Rescued from this evil age

Dark Sky - Photo by Ed Pirnak on Unsplash
In his opening paragraph in Galatians, Paul declared that his apostleship came from the same God who raised Jesus from the dead, the very same one who gave his life to “deliver us from this evil age.” This declaration anticipated the defense of his apostolic calling and his disagreement with certain Jewish believers who were operating as if the old era was still in effect - [Dark Sky - Photo by Ed Pirnak on Unsplash].

In the first two chapters of the letter, Paul detailed how he received his gospel for the Gentiles by divine revelation, a commission confirmed by the leadership of the Jerusalem church, and how, during an earlier controversy at Antioch in Syria, certain “false brethren, secretly introduced, slinked in to spy out our freedom which we have in Christ Jesus” - (Galatians 2:4-5).

Jewish believers from Jerusalem had disrupted the church at Antioch with claims that it was improper for Jewish Christians to have table fellowship with uncircumcised Gentile believers. But a church divided along ethnic lines would be the inevitable result of such regulations.
  • (Galatians 1:1-5) - “Paul, an apostle, not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ, and God the Father who raised him from among the dead, and all the brethren with me; to the assemblies of Galatia; Grace to you and peace from God our Father and Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us out of the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory unto the ages of ages: Amen!
Customarily, Paul began his letters with salutations and gracious words of thanksgiving; however, in Galatians, he wrote a salutation noteworthy for its brevity and lack of any words of thanks. Instead, he launched into a stinging rebuke of the Galatians, indicating the depth of his concern and the level of his agitation - (“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in grace”).

Paul defined his apostleship, first, by using a double negative in the Greek sentence (“neither from men nor through man”); and second, by employing a positive affirmation (“but through Jesus Christ”). In this way, he introduced a key issue that he addressed in later paragraphs - his divine appointment to the apostolic office - (Galatians 1:10–2:10).

His Jewish opponents did not dispute his office; instead, they claimed his apostleship was received from human authorities, presumably, the church leadership in Jerusalem. This implied his was a derived authority.

Paul denied his commission was dependent on any human authority, whether the mother church in Jerusalem or the church at Antioch. Instead, he affirmed he had received it directly from Jesus - (1 Corinthians 9:1Acts 9:4-622:726:16).

His call focused on proclaiming the gospel to the Gentiles, and without requiring them to conform to the regulations of the Torah - (Acts 9:1513:46-4822:21Ephesians 3:1-8).

Unlike his opponents, Paul received his commission directly from the risen Jesus. He also linked his gospel to the “Father…who raised Jesus from the dead.” The fatherhood of God plays an important role in this letter, being linked to the idea of the “adoption” by God of Gentile believers - (Galatians 3:73:264:2-74:22-31).

The resurrection of Jesus was an apocalyptic event, and it signaled the commencement of the messianic age. In his Death and Resurrection, the “powers and principalities,” the cosmic forces that held humanity in bondage, were defeated.  The resurrection constituted the inauguration of an entirely new era, and the final stage in the redemptive plan of God, and NOTHING COULD EVER BE THE SAME AGAIN - (1 Corinthians 2:5-8Ephesians 1:17-23Colossians 2:151 Peter 3:22).

Paul used this apocalyptic perspective when he exhorted the Galatians not to subject themselves again to the “elementary spirits of this world.” They would do so if they placed themselves under the calendrical rituals of the Torah. With the coming of the Son, the jurisdiction of such things had run its course - (Galatians 4:3-11).

By reminding his audience that the God who commissioned Paul is the same one who raised Jesus from the dead, he prepares his readers for a description of how he received his gospel by a direct revelation from Jesus (Galatians 1:11-16).

Jesus is the one who “gave himself on account of our sins.” This statement anticipates another topic, that his death was necessary “on account of” the sins of humanity that had alienated men from God - (Isaiah 53:5Mark 10:4514:24Matthew 20:2826:28Romans 4:258:32).

The same idea is found when Paul declares that “the life I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave himself on account of (huper) me.” Likewise, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse on account of (huper) us” - (Galatians 2:20, 3:13).
The death of Christ was “according to the will of our God and Father.”  This stresses the magnitude of what God did in the death of His Son. If the Galatians placed themselves under the Law, they would risk the loss of God’s “grace and peace.” To return to what preceded Jesus was tantamount to rejecting the purpose and grace of God.

By means of his death, God “rescued us from the present evil age.” This stresses the apocalyptic nature of what God achieved in Jesus.  In him, the expected messianic age irrupted into the present and inaugurated the age of fulfillment - (Romans 12:2Colossians 1:12-13).

In the Hebrew Bible, history was divided into two ages:  the present evil age and the age to come. The future age would be ushered in by the Messiah. The Law belonged to the “present age,” and therefore, was part of the old order that began to pass away after the resurrection of Jesus - (Galatians 2:194:3-95:51 Corinthians 7:31).

By emphasizing the Death and Resurrection of Jesus in his opening remarks, Paul highlights the all-sufficiency of his death for the forgiveness of sins and the rescue of believers from this “present evil age.” In him, God acted decisively in a way that impacted the entire created order.



Language of the New Testament

Armageddon - Final Battle