In Galatians Paul is addressing some issues. The issues are not trivial becasue the subject matter of the issues revolves around the gospel. For Paul this is life and death. It is massive and it is signigicant enough that he is eager to take the time to write the letter and to send it. That may not seem like much to us, after all, we have the USPS, UPS, Fedex (am I missing anyone?), but in Paul’s day sending a letter involved greater expense and effort. The paper alone and the cost of a scribe if needed . . . Well, you get the picture by now. Paul was not about to waste time on the trivial, nor was he going to squander his resources over petty disputes. But Paul does send this letter so the subject matter at hand must be important.
What can prompt Paul, a very busy Apostle, to take the time, expense and effort? Nothing less than the Gospel itself! But notice how Paul begins his letter, “Paul, an apostle—not from men or by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead — and all the brothers who are with me: To the churches of Galatia.” Starting out with his name is not jsut a formality of the day in which he lieved. His name was known to them (as he himself was personally known to many of them). This is not a stranger, it is a friend, a teacher, a father, AND an apostle. Not just an apostle, but an APOSTLE! An apostle appointed “by Jesus Messiah and the Father who raised Him from the dead” Paul can’t get a single sentence into the letter without speaking of Jesus. But more than that Paul is also establishing that he is not simply self appointed or an apostle by popular vote. He is an apostle because Jesus trained Him and God ordained him. This is not a boast! This is plain simple fact. And the fact is if you question Paul you are questioning the God who made him an apostle.
But Paul does not stop there. Notice that last phrase, “and all the brothers who are with me.” Paul is not simply establishing his authority and tacking on “a bunch of other people want in on this too.” And Paul is not trying to establish a mob rule here either. Paul is conveying that the issues about to be discussed are not the rantings of a disgruntled teacher being ignored. The inclusion of the “Brothers who are with me” is about agreement. These Brothers are not merely co-greeters. They are co-correctors. They are part of the broader church who have a vested interest in the issues at hand. These brothers are not merely present with Paul, they are in agreement with what Paul is about to write and they not only add their own weight and authority to Paul’s, but also add a solemnity to the proceeding. It is one thing to dismiss a single voice, it is quite another to dismiss a whole group of voices in unison.
And so, “Paul, an apostle — not from men or by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead– and all the brothers who are with me: To the churches of Galatia.”
Paul is not writing to a single group of people but rather to all the churches in a geographic region. And we will see what he says next time.