"...that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen" (Gal 1:4-5).
Something is very wrong, and the reader of Paul's epistles knows it immediately! Even when he wrote to the Corinthians, he started by giving thanks! But not here. He goes straight to the issue! The problem at Galatia is not sexual immorality, or questions about the Second Coming. Everything is at stake in Galatia! First, he states the Gospel (Gal 1:1-5), and then he expresses his dismay that they are leaving it (Gal 1:6-10)!
I Eschatological Good News 1:1-5
II False Teachers 1:6-10
"Paul, an apostle (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead), 2 and all the brothers with me,
To the churches of Galatia:
3 Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen" (Gal 1:1-5).
Yes, Paul follows the formal rhetoric of a Greek epistle, but these first five verses put it all on the table! Paul comes with all the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ who sits as exalted glorified vassal at the right hand of Almighty God, the Father, Suzerain of creation! God raised and exalted Jesus to His throne because He is the obedient Second Adam. Christ met the stipulations of the Pactum Salutis with the Father and receives the glorification the covenant sanctions require! Paul is not alone. Others stand as witnesses to this Gospel and send this rebuke and call to repentance!
In the Lord Jesus' finished work "peace" is theirs! He is not having a kumbaya moment! He speaks of the "shalom," full eschatology glory peace! It is theirs by "grace." God sent the Lord Jesus to be a substitute under His wrath for sins in order that they might not bear that wrath in eternal judgment under the broken Covenant of Works. This "present evil age" is death row waiting that final day. But the Father sent the Lord Jesus to rescue them from this "present evil age" and bring them to eschatological shalom! So "our God and Father" will be glorified forever! That's it, all of it!
But the Galatians have moved on to greater things! Paul is dismayed and indignant. He writes,
"I am amazed that you in this way are quickly turning aside from the One who called you in the grace of Christ, for another gospel, 7 which is not another; if not some who are disturbing you and wanting to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel beyond what we have preached to you, let him be accursed! 9 Even as we have said before, again I say now, if anyone is preaching to you a gospel beyond what you received, let him be accursed! 10 For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ" (Gal 1:6-10).
God, the Father, called them in the grace of Christ, and they left for "another gospel!" But there isn't any other Gospel! There isn't any other Good News that brings sinners to sit exalted in everlasting shalom glory! God called them “in the grace of Christ” (ἐν χάριτι Χριστοῦ en chariti Christou). This is more than a call to live in the grace of Christ. “In Christ” is used regularly by Paul to refer to the federal union the believer has with the Lord Jesus as the believer’s representative. God, the Father, has brought the believer to Himself through the finished work of Christ Jesus as the believer’s federal head. It is the finished works of the Lord Jesus that are made the believer’s by grace. His finished work is theirs! Yes, live in that grace.
Clearly the problem in Galatia is not merely behavior out of accord with the Gospel! There are those who are troubling the believers with false teaching. They are perverting the Gospel. They are "preaching" a gospel "beyond" (παρ’ para) what Paul preached. It doesn't matter who it is -- an angel from heaven, Paul, or another apostle -- if they preach something else, they are "anathema," under God's curse! This is not an emotional rant by the apostle. This is core truth: anyone propounding as gospel something that is not the Gospel Paul proclaimed to the Galatians is under God's damning curse! Parenthetically, Paul answers his objectors. No, Paul, is not a man pleaser! He is a slave of Christ!
These opening ten verses bury the New Perspective on Paul! Is the Jew Gentile problem real? Yes! Paul addresses it in Romans 9-11. Yes, the Gospel is the only message that rescues the Gentiles from this present evil death row! But the Jew Gentile problem is resolved by the finished work of Christ. And it is the finished work of Christ that is under siege in Galatia.
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Unless otherwise noted Scripture quotations are from NASB. Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995, 2020 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org
trans. indicates my translation
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