grace to you and peace from God our father and the Lord Jesus Christ. [galatians 1:3]
to gain a clearer understanding of this verse, let’s look at the facts:
author: paul the apostle
written: approx. 48-50 ad
why: addressed to the church in galatia whose church body contorted the mosaic law as justification for sinful behavior.
big ideas: legalism (allegiance to mosaic law over faith in God), disloyalty, & false teaching
paul emphasizes that grace and peace do not come from a set of moral codes and standards or from others within the church. rather, that grace and peace are purely from the Lord. since we are image bearers of God, we can extend grace to others and have true, unified peace in the church body. paul longs for the church in galatia to acknowledge that without God, grace and peace do not exist and that because they bear the image of God, they are to follow him over the law.
does this sound familiar to anyone? a sense of fake peace within the church, a lack of grace from fellow Christians, and turning from God towards sin while justifying such behavior(s) only to maintain a facade of “genuine” faith? paul may not have written galatians 1:3 to us, but it was written for us. the times may have changed, but people have not. more importantly, our God has not!
paul writes, grace to you and peace from God. God lavishes us with his grace in order that we may have peace. we extend grace not because we are sinners who are in need of grace ourselves, but because we serve a God who embodies grace. where there is grace, there is peace.
the peace that God bestows on us, and that paul writes of, is not a “band-aid” for our hurts. it is not a means to suppress and repress what we feel. it is not a pseudo-happiness that stops when others are not around. it is not an expression to say when we want to simply appear close with God. it is not a destination. what peace is, is a relationship with God. peace is the acknowledgement that despite our suffering, God is in control.
it is easy to read a verse like this and agree with it, but not to fully digest its contents. paul, who was originally saul, wrote this. take a minute and think about that.
imagine if paul stopped persecuting Christians, but also chose to stop his walk with God before he did all that he did for God’s kingdom. could you imagine what it would feel like to carry around that amount of shame and guilt? to know that you, as in paul, actively sought out to murder innocent people for what? for nothing. the weight of guilt and shame that paul could’ve carried would crush most of us if we are being honest. yet, paul does not let his previous lifestyle get in the way of ministry. why? it is because paul received God’s grace and from that an inner peace was born. paul is not speaking empty words to make others and himself feel better. paul is communicating how the attributes of God are to be applied within the church and to one another!
luke 16:15- and he said to them, “you are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. for what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.
~ angela younger