Revista Studii Teologice


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"Tὸ εὐαγγέλιον τῆς ἀκροβυστίας. Contribuţia Sfântului Apostol Pavel la dezvol-tarea Bisericii primare, conform primelor două capitole din Epistola către Galateni"

Tὸ εὐαγγέλιον τῆς ἀκροβυστίας. The contribution of the Holy Apostle Paul to the development of early Church, according to the first two chapters in the Epistle to the Galatians

Autor(i): pr. Pavel (Călin-Mirel) ROTARU

The present study is mainly an exegetical one. As announced in the title, the object of exegetical analysis are the first two chapters of the Epistle to Galatians. It is a standard Biblical exegesis of the original text, analyzing it verse by verse and word by word, aiming to evaluate and ascertain as accurately as possible what the author (the holy Apostle Paul) intends to communicate to the Epistle’s addressees (the Christians in Galatia, converted from paganism by the Apostle to the Gentiles) at a certain time (year 54 [or 55] A.D.), under concrete historical circumstances (hereby described).
Secondly, this study can be considered a historical theology one. The mere reading of chapters 1 and 2 in Gal. reveals that much historical information is provided by these two chapters. St. Paul draws up this epistle in an extremely urgent, worrisome context: Judaizers appearing in Galatia. As several fragments (indicated in our study) in the Epistle suggest, Judaizers attempt to convince the newly converted Galatians to accept and comply with the prescriptions of Mosaic Law in general, and circumcision in particular. Implicitly, these agitators accuse the Apostle to the Gentiles of distorting the Gospel by ignoring the requirement to obey the Law. The Holy Apostle Paul answers promptly and firmly, denying their statements and defending his ministry and the Gospel. By so doing, St. Paul provides us with an invaluable historical document, containing first-hand data on some of the key moments in the history of the early Church. We learn about St. Paul’s career as a persecutor and his conversion (in the context of the beginnings of preaching the Christian message to the Gentiles, beyond the ethnical and religious boundaries of Judaism); his visit to Arabia as well as his first visit to Jerusalem (three years later) occasioning his first meeting with St. Peter and St. James; the first Judaizing pressures exerted by conservative Judeo-Christians on the Christians of Gentile origin, asking them to comply with the Mosaic Law; the decision on the matter of circumcision, issued by the Apostolic Council of Jerusalem; the firm assertion of a spiritual and theological communion between the Judeo-Christian community in Jerusalem, and the pagan-Christian communities outside Jerusalem; and, finally, the incident in Antioch where St. Paul had to reprimand St. Peter in order to defend the evangelical freedom of the worshippers of Gentile origin.
Thirdly, the present study may be considered as an ecclesiology one, or a relevant one from the standpoint of ecclesiology. One of the most complex aspects of the study of early Christianity is the emergence of Church out of the matrix of Judaism. Including the Gentiles (τὰ ἔθνη) in Church communion (κοινωνία) was not a simple, clear-cut process, free from any challenges, debates or even conflicts. The missionary work of St. Paul – the Apostle to the Gentiles – was placed at the heart of the matter; understanding it is crucial in understanding the very development of the early Church entailed by the acceptance of the Gospel by other peoples. It is not, however, a regular, „dogmatic” study in ecclesiology. It intentionally confines itself to approaching the social- anthropological aspect of the process by which the Church community transcended the religious and ethnic boundaries of the Israel “according to the flesh.” This perspective allows us to better appreciate the dogmatic truth of the Church’s essential quality of καθολική, by meditating on the historical manifestation of this truth and the difficult fight carried out by St. Paul. This study is essentially an argument for the recognition of St. Paul’s decisive contribution in the development of early Church by opposing the Judaizing trend and defending what, in Gal. 2,7 is called τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τῆς ἀκροβυστίας. Through St. Paul, or as a result of God’s action through him, the Church develops freely and impetuously, as a body accessible to anyone who adheres to the faith in Christ, a body ready to embrace the entire world, the entire mankind, the entire history. And the spiritual logic underlying St. Paul’s theological approach, as shows the meaningful fragment Gal. 2,15-21, is essentially Christocentric. This excerpt, as well as countless instances in the Pauline corpus, evinces what Charles Kingsley Barrett calls “a fundamental drive to the person of Christ”.
Finally, a last aspect to be amphasized concerns the manner of theologizing, or its grounds. In Gal. 1, to establish his own theological perspective, St. Paul resorts to experiencing God, to his own, unmediated encounter with Christ – revealed to him by the Heavenly Father. St. Paul mentions an undoubtedly mystical experience, when he writes: εὐδόκησεν ὁ Θεὸς ἀποκαλύψαι τὸν Υἱὸν αὐτοῦ ἐν ἐμοί. This experience includes the direct divine revelation, or disclosure, underlying Pauline theology. However, this manner of theologizing – grounded in spiritual experience and divine revelation – has not ceased, according to Rev. Prof. Constantin Coman, with the end of the apostolic age; on the contrary it has endured to the present day, in the case of spiritual persons full of the Holy Spirit.

Pagini: 57-90