August 10, 2013


The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Galatians
Tom Lowe


I. Introduction (1:1-10)


Chapter I.A Salutation (1:1-5)

Galatians 1.1-5 (KJV)


1 Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)
2 And all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia:
3 Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ,
4 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:
5 To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.


Introduction

To Paul, the gospel was much more than a message he preached: it was a miracle he had experienced (vv. 1–5). The gospel is “the power of God to salvation” (Rom. 1:16) and it brings freedom. Christ died “that He might deliver us” (v. 4). When Paul trusted Christ, he became a free man. The shackles of sin and legalistic religion were broken!


In this chapter, after the introduction (v. 1-5), the apostle severely reprimands these churches for their defection from the faith (v. 6-9), and then he proves He is a true apostle, which is something his enemies had questioned, due to what they thought disqualified him for the office of apostle: 
(1.) His weak appearance and a preaching style that did not feature eloquent oratory (v. 10).
(2.) He was not taught personally by Jesus, like the other apostles. (v. 11, 12).


The proof he presented in defense of his apostleship was threefold:
(1.) His former life—before his conversion. (v. 13, 14).
(2.) How he was converted, and called to the apostleship (v. 15, 16).
(3.) His current life as an apostle of Jesus Christ. (v. 16 to the end).


Commentary

1 Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)

Paul,
Paul was his Latin name; Saul was his Hebrew name. He was born in Tarsus in Cilicia (Acts 9:11; 22:3) of Jewish parents (Phil 3:5). His father was a Pharisee and a Roman citizen (Acts 23:6), so Paul was a Roman citizen by birth (Acts 22:27–28). He studied under the renowned Gamaliel (Acts 5:34; 22:3).


The first five verses comprise the preface or introduction to the epistle. We are immediately introduced to the person or persons who sent this Epistle-Paul an apostle, etc., and all the brethren that were with him. Paul was the penman; but he wrote while under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Paul wrote this epistle because, after his departure from the Galatian churches, Jewish-Christian fanatics moved in, and they perverted Paul’s Gospel of man’s free justification by faith in Jesus and purposely attempted to diminish his character and authority; therefore, the first thing he does is to give a general explanation of both his office and of the manner in which he was called to it (He will enlarge upon it later in this chapter and in Chapter2.).


These Jewish-Christian fanatics who pushed themselves into the Galatian churches after Paul’s departure, boasted that they were the descendants of Abraham, and true ministers of Christ; that they were trained by the apostles themselves, and that they were able to perform miracles. They said to the Galatians: “You have no right to think highly of Paul. He was the last one to come to Christ. But we have seen Christ. We heard Him preach. Paul came later and is beneath us. It is impossible for us to be in error, because we have received the Holy Ghost? Paul works alone. He has not seen Christ, and he has not had much contact with the other apostles either. Besides, he persecuted the Church of Christ for a long time.” The Galatians were taken in by such arguments with the result that Paul’s authority and doctrine were drawn into question.


Paul cannot let them get away with it, so he fearlessly defends his apostolic authority and ministry against these boasting, false apostles. Though he is a humble man, he will not now take a back seat. He reminds them of the time when he opposed Peter to his face and took to task the chief of the apostles.


an apostle,
Paul, an apostle was the usual way in which he began his epistles—“Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God” (Romans 1:1; KJV)—and it was of special importance to begin this epistle in this manner, because it was his intention that it would serve to vindicate his apostleship and to show that he had received his commission directly from the Lord Jesus.


An apostle is one who is sent with authority to represent and speak for another. He is given special delegated authority and entrusted with a special divine message. Paul claims to be a messenger, an envoy, an ambassador for Christ. He was endowed with all the credentials of his office. He was owned by Christ, commissioned by Christ, and empowered by Christ. He was an apostle and he is not afraid to characterize himself as such, though his enemies refused to acknowledge him with this title. He responded to their lack of respect by showing them that he did not assume this title without being able to justify his position as an apostle; he explains to them how he was called to this office, and assures them that his commission came directly from Jesus Christ. It should be noted that in two of the earliest Epistles, Thessalonians 1 and 2, through humility, he uses no title of authority; but he names the associates with him "Silvanus and Timotheus"; but here, though "brethren" (Ga. 1:2) are with him, yet he does not name them but prominently puts his own name and apostleship at the top; which shows his desire to vindicate his apostolic commission against those who have denied it.

The word apostle is used in two ways:
1. One of the Twelve (Acts 1:21–26)
a. With Jesus during His three year ministry (v. 21).
b. Witness of His post resurrection ministry (v. 22).
c. Chosen by Christ (v. 22; Acts 9:15; 26:16–17).
2. One sent forth. This is the wider sense as used in Acts 11:22.


