jewish ceremonial practices in Jerusalem? Do you think Paul was correct in forbidding the sisters to speak in the assembly? You seem to want to characterize my queries as ill-purposed for some reason and associated with the Dreaded Church of Lee but I think my inquiry is healthy and I believe that the Word of God is strong enough to withstand my pitiful and faithful questioning.

God is not afraid of questions asked honestly.
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Old 12-10-2008, 06:01 AM   #17
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Default Re: Asia Leaving Paul

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...

And in that context, let me pose this as a question directly to you: is it possible that Paul was ever in error? Do you think Paul was in error in regard to his Jewish ceremonial practices in Jerusalem? Do you think Paul was correct in forbidding the sisters to speak in the assembly? You seem to want to characterize my queries as ill-purposed for some reason and associated with the Dreaded Church of Lee but I think my inquiry is healthy and I believe that the Word of God is strong enough to withstand my pitiful and faithful questioning.

God is not afraid of questions asked honestly.
In the context of history, Paul may have been protecting the women from the persecution of Roman times.
Not a once for all times LAW.
The persecution was a very real thing and very horrific.
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Old 12-10-2008, 03:05 PM   #18
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Default Re: Asia Leaving Paul

YP,

I originally started a longer post and decided to simply say that you have sufficiently clarified the things on which I had question.

That is except one. When someone suggests that there is something less than authentic about part of the scripture that we have accepted as the divinely inspired Word of God, we better be sure about it. In any case, my initial reaction to words that were not in use until 200 years later is to consider what older writings were “updated” just like we update our translations today. I can hear the arguments about not finding copies with alternate wordings. But I thought there were some alternate wordings in many of the various manuscripts ─ but all with a consistent meaning. As an interesting note, I have recently learned that the earliest copies of Ephesians does not mention the Ephesians. It is surmised that it was written to all in the region around Ephesus and later on “in Ephesus” was added by a transcriber since that was the primary city in the region. It has no bearing on its authenticity.

When I made reference to joining Lee, it was about finding fault with the 66 books and diminishing, or excluding one of them, or parts of them. If we decide to parse which are truly inspired and which are not, how do we decide? It took a lot of divine inspiration for the group that made the decision hundreds of years ago when their understanding of the sources and issues was at least a little fresher. How do we propose to make those decisions again today (or more rightly, second-guess them)?
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Old 12-10-2008, 03:53 PM   #19
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Default Re: Asia Leaving Paul

Mike, I don't have an answer to that question which is why my ultimate hope and goal is to reconcile, incorporate and practice as appropriate exactly what is written therein. I'm not superstitious about the canon of scripture (I grew up Catholic and believe the Book of Wisdom should not have been omitted, for instance) but I have to agree that the Book is the Book and we had better have more than just our opinions before casting any word of it aside. The most I've ever gotten to on any of it so far is "yeah, maybe not" because I'm not sure how I could ever be certain of that. But I've only begun prayerful consideration of such issues in the past few months so perhaps there is light this direction.

I don't know yet.

I'm frankly concerned about stumbling someone by my musings, but I do trust the Lord regarding keeping His own.

I'm just considering that for my own part and as far as I am able in relation to others I want to avoid making the New Testament into a book of laws, even when it is Paul himself who seems to be leading in that direction.
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Old 12-10-2008, 04:16 PM   #20
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YP,This is something I also deal with(hence bringing up the questions of 1 and 2 timothy being Pauline...) but I just try to push it behind me because who am I to understand such things? But there is nothing wrong with asking as you noted.

Let me try to understand where you are coming from here:

So, you propose that in the same way that Paul's teachings on women, headcovering, and others are considered to have a "cultural context" and are not followed by most Christians today...So also his teachings on "bishops" and "elders" are in a "cultural context" and should not be followed today?

That's an interesting point. I may agree that his model of leadership designed in an ancient cultural bubble falls short in today's church. (hence many churches today have other forms of leadership and administration models)

Since you reject "traditional leadership," that is, Paul's instructions regarding Bishops and deacons,...what do you propose would be an acceptable leadership model in the present context? No leadership at all? No structure? A team of "pastors"? A full time "staff"?

I personally don't know how to reconcile it. I know a leader must lead by serving rather than "lording" but at the same time, there will always be those who spend more time in the church than others and carry some weight regarding decisions and administration. Whether you call those "elders" or not is irrelevant. Some people are natural leaders (even in the secular world) and many people are sheep (in the secular world)...nomatter what order of leadership is proposed, humans are doomed to fall into that age old pattern of following a leader. (hence king Saul)...
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Old 12-10-2008, 05:55 PM   #21
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Firstly, I don't presently define "traditional leadership" as identical to Paul's instructions. This is part of what I was saying to OBW. I'm considering how much of the mess we've seen is the corruption of Paul, which I'm sure is largely the case, and how much is Paul's honestly mistaken concept, which is more difficult to address. When I'm talking about "traditional leadership" I'm talking about all the denominational expressions of eldership and deacons and such. So much is supposedly "based upon" Paul's teachings that I really don't know what to think today. I'm hopeful I can learn from Hope's study when he gets to it.

And I'm not ready to acquiesce that the models of human leadership are the best that God has in store for His assembly. I think you're right about leaders and followers but we need to be better than that, I think, and I also think we can. I just can't really say what that might be right now.
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Old 12-10-2008, 06:08 PM   #22
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And I'm not ready to acquiesce that the models of human leadership are the best that God has in store for His assembly. I think you're right about leaders and followers but we need to be better than that, I think, and I also think we can. I just can't really say what that might be right now.

I agree. But it seems that after thousands of years, we really can't be better than that no matter how hard we try. I guess that's the difference between the here and now and the not yet...

I think just as the individual goes through the process of sanctification to one day be glorified, so the church composed of believers is imperfect and will not really be "recovered" until Christ returns...

I guess the only biblical leader is Christ, but we know that can't happen right now...but soon Lord willing!
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Old 12-10-2008, 09:29 PM   #23
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I guess the only biblical leader is Christ, but we know that can't happen right now...but soon Lord willing!
Yes, "soon" and "Lord willing" are excellent components for a prayer of expectation.

The Lord said if we are in agreement here on earth it will be done. So if we can start to collectively see this, and begin to agree, and "amen" to some small degree the Lord's leading among us, it will be done.

