Paul, the Spirit, and Experience in Galatians 3

Paul, the Spirit, and Experience in Galatians 3 April 27, 2019
Experience is the oft-neglected aspect of Paul’s theological appeals and argumentation. In some of his most polemical contexts (i.e., Galatians and Corinthians), Paul can appeal to a common experience as the basis for shared beliefs and behaviors. Jimmy Dunn in BFJ, writes this about Gal. 3.1-5:
“This repeated emphasis on experience has important theological corollaries. Paul’s understanding of the gospel was rooted in experience, his own and that of others. Here are clear instances of the creative and transforming power of a lively spiritual experience. It did not conform to or allow itself readily to be pigeonholed into the language and categories of their already existing traditions. Rather, as the molten lava of a volcanic eruption breaks open old surfaces and carves out new channels, so the power of molten experience forced language and life patterns into new forms and expressions. Paul’s gospel was not primarily and not only a sequence of theological affirmations deduced from Israel’s history or Scriptures, or even from his knowledge of Jesus; rather, primarily for him, the gospel was rooted in an experience of the living God revealing himself through Jesus the Christ and his will to humankind in a personal and transforming way.”
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