Before beginning the commentary on the book of Galatians, let me emphasize the importance of the “Reference Framework.” Those who have the privilege of teaching about any book of the Holy Scriptures, have at the same time the responsibility of conforming to the “Reference Framework” of the indicated book. In this case, we will talk about the book of Galatians. This “Reference Framework” must necessarily include:
- The Historical Context, 2. The Social Context, 3. The Biblical-Theological Context that is very important, and 4. The Study of Philology (which is the science that studies a culture, as manifested in their language and literature). It is important to know the meaning of the words in their original language. The study of the Bible requires a basic knowledge of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. We recognize the admirable work done by Bible translators, but it is necessary to understand that the meaning of a word in the source language does not always find an equivalent or similar word in the receiving language. There are times when a term in the original language does not exist in the language to which it is to be translated. Those who teach the Bible should be aware of these difficulties and explain the meaning of the word in its original language.
What we know as Systematic Benevolence, is a term that identify the Seventh-day Adventist financial system, and is used to support the adventist pastoral ministry. This plan which was adopted by the Battle Creek church in January 1859, consisted of supporting the church with weekly offerings, following Paul’s instructions:
‘On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come’ 1 Corinthians 16:2.
The concept of stewardship began at Eden where God defined responsibility for the human being with the word radah Gn. 1:26-30. This word, translated as dominion, means to take care of, to direct, to manage. In the New Testament the Greek word oikonomía, describes the responsibility assigned some to direct, manage or be in charge of the house of his master.
Israel’s system of tithes and offerings designed by God included three components: 1.The first tithe was going to the maintenance of the Levites and was administered by the Levites, 2.The second tithe that was intended to support the annual feasts and personal charity, was administered by the Hebrew family, and 3. The offerings were part of the worship and support of the operation of the sanctuary.
I began my journey with the stewardship ministries in 1969, and I have worked thirty-seven year full time in this ministry. During all these years, I have heard different concepts of stewardship, that were changing through the years. The interest in finding the original meaning of stewardship, it lead me to investigate the Scriptures in both, the Old and the New Testament. Meanwhile the books of the Old Testament (OT) were written in ancient Hebrew, the books of the New Testament (NT), were written in Greek.