As I mentioned a few days ago, my Bible study group has started an examination of Paul's letter to the Galatians. In preparation for these studies, I have been reading four commentaries on Galatians. These are by Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Gill, and John MacArthur. I have been taking notes as I read. I present the fruit of my notetaking here. Unless I use direct quotes, I have not written down who says what. That is mostly because most of the time they are all saying the same thing, so my paraphrases speak for more than one of them. Sometimes I do use direct quotes because it just seemed better than to come up with a paraphrase. There will be a repetitive feel to this because, as I said, most of the time they all say pretty much the same thing. But I just wanted to present all that I noted. Here we go.
Paul, an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead—and all the brothers who are with me,
To the churches of Galatia:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
Paul, an apostle—Paul asserts his apostleship, which was probably under attack by the false teachers. They were apparently insinuating that Paul was not a true apostle. Paul’s purpose in declaring his apostleship is to enforce his doctrine.
not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead—Paul’s apostleship rests on a higher title than the calling of man. It was given to him by the Father and the risen and exalted Christ, Who gives us righteousness and victory. The same God Who raised Christ from the dead commanded Paul to make known that exertion of His power.
and all the brothers who are with me,
Paul writes not on his own, but on behalf of the brethren with him. He was not alone in his defense of the gospel. Perhaps the concurrence of so many brethren might soften the Galatians to instruction.
To the churches of Galatia:
Though false teachers were present, he still refers to the “churches” of Galatia--there were still godly men there. Though swerving from the faith, they were still honored with the name of “churches”. From this we learn that we must not imagine that churches will be perfect.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,
Only God gives grace and peace, which comes not through the law, which only condemns us. Jesus is the only way to God, grace, and peace. He is very God. MacArthur writes, “Since it offered no grace and provided no peace, the law system being taught by the lying Judaizers is attacked even in this simple greeting.” Without Christ, neither grace, nor any real prosperity, can be obtained.
who gave himself for our sins
No merit of ours is enough to save us. Only the blood of Christ is sufficient, and so sufficient that it covers the worst of sinners. In Christ alone, atonement for sin and perfect righteousness must be sought. MacArthur: “The heart of the gospel is Christ’s willing sacrifice of Himself for our sins.” Jesus did not give possessions, but Himself.
to deliver us from the present evil age,
All of our good works cannot save us out of this evil world. Only God can do that, praise be to Him. MacArthur: “Jesus’ death was a rescue operation.” Christ gave Himself as a sacrifice to save His people from the damning power of this world. The “world” refers to men separated from the kingdom of God and the grace of Christ. Christ died for our sins, in order to redeem us from the world.
according to the will of our God
This salvation is of God’s will, not our own free will. It is God Who mercifully willed this. MacArthur: “Salvation is thus removed from the will of man and is buried deep in the sovereign decree of God (John 1:12-13).” The original fountain of grace is the purpose of God, not anything in us or done by us.
He is our Father through Christ.
to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
We should always give thanks to God when speaking of Him. Every memory of the mercy of God ought to cause us to ascribe to Him glory. Paul was writing this epistle to acknowledge that God is worthy of glory forevermore. The “to whom” that we give glory is both the Father and Christ.