There is one opinion held by some prominent expositors that says, Paul took the place of Judas. After the resurrection of Jesus, Matthias was chosen by the disciples to fill the place of Judas, but no information is given about Matthias except the account given in Acts 1:15–26. Matthias is never mentioned again. If the Holy Spirit had chosen him, certainly somewhere along the way He would have set His seal upon this man. Paul, however, proved he was an apostle, and Matthias did not. The election of Matthias as an apostle was held before Pentecost, which was before the Holy Spirit came into the church. For that reason some do not think that the Holy Spirit had anything to do with the selection of Matthias. There are also many elections in our churches today that are obviously not controlled by the Holy Spirit. Was Paul the man whom the Spirit of God chose to take Judas’ place?


The next clause is inside a parenthesis, but actually there is no parenthesis necessary in this verse. Paul is simply stating that he is an apostle. He begins here by declaring that his apostleship is not from man, but directly from Christ. The other apostles did not convert, choose, or appoint him, but Christ came from heaven to commission him.


(not of men,
"Of men” means "from men." In other words, he was not from any body of men, or commissioned by men. The word “apostle” means sent; and Paul means to say that he was not sent to carry out any purpose of men, or commissioned by them. He is not an apostle by appointment or commission after having attended a school or having taken a prescribed course. He had a higher calling—a calling from God, and he had been sent directly by him. Of course, he wants to exclude from the Galatians’ opinion of him the idea that any man or group of men had anything to do with sending him to preach the gospel to them; and especially he wants to make it clear that he had not been sent out by the society of apostles at Jerusalem. This was one of the charges of those who had perverted the Galatians from the faith which Paul had preached to them; that he was not on par with the original apostles, but was beneath them in every respect; the charge earned a very blunt reply from the apostle.


neither by man,
Paul’s “mission to the Gentiles had apparently been criticized and even denied by those who attempted to make the case that it had been initiated by men, specifically, men from the church of Antioch. Moreover, the validity of his commission was challenged on the ground that he originally had received the Spirit through a man, that is, that it was transferred to him through contact with Ananias, who had been reported to have laid his hands upon Paul at Damascus.” Paul emphatically denied the charge and declares decisively that the means of receiving his apostleship had nothing to do with any man. Paul was not an ambassador of men, and his gospel did not have in it the word and wisdom of man; he was an apostle, not of man, neither by man; he did not receive the common call of an ordinary minister, but an extraordinary call from heaven to this office.
1. He had not received his qualification for the office, or his appointment to it, by the authority of men, but had received both from above.
2. His apostleship was not through man, that is, not ritualistic by means of laying on of hands, by a bishop or church court. Paul did not have the other apostles lay their hands on his head and say, “Hocus pocus, you are an apostle.” The laying on of Ananias' hands (See Ac 9:17) is not an exception to this; because that was only a sign of the fact of his apostleship, and not the cause.
3. He was not sent out by one of the apostles; neither by James, who seems to have been president of the apostolic council at Jerusalem; nor by Peter, to who, in a particular manner, were the keys of the kingdom entrusted.


Paul was an apostle by the express and the immediate operating agent in the call. Not only was the call from God as its ultimate source, but by Christ and the Father as the immediate agent in calling him:
• (Acts 22:15; KJV) “For thou [Paul] shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard.”
• (Acts 26:16-18; KJV) “But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.” This puts him on equal footing with those "eye-witnesses and ministers of the word."


 The Holy Ghost called him specially—“As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away” (Acts 13:2-3; KJV); he was an apostle before this special mission.


A minister of the gospel now receives his call from God, but he is ordained or set apart to his office by man. Matthias, the apostle chosen to replace Judas (See Acts 1:17), received his call from God, but it was by the vote of the eleven apostles. Timothy was also called by God, but he was appointed to his office by the laying on of the hands of the presbytery (See 1 Timothy 4:14). But Paul here says that he received no such commission from the apostles. They were not the means or the instrument of ordaining him to his work. He, along with Barnabas had been set apart at Antioch by the brethren there (See Acts 13:1-3), for a special mission in Asia Minor; but this was not an appointment to the apostleship. He had been restored to sight after the miraculous blindness produced by seeing the Lord Jesus on the way to Damascus, by the laying on of the hands of Ananias, and had received important instruction from him (See Acts 9:17), but his commission as an apostle had been received directly from the Lord Jesus, without any intervening medium, or any form of human authority (See Acts 9:15, 22:17-21, 1 Corinthians 9:1).


