Galatians 1:1

(1-5) It is no self-constituted teacher by whom the Galatians are addressed, but an Apostle who, like the chosen Twelve, had received his commission, not from any human source or through any human agency, but directly from God and Christ. As such, he and his companions that are with him give Christian greeting to the Galatian churches, invoking upon them the highest of spiritual blessings from God, the common Father of all believers, and that Redeemer whose saving work they denied and, by their relapse into the ways of the world around them, practically frustrated.

St. Paul had a two-fold object in writing to the Galatians. They had disparaged his authority, and they had fallen back from the true spiritual view of Christianity--in which all was due to the divine grace and love manifested in the death of Christ--to a system of Jewish ceremonialism. And at the very outset of his Epistle, in the salutation itself, the Apostle meets them on both these points. On the one hand, he asserts the divine basis of the authority which he himself claimed; and on the other, he takes occasion to state emphatically the redeeming work of Christ, and its object to free mankind from those evil surroundings into the grasp of which the Galatians seemed again to be falling.

(1) An apostle.--This title is evidently to be taken here in its strictest sense, as St. Paul is insisting upon his equality in every respect with the Twelve. The word was also capable of a less exclusive use, in which the Apostle would seem to be distinguished from the Twelve (1Corinthians 15:5; 1Corinthians 15:7). In this sense Barnabas and James the Lord's brother, possibly also Andronicus and Junias in Romans 16:7, were called "Apostles."

Not of men, neither by man.--Two distinct prepositions are used:--"not of" (i.e., from) "men," in the sense of the ultimate source from which authority is derived; "neither by" (or, through) "man," with reference to the channel or agency by which it is conveyed. Thus we speak of the Queen as the "fount" of honour, though honour may be conferred by the ministry acting in her name. The kind of honour which St. Paul held (his Apostleship) was such as could be derived only from God; nor was any human instrumentality made use of in conferring it upon him. His appointment to the Apostolate is connected by St. Paul directly with the supernatural appearance which met him upon the way to Damascus. The part played by Ananias was too subordinate to introduce a human element into it; and the subsequent "separation" of Paul and Barnabas for the mission to the Gentiles, though the act of the Church at Antioch, was dictated by the Holy Ghost, and was rather the assignment of a special sphere than the conferring of a new office and new powers.

By Jesus Christ.--The preposition here, as in the last clause, is that which is usually taken to express the idea of mediate agency. It represents the channel down which the stream flows, not the fountain-head from which it springs. Hence it is applied appropriately to Christ as the Logos, or Word, through whom God the Father communicates with men as the divine agent in the work of creation, redemption, revelation. (See John 1:3; 1Corinthians 8:6; Hebrews 1:2, et al.) It is also applied to men as the instruments for carrying out the divine purposes. The intervention of Jesus Christ took place in the vision through which, from a persecutor, St. Paul became a "chosen vessel" for the propagation of the gospel.

And God the Father--i.e., and by (or, through) God the Father; the same preposition governing the whole clause. We should naturally have expected the other preposition ("of," or "from"), which signifies source, and not this, which signifies instrumentality; and it would have been more usual with the Apostle to say, "from God," and "by, or through, Christ." But God is at once the remote and the mediate, or efficient, cause of all that is done in carrying out His own designs. "Of him, and through him, and to him are all things" (Romans 11:36).

The Father.--This is to be taken in the sense in which our Lord Himself spoke of God as "My Father," with reference to the peculiar and unique character of His own sonship--the Father, i.e., of Christ, not of all Christians, and still less, as the phrase is sometimes used, of all men. This appears from the context. The title is evidently given for the sake of contradistinction; and it is noticeable that at this very early date the same phrase is chosen as that which bore so prominent a place in the later creeds and the theology of which they were the expression.

Who raised him from the dead.--Comp. Romans 1:4 : "Declared to be the Son of God with power . . . by the resurrection from the dead." The resurrection is the act which the Apostle regards as completing the divine exaltation of Christ. It is this exaltation, therefore, which seems to be in his mind. He had derived his own authority directly from God and Christ as sharers of the same divine majesty. It was not the man Jesus by whom it had been conferred upon him, but the risen and ascended Saviour, who, by the fact of his resurrection, was "declared to be the Son of God with power." So that the commission of the Apostle was, in all respects, divine and not human.

