Called Before Birth
In this series we have seen that Paul is interested in the new age in Jesus Christ, a worldview with Jesus as absolute Lord and Savior, the kingdom of God defined as the covenant promises actualized in Jesus and Christ revealed as the reigning King in fulfillment of all of God's promises to his people. In the article previous to this one I made the claim that Paul's letter to the church in Galatia is about a clash of worldviews: it is concerned with much more than one narrow definition of religion contrasted with another.
Clearly, Paul's primary interest in the letter is a proper understanding of Jesus the Christ. Indeed, the thesis of the letter is Jesus the Messiah as the center of God's activity in creation. Granted, Paul has much to say about grace as opposed to law; as we will see, it is part of a worldview definition rather than legalism contrasted with non-legalistic religion. In other words, grace is the condition of one who is living in the reality of Jesus. It is the atmosphere the Jesus follower breathes while living in the "King Jesus worldview."in him So yes, grace is a critical component of the letter. Nevertheless, it must be understood in the context of Paul's primary thrust.
In this section Paul lays claim to a prophetic authority akin to Jeremiah. Even before he was born, God determined Paul would be the apostle to the Gentiles. It was by the grace of God he had been called and appointed to husband the realization of Christ's world-wide reign. Paul was not called because he was a child of Abraham (God can bring forth children to Abraham from stones). Nor was he called because he was advancing beyond many of his peers. Paul came to realize the truth and his prophetic appointment by the grace of God.
Here we are again face the question of whether the revelation of Christ is in Paul or to Paul. Christ revealed in Paul would emphasize the change in Paul's life. A revelation of Christ to Paul is about who Jesus is and how he is the fulfillment of God's covenant promises. Certainty there was a tremendous change in Paul. He was not the same person after his encounter with Jesus on the way to Damascus. He is adamant about that. Nevertheless, in keeping with what we discussed earlier, it seems best to understand this as a revelation to Paul. In other words, Paul was diligently serving the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob only to find out that his service of Yahweh was terribly wrong. As a result he entire context of Paul's belief system changed. Truly, this is a conversion. Not an abandonment of everything he had previously known but a radical realignment of his worldview. Paul was called to proclaim Jesus as Lord – this in the face of the common proclamation of the day that Caesar is Lord. This proclamation would send shockwaves throughout the entire world.
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