by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 5 Study # 8 February 6, 2011 Dayton, Texas
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:
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. Paul's Response to God's Actions and Purposes.
A. He stresses "immediacy".
B. He rejects "consulting".
C. He focuses upon "flesh and blood".
D. He denies "apostolic influence".
1. Switching from his "no consulting with flesh and blood", Paul denies that he "went up to Jerusalem" for a face-to-face with "those who were apostles before him."
a. In the Greek New Testament, there are two words for "Jerusalem". The one Paul chooses here is used in 59 verses, all of which are in the narrative literature of the New Testament (Matthew-Acts) except three, which are in our Galatian text (1:17, 18; and 2:1). The other one is used in 80 verses, 67 of which are in Luke-Acts, and 11 of which are in the epistles of the New Testament with 2 of those being in Galatians (4:25-26). Strong's treats the issue as merely a difference of spelling and, indeed, Luke used one spelling in 24 verses of Luke-Acts and, as already noted, used the other in 67 verses. At issue is the question of whether the different spellings have any particular meaning that would dictate why one form would be used in certain settings and the other form would be used in other settings.
1) The uses of "Jerusalem" as a translation of "Hierosoluma" by Paul in Galatians. Linguistically, these are all exactly the same construction (eis plus the neuter, plural, accusative of "Jerusalem")
a) Our present text is the first and it refers to "Jerusalem" as the place where the other "apostles" carried out their activities as the recognized leaders of the Church.
b) The second is the next verse (1:18) and it also focuses upon the place where recognized apostolic reality dwelt (Peter and James).
c) The third is 2:1. This text actually expands the issue of "apostolic authority" by making "Jerusalem" the place where God insisted that the details of the conflict between the Gospel and the false brethren be ironed out.
2) The uses of "Jerusalem" as a translation of "Hierousalem" by Paul in Galatians. Linguistically, these are a tad different. The first is a form of the definite article in the feminine, singular, dative plus the feminine, singular, dative of "Jerusalem" and the second is a form of the feminine, singular, nominative, definite article plus the feminine, singular, dative of "Jerusalem".
a) The first use is 4:25. Paul uses it to refer to a "current theological system of bondage" likened unto Hagar, the Egyptian handmaid of Sarah who bore Ishmael to Abraham.
b) The second use is 4:26. In an exact parallel, this use is of a "theological system of freedom" rooted in the dual concepts of "Law/productions of the flesh" and "Promise/productions of the Spirit of God for those who believe".
3) When we compare these separate mini-contexts within Galatians, we note that Paul used "Hierosoluma" when he was focused upon a geographicalplace where "theological issues" could be expected to be legitimately addressed and he used "Hierousalem" when he was focused upon the contrary theologicalsystems that created the need for a final, and legitimate, resolution of the controversy so that "faith" could stand (it is impossible to "believe" as long as controversy remains unresolved in the heart/mind of a person). The issue in the Galatian 4 context is the conflict between "Law and Promise" and "Flesh and Spirit". These, Paul argues are two covenants which have different functions and outcomes, and they refer analogically to Mt. Sinai in Arabia and the New Jerusalem in Heaven. Thus, we conclude that Sinai has moved from Arabia to Judea and Jerusalem has moved from Judea to Heaven.
4) What remains for us then is a look into the rest of the New Testament uses of these different spellings of "Jerusalem" to see if Paul was consistent with the rest of the New Testament.
a) As we noted above, "Hierosoluma" is used in the New Testament only in the narrative literature of the New Testament (Matthew - Acts) except for Paul's use in Galatians 1:17, 18 and 2:1. Is this significant? There are only nine other references to "Jerusalem" in the epistles and Revelation, but they are all "Hierousalem".
i. In the four references to "Hierousalem" in Romans, Paul uses the term exclusively as a geographical "place", three of which refer to the place where the "saints" need some help.
ii. In the sole reference in 1 Corinthians, Paul used the word to, again, refer to the need of the "saints" in that place.
iii. In Hebrews 12:22 the word is used of "the heavenly city of the living God". This is an almost exact parallel to Paul's use of the term in Galatians 4:25-26.
iv. In three verses in the Revelation, John uses "Hierousalem" to refer to the heavenly City of God (3:12; 21:2; and 21:10).
v. The conclusion seems to be thus: "Hierousalem" is used in the New Testament when it refers to the residence of the "saints".
b) Luke may have help for us as he used both "spellings" in Luke/Acts quite extensively (67 verses use "Hierousalem" and 24 verses use "Hierosoluma").
