The following letter is a creative writing assignment from my course in Pauline literature. The task was to write a letter that the Galatians might have written in reply to Paul’s letter. The letter had to follow first-century ancient letter format. Admittedly, this was quite challenging; however, much was learned because I had the task of seeing Paul’s letter from a different perspective. Enjoy!
* the Geek name Ἀνδονις is pronounced Andonis
Ἀνδονις, a faithful member, along with the rest of the assembly of believers in Lystra in the region of Galatia.
To Paul, our beloved founder and apostle to Christ Jesus, who bears our burdens from afar and who has called us to live in the freedom of the Spirit, of whom we have received from God the Father.
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
We remember you always in our prayers, just as you have taught us to pray for those who are distant from us but still abide in the same body of believers in Christ Jesus. As we continue all the work that you have accomplished while you were with us, we have not forgotten the foundation that you have carefully and painstakingly laid for us. Praise be to God, we have continued to build upon that foundation of Christ, which you have laid. For this reason, we are thankful to God that you continue to remain invested in our well-being by watching over us from afar.
Your letter has been received and read aloud to the members here in Lystra. You are right in hearing that a different gospel has been received by some of those among us. Like you, this group of teachers are quite knowledgeable in the origins of what you have shown us; however, their claim is that they have been sent from God’s city of Jerusalem in order to complete your teachings, which some did not fully grasp after your leave from us. We know now, from your address that they stand in opposition to you.
Indeed, we stand accused of being foolish Galatians. However, we are not so foolish to seek your correction on some matters. Yes, there is good reason for our confusion and the assembly is now torn between the original gospel of freedom from the law, which you proclaimed to us, and the gospel of freedom in the law that they are proclaiming to be divine as well.
The declaration from these teachers is that Abraham was given the original promise, just as you have stated in your most recent correspondence with us; however, they have pointed out that the covenant stipulated that every male was to be circumcised and that YHWH specifically declared the following words in a scroll that they read to us in our tongue: I (YHWH) will establish my covenant between me and you (Abraham) and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant. After these words, the teachers showed us, from the same scroll, that the sign for this everlasting covenant was circumcision.
They have argued, quite convincingly, several points surrounding this covenant with Abraham and his offspring. First, there is nowhere within this divine covenant contract that implies an ending to circumcision, as you have stated where you have written that the law, “was added because of transgressions ‘until’ the Seed to whom the promise referred had come.” In fact, it stands to reason that where YHWH states everlasting He means precisely without ending and not “until” as you have taught. Therefore, because the sign of the word “everlasting” is circumcision, is it not rational that we too would continue on in that promise even if some of us are foreigners to Abraham, lest we be cut off from God and break this everlasting covenant?
Secondly, the teachers have blissfully pointed out that our Lord Jesus Christ came as an example of how we must live. Like you, they have taught us to live like Jesus Christ who was circumcised when he was eight days old in the city of Jerusalem. This is something that they claim you have kept from us. Perhaps, you were meaning to tell us more upon another visit?
If our Lord Jesus Christ followed the law as it was given to Abraham and we are to live as our Lord lived then why would we not be circumcised as well? Can circumcision be understood as a sign of God’s people both physically and spiritually and not as works? This seems to be an issue of identity rather than works, such as the teachers have clarified for us; however, as the one who the gospel has been personally revealed to, we will see to it that your answer is received as God’s reply to us.
It is our hope that you are able to tend to our questions and concerns with a visit. However, if it pleases you to respond to these matters with another written correspondence, then we will hear your words as if you were present among us, as you once were. Know that we have already taken proper measures to cease any damage that has already occurred; however, as you can see from our ignorance that confusion was easy for us in your absence. Perhaps this will compel the Spirit along with your spirit to come to us once more.
The other churches in Galatia send you greetings. All of the brothers and sisters send greetings to Barnabas as well. Those who tended to you during your illness also send greetings.
May the grace of our Lord Christ Jesus be with you.
-author- Kendell Linh Healy