Sunday, December 22, 2013

Notes on Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians

Jewish date:  20 Ṭeveth 5774 (evening) (Parashath Wa’era’).

Today’s holidays:  4th Advent (Roman Catholicism), Feast Day of St. Bootsy Collins (Church of the SubGenius), Yule Feast (Heathenism).


I really need to learn to post more often.  Below you will find notes on another four epistles from the New Testament.  Sadly, Paul’s religious thinking has not gotten any better.  (I also feel like I should start looking for Bibleman episodes on YouTube.  I ran across the source of something I remembered from the three Bibleman episodes I have seen in Ephesians, and since Bibleman periodically quoted the New Testament, I could probably squeeze quite a lot of the show.  And for the uninitiated, I am certain the show merits attention; it was popular enough that people made fun of it.)

I also am now very slowly working may way through The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley, a Neopagan retelling of the legend of King Arthur.  In the introduction, Bradley reports that while she wrote fiction, she used a virtual who’s who of major figures in Neopaganism as sources.  So far it really shows in how the fictional setting is structured and how the characters think and behave.




Galatians 1:1-5—Paul greets the Christians of Galatia, claiming Jesus died to save them from their sins according to God.

Galatians 1:6-10—Paul preaches holding by the “accepted” gospel rather than other gospels. (Why any gospel is accepted is not stated.)  Paul emphasizes the principle of trying to win God’s approval rather than human approval.

Galatians 1:11-24—Paul says that he was called by God and notes his conversion on the road to Damascus and subsequent history.

Galatians 2:1-10—Paul emphasizes his belief that he is the apostle to the gentiles, while Peter and company are supposed to be apostles to the Jews.  Paul seems to believe in something of a conspiracy against him.

Galatians 2:11-21—Paul claims to have publicly clashed with Peter, arguing that Peter is a hypocrite and emphasizing justification through faith alone and the death of Jesus.

Galatians 3:1-14—Paul argues for justification by faith by citing various verses from the Hebrew Bible out of context.  He cites Genesis 15:6 as if YHWH justified ’Avraham by faith, completely ignorning all the deeds ’Avraham did.  Some botched form of Genesis 12:3 or 18:18 or 22:18 is taken as a prophecy of justification of non-Jews by faith, even though such justification is mentioned at all.  Paul misquotes Deuteronomy 27:26 as if it says that whoever does not do everything in the Torah is cursed, rather than one who fails to uphold the words of Torah, which actually takes into account human failing, repentance, and forgiveness.  Paul takes Habakkuk 2:4 as if it means that a righteous person is justified by faith, when in means that he/she lives by his belief—and by implication all the behavioral requirements of that belief.  Leviticus 18:5 is misquoted as if it supported justification by faith, when it actually is a strong demand for proper behavior.  Deuteronomy 21:23 is mangled and ripped out to context so it can be treated as if it refers to Jesus, when it actually refers to any executed criminal who is hung on a tree after execution.

Galatians 3:15-25—Paul, while maintaining the involability of covenants (in contradiction with the doctrine of supercessionism), maintains that the promises YHWH gave to ’Avraham (Genesis 13:15 and 24:7) as applicable to Jesus, Jesus being the “seed” spoken of; this is untenable, as Jesus  did not inherit the Land of Yisra’el.  Paul feels free to rant on about his recurring absurd claim that the Torah was given to make people guilty so that they could be saved through faith.

Galatians 3:26-4:7—Paul claims there are no distinctions in Jesus and that through him all become the seed of ’Avraham and heirs of the promises to him—clearly not what the original promises claim.  But Paul does not have much respect for the simple meaning of the Hebrew Bible in the first place.

Galatians 4:8-20—Paul is in anguish that the Galatians are too observant and that they do not fully accept his ways.

Galatians 4:21-31—Paul allegorizes the story of Haghar and Sarah, stripping it completely of its original meaning.  Haghar and her descendarts are made symbols of the covenant of Sinay and labeled as slaves, while Sarah and her descendants are made symbols of the “new covenant” and labeled as free.  Isaiah 54:1 and Genesis 21:10, both misquoted, are cited in an attempt to give the apperance that this allegory has any support.

Galatians 5:1-12—Paul again pushes justification by faith.  He claims that that the circumcized should keep the Torah, but sees this as an inferior path.

Galatians 5:13-26—Paul sums up the Torah with Leviticus 19:18.  (What?  If the Torah demands love and Paul repudiates keeping the Torah, does Paul repudiate love?)  Paul promotes living by the Spirit and contrary to one’s sinful nature.  This suggests that Paul makes a distinction between not violating the Torah and not acting sinfully, strange as that sounds.  Paul may also be thinking in very much emotional rather than rational terms.  Paul promotes love, as if it were something the Torah is against.  (It is not.  He is not particularly logical in this chapter.  He seems more interested in proclaiming how great his new ideology is, honesty be damned.)

