“But if, in seeking to be justified in Christ, we Jews find ourselves also among the sinners, doesn’t that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! If I rebuild what I destroyed, then I really would be a lawbreaker. Galatians 2:17-18 (NIV).
Here, Paul is starting to use one of his artful word-twists to reason with the people of his youth: the same people who were now insisting that the new ‘Way’ of Christianity was simply another Jewish sect and, therefore, subject to Jewish laws, customs, and traditions. That, because these ‘Christian Jews’ were living among people the traditional Jews considered to be sinners, Christ must therefore have been a sinner; that Christianity promotes sin.
This employs a logical fallacy. If A, then B must follow, forgetting that B doesn’t necessarily have to follow. That kind of thing still happens today, a lot in fact. Just look at our media. No matter where you get your news, so much of what we even call ‘news’ today seems to be just opinion presented as fact.
In the case of today’s verses, that’s all this was: opinion being presented as fact. Our social media makes this problem even more acute. I know I’m guilty of sharing things that I didn’t fully vet, or things that turned out to be more opinion than actual news; I’m not alone.
Again, that’s nothing new. Paul wouldn’t be familiar with social media (or any electronics actually) but he’d be familiar with the idea that people share fallacies and opinions, then insist others go along with them. He would be quite familiar with the idea of people attacking Jesus by attacking Him obliquely, or by doing a logic bait & switch on matters about His followers. “Jesus is perfect but you aren’t therefore Christianity is bunk because you can never be perfect.” Or, “you say you follow Jesus but you keep on screwing up. Why should I believe you?”
Fallacies. Understandable, and in some cases even reasonable, worth considering. But fallacies all the same. Isn’t it amazing that Christ’s kingdom grows in spite of us?
Paul saw through such fallacies. He walked in the worlds of both Jewish history and Greek dialectic. More important, he preached the pure revelation of Jesus, which neither tradition nor human logic are capable of refuting. In his ministry – and in his books, bequeathed to us – Paul used creative language while consistently sticking to the Gospel and the first and only reasoning behind anything he said or did. He was willing to be all things to all people but only for the purpose of furthering the Gospel. In doing so, nothing on earth could stop him…or us, when we do the same.
For further reading: Galatians 2:19
Lord, teach me today to use my words and actions to only further Your kingdom.
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