Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
The Plain Meaning
01/29/2004 - James White
The Gobbler (don't ask, we won't tell) pointed out to me today the ironic words of J. Gresham Machen in his notes on Galatians...ironic because they appear under the subtitle "Plain Meaning" as I recall. Please don't ask me where Machen absorbed these radical Anabaptistic, post-modern, discrete, separated from the space-time continuum propositions, but it is truly tragic, isn't it? :-)
Paul here calls the Judaizers "false brethren," and the meaning of that term is clear. 'Brother' in Paul's epistles means 'fellow-Christian,' and thus a false brother is a man who claims to be a Christian or is thought to be a Christian and yet is not, or does not show himself by his present actions to be a Christian at all. It is not a pleasant term, but the reason why it is not a pleasant term is that the thing that is designated is not a pleasant thing. These Judaizers might have seemed to a superficial observer to be true disciples, but in their heart of hearts, Paul seems to mean, they were Pharisees rather than disciples of Jesus Christ. They were depending on their own works for salvation, and according to the apostle Paul a man cannot possibly do that if he is to be saved. So, Paul calls them false brethren. Unlike the leaders of the modern Church the apostle Paul believed in calling things by their true name. Machen's Notes on Galatians, John Skilton, Editor. p. 106.
I know, I know, I promised, so here is a paragraph from the discussion of 2 Thessalonians 2:15 in the upcoming book:
The burden lies squarely on the shoulders of the one who would insist that Paul communicated to the Thessalonians beliefs and doctrines nowhere found in Scripture. If the Roman Catholic wishes to use this passage, then he must show us how the Thessalonians were taught such things as purgatory, the Papacy, and the Immaculate Conception and Bodily Assumption of Mary, all dogmas without sound exegetical basis in Scripture. Yet it is clearly obvious that these were much later developments, beliefs utterly unknown to the Thessalonians (or anyone else in the Apostolic period for that matter). If a Latter-day Saint wishes to find in such a passage a basis for temple ceremonies and priesthoods and exaltation, the same burden of evidence must be met.