Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Galatians Journal: Chapter 5, Verse 9

Galatians 5:9 "A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough."

While most other bible translations don’t do this, the NIV places this verse in quotation marks, emphasizing that the phrase is a proverb, a universal saying of sorts, kind of like “a stitch in time saves nine” and such. “Yeast” represents evil when used in the Bible as a metaphor, especially with regard to teaching or theological deception. Exodus 12:15 requires that yeast must be removed from a Jewish household prior to Passover – a rite of purification and cleansing from sin. In Matthew 16: 5-12, Jesus explains at length to his disciples about guarding “against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” (Matthew 16: 6, 11). This section directly connects the “yeast” with the false teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. (Matthew 6:12). In Luke 12:1, Jesus gives a similar caution, but himself identifies the issue with the “yeast of the Pharisees” as the sin of hypocrisy. In I Corinthians 5:6-8, Paul uses the same proverb as here in Galatians 5:9, but elaborates, making the connection to Exodus and the Passover – the need for cleansing and the celebration of redemption in the Passover now realized in its fullness in the person of Jesus. But in the I Corinthians passage, the “yeast” is connected with church members openly practicing sexual immorality, as well as dissension, malice, and other forms of wickedness.

The obvious truth of this proverb makes its meaning plain. Just a pinch of yeast is enough to affect the whole lump of dough. Yeast is itself is a living organism, and affects the bread, or rather, INFECTS it. It’s like a virus to the human body. Only a slight inclination to error or a few people teaching a false doctrine is enough. These seemingly small influences can and will pervert the entire conception of faith in an individual, or mislead an entire congregation.

While some theological points may be as important, this one is foundational. Requiring adherence to a standard of conduct or especially an outward ritual to be “saved” or acceptable to the church community perverts and negates the sacrifice of Christ. Wrapping that concept up in a package of racial or ethnic custom is no different. Think of it this way – a person or group that has right-on, orthodox theology but can’t accept someone because of a racial or cultural issue is like a pure glass of water with an eye-dropper full of sewage added. Would you drink it? Is that acceptable?

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