I have been absent from blogging for the past 5 weeks. On top of being a pastor, I am teaching several courses this fall and simply could not justify any “free time.” Anyway, I caught a break this week because of a break in the course schedule and started reading Tom Schreiner’s new commentary on Galatians in the Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament series. The series has a target audience of pastors with knowledge of Greek as well as teachers and the format reflects that goal. The commentary section is an easy read, yet the footnotes reflect excellent scholarship.
I was reading the introduction to Galatians where Schreiner was addressing the identity of the opponents in Galatians. Schreiner prefaced the various views of these opponents with an introduction that I thought was superb. Though Schreiner is addressing a particular issue regarding the background to the epistle, his words have a benefit to the student of God’s word that should be heeded. His comments demonstrate why good research and scholarship is critical for the believer. He writes,
Many different theories have been proposed regarding the identity of the opponents. Here the various options are surveyed and critiqued. I will argue that the traditional view that the opponents were Judaizers is still the most satisfying. Readers may wonder why it is helpful to consider viewpoints that are ultimately rejected. It is important to see that almost every theory has some evidence in its favor, so even if a particular view is ultimately judged to be incorrect, it helps us sharpen our view as to what the letter teaches about the situation if we consider carefully other theories. Indeed the theory we end up favoring must integrate all of the evidence in a more satisfactory manner than the other solutions that are suggested. We gain greater confidence that the identity of the adversaries is accurate if it stands up against other proposed solutions (39-40). [Italics mine]
This is wise counsel from a careful scholar.