For years, many have noted that Pauls letter to the Galatians began differently than his letters to other congregations. Typically, no matter how bad a congregations problems, Paul began his letters with encouragement. For example, even though the Corinthian congregation had enormous problems, Paul encouraged them. Read 1 Corinthians 1:4-9.
But not to the congregations in Galatia! Why was Paul so upset with them?
No one had a deeper personal appreciation of what God did in Jesus Christ than did Paul. Prior to his conversion, we would have called Paul a mean man. His convictions were sincere, but they made him vicious. His convictions made him destructive, not helpful. He was merciless to Jewish men and women who believed in Jesus Christ. He protected the robes of those who killed Stephen, and he thought they did the proper thing by killing Stephen (Acts 7:58, 8:1). He dragged Christian men and women from their homes to imprison them (Acts 8:3). He used force in attempts to get Christian Jews to blaspheme (Acts 26:11). He even described himself as hostile (see Acts 26:9; Galatians 1:13-14; and 1 Timothy 1:13, 14).
Then he discovered his error concerning Jesus (Acts 9:1-9). The result: he became what he despised, was forgiven of murder and abuse of harmless Christians, and became a great missionary among gentiles (read again 1 Timothy 1:12-16).
Why? Why did God forgive Paul for such horrible acts? Among the reasons for such forgiveness is the reason Paul listed in 1 Timothy 1:16. He demonstrated that Gods mercy and forgiveness exceed any form of human failure if (a) a person sees his [or her] error, (b) turns against his [or her] error, and (c) redirects his [or her] behavior.
Then why was Paul so upset with the Galatian congregations? They did not realize what an incredible thing God did for them in Jesus death and resurrection! Jesus Christ is Gods good news! For congregations to act like there was a good news from God that rivaled what God did in Jesus was unthinkable!
Paul personally knew what God did in Jesus Christ. He did the unthinkable and later received forgiveness. He understood that the Galatian congregations existed because of what God did in Christ. He understood that those gentiles could be Christians because of Gods actions in Jesus. To say there was another gospel was unthinkable! Therefore, there was no encouragement because there was no appreciation of Gods acts in Jesus.
Do you appreciate what God did for you in Jesus? Does your behavior show it?
Link to other Writings of David Chadwell