And not coincidentally, I believe, John ended his last writing with the same kind of aspiration. "Amen, Lord Jesus, come soon!"
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Old 12-11-2008, 06:30 AM   #24
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The Lord said if we are in agreement here on earth it will be done. So if we can start to collectively see this, and begin to agree, and "amen" to some small degree the Lord's leading among us, it will be done.
There ya go, aron!
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Old 12-11-2008, 08:16 AM   #25
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Why did "everyone in Asia" desert Paul?

I imagine "everyone" is an exageration especially considering Timothy himself was in Ephesus...

We do not have a scriptural account of the people of Asia turning away from Paul. This is the only mention of it in scripture. It can be assumed that this is speaking only of the Asians who were in Rome at that time(and several others also in Asia), who turned away from him because of the potential incrimination that associating with a condemned prisoner might bring on them.

Paul started many churches in Asia and spent years of his life ministering to the people there. It would be hard to believe that thousands of people had forsaken him. It is certain that Timothy, who was an Asian, hadn't forsaken Paul. It is also probable that many of the believers in Ephesus, under the leadership of Paul's most loyal associate, Timothy, still loved and appreciated Paul.


There are two factors that could be the cause for this "falling away."

Persecution and False Teachers...

The falling away that Paul first encountered in Ephesus seemed to have spread while he was imprisoned in Rome. Even though certain false teachers were driven away (1 Timothy 1:20), apparently, they did not repent and continued to spread their teaching beyond Ephesus into other parts of Asia Minor in the time between 1 and 2 Timothy.
These teachings(2 timothy 2:14-18) were early forms of Gnosticism that denied the bodily resurrection(2 timothy 2:18) They also had a "triumphalist" view of the Holy Spirit, and no doubt, they took advantage of Paul's imprisonment and the Roman persecution to decieve many and turn them away from Paul and his co-workers.
Good writing. I always felt that Paul's statement seemed a bit of an exaggeration, and this is a good look at possibly what was really occurring on the ground.
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Old 12-11-2008, 08:45 AM   #26
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Default Where are the disciples?

One thing that struck me about the immediate post-apostolic period is that there is a resounding silence from the labors of Paul. Where are his disciples?

The only connection I can find to any surviving link to Paul is possibly Clement of Rome. Paul lists a Clement as a fellow laborer in his epistle to the Philippians, 4:3, but it is uncertain if this is the Clement of Rome who wrote the famous epistle to the Corinthians. Church history links him to Paul's Clement, but that is a late connection (3rd/4th century) and seems limited. He is also connected to Peter, as following him in a leadership position in Rome. Whether or not Clement of Rome was personally discipled to Paul or Peter is open to question.

Okay, fine; why am I making a big deal about this? Because here is a master organization-builder, and when he leaves there are no people! No disciples! Clement doesn't mention him. He cites his letters, of course, which were widely circulated. But where are Paul's disciples? Paul told Timothy to commit the truth to faithful men, who would in turn instruct others (2 Tim 2:2). But I can see no record that indicates that he or Timothy did this with anyone.

Contrast this with John, who leaves behind Papias, "a hearer of John", and Polycarp, "a disciple of John the evangelist"; Polycarp in turn leaves behind Irenaus, and so forth. Ignatius is also possibly a student of John. There is an unbroken chain of witnesses, from Jesus through the disciples and into the second and third generation of believers, thence commencing up through the ages to us.

We have surviving authentic documents which attest to witnesses of John the evangelist. Why did none of Paul's co-workers leave any trace?

We do, of course, have Luke's documents, which are tremendous. But I am speaking of the transition to the age of the "church fathers"; of all the elder-appointing Paul seems to have been responsible for, it seems remarkable (notable, worth remarking upon) that all his work vanishes. He left behind letters, but no trace of disciples.

Paul was clearly a gifted organizer. I have seen secular histories which call him, not Jesus, the founder of the christian church (!!). But for all his works, I see no trace of people, and it is for me, as I said, a resounding silence. I can only suspect this may somehow be linked to the "turning away" he mentions in the beginning of 2 Timothy. Causality for me is unproven; there is just a big, empty, suggestive gap in the testimony, post-Paul.
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Old 12-11-2008, 09:43 AM   #27
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Paul was clearly a gifted organizer. I have seen secular histories which call him, not Jesus, the founder of the christian church (!!). But for all his works, I see no trace of people, and it is for me, as I said, a resounding silence. I can only suspect this may somehow be linked to the "turning away" he mentions in the beginning of 2 Timothy. Causality for me is unproven; there is just a big, empty, suggestive gap in the testimony, post-Paul.
And my thought is that there isn't a gap at all, that the continuity there is fully expressed in Roman Catholicism. The adaptation of Christian practice to local pagan customs was something that seems to have begun quite early. Consider where such an idea came from. It could not have originated from Jerusalem's line and seems incompatible with John's thought as well. But Paul advocated becoming all things to all men, didn't he? We know that the persecutions were devestating and the times were chaotic. I don't know to what extent we have adequate coverage of the events descending into the catacombs and later emerging from them but I don't think it's at all unreasonable to say what emerged was distinctly Pauline in character, hence the secular claims concerning the origins of Christianity.

I'm not sure there's a gap, aron.

Who's vision of Christian practice was designated by Constantine?

James' or Paul's?
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Old 12-11-2008, 04:52 PM   #28
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It is intersting that when you think of the spread of Christianity...you think of going from Jerusalem...to Rome. And you assume Paul as the "wise master builder" if you will
But out of all the early church fathers, many such as philip and others planted just as many if not more churches than Paul...In the first century and into the next centuries, Christianity was very much a near-eastern/north African religion. There was a small persecuted outpost in Europe represented mainly in the New Testament, but areas like Alexandria Egypt, Syria, and surrounds made up the majority of Christianity...(known today as "eastern orthodox")

Then Islam happened. War was waged accross the middle east and many religious movements were snuffed out under the sword. Except Christianity which migrated to Europe. The crusades began as a defensive war alone and it wasn't till the later crusades that the pillaging and "holy land' rhetoric started...but bythen, Rome controlled Christianity.

