Salutation Part 3 of 6-series: Lessons on Galatians
by John Lowe
It is not quite clear why Paul introduces the resurrection here, but it may have been for one or more of the following reasons:
1. Because it was on his mind, and he wanted to mention it at every opportunity as a well-known fact.
2. Both to explain to us that the resurrection was God the Father’s public testimony that Christ is his Son and the promised Messiah, and also that his call to the apostleship was directly from Christ, and for that reason it was after his resurrection from the dead, and while He was in his exalted state; therefore, he had reason to look upon himself, not only as standing upon a level with the other apostles, but in some respects preferred above them; since, though they were called by Him when He was on earth, Paul received his call from Him while He was in heaven.
3. Because the resurrection was the distinguishing feature of the Christian religion; that the Lord Jesus had been raised to life, from the dead; and he wished, at the outset, to present the superiority of the Christian religion which had brought life and immortality into a world full of sinful people.
4. Because he wished to show that he had received his commission from the same God who had raised up Jesus, and who was, therefore, the Author of the true religion. His commission was from the Source of life and truth; the God of the living and the dead; the God who was the Author of the glorious gospel that revealed the way to life and immortality.
5. Because Paul is so eager to come to the subject matter of his epistle, the righteousness of faith in opposition to the righteousness of works, that he must speak his mind. He did not think it quite enough to say that he was an apostle “by Jesus Christ”; he adds, “And God the Father, who raised him from the dead.”
6. Paul had a good reason for adding this phrase. He had to deal with Satan and his agents who endeavored to deprive him of the righteousness of Christ, who was raised from the dead by God the Father. These perverters of the righteousness of Christ resist the Father and the Son, and the works of both of them.
Throughout this epistle, Paul talks about the resurrection of Christ. By His resurrection, Christ won the victory over law, sin, flesh, world, devil, death, hell, and every evil. And He has donated His victory to us. Our enemies may accuse and frighten us, but they cannot condemn us, because Christ, whom God the Father has raised from the dead is our righteousness and has given us His victory.
2 And all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia:
And all the brethren which are with me,
When Paul wrote to the churches he usually included in the opening greeting the ministers of the gospel and those Christians who were with him at the time, and represented them as uniting with him, and concurring with the sentiments which he expressed. Though Paul claimed to be inspired it would do much toward creating goodwill in his readers, if others also agreed with what he said, and especially if they were known to the churches to which the epistles were written. Sometimes the names of others were associated with his in the epistle. (See1 Corinthians 1:1; Philippians 1:1 Colossians 1:1; 1 Thessalonians 1:1.). Since we do not know where this epistle was written, we are, of course, ignorant about whom the "brethren" were that Paul referred to here. They may have been fellow ministers with Paul, or they may have been the private members of the churches, or both. Commentators have been divided in their opinion on the subject, but it is all conjecture. It is obviously impossible to determine.
Although Paul had superior character and achievements, he is ready to accept these men as brethren; and, though he wrote the epistle, he links them with himself in the dedication of it. In this, he shows his own great modesty and humility, and how far he was from a presumptuous disposition; therefore he might do this to cause these churches to have a greater regard for what he wrote, since by mentioning others it would appear that he had their agreement with him in the doctrine which he had preached, and that it was nothing more than what was both published and professed by others as well as himself.
As I have mentioned, commentators have been divided in their opinion of who was with Paul at this time, but it is certain they were Christian believers. Some of the speculation is that:
1. They were those who were his assistants in preaching the Gospel, and not any private members of the Church.
2. They were his fellow-laborers, such as Timothy, Titus, Silas, Luke, etc., some of whom at least were with him at this time. The word “all” implies that a number were with him.
a. Acts 19:29 (NLT) “Soon the whole city was filled with confusion. Everyone rushed to the amphitheater, dragging along Gaius and Aristarchus, who were Paul’s traveling companions from Macedonia.”
b. Acts 20:4 (NLT) “Several men were traveling with him. They were Sopater son of Pyrrhus from Berea; Aristarchus and Secundus from Thessalonica; Gaius from Derbe; Timothy; and Tychicus and Trophimus from the province of Asia.”
None of these men were joint authors with Paul of this Epistle: but joined him in the sentiments and salutations. The phrase, "all the brethren," accords with a date when he had many traveling companions, since he and they had to carry the collection to Jerusalem. You will notice that Paul’s greeting is cool, brief, formal, and terse. No one is personally mentioned. He is not writing just to one church. He is writing to several churches—“churches of Galatia.”
unto the churches of Galatia:
The word “church” (Gr ekklēsia) occurs over one hundred times in the New Testament; and it is used in three ways. Once it refers to the assembly of saints in heaven (Heb 12:23), several times it is used in a wide sense (mostly in Ephesians and Colossians) to refer to the entire body of believers from all different groups and in every place where they are existing in this world, who have trusted Christ as Savior; but the vast majority of times it refers to a local assembly of called-out, born-again Christians bonded together for worship and work, which is how Paul uses the word here. There were churches, or local assemblies, in many parts of Galatia, though it is not certain how many there were. There was a church in Antioch of Pisidia, in Derbe, in Lystra, and in other places he had visited. Paul was writing to all the churches, to all of the local assemblies; the local church, which in most cases were located in private homes—not the corporate body of believers—That is what is meant here. The inference from the language is that there were a considerable number of churches scattered through the province.
In the Epistle to the Ephesians, we look at the church as a corporate body of believers—the invisible church. But the invisible body is to make itself visible today in a corporate body. Believers should be identified with a local body of believers. To Paul, there was no state or national church.
“Galatia” was a region or province of Asia Minor; there was not a city or town with this name. But, since Paul had planted several Churches in Galatia, as he had done in other areas, he directs the epistle to all of them; because it seems they were all pretty much in the same state, and needed the same instructions. This epistle should go far in shutting the mouths of the false apostles. Paul’s intention is to exalt his own ministry while discrediting theirs. He adds for good measure the argument that he does not stand alone, but that all the brethren with him attest to the fact that his doctrine is divinely true. “Although the brethren with me are not apostles like myself, yet they are all of one mind with me; they think, write, and teach the same doctrine.
Paul addresses this epistle to a group of churches that were relinquishing the essential truths of the gospel of grace and were going back to the works of the law as a means of justification. “The omission of any expression of praise in addressing the Galatians shows the extent of their apostasy.” There were several churches at that time in Galatia, and it seems that all of them were more or less corrupted through the skill of those false teachers (Judaizers, in this case) who had crept in among them; and therefore Paul, on whom came daily the care of all the churches, was deeply disturbed by how their faith had weakened, and therefore he writes this epistle to them in hopes of recovering their faith and ensuring it remains firm and lasting. The first Epistle of Peter is addressed to Jewish Christians residing in Galatia (1Pe 1:1), among other places mentioned. It is interesting to note that the apostle of the circumcision, as well as the apostle of the uncircumcision, who at one time opposed each other (Ga 2:7-15), were co-operating to build up the same churches.