COMMENTARY ON GALATIANS
LESSON NUMBER 3
Gal 1:3b “ . . . our Lord Jesus Christ, Who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”. . . . . . . . . . . . . .Galatians 1:4-5
WHY JESUS GAVE HIMSELF
There is a certain spiritual rationale reflected in Paul’s writing to the churches. As a “wise masterbuilder,” he always establishes a foundation, or basis, for what he is affirming. That is, he sets up an environment in which what he says is to be considered. That foundation is always based upon what the Lord has said and done – never upon the accomplishments or goals of men. In Romans he builds on the declaration of Jesus being “the Son of God with power” (1:4). To the Corinthians he affirmed they were “sanctified in Christ Jesus” and “called to be saints” (1 Cor 1:2), and that God is “the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies,” and “the God of all comfort” (2 Cor 1:3). He affirmed to the Ephesians that God has “blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places” (1:3). The Philippians were reminded that “He which had begun a good work” in them would “perform it until the day of Christ” (1:6). He declared to the Colossians “the hope which is laid up for you in heaven” (1:5). He spoke of the Thessalonians’ “election of God” (1 Thess 1:4), and “the righteous judgment of God” that worked to make them “worthy of the kingdom of God” (2 Thess 1:5). He did not begin his epistles with an illustration, a humorous anecdote, or a parable. He did not cite a news item, or draw attention to the quotation of some well known man in the world. Such things are more like throwing dust into the eyes of the people, and generally constitute something to be overcome rather than a foundation for the declaration of truth. While it is not my intention to establish some form of rules for speaking, it is my aim to accentuate the manner of godly men, for it is their approach to the truth that contributed to the effectiveness of their labors. They never set the jewel of truth in the setting of worldly circumstance or wisdom. This is readily seen in the text before us. An affirmation is made that will form the context of some rebuke and corrective teaching. It will point men in the right direction, and tune their senses to the heavenly frequency. It will make them more aware of heaven than of earth, and of God than men. Divine achievement will be the basis for his remarks, not the obligations that are placed upon men. This is a fine distinction, yet it must be seen if men are to eternally profit from what is written in this book.
JESUS GAVE HIMSELF FOR OUR SINS
Gal 1:3b “ . . . our Lord Jesus Christ, 4a Who gave Himself for our sins . . .”
OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST. The Subject of our text is established in the latter part of verse three: “our Lord Jesus Christ.” Frequently the Savior is referred to in the sense of His absolute supremacy: “THE Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 11:17; 15:11; 16:31; 28:31; Rom 1:7; 13:14; 1 Cor 1:3; 16:22; 2 Cor 1:2; 13:14; Eph 1:2; 6:23; Phil 1:2; 3:20; Col 1:2; 1 Thess 1:1; 2 Thess 1:1,2,12; 1 Tim 5:21; 2 Tim 4:1,22; Tit 1:4; Phile 1:3; James 1:1; 2 John 1:3). In that expression, the fact that He is the ONLY Lord is the point. Excluding only the Father Himself, there is no other Lord, Sovereign, or Potentate (1 Tim 6:15). To serve anyone else is therefore an act of anarchy, and will be so considered in heaven.
By way of comparison, the expression “OUR Lord Jesus Christ” is mentioned fifty-five times in Scripture (as compared to twenty-seven times as “THE Lord Jesus Christ”). This expression accents the discernment and acceptance or Jesus in the capacities of Lord and Christ. “Lord” speaks of His absolute and total supremacy. “Christ” accents the fact of Him being the one CHOSEN to rescue and direct men, bringing them to glory, and assuring they are nourished and fed during their journey.
Once we read of “God our Savior, and Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Tim 1:1), and once of “one Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor 8:6). In all eight-four references to “Lord Jesus Christ,” “Lord” is always first. This indicates that no ministry of Jesus can be realized independently of recognizing and submitting to Him as “Lord.”
