Sunday: Paul’s Own Hand

Compare Paul’s closing remarks in Galatians 6:11-18 to the final remarks he makes in his other letters. In what way is the ending of Galatians similar to and different from them? (See the final remarks in Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and 1 and 2 Thessalonians.)

By Paul's Own Hand

Image © Lifeway collection

Paul’s closing remarks are not always uniform, but a number of common elements appear in them: (1) greetings to specific individuals, (2) a final exhortation, (3) a personal signature, and (4) a closing benediction. When these typical features are compared to Paul’s final remarks in Galatians, two significant differences appear.

First, unlike many of Paul’s letters, Galatians contains no personal greetings. Why? As with the absence of the traditional thanksgiving at the beginning of the letter, this is probably a further indication of the strained relationship between Paul and the Galatians. Paul is polite but formal.

Second, we must remember that it was Paul’s custom to dictate his letters to a scribe (Rom. 16:22). Then after finishing, Paul often would take the pen himself and write a few brief words with his own hand to end the letter (1 Cor. 16:21). In Galatians, however, Paul deviates from his practice. When he takes the pen from the scribe, Paul is still so concerned with the circumstances in Galatia that he ends up writing more instead. He simply cannot put the pen down until he pleads with the Galatians once more to turn from their foolish ways.

In Galatians 6:11 Paul stresses that he wrote the letter with large letters. We really don’t know why. Some have speculated that Paul was not referring to the size of the letters but to their misshaped form. They suggest that perhaps Paul’s hands were either so crippled from persecution or gnarled from tent making that he could not form his letters with precision. Others believe his comments provide further evidence of his poor eyesight. Though both views are possible, it seems far less speculative to conclude simply that Paul was intentionally writing with large letters in order to underscore and reemphasize his point, similar to the way we might emphasize an important word or concept by underlining it, putting it in italics, or writing it in CAPITAL LETTERS.

Whatever the reason, Paul certainly wanted the readers to heed his warning and admonitions.


Leave a comment

Source: Daily Sabbath School Lessons