The book of Galatians starts like most of Paul’s letters and other Greco-Roman letters. The author is identified, then the recipients, and then the salutation. It is straightforward to identify these three areas in Galatians 1:1-5. The author is Paul, the recipients are the churches of Galatia, and the salutation is “grace and peace.” However, when we carefully read the introduction to the letter, we learn so much more.
Galatians 1:1 starts with “Paul, an apostle,” but what follows gives important information about Paul’s apostleship. His apostleship derives from God rather than humans. He was divinely appointed and commissioned. Therefore, His teachings (what he will write about in the letter) come from Jesus, not man. The point Paul wants to make clear is his apostolic authority. In verse two, Paul gives more confirmation of his teaching by including the fellow believers with him as affirming Paul and this letter.
The recipient is relatively easy to identify, and not much else is given yet; Paul is writing to the churches in Galatia. This does tell us that it is written not only to one specific church or context, but this also makes it somewhat of a more general letter, meaning its application is to a broader audience.
In the salutation, we are introduced to two core themes: grace and peace. Paul’s prayer is that God the Father, and Jesus Christ will pour out grace and peace on the believers in the churches. As we read the letter to the Galatians, we will see they are in danger of accepting a “gospel” that denies God’s grace. This is super important as Paul sets us up to see a contrast between the true gospel of Jesus Christ and a false gospel. With a distortion of the gospel, there can be no peace with God. Not only that, but a distortion of the gospel removes peace between believers.
The essence of the gospel is found in verse 4, “who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father" (CSB). Paul wishes to clarify that salvation comes from Jesus, who paid the price of our sins to rescue us from the present evil age. The “present evil age” is not talking about our future with Christ in heaven, but rather the current time. The gospel is not a far off "something" we must wait for, but it impacts us today in the present.
As we move forward, we will see the false gospel of Jesus. Recently this week, I saw two Facebook posts that said if you vote for a particular person in November, you aren’t a Christian. The problem was each post had a different person. Now I don’t think they meant you weren’t saved if you voted for the other person, but it still irked me. Our salvation is not based on who we vote for or what we do. Our salvation is solely based on the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. And praise be to God for that, because if it were based on anything I had to do, I’d mess it up.
The point of Paul’s letter, the purpose of the gospel, and this devotional this morning is wrapped up in verse 5, to the glory of God forever!
Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus this week.
For His Glory,