Galatians 6:1-10—Paul promotes living by his ideas and the Spirit.

Galatians 6:11-18—Paul believes that those who promote circumcision are trying to avoid being persecuted and so that they can boast.  The idea that Jews may genuinely believe that keeping the Torah and thus circumcision is the correct thing to do escapes Paul completely.


Ephesians 1:1-2—Greetings.

Ephesians 1:3-14—Paul gives a summary of his Jesus-centered theology of salvation and grace.  Notably Paul speaks of the believers as being predestined.

Ephesians 1:15-23—Paul has prayed for the faithful Ephesians.

Ephesians 2:1-10—Paul holds that nonbelievers are “dead” in their sins, while the believers are “alive” in Jesus.

Ephesians 2:11-22—In keeping with his supercessionist theology, Paul holds that non-Jews can become one in Jesus, as if the church were one man.

Ephesians 3:1-13—Paul admits that the “mystery” of Jesus in his posession was not given to anyone before him, and that he is the one to preach to the non-Jews.  I.e., what he is doing is something different from what Christians have been preaching and doing before.  It is no wonder that Paul was in conflict with the Apostles.

Ephesians 3:14-21—Paul prays for the Ephesians.

Ephesians 4:1-16—Paul again pushes the idea of the believers being one in Jesus, along with other onenesses.  He cites Psalms 68:19 in a botched form to implausibly claim support to the idea of grace as apportioned by Jesus.

Ephesians 4:17-5:30 —Paul urges his followers to behave morally.  Despite his general attitude of antinomianism, he does not take it to its logical conclusion.  Believers are said to be “children of light”.  Paul uses a fabricated quote to support his position.

Ephesians 5:21-32—Paul holds that just as Jesus is the head of the church and the believers the body, in a couple the husband is the head and the wife the body.  The wife must submit to the husband, and the husband must love his wife.  This may not be modern equality (or even something really approaching it anywhere people these days would like), but it is not the most extreme sexism either.  Paul cites Genesis 2:24 to support that a man should love his wife (not quite correctly), though he has no support for the inequality. 

Ephesians 6:1-4—Paul exhorts children to obey their parents, citing Deuteronomy 5:15.  He also wants parents to train their children.

Ephesians 6:5-9—Paul commands slaves to obey their masters  like God.  He also commands masters to treat their slaves well.

Ephesians 6:10-20—Paul exhorts his followers to put on metaphorical “armor of God”.  This is given a twist in Bibleman, in which the superhero Bibleman wears literal armor of God.

Ephesians 6:21-24—Paul wraps up his letter.


1:1-11—Paul greets the Philipians, thanks God for them, and prays for them.

1:12-30—Paul strongly identifies with his mission and his longing for Jesus.  He wants the Philipians to be so dedicated, too.

2:1-11—Paul promotes imitation of Jesus, emphasizing humility.

2:12-18—Paul wants his followers to be pure, in contrast with the rest of that generation, which he characterizes as evil.

2:19-30—Paul plans to send to the Philippians two men he considers comendable.

3:1-11—Paul denigrates circumcision and following the Torah in favor of believing in Jesus and seeking to imitate him.  Do note that Jesus according to the Gospels, while heretical, is not antinomian.  Paul’s idea of Jesus, on the other hand, is clearly antinomian.

3:12-21—Paul encourages his followers.  He characterizes his opponents as materialists interested only in their own pleasure and his followers as anything but.

4:1-9—Paul encourages his followers to behave themselves.

4:10-23—Paul thanks God and the Philippians.


1:1-14—Paul gives thanks and prays for the Colossians.

1:15-23—Paul gives a summary of his views of Jesus as extremely important and supreme over every other being—except God.  Jesus is God’s “image” and “firstborn”.  Paul does not seem to hold by trinitarianism.

1:24-2:5—Paul believes he is on a Divine mission to bring the mystery of Jesus to others.  He admits this mystery was previously unknown.

2:6-23—Paul pushes dedication to Jesus.  Paul becomes explicitly antinomian, even denying Divine origin of the rules.

3:1-17—The problem with antinomianism is that if there are no rules, then anything goes—a potential disaster for society.  Paul therefore promotes his own idea of morality, a split between body and soul and an explicit aversion to undesirable emotions.  Contrast with the Torah, which promotes good behavior but does not emphasize emotions.

3:18-4:1—Paul lays out rules for households.  Wives are to be submissive to their husbands, children to their parents, and slaves to their masters.  Note that these relationships are not meant to be one-way.  Husbands are supposed to care for their wives, parents for their children, and masters for their slaves.

4:2-6—Paul asks for prayer and care in conversation.

4:7-18—Paul concludes with greetings to specific people.