Excerpt: Paul was not sent from men but through Jesus Christ. God raised Jesus from the dead. The Lord Jesus Christ gave Himself for our sins according to the will of our God and Father, so that He might rescue us from this present evil age.
Paul himself preached the gospel to the churches in Galatia, but after he left, some men arrived and preached a dangerously distorted gospel (Gal 1:6-9). Paul wrote this letter to the Galatians to correct that distortion. His defense included the following:
He himself was “an apostle;” not sent by men but by God (Gal 1:1; 11-12).
The gospel which he preached he did not receive from man, but through a revelation of Jesus Christ (Gal 1:11-12).
Christ is the basis of our salvation. The Lord Jesus Christ gave Himself for our sins “so that He might rescue us from this present evil age.” For that reason, and for no other reason, we have “eternal life” (Gal 6:8).
Another important point which Paul makes in these verses is that Christ gave Himself “according to the will of our God” (Gal 1:4). In other words, Christ did not die to pacify God and to convince the Father to accept us. His death for us was God’s will.
1:1 Paul, an apostle
(not sent from men nor through the agency of man,
but through Jesus Christ and God the Father,
who raised Him from the dead),
1:2 and all the brethren who are with me,
To the churches of Galatia:
1:3 Grace to you and peace
from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,
1:4 who gave Himself for our sins
so that He might rescue us from this present evil age,
according to the will of our God and Father,
1:5 to whom be the glory forevermore. Amen.
NOT SENT FROM MEN
Paul himself preached the gospel to these churches (Gal 1:8), but after he left Galatia, some men arrived preaching a very dangerous (Gal 1:8-9) distortion of the gospel (Gal 1:6-7) to the churches in Galatia (Gal 1:2). Apparently, they said that Paul obtained his version of the gospel from other men; not directly from Christ, as the disciples did.
They also apparently called into question Paul’s apostleship and, therefore, his authority. Paul wrote the letter to the Galatians to correct that distortion, and he starts by claiming that he was “not sent from men … but through Jesus Christ” (Gal 1:1), which means that he is an apostle. This is an important part of his defense of the message he preached and is emphasized in Gal 1:11-12.
Paul was given a message that differed greatly from the average Christian understanding of his day. Through supernatural revelations (1:11-12), he was given a message that would change Christian thought. Today, we have become used to his teachings, but in his day, Paul’s teachings were extremely controversial.
Grace (Gal 1:3) is God’s goodwill and work toward us. By definition, we do not deserve grace. Grace is what God gives even though we do not deserve it.
GOD AND LORD
Paul always opens his letters with a greeting from “God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Gal 1:3). He does not mention the Holy Spirit and refers to the Father alone as “God.” In Galatians, “God” is always identified as the Father (e.g. Gal 1:1, 4).
“The Lord Jesus Christ … gave Himself“ willingly (Gal 1:3-4), firstly by becoming a human being (Phil 2:7) and by even allowing people to kill Him (Phil 2:8). This act of grace is the basis of our salvation: “so that He might rescue us from this present evil age.” Because of what Christ did, we may have “eternal life” (Gal 6:8). This was God’s plan from eternal ages. If He did not give Himself, this present life would have been all that we may have.
WILL OF GOD
This was “according to the will of our God and Father” (Gal 1:4). We sometimes teach our children to love Jesus and to fear the Father. We also sometimes think that Christ died to pacify God and to convince the Father to accept us. Paul’s message is the opposite: Christ’s death for our benefit was the will of the Father and initiated by the Father:
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
For general discussions of theology, I recommend Graham Maxwell, who you will find on the Pineknoll website.