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?