WHO GAVE HIMSELF. Other versions read “gave His life,” NLT “sacrificed Himself,” IE “gave (yielded) Himself,” AMPLIFIED and “offering Himself as a sacrifice.” MESSAGE “God’s Word,” “The Living Bible,” and “The Good News Bible” omit the phrase altogether. Every other version reads “gave Himself.” What is the meaning of that expression?
In his offering, Abel gave “the firstlings of his flock” to God (Gen 4:4). Noah gave “of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl” in his offering to God (Gen 8:20). Under the Law, men gave lambs, goats, rams, heifers, oxen, bullocks, and birds to God. But Jesus “gave Himself” as an offering to God. Five times it is written that Jesus “gave Himself.” Special reasons are cited for the giving of Himself: “for me,” for the church, as a “ransom,” and “for us”(Gal 1:4; 2:20; Eph 5:25; 1 Tim 2:6; Tit 2:14). The expressions “for me” and “for us” emphasize the fact of substitution. That is, He gave Himself in our place. The word “ransom” accents that He gave Himself as a payment, in order to purchase the church.
By giving Himself, He placed Himself at the disposal of God, voluntarily offering Himself as the One through whom what God required could be accomplished. This involved Him being “made sin for us” (2 Cor 5:21), being “made a curse for us” (Gal 3:13), and being a “propitiation,” or the basis of mercy for us (1 John 4:10). It involved Jesus being ravished by the hosts of wickedness, as they were given a time to do their worst (Lk 22:53). It also included being subject to death, descending into the region of death, and expiring under the chastening hand of God Almighty. All of this was done willingly – He “gave Himself.” How will heaven regard the hardened person who does not give Himself to God, when Jesus gave Himself, triumphing over self-will in a demonstration of devotion and commitment to God?
FOR OUR SINS. All of the versions read the same: “for our sins.” Some add “punishment for our sins” GWN and “[and to save and sanctify us].” AMPLIFIED Jesus did not offer Himself for our sicknesses, or our poverty, or our success in this world. He “died for our sins” (1 Cor 15:3), and “is the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 2:2; 4:10). He “was wounded for our transgressions,” and “was bruised for our iniquities” (Isa 53:5). When we speak of “our sins” we are not speaking of mere human weaknesses, hurts, hang-ups, or habits. In this context we are speaking of the necessity and cause of Christ’s death. If men tend to minimize the seriousness of sin by treating it as a genetic weakness, generational weakness, or propensity to make mistakes, they are demeaning the offering of Christ, as though such things could justify Jesus giving up his technical exemption from death – for He Himself “did no sin.”
If Jesus gave Himself “for our sins,” why do men concoct earthly remedies for sin? Why do hey develop careers for what sin has caused? The fact that Jesus “gave Himself for our sins” means that the total remedy for sin is found in Him. It means that God will honor no other remedy for moral deficiencies. It means that all of the ordained temporary measures that dealt with sin under the Law have been obviated.
In giving Himself, Jesus offered Himself to God. As it is written, “and hath given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savor” (Eph 5:2). He did not offer Himself to us, but to the God who was offended by our sin, and to whom we had become enemies (Rom 5:10). Therefore, when we think of Jesus, ourselves must not be the central consideration. We must think of Him primarily in association with God Himself, for our sin estranged us from God, made us His enemies, and required Jesus to give Himself.
THAT HE MIGHT DELIVER US
1:4b “ . . . that He might deliver us from this present evil world . . .”
While love was surely involved in the atoning death of Christ (Gal 2:20; Eph 5:2,25; Rev 1:5), there was a Divine purpose that compelled Jesus to give Himself. In presenting Himself to God, He twice said, “Thy will be done” (Matt 26:42,44). David prophesied that this would be the mind-set of the coming Savior. “I come . . . I delight to do Thy will” (Psa 40:7-8). The Spirit leaves no doubt about the meaning of this prophecy, referring to it in Hebrews 10:7,9: “I come to do Thy will.” Paul now addresses this higher “will” that compelled Jesus to give Himself to God – to be chastened, made sin, cursed, bruised, and smitten by God.
