Category Archives: Theology

“He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 10-13)

Scripture reading – 2 Corinthians 10-13

We come to the conclusion of 2 Corinthians and Paul mounts a defense of his ministry and authority as an apostle and minister of Jesus Christ. Today’s devotion will focus on 2 Corinthians 10.

The powerful tone of Paul’s first epistle to Corinth is at issue, and Paul minces no words in asserting a forthright answer to his enemies. We might find it distressing, as well as, disturbing that this great apostle and preacher of the early church would find it necessary to defend his calling and manner of ministry among believers. However, such has been the case with God’s people from the beginning. There is, and has always been, false teachers and fake believers in the midst of the assembly.

Paul answered several slanders against him in 2 Corinthians 10.

There were some who accused him of writing letters that were “weighty and powerful,” but his physical appearance was “weak, and his speech contemptible” (10:10). In other words, his enemies cast dispersions on his small stature, and criticized his preaching for being less than compelling. In Acts 20:9, a man named Eutychus fell asleep when “Paul was long preaching…and was taken up dead.”  (I may have had some fall asleep while I was preaching, but no one has fallen asleep and died!)

Paul’s desire was to be a shepherd with the “meekness and gentleness of Christ” (10:1); however, he assured his adversaries, he was more than capable and willing to address them as bold in person as he had in his letter (10:11).

Nevertheless, the apostle had no interest in comparing himself with others (10:12), and he refused to boast or magnify his accomplishments beyond that with which God had blessed him (10:13). While false teachers faked their credentials, and took credit for the accomplishments of others (10:14-15), Paul’s passion was to preach the Gospel where no man had gone (10:16-17). His overriding desire was to glory, not in himself, but that his life and ministry would be to the glory of God (10:17-18).

There is no calling or office higher than that of serving Jesus Christ. Don’t give in to the temptation of falsifying your resume, faking your accomplishments, and pursuing men’s applause.

Serve the LORD faithfully, and with a passion that one day you may be commended before Him. (10:18).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Don’t Threaten Me with Heaven! (2 Corinthians 5-9)

Scripture reading – 2 Corinthians 5-9

We continue our study of the Second Epistle to Corinth, and Paul reminds us that there is more to life than that which is earthly and temporal. Before we continue today’s Scripture reading (2 Corinthians 5-9), let us take a moment and review the closing verses of 2 Corinthians 4. If not for the chapters that follow, we might have concluded that the spiritual truths contained in the following verses were the great climax of the letter. Paul writes,

2 Corinthians 4:16b–18 – “17b Though our outward man perish [physical body], yet the inward man [the spirit] is renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction [trouble; distress], which is but for a moment [passing], worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory [Paul’s troubles were nothing in light of the eternal reward]; 18 While we look not at the things which are seen [earthly; physical], but at the things which are not seen [eternal; heavenly]: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Writing of the sorrows of life, and the sufferings of ministry, the apostle reminded his readers that everything about this life is temporal, and fleeting; however, there is life beyond this veil of flesh and it is glorious and eternal. Continuing his focus on heaven and eternity, Paul stirs us with the promise that has been the hope of every saint of God for two millenniums.

2 Corinthians 5 – An Eternal Home

2 Corinthians 5:1 – “1  For we know [reason and understand] that if our earthly house [physical dwelling, i.e. body] of thistabernacle [temporal tent or dwelling] were dissolved [lifeless; decayed], we have a building of God [spiritual body], an house [dwelling] not made with hands [immortal body], eternal in the heavens [immortal].

What a wonderful promise! You cannot know when you will die (Hebrews 9:27); however, if you have faith that Jesus Christ as your Redeemer, you can be assured when your body lies still in the grave, your eternal spirit is with God in heaven (5:1). Paul would write, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).

Continuing the theme of his hope of eternal life in Jesus Christ, Paul wrote:

2 Corinthians 5:6-8 – “6 Therefore we are always confident [full of hope and courage], knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent [away] from the Lord: 7  (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) 8  We are confident [full of hope and courage], I say, and willing rather to be absent [away] from the body [preferring to die], and to be present [at home] with the Lord.”

