Full Text for Galatians- Volume 13 - What would you say is unique about the first part of the Galatians? (Video)

No. 13. >> I've read that the opening of Paul's letter to the Galatians is different from every other epistle. In what ways is this true? And what would you say is unique about the first part of the Galatians? >>DR. ARTHUR A. JUST, JR.: If the letter to the Galatians is Paul's first letter, then it's very difficult to compare it to anything that comes before it but if you look at almost all the other letters of Paul, there is a long introduction in which Paul speaks very clearly of his affection and his love for the congregation he is addressing. Now, we're going to see that the Galatians are a people who Paul has a deep affection for. But because of the problem in Galatia, Paul is very upset when he writes this letter. There are a number of things that you can tell right from the beginning that are of great importance to Paul. First of all, Paul needs to establish that he is an apostle. That is why he begins the letter the way he does. Paul, apostle. Now, Paul doesn't do this really in most of his letters. But here he wants to make it clear that he is an apostle from God. Now, why does he have to do that? Well, I think you're going to see as we study the letter to the Galatians that we're going to have to read between the lines a little bit. And I think the fact that he begins this way indicates that his apostleship is being questioned. Now, if you look at the way he begins right after saying Paul, apostle, he shows that his apostleship is from God. Just like he's going to show in the next passage that the Gospel that he received is not from men but from God. He says: Paul, apostle, not from men plural nor by means of a man. Now, this is very important. Paul's apostleship does not come from a human orb. It comes from God himself. And the men he's referring to there is the church in Antioch. He did not get his apostleship from the church in Antioch. Nor did he receive it from a man, namely Peter, or any of the apostles in Jerusalem. But his apostleship as he says comes by Jesus Christ and God the Father. Now, by saying "by," it says it originates from Jesus and God the Father. And we're going to see in his opening section here that he talks a lot about his Father, the one who raised him from the dead. Paul's apostleship comes from God. And in no other letter does he have to establish right off the bat that he is speaking on behalf of God. He also greets them from those who are with him. This indicates that there are people who are that he's not an apostle. And that it's not just Paul alone that claims he is an apostle. But there are others who are with him that claim that he, too, is an apostle from God. And then he addresses the churches of Galatia. Notice it's churches. Not just one church. But many churches. And here in some ways is what is most unique about Paul's epistle to the Galatians in terms of its opening. And that is that Paul places his letter in the context of a liturgical worship service. His language here is liturgical. He sees himself apostle. Not from men nor by a man. As repreaching the Gospel to the Galatians by means of this letter. Now, here it's important to recognize that this letter is being carried by one of his faithful followers, what we would call in the Old Testament, a ***shalia, one who speaks for Paul. And Paul greets them with liturgical language: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Grace and peace. That greeting is used in all of Paul's letters. In the Thessalonian correspondence, he says grace, mercy and peace. But these are common words in all of Paul's epistles, but in no other epistle does he say that Jesus Christ is the one who has given himself up on behalf of our sins. This is a profound statement of the atonement. That Jesus is the one who has given himself on our behalf. Notice sins. Here you can see that what Jesus does is he gives out his life for the sins of the world. This is an important statement. It sounds very much like what Luke says in his record of the words of institution where it says that Jesus' body is broken on behalf of you, his blood is poured out on behalf of you. Here it's on behalf of sins, given and shed for the forgiveness of sins. Now, why is that? Why is Jesus the one who has given himself on behalf of our sins? So that he might rescue us out of this present evil age. Again, a very unique statement here in Galatians about the Gospel. Notice the language of rescue. That he's snatching us out of this present evil age. Here you can see the ages are coming in play. Here you see that Paul sees that there are ages that are in conflict with one another. The age before the cross. The age after the cross. But both of them ages in which we live in a fallen world. Jesus is the one who has come to snatch us out of that. Why does he do it? Because of the will of God and our Father. Notice the reference to Father again. This is the Father's will, that the Son be sent in order to give himself on behalf of sins so that he might rescue us, snatch us out of this age of sin. Paul began by saying: Grace and peace. These are words we know very well. But what does Paul mean by them? I would like you to think of grace, which of course also means gift. But I would like you to think of grace as a space in which God in Christ is making right what has gone wrong. Think about that. Grace as a space. Because Paul starts this letter with liturgical language, he recognizes that what his letter is really a sermon. It's a homily. And he's preaching it in the context in which people are gathered around Word and sacrament, where Jesus Christ the holy one is present bodily with his gifts of forgiveness, life and salvation as Luther says in the preaching of the Word and the administration of the sacraments. That space where Christ dwells that grace space. A space in which he is present with his gifts. And what he brings is peace. Where there is grace, there is peace. Peace is what Jesus first says after the resurrection: Peace be with you. When he sends the 72 out, he sends them out with a greeting of peace. Peace means wholeness, health, wellness, what we would call relational integrity between God and men, reconciliation. And again if you look at the worship of the church since the time of the apostles, the central theme is the theme of peace. That between God and man there is peace in Jesus Christ. This is the greeting of Paul, that there is a space now where there are gifts given. And the gifts that are given give peace. And that's why he closes with this doxological ending: To whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. Now, when he began this sermon, namely the ***shalia, the messenger of Paul who is bringing Paul's letter, I think we're going to have to picture that in this congregation are all kinds of different people. And because this is the beginning. And because he gives this liturgical greeting in the context of a worship service, which is the way in which we begin our sermons today, I would imagine that the congregation as it would at that time would all say: Amen; Amen. Meaning yes, we believe what you're saying, Paul. That you are an apostle sent from God to talk to us about grace and peace that comes through the resurrection and the atonement of Jesus Christ. At the very end of the epistle there is another Amen. Whether or not there would be the same enthusiasm in the saying of that Amen, we will see through the course of these first -- these six chapters of Galatians.