Saturday 25 January 2014

Bible Book:

“The one who formerly was persecuting us is now proclaiming the faith he once tried to destroy.” (v. 23)

Galatians 1:11-24 Saturday 25 January 2014


Today is both the last day of the Octave of Prayer for ChristianUnity and the day on which many Christians thank God for the call(or conversion) of the apostle Paul. The reading from Galatians isone of the accounts of that call. Others can be found in chapters9, 22, and 26of the Acts of the Apostles and it is well worth reading all ofthem and noting the different ways the story is told.

The reason Paul tells the Galatians of his call is that he needsto establish his credentials with them. He needs to do this becausehe is shocked and disappointed at what they are doing. This is madevery clear by the lack of any expression of thanksgiving for theGalatians after the opening greeting in 1:1-5. Instead, the apostle immediatelyprotests: "I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting theone who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning toanother gospel …" (Galatians 1:6). Later in the letter he callsthem, "You foolish Galatians!" (Galatians 3:1). It is not until Galatians 5:2 thatPaul spells out the issue at stake but, in brief, it is this: whengentile (non Jewish) men become Christians, do they need to becircumcised and accept all that that means.

How, then, does Paul establish his credentials? He begins theletter by saying that he is an apostle "sent neither by humancommission nor from human authorities, but through Jesus Christ andGod the Father, who raised him from the dead" (Galatians 1:1). The account of his calldevelops that claim, beginning: "I want you to know, brothers andsisters, that the gospel that was proclaimed by me is not of humanorigin; for I did not receive it from a human source, nor was Itaught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ"(verses 11-12). He also makes it clear that he was very zealous forthe traditions of his ancestors (verse 14).

Paul's account of his call is brief and leaves out a lot ofinformation you might like to know; what, for example, was he doingand what happened to him during the three years he mentions inverse 18? But the conclusion, however, is clear: "The one whoformerly was persecuting us is now proclaiming the faith he oncetried to destroy".

To Ponder

  • What do you look for when someone is trying to establish theircredentials with you or a group to which you belong?
  • What is the story of your journey of faith?
  • If you read the other accounts of the call of Paul, what do youmake of the differences between them? Is it appropriate to tell astory in different ways to different groups of people? If so, why?If not, why not?
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