1 Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)
2 And all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia:
4 Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:
5 To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Only One Gospel
6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:
7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.
8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye 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 yet pleased men, I should not be the servant 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 meet the very specific qualifications of an apostle of Christ:
- Be personally taught by Christ
- Be personally commissioned by Christ for service
- Personally see the risen Christ
Paul goes further stating 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. Paul usually began his letters with thankfulness for the recipients. So serious was the Galatians’ error and reason for this writing 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 – PAUL’S CALL TO APOSTLESHIP EXPANDED