Disagreeing with pyromaniac over Galatians

I have been listening to one of pyromaniacs sermons again, which I very much enjoy. I’m going to have to with great trepidation disagree with him about one point.

Phil claimed in his sermon that the visit of Paul to Jerusalem spoken of in Gal 2 is the same event as the Jerusalem council.

This may seem like a minor issue on a level with the debate I raised concerning whether Paul had ever met Jesus before his death. It does however have important implications for the dating of Galatians and our understanding of its message and that of the Jerusalem council.

I have always believed that Galatians was written before the council, for the very simple reason that Paul would have referred to its conclusions in the argument as both Galatians and the Jerusalem council address the same issue.

Acts records two visits of Paul to Jerusalem after his conversion and before the Jerusalem council.

Acts 9:26 And when he had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples. And they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple.

Acts 11.27-30 Now in these days prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. And one of them named Agabus stood up and foretold by the Spirit that there would be a great famine over all the world (this took place in the days of Claudius). So the disciples determined, everyone according to his ability, to send relief to the brothersliving in Judea. And they did
so, sending it to the elders by the hand of Barnabas and Saul.

To me, a simple comparison of the above scripture with the two visits mentioned in Galatians 1 and 2 settles the argument about both when Galatians was written (ie BEFORE the Jerusalem council) and whether Acts 15 and Gal 2 are referring to the same event (ie NO they are not if Galatians was written before the event even happened!). Lets compare and contrast the relevant passages in Galatians with the two from Acts I just quoted.

Galatians 1.15-22, 2.1-2 “…..when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone;nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.

Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days. But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord’s brother. (In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie!) Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. And I was still unknown in person to the churches of Judea that are in Christ……

Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas,taking Titus along with me. I went up because of a revelation and setbefore them (though privately before those who seemed influential) the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure I was not running or had not run in vain.”

So this second viist was in response to a revelation, that in my view of Agabus. It was private (unlike the public Jerusalem council) and puts Pauls commendation by the apostles in Jerusalem as happening before he began his apostolic journeys.

Thus, Galatians becomes a very early document indeed and is a remarkable written defense of the gospel which itself may well have influenced the outcome of the Jerusalem council.

Paul is very clear and explicit in Galatians that he has told the truth and thus I am 100% convinced that all the commentators who believe that the Gal 2 visit is the same occasion as Acts 15 are frankly wrong. I cannot comprehend any argument that could stand against this comparison of these scriptures., but maybe pyromaniac or some of my readers can!

About Adrian Warnock

Adrian Warnock is a medical doctor, a writer, and a member of Jubilee Church, London since 1995, where he serves as part of the leadership team alongside Tope Koleoso. Together they have written Hope Reborn - How to Become a Christian and Live for Jesus, published by Christian Focus. Adrian is also the author of Raised With Christ - How The Resurrection Changes Everything, published by Crossway. Read more about Adrian Warnock or connect with him on Twitter, Facebook or Google+.

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