Paul and Barnabas had their work before them. The churches of Antioch, Syria and Cilicia had to be informed of the decision made in Jerusalem, as it pertained to the Gentile churches. James wrote letters and sent out representatives from the Jerusalem Messianic believers to show the new Gentile churches that Paul was not in conflict with the original Gospel commissioned by Jesus. The letters were written to convey the apostles position, and the Jewish representatives were sent to verify not only that they were not forged by Paul, which enemies might claim, but to keep anyone from accusing Paul of misinterpreting what the Jerusalem council had decided.
The churches in Galatia would have to wait until spring of the following year before Paul and Barnabas could leave off the work at hand and come to them. This is why Paul had written his letter. There was simply too much concern over what had happened in the churches in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia to permit Barnabas and Paul to make a trip to the Galatian churches at that time. This was spiritual warfare. When Paul, on his first missionary journey, rebuked Elymas, the notable wise man, on Cyprus, who was seeking to turn away the governor from the faith, the war had begun. Immediately afterward, Mark left the party to return to Jerusalem. The spiritual wickedness that holds corrupt men who have authority or influence over other men ever yields its place willingly. At that point in time, Paul may have been somewhat inexperienced in spiritual warfare and didn’t foresee the repercussions that would occur over his direct attack against corrupt authority, but the Lord would teach him throughout his three missionary journeys, and he became quite skilled in dealing with potential attacks upon his own party and the new churches, as I have shown in my recent studies of those journeys.
Paul began the first five verses of his letter with “Paul an apostle—not of men nor by men—but of Jesus Christ” (Galatians 1:1-5). This statement took all the power away from his opposition. If Paul was not sent by men, nor represented any single body of men, then men, whoever they might be, could not challenge what he did by saying: Paul made a mistake, or Paul misrepresented the Jerusalem church, or Paul left out the most important matter. Paul claimed he represented no man. An apostle is a delegate representing someone or something. Paul claimed he was an apostle/delegate of Jesus Christ. Jesus, not man nor any group of men, sent Paul to the Galatian churches. Therefore, no man could come behind Paul and claim he misrepresented what the Apostles at Jerusalem were teaching, which was what was claimed as we shall see in later posts.
Paul greeted the churches in Galatia by including greetings from all the brethren with him (Galatians 1:2). That is, he was showing the Galatian churches they were a part of a much wider community of believers that overflowed national boundaries. The implication is the growing international community of believes, understood the same things in similar fashion—they send you greeting. Paul was undermining the authority of the few men who were sent in the name of James, emphatically saying they had no such authority.
The Galatians were reminded by Paul whose they were. That is, they didn’t belong to men or to an organization of men. Paul sent them grace and peace from God—the Father and Jesus, thus reminding them of their repenting of their rebellion against their Creator. Jesus had given himself for their sins, in order to deliver them from this present evil world—filled with evil men like those who had upset the order in which Paul had left the churches (Galatians 1:4). Grace and peace from this God (Galatians 1:3), to whom they owed their allegiance, against whom they had ceased their rebellion—Paul, the delegate of Jesus Christ, sent grace and peace from this patient and loving God who is no longer at war with them. It is this God, alone, whom men should glorify in their behavior (Galatians 1:5). Thus, began Paul’s first and very important letter to the Gentile churches to whom he was sent. He used strong words, but also the loving words of a father to correct the wrong behavior that had developed there.