Note: Here are some more expositional notes from last Sunday's sermon on Galatians 1:18-24 with three gleanings drawn from Galatians 1:22:
In Galatians 1:22 Paul proceeds to note that due to this abrupt departure after a mere 15 days in Jerusalem, limited to interaction with Peter and James, he was “unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea which are in Christ.” The polemical point again: he had no opportunity to have the pure gospel he had received from Christ to be adulterated by the influence of anyone in Judea, because he was not there long enough to know them.
This verse has some significant peripheral teachings. I will point to three:
First, it implies in passing the face to face fellowship that should be enjoyed in churches. Paul did not know the churches “by face” (the KJV provides a good literal rendering of the Greek here). Had Paul not been run out of town he would have expected to have had this kind of intimate fellowship with the brethren. These assemblies were not anonymous gatherings, but the brethren knew each other by face and name and story. This kind of fellowship cannot be created by getting people in the same room in three locations to watch a celebrity preacher on a screen.
Second, we have the plural “churches” again. Paul writes to “churches of Galatia” (1:2). Here he refers to “the churches of Judea.” He can use in the span of a few verses the word “church” to refer to the universal body of Christ (as in v. 13) and the word “churches” to refer to visible local assemblies. The implication: Everyone who is in the church universal ought to be in one of the churches visible. Notice also how Paul thinks of churches in common geographical areas as sharing a kinship. In Acts 15 the church at Antioch will appeal to the church at Jerusalem for counsel on disputed teaching. The implication is that churches ought to have fellowship with sister churches in close geographical proximity to them. In our day, some stress the autonomy and independence of the local church to the exclusion of the Scriptural emphasis upon inter-related churches. American individualism is projected onto the local church, and the Scriptural pattern is ignored.
Third, Paul notes that these churches were “in Christ.” This is one of Paul’s favorite expressions. Churches are in the sphere of Christ. They are enveloped by Christ. They have union with Christ, because they are made up of individuals who are in union with Christ.
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