Your physical body is a temporal dwelling on this earth (5:6). Paul, however, was confident in this: When a believer dies, his spirit will be “absent [away] from the body [preferring to die], and…present [at home] with the Lord.”

Your spirit is eternal and will either be forever with the Lord, or separated eternally from Him and sentenced to eternal judgment (Revelation 20:12, 15). Paul, wrote to believers in Rome, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

Friend, in what or in whom have you placed your confidence for eternal life after death? Do you have faith that your sins are forgiven? Is Jesus Christ your Savior and Redeemer? (Romans 3:24)

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

What If There was No Resurrection? (1 Corinthians 15-16)

Scripture reading – 1 Corinthians 15-16

The focus of today’s Scripture reading moves from Spiritual Gifts, their distribution, uses, and abuses in the church (1 Corinthians 12-14), to the central doctrine of Christianity which is, the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Corinthians 15). Paul’s exposition of the Gospel, which is the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ (15:1-4), makes 1 Corinthians 15 one of the greatest and most pivotal chapters in the New Testament.

Consider the heart of the Gospel (15:3-4)

1) “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures” (15:3; Isaiah 53:5-7).

2) “He was buried” (15:4a), thus leaving us no doubt that Jesus was dead, and his body was lifeless when it was removed from the cross.

3) “He rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (15:4b; Psalm 16:10; Matthew 12:40).

Eyewitnesses validated Christ’s resurrection from the dead (15:5-9).

Numbered among the eyewitnesses was “Cephas” (the apostle Peter), and “the twelve” disciples, less the traitor Judas (15:5). Jesus was also “seen of above five hundred brethren at once,” and as Paul penned the letter the majority of those witnesses were still alive (15:6). One named James was a witness of Jesus’ resurrection, and most scholars believe he was the half-brother of Jesus (15:7a), who was the head of the church in Jerusalem (15:13-21). Other witnesses were men identified as apostles (15:7b). The number of apostles is not given; however, there were seventy whom Jesus had sent out in Luke 10:1, 17.

Paul, who had been temporarily blinded by the LORD’s heavenly glory on the road to Damascus, numbered himself among the eyewitnesses of Jesus’ resurrection (Acts 9:1; 2 Corinthians 12:1), writing, “last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time” (15:8).

The fact of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is not only the central doctrine of Christianity, it is also the motivation for boldly, and unapologetically declaring the Gospel of Jesus Christ (15:10-19).

Preaching a Savior who was sacrificed on the Cross, but did not rise from the dead, would be a hollow, lifeless, hopeless message. There is no Gospel, no good news, no hope of salvation, forgiveness of sins, and eternal life if Christ is not raised from the dead. I close with Paul’s assurance,

1 Corinthians 15:20–2220 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits [the first of many who will be raised from the dead] of them that slept [who died in faith, believing]. 21 For since by man [Adam, the first man] came death, by man [Jesus Christ, the Second Adam] came also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

We are the sons and daughters of Adam, and were born with a sinful nature, and under the curse and penalty of sin (15:22a; Romans 6:23a). When we confess our sin, and believe that Christ paid the penalty of our sin by His substitutionary death on the cross, we are promised we “shall all be made alive” (15:22b). To be “made alive,” is to be revived in our spirit (i.e. our inner man), and promised one day our bodies will be raised from the dead to life.

How can this be?

Romans 5:1919 For as by one man’s [Adam’s] disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one [Jesus Christ] shall many be made righteous. [Christ’s righteousness imparted to us by faith]

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

You Are One of a Kind; Embrace the Difference! (1 Corinthians 12-14)

Scripture reading – 1 Corinthians 12-14

Today’s Scripture reading speaks to several important doctrinal issues; however, the overriding subject is Spiritual Gifts.

