One of the unique features of Paul’s letters is the way he links the words grace and peace in the greetings. The combination of these two words is a modification of the most characteristic greetings in the Greek and Jewish world. Where a Greek author would write “Greetings” (chairein), Paul writes “Grace,” a similar-sounding word in Greek (charis). To this Paul adds the typical Jewish greeting of “Peace.”
The combination of these two words is not a mere pleasantry. On the contrary, the words basically describe his gospel message. (In fact, Paul uses these two words more than any other author in the New Testament.) The grace and peace are not from Paul but from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
What aspects of the gospel does Paul include in Galatians 1:1–6?
Although Paul has little space in his opening greeting to develop the nature of the gospel, he masterfully describes the essence of the gospel in only a few short verses. What is the central truth upon which the gospel resides? According to Paul, it is not our conformity to the law—the point that Paul’s opponents were trumpeting. On the contrary, the gospel rests fully on what Christ accomplished for us through His death on the cross and resurrection from the dead. Christ’s death and resurrection did something that we never could do for ourselves. They broke the power of sin and death, freeing His followers from the power of evil, which holds so many in fear and bondage.
As Paul reflects on the wonderful news of the grace and peace that God created for us in Christ, he falls into a spontaneous doxology, which appears in verse 5.
In about as many words as Paul used in Galatians 1:1–5, write down your understanding of what the gospel is all about. Bring your words to class on Sabbath.