Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 1 Study # 1
June 27, 2010
Dayton, Texas
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<002> Thesis: Central to the "message" of Galatians is the issue of the motive of its writer. Introduction: One of the issues that students of the various biblical texts routinely overlook is the motivation-factor behind the words. Sometimes this is unavoidable in the sense that "motives" are notoriously difficult to properly discern. However, more times than not, the question of "why" an author wrote what he did is crucial to the proper understanding of his words. It is demonstrably true that words communicate both meaning and significance according to the perception of the hearer/reader in respect to this issue. It is also demonstrably true that people react, even to God, according to what they think is His "attitude" toward them. This is the "why" issue. This is also the reason for the focus in divine revelation upon the "love of God". It is in this area that "motivations" are discerned, assigned, and made the basis for response. Therefore, this evening we are going to raise the question of Paul's self-identification in regard to his letter to the Galatians. The question is this: Why did Paul change the terms of his identification? When his father "named" him on the eighth day of his life in this world, the "name" was "Saul". When we are introduced to him in the records of the New Testament, he is identified as "Saul" (Acts 7:58). When Jesus confronted the man on the road to Damascus, He did so in the terms of "Saul, Saul..." (Acts 9:4). When the Holy Spirit singled out the two men He wanted the church to send out, He did it in terms of "Barnabas and Saul" (Acts 13:2). According to Acts 4:36, it is significant that "Barnabas" means "the son of consolation". According to multiple texts in both Old and New Testaments, this issue of "names" is highly significant. It reaches its apex in Revelation 2:17 where being "named" is one of the "big deals" of promise. Therefore, it is of significance that "Saul" suddenly became "Paul" in Spirit-inspired Scripture at the point of Acts 13:9. It is my contention that the name change is at the root of the Galatian message. Therefore, I want to begin by simply asking this question of the text: Why did "Saul" identify himself as "Paul" in the letter?