As for Christians partaking in cultural practices originating from Paul and continuing straight to Rome...I'm not buying it. Starting with Jesus, many of his followers participated in cultural practices. John was documented by a secular historian visiting Roman public baths...sin was also recorded at Roman baths...Jesus himself didn't like to turn down a party Jesus even got drunk on occassion: check this verse out...http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/...9;&version=31; and I've been to some traditional passover meals with Jewish friends and they drank and drank and drank and then...drank. Me? nah

If cultural practices are good enough for Jesus, then they are good enough for Paul and John and the church!
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Old 12-12-2008, 05:37 AM   #29
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I don't want to dip into the cultural argument here and I've read these same points elsewhere already. I'm not talking about people being removed from culture.

I'm talking about people imposing cultural practices upon the meetings and lives of the saints. Surely John wouldn't be interested in requiring that all Christians attend sinful public baths, for instance! Paul definitely didn't want Christians to get together and drink and drink and drink! (Curiously and subtly, this doctrine of Paul's may be implied in your own writing here, it seems to me. I'm a totally unrepentant wine bibber, myself.) Yet, Jersualem's bizarre religious edict about strangled things and blood was definitely superimposed by Paul's own actions upon every locality he visited, at least for some period of time.

I have certainly not done the historical research to back up this latest bit of consideration and need to study up on the the lives of the first martyrs, to the extent that this is even truly possible. But what I'm not buying is a breezy dismissal of the proposition on the grounds that someone, even Jesus, loves the human cultures.

I don't have a problem with cultural practices in their own right, only as they come to be matters that the saints of God must deal with as points of departure from their singleness towards Christ and worship in the Spirit. It's not about keeping the feasts or not keeping the feasts. It's about whether our assembly is constituted to become a feast-issue church.
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Old 12-13-2008, 09:34 AM   #30
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Initial investigation is in accord.

Paul was known and followed from the earliest of times.

"Clement of Rome, writing about AD 95, quotes from Romans; Ignatius of Antioch (d. AD 115) quotes from 1 Corinthians, Romans, and from 1 Timothy and Titus."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pauline_Christianity
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Old 12-15-2008, 12:30 PM   #31
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In any case, my initial reaction to words that were not in use until 200 years later is to consider what older writings were “updated” just like we update our translations today. I can hear the arguments about not finding copies with alternate wordings. But I thought there were some alternate wordings in many of the various manuscripts ─ but all with a consistent meaning.
I have collated dozens of greek new testament manuscripts for the International Greek New Testament Project. Although I have handled manuscripts from the second century A.D., my assignment was with the minuscule manuscripts [that is to say, manuscripts written in cursive], dating from the 8th century to the the 14th.

I found that nearly every manuscript I collated contains literally dozens of alternate wordings per chapter! Yet I never found even one variant that significantly changed the meaning of a text.

For example, a verse might read, "Then Jesus and his disciples went into the city." The variants might look something like this:

Then Jesus and his disciples went into the city.
And Jesus and his disciples went into the city.
Now Jesus and his disciples went into the city.
Then the Lord Jesus and his disciples went into the city.
Then the Lord and his disciples went into the city.
Then Jesus and his disciples were going into the city.
Then Jesus with his disciples went into the city.
Then Jesus went into the city and his disciples with him.
Into the city Jesus and his disciples went.
Into the city the Lord Jesus and his disciples went.
Into the city the Lord and his disciples went.

None of these variants offer any change in meaning. I came to feel that the New Testament, rather than being written in stone, with guaranteed word for word accuracy like the Old Testament, is more like one of those 1920's Keystone Cops movies with jerky actions yet a clear delineation of the scene.
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Old 12-15-2008, 12:40 PM   #32
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Yet, Jersualem's bizarre religious edict about strangled things and blood was definitely superimposed by Paul's own actions upon every locality he visited, at least for some period of time.
I dunno, Paul doesn't seem to have mentioned it to the churches in Galatia, even though he made specific reference to that Jerusalem conference...
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Old 12-15-2008, 02:31 PM   #33
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I dunno, Paul doesn't seem to have mentioned it to the churches in Galatia, even though he made specific reference to that Jerusalem conference...
Galatians *is* a real puzzle piece, isn't it?

Luke stated that Paul brought it around everywhere and later records Paul's Temple activities, yet the letter to the Galatians seems to stand in sharp contrast to such Jewish influence, doesn't it?

Oddly Luke DOES seem to say fairly directly that the Jerusalem decrees were delivered by Paul to Galatia. It's one of the reasons I'm inclined to read the issue as related to Paul's becoming all things to all men.

But the context is VERY interesting, actually:

Quote:
Act 16:4 And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem.
Act 16:5 And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily.
Act 16:6 Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia,
Paul was bringing the letter everywhere but the Spirit kept him out of Asia.

Quite an interesting puzzle.
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Old 12-16-2008, 11:30 AM   #34
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And my thought is that there isn't a gap at all, that the continuity there is fully expressed in Roman Catholicism. The adaptation of Christian practice to local pagan customs was something that seems to have begun quite early. Consider where such an idea came from. It could not have originated from Jerusalem's line and seems incompatible with John's thought as well. But Paul advocated becoming all things to all men, didn't he? We know that the persecutions were devestating and the times were chaotic. I don't know to what extent we have adequate coverage of the events descending into the catacombs and later emerging from them but I don't think it's at all unreasonable to say what emerged was distinctly Pauline in character, hence the secular claims concerning the origins of Christianity.

I'm not sure there's a gap, aron.

Who's vision of Christian practice was designated by Constantine?

James' or Paul's?
Very interesting challenge. I would have earlier said James, but must out of deference pause. Ohio I think earlier put it well, when he said that Paul's final trip to Jerusalem proved the victory of James, and the capitulation of Paul. But maybe Paul's model swallowed James', not vice versa. Or maybe we should simply say what emerged was an amalgam of the two.

Did James & Co. being "zealous for the Law" (Acts 21:20) find its replacement for the Mosaic law in the hierarchies of Paul?

Even John is not without shadow of suspicion here. Didn't one of his ostensible acolytes first advocate bishops being over the elders? My dim memory seems to think so.

So it's hard for me to find the point where the worm turned. I simply think it's in our old nature, which tries to bustle into God's house, full of grand ideas and important duties. Religion is simply the old man trying to be new.

My own definitive "turn for the worse" is the moment right after Peter recognizes Jesus as the Christ of God, when he says, "Not so, Lord!", and immediately goes from expressing the Father to expressing Satan. That's how close the enemy is.

