Salutation. Part 1 of 6 Series; Lessons on Galatians

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

August 10, 2013

The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Galatians
Tom Lowe

Chapter I.A Salutation (1:1-5)

Galatians 1.1-5 (KJV)

1 Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)
2 And all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia:
3 Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ,
4 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:
5 To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

To Paul, the gospel was much more than a message he preached: it was a miracle he had experienced (vv. 1–5). The gospel is “the power of God to salvation” (Rom. 1:16) and it brings freedom. Christ died “that He might deliver us” (v. 4). When Paul trusted Christ, he became a free man. The shackles of sin and legalistic religion were broken!

In this chapter, after the introduction (v. 1-5), the apostle severely reprimands these churches for their defection from the faith (v. 6-9), and then he proves He is a true apostle, which is something his enemies had questioned, due to what they thought disqualified him for the office of apostle:
(1.) His weak appearance and a preaching style that did not feature eloquent oratory (v. 10).
(2.) He was not taught personally by Jesus, like the other apostles. (v. 11, 12).

The proof he presented in defense of his apostleship was threefold:
(1.) His former life—before his conversion. (v. 13, 14).
(2.) How he was converted, and called to the apostleship (v. 15, 16).
(3.) His current life as an apostle of Jesus Christ. (v. 16 to the end).

1 Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)
Paul was his Latin name; Saul was his Hebrew name. He was born in Tarsus in Cilicia (Acts 9:11; 22:3) of Jewish parents (Phil 3:5). His father was a Pharisee and a Roman citizen (Acts 23:6), so Paul was a Roman citizen by birth (Acts 22:27–28). He studied under the renowned Gamaliel (Acts 5:34; 22:3).

The first five verses comprise the preface or introduction to the epistle. We are immediately introduced to the person or persons who sent this Epistle-Paul an apostle, etc., and all the brethren that were with him. Paul was the penman; but he wrote while under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Paul wrote this epistle because, after his departure from the Galatian churches, Jewish-Christian fanatics moved in, and they perverted Paul’s Gospel of man’s free justification by faith in Jesus and purposely attempted to diminish his character and authority; therefore, the first thing he does is to give a general explanation of both his office and of the manner in which he was called to it (He will enlarge upon it later in this chapter and in Chapter2.).

These Jewish-Christian fanatics who pushed themselves into the Galatian churches after Paul’s departure, boasted that they were the descendants of Abraham, and true ministers of Christ; that they were trained by the apostles themselves, and that they were able to perform miracles. They said to the Galatians: “You have no right to think highly of Paul. He was the last one to come to Christ. But we have seen Christ. We heard Him preach. Paul came later and is beneath us. It is impossible for us to be in error, because we have received the Holy Ghost? Paul works alone. He has not seen Christ, and he has not had much contact with the other apostles either. Besides, he persecuted the Church of Christ for a long time.” The Galatians were taken in by such arguments with the result that Paul’s authority and doctrine were drawn into question.

Paul cannot let them get away with it, so he fearlessly defends his apostolic authority and ministry against these boasting, false apostles. Though he is a humble man, he will not now take a back seat. He reminds them of the time when he opposed Peter to his face and took to task the chief of the apostles.

an apostle,
Paul, an apostle was the usual way in which he began his epistles—“Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God” (Romans 1:1; KJV)—and it was of special importance to begin this epistle in this manner, because it was his intention that it would serve to vindicate his apostleship and to show that he had received his commission directly from the Lord Jesus.

