Saturday, 27 February 2016
But from those who seemed to be something—whatever they were, it makes no difference to me; God shows personal favoritism to no man—for those who seemed to be something added nothing to me. Galatians 2:6
Paul’s words in this verse appear to be a little harsher than they are in the original Greek. It seems as if he is unnecessarily dismissive of the apostles, but he is simply being logical about his calling and their relation to it.
He is now tying his words back to verse 2 after his parenthetical thought concerning Titus which comprised verses 3-5. He begins with “But from those who seemed to be something.” This is speaking of “those who were of reputation” in verse 2. However, the verb should be present tense, “those who are of reputation.” They not only had authority in the past at the Council in Jerusalem, they continued to have authority at the present, even over those in Galatia.
Paul continues though. Despite this authority, “…whatever they were, it makes no difference to me.” This is not intended as a statement of diminishing their authority. Rather, it is a statement concerning the Source of his. They had nothing to do with where Paul received his commission. Instead, it came apart from them and directly from Christ. The words, “…it makes no difference to me” are intended to show this. Whether they approved of his message or not, the matter had been settled by the same One who commissioned them.
This is supported by his next thought, “God shows personal favoritism to no man.” This is a Hebraism. The words “personal favoritism” literally means, “to accept the face.” In the Old Testament, it could be taken in a positive or a negative way. In the New Testament, it is only used in a negative way (the other such use is in Luke 20:21).
What it means is that God doesn’t look at a person and accept him based on externals; He is completely impartial in how He judges a person. In this case, God had selected Paul for His own sovereign reasons and that was the end of the matter. Because of this he says, “…for those who seemed to be something added nothing to me.” There was nothing the other apostles could add to Paul’s actual authority with their approval, and there was nothing that they could diminish from it with their disapproval. Instead, he stood approved by God through his selection as an apostle.
Life application: God doesn’t look at externals when judging us. So why should we? How often we get caught up in following a teacher or preacher because he is famous, handsome, eloquent, a great orator, on TV, or for whatever reason! We get star-struck too easily. This is not a proper way of evaluating doctrine. Instead, we should evaluate doctrine based on how the presenter’s words match with Scripture. Let us keep this valuable lesson near to us and always test what we hear based on the word of God alone.
Lord God, Your word sure is marvelous. It comforts us in our times of sadness. It inspires us when we are lacking motivation, it corrects us when we do wrong, it edifies us when we have done what is right, it restores our souls when we are empty, and it fills us to overflowing as we continue to read it. Thank You for Your marvelous word which fills our hungry souls with delight! Help us to pick it up daily and peruse its marvelous pages. Amen.