There is a term in basketball when a player is about to pass the ball to a teammate and then noticeably looks in the direction of that teammate, which tips off the defense as to the player’s intentions. It’s called “telegraphing the pass”. Inevitably, the defense sees what is about to happen and then intercepts the pass.
In these opening verses of Galatians, Paul, the writer of the epistle, is telegraphing the pass. He is tipping his hand about what is coming. These opening lines set up the themes that Paul is about to deal with rather sharply. The church in Galatia has been in dispute over what the rules will be to follow Jesus. There is confusion over how much of Judaism to hold on to and how much freedom there is from the Torah (a.k.a. “the Law”). Some interloping preachers have come through saying that Gentile Christians need to ascribe to certain aspects of the Law, namely circumcision. This confuses the Gospel of Christ in Paul’s opinion.
So, in the first verse, Paul sets himself up as one sent not by human authority, but by God’s authority – this is in juxtaposition with those whom he disagrees with of course! Paul then goes on to proclaim the reason he was sent by God in verse 4. His job is to proclaim a gospel that sets us free… Freedom this present evil age that is filled with unnecessary rules. But, this freedom is not just a freedom from, it is a freedom to. We are set free in order to enact the will of God.
It may only be a few verses of greeting that open this letter to the Galatians, but it telegraphs some deep themes for how God works, how we relate to God, and how we are called by God.
May we have eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts to do the will of God with the freedom the gospel gives us from evil in order to show love.
Grace and Peace,