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Strolling Through the Book of Galatians December 2, 2012

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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I’ve recently started reading through the Epistle to the Galatians with the aid of a commentary by Martin Luther. I should note that I’ve previously read through Galatians. As in my recent stroll through the book of Colossians, I hope to comprehend Galatians as a whole. In particular, I would like to learn more about Luther himself through reading his commentary; does his alleged obsessive-compulsive disorder influence his commentary?

I plan to blog about this experience as I read through both the epistle and Luther’s commentary. Each post will correspond to a specific section in the NIV translation.

For starters, here are my thoughts on Galatians 1:1-5.

Summary: In this passage, Paul asserts that he was called to be an apostle by Jesus Christ and God the Father – who raised Christ from the dead; he neither called himself to that office nor was called to it by others. The other believers with him can testify to the authenticity of his calling; together they greet the believers in Galatia.

Paul wishes the Galatians 1) forgiveness of sins and 2) a quiet conscience from God and Christ Himself. He notes that Christ has given Himself as a ransom for them due to their wickedness – to deliver them from the kingdom and tyranny of Satan; this stems from the good pleasure of God the Father. Paul concludes with a burst of praise and thanksgiving to God.

Thoughts: We see that Paul – in the first passage of this letter – presents the following arguments:

  • he is a genuine apostle who has been called by God to that office
  • he has already preached the true Gospel to the Galatians.

Luther addresses the latter point in his commentary on verse 1:

Paul is here so inflamed with zeal that he cannot wait until he comes to the matter itself but immediately, in the very title, bursts out and utters what is in his heart. His intention in this letter is to deal with the righteousness that comes by faith and to defend it, and to beat down the law and the righteousness that comes by works. He is full of such thoughts, and this great burning fire of his heart cannot be hidden; it will not let him hold his tongue.

As I have studied Paul’s epistles more carefully, I have gained a greater appreciation for the “zeal” that guided his life. Whether he was persecuting the early church or spreading the Gospel that formed the basis of the early church, he carried out his responsibilities with passion and drive. This zeal can be seen in his letters; for example, here we see that he does not dally with pleasantries: he gets to the point and presents a central theme of the true Gospel in the first verse – the certainty of Jesus’ resurrection. While Paul’s zeal made him a convenient target, it also spurred him to grow the church during a critical phase of its existence.

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