That's why I don't like organizing. We cause enough trouble already just by showing up. Why compound the damage by creating permanent structures?
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Old 12-16-2008, 11:37 AM   #35
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Paul was bringing the letter everywhere but the Spirit kept him out of Asia.

Quite an interesting puzzle.
Yes, quite interesting, isn't it? Earlier I would have said, "You're reading too much into the text." Now I pause, consider, and smile back at the "bright cloud" of unknowing which continually tries to overturn our feeble defense system of thought.
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Old 12-16-2008, 02:41 PM   #36
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Yes, quite interesting, isn't it? Earlier I would have said, "You're reading too much into the text." Now I pause, consider, and smile back at the "bright cloud" of unknowing which continually tries to overturn our feeble defense system of thought.
It's just another coincidental wrinkle I never considered before and if you believe in sovereignty instead of luck, you've really got to pause.

The Bible says Paul was kept out of Asia by the Spirit in the near context that it says he was bringing the Jerusalem decrees around from place to place.

The Bible also records Paul's (perhaps exaggerated) statement that "all in Asia" had left him.

The Bible also shows that the end-times revelation to John included the assemblies in Asia and omits reference to those in Judea.

And, if you're like me, you take note that Paul's pastoral epistles are at least extremely helpful tools to those wishing to establish hierarchies and that at least some people believe that the warning in Revelation against the Nicolaitans had to do with establishing a priestly class (see, e.g. the note in the Criswell Study Bible.)

I was in a Christian bookstore today (rare occurrence but I had time to kill) and I saw a chronologically-arranged Bible for sale. I didn't have much time to examine it (and my eyes were dilated while I was waiting for my glasses to be made) but the section of Acts saying that Paul brought the Jerusalem decrees with him did not seem to be cross-referenced with Galatians in any useful manner. I guess I'm not surprised but it's just a mystery to me at this point how to reconcile Paul's self-reporting with Luke's account. (It's actually always kinda bugged me but I see it clearer now and I don't feel constrained to avoid such topics as I did while in the Local Church.)

This may just be an issue I pray over until the Lord returns but I do find it interesting and there seems to be more light, nourishment and enjoyment ahead each time I dig a little more.
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Old 12-18-2008, 09:50 PM   #37
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Galatians *is* a real puzzle piece, isn't it?
By the middle of Galatians 2, Paul seems to have quite a boldness in his stance concerning the gospel to the Gentiles.

However, Galatians 2:2 is a really odd verse. I'm not sure how to understand it:

2It was because of a revelation that I went up; and I submitted to them the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but I did so in private to those who were of reputation, for fear that I might be running, or had run, in vain.

He was not self-confident of the gospel he was preaching among the Gentiles. I don't know how to read this differently. He needed the confirmation of the Jerusalem brothers. Sure, after meeting them, being inwardly confirmed and seeing their vascillations, he had more boldness to talk about them as ones who were "purportedly of repute." But at the time reported in Galatians 2:2, his self-confidence in the very gospel he was preaching was contingent on the approval of the Jerusalem "pillars." No? This bit of self-doubt by Paul in Galatians 2:1 is really remarkable to me. What caused this? 14 years of preaching to the Gentiles and he feared that he "had run in vain"? What to make of this?

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Old 12-19-2008, 03:18 AM   #38
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By the middle of Galatians 2, Paul seems to have quite a boldness in his stance concerning the gospel to the Gentiles.

However, Galatians 2:2 is a really odd verse. I'm not sure how to understand it:

2It was because of a revelation that I went up; and I submitted to them the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but I did so in private to those who were of reputation, for fear that I might be running, or had run, in vain.

He was not self-confident of the gospel he was preaching among the Gentiles. I don't know how to read this differently. He needed the confirmation of the Jerusalem brothers. Sure, after meeting them, being inwardly confirmed and seeing their vascillations, he had more boldness to talk about them as ones who were "purportedly of repute." But at the time reported in Galatians 2:2, his self-confidence in the very gospel he was preaching was contingent on the approval of the Jerusalem "pillars." No? This bit of self-doubt by Paul in Galatians 2:1 is really remarkable to me. What caused this? 14 years of preaching to the Gentiles and he feared that he "had run in vain"? What to make of this?

Peter

Another puzzle piece.

That "had run in vain" thing is something else that has always troubled me but never busted through my concepts. I think you're right, Peter. Or else it seems like maybe a false modesty.

I think I need to read Galatians again right now.

First, I'll check a couple or three commentaries I've got around here.

Someone want to see what Matthew Henry says about this one?
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Old 12-19-2008, 05:26 AM   #39
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By the middle of Galatians 2, Paul seems to have quite a boldness in his stance concerning the gospel to the Gentiles.

However, Galatians 2:2 is a really odd verse. I'm not sure how to understand it:

2It was because of a revelation that I went up; and I submitted to them the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but I did so in private to those who were of reputation, for fear that I might be running, or had run, in vain.

He was not self-confident of the gospel he was preaching among the Gentiles. I don't know how to read this differently. He needed the confirmation of the Jerusalem brothers. Sure, after meeting them, being inwardly confirmed and seeing their vascillations, he had more boldness to talk about them as ones who were "purportedly of repute." But at the time reported in Galatians 2:2, his self-confidence in the very gospel he was preaching was contingent on the approval of the Jerusalem "pillars." No? This bit of self-doubt by Paul in Galatians 2:1 is really remarkable to me. What caused this? 14 years of preaching to the Gentiles and he feared that he "had run in vain"? What to make of this?

Peter

Darby glosses the issue in his Synopsis.

He essentially says that Paul worked independently for many years but that God had confirmed all of his working so that when he finally went to Jerusalem in a way meant to preserve the oneness between Jerusalem and Antioch, the leadership in Jerusalem could basically do nothing else but rubber stamp God's work through Paul once he laid his thinking out to them.

Looks like Paul was essentially seeking the Jerusalem imprimatur and was somewhat surprised that Jerusalem had little else to impart. Darby assigns the imprimatur-seeking to God's desire for oneness in the Body but that seems overly generous in the context of Paul's discussion of "those who were reputed to be something." Calling out the "reputed pillars" is more likely to cause division than oneness, in my experience. Paul had to know this and the sometimes inflammatory language of Galatians makes it seem possible that he was even seeking this result.

