DSG | Discipleship Study Guide | Vineyard Boise

Large Letters | Galatians 6:11

Reflection 66 of 70

Galatians 6:11  |  ESV  [This Week’s Passage: Galatians 6:11-18]
See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand.

Mike’s Authorized Version (MAV)
And now that we’re getting to the end of this letter, I take the pen in hand myself to write these final signature lines – and look what fine, large signature lines they are! Hopefully in these large letters you’ll see my heart and not miss a thing.

It was ancient practice to employ scribes skilled in writing when sending documents or letters of importance. Jeremiah had his Baruch, and when writing the defining document of his life, the letter to the Romans, Paul had his Tertius (Romans 16:22). This presents us with a picture of Paul passionately dictating his thoughts as a scribe furiously wrote, trying to keep up. But Paul made a habit, as was common, in the final line or two, of taking the pen from the scribe and adding the distinctive flow of his own penmanship, saying, for example, to the Thessalonians – who evidently had dealt with some forgeries – “I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand – which is the distinguishing mark in all of my letters; it’s how I write” (2 Thessalonians 3:17). So here in Galatians, it’s evidently a signal that at this point, and throughout the remainder of the letter, Paul is now writing with his own hand. And though we can’t see his unique handwriting due to the fact we’re reading a translation and no one has that original letter he sent, we have to imagine his style. And it was evidently IN LARGE LETTERS. SOMEWHAT LIKE WHEN WE TYPE THINGS IN ALL CAPS. FOR US IT’S A WAY OF SHOUTING THROUGH PRINT. IT’S LOUD, BOLD, EMPHATIC, NOISY, BORDERING ON RUDE IF IT GOES ON FOR TOO LONG. Perhaps that’s how our English translations should be printed when we come to this final section of Galatians. Some imagine that as a tradesmen Paul’s hands were too fat and clumsy to write delicately, or that his “thorn in the flesh” was glaucoma or some such eye condition forced him to write with abnormally large letters. Maybe. But I get the feeling that at the end of a very passionately argued letter, this is Paul’s way of putting his own stylish exclamation point at its conclusion. He wants this to be heard and the content of the entire letter thereby underlined.

How most recently has God spoken to you in ALL CAPS? What did he say? How did you respond?

Lord, may it not take large letters from your hand to get my attention. Let me not be as the mule that needs much prodding with bit and bridle to turn and respond. Give me a heart that sees and responds to the subtlest of your movements, to the stillness of your voice?

For all of this week’s resources on Galatians including this week’s DG video on Galatians, check out the Vineyard website.



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