 When Paul speaks of those called “BY MEN,” he may mean those whom neither God nor man sent, but who go wherever they like and speak for themselves: or he means those who have a divine call extended to them through other persons. God calls in two ways. Either He calls ministers through the agency of men, or He calls them directly as He called the prophets and apostles. Paul declares that the false apostles were called or sent neither by God, nor by man. The most they could claim is that they were sent by others. Paul declares, “But as for me I was called neither of men, nor by man, but directly by Jesus Christ. My call is in every respect like the call of the apostles. In fact I am an apostle.” Elsewhere Paul draws a sharp distinction between an apostleship and lesser functions: for example in 1 Corinthians 12:28 he said: “And God hath set some in the church; first, apostles; secondarily, prophets; thirdly, teachers.” He mentions the apostles first because they were appointed directly by God.


Matthias was called in this manner. The apostles chose two candidates and then cast lots, praying that God would indicate which one He would have. To be an apostle he had to have his appointment from God. In the same manner Paul was called as the apostle to the Gentiles.
The call is not to be taken lightly. It is not enough for a person to possess knowledge. He must be sure that he is properly called. Those who operate without a proper call seek no good purpose. God does not bless their labors. They may be good preachers, but they do no edify. Many of the fanatics of our day pronounce words of faith, but they bear no good fruit, because their purpose is to turn men to their perverse opinions. On the other hand, those who have a divine call must suffer a good deal of opposition in order that they may become fortified against the running attacks of the devil and the world.


but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father,
Paul loses no time in defending himself against the charge that he had thrust himself into the ministry. He says to the Galatians: “My call may seem inferior to you. But those who have come to you are either called of men or by man. My call is the highest possible, since it is by Jesus Christ, and God the Father.” Having received his assignment directly from Christ himself, and God the Father who raised him from the dead (See Acts 22:14, 15), and commanded him to go both to the Jews and to the Gentiles, to open their eyes, to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they might obtain remission of sins, and an inheritance among them that are sanctified.


But by Jesus Christ means “directly by Christ.” He had been called by Him, and commissioned by Him, and sent by Him, to engage in the ministry of the gospel—“And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do… But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel” (Acts 9:6, 15; KJV).


And God the Father indicates that he had the highest possible authority for the office of an apostle; he had been called to it by God himself, who had raised up the Redeemer from the dead. It is remarkable that Paul unites Jesus Christ and God the Father in acting together in both calling and commissioning him. At this point we may want to ask those who deny the Divinity of Christ, why Paul would mention Him as being equal with God in the work of commissioning him, if it was not true? Furthermore, we may ask, how he could say that he had not received his call to this office from a man, if Jesus Christ was a mere man. The apostle expressly says, and strenuously maintains he was called by Christ, and he makes it a point of great importance. Both Christ and God are controlled by one preposition (by) and joined by one conjunction (and), indicating that they are coequal and coeternal. There was no one higher in the universe to commission Paul; he had a divine commission to expose false teaching, to proclaim the gospel, to establish churches, to exhort Christians, and to exalt Christ. Jesus laid His hand upon Paul, called him, and set him apart for the office (See Acts 9:15–16).


Paul devotes the first two chapters to a defense of his office and his Gospel, insisting that he received it, not from men, but from the Lord Jesus Christ by special revelation, and that if he or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel than the one he had preached, he shall be accursed.


who raised him from the dead;)
“Raised him from the dead” implies that, though he had not seen Him while He in the world as a human man like the other apostles (which was made an objection against him), he had seen Him and been specially made an apostle by Him while He was in His resurrection power—“And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matt 28:18; KJV). The Lord speaks here of the power or authority committed to Him over all things, so that He might redeem, defend, and save the church which He purchased with his own blood. His power, therefore, extends over the material world, over angels, over devils, over wicked men, and over his own people—and He has the power to call and confirm Paul as an apostle. (Also see Ro 1:4, 5).  The apostle was compelled by his adversaries to magnify his office, which shows that though men should not be proud of any authority they possess, yet at certain times and upon certain occasions it may become necessary to assert it.
 

Paul had seen the risen Christ—“Am I not an apostle? Am I not free? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord?” (1 Cor 9:1; NKJV), and was qualified to be an apostle. The resurrection was God’s “Amen” to Christ’s “It is finished.” Paul emphasized the resurrection because some were saying that he had not seen the Lord Jesus Christ and could not be an apostle. It was the risen, glorified Son of God whom Paul had seen on the road to Damascus (See Acts 9:3–9). Paul’s mission and message were divine, not human.


