(Gal. 1:1-5) Why doesn’t Paul pray in his introduction?

CLAIM: In Greek culture, most people would introduce a letter with thanksgiving and a greeting. In fact, it was considered shameful and offensive to dive immediately into the letter. Paul opens his letter with prayer and thanksgiving in every other letter. Why not this one?

RESPONSE: Paul is so “amazed” (v.6) at their rejection of the gospel that he immediately jumps into the message of his letter. Timothy George writes, “In his other letters Paul lavished compliments on the churches to whom he wrote… Not so the Galatians! His terse words betray his tense mood and the gravity of the situation with which he had to deal.”[1] Ronald Fung writes, “Because they are deserting the one true gospel Paul can find in them no cause for thanksgiving to God, but can only express astonishment instead.”[2]

For a modern equivalent, imagine if you saw your boss every day, and he always said, “Hey, how’s it going? Good to see you!” However, on morning, he came into your office, closed the door, and said, “We need to talk…” This would let you know that he meant business. Paul is using a similar approach in his letter to the Galatians.

[1] Timothy George, Galatians, vol. 30, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994), 83.

[2] Ronald Y. K. Fung, The Epistle to the Galatians, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1988), 43.