i. A perusal of "Hierosoluma" in Luke yields five verses wherein the word is tied to the practice of the Law (or, as Paul would argue, the mis-practice of it).
ii. A similar perusal of Acts yields nineteen verses. In all of these texts one reality stands out: "Hierosoluma" in Acts is a place of opposition to God and the Gospel.
iii. A perusal of Luke in regard to "Hierousalem" yields 27 verses. These verses record issues of significant opposition to Jesus, but of His focus upon the true outworking of the Law of God. There seems to be a rather consistent focus upon "Hierousalem" as the place where the faithful function, but not without opposition.
iv. And a perusal of Acts in regard to "Hierousalem" yields 40 verses. These verses focus upon Jerusalem as a geographical dwelling place. Notably, Luke used "Hierousalem" in Acts 15:2 in reference to the same event to which Paul referred in Galatians 2:1, but with the opposite term. However, it was Paul's intent to focus upon Jerusalem as the place where controversy could be legitimately resolved, but Luke's intent was to focus upon the place where "truth" was to be practiced.
v. Perhaps the most helpful texts written by Luke are those in which he uses both "spellings" in the same/near context. For example, when Luke wrote that Joseph and Mary brought Jesus to "Jerusalem" in Luke 2:22, he used the word "Hierosoluma". Then, in 2:25 he wrote that "...there was a man in 'Hierousalem', whose name [was] Simeon...". Now, why would he do that? The former use has to do with following the Law of Moses and the latter has to do with a godly man named Simeon. Is there anything here that reflects Paul's use in Galatians? Joseph and Mary took Jesus to the place where Moses instructed as an expression of God's will/Word. Paul, likewise, had a strong theme of "God's will/Word" in his Galatians text regarding not getting that will/Word from Jerusalem. Likewise, Simeon is cast as a godly man who dwelt in Jerusalem while anticipating the Consolation of Israel and Paul uses the same form of Jerusalem in his "theological system" text in Galatians in regard to the dwelling place of the saints. Thus, Luke and Paul seem to have the same ideas about "Hierosoluma/Hierousalem": the neuterplural refers to the place where the will/Word is (supposed) to be found; the feminine singular refers to the place where the saints are to be found (in a "suffering" situation).
b. What Paul is doing is declaring that he did not get his message where one would expect him to get it.
2. His disclaimer regarding "those who were apostles before him".
a. In respect to "Christianity", no one in those days rejected the fact that its doctrines were being promoted by Peter, James, John, etc. These were the men whom Jesus personally taught and discipled. These were the men to whom Jesus gave His command to wait in Jerusalem (Hierosoluma) until they received the promise from the Father (Acts 1:4) so that they could be empowered to be His witnesses both in Jerusalem (Hierousalem) and the uttermost parts of the earth (Acts 1:8). In other words, the place where they were to wait was the locus of the expectation of the will/Word, but one of the places where they were to "witness" was the locus of the habitation of the saints.
b. But, Paul's Galatian argument is that his message was their message without any corroboration, so he argues it by describing his refusal to be "influenced" by those who were apostles before him.
3. His movement to Arabia.
a. "Arabia" is mentioned twice in the New Testament and both mentions are by Paul and in Galatians.
b. "Arabia" is, by the apostle's own declaration, tied to the Law of Moses, given at Mt. Sinai, and is the place where "bondage" found its most formidable roots.
c. The question is this: why did Saul of Tarsus, discovering that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ, go to "Arabia" instead of "Jerusalem"?
1) For one thing, he had had the realization that his "theological construct", gained in Jerusalem under Gamaliel, was fatally flawed at the most significant level. It is not surprising that he would be extremely gun-shy about "being instructed by men" with this kind of realization.
2) For another thing, he had been told by Jesus, Himself, that his grasp of the Truth was, for all intents and purposes, a non-reality: he did not grasp the Truth. He was of the most deluded of men.
3) For a third thing, that Jesus of Nazareth, Son of the Most High God, had come to his "rescue" on the road to Damascus was a "hint" in the right direction: he could trust in Him to get his theology squared away. Without Him, he would have continued to believe in his own inerrancy and would have remained blind to his own delusions about his "faith".
4) Therefore, having been led astray by the instruction of men, and having been given a "revelation" of the truth about Jesus by Jesus, it is no surprise at all that he refused to "go up to Jerusalem" -- even to talk to those who were apostles before him. But, why "Arabia"? About this he says nothing, nor does Luke in his record of Acts.