“Paul, an apostle (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead)…. “
The introduction to Galatians covers the first ten verses.
The first five verses make up the salutation.
Paul, an apostle
Christian legalists called into question Paul’s apostleship and, therefore, his authority. They claimed that his apostleship was fake since Christ did not commission him while He was on earth. These legalists in Galatians believed that the law — rather than the power of the Holy Spirit through faith — sanctifies the saint.
The office of an “apostle” carried the highest authority in Christianity. The term comes from two Greek words: to send and from. The idea is someone with authority sending someone else on a mission. An apostle has the right to found the church and write Scripture. There are no apostles in the official sense today.
The New Testament employs the word “apostle” in both an official and non-official way. The term carries the idea of sending as a missionary or one sent with the full authority of an official apostle. The latter meaning is the sense of our verse.
Paul only used the term “apostle” when necessary to affirm his credentials. He preferred the term “servant.”
not from men
Paul’s first point in the epistle challenges his legalistic protagonists decisively — “not…nor.” His apostleship did not come from men but from God Himself.
“Men” is in the plural and refers to a group of men. Paul did not receive the commission of his apostleship from a group of men in some church. No official church body gave him the credentials of an apostle.
nor through man,
“Man” is in the singular and refers to an individual man. Neither Barnabas nor Ananias (Acts 9:17) or any other single individual conferred the gift of apostleship on Paul. When Ananias’ laid his hands on Paul, this recognized a fact already actual. Paul’s apostleship was absolutely independent of man.
but through Jesus Christ and God the Father
Paul’s apostleship came through the authority of “Jesus Christ and God the Father.” Paul’s apostleship did not come from men but from Christ and God. Paul did not receive his apostleship by some everyday occasion. He received it supernaturally. The Father and the Son both bestowed on Paul their certificate for his apostleship.
“Father” is a term of relationship. “God the Father” is a unique expression in the New Testament (1 Peter 1:2; 2 Peter 1:17; Jude 1). We never read “God the Son” in the New Testament. However, it does use the term “Son” for the deity of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:19,20).
Paul’s relationship with the Father was one of grace. Paul was a foremost exponent of legalism before he came to Christ. He murdered Christians in the name of legalism.
“For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (1 Corinthians 15:9-10).
“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the commandment of God our Savior and the Lord Jesus Christ, our hope…” (1 Timothy 1:1).
who [the Father] raised Him from the dead
The other apostles received their apostleship when Jesus was on earth. Paul received his apostleship after Jesus rose from the dead. He defends his apostleship against the legalists throughout the first two chapters.
To be an apostle, one must see Jesus face to face. Paul saw him on the Damascus road. He personally saw the physically resurrected Christ.
Any claim that Christ plus something saves or sanctifies is foreign to the teaching of the New Testament.
Salvation is Christ plus nothing. Sanctification is Christ plus nothing. Anything else is a mongrel gospel or mongrel sanctification. God’s truth is always unadulterated grace. We owe our salvation to Christ and our sanctification to Him as well.
Good works do not save us nor sanctify us. They do not make us more secure in our salvation or walk with the Lord. Many people feel that if they have a good batting average with the Ten Commandments, then God will accept them into Heaven. Others believe that if they are good people in their Christian walk, then that impresses God. Both of these groups fall short of realizing that they are poor, lost, helpless, hopeless sinners apart from the work of Christ. Only the finished work of the sovereign Son of God can save or sanctify us.
Sin stands between God and us. Our only plea is the cross of Christ. Anything else is inadequate, insufficient, and incomplete. Jesus died to remove the penalty triggered by sin. The law deepens and defines our need for the Savior but cannot save us. Human effort cannot save; only the Savior can save when we put our trust in His finished work on the cross.