Recognizing Paul’s Status as Apostle to the Gentiles

Moody alumna Eleanor Chesnut went to China as a medical missionary in 1894. She did pioneering work in the city of Lien-Chou, setting up a new hospital. As recounted in A Martyr’s Grace, on a Buddhist holiday in 1905 a mob was incited to storm the hospital in search of foreign Christians. They found and killed Eleanor and five other missionaries. These martyrs sacrificed all for the sake of serving Christ. They, like Paul, believed the spread of the gospel to be worth everything, including their lives.

In attempting to modify the gospel, the Judaizers had tried to stir up dissension or create a division between Paul and the original apostles—that is, the apostles who had been Jesus’ followers before His death and resurrection—in the minds of the Galatians. They were trying to convince these new believers that they had accepted a second-rate gospel from a second-class apostle.

In refuting them, Paul walked a fine line. On the one hand, he respected the other apostles and wanted the Galatians to know that these “pillars” of the church fully recognized him and accepted his gospel (v. 9). On the other hand, his apostleship and message came directly from Christ and did not depend on or derive from them (v. 6). Their relationship was one of equality and reciprocity, not authority or rivalry. As signified in their offering the “right hand of fellowship,” they recognized that God had appointed Paul as primarily an apostle to the Gentiles, just as Peter was primarily an apostle to the Jews (vv. 7–8).

In short, Paul, Peter, John, James, and the others were all co-laborers or fellow servants together in the kingdom of God. Their common goal was to faithfully preach and live out the gospel of Christ (Col. 1:21–23).

Apply the Word

A commitment to serve the poor has been one way the church lives out its faith from the beginning (v. 10). The message of the gospel includes both words and actions! Would outsiders know from our words and actions that we have a heart for the poor? That we stand with those whom society has left behind? That God loves them through us?

BY Brad Baurain

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