Summary: In these five verses Paul deals with his ministry, his message and his motive.
TITLE: The Salutation
TEXT: Galatians 1:1-5
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),
2 and all the brethren who are with me, to the churches of Galatia:
3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ,
4 who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us out of this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,
5 to whom be the glory forevermore. Amen.
When Paul heard about the problem at Galatia he was, to say the least, stirred to action. As he begins his letter he centers on three things: (1) his ministry, (2) his message, and (3) his motive.
I. PAUL’S MINISTRY (1:1-2).
Paul’s apostleship was under attack by false teachers in the area of Galatia. They were saying that Paul lacked apostolic qualification. If they succeeded in undermining his authority, they would also bring discredit to his message. It’s the age-old tactic of "discredit the messenger and thereby discredit the message."
Paul’s defense is made by way of a parenthetical statement—"Paul, an apostle, (not of men or by any man, but by Jesus Christ and God His Father who raised Him from the dead)" (ASV). In this sentence Paul states three things about his ministry.
A. Paul was not self appointed – "not by men"
B. Paul was not man appointed – "not by any man"
C. Paul was divinely appointed – "but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead." Paul attributed his apostleship to the Living Christ and to the One who raised Him from the dead.
As a divinely commissioned apostle, he had been given authority from God. Therefore, what he had to say was not from Paul the man, but from God through His servant Paul.
ILLUS: The courier carries the diamonds to their destination, but he does not own them.
Paul adds weight to his authority by adding "and all the brethren who are with me" (v.2). Paul’s view of his ministry and message was shared by those who were with him.
II. PAUL’S MESSAGE (1:3-4).
Paul’s customary greeting of "grace" and "peace" affords him an opportunity to press home his message. GRACE, God’s unmerited favor and PEACE, cessation of againstness does not come to man through works, but only through God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. In addition to this Paul notes three facts concerning our salvation.
A. The Problem – "our sins." In his book to the Romans, Paul reveals that sin is a universal problem. He says, "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God" (Ro. 3:23). Later, he declares that "the wages of sin is death" (Ro. 6:23). The logical conclusion is, since all have sinned and are guilty before God, then all must die. In defining his gospel
B. The Price – "Who gave Himself for our sins." In defining his gospel Paul said, "Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you…For I delivered to you as of the first importance what I also received, that CHRIST DIED FOR OUR SINS according to the Scriptures" (1Cor. 15:1, 3). If Christ’s death pays our sin debt, then why do we need to be circumcised and keep the Law? If righteousness comes by keeping the Law, then Jesus didn’t have to die. If Jesus paid the debt in full, then all we need to do is believe and receive (Gal. 2:16 and Eph. 2:8).
C. The Purpose – "That He might deliver us out of this present evil world."
The term "world" is "aion" and refers to an age or period of time marked by certain characteristics. In this case it is identified as "evil," i.e., immoral and wicked. When one sees the world for what it really is, then and only then will he see the need for deliverance out of it. (See chart #1.)
The term "deliver" is "exaireo" and means to take out for one’s self. Its usage here indicates that God has a special interest in the result of His act and obtains pleasure by our deliverance.
D. The Plan – "according to the will of God the Father."
Christ’s death was no after thought on the part of God. It was preplanned and premeditated, for Jesus is "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Rev. 13:8).
III. PAUL’S MOTIVE (1:5) – "To whom be glory for ever and ever!"
Like false teachers of today, the Judaizers were not ministering for the glory of Christ, but for their own glory (see 6:12-14). They weren’t busy winning the lost to Christ. They were winning men to their distorted view of the gospel. Paul’s motive was pure and godly: he wanted to glorify Jesus Christ. (See 1Cor. 6:19-20 and 10:31-33.)