by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 1 Study # 9 August 29, 2010 Dayton, Texas
3 Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ,
4 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:
5 To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
1901 ASV Translation:
3 Grace to you and peace from God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ,
4 who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us out of this present evil world, according to the will of our God and Father:
5 to whom be the glory for ever and ever. Amen.
I. The Apostle's Greeting.
A. The issues of "grace" and "peace".
1. The significance of "grace".
a. First, it is an attribute of God on the opposite end of the "Justice" spectrum.
1) As such, "grace" is "un-just", just as "mercy" is "un-wrath" and "love" is "un-hate".
2) That God presents Himself as a study in contrasts in the Bible creates a host of difficulties for any who would attempt to understand Him. His ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts.
3) That God presents Himself as a study in contrasts does not mean that He is hopelessly self-contradictory. The challenge of redemption was precisely that God could be both "just" and the "justifier of every believer" (Romans 3:26). But, that "both" exacted a terrible consequence for God. In the same way, every attribute of God has an "opposite" and each "opposite" creates its own consequences.
4) The primary difficulty for man is that "grace" takes all of the "surety" out of the question of what God is going to do in any particular setting. Who would have even dreamed that He would make Saul of Tarsus His primary instrument for the spread of the Gospel to the Gentiles (Galatians 2:7)? This is no small matter because "faith" needs "surety". And where can this "surety" come from when God may act "justly", or He may be "gracious" and in every case be acting "according to His Word"? The eventual solution for each individual will invariably come to this: "faith" has its most fundamental root, not in what God has said, but in Who God is and in whether man is willing for Him to be Who He is at any cost to himself.
5) The "Galatian" application of this conundrum is this: why did God move in "grace" to send Paul and Barnabas to Galatia and then, afterwards, permit false brethren to confuse and complicate matters? Clarity is by grace; confusion signals a certain absence of that grace. Paul knew that it would only be by more grace that the problems would be solved. Thus, his desire is "Grace to you...".
b. Second, it is a hidden attribute in a Kingdom of Righteousness (the absence of any need for "grace" keeps it from being made manifest).
c. Third, according to Ephesians 1:4-6, "grace" has significant ties to predestined choosing as well as blameless holiness and the adoption of sons (Note Galatians 1:15).
d. Fourth, according to Ephesians 1:7, the "riches of grace" are the standard for the "redemption" and "forgiveness of sins" that are found in "the Beloved".
e. Fifth, the manifestation of "grace" is found, not in anything man does as a "qualifier" for his participation in the blessings of Life, but in the actions taken by God. Grace is nullified by moving it into a situation in which man is able, by his actions, to move God to blessing.
f. Sixth, the practical outworking of "grace" becomes, then, God doing for man what He requires of man and then giving man the credit for the accomplishment when he trusts Him.
g. Seventh, the term "grace" is used by Paul seven times in Galatians. Each of the seven are of significance, but 2:21 is outstanding in the seven because it actually addresses the methodology of "grace" (the death of Christ) and has a potent declaration regarding the objective of "grace" ("frustrate" and "in vain" are both "objectives" terms): "righteousness" established upon human beings. In the next reference to "grace" in the letter (5:4), the apostle again declares that the issue is "being justified". Two of the remaining of the seven are direct applications of "grace" to God's dealings with Paul (1:15 and 2:9). Of the remaining two, 1:6 makes the Gospel all about "grace" and 6:18 is a repetition of the desire stated in our current text (1:3). The outstanding issue of Galatians 3-4 is "justification", yet "grace" is never used in those chapters. The reference in 2:21 is, however, an introduction to those chapters and, as such, sets the stage for the content as a matter of "grace" bringing righteousness.
h. Eighth, Paul's reference to grace in our current text is an expression of his desire that God get moreinvolvedwith the Galatians. The Galatian "drift" is a statement that God has, for some reason, lifted His hands from the process ("drift" only occurs when "grace" is not as readily involved as it was when the initial application of it was both "potent" and "effective"). The question of a "Father's" withdrawal from a dominating presence is something to consider because it is the reason for the return to the failed policies of the past.
i. Finally, "grace" invariably leads to indescribable benefit. Though benefit is often a "beauty is in the eyes of the beholder" kind of thing because the "beholders" are often mistaking a very present "feeling" for a very long term concept, nonetheless there is no "grace" where there is real loss physically, emotionally, or spiritually.
2. The significance of "peace".
a. Clearly Paul seeks "peace" for the Galatians because it is the absence of "peace" that allows really bad decisions to be made and pursued. Those "at peace" do not flit from one doctrinal position to its opposite. The satisfied tend to be stable; it is the entrance of "dissatisfaction" that causes panicky pursuit of first one thing and then another (note Paul's question in 4:15).
b. References to "peace" are relatively rare in Galatians (1:3; 5:22; and 6:16). But, in spite of the rare use of the term, Paul's desire is that "peace" rule the hearts of the Galatians (Philippians 4:7) because that is the only way loyalty to "Truth" will endure.