Paul's Personal Affirmations (2:15-21)

This social crisis in the church of Antioch was exactly the same as the crisis faced by the churches in Galatia: Gentiles were being forced to live like Jews in order to be acceptable to Jews. Behind this social crisis, however, a more fundamental theological issue was at stake: Is the truth of the gospel or is the law the basis for determining fellowship between Jewish and Gentile Christians? In this next section of his autobiography, Paul addresses this fundamental issue raised by the social crisis in the church of Antioch and the churches in Galatia. As we work through his theological arguments, we must not forget that he was responding to a social crisis: division in the church along racial lines. His complex theological definitions are aimed toward the practical goal of healing this racial division in the church.

We can follow Paul's affirmations if we observe that he first presents a point of agreement (vv. 15-16), then a point of disagreement (vv. 17-18) and then his own confession of faith (vv. 19-21). Although he expresses all of these affirmations in intensely personal terms, they provide a pattern for all Christians to follow.

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