The Galatians 1:3-5 Doxology to Jesus Christ
Posted by Job on February 16, 2009
Doxology – An expression of praise to God, especially a short hymn sung as part of a Christian worship service. It is from the Greek doxa, glory + logos, word or speaking.
Galatians 1:3-5 “Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from 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.”
This doxology, one of several in the New Testament, comes immediately after Paul identifies both himself (an apostle of God) and his audience (the churches of Galatia and Christians in general). It also immediately precedes one of the sternest of rebukes in the Bible, one given to Christians that had abandoned the true gospel for a false heretical one and as a result were teetering on the edge of apostasy.
While, of course, it is both very necessary and a great good that we give praises to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ at all times and in all contexts, Paul did not recite this doxology out of mere religious practice. Nor did such an accomplished writer place this doxology where it lies by custom or chance. Instead, its placement is completely relevant to the information that brackets it: 1) Paul’s identity, 2) the warning that he is delivering to the Galatians and – by extension – the warning that the Holy Spirit is delivering to all Christians from that time until the return of Jesus Christ.
Why? Because God is the sovereign creator, ruler and judge of all.
Regardless of his station in life or his occupation before or after his conversion, Paul’s identity was none other than a servant of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This is who Paul was, and it controlled everything about him; it was his very being. The same it should be with us. He alone is due all glory, honor, and praise both in this time and when time shall be no more (eternity or forever). This same God gave to us His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, who despite being God Himself became a human being so that He could die for our sins. Because of His death, we are freed from the evil of this world. Because of His resurrection, we have been given the victory over death through Him. These things did not happen out of compulsion or obligation, nor by random chance, nor by some light vain occurrence. Instead, it was a great, grievous, painful sacrifice for the Word of God to become flesh, to be rejected by this world, to be made a public example and display, to be mocked and made sport of by the wicked rulers of this world order, and then to be slain on a cross. Instead, these things happened because it was the will of God the Father that it should happen.
So the identity, the authority that Paul laid out for himself in the prologue to Galatians is the same as our identity. We may not have the same office and we may not live in the same time, but it is nonetheless true. We are the chosen, called servants of this same Jesus Christ who left the glory of heaven to be mocked, spit on, and slain on a cross so that He could pay for our sins, rise from dead, and ascend to the right hand of the Father, awaiting His return at the appointed time. Everything that we do, say, and think should be measured and evaluated against this fact of history.
And that brings us to part two: the warning. The Galatians were in danger of rejecting who they were, and in doing so in danger of rejecting the true Jesus Christ. How? By going after a false gospel. By rejecting sound doctrines in favor of inventions, lies and heresies. Of forsaking pure and holy things of the spirit that lead to the world to come to follow after corruptions that belong to or are tainted by the world, this natural order that is under the bondage of sin and ruled by the god of this world, the prince of the powers of the air, that serpent of old, the adversary, the accuser of the brethren, Satan.
The Galatians were doing this in their time and place by listening to people who claimed that a Christian had to obey the law of Moses in order to obtain or retain his salvation. As insidious as this lie was, it is no different from the many other falsehoods that have manifested themselves as the doctrines of devils that they are. The Galatians were without excuse because they had already been instructed the truth by apostles, those who had personally laid eyes upon the resurrected Jesus Christ. There was absolutely no justification for them to turn aside from the truth that they had already received to follow the inventions of those who had no part in Jesus Christ, which means they had no part in His ministry.
Just as they were without excuse, we Christians are today. We have in our hands the Bible, whose New Testament contains the same doctrines that the apostles taught their believers. So what justification is there in turning aside in favor of people who either take away from or add to the Bible? This is not in reference to the many legitimate debates over interpretations and applications. Instead, it refers to those who make it clear that the Bible is not their authority. Instead, they merely use selected portions of the Bible as the basis for their own authority. In doing so, they speak the word of man, not of God, and their works are of a world in bondage to and corrupted by sin, rather than of the Holy Spirit. There is no grace and peace of God in their words and actions, because the author of their words and actions were never the grace and peace of God, but rather the author of their words and works is this world and the love of it.
Galatians 1:1-5 gives the identity of every Christian, and does so in the context of describing the identity, nature, and work of the God that the Christian serves. To reject the Bible to follow after false doctrines and be in fellowship with those who do the same is to reject both God and the identity based on being a servant of God. It is a very serious thing indeed, which is why all Christians should take the warnings of Galatians seriously. For consider the very strong language of Galatians 3:1.
O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you?
And what was the evidence that they were bewitched?
that ye should not obey the truth
And what was the nature of this truth?
before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?
The Galatians had already been preached the gospel of Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Therefore, there was no reason for them to put their trust, hope, or investment in anything else. They had already received the promise of heaven through Jesus Christ. So what other promises, promises concerning things in this lost and dying sinful world ruled by the enemy and the deceiver and the people and systems that are his, from the nations down to the false prophets, did they have want or need for?
That same question in Galatians 3:1 needs to be asked, with the “O foolish Galatians” rendered as “O foolish CHRISTIANS.” It should be done so that we would not forget either our identity or the warning.