Galatians Chapter 1

Paul opens once more with an allusion to the trinity (v1) as an apostle (by the Holy Spirit) by Jesus Christ and God the Father. Then giving greetings from his present company to the galatians. (v2) Then he blesses them with grace from the Father and Jesus Christ His Son. (v3)

We see here something that is so widely misunderstood it is shocking. That "Jesus Christ... gave Himself for our sins" (v4) does not reflect substitutionary sacrifice (by transfer of guilt) as is commonly believed. Jesus showed a perfect example of obedience even to the death of the cross. He is not blamed in our place in any way. Jesus came to give testament to a new covenant - and by being perfect in keeping the law He fulfilled the old covenant but built a better one upon it. That new covenant is one of grace extended to forgiveness - which is completely separate from the death on the cross. Jesus taught of this grace so it is therefore true. We can believe upon Him as the very God we know has raised Him from the dead blameless. He has given us the Holy Spirit as confirmation we also shall be raised.

In this way, by fulfilling the law and being blameless, Jesus gave Himself for our sins so He could be raised incorruptible and the forgiveness would be by election of grace, not of sacrifice. Why would God delight in the death of His Son and not rather His resurrection? (v5) This is one of the central themes of this epistle.

By translating the Israel of God from a physical nation to a spiritual kingdom the sacrifices are done away with. Jesus came to do this very thing, but in "giving Himself for our sins" he came to prove the law fulfilled and that it is possible to so keep the law. Thereby, in wisdom God has extended grace to us so we could be trained in the law's keeping through the Holy Spirit. The election of grace requires we stand in the truth and be repentant - not that we believe Jesus is to be blamed for sins we commit. Because the purpose was to extend grace, Jesus came to fulfill the law, laying down his life in obedience. That life is then gifted to us by grace and in newness of spirit. And the righteousness of Christ is imputed for our faith (upon Him) before Jesus Himself when He judges.

Therefore the obedient example of Christ to the cross is extended towards (and until the judgement of) those of His own that have been elected in grace, for a blameless God such as Christ can judge! Therefore those that stand before God are the elect. That is the connection - that for God's grace to work, Jesus has to be blameless to judge justly. So, for the election to also work justly, Jesus had to show obedience, even to the death on the cross. The cross is then a covering or "sealing" of sins of believers (to appear at the judgement) within acceptable and pleasing grace from God - the Father does not look away from sin, but looks at faith also! All christians should indeed fear the severity of God. Many are called, but few chosen.

So "Gave Himself for our sins" - what does that mean equivalently? Just two words, "grace" and "mercy". (And not, "guilt")

However Paul continues on and states that he wonders why so very quickly they have accepted false doctrine. (v6) Another gospel without the truth of the one Paul teaches. (v7) False teachers are perverting the truth of the gospel in their midst. Any person or spirit deserves to be cursed for false doctrine. (v8) To reiterate Paul repeats this for mere men in particular. (v9).

Paul has received the gospel from God so he states he is writing to convince them, (mere men) and not God Himself - (v10) God does not change the truth of His covenants for any man's pleasure. Paul indeed received the gospel from God (v11), from Jesus Himself (v12). Paul recounts how He encountered Christ after he persecuted the church (v13) as a "pharisee of pharisees" (v14) But Paul was called by the election of grace by God (v15) to preach the gospel to the gentiles (v16).

Paul did not seek advice from any man; neither did he visit the apostles in Jerusalem, but went to Arabia then Damascus (v17) for three years before visiting Peter in Jerusalem for fifteen days. (v18) Seeing none other but James, Jesus' brother. (v19) Of all these things Paul swears he tells the truth. (v20) After all those things He went into Syria and Cilicia (v21) finding himself anonymous amongst the christians there (v22) who had heard that Saul, as he was, was now a convert; they then glorified God for his conversion. (v23)

Continue To Next Page

Return To Section Start