Who Says?

The Apostle Paul, by Rembrandt
The Apostle Paul, by Rembrandt

Daily Reform, Day 81

Galatians 2:7-8 & Titus 2:11-15

From the Reformer

Here the Apostle claims for himself the same authority which the false apostles attributed to the true apostles. Paul simply inverts their argument. “to bolster their evil cause,” says he, “the false apostles quote the authority of the great apostles against me. I can quote the same authority against them, for the apostles are on my side. They gave me the right hand of fellowship. They approved my ministry. O my Galatians, do not believe the counterfeit apostles!”

—Martin Luther, Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians

Pulling It Together

Paul did not immediately remind those who would be swayed by his detractors that the other apostles had affirmed his apostolic ministry. His first claim of authority was that God revealed the gospel directly to him. (Gal 1:11-12) It did not matter if no one believed him or supported him; Jesus revealed and called and that was paramount. This is his foundational claim to preaching authoritatively: God says so. If someone was accosted today for preaching the gospel of grace, he might respond with credentials. My denomination granted me this license to preach. This would be secondary authorization at best. If someone’s teaching were reproached, she might reply that she learned it in seminary. This too, is a secondary authority. At best.

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people.” (Titus 2:11) This must be taught: salvation comes by the grace of God alone, and never as a result of one’s works. (Is 64:6) We must “declare these things.” (Titus 2:15) We must declare the salvation by grace with “all authority” and “let no one disregard” us, for our calling and our authority come from God. There will always be those who question the teaching of salvation by grace, demanding, “Who says?” The first answer must always be clear: God says so. No other authority is sufficient.

© Mark E. Ryman, Daily Reform: Devotions with the Reformers

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