It is not quite clear why Paul introduces the resurrection here, but it may have been for one or more of the following reasons:
1. Because it was on his mind, and he wanted to mention it at every opportunity as a well-known fact.
2. Both to explain to us that the resurrection was God the Father’s public testimony that Christ is his Son and the promised Messiah, and also that his call to the apostleship was directly from Christ, and for that reason it was after his resurrection from the dead, and while He was in his exalted state; therefore, he had reason to look upon himself, not only as standing upon a level with the other apostles, but in some respects preferred above them; since, though they were called by Him when He was on earth, Paul received his call from Him while He was in heaven.
3. Because the resurrection was the distinguishing feature of the Christian religion; that the Lord Jesus had been raised to life, from the dead; and he wished, at the outset, to present the superiority of the Christian religion which had brought life and immortality into a world full of sinful people.
4. Because he wished to show that he had received his commission from the same God who had raised up Jesus, and who was, therefore, the Author of the true religion. His commission was from the Source of life and truth; the God of the living and the dead; the God who was the Author of the glorious gospel that revealed the way to life and immortality.
5. Because Paul is so eager to come to the subject matter of his epistle, the righteousness of faith in opposition to the righteousness of works, that he must speak his mind. He did not think it quite enough to say that he was an apostle “by Jesus Christ”; he adds, “And God the Father, who raised him from the dead.”
6. Paul had a good reason for adding this phrase. He had to deal with Satan and his agents who endeavored to deprive him of the righteousness of Christ, who was raised from the dead by God the Father. These perverters of the righteousness of Christ resist the Father and the Son, and the works of both of them.


Throughout this epistle Paul talks about the resurrection of Christ. By His resurrection Christ won the victory over law, sin, flesh, world, devil, death, hell, and every evil. And He has donated His victory to us. Our enemies may accuse and frighten us, but they cannot condemn us, because Christ, whom God the Father has raised from the dead is our righteousness and has given us His victory.


2 And all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia:

And all the brethren which are with me,
When Paul wrote to the churches he usually included in the opening greeting the ministers of the gospel and those Christians who were with him at the time, and represented them as uniting with him, and concurring with the sentiments which he expressed. Though Paul claimed to be inspired it would do much toward creating goodwill in his readers, if others also agreed with what he said, and especially if they were known to the churches to which the epistles were written. Sometimes the names of others were associated with his in the epistle. (See1 Corinthians 1:1; Philippians 1:1 Colossians 1:1; 1 Thessalonians 1:1.). Since we do not know where this epistle was written, we are, of course, ignorant about whom the "brethren" were that Paul referred to here. They may have been fellow ministers with Paul, or they may have been the private members of the churches, or both. Commentators have been divided in their opinion on the subject; but it is all conjecture. It is obviously impossible to determine.


Although Paul had superior character and achievements, he is ready to accept these men as brethren; and, though he wrote the epistle, he links them with himself in the dedication of it. In this, he shows his own great modesty and humility, and how far he was from a presumptuous disposition; therefore he might do this to cause these churches to have a greater regard for what he wrote, since by mentioning others it would appear that he had their agreement with him in the doctrine which he had preached, and that it was nothing more than what was both published and professed by others as well as himself.


As I have mentioned, commentators have been divided in their opinion of who was with Paul at this time, but it is certain they were Christian believers. Some of the speculation is that:
1. They were those who were his assistants in preaching the Gospel, and not any private members of the Church.
2. They were his fellow-laborers, such as Timothy, Titus, Silas, Luke, etc., some of whom at least were with him at this time. The word “all” implies that a number were with him.
a. Acts 19:29 (NLT) “Soon the whole city was filled with confusion. Everyone rushed to the amphitheater, dragging along Gaius and Aristarchus, who were Paul’s traveling companions from Macedonia.”
b. Acts 20:4 (NLT) “Several men were traveling with him. They were Sopater son of Pyrrhus from Berea; Aristarchus and Secundus from Thessalonica; Gaius from Derbe; Timothy; and Tychicus and Trophimus from the province of Asia.”


None of these men were joint authors with Paul of this Epistle: but joined him in the sentiments and salutations. The phrase, "all the brethren," accords with a date when he had many travelling companions, since he and they had to carry the collection to Jerusalem. You will notice that Paul’s greeting is cool, brief, formal, and terse. No one is personally mentioned. He is not writing just to one church. He is writing to several churches—“churches of Galatia.”


unto the churches of Galatia:
The word “church” (Gr ekklēsia) occurs over one hundred times in the New Testament; and it is used in three ways. Once it refers to the assembly of saints in heaven (Heb 12:23), several times it is used in a wide sense (mostly in Ephesians and Colossians) to refer to the entire body of believers from all different groups and in every place where they are existing in this world, who have trusted Christ as Savior; but the vast majority of times it refers to a local assembly of called-out, born-again Christians bonded together for worship and work, which is how Paul uses the word here. There were churches, or local assemblies, in many parts of Galatia, though it is not certain how many there were. There was a church in Antioch of Pisidia, in Derbe, in Lystra, and in other places he had visited. Paul was writing to all the churches, to all of the local assemblies; the local church, which in most cases were located in private homes—not the corporate body of believers—That is what in meant here. The inference from the language is that there were a considerable number of churches scattered through the province.


