by Al Maxey
Issue #202 -------
August 4, 2005
"Scribbler" -- n. A professional writer
whose views are antagonistic to one's own.
Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914)
"The Devil's Dictionary"
Epistle to the Galatians
Magna Charta of Christian Liberty
If someone asked you to name the very first book written of the 27 books contained in our NT canon, what would
your answer be? Many, perhaps, might suggest "Matthew." After all, it appears first in the listing of books,
therefore some assume it must have been written first. The 27 books of the NT canon, however, are not listed in order of date
written, although the book of Revelation, which appears last, most likely was the final book of the 27
to be written. The first book to be written was Galatians, and I am firmly convinced
this was providential. The very first declaration of inspiration was a proclamation of Freedom in Christ,
the very message the world, and even the church, needs to hear today!
Paul's letter to the Galatian brethren has often been heralded as the "Magna Charta of Christian
Liberty." The Magna Charta ("Great Charter") was a document issued by King John of England on
June 15, 1215. Abuses by King John caused a revolt by nobles who compelled him to execute this recognition
of rights for both noblemen and ordinary Englishmen. People long to be free, and very few will long tolerate the oppression
of those who would presume to lord it over them. Revolution and reform may at times be slow in coming, but come they will.
The first message the young church of our Lord Jesus needed to hear -- a message just as needed by the church
today -- is that we are free. We have been liberated from the tyranny of law,
and we abide in a state of grace. "It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing
firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery" (Gal. 5:1). There were some in Paul's day, and many in
ours, who sought to enslave the disciples of Christ to a legalistic system. Law is not the basis of our
fellowship, unity or salvation, and yet some were (and still are) teaching this fallacious doctrine. Thus, before any other book
of the NT canon was ever penned, the apostle Paul, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, sent out this Great Charter of
Christian Liberty in Christ.
- The great reformer Martin Luther (1483-1546) regarded the epistle to the Galatians as a type of "battle cry for
Christian liberty." He felt this inspired writing called him "to fight Paul's battle for the liberty of the Gospel all over
again" against the oppressive legalisms he perceived in the Roman Catholic Church. Luther once
wrote, "The Epistle to the Galatians is my epistle; I have betrothed myself to it; it is my wife." Those
discerning disciples who love and cherish their freedom in Christ have long loved and cherished the truths
proclaimed by Paul in this marvelous first book of the NT canon.
My purpose in this current issue of my weekly Reflections is not to provide an in-depth commentary on this
epistle, although such would certainly be a worthwhile venture. That would be beyond the scope of these articles.
I would suggest, however, that the people of God would be extremely well-served if this epistle was made a
frequent focal point of serious study in every congregation. I will be teaching it this coming fall quarter at our
congregation on Sunday mornings in one of the adult classes. We need its liberating lessons! In this
present article, however, I will seek to provide some of the background information to this epistle that
may perhaps make such later textual studies more meaningful. I firmly believe that before any book of the Bible
is examined textually, it should be carefully examined contextually. In other words, what
prompted the writing of this epistle? Why was it written? Who wrote it? To whom was it written? What
is the provenance of the letter? When was it written? What are some of the special features of it? These are all
vital questions that need to be addressed and answered if one would truly profit from a study of this, or any, book
of the Bible. Perhaps in future editions of these Reflections we shall seek to provide the same
information for other parts of God's written revelation, if this present article is well-received and regarded as
relevant by the readers.
As to who wrote this first work in the NT canon, there is very little doubt. Some of the NT epistles provide a much greater
challenge when seeking to determine authorship -- Hebrews, for example. I would refer the readers to
Reflections #128 -- The Authorship of
Hebrews: In-depth Investigation into Identity. "Paul, an apostle ... to the churches of Galatia" (Gal. 1:1-2)
states the matter clearly. Thus, the author of the epistle claims to be the apostle Paul. Either he is, or
he is lying. To suggest the latter is to question the very integrity of the epistle itself, and, indeed, the integrity of
the entire biblical canon. There is also a significant amount of autobiographical information provided in this
epistle (especially in the first two chapters) that can be easily checked and validated by an appeal to the historical
information provided in the book of Acts. This too points to Paul as the author. Thus, almost no one has any significant
questions regarding the authorship of Galatians.
