In Rembrandt's "The Apostle Paul" he is facepalming because the Galatians were bewitched so quickly.

I decided to read through the Epistle to the Galatians today. These are some things that caught my attention:

1.1 Begins w. resurrection like the Epistle to the Romans.

1.4 Christ gave himself for our sins so that we could be rescued from “this present evil age” and this was the will of God the Father.

1.6-7 Paul frames his opponents as teaching a Gospel so foreign to his own that it can hardly be called a “Gospel.”

1.8-9 If someone preaches a false Gospel it is such a serious offense to Paul that his considers them “anathema”  (ἀνάθεμα) or “cursed”!

1.12 The Gospel Paul preached was received through an “apocalypse” (ἀποκαλύψεως) or revelation of Jesus.

1.13-14 Paul makes interesting boast about his earlier life in the Jewish religion. This seems almost like he is denying this connection. Often we discuss Paul as one who either received a calling or was converted. I think we find both approaches in Paul’s language, but here he seems to be emphasizing a conversion to something radically new in Christ.

1.23 Paul’s own testimony matches that of the Book of Acts in that he persecuted the church, converted, and began proclaiming the Gospel.

2.2 As quickly as Paul denies that his Gospel came from any person he is establishes that it was accepted by Jerusalem’s authorities like Peter and James.

2.3 The first concern: Titus’ freedom to remain uncircumcised. If he had submitted to circumcision he would not have lived in his freedom in the Gospel. So this is the first sign of contention.

2.7 Paul juxtaposes himself with Peter. Peter is the Apostle to the Jews; Paul to the Gentiles.

2.9 The mention of Peter, James, and John is interesting. Of course, this isn’t the inner circle, but it does include two of them with one James being sustituted for another.

2.11-14 We find the second major contention as related to the Gospel: table fellowship. This is what led Paul to rebuke Peter openly.

2.15-21 Justification before God comes not through “works of the Law” (ἔργων νόμου) but through faith “in” Christ or the faithfulness “of” Christ (πίστεως Χριστοῦ). Is justification an initiation into the covenant or an eschatological expectation? Why does Paul see freedom in the Law as coming through co-crucifixion with Christ? What does this have to do with his statement in 1.4 that Christ gave himself for our sins?

3.1 Jesus’ crucifixion becomes the crux of the matter.

3.2-5 Pentecostals can be giddy about this passage. Paul’s “proof” of the impact of Christ’s crucifixion is the reception of the Holy Spirit and the Spirit’s presence was so evident that he could point to particular signs and wonders that validated his preaching.

3.6 “Belief” in Christ connects one to Abraham’s belief in God’s promise that Abraham would have an heir in Genesis 15.6.

3.7 As in Romans 4.1ff, belief makes one a child of Abraham, not biology.

3.8 Paul cites Genesis 12.3 as evidence that the Gentiles were children of Abraham by faith and that this was part of the Gospel! So part of Paul’s Gospel includes the fulfillment of the Abrahamic promise to bring the nations to the true God.

3.10 Whatever these “works of the Law” include Paul seems to see them as being a bit broader than what Dunn postulates. For Paul the covenant in Deuteronomy 27.26 seems to indicate that any violation results in a curse. Of course, for the Jews, there was the Temple system of atonement. For Paul to ignore this seems to me to possibly indicate he did not see it as a valid option. Now the Law is something that does result in a curse if broken and he offers the crucified Messiah alone as the way to forgiveness.

3.13 Paul finds the “curse” of Deuteronomy 21.23 to be the absorbing of the “curse” of the Law.

3.14 Yet Dunn’s proposal that the “works of the Law” seem to be primarily about those things that prevent Gentile inclusion remains valid as Paul speaks of Christ absorbing the curse so that Jews could “rub up against” the pagans without the fear of Law breaking resulting in God’s punishment.

3.16 Paul argues that  לְזַ֨רְעֲךָ֔ means one person, one offspring (or he used the LXX’s σπέρματί). While this could be a uniplural noun Paul seems to think it is a singular person.

3.17 Paul uses a chronological argument: Abraham’s covenant came before the Law, through faith, as a promise to be fulfilled in Messiah. Therefore, the Law coming later couldn’t invalidate the previous covenant. It had to have another purpose.

3.18 This sounds quite “old perspective” in that the inheritance isn’t earned through Law observance, but “graced” as a gift.

3.19 The Law was ordained through angels? The Book of Hebrews makes this claim as well. It is a weird one.

3.20 It seems like the angels were mediators between God and Israel. Since it was a mediated covenant God was not involved directly. Is this juxtaposed with his promise to Abraham?

3.21-22 The Law has a holy purpose: to reveal sinfulness. Again, this is something of interest to me. Contra Dunn, et al, Paul does seem willing to go against his fellow Jews here. He sees the Law differently than they do. He does not see it as a mere identity marker, but that which draws human sin to one place, to Israel.

3.24 The Law was the guardian (παιδαγωγὸς) of Israel, as if Israel was an immature child. It kept Israel safe until the time of maturation.

3.26 As in Romans 8 (and Hebrews 2?) through Christ we all become children of God.

3.28-29 Pauls seems to jump ahead. He seems to state here that the Law’s role is complete because of what Christ did on the cross. I don’t see Jews as being under the Law anymore either in this statement.

4.1-3 In Christ both Jews and Gentiles mature beyond the Law. To be slaves to the “elemental spirits” seems to to equate both Law keeping Jews and pagan Gentiles. Both are subject to spirits inferior to God. The Epistle to the Ephesians seems to expound on this idea, but here it is interesting that even the angels over Israel are seen as inferior spirits.

4.4 What is the “fullness of time” and does it have anything to do with the Book of Daniel?

4.5 To be “redeemed” from under the Law is a strong statement.

4.6-7 Like Romans 8 redemption comes when God’s own Spirit enters our hearts. This leads to adoption. Is this so that Christians can rise above the rule of the “angels”?

4.8-11 This is a further exposition on Paul’s ideas regarding being subject to spirits. It is amazing that he equates Law observance with such a status, though to honor Dunn again these are particular acts of the Law.

4.21-31 Another strong statement from Paul. He uses the story of Hagar and Sarah as an allegory. Oddly, Law observance makes one like Hagar, who bore Ishmael, whom the Jews saw as the forefather of the Arab people. This is as radical as the Qumran sect. Jews are denounced as true Jews by a fellow Jew. This time for not coming to Messiah.

5.2 This either-or statement is quite harsh. Christ or circumcision.

5.6 One major problem with the “old perspective” is that it seems to allow for antinomian behavior. Everything is grace! Yet Paul calls believers to work their faith through love. It is different. It isn’t moralistic. It is a command none-the-less.

5.13 Paul warns against antinomianism again.

5.14 Paul follows Jesus into boiling the Law down to the Great Commandment–love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus emphasized the “love God” part first though. Contextually one can see why Paul is emphasizing part two. The “ethic” of Christ is love toward neighbor, not “works of the Law” as Paul’s opponents taught.

5.16-21 Again, Paul is not antinomian. There are behaviors that are a sign that someone is not a child of God therefore not apt to inherit the Kingdom.

5.22-25 Then there are the “signs” that one is in Christ: the fruits of the Spirit. If we use the language of the NPP, this is the new “badge” of covenant membership.

6.1-5 Paul builds on 5.14.

6.14 Paul ends where he began: the cross of Christ. For Paul this is the center.

6.15 “New Creation” is a radical phrase. It supersedes Gentile-Jew identity.

6.16 The “Israel of God”? Is this a precursor to Romans 9-11?