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Bible Study: Galatians Reflection – Chapter One

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For the past few days, I read Galatians a number of times.  It’s only six chapters and quite exciting to see and trying to figure out with Paul wrote this letter.  One of my favorite part was when Paul told the audience that though they wanted to follow the Jewish Law, they didn’t even know what it meant.  Since Paul was a Pharisee before, he went and explained to them the laws, death from following the laws and how believing in Christ give life.

I figure I would spent the next few posts to spend on digging the Scriptures.  I tried and followed a few rules….

1)  Read within the context – Don’t inject ideas into the text, let the Holy Spirit through the text to speak to me
2)  Don’t include other sources or other text – I could probably use Acts to see when this letter was written.  Or pull from other letters to understand Paul’s theology and his thoughts on Jesus Christ.  Will do none of that.
3)  Find out what the letter is trying to say – Why did Paul wrote the letter? Who was it for?  What was it about?  How did Paul bring these ideas?  Why did Paul write these ideas?  Basically covers the five Ws: who, what, why, where, and by what means….

The overall idea is to have a better understanding of the Scripture.  I enjoyed digging Scriptures like this as it is like detective work and try and understand and discern why Paul wrote this letter.  Just as when we write an email or send a text message to someone, there’s a certain purpose, Paul didn’t just wrote it for fun.  He also didn’t wrote it primarily to explain to us, readers that are 2000 years later, who God is.  That wasn’t his point.  Yes, we can find God’s nature and have a better understanding of Jesus through what Paul wrote. At the same time it is fun and gain a better understanding and appreciation on Scripture.  Of course, this is my own reflection and experiences on examining the Scripture.  So some might be in error or other areas need to be better examine.  Then again, the best way to be better in studying the Bible is….to study the Bible.

Galatian is a letter written by Paul to the churches of Galatia (v 1-2).  Paul started in the first verse stating that he is an apostle not by human means but by divine appointment (v 1).   He was handpicked by Jesus and also God the Father.  The reason why Paul was writing this letter is found in verse 6 and 7.

I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who called you to himself through the loving mercy of Christ. You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ.

The churches of Galatia were no longer following the Good News.  Instead they learnt from different teachings that changed the true nature of Christ.   This was done by those who deliberately trying to falsify who Christ is and the Good News.

The churches of Galatia were preached by Paul (v 8).  Paul preached to them the Good News.  Now someone came and preach a Good News which Paul cursed them upon.

Paul once again contrasted human ways and divine ways in verse 10. Paul aimed to please God, not to please men.   He reminded the audience that if he was to please men, he would not be Christ’s servant.

Between human ways and divine ways also from how Paul understood the gospel message (v11 – 12).  Here Paul explained  that he learnt the gospel message, Good News and Jesus, no by anyone (human source). Instead it came directly from the divine, Jesus Christ Himself (v 11).  This was consistent with being an apostle chosen by Jesus instead of human authority (v 1) and aiming to win approval for God and not men (v 10).

Paul reminded his past to the audience, which they already know.  Before being an apostle, he followed the Jewish religion.  Not only was he a Jew but a zealous one.  He persecuted the church with violence (probably killed Christians).  Not only did he do it, but he did it with zeal.  He was the Jews of Jews.  The head of the religious organization.  He was the best and elite. (v 13 -1 4).

Paul considered grace to be chosen by God.  God already selected him even before Paul was born (v 15).  Paul had a special job from God and it was to preach to the Gentiles (v 16).

He then explained how Jesus revealed to Paul that he would be selected to share the Good News to the Gentiles.  Through the chapter, we could tell that the Good News is Jesus Christ (v 15, v6-7).

From verse 16 onward, he explained how Jesus called him.  After Jesus revealed to Paul (v 16), Paul didn’t consulted it with anyone.  Instead he went to Arabia and later went to Damascus.

We do not know how long he stayed in Arabia or Damascus.  Three years later he went to Jerusalem to get to know Peter (verse 18).  Paul knew Peter was one of the leaders of the church in Jerusalem and also one of Jesus’ apostles.

In v 20, Paul wrote that he declared before God what he wrote wasn’t a lied.  This line probably came from the church didn’t believe him or someone else was spreading false rumors about him.   Paul was writing this accounting in order to defend himself.  Or else, he didn’t need to include v 20 to pinpoint that he’s telling the truth.

It’s interesting to see that Paul only stayed with Peter for 15 days.  He didn’t even spend long time with Peter.  He also met James, Jesus’ brother in verse 19.  This will become useful later on.

Paul left and went up to Syria and Cilicia to visit the Christians in the churches in Judea.  No one knew who he was (v 22).  Despite that, they heard of him because they recognized that Paul was the one who used to persecute them.  Notice that Paul was away in Arabia and Damascus for three years before seeing Peter.  And then afterwards went up to the churches in Judea.  This means that the Christians recognized Paul, when he was persecuting Christians, more than three years ago. That’s a long time!

The Christians praised God from seeing the change in Paul’s life.  Before he followed the Jewish religion and was zealous in destroying the Christians.

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