Summary: Paul summarizes 1) His authority (his right to speak), 2) His message (the truths he speaks), and 3) His motive (his reason for speaking).
For some time know, the world has been in anticipation of the current Summer Olympic games in Beijing China. One central issue surrounding these games has been the issue of freedom and human rights violations in China. Chinese Communist leaders have been heavily criticized for their crackdown on dissent in the weeks leading up to the Beijing Games.
In a speech delivered this week in Bangkok, U. S. President Bush denounced the detention of political dissidents and religious activists. He said:
Quote: "America stands in firm opposition to China’s detention of political dissidents, human rights advocates and religious activists. We speak out for a free press, freedom of assembly and labour rights, not to antagonize China’s leaders, but because trusting its people with greater freedom is the only way for China to develop its full potential." (http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=706940)
The Chinese government has maintained that Bush is not an authority on China One way to deny the truthfulness of a message is to deny the authority of the one who gives it. The Galatian church had received the true gospel of grace from Paul and had believed it until some false teachers came in after he was gone. They not only attacked the validity of the message but also that of the messenger. Apparently the Judaizers had convinced some of the Galatian church members that Paul was a self-appointed apostle with no divine commission. So at the outset of the letter Paul dispensed with the usual personal greetings and immediately began to establish the genuineness of his apostolic authority, which he later (1:11–2:21) expands on in detail.
In this brief salutation Paul summarizes 1) His authority (his right to speak), 2) His message (the truths he speaks), and 3) His motive (his reason for speaking). In understanding these, we understand the power and freedom of life in Christ.
1) THE AUTHORITY (Galatians 1:1-2)
Galatians 1:1-2 [1:1]Paul, an apostle--not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead-- and all the brothers who are with me, To the churches of Galatia: (ESV)
I want to cover a lot of ground very quickly in this first section on Authority before we get to the message. Nevertheless, don’t pass over the content of the salutation lightly as though it contained merely formal niceties such as the “Dear Sir” or “Yours truly” of a modern letter. The prescript of a Pauline letter by itself constitutes “an essential part of the letter’s content.” ( G. Ebeling, The Truth of the Gospel: An Exposition of Galatians (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1984), 8.) The salutation reveals not only the mood in which Galatians was written but also the passion and burden of Paul’s heart that prompted him to write it.
What is at stake is the content of the gospel Paul proclaimed to the Galatians. This too is restated with force in these opening verses as Paul draws a theological line in the sand against the false teachers who have undermined the gospel by undermining his apostolic authority (George, T. (2001, c1994). Vol. 30: Galatians (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; The New American Commentary (76). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.)
Following the custom of his times, the apostle begins his letter by stating his name, Paul. He then establishes his authority as an apostle, 1) first on the basis of his right to the title “apostle,” 2) second on the basis of the manner in which he was chosen for that office, and 3) third on the basis of his relationship to fellow believers.
o While we can assert with great certainty that the content of this epistle owes its structure to Paul, the actual mechanics of writing were, most likely, that of an amanuensis (secretary), as evidenced by the notation made as to what he personally wrote in the final words of the epistle. The majority of the epistle was likely generated through the process of dictation..( Elwell, W. A. (1996, c1989). Evangelical Commentary on the Bible . (electronic ed.) (Ga 1:6). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.)
A)THE TITLE APOSTLE (Galatians 1:1a )
Galatians 1:1a [1:1]Paul, an apostle—(not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead)
Saul (Paul was probably his Roman surname) was born into a Jewish family from the tribe of Benjamin. He was raised as a strict Pharisee (Philippians 3:5), grew up in Tarsus, and was educated under a well-known teacher, Gamaliel (Acts 22:3).( Barton, B. B. (1994). Galatians. Life application Bible commentary (3). Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House.)
• Given his background, teaching and previous vocation, he was extremely well aware of the particular challenges the Galatians were facing from the Judaizers who advocated an adoption of Jewish ritual acts.
An apostle (“one who is sent with a commission”) was an envoy, ambassador, or messenger who was chosen and trained by Jesus Christ as His special emissary for proclaiming His truth during the formative years of the church. In its primary and technical usage, the term applied to the original twelve who were chosen at the beginning of Jesus’ earthly ministry (Mark 3:14; Luke 6:13) and were set aside to lay the foundation of the early church and to be the channels of God’s completed revelation (Acts 2:42; Eph. 2:20), They were also given power to perform healings and to cast out demons as verifying signs of their divine authority (Acts 2:43; 2 Cor. 12:12; Heb. 2:3–4). It should be noted that, shortly before Pentecost, Judas was replaced by Matthias (Acts 1:26).