Paul, an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— and all the brothers who are with me,
To the churches of Galatia:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But 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. As 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.
For 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
Galatians 1:1-10 can be divided as follows: (1) We have the Judaizers distorting the gospel (v. 7), as a result of which (2) the Galatians are deserting the gospel (v. 6); for which reason, (3) Paul is defending the gospel with all his might.
The gospel is very important because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes. If we get the gospel wrong, we won’t be saved! That’s why Paul is so angry with those who are distorting the gospel. He says people who preach a different gospel should in effect go to hell! He’s also very disappointed with the Galatians. He reacts this way because of what is at stake: salvation itself! So we have to get the gospel right. We have to understand what it is all about.
1. The gospel is of divine origin (v. 1).
Paul says his apostleship is of divine origin and by extension so is the gospel that he preaches (see v. 11).
Ask the average person how he or she can be saved or go to heaven. The majority of them will say, “By means of my good works.” That’s how human beings think. But God’s thoughts are not our thoughts and our ways are not his ways. His way of salvation is something man can never come up with. Only God could come up with the amazing plan of coming down from heaven, becoming man, and dying for us in order to forgive us our sins and give us eternal life. He knows we can’t reach up to him, so he reached down to us!
2. The gospel is about grace and peace (v. 3).
Admittedly, grace and peace are part of his greeting, but these flow from the gospel and are terms which are loaded with significance.
Grace means undeserved favor. You don’t earn it; you don’t work for it; it’s a free gift that you simply receive (Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5-7).
We are at enmity with God because of our sins. But through Christ’s death he reconciled us to God and made peace between us and him (Col. 1:20; 2 Cor. 5:19, Rom. 5:10; Rom. 5:1).
3. The gospel is about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (vv. 1, 4).
God’s justice demands that “the soul that sins must die.” We are all sinners and the wages of sin is death. If we ourselves were to pay for our sins there is no way we can be saved because the penalty for our sins is eternal death. But Christ took our place and suffered the penalty meant for us. He, being God (and man at the same time), had the strength to bear the infinite weight of sin and pay the penalty thereof. We are freed from our sins because he bore them for us on the cross as our substitute (1 Peter 3:18; 1 Peter 2:24; Isaiah 53:5).
The gospel is also about Christ’s victory as evidenced by his resurrection – a resurrection that all who truly believe in him will participate in. This is what “deliverance from the present evil age” means. This deliverance has already begun. We have already received resurrection power in the form of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us and transforming us. And someday this process will be completed in the day we are glorified with Christ.
4. The gospel is about God’s glory (v. 5).
Eph. 2:9 teaches that salvation is grace through faith, a gift not earned by works, so that no one may boast; so that all the glory of our salvation may go to God alone (Isaiah 42:8; Rev. 7:9-11; Gal. 6:14).
Questions for Reflection:
Do I really understand what the gospel means? Am I truly saved?