Monday 20 June 2016

Bible Book:

“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (v. 3)

Galatians 1:1-5 Monday 20 June 2016

Psalm: Psalm106:1-8


Beginnings are important. In these fewopening verses, we learn not only the identity of the writer butalso his claim to write with authority and some key hints as to theletter's contents. The author is, undoubtedly, the Apostle Paul andthis letter would become one of his most important texts. Arguably,it is second only to Romans in terms of the impact it has had onsubsequent Christian theology. (It was apparently Martin Luther'sfavourite book of the Bible.)

There is much about the letter that isuncertain. We believe it was written between AD49 and 58 and mostprobably around the mid-50s, but cannot be more exact than that.The people to whom Paul was writing definitely lived somewhere inthe Roman province of Galatia. This roughly covered the centralband of modern-day Turkey, around the present capital Ankara, andran from the Black Sea in the north down almost to theMediterranean in the south. However, the exact boundaries of theprovince varied considerably over time and, despite extensivescholarly debate, it is not clear in exactly which towns wereincluded. What is apparent, though, is that the Galatians wererelatively new Christians and almost certainly members of churchesthat Paul had established on previous missionary journeys (Acts16:6; 18:23).

As the letter progresses, we learn thatthe recipients had apparently been led astray by preachers teachingfalse doctrines soon after Paul had left them. The exact nature ofthis false teaching will only emerge gradually in subsequent versesbut it clearly upset Paul deeply. He begins by establishing hisauthority to speak as an "apostle" (v. 1) - in the simplest terms,an envoy or messenger. He insists that he has been given this powernot by any "human authorities" but by Jesus Christ himself - the same Jesus Christ who was raised from the dead by God on EasterSunday. It is upon this divine authority - not his ownpersuasiveness or charisma - that Paul will base all of hissubsequent appeal to the churches in Galatia.

To Ponder

  • How would you respond to a preacher claiming to speak withapostolic authority?
  • The term 'apostle' is still used in some parts of the worldchurch. Should we actively be seeking new apostles in our ownchurch today? 
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