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.)