Thursday, June 16, 2011

On 1 Corinthians 16:1

Why Does Paul Mention "the Churches of Galatia"?

Written by Dr. Jeremy Barrier

In regard to Paul's mention of the Galatian churches in 1 Corinthians 16:1, the significance is unknown! Paul wrote a letter to the churches of Galatia, but this does not really bring us any closer. First, "Galatia" is not a city but is a work that represents an ethnic group of Celtic people who migrated from southern Germany in the third century BC down into Macedonia, Thrace, and then over into Turkey, and finally residing in central Anatolia (Turkey). These people were called Celts or Gauls or Galatians. After Rome established themselves in Turkey during this time period, by the time that Paul wrote this letter (circa 48 AD), Galatia was also a word that referred to a Roman Province in southern Galatia, as northern Galatia, home to the Celts, was still largely unmanageable by Rome with a quasi-independent state. It was just slightly more independent than Palestine at this time.

So, when Paul uses the term "Galatians" it is uncertain who he means. Could he have meant his letter to the Galatians? Maybe. However, Paul does not seem to address giving of money very much in the Galatian letter that we have (Galatians 2:10). What he does say here is not in regard to how money should be gathered. We know that Paul wrote multiple letters (See 1 Cor 5:9; Colossians 4:15-16), and even letters now lost, thus we can conclude that there must be another letter that was written to the Galatians that has now been lost. In addition, it is uncertain of whether or not the Galatians were good givers or not. Did he single them out to commend them or reprove them?

What is certain is Paul is making mention of them here, because he is trying to emphasize that he was encouraging a practice of setting aside money, in advance, everywhere he went. The reality of the ancient banking systems is that if Paul were to gather money for the poor in Jerusalem (Galatians 2:10), then he would not be able to use a debit card, ATM, credit card, check, or paper money. He would have been carrying coins of various metals. This would be heavy and dangerous, and it is something that Paul thought should be done in advance, with preparation. This is especially important for churches around the world were people are more like "day laborers" than what we experience in most of the USA. A day laborer, lives from one day to the next, and if anything is going to be given to God, it needs to be cut out of the daily amount every day or every week, and slowly, very slowly, an amount can be set aside to be used in the service of God!

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