Paul, an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— and all the brothers who are with me,

–Devotion–

Already Paul is blowing the doors off the “normal” way you begin a letter in first-century Greek/Latin style.  You are not supposed to begin dealing with issues.  You are supposed to be kind, cordial, and wait until later in the letter to start dealing with the troubling issues.  Right out of the gate, though, Paul is starting to deal with the issues.  What are the issues and who is involved?

“Paul”  Paul is involved.  This is the guy we know from the Acts of the Apostles from his conversion, acceptance into Apostleship, and work throughout all the Gentile regions. 

an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead”  There was an issue with Paul’s claim of apostleship among these Christians.  I will spill the beans a bit in telling you about one of the major issues Paul was trying to deal with.  “Judahizing” and “Judahizers” are terms used for men among first century Christians who were of Hebrew descent and were actively trying to place old Jewish laws upon the Christians.  I have mentioned before how one of the major laws the Judahizers would try to place back upon the gentile Christians was that of circumcision.  This is one reason why Paul draws so heavily on the term circumcision in his letters–as we will see in this letter.  He will draw on a distinction between the circumcision of the flesh and the circumcision of the soul, spirit, or heart.  These Judahizers were trying to capture these Gentile Christians under the works of the old (small “L”) law, and that doing those laws would make one truly a child of God.  In the process they were also attempting to undo Paul’s position as Apostle.  They were most likely claiming that he was not truly an Apostles because he was not with Jesus from the beginning of his ministry, which was the big qualification for the choosing of Matthias to replace Judas Iscariot the betrayer of our Lord.  Because of their (that is the Judahizers) persuasiveness they were able to make inroads into the Church with these claims reducing Paul’s authority and necessarily elevating themselves to a higher position of authority.  Because of all this Paul makes it clear just how he was made an Apostle (in a way greater than Matthias!) “not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead…”  Paul IS an Apostle!

And, if that were not enough weight behind Paul’s place as Apostleship he throws some more weight behind his position, “and all the brothers who are with me.”  These are not natural brothers of Paul.  These are men like Peter, James, John, Apollos, Silas, Barnabas, and others.  These are men who the Galatian Christians would have known 1) either from personal contact, or 2) because of the transmission of writings throughout the early Church networks.  Whoever Paul means to incorporate into the term “brothers” it is yet another signal of the place and position Paul holds.  If he is brothers with the Apostles and they do not deny Paul’s position among them, how can these Judahizing folks in the Galatian Church argue the opposite effectively? 

Now we know one of the major issues Paul will be dealing with.  Hopefully this helps us read well what Paul is trying to do among the Christians back then.  So that in a similar way the issues that we have might be dealt with by the authority of Jesus and God his Father, through their Apostle Paul, and what must receive praise receives praise from the same God and Apostle. 

Pastor Beltz

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