March 18th, 2003
I think I understand what your point is, but we simply disagree. The premise that you are setting forth is that in ALL cases when the scriptures address individuals, that means individuals ONLY and in ALL cases when the scriptures address the church, that means the church ONLY. For you (in your mind) to accept that Galatians 6:1-10 is speaking to churches would mean that you (in your mind) would have to prevent individuals from doing benevolence. (If that is not correct, let me know). However, the hermeneutic here is flawed. The assumption from which you begin is incorrect. You fail to realize that the church is made up of individual members and as such individuals must always be involved when the church acts corporately whether that is through worship, evangelism, or benevolence and that sometimes individuals can act on the behalf of the church outside the context of the assembly (such as an eldership making a decision for the church or the preacher writing an article for the newspaper on behalf of the church).
To say that Galatians 6:1-10 applies to individuals ONLY is simply not warranted from the text (that was why I went through the text again and emphasized the plural number in my last e-mail). There is absolutely no way to prove that Paul was only addressing Christians on an individual level ONLY. The “proof” that you set forth is really a by-product of the doctrine of saints-only. It goes something like this: “The Bible teaches that the church may give money from the treasury to saints only. Therefore, Galatians 6:10 MUST be talking about individuals and not the church. This must be true or else my doctrine is wrong. It is impossible for my doctrine to be wrong, therefore it must be true that Paul is ONLY addressing individuals.” You assume this to be true because your doctrine demands it, not because the text warrants it. This assumes the very thing that you must prove. And that kind of reasoning is not sufficient to establish truth.
Additionally, to say that the actions in Galatians 6:1-10 were “individual, not corporate” implies that Paul wrote the letter to the churches but did not give the churches any corporate action which they needed to take to correct the problems they faced from the Judaizing teachers. It puts one in the position of affirming that Paul wrote to the churches to correct a problem that was in the church, but that Paul had no expectation of the church to take any corrective action in that regard. Such a position contradicts the purpose for which Paul wrote the letter to the “churches” of Galatia. I would really like to hear your answer to this particular item.
You have got to at least acknowledge that the general thrust of the letter was written to the CHURCHES, not to individuals. As such, when Paul uses the plural number the FIRST thing that we must expect is that he is addressing the church. Addressing individuals would, therefore, be an exception to the general thrust of the epistle and must be PROVEN to be addressed to individuals ONLY. So for your case to stand, you must prove that Galatians 6:1-10 can ONLY be addressed to individuals. It just is not sufficient to say, “I think,” or “It seems to me” or “It appears to be this way;” it must be PROVEN that individuals ONLY were being addressed in Galatians 6:1-10. This is impossible to do given the plural nature of the verbs in that chapter.
My argument from 1 Corinthians 11 is that just as the plurality of the verbs in 1 Corinthians 11 make that corporate action so also the plurality of the verb in Galatians 6:1-10 makes that corporate action. An inspired writer does NOT have to use the word “together” every single time he wants to indicate corporate action. The same elements in 1 Corinthians 11 that make the action there corporate are found in Galatians as well.