Perhaps one of the most important issues connected with any critical background study of this epistle, and certainly
one of the most controversial aspects of that study, is: to whom exactly was it written? At first this may
seem a rather ridiculous question, for, after all, Gal. 1:2 clearly states Paul is writing to "the churches of Galatia."
That narrows it somewhat, but one might still ask: which churches of Galatia? Further, what geographical area is
meant by "Galatia"? There are several possibilities. Before examining them in more depth, let me point out that
this epistle is the only letter Paul addresses to more than one congregation of believers (although some
have suggested Ephesians is more properly a circular letter, and many of Paul's letters were clearly
passed around from congregation to congregation -- Col. 4:16). It is also the only letter from Paul in which he fails
to name the cities in which these congregations are located. He simply refers to them as "the churches of Galatia,"
thus leaving scholars today to speculate as to which churches in Galatia.
As previously noted, the problem of identification of destination is compounded by the fact that in the first century
there were two possible meanings of the term "Galatia," each indicating a different
geographical location. Therefore, biblical interpreters are faced with two significant challenges: (1) Which Galatia,
and (2) which cities? Let's begin with the first challenge.
- Ethnographic Galatia -- The North Galatian Theory. This was a territory in
north-central Asia Minor that was settled by the various Celtic tribes migrating from ancient Gaul (which corresponds to the
area currently occupied by France, Belgium, northern Italy, and parts of the Netherlands, Germany and
Switzerland). These peoples, at this time, were extremely fierce warriors. Migrating eastward in search of a
new homeland, they attacked and almost destroyed Rome, Macedonia, and Greece. They finally settled in
north-central Asia Minor and named this place "Galatia." In the year 189 B.C., the Romans, under the leadership
of General Manlius Vulso, conquered the Galatians and made them a part of the now expanding Roman Empire.
These various conquered peoples were allowed to maintain their boundaries, however, and a certain amount of independence.
- Political Galatia -- The South Galatian Theory. In the year 25 B.C., Amyntas,
the last of the Galatian kings, died. Augustus Caesar then made Galatia a Roman province. At the same time, he
expanded the southern boundaries to include such notable cities as Pisidian Antioch, Iconium, Lystra and Derbe.
This southern expansion, along with the original northern areas of Galatia, came to be referred to as "Political
Galatia." In the eyes of the Romans, this was just as much a part of Galatia as the original boundaries, however
the people of Galatia never really accepted the Roman addition of the southern territory as being a part of Galatia.
Thus, when someone spoke of "Galatia" during the time of the apostle Paul, there were two possible views as to the
territory involved. The central question, of course, is this -- which one did Paul have in mind?! This is
a far more important question than may at first seem apparent to a casual observer, for the answer will shed light
not only on which cities Paul directed this epistle to, but also when it was written, and
from where. To complicate the matter even further for the layman, biblical scholars are horribly
divided on the issue. It is my opinion, however, that the South
Galatian theory is the most tenable, and thus I base my conclusions with regard to both date, destination and
provenance on that belief. Obviously, those who hold to the North Galatian view will arrive at different
The North Galatian position is a rather difficult one for its adherents to defend, for it is based largely, in
my view, upon some rather questionable assumptions. For example, it is assumed that Paul would only
have used the term "Galatia" in its ethnic sense, and would never have considered the
political aspects of that term. Thus, when Paul calls his readers "Galatians" (Gal. 3:1), he would
never be addressing those in the southern addition, since they were only "Galatians" by the decree
of Rome. Therefore, they reason, he must be addressing the citizens in the north. However, such a premise fails
to account for the fact that Paul, even though a Jew, was nevertheless raised and educated as a Roman citizen,
and thus the political sense of the term "Galatia" would have been very familiar to him, and would most probably
have been the emphasis of his personal, social and educational environment far more than the ethnic sense.
- Those who advocate the North Galatian view also, as a rule, tend to favor the theory that Paul's
first epistle to the saints at Thessalonica was the first book penned in the New Testament canon, as that epistle
is far less theologically developed that his other writings. Thus, for 1 Thessalonians to be the first book
of the NT canon, Galatians must be moved to a later date. This can be accomplished if one embraces the view
that he wrote to the cities of the north.