In the Epistle to the Ephesians we look at the church as a corporate body of believers—the invisible church. But the invisible body is to make itself visible today in a corporate body. Believers should be identified with a local body of believers. To Paul there was no state or national church.


“Galatia” was a region or province of Asia Minor; there was not a city or town with this name. But, since Paul had planted several Churches in Galatia, as he had done in other areas, he directs the epistle to all of them; because it seems they were all pretty much in the same state, and needed the same instructions. This epistle should go far in shutting the mouths of the false apostles. Paul’s intention is to exalt his own ministry while discrediting theirs. He adds for good measure the argument that he does not stand alone, but that all the brethren with him attest to the fact that his doctrine is divinely true. “Although the brethren with me are not apostles like myself, yet they are all of one mind with me; they think, write, and teach the same doctrine.


Paul addresses this epistle to a group of churches that were relinquishing the essential truths of the gospel of grace and were going back to the works of the law as a means of justification. “The omission of any expression of praise in addressing the Galatians shows the extent of their apostasy.” There were several churches at that time in Galatia, and it seems that all of them were more or less corrupted through the skill of those false teachers (Judaizers, in this case) who had crept in among them; and therefore Paul, on whom came daily the care of all the churches, was deeply disturbed by how their faith had weakened, and therefore he writes this epistle to them in hopes of recovering their faith and insuring it remains firm and lasting. The first Epistle of Peter is addressed to Jewish Christians residing in Galatia (1Pe 1:1), among other places mentioned. It is interesting to note that the apostle of the circumcision, as well as the apostle of the uncircumcision, who at one time opposed each other (Ga 2:7-15), were co-operating to build up the same churches.


3 Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ,

Grace be to you and peace from God the Father,
This greeting is often used as a benediction in our churches; it is a request that the blessings of God the Father and God the Son may be bestowed upon them. It is Paul’s formal greeting that he uses in most of his epistles. It is a prayer for “grace” (Gk. charis), meaning “unmerited favor,” and “peace” (Gk. eirene), which is a sense of well-being resulting from a personal relationship with God that is unaffected by the circumstances of life. Paul wanted his fellow believers in Galatia to experience God’s presence in their daily lives.


The word grace was the usual Greek (gentile) form of greeting in that day, while peace (shalom) was the religious greeting of the Jews. Now the grace of God must be experienced before the peace that is from God the Father can be experienced, there can be no true peace without grace. By these two words, Paul sums up all the blessing his heart desires for them. In Christ, God revealed His grace, and through Christ He bestowed His peace. Grace is the sum of all the blessings extended by God; peace is the sum of all the blessings experienced by man. This customary salutation is not an automatic thing with Paul. He uses it here even though he has so many faults to find with these Galatians. He does not withhold the wish for divine grace and peace even for those whom he is about to scold; and they come from God the Father as the fountainhead, through Jesus Christ as the channel of conveyance.


The greeting of the Apostle is refreshing. Grace cancels sin, and peace quiets the conscience. Sin and conscience torment us, but Christ has overcome these fiends now and forever. Only Christians possess this victorious knowledge given from above. These two terms, grace and peace, constitute Christianity. Grace involves the remission of sins, peace, and a happy conscience. Sin is not canceled by observing the Law, and no person has ever been able to live up to the Law. The Law reveals guilt, fills the conscience with terror, and drives men to despair. Furthermore, sin cannot be taken away by man-invented endeavors. The fact is, the more a person tries to gain esteem for himself by his own efforts, the deeper he goes into debt. Nothing can take away sin except the grace of God. In actual living, however, many struggle with the concept that by grace alone, in opposition to every other means, we obtain the forgiveness of our sins and peace with God. The world brands this a malicious doctrine. The world promotes the rational and natural approach of good works, as the means of obtaining the forgiveness of sin. But it is impossible to gain peace of conscience by following the methods and means of the world. Experience proves this. Various holy orders have been founded on the assumption of securing peace of conscience through religious exercises, but they proved to be failures because such beliefs only increase doubt and despair. We find no rest for our weary bones unless we cling to the word of grace.


and from our Lord Jesus Christ,
The Apostle does not wish the Galatians grace and peace from the emperor, or from kings, or from governors, but from God the Father and from our Lord Jesus Christ. He wishes them heavenly peace, the kind of which Jesus spoke when He said, “Peace I leave unto you: my peace I give unto you.” Worldly peace provides quiet enjoyment of life and possessions. But when affliction comes, particularly in the hour of death, the grace and peace of the world will not deliver us. However, the grace and peace of God will. They make a person strong and courageous and able to bear and to overcome all difficulties, even death itself, because we have the victory of Christ’s resurrection and the assurance of the forgiveness of our sins. The Father and the Son cooperate fully in the salvation of sinful man.


