Copyright. Rodney A. Thomas Jr., 2009.

Galatians 1:1-9
1. Paul, an apostle, not from people nor through people, but through Jesus the Messiah and
God the Father, who raised him from the dead,
2. And with me, all of the brothers and sisters of the Galatian church,
3. Grace and peace to you (plural) from God our Father and the LORD Jesus the Messiah
4. —the One who gave up himself on the behalf of our sins, in order to deliver us from the
evil of the present age according to the will of God our Father
5. To whom be the glory forever and ever, Amen
6. I marvel because so easily you (plural) are changing from the one who called you in the
grace of the Messiah to a different gospel,
7. Not that it is another one (gospel); there are some men who are confusing you (plural)
and one wishing to change the gospel of the Messiah.
8. But, even if an angel from out of heaven should preach a gospel to you (pl.) besides the
one which was preached to you, LET HIM! Be cursed.
9. I said it before and again I say, if anyone should preach a gospel besides the one you have
received, LET HIM! Be cursed.

The Pauline Tradition
In the original Greek of Galatians 1:1-4, the noun totpoo appears as an adjectival noun in the
genitive form three times after the term for God/divinity, ucoo. The apostle Paul wants to
emphasize parental relationship as the essence of God’s being to the Galatian church. Paul is
setting up his audience to show them that as God’s Son, Jesus the Messiah has made a way for
the Judeans and the citizens of other nations to become one family. However, the Sonship of
Jesus is not explicitly delineated here; it is the fact of his Messiahship that Paul wants to contend
for in these first nine passages of his letter.
Jesus, as the Chosen One (Messiah), has been sent from God the Father with a mission. The
proclamation of this mission is what Paul refers to as, cuo¸¸cìiov. or to preach the Good News.
The Gospel is an event, the sending of the Messiah from the Father’s house to rescue us from the
evil of this age (1:4). Prior to Jesus the Messiah being delivered up on the cross by the Father for
the liberation of us from our sins, the present evil must have power of our humanity; thus, that
power had to be overcome by God the Parent through God’s Son, Jesus of Nazareth. Brad
Braxton asserts that as the calling of an apostle, therefore, is to be “sent by Jesus to proclaim the
gospel, and in the very act of proclaiming this good news the apostle believes that the event
proclaimed is actually occurring and that the power of God is flowing through the apostle to
achieve the purposes of God.” (Braxton 2002,58). In other words, just as we cannot separate
Copyright. Rodney A. Thomas Jr., 2009.

God’s good news from God’s power, nor can we separate God’s act of choosing (election) from
God’s sending. Divine election, for Paul in this passage, means the dispatching of a particular
individual to a community that needs God’s power to be revealed to them. In this case, it was
the confused Gentile Christ-following assembly in Galatia, circa 37 Common Era (Braxton 2002,
The Black Christian Tradition
Peter Paris, in his groundbreaking work, The Social Teaching of the Black Churches, noted the
doctrinal formation of African American congregations as they struggled against legal, racial
segregation. The fight against the sin of racism impacted the way many Black preachers
understood traditional Christian doctrine, including the nature of God. Like the apostle Paul in
Galatians 1:1-9, God’s divine parenthood became a fundamental doctrine in the Black Church.
The contradictions of living in a nation which referred to itself as Christian while simultaneously
rejecting the presence of Jesus the Messiah within humans of darker skin tones persuaded the
Black Church to embrace a very Pauline perspective of God’s nature, who was more of a Father
to them rather than an arbitrary cruel monarch who had predestined them to racial inferiority.
Paris observes that the “principle of freedom and equality of all persons under God is not an
abstract idea, but a normative condition of the black churches […]” (Paris 1985, 10). To put it
another way, while white churches proclaimed a God who was an unmovable monarch similar to
the Enlightenment Deism of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams (both who shared anti-trinitarian
sentiments), the African American church before and after Emancipation worshipped a God who
was first and foremost, relational in nature, or as orthodox Christianity would refer to their faith
as Trinitarian and biblical. The lives of Richard Allen, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,
Lemuel Haynes, and Rosa Parks give us a prophetic witness that properly expresses the apostle
Paul’s teaching to the Galatian church.
Trinitarian faith and racial peace-making are not mutually exclusive; rather, as we have seen, the
Pauline doctrine of the fatherhood of God has been embodied in the African American Christian
community. God, the Father of Jesus and the Mother of Zion as the prophet Isaiah calls God
(66:13) sends apostles to all of the nations to participate in the reconciling mission of Jesus the
Messiah in whom there is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female, but where we
are all become part of Abraham and Sarah’s family (Gal 3:26-29).

Copyright. Rodney A. Thomas Jr., 2009.

Works Cited
Braxton, Brad Ronnell. No Longer Slaves : Galatians and African American Experience.
Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, 2002.

Paris, Peter J. The Social Teaching of the Black Churches. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1985.

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