Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Galatians Journal: Chapter 1, verse 3

Galatians 1:3 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,

Here is the "standard" Pauline greeting, akin to similar salutations used in each of his letters. Is this just a fancy way to say “Hello?” Similar to our discussion of the first verse of Chapter 1, there is more to this than simply good wishes. The footnotes here explain that to wish someone “Grace” was a Christianized form of the common greeting used in the Greek culture, while to wish someone “peace” was the common greeting used among the Hebrews ("Shalom!"). Thus, Paul’s “hello” here is a clever way to relate to the two major cultural groups coming together in the church at that time. As an effort to smooth over cultural differences, even to forge a new “Christian” cultural identity, this makes sense (more on that later), but it was also a blessing. It was a prayer. And I hope and pray to receive this same blessing, as well as convey it to others. To receive grace – the forgiveness, mercy, and acceptance we have through Christ, though we do not deserve it; to receive peace – to be at rest in God, to accept where we are, to know who we are in Christ, to be free of worry and strife. How could we ask for more? The fact that it is a greeting/blessing that combines the essence of two cultures united in Christ speaks to me of “Heritage.” The faith of the original disciples has been passed down, generation to generation, regardless of culture, for two thousand years. Once again, the essence of Christianity is RELATIONAL.

As a side note, here also (just like in verse 1) is an implied theological supremacy for God the Father, by listing him first, or, at least, this emphasizes the reality of the theological truth of the triune God, three distinct persons and personalities in one entity, though Paul gives Jesus, as God, the additional title of “Lord.” I don’t know if other New Testament authors did this sort of thing – I’d have to check – but Paul almost always seems to address Jesus as the “Lord.” Of course, indeed, Jesus IS Lord. Again, a concept we very often take for granted. Sometimes we treat the title “Lord” as if its simply part of Jesus’ name, a sort of mundane identifier like “Mr.” or “Mrs.” It’s a designation of royalty! Its like saying “your majesty!.” Sure, it’s a title, but it’s a title that is also borne out of a RELATIONSHIP. Jesus becomes our Lord, truly and personally, when we enter into a living relationship with Him.

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