The Apostle adds to the salutation the words, “and from our Lord Jesus Christ.” Was it not enough to say, “From God the Father”? We are to seek God as Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 1:23-24: “We preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” Begin with Christ. He came down to earth, lived among men, suffered, was crucified, and then He died and was buried, but He could not be kept in a tomb—He rose three days later; today He is standing clearly before us, so that our hearts and eyes may affix upon Him. Concentrate upon Jesus Christ, who says, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” By doing this, you will recognize the power, and majesty focusing on your condition according to Paul’s statement to the Colossians, “In Christ are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,” and, “In him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” Paul is wishing grace and peace not from God the Father alone, but also from Jesus Christ. We are to hear Christ, who has been appointed by the Father as our divine Teacher. Paul ascribes to Him divine powers equal with the Father, as for instance, the power to dispense grace and peace. Jesus could not do this unless He was God. Only God can create these blessings and bestow them on His children. The angels cannot. The apostles could only distribute these blessings by the preaching of the Gospel. In attributing to Christ the divine power of creating and giving grace, peace, everlasting life, righteousness, and forgiveness of sins, the conclusion is inevitable that Christ is truly God.


The Greek omits the second "from," and joins God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ in close union, by there being only one preposition—“To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:7; NKJV).


4 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:

Who gave himself for our sins,
This is another marvelous verse—I feel inadequate as a commentator to explain it, and I can’t rise to the level of it; I will simply say some things about it.


Jesus Christ “gave himself for our sins.” There is nothing that we can add to the value of His sacrifice. Nothing! He gave Himself. What do you have to give? Anything? Can you add anything to His sacrifice? He gave Himself. How wonderful and glorious that is! I am speechless when I read a verse like this. He gave Himself! When you give yourself, you have given everything—who you are, what you have, your time, your talent—everything. He gave Himself. He couldn’t give any more. Paul just couldn’t wait to say it. Having mentioned Him, he says, “Who gave himself for our sins.” This is the foundation and origin of Paul’s subject.


The reason why Paul introduces this important doctrine so soon is probably that this was the cardinal doctrine of the Christian religion, the great truth which was always to be kept before the mind, and because this truth had been in actual fact lost sight of by them. They had embraced doctrines which tended to obscure it, or to render it null and void. They had been led into erroneous thinking by the Judaizers who were their teachers, who taught that it was necessary to be circumcised and to conform to all of the Jewish rituals. Yet the tendency of all this was to obscure the doctrines of the gospel, and particularly the great truth that men can be justified only by faith in the blood of Jesus, which is the idea conveyed by these verses.
• “For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God’s grace” (Gal 5:4; NLT).
• “I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who called you to himself through the loving mercy of Christ. You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ” (Gal 1:6-7; NLT).


Paul, therefore, wanted to make this the starting point in their religion; a truth that would never be forgotten, that Christ gave himself for their sins, so that He might deliver them from all the bad influences of this world, and from all the false systems of religion manufactured in this world. The expression "who gave" is one that often occurs in relation to the work of the Redeemer, where it is represented as a gift, either on the part of God, or on the part of Christ himself—“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16; KJV). (Also see Romans 4:25, 2 Corinthians 9:15, Galatians 2:20, Ephesians 5:25, Titus 2:14.)


Christ voluntarily and vicariously offered Himself on account of our sins, which enslaved us to the present evil world. The preposition “for” speaks of substitution, instead of, in behalf of. “Christ who knew no sin, was made sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (II Cor 5:21). He exchanged places with us; He took all of our sins upon Him, and gave us all of His righteousness. He was both the purchaser and the price of our redemption. There was no One other than Christ good enough to pay the price of sin. At Calvary Jesus Christ once for all settled the sin question. Just before He bowed His head and gave up the ghost, He said, “It is finished” (19:30). Our sins made His sacrifice necessary, and His sacrifice is the only basis for our acceptance by God.


