Sunday, October 10, 2010

October 10, 2010 – Galatians 2:11 - 3:14

Ch 2 v 16 – Here is one of the verses that is pointed to when people start debating the Catholic teaching on works and justification.  First, Catholics do not believe that we can be saved by works alone.  That has never been a teaching of the Church.  Secondly, when you look at what Paul was arguing about with Cephas, also known as St. Peter, they are arguing about the “works of law”.  These were the works developed by the Jewish leaders throughout the centuries before Christ.  Not to eat certain things, not socialize with certain people, stay ritually clean.  The idea behind this was because of the Babylonian Exile.  The Jews knew that they had offended God by the way they lived.  When they returned from exile, they developed extreme rules so that they would just not sin, but not give themselves the opportunity to sin.  This is where Jesus and the Pharisees and Sadducees butted heads when the Apostles picked grain or Jesus healed someone on the Sabbath, or when Jesus ate at a sinners house or received water from a Gentile woman. 

Peter would act and share everything with the Gentiles up until the Jewish Christians showed up.  Then he segregated himself from the Gentile Christian.  Paul is saying that this was not correct.  Peter continued to be worried about these Jewish “works of law” that had been developed to keep them away from sin.  The issue with them is that they did not keep a person from sinning but actually led them away from Christ teachings of loving and serving everyone.  This dialogue does not take away from the theology that our works are a part of our salvation. 

Ch 3 v 5 – Paul makes a distinction here between two different types of works.  Works of mighty deeds and Works of Law.  Paul has a specific type of work when talking about works of law and says that they do not aid in our salvation.  Nowhere here does he say that there are no works that aid in our salvation or that faith alone is what justifies a person.   

This is also a piece of Scripture that is used to show that St. Peter was not the head of the Church.  But that is not what Paul says.  Just because he got in his face about something does not take away the authority that Peter had.  You could say that it supports his leadership role because Paul was concerned about the example that Peter was giving because he knew that people were following his example and teachings.  There are plenty of examples of people correcting their superiors when they are doing something wrong, a major correcting a general, the chief of staff correcting the President, but that does not take away their authority.         

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