Jolted into Inwardness

Thursday, January 2
Galations 1

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Paul in Galatians will help you ponder in your heart as Mary did. The credentials he offers come from the decisive move of God upon his life on the road to Damascus. Paul first goes to the Arabian Desert, then on to a three-year period in Damascus. God gave the Gospel to Paul, unmediated by anyone else. Damascus was the jolt to Paul; later came the deep, inner preparation of the wondrous Apostle to come. Paul too, has his desert, just as John the Baptist, Jesus, and God’s people in the wilderness.

God’s unique intervention in history through Jesus breaks all the assumptions about how we think God is going to act. God wants to do great things in you by grace. Let God shake you. However, you receive your “wake-up call,” get busy with the daily, inner work of responding to God’s Word …for three years, like Paul!

The Reading for Today
Text     Audio

Bible Breaths
Grace to all and peace from God. v. 3
We’re set free: You gave Yourself. v. 4
Set apart before my birth v. 15
God be glorified in me. v. 24

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This is Christmas Week, Year A.
See “Solar and Sacred Seasons” in the menu above.
Thursdays are dedicated to the New Testament, except the Gospels. This year in the season of Advent to Epiphany we read the letters of Titus, Philemon, Galatians and Philippians.

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7 thoughts on “Jolted into Inwardness

  1. The text appears to be able to be read in more than one way – with the 3 years possibly referring to Damascus. I would love to know anything more about this – even early church legends about this would be of interest…


  2. I looked further into Galatians 1:13-18 in the commentary of Richard Hays in The New Interpreter’s Bible.

    Hays suggests that a better reading of verse 15 is that God chose “to reveal his Son in me” rather than “to me.” “[Paul] is describing the dynamic outreach of the gospel to the Gentiles through him.” The grace of God in Paul has a powerful missional aspect to it. The grace within is an energy for witnessing outward to the Gentiles; the grace is not an individual inward gift for Paul alone apart from his call. Paul is called for a mission that has wide-ranging effects– “God’s cosmic plan for spreading the gospel,” as Hays puts it.

    About Arabia, Hays continues with reference to N.T. Wright in his article “Paul, Arabia, and Galatians” “N.T. Wright builds on the fact that the only other reference to Arabia (Gal 4:25) identifies it as the site of Mt. Sinai. Wright speculates that Paul, who had previously identified with the zealous Elijah, followed Elijah’s footsteps by going off into the wilderness of Mt. Horeb (=Sinai) there to seek God and to come to grips with his own prophetic commission…. Paul links his own ministry with that of Elijah (Roman 11:1-6)…but also that he ended his mysterious sojourn in Arabia by returning to Damascus, just as Elijah had done (1 Kings 19:15).”

    In verses 18-20, continuing with Hays” “Only after three years (probably after his call rather than after his return to Damascus) did Paul go to Jerusalem.” It would seem that the three years contrasts with only two weeks in contact with members of the Jerusalem Church, underscoring again, the direct intervention of God upon the life of Paul for the mission to which he was called.

    Our own respective calls to be Christ to others, while connected with those who have taught and influenced us, also is a direct manifestation of God’s purpose to us. This would be a valuable Epiphany theme: “manifestation.” The Star uniquely led the Magi to the place where Jesus was, so that they could return and be missionaries to the lands in the Far East. In contrast, the retinue about Herod violently resisted being led by the Scriptures, blinded by their own lust for power.

    We too need to go to the fonts of God’s call to Jeremiah and Isaiah to which Paul refers in being called from the womb as they were. Arabia brings in an Elijah theme. All of these Biblical figures and Arabia are a prelude and inspiration for the unique call that God has placed on us “from our mothers’ wombs.”


  3. Thank you, Bosco, for bringing the article of N.T. Wright to us. I found it most helpful. Here are a few portions that I lifted from the text:

    “If R. B. Hays is right that Paul saw Isa 49:l-6 as setting out his apostolic agenda, Paul may here be indicating that he had exchanged the role of Elijah-like zeal for the role of the servant. Instead of inflicting the wrath of YHWH on rebellious Jews, he would become the light of the nations. He now had a new role model, a new job description.”

    The concluding summary…
    “For Paul, it was the death of Jesus at the hands of the pagans, not the defeat of the pagans at the hands of the heaven-sent zealous hero, that defeated evil once and for all: “he gave himself for our sins, to deliver us from this present evil age” (1:4). The cross offered the solution to the problem that “zeal” had sought to address. The revelation of the crucified, and now risen, Messiah was therefore sufficient to stop the zealous Saul in his tracks, to send him back like his role model to Sinai, and to convince him that the battle he was blindly fighting had already been won, and indeed that by fighting it he had been losing it.”

    I followed some links that led me to valuable sites:

    A thought: I wonder if “terrorism” is the modern equivalent of the murderous “zealots” of which Paul was a part, prior to the light of Christ on the road to Damascus. Is not the unconditional love of enemies the light from the Risen Christ that is meant to shine on the paths of those with violent intents?

    Thanks again, Bosco, for the article and for furthering the conversation about Galatians 1.


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