1 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 brethren who are with me, To the churches of Galatia: 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 from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
Only One Gospel
6 I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, 7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. 10 For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.
Paul begins his letter to the Galatians by affirming his authority (v1). The Judiazers were injecting the opinion that Paul had no authority to preach to the Galatians. Their accusation that he was not a “true” apostle is met head-on with his own testimony. Paul titles himself appropriately as an apostle. In order to be an apostle of Christ Paul had to personally see the risen Christ, had to be personally taught by Christ, and had to be personally commissioned by Christ for service. Paul further extends that his apostleship was not given by or through men but was divinely given by Jesus with the ultimate source being God Himself. Paul adds that while the original 12 apostles were commissioned before Christ’s death, he was commissioned by the resurrected glorified Christ.
The abruptness which Paul plunges into the letter is significant. The usual beginning of Paul’s letters include a thankfulness for the recipients. So serious was their error Paul goes straight to the letter itself.
After Paul reminds of the grace and peace they received from God upon salvation he reminds them that Christ gave himself as payment for their sin and rescued them from the sin in the world that surrounds them. In verse 4:
- The word “for” is huper meaning substitution
- The word “deliver” is exaireo meaning to rescue or pluck out
- The word “evil” is poneros meaning evil that isn’t content unless it is corrupting others
Note that it is also the will of God, His desire in fact that men should be delivered from the evil in this world.
Continuing Paul writes he marvels that the Galatians have deserted the grace of Christ. As we will see in future studies, Paul asserts that the salvation-by-works “gospel” they were being troubled with was no gospel at all. The Judiazers were teaching a perverted gospel. A gospel turned-about. He is so strong with his condemnation of this false gospel he states that even if he, or an angel from heaven preached something other than the true gospel that these Christians had received from him on his missionary journey that person should be cursed by God.
His commission was to persuade men, thus Paul’s life’s work was to please God. There were multiple examples of persecutions Paul endured for the gospel of Christ. These Galatians would have known of the beatings and stonings Paul suffered — proof in itself that he did not seek to please men.
In verse 10 Paul describes himself as a bondservant. A bondservant in those days was a man who was given his freedom from slavery or had bought himself out of slavery. That man could choose to become a bondservant, meaning to choose to remain a slave to his master. The slave master would then take an awl and pierce the earlobe of the slave to signify his commitment. Pauls was proud of the fact he was a volunteer slave to his Lord Jesus Christ.
NEXT: GALATIANS 1:11-24 – PAULS CALL TO APOSTLESHIP EXPANDED