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Posts Tagged ‘Cephas’

Verse 13: “Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?”

The college conference that my alma mater belongs to is the SEC – Southeastern Conference. Each member school is proud of its standing, accomplishments, and strengths. You can hear it especially when any teams from any two of the schools play each other. But come college playoff / post-season bowl time, if a member team is up against a member of another conference (especially one that thinks that they’re better than the SEC), the conference pride comes out, and you might well hear the cheers of “S-E-C! S-E-C! S-E-C!” No matter the intra-conference college rivalries, the conference usually stands together.

That is somewhat a loose analogy as to what should be happening in Corinth. Paul is dismayed to discover that, although the church was founded on Jesus Christ, personality divisions have begun taking over: “I am of Paul…I am of Apollos…I am of Cephas…” and some still would say “I am of Christ”. Paul wanted them ALL to say “I am of Christ”! He is reminding them that Jesus Christ is the One who died for their sins, rose again, and lives that we may live in Him! It was not important how they came to Christ…only that they came to Christ! Or, to put it colloquially, Paul wanted to remind them to keep the main thing, the main thing!

Do you belong to the Savior? The introduction is surely not as important as the conversation.

Something to think about.

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Verse 3: “But not even Titus who was with me, though he was a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised.”
Verse 9: “and recognizing the grace that had been given to me, James and Cephas and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we might go to the Gentiles, and they to the circumcised.”

Today is July 4, Independence Day, in the United States. This is the day we celebrate the birth of the United States of America; over 200 years ago, our forefathers fought against the tyrannical British monarchy to achieve their freedom from England. They wanted to govern themselves, not be subjected to the unfair laws and rule of King George. They wanted freedom from the law of the English empire.

Paul had gone to Jerusalem to meet with the Christian leadership, and he, too, was fighting for freedom: the freedom from the laws that the Judaizers were saying the Gentiles had to abide by, in addition to the grace of Jesus. Titus was Exhibit A in this case; a Greek uncircumcised Christian. Had the Judaizers had their way, they would have stated that Titus couldn’t be a Christian without obeying the law of Moses, including circumcision. Paul defended that it was grace and grace alone in Jesus Christ that was saving. The Christian leadership agreed with Paul; they also offered the “right hand of fellowship” to Barnabas and him to continue in the ministry to the Gentiles. The Judaizers had kept referencing the Jerusalem leadership in their arguments against Paul…now Paul had the endorsement of the Jerusalem Christian leaders that he was in the right…that the grace of Jesus needed no additional “requirements”.

That is what makes the Christian faith different from other religions; you can’t earn or work your way to Heaven. It’s a gift from God, the gift of Jesus. It’s freedom from the penalty of sin.

Happy Independence Day!

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