Paul brings a standard greeting to the churches at Galatia as he reminds them that he is an apostle (one sent by God for a specific mission) by the will of Jesus Christ and God the Father (1:1). He is careful to explain his apostleship as something which was not set up by man and therefore what he was about to say also came from God, not from man. As we will discover later, these false teachers had been bringing Paul’s apostleship into question so Paul felt like it was necessary to defend his calling. Verse 2 describes his recipients as the churches at Galatia which Paul founded during his first missionary journey. These churches were located in Derbe, Iconium, Lystra, and Pisidia. Paul greeted the readers with “grace and peace from God the Father and Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age.” Paul quickly turns his attention to the reason he was writing – the churches of Galatia had turned away from the grace of God given through Jesus Christ by accepting a “different gospel.” This gospel was one of legalism and in Galatians 5:4 Paul describes it as attempting to be justified (declared righteous) by the law. Paul emphatically states that the gospel being spread by the false teachers is “another gospel.” Romans 3:24 puts it like this: “being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Being declared righteous is never an act of obedience to the law; however, justification takes place when a repentant sinner accepts the mercy given through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This act is done apart from works. Paul says that anyone who preaches a different gospel should be accursed, meaning they should be sentenced to eternal life in hell. When Paul had previously visited these churches, this was not the gospel he had preached so he was in essence telling them that nothing had changed (1:8-9). In our current society there are many who say that all roads lead to heaven, but according to Paul there is only one gospel and that gospel is the message of the death, burial, and resurrection for our sins.
Dear God, thank You for providing mercy through the death of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Help me to always uphold the way You have provided for salvation and to never compromise it!