This Tuesday we begin our summer study of Paul’s letter to the Galatians. This is our sixth summer of exploring Paul’s letters. Of all of Paul’s letters, Galatians is the most radical and raw statement of Paul’s understanding of what it means to be a Christian. This weekend, please try to read through the entire letter in order to gain a holistic perspective on the issues that Paul raises. This should easily take less than 1/2 hour.
In the first part of our gathering on Tuesday, we will discuss the broader themes and points made in the letter before we dive into the specific verses. As you read through the letter some issues to pay attention to are 1) what is the nature of the controversy that has overtaken the church, 2 ) what are the teachings of those whom Paul opposes, 3) why does Paul believe his opponents are teaching such things, 4) in what ways do Paul’s opponents attack Paul personally, 5) in what ways does Paul support his authority to teach, 6) how does Paul allegorically use the Old Testament to combat his opponents, and, most importantly, 7) what is Paul’s “gospel.” And, as you read through this letter, pay attention to the tone Paul uses, and how that tone differs from Paul’s other letters. (In his commentary, St. Jerome (347-420) notes that whereas Romans and Galatians cover the same subject matter, in the former Paul employs a loftier discourse and more sophisticated arguments, and in the latter, he addresses those who are “senseless” and “foolish” and adopts a style appropriate for censure and not instruction.)
One of the great benefits of reading through the Scriptures together is that we all will have different perspectives on what Paul is actually saying. If you have a study bible or a commentary (I have plenty if you want to borrow one), please use those as part of your study to broaden your perspective. I have attached the introduction to Galatians from The New Bible Commentary for a more academic introduction to Paul’s letter. I have also attached Martin Luther’s preface in his Commentary. (An online version of Luther’s commentary is HERE). Finally, Fr. Greg Smith at Trinity is preaching through Galatians this summer. If you attend Trinity please take your sermon notes to share with us. I have attached Greg’s+ workbook on Galatians 1 which can be useful as your read through this letter.
For the second half of our discussion on Tuesday, we will begin with Galatians 1:1 and see how far we progress. As you read through Paul’s salutation, please compare the salutation Paul uses in his other letters and particularly Rom 1:1-7, 1 Corinthians 1:1-9, and Philippians 1:1-2. Please note the difference in tone and how Paul addresses his audience. Also, if you have time, please review Paul’s conversion story. There are three accounts of this story in Acts. Acts 9:3-9, 22:6-21, 26:12-18. Paul’s conversion experience is the foundation of his assertion of authority.
As always, you do not have to read anything to join us and participate with us on Tuesday nights. I have plenty of Bibles to share if you do not have one or forgot yours. Also, please feel free to invite your friends and neighbors to join us. Dinner is at 6. The menu this week is barbeque chicken. Our discussion will begin about 6:45. And we’ll end with Compline around 8.
And who knows that a human being is vindicated not by observances of the Law but by the faithfulness of the Anointed One Jesus – even we have placed our faith in the Anointed One Jesus so that we might be vindicated from the faithfulness of the Anointed and not from the observance of the Law, because no flesh at all will be vindicated from observances of Law.Galatians2:16 (David Bentley Hart)