A Study of Galatians 1:1-5
Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but 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: Grace [be] to you and peace from God the Father, and [from] our Lord Jesus Christ, 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: To Whom [be] glory for ever and ever. Amen. [Gal 1:1-5]
Paul begins this letter to the churches, or assemblies, in Galatia with an introduction as to who this letter is from. It is from Paul the apostle. Notice that Paul states clearly where that apostleship comes from. His apostleship is not “of men”. He is not going with the delegated authority of men. That is what an apostle is. He is a person who is sent with the delegated authority of another. Paul makes it clear that he is not an apostle of men. He also makes it clear that he is not an apostle “by men”. No man called Paul into apostleship. This is true excepting that one Man, the Man Christ Jesus.
The Lord Jesus told Saul (Paul) of his intents as as related in Acts 26, as it seems immediately after the “arrest”:
And He (Jesus) said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; Delivering thee from the people, and [from] the Gentiles, unto whom I now send thee, to open their eyes, [and] to turn [them] from darkness to light, and [from] the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and an inheritance among them that are sanctified by faith which is in Me. [Acts 26:15-18]
The Lord Jesus spoke of His intents to Annanias before Saul even reached him:
But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my Name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: For I will shew him how great many things he must suffer for My Name’s sake. [Acts 9:15-16]
Paul also knew that his position was only by grace:
Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; and to make all [men] see what [is] the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God who created all things by Jesus Christ. [Eph 3:9-10]
Paul has the full authority of the Father and Son backing him up. Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead sent him.
Paul also includes brethren who are with him. He does not include them to add to the weight of his authority, for what one man, or whole world of men could add to the authority of Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead? He adds these brethren so that the Galatians may know that the brethren with him have indeed accepted his authority. He also lets them know that the brethren that are with him are speaking the same thing.
Although this epistle is very corrective and at times scathing in its rebuke of the Galatian assemblies, Paul begins with a greeting of grace and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. This is not just a kind, casual, and formal greeting. It is the content of the message that God is speaking today:
And all things are of God, Who hath reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech [you] by us: we pray [you] in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.
We then, [as] workers together [with Him], beseech [you] also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now [is] the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.) [2Cor 5:18-6:2]
It is said here that our Lord Jesus Christ gave Himself for our sins to deliver us from this present evil world, or age. Notice that there is no indication that He gave Himself for us so that we could make this age better. Notice also that Paul calls this age the present evil age and not the “church age”. The will of God the Father is not to change this present evil world or age, nor is it to reduce the sin in this age. It is not for the church to take dominion of the world and the world’s enterprises. It is rather to save men out of this present evil age. This is not to say that God will not judge sin. He has, at the cross. He will, when the day of salvation closes and the day of wrath begins. The kingdoms of this world will become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ. He is now delaying His judgment, acting in grace. He is dealing with mankind in a time of amnesty. He is graciously allowing that time to continue so that sinners can be saved from this present evil world before His righteous judgment, indignation, and wrath fall. How we should redeem that time—for we know not how much more there is!
To God be all glory—to the ages of the ages!