It’s time to start a new book study: the Letter of Paul to the Galatians. Today we’ll focus on the greeting.
Think of this greeting as a notification, like the ones you’re used to getting on your phone. You probably get 50 such notifications per day. Most of them are unimportant, but this one is different.
Let’s open it.
This notification is from someone important
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 brothers who are with me… (Galatians 1:1-2a)
You have to filter your digital notifications. If you don’t, you’ll get notified to death.
The more important the sender is, the more likely you are to open the message. “Potential Spam” is less likely to trigger a response than your closest loved one.
This letter is from the most important sender possible. It’s not Potential Spam. It’s from someone more important than your best friend. It’s from someone more important than Paul himself, because he is only “an apostle” (sent one). He’s just a messenger conveying a message from someone more important: “Jesus Christ and God the Father.”
This notification is for us
To the churches of Galatia… (Galatians 1:2b)
We’re not members of a church in Galatia, but this letter is still for us. How can we know?
The letter was sent to multiple churches, so we know it was meant for more than one specific church, even back then.
The New Testament letters (called epistles) like this one form the foundation of the Church for all time, including present day.
The same Holy Spirit who inspired Paul to write this ancient letter enables us to receive it now.
This notification offers grace and peace
3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. (Galatians 1:3-5)
“Grace” is undeserved blessing. The amazing thing about grace is that it isn’t just beyond what we deserve, it’s in spite of what we deserve.
“Peace” is the tranquility that comes as our relationship with God, ourselves, and one another is repaired and made whole.
What problem in your life would not be solved by God dedicating himself to bringing about your good by putting your broken relationships back together?
How do we receive this grace and peace? It comes through Christianity itself, activated by God’s powerful word.
Jesus Christ gave himself. He was not defeated. He gave himself willingly for us.
Jesus Christ gave himself for our sins. His death on the cross paid for the bad we’ve done and the good we haven’t.
Jesus Christ gave himself to deliver us from the present evil age. His death freed us from this decaying world.
Jesus Christ gave himself according to the will of our God and Father. His death was the culmination of God’s grand plan.
Here’s how it works: We deserve death because of our sin. Instead, God gives us mercy by punishing Jesus instead of us. Not only that, he gives us grace by giving us new lives and a restored relationship with him, which triggers a chain reaction of relational restoration with ourselves and others.
We grow accustomed to this new grace-and-peace lifestyle as we receive and respond to the Bible. God created the universe by his word (“Let there be _____”). He creates this new life in us through his word too. The Bible doesn’t just inform us, it transforms us. In Galatians, we won’t just learn about grace and peace, we’ll receive grace and peace. We’ll be blessed in spite of what we deserve and we’ll experience healing in our relationships.
Use this Response Sheet to help you respond to Galatians 1:1-5 in practical ways this week: