From the documents necessary to buy a house, to rental agreements, to bill of sales, even student enrollment verification, we’ve all had to find a notary, appear in person, sign on the dotted line, watch the notary officially sign, and then record in their journal. We do all this to guarantee the documents are authentic.
In the first century they didn’t use notaries, but the Apostle Paul used a special technique so that his readers would know they had the real thing in their hands. Near the end of his letters he took the quill from his secretary, dipped the tip in the ink, and then finished the letter in his easily identified handwriting. He started out this letter to the Galatians stressing that he had received his Gospel-centered in Jesus’ crucifixion by a direct revelation from God. Now he makes sure that we can be sure that this is an authentic letter directly from him.
“See what large letters I’m using as I write with my own hand!” Galatians 6:11
His writing secretary might have been Silas or Timothy (2 Thessalonians 1:1; Philippians 1:1, Philemon 2), Sosthenes (1 Corinthians 1:1), Tertius (Romans 16:22), or Luke, his beloved doctor (2 Tim. 4:11). We don’t know the identity of his amanuensis, but we do know this letter is Paul’s because he followed his usual practice of finishing the letter in his own handwriting (1 Corinthians 16:2, 2 Thessalonians 3:17, Colossians 4:18). He’s going to summarize to make sure that we don’t miss the absolute importance of Jesus’ cross, so he writes the words of his close with his own hand.
LORD, it’s incredible that more than two thousand years later, we can read this letter, especially when so many have tried to destroy the pages of your sacred word. And as Paul finishes Galatians riveting our attention again on the absolute importance of the Messiah’s cross, help me to reaffirm my commitment to always proclaim only this Good News.
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