1 Corinthians 12 draws a portrait of the early church and its diversity. Not only was there a variety of spiritual gifts present (12:4-10), but there was also a multi-cultural membership that included Jews and Gentiles, slaves and free (12:13). Realizing differences can breed the potential of misunderstandings, Paul reminded believers that God has sovereignly “set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him” (12:18) that He might bring unity and oneness.

To enjoy peace and unity, and to function as God intended, it was important for believers to value each other in their place. To illustrate that truth, Paul gave an extended visual using the physical body and its various members (hand and foot, ear and eye). He observed that there is a symbiotic relationship between members, whose function is dramatically different, yet in their place they work in harmony for the furtherance of the body as a whole (12:14-21).

Paul observed, there are “many members, yet but one body. 21 And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. 22 Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble [weak], are necessary (12:20–22).

Lest jealousy or division arise among the people, Paul made the observation that every member, attractive or unattractive, strong or weak, had a place and should be valued for their individual role and function (12:23-24). Each member has a necessary place in the body of Christ, for “God hath tempered the body together” (12:24).

All members of God’s family should have a loving bond with other members, and evidence a sympathetic concern for others (12:25). When “one member suffer[s], all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it” (12:26).

Let’s face it, we are different! We can allow our differences to divide us, or we can choose to love and appreciate one another as individual members of “the body of Christ, and members in particular;” meaning valuing every member for their place and function in God’s perfect plan (12:27).

I close inviting you to consider: Are you functioning as a faithful member in the “body of Christ?”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

The Shameful Failure of the Church to Address Sin (1 Corinthians 5-8)

Scripture reading – 1 Corinthians 5-8

We continue our reading of Paul’s first letter to believers in Corinth. Though our Scripture reading is 1 Corinthians 5-8, today’s devotional will be focused on the introductory verses of 1 Corinthians 5.

Paul had received news of troubles, trials, and sin issues that had arisen in the church of Corinth. He had heard how believers tolerated gross immorality, and he was writing to challenge, exhort, and command believers to condemn sin in their midst.

1 Corinthians 5:1-5

1 Corinthians 5:1 – “It is reported commonly that there is fornication [sexual immorality; adultery] among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife [referring to the sin of incest].”

The latter phrase, “his father’s wife” (5:1), would indicate that the sin was one of incest with the man’s stepmother, and not his mother. Nevertheless, although the heathen of Corinth practiced idol worship and tolerated all manner of sexual perversity in the name of religion, a son lying with his father’s wife was loathed even by Corinthian society.

Rather than shame, the believers in Corinth boasted of their tolerance, being “puffed up” (5:2). Though unable to be present and deal with the wickedness himself (5:3), Paul left no doubt what they were expected to do. With the authority of Christ (5:4), he commanded that the immoral son be “taken away” (5:2, 5), cast out of their midst, and delivered “unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (5:5).

The purpose of the discipline, and the removal of the man from their fellowship was that he would bear the weight of his sin (shame, physical sickness and disease, or death). The spiritual goal was to see the man repent of his sin, before he faced “the day of the Lord Jesus,” meaning the judgment of God (5:5).

The 21st century church is little different from the 1st century church of Corinth when it comes to addressing sexual immorality in its fellowship. Fornication (sexual immorality outside the covenant of marriage), adultery, and divorce are rampant. Pornography, which is the sin of adultery (Matthew 5:28) is epidemic. Sadly, the pulpits of America are themselves wrecked with sexual scandals.

I fear one of the major reasons the church has lost its power and influence (Matthew 5:13-16) in the world is because believers have failed to address sexual sins in the midst. Oh, that all believers would hear and heed Paul’s exhortation:

2 Timothy 2:22 22 Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

No Cause for Fear, When You are In the Center of God’s Will (Acts 18-19)

Scripture reading – Acts 18-19

We find ourselves nearing the end of Paul’s second missionary journey, this time with Silas (15:40), and later Timotheus (16:1; 17:14), as his travel companions. Paul’s ministry in Athens had been a fruitful one, and he had with unapologetic boldness declared to the Jews and Greeks that Jesus Christ was LORD, whom God had raised from the dead (17:31).