It is my conviction, however, that the South Galatian position is the correct one, or, at least, the more
likely of the two. There are several reasons I favor this view:
- Paul was a Roman citizen, thus he would have been more likely to have used the Roman
designation for the province than that favored by the Gauls. In fact, that is exactly what he did in
1 Cor. 16. Paul speaks of Macedonia (vs. 5), Achaia (vs. 15), and Asia (vs. 19), all of which were the Roman
terms employed for these provinces, although not necessarily the names favored by the locals. In 1 Cor. 16:1 Paul
even refers to the "churches of Galatia" --- using this term in the very same chapter where he had previously used
other Roman names to refer to other provinces. Thus, it seems apparent that Paul was in the habit of
employing the Roman names, rather than the local names, and thus would most likely have Political Galatia in mind,
not the original boundaries established by the Gauls.
- Paul states, in 1 Cor. 16:1, that the churches of Galatia participated in the "collection for the saints" in Judea.
In Acts 20:4 a list of those men who accompanied him back to Jerusalem with these collected funds is given. Two
men from cities in Political Galatia are mentioned -- Gaius of Derbe and Timothy of Lystra -- whereas
not a single person from Ethnic Galatia is mentioned. This again seems to confirm the South
- There is no solid evidence anywhere in the book of Acts that Paul ever journeyed into the area of northern
Galatia, or that he established any congregations there. Luke is completely silent about any such missionary
effort in that area. However, there is abundant evidence that Paul went throughout southern Galatia, establishing
congregations in Pisidian Antioch, Iconium, Lystra and Derbe. Also, Acts 16:1-6 informs us that Paul "passed
through the Phrygian and Galatian region," but the only two Galatian cities mentioned in this passage (Derbe and
Lystra) are both in southern/political Galatia. The major cities in northern Galatia were Pessinus,
Ancyra and Tavium; cities which are never mentioned anywhere in the NT writings.
- In Gal. 2:13 Paul speaks of Barnabas in such language that many scholars believe he was known by name to
those congregations to whom Paul wrote. According to Acts 13-14 it was Barnabas who traveled with Paul on his
first missionary journey when congregations were established in southern Galatia. Thus, Barnabas
would indeed have been familiar to those in the south. There is no evidence anywhere in Acts, however, that
Barnabas ever went to northern Galatia. In fact, just the opposite. When Paul began his second missionary
journey, Barnabas and Mark sailed to Cyprus.
- At the time Paul wrote Galatians he speaks of only two visits to Jerusalem following his conversion
to Christ Jesus which can be linked with the record in the book of Acts: (1) The visit that took place three years after he
was converted, and following his time in Arabia -- Gal. 1:18ff and Acts 9:26ff, and (2) when he brought a contribution for famine
relief from Antioch, where Paul had been preaching to Gentiles for almost a year -- Gal. 2:1ff and Acts 11:25ff. Since
Paul makes absolutely no mention in Galatians of his trip to Jerusalem for the Jerusalem Council, which is
discussed in Acts 15 (occurring in 50 A.D.), and since he is obviously familiar with churches in Galatia,
which he himself established during his first missionary journey (which lasted from 45-47 A.D.), and since he makes
no mention of the decisions rendered by the Jerusalem Council (which he most certainly would
have, given the theme of this epistle, had he been aware of the decrees sent forth from that conference), it is logical to assume, then, that this epistle
was written prior to 50 A.D., and the only area of Galatia we know for sure that Paul had
traveled to at this time was
southern Galatia (specifically, the cities of Pisidian Antioch, Iconium, Lystra and Derbe).
The evidence, in my opinion, is overwhelmingly supportive of the South Galatian theory, and thus
the cities he addressed, when speaking of the "churches of Galatia" (Gal. 1:2), would be the very congregations he
himself established on his very first missionary journey. There is simply no evidence, internal or external, that lends
any credence to the Ethnographic Galatian theory, therefore I am compelled to discount it and to embrace
the Political Galatian theory as the correct one.