On a perhaps related note? In Gal. 2:13, "even Barnabas was carried away in their hypocrisy" and in Acts 15:39, "Barnabas, taking Mark along, sailed away to Cyprus." Apparently Paul had at least two problems with Barnabas right around the same time. Perhaps the "sharp contention" in Acts 15 wasn't merely about the appropriateness of giving Mark a second chance after his previous failure in Pamphylia, which has never made all that much sense to me...
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Old 12-19-2008, 07:48 AM   #40
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By the middle of Galatians 2, Paul seems to have quite a boldness in his stance concerning the gospel to the Gentiles.

However, Galatians 2:2 is a really odd verse. I'm not sure how to understand it:

2It was because of a revelation that I went up; and I submitted to them the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but I did so in private to those who were of reputation, for fear that I might be running, or had run, in vain.

He was not self-confident of the gospel he was preaching among the Gentiles. I don't know how to read this differently. He needed the confirmation of the Jerusalem brothers. Sure, after meeting them, being inwardly confirmed and seeing their vascillations, he had more boldness to talk about them as ones who were "purportedly of repute." But at the time reported in Galatians 2:2, his self-confidence in the very gospel he was preaching was contingent on the approval of the Jerusalem "pillars." No? This bit of self-doubt by Paul in Galatians 2:1 is really remarkable to me. What caused this? 14 years of preaching to the Gentiles and he feared that he "had run in vain"? What to make of this?

Peter
Paul had received his vision by revelation, not by the transmission from a witness of Jesus Christ. Paul got it "direct from God", not through the usual intermediary, another sinful man.

All the others, who got revelation directly from Christ, did so in a corporate fashion. There was nearly always more than one witness to confirm the reality of what had taken place. James, Peter, and Mary appeared to have special, one-on-one visits with the resurrected Christ, but the others always had confirming eyes and ears around them to check, or confirm, what had transpired.

What always stood out for me was not that Paul went to Jerusalem to check with the brothers there, but that he waited 14 years! Most of us, I think, would have gone much sooner.

I think self-doubt is good, it is always safe. So Paul's doubt was healthy. He needed the confirming of the brothers. He didn't want to do a separate work. He needed to be reassured that what he was doing was part of the same move of God on the earth.
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Old 12-19-2008, 09:38 AM   #41
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What always stood out for me was not that Paul went to Jerusalem to check with the brothers there, but that he waited 14 years! Most of us, I think, would have gone much sooner.

I think self-doubt is good, it is always safe. So Paul's doubt was healthy. He needed the confirming of the brothers. He didn't want to do a separate work. He needed to be reassured that what he was doing was part of the same move of God on the earth.
aron:

How could he do a work for 14 years involving such a matter and so many saints with the self-doubt you suggest he had?

He began his ministry after having persecuted Jerusalem horribly and stayed away for 14 years. OK. That makes sense. But then to say he now needed to check with them that he hadn't been off base for 14 years and in the context of saying he wasn't impressed much with those guys? I'm not following the logic there. I can understand if he wanted to EXPRESS oneness with them by going to them but I can't understand going to CONFIRM oneness.

Can you help me with this?
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Old 12-19-2008, 05:48 PM   #42
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How could he do a work for 14 years involving such a matter and so many saints with the self-doubt you suggest he had?
Good point. Okay, how about this: what if he had the assurance of the validity of his vision but wanted to wait to test its robustness in the heart of the Judaizers' territory? Maybe what worried him was that he wouldn't be able to prevail. "But not even so-and-so, who was a Jew, was compelled to be circumcised"

That was his victory, not so much that they affirmed him, but that they could not overturn him. And like you said, YP, ultimately it was his model which the Constnantine-era church pressed forward. Perhaps it was better for us all that it was not the 'James' model.

14 years seems like a long time to wait to test his model. But it has stood for 2,000 years, so maybe that 14-year wait was wise on his part. "Wait on the Lord", etc. He knew what was in Jerusalem. He had not been back there since his conversion, but he had already had to deal with those "from James", right?

But then, why was he led like a meek lamb to the slaughter in Acts 21?

It still doesn't square.
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Old 12-20-2008, 05:58 AM   #43
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Good point. Okay, how about this: what if he had the assurance of the validity of his vision but wanted to wait to test its robustness in the heart of the Judaizers' territory? Maybe what worried him was that he wouldn't be able to prevail. "But not even so-and-so, who was a Jew, was compelled to be circumcised"

That was his victory, not so much that they affirmed him, but that they could not overturn him. And like you said, YP, ultimately it was his model which the Constantine-era church pressed forward. Perhaps it was better for us all that it was not the 'James' model.

14 years seems like a long time to wait to test his model. But it has stood for 2,000 years, so maybe that 14-year wait was wise on his part. "Wait on the Lord", etc. He knew what was in Jerusalem. He had not been back there since his conversion, but he had already had to deal with those "from James", right?

But then, why was he led like a meek lamb to the slaughter in Acts 21?

It still doesn't square.
OK, you made me think about this in another fashion now.

For the record, I'm not 100% confident to say it was definitely Paul's model which prevailed in post-persecution Rome to become ensconced in all of Christendom today. I've only said that it sure seems that way to me. And I'm also not sure we should attribute the other to James, as it seems to imply that he was the inventor and principal champion of that. Paul and Luke can be read to lay the Judaizing problem at the feet of James, but it's well said that James was being as faithful to the Lord as he had light, which is all any of us can ever do. Paul in fact only stated "some came from James;" he does not say that the shrinking back was on account of James. He never seems to have opposed James to his face, right?

That said, and perhaps only for the moment, let me propose this: the one model, James' as you have suggested, was based upon a Christianized Temple and synagogue religious practice. The end result of that was the destruction of Jerusalem. The other, Paul's, was developed from a Greco-Roman civic practice of the ekklesia, which I have suggested Paul felt perfectly comfortable bringing certain customary synagogue practices into for reasons he most likely perceived as purely practical. And indeed, this latter does appear to be the one that has prevailed.

Consider that while "elders" of the synagogue and "elders" of the assembly aren't necessarily clearly delineated in Acts, synagogues and assemblies are. James in his epistle identifies "elders of the assembly" at 5:15. Look at Acts 21:18 and following again. Was it actually James who instigated Paul's participation in the ritual or did he merely stand with those who did? Are we certain that these were the "elders" of the "assembly" in Jerusalem? Consider that they seem concerned with a temple practice.

A few miscellaneous notes:

If you read Acts 6-9 carefully, it seems that the direction of Acts is generally less and less about The Twelve and Jerusalem but an additional point is that Paul seems to have a good foundation in Jerusalem's practices, whatever they actually were.

The Jerusalem decree about the dietary matters is actually repeated in this section in Acts 21. Jerusalem was serious about Gentiles not eating strangled meat but Paul doesn't tell them, "Hey, I stopped passing that letter out a long time ago, folks, because it's just off the mark."

Also, observe that it was "the Jews from Asia" who raised all the ruckus in Acts 21. Paul's teaching in Asia at some point must have been radically at odds with Jewish practice, although admittedly these Asian Jews may have borne false witness at this time. In any event, there's an Asian nexus here to consider once again.
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Old 12-21-2008, 07:58 PM   #44
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I really like the discussion on this thread...In taking a closer look at Paul's influence on church practices...By assuming that Paul was in error regarding something written in the New Testament, the very doctrine of "inspiration" is at stake! I believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God. But what does that mean? Does that mean everything the NT authors wrote must be perfect and without error? I don't think so...

My two cents:

Paul was like us...Paul was a man of God. Like us, he walked the line between divine revelation, ecclesiastical experience, tradition, and so forth.

That is, some of his statements were divinely inspired...while others are clearly based on traditional preference, his experience as a man of God, and even perhaps certain "prejudices" toward and against certain things (e.g., women speaking in the church, Jewish ceremonies,...).

We have ZERO reason to think that Paul was any different than the great men and women of God who have been around for over 2,000 years. Even the actual EYEWITNESSES of God were not blessed with some sort of "Cloak of Infallibility," as is witnessed by Peter's obstinance at the command given to him in the vision of the animals/sheet...and at Peter's prejudices (or was it fearfulness) that caused Paul to publicly rebuke him.

They, too, were trying to fully understand the great truth that the Son of God had brought to them, and which is preserved for us in the scriptures. This is not to say that they didn't have an edge due to proximity and the work of the Holy Spirit, but it is to say that any reading of the New Testament shows the same sort of diversity of emphasis as we see in the church world today.

Some passages emphasize faith, not works. And then comes James.

Some passages emphasize the "God-ness" of Jesus...while some leave us a bit confused (e.g., "anointed...above Thy FELLOWS").

JUST LIKE THE CHURCH TODAY!!!

Some churches believe this or that way best explains what it's all about, while others see it another way.

Yes, like them, we all hold to certain CORE dogmatic beliefs, but beyond that, it starts spreading out in all directions of culture and doctrine.

Please understand that just because Paul was "just a man" doesn't mean we get to dismiss some of his statements we disagree with. Heaven forbid. He was an anointed man of God who received divine revelation during the foundational period of the church. But it does mean that, IF IF IF we find something that is not a perfect fit, we don't have to just blindly accept it...We can take 99% and leave the 1% that may have not had a "universal context" to address...The problem is, who decides what does and what does not?

We don't trash the whole thing! And we don't even necessarily dismiss the part we didn't like. Rather, we search the scriptures, search the Spirit, and then come to some sort of understanding about it.

It may be, "That was dead wrong." Or it may be that "I just don't have the maturity for that." Or if may be "That was just for a specific person," etc.

By elevating the BIBLE to "inerrancy," we are FORCED to accept it ALL as divine revelation...even when Paul specifically said at certain points that what he was saying was not of that sort.

I know many will disagree with this...Just some of my thoughts as I was pondering why Asia left Paul and why "the true New Testament Church" is hard to define based on the diverse examples we are given in scripture.
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Old 12-22-2008, 02:31 PM   #45
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By elevating the BIBLE to "inerrancy," we are FORCED to accept it ALL as divine revelation...even when Paul specifically said at certain points that what he was saying was not of that sort.
A very good friend of mine is fond of pointing out that the doctrine of Biblical inerrancy itself has a pedigree that has gone largely unexamined in evangelical circles.

I haven't actually done the research myself but I think we're all generally aware that fundamentalism hasn't existed forever...
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Old 12-22-2008, 04:22 PM   #46
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Ya, I'm happy to say the Bible is the Living Word of God, but I see the labels of "infallibility" and "innerancy" as just a product of the Modern rationalism generation. I don't think the Bible can be that easily defined by such words.

The Bible has so many diverse genres to take into account as well. In the NT alone we have the narrative of Luke-Acts, the Letters of Paul, the sermon of Hebrews, the Apocolyptic literature of Revelation...Things can get out of hand when trying to sum all of that up in two scientific modern terms as evangelicals have.
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Old 12-22-2008, 06:16 PM   #47
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I really like the discussion on this thread...In taking a closer look at Paul's influence on church practices...By assuming that Paul was in error regarding something written in the New Testament, the very doctrine of "inspiration" is at stake! I believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God. But what does that mean? Does that mean everything the NT authors wrote must be perfect and without error? I don't think so...
My two cents:

Paul was like us...Paul was a man of God. Like us, he walked the line between divine revelation, ecclesiastical experience, tradition, and so forth.
I wouldn't go so far as to ascribe "error" to the writers. I would merely say that what they said and did is still open to interpretation.

I will give 3 reasons. First, they obviously didn't know what was going on at the start. Look at Peter, look at the 12, look at the two disciples walking on the road to Emmaus at the end of Luke (...but we thought..."), look at Apollos and others, who had some revelation but clearly not the complete revelation. At which point did they get clear, if at all? When they sat down to write? This smacks of the OT, where the Spirit would fall on an otherwise dumb vessel (see Saul when he prophesied, etc), and then depart. In the NT Paul could say, "I say this, not Jehovah; yet I have the Spirit of God". My point is that there was a progressive revelation going on even as the testimony was being laid to paper.

Second, the writers of the Bible obviously had interpretational differences with each other. Peter, James, Paul, and John all had different views which were aired in discussions and via comments made in the record ("Because not even His brothers believed into Him" in John chapter 7 is a rather pointed remark, if you ask me, and is inserted not without purpose). Paul versus Peter over the Jamesians arriving in Galatians chapter 2 is another classic example. Then Peter saying "Paul is sometimes hard to understand" is another example. Peter recommended Paul, but didn't get where he was coming from, at least in part. Yet they both share the divine testimony.

Lastly, we have Jesus. "Whose Son is the Christ's?" "David's son." "Okay, then why does David in spirit call Him Lord, saying..."

Jesus was pointing out a seeming contradiction, a contradistinction, a contrast in the scriptures. Was this an error? No, it was merely different aspects of one reality being manifested in different viewpoints in the divine record. See Paul's explanation in Romans chapter 1 for these 2 aspects ("concerning His Son...out of David acc. to flesh...designated Son of God in powere in the resurrection...etc").

My point is that there are lots of places where stuff doesn't seem to fit. We can and I think should question it. This includes the experiences of the NT believers, including Paul. I think we do these people's labor a great disservice if we put it on some untouchable, unquestionable pedestal. The Lord has not yet manifested Himself fully to us. Let us therefore go on. Questioning and challenging scriptures is not impious. Jesus did it, and so can we.
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Old 12-23-2008, 12:15 AM   #48
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But there is some error...Most people accept that whether they want to admit it or not.

I don't see this "error" as an impossible barrier to God's word, but rather it shows that God used and continues to use imperfect people for His perfect purpose...

For example, in Hebrews, the author builds a Christology on a Psalm quoting a passage in the LXX version talking about Christ's "body." In the original Hebrew, the word was "ear." It was changed to "body" in the LXX for unknown reasons...maybe because "ear" was gross?

At any rate, if we look at what David wrote originally in Psalm, it does not fit with the author of Hebrew's argument that this passage was speaking about directly about Christ's body! This is an example of an "error." It hurts me to type "error" and "bible" in the same sentence, but I can't deny the facts when I see them. It does not change the message of the Gospel or the truth found in scripture.(maybe it does change how I view that passage in Hebrews...keeping in mind the author just used the psalm as an illustration to prove his point. The point was inspired truth but the illustration was poor hermeneutics But who am I to judge God's word...merely my lowly opinion)

Sorry to get nit-picky with possibly irrelevant things. My point is that YP is right. Paul could have and most likely did make many mistakes that are even recorded in his writings...Most believe and accept this sub-consiously with passages about women being silent, ect...but they deny there could be error in anything else such as eldership or acting one way in Jerusalem and another way in Asia...something to ponder.
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Old 12-23-2008, 10:25 AM   #49
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Quote:
Gal 1:15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called [me] by his grace,
Gal 1:16 To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:
Gal 1:17 Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.
Gal 1:18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.
Gal 1:19 But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother.
Gal 1:20 Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not.
Gal 1:21 Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia;
Gal 1:22 And was unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea which were in Christ:
I think this must be admitted to be the same encounter:
Quote:
Act 9:26 And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple.
Act 9:27 But Barnabas took him, and brought [him] to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.
Act 9:28 And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem.
Act 9:29 And he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians: but they went about to slay him.
Act 9:30 [Which] when the brethren knew, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus.
So, according to Paul, Luke's account of meeting "THE apostles" is a little inaccurate. Paul says he only met Peter and James, staying with Peter for 15 days. OK. No problem.

Here's my question from reading Paul's account: why does he say what he says in Gal. 1:20????

Isn't this merely to establish the independence of his ministry? He really, really didn't get any of it from those other guys? So what? Why is he so keen to establish this distinction? Especially if, as we were discussing recently, he WENT to Jerusalem in the first place to express ONENESS with them? If what he speaks is the truth of God, does it really matter that he establish that it comes directly from God through him rather than via The Twelve?

And why does he feel the need to express himself in this FASHION? Who was accusing him of lying about this that he states it solemnly, almost as an oath?

SOME people weren't believing him about SOMETHING in Galatia and part of what he felt he had to do to convince them was establish that he WASN'T talking about the exact same thing as The Twelve were talking about. Is that why he omits reference to the Jerusalem decrees he once promulgated at their direction? Paul passed the decrees out for some period of time as he went about, and apparently this included Galatia.
Quote:
Act 16:4 And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem.
Act 16:5 And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily.
Act 16:6 Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia,
But he had a 14 year track record already before he got the new Gentile practices publication from the headquarters in Jerusalem.

Quote:
Gal 2:1 Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with [me] also.
Gal 2:2 And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain.
...
Gal 2:9 And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we [should go] unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.
Gal 2:10 Only [they would] that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do.
He doesn't mention them at this point, but he certainly hadn't forgtten about the Jersualem decrees. At least, James and the elders in Jerusalem hadn't forgotten about them and weren't about to let Paul forget either:

Quote:
Act 21:17 And when we were come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly.
Act 21:18 And the [day] following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present.
Act 21:19 And when he had saluted them, he declared particularly what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry.
Act 21:20 And when they heard [it], they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law:
Act 21:21 And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise [their] children, neither to walk after the customs.
Act 21:22 What is it therefore? the multitude must needs come together: for they will hear that thou art come.
Act 21:23 Do therefore this that we say to thee: We have four men which have a vow on them;
Act 21:24 Them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave [their] heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but [that] thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law.
Act 21:25 As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written [and] concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from [things] offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication.
So now he's actually written to the Galatians against the keeping of the law even though it looks like maybe he had previously given them the Jerusalem decrees to keep and some part of his ministry was about not keeping the law which upset Jerusalem. Fine. To me that means maybe he's had some good insights about mistakes of the past. But I'm still not getting this one point:

Who's calling him a liar about the origin of his ministry and why???

The keepers of the law who were friendly with James and the elders in Jerusalem surely weren't accusing him of getting his teachings from The Twelve, right? Especially not when those teachings are contrary to Moses!

So that only leaves the Gentile believers in Galatia, the primary audience to receive these harsh words against circumscision, to be doubting Paul and his motives. And the implication is that they doubted he had a service to the Gentiles distinct from whatever service might have come from The Twelve and Jerusalem.

Where would they get that idea? Presumably from the very law-keepers who witnessed Paul keeping the law, right? Probably saying something like, "You know, Paul's been right there with The Twelve from the very beginning of his conversion and we're telling you that you have to get circumcised. Paul even circumcised Timothy, guys. He'll tell you about it eventually. Didn't he bring you the Jerusalem decrees? That's just the beginning of the law. Now you need the whole law."

Am I missing something?

Why else would Paul say, "I barely even knew The Twelve, I swear!" at this point in his self-witnessing to those in Galatia?