Acts 18 – Paul’s Ministry in Corinth

Departing from Athens, Paul traveled alone to the city of Corinth some 40-50 miles west of Athens. Corinth was the capital of Achaia, a Roman province on the Mediterranean Sea, and was renowned for its commerce, culture, scholarship, and its wickedness.

In Corinth, Paul was employed by “a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla” (18:2). This couple had been exiled from Rome by the decree of Claudius, the fifth Roman emperor, who around 49 A.D., commanded that all Jews were “to depart from Rome” (18:2). Providentially, God led Paul to the home of Aquila and Priscilla who were like himself, tentmakers, and there he resided while ministering in Corinth (18:3).

As was Paul’s custom, he began preaching “in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded [convinced] the Jews and the Greeks (most likely Hellenistic Jews)” (18:4). Silas and Timotheus’s arrival in Corinth (18:5) stimulated Paul to boldly and earnestly testify “to the Jews that Jesus was Christ [the Messiah]” (18:5).

The Jews’ strong rejection of the Gospel, and Paul’s rebuke of them is described in the following verse:

Acts 18:66  And when they [the Jews] opposed themselves [resisted; i.e. raised up in opposition to], and blasphemed [railed; reviled; slandered], he shook [to shake violently] his raiment [robe; i.e. indicating exasperation], and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads [i.e. a  disclaimer; Paul was not responsible for their souls]; I am clean: from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles.”

Literally and figuratively shaking his robe (18:6), Paul continued his ministry in the home of a man “named Justus, one that worshipped God, whose house joined hard [bordered on; beside] to the synagogue” (18:7). No doubt Paul’s proximity to the synagogue infuriated his enemies. Adding to the offense was the news that “Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed [commitment of faith] on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized” (18:8).

In spite of the opposition and threats he faced, after the LORD assured him “in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: 10  For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city” (18:9-10), Paul continued “teaching the word of God” among the citizens of Corinth another eighteen months (18:11),

Believer, it is comforting to know that even a man like Paul needed assurance that the LORD was with him.

Lesson – There is no greater place of safety, or comfort, than in the center of God’s will.

Isaiah 41:1010 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Spiritual Virtues: Faith, Love, and Hope (1 Thessalonians; 2 Thessalonians)

Scripture reading – 1 Thessalonians; 2 Thessalonians

We continue our chronological reading schedule today originating from two epistles authored by the apostle Paul to believers in Thessalonica. For perspective, I invite you to recall our study in Acts 17. Paul had arrived in Thessalonica, the capital city of ancient Macedonia, and for three Sabbaths he boldly preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the synagogue of that city, “alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead” (Acts 17:3), and that according to the Scriptures (Isaiah 53).

Some in Thessalonica had believed, including a great number of Gentiles: “The devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few” (Acts 17:4). The success of Paul’s ministry in that city had provoked unbelieving Jews to envy, and they stirred up a mob against them, forcing Paul and Silas to flee the city (17:10).

With that introduction, we come to today’s Scripture readings, 1 Thessalonians; 2 Thessalonians.

As you read the epistles, notice what I believe is “a shepherd’s heart,” and longing for the saints of God. For instance, consider the salutations in both letters, and notice how they effuse a pastor’s sincere love and longing.

Paul writes in his first epistle, “1bGrace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers” (1 Thessalonians 1:1b–2).

Paul beings his second epistle with a greeting that is similar to the first epistle: “Grace unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. We are bound to thank God always for you” (2 Thessalonians 1:2–3).

Notice the themes: Grace, God’s loving favor that He gives and cannot be merited, and Peace, like grace, a gift that comes from God, through Jesus Christ. Such peace and harmony come from the believer’s security in God’s love (John 14:27; Romans 5:1; Colossians 1:20).