An apostle is one who is sent with authority to represent and speak for another. He is given special delegated authority and entrusted with a special divine message. Paul claims to be a messenger, an envoy, an ambassador for Christ. He was endowed with all the credentials of his office. He was owned by Christ, commissioned by Christ, and empowered by Christ. He was an apostle and he is not afraid to characterize himself as such, though his enemies refused to acknowledge him with this title. He responded to their lack of respect by showing them that he did not assume this title without being able to justify his position as an apostle; he explains to them how he was called to this office, and assures them that his commission came directly from Jesus Christ. It should be noted that in two of the earliest Epistles, Thessalonians 1 and 2, through humility, he uses no title of authority; but he names the associates with him "Silvanus and Timotheus"; but here, though "brethren" (Ga. 1:2) are with him, yet he does not name them but prominently puts his own name and apostleship at the top; which shows his desire to vindicate his apostolic commission against those who have denied it.
The word apostle is used in two ways:
1. One of the Twelve (Acts 1:21–26)
a. With Jesus during His three-year ministry (v. 21).
b. Witness of His post-resurrection ministry (v. 22).
c. Chosen by Christ (v. 22; Acts 9:15; 26:16–17).
2. One sent forth. This is the wider sense as used in Acts 11:22.

There is one opinion held by some prominent expositors that say, Paul took the place of Judas. After the resurrection of Jesus, Matthias was chosen by the disciples to fill the place of Judas, but no information is given about Matthias except the account given in Acts 1:15–26. Matthias is never mentioned again. If the Holy Spirit had chosen him, certainly somewhere along the way He would have set His seal upon this man. Paul, however, proved he was an apostle, and Matthias did not. The election of Matthias as an apostle was held before Pentecost, which was before the Holy Spirit came into the church. For that reason, some do not think that the Holy Spirit had anything to do with the selection of Matthias. There are also many elections in our churches today that are obviously not controlled by the Holy Spirit. Was Paul the man whom the Spirit of God chose to take Judas’ place?

The next clause is inside a parenthesis, but actually, there is no parenthesis necessary in this verse. Paul is simply stating that he is an apostle. He begins here by declaring that his apostleship is not from man, but directly from Christ. The other apostles did not convert, choose, or appoint him, but Christ came from heaven to commission him.

(not of men,
"Of men” means "from men." In other words, he was not from any body of men, or commissioned by men. The word “apostle” means sent; and Paul means to say that he was not sent to carry out any purpose of men, or commissioned by them. He is not an apostle by appointment or commission after having attended a school or having taken a prescribed course. He had a higher calling—a calling from God, and he had been sent directly by him. Of course, he wants to exclude from the Galatians’ opinion of him the idea that any man or group of men had anything to do with sending him to preach the gospel to them; and especially he wants to make it clear that he had not been sent out by the society of apostles at Jerusalem. This was one of the charges of those who had perverted the Galatians from the faith which Paul had preached to them; that he was not on par with the original apostles, but was beneath them in every respect; the charge earned a very blunt reply from the apostle.

neither by man,
Paul’s “mission to the Gentiles had apparently been criticized and even denied by those who attempted to make the case that it had been initiated by men, specifically, men from the church of Antioch. Moreover, the validity of his commission was challenged on the ground that he originally had received the Spirit through a man, that is, that it was transferred to him through contact with Ananias, who had been reported to have laid his hands upon Paul at Damascus.” Paul emphatically denied the charge and declares decisively that the means of receiving his apostleship had nothing to do with any man. Paul was not an ambassador of men, and his gospel did not have in it the word and wisdom of man; he was an apostle, not of man, neither by man; he did not receive the common call of an ordinary minister, but an extraordinary call from heaven to this office.
1. He had not received his qualification for the office, or his appointment to it, by the authority of men, but had received both from above.
2. His apostleship was not through man, that is, not ritualistic by means of laying on of hands, by a bishop or church court. Paul did not have the other apostles lay their hands on his head and say, “Hocus pocus, you are an apostle.” The laying on of Ananias' hands (See Ac 9:17) is not an exception to this; because that was only a sign of the fact of his apostleship, and not the cause.
3. He was not sent out by one of the apostles; neither by James, who seems to have been president of the apostolic council at Jerusalem; nor by Peter, to who, in a particular manner, were the keys of the kingdom entrusted.

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