Galatians

English: Postage stamp depicting Martin Luther...

English: Postage stamp depicting Martin Luther, the initiator of the Protestant Reformation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, this week, THE Sunday School class will begin to read Galatians. This is an important book to the Protestant Reformation, no doubt, given Luther’s love affair with it. However, it is early in Paul’s career, written during what we might suggest is Paul’s more zealous moments. He is brash, rude, and crude in this letter, often going the distance to humiliate and belittle his enemies. There is no sauve approach to the rhetoric as we see in Philippians, coming at the end of his career. Instead, he is brutal, up front, and angry.

One of the hallmarks of this letter is Paul’s insistence that he has no need to please men; yet, he his opening salvo is about gaining acceptance as one approved among men — namely Peter, James, and John. Specifically, Paul cares a great deal how James sees him, and he should since James is the brother of Jesus. Peter, on the other hand, gets a rebuke from Paul for what appears to be a hypocritical method of eating with Jew and Gentile.

Paul is careful, in my reading, to not elevate himself above Peter, but only to remind Peter of his previous statements and actions. Paul is not above Peter, only the casual witness.

One of the things I’m struggling with is the chronological reading. Borg suggests that it is possible Galatians comes after 1 Corinthians but before Romans. I see some connection here with Romans, where as 1 Thessalonians has some connection to 1 Corinthians. Who knows… maybe the pen didn’t change.

But, reading Galatians is like reading a man who should have counted to ten before he began to write. 10 10’s, as a matter of fact. Paul is angry. Upset. How dare Jews try to get Gentiles to become Jewish.

Anyway… how do you read Galatians?

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Post By Joel Watts (10,070 Posts)

Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

Website: → Unsettled Christianity

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9 thoughts on Galatians

  1. I do not read it in a house, I do not read it with a mouse. I do not read Paul’s Galatians, I do not read it, honey buns.

  2. The Order is
    Galatians
    1 & 2 Thess
    1 & 2 Corinthians
    Romans
    Colossians
    Ephesians
    Philemon
    Phillipians
    1 Timmy
    Titus
    2 Timmy

    just follow Acts

    I’d put Hebrews somewhere near the top..

    • James is first, then 1 Thess. Paul didn’t write 2 Thess nor the Pastorals.

      Acts is really late.

      And Hebrews is not by Paul either.

  3. Hi Joel,

    I don’t know about Galatians, but i wish someone would tell me whether or not the first 5 verses of 1 Corinthians 15 is a hymn,a poem, or the repeating of a legend? Not that the resurrection account isn’t true, rather that Paul is only (here) repeating what he heard,not what he knew?

    How did he not know that according to future New Testament scripture,Judas one of the twelve,hanged himself before Jesus’ resurrection? Paul wrote that he first appeared to Peter, then to the twelve. Shouldn’t he have written,he appeared to Peter (first) then to all, or the 11, as stated in the Gospels?

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