Monday, July 13, 2009

Galatians Journal: Chapter 1, verse 1

Galatians 1:1: “Paul, an apostle-- sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead—"

The letter begins with Paul’s “standard greeting” -- it may seem like a "throw away" concept, sort of like saying "Hello" or the introduction we might give a speaker before they give their presentation,but if you dig deeper, this "intro" really says so much. He identifies himself as an “apostle.” He understands his gifts, his calling, his training. Oh, that I could have that kind of focus and be so assured of what I'm supposed to be doing. But then, more importantly, he defines his mission, his purpose, the foundation of his work. He was “sent –“ this was not something he came up with or made up, it was not a choice. Rather, it was a command. At whose command? Paul starts in the negative – “not from men” -- not a group, a church, or a tradition – “nor by a man” – not one person, no mentor or teacher, no great charismatic leader.—“but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father” – Paul is acting and operating under the direct authority and command of God. This concept also implies RELATIONSHIP. You can only be sent by men or a person if you conferred with them, got instructions from them, worked with them. The kind of “mission” Paul was on implies a great deal of preparation. He had a lot of training, discipline, and depth of purpose. Paul had that kind of intimate relationship with God – with Jesus, and through Jesus to the Father “who raised [Jesus] from the dead” – Why is this phrase at the end of v. 1? First, it’s the focus of the entire message, the ultimate truth of the Gospel, the core affirmation of the faith. It sets the tone for the letter. Second, the footnote speaks to the fact that Paul met face to face with the risen Christ on the road to Damascus. Paul had a life changing encounter w/Jesus. In fact, so have I !!! I can see that I don’t emphasize this truth in my life, day by day, moment by moment. JESUS HAS RISEN! He’s alive! He’s Alive in my life! Yes! Amen! Third, there seems to be a theological primacy given to the Father. The Father raised Jesus from the dead. This seems to tell me that while Jesus is the center of my relationship with God, I need to give a primary place to the Father, and cultivate a relationship with Him. Finally, the emphasis on the resurrection implies POWER. If the God who can raise Jesus from the dead sent Paul, then Paul will be supplied the supernatural power to “get the job done.” If I have a similar calling on my life, then God will supply the supernatural power needed to complete what I have been called to do.

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