St. Paul Was Not Alone…
When St. Paul wrote His letters to the Galatians, he added in his greeting that he was not alone in thought:
…and all the brothers who are with me, to the churches of Galatia: -Galatians, 1:2, NAB
Let’s not get confused – scholars believe that St. Paul was the sole author of this letter, but he was adding that there were others that supported what he was writing. The letter to the Galatians was meant to deal with different crises in that area, and it seems that he did not want them thinking that he was making demands on his own.
Who are all the brothers? Well, for one, it was not simply a group of men. He would have used brothers generically, but it truly meant all the Christians who supported him – men and women alike. This letter to the Galatians, then, comes from St. Paul with the support of other fellow Christians.
From its earliest days, the Church never acted as individual members. In Matthew 18:15-17, Jesus lays down this instruction. If a fellow Christian is acting improperly, we should correct them. When that doesn’t work, we should bring one or two others with us. If that still doesn’t work, we should bring the whole Church in on the matter.
Following Christ’s teaching, St. Paul was not alone in correcting the Galatians; he had help from his brothers and sisters in Christ. This way, the Galatians would be more compelled to change. St. Paul may have written the letter, but he had the support of the Church behind him.
The idea of correcting our fellow Christians this way continues today. First, we should try to keep it between two fellow Christians – the goal is not to embarass someone publicly. Next, when we cannot convince someone on our own, we should bring one or two others to help. Only when that fails should we bring it to the larger Church, such as our local parish.
St. Paul was not alone in his letter to the Galatians; he was writing on behalf of the Church. He wanted the Galatians to overcome their problems, but he had to convince them that there was a problem in the first place. With the support of the Church, he could have a greater impact on them. In the same way, we can correct our fellow brothers and sisters. Our goal, however must not be to criticize, but to help bring change, just as St. Paul intended with the Galatians.