Falling Away from the Gospel He Taught. Defense of His Teaching: His Apostolic Call Independent of Man.
Judaizing teachers had persuaded the Galatians that Paul had taught them the new religion imperfectly, and at second hand; that the founder of their church himself possessed only a deputed commission, the seal of truth and authority being in the apostles at Jerusalem: moreover, that whatever he might profess among them, he had himself at other times, and in other places, given way to the doctrine of circumcision. To refute this, he appeals to the history of his conversion, and to the manner of his conferring with the apostles when he met them at Jerusalem; that so far was his doctrine from being derived from them, or they from exercising any superiority over him, that they had simply assented to what he had already preached among the Gentiles, which preaching was communicated, not by them to him, but by himself to them [Paley]. Such an apologetic Epistle could not be a later forgery, the objections which it meets only coming out incidentally, not being obtruded as they would be by a forger; and also being such as could only arise in the earliest age of the Church, when Jerusalem and Judaism still held a prominent place.
1. apostle—in the earliest Epistles, the two to the Thessalonians, through humility, he uses no title of authority; but associates with him “Silvanus and Timotheus”; yet here, though “brethren” (Ga 1:2) are with him, he does not name them but puts his own name and apostleship prominent: evidently because his apostolic commission needs now to be vindicated against deniers of it.
of—Greek, “from.” Expressing the origin from which his mission came, “not from men,” but from Christ and the Father (understood) as the source. “By” expresses the immediate operating agent in the call. Not only was the call from God as its ultimate source, but by Christ and the Father as the immediate agent in calling him (Ac 22:15; 26:16–18). The laying on of Ananias’ hands (Ac 9:17) is no objection to this; for that was but a sign of the fact, not an assisting cause. So the Holy Ghost calls him specially (Ac 13:2, 3); he was an apostle before this special mission.
man—singular; to mark the contrast to “Jesus Christ.” The opposition between “Christ” and “man,” and His name being put in closest connection with God the Father, imply His Godhead.
raised him from the dead—implying that, though he had not seen Him in His humiliation as the other apostles (which was made an objection against him), he had seen and been constituted an apostle by Him in His resurrection power (Mt 28:18; Ro 1:4, 5). Compare as to the ascension, the consequence of the resurrection, and the cause of His giving “apostles,” Eph 4:11. He rose again, too, for our justification (Ro 4:25); thus Paul prepares the way for the prominent subject of the Epistle, justification in Christ, not by the law.
2. all the brethren—I am not alone in my doctrine; all my colleagues in the Gospel work, travelling with me (Ac 19:29, Gaius and Aristarchus at Ephesus: Ac 20:4, Sopater, Secundus, Timotheus, Tychicus, Trophimus, some, or all of these), join with me. Not that these were joint authors with Paul of the Epistle: but joined him in the sentiments and salutations. The phrase, “all the brethren,” accords with a date when he had many travelling companions, he and they having to bear jointly the collection to Jerusalem [Conybeare and Howson].
the churches—Pessinus and Ancyra were the principal cities; but doubtless there were many other churches in Galatia (Ac 18:23; 1 Co 16:1). He does not attach any honorable title to the churches here, as elsewhere, being displeased at their Judaizing. See First Corinthians; First Thessalonians, &c. The first Epistle of Peter is addressed to Jewish Christians sojourning in Galatia (1 Pe 1:1), among other places mentioned. It is interesting thus to find the apostle of the circumcision, as well as the apostle of the uncircumcision, once at issue (Ga 2:7–15), co-operating to build up the same churches.
3. from … from—Omit the second “from.” The Greek joins God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ in closet union, by there being but the one preposition.
4. gave himself—(Ga 2:20); unto death, as an offering. Found only in this and the Pastoral Epistles. The Greek is different in Eph 5:25 (see on Eph 5:25).
for our sins—which enslaved us to the present evil world.
deliver us from this—Greek, “out of the,” &c. The Father and Son are each said to “deliver us,” &c. (Col 1:13): but the Son, not the Father, gave Himself for us in order to do so, and make us citizens of a better world (Php 3:20). The Galatians in desiring to return to legal bondage are, he implies, renouncing the deliverance which Christ wrought for us. This he more fully repeats in Ga 3:13. “Deliver” is the very word used by the Lord as to His deliverance of Paul himself (Ac 26:17): an undesigned coincidence between Paul and Luke.
world—Greek, “age”; system or course of the world, regarded from a religious point of view. The present age opposes the “glory” (Ga 1:5) of God, and is under the authority of the Evil One. The “ages of ages” (Greek, Ga 1:5) are opposed to “the present evil age.”
according to the will of God and our Father—Greek, “of Him who is at once God [the sovereign Creator] and our Father” (Jn 6:38, 39; 10:18, end). Without merit of ours. His sovereignty as “God,” and our filial relation to Him as “our Father,” ought to keep us from blending our own legal notions (as the Galatians were doing) with His will and plan. This paves the way for his argument.
5. be glory—rather, as Greek, “be the glory”; the glory which is peculiarly and exclusively His. Compare Note, see on Eph 3:21.
Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 2, p. 323). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.