Summary: In Galatians 1:1-5, the Apostle Paul explains these facts of the Gospel in stating: 1) His authority (his right to speak) (Galatians 1:1-2), 2) His message (the truths he speaks) (Galatians 1:3–4), and 3) His motive (his reason for speaking) (Gal.1:5).
Martin Luther (1483-1546), is known by many as the father of the Reformation. Luther had tried everything he knew to be a good Christian. He wrote:?"I was a good monk and kept my order so strictly that I could claim that if ever a monk were able to reach heaven by monkish discipline I should have found my way there. All my fellows in the house, who knew me, would bear me out in this. For if it had continued much longer I would, what with vigils, prayers, readings and other such works, have done myself to death".? Yet as hard as Luther worked, his conscience was still troubled by the thought that he was not good enough for God. He didn't understand the gospel of grace. His breakthrough came when he discovered that Christianity was not about what he had to do for God; it was about what God had done for him in Jesus Christ. ( Ryken, P. G. (2005). Galatians. (R. D. Phillips, P. G. Ryken, & D. M. Doriani, Eds.) (pp. 3?5). Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing.)
Galatians is a letter for people who wrestle with this: recovering Pharisees. The Pharisees who lived during and after the time of Christ were very religious. They were regular in their worship, orthodox in their theology, and moral in their conduct. Yet something was missing. Although God was in their minds and in their actions, he was not in their hearts. Therefore, their religion was little more than hypocrisy. The Pharisees were hypocrites because they thought that what God would do for them depended on what they did for God. So they read their Bibles, prayed, tithed, and kept the Sabbath as if their salvation depended on it. What they failed to understand is that God's grace cannot be earned; it only comes free.
There is a way out of Pharisaism. The way out is called the gospel. It is the good news that Jesus Christ has already done everything necessary for our salvation. He draws us unto Himself so we can repent of our sin, and trust in him. He will make us right with God by giving us the free gift of his grace. When we reject our own righteousness to receive the righteousness of Jesus Christ, we become former Pharisees.
The Gospel offers power and freedom. It has the power to defeat sin and death. It provides the only true freedom from the bondage to sin and death. In Galatians 1:1-5, the Apostle Paul explains these facts of the Gospel in stating: 1) His authority (his right to speak) (Galatians 1:1-2), 2) His message (the truths he speaks) (Galatians 1:3–4), and 3) His motive (his reason for speaking) (Galatians 1:5). In understanding these, we understand the power and freedom of life in Christ.
The Gospel offers power and freedom, as seen through Paul’s explanation of His:
1) Authority (Galatians 1:1-2)
Galatians 1:1-2 [1:1]Paul, an apostle--not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead-- and all the brothers who are with me, To the churches of Galatia: (ESV)
I want to cover a lot of ground very quickly in this first section on Authority before we get to the message of the gospel. Nevertheless, don't pass over the content of the salutation lightly as though it contained merely formal niceties such as the ?Dear Sir” or “Yours truly” of a modern letter. The prescript of a Pauline letter by itself constitutes “an essential part of the letter’s content.” ( G. Ebeling, The Truth of the Gospel: An Exposition of Galatians (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1984), 8.) The salutation reveals not only the mood in which Galatians was written but also the passion and burden of Paul?s heart that prompted him to write it. What is at stake is the content of the gospel Paul proclaimed to the Galatians. This too is restated with force in these opening verses as Paul draws a theological line in the sand against the false teachers who have undermined the gospel by undermining his apostolic authority (George, T. (2001, c1994). Vol. 30: Galatians (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; The New American Commentary (76). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.)
Following the custom of his times, the apostle begins his letter by stating his name, Paul. He then establishes his authority as an apostle, 1) first on the basis of his right to the title “apostle,” 2) second on the basis of the manner in which he was chosen for that office, and 3) third on the basis of his relationship to fellow believers.
• While we can assert with great certainty that this epistle owes its content from God, and style to Paul, but the actual mechanics of writing were, most likely, that of an amanuensis (secretary), as evidenced by the notation made as to what he personally wrote in the final words of the epistle. The majority of the epistle was likely generated through the process of dictation..(Elwell, W. A. (1996, c1989). Evangelical Commentary on the Bible . (electronic ed.) (Ga 1:6). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.)