1:1 Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)
Every commentary ever written, in one form or another, addresses the immovable, unchanging Truth of Scripture in the writer’s cultural context. The point of exegesis is to minimize this gap as much as possible and to find the original meaning of the Scripture.
Lucky for us, Satan has hardly ever gotten more creative in his godless assaults. The only tactic that Satan has the power to wield is the contorting and manipulation of the truth. One of the first methods of doing so is to attack the authority of the Word. It is like that of a “hath God said” kind of attack (Genesis 3:1). In the early church, with no complete Bible and incomplete revelation of Scripture, Satanic assaults were on the ones that God utilized to be His messengers.
This assault was on the one that God had chosen to deliver the dispensation of grace, Paul (Ephesians 3:1).
Therefore, Paul’s letter to Galatians is opened, by reinforcing authority and placing himself in equal authority to the other apostles of his day. He was not just some teacher, Paul states he is an apostle. He was an apostle, not of men, as all the false teachers were. This distinction set him apart before he addressed his audience.
Paul was an apostle of God and the word “apostle,” regardless of the historical era, carries much weight. He was an instrument of the resurrected Christ for His purpose. The Apostle Paul was preaching with a commission of his own, which was “to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery” (Ephesians 3:9).
Many may disparage or minimize the importance of Paul’s greetings by reading through them quickly (or not at all), but his greetings and every portion of his letter served a purpose to further the Gospel.
1:2 And all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia:
Scripture tells us much of Paul’s brethren and traveling companions, but to know which ones specifically are being referred to in this passage would be speculation. Refer to the introduction page. There is a problem dating which missionary trip Paul wrote this letter from and precisely to whom Paul was ministering.
So to pin which companions were with him at this moment and who is addressed is difficult. It could be a number of companions including Barnabas, Silas, Timothy, and so on depending on missionary trips. Still, yet, there are some less-mentioned names that also could be referenced in this brief passage.
1:3-5 Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ,
Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:
To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Paul can be described as the “apostle of grace.” Within his letters, he mentions the Greek word χάρις or charis 156 times in 148 times. It can be said that the two words, “grace” and “peace,” are two overarching and very fitting descriptors of Christian inheritance and life. These were typical greetings of the apostle Paul as exemplified in his other letters.
Logistically, grace was typically a Greek greeting while peace (shalom) stood as a Jewish salutation. Martin Luther once wrote, “These two words, grace and peace, comprehend in them whatsoever belongeth to Christianity. Grace releaseth sin, and peace maketh the conscience quiet.”
Paul makes no mistake to mention who supplies grace as a free gift. This free gift of grace, and make no mistake, we are saved by grace through faith, as a gift of God. This grace delivers and literally plucks us (exaireō) from this present evil world, through a change of inheritance and placement in the Body of Christ, by His Spirit. This is by the will of God that this grace is lavishly laid on the believer.
But make no mistake, God does this for His own glory. Christians are to merely be mirrors of God’s grace. When referring to the grace of God and Christ’s Gospel, many people that God’s purpose in carrying out this grand plan was because He loves all of humanity and no doubt that comes with it.
But God’s manifold purpose is to be glorified and love for us is the means by which this is carried out (Isaiah 43:7). The sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the ultimate display of glory and deserves the glory of all believers. Some people may see this as a selfish act of God, but it is only a holy God such as Himself to look at us: a defiant, depraved lower being and love us still.
1:6-7 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:
Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.
The church of Galatia was affronted with the heresy of Judaizers. These were individuals who, as Paul stated, “pervert[ed] the Gospel of Christ.” It obviously was not long since Paul had left these churches and many had believed the true Gospel. With this being said, Paul could not have long displaced from the Galatian church because Paul was shocked they were already losing faith in the unadulterated Gospel for the works-based theology of the Judaizers.
As depicted in the introductory outline, Judaizers took the former works of the Law, particularly circumcision, and told the Galatian church that faith in the Gospel was only complete in light of former works of the Law. Paul, astounded by such misinformation continues forward to offer some of the strongest language in the New Testament.
1:8 -9 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
The message given to Paul was one of important particularity. He states that he is given “dispensation of the grace of God” and unveiled the mystery which states all are welcome within the Body of Christ, Jew or Gentile, which in times past was not yet possible. This spectacular news was only possible by faith in the grace of God provided the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Paul, gave the Gospel as it was given to him. Even if he or an angel were to alter it, Paul states that the church should only listen to what was originally believed, and so should we.
Saying that those who do so are to be accursed, literally, in early Christian history represented a form of excommunication or religious ban. With the literal context in mind, the etymological meaning often indicates something much worse, making it some of Paul’s strong yet zealous language. Anathema indicated a thing or person dedicated to God without any hope of salvation.
This word is essentially a curse to damnation. If this does not illustrate the importance of doctrinal purity, then I can hardly see what could suffice.
10 For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.
11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.
12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Paul reinforces that the Gospel given to him was by revelation and it being by revelation elevates the message above human reasoning and possibility.
Although not often given due attention, Paul certified the Gospel was not preached after man. The Greek word here denotes a declaration and an imperative that makes something known.
The Gospel is solely God’s devising and the servant of God lives unto Christ, not pleasing men. Living unto Christ is only possible by life in the Spirit and apart from the flesh (Galatians 5:16-25).