December 01, 2003

Grooving on Galatians

I am an occasional Sunday school teacher at my church. About three years ago, I decided to undertake my first attempt at expository teaching. I settled on Paul's letter to the Galatians for a variety of reasons:

  • It's short.
  • It's straightforward.
  • It covers a lot of the same territory as longer and more detailed letters like Romans and Hebrews (and so maybe some time in the future I can use my work now as a springboard for deeper epistles such as Romans or Hebrews).
  • We get to read someone else's mail.
  • We get a first-person blow-by-blow insight into the first major controversy to rock the Church.
  • "Judaizers" of some kind or other are still with us.

So I was pleasantly surprised this morning to come across the Coffeehouse at the End-Of-Days, the blog of Russell Lipton. It turns out he has been using Galatians as a hermeneutics exercise and has just started an expository series on the letter at his church this week.

Here is the beginning to his series, which I wish I had written first:

Paul is grieved and concerned by what he has heard about the Galatian believers. He writes to them - urgently - because they are turning away from the true gospel to a different gospel.

(I say 'true gospel' but that is redundant. There is only one gospel of Jesus Christ. Any-and-all other so-called gospels are false.)

Were the Galatians surprised when Paul's letter arrived? Hard to say. Many probably were shocked; others knew that something weird had been afoot; a few were part of a faction that was all-too-openly trying to subvert Paul's ministry.

And this paragraph that shows why this letter is as important today as 2000 years ago when all the Church had to contend with was a few cranks pushing circumcisional regeneration:

(Our situation may even be worse than theirs was. The Galatians had received the super-certified-true gospel from Paul. We live in a spiritual super-mall of presumably 'Christian' teachings. We may have received a false gospel mixed with the true gospel at our very beginning in Christ, without knowing that we did).


Great stuff. I am looking forward to future instalments.