Galatians 1:1-5 Paul, an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— 2 and all the brothers 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 to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
I usually think of Galatians as being Romans lite. The material that Paul presents here is much expanded in the Roman letter. Paul wants the church in Galatia to recognize his authority as an apostle. Then, based on that, he will instruct them (and us) concerning justification by faith alone. Galatians helps us to understand the historical aspects of the Acts of the Apostles in relation to Paul’s life. In a couple of weeks, we will look at Paul’s growth in Christ. Now let’s look at these first few verses.
Paul’s relationship to the Galatian churches was based on the fact that he was the founding pastor in most cases. He was their apostle who had brought the gospel to them and as such was able to provide them with the necessary information to counteract false teachings that had come in after he had left. First of all, we need to see that…
Paul qualifies as an apostle. Let’s go back and see what happened when there was a gap in the apostle’s ranks. Acts 1:21-23 So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.” 23 And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias.
With the departure of Judas, the twelve apostles were now lacking a member. So Peter stood up in their meeting and quoted Scripture to show that they needed to appoint another. Here Peter lays out the qualifications. A man who has been with them during the time they were following in the footsteps of Jesus. Also, this man needed to be a witness to the resurrection.
They cast lots to choose between two men who seemed to qualify. I’m not sure exactly what that means but the lot fell on a man named Matthias and he was numbered with the eleven.
A number of times I have heard fairly knowledgeable people say that this was probably a mistake. Because this man is never mentioned again. It’s true that his name does not appear again. My first response to that is most of the apostles were never mentioned again by name. However, in Acts chapter 6 the apostles called the church together to choose men to help the apostles. When they did, Luke tells us that “the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples”. I submit to you that Matthias was counted in that group. Also, when Paul records the appearances of Jesus after the resurrection he says that one of his appearances was “to the twelve” (1 Corinthians 15:5).
Judas’ replacement was appointed by the people of the early church. A few years later Paul was…
Appointed by Jesus. Let’s look at one of Paul’s accounts of that appointment. Acts 26:15b-18 ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. 16 But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, 17 delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you 18 to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.
Luke’s account in Acts chapter nine tells us that Paul, then known as Saul of Tarsus, was breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord.
In Paul’s account, he simply says that he journeyed to Damascus with the arrest warrants for those who followed the Way! Along the road to Damascus, he saw a great light — brighter than the sun – that blinded him. Then a voice spoke to him saying, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” Saul’s reply was, “Who are you, Lord?”
With that question, he was given the answer that I just read for you. Note that he did not say “I am Jesus the Lord of the church which you are persecuting”. Instead, he said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.” When someone persecutes the church they persecute the head — the Lord Jesus — not just his body on earth.
With that recognition the Lord Jesus himself, in the flesh, appointed him. The word “apostle” is not used. But the meaning is very clear. The word “apostle” means “one who is sent”. In our text, we can see that Jesus said: “I am sending you”! Paul became a “sent one” with direct instructions. He was to go to the Gentiles and bring them out of darkness into the light. To deliver them from the power of Satan and give them over to God. He became the apostle to the Gentiles that day on the Damascus Road. As such…
Paul speaks grace to the Galatians. This was a common part of his greetings in his letters. In writing the greeting to the Romans and 1 Corinthians Paul included the phrase “Grace to you”. Throughout his other letters, the concept of grace is often presented. Usually, it is also connected to the word “peace”. When Paul spoke grace to the Galatians he wanted them to understand that the grace and peace he was wishing for them came from God our Father and…
From the Lord Jesus Christ. Let’s look at John 1:16-18. For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.
Grace, God’s grace, means God’s goodness toward those who deserve only punishment. Peter refers to God as “the God of all grace” (1 Peter 5:10). Grace and truth came to mankind through Jesus Christ (John 1:17). In fact, Jesus came to earth “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). And the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ was given to the church through faith in the work of Jesus on the cross. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God but we are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (Romans 3:23-24).
Since Jesus was full of grace we have all received from him grace on top of grace. So we are able to, when addressing our friends, speak “grace” and “peace”. We have this gift because of Jesus…
Who gave himself for our sins. Paul makes it clear in Titus 2:11-14. For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
“The grace of God” that has appeared is Jesus. He brought salvation for all people. He enables us to be trained to live a godly life. Because of the grace of God, we are able to live a life that is pleasing to God while in the middle of this corrupt world! In our own strength and righteousness, we can never earn the right to become a child of God. In order for us — or anyone else for that matter — to be redeemed and purified God had to send His Son to become sin for us so that we could become the righteousness of God in him. He did this…
To deliver us from this evil age. Let’s look at Ephesians 2:4-7. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
His great love makes all things become good. He does this just because he loves us! Before a person comes to faith in Christ he, or she, is living like the rest of the world around. Without Jesus, mankind is subject to the prince of the power of the air! Such people live in a condition the Bible calls “the flesh”. Later in Galatians Paul describes that condition. (Galatians 5:19-21) “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” In 1 Corinthians 6:9b-11a, Paul describes the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God in the following way. “neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you.”
In contrast, those who follow Christ will manifest the fruit of the Spirit love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentlenesses, self-control; against such things, there is no law. (Galatians 5:22b-23) And rather than being like those listed in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, the Christ follower has been washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God as described in 1 Corinthians 6:11b. Since we have been so changed by the power of God we are able to have peace. When we lay aside our anxiety and submit everything to God in prayer “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7) Yes, God’s grace gives peace!
Paul was the only apostle directly appointed by Jesus after his resurrection from the dead. God’s grace is poured out upon us as God’s goodwill. First, there is common grace meaning all of the good things done to all mankind. And then there is special grace that is designed to bring us to salvation. Christ Jesus came to the earth for the special purpose of paying the price for our sins. We need to recognize the fact that the power of sin in mankind is so great that it can only be paid for by the Son of God himself! We need to remember that all have sinned, there is only one exception, Jesus himself. And, the wages of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life. Have you asked him to forgive your sins? Have you asked him to be your Lord and give you eternal life? If not this can be the day of your salvation?
All scripture quotes are from: The Holy Bible: English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.