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Galatians 1:11-12 by Robert Dean
Series:Galatians (1998)
Duration:51 mins 10 secs

Apostleship, Authority Orientation; Gal. 1:11-12


Now Paul comes back to this main theme of his apostolic authority in verse 11 and we get into the first major section of the epistle which runs from 1:11 to 2:21. He will defend his apostolic authority. The first thing he does in 1:11, 12 is set forth a proposition, and that is the proposition that he will defend in the remainder of this section. That is, that he received the gospel directly from God and not from men, therefore it is truth. He establishes that through several lines of argumentation.

Galatians 1:11 NASB "For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man." He begins with the Greek word gnorizo [gnwrizw]. It is from the same basic root that is the same as gnosis [gnwsij], epignosis [e)pignwsij] and ginosko [ginwiskw] and it has to do with knowledge. It has the basic meaning of to reveal, to declare, to make known, and to inform. The best meaning is, "I make known to you, I declare to you." He is declaring a proposition. The first word in the sentence is "for," gar [gar] to indicate an explanation. Sometimes it almost has the same sense as because. What is he explaining? The entire thought of verses 6-10, why the gospel is so important. Now he is going to establish that by means of relating it to his own apostolic authority. gnorizo is a present active indicative. The sense of the present here is an instantaneous present which describes an action completed at the moment of speaking. Paul is making this known to them, setting this principle down, right now. It indicates a formal or solemn assertion, and he is introducing a formal proposition which will be supported by the evidence in the rest of the chapter and the next chapter.

The use of the word adelphoi [a)delfoi], "brethren," indicates that he addresses the Galatians as fellow believers. "I would have you" is a dative of advantage. It is to their advantage that he makes this principle known to them. What is the principle? We have the phrase, "that the gospel was preached by me is not according to man." The word that is translated "that" in English is the Greek word hoti [o(ti]. hoti has several different nuances one of which is that it introduces a direct quotation. It can also introduce an indirect quotation, and it also has another nuance which would remain untranslated and we would just put a colon here, "I make this known to you:" So we would scratch out the "that" and put "I would make this principle known to you, brethren: the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man." That is the proposition that Paul is going to defend. Paul is going to take a loot of time to lay out the doctrine of his apostolic authority.

The doctrine of authority orientation

One of the most important principles that we can have in our life is to be oriented to authority.

1.  Authority orientation is recognising that in every sphere of life God has established specific authority. Respecting those authorities primarily because of the position or office that that person holds, not necessarily because of the personal actions of that individual, because of their personal integrity or lack of it, or their personal character. The issue is not who the person is or what their character is like, but the office or position that they hold. There are all kinds of positions in life that come with inherent authority—the position of a king or a president, the position of an employer, a supervisor, a manager, a husband, a father, a parent. All of these are positions that come with inherent authority, even if the person in that authority may be doing something wrong, their character may not come up to the level that is expected of a person in that office. Authority orientation means that we respect the office and the authority of the office even if the person who is holding that office is unworthy of it at that particular time. To do otherwise means that you are setting yourself up as the final judge and arbiter and authority in every situation, and that is nothing more than pure arrogance.

2.  Authority is an ontological reality related to the essence of God, not a created reality. (Ontological = the essential being or essence of a thing or a person. For example, one of the arguments for the existence of God is the ontological argument.) The ontological reality of God is His essence. His one essence is shared equally and fully by each member of the Trinity; they are therefore co-equal, co-eternal and co-infinite. How does this relate to authority? Within the Trinity itself there is an authority structure. The whole concept of authority relationship is integral to the basic essence, an ontological reality in the nature of God. This is not an authority structure that violates their equality. Within the Trinity there are clear role distinctions and authority relationships. So that means that the principle is established that authority orientation is basic to orientation to life and reality, and if we are not oriented to authority and the authorities in our life; and we if are not oriented to reality we are divorced from reality, and to the degree that we are divorced from reality we are going to end up as a neurotic and psychotic believer, a failure in life and the spiritual life.  

3.  Therefore authority structures are not in themselves related to sin or tainted by sin but are intrinsically good. Authority is an intrinsically good concept.

4.  Orientation to authority is learned primarily during the first six to eight years in life. This puts a tremendous burden of responsibility on parents whose job is to instil authority orientation. But we mustn't forget the fact that every child has volition.

5.  Failure to orient to the spheres of authority in your life will mean that you will be dominated by arrogance and your sin nature, and you will be a failure in life and in the spiritual life. You have to be oriented to authority. That doesn't mean that that authority is always right; in fact that authority can be wrong most of the time. The issue is that that is the authority that God has established over you and so you have to be responsive to that in the correct manner. Two wrongs never make a right.

6.  God has established two spheres of authority. These are the secular sphere and the spiritual sphere.

7.  In terms of the secular sphere there are five divine institutions which represent establishment truth. Establishment truths are principles related to both believers and unbelievers. They are principles established by God for the stability and the success of the human race regardless of their spiritual status. This includes morality. The first divine institution is individual responsibility. This has as its authority the individual's volition. The second is the divine institution of marriage, designed by God to be between one man and one woman. Marriage has its established authority structure where the husband is the authority. The third is the institution of the family. The authority is parents: "Honour your father and mother." Fourth, human government. The ultimate authority there is whatever the legislative authorities are. The fifth is national division. This is very important. God established it at the tower of Babel. God is the authority there because when man starts to violate that authority structure with internationalism then God steps in and performs the corrective discipline. In the spiritual realm we have the authority of the Christian. The Word of God is our absolute and final authority. In the early church there was the apostolic authority where apostles were given a temporary spiritual gift for the purpose of leadership and communication of doctrine.