This verse proves:
1. That it was entirely voluntary on the part of the Lord Jesus. No one forced him to come; no one could force him to do anything. God will compel the guilty to suffer, but he never will compel the innocent to endure sorrows, even in behalf of others. The whole work of redemption must be voluntary, or it could not be performed.
2. It revealed great compassion on the part of the Redeemer. He did not come to take upon himself unknown sorrows and suffering. He did not work in the dark. He knew what was to be done. He knew just what sorrows were to be endured and for how long, how intense, and how awful. And yet, knowing this, he came resolved and prepared to endure all those sorrows and suffering, and to drink the bitter cup to the last drop.
3. If there had not been this compassion in his bosom, man would have perished forever. Little man could not have saved himself; and he had no power or right to compel another to suffer in his behalf; and even God would not lay this mighty burden on any other, unless he was entirely willing to endure it. How much, then, do we owe to the Lord Jesus; and how completely should we devote our lives to him who loved us, and gave himself for us! The Lord Jesus became a vicarious offering, and died in the place of sinners. It is not possible to express this idea more distinctly and clearly than Paul has done in this verse. Sin was the cause of His death; to make amends for sin was the propose of his coming; and sin is pardoned and removed only by his substituted suffering.


In the previous verse, Paul calls Him, “our Lord Jesus Christ.” He is my Savior. Can you say, “The Lord is my Shepherd?” It is one thing to say He is a Shepherd; it is another thing to make it possessive. The Lord is my Shepherd. The Lord is my Savior. Can you say that He is yours?

that he might deliver us from this present evil world,
This age is evil, corrupt and corrupting, deceived and deceiving. The word evil (Gr ponēros), means not only evil in its nature but actively and viciously evil in its influence and actions. It is used to describe Satan, the god of this age, who is corrupting man and dragging him to destruction. The substitutional sacrifice of Christ alone can liberate man from Satan. The atonement of Christ triumphs over Satan’s powers and frees the Christian from the penalty of sin, which is death—“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23; KJV). Ultimate deliverance for the believer comes with physical death or with the return of Jesus Christ.

The purpose of His sacrifice was to deliver us, rescue us, and set us free from this present evil world. Christ not only delivers the believer from the penalty of sin, but also from the power of sin. Salvation is emancipation out from a state of bondage. This is the defining concept of the epistle. The word “rescued” (Gr exaireō) is used in Acts 23:27 to speak of Paul’s rescue from the mob, and in Acts 7:34 to speak of Israel being taken out of Egypt. Here it means not only to redeem us from the wrath of God, and the curse of the law, but also to rescue us from the corruption that is in the world through lust, and the vicious practices and customs of the world, unto which we are naturally enslaved. Sin had endangered and enslaved us; Christ delivered us and set us free. From this we may note:
1. This present world is an evil world: it has become evil from the effects of the sin of man, and as long as we remain in it we will experience sin and sorrow because of the many snares and temptations to which we are exposed.
2. But, Jesus Christ has died to deliver us from this present evil world, not at this time to remove his people out of it, but to rescue them from the power of it, to keep them from the evil with which it abounds, and at the appointed time time to take them out of this world and to another better world.


Christ alone can deliver us from this present evil world. This proves the genuineness of the gospel. Christ gave Himself for our sins. He took your place and my place on that cross. He died for us and rose from the dead “that he might deliver us from this present evil world.” All is due to His atoning death.

“Deliver us from this present evil world” cannot mean the earth and its products, or even wicked men. The former we will need while we live, the latter we cannot avoid; if truth be told they are those who, when converted, form the Church of God; and, it is through the conversion of sinners that the Church of Christ is maintained; and the followers of God must live and labor among them, in order to make their conversion possible. There are several opinions concerning the meaning of this clause which are:
1. The apostle must mean the Jews, and their system of carnal ordinances; statutes which were not good, and judgments by which they could not live—“Wherefore I gave them also statutes that were not good, and judgments whereby they should not live” (Ezek 20:25; KJV); and the entirety of their ecclesiastical regulations, which was a burden neither they nor their fathers were able to bear—“Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?” (Acts 15:10; NKJV). The apostle takes opportunity, in the very beginning of the epistle, to inform the Galatians that it was according to the will and counsel of God that circumcision should cease, and all the other ritual parts of the Mosaic system; and that it was for this express purpose that Jesus Christ gave himself as a sacrifice for our sins, because the law could not make those that came to it perfect. It had pointed out the sinfulness of their sin, in its various ordinances, such as washings, etc.; and it had showed them the guilt of sin through its numerous sacrifices; but the common sense, even of its own prophets, told them that it was impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sin. A higher atonement was necessary; and when God provided that, all its shadows and representations ceased by necessity.
2. The word rendered “deliver us” means, to pluck out, to tear out; to take out from a group, to select; then to rescue or deliver. This is the sense here. He came and gave himself that he might rescue or deliver us from this present evil world. It does not mean to take away by death, or to remove to another world, but to separate us from what the apostle calls here, "this present evil world." The grand purpose was to rescue sinners from the dominion of this world, and separate them unto God.
3. Some suppose that it means "the present state of being, this life, filled as it is with tragedy, sin, and sorrow; or, rather, the sin itself, and the misery that it causes."
4. Another opinion understands the meaning to be deliverance from "the men of this age, Jews, who reject the Messiah; and Pagans, who are devoted to idolatry and crime."
5. Paul calls this present world evil because everything in it is subject to the hatred of the devil, which reigns over the whole world as his domain and fills the air with ignorance, contempt, hatred, and disobedience of God. As long as a person is in the world he cannot by his own efforts rid himself of sin, because the world is bent upon evil. The people of the world are the slaves of the devil. If we are not in the Kingdom of Christ, it is certain we belong to the kingdom of Satan and we are pressed into his service with every talent we possess. We live in this devils’ kingdom; and Christ came to deliver His children from this kingdom.


