Friday 19 June, 2020

Galatians 1:1-5

1 Paul, an apostle—sent not from men nor by a man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— 2 and all the brothers and sisters[a] with me, To the churches in Galatia: 3 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

First century letters followed established patterns. They begin by introducing who the letter is from, who it is to, and a blessing, before going on to what the writer really wanted to say. You could gloss over the formalities. (I’m probably not “dear” to my bank and I doubt the respect that “sir” suggests.) But not Paul. Every word of his introduction is significant. How he introduces himself and particularly his prayer or blessing generally contain the key to how the rest of the letter should be understood.

“Grace and peace” (and the source of Paul’s apostleship) will be central ideas in the rest of the book. Both these words speak of relationship. The word translated as “peace” is more than just peace with God or even the peace that God gives, it is the place with him where peace and favour reign. Similarly, the word translated as “grace” is more just receiving blessing we don’t deserve, it’s a relationship characterised by favour out of which generosity and blessing flow naturally. And that “grace and peace” are given to us by God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ as part of that relationship of favour and generosity. They don’t come from obeying the law, not even a little bit. And the result is rescued lives and glory to God.

The gospel is simultaneously incredibly simple and unbelievably profound. I love it!

Written by David Cornell

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