As our notes indicate, many scholars think Paul did not write the letter we are introducing. Their reason for thinking this is that it is so different from all other epistles with the exception of Colossians, and even here there...
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As our notes indicate, many scholars think Paul did not write the letter we are introducing. Their reason for thinking this is that it is so different from all other epistles with the exception of Colossians, and even here there are marked differences.
Without doubt this Epistle does not deal directly with great themes such as justification, sanctification and the like, although they are by no means excluded. Paul has in mind the very reason for creation, and it is God's plan for filling out His Fatherhood in the Family. The planning of His sons-to-come, the present gathering together of the family in the Household of God, and the production of the New Humanity in His Son, by the Cross, so that Jew and Gentile distinctions disappear - all of these make for a rich understanding of the nature of the Father.
The plan, from before creation, to head up, or unify all things in the Son, and the exaltation of Christ, not only to be head of all things for the Church, but to fill up all things, by Christ as Lord also points us to the nature of Christ as Son. The fact that all things happen in Christ shows us that not only are we dependent upon the Father for our fullness, but also upon the Son. His work of salvation, and the final unification of all things are both cosmic.
The Holy Spirit is also very present in his ministry, in this epistle. It is through him that both Jew and Gentile, now part of the New humanity, come to the Father, and are incorporate in the Household of God. He holds the unity of the Church, and is grieved when love, forgiveness and tenderness are with-held by any member. It is in fullness the family lives, and their relationships are worked out. That fullness derives from the Father, the Son and the Spirit.
There is much more, of course, but perhaps it is in the first six verses of the fourth chapter that we see the rich unity that now grips the Church. Participants in one faith, one baptism, it is held together in fine harmony by the unity of the Spirit, the Lordship of Christ, and the "one God and Father of us all, who is above all, and through all, and in all."
As the Epistle to the Galatians is needed today to recall us from a programme of works which justify us and our existence, so this Epistle is needed to refresh us in the understanding that everything is moving towards its wonderful and appointed end. Here is no philosophical determinism, but a grand view of the purposes of God, etched panoramically, and designed to build faith and serenity in the viewer.
Yet not only faith and serenity, but a gripping excitement, that which springs from the knowledge that God has designed great things for His people, and for their home - the universe - which will one day be purged and renewed, a place fit for a new race born in the Cross, and springing from the eternal purposes of Him Who is Father to His people.
Hence, when we read these great themes we need to work at them, in detail to get their importance, and to relate it to ourselves. Likewise we need to step back, from time to time, from the detail and see where the Epistle is leading us to, first to the eternal purposes of God, and then, in the light of them, to live as the New Humanity, here, now, in the business of life and all relationships and in fact to fight the powers of evil and conquer them.
It is a grand Epistle, and deserves the time, prayer, devotion and attention we can give to it. In it we meet the Father, the Son, the Spirit and the Family, and so, ourselves.
Geoffrey Bingham has had a ministry throughout six States of Australia and in a number of countries overseas. An Anglican minister trained at Moore Theological College, he had pastored one church before going to Pakistan with his family under the covering of the Church Missionary Society. There he was the founder Principal of the Pakistan Bible Training Institute at Hyderabad Sindh. He saw revival break out along with his ministry and had a wide coverage on the Indian sub-continent and beyond. In 1966 he and the family returned to Australia and in 1967 he began as the Principal of the Adelaide Bible Institute (now Bible College of South Australia) which had expanded quite quickly. He left the college in 1973. Shortly after, New Creation Teaching Ministry was formed which provides regular conferences, teaching sessions, and many publications. Bingham wrote dozens of book on many topics. In 2005 he was awarded Member of the Order of Australia for service to the community through Christian ministry, encouraging cross-cultural theological education and as an author , The Advertiser.- Publisher.