Having greeted the saints with a longing and desire that they would rest in the blessings of God’s grace and peace, Paul erupted into prayers of thanksgiving! Paul wrote, “We give thanks to God always for you all” (1 Thessalonians 1:2). In his second epistle he wrote, “We are bound to thank God always for you” (2 Thessalonians 1:2-3).

When Paul remembered the saints of Thessalonica, his fond remembrances stirred his heart to rejoice and give thanks to the LORD. Those believers were not without their faults; however, they manifested three spiritual virtues that should inspire all believers: Faith, Love, and Hope (1 Thessalonians 1:3). Paul writes,

1 Thessalonians 1:3 – “Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father.”

Their faith was more than a profession, it was a working faith (1 Thessalonians 1:3a). Believers in Thessalonica demonstrated their faith by their works (James 2:18-22, 26).

The second virtue was their “labor of love” (1 Thessalonians 1:3b). Love is an enduring motivation for ministering to others (Galatians 6:10; 1 Peter 1:22), and a sincere love for God will be demonstrated in a readiness to love and serve others (2 Corinthians 5:14-15; Hebrews 10:24).

Patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 1:3c) was the third virtue of believers in Thessalonica. Literally, a longsuffering, enduring, steadfast hope in Christ.

What motivates a believer to work, labor, and not lose hope? The promise of Christ’s coming!

Titus 2:13b – “…Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Hello, Athens! (Acts 17)

Scripture reading – Acts 17

Today’s Scripture reading follows Paul’s ministry in Philippi, and what some might describe as a “hullabaloo” (i.e. uproar, tumult, clamor) that was created after he and Silas were falsely accused of teaching “customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans” (16:21). Those men were thereafter beaten and jailed (16:22-24). The next day they were set free and departed from Philippi (16:39-40), traveling “through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica” (17:1).

Acts 17 – Paul and Silas’ ministry in three prominent cities of the first century: Thessalonica (17:1-13), Berea (17:10-14), and Athens (17:15-34).

Notice that it was Paul’s custom to go into a city, and on the Sabbath enter into a synagogue, and boldly declare Jesus as the Messiah (i.e. the Anointed One) and Savior (17:1-3). Time and space prevent me from an in-depth study of Paul’s ministry in those cities; however, I trust my amplification of some key verses will be a blessing.

The city of Thessalonica (Acts 17:1-13)

Acts 17:1-3Now when they [Paul and Silas] had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: 2 And Paul, as his manner was [i.e. as was his custom or habit], went in unto them [the Jews in the synagogue at Thessalonica], and three sabbath days reasoned [disputed; preached; conversed] with them out of  [from] the scriptures [i.e. The Old Testament Scriptures], 3  Opening [explaining; setting forth] and alleging [setting forth], that Christ must needs [ought; should] have suffered [experienced pain], and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach [declare; proclaim] unto you, is Christ [the Messiah].

The response of some was to believe; however, the response of many was to reject Jesus Christ and oppose witnesses.

Acts 17:5-7But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy [jealous over Paul’s success], took unto them certain lewd [evil; wicked] fellows of the baser sort [vulgar; good for nothing], and gathered a company [crowd], and set all the city on an uproar [tumult; disturbance], and assaulted [rushing at] the house of Jason [a man who was a Christian], and sought to bring them [Paul and Silas] out to the people [for the purpose of publicly accusing and attacking]. 6 And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned [made an uproar] the world upside down [made an uproar] are come hither also; 7Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary [oppose; against] to the decrees [laws; ordinances] of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus.

The city of Berea (Acts 17:10-14)

Acts 17:11 – These [the people of Berea] were more noble [i.e. noble minded] than those in Thessalonica, in that they received [accepted] the word with all readiness of mind [eagerly; joyfully], and searched [examined; investigated] the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

The city of Athens (Acts 17:15-34)

Known for both its scholarship and idolatry, Paul journeyed to Athens and seeing the idols of that ancient city in every place, he boldly declared Jesus Christ in both the synagogue and public places.