If the South Galatian theory is the correct one, as I believe it to be, then Paul's epistle to the churches in
Galatia would have been written following his first missionary journey (45-47 A.D.), and yet
prior to the Jerusalem Council (50 A.D.). There is really only one place that "fits the bill" for
the provenance (place of origin) of this epistle -- Antioch in Syria. At the conclusion of his first missionary journey,
Paul returned to Syrian Antioch where he "spent a long time with the disciples" (Acts 14:28). This "long time" would
have been from 47-50 A.D., a period during which Paul and Barnabas worshipped and worked with the congregation in
Antioch. It was during this time that Paul wrote this epistle to the congregations he had established just a couple
of years previously in southern Galatia.
As has already been noticed, the time of composition for Paul's epistle to the Galatians would be during
the "long time spent with the disciples" in the city of Antioch in Syria. This would place the date sometime around
48-49 A.D., just shortly after the congregations in southern Galatia had been established by him. This also fits
well with his statement to them in Gal. 1:6 -- "I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who
called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel." Since very little time had passed between the
establishment of those congregations during the first missionary journey and the writing of this epistle, the phrase "so quickly" does
Why did Paul write this epistle? What purpose did he have in mind? Since Paul had not
previously written any epistles, at least none of which we are aware, something must have compelled him to invest the
time to compose these special thoughts for these brethren at this particular time. Understanding a letter's intent
is always a vital key to the proper interpretation of that letter. There are several reasons why Paul produced
- One of the reasons was to defend his apostleship, which had once again been called into question by his
detractors. The first couple of chapters are filled with personal references clearly designed to establish his
credibility among his readers, a credibility being strongly challenged by his critics. Thus, he makes it clear that
his ministry is not from men, but from the Lord Jesus Himself. "Paul, an apostle (not sent from men,
nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father)" (Gal. 1:1). "For I would have you
know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from
man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ" (Gal. 1:11-12). "He set me apart,
even from my mother's womb, and called me through His grace" (Gal. 1:15). Paul even stresses that he did not
"consult with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me" (Gal. 1:16-17).
This was all to establish the genuineness of his calling, a calling which some were apparently questioning ---
"Now in what I am writing to you, I assure you before God that I am not lying!" (Gal. 1:20).
- Paul, in chapter 2, stresses the fact he was well-received by "those who were of high reputation" in Jerusalem,
although he emphasizes that such distinction "makes no difference to me" and that they "contributed
nothing to me" (Gal. 2:6-7). Nevertheless, "recognizing the grace that had been given to me, James and Cephas
and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship" (Gal. 2:9). The
right hand of fellowship extended by the church "pillars" was an important act of acceptance, and Paul hastened to
point this out to those who perhaps were hearing negative comments from those who opposed him. He further
established his authority with these Galatian readers by pointing out that he had even had to confront and admonish one of these "pillars" (Gal.
2:11f). Therefore, this was a "credibility in response to criticism" matter that needed to be
established with these congregations early on in this very first document produced in the NT canon.
- These critics of Paul were also troubling the saints in the cities in which Paul had previously preached the
gospel of Jesus Christ, distorting that gospel (Gal. 1:7). Some, sadly, were even turning away from the
truth and deserting the Lord for "a different gospel" (Gal. 1:6). These were very likely the Judaizers, who were
trying to force the Galatian brethren, who were mostly Gentiles, to accept circumcision and the observance of
Jewish customs and laws as essential to salvation. These Judaizers were also very active in Syrian Antioch,
where Paul was, at this time; causing turmoil that would quickly lead to the Jerusalem Council (Acts
15:1ff). Paul had "great dissension and debate with them" (Acts 15:2). He even characterized these men to the
Galatians as "false brethren who had sneaked in to spy out our liberty we have in Christ Jesus, in order to bring
us into bondage" (Gal. 2:4). Paul declared, "We did not yield in subjection to them for even an hour, so that the
truth of the gospel might remain with you" (Gal. 2:5).
- The apostle Paul used some very harsh, and extremely strong, language against these law-bound individuals who were
at this time troubling the church. Not only did he call them "false brethren," but he twice pronounced upon them an
"anathema" (Gal. 1:8-9), a word which simply signifies that which is so accursed that it is fit only for destruction.
Such are those people who would bind laws and customs upon those free in Christ. He accuses the Galatians of
being not only "foolish," but "bewitched," for even considering such a doctrine (Gal. 3:1f). Paul did not mince
words when it came to his feelings for "the one who is disturbing you" (Gal. 5:10). He "shall bear his judgment,
whoever he is" (Gal. 5:10). Furthermore, he declared, "I wish those who are disturbing you might also get themselves
castrated!" (Gal. 5:12, Holman Christian Standard Bible). In other words, those men promoting
circumcision as a condition of salvation and fellowship should not cut their effort short, but go ahead
and do the job thoroughly ... castrating themselves! No, Paul had no patience with legalists.
