Vol.XVII No.X Pg.1
December 1980

The Way Paul Preached

Robert F. Turner

Soon after Paul had established the cause of Christ in Galatia, Judaising teachers appeared and began their work of destruction. They insisted that Gentiles must be circumcised, must come to Christ via a Jewish route of law; and in their effort to overcome the truth Paul had taught they questioned his apostleship. Paul defended his apostleship to establish the divine source of his message. We here note only the variety and nature of his appeal--the way Paul preached.

There was absolutely no toleration of "another gospel," even though an angel should preach it (1:8-9). Nor could its principles be compromised, even by another apostle (2:11-14). But strong, hard preaching and emotional appeals were not incompatible. He compared his early work with them to a woman in birth pains, suffering much to bring them to Christ. Now, "I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you" (4:19). He reminded them of their appreciation for his early effort, saying, "If it had been possible ye would have plucked out your eyes, and have given them to me" (4:15). That is a heart wringer! He could become upset with them: "O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you" (3:1); but it is concern for their spiritual well-being that disturbs him. "Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years" (as religious ceremonies); so he says, "I am afraid of you" (4:11) and "I stand in doubt of you" (4:20). This is the concern of genuine love.

But for those who brazenly contradicted the principles of the gospel Paul had some strong words. He said they were proselyting for the sake of numbers, and their own glory (6:12-f). They "desire to have you circumcised that they may glory in your flesh." Perhaps his sharpest criticism is the irony of Gal. 5:12, "I would they were even cut off which trouble you." They preach a little cutting; I wish they were completely cut off.

Here is love, warning, concern, exasper- ation, tender appeal, fear and trembling, harshness, prayer, blood and thunder. Here is a genuine soldier of the cross; a man of flesh whose heart's desire was to serve the Christ; an example for us all.