Acts 17:16-17 Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit [soul; inward man] was stirred [provoked] in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry [i.e. was full of idols]. 17  Therefore disputed he [reasoned; preached; teach public twin ] in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons [religious; reverent], and in the market [i.e. The town square; public thoroughfare] daily with them that met with him [that he chance to meet].

Acts 17:20-22For thou bringest certain strange things [surprising; shocking] to our ears: we would know [understand; desire to know] therefore what these things mean. 21  (For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.) 22 Then Paul stood [standing] in the midst [center; lit. he seized the opportunity] of Mars’ hill [a hill in Athens; a meeting  place], and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things [everything] ye are too superstitious [religious ;i.e. fearing the gods of idols ].

Acts 17:29-31Forasmuch then as we are the offspring [family; people] of God, we ought not to think [suppose; regard] that the Godhead is like [similar; i.e. the nature of God] unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven [scratch; etched; sculpted] by art and man’s device [thought or imagination].30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at [overlooked;  do not punish]; but now commandeth [ declares] all men every where to repent [change of mind accompanied by sorrow]: 31  Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge [condemn] the worldin righteousness [justice] by that man whom he hath ordained [i.e. Jesus Christ]; whereof he [God] hath given assurance unto all men, in that he [God] hath raised him [Jesus Christ] from the dead.

We might imagine the shock to the pride and feelings of those men of Athens who, in the words of the Scripture, did nothing more than want to “tell, or to hear some new thing” (17:21). Here was a man who boldly declared what they knew in their hearts, that the God of creation and heaven (17:29a) is nothing like the idols they had sculpted with their own hands and imaginations (17:29b). Paul warned, God would no longer overlook their willful ignorance, and was commanding “all men every where to repent” (17:30).

Like in our own day, many mocked and rejected the Gospel (17:32a), some desired to hear more (17:32b), and there were some who believed (17:34).

What about you? What do you believe? Is your heart ready for God’s judgment? (2 Corinthians 5:10)

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Time for a Spiritual Self-Portrait (Galatians 4-6)

Scripture reading – Galatians 4-6

Today’s Scripture reading completes our study of Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians. Our devotional commentary will focus on Galatians 5:19-25.

Paul challenged believers in Galatia to “Stand Fast…in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free” (5:1).

There were many things that might have shaken the faith of first century believers living in the Roman province of Galatia. There was the ever-present threat of persecution, the rejection of family and friends, and the ever-present pressures and influence of living in the midst of a sinful, pagan culture. Understanding the cultural temptations that surrounded them, Paul’s letter urged believers to “Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (5:16). What is the “lust of the flesh” that the Spirit will enable a believer to overcome?

The “lust of the flesh” is manifested in what Paul defined as “the works of the flesh” (5:19-21).

1) Galatians 5:19bSexual immorality (“adultery, fornication”) and moral debauchery (“uncleanness, lasciviousness”)

2) Galatians 5:20aReligious sins (“idolatry, witchcraft”)

3) Galatians 5:20b-21aRelationship sins (“hatred [hostility], variance [contentious], emulations [envy; jealousy], wrath, strife, seditions [divisions], heresies [departure from the Truth], 21 Envyings”)

4) Galatians 5:21Moral corruption (“murders, drunkenness, revellings [drunkenness; sinful indulgence]”)

Did you notice the sins of first century Galatia are the sins of our 21st century world?

The heart of man has not changed, and the nature of sin is passed from generation to generation, from father and mother, to the son and daughter. Though “the works of the flesh” are characteristic of our fallen world and society, they have no place in a believer’s life. Paul warned, “of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (5:21b).

After admonishing believers concerning the “works of the flesh,” Paul turned his focus to a brief exposition of the spiritual graces that the Holy Spirit should manifest in the life of a believer when he is fully-yielded to the work and leading of the Spirit of God.

The Spirit-Filled Life (Galatians 5:22-23)

Notice that the Holy Spirit will produce a spiritual transformation in a believer’s life (5:22-23).