And do these two groups eventually add up to "all in Asia" later on?


Grace be with you today, brothers and sisters!
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Old 12-23-2008, 03:05 PM   #50
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Great observations...it makes you wonder.
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Old 12-23-2008, 04:08 PM   #51
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Great observations...it makes you wonder.
I'm trying to end up at something more certain than wonderment, if possible.

I'm saying that I believe it is possible that "all in Asia" left Paul because of Paul.

Following that, I'm saying that I believe that the cause may have been Paul's Judaistic practices, although minimal in comparison to that of the leading ones of the assembly in Jerusalem.

And followingly, I'm saying that I am concerned that Paul's Judaistic practices as embodied in his epistles may have been given weight not unlike the word of our dear brother Lee with regard to the "new way" and such.

Those who utterly abandoned Paul clearly erred. They threw out the baby with the bathwater.

The question of whether there is scriptural Pauline bathwater is obviously extremely disturbing.

But I am no longer content to accept a blind "NO!" in answer to such a question.

I said it very succinctly on another site recently:
Quote:
Any teacher who says that God's will comes from their lips and requires you to deny the Spirit's witness and your own conscience is not presenting a healthy teaching.
I don't say that Paul himself required this but if we take Paul as requiring it, I'm not sure there's a practical difference...
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Old 12-23-2008, 06:31 PM   #52
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Perhaps. What you propose is convincing and is most likely one of the many reasons (if not the reason) for Asia leaving Paul. There is just not enough information available to come to a conclusion on the matter....So I'm left to wonder.
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Old 12-24-2008, 06:46 AM   #53
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Originally Posted by cityonahill View Post
Perhaps. What you propose is convincing and is most likely one of the many reasons (if not the reason) for Asia leaving Paul. There is just not enough information available to come to a conclusion on the matter....So I'm left to wonder.
I'm digging still. I think perhaps the nuggets are there. Seems to be a difficult quandry to be in to not have a solid scriptural support one way or another.


I was again reading in Galatians on this topic and I found another mysterious verse:

Gal 3:20 Now a mediator is not [a mediator] of one, but God is one.

First of all, I puzzle over what this means exactly. I mean, I follow the notion that mediators only do their thing between two parties and I also understand the ancient Hebrew slogan that God is one.

But what does Paul mean by inserting this verse where he does?

Again, in Galatians, we're reviewing Paul's responses to the challenges of the law-keepers among the Gentile believers who were troubled by the circumcision doctrine. And in verse 19 he asks "Why the law?" which is probably not a question most Hebrew believers would be asking. And his answer, essentially, is that the law was designed to help keep the world from getting into too much trouble until the right time. But some reason he adds in that it came through Moses, who was an intermediary.

OK. So Moses was an intermediary and the law came through an intermediary and the law doesn't displace the ancient promise to Abraham but was merely to have a preserving effect.

And then?

"Now a mediator is not [a mediator] of one, but God is one."

I just don't get it.

Moreover, I don't get it in the context of saying "forget about Jerusalem's problematic ones who trouble you." Is he merely saying that now that you are dealing with God directly yourself you need no mediator to bring you the law? I think not. Isn't God still one even if Moses is a mediator? "No need for a mediator because God is one" is quite a good deal different from "no need for a mediator because you are one with God."

This letter is something very solid and very much in contrast to the Jerusalem decrees that he himself once distributed and taught. But will what shall they make of the fact that he opens his letter declaring that he is not trying to please man even though he had submitted to the Temple rituals at the behest of James and the elders in Jerusalem?

Anyway. Still digging!
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Old 12-25-2008, 03:44 PM   #54
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The Amplified Bible renders Galatians 3:20 in this way:
“Now a go-between(intermediary) has to do with and implies more than one party( there can be no mediator with just one person). Yet God is(only) one person[ and He was the sole party in giving that promise to Abraham. But the law was a contract between two, God and Israel; its validity was dependant on both].

This seems to make sense as to why Paul inserted this phrase in the letter to the Galatians. The Law has nothing to do with the promise since the promise was made by one….God…and the law that was given by the mediator was not even involved in that promise given long before the law showed up.
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Old 12-25-2008, 05:38 PM   #55
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This seems to make sense as to why Paul inserted this phrase in the letter to the Galatians. The Law has nothing to do with the promise since the promise was made by one….God…and the law that was given by the mediator was not even involved in that promise given long before the law showed up.
That's an interesting gloss.

Essentially, this would correspond with the reading of Hebrews 6:16-18

Quote:
Hbr 6:13 For when God made promise to Abraham, since he could swear by none greater, he sware by himself,
Hbr 6:14 saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee.
Hbr 6:15 And thus, having patiently endured, he obtained the promise.
Hbr 6:16 For men swear by the greater: and in every dispute of theirs the oath is final for confirmation.
Hbr 6:17 Wherein God, being minded to show more abundantly unto the heirs of the promise the immutability of his counsel, interposed with an oath;
Hbr 6:18 that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we may have a strong encouragement, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us:
But basically the Amplified interpretation only further highlights the distinction between a unilateral agreement and a bilateral agreement.

No problem there.

Still, I'm concerned about:
#1, that the mediator issue is brought up at all at this point in Paul's overall discourse
and
#2, that Paul seems to be invoking Deut. 6:4 rather than merely making a distinction between types of contracts

Paul references this theme of "the promise came long before the law and the law can't and doesn't supersede the promise" in Romans as well, I believe. And it's no small point, of course. The law keepers essentially annul the value of the promise by attaching their hopes to the law. And, especially in a context that you're reaching out to Gentiles, this is vital, because the promise was that all the nations of the earth would be blessed, not just the one nation of Israel. I'm proud to be grafted in!

In other words, I might rewrite the Amplified version as "There's no obligation for us to perform under the law because God acted unilaterally under the promise." And that's a brilliant, transcendent and nourishing reading, no doubt. Don't go getting circumcised, you spiritual descendants of Abraham! It's a marvelous thought, fully supported elsewhere, and certainly not at all an impossible interpretation.

But it still seems odd to me that Paul would have phrased this notion in terms that appear to invoke the unity of the Godhead and by reference to the absence of a mediator.

And not to make too big a point of it but, um, some would have a hard time with a translation that says that "God is one person."

Just digging, Oregon.
Thank you for your help.
Do you see what I mean?
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