The Father and Son are each said to "deliver us" (Col 1:13): but the Son, not the Father, gave Himself for us in order to do so, and make us citizens of a better world (Php 3:20). The Galatians in desiring to return to legal bondage are, he implies, renouncing the deliverance which Christ obtained for us.


according to the will of God and our Father:
This, the apostle informs us, He has done according to the will of God and our Father. In offering himself as a sacrifice for the end and purpose noted above, He acted in accordance with God’s determinate counsel and foreknowledge—“Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain” (Acts 2:23; KJV)—as well as with His own free consent; and therefore we have the greatest reason to depend upon the effectiveness and acceptableness of what he has done and suffered for us; and we have encouragement to look upon God as our Father, since that in how the apostle represents him. God is the Father of our Lord Jesus, so in and through Christ He is also the Father of all true believers, as our blessed Saviour himself has informed us—“Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God” (John 20:17; KJV).


He can deliver us—and it will not be according to law, not by the will of man, or by his wisdom, but it must be according to the will of God. The will of God is that, after He has saved us, we are not to live in sin. How wonderful this is! He can deliver us. He wants to deliver us. He will deliver us, and He will do it according to the will of God. Doesn’t this make you want to throw your hat into the air and shout halleluiah. It is God’s will that you be delivered without any merit on your part. His sovereignty as "GOD," and our inherited relation to Him as "OUR FATHER," ought to keep us from blending our own legal notions (as the Galatians were doing) with His will and plan. It was his purpose that the Lord Jesus should thus give himself; and His doing it was in accordance with His will, and was pleasing in his sight. The whole plan originated in the Divine purpose, and has been executed in accordance with the Divine will. If it is in accordance with his will, it is good, and is worthy of universal acceptance.


5 To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen
The apostle, having reminded his readers of the great love with which Christ hath loved us, concludes this Greeting and preface to his epistle with a solemn ascription of praise and glory to Him: To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. Paul has presented an indisputable argument that He is entitled to our highest esteem and regard. This doxology may be considered as referring both to God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom he had, only a couple of verses earlier wished grace and peace for his Galatian readers. They are both the proper objects of our worship and adoration, and all honour and glory are eternally due to them, both on account of their own infinite excellence and greatness, and also on account of the blessings we receive from them.


I am convinced that we should praise God more than we do. I am ashamed that “I” seems to be the focus of my prayers; what I need and what I want. Oh, I pray for my loved ones, America, and the lost, but I have to admit I do not praise Him enough. I am glad my salvation does not depend on my faithfulness to Him or how “good” I am. Let us get right down to the nitty–gritty, right down where the rubber meets the road. Do you do better than me? Did you praise the Lord’s name this morning when you got up? Did you thank Him for a new day? You say, “It was raining?” But did you thank Him for it? Did you praise His name for bringing you to a new day?


I had to have a heart attack and triple bypass surgery before I came to the place where I thank Him as I should. Unfortunately, I have neglected to praise Him in my prayers lately. But with His help, I will correct that weakness in my prayer life. I love Him, and I want to praise Him, so now, the first thing I will do every morning—whether the sun is shining or it’s pouring down rain—is to say, “Lord, thank you for bringing me to a new day.” How wonderful He is! We need to praise Him more. I want glory to go to the name of my God and my Savior. I don’t want to stand on the sidelines and compromise by endorsing these contemporary dramatic productions and songs that are belittling the Lord Jesus Christ. I am speaking out against them, because He is God manifest in the flesh. He gave Himself for me. I want to praise His name! “To whom be glory for ever and ever.”


“For ever and ever” begins right now and is going on right into eternity.


This concludes Paul’s salutation. Although it contains some glorious truths, I think you will have to admit that it is a cool, impersonal greeting from the apostle Paul.

 

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