Found Jesus? Been Saved? Here's the Scriptural Reason You Should SHUT THE FLIP UP!| 02/14/2008
Editor’s note: This exegesis of Galatians 1 by Door In-house Exegete Joe Bob Briggs was written in 1999 and is included in his massive upcoming three-volume Commentary on the Third Epistle of John, available in spring 2023 from Zondervan.
The Exegete sallies forth this day to dispute with Deion Sanders and Jeff Foxworthy, our new brethren, "born agains," as they say, freshly birthed in the spirit of showbiz. And The Exegete wants to take these spiritual babes into his arms, cradle them with love, and speak into their ears:
KEEP YOUR DAMN MOUTH SHUT.
Ahem. Excuse me for that momentary lapse of scholarly detachment.
Why is it, we might wonder, that celebrities who have been believers for all of ten minutes become the trumpets of salvation? Or should I say, the paper party horns of salvation? Jeff Foxworthy has actually incorporated the J-Man into his comedy act, or at least the version he does at banquets. Deion has not only organized a Dallas Cowboys Bible study, but he's the star attraction at Reverend T.D. Jakes' "Potter's House," which recently received the million-dollar advance from Deion's book about all the drugs he scarfed and the babes he's boffed.
Excuse me, but whatever happened to—oh, just to name a couple—silence and fasting?
The J-Man waited about 30 years before he opened his mouth. (For you nitpickers, I'm not counting the time he went to the temple and played Trivial Pursuit with the rabbis.) But let's use a better example, the life of that mere mortal Paul. Hence his explanation to the Galatians about how he knows they're screwing up:
"For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it:
"And profited in the Jews' religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.
"But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace,
"To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: ..."
Let me stop you right there, Paul. So his first instinct after he gets zapped on the Damascus Road is, "I can't possibly talk to any human beings about this." Deion, have you gotten to this one in Bible study yet? Okay, continue:
"Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; ..."
Paul doesn't even wanna talk about this with the High Holy Men, and he's a High Holy Man himself from way back.
"... but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus."
Where does he go? He goes into the goldang desert. Who's in the desert? Nobody. We know that he stayed out there in Lawrence of Arabia Land three years, from A.D. 35 to 38, returning to Damascus only two or three times for toilet paper. And Paul, at this point, was a guy who was used to getting the double executive suite at the downtown Marriott. He wasn't the kinda guy who liked to wake up with creepy-crawlies on his nose.
"Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.
"But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother."
So even when he does go up there to see the high sheriffs, he goes as a student. He goes up there to ask Peter what the hayull is happening to him. And, of course, it's gotta be huge news for Peter, who remembers him as the guy who was on the wrong side of the courtroom when Stephen was murdered. Not to mention the two years Paul spent "making a havoc" of the church. This dude was Super-Jew, the believer's worst nightmare, showing up like a beggar in the street, asking if he could sit around and soak up the vibes.
This is probably the moment Peter should have bought some infomercial time on The Jerusalem Network and trotted Paul out for fund-raising purposes, don't you think? You know what he did instead? Sent his butt back to Antioch. Didn't even try to give him a job. Paul kept his mouth totally shut for another seven years.
And then what?
"Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not.
"Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia;
"And was unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea which were in Christ:
"But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed.
"And they glorified God in me."
In other words, Paul visited a bunch of churches and said, basically, "Hey, remember me?" And then he told them his old name, Saul, and they went "Son of a goldang bitch, are you kidding? Is it really you? Don't stone me, okay?" Which is basically the process of "glorifying God in me." You could say, at this point, ten years after his conversion, that Paul has partially opened his mouth. He's opened it just enough to say, "Oh yeah, by the way, I'm the guy who used to kill Christians." Okay, keep going.
"Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also.
"And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain."
Finally Paul feels like he can actually preach. He can actually say what he knows. The sense of the Greek here is that he went again to Jerusalem fourteen years after his first visit to Jerusalem, putting him there in the year 52, meaning that he spent seventeen years getting ready to preach. And he tells us exactly why he did it that way, in the letter he wrote to the Romans:
"For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me ..."
He doesn't dare. He's terrified. He wants to be dang sure that whatever he's saying is not part of Saul, the old Christian-hating lawyer, but Paul, the new guy, the guy who doesn't have any opinions, the guy who's made himself into a direct conduit for whatever The Big Guy is saying. He wants to be sure he's not talking about what belief is supposed to look like, but what it really does look like, in all its strangeness.
There used to be some preacher in Dallas who would say, "There's nothing more powerful than the testimony of a new believer."
Paul begs to differ.
If Deion and Jeff really are "born again," then let's all remember what comes out of the mouth of babies right after they're born. I believe the technical term for it is "puke." Sometimes, if the baby is precocious, the puke is accompanied by unintelligible gurgling noises. It's cute, but let's let Mama take care of it, preferably somewhere out of our eyesight, okay?
The Exegete rests.