Online Bible Commentary
Grace and Peace
Galatians 1:1 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 brethren who are 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, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. (NKJV)
The undisputed writer of the book of Galatians is Paul the Apostle. The date of the writing appears to be prior to the meeting of the Jerusalem Council since Paul writes of the matter of circumcision, which was later settled by the Jerusalem Council in 49 A. D.
The letter is written “to the churches of Galatia”, a province in Asia Minor (v. 2b). Paul planted churches in southern Galatia on his first missionary journey of 47-49 A.D. This information would lead us to believe that the book of Galatians was written to the churches of southern Galatia, located in the cities of Antioch of Pisidia, Derbe, Lystra, and Iconium, in 49 A.D. after Paul had returned to his home church of Antioch, Syria and prior to him leaving for the Jerusalem Council meetings.
Paul begins his letter by introducing himself. He describes himself as an apostle. Paul was appointed an apostle on that historical day when he was struck down by the Lord on the road to Damascus.
Paul was not appointed by and responsible to men, but appointed and responsible only to “Jesus Christ and God the Father” (v. 1). Therefore, Paul introduces himself as one who does not care about pleasing men, but only cares about pleasing God. In this verse, Paul holds Jesus as deity, and equal to God the Father.
Then Paul states that he is joined in the beliefs expressed in this letter by his Christian brothers (v. 2a). In so doing, he is setting the stage that the gospel that he professes is the true gospel of the Christian faith.
Next Paul offers a prayer, before launching into the body of the letter. As was his custom he offers grace and peace “from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ” (v. 3). As a representative of God, Paul could make this offer.
The grace that Paul offers is the undeserved and unmerited favor that God bestows upon those who express belief in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and become Christians. Salvation comes only though God’s grace and not by any works that men may perform. Jesus “gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory forever and ever (vv. 4-5).
Because Jesus gave his life to pay the penalty for our sins, only God can take the credit for our salvation, not men. Jesus’ death on the cross completed all the work. Men can not add anything to His work. His dying words were “It is finished” (John 19:30).
So salvation is by grace alone, not by works of men or a combination of the two. Men can do nothing to save themselves from the consequences of their sins. This is the main theme of the book of Galatians.
The peace that Paul offers is the peace that can only come from God. This peace is a result of God’s grace. It is the peace that Christians possess because of their assurance that they are reconciled to God and that they are able to rest in the knowledge that they have eternal life in Heaven.
Grace and peace to all Christians.