Commentary on Galatians, 1:1-5

Galatians 1:1-5

“1 Paul, an apostle (not from men, neither through man, but through Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead),

In preparation for what he’s about to instruct them about, he’s immediately validating his authority as an Apostle of Jesus Christ. He’s letting them know from the very beginning that his apostleship is not from men, but from God. There were some who were troubling the churches of Galatia about the way of salvation, saying that circumcision and the works of the law were required in order to be saved. They were discrediting Paul’s message, and so it was necessary for them to realize that the gospel Paul preached was directly from God. 

“who raised Him from the dead”

It’s the resurrection of Christ that confirmed that Jesus was who He said he was. It was His resurrection that sealed the way of salvation for mankind. The resurrection of Christ is central to the Christian faith. If Jesus had just died and remained in the grave, He would have been like any other so-called savior. It was His resurrection that separated Christ from all other religious leaders.

“2 and all the brethren who are with me, to the churches of Galatia.”

Paul normally had many traveling companions and fellow-servants of the Lord that provided support for the work that God had called him to. No one in the body of Christ is insignificant. We all have a place of service. Whatever God has called us to do, we must do it faithfully and in humility. I think Paul was always surrounded by such sincere servants. Even though Paul was the main speaker and focus of attention, those who ministered with him had their own calling from God, even though we may not know much, or anything at all, about many of them. 

While Paul had the limelight, that is not what he sought. Fame and popularity was not the reason he served Christ, for if that was the reason for his service, he would not have been a true servant of the Lord. We live in a day when the spotlight is on a great many pastors and Christian leaders. Many are pastors of mega-churches. Those who are well known have to guard against pride and self-seeking motives. Their reason for service must be for Christ’s glory, and His alone. They must be constantly aware of the importance of walking in sincere humility before God. They have no greater example than the Apostle Paul.

“to the churches of Galatia”

It’s not known how many churches there were in Galatia, but we do know that it was more than one, and perhaps many throughout this large area. Galatia was a region of modern Turkey, divided into northern and southern districts.

“3 Grace to you and peace from God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ,
4 who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us out of this present evil world, according to the will of our God and Father;”

Grace and peace were common terms in Paul’s salutations. Understandably so, for without grace, there is no peace with God. We’re all separated from God by sin, and it’s only by the grace of God through Christ His Son that we’re forgiven of our sins and brought into a right relationship with Him. Furthermore, life can be difficult, especially for Christians. In the midst of persecution and other personal trials, we can easily become overwhelmed by it all. In greeting Christians in such a manner, Paul is reminding us that that grace and peace are available, and we need to cling to God for it.

We may experience many trials and hardships in this life, but through it all we must keep in mind that we’re no longer citizens of this evil world (age), but we are now citizens of the Kingdom of Christ:

“who delivered us out of the power of darkness, and translated us into the Kingdom of the Son of His love.”  (Col 1:13)

At the moment we put our faith in Christ, we are transferred out of the sphere of darkness, and into the Kingdom of Christ. This world is no longer our home, but our home is now in Heaven:

“For our citizenship is in Heaven, from where we also wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”  (Phil 3:20)

Instead of focusing on the difficulties in our lives, we’re to keep our eyes focused on Christ and His return, where we will receive the resurrection and glorification of our bodies (1 Cor 15:20-23; 1 Cor 15:50-53). Unless we live with eternity in view, the evils of this world can easily become more than we can bear. Let us find encouragement in the words of Jesus:

“These things have I spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”  (John 16:33)

“according to the will of our God and Father;”

Deliverance out of this “present evil world” is the will of God. It’s God’s will that everyone be delivered out of this evil world of sin:

“4 who would have all men to be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth. 
5 For there is one God, one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 
6 who gave Himself a ransom for all; the testimony in its own times;”  (1 Tim 2:4-6)

The teaching of limited atonement is at odds with many plain statements of Scripture like the one above. It’s a deplorable and unbiblical doctrine. The atonement of Christ is unlimited, for He “gave Himself a ransom for all.” Therefore, deliverance “out of this present evil world” is available to all. 

“5 to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

The provision of salvation for all mankind was for the glory of God. How does limited atonement glorify God? How does this idea that God chose only a small percentage to be saved, while purposely choosing to leave the majority without hope, bring glory to God? How is such a teaching in harmony with the character of God, with whom there is “no partiality” (Acts 10:34; Ro 2:9-11)? How does such a teaching demonstrate the love God in a world where there is so much cruelty and injustice? How does such a teaching glorify God in a world that is full of people who need His love so badly?

Those who teach that Christ died only for “the elect,” misrepresent God’s character, and dishonor both His Word and Jesus, who paid such a great price.