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,
To the churches of Galatia:
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.
6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
The greeting of Paul’s letter to the churches in Galatia stands out. Simply stated, that’s what it does.
It is different.
Of all his thirteen letters, Galatians is unique in that it lacks many traditional elements while it includes additional. For example, in virtually ever Pauline epistle, there is the naming of Paul, a greeting, a naming of the recipients, and an immediate thanksgiving. In Galatians, however, we find that Paul names himself and then adds a defense of his apostolic credentials. Similarly, he extends his greeting with a theological confession and doxology (in v.3-5 he says more than “grace and peace”), even as he replaces the traditional thanksgiving with a shocking word of rebuke.
Perhaps the uniqueness of the Galatians intro could lie in the fact that this was Paul’s first letter and he would develop his “traditional” form in time. Maybe but doubtful. More than likely, the reason for the differentness of Galatians was the provenance of his writing. Paul had something to share with an attitude of urgency – so his greeting launched with a personal defense, theological underpinning and tenor of astonishing rebuke (why not just skip the thanksgiving when you have something like that to say!)
What did Paul have to say? What is his point in the first 10 verses?
What is his point? His point is that anything different than the gospel is not good news! No, its more than that. Anything even slightly different than the gospel (as defined in v.4-5 about what Christ gave up for us, not about what we give up for him)… it is no good news at all. Paul is amped up from the beginning of this letter. In this section he gets to the point. He curses (calls anathema twice) anyone who has preached to the Galatians anything other than the gospel of Christ and his righteousness. He declares that to distort the gospel or to turn to something beyond Christ is to desert God in full (v.6-8). And all this he says immediately after a bizarre greeting in which he does not thank the Galatians for their faith, but mainly defines the gospel (v.3-5) and defends his authority (v.1-2).
There is no fear of man in Paul… only fear of the God of the gospel. What he says must be said, regardless what his detractors may say of him… not that it matters – for if I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. (v.10)