Rescued from this Evil Age

In his letter to the Galatians, Paul states that he was commissioned as an apostle to the Gentiles by the same God that raised Jesus from the dead and “delivered us FROM THIS EVIL AGE.” This statement anticipates his response to certain Jewish believers who were operating in Galatia as if the old era was still in effect.

In the first two chapters, Paul details how he received his gospel for the Gentiles by revelation, and this was confirmed by the leaders of the Jerusalem church. And he recounts that during an earlier controversy at Antioch “false brethren slinked in to spy out our freedom which we have in Christ Jesus” - (Galatians 2:4-5).

Certain men “from Jerusalem” disrupted the church in Antioch, claiming it was improper for Jewish Christians to have table fellowship with uncircumcised Gentiles. But a church divided along ethnic lines is the inevitable result of this practice as is returning to the rituals required by the Levitical regulations.

FALSE TEACHERS


  • (Galatians 1:1-5) - “Paul, an apostle, not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ, and God the Father who raised him from among the dead, and all the brethren with me; to the assemblies of Galatia; Grace to you and peace from God our Father and Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us out of the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory unto the ages of ages: Amen!

Customarily, Paul begins his letters with salutations and gracious words of thanksgiving, but in Galatians, his statements are noteworthy for their brevity and lack of praise.

And instead of praise, he launches into a stinging rebuke, indicating the depth of his concern and the level of his agitation (“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in grace!”).

He defines his apostleship by first using a double negative in the Greek sentence (“neither from men nor through man”) followed by a positive affirmation (“but through Jesus Christ”). In this way, he introduces a key issue that he will address in the next few paragraphs - his divine appointment to the apostolic office - (Galatians 1:10–2:10).

His Jewish opponents do not dispute his office but claim his apostleship is derived from human authorities, presumably, the church leadership in Jerusalem.

Paul denies that his commission is dependent on any human authority, whether the mother church in Jerusalem or the church at Antioch. Instead, he affirms that he received it directly from Jesus - (1 Corinthians 9:1, Acts 9:4-6, 22:7, 26:16).

HIS COMMISSION


And from its beginning, his ministry has focused on proclaiming the gospel to the Gentiles without requiring them to conform to the regulations of the Torah, especially circumcision- (Acts 9:15, 13:46-48, 22:21, Ephesians 3:1-8).

Unlike his opponents, he was commissioned by the risen Jesus. He also links his gospel to the “Father…who raised Jesus from the dead.” The fatherhood of God plays an important role in the letter since he stresses that believers have become children of one God and Father by “adoption” - (Galatians 3:7, 3:26, 4:2-7, 4:22-31).

The resurrection of Jesus was an apocalyptic event that signaled the commencement of the messianic age. In his death and resurrection, the “powers and principalities” that enslaved humanity were defeated decisively.

The resurrection marked the inauguration of an entirely new era and the final stage in God’s redemptive plan. Ever since, nothing can be the same again - (1 Corinthians 2:5-8, Ephesians 1:17-23, Colossians 2:15, 1 Peter 3:22).

Paul writes from this apocalyptic perspective as he exhorts the Galatians not to subject themselves again to the “elementary spirits of this world.” They will do so if they submit to circumcision and place themselves under the calendrical rituals of the Torah. With the coming of the Son, the jurisdiction of the old order has reached its end - (Galatians 4:3-11).

By reminding them that the God who commissioned him is the same one who raised Jesus from the dead, Paul prepares his readers for the description of how he received his gospel by direct revelation - (Galatians 1:11-16).

HIS DEATH AND RESURRECTION


Jesus is the one who “gave himself ON ACCOUNT OF our sins.” His death was necessary because of the sins of humanity that alienated men from God. The same idea is implicit in two declarations by Paul - (Galatians 2:20, 3:13):

  • The life I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave himself ON ACCOUNT OF (huper) me.”
  • Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse  ON ACCOUNT OF  (huper) us.”

Christ’s death was “according to the will of our God and Father.”  This emphasizes the magnitude of what God did. If the Galatians place themselves under the Law, they risk the loss of His “grace and peace.”

And by means of his death, God “rescued us from the present evil age.” In Jesus, the messianic age dawned, and in the middle of the present age. Thus, his death inaugurated the age of fulfillment.

In the Hebrew Bible, history is divided into two ages - the present evil age and the age to come. The law belongs to the “present age.” It is part of the old order that began to pass away with the resurrection of Jesus.

By emphasizing his death and resurrection, Paul highlights the all-sufficiency of Christ’s death for the forgiveness of sins and our deliverance from this “present evil age.” In him, God acted decisively, impacting human history, forevermore.


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