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The Catholic Study Bible A special version of the New American Bible, with a wealth of background information useful to Catholics.

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Commentary on Galatians

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1, 1–5 :

See the note on Rom 1, 1–7 , concerning the greeting.

1, 1 :

Apostle: because of attacks on his authority in Galatia, Paul defends his apostleship. He is not an apostle commissioned by a congregation (Phil 2, 25; 2 Cor 8, 23 ) or even by prophets (1 Tm 1, 18 and 4, 14 ) but through Jesus Christ and God the Father.

1, 2 :

All the brothers: fellow believers in Christ, male and female; cf 3, 27–28 . Paul usually mentions the co‐sender(s) at the start of a letter, but the use of all is unique, adding weight to the letter. Galatia: central Turkey more likely than the Roman province of Galatia; see Introduction.

1, 4 :

The greeting in v 3 is expanded by a christological formula that stresses deliverance through the Lord Jesus from a world dominated by Satan; cf 2 Cor 4, 4; Eph 2, 2; 6, 12 .

1, 6–10 :

In place of the usual thanksgiving (see the note on Rom 1, 8 ), Paul, with little to be thankful for in the Galatian situation, expresses amazement at the way his converts are deserting the gospel of Christ for a perverted message. He reasserts the one gospel he has preached ( 7–9 ) and begins to defend himself ( 10 ).

1, 6 :

The one who called you: God or Christ, though in actuality Paul was the divine instrument to call the Galatians.

1, 8 :

Accursed: in Greek, anathema; cf Rom 9, 3; 1 Cor 12, 3; 16, 22 .

1, 10 :

This charge by Paul's opponents, that he sought to conciliate people with flattery and to curry favor with God, might refer to his mission practices (cf 1 Cor 9, 19–23 ) but the word still suggests it refers to his pre'Christian days (cf 14; Phil 3, 6 ). The self‐description slave of Christ is one Paul often uses in a greeting (Rom 1, 1 ).

1, 11–2, 21 :

Paul's presentation on behalf of his message and of his apostleship reflects rhetorical forms of his day: he first narrates the facts about certain past events ( 1, 12–2, 14 ) and then states his contention regarding justification by faith as the gospel message ( 2, 15–21 ). Further arguments follow from both experience and scripture in chs 3 and 4 , before he draws out the ethical consequences ( 5, 1–6, 10 ). The specific facts that he takes up here to show that his gospel is not a human invention ( 1, 11 ) but came through a revelation of Jesus Christ ( 1, 12 ) deal with his own calling as a Christian missionary ( 1, 13–17 ), his initial relations with the apostles in Jerusalem ( 1, 18–24 ), a later journey to Jerusalem ( 2, 1–10 ), and an incident in Antioch involving Cephas and persons from James (2, 11–14). The content of Paul's revealed gospel is then set forth in the heart of the letter ( 2, 15–21 ).

1, 12 :

Although Paul received his gospel through a revelation from Christ, this did not exclude his use of early Christian confessional formulations. See the note on 1, 4 .

1, 13–17 :

Along with Phil 3, 4–11 , which also moves from autobiography to its climax in a discussion on justification by faith (cf Gal 2, 15–21 ), this passage is Paul's chief account of the change from his former way of life ( 13 ) to service as a Christian missionary ( 16 ); cf Acts 9, 1–22; 22, 4–16; 26, 9–18 . Paul himself does not use the term “conversion” but stresses revelation ( 12.16 ). In v 15 his language echoes the Old Testament prophetic call of Jeremiah. Unlike the account in Acts (cf 22, 4–16), the calling of Paul here includes the mission to proclaim Christ to the Gentiles ( 16 ).

1, 16 :

Flesh and blood: human authorities (cf Mt 16, 17; 1 Cor 15, 50 ). Paul's apostleship comes from God ( 1 ).

1, 17 :

Arabia: probably the region of the Nabataean Arabs, east and south of Damascus.

1, 18–24 :

Paul's first journey to Jerusalem as a Christian, according to Galatians (cf Acts 9, 23–31 and the note on Acts 12, 25 ). He is quite explicit about contacts there, testifying under oath ( 20 ). On returning to Syria (perhaps specifically Damascus, cf v 17 ) and Cilicia (including his home town Tarsus, cf Acts 9, 30; 22, 3 ), Paul most likely engaged in missionary work. He underscores the fact that Christians in Judea knew of him only by reputation.

1, 18 :

After three years: two years and more, since Paul's call. To confer with Cephas may mean simply “pay a visit” or more specifically “get information from” him about Jesus, over a two‐week period. Cephas: Aramaic name of Simon (Peter); cf Mt 16, 16–18 and the notes there.

1, 19 :

James the brother of the Lord: not one of the Twelve, but a brother of Jesus (see the note on Mk 6, 3 ). He played an important role in the Jerusalem church (see the note on Gal 2, 9 ), the leadership of which he took over from Peter (Acts 12, 17 ). Paul may have regarded James as an apostle.

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