Galatians 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;)
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.
The book of Galatians is thought to have been written by the apostle Paul during his last visit to Corinth in about A.D. 60. Of course the Author of Galatians is God. Galatia was a region that included the cities of Iconium, Derbe, Lystra, among other places Paul visited on his first and second evangelistic travels. The name Galatia was given to the region because most of the people there were Gauls. They were not Greeks. Apparently they had migrated into that area in the third century before Christ. Galatia today is in the area of Turkey.
Paul was greatly used of God as a born again Christian. He was a man who had quite a rough past. He was well trained as a Pharisee. He loved to hate God and hate God’s people. He thought he was serving God in hating the people of “this way”, later called “Christians”.
He was directed by God to give us his credentials. Can we trust Paul?
First we are told that Paul was an apostle. An apostle is a delegate or an ambassador. Paul then explains what type of an apostle he was. He was not a delegate of men or an ambassador of men. He was not trained by men to be an apostle. He had been trained by men to be a destroyer of born again Christians.
Now, Paul was a delegate or an ambassador of Jesus Christ. He was personally chosen by the Lord Jesus Christ and God the Father. Paul had a divine calling on his life. He was no longer a self-made man. He was now a man that was chosen by God for a different work. This was a divine work that was of great importance. Paul reminds us that God the Father raised Jesus Christ from the dead.
Thus we are told that Jesus Christ came and died for our sins and that His Father, Who sent Jesus Christ to this earth for the specific purpose of dying for our sins, was there to raise Him up again. God the Father worked with God the Son in providing salvation for all.
Paul was not working alone. He was not a maverick. He had a specific call and there were other saints who agreed that Paul had been called to be an apostle. These were not enabling type of men. These were men of God who understood the importance of the Word of God. Paul also tells us what the purpose of this letter was. He was told by God to address this letter to the churches of Galatia. Again we are reminded that there is no such thing as a universal church. Paul was told to write this letter to the churches of Galatia. Galatia was a region in Asia. They were the original recipients of this letter. However, it would also be read by other churches in other areas. The message was important for all of them, and it is still important for us today.
In verse 3 we see a common desire of God as expressed by the apostle Paul. Grace and peace are both very necessary for God’s people and for God’s Work. God’s grace is necessary to save lost sinners. God’s grace is also necessary to enable Christians to serve God.
God’s grace is that unmerited favour that God shows to the lost. He knows nobody deserves to be saved. He has heard every curse word used against Him. He knows the rebellion in every person’s heart. Yet He reaches out to all people, desiring them to be forgiven and saved.
There is also the grace that is needed for the saved person to serve God faithfully. The writer of Hebrews refers to this grace in chapter 4:16.
Hebrews 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
The saved person cannot be effective in serving God without that grace applied to his heart and life.
The lost also need God’s peace. They cannot live as they ought to because they do not have God’s peace. Their hearts are in turmoil. They choose different types of drugs to try to cloud their guilt, but it is not very effective.
The saved need to function under the peace of God. We are called upon to bring the message of peace to lost people around us. The angels announced peace on earth at the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. That peace is so needed today as at any time.
We notice here again, that this grace and peace can only come from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. Paul is speaking of the true God and the true Saviour. There are many false gods and there are many false Christs. Born again Christians function under the grace and peace of the true God and the true Saviour. God is the Father of all saved people, and Jesus Christ must be the Lord of every true child of God. All people will one day bow before the Lord Jesus Christ. All people will acknowledge Him as Lord one day. It is a privilege and a blessing to be able to bow before Him willingly now.
In verse 4 we are again reminded of the close connection between God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ gave himself for our sins. He was not strong-armed into coming to this earth. He willingly came to lay down His life. He came to deliver us from this present evil world. There is no doubt that we are living in an evil world. It was evil in Paul’s day and it is evil today. The accelerated promotion of sodomy that we have seen this year, certainly shows us this is an evil world. There are many other things that remind us that this is an evil world. True saints do not need to be discouraged by this fact. True saints need to be aware of what is happening, and also encouraged to be ambassadors of God’s grace and peace in this dark and dying world.
Paul also understood that he had no bragging rights. He was called to be an apostle. However, he was not called to exalt himself. In verse 5 he understood that the glory belonged to God the Father and to the Lord Jesus Christ. Those who are saved need to make much of God. Our world needs to know that there is one true God on this earth. It is essential for saved people to be bold in proclaiming the truth to those around us. We need wisdom and we need boldness to make God’s name known in a wise manner.
Paul could have been a complainer. He faced challenges that probably none of us will ever face. Yet he was not complaining. He was not thinking about himself. He had much more important things to do. His problems were nothing in comparison to what Jesus Christ faced. They were also nothing in comparison to what lost people would face in hell. It is important to know God’s peace and grace and to live under the blessings of those gifts. There is a world all around us that needs to hear the truth. As we move on in this letter, we will see just how important the truth is in our day.