Paul had planted several churches in Galatia and was now a prisoner at Rome. Some false teachers had seduced some of these Galatians from the gospel of free grace preached by Paul, persuading them that observance of the Levitical ceremonies was necessary to salvation and that justification before God was partly through faith in Christ and partly from their own works. They also said that Paul was not really an apostle like the other apostles who had been with Christ during his earthly ministry and, therefore, Paul's doctrine was not to be accepted. Paul wrote to convince the Galatians of their error, to turn them back to Christ alone and to press upon them the duties of a holy life.
v. 1. Paul claims to be an apostle, the highest office in the church. He did not receive this office from a group of men, or from any one man, but from the Lord Jesus Christ and from God the Father (Acts 26:13 -18). His office was confirmed by signs and miracles. Christ appeared to him, Christ was seen by him and he received his gospel from Christ (Gal. 1:11, 12).
v.2. This letter and greeting are not only from Paul but from all of the brethren who were with Paul and who assisted him in the ministry. The letter is to all of the churches of Galatia. The churches were not national but congregational; each local assembly was autonomous, functioning independently without control by the others.
v.3. Paul wishes for them the gracious favour and goodwill of God, whereby he is pleased with his elect in Christ (Eph. 1: 3-7), and peace with God - peace of conscience, peace with one another and even peace with their enemies. God is the 4 Galatians 1:1-10 fountain of peace and grace, and Christ is the means to convey grace and peace to us.
v.4. Having mentioned the Lord Jesus in verse 3, Paul goes on to describe our Redeemer by his one great act as the great High Priest over the house of God, by which he redeemed, justified, sanctified and delivered us from guilt, wrath and condemnation from this present evil world. He gave himself, soul and body, for our sins on the cross of Calvary (Heb. 9:26; 10:12-14).
v.5. Here is the duty and occupation of the saved - to ascribe all glory and praise to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The glory of Christ and our gratitude to him are the theme of our lives and shall be the long4asting and never-ending song of the redeemed throughout eternity (Rev. 5: 13).
vv.6, 7 Paul enters into the subject matter of this epistle, which is to reprove and rebuke any man who leaves the gospel of God's free grace and attempts to mix works with grace (Rom. 1 1: 5,6). It is surprising and astonishing that any person who has heard the good news of salvation by the grace of God through the merits of Christ would leave that gospel and look to a perverted gospel of grace plus works. But that is what these Galatians were doing. These teachers had persuaded the people to leave Paul's message and receive theirs, which added circumcision, ceremonies, holy days and human works to the works of Christ. This is not a gospel (good news) at all but a perverted system of self-righteousness (I Cor. 1:30; Col.1: 19-22; 2:8-15).
vv. 8, 9. The apostle then expressed the seriousness of their error. 'If any person preaches any other way of salvation except the full, sufficient, complete and eternal redemption that Jesus Christ by himself accomplished on behalf of his elect (which requires nothing of the creature but faith), even if it be an angel from heaven, let that person be accursed.' Paul also says, 'If we bring any other gospel, let us be accursed.' He repeats the warning for emphasis.
v.10. 'Are we trying to win the favour of man or of God? Do we seek to be men-pleasers? If we are seeking the favour and approval of men, we are not the bond-servants of Jesus Christ. Our aim is to be true to the Word of God, and in doing so we will be true to our hearers.' This gospel of the free grace of God is glorifying to God and honouring to all of his excellent attributes - his love and mercy, his infinite wisdom, his righteous justice and his immutable holiness. This gospel of the free grace of God in Christ is the only hope that sinful, corrupt men have; for if righteousness comes by any obedience to the law at all, not only did Christ die in vain, but no son of Adam has any hope of being saved.
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