Summary: Paul starts off cool, and then heats up quickly. He cuts to the chase calmly and directly and doesn’t mince words. SALVATION IS NOT OF WORKS! Link inc. to formatted text, audio, PowerPoint.
What an Introduction!
Paul starts off cool, and then heats up quickly. He cuts to the chase calmly and directly and doesn’t mince words.
Galatians is God’s rebuttal of legalism of every description. The Mosaic Law is neither discredited, despised, nor disregarded. Its majesty, perfection, demands, fullness, and purpose are maintained. Yet these very qualities make it utterly impossible for man to come this route to God. Another way is opened for man to be justified before God, a way which entirely bypasses the Mosaic Law. The new route is by faith.
Justification by faith is the theme, with the emphasis upon faith.
In Galatians Paul is defending the gospel from those who would add law to justification by faith. Faith plus law was the thrust of Judaism. Faith plus nothing was the answer of Paul. The Judaizers again questioned Paul’s authority as an apostle and his teaching that simple faith was adequate for salvation. Paul mildly defends his apostleship and demonstrates the sufficiency of the gospel of grace to save.
Notice this cool greeting, different from what we got used to as we watched him deal w/ the church at Corinth:
Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;) [Gal. 1:1].
Actually there is no parenthesis necessary in this verse. Paul is simply stating that he is an apostle. No more trying to prove it, these folks didn’t need that evidently, just a reminder of the facts. The word apostle is used in a twofold sense:
1. One of the Twelve (Acts 1:21-26)
(a) With Jesus during His three year ministry (v. 21);
(b) Witness of His postresurrection ministry (v. 22);
2. One sent forth. This is the wider sense as used in Acts 11:22.
Paul, I believe, 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. They cast lots, rather than relying on the Lord to help them choose, and 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 I do not think that the Holy Spirit had anything to do with the selection of Matthias. We must be very careful in our churches that we do not have decisions, votes, and elections which are not ordered by the Holy Spirit. I believe that Paul is the man whom the Spirit of God chose to take Judas’ place.
In this verse Paul also says that he is not "of men." The preposition apo conveys the meaning of "not from men," that is, it is not legalistic. He is not an apostle by appointment or commission after having attended a school or having taken a prescribed course.
Paul also declares that his apostleship is not "by man." The preposition dia indicates that it was not through man, that is, not ritualistic by means of laying on of hands, as by a church. Paul did not have the other apostles lay their hands on his head and say, "Hocus pocus, you are an apostle."
Paul was an apostle. How? He was an apostle by Jesus Christ. Jesus called him, and set him apart for the office (see Acts 9:15-16).
Now I am an ordained minister from men and through men. I was told that I had to go to Bible college and obtain certain degrees before I could be ordained. I did that. That was from men. That was the legalistic side. Next I went before a church body that examined me. Their decision was that I should be an ordained minister. I knelt, and a group of men put their hands on me and said, "You are now an ordained minister." That is the kind of minister I am. Paul said, "I am not that kind of an apostle. Men had nothing to do with it. I am an apostle directly by Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead."
And all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia [Gal. 1:2].
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."