Wright’s Paul and the Faithfulness of God– Part Fifty Four

The discussion of Gal. 2-4 which ensues, beginning on p. 966 and here we find Tom making some excellent points about what Galatians is and is not about. For example, it is not primarily about ‘how shall we be saved’ (answer by justification by faith). Paul is addressing those who already are Christians and the question for them is ‘how then shall we now live, and live together as Jew and Gentile in Christ’. Further, Paul’s arguments are meant to demonstrate that Gentiles do not need to ‘judaize’ to be full-fledged Christians, despite the arguments of the agitators. As Tom says as well “the reason Paul talks about faith in Galatians is because it was for him the key answer to the question raised by the Antioch incident on the one hand and the Galatian problem on the other.” In other words we have situation specific arguments here, not generic discourses on salvation and the means of salvation. He goes on to rightly stress that “the primary thing Paul wants to say in Galatians [is] that all those who have this faith belong in the same, single community eating at the same single table.” (p. 968). As Tom stresses, this is not a matter of mere table manners (p. 970), or of something equally trivial. It’s about the very basis of the unity of the community and the necessity of them being able to share worship and fellowship together in the house churches. The arguments are not mainly about sin and how sin is dealt with and the sinner rescued (p. 969). The legacy of Luther in his dealings with Galatians have led us down the garden path in various ways. In fact Galatians doesn’t even use the soteria/sodzo language in Galatians, and the references to sin are thin, compared to in Romans. So Tom rightly says, the letter is about the definition of the community of God’s people and how they are to live together (p. 971).

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