Neither should we! Lives are at stake; eternity hangs in the balance; it is no time for "niceties!"
- There is some evidence that these troublers of the Galatian brethren may have been somewhat
Gnostic in their thinking and practice. Paul cautioned the saints in Galatia not to turn their freedom
into "an opportunity for the flesh" (Gal. 5:13). Moral laxity, or libertinism, was one aspect of Gnostic thinking that
needed to be guarded against continually. A turning back to "elemental forces," and the observance of seasonal
markers (Gal. 4:9-10), were also tenets of this teaching.
- Another extremely important aspect of this work, and a vital part of the teaching of the apostle Paul throughout his
ministry, was the recognition that justification is by faith, and NOT by works of law. This
would be contrary to the message of the Judaizers, and thus it was critical these fairly new converts come to
appreciate the distinction between justification and salvation by means of their own human effort or merit, and the free gift of
justification and salvation by grace through faith. "A man is not justified by works of law, but by faith in Jesus
Christ. ... by works of law shall no flesh be justified" (Gal. 2:16). Indeed, "if righteousness comes through law, then
Christ died needlessly" (Gal. 2:21). Paul then stresses in chapter 5 the consequence of a return to law -- it severs one
from Christ and causes them to fall from grace (Gal. 5:4). In Christ Jesus, legalistic requirements are meaningless; all that
matters is faith actively demonstrating itself through love (Gal. 5:6).
- It should also not be overlooked that Paul sought to impress upon the hearts and minds of these Galatian brethren that
their freedom in Christ did not give them license to practice lawlessness and immorality, which was
apparently one of the tenets of the group known as the Nicolaitans (Rev. 2:6, 14-15). I would refer the reader to my
article on the history and teachings of this early church heretical group:
Reflections #73 -- The Nicolaitans: A Case
Study in Compromise. Paul's classic contrast between the works of the flesh (Gal. 5:19-21) and the fruit
of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23) has long been one of the most studied, and certainly one of the most spiritually beneficial,
portions of Scripture among genuine believers. It is the age-old battle between walking by the Spirit or carrying out
the desires of the flesh.
- The primacy of LOVE is central to the teaching of the epistle to the Galatians. "Through love serve one another"
(Gal. 5:13). "For the entire law is fulfilled in one statement: Love your neighbor as yourself. But if you
bite and devour one another, watch out, or you will be consumed by one another" (Gal. 5:14-15). "But the fruit of the
Spirit is love..." (Gal. 5:22). LOVE will prompt the believer to restore those who are caught in some trespass
(Gal. 6:1), to bear one another's burdens (Gal. 6:2), to share with those who teach them (Gal. 6:6), to not lose heart
in doing good (Gal. 6:9-10), and to "not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another" (Gal. 5:26).
- The principle of reciprocity is clearly perceived in this epistle; a message to which the troublers of the church,
both then and now, obviously need to pay greater attention. They need to understand that "whatever a man sows,
this he will also reap!" (Gal. 6:7). This might be a good time for us all to reflect once again on
Reflections #172 -- The Principle of
Reciprocity: Reaping Exactly What You Sow.
Each of the 66 books in the Bible is peerless. They all have special features and characteristics that make them
singularly memorable and meaningful to those who devote themselves to prayerful reflection upon their inspired
contents and concepts. Let us notice a few of these unique features of the epistle to the Galatians:
- Galatians is the only letter written by Paul that is addressed to a group of congregations. It is also
the only epistle in which the congregations addressed are unnamed.
- Next to 2 Corinthians, many feel Galatians to be the most autobiographical of Paul's epistles.
- Galatians is the first known letter written by the apostle Paul, and most scholars believe it also to be the
first book penned in the NT canon.
- The epistle to the Galatian brethren has been called "The Epistle of Conflict." Dr. Everett F.
Harrison wrote, "The tone of the letter is noticeably sharp, especially in dealing with the Judaizers, but also in
rebuking the Galatians" (Introduction to the New Testament, p. 279). "The tone of the book is warlike.