THAT HE MIGHT. Other versions read, “to,” NIV “so that He might,” BBE “so that He should,” DOUAY “in order to,” GWN and “so that.” IE
First, this is an objective that Christ Himself would accomplish: “that HE might.” It is also something that He could not do unless He “gave Himself.” No other man could do this. Were such a thing possible, God would have found that person. We know this is the case for it is written, “And He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore His arm brought salvation unto Him; and His righteousness, it sustained Him” (Isa 59:16). Whatever purposes men ascribe to the offering of Christ, they must fit within the framework of what is here revealed. However men may choose to represent the death of Christ – for that is the precise point at which He “gave Himself” – it cannot be dissociated from what is declared in this text. If what is here affirmed is not experienced in the individual then, for that person “Christ is dead in vain” (Gal 2:21). This has some startling implications, and will prove highly interruptive of a considerable percentage of contemporary theology.
DELIVER US FROM. Other versions read, “deliver us out of,” NASB “rescue us from,” NIV “set us free from,” NRSV “make us free from,” BBE “to free us from,” GWN “liberate us from,” NJB “that we might escape from,” IE “save us from,” WILLIAMS and “rescue and deliver us from.” AMPLIFIED The word “deliver” means “to pluck out, draw out, root out, rescue, deliver,” THAYER “take out,” FRIBERG and “to take out, remove.” LOUW-NIDA This is not something we do, it is something we experience – and there is a difference. The text clearly states, “that HE might deliver us.” If the stated deliverance is not realized, it is not because the person did not do this or that. It is because Jesus did not deliver them, for He is the “Deliverer” (Rom 11:26).
Technically, the deliverance was not wrought when Jesus died. Rather, the foundational requirements for that deliverance were wrought. The initial experience of the deliverance of reference did not come until fifty days later, on the day of Pentecost. But, when it came, it was because Jesus had given Himself as an offering to God.
The deliverance declared in this text cannot be realized through a routine of disciplined plan. It is realized in Christ alone. Nothing more is required for this deliverance than is required to be “in Christ.” This deliverance is integral to salvation itself, and in no way is separate from it. The person who says they are saved, yet is not living in the deliverance declared in this text, has not told the truth. Such people are either deceived, or this text is not true.
FROM THIS PRESENT EVIL WORLD. Other versions read, “from this present evil age,” NKJV “present evil world-system,” CSB “present wicked world,” DOUAY “the evil of this world,” IE and “this present wicked age and world order.” AMPLIFIED It has become fashionable in the last few decades to translate the Greek word aivw/noj “age.” Although this can mean a “period of time,” or “age,” its meaning is not confined to that. Its lexical meaning includes this: “by metonymy of the container for the contained, oi` aivw/nej denotes the worlds, the universe, I. e. the aggregate of things contained in time.” THAYER An example of this is Hebrews 1:2 that states that Jesus “made the worlds” (aion). Versions that often translate the word “ages,” here translate the word “world,” NASB “universe,” NIV “worlds,” NKJV “all things,”NRSV I doubt that our text is saying Jesus gave Himself to deliver us from a period of time. Time itself is defined by the present material universe. The idea is that Jesus delivers men from the power and influence of the world. All sin, whether in thought or in deed, is fostered by affinity with the world – the cursed realm. Technically this is accomplished through our bodies, which are the connection we have to “this present evil world.”
The deliverance that Jesus brings is not parabolic or a metaphor. He Himself said, “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:36). Being delivered from “this present evil world” involves being liberated from the tyranny of sin. It means freedom from the power of iniquity, and the enslavement of transgression. The world is “evil” because it has been infected with the virus of rebellion, and is ruled by “the god of this world” (2 Cor 4:4). Those who are delivered from it are no longer “of the world” John 15:19), and are not debtors “to the flesh to live after the flesh” (Rom 8:12). They do not belong to the world, and thus are no longer enslaved to the things that are “of the world” – “the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16). This deliverance is why Jesus “gave Himself.”
ACCORDING TO THE WILL OF GOD
1:4c “ . . . according to the will of God and our Father: 5 To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
Since “all things are of God” (2 Cor 5:18), and it is His “eternal purpose” (Eph 3:11), any and everything that is associated with salvation ultimately must be traced back to Him.
