Paul identifies three "pillars" of the early church James (Jesus' brother), John, Peter kjv@Galatians:2:9. Modern Catholics identify only one: Peter. It is James here that delivers the group's verdict. John is either silent or absent. Paul is portrayed once again as serving the church under their authority (even when he has disagreement). I have no doubt that the Spirit was sought for this momentous decision but is not quoted. There is plenty of OT text regarding the inclusion of gentiles, but not mandatory circumcision of them. The decision is based then upon the consistency of the doctrine of saving grace.
The opposition in Corinth seemed to focus their attack directly on Paul. The difference here in Galatia seems to be the infiltration of another form of doctrine which seems to center itself against the doctrine of grace. One seemed to be rooted in a very liberal grace outwardly that allowed for perversions and divisions, this one seems to be inward toward the vehicle of salvation.
There is no doubt that the doctrine of Grace is hard to understand down to it's deepest core, even by those of the early church and by Apostles that should have known better. The mind naturally wants to flip it around to do works towards justification. Our works fall short each and every time, even our best works. They are certainly not payment for sin and reconciliation. Christ's death would be in vain otherwise.
Peter received correction. Had he been the first Pope and had the Pope been given immutable divine interpretation as supposed by Roman Catholic doctrine, he would not have needed correction. Paul would have shamefully exceeded his lesser authority. Their doctrine follows from a possible misinterpretation on the proclamation Jesus made that on 'this Rock' He would build His church. Rock more likely meaning the divinely revealed faith and not just Cephas 'the rock' personally kjv@Matthew:16:17-20 (literally - You are 'piece of rock' and upon this 'massive Rock' (which flesh and blood have not revealed) I build my church).
For Paul to say be not entangled in the yoke of bondage means that it is quiet possible to if not likely. It is something that we must guard ourselves from. In this case it centers around our perception of what justifies us in the end, the Law or Grace. In other ways it seems to be in resembling too closely the ways of this world or reverting back into our fleshly appetites and habits. The works of the flesh are manifest as are the fruits of the Spirit.
There are those it has been reported who believe that cross was a symbolism added to the faith later by Constantine. Paul is not explaining a symbolism here, he is describing his key life principal. Whether he wore or prayed to a cross is of secondary consequence.
I have heard theories that Paul may have been crippled or have a deformity in arm or hand. We have already summized that he could well have problems with his eye sight. We also know that he was beaten and stoned near to death on several occasions and therefore be severely damaged. The Galatians here would have been deeply moved by whatever this sentence points to; he does bear the marks of Christ.
So this is where Paul twice and the author of Hebrews once get "the just shall live by faith". Now we have the original context. Given our tendency to box God into the corners of what we think He should and should not be doing, given our blindness to everything except what is immediately before us, given our own personal track record and what we ourselves are being chastised over, we if seeking through this to become just should live by faith. kjv@Romans:1:17kjv@Galatians:3:11kjv@Hebrews:10:38
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