It fairly crackles with indignation though it is not the anger of personal pique but of spiritual principle. He reproved
the Galatians for their acceptance of legalistic error" (Dr. Merrill C. Tenney, New Testament Survey,
p. 269). This is an epistle that immediately, and very forcefully, goes on the attack, even omitting the usual
initial note of thanksgiving that would become characteristic of Paul's later writings.
- It is only within this particular epistle that Paul calls attention to his handwriting. He also apparently writes
a section of the epistle (Gal. 6:11-18) in his own handwriting, rather than dictating his thoughts to a scribe. "See
with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand" (Gal. 6:11). Some scholars feel the entire epistle
may well have been written by Paul's own hand, rather than just this last section. Either way, Paul draws attention
to his handwriting. This may have served the purpose of showing his deep personal concern for them, or even to
validate that this message was indeed from him, and not from someone else perhaps impersonating him. There
is obviously much speculation as to his purpose in mentioning his handwriting.
- Some Pauline scholars feel this may be a hint as to the nature of the "thorn in the flesh" (2 Cor. 12:7-9) and the "bodily
condition" (Gal. 4:13-14) that plagued Paul during his life. It is felt by many that this infirmity was actually very
poor eyesight, a condition that would certainly explain the "large letters" with which he wrote, and why in most of
his epistles he used a scribe ("I, Tertius, who write this letter, greet you in the Lord" -- Rom. 16:22). It would also
explain his statement in Gal. 4:15 -- "For I bear you witness, that if possible, you would have plucked out your eyes
and given them to me." Paul made a personal habit, however, in all of his NT epistles, of writing the final greeting
in his own hand (1 Cor. 16:21; Col. 4:18). "I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand, and this is a distinguishing
mark in every letter; this is the way I write" (2 Thess. 3:17).
Dr. Everett F. Harrison captured the focus of this great epistle quite beautifully in the following statement -- "No writing could
better demonstrate how the creation of a certain moment can become a norm for all time. The issue that had to be
decided was whether Christianity should be determined by Judaism or develop in terms of its own genius. More
specifically, the question was the very continuance of the gospel in its simplicity and purity. Was more needed
for admission to the church than faith in Christ and his finished work? This epistle answers eloquently, NO!"
(Introduction to the New Testament, p. 280).
The early church faced a crisis of faith ... literally. Either salvation was by grace through faith, or it
was by meritorious works of law, with grace and faith thrown in as "leveling agents" for our imperfections with
respect to knowledge and performance. Before a single word had been penned of the 27 books of the NT canon,
Paul stepped boldly into this theological arena and proclaimed the supremacy of faith and the futility of law to
effect justification, fellowship and salvation. When legalists sought to enslave their fellow disciples once more
to the dictates of a rigid legal system, Paul confronted them head-on with the fact of freedom in Christ Jesus. This
first inspired writing of the New Covenant era was a bold, war-like tome intended to defeat the enemies of Christian
liberty before they gained a foothold.
"Not many books have made such a lasting impression on men's minds as the Epistle of Paul to the Galatians,
nor have many done so much to shape the history of the Western world. Galatians has been called the 'Magna
Charta of Christian Liberty,' and this is quite correct. For it rightly maintains that only through the grace of God in
Jesus Christ is a person enabled to escape the curse of his sin and of the law and to live a new life, not in
bondage or license, but in a genuine freedom of mind and of spirit through the power of God. Because of this
powerful truth, Galatians was the cornerstone of the Protestant Reformation" (The Expositor's Bible
Commentary, vol. 10, p. 409).
- "We lack precise information about the effect of the epistle in meeting the Galatian crisis, but from 1 Corinthians
16:1 and possibly from 2 Timothy 4:10 (where there is an alternative reading 'Gaul') it appears that the Judaizing error
was rejected by the churches as a whole" (Dr. Everett F. Harrison, Introduction to the New Testament,
p. 280). Let us pray that God will help His people reject that same spirit of legalism that plagues the church today!
