Lectionary Year B
December 26, 1999
Step III: Immediate Context
(JFC) A. IMMEDIATE CONTEXT
Pre-The first 3 verses of Galatians 4 uses the example of children due to inherit from their parents resources, but not yet. It says that's how it was with people before Christ came and effected the inheritance due from God.
Post- The rest of Galatians 4 warns against re-enslavement to the law. Paul then refers to a personal example of his having become free from such sin and how the Galatians cared for him in his infirmity while there previously. Thereafter, the author seems to get a bit uptight in mentioning how he feels he and they are no longer on the same page of his teachings regarding redemption. He admits to being perplexed by their irresponsible and inconsistent behavior. Then, he uses the illustration of Abraham's sons from 2 mothers' being designated by God contra-logically. He contrasts God's covenant love with the world's logic. Neat argument.
(JFC) B. COMPOSITIONAL WHOLE
The Epistle to the Galatian Churches is in three parts. The first (chapters 1 & 2) is autobiographical. The second (chapters 3 & 4) is doctrinal and the third (chapters 5 & 6) ethical and practical. A postscript (6:11-18) concludes it. It challenges the work of "troublemakers", those Judaizers and/or Gnostics, who misrepresented the Gospel Paul had preached there and advocated circumcision andobedience to the Law of Moses as requirements for Christians to be saved. It presents Paul's dismay and anathema (1:6) at the Galatians' following such advice and abandoning the grace of God Paul emphasized previously. He argues rather passionately in favor of God's adopting and saving all people (4:4).
(JFC) C. AUTHORSHIP
The Apostle Paul wrote this letter. He insists with passion that believers get justified only by faith in Christ and not by good works, ritual observations, etc. The recipients, the "foolish Galatians", are scattered throughout central Asia Minor. They are in congregations the Apostle himself founded on his first two missionary journeys through the area. Some commentators see a difference between the possibility of the recipients being in the geographically designated Galatia while others see a difference in their being politically distinguishable. He wrote this work in 54 or so of the CE.
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