I’ll explore two sections today, the next verse and continue with Paul’s view of the gospel. The second Scripture passage that the Westminster Confession uses for Chapter 1, section 6 is 2 Thessalonians 2:2. This adds to the weight of Galatians 1:8-9. I added verse 1 for readability. The passage reads,
1Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, 2not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.
A similar situation occurred in Thessalonica as in Galatia. Some were teaching that Jesus had already returned; that the second coming came and went. Paul refutes this starting with encouragement for the church to be calm. The word of God then continues by striking through forms of communication that should not disturb us. Messages seeming to come through a spirit, spoken word or letters supposedly from the apostles are to be questioned when they say the day of the Lord has already come. Paul continues in verse 3, “Let no one deceive you in any way”. He then proceeds to show how that teaching contradicts what He taught when he was with them (“Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things?”, verse 5).
Weight is here added due to the expanded list of corrupt sources. Spirits, all other teachers or believers, any document, letter, book or the like that is not from an apostle (someone directly commissioned by Jesus Christ) and/or contradicts the teaching of an apostle is to be discarded.
As I thought about the last posting, I wondered if anyone would think that I defined a narrow scope for the gospel Paul speaks of in Galatians 1:8-9. That was not my intention. As we think about the gospel Paul taught (“the one we preached to you”, Galatians 1:8), we realize it must have been broad. As in today’s passage, 1 Thessalonians 2, Paul mentions how he teaches the gospel when he visits and establishes a new church. How could we know what Paul initially taught when founding these churches? We can look to the book of Romans. Paul had not visited Rome before he wrote the letter to the Romans. He was unsure of actually making it to Rome so he could build them up. Instead, he took the precaution to write down his initial, church establishing teaching. The book of the Romans, then, seems to be Paul’s initial presentation of the gospel. Along with this is the presentation He gave when He arrived at Rome, Acts 28:23:
From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets.
Here the Holy Spirit inspires Paul to use the entire Old Testament to convey who Jesus is. In combination with my last post concerning 1 Corinthians 16:22a, it is easy to see that the identity of Jesus is heavily dependent on His preexistence. This allows the inclusion of the Old Testament into what is sufficient Scripture.
As a side note, I want to be clear that the sufficiency of Scripture for salvation does not mean that all parts of Scripture must be known in order to have salvation. Nor does it mean that because Paul used teaching much like Romans and drew heavily from the Old Testament that all of that is necessary for salvation. That would be a works-based salvation, completely contradictory to the Bible. Instead, the Bible is the sufficient source of all knowledge and understanding given by God that mankind may know about salvation. There is no special knowledge or insight needed or given that is not included in the Bible. Sufficiency means “as much as is needed”, not as much as is required. Since Paul used revelation from God to himself personally (which we have in his letters) and from the Old Testament, we know that those are parts that are used by God to grant salvation (Romans 10:17). God may use the hearing of a brief Scripture reading to bring faith to an unbeliever. We are not restricting the work of God by insisting that whatever is sufficient for salvation is also necessary for salvation.
**minor clarification Oct. 26, 2007 at 12:35pm**