Verse 1. - Paul, an apostle (Παῦλος ἀπόστολος); Paul, apostle. The designation of "apostle," as here appropriated by St. Paul in explanation of his right to authoritatively address those he was writing to, points to a function with which he was permanently invested, and which placed him in a relation to these Galatian Churches which no other apostle ever occupied. Some years later, indeed, when St. Peter had occasion to address these same Churches, together with others in neighbouring countries, he likewise felt himself authorized to do it on the score of his apostolical character ("Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ," 1 Peter 1:1); but there is nothing to show that St. Peter had any personal relations with them at present. Under these circumstances, it is perhaps best in translation to prefix no article at all before "apostle." This designation of himself as "apostle' St. Paul subjoined to his name in almost all of his Epistles subsequent to the two addressed to the Thessalonians. The only exceptions are those to the Philippians and to Philemon, in writing to whom there was less occasion for introducing it. He had now, in the third of his three great journeys recorded in the Acts, assumed openly in the Church the position of an apostle in the highest sense. In several of these Epistles (1 Corinthians 1:1; 2 Corinthians 1:1; Ephesians 1:1; Colossians 1:1; 2 Timothy 1:1), to the designation of apostle, St. Paul adds the words," through (διὰ) the will of God;" i.e. by means of an express volition of God explicitly revealed. In what way God had revealed this to be his will is clearly intimated in this letter to the Galatians, in which the words," through Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead," which take the place of the formula, "through the will of God," found elsewhere, indicate that it was through Jesus Christ raised from the dead that this particular volition of God was declared and brought to eft;set. The formula referred to, "through the will of God," was apparently introduced with the view of confronting those who were disposed to question his right to claim this supreme form of apostleship, with the aegis of Divine authorization: they had God to reckon with. The like is the purport of the substituted words in 1 Timothy 1:1, "According to the commandment of God our Saviour, and Christ Jesus our Hope." Not of men, neither by man (οὐκ ἀπ ἀνθρώπων οὐδὲ δι ἀνθρώπου); not from men, neither through a man. The preposition "from" (ἀπὸ) points to the primary fountain of the delegation referred to; "through" (διὰ) to the medium through which it was conveyed. The necessity for this twofold negation arose from the fact that the word "apostle," as I have had occasion fully to set forth elsewhere, was frequently among Christians applied to messengers deputed by Churches, or, probably, even by some important representative officer in the Church, whether on a mission for the propagation of the gospel or for the discharge at some distant place of matters of business connected with the Christian cause. St. Paul had himself frequently served in this lower form of apostleship, both as commissioned by the Church to carry abroad tim message of the gospel, and also as deputed to go to and fro between Churches on errands of charity or for the settlement of controversies. In either case he as well as others acting in the like capacity, would very naturally and properly be spoken of as an "apostle" by others, as we actually find him to have been; as also he would appear to have been ready on this same account so to designate himself, That he was an "apostle" in this sense none probably would have been minded to dispute. Why should they? His having, even repeatedly, held this kind of subordinate commission did not of itself give him a greater importance than attached to many ethers who had held the same. Neither did it invest his statements of religious truth with a higher sanction than theirs. This last was the point which, in St. Paul's own estimation, gave the question of the real nature of his apostleship its whole significance. Was he a commissioned envoy of men, deputed to convey to others a message of theirs? or was he an envoy commissioned immediately by Christ to convey to the world a message which likewise was received immediately from Christ? Those who disputed his statements of religious doctrine might admit that he had been deputed to preach the gospel by Christian Churches or by eminently representative leaders of the Church, while they nevertheless asserted that he had misrepresented, or perhaps misapprehended, the message entrusted to him. At all events, they would be at liberty to affirm that the statements he made in delivering his message were subject to an appeal on the part of his hearers to the human authorities who had delegated him. If he owed alike his commission and his message to (say) the Church of Antioch, or to the Church at Jerusalem, or to the twelve, or to James the Lord's brother, or to other leaders whomsoever of the venerable mother Church, then it followed that he was to be held amenable to their overruling judgment in the discharge of this apostleship of his. What he taught had no force if this higher court of appeal withheld its sanction. Now, this touched no mere problematical contingency, but was a practical issue which, just at this time, was one of even vital importance. It had an intimate connection with the fierce antagonism of contending parties in the Church, then waged over the dying body of the Levitical Law. St. Paul's mission as an apostle is most reasonably considered to (late from the time when, as he stated in his defence before King Agrippa (Acts 26:16, 17), the Lord Jesus said to him, "To this end have I appeared unto time, to appoint thee a minister and a witness [ὑπηρέτην καὶ μάρτυρα: comp. αὐτόπται καὶ ὑπηρέται, Luke 1:2 and Acts 1:2, 3, 8, 22] both of the things wherein thou hast seen me, and of the things wherein I will appear unto thee; delivering thee from the people [λαοῦ, so. Israel], and from the Gentiles, unto whom I myself send thee [εἰς οὕς ἐγὼ ἀποστέλλω σε: thus L. T. Tr. Rev.; the Textus Receptus reads εἰς ου{ς νῦν σε ἀποστέλλω]" (comp. Acts 22:14, 15; 1 Corinthians 9:1). But though his appointment was in reality coeval with his conversion, it was only in course of time and by slow degrees that his properly apostolic function became signalized to the consciousness of the Church. Nevertheless, there is no reason for doubting that to his own consciousness his vocation as apostle was clearly manifested from the very first. The prompt and independent manner in which he at once set himself to preach the gospel, which itself, he tells the Galatians in this chapter, he had received immediately from heaven, betokens his having this consciousness. The time and the manner in which the fact was to become manifest to others he would seem, in a spirit of compliant obedience, to have left to the ordering of his Master. But by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead (ἀλλὰ διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ καὶ Θεοῦ πατρὸς τοῦ ἐγείραντος αὐτὸν ἐκ νεκρῶν); but through Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead. The conjunction "neither" (οὐδὲ), which comes before δι ἀνθρώπου, marks the clause it introduces as containing a distinctly different negation from the preceding, and shows that the preposition "through" is used in contradistinction to the "from" (ἀπὸ) of the foregoing clause in its proper sense of denoting the instrument or medium through which an act is done. St. Paul affirms that there was no human instrumentality or intermediation whatever at work in the act of delegation which constituted him an apostle. This affirmation places him in this respect precisely on a level with the twelve; perhaps in making it he has an eye 1o this. The notion has been frequently broached that the apostleship which St. Paul made claim to was conveyed to him at Antioch through the brethren