Galatians 1:1-10 (ESV)
1Paul, an apostle— not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— 2and all the brothers who are with me,
Paul wrote this book; his authorship of this magnificent letter is virtually unquestioned.
And what a magnificent letter this is! Galatians has been called the “Declaration of Independence of Christian liberty.” The great reformer Martin Luther especially loved this letter; he called Galatians his “Catherine von Bora,” because, he said, “I am married to it.” Leon Morris wrote, “Galatians is a passionate letter, the outpouring of the soul of a preacher on fire for his Lord and deeply committed to bringing his hearers to an understanding of what saving faith is.”
Many scholars believe that Galatians was written in the late 40’s or the early 50’s; an approximate date of 50 A.D. is often given. It seems that Paul wrote this letter before the Jerusalem Council mentioned in Acts 15, because although he mentions several trips to Jerusalem, he makes no mention of the council. Because the Jerusalem Council of Acts 15 dealt with the exact issues Paul writes about, it would seem strange if it had already happened, yet he made no mention of it. If it is true that Galatians was written around 50 AD, then Paul would have been a Christian for about 15 years, being converted on the road to Damascus around 35 AD.
To the churches of Galatia:
This letter was addressed to the churches of Galatia, because Galatia was a region, not a city, and there were several churches among the cities of Galatia.
“During the third century bc some Celtic peoples (or Gauls) migrated to this area and, after fighting with the people they encountered, they settled into the northern part of Asia Minor. In due course they came into conflict with the Romans, who defeated them, and from this time they remained under the authority of the Romans as a dependent kingdom. The name ‘Galatia’ covered the territory settled by the Gauls.”
Galatia contained the cities of Pisidian Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe, among others. These cities were visited by Paul during his first missionary journey. The entire region is within present-day Turkey.
3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins
Now, Paul will briefly expand on the work of God the Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. The first thing he wrote about Jesus is that He gave Himself for our sins.
“Throughout the epistle Paul points the Galatians to the centrality of the cross. He cannot wait to make this plain, and we find a reference to it in his very first sentence.”
Jesus gave. We know from John 3:16 that God the Father so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. Yet God the Father was not the only giver; Jesus also gave. Jesus is a loving, giving God and a loving, giving Savior.
Jesus gave the greatest thing anyone can give – Himself. Jesus gave the greatest gift He could. There is a sense in which we do not even begin to give until we give ourselves.
Jesus gave Himself for our sins. Our sins put us on a road to ruin and destruction. If God did not do something to save us, our sins would destroy us. So out of love, Jesus gave Himself for our sins!
“These words, ‘who gave himself for our sins’, are very important. He wanted to tell the Galatians straight out that atonement for sins and perfect righteousness are not to be sought anywhere but in Christ . . . So glorious is this redemption that it should ravish us with wonder.”
to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
“These two terms, grace and peace, constitute Christianity.”
No Other Gospel
6I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
The message of the gospel is what Jesus did on the cross for us as revealed by the Scriptures and proven by the resurrection. Yet there is something about that message that is offensive to many people. They prefer not to think of themselves as helpless sinners, in need of a Savior, as ones who can do no good in and of themselves. Eventually they begin to think that instead of them needing God, God is pretty lucky to have them. Do not listen to the voices telling you to be proud of yourself, your knowledge, your goodness, Paul says. Instead, turn your eyes to Jesus and His grace.
10For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
“I am a servant of Christ!” This is a heavy saying. We want to maintain good relations with others, especially family members and co-workers who are in our daily lives. But more important is to maintain a faithful and obedient relationship with Christ. It is never wise to disobey God in order to keep the peace with people. Remember Peter in the High Priest’s courtyard, and how he wept once he realized that the opinion of a servant girl had mattered more to him than faithfulness to Jesus!
“Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” This is my prayer each day for you, my fellow DWELL-ers. HERE it is as a song, sung by Fernando Ortega.
English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.