Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Notes on Galatians 1:1-5

In these first two chapters Paul makes it clear that his gospel is independent from:

  • Man (1:6-17)
  • The churches of Judea (1:18-24)
  • The pillars in Jerusalem (2:1-10)
  • Peter (2:11-21)

1 Paul, an apostle—

"Apostle" means “delegate, envoy, messenger”, sometimes with extraordinary status (1 Cor. 12:28), sometimes not (Phil. 2:25; 2 Cor. 8:23).

The equivalent of the Hebrew term shaliach. This referred to an agent, representative or ambassador. The Jewish Mishnah says “a man’s shaliach is like himself” (Berakhot 5.5).

not from men nor through man,

Not from = did not originate from men (maybe some claimed he was merely an envoy of the church at Antioch)

Not through = not mediated through someone else (Peter?)

It was unusual to interrupt a greeting like this, especially so abruptly. May suggest Paul was having to counter an alternative way his apostleship was being defined. He does not even introduce himself as an apostle in Thessalonians. Other places:
-called to be an apostle (Rom)
-called by the will of God (1 Cor)
-by the will of God (2 Cor; Eph; Col; 2 Tim)
-servants of Jesus Christ (Phil)
-by command of God (1 Tim)
-a servant and an apostle (Titus)
-a prisoner (Phm)

but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead—

Since this was one of the earliest letters of Paul, illustrates belief in resurrection was foundation from the very beginning.

2 and all the brothers who are with me,

Those with Paul after the first journey.

To the churches of Galatia:

Vey stark address compared to other forms of address (see 1 Cor. 1:2). Sets the tone for the stern nature of the letter.

3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father

In contrast to v. 1, “our” Father. Personalizes the relationship.

and the Lord Jesus Christ,

Also in contrast to v. 1, “Lord.” The basis of the confession (Rom. 10:9-10). This is Paul’s favorite title for Jesus, used almost 230 times in his letters.

Very striking that in the Greek OT this is the word used for the sacred name of God. See Romans 10:9-13, applying Joel 2:32 to Jesus.

“That such assertions could be made of the crucified Nazarene within such a short time remains an astonishing fact” (Dunn p. 34).

4 who gave himself for our sins

Paul mentions the resurrection and the cross right out of the gate. This sets the stage for his later point that the “Jesus event” is the culmination of God’s plan, and that the Law was preparatory, not final.

to deliver us from the present evil age,

Jewish apocalyptic thin in saw history in two ages: the present evil  age, dominated by sin and death; and the age to come, a glorious future of life.

2 Baruch 44:8-128, 9    Because whatever is now is nothing,But that which shall be is very great.For everything that is corruptible shall pass away,And everything that dies shall depart,And all the present time shall be forgotten,Nor shall there be any remembrance of the present time, which is defiled with evils.10 For that which runs now runs unto vanity,And that which prospers shall quickly fall and be humiliated.11 For that which is to be shall be the object of desire,And for that which comes afterwards shall we hope;For it is a time that passes not away,12 And the hour comes which abides for ever.And the new world (comes) which does not turn to corruption those who depart to its blessedness,And has no mercy on those who depart to torment,And leads not to perdition those who live in it.

See 1 Cor. 2:6; 2 Cor. 4:4; Eph. 5:16.

“In earliest Christian understanding, Christ’s death was the key to deliverance from the seductive and corrupting introversion of this age’s self-delusion, since by his death he broke both the power of sin and the power of death. For those who identified with this Jesus as their Lord the spell was broken.” Dunn, p. 36

according to the will of our God and Father,

What is at stake in this dispute is nothing less than the will and purpose of God (Dunn 37).

5 to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

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