by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 5 Study # 6 January 23, 2011 Dayton, Texas
16 To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:
17 Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.
1901 ASV Translation:
16 to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the Gentiles; straightway I conferred not with flesh and blood:
17 neither went I up to Jerusalem to them that were apostles before me: but I went away into Arabia; and again I returned unto Damascus.
I. God's Purpose For His Dealings With Saul of Tarsus.
A. The dealings are laid out as "having separated him from his mother's womb" and "having called him".
B. The purpose is a stacked reality.
1. The first level of this stack of God's purpose is couched in the phrase "to reveal His Son in me" (AV).
2. The upper level is stated as "that I might preach Him among the heathen".
a. The "heathen" are the non-Jewish nations of the world. In the 1611 English of the AV, "heathen" seemed to be an appropriate word to those 1611 translators, but we of the twenty-first century better understand it as "nations that had not been a major part of God's focus in history since the summons of Abraham until Acts 2".
1) A cursory look at the uses of this term in Galatians reveals that the translators of the Authorized Version were, at best, inconsistent and, at worst, simply passing on their own prejudices in contradiction of the message of the New Testament.
a) In 3:8 the word is used twice and the translation is deeply flawed because it is inappropriately rendered by "heathen" in the first section of the verse and accurately rendered "nations" in the second section.
b) There are ten uses of the word in this letter by Paul and the translators opt for "gentiles" six of those nine times, for "heathen" three of those nine, and for "nations" once. From a divine standpoint, "nations" is the best rendering because God seldom takes the same viewpoint as people who have little regard for Him or His particular brand of Love. The biases of the translators of the Authorized Version opt for "gentiles" 93 times and only opt for "heathen" five times out of 164 uses in the New Testament. This paucity is a tacit argument that the choice was prejudicial. The fact is that there isnogood reason in any of the five uses for them to have opted for the pejorative, "heathen", rather than "gentiles" (and, actually, there is no really good reason to adopt "gentiles" over "nations", a translation that they actually used 64 times). To be inconsistent in the translation of a word needs a valid reason; otherwise it is merely obfuscation.
2) The "nations" actually became the focus of God's redemptive work at Pentecost, a truth that cost Paul his life because it so enraged his countrymen (Note Acts22:22). There remains this significant question: why would the Jews be so enraged because God was extending His mercy? The answer is the same as that of the "why" of Cain's murder of Abel. As soon as "Sin" sets in, viciousness becomes the standard of the day.
b. Paul's place in God's program has been shown by later developments to be a place of critical uniqueness. Paul so identifies it in Galatians 2:7 as that place of the primary individual to whom a primary task had been assigned.
1) This program of God is, by this phrase, a program of significant change. God, Who focused an amazing amount of His attention upon Israel for 2,000 years, had shifted His focus to the entire world -- the nations beyond Israel -- and Paul was to be His chosen vessel to take the message of redemption to them.
2) This "new" focus of divine mercy was to be implemented by the proclamation of His Son beyond the boundaries of the special nation of Abraham's physical seed.
c. Paul's purpose was "proclamation" of "revelation". God's "revelation of His Son" in Paul was going to be expressed by Paul's preaching of that revelation to others so that theyalso might possess an understanding of the meaning and significance of God's Son within their own history. According to Galatians 3:14, the indwelling of the Spirit of Christ is the core methodological concept of God's redemptive promises. It is even more central than the promise of forgiveness. Forgiveness simply frees God to do what He actually wishes to do -- impart Life to His creatures -- and the Spirit is the Primary Communicator of that Life. That the typical formulation of the Gospel in our days has almost nothing to do with "the Spirit of the Promise" (Ephesians 1:13) is revelatory of the degree of distortion that has seeped into evangelism. In the beginning, "repentance" was to precede "faith in the Gospel" (Mark 1:15) because the issue of the Gospel is God's primary desire to make men "alive", not "forgiven" and to be "alive" means having the Spirit of Life in dominion over "life". Without a legitimate grasp of "repentance", men cannot live just as an illegitimate grasp of the Gospel does not enable life.