Monday, January 6, 2014

Galatians 1:1-2a By whose authority?

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. . . (Galatians 1:1-2a)

Paul usually began his letters with a descriptor of himself. He either referred to himself as a servant of Jesus Christ, or, as he does here in Galatians, as an apostle. Jon Courson points out that Paul used the word “apostle” when there was a need to defend his authority or assert his authority to do some correcting, or, as in his letters to Timothy, to bolster Timothy’s awareness of his own authority. Certainly it was not to boast.

There were religionists in Galatia who were undermining Paul’s teaching, as they were bringing into question Paul’s understanding and authority. Courson defines “religionists” as those who teach the “three R’s of religion”: rules, regulations, and rituals. (Jon Courson’s Application Commentary: New Testament, P. 1161) These had added something more to the gospel. They were insisting that belief in Jesus was not enough.

So, in this letter to the Galatians, Paul felt compelled to let them know from the outset that he was indeed called to be an apostle, not by any man or religious body, but by Jesus Christ Himself. And where did Jesus get His authority? It was given by the Father and confirmed by His resurrection.

In fact, in Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus claimed, “all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” That is some outrageous claim! It is either the ravings of a lunatic, the fraudulent claim of a charlatan, or the truth. The proof of His claim was in the resurrection. And Paul claimed that Jesus was the one who called Paul to be an apostle. We will see that Paul continued his argument in subsequent verses, but we know by the fact that Paul authored most of the New Testament, that his authority as an apostle was certainly accepted by the Church. He was a champion of the gospel of grace. And that will be the next topic! Stay tuned! I’m hoping we will catch what is so AMAZING about this amazing grace!  

No comments:

Post a Comment