Down, But Not Out
A Study of Divorce and Remarriage
in Light of God's Healing Grace
by Al Maxey
Order Your Copy Today
Reflections from Readers
From a Minister in India:
Dear Brother, Your analysis of Romans 16:7 was brilliant. Your research and style of thinking, and how you
provide such great exegesis on a dry subject, is amazing. Now I understand the importance of each and every
verse of the Bible much better. You also have a magnificent graphic artist; you two are a good combination.
- I have had several people ask me over the years where I find my graphics. I wish I
could say that I have a wonderful, talented assistant that does all of this work for me, but, alas, that is not the
case. My "assistant" is named Google! With the world at my fingertips, through the
Image Search feature of this powerful search engine, finding just the right graphic is not too
difficult. --- Al Maxey
From a Reader in California:
Al, Congratulations from us on your long marriage to Shelly! We have celebrated our 48th anniversary. How can
one not believe in the GRACE of God?! I really, really enjoy the letters from other believers
in your "Reflections from Readers" section. Thanks! I haven't yet finished the article for this week,
but I will.
- Actually, many of the readers have written to inform me just how much they enjoy reading the remarks
from the other subscribers to these Reflections. I have had a few even say they like it better than the
article!!! Now that will keep an author humble!!! Some have even told me they always read the readers'
responses first, and then go back and study the article. I personally believe the Readers' Response
section of each issue of Reflections serves a very important function. Not only does it give people a
chance to voice their views, with some brief response by me (which constitutes a form of dialogue), but it allows
readers to hear what their fellow disciples worldwide are reflecting upon and struggling with in their walk with the
Lord. In this way we challenge one another's thinking and promote greater reflection on the Word. It also provides
some degree of affirmation and validation of this ministry, as well as occasional criticism and condemnation of it,
all of which may be healthy if properly perceived. I pray the readers will always find this a safe forum in which
to express what is on their hearts and minds without fear of persecution from the "thought police" who would gladly
stifle such open expression if they could. --- Al Maxey
From a Minister in Kentucky:
Bro. Al, It's been a long time since I've written. I just wanted to encourage you to keep up the excellent work you are
doing. Spreading the good news of the kingdom and seeking to open people's eyes to truth can be exhausting.
Thank you for your earnest and enduring spirit! With your diligent and thorough analysis of
Scripture you've helped me think through a number of issues in the past. Keep up the wonderful work, brother!
From a Minister in Alabama:
Brother Al, now you've gone and messed up!! The traditionalists will come after you stronger than ever because
of your new book "Down, But Not Out." I know it must be a good 'un, though, because my old friend, Olan Hicks,
has endorsed it. I hope it sells a million copies!!
From a Reader in Texas:
Brother Al, I printed off your Reflections #201 right before heading off to work today, and I finally had
the opportunity to read it about 2200 hours! Excellent study on Andronicus and Junia! You covered
both sides of this discussion very fairly, and I appreciate very much your ability to simplify both sides of the
discussion for those who don't want to go into too much depth. I will be adding an additional link on my web site
to your Reflections #201 for people who are interested in this particular part of the "gender issue" in
the church, as Junia is definitely brought up in many discussions. I am really looking forward to getting the
next issue of your Reflections just to see if we can disagree on something --
although that's pretty rare! By the way, Happy Anniversary ... my wife and I are just about seven months behind
you and Shelly! Also, our oldest daughter is now on the job as the full time Children's Minister at a
Church of Christ just north of Houston.
From a Reader in Oklahoma:
I am looking forward to receiving your book. I would have ordered your book regardless of seeing Olan's
recommendation, but now that he's said what he said, I am sure I will love it. I have admired Olan's
scholarship on this subject for years. May God bless many people through your efforts!
From a Minister in New Mexico:
Brother Al, I am your neighbor just to your west in Las Cruces at the Agape Christian Church. I love
your web site, and am interested in your new book and your background. I am glad that you are hanging tough in
Alamogordo; it is a town, just like Las Cruces, that has a lot of potential. I would love to visit with you some time
and see if there is any way we all could have some fellowship together. Let me hear from you. With love from
the "outlaw" Christian Church in Las Cruces!
If you would like to be removed from or added to this
mailing list, contact me and I will immediately comply.
If you are challenged by these Reflections, then feel
free to send them on to others and encourage them
to write for a free subscription. I would also welcome
any questions or comments from the readers. A CD
containing these articles may be purchased. Check the
ARCHIVES for details & past issues of Reflections: