This week, we continue our study of Paul’s ministry in Galatians 2. As I have said in class (and maybe in a blog post as well), scholars are not completely in agreement as to the chronological placement of Paul’s letter to the Galatians. The Life Application Study Bible cites (seemingly) unanswered questions in Galatians as evidence that Paul wrote this letter before the Jerusalem council (recorded historically in Acts 15, written by Luke in the third person). The Chronological Bible, on the other hand, sees Galatians 2:1-10 as Paul’s first-hand account of this meeting in Jerusalem. When unsure, I say, ‘Compare it yourself, and see what the Holy Spirit reveals to you.’ – Gal 2:1-10 versus Acts 15:1-20.
For the purposes of today’s post, focus first on Gal 2:1-2. God had unquestionably called Paul to take the Gospel to the Gentiles, but he was not the only one on whom God had placed this call. In fact, he wasn’t even the first. Back up to Acts 15:4-8. In this passage, Peter reminds the church leadership that, at some point in the past, God had instructed him to share the Gospel with the Gentiles. I love the words Peter uses in verse 8: “And God…bore witness to them…” (Acts 15:8a, Amplified). Did you get that? I mean really get it?! God Himself “bore witness to” the Gentiles. He testified – presented evidence – on their behalf. What was the evidence? “… giving them the Holy Spirit as He also did to us” (vs. 8b).
The question that pops into my mind is this: What tangible evidence is there in my life that God has given me the Holy Spirit? What evidence do I see in the lives of others that tells me they are my brothers and sisters in Christ? Scripture makes it clear – here in Acts 15 as well as many other places – that believers sensed…saw…knew that others had been blessed with the gift of the Holy Spirit. They didn’t have to take someone’s word for it; they took God’s own words…. He “bore witness to them…” (Acts 15:8a).
Let’s go back to Acts 10 and drop in personally on the scene Peter was recounting in Acts 15. While you may want to read all of chapter 10 to get the full context, we’re going to focus on the last section – verses 44-47 (again for the purposes of this post). Verse 45 tells us that the believing Jews who were there were “astonished” (KJV) because of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Again I ask, HOW DID THEY SEE THIS OUTPOURING? (Yes Diana, I’m yelling right now … out of passion, not out of anger.lol) Verse 46 says that “they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God” (KJV). Is that how God bears witness to us today? If so, I want to know what this means for me right here and right now.
Speaking in unknown tongues … magnifiying God – these will be our focus in the coming weeks! Grab a shovel; we’re digging together!