Galatians 5:22-23But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy [gladness of heart], peace [tranquility], longsuffering[patient; restrains from vengeance], gentleness [kindness, without harshness], goodness [good deeds toward others], faith[conviction], 23Meekness [not soon angry; humility], temperance [self-control]: against such there is no law.

When a man is genuinely saved, and the Holy Spirit is present, there will be “fruit of the Spirit.” The degree of fruit produced, and evidenced in a believer’s life, will be dependent on their walk with the LORD, and obedience to His Word.

Realizing that the “works of the flesh” have no place in a believer’s life, there should be a transformation that is noticeably evident:

Where there was hatred, there is love. Where there was wrath, there is joy. Where there were divisions, there is peace. Where there was wrath, there is patience. Where there was contentiousness, there is gentleness. Where there was envy, there is goodness. Where there was heresy, there is faith. Where there was murder and hate, there is meekness. Where there was drunkenness and self-indulgence, there is self-control.

How can this be? How might a believer get victory over the “works of the flesh,” and his life and spirit evidence the “fruit of the Spirit?” Paul’s answer:

Galatians 5:24–2524 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

Friend, I encourage you to take a few minutes and do an honest, self-evaluation of your life and spirit. Is the “fruit of the Spirit” apparent in your life?

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Troubles in Galatia (Galatians 1-3)

Scripture reading – Galatians 1-3

Our chronological reading of the Scriptures brings us to Paul’s epistle to believers living in Galatia (modern Turkey). Galatia, lying due north of the isle of Cyprus, was a Roman province in the 1st century. The Greeks referred to the people of the region as “Gauls” (a name derived from the Latin word, “Gallia”), and they are believed to have been Celtic, a Germanic tribe of western Europe. Major cities of the southern region of Galatia included Antioch of Pisidian, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe.

What was Paul’s purpose in penning this epistle to Galatia?

The content of the letter reveals that false teachers had infiltrated the churches in Galatia, and were calling into question Paul’s credibility and authority as an apostle, and were also undermining the doctrine of grace that was central to the Gospel.

Paul had two objectives in writing the epistle: The first was a defense of his apostleship; The second, a defense and declaration of the Gospel of Grace through Jesus Christ.

Leaving no doubt as to his purpose in writing to Galatian believers, Paul commenced the letter introducing himself as its author, and boldly declaring his apostleship was “not of men, neither by man” (1:1b). In other words, he declared that he did not look to a council of men, nor an ecclesiastical authority. Paul proclaimed that his commission as an apostle was from God, writing: “by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised [having raised] him [Jesus Christ] from the dead;)” (1:1c).

Four Qualifications of an Apostle

The Scriptures reveal that a man had to meet four qualification to be an apostle. The first, he had to have seen the LORD after His resurrection (Acts 1:22; 9:3-5; 22:6-8; 1 Cor. 9:1). Secondly, he had to have received His calling from Christ Himself (Luke 6:13; Acts 9:6; 22:10; Galatians 1:1). The third qualification was that his teaching had to be divinely inspired (John 14:26; 16:13; Acts 9:15; 22:14; 1 Thess. 2:13). Finally, he must evidence the power to perform miracles as a sign of his apostleship (Mark 16:20; Acts 2:43; 14:8-10; 16:18; 10:10-12; 1 Cor. 12:8-11).

Paul met all four of the requisites of a man divinely appointed as an apostle. Not only had he been commissioned “by Jesus Christ” (1:1b), he was called by “God the Father, who raised Him [Jesus Christ] from the dead” (1:1c). He also had the witness of “all the brethren” (1:2), which were traveling with him. Though not named, it is certain the believers in Galatia were aware of those men who labored with Paul.

The Recipients of the Epistle – “unto the churches [assemblies or congregations] of Galatia” (1:2b). The epistle has a general address to the believers of “the churches of Galatia,” and the letter would have been read publicly, and shared with each of their assemblies.

I have merely introduced Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians; however, it is good to note not only who is writing, but also why. Most importantly, however, is to remember that all Scripture is divinely inspired., literally God-breathed.

2 Timothy 3:1616 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith