| || |The Berean Expositor Volume 37 - Page 75 of 208 Index | Zoom | |
With a special note on the testimony of the papyri.
pp. 92 - 94
This epistle is address "unto the churches of Galatia" (Gal. 1: 2) and its study will
throw light upon the constitution and calling of the church, and indicate the essential
difference that exists between the church as it existed before Acts 28:, and the church
as it came into being after that dispensational boundary is crossed.
Not only is it not the observed custom of the apostle thus to address an epistle, the
omission of any commendation is most marked. This however cannot be felt unless the
introductions to the epistles are actually before us. It would occupy much precious space
to quote each introduction in full, we must content ourselves with the barest summary.
"Unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord
Jesus Christ . . . . . we give thanks . . . . . for you all" (I Thess. 1: 1, 2; II Thess. 1: 1-3).
"Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ
Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ
our Lord, both theirs and ours . . . I thank my God always on your behalf" (I Cor. 1: 1-4).
"Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints which are in all
Achaia . . . . . blessed be God . . . . . Who comforteth us" (II Cor. 1: 1-4).
"To all that be at Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints . . . . . first, I thank my
God . . . . . that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world" (Rom. 1: 7, 8).
"To the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus" (Eph. 1: 1).
"To all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons"
(Phil. 1: 1).
"To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ Jesus which are at Colosse . . . . . we give
thanks" (Col. 1: 2, 3).
It will be observed that there is a transition from "churches" in a locality to "the
church of God", from "the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father", to
"all at Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints". The epistle of the Mystery do not use
the word "church" in the opening address, reserving that word for higher meaning that it
assumes in the present dispensation. For this transition no individual believer or separate
ekklesia could be held responsible, it but marked the onward movement of the Truth, but
the most marked omission in Galatians of any word of commendation or thanks on their
behalf calls for explanation, and that explanation must be either that Paul failed in his
customary courtesy, or that the Galatian church was in such grave doctrinal and practical
danger, that no such commendation could be given, but instead the most drastic measures
must be taken, involving rigorous action, respecting no man's person, whether that of the
pillars at Jerusalem or the false teachers in Galatia. A burning zeal sweeps aside all
convention, and the churches of Galatia were given a most salutary shock as the apostle
plunged unceremoniously into his fight of faith.
While the apostle found no grounds for thanksgiving as he view the wrecking of his
labour and the assault upon the truth of the gospel that brought forth this epistle, he did
not, and could not, withhold the most earnest desires for their well being, consequently,