1 Paul, an apostle1 commissioned not from men, nor by2 man, but by3 Jesus Christ4 and God the Father5 who raised him from the dead6, 2 and all the brothers who are with me to the churches of Galatia7, 3 grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ 4 who gave himself for8 our sins, that he might rescue us from the present evil age9 according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be the glory forever10, Amen.
This starts our study of Paul's letter to the Churches in Galatia. This letter represents one of four letters that Paul wrote that contains significant theological truths. The other three letters are Romans, 1Corinthians, and 2 Corinthians. We will attempt to unlock the Greek in this letter and try to pull Paul's theology out in order for us to apply it today.
Paul wrote this letter in response to "missionaries" that had come down from the Jerusalem church and taught to the Churches in Galatia that they had to start following the Jewish law in order to "complete" their salvation. In the process, they also made some accusations to the churches about Paul. This letter is Paul's rebuttal.
A few things about Paul: 1. He was a Pharisee Jew. 2 Greek was his native language. 3. Paul's "Bible" was the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament). 4. Paul grew up outside of Israel. 5. Paul received the Gospel directly from Jesus, in person, on Paul's journey to Damascus.
1 ἀπόστολος (an apostle)
An apostle is “one who is sent with a message”. Disciples are just students, but apostles are educated in the message and are sent out to tell that message to others. Although “apostle” was a normal term of anyone that was sent with a message, by the time of Paul’s writing, it had become a title for important people among the Christian churches. An apostle was “commissioned” to be sent out. In Paul’s case, he was commissioned by God and not by any man.
2 δι ̓ (by)
3 διὰ (by)
or “through”. Paul’s message was not derived by man’s understanding. Paul’s message was given by Jesus Christ.
4 Χριστοῦ (Christ)
“The anointed one”.
5 θεοῦ πατρὸς (God the Father)
Paul, being a Jew, would have never used the actual name of God, YHWH. Instead, he keeps with the Septuagint by using θεὸς (God) with the added “Father”. Also, much can be said about the prepositional phrase “by Jesus Christ and God the Father”. In Greek, when a preposition has two direct objects, it adds a sense of being one or being collective. There is also a reason that Jesus Christ appears first in this phrase. The risen Lord was the one who had appeared to Paul as he traveled to Damascus. Paul received the message that he was commissioned to preach from Jesus at that time. Paul emphasizes that the only way that Jesus could have commissioned him was by “God the Father raising him from the dead”.
6 ἐκ νεκρῶν (from the dead)
“Dead” here is presented in the plural. Perhaps a better translation would be “from among the dead” or “from the dead ones”.
7 The letter would have gone to one church in the province and then passed on to the others. We know that is how Paul wanted it to be because he actually pens some of the letter himself and wants the church members to see it. (Galatians 6:11, Ἴδετε πηλίκοις ὑμῖν γράμμασιν ἔγραψα τῇ ἐμῇ χειρί. -- See what big letters I wrote to you with my own hand. ) The letter would have been dictated under Paul’s direction except for the “big letters” that he wrote. It is most likely, that each church would have written a copy of the letter for local reference.
8 ὑπὲρ (for)
or “in behalf of”. It could be that Paul means that Jesus became “sin” and died as a replacement of our sins. It most likely means that Jesus became the “sacrifice” for our sins, thus in doing so, our sins are forgiven.
9 The “present evil age” is not necessarily the world in which the church members live, but probably represents the evil that is in the world. For the purpose of this letter, this would include the false teachings of the so- called “apostles” the came from the church in Jerusalem.
10 εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων (forever)
Greek: “into the ages of ages”.
Γαλάτας 1·1 Παῦλος ἀπόστολος οὐκ ἀπ ̓ ἀνθρώπων οὐδὲ δι ̓ ἀνθρώπου ἀλλὰ διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ καὶ θεοῦ πατρὸς τοῦ ἐγείραντος αὐτὸν ἐκ νεκρῶν, 2 καὶ οἱ σὺν ἐμοὶ πάντες ἀδελφοὶ ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις τῆς Γαλατίας, 3 χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ 4 τοῦ δόντος ἑαυτὸν ὑπὲρ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ἡμῶν, ὅπως ἐξέληται ἡμᾶς ἐκ τοῦ αἰῶνος τοῦ ἐνεστῶτος πονηροῦ κατὰ τὸ θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ πατρὸς ἡμῶν, 5 ᾧ ἡ δόξα εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων, ἀμήν.