Small Group Tools
Contemporary Comments 2016
Paul’s Authority and Gospel
Texts: 2 Peter 3:15-16; Galatians 1; Philippians 1:1; Galatians 5:12
July 8, 2017
If your business wants to gain credibility, it’s good to associate a credible name with your organization. For the Space Studies Program at Cork Ireland’s Institute of Technology, the most credible name available is Apollo 11 astronaut Dr. Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin. He was there when Neil Armstrong uttered his immortal lines, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” as he stepped onto the Moon.
Last week Aldrin, 87, planned to come to Cork to launch the space studies program, but he unfortunately had to withdraw at the last minute due to medical concerns. Astronaut Dan Tani replaced him. No one else, though, has the space exploration authority of Buzz Aldrin. The second man to walk on the Moon in an event viewed by some 600 million people across the globe, Dr. Aldrin has a string of notable firsts to his name when it comes to space exploration.
A jet fighter pilot during the Korean War, Aldrin earned the nickname “Dr. Rendezvous” for developing docking and rendezvous techniques still used today in space exploration. He pioneered underwater training techniques for zero-gravity flights to simulate spacewalking and then set the spacewalk record.
According to CIT’s Dr. Niall Smith, who led the pitch to bring the Space Studies Program to Cork, attracting someone with Dr. Aldrin’s status is a considerable coup. “We feel exceptionally honored that Dr. Aldrin agreed to attend this unique event. He was an integral part of the most pioneering space programs of their time, having participated in both the Gemini and Apollo missions,” said Dr. Smith. “He is an ongoing inspiration to us who admire him for his brilliance and personal courage. When the current generation of space scientists speak of standing on the shoulders of giants, Buzz Aldrin is one of those giants.”1
The fledgling Christian church, with a new gospel message to give to the world, needed someone with authoritative credentials to give it credibility. This week’s lesson looks at how God called and established Paul as that authority. His standing as a Pharisee among Pharisees opened doors to reach the Jews as no one else could. His conversion experience, through a face-to-face encounter with the risen Christ, gave him the authoritative credentials to lend credence to the gospel message for all.
Both Jews and Gentiles had to pay attention when Paul spoke. Because of his Damascus road encounter, Paul was every bit an apostle as those who walked the dusty roads of Palestine with Jesus. When Paul tells the Galatians (and us today) that there is no other authoritative gospel message, his God-given apostolic standing gives weight to his words. Even today, when we explore the nuances of the gospel teaching of salvation by faith alone, Paul is the authority we most often cite. We stand on his giant shoulders to give our message credence.