This is another repost of an old post in the Called According to Paul series. I’m reposting them all, one per week (sort of), so I can link to them in the sidebar under Favorite Posts. An explanation of this series can be found here, and the already reposted pieces are here.
The word called is used twice in Galatians 1, first in verse 6:
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are following a different gospel… (NET)
The phrase the one who called you refers to God the Father. The unified purpose but distinctive roles of the Father and Son are seen throughout the previous verses, and in this verse, Paul refers to the role of the Father, who calls people by the grace of Christ.
As we saw in 1 Corinthians 1, this call to the true gospel is a call that changes how the message of the gospel is perceived. The Galatians, then, having been called by the Father, have known the true gospel and have understood the power, wisdom and redemption in it; yet now they are turning away from it to “another gospel” that is not really the gospel at all.
It would be a mistake to think of their turning away as merely a turning from a proper understanding of the gospel. It is more than that: Turning away from the gospel is also leaving behind “the one who called.” God’s call is personal. It is not just a general and unspecific call, but a call from a personal God to individual people, so that following a different gospel is a personal betrayal of the one who called them.
To sum up what we can glean about the call of God from this verse:
- It originates with the Father
- It is a call based in grace, which means it is underserved.
- It is grounded in Christ’s work, for it is “the grace of Christ.”
- It is personal, coming from a personal God to individual persons.
Moving on to verses 15 and 16 of this chapter, where the word called is used again:
But when the one who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I could preach him among the Gentiles, I did not go to ask advice from any human being… (NET)
In context, I’d think this call is Paul’s call to apostleship. It was a call that was founded upon a choice (or a setting apart) by God before Paul was born. It resulted in God’s work within Paul’s life to accomplish the purpose for which he had set Paul apart. The point stressed is God’s sovereignty in the the whole thing: choosing Paul, calling him, saving him, and equipping him for service. This was a call to an office, apostleship, that was planned and accomplished by God.
What more can you glean from these two texts in Galatians 1 about Paul’s use of the word called as it refers to the call of God?