ACCORDING TO THE WILL OF GOD. Other versions read, “after the purpose of God,” BBE “in obedience to the will of God,” BBE “because that is what God . . . wanted,” GWN “agreeably to the pleasure of God,” MRD “in accord with the will of God,” NAB “just as God . . . planned,” NLT “This is what God . . . wanted,” IE and “in accordance with the will and purpose and plan of our God.” AMPLIFIED
Jesus did not give Himself so you could have what you want. Rather, He did it in order that what the Father had purposed could be realized. To say it crudely, it is what God wants that is the issue, not what you want. Today it has become quite fashionable for men to speak about their dreams and the realization of them – even doing so in a supposedly Christian context. They represent God has having a strong desire for men to be happy and successful, and to have all their “dreams” fulfilled. But this is a gross misrepresentation of the will of the Lord. For men to have their temporal desires fulfilled did not require the Son of God to give Himself. Those who imagine this is the case are ostrich Christians, having been deprived of wisdom (Job 39:17).
If deliverance from this present evil world is the will of God, then those who are still enslaved to it are living outside the will of God. A plethora of excuses may be offered for that enslavement, but when all is said and done, if Jesus gave Himself to deliver us from this present evil world, and that was according to the will of God, precisely what kind of excuse for bondage to the course of this world can be offered? Of course, such a deliverance makes perfect sense to the one who is controlled by the Spirit. As it is written, “For all that is in the world . . . is not of the Father, but is of the world” (1 John 2:16).
Nothing – absolutely nothing – that is not favorably associated with God can possibly please Him. He is against such things, and thus blesses believers by disassociating them with such things, and curses unbelievers because that association exists. The world is to be overcome, not served (1 John 5:4-5). The enmity between the world and God is so pronounced that it is written, “whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4). Other versions read, “wants to be a friend of the world,” NKJV and “chooses to be a friend of the world.” NIV
AND OUR FATHER. In the redemptive sense of the word, God is the “Father” of those whom He has begotten “with the Word of truth” (James 1:18). Such are the sons of God because they are “begotten” of Him (1 John 5:1,18). They are properly referred to as having been “born of God” (1 John 3:9; 4:7; 5:1,4,18). This filial kinship is confirmed to those who have it by the Holy Spirit. As it is written, “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God” (Rom 8:16). As to the experience itself, faith is the root of it: “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:26). That faith is confirmed in our baptism: “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Gal 3:27).
TO WHOM BE GLORY. All of the glory for salvation eventually is traced back to God. Jesus taught His disciples to pay after this “manner” – “Our Father which art in heaven . . .For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen” (Matt 6:9-13).
For God to receive glory means that He is consciously and discerningly given the credit for a matter. In this case, the purpose and work of God is seen in us being delivered from this present evil world. The truth of the matter is that no person in Christ is confined to sin, enslaved by it, or under its domination. That is because Jesus gave Himself to deliver us from this present evil world. He certainly has not forgotten why He gave Himself, and neither can we.
Without a single contradiction, powerless religion causes a person to fail to see WHY Jesus gave Himself, and that His death was effective for the realization of that purpose. For example, as soon as a person begins to trust in a system, or the principle of law, Jesus immediately recedes into the background, for He died to deliver us from vain religion (1 Pet 1:18). Jesus will not minister to people through a corrupt gospel. God will not fulfill His promises through something that has not been revealed, or is not in strict harmony with the Gospel of Christ. As soon as a man “climbs up another way,” he at once becomes “a thief and a robber” John 10:1).
THE GALATIAN DILEMMA. With these few words (1:1-5), Paul is now ready to address the Galatian dilemma. He has
established the reality of his apostleship, the resurrection of Christ, and the availability of grace and peace. He has established why Jesus
gave Himself, and that His Person and ministry makes no provision for adhering to the course and rudiments of this world – “to deliver
us.” He has also affirmed the nature of the world – “evil,”and the supremacy of the will of God – “according to the will of God.” Paul
has also declared