who there, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, formally set him apart, together with Barnabas, for the missionary enterprise which they forthwith entered upon (Acts 13:1-3). But words could scarcely have been selected which should more decisively negative any such notion than those do which St. Paul here makes use cf. One form of apostleship was no doubt then conferred upon Barnabas and Paul; but it was not the apostleship of which he is now thinking (see essay on "Apostles," pp. 31, 32.). In defining the precise import and bearing of the expression, δι ἀνθρώπου, "through a man," we may compare it with its use in 1 Corinthians 15:21, "Since δι ἀνθρώπου ξαμε death, δι ἀνθρώπου came also the resurrection of the dead;" where in the second clause the word "man," employed to recite the Lord Jesus, contemplates that aspect of his twofold being which places him as "the second Man" (1 Corinthians 15:47) in correlation to Adam, "the first Man." Similarly, the parallel with Adam again in Romans 5:12, 15 leads the apostle to adopt the expression," the one Man Jesus Christ" (cf. also ibid. 19). In 1 Timothy 2:5, "There is one God, one Mediator also between God and men, himself Man [or, 'a man'], Christ Jesus," our Lord's manhood, in accordance with the requirement of the context, is put forward as a bond of connection linking him with every human creature alike. These passages present Christ in the character simply of a human being. But in the passage before us the apostle at first sight appears to imply that, because he was an apostle through the agency of Jesus Christ, he was not an apostle through the agency of a human being; thus negativing, apparently, the manhood of Christ, at least as viewed in his present glorified condition. The inference, however, is plainly contradicted by both 1 Corinthians 15:21 and 1 Timothy 2:5; for the former passage points in "the second Man" to the "Lord from heaven," while the other refers to him as permanent "Mediator between God and men," both, therefore, speaking of Jesus in his present glorified condition. To obviate this difficulty some have proposed to take the "but" (ἀλλά), not as adversative, but as exceptive. But there is no justification for this - not even Mark 9:8 (see Winer's 'Gram. N. T.,' 53, 10, 1 b). A less precarious solution is arrived at by gathering out of the context the precise shade of meaning in which the word "man" is here used. Christ is indeed "Man," and his true manhood is the sense required in the two passages above cited; but he is also more than man; and it is those qualities of his being and of his state of existence which distinguish him from mere men, which the context shows to be now present to the apostle's mind. For the phrase, "through a man," is not contrasted by the words, "through Jesus Christ," alone, but by the whole clause: "through Jesus Christ, and God the Father who raised him from the dead." That is to say, in penning the former phrase, the apostle indicates by the word "man" one invested with the ordinary qualities of an earthly human condition; whereas the "Jesus Christ" through whom Heaven sent forth Saul as an apostle to the Gentiles was Jesus Christ blended with, inconceivably near to, God the Father, one with him; his oneness with him not veiled, as it was when he was upon earth, though really subsisting even then (John 10:30), but to all the universe manifested - manifested visibly to us upon earth by the resurrection of his body; in the spiritual, as yet now to us invisible world, by that sitting down on the right hand of God which was the implied sequel and climax of his resurrection. The strong sense which the apostle has of the unspeakably intimate conjunction subsisting. since his resurrection, between Jesus Christ viewed in his whole incarnate being and. God the Father, explains how it comes to pass that the two august Names are combined together under one single preposition, "through Jesus Christ, and God the Father." We shall have to notice the same phenomenon in ver. 3 in the apostle's formula of greeting prayer, "Grace to you and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ;" on which see the note. We have the same conception of Christ's personality consequent upon his resurrection in the apostle's words relative to his apostolic appointment in Romans 1:4, 5; where the Jesus Christ through whom "he had received grace and apostleship," in contrast with his merely human condition as "of the seed of David according to the flesh," is described as "him who was declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness by the resurrection of the dead." The clause, "who raised him from the dead," has a twofold bearing upon the point in hand. 1. It supplies an answer to the objection which may be believed to have been made to Paul's claim to be regarded as an apostle sent forth by Jesus Christ, by those who said, "You have never seen Christ or been taught by him, like those whom he himself named apostles." The answer is, "You might object so if Jesus were no more than a dead man; but he is not that: he is a living Man raised from the dead by the Father; and as such I have myself seen him (cf. 1 Corinthians 9:1); and he it was that in his own person, and through no intervention of human agency, gave me both the commission to preach and the gospel which I was to preach" (see below, vers. 11, 12). 2. It connects the action of God the Father with that of Jesus Christ in appointing Paul to be an apostle; for the things which Christ did when raised from the dead and glorified with himself (John 17:5) by the Father must obviously have been done from, with, and in God the Father. It would unduly narrow the pragmatism of the clause if we limited it to either of the two purposes above indicated; both were probably in the mind of St. Paul in adding it. The immediate context gives no warrant for our supposing, as many have done, that the apostle has just here other truths in view as involved in the fact of our Lord's resurrection; such e.g. as he has himself indicated in Romans 4:24, 25; Romans 6; Colossians 3:1. However cogent and closely relevant some of these inferences might have been with respect to the subjects treated of in this Epistle, the Epistle itself, as a matter of fact, makes no other reference whatever to that great event, whether directly or indirectly. Should δι ἀνθρώπου be rendered "through man," the noun understood generically, as e.g. Psalm 56:1 (Septuagint), or "through a man," pointing to one individual being? It is not very material; but perhaps the second rendering is recommended by the consideration that, if the apostle had meant still to write generically, he would have repeated the plural noun already employed. Indeed, it may be thought a preferable rendering in the other passages above cited. The transition from the plural noun to the singular, as is noted by Bishop Lightfoot and others, "suggested itself in anticipation of the clause, 'through Jesus Christ,' which was to follow." In the expression, "God the Father," the addition of the words, "the Father," was not necessary for the indication of the Person meant, any more than in 1 Peter 1:21, "Believers in God which raised him from the dead," or in numberless other passages where the term "God" regularly designates the First Person in the blessed Trinity. It would be an incomplete paraphrase to explain it either as "God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ," or as "God our Father." It is rather, "God the primary Author and supreme Orderer of all things," or, as in the Creed, "God the Father Almighty." It is best illustrated by the apostle's words in 1 Corinthians 8:6, "To us there is one God, the Father, of whom [i.e. out of whom, ἐξ οῦ] are all things, and we unto him; "and in Romans 11:36," Of him, and through him, and unto him, are all things." The apostle adds the term in order to make the designation of the supreme God, who is the Source of his apostleship, the more august and impressive.

1:1-5 St. Paul was an apostle of Jesus Christ; he was expressly appointed by him, consequently by God the Father, who is one with him in respect of his Divine nature, and who appointed Christ as Mediator. Grace, includes God's good-will towards us, and his good work upon us; and peace, all that inward comfort, or outward prosperity, which is really needful for us. They come from God the Father, as the Fountain, through Jesus Christ. But observe, first grace, and then peace; there can be no true peace without grace. Christ gave himself for our sins, to make atonement for us: this the justice of God required, and to this he freely submitted. Here is to be observed the infinite greatness of the price bestowed, and then it will appear plainly, that the power of sin is so great, that it could by no means be put away except the Son of God be given for it. He that considers these things well, understands that sin is a thing the most horrible that can be expressed; which ought to move us, and make us afraid indeed. Especially mark well the words, for our sins. For here our weak nature starts back, and would first be made worthy by her own works. It would bring him that is whole, and not him that has need of a physician. Not only to redeem us from the wrath of God, and the curse of the law; but also to recover us from wicked practices and customs, to which we are naturally enslaved. But it is in vain for those who are not delivered from this present evil world by the sanctification of the Spirit, to expect that they are freed from its condemnation by the blood of Jesus.Paul an apostle, not of men, neither by man,.... The writer of this epistle, Paul, puts his name to it, as to all his epistles, excepting that to the Hebrews, if that be his, being neither afraid nor ashamed to own what is herein contained. He asserts himself to be "an apostle", which was the highest office in the church, to which he was immediately called by Christ, and confirmed in it by signs and wonders. This he chose to mention, because of the false teachers, who had insinuated he was no apostle, and not to be regarded; whereas he had received grace and apostleship from Christ, and was an apostle, "not of men", as were the apostles or messengers of the sanhedrim (a); See Gill on 2 Corinthians 8:23 and as were the false apostles, who were sent out by men, who had no authority to send them forth: the apostle, as he did not take this honour to himself, did not thrust himself into this office, or run before he was sent; so he was not sent by men; he did not act upon human authority, or by an human commission: this is said in opposition to the false apostles, and to an unlawful investiture with the office of apostleship, and an usurpation of it, as well as to distinguish himself from the messengers and ambassadors of princes, who are sent with credentials by them to negotiate civil affairs for them in foreign courts, he being an ambassador of Christ; and from the messengers of churches, who were sometimes sent with assistance or advice to other churches; and he moreover says, "nor by man"; by a mere man, but by one that was more than a man; nor by a mortal man, but by Christ, as raised from the dead, immortal and glorious at God's right hand: or rather the sense is, he was not chosen into the office of apostleship by the suffrages of men, as Matthias was; or he was not ordained an apostle in the manner the ordinary ministers of the Gospel and pastors are, by the churches of Christ; so that as the former clause is opposed to an unlawful call of men, this is opposed to a lawful one; and shows him to be not an ordinary minister, but an extraordinary one, who was called to this office, not mediately by men, by any of the churches as common ministers are:

but by Jesus Christ; immediately, without the intervention of men, as appears from Acts 26:16. For what Ananias did upon his conversion was only putting his hands on him to recover his sight, and baptizing him; it was Christ that appeared to him personally, and made him a minister; and his separation with Barnabas, by the church, under the direction of the Holy Ghost, Acts 13:2 was to some particular work and service to be done by them, and not to apostleship, and which was long after Paul was made an apostle by Christ. Jesus Christ being here opposed to man, does not suggest that he was not a man, really and truly, for he certainly was; he partook of the same flesh and blood with us, and was in all things made like unto us, sin excepted; but that he was not a mere man, he was truly God as well as man; for as the raising him from the dead, in the next clause, shows him to be a man, or he could not have died; so his being opposed to man, and set in equality with God the Father, in this verse, and grace and peace being prayed for from him, as from the Father, Galatians 1:4 and the same glory ascribed to him as to the Father, Galatians 1:5 prove him to be truly and properly God. The apostle adds,

and God the Father; Christ and his Father being of the same nature and essence, power and authority, as they are jointly concerned and work together in the affairs or nature and Providence, so in those of grace; and particularly in constituting and ordaining apostles, and setting them in the church. This serves the more to confirm the divine authority under which Paul acted as an apostle, being not only made so by Christ, but also by God the Father, who is described as he,

who raised him from the dead; which is observed, not so much to express the divine power of the Father, or the glory of Christ, as raised from the dead, but to strengthen the validity of the apostle's character and commission as such; to whom it might have been objected, that he had not seen Christ in the flesh, nor familiarly conversed with him, as the rest of the apostles did: to which he was able to reply, that he was not called to be an apostle by Christ in his low and mean estate of humiliation, but by him after he was raised from the dead, and was set down at the right hand of God; who personally appeared to him in his glory, and was seen by him, and who made and appointed him his apostle, to bear his name before Gentiles, and kings, and the people of Israel; so that his call to apostleship was rather more grand and illustrious than that of any of the other apostles.

(a) Misn. Menachot, c. 10. sect. 3. & Yoma, c